Monday, March 29, 2010

Lisa is an Inspiration

It's almost Easter. I can't believe it's been three months since I made my health and fitness resolutions for the New Year. I thought it was a good time for a post about a blog friend who I follow, who helps to keep me motivated to stay healthy. Lisa is my third profile, you can find my earlier posts about Tricia, here, and of Kelly, here.

I've been reading Lisa's blog, Early Morning Run, for a couple of months now. She lives in NYC, so I can get my dose of NY through her photos and posts, but I also read for her views on diet and exercise. She ran the NYC Marathon last year for the first time, and often posts photos of her healthy meals (I will never tire of photos of food). She also shares her views on topics such as Michelle Obama's initiative to fight childhood obesity. Lisa was kind enough to answer the questions I had for her, so read on.....

What brought you to NYC? How do you like living there?

I moved to NYC for a great job opportunity. While it was a bit of a culture shock from living in Michigan, I love living here. There is so much to do and see. If you’re bored, it’s your own fault! I love just walking around the city exploring neighborhoods, since things are always changing. There are great restaurants, parks, festivals, fairs, farmers markets. I love running in Central Park and people watching ALL THE TIME!

The name of your blog is Early Morning did you become a runner? Do you really always run in the morning?

I became a runner (it’s still weird to think of myself as a ‘runner’) a year or so after I moved out here. I gained a bit of weight over the first year – all the great restaurants and bakeries on each block and moving out here alone – so I really made an effort to get into shape and lose weight. I had been going to the gym but I live near Central Park and always saw tons of people out running and watched the NYRR races which looked like a lot of fun. I run in the morning about 95% of the time. I’ll run in the evening if it’s with friends. If I’m not running, I’m at the gym, and that’s always in the morning too. It starts my day off on the right track and gives me a lot of energy. I feel ‘off’ if I don’t work out and get that rush of endorphins!

What made you decide to run the NYC Marathon last fall? Was it your first?

I have only done one marathon. I watched the marathon runners go up 1st Ave for years and was always in awe and inspired by them. It amazed me to see runners from all walks of life, of all ages – from teens to 80 year olds – many running in honor of others. The runners with disabilities never cease to amaze me. They are incredible. I decided to run to prove to myself that I could. I didn’t start running until I was in my 20’s and I wanted to set a big goal for myself and accomplish it. It is definitely the most physical goal I’ve ever set for myself and the feeling I had crossing the finish line was absolutely incredible.

What kind of training program did you follow for the marathon? What do you do for cross training?

I looked into a lot of different training programs but the most important thing to remember when choosing one is that it works with your schedule. If it’s not a plan that you can realistically fit into your schedule, it’s not going to work. Rather than spending money on a personalized plan (which may have been better in the long run) I used the plan for beginner marathoners on the NYRR website. It worked well for me because the long runs were on Saturday and the mileage built up gradually. It did require a lot of running days, but I would swap one or two out each week for an intense elliptical workout. I also did a bit of strength training, but looking back, I should have done more. I did buy a running log to keep track of everything – fuel, routes, mileage, time, etc which really helped me keep track of my progress.

I'm pretty loyal to brands once I find one that I like, what is some of your favorite running gear?

Ahhh, so important! I had quite a few foot problems while I was training for the marathon and shoes are the key piece of gear for me. I’ve used a few models, but I stick with Asics. They just fit my feet the best. I also love my Nike shorts and C9 tanks! They are so comfortable! I’m also a fan of the Fuel Belt I purchased last summer. Definitely necessary for long runs out of Central Park when drinking fountains weren’t close by.

What is your food philosophy?

For the longest time I didn’t have a food philosophy. When I realized I need to take control and lose weight several years ago, I didn’t really do it the smart way. I was living on my own, my kitchen was about two square feet (literally) and I just decreased my caloric intake and upped my physical activity. Now though, I am really focused on eating healthy, whole foods. I subscribe to the Michael Pollan philosophy and have cut out a lot of processed foods. It’s all about healthy, nutritious and well balanced meals. I do have a strong sweet tooth though, and have been successful this year in curbing my cravings and eating less sugar. It really is not good for overall health.

What foods do you always have in your fridge or cabinet? Is there anything in particular that you like or dislike?

We always have peanut butter, carrots, apples, bananas and pears. Oatmeal, legumes, and grains are also staples. I absolutely LOVE peanut butter (can eat it from a jar! White Choc Wonderful from PB&Co is my favorite.). I’m not a fan of shell fish or really hot peppers.

Take us through a normal day of eating for you.

I always have an Akmak cracker or two before the gym.

Afterwards, I’ll have oatmeal loaded with banana, flax, chia (new addition!), and cinnamon or a yogurt (love Greek yogurt, but often it’s regular non-fat organic) mess that includes banana, flax, chia, cinnamon, and homemade granola.

For lunch I’ll have some sort of sandwich on an Arnold’s Sandwich Thin or whole grain bread, a side of veggies and always an apple. I love avocado, hummus, tomato and onion sandwiches!

Dinner can be all sorts of things. If I’m not too hungry I’ll just have some cottage cheese, veggies and fruit. Sometimes we’ll simply cook fish, have a loaded sweet potato, veggie whole wheat pizza, we’ve started experimenting with different grains. I also like making chili, sautéing kale with tomatoes, garlic and other veggies. I’ve been trying a lot of different things lately but we always keep it well balanced. Sometimes if we’re exhausted or not very inspired we’ll make sandwiches. We love sandwiches!

Throughout the day I’ll have a few cups of green tea, coffee on the weekends and a couple snacks. Snacks can be a mixture of things. Truthfully, snacking has been a downfall for me, but I’m doing well this year on snacking less and choosing healthy options like carrots, fruit, an Akmak cracker or plain popcorn. If I’m heading out for a few hours I’ll take a larabar, some almonds or a piece of fruit along with me in case I get hungry so I don’t resort to something sugary and fatty.

I'm trying to teach my children healthy habits by example. Where do you get your inspiration from to eat right and exercise?

My mother has been a great inspiration! She joined weight watchers several years ago and completely changed her eating habits and lost over 60lbs! She really got me started. Also, I’ve had some health issues over the past few years and I strongly believe that what we eat and our level of activity directly influences our health. I want to be as healthy as possible and live a long, happy life and that means eating well and being active. I also love food, and have found fresh ingredients make the most flavorful meals!

What is your take on our nations obesity problems? Do you have any views on the best way to address them?

I could talk for hours about this. I think the obesity problem in this nation, is sad, disgusting, and alarming. We are killing ourselves by eating such unhealthy foods and so many people are stuck in their ways and refuse to change even though they know this. Eating fast, unhealthy foods has been ingrained in our daily lives for a couple generations now and it’s going to take a lot to change that. Convenience foods have become a part of our culture, so change won’t happen overnight.

Truthfully, I’m not sure how to address the problems. So many things are intertwined that it will take years to unwind them. Government subsidies, school food regulations, the big food companies and their marketing power. I really think people need to take it upon themselves to make the change and turn this around. The Government isn’t going to do it and we shouldn’t rely on them to. We need to take responsibility of our health. I’m inspired by the people who are making waves in their own communities, even in little ways, to bring attention to this and help people learn how to live healthfully. I’ve seen some companies pop up where you can go in, learn how to cook healthful meals for your family, pay for the ingredients, make the meals and take them home. You can make enough for the whole week and put them in your freezer till you need them. I think this is great! Real meals that are still easy to make at night.

Running seems to be gaining popularity and the more 5k races there are, the more running stores providing free group runs and clinics, the better! Blogs like this one inspire others and cause change! This really needs to be a true grassroots initiative by people all across the country. It’s going to take a long time, but I think it’s going to happen. There are a lot of people who are trying to make changes, we just need them to reach the ones who aren’t quite convinced yet.

and finally:

salty or sweet? Sweet

George Clooney or Brad Pitt? George Clooney

Early Bird or Night Owl? Definitely an early bird!

Boxers or Briefs? Boxer-briefs! Haha!

Vampires or Werewolves? Neither?!

Dogs or Cats? Cats.

and finally....

reality television, yes, or no?
This is a tough one. Yes, but only a few. I can’t stand most of them!

Thanks Lisa!!!

Scenes from a weekend

It's Monday, and the weekend is just ending. I'm getting that sad, slightly panicky feeling in my stomach because I know my sister is leaving soon. It was a great weekend, one that included:
regular ingestion of Irish Soda bread:

Wine. As well as Mediterranean Pasta, ribeyes with roasted cauliflower and "mystery" potatoes, salmon tacos, and a girl scout cookie or two.

Lunch at Coleman's, a great Irish restaurant with a door for Leprechauns.

A trip to the zoo, where I like to take slightly embarrassing photos of my family.

and ended with watching this, and it was GOOD. So much better than Twilight.

can't wait to see her again.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Tall Mom Virtual Race for the Cure 10k

Today I participated in Tall Mom on the Run's Virtual Race for the Cure. Mel is raising funds for her Marathon for the Cure, so I was happy to donate to her cause. I ran today in support of my mother in law, Diane, who has been battling breast cancer, and her sister Cathy, who is a breast cancer survivor. I read earlier that Mel is close to her fundraising goal, which goes to show how every donation, no matter what size, can help make a difference.

I woke up today to sunshine, but it was 18 degrees!! I guess spring didn't get the memo. I threw on my C9 shirt under the shirt I wore to a Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk last fall. I got my bib printed out, and I gave myself number 23, which was my number when I played field hockey in High School (I played defense, sweeper, if you were wondering). I strapped on my friends Nike+ipod, picked a playlist, and was off for a jaunt on the walking trails of my neighborhood.

It was chilly, and my hands were cold, but after about a mile they warmed up. There were a bunch of people out walking their dogs, or running, so I was happy that my shirt was getting some attention.

I was running along, when suddenly one of the songs started to fade out. I immediately thought the ipod jinx had struck, when a voice announced that mile one was complete. A ha! Okay, no biggie. The rest of the run went like this:

Mary J. Blige and U2's One is on, this song gives me chills.

I need to focus on my form, and lead with my chest and my shoulders pulled back. I tend to hunch over too much.

That kid has a cool scooter.

Who needs a tissue when you have a hand.

Funny how my lips automatically curl around my teeth when I see a patch of ice, in anticipation of my fall.

This song Born Slippy Nuxx by Underworld is really long. Must be fun in a club. When was the last time I was in a club?

AH! A cat just ran out and crossed my path, scared the crap out of me.

I'm definitely striking more with my forefoot in these new shoes.

My pants keep falling down.

I remember the last time I was in a club, last year, at Club Lava at Turning Stone Casino. Interesting night.

One mile to go, not sure how fast I'm going, but I feel good, so I'm going to speed it up.

What should I get for lunch today?

400 meters. 200. 100. Home. And how weird is it that the voice of Tiger Woods just told me I had a great workout? ewwwww.

Now for the stats: 6.2 miles, 1:07:34, average pace 10:51. Hmmmmm. I think I ran faster than that. I ran a 10k last November in 1:00:28, and in that race I was getting over a lousy cold and even walked a bit. So I'm going to take it with a grain of salt, I had a great run.

Thanks Mel, for the chance to participate!!!!!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Three Exciting Things for Thursday

I'm borrowing the Thursday Thing theme that I've seen other bloggers use, as once again my thoughts are random, but they're good thoughts:

1. I'm excited for my sister to visit this weekend, I haven't seen her since Christmas! She's bringing some wine she bought in Napa (yum) which I plan on pairing with a big tray of roasted cauliflower. I seem to eat it when I'm on the phone with her, so I thought it was fitting!

2. I'm excited to run Tall Mom Mel's Virtual Race for the Cure 10k this Saturday! I'm thinking of making a racing bib for it, but I'm so not crafty so I can see it falling apart after I pin it on.

3. I'm excited that Lost didn't suck this week.

Happy Thursday......better than Hump Day!

God Never Blinks.....winner!

Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway for God Never Blinks! It really was a good book, I think I'm going to choose it for my book club when it's my turn to host.

Using trusty, the winner turned out to be my fellow NY State running blogger....Suzy at Running on My Time!
Congrats Suzy!
Stay tuned, you never know what other giveaways I might have coming up!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

I don't really have a Point for this Post

Mike is in the process of quitting smoking. He has now turned into who I like to call, Mean Mike. I feel bad for him, I really do, I know quitting is a very hard thing to do. I've never smoked, well, I tried to on two separate occasions. Once I lit up in a bar in college, and smoker friends kept coming up to me and taking the cigarette out of my hand. The other time I was at the restaurant I waited tables at, and everyone kept laughing at me, so I gave up.

My hip has been bugging me since Sunday, the day after my 5.5 mile hilly run. I blame the hula hoop exercise on Wii Fit, and low rise jeans. It's a bit frustrating, I feel like when one part of my body is back to normal, another decides to act up. I'm going to have to invest in more ice packs, because after a run, I sit on one to ice my left hamstring, rest my left foot on another to ice my arch, then hold one on my left ankle, which acts up once in a while because I broke it twice. I'm going to have to duct tape one to my hip in an effort to save icing time!

I haven't been experimenting much in the kitchen lately, after the week of spring like weather we had I decided to clear out the freezer. So we've had chili, vegetable ziti, mac and cheese with roasted tomatoes, and tomorrow is Healthy Helper. I'm not inspired at all. Now that it's Lent, for some reason I get all bugged out about not eating meat on Friday. We eat meat free meals all the time, but on Friday mornings I call Mike, all frantic about what we're going to make. Actually, I made it hard on myself this year by giving up salsa, I really miss salmon tacos.

Do you ever look at the clock and it reads 11:11? This has been happening to me a lot lately. I've heard this means that angels are looking out for you. I've been thinking more of having a friend who is a psychic do a reading with me, I'm just really curious about what would happen. Ideally I would have it done at my Mom's (haunted) house before she sells it, btw, if you've read my posts about her house, I have a new story. My Mom bought a bottle of wine, poured a glass, then put the cork back in. She was sitting in the living room, and heard a POP. Went back in to see the cork on the counter. She put it back in, sat down, then heard a POP again. The cork was out. She's definitely got a real life Paranormal Activity thing going on there.

I was just going through photos, and I am horribly behind printing them out and putting them into albums. Like two years behind. I would rather drop the hundred bucks on something fun, like the Time Warner bill. But the one above was from a recent St. Patrick's Day party and my eyes are open, so it's a keeper. You can't even see my roots, which I am thankfully getting done on Thursday.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Absent mindedness.

My first training run for the Mountain Goat was a success. I was a bit overdressed (I wore pearls. Just kidding, I wore my diamond studs) because even though it was sunny, it was only about 41 degrees. And I'm now convinced that I am an ipod jinx, because the Nike+ that I borrowed froze up right when we were getting ready to run. So that makes three.

Today was a spring cleaning kind of day at home, so I decided to tear apart my Jeep and suck up a winters worth of garbage out of all the seats. I found a couple of water toys left from summer, so I guess I was overdue. I put a couple of half empty boxes of fruit snack type things on the roof of the car while vacuuming, which I promptly forgot about. I had to return a few books to the library (my latest fine was $4.65) so I made a quick trip over to drop them off. On the way home, I passed a box of fruit snacks on the side of the road, with the little packets strewn around. When I got home Mike said he found another box in the driveway.

I don't mean to be absent minded, or clumsy, the sad thing is I really try to be organized and pay attention to things, it just doesn't work for me. Case in point:

I once made a pot of coffee at work, but forgot to put the pot under the spout. I came back to the break room, to see three of my co-workers mopping up the coffee that had flowed all over the place. I said "Who did that?!"

When Luke was a year old, I accidentally locked my keys in the Jeep, with him in his car seat, along with my cellphone, in the library parking lot. I borrowed a phone from a woman in the car next to me to call Mike, then I danced around the Jeep, making funny faces so he wouldn't cry. That lasted about 15 minutes, after which the poor kid was like, okay, it was fun for the first five minutes, but not for the last ten.

I've never had a kitchen disaster (well, one time I had to use the fire extinguisher, but that doesn't count), but I can make a mess. Years ago I was making a cake and got mad at my brother about something, so I slammed the bowl down, and the batter flew up everywhere, and a big glob of it slapped him right in the eye. He sees just fine now.

The above photo of Eliza has nothing to do with this post, I just like it. She looks like a runner.

Don't forget the God Never Blinks giveaway...check it out here.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Powered by Potatoes

Tomorrow is the first day of the training runs for the Mountain Goat, and I'm excited. I feel like I should be nervous or intimidated, but I'm not. I used to be afraid of the Boilermaker, but after running it for the past three years, I feel like it's a walk in the park. So I have a good mindset for this new challenge of mine, and it makes me realize how confident I feel about tackling my marathon training.

Speaking of marathons, the lottery winners for the NYC Marathon aren't going to be announced until April 7! It was supposed to be the end of March. But as I said before, I'm happy about my plan for Rochester in the fall, but I'm still anxious to see what happens with NYC.

Since I can't get enough of social networking sites, I joined Daily Mile. It seems pretty cool, and I've "friended" some local runners, as well as blogger friends, so look me up if the mood strikes!

I ran a quick 2.5 miles this morning on the treadmill while the kids played, and then we spent the afternoon walking and playing. I made them mashed potatoes to go with their dinner, and for some reason they were really watery. So I kept them on the burner to steam out some of the water, and after about ten minutes they were perfect! I wanted to get outside and calibrate my friend Jen's Nike + ipod, so when Mike got home I ran a quick mile. I'm telling you, I was zipping along like it was nobody's business. Those spuds were better than m&m's for energy. I might be onto something.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Oh Happy Day

Today was a wonderful day.

Before I dive into it, I wanted to see if anyone else on Blogger has issues commenting on Wordpress blogs. I follow some great blogs, and for some reason, when I try to comment on them (like yours Jon, at Chocolate Runner) it doesn't go through. I love connecting with fellow bloggers, so it drives me a little batty when I'm not able to comment.

I also wanted to mention that Marcia has a great Running Skirt giveaway going on, obviously I entered. I've been eyeing their plaid running skirt for a while now, and I just may have to treat myself and buy one to celebrate spring.

But back to my wonderful day.

I love St. Patricks Day, I love it even more when the snow is gone and the sky is blue and the sun is shining. I've loved it since I was a kid, when my Mom made her corned beef, and we always had a shamrock pin to wear to school.

Today I was able to get out in the sunshine, for a six mile run with my sis in law, Jeannine. I wore my friend Jennifer's Nike + ipod, whose sensor happened to fit quite nicely into the spot made specially for it in my Nike Zooms. I haven't had a chance to calibrate it, but it didn't matter, I just wanted to get out there.

We did a loop around my 'hood, which was so nice to do now that the snow is gone. Spring kind of sneaks up on you, one minute there's four feet of snow hanging around, then poof.....mud. I felt so good, we ran at a quick clip, I felt like I was pushing myself, but in a good way. We chatted, I listened to Jen's Central Park play list, breathed deep. I know it's bad, but I got a bit of a sunburn on my nose, that's how nice out it was.

In the afternoon I was the Room Mom for Luke's St. Patty's Day party. Nothing like a room full of five year olds, thrilled that you are there, and fighting for your attention. I told them that the Shamrock cookies I brought were made by Leprechauns, and they almost lost their minds.

The rest of the day centered around sitting outside, enjoying some beers, soda bread, veggies and not one, but two corned beefs. One was in the crock pot, the other, on the grill with onions. So.

Like I said, it was a wonderful day.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

God Never Blinks, a book giveaway

I had a chance to read the soon to be published book, God Never Blinks, by Regina Brett, a columnist for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Pulitzer Prize finalist, and radio show host on NPR.

When she turned fifty, Brett wrote a column on the 50 lessons she learned in a life that included single parenthood, breast cancer, her relationships with others and with God. It turned out to be one of the newspaper's most popular columns, one that has been emailed hundreds of thousands of times over.

I read inspirational books like this every once in a while, that give reminders to appreciate life as I live it. Some of the lessons in God Never Blinks were ones I've heard before, Saving for Retirement, Don't Compare Your Life to Others', Growing Old Beats the Alternative. However, there were other lessons and phrases that jumped out at me, and really hit home.

The very first lesson talked about using the words "get to" instead of "have to." The last few hours of my day are always chaotic, with all the things I have to do, cooking dinner, giving the kids their baths, reading soon to be overdue library books. The great thing is, I get to laugh with my kids in their bath, I get to read them their books. I get to do so much in my life.

As a Stay At Home Mom, I appreciated Lesson 37, Your Children Get One Childhood, Make it Memorable. Brett felt guilty over being a single parent, until she learned to live in the moment, to find joy and meaning in it, instead of worrying about their happiness in the future. I think this applies if you are a single parent, have a partner, work or stay at home, it's a great reminder to be present for your children. I think to myself over and over, I only have one shot, they grow in the blink of an eye, so I'm going to enjoy them while they'll let me!

One lesson was my favorite, Don't Save Anything for a Special Occasion, Today is Special Enough. Brett had a collection of candles that she saved, to use on the right occasion, until her breast cancer battle changed her perspective. She writes that we all have an expiration date, life is too short to waste doing anything joyless. So she stopped saving things for special occasions, because every day is special. I agree with her. My husband gave me a pair of diamond earrings when my son was born, I wear them every single day. They are beautiful, and special, so I celebrate every day when I wear them.

Lesson 31 is titled, No matter how good or how bad a situation is, it will change. Sometimes when life is going well, I get nervous that something bad is going to happen. And when something bad does happen, I just want to get through it and go on. Brett had a great analogy for living life with its ups and downs: ride life like a raft in a river, let it carry you through the white water into the still. Basically, good times come and go, and bad times come and go. Our job is not to cling to one or fight the other but allow them both to teach us and polish us. I might have to write that one down and put it on my refrigerator.

I found the lessons in God Never Blinks to be straight forward, and inspiring, one that I can see myself going back to when I need a lift.

You can read more about Regina Brett on her website,, a portion of the proceeds of God Never Blinks will help to support the Gathering Place, which offers free services for anyone touched by cancer.

For a chance to win a copy of God Never Blinks, leave me a comment, and tell me what your favorite book is. For extra entries (please leave a separate comment for each), you can:

1. follow my blog, or tell me you already do so

2. Tweet this giveaway on Twitter

3. link to this giveaway on your blog

Giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents, and sorry, no P.O. Boxes. Giveaway ends at midnight EST on March 24th.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

fresh week, fresh start

I made some plans for this week, and they just so happen to include:

1. saying Thank You to my Great Grandfather William for coming to America from Ireland in 1906.

2. lovin' on my kids and hubs.

3. making more Irish soda bread, cooking up the corned beef and cabbage, pairing them up with a Harp or two, then making reubens with extra sauerkraut from the leftovers

4. Running. And some more running.

5. beginning 40 days of core work (thanks to Marcia)

6. looking forward to watching #1 seed SU in March Madness

7. trying not to wipe out on the stairs with a full basket of clean laundry like I did the other night.

8. staying far, far away from Red Bull......

......spring is getting closer every day.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Le Winner

Thanks to everyone who entered the Le Creuset Giveaway, there were over 200 entries!! To pick the winner, I threw darts at numbers tacked on a cork board......just kidding, I used

The winner was number 41, Julie at Sudden Spontaneity, congrats Julie!

I'll be posting a new giveaway next week, for all you Bookworms, so stay tuned.

Friday, March 12, 2010

I'm not my usual fun self

I'm bugging out a bit. I like to use my blog as a place to stay positive about things that are going on in my life, but sometimes things in life happen, and it's unavoidable that you're going to be sad.

Last week, a friend of mine had a heart attack, he's the husband of one of my friends of over 25 years. He's on the mend, but it was a shocker, a wake up call as to what stage of life we're heading into, one that I hoped wouldn't happen for years, if ever.

Then, I found out this morning, Mike, a friend from high school, a husband and father of three, died of a heart attack. I sat in front of his facebook page, wanting to write something, but didn't know what to say. I keep thinking of him in the back seat of our Drivers Ed car, making fun of my driving.

What is really upsetting to me, is today is the 15th Anniversary of the death of my friend Anna. She was one of my first great friends, the person I did my nails with, listened to Madonna with, shared my first beer with. She and Mike used to date, and in a strange twist of fate, he died on the same day, many years later.

I'm sure they're sitting together in Heaven.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

All hyped up and ready to go

Tonight, within a time span of 30 seconds, I:

1. turned on the blender with the top not entirely on (this wasn't the first time)

2. had a pot of water and milk boil over, and it went all over the stove top

3. remembered that I had a bottle of wine in the freezer.

I was able to save the wine.

I'm feeling a huge sense of motivation towards my running. I've got 28 miles logged so far this month, and this morning I spent time online looking at various marathons.

Other than Tall Mom's Virtual 10k at the end of this month, my next race is the 10 mile Mountain Goat, on May 2. Training runs start for that on March 20th, and since it's my first time running it, I can't wait. It's a very hilly course, as evidenced by the elevation map above. I'm sure it will be hard, but a good hard.

I feel like I want to keep that training momentum going after the race, in order to tackle a marathon sooner than September. I've looked at different plans, I don't feel like I need to follow a 26 week beginner plan, but an 18 week seems a bit ambitious. My biggest fear is injury. Add in the fact that I'm going to start incorporating speed work into my runs, and all those hills, I'm sure I'll have plenty to keep myself occupied with.

Which brings me back to choosing a 26 mile race, which so far is going to be the Rochester full on September 12. It feels so far away, but in the grand scheme of things, it's probably the best bet. I don't even know how I'm going to physically handle the training, so I think I'm just over thinking and making this more difficult than it needs to be.

Don't forget the Le Creuset have until midnight Friday to enter, so check it out here!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Newman's Own Organics, Take Two

Last month I wrote part one of my review of Newman's Own Organic snacks, and after much eating and sharing of the products, here is part two.

Newman's Own Organics are about "great tasting food that happens to be organic", products we loved as kids, but better. Everything they use in their line is organic, including Palm Fruit Oil, which has no trans fats, is not hydrogenated, and is used in Europe as an alternative to partially hydrogenated oils. If you aren't familiar with hydrogenated oils, they are added to processed foods to prolong their shelf life. They cause a myriad of problems to health, and have been called the "silent killer" because of the damage it does to the body over time.

Let's start with their dried fruits, Apricots, Prunes, Berry Blend, and Cranberry. Right off the bat I noticed that the apricots had a color that was darker than normal, as did the cranberries. We don't usually buy prunes (hoping to put that off for a few more years), but they were plump, shiny, and had almost a creamy taste. Eliza took off with the bag, and called them "big raisins." My favorite of the four was the berry blend, which includes blueberries, cranberries, raisins and cherries. I ended up picking out all of the cherries and blueberries, they had such a great pop of flavor.

We had three last bags of cookies, Chocolate ABC's, Fig Newmans, and Mint Newman O's. The ABC's were a graham type cookie, perfect for a snack when Luke got home from school. You could tell the sugar flavor was natural, I always think of apple juice when I eat organic cookies, and this was similar. It was the same with the Fig Newman's. I'm a sucker for anything chocolate mint, so I saved the mint O's for last, and they could have used just a bit more mint, but that's just me.
When we tackled the pretzels, (Rounds, Minis and Thins) I didn't think there was going to be much of a difference between normal pretzels and the Newman's. But there was. The best way to describe it is a heartier flavor, and for the heck of it, I compared the Newman's ingredients to another brand of pretzels. The N's list organic unbleached wheat and rye flour, brown rice syrup, sunflower oil, malt, yeast and sodium bicarbonate. The other non-organic brand lists wheat flour, vital wheat gluten, salt, corn syrup, vegetable oil (also may contain corn, canola, cottonseed, soybean), sodium bicarbonate and yeast. Hmmmmmmm. That explains it.
I saved the best for last, the signature series chocolate bars. Chocolate bars!! They come in milk, mocha milk, orange, dark, super dark, and dark espresso. Now, I'm all about the antioxidant power of dark chocolate, and Newman's delivered, the bars are made from cocoa beans grown on Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farms.

All of the bars had a deep, rich color, with a great snap when you broke it apart. Aside from the orange (I'm just not a fan of fruit flavored chocolate), once a bar was open it was very hard to stay away. The mocha milk was my favorite, it was like a coffee milkshake, and my guinea pig Eliza is still walking around asking for "mokamilk."
As I said in part one, I'm happy with the Newman's Own Organics, you can tell the ingredients are high quality, with a pure, clean taste. And this review was my own, I was not compensated in any way for my thoughts. And they are good thoughts.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Spring is Flinging

I woke up this morning, and even before I got out of bed, I had a feeling in my bones that spring is on it's way. Or it could just be that the sun was shining. Whatever it is, I like it.

Yesterday was lovely as well, and I made it outside for a 4.5 mile run in my new Nike's. I feel good in them, my toes are happy with all the room they have to stretch out, and I'm not striking with my heel as much as I do in my Asics. So far so good! After that I made my Aunt Linda's famous Irish Soda Bread, sorry to say I can't share that recipe, but I added a photo to drool over.

Today was a good mail day, my friend Jennifer lent me her Nike plus ipod, which makes me want to run right out the door to try it out. I'm listening to it now, and having flashbacks to high school and college days, because of the Nine Inch Nails (who I love), among other things. It's going to be fun to run to someone else's music!

I need a new book to read, I finished John Krakauer's Where Men Win Glory. I had a hard time falling asleep last night because I kept thinking about it. It's primarily about Pat Tillman and the cover up of the details of his death, along with the history of the Taliban and the War on Terror. I was living in NY during 9/11, so this book definitely touched a nerve. So now I think some Chick Lit might be in order.

I just realized Daylight Savings Time is this Sunday.....whoo hoo!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Tipp Hill Four Mile Shamrock Run

What a fun race!

I've been looking forward to this run for a while, it's one of the most popular runs in Syracuse, and by the number of people running, it certainly looked it.

This was my first time running Shamrock, although I've done several training runs of the area with Lake Effect runners. The course is only four miles, but it's hilly. Thank you for the input on my last post, I stuck with the old, although I was very concious of how my size eleven left foot felt in the size 10 Asics. I didn't have a time goal, I just wanted to have fun, and not wimp out on the hills.

The sun was shining, the roads were dry, it was about 32 degrees, and I had on my Lucky Charms tshirt, along with my requisite green Bondi Band. We were a group of the usual suspects, Jeannine, Bill and Carol, and our friend Norine. We headed to the 10 mile pace group, and looking back, we could have gotten away with lining up closer to the start. As usual, with a crowd that size, we didn't realize the race had started until those in front of us started moving.

It was really difficult to get going, I had to dodge around so many people, sprint along, then at some points, slow way down. I wanted to take it easy, because the hills were going to come at the end of the race, and I'm used to banging them out early.

The run seemed to go by quickly, I think around mile three I passed a bar and saw Mike's orange Cleveland Browns hat (I know) in the crowd, and I jumped up and down and waved to him and his brother Rob. Then it was time for the last long hill, so off I went. There were people walking all around me, and I passed a couple of young guys which is always fun. I made it to the top for one more loop around the park, and I could see the time clock, which made me excited, until I realized how long that loop was going to be. That was one thing I didn't like, repeating a part of the course when you just want to finish.

My final time was 39:19, with an average pace of 9:50. I was happy to do it under 40 minutes.

We headed over to Nibsy's to meet the boys, who had some prime real estate at the bar. We also chatted up some Lake Effect runners, if you want to check it out, there is a photo of me over at my friend Ray's blog, I'm on the left with the beer in my hand (shocker).

Spent the rest of the day a Jeannine's house, to watch the kids play in the snow, SU lose to Louisville (so much for that number one ranking), and search for celebrities on Twitter. And there was much mocking of Norine's fanny pack. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Stick with the old? Or try out the new?

I have the four mile Shamrock run tomorrow, which should be a lot of fun. The weather is supposed to be half way decent, and I'm making plans with some of my fellow runners to meet up after at an Irish bar.

I am debating on which running shoes to wear. I've run four times in my new Nike's, yesterday I ran six miles in them. I'm feeling a couple of aches in spots I haven't felt before, I think it must be because I'm getting used to this style shoe. The larger size is great though, I can't believe I ran for so long in too small shoes.

I've worn my Asics for all the training runs for Shamrock, and there are some decent hills. There is a notable difference in the shoes, the heels of the Asics have much more padding, which I kind of like for the hills. Although when I put them on now it feels like I'm wearing high heels!

Any suggestions? Wear the shoes I've been training in, even though they're too small? Or wear the Nike's, even though I haven't worn them outside, or run any hills in them?

Above, the source of my dilemma. Note the 12 pack of Stella Artois, it's been buried in the snow ever since my sister was here two weeks ago. Guess the snow is finally melting.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

What I think of when I should be sleeping

Two nights ago, Mike kept me up until 2 a.m. with his snoring, and Eliza's been waking up at night with a cough. But last night Mike slept in the guest room so I could catch up on my sleep, so it figures that my old pal insomnia paid me a visit. I lay there, with my mind going, and had the following thoughts:

Part of the reason I want a dog is that it will eat whatever food scraps the kids drop on the floor.
Losing your voice makes it hard to yell at your kids.

Whenever I hear Steve Winwood's "Higher Love" I think he's going to sing "Bake me a pie of love."

And I think it's funny that when I hear "Don't Stop Believing" by Journey, I'm reminded of the Sopranos, but Eliza is reminded of the movie Bed Time Stories.

The reason I bought Wheaties Fuel was because Peyton Manning was on the box.

I wonder how painful Botox really is.

Shamrock Shakes are in season.

What wine am I going to drink now that they've discontinued my Tunnel of Elms Chardonnay?

I'm still irritated with Lost. Okay, we get it, there is good and evil on The Island.

Speaking of television, I love that Joey Tribiani quote "You don't have a TV? What do you point all your furniture at?"

I like my minuscule "vision board" next to my laptop screen, but the only thing on it is the NYC Marathon logo.
It drives me nuts that Wegmans has a tile floor in the produce section, which is so freaking loud when you push your cart over it.

I haven't gone cross country skiing all year.

Whenever I go to the bank, I feel like they're going to yell at me, or not give me my money.

I can't believe Luke is going to be six in May.

I think I read a good cross section of books. Right now I'm reading Where Men Win Glory, about Pat Tillman, before that I read The Historian, about Dracula, and before that, the Overnight Socialite, chick lit written by the wife of a guy I went to High School with.

Speaking of High School, my reunion is this fall.

Which is making me wonder about botox.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Healthier Helper

Apparently spring is on it's way in some parts of the country, but it's definitely winter where I live. I'm still making meals that are on the hearty side, which makes sense since there is a ton of snow on the ground. I made a mexican lasagna over the weekend that went over well, using whole wheat tortillas instead of pasta, salsa instead of tomato sauce, and cheddar in place of mozzarella.
I'll admit it, Hamburger Helper has been a part of my culinary life, it's cheap, it's easy, it fills you up. But its sooooo bad for you, with a cringe inducing amount of sodium and fat. I once saw an dish called "cowboy pasta," and since I usually tweak things to my liking, I made it over and now call it Healthy Helper. It's full of protein, due to the beans, and either ground beef or turkey, and the whole wheat pasta gives a dose of healthy carbs. I've thought of adding tofu hamburger crumbles, instead of meat, which might work too if you're a vegetarian.

The recipe makes a huge amount, so use a large skillet. I save some for lunch the next day, and freeze the rest.

Healthy Helper
one pound ground beef, turkey or tofu crumbles
one large vidalia onion, chopped
three cloves of garlic, chopped
one 30 oz can of low sodium tomato sauce
one 15 oz can of black beans
one 15 oz can of petite diced tomatoes
one can of corn
1 1/2 cup of uncooked whole wheat pasta
8 oz of pepper jack or cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon of ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of salt
olive oil
Cook, then drain the meat, and set aside.
In a large skillet, add enough olive oil to cover, and sautee the onions and garlic until soft.
Add the tomato sauce, tomatoes, beans, corn, salt, cayenne, ground pepper, pasta and meat.
Bring to a boil, turn heat down to simmer, and cook until pasta is tender, about 15 minutes.
Stir occasionally, at the end of cooking, mix in cheese, add more salt and pepper to taste, and serve.
don't forget the Le Creuset giveaway!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Marching on

I like March. The whole going in like a lion and out like a lamb thing appeals to me. I'm getting a bit tired of snow and running in mess, I thought about wearing my new Nike's for my outside run on Saturday, but I'm glad I didn't. Two seconds after I got out of my car, my right foot was submerged in a huge pile of slush. It was warm out, but while I ran I still managed to find some snow to slip in, so after that I took my time and was careful about where to put my feet. Toward the end of the six mile route, I found a big puddle to splash my left foot into, it was either that or get hit by a car, so I stayed to the side of the road. Then that night I lost my voice, and it's still gone. I've been slamming the Amazing Grass, I do NOT want to get sick, this Saturday is the four mile Shamrock Run, and I'm really looking forward to it.

In addition to the Shamrock run, I'm doing my first Virtual Race for the Cure! Mel, from Tall Mom on the Run is running the Marathon for the Cure this spring. In order to help raise funds, she decided to hold a virtual run on March 27. I'm planning on a 10k, in honor of my mother in law, D, who is kicking breast cancer's ass, and her sister C, who is a breast cancer survivor.

I'm still behind in my quest for 1,000 miles in 2010. I managed 56 in February, but I've been good about yoga and working my core, and overall toning. My Wii Fit said that I've met my 5 pound weight loss goal, but judging by how my clothes fit, it feels like it should be more. Could I possibly be building muscle? I know that muscle weighs more than fat, but it also takes a lot of muscle to take the place of the fat, so who knows.

If you haven't seen it yet, check out my Le Creuset mom read the post and told me I can have her yellow Le Creuset pot! Thanks Mom.....