Running

Marker Madness Poker Run

Saturday was the annual Veteran’s Weekend Poker Run, also known as “Marker Madness”. While most poker runs are done on motorcycles–ours was entirely human-powered–a trail running poker run.

Poker Run Trail Running

Weather was on our side, with morning temps in the 50’s, a rarity for a Midwest November. After receiving our first cards and maps, we set off into the woods orienteering-style.

Poker Run Woods

This park doesn’t see a lot of visitors, downed trees criss-crossed the trail and a thick blanket of leaves covering roots and rocks made the experience a bit rustic and wild.

Poker Run Forest Preserve

Combined with dense vegetation and overgrowth, the trail was very narrow and hard to follow in some areas.

The goal was to follow a very basic map and locate the checkpoints. Checkpoints consisted of one of the following:

  • Marker
  • Pumpkin

If you found a marker, you used it to color the location on your map to prove you found it.

Poker Run Checkpoint

Here I am at one of the checkpoints. The marker was dangling in the rafters of a small shelter which meant that I had to climb up on the bench to reach it.

Poker Run Map

My map began to look a little more colorful after finding a series of checkpoints.

Poker Run Pumpkin

Some of the checkpoints didn’t have markers, but instead plastic Halloween pumpkins filled with playing cards. These were few and far between, but if you were lucky to find one, you’d (blindly) draw a card from it to build your poker hand.

After running around the woods coloring and collecting cards we headed back to the shelter to turn in our poker hands.

Poker Run Fire

We were greeted with a warm fire.

Poker Run Breakfast

And a fantastic spread of post-run food.

Poker Run Hash

Like this delectable Apple, Butternut Squash, and Bacon Breakfast Hash made by The Girl with the Green Soup Pot. We brought a thermos full of spicy sausage gravy and biscuits, while others brought fruit, muffins, and more. Runners sure know how to eat!

Poker Run Aerial Map

An aerial detail view from my Garmin data. Much of the run was along the narrow river that separates the park into north and south. Most of the route was flat, but there were a few steep climbs up the bluff to keep things interesting.

This was a fun way to get some exercise, use problem-solving skills, and enjoy the company of friends on a dreary late autumn day.

It is good to be a part of this pack, this crazy pack of trail running souls.

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First Reaction: Merrell Bare Access Arc 2

My new shoes have arrived!

Merrell Bare Access Arc Running Shoes

These are the Women’s Merrell Bare Access Arc 2 Barefoot Running Shoes in Aqua, or as I affectionately call it, Smurf Blue. These just hit the market this month and are the update to the orignal Bare Access Arc. I like this updated version better than the original. I currently run in the Pace Gloves but was looking for something for longer distances with a tad more cushion. Have done a few miles in these and my initial thoughts are good. I’ll wait to post a full review once I have some more miles on them.

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Nicolet Bay 5k Race Weekend Recap

Back from my girls weekend in Door County!

Door County Country Chalet

Our charming rental “chalet” in the woods. After dropping off our luggage we went to the Ephraim Town Hall for packet pick-up. The sun was out and there was an excitement in the air (along with lots of bugs). That evening we stayed in and cooked since it was the night before the race. Roasted vegetable lasagna was the star, and a garden salad, spinach cake, garlic bread were the supporting acts. We also had a festive taco dip, fresh fruit, and other little snacks. I made up a batch of cranberry apricot truffles for something sweet. We had so much food that we forgot to take some out of the fridge. While most people like to super hydrate with water the night before a race, I like to have a glass of wine with my dinner to relax. 🙂 Dinner was wonderful and we went to bed early to get a good night of rest.

This was my first race coming back from my ITB injury, and as much as I wanted to run the half marathon with the girls, I played it safe and stuck to the 5k race option. Check out the course:

Nicolet Bay 5k Course Map

The course runs on park roads that hug the two bays. I was so excited!

The race didn’t start until 10:35 so we were able to sleep in, have breakfast and take our time getting ready.

Costco Running Outfit

My race outfit from Costco! Yes, Costco makes decent running clothes and I love them. The pants are Kirkland yoga crop pants for $16.99 and the space-dye racer-back tank was $12.99. There is a rumor that some of Costco’s workout clothes are made in the same place where they make Lululemon. I own a pair of Lululemon capri pants and I can say that I think the Costco ones are just as good if not better quality. The fit and fabric are both perfect and the price is right. I actually bought a pair of these pants last summer and after a few dozen washes they are still great and don’t pill like Lululemon. The amount of money I saved covered the cost of my race entry, my portion of the chalet rental and a few bottles of cherry wine! 😉 Check out these other discussions on Costco’s Kirkland workout clothes here, here and here.

We decided to drive to the race instead of taking the trolley. There were tents set up with clothing and shoe vendors, food, drinks and music playing on the speakers. We had quite a bit of a wait until the start (I had about an hour and a half) so we just chatted and the time flew by.

Get Outdoors Wisconsin

The weather was PERFECT for running. It started out cloudy and cool, a few rain drops, then the sun came out. My friends left to go head to their half marathon start and I decided to walk around Nicolet Bay and take some photos. Pretty soon it was time for me to follow the signs to the starting line.

5k Start

There were lots of people with fun signs like this one:

Race Sign

I did a mile warm-up run 10 minutes before the start and then lined up with about 500 other runners.

Starting Line

I started in the back of the front third of the pack, although I soon realized that I should have started closer to the front. Many people in front of me walked right from the start and I landed on my ankle funny trying to get around them. The first mile flew by and I was really in a good groove. Much of the race is on tree-lined paved roads but every once in awhile you’d see views of the bay.

Door County Green Bay

Could the scenery be any better? The water was so blue and the sun had come out and made everything sparkle.

Around Mile 2

This was around mile 2. The trees were so green and although there were other runners on the course it wasn’t too crowded.

Horseshoe Island

Another view of the water, between miles 2 and 3. That is Horseshoe Island in the background.

Park Road

A typical view of the course, smooth winding roads in the park. Most of the route was flat but there were a few slight hills. I heard the half marathon course had many more hills.

I was in awe of the views, and just the feeling of being alive and healthy enough to run through the park that I started talking aloud sharing my excitement with whomever was next to me. I kept snapping pics like these as I was running and wasn’t taking the race too seriously. I wanted to finish in a decent time but also knew that I haven’t been back running long and my pace hasn’t been the greatest. I saw the finish line and sprinted into the chute and was surprised with my time of 28:20.

7 out of 51 Age Group43 out of 315 Gender104 out of 479 Overall

I’ll take that. Honestly the time didn’t matter, just finishing without feeling any knee pain was my goal. Sometimes people get so hung up on their times that they forget to enjoy the course. I wanted to soak it all in and be “aware” and present in the moment.

I ran down to the food tent for a cookie, banana and water and then headed to the beach to do a little yoga and stretching. I knew I wasn’t getting an age group award but I stuck around to hear most of the runners be called up to the awards table. It was just before noon and I wanted to go back out on the course and cheer and wait for my friends who were doing the half. I walked up to mile 12 which had a perfect view of the bay and I cheered for a half hour straight until my hands felt numb from clapping.

Soon I heard my friends come charging down the course and I ran with them to the finish. It was amazing to see Mandy cross the finish line of her first half marathon! I started to cry a little! There was hugging, laughing, and smiling until our faces hurt.

After heading back to clean up, we went to Husby’s for our free beer and some greasy bar food. The Kentucky Derby came on and that was fun to watch another kind of race. I’ll Have Another won!

Husby's Kentucky Derby

They had a band outside and they played one of my favorite songs – Wilco’s “Heavy Metal Drummer” – so we stayed to listen to a few songs. We tried to stay up late drinking and celebrating, but truth be told we were so exhausted that we turned in early. I needed toothpicks for my eyelids to keep them open!

My friend who organized this weekend gave us Etsy swag bags on our pillows that contained this thoughtful “sole sister” charm.

Sole Sister Charm

Photo by Ilona M.

As someone who loves Etsy and use to sell on there, it made me happy to see that she got everything from there. I like that this charm has a bare foot, too because I’ve been running semi-barefoot (minimalist) lately.

The following morning we went to White Gull Inn for breakfast, picked up wine, stopped for coffee, shopping, etc. and then headed home. There were so many other moments in between that I am leaving out for the sake of keeping this post fairly short.

The race was well organized, had a small town feel (despite a decent number of runners), an amazing course and accurate mile markers (which is rare). It was perfect and I’d do it again! It was a great weekend and I am happy to be back running.

What is your favorite race? Do you ever travel to do races with friends, or do you prefer to keep it local?

Categories: Running, Travels | Tags: , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

A Week of Food Highlights

This week may have gotten away from me, but I haven’t forgotten to snap photos of FOOD! 🙂 Here are some highlights from the past few days.

Butternut Squash Burger

Burgers with Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onions from Paleo Table. Served with Sweets & Beets and sliced strawberries. Loved a bun-less burger topped with butternut squash! However I could do without the sausage. Next time I’ll stick with 100% grass-fed ground beef and leave the ground sausage out. She has a method for doing caramelized onions, but I was short on time and just sauteed a Vidalia until soft and sweet. This was a great combo worth trying.

Vitamix Broccoli Soup

Broccoli Soup from Elana’s Pantry. So simple, just olive oil, onion, broccoli, water and salt. That’s right, no broth! I was worried it would not be flavorful, but it was. A good little soup to mix up in the Vitamix, however it was very watery and was more of a sipping soup than a soup you’d eat with a spoon.

Clean Eating Tarragon Chicken

Chicken Fricassee with Tarragon from Clean Eating Magazine. Great, classic flavor. The leeks loose their bright, light green color in the cooking process but the taste is wonderful. Mild yet flavorful.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Squares

Peanut Butter Chocolate Protein Bars from Little B’s Healthy Habits. I made these with Truvia instead of Stevia in the Raw (which is too bitter for me). The peanut butter flavor is mild and it is not too sweet. A dense chocolate cake that is perfect for a post-gym treat. Very moist and healthy and a good starter protein cake recipe that you can tweak to your liking. Store these in the fridge since they are all natural!

Berry Tart

An early birthday cake from my sweet Mom – a fresh berry tart from Whole Foods! SO GOOD! Hands down, the best birthday “cake” I’ve had. Raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries & kiwi atop a vanilla custard nestled in a shortbread-style crust. This was unbelievable people, gone in less than a day. I went to the fridge looking for more tonight, hoping another would magically appear. It sure is a good thing that Whole Foods is an hour drive from us or else I’d be there now in my pajamas with fork in hand.

Homemade Tomato Sauces

My MIL stopped by today and brought all these containers of homemade pasta sauces. An entire shelf in the freezer is loaded! Any suggestions on what to make with these sauces? I am trying to stay away from too many grains today, so a gluten-free or paleo-friendly option would be ideal.

Finally Running

In other news, I ran my first 5k distance since mid-December! It has been over 4 1/2 months and it has been tough. I went from running 15 miles to zero due to my IT Band injury. I have lost some speed, but I almost hit a sub-30 and I wasn’t even trying for that, I was just having fun running in the cold rain on a cloudy day. I have a race coming up this weekend (I signed up in early January when I was still optimistic and didn’t think I’d be injured so long!) and can’t wait to pin on a bib number and hear the shotgun start. I am not going to try for a PR of course, just want to finish and have fun! A few months ago I was depressed and honestly felt like I’d NEVER run again. I’d run 500 feet and be in so much pain, even after taking weeks off from running. Looking down at my Garmin and seeing that beautiful 3.10 number really made my day. Hopefully I’ll be back to running half marathons again by this fall, but for now I’m taking it one day at a time.

What have you been cooking this week? Have you ever had to take an extended period of time off from running for an injury?

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Starting LiveFit Phase 3

After a morning of watching Yard Crashers and drinking the best coffee ever, we decided to hit the gym before the morning got away from us. I started  Phase 3 of Jamie Eason’s LiveFit 12 Week Trainer today. I am about 2 weeks behind in the program because I repeated a week during Phase 2 and then took a week off for a mental break to clear my head before continuing on. The first day of Phase 3 (Day 57) kicked things off with quads & calves. I love leg days and this was no exception. I did calf presses on the leg press machine for the first time ever. I really liked that compared to seated calf raises or using the smith machine with block. Have you ever done calf raises on the leg press?

I also JUST learned (over two months into the program) that there is a female version of each exercise video! On the LiveFit Trainer daily workout page, each exercise name is a link that opens a pop-up box with the exercise performed by a male.

LiveFit Video 1

From that pop-up box, if you click the name of the exercise again (or click the blue “View Full Details” button), it will open in a new browser tab (or window). Then, if you look closely, there is a small tab that says “Female”. Click on that and most of the videos are performed by Jamie herself.

LiveFit Video Female

I wish that this was the default view when clicking on the links from the LiveFit workout pages because it is a bit annoying to have to click 3 times to get to this.

While watching the male version of the video if sufficient, it is more helpful to watch the female version even though both genders are doing the exact same exercise. I feel that the body of a woman looks different when performing certain exercises, and it helps me know how my form is suppose to be.

I had to modify today’s workout because the plan calls for combining weights with plyometric exercises (like rope jumping) for supersets.

Here is what she says about this:

“You’ll quickly notice that these workouts combine traditional weight moves with plyometric exercises – for example, you follow-up leg presses with jump squats. Combining strength moves with explosive movements allows you to train for hypertrophy (the fancy word for muscle growth) and strength gains at the same time that you increase power – another important quality for fitness enthusiasts and athletes alike.

By hitting both fast- and slow-twitch muscle fibers, these moves also will stoke your fat-burning furnace. Picture the marbling in a steak. Our bodies have intra-muscular fat like that. Plyometric exercises help “squeeze” the fat from those areas.”

My gym doesn’t have a jump rope, nor does it even have the space to really do any of these long jumps and lateral bounds. It is a small gym, that is overcrowded with people and equipment, and is lacking many things that I need. In addition, nobody does supersets or any sort of these moves and I’d definitely draw attention to myself if I got off the leg press and started to jump around. 😦 We are thinking of switching gyms, not just because of this, but for many other reasons. I feel now is the time we have outgrown it and am looking for a place that is more suited to our current fitness needs.

I may give the whole plyometric + strength superset a try next time if it isn’t crowded because I bet it is a fantastic workout.

After the gym, I made Chocolate Protein Shakes to tide us over until lunch. We didn’t have much in the house for lunch because I haven’t made it to the store. Thank goodness I picked up some Costco frozen turkey burgers last week! These burgers can be grilled from frozen, which means no need to preplan and thaw. While I like to make my own turkey burgers, these come in handy for days like today when you have nothing planned and need something quick and easy. They also have a very clean ingredient list: white turkey, kosher salt, rosemary extract and black pepper and run 200 calories per patty.

We had some blackberries and blueberries, as well as Food Should Taste Good Sweet Potato Tortilla Chips. A little salsa and avocado, and we had a fast and healthy lunch.

Costco Frozen Turkey Burgers

That is my turkey burger, sans-bun.

Costco Turkey Burger

Mr. Nine enjoyed his on a bakery bun. He also put his berries in a fancy dish. :-p

After lunch, I pulled some weeds in the garden and did miscellaneous yard work before deciding to try to squeeze in a run. Since I skipped the plyometrics part of my leg workout, I felt the need to do something extra to make up for it. I know my legs will be too sore tomorrow to run so now was the time to get one in before the DOMS set in.

For a change of pace, I headed out to the track.

Running On The Track

Besides some people playing tennis nearby, I had the entire place to myself. It is much to early to even think about incorporating speed work (I just want to be able to run pain-free regardless of pace), so I repeated  1 lap walks, 2 laps running for a total of just over 4 miles. Twice during my run/walk combo I hit the bleachers for some stair work. The bleachers are pretty short, only 29 steps, so I tried to do sets of 10. The result was a total of 580 steps (290 up, 290 down) per set.

Running On Bleachers

It was an overcast day but the sun peeked out for a few fleeting moments here and there.

My track and bleacher work, combined with a solid lifting session at the gym, made today a solid fitness day. Balanced with some therapeutic gardening and a nice dinner and evening with Mr. Nine, it was the perfect laid-back Saturday.

Do you ever go to the track (or other public place) to do bleachers/stairs? Do you watch videos online to learn how or brush up on certain exercises?

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What I Missed About Running

One foot in front of the other.

Merrell Pace Gloves

Yesterday I headed out for a late evening run. While moving along inhaling the heady fragrance of lilacs, I realized what I missed most about not being able to run the past few months. It wasn’t so much the physical activity. There are other forms of exercise that you can do to keep your heart and body healthy. It wasn’t the thrill of racing, or the camaraderie of group runs (although that is indeed missed). What I missed most was delighting in the simple details that you experience during a run.

Lilac Bush

The smell of lilac.

Gravel Pitted Road

The uneven, pitted streets that collect tiny pools of rain water.

Brick Wall

The texture on the facades of buildings that have been around longer than me.

Lily Of The Valley

Sidewalks lined with lily of the valley.

These are just a few of the things I missed. Don’t even get me started on trail running.

This experience cannot be replicated indoors on a treadmill or elliptical. Sure I could take a walk outdoors and enjoy the sounds, sights and smells but it is different when you are running. Your senses are heightened. Your breathing is deeper and you inhale the smells around you more intensely. You are covering more ground in the same amount of time than you would if you were walking thus experiencing more. And since you are moving at a faster rate, each experience with a sound, smell, sight or feeling is so fleeting. You take it in and hold onto it as long as you can, before exhaling and releasing. Anticipating the next sensory delight which awaits around the corner. You could replicate this to a degree with bicycling, although I feel that some of the sensory elements are removed since you are moving faster. (Although I adore cycling for other reasons which I’ll share someday.) For whatever reason, maybe it is the rhythm that it creates, running is the right speed and method for me to pull enjoyment and inspiration from my surroundings. It is a way to get to know a neighborhood in a more intimate way, or a therapeutic dose of nature. Either way, it is so much more than running.

Inhale. Exhale.

And because no post is complete without a little talk about food, I bring to you “Two Nights of Elana’s Pantry“. Carrot Muffins, Apricot Power Bars… I find myself going back to Elana’s Pantry for more. As good as the muffins and bars are, I needed some savory ideas for dinner and Elana delivers in that department, too. Last night I made her Green Chili Turkey Burgers.

Elana's Pantry Turkey Burger

It’s a simple combination of ground turkey, green chiles, onion, cilantro, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper. While Mr. Nine was grilling these, I went out to the garden and picked some asparagus and prepared it with wilted asparagus drizzled with oil and vinegar. Nothing like super fresh veggies and a good protein! The burgers were moist and full of flavor. We enjoyed these sans-bun to make it gluten-free and didn’t need any toppings! That says a lot for a humble turkey burger. Leftovers were enjoyed for lunch today and reheated fabulously. My only tip would be to layer the formed patties between small sheets of parchment paper on a plate and freeze for about a half hour or until slightly firm. I would have done this if I had the time. The patties were super soft with a high moisture content, and Mr. Nine executed his superb grilling skills to ensure that they stayed in one piece. While he was out there grilling, I had him throw on a few chicken breasts for tonight’s dinner – Mexican Chicken and Rice.

Elana's Pantry Chicken and Rice

Doesn’t that look yum? What is fantastic about this recipe is that the “rice” is really cauliflower! Mr. Nine took a whole head of cauliflower and fed it through the food processor fitted with a grating disc. He only did this because I had a minor kitchen accident with the blade that required bandaging my thumb. 🙂 Elana says to use the “S” blade, but I thought the grating disc did an excellent job and kept all the pieces uniform. The whole dish contains grilled chicken, onion, cauliflower, green chilies, salt, cumin, oregano, chili powder, cilantro and salsa. This recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free and paleo-friendly, but you could take some of her other suggestions and add cheese, or even black beans. This recipe is really versatile. Personally, I left out the celery and cut the oil and salt in half (the original amounts seemed unneccessary). I could envision other veggies like red or orange bell peppers – use your imagination!

Now the question is, did the cauliflower taste like rice? I am not sure you could fool anybody into thinking it was rice, but it wasn’t bad at all. It essentially had the same texture, color and shape of cauliflower and the flavor was somewhat neutral and absorbed the spices and other flavors. I think this could definitely grow on me. I like the idea of having a cruciferous vegetable instead of rice because it is way lower in calories and higher in nutrients. I made a little comparison chart to illustrate this.

Cauliflower Vs Rice Comparison Chart

With the cauliflower, you are getting way more potassium, fiber and vitamin c, and lower carbs and calories. The rice has the advantage on the minerals, but all in all I think the cauliflower is the better option. What do you think?

Tonight’s questions: What would you miss about running if you had to stop? Have you ever made cauli-rice?

Categories: Food, Running | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Gluten Free Bars, Shrooms and The Walk to Run Kickoff

Happy Tuesday! We are moving one step closer to the weekend, life is good!

Because my recent bars baked with Stevia in the Raw (SITR) didn’t work out I decided to look for a recipe that didn’t use ANY added sugars or sugar substitutes. I don’t mind regular Stevia in my morning coffee, in MRM Whey Protein Powder or in the occasional baked goods however I want alternative options that don’t rely on it. I really liked the Gluten-Free Carrot Muffins from Elana’s Pantry because they were only sweetened with dates, so I went back to her site looking for more ideas. I found one with only 5 ingredients, 3 of which are kitchen staples!

Apricot Bars

These bars are made entirely from dried apricots, pecans, eggs, vanilla extract and sea salt. Okay, 6 ingredients if you count the chocolate chips that I added. 🙂 A food processor made prep quick and easy, and using a 8″ x 8″ pan made for effortless 1-dish baking. These bars are moist, flavorful and not too sweet. Mr. Nine liked the flavor, but he thought the texture was weird. I’ll have to disagree and say the texture was fine, a cross between a traditional cookie bar recipe and a Larabar. They hold their shape nicely (if you allow them to cool properly before cutting). The nuts give these bars a little texture and the chocolate chips add tiny bits of sweetness. Use dark chocolate (70% or higher) if you can or leave the chocolate out entirely if you have a strict diet. I love dark chocolate and the small amount (1/2 cup for the whole batch) is very reasonable. These are also gluten-free, dairy-free (if you use chocolate chips from Enjoy Life), and paleo-friendly (if you are okay with dark chocolate). Another bonus? They only take about 5 minutes of hands-on time to make. Throw the food processor container, blade, measuring cup, spoon and spatula in the dishwasher and sit back while they bake in the oven. I will definitely make these again, perhaps experimenting with additions of cinnamon, chia seeds or shredded coconut!

Batch of Apricot Pecan Bars

Excited to have this whole batch to snack on throughout the week. I keep mine in the fridge to prolong their freshness, but I doubt they’ll last more than a few days. I already had one with breakfast and two as a post-workout snack.

Here’s the recipe for Apricot Power Bars if you want to try them yourself!

In other food news, I made these yummy Sausage and Sweet Potato Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms from Pam at Paleo Table. Unlike traditional stuffed mushrooms which are filled with cheese and breadcrumbs, these contain no grain or dairy! Ground Italian sausage adds bulk, while mashed sweet potato adds body.

Sweet Potato and Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms

I used baby portobello mushroom caps that were 3″-4″ in diameter and increased the cooking time until I saw that the mushrooms were beginning to release some water content (about 35 minutes). Instead of mixing the sausage and potato in the food processor, I simply mashed the potatoes in a bowl and then stirred in the almond meal and sausage-onion mixture. Drizzled with balsamic vinegar, these stuffed mushrooms both savory with a hint of sweetness. These also reheat well in the microwave, making them perfect for a grab-and-go work lunch. I’m saving this gluten-free, dairy-free and paleo recipe because it is a definite win.

I’ve been writing a lot about food lately and not very much about running. I’ll explain why in another post but I have been slowly running again. Not very fast, and not very far, but I’m moving in a forward direction.

Speaking of forward directions, our running group hosted a Couch to 5k style running program and the kick-off meeting was last night.

Running Program

Photos by Brian Drendel

We had a huge turnout! It was so refreshing to see so many people from the community come out to take the first steps in training to run a 5k. For many this will be their first 5k. The program lasts 9 weeks with 3 weekly group runs using the walk-run approach. You can spot me above calling out the t-shirt raffle winners. I’m excited to volunteer this year, meet new people and hopefully inspire them to stick with the program and make running a lifelong activity.

Have you ever tried a Couch To 5k or Run to Walk program? Were you successful? Any advice or tips that I can give to these new runners next week?

Categories: Food, Running | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Starting Something New – LiveFit

I usually don’t take photos of everything I eat during the day, but today I decided to snap some pics.

Friday Breakfast

Breakfast was a slice of Ezekiel bread toasted and topped with almond butter & apricot preserves, 2 Morningstar Farms veggie breakfast patties & a blood orange.

Almond Butter

I LOVE almond butter very, very, very much. My favorite is MaraNatha, but it is so expensive. Then I discovered Costco, and they sell a large 26 oz. jar for $5.89! Sometimes the price fluctuates from $5.79-$5.99 but it is usually right around there. Just for size comparison, the jars that the regular grocery stores sell are typically 16 oz., so this is more than twice as much almond butter! The savings from buying my almond butter there compared to another grocery store, probably covers the cost of the $50 Costco yearly membership fee!

I usually have a mid-morning snack, but breakfast was late today so I jumped right into lunch.

Chili & Apple Lunch

Amy’s chili topped with diced bell peppers & a little feta with a side of sliced Honeycrisp apple (best apple in the world). Half-way through the chili I got tired of it, not because it tasted bad, but because it was a big bowl of chili! I heated up the whole can which was 2 servings. I decided to wrap up the rest and put it in the fridge for later.

I was still a little hungry and wanted more fuel before going to the gym. I saw that our spinach and eggs were about to go bad, so I made a quick 4-egg white scramble with baby spinach and a little mozzarella cheese stirred in.

Egg White Scramble

Perfect amount to hold me over for my new (more about that below) workout.

I received good & bad news about my knee. Good is that the x-rays came out negative – no fracture. I felt very confident it wasn’t, but the doctor really wanted to rule that out. Bad news is that the injury is still unknown. I am 90% sure it is IT Band Syndrome, although I am starting to second guess that because my knee hurts even when I am not doing physical activity. Yesterday for example, just sitting at my desk working on the computer and I lifted my leg up and it hurt. I walked to my car, and it hurt.

The doctor called and said an approval for physical therapy was approved. However, the referral is an actual piece of paper I have to go pick up, with the name and location of what doctor he wants me to go to. I seldom go to doctors, so I really don’t understand how the whole HMO healthcare system works, but it seems silly. I had to wait 5 days for my x-ray results, another 2 for the referral (which I guess was “fast”, they said it could take up to 5) and now I have to drive an hour (30 minutes each way) to go get the referral and then schedule an appointment to start PT. Hopefully they can get me in soon.

At least I am taking a step in the right direction, even if the whole process is frustrating.

I decided that I need to do something else since at this point I am not sure how much longer I’ll be off from running. I’ve tried other cardio, like cycling & elliptical, and while these do not bother me when I am doing them (unless I crank up the resistance), I do feel it the next day. Then I came across Jamie Eason’s LiveFit 12-Week Trainer program. What caught my eye was that the first phase (4 weeks) had no cardio. This plan seems to work well for where I am at right now.

Today seemed like a good day to start so I went to the gym for Phase 1 / Day 1 of the workout. Today’s workout was all lifting and it went by pretty quick.

  • Wide Pushups (okay)
  • Dumbbell Bench Press (love!)
  • Flat Bench Cable Flys (used machine for this because cable machine was too busy)
  • Narrow Pushups (I suck at these, couldn’t do all reps, even with girlie modification)
  • Standing Dumbbell Triceps Extensions (love!)
  • Triceps Pushdown (also used machine, cable machine way too busy today!)

So I think I did it pretty well. Sure I had to substitute a few, but worked the same muscles more or less. I am interested in her nutritional stack but don’t have it in the budget right now. I’ve never used any of those products and am curious if they would work. I do have hemp protein powder I can sub for the whey, and also take chia seeds or Udo’s oil.

For a post-workout snack, I had a cup of this wonderful tea that a good friend gave me, along with a new (to me) product that I picked up at the vitamin store last time I was there – Natur’s Biscotti.

Natur's Biscotti

I love regular biscotti and saw that this has 10 grams of protein & 8 grams of fiber. A healthier biscotti option? Sure! The packaging says it is Almond Cherry flavor and the ingredients also show both ingredients.

I could taste the almond, and even saw a few, but no cherries! I did not pick up on a cherry taste nor did I see any physical cherries in the biscotti.

Biscotti Closeup

A little bit disappointed as I wanted some chewy cherry bites, and a few more almond pieces but overall it was okay. I’d like to try some other flavors to compare and give it another chance.

I’m off to the salon to see my stylist with a Chocolate Cherry Bomb Shake (Smoothie) in hand…

Chocolate Cherry Smoothie

(one of my faves, thanks Kristen’s Raw!) …then tonight Mr. Nine is cooking dinner. I wonder what yummy goodness he’ll make?

Have you ever tried the LiveFit program? Do you take supplements like BCAA, protein or EFAs? How do they work for you?

Categories: Fitness, Food, Running | Tags: , | 5 Comments

Taking the First Steps

Taking the First Steps

These shoes were made for running, and that is what they want to do!

As of this Sunday, it will be 7 weeks since my injury first appeared. It was in the middle of a short, 3-mile run around my neighborhood when the knee pain started. I thought it was very odd, as I wasn’t running faster than normal, and I had just done 3 miles on the trails the day before and was fine. I took a week off as I had a upcoming trail race the next weekend and wanted to be cautious. I raced the next week, and from that moment on my knee pain reached a new level. I have self-diagnosed myself with IT Band syndrome. I’ve done my homework and have all the classic symptoms.

I have been resting, which means no running and hardly any other working out (although I need to change this). I tried to run a few times over the past 7 weeks but it didn’t go so well. I’d feel okay and put my shoes on and within 500 feet the pain would make itself known. I’ve been foam rolling…

Foam Roller

The foam roller, such a simple thing, yet it helps so much.

…and stretching and more resting.

Today I decided that I’m not getting any better and it is time to see a doctor. I dread going to the doctor and was hoping this would just go away, but it is not happening. I’ve already canceled my May half marathon plans. 😦

I am one of those with HMO for insurance, which means that I can’t just go to a physical therapist or specialty doctor. I have to go to my primary care physician, and hope that he refers me to the right doctor. So today I drove 30 minutes to the doctor’s office, where I sat in the exam room by myself for 50 minutes. The actual meeting with the doctor was only about 5 minutes. He seems to think that I may have a stress fracture. I didn’t want to go in there saying “I have IT Band Syndrome!” because I did not want to sway his professional opinion. I was very surprised he mentioned a fracture, as I really doubt that is what it is. At that point I brought up my IT Band thoughts and he just nodded, but seemed to discount that, and sent me off to a nearby facility to get x-rays. I balked at the idea, but he wouldn’t give me a referral without the x-rays first.

I went straight to the x-ray facility to Jamba Juice after the doctor (it was lunch, and I knew I didn’t have time to sit down and eat, so a smoothie sounded like a perfect on-the-go healthy option) and then went to the x-ray facility. Thankfully that was a very quick visit, no waiting at all. Now I’m just sitting and waiting to hear the results and find out what happens next. He said depending on the results I’d probably go to either an orthopedic or a PT next.

Going to the doctor was hard for me, because by doing so I was admitting that I had a real problem. For the first few weeks I was optimistic that it was just something minor and I’d be back running any day. The realization struck that it is fast approaching 2 months and this is the longest I’ve gone without running since I started 3 years ago.

In a way I feel relief, as I’ve taken those first steps to help fix it.

I’m also going to get out of this slump and try to find new physical activities to do in the meantime. I find myself so focused on just running, that I have to remind myself there are other forms of exercise out there. Just because I’m injured doesn’t mean that I have to sit on the couch feeling sorry for myself.

While I was out today, I ran a few errands. Stopped by Trader Joe’s for some groceries for dinner. A quick meatball, bok choy, mushroom, jasmine rice concoction. No real recipe, just threw some things together.

I also stopped by the health food store for some hemp protein powder. The brand I usually buy, Nutiva, has changed its packaging and I must say I’m disappointed. The new design just seems so plain compared to their old one.

Nutiva's New Hemp Protein Packaging

Nutiva's new hemp protein packaging.

What do you think?

Next up, a short trip to Ulta. My favorite blush is MAC Ladyblush Cremeblend. Unfortunately they changed their formula and the shade is not quite what it was with the old formula (or so I’ve heard) so I decided not to buy it. I’ve been hearing about this dupe from NYX, their Rogue Cream Blush in Natural. At $6.99 it is a lot cheaper than MAC which runs for $19.50.

Mac Ladyblush & NYX Natural

MAC's Ladyblush with its dupe NYX Natural.

The packaging is identical and the shades are close. Ladyblush has more magenta in it, while Natural has more of an yellow undertone make it a tad peachy, although the difference is subtle. I found that NYX has more pigment to it and I can use less of the product. I do apply both formulas with MAC’s 188 brush, it blends way better than using your fingers.

Going to do some more foam rolling, and I hope to hear from the doctor soon. I heard he was going on vacation for a week, so I’m not sure what that means for my diagnosis…

Have you ever been injured from running or another sport? How did you deal with it?

Categories: Running | 4 Comments

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