Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Fix #2

Last week I received my 2nd package from StitchFix - an online personal shopper kind of site.  The following are the items that were in my fix:
My thoughts...
1. The coral short sleeved cardigan:  I liked this item.  I think I'd get a lot of use out of it, the cut was great, loved the color.  However, it was $48 and I could definitely find a similar piece way cheaper at any number of stores. 

2. The aqua shirt:  Pulled this out of the box, laughed and thought "Yeah, not happening."  Put it on - and thought..."Maybe I don't look ridiculous.  And maybe I actually like this?!" - and when I posed this collage on Instagram and Facebook, the aqua shirt was a unanimous YES.  (more about it below)

3. The flower tank:  A.W.F.U.L.  The picture actually looks better than it looked in person. I know, it's bad.  It was way to flouncy, flowy, drapey.  Not happening.

4.  The blue blazer: loved it!  It was a knit blazer so it was suuuuuuuper comfy.  I sent it back though, because in about 25 pounds it will be baggy and not cut correctly. 

5.  The white shirt:  I loved this at first.  It was actually the item I thought I was going to keep.  Then, my stylish friend Lauren suggested I take a second look at the sleeves.  She was right - they were awkward looking.  Plus, a flowy v-neck white shirt would be easy to find at a lot of stores in the mall too.

In the end, the aqua shirt is the piece I kept.  This one really surprised me.  I thought I'd hate it!  I kept it for several reasons:  it is incredibly soft and comfortable, it's really flattering, I love the color, and I wouldn't have even tried this on in a store.

The shirt is also really versatile! 

Here I paired it with jeans and boots:

I wore it to church on Sunday with skinnies, zebra flats, and a fun necklace.


I can wear it with black yoga pants and sneakers for a comfy outfit.


I wore it to work with black dress pants.  The low slung wide belt was also a suggestion of Lauren's!  I love it!  It's totally out of my "style comfort zone" but that's what makes StitchFix fun!
 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

PB Banana French Toast

Here's another great use for powdered peanut butter - pancake syrup!!

This morning I made traditional French toast. I used sprouted grain bread dipped in a mixture of almond milk, egg whites, cinnamon, and vanilla extract.

I topped it off with a sliced banana and some PB syrup.

The syrup (I guess it is more of a sauce) is so simple!

2 tbsp powdered PB
1 tbsp pure maple syrup
Water

Whisk together, adding water a little at a time, until you reach a saucy consistency!

Pour over French toast and devour!

The sauce is 100 calories and made plenty for my toast!


Friday, March 22, 2013

Post-Race Thoughts


I've had a few people ask "Will you do a half marathon again?"

If you'd asked me at mile 11 - the answer would've been "I don't even want to keep doing this one, let alone another one!"

But now?  The answer is yes.  My body recovered really well from the race.  My mind knows I can do it.  (Check out my race recap here!)

There were a few things that I think were key to my post-race recovery.
1. Fuel - I drank a carton of chocolate milk, a bottle of water, and had a banana almost immediately after the race.  I'd also focused on adding extra carbs to my meals all week before and really hydrating the day before the race.  I used a full gel at mile 5 and a half of one at mile 10 - I like the Honey Stinger brand because they are organic and are honey based.  I never felt unfueled during or after the race.

2.  Stretching - The gear check line was REALLY long.  It was organized, but with 30,000 runners - it was bound to be long.  This actually was a blessing I think.  I spent the entire time (over 30 minutes) I stood in line doing stretches. 

3.  Foam Rolling - I hate and love my roller.  It's painful, but it works so well!!  I rolled at the hotel when we got back, and then a few more times when I got home.

4. Ginger - Sounds weird, I know.  I've hardly taken any Advil my whole training.  I took 2 when I got back to the hotel, and 2 on Sunday, and 2 on Monday.  That's it.  I used to take 4 every 3 hours when I had pain.  But, I've been reading/hearing about how Advil can actually mess with your stomach and inhibit your body's own natural healing, so I tried to curb my intake.  One thing that was recommended several places was the use of ginger.  I buy unsulphured ginger in a pouch at the store.  I ate it immediately after the race, and I ate it almost every day the week leading up to the race.  I pretty much eat that when I'd normally take Advil.

5. KT tape - This stuff is awesome!  I had both knees, my right hip flexor, my right foot, and my right hip taped.  You can't feel it at all and it really helps.  I noticed a huge difference in my knee pain especially.

There are a few things I think I'd change next time around though:
1. Train on routes with a few hills during long runs.  With the exception of the hill at mile 6, this was a fairly flat course.  However, a few hills in my long runs will help me tackle these better.  I did hills on my short runs, but it's different when you're 8 miles in.

2. Take my headphones.  I can always take them off and tuck them in my Spibelt.  It would've been nice to have my music during some of the tough miles.

3. Sign up for a faster corral.  We all entered "3:00" as our finish time when we signed up for this race.  We had no idea how long it would take us, so we erred on the longer side. We ended up in teh second to last corral and had to pass a lot of walkers. I think if we'd put in 2:30, we'd have been in an earlier corral and it would've prevented us from having to pass so many people.  I think that slowed us down and added extra mileage to our already long race.

And, because I'm crazy...I signed up for RNR USA 2014.  Yes, I know it's a full year away - but at a discounted price of $75, it was too good to pass up! 


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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Half Marathon Recap

This is probably going to be a really long post!

Our day started with a 5:30am wake up call.  We'd pretty much covered ourselves with KT tape and had all of our race gear out the night before, so we got ready quickly.  Our hotel (Marriot Metro Center) was just a few blocks from the race start.  (side note about the hotel:  this was a great choice!  It was close to the start, had a Starbucks inside, restaurants nearby, and they let us extend our check out until 2:00 on Saturday)

 
We dropped off our gear, which was sorted on school buses that were then driven to the finish.  Then we grabbed bagels to munch on while we waited for the start.  We each had a few friends running the race in different corrals, so we spent the wait time meeting up with them and snapping pre-race pictures.

The official start time was 7:30am, but we were in the second to last (aka SLOW) corral, so we actually crossed the start line at 8:20am.  The corrals moved right along, starting every minute or so, so the wait went by really quickly!

We ran past the Washington Monument (and the White House, but I totally missed that!) and Lincoln Memorial...

...then across the Arlington Memorial Bridge and back. 
(photo credit to Laura's family, who cheered us on at mile 2.5!)

Miles 4-6 went up the Rock Creek Parkway. 


Between mile 6 and 6.2 was this hill. 

I had no idea this hill was on the course, and I'm glad!  We all looked at each other and said "We're not walking" - so we just looked down and kept trudging up the hill!

Miles 7-9 were through some neighborhoods and around Howard University.  Around this point the sun actually came out for a little while! I am just in awe of God's provision in this.  There was a 70% chance of rain, and even in the forecast as we were leaving the hotel that morning they said "bring your umbrellas" - and we didn't feel a drop. 

After mile 10, I pretty much was miserable.  Lots of people had said I wouldn't need my headphones on the race, but miles 10-12 I was really wishing I'd brought them.  These were the hardest miles for me.  Every step I wanted to just stop running.  I couldn't even pinpoint an area that hurt, it was just everything from my waist down.  My legs were tired!!! 



The worst part of that was, we totally missed the mile 11 marker.  I was pretty sure we'd missed it, but I didn't want to get my hopes up.  I was SO happy when I saw "Mile 12"!   This mile was PAIN - but mentally, I was good.  I knew we were almost done, and I just had to keep moving.

Seeing mile 13 was such a beautiful feeling!!  I just remember all of us reaching out to grab hands.  We started this together, trained together, and darn it - we were finishing together!  We crossed the finish line with smiles on our faces and our hands held high! 
 
FINISHED!!!

This was about 30 seconds after we corssed the finish line.

"Official Finisher Photo"
 
When I looked at Twitter later in the evening, I saw a few complaints from people about the race.  Here are my thoughts on those problems...

Gear Drop Off - I heard of people waiting in long lines to drop off their gear.  I didn't have that problem at all.  We got to gear drop off about 6:45, walked right up and dropped off our stuff.  Maybe later on it got crowded, but that's why we got there early!

Bathrooms - People complained of long lines.  I've never been to a race, even the small local ones, where there wasn't a long line for the bathroom.  They had tons of port-a-potties lined up along the corrals, and the lines moved along. 

Gear Pick Up - I wish I'd taken a picture of this!!  It was crazy.  They had 25 school buses where you dropped off your gear by last name, then each seat in the bus was labeled with bib numbers.  You went to the back of the bus, showed your bib, and they handed you your bag.  The problem was, the lines were REALLY long - like 30+ minutes of wating.  But, this turned out to be a good thing for me because I spent the entire time stretching.  I think that really helped my recovery.
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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

New Goals


Now that my "big race" is finished, it's time to start looking ahead and setting some new goals.  It feels great to have the pressure of distance training behind me.  My focus now will be working on my speed and strength.

Here's my upcoming race calendar so far...
4/6/2013     York Suburban Best Buddies 5k (local race - email me for info if you're interested)
4/20/2013   Joey Duffy 5k (localrace - email me for info if you're interested)
5/4/2013     Turkey Hill Country Classic 10K
6/1/2013     ZOOMA Annapolis 10K
6/15/2013   Run or Dye Color Run Philadelphia
8/10/2013   Dirty Girl Mud Run Baltimore
10/25/2013  Men's Health Urbanathlon New York City

(I am doing the Color and Mud runs on teams, if anyone is interested in joining - email me for info!)

I'm setting a few goals for these races:

1.  Have a 5K PR.  That means a 29:43 race.
 
2.  Complete a 10K in under an hour.  This might take awhile to accomplish, but I'm working on some speed/interval training to help with this.

3.  Be strong.  The "Dirty Girl" and the Urbanathlon both have obstacles, so I need to keep focusing on my strength training.

4.  HAVE FUN!  Races like the color run, mud run, and Urbanathlon are FUN.  Plus, I'm running them all with friends who make anything fun.  I'm excited for the variety in these races, too!

I'm also eyeing the Atlanta Half Marathon on Thanksgiving Day, plus I'm sure some other races will find their way onto my calendar as well. 

Weight Goals

As far as weight goals go, I frequently get asked what my "ultimate" goal is.  Right now, that goal is 150 pounds for a total loss of 100 pounds. 

Since I'm currently at the lowest weight I've been since probably middle school, 174 pounds, I can't really put an exact number out there for a goal.  I don't know what my body will look and feel like at 150 pounds.  I might still have more I want to lose, I might not. 


I do know that I've been really inspired by Danni Allen, this season's "Biggest Loser" winner.  She and I started around the same weight, we are the same height, and only 5 years apart in age.  When she talked about her struggles with being overweight, I felt like I was listening to myself.  At the finale, her weight was 137 pounds.  So, I'm thinking somewhere in the 140s might be a good goal.  But, for now, I'm focusing on 150.  It's hard to believe I'm so close to my goal.  24 pounds to lose!
 
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Monday, March 18, 2013

Accomplishments

Last week I achieved two major goals.

First, I reached the lowest weight I ever remember being at.  174.6 pounds.  (yup, this is also the first time I'm telling you my weight - eek!!)

I started this journey at 250 pounds.  I've lost 75.4 pounds now!  In case you're wondering, these are things that weight 75 pounds:
  • 12.5 gallons of jet fuel (thanks to my brother for that one)
  • an average 11 year old boy
  • 100 cans of soda
  • 2.5 cinder blocks
  • 300 apples
  • 300 stickes of butter
  • 4,000 gum balls
  • 37,500 plain M&Ms

Crazy!!!

My second accomplishment was running the Rock 'N Roll USA Half Marathon in Washington, DC on Saturday!  I finished in 2 hours and 36 minutes - with no walking!  I'll post a full race recap later this week, I'm waiting for all of the pictures to post. 
(Mile 2.5 - we were still pretty happy at this point!)

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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Weekend

I don't know how it was where you live, but this weekend in Southern PA was beautiful!! 

I started my Saturday taking the "Athletic Challenge" class at my gym, which is a boot camp style class I've been wanting to take but haven't been able to due to weekend long runs.  On my way home, it was so beautiful out that I couldn't resist a run!  I got in 3.75 miles in the beautiful sunshine, then spent some time out on my patio.  I drank iced tea, read "Runner's World", and iced my knee.  Bliss!!


I ripped this page out of "Runner's World" - I was so excited when I saw it!! I'm super pumped for this year's Urbanathlon.  Last year I did one of the three parts, but this year I'm tackling the whole thing! This page is on my fridge for motivation.

 
Sunday started with a 6 mile run with my awesome training pals.  This was our last run together before the big race on Saturday!  We chatted the whole time, and at the end found ourselves thinking how quickly the miles went.  I guess after running 11, 6 miles doesn't seem so bad.

 
We then headed to our gym for a Centergy class, which is a mix of Tai Chi, yoga, and pilates.  The class was followed by a nutrition seminar taught by my friend, Kate. (who gave me the recipe for the cookies I shared Friday)  This was a GREAT seminar!
 
I came home and spent some more time outside.  This guy was pretty happy about being outside, too.  My other cat was busy guarding the catnip plant.
 
Then, I made my lunches for the week.  I decided to do something different this week instead of my usual "salad in a jar".  I mixed up some farro, kale, swiss chard, lemon, and tomato/basil goat cheese. 
 
Now I'm chilling out with some NetFlix documentaries.  I watched "Hungry for Change" last week and am currently watching "Vegucated". 
How was your weekend?

Friday, March 8, 2013

Kate's Cookies

My friend, Kate, shared this recipe with me and I had several folks ask for it - so here you go!  Kate is an instructor at my gym, and one of my natural nutrition gurus.  She has great tips and ideas for eating clean and staying healthy.  I just adore her!

These cookies are gluten free, dairy free, and offer an egg free option (that's the one I used). They taste awesome and satisfy your sweet tooth without the refined sugar and flour.

 
Kate's Almond Cookies

1 cup almond meal/flour (here's a link for how to make your own)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup chocolate chips (I used cacao nibs)
1 tsp vanilla extract (I used half vanilla and half almond because I ran out of vanilla)
1 egg (or this handy egg substitute - 1 tbsp of ground flax or chia seeds with 3 tbsp of water, let it thicken up for about 15 minutes)

Directions:
1. Mix the almond meal, chips and honey together. 
2. Stir in all other ingredients.
3. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto a parchment lined baking sheet.
4. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 350.  Watch carefully!

I used my small Pampered Chef cookie scoop, which holds 1 tablespoon, and I got 16 cookies for 75 calories a piece. 

Thanks, Kate, for this easy and healthy recipe!

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Thursday, March 7, 2013

Race Updates


The Rock 'N Roll Half Marathon is just 9 days away!!  I cannot believe it's almost here. It seemed like it was so far away for so long, and suddenly it's arrived!  I've run 10 miles twice and 11 miles once, so I'm confident I will do great at the race!

So, after that race - what's next?  I had originally planned to run the Zooma Annapolis Half Marathon on June 1st.  Several of my pals are signed up to run the 10K, so after some pondering, I've decided to switch to the 10K too.

I signed up for the half to keep myself motivated.  But, as I look at the next few months and I'm getting invites to other fun 5K races, I don't think I need the half as motivation.  I also want to free myself up a little bit from the intense training.  It's hard to fit in the weekend classes at the gym when running long distances, plus I can't say "yes" to the shorter races because I have to get my miles in.

So, here's the race plan for now:
3/16/2013 - Rock 'N Roll Half (Washington, DC)
4/20/2013 - Joey Duffy 5K (local)
5/4/2013 - Turkey Hill Country Classic 10K (Lancaster)
6/1/2013 - Zooma 10K (Annapolis)
6/15/2013 - Run or Dye 5K (Philadelphia)
8/2013 - Rail Trail 10 Miler (local)

I'm excited for some fun races like the Run or Dye (a color run) and maybe doing a Dirty Girl Mud Run in August, too! 

I'm looking towards completing the whole Urbanathlon and doing the Atlanta Half Marathon in the fall, too!
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