Thursday, July 12, 2012

C'mon, girls, this is what makes your butt look good!

When I climb hills (bike, run, or walk) I usually keep my eyes fixed on the ground about five feet in front of me. That way I can't see the steepness or - more soul-crushingly - the length of the upgrade. Emily told me that when she's running with her kids, she tells the girls that the hills are what makes their butts look good. And she found they took the words to heart. She was unable to run for a few days due to a bad case of bronchitis, and one of the other mentors called to tell her that as soon as they hit the hills, one of the girls said, "C'mon - Ms. B said this is good for our butts!"

Okay, the photo above is just one I found on Pinterest, not hills I actually climbed. Although it felt like that. Actually, it's almost like the rides Aly and I used to do north of town last summer when she was training for the Omaha Triathlon. (The first day I had to stop halfway up the biggest hill and lie down in someone's front yard with my bike beside me because I was dying. True story.)

(Side note: Emily is involved in a pretty amazing program called See-Us Run Des Moines. It takes high school kids who are facing adversity (and what high school kid isn't?) and teaches them to run a marathon. Training starts in April, culminating in October when they run the Des Moines Marathon. This program teaches the kids goal setting and sticking it out when it get tough among other things. She said the kids learn quickly that they can't go out and party it up on Friday night when their long runs are scheduled for early Saturday morning. I am doing a horrible job of explaining the program, so if you're interested in learning more, click on the link. I know for a fact that the mentors (or at least one of them!) get as much out of the program as the kids.)

(Another side note: I told Emily that if I am to live vicariously through her, she needs to update her blog.)

So back to the title of this post: whenever I'm doing hills, which seems like always around here, not only do I fix my gaze on the ground a few feet ahead of me, but I'm hoping for higher and firmer!

I'm almost two weeks into MY half marathon training. Mondays and Fridays are rest days, Tuesdays and Thursdays are run days, Wednesday and Sunday are cross-training days (bike for me) and Saturday is the long run (walk) day. My first long run day was last Saturday, and it consisted of a lap around the big side of Lake Zorinsky. It's about 4.25 miles, and while sweaty, it was fine. It helped that the trail wound along the lake and through the woods so there was some shade.

I carried a bottle of water with me, and there was a container of coconut water waiting in a small cooler in the car. I know it's supposed to be all that in the rehydration department, but to me it just tastes like mildly coconut-flavored sweat. I'll stick with plain water, and if the workout is over an hour, some G2.

Today was a 3-mile day, and as I was getting kinda tired of lapping the neighborhood, I mapped out a 3-mile loop that started and ended at our door. I decided to run it backwards (the loop, not my position!), which you think would be no big deal. You know who is horrible at figuring out where she is? This girl. I added easily another half mile due to my "Oh, I don't want to be on Q Street" mistake. Among others. But I still felt pretty great. I have been feeling a bit funky lately, but I totally feel like me when I'm working out.

My long run (and when I say run, what I mean is mostly walk with a little jogging thrown in) this week is five miles on Saturday. I'm planning on getting up really early, as the heat and humidity are forecast to be in the 90's again. It will take me more than an hour, and my little hand-held water bottle only holds so much!

(Yet another side note: Cycling uses totally different muscles than running. I rode some hills last Sunday, and it was "Hello hamstrings! Where have YOU been?!" I guess that's why cross-training is part of the program.)

Meals have been pretty boring, with one exception that I'll tell you about in a minute. Because I know you're dying to see yet more pictures of PB toast and oatmeal.

Smoothie with blueberries, half a banana, and almond-coconut milk. In Waterford. That's right.
Eggs, Canadian bacon, fruit, coffee, milk
There we go. Here's the oatmeal with a dollop of PB and some almond-coconut milk.
And now for some random - and I do mean random - lunches:

Cherries, string cheese, Vita-top muffin, and chocolate milk
A good lunch to eat in the car: apple, mini Luna bar, and some almonds
PBJ and an apple. Yup. Second grade.
And here's one where I just gave up and opened the freezer. It's not like it was a Lean Cuisine or anything; the nutritional values are pretty good and I can pronounce all the ingredients. Even as a chemist I sometimes stumble over some of the others.

Doesn't it look really good and fresh? Tasted so, too.
My new favorite snack combines both salty and sweet:
What's not to love?!
Weigh one serving of each and combine. Then ignore the eerily glowing cat eyes.
And now for some uninspired dinners; it's just too hot to make anything these days.

Grilled chicken and a salad
Blackened shrimp salad - this was a b-i-g plate
Watermelon, berries, and a grilled fresh mozzarella/tomato/pesto sandwich
And now for a wonderful new recipe, courtesy of Emily and Cooking Light. Crab cakes! She said she never orders them in restaurants because hers are so much better. I never order them in restaurants because after the ones at the Officer's Club at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, nothing can compare. But these are pretty darn good. The mango salsa recipe is from Gwyneth Paltrow. (Notice how I said that? It was almost like "my friend, Gwyneth Paltrow." Actually, it's from her cookbook.)

(For the crab cakes, just follow the recipe directions for the crab cakes themselves. Ignore the other stuff. Same with Gwyneth's - there I go again! - salsa. Ignore the halibut for now. But I may make it soon...)
Trust me, it's delicious and the best thing I made all week
Oh, except for this:

My sister Jeanie made it for my birthday cake last month, so I offered to make it for Amy's birthday on the 4th of July, mostly because I wanted to eat it again. It's so easy, and perhaps the best dessert I've ever had. You will need a 9-inch springform pan. Combine 2.25 cups crushed Pecan Sandies or other shortbread cookie with 10 tablespoons of butter. (I never said it was healthy.) Press this mixture firmly in the bottom of the greased springform pan and bake for 8-10 minutes at 350. Sprinkle 1 cup crushed Heath bars (about four full-size bars) over the top of the baked crust and let it cool completely. Next, spread one quart slightly softened coffee ice cream over the top and freeze until firm - at least an hour. THEN, spread a can of coconut-pecan frosting (like German chocolate cake frosting) over the top. Cover and freeze for several hours. You should try it. You'll thank me and Jeanie.

Now to leave you with my new motto that is also on my incredibly sweat-wicking headband:

Made you laugh!

Monday, July 2, 2012

What's on YOUR nightstand?

I was dusting our bedroom furniture last night and when I moved the pile of books on my nightstand, I was struck by the randomness of the titles:

We have a little non-fiction, a little young adult lit, a cookbook, some fantasy, a swimming instruction book, a novel translated from Spanish. And you know what's weird? I have a Kindle (well hello there, Fifty Shades of Grey!) and an iPad, both of which I use as e-readers. There's still something about holding a book and turning the pages. Don't get me wrong - there is nothing easier than an e-reader for traveling! No matter how tired I am, I can't fall asleep unless I read a bit.

Looking for Alaska is the YA book, lent to me by Emily. Hey, both my girls are high school English teachers. I have read so many good books recommended by them, two of which come to mind immediately: Thirteen Reasons Why and The Perks of Being a Wallflower. I finished "Alaska" yesterday and John Green's The Fault in Our Stars is already in my Amazon shopping cart.

Baby Catcher was a birthday gift from Emily. It's different birth tales told by a midwife, and after reading just the first story, it brought me back to those incredibly painful, messy, sweaty, and ultimately miraculous times almost 29, 27, and 24 years ago. When we were having our babies in Minnesota, everyone had theirs by natural childbirth so I didn't think it was anything special - until we moved to Canton, Ohio, where Erin was born. There the births were either C-section or epidural; they had people coming into my room to watch because they had never seen natural childbirth. For real.

The Book Club Cook Book is a fun book given to me by Jeanie. The subtitle reads, "Recipes and Food for Thought from Your Book Club's Favorite Books and Authors". It is so much fun to read! The author took 100 books that mentioned food, and has the recipes for them, along with a short discussion. Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende? You too can make spiced turkey empanadas. Harry Potter? How about some treacle tart? To Kill a Mockingbird? (BTW, favorite book and movie of all time.) Ambrosia. Water for Elephants? Oyster brie soup. You get the idea. Of the 100 books, I have read 65-and-one-half. Actually, probably more like one-fourth. I just couldn't get through (or into!) Undaunted Courage. It became such a joke that my friend Adie gave me the Scholastic picture book on Lewis and Clark's journey meant for maybe second graders.

So I am starting my half-marathon training again this week, after doing ONLY ONE DAY last week. I can't even use the oppressive heat and humidity as an excuse because, really, it isn't THAT hot at 6:00 am. I was busy calligraphy-ing wedding invitations. I found myself becoming irrationally irritated by people who lived in states with long names (I'm looking at you, Massachusetts), or those who lived on streets with long names (and you live on Massachusetts Avenue?!?!). I found that the max I could do was nine an hour and then I needed to get up and walk around and stretch. (Or empty the dishwasher, or cook dinner, or vacuum... ) Somehow, a workout didn't fit into the schedule. My husband is the best shoulder and upper-back-rub giver ever, though! I handed the envelopes off this morning, so now I can get back to work on real life. And yet again, I am on track with Week One of my training - by having Monday as a rest day! I am getting pretty good at this.

Oh - here's a quick workout:

I thought my shopping at Village Pointe looked funny on MapMyFitness. Mowing the lawn is even more hilarious!

I didn't make anything new or fabulous, but here are a few meals, beginning with breakfast. (You're getting tired of seeing the same things, aren't you?)

Protein waffle, blueberries, and almond-coconut milk

I tell you, the Oikos Key Lime Greek yogurt tastes just like frosting!

Vitatop, more key lime Oikos, and watermelon

Now for some lunches:

Whole wheat tortilla with roast beef, spinach and horseradish, and veggies on the side
Leftover chili lime chicken burger and what I call "summer salad": cherry tomatoes, baby cukes, spritzed with olive oil and drizzled with balsamic vinegar, and some cracked black pepper on top. Mmmmmm!

Our dinners have been really uneventful; it's too hot to eat anything heavy. And besides, we feel way better eating like this. People are now noticing that Dwight is losing weight, which always feels good. I'm so proud of him. His main reason for getting healthy, other than "it's about time" - his quote, not mine, is that he doesn't want to be the fat guy in the wedding photos!

Abs Diet Reuben Made Betta, side of sauerkraut left over from the sandwich, and watermelon
Parmesan tilapia, broccoli, and part of a baguette
Chili lime chicken burger (we love these things!), broccoli, and watermelon
Grilled cheese on light Italian bread with one slice of pepper-jack cheese and one slice of  muenster; summer salad

I'm really trying to be more conscious about getting calcium in my diet. I've alway drunk milk and eaten yogurt and cheese (and let's not forget ice cream), but I've been pretty casual about it. Besides taking a daily calcium supplement, I'm now getting at least one but preferably two other sources daily. The reason for this is that while my doctor ordered a bone density scan, our insurance won't pay for it until the recommended age of 60. I know I'm not at risk for osteoporosis, being of hardy peasant stock and doing plenty of weight-bearing exercise, but I don't want to take any chances. Especially when I like the food group involved. It's not like I have to eat meatloaf (*gag*) or anything.

I'll leave you with my latest healthy-eating tip. (Like golf, I can only have one swing thought in my head at any one time). I was talking with my friend MaryLu (yes, the MaryLu of MaryLu's Protein Pancakes fame!) and she said that whenever she's hungry and wants to snack on something, she tells herself that no, she really isn't hungry, she's thirsty, so she has a big glass of water and that usually does the trick. And actually, over this weekend, it really did work. I love my friends.