Friday, September 30, 2011

Fun Facts Friday - What I'm Looking Forward To

Today is a most welcome rest day for me. Of course, the temps are cooler today - more ideal for a run. Hmmmm.....don't worry, I'm really not tempted. Going to enjoy this day off from any workouts. I need it physically and mentally.

I guess it's just a typical Friday; nothing terribly exciting to report unless you count finally making it to the grocery store exciting. But I do have a lot to look forward to this weekend. So, for Fun Facts Friday, I thought I'd share what I'm looking forward to most:
  • Taking my niece shopping - her birthday is coming up (the big 7), and my sister suggested that A would be thrilled if we went shopping together, just the two of us. Very excited about this.
  • A shorter, long run - while I've been enjoying my double-digit runs, I am going to enjoy a shorter 8-miler this weekend. I need the recovery and it'll give me a few extra hours back in the day.
  • Ideal running weather - supposed to top out at 75 all weekend.
  • Time with friends - tomorrow afternoon we're meeting up with friends for a Food Truck Festival near our house. I doubt I'll be eating anything, but it'll be fun to see all the trucks we have here.
  • Time in the kitchen - I plan on getting some food prep done on Sunday (like homemade seitan to freeze, cook off beans to also freeze, and maybe bake some bread).
  • Finishing up house projects - really no explanation needed.

What do you have on tap this weekend that you're looking forward to? Time with family, friends, a long run? Maybe some shopping?


To-Enjoy List:
  • Rest day
  • Happy Hour with Hubby
  • Finally getting to the grocery store

Thursday, September 29, 2011

I Faltered But That's OK

I Faltered 
I thought today might be a rest day. Usually the day after I do legs ends up being a rest day, very rarely a run. But, I didn't overdo it yesterday. And I was itching to wear my new running shoes. Jason was supposed to do a 6-mile tempo run. Soooo, I packed my bag "just in case."

Honestly, I thought maybe once I got to work and had been sitting all morning that my legs would start to revolt against me. But they didn't, well, not completely. They're tired, but I can indeed hover over the toilets today.

Jason said he was going to do his run at lunch, so I could tag along. We never run together anymore. I actually was a little nervous. Weird right? Of course, he was supposed to be doing 1 mile warmup, 4 miles at 8:40 then 1 mile cool down. So, I was worried about the 4 miles fast.

And, when being honest with myself, I knew I didn't need to go out for a fast run period. This is supposed to be a back off week. Meaning, ease up stupid. Don't be running a 6-mile tempo run the day after legs. AND, don't get it in your head you can do all this when it's in the mid-80's.

Yep, our temps have jumped right back up (end of run was 90 degrees). Oh, and when you decide to do this to yourself, make sure the route does indeed have shade. Not a barren stretch of no-man's land with not a tree in sight for relief. Not even a measly bush to hide under...but I digress.

The first mile was a slow pace, just as a warm up. No biggy. I chit-chatted (probably too much for Jason's liking). Then we picked up the speed. I quickly shut up. The sun was beating down, no relief even from a nice breeze. It was getting hotter by the minute. I made it a mile at the 8:40 pace then I just couldn't hang any longer and had to slow my pace. My breathing was all out of whack, it felt like someone was clawing at my lungs, and my heart rate hovering in the 177 range, I was just falling apart physically and mentally.

I kept pushing on, but everything about the run was just going downhill quickly for me. I finally spotted some shade and took a short walk break to try to recollect myself. I ran for a bit then had to walk again. Jason was still going, but about to make his turn around, so I went ahead and turned around myself.

I will admit to being pissed at myself. I was being really harsh with myself about how slow I was, how bad I sucked, how shitty I was going to do on the half marathon. You name an ugly thought, and I probably thought it. But I knew I had to stop. Period. Just stop.

So I did. Then I started again with a new focus. I started off with a slower pace then gradually increased. I definitely wasn't pushing the 8:40, but was not in my comfort zone by any means either. But, the second half was so much better. I had refocused and gotten myself back under control. My breathing was back on track, my rhythm was back on track. I was still hot as hell and pissed off at the sun, but I was back on track mentally. No more falling apart.

In the end, I managed 5.6 miles with just under a 9-min mile pace (not too bad considering some of the walking I did). So, I walked. I faltered. I wanted to throw in the towel (hell I wanted a towel to wipe off with then throw). But this is what running is about. You dig deep, find out what you're made of - how alive you really are. Sometimes you surprise yourself a little bit.

Another Easy Dinner
Since I ran at lunch, that meant I had to stay later at work. This translates to me not going to the grocery store basically. But, I had a few ideas for dinner using up the last of the fresh veggies (zucchini, squash, new potatoes) on hand.

I decided to just roast all the veggies. I seasoned them with salt, pepper, parsley, and garlic and sprinkled with nutritional yeast flakes at the end. Since the oven was already on, I very briefly baked the seitan cutlets just to add some color. I went with some leftover Garlicky Tomato "Cream" Sauce for the cutlets.
 
 

And that was that. Another super easy mid-week supper. Going to the grocery store and re-stocking is soooo over rated ;-)

Daily To-Enjoy List:
  • Run with hubby (enjoy might not be the ideal word here)
  • Easy dinner

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Weights Wednesday + Roasted Veggies & Tomato Quinoa

Gym Day
Today I went back and forth about my workout. In the end, I went with the gym after work rather than a run. I had really wanted to run because I got in a new pair of shoes yesterday. But, I had meetings and a going away lunch that meant an after-work run - and it was mid-80's today.

So, it ended up being a leg and shoulder workout for me. I started with 15 minutes on the elliptical as a warm up and essential did the same legs as last week. Though, I did go with one less set of the 3-point lunges at least. I do want to walk tomorrow.

Squats - warmup set of 10 reps

SS#1 3x8
Squats
Plie squats

SS#2
Single-leg deadlifts 3x8
Calf raises - 3x20

3-point lunge (front, side, rear lunge) - 2x4 (last week 3x4 about killed me)

Weighted plie hops - 2x12

Single leg square hops - 2x4 (on one leg hop front, then right, then back, then left making a box)

GS for shoulders 3x8
Upright row
Lateral raise
Front raise overhead, open to T

It ended up being a pretty good workout. In all likelihood, legs today means rest tomorrow.

Easy Dinner
I got home from the gym and piddled around before starting dinner. There are definitely chores I should have been doing. But I didn't. Lucky for me, they'll still be on the list tomorrow.

I briefly thought about grilling some veggies to go with quinoa, but decided to be lazy and just roast the veggies instead for a Roasted Veggies & Tomato Quinoa. It was sort of a hodge podge and I am going to the grocery store tomorrow: 1 small sweet potato from our garden, last few "trees" of broccoli, 1 zucchini, 1/2 yellow squash, red onion, and roasted red bell peppers.

For the quinoa, I cooked a little less than a cup with 1 can no-salt diced tomatoes + half can no-salt vegetable broth along with some seasonings (salt, pepper, garlic powder, basil, parsley). Once the quinoa was done, I stirred in a can of chickpeas that I had rinsed and drained.
 

After the veggies were cooked, I simply combined everything and re-seasoned adding in some nutritional yeast flakes as well. Really couldn't have been too much simpler.


Daily To-Enjoy List:
  • Relaxing evening

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Running Makes Me Feel Alive + BBQ Portobello Burritos

Feeling Alive
As I was trying to drift off to sleep last night, my mind started wandering. Sometimes this is a bad thing as I end up wide awake thinking, thinking, thinking. But this time it more reflective. I was thinking about why I run.

When people hear that I ran 12 miles or 6 miles, or any miles, they often say, "you're nuts," "that's awesome," or "I hate running."

I used to hate running too actually. And not that long ago actually. I used to run just for the cardio factor. I tried to rush through it, hurry up and get it over with. I was focused on how much is sucked, how many other things I could be doing instead. I would use the time not to enjoy, but to plan out lists, to set out a plan of attack for chores (do x, then y, then z).

This did not thing but make me anxious actually. I felt even more rushed to get the run over with so I could get going on a list or chore. Move along to the next thing. And before I ever ran outside, it was even worse as you can imagine - stressing out about to-do lists while trudging away on the treadmill was pure torture.

But I kept running. Why? I wanted to like it, especially after Jason convinced me to start running outside. I loved the sunshine, the fresh air. But I still didn't allow myself to enjoy the running. I enjoyed running with Jason, but that's about it.

Then one day, I stopped all the thinking. I picked me head up and looked around. I noticed things I had never noticed even though I was running the exact same route. I focused on the beauty around me, on the trees, the breeze in my face, the sounds. I got out of my head and it was the first time I had ever run and enjoyed it 100%. I wanted to just keep on going all day long. Finally, it clicked for me. It was a major turning point. I wanted to be out there; I wanted to push myself and shoot for more miles.

Running has become my form of meditation. It's "me" time. It's not always perfect. I've had some really really hard runs, mentally and physically. But that's part of it. Running teaches you about yourself. You learn that your body will carry you so much farther than you ever thought, even when your mind is objecting. And when you can get the mind and body in sync, you have perfection.

And saying that a run was awesome, fantastic, runner's high inducing does not mean that it was a cake walk. I still feel it. I still know I worked my ass off. And that's part of it. That sense of accomplishment.

And I have realized that that running makes me feel truly alive. Running is everything about life - it's feeling your body work, it's enjoying nature, it's learning to trust yourself, to believe, to dream big, to push yourself...to live.

Running & Lifting
So at lunch today, I lived it up with a 4.5-mile run around my neighborhood. While my neighborhood is not exactly my ideal running route, it saves about 30 minutes by not driving down to the river and back. It's not that it's a bad place to run, but you have lots of stopping and waiting for traffic, it starts off on a loooonnnnggggg, sloooooowwww, steady incline that is incredibly deceiving. Oh and then there is the camber of the road to contend with - hello IT band injury.

Anyway, I got it done and it was a pretty good run. It was a little warmer than I had expected, but the humidity was down and there was a nice breeze. However, I've decided I must look a little too friendly running. Today I had someone pull next to me to offer me a business card and pen about some new supplement to keep me healthy. DUDE - I'm freaking running what the hell am I supposed to do with a pen? I told him I'd take the card and and shoved it into my water bottle strap.

Then during my 12-miler on Sunday, I had a really nice couple stop me for directions on the path. I know they meant no harm - they thought they were heading in the right direction towards one of the bridges. But they weren't so I had to redirect. Do you ever have this happen?

This week is supposed to be a back off week for me in terms of mileage. My half marathon training plan has me scheduled for 5 4-milers. I won't lie, already going to change this up. After my IT Band injury last November, I am really paranoid about running too many consecutive days. Maybe I'm being overly cautious, but better safe than sorry. Plus, I'm already have too many piriformis/sciatica issues as it is.

So, instead, I plan on just 3 or 4 days, likely have 2 slightly longer runs, but no double-digits for the week. I'm supposed to do 20 miles overall, so I'll just figure out how to divide that out in a way that best suits me. 

After work I got in biceps and abs. The workout wasn't anything spectacular - just got in there and got it done. I did 3x8 except for the alternating curls where I did 3x6 as I was going with heavier weights again.

GS
Alternating biceps curls
Hammer curls
Preacher curls

1 set of 21's

I did abs from Cathe's Power Hour DVD then stretched the legs for the second time today.

BBQ Burritos
Once again I'm slacking on getting to the grocery store. For the most, part, we aren't really low on anything though. So we can make it until the weekend pretty easily as long as I get creative of course.

I almost went with a grilled salad, but have been really craving the flavors of a BBQ sauce. So, I went with BBQ Portobellos & Black Bean Burritos based off my BBQ Portobellos & Tempeh recipe. I was out of tempeh as I used it in my Chipotle Tempeh Chili last night. So, I just subbed the protein source with good old black beans.

I added in some Daiya and shredded lettuce before browning the burritos in a pan. I really like crispy burritos. Though, as you can see from the pictures, they didn't look so pretty. I have a really bad habit of overstuffing my burritos. So, as soon as I added the filling and tried to fold them, they sort of didn't cooperate.
 
I'll admit, the perfectionist in me got pissed. They were definitely not photo-worthy, but I thought I'd take pics anyway to show you that even ugly dinners can be tasty dinners.

Daily To-Enjoy List:
Mid-Day run
BBQ sauce inspired dinner
Catching up on tv shows (aka relaxing)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Spin, Chipotle Tempeh Chili & Home Projects

Spinning
Today I my legs are not nearly as sore as I thought they might be after yesterday's 12-miler. My left hip is really the only source of pain. My hip flexor is extremely tight. I think I might have started changing up my gait or something to compensate for the sciatica/piriformis pain because I never have hip flexor issues. I guess never say never right?

Since I wasn't as tight or sore as I thought, I went ahead and hit up spin class. My other plan was to just do a little on the elliptical to loosen my legs then hit weights. I'm actually glad I went with spin. I really seemed to pull out any kinks.

Before spin, I did get in triceps. I just went with a giant set of 3x10 except for the first exercise which was 3x8:

Double-arm overhead triceps extensions
Double-arm kickbacks
Triceps dips

Chili Night & House Projects
Dinner tonight ended up being Chipotle Tempeh Chili. While it's warmer during the day, as soon as the sun starts to set, the temps go down with the sun. So it might be 80 during the day but then 54 at night. Gotta love big temperature swings.
 

So, it felt like a chili kind of evening. Plus, I could let it simmer on the stove and work on the patchwork in the hall that's still not complete. It's taken many many coats of the sheetrock compound than we would have liked. And that just takes time and makes huge messes. You have to smear it on, wait for it to dry, sand and repeat until smooth. Good times.

Oh and the bathroom project...If you recall I was worried that the paint color was just way way off and didn't fit with any accessories. Well, I found some curtains at Target on Friday. The minute I hung them up, it all just fell into place perfectly - though the picture doesn't quite show the true coloring because the sun was coming in. I can't stop walking into that bathroom and just standing and staring now. Kind of wish it was our master bath!



I do still need to get handles for the dresser that I had painted. I'm torn between going with an oiled bronze that matches the light and outlet plates and the picture frames, or going with a more antique crystal/glass style.

Do you enjoy home decor projects or do you prefer to pay the pros? I enjoy the projects to an extent, but sometimes they just drag on and on - like the patchwork. And when it's fixing/repairing rather than redoing/updating, it's a little less exciting I think.

Daily To-Enjoy List:
  • Spin class
  • Catching up on TV shows
  • Comforting chili dinner

Sunday, September 25, 2011

12 Miles & Time with Mom

Digging Deep
Oh 12 miles - you tried to beat me today, but I won...barely.

It was about 70 degrees and sunny when I started my run. The humidity was up there though, so I was sweating like a fool fairly early on. But I was in a good mood, enjoying my music, enjoying the fresh air. The farther I headed in one direction, the darker it started getting. I really thought it was going to start pouring down, but would have been just peachy with that actually.

The clouds were welcome today as they helped keep the temps down, which was perfect. There was a fairly steady breeze that also helped keep it cooler for the long run. I took the same route as last week, so I knew exactly where I could stop and refill my water and then take my gel before making it back by my car to again refill my water bottle.

The first 9 miles were pretty good. I just sort of zoned out and zipped on along. But that's where the fun stopped. My piriformis and sciatica started to get the best of me. Mentally, I was good, despite the pain. It really was boiling down to my body not cooperating today. I almost cut the run short at 11 miles, but was hell bent on finishing what I had started - 12 miles.

The run was mostly good, only partially bad. It's runs like this that teach you to dig deep. It teaches you that you're probably tougher than you think as well. I had to force myself to believe that I could finish the 12 miles. And yes, my hip was hurting, but I knew it wasn't something serious like my IT Band. I knew I could finish the run as long as I didn't talk myself out of it. So I didn't. Sometimes you have to be uncomfortable in life and the same goes with running. I guess the caveat should be: as long as you're not injuring yourself of course.

I got home and spent extra time on the Triggerpoint Kit and stretching. This was the one time when I actually thought briefly about an ice bath. However, I'm too much of a wimp for that!

Family Time
My mom and her new husband came up for a visit. This meant I actually had to get dressed and not be a total bum post-run. We went to a restaurant that we often go to when she and my sister come for a visit - Canon Grill. It's just a nice little relaxing restaurant, no frills, just relaxing.

We had a really great visit over lunch, then we headed back to our house and visited for a while longer before they had to head back home. I love living where we do, and have no desire to move back to my hometown. However, I soooo miss being able to spend time with my mom like this.

I had hoped to get more done around the house. But, I'm going to use the long run as an excuse to sit on the couch with my feet propped up (maybe some ice involved) and be lazy for this last bit of my weekend.

Daily To-Enjoy List:
  • Long run (mostly good, learning experience)
  • Time with my mom
  • Relaxing

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Weights, Run & Day With Friends

Weights & Easy Run
This morning I woke up way earlier than I'd have liked on a Saturday, especially when I wasn't going out for a long run. I will say, it felt strange not getting prepped for a 12-miler, almost depressing in a way. My legs were still feeling really tight, not wanting to move for me.

Good thing the 12-miler wasn't today huh? I didn't want to go to the gym so early, so I got some house chores done like laundry, sweeping, mopping. After procrastinating with chores, I finally headed to the gym around 8:45. My weight plan was to hit back, chest, shoulders and abs. I did start out with about 10 minutes on the elliptical to test my legs and to warm up. Then I went with trisets of 3x8:

TS#1
Underhand barbell row
Arnold press
Flat bench chest press

TS#2
Pullovers
Lateral raise
Flat bench chest flyes

TS#3
Double-arm rows
Incline rear delt flye
Incline chest press

I did some ab work and stretched for a bit before heading home.

When I got home, I turned right around and headed out the door for a run around the neighborhood. My goal was a slow, easy 3-mile run. To be honest, I wasn't sure if I was going to make it a mile, but once I got going, my legs actually felt pretty good. I actually started having crazy thoughts like, "Oh wow, I really could do 12 miles today."

This, my friends, was runner's endorphins talking not sensibility and reality. The cooler temps and sunshine probably was playing a part in my delusion as well. I did just a little over 3 miles, making myself stop and go in to stretch and roll out on my Triggerpoint Therapy Kit. Overall, a pleasant run despite another bloody toe issue and tight legs.

I spent about 20 minutes rolling out and stretching. It hurt like hell, but I know that it needed to be done to work out the kinks and tightness.

Day with Friends
After cleaning up, Jason and I headed out to meet some friends for a late lunch downtown. There is a restaurant that used to be 2 blocks from our house that we enjoyed, but they moved to the RiverMarket area recently and we haven't been since. Our friends happened to choose that restaurant for our lunch - Juanita's.

They have a really nice patio area that was enjoyable on this cooler fall day. Much better than their previous patio which was basically just a space for smokers to be honest. Nothing relaxing or enjoyable. I totally stuffed myself and felt like I needed to just be rolled out. I hate that feeling and have a bad habit of doing that to myself when we eat out. Ugh.

We headed back to our house to watch the first part of the Razorback's game. We were getting stomped, by the 3rd quarter I made the executive decision to head down to a block party that was supposed to be going on where one of our fave hang-out places is - Dugan's.

We ended up watching the rest of the very sad game inside as that's where the party really seemed to be taking place. And we lost. I felt totally alone - I was pretty much the only one there that absolutely did not care about the game. At least the company was good though.

The rest of the evening is being spent being lazy on the couch. Tomorrow I'm hoping to get in my 12 mile run and then lots more house work that really needs to get done.

I hope everyone has had a great Saturday!


Daily To-Enjoy List:
  • Day with friends
  • Getting stuff knocked off the to-do list

Friday, September 23, 2011

Fun Facts Friday - I Love Summer

Can't. Move. My. Legs
I would so be doing the I'm So Happy It's Friday Dance right now if I could move my legs. Biofreeze is my best friend today. Standing, sitting, and attempting to hover over the toilet...enemies.

Needless to say, I am very glad that it's my rest day. Tomorrow should be my long run, however, there is a 100-mile cycling event happening called the Big Dam Bridge 100.
Source: KTHV

If you recall, I mention the Big Dam Bridge often as that's pretty much where I start and end all of my runs. Problem with the race tomorrow? The bridge is closed from 7:30-8:30 then again from 10:00-2:30. So, um, not enough time for a 12-mile run before I'm stuck there not able to drive away. Sucky. Though, the way my legs feel right now, maybe it's working out for the best.

Anyway, today will be a fairly typical Friday. We're supposed to meet some friends after work for a brief happy hour then home for Pizza Friday. I imagine we'll either catch up on any shows we've DVR'd or watch a movie. Or end up watching back-to-back episodes of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. I don't know why, but I'm kind of obsessed with that show.

Fun Facts Friday - I Love Summer
Since I don't really have any workouts or recipes to talk about, we'll just jump right on in to Fun Facts Friday. Today is the first day of fall right? Well, this girl isn't happy to see summer go. The only thing I enjoy about fall is the fact that I don't have to get up and run at 5:30 in the morning just to avoid the heat (and even then it's 80+ degrees).

I know lots of people are excited about fall: new foods, cooler temps, soups/stews/chili, even football. Me? I find the leaves falling off the trees, flowers dying, garden dying all very depressing actually. The only thing I get happy about is wearing boots and eating lots of chili. While summers here are HOT, there is very little that I don't enjoy. So here is my ode to summer, what I am going to miss - maybe next week I'll do a list of what I won't miss (but it'll be short).
  • Weekend pool days
  • Lounging on the patio soaking up the sun
  • Tank tops, halter tops, tube tops
  • Sundresses
  • Flipflops/sandals
  • Lake time
  • No need for coats/jackets/sweaters
  • Shorts
  • More pool time
  • Pool parties
  • Boating
  • Lots of sunshine (sunshine makes me smile)
What will you miss most about summer? What's your favorite season?

Daily To-Enjoy List:
  • Rest day
    Happy hour with friends
  • Pizza Friday
  • Biofreeze

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Ouch Legs & Garlicky Tomato "Cream" Sauce

Leg Day
Today I packed my gym bag and hauled it to the office with me. My plan was to do legs at lunch and secretly hoped I'd feel up to the 3-mile run on today's half marathon training plan. I know, crazy talk.

I really wasn't sure how my legs would feel after two days of pretty hard runs. But they seemed (key word) to be a-ok. I warmed up with 10 minutes on the elliptical then started with a warmup set of 10 squats with no weight on the bar. Then I got to it:

SS
Squats
Plie squats

Front, side, rear lunge combo* - 3x4

SS
Single-leg deadlifts - 3x8
Calf raises - 3x20

*Start with feet parallel, lunge front then return to start tapping toe, lunge side return tapping toe, lunge back tapping toe for 1 rep. I used a single weight held in both hands.

I finished with some abs then headed home to get cleaned up before going back to work. This workout looks harmless enough right? Apparently my quads didn't know they were sore until I started with the lunge combo. Holy freaking ouch. I really thought I might fall down the stairs leaving the building by legs were shaking so much.

Let's just say, no running today or tomorrow.


Combining Recipes
I had some cherry tomatoes that needed to be used pretty quickly. I also had a spaghetti squash, but wanted to do something different tonight than what I've been doing combining those two ingredients. This meant my wheels were spinning trying to come up with something new, but also not time-consuming to make. So what did this crazy brain come up with?

Let's take a look shall we...

I took a basic cashew cream and combined that with a Garlicky Tomato Sauce to make a Garlicky Tomato Cream Sauce to go over spaghetti squash that I tossed with fresh basil, oregano, spinach, salt, and pepper.

While I cooked the tomatoes, I made the cream sauce adding in one change, onion flakes. Once the tomatoes were done, I added them to the cream sauce and pureed until smooth, reseasoning just a bit with additional salt, pepper, and just a dash of red pepper.

To plate, I put down the spaghetti squash and a small amount of the sauce then topped with a Gardein Chick'n Scallopini that I seared in a non-stick skillet.The only thing this was missing was a side of homemade bread.
 

This probably sounds far more complicated than it was. It was just combining two recipes essentially to come up with one fantastic sauce. It took longer to cook the spaghetti squash than it did to make the sauce. 

Daily To-Enjoy List:
  • Being creative in the kitchen
  • Listening to relaxing music (love Norah Jones) while cooking on a rainy evening
  • Pinot Noir
  • Knowing tomorrow is Friday AND a rest day
  • Eating at the table

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Interval Run + Curry Thai Veggies

Interval Run
Well, I guess I'm terrible with following a running plan. I have really good intentions though. That counts right? So my schedule is totally off this week. Yesterday I did 4.75 instead of 4 (and that should have been done on Monday. But instead of the easy run, I managed a pace fairly close to what last week's tempo pace should have been.

So, I'll say yesterday made up for last week. Today was supposed to be this week's speed run (1 mile warm up, 4 miles at 8:28 min/mile, 1 mile cool down). I knew that wasn't going to happen after yesterday's harder run - and it wouldn't have been smart to try on my part. But, I was hell bent on trying 2 things: still getting in speed work and doing 5.25 miles (to round out from yesterday to give the 10 miles over 2 days...yes, I'm nuts).

Instead of mile intervals - I went with minutes. I started with 1 mile warmup at about at 8:45 mile/min pace then I did 3 x 5:3 intervals (5 min fast/3 min jog recovery) then finished out the rest of the route at about 8:45 pace - it was about 1.5 miles. My first interval was good, then I started slowing down. I don't know that I "recover" well enough to be honest. Here's how the times looked:

1st interval - 7:48 min/mile
2nd interval - 8:11 min/mile
3rd interval - 8:46 min/mile

In the end I did 5.22 miles with an average 8:49 pace. Not too shabby when you count in the warmup and the recovery jobs. Now...to maintain that (and shave about 7 seconds off) for 13.1 miles. I think I have some work to do!

Anyone have great, tried-and-true tips for increasing speed without killing yourself in the process? I'll be your best friend I promise.

Easy Curry Dinner
My creativity in the kitchen apparently is on par with my energy level this afternoon. Both are lacking. I had a few ideas in my head (always do), one included a vegan bolognese sauce over spaghetti squash. I've only made a bolognese sauce once before. It's only on my mind now because my cousin's neighbor was making it over the weekend (meat version so I couldn't dine with them). Jason didn't seem keen on that one. Instead he mentioned Curried Thai Veggies.
 
 

It's a super simple recipe that comes together really quickly. The rice takes the longest to cook out of everything. You can use whatever protein you prefer. I've used homemade seitan, tofu, and Quorn nuggets. Tonight I used some homemade seitan as I didn't have any tofu pressed.

Daily To-Enjoy List:
  • Mid-day run
  • Another gorgeous day
  • Easy dinner
  • Catching up on new shows

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

2 on Tuesday & Grilling BBQ Seitan

Running
Well, I was all over the place with figuring out the workout plan for today. I had a 4 mile run scheduled (according to the half training plan). Well, it should have been yesterday, but since that didn't happen, it was moved to today.

I also wanted to get in triceps and abs, or maybe biceps/triceps/abs along with the run. I had thought that maybe I'd do weights at lunch then the run after work. Then I changed my mind and decided to run at lunch then do weights after work. Does this count as being flexible or just wishy washy?

Either way, I got in a pretty quick 4.75 mile run during lunch. Yes, I know I was only supposed to do 4, but I just couldn't resist going through the part of the path that takes you through the shaded, wooded area. It's really like running through the forest. The temps were in the low 70's, but the humidity was up there today. Thankfully, there was a nice breeze coming off the river that helped tremendously.

I did push myself a little harder today, but it felt good for the most part. The only problem was another bloody toe incident from toenail cutting into another toe. I am convinced one toenail grows faster than all others, because it's always the same nail doing the damage.


Lifting
After work, I got in biceps/triceps and a short ab workout. I went with giant sets once again. I like the burn you get from doing the exercises for a muscle group back-to-back. However, I'm not sure it's really giving me any strength gains. I did 3x8 unless noted and increased the weights by 1# each dumbbell for biceps.

GS#1
Alternating curls - 3x6 (so I could go up in weight)
Hammer curls
Preacher curls

GS#2
Double-arm overhead triceps extension
Double-arm kickbacks
Lying triceps extensions

For abs, I went with the ab section from Cathe's High Reps DVD using 1# weighted gloves to add resistance.

I must say, there was a HUGE part of me that wanted to skip the workout. It wasn't even a long one, it was just mustering up the energy to get started. I don't want to harp on it because that would just get old and annoying, but I'm starting to feel spread thin with trying to get in all the workouts I want to do. I think I might be getting into one of those workout ruts too. Time to refocus and change things up.


Still Grilling Weather
Because I was fairly worn out, I wanted dinner to be easy tonight. I had some homemade seitan cutlets in the freezer. I decided to pull those out and grill them (just basting in BBQ sauce) along with sweet potatoes and broccoli. I feel like I really should get in any and all grilling I can before the evenings are too chilly. Right now it's almost perfect grilling weather because you aren't sweltering standing near the grill.

Jason wanted me to try something different with the sweet potatoes. Our neighbor (I think that's who it was) was saying that he microwaves them first, then cuts them in half and grills them. So, I thought I'd give it a shot.

I microwaved the sweet potatoes for about 8 minutes (the ends were soft so this may have been too long; I was just guessing). I normally don't put any oil on my veggies to grill, but I did brush the insides with just a smidge of olive oil and very lightly sprinkled with sea salt. I grilled face-side down for about 15 minutes or so then flipped them and grilled until they were soft.
 
 


The sweet potatoes turned out really great. They were better than baked as they had the nice grilled flavor. Perfect grilled out dinner.

Daily To-Enjoy List:
  • Mid-day run (and not melting into the pavement)
  • Grilling 
  • Increasing weights for biceps

Monday, September 19, 2011

Butternut Squash Soup, Spin & White Chili

Soup Sunday
Last night I ended up making a Creamy Curried Butternut Squash Soup for dinner. A friend had given me several butternut squash, and soup on Sunday sounded perfect.


Creamy Curried Butternut Squash Soup
Ingredients:
1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into small cubes
1/2 white onion, diced
1-2 tbsp minced garlic
1 can light coconut milk
1 not-beef bouillon cube (or vegetable stock if you have)
1 1/2 cups water
To taste: salt, pepper, turmeric, curry powder, garam masala, parsley, red pepper
1 package firm silken tofu (you could use a cashew cream as well)


Directions:
In large soup pot, saute onions, squash, garlic until the onions begin to soften.

Stir in coconut milk, water, and bouillon cube, and spices and allow to simmer until squash begins to soften. Add in the tofu and continue to cook until squash is soft and can be easily pureed.

Either transfer to a blender and puree until smooth or use an immersion blender. Re-season if needed.
 

I toasted up some lavash that I cut into strips and sprinkled with some garam masala. I also topped with some cashews as I was out of pumpkin seeds, or I would have used those instead. This is really a nice, filling soup. It comes together quickly too, so that makes it even better in my book.

Spin & Painting Cardio
Today I hit up spin at noon and then took the rest of the day off. I had so much that needed to be done, including errands. Spin was good. It's nice not going the day after a leg day. Though, my legs started off a little tight from yesterday's 7-miler.

I was supposed to do an easy 4 mile run according to my half marathon training plan. However, the errands, chores, and continued home repair projects sort of trumped the run. I kept thinking that maybe I'd start getting that itch to get out there for the run. But, it never happened and I'm totally ok with that. Going up and down a step stool painting is a workout all on it's own.

The only fail was that the color I picked is not at all what I was hoping for. How on earth does that happen? Not sure if I am going to have to go back and get another color and paint again or what. I have bath rugs and artwork already that goes with the color I was aiming for. 

Chili Night
I had several ideas for dinner, especially since I had stocked up at the grocery store. At least I have those things in mind for the rest of the week - semi-meal planning. Jason has been wanting a white chili lately. Since I picked up poblanos at the store today, I thought I'd go ahead and make my Roasted White Chili.
 

The only difference is that I didn't roast garlic as I only had it as minced in a jar. I also started out with less broth than I typically use because I like my chili to be a little thicker and this one has a tendency to be more stew-like (not a bad thing of course). I topped mine with some Daiya Vegan Cheese, but you could add any cheese or even sour cream or Greek yogurt.


Daily To-Enjoy List:
  • Spin class
  • Getting the bathroom painted
  • Making it to the grocery store
  • Movie night (Haunting of Molly Hartley)
  • Chili dinner

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Weekend Recap + Running

Football Day Recap
Is it me or did this weekend fly by? We got into Fayetteville yesterday just a little after 1 pm. Rather than a gorgeous, perfect football Saturday, it was gray, raining, and about 10 degrees cooler than the forecast said. Oh, and windy too. Great combo right?

At least we enjoyed a nice lunch with great company - my cousin. We were staying at the house of one of my cousins who recently moved out of Fayetteville. One cousin is still there, thankfully. It was so nice to meet up for lunch and catch up. We really don't get to spend nearly enough time together.

I had really wanted to try to go to a great place called Hugo's. They have several veggie dishes, but are always packed. We were just too hungry to wait for a table, and weren't going to hang out outside in the rain. Instead we hit up a pizza place around the corner, it actually started at home so we're familiar with it. I had no idea they had opened up a store in Fayetteville.
My cousin took a picture of me and Jason - please ignore Jason actually saying "cheese."

After lunch, we went back to my cousin's house to just relax for a bit. He lives fairly close to the stadium, so the plan was just to park there then walk over to the stadium and meet up with friends for tailgating later - like when/if it cleared up.

Our friends got into town and let us know they were at the tailgate spot. It had stopped raining, so we headed on over (me, begrudgingly to be honest). I am so glad I brought a coat along with me. It was so much cooler than anticipated. Of course, the rain and wind really didn't help matters at all. Oh, and rain = mud by the way.

I left my camera in my purse, in my car at my cousin's, so no tailgate pics. Though, they wouldn't have been terribly exciting. Everyone was crowded under the canopy trying to just stay warm. What ended up happening is that we sold my ticket to someone in the tailgate party and I went back to my cousin's house.

Honestly, it was for the best. I really didn't care to go to the game, and the weather made that worse. I knew I would make it unpleasant for Jason in the end. So, he got to go and enjoy the game with someone else who would enjoy it, and I got to spend more time with my cousin.

Sunday - Birthday
This morning we got up and headed back home fairly early. It was still gray and dreary, and Jason's allergies were a complete mess. I really felt bad for him. We got home a little after 12. We had planned on getting in the run today that we missed yesterday. Thankfully it had cleared up here - about 75 degrees, some clouds (a plus actually) and breezy, It was pretty humid though - so hello sweatfest!

I started getting myself ready for the run, and honestly didn't think Jason was going to join me because I knew he wasn't feeling the best. But, he got ready to go along with me after all. I got in about 7 miles and Jason got in 6. He is sticking to his half marathon training plan's running time (unlike me). Since he was going to go slower, we didn't run together. But passed by and waved at least ;-)

After getting home and stretching and rolling out on the trigger point kit, we got cleaned up and headed out for a really late lunch. Funny how birthdays change as you get older. Rather than being out partying, we go for a run and late lunch instead. But, he did get to enjoy going to the football game at least right?

I really don't know what we'll do for dinner since we had such a late lunch. I'll let the birthday boy make the call if he wants anything special or not. For now, we're going to sit back and enjoy the last bit of the weekend.

Daily To-Enjoy List:
  • Run with hubby (well, sort of with hubby)
  • Finally seeing the sun 
  • A relaxing day

Saturday, September 17, 2011

No Run on a Soggy Saturday

This morning it was hard to get up and get going. It was chilly (only 56 degrees) and gray. Very dreary. And then the bottom fell out and it just started pouring rain. Jason and I had planned on getting in a run together before heading up to Fayetteville (about 3 hours away) and the weather was just not cooperating. T

It was really kind of strange not getting up and heading out for a long Saturday run, which is what I've become used to. Though, I must say I am glad I wasn't planning on 12 miles in this crappy weather. Guess the whole rearranging of plans worked out for the best after all.

After about 45 minutes of waiting around for the weather to clear, we finally just had to admit we weren't going to get in a run unless we hit the gym. Now, had it been warmer, I would have gladly gone out in the rain because it was just the "right" type of rain - if that makes any sense at all. So, for the first time in who the hell know how long, I'm taking a 2nd rest day AND on a Saturday.

Will readily admit that I'm not happy about it. It's throwing me way off schedule (and I was already off schedule as is). I was determined to get in the mileage according to my half plan, and that's not going to happen now.

So, now we're finishing packing up the car and about to be on our way to Fayetteville to hang out with friends and watch the game.

Happy Saturday!

Daily To-Enjoy List:
  • Morning run with hubby (nixed thanks to rain)
  • Spending day with friends

Friday, September 16, 2011

Fun Facts Friday - You Know You Workout A Lot...

Non-Rest Day Friday
Fridays are typically my rest days. However, I really had to take Wednesday as a rest day, so that meant revamping my planned workout schedule for the week. So, rather than rest, I hit the gym to get in what would have been my Sunday workout: back, shoulders, biceps, abs.

I will admit that it was not easy to find the motivation after yesterday's 12-miler. Feeling a bit beat up and run down. Plus, the weather has been dreary today - overcast and low 60's. More conducive to sleeping than working out.

Rather than the typical 3x8 I keep doing (over and over and over again), I chose 2 exercises for each muscle group and supersetted them as 3x8 and 1 to failure (TF).

SS#1
Pullovers
Double-arm rows

SS#2
Shoulder press
Lateral raise

SS#3
Alternating curls
Hammer curls

I did some brief ab work then wrapped it up and headed back to work.

(NOT) Heading Out on Fun Facts Friday
Tonight we were supposed to be heading out of town for the weekend to Fayetteville, AR - home of the Razorbacks. It's Jason's birthday weekend, and the birthday boy wanted to see a game. So, the plan was to stay at my cousin's house (side note: it's empty as they just moved, no furniture, nothing, so it's sort of like camping out, only in and with electricity and water but nothing else, but free stay).

So, Wednesday and then yesterday we got everything pulled out and mostly ready to pack up (including plates, cups, napkins, and things we might need that wouldn't be at the house). So the house is a total disaster by the way. The dogs think we're moving at this point. Well, last night, Jason started looking at the weather for Fayetteville (because he didn't believe me when I said it was supposed to rain). Then he decides he wants to wait and go up Saturday morning instead.

Really? Sigh. I had just gotten used to the idea of a semi-camp out. Of running part of a new trail (we were planning on 6 miles). And now we're not going until tomorrow. Oh well, it'll be nice to sleep in my own bed again tonight. Definitely feeling yesterday's 12-mile run. And we'll be able to meet up with friends for happy hour to celebrate Jason's birthday. So all is good (despite the house being a disaster area).

I probably should be doing a Fun Facts Friday based on football or birthdays or something like that since that's what I just mentioned. But, that's not how my mind always works. I had wanted to do this post last week, but opted for the kitchen gadgets instead. So, now you're stuck having to read this one anyway ;-)

Since I obviously workout a lot, there are certain things I've noticed that come with the territory. And no, not just days of sore muscles from running and lifting, bloody toes from too-long toenails, or callused hands from weights. We all know those things of course. But what about that long list of other "I workout a lot" cues?

So, You know you workout a lot when...
  • Your car starts to smell like a gym (true story - I even keep a clean towel in there to sit on after workouts)
  • You keep your gym bag packed at all times (usually with 2 sets of clothes, socks)
  • You have your own gym/workout towels
  • Your iPod arm band has to be washed daily (anyone have a cure for this?)
  • 80% of your laundry is workout clothing
  • You have shoes for each type of workout you do
  • You have outfits for each type of workout you do
  • You own more than one pair of lifting gloves
  • You have more than one yoga mat 
  • Everyone at the gym knows you and knows your schedule
  • You have 3 or 4 different types of sore muscle creams on hand
  • You schedule in your workouts like they were a business meeting
Now it's your turn - how do you know you workout a lot?

Daily To-Enjoy Challenge:
  • Weight workout
  • Heading out of town (nixed for Plan B)
  • Plan B - happy hour with friends
  • Sleeping in my own bed

Thursday, September 15, 2011

12-Mile Thursday & Easy Veggie Burger Dinner

12-Mile Run
Today started off incredibly chilly - especially compared to yesterday's mid 90's. It was about 57 degrees on my walk into the office, and windy. I had my 12-mile route all planned out with options of shorter miles if I just wasn't feeling it.

I did leave work around 2:30 (worked through lunch + had work to take home) so I could get the run done before dark. I also needed to be home at a semi-decent time to finish packing for our weekend away. Going out of town to watch a football game (and visit friends) for Jason's birthday this weekend.

Anyway, lots to do, but I was determined to get the run done. The temperatures were really nice. The sun was out. The only obstacle was the gusting winds. But after I had worked up a sweat, the winds felt pretty nice at times.

I stopped twice to fill up my water, one bonus of the route I took. However, I used a different gel today because the store was out of my preferred brand and flavor. I forgot that this one is super runny so I think I spilled most of it. Nice and sticky to go along with sweaty and grimy.

I have been having some issues with my piriformis and sciatic nerve, but managed to push through and get the run done. I did end up with just a little over 12 miles. Mentally it was a better run than physically just because of my hip and my calves, which started cramping up after the run. While my calves often get tight, I've never had them cramp up like they did today.

When I got home I made sure to stretch extra (I always stretch right after the run) and spend more time on my triggerpoint therapy kit. Now I'll be sitting on some ice and icing my calves between packing and working.

Easy Dinner
I needed dinner to be super simple after the run, with the packing, and the work I needed to finish. So, I went with some veggie burgers I made up and had stashed in the freezer. Of course I paired them with baked sweet potato fries. The only difference with these "fries" is that they came from my garden. This means that had to taste better right?
As usual, I topped the burgers with spinach, roasted red bell peppers, and a vegan cheese. Not exciting, but tasty.

Daily To-Enjoy List:
  • 12-mile run - we'll say it was mostly enjoyed ;-)
  • Easy dinner
  • Nice weather

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Unplanned Rest Day and Butternut Squash Chili

Mid-Week Rest Day
Today we had lots of rain and storms in the forecast. I was supposed to do a 6-mile speed workout. But you know what? I didn't want to. I didn't want to run; I didn't want to spin; I didn't want to lift. Period. Several restless nights, two days of spin plus run has just left me worn out. My legs feel heavy and I had no energy to attempt speed work.

So I declared today an unplanned rest day. Of course this wasn't done without lots of thinking, planning, strategizing on when and how to reschedule planned runs. Today was supposed to be my speed work, tomorrow an easy 3-miles then 12 on Saturday.

We'll be out of town Saturday and while I found a 12-mile route, I am absolutely not familiar with the area. Don't have a clue if there are water fountains or anything along the way. I had hoped to do legs tomorrow along with my 3-mile run. So much to think about and rearrange.

So, here's the new plan:

Thurs: 12-miles
Fri: Gym (doing weights I would do on Sunday - shoulder, back, biceps, abs)
Sat: 6-mile run on the route I have found where we will be
Sun: 3-mile run with hill repeats (try for 4x1:00 min) and pickups (try for 6 x 20 sec) to sub for the missed speed work

This gives me the mileage from the training plan for the week (24+) plus the speed work, even if it is a different workout. Sounds doable...now I'm just hoping it really is and that I can follow through.

This is tough for me because I can be fairly inflexible. I don't like to get thrown off routine, but I also know that sometimes you have to go with the flow. So this is me trying to go with the flow ;-)

I know I've asked before, because I've talked about it before...But, how are you with going with the flow, with changing up plans last minute? 

Errands & Chili
The one upside of the rest day is being off work at my normal time with nothing else to do. I guess that's where the guilt comes from on rest days. I feel like I should always be doing something. If not, I feel like I'm just wasting time.

If I could reach the places in our bathroom that Jason has patched, I would have sanded those and started priming the walls. However, it's over the tub and I can't safely climb on anything to reach. Also, dusting the house is futile with all the sanding being done both upstairs and downstairs.

I'm not a TV girl, so no desire to go home and just sit and stare at the tube. I need to stay away from clothing and shoe stores, so no trip to the mall. But, we did need some groceries from Whole Foods, so that's what I did after work. At least it's out of the way and I won't have to worry about finding time over the weekend when we're not even going to be in town.

However, despite it only being 4 pm, the traffic was still hellacious. They are doing major construction on one of the main thoroughfares and of course that's how I need to go to get to Whole Foods. Right now, I don't think there is ever a good time to head in that general direction. Oh well, got it done ;-)

I thought I might make a curry dish tonight with my butternut squash, however, Jason planted the seed for chili. He wanted a white chili, but I didn't really have the ingredients. BUT, I did have the ingredients for a Butternut Squash Chili. I started with my original recipe: Butternut Squash & Black Bean Chili. I did make just a few changes, like adding in the tempeh (which is totally optional of course).

Butternut Squash & Black Bean Chili
Ingredients:
1 tsp (or less) Olive oil
1 package tempeh, crumbled
1 small or 1/2 large yellow onion, diced
2 tbsp minced garlic
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced (out of green)
1/2 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
2 cups water
1 Not-Beef Bouillon Cube (low sodium if you can find)
1 15 oz cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 15 oz cans diced tomatoes (no salt), undrained
2-3 Chipotle peppers in adobe, diced (more or less depending on heat preference)
3 oz tomato paste
To taste: chili powder, salt, pepper, cumin, ground red pepper

Directions:
In large soup pot, brown the tempeh then add in the onion, bell peppers, garlic, and butternut squash. Allow to cook until the onions begin to soften.

Add in remaining ingredients and simmer for approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour or until butternut squash is soft and flavors have melded.

When I first started making this, I thought even I was nuts. It was 91 degrees out. Not ideal chili weather - especially for the first batch of the season. However, we had the last part of the front pushing through and the wind kicked up and temperatures started dropping. So, in the end, not a bad decision.
 

During the fall and winter, chili is one of my favorite dishes. We have it as regularly as we have pizza. So, be prepared to start seeing lots of chili nights on Where's the Beach.

Daily To-Enjoy List:
  • Run - nixed for rest day
  • Time for errands (inserted after I decided on rest day)
  • First chili of the season

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Triceps, Spin & Taco Salad Tuesday

Triceps & Spin
I'm going to chalk it up to the full moon, sleep has been alluding me the past couple of nights. I feel like a zombie and the allergies aren't helping. Hello bags under the eyes. Again, I was dragging this morning, but hit up spin for the much-needed boost of energy.

Before class, I got in a triceps workout. I did the same as last week because....well, I was sore after the workout and it was a quick one I could squeeze in. And yes, you could argue that I shouldn't be trying to squeeze it in. I will agree. I did the workout as a giant set of 3x8 with the exception of the dips where I did 10 reps for each set:

Double-arm overhead triceps extension
Double-arm kickbacks
Dips with straight legs

Next week I'm going to really sit down and work on my weight lifting splits and workouts. I feel like I'm in a major rut and not focusing on the weights quite like I should. Of course, the same thing happened the last time I was trying to train for a half marathon. Eventually you just run out of time in the day to get it all done.

Taco Tuesday
Today I wanted an easy dinner again. Though, I do have several butternut squash that a friend gave to me that are just begging to be used. I had thought about a Butternut Squash & Black Bean Chili, but we've had a warm up in our temps again. I even thought about a Thai Curry Butternut Squash concoction (that may make an appearance tomorrow).

But I decided to KISS (keep it simple stupid) and go with the Taco Tuesday theme for sake of ease. I mean when it's Taco Tuesday, you have tacos. No crazy dreamed up recipes, just tacos right? Well, for the most part.

I was going to do a taco salad bow, but decided to cut up and toast up the whole-wheat tortillas instead. The first thing I do with the taco bowl is smash it anyway.

For the filling, I browned up tempeh, onions, bell peppers, fresh jalapenos, then tossed in frozen corn and black beans. I seasoned with the typical Tex-Mex seasonings: chili powder, cilantro, cumin, salt, pepper, red pepper, splash of lemon juice.
 

I served on a bed of lettuce and spinach, topped with Daiya Vegan Cheese, cherry tomatoes, and pickled jalapenos. What are your favorite taco salad toppings? For me, jalapenos are an absolute must ;-)

Daily To-Enjoy List:
  • Spin class
  • Easy dinner
  • Reading before bed

Monday, September 12, 2011

2-bean Salad with Socca on a 2-a-day Monday

Spinning & Running
This morning I woke up feeling a bit stuffy, then that lead into drippy. I guess weeding the yard yesterday got to me in terms of allergies. Lots of tissues being used today. I haven't decided if a runny nose is better or worse than stuffed up.

I really was feeling super lazy about working out. I should have gotten out of bed and done my 3-mile run this morning. But even at 6:15, it was still dark. I really don't feel comfortable running in my neighborhood in the dark. At least at the river trail, I know a car won't hit me.

I packed my gym bag for either a run or spin, depending on how I was feeling. I ended up decided to go with spin and promised myself I'd do the training run after work. Spin was odd today. They had cleaned the carpets over the weekend and didn't put the bikes back the way they were. It's funny how just slightly different positioning can really throw everything off. The sound system wasn't set up correctly either, so everything was just off today. I didn't even have more normal water bottle. Monday much?

But, it was still a good workout and I definitely felt more energized after class. I needed that sweatfest in a big way. Though, I will admit that it didn't leave me with much energy for the 3-mile training run I was supposed to do.

The 3-mile run was supposed to be an "easy" training run. How can I complicate easy? Many ways. Like spin at lunch and waiting until after work when it was a nice 95 degrees. I decided to just do the run in my neighborhood, so that complicated the run too - nice LONG steady incline up one of the streets.

I've definitely gotten used to running at the river trails and not having to worry with traffic. Lots of stopping at intersections and trying to get going again. I've also been enjoying longer runs and have gotten used to not really settling into the run for the first couple of miles. When you're only doing 3 miles, you've just hit your groove and it's over.

But, I'm not going to say it was a bad run. Oddly, it was a pretty good one. It also helped running through sprinklers and watching a lady play with her Doberman in the front yard. She would spray the water hose all around and the dog would jump up and about chasing after the water. Definitely gave me a chuckle.

So, despite my best attempts at making it a bad run, it wasn't so bad after all.

Easy Dinner
Since I ran after work, had to stretch, roll, and still get cleaned up, I wanted a super simple dinner. I had some leftover 2-Bean Salad I made on Saturday, so I decided to combine that with some cherry tomatoes, artichokes, and barley. I served it on top of a bed of lettuce and spinach.

For the side, I made a super simple, super tasty socca bread (thank you for the reminder Sarena!). I followed my friend Sarena's suggested recipe of equal parts water and chickpea flour then seasoned with salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano, parsley, and finely diced up sundried tomatoes.
 
 

This turned out to be a really nice leftover meal I must say. It didn't feel like boring leftovers at all. Of course, it was slightly re-purposed. (Missy, I hope this was ok for the Monday we've had ;-) )

Daily To-Enjoy List:
  • Spin
  • Run
  • Easy dinner

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Appreciating the Normal like Gym, Home Projects, Grilling

Gym Day
This morning I got up and headed to the gym. My gym is in a corporate building on the 29th floor. You have to be let in and sign in and out on weekends and after hours. Well, as I started to sign in, the guard (a real oddball that creeps me out) said I could get my workout in going to the gym. Huh?

Apparently the elevators were out from 8-1 today. What? They would have to escort me up the freight elevator and then I'd have to call to be escorted back down when done. Ok, fine, whatever. Except it's really awkward being stuck in the freight elevator with the guard that sort of creeps you out to begin with.

Anyway, let's just say I had the gym completely to myself. I got on the elliptical to do my warmup. CNN is was on - and it just happened to be the exact time that the 2nd tower had come down 10 years ago. What a sobering moment it was for me. I am on the 29th floor of a building looking out at a gorgeous day, gorgeous views, and 10 years ago at that same time, the world was changing forever.

Glad no one else was there as I'm tearing up on the stinking elliptical transfixed at the CNN broadcast. I know so many have done posts about 9/11. I am choosing not to. I know that each and every one of us has spent a great deal of time thinking back, reflecting, and hopefully appreciating this very day, each and every moment of being alive today.

And that's what I did. I worked out and appreciated the fact that I could. Period. I did back, shoulders, biceps as trisets of 3x8.

TS#1
Underhand barbell rows
Shoulder press
Alternating curls

TS#2
Pullover
Lateral raise
Hammer curls

TS#3
Double-arm rows
Upright rows
Incline curls

I did some ab work then called security to escort me back down.

House Projects
I got home and Jason had left to go for a run. I decided to sit out on the patio and read for a little bit before he got home. We were going to try to tackle the rest of the house repair project we started two weeks ago. He needed to get to Home Depot for drywall before we could finish it up, still had to patch and sand another round before painting.

While he went to the store, I did spend some time in the kitchen and made some seitan to keep in the freezer. I also did a few loads of laundry and some weeding in the flour beds. I desperately wanted to sweep and dust, but that would be futile with the sanding and such going on. I just tried not to look around me ;-)

Jason got home and I had the brilliant idea to paint an old dresser that a friend had given us ages ago. We use it in the bathroom we're painting, and I knew that when we put it back in with the fresh paint, it'd look awful. It was already sort of an antique yellowish/whitish color (aka dingy looking). Besides, while Jason was fixing the ceiling, patching, sanding, I couldn't do much else.

I must say I'm very happy with my decision to paint that dresser. It turned out great. So much brighter and cleaner looking. Now I need to get some new drawer pulls for it and it's good to go. I love re-purposing furniture like that. No need to go out and buy new stuff when you don't have to.

Creative Grilling 
Dinner ended up being a weird hodge-podge creation. We wanted to grill, but Jason didn't seem excited about a grilled veggie salad. I had some lentils in the freezer and suggested maybe some sort of lentil stuffed, grilled portobello mushrooms. I thought I had enough quinoa to add to the lentils, but didn't. Next option was barley.

What we ended up with was a Grilled Vegetables Lentil Barley Salad with Grilled Portobellos.


Grilled Vegetables Lentil Barley Salad with Grilled Portobellos
Ingredients:
2 portobello mushrooms
2 medium sized carrots, halved
1/3 red onion sliced
1/3 red bell pepper
1/3 green bell pepper
1 1/2 cups cooked lentils
1 cup cooked barley
Dressing: red wine vinegar, curry powder, salt, pepper, red pepper, OJ, parsley, Dijon mustard
1/4 cup currants, re-hydrated 


Directions:
Using a veggie grill pan, grill the carrots, onions, and bell peppers until soft. Grill the portobello mushrooms directly on the grill. Put the peppers in a container and seal and allow to steam for about 5 minutes before peeling off skin and chopping.

Dice up all veggies (but not mushrooms) to approximate size of lentils. For the mushrooms, just slice on the diagonal - you will serve over the top of the rest of the dish.

In small mixing bowl, combine dressing ingredients. In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except for the mushrooms. Re-season if needed. Serve the mushrooms sliced over the top of the lentil and barley mixture.
 

This turned out really well. I think the barley lentil part would be a great base for grilled tofu or tempeh as well or on it's own over a bed of lettuce.

Daily To-Enjoy List:
  • Weight workout
  • Gorgeous weather
  • Patio time
  • Home decor project success

Saturday, September 10, 2011

11 Miles & Tailgating

On Your Left 11
This morning I ended up waking up earlier than I thought I would. I really wanted to try to sleep in, you know, past 7 am. But, I didn't. And that's ok because we had a full day ahead with lots that needed to get done in the morning.

I had my route planned out better this time, so I didn't just have to guess distance based on time. When I set out for the run, it was in the low 60's, light breeze, and blue skies. Just gorgeous. I felt great getting started, settled into a nice pace pretty quickly. I was smiling and just enjoying the morning.

What I didn't realize was that there was a bike ride for Multiple Sclerosis (Bike MS) going on so I heard, "on your left," and then a group of cyclists whizzed past me. Cool, I waved and let them know I heard them and all that jazz. Then again, "on your left." Another wave. Yep, got it. I'm over to the right as far as I can go.

For the first 6 miles I started thinking my name was "On Your Left." Of course I giggled about it to myself, I was in a great, semi-giddy mood enjoying the morning. I went the same route as last week, only I followed the path farther along to add on the needed miles to get me to 11. It's kind of fun going a new route, you see new things and aren't just focused on the miles.

Jason had said he was going to ride his bike, of course, he was barely out of bed when I left. But around mile 5.5, he passed  by me. I was pretty zoned out and almost didn't even recognize him. Of course, I wasn't looking for him either. He rode by me for a few minutes just asking how it was going, then he went one way and I headed back towards my car. My car was the 7-mile mark (7.07 but who's counting), and I needed to refill my water bottle by then.

I set off to finish off my last four miles, still feeling pretty good. My left hip was starting to hurt a little bit by that point though. I just tried to change my pace a little to get out of the rut (for lack of a better explanation). That helped a little bit, but by mile 8 it was really really hurting. Thank goodness that was the only pitfall of the run or it could have turned into a shitty run quickly. But the weather was still fantastic, and I was still in a good mood.

Jason caught up with me again around mile 9 and asked how I was doing. I told him I felt like the Energizer Bunny at that point...Stttiillllll going......

So, total of 11.3 today. Big ass grin on my face too ;-)

Tailgating
I got home and stretched and rolled out my muscled on my Triggerpoint kit for a good 30 minutes before getting cleaned up (aka de-crusting myself). Then I had to get my rear in gear. The plan was to meet some friends to tailgate today. I had promised to bring several different dishes, and still needed to make two of them.

Last night I got a 2-Bean Salad made along with Chocolate Cupcakes with a Peanut Butter Frosting. The bean salad was super simple: black-eyed peas, chickpeas, bell peppers, onions, balsamic vinagrette, and Dijon mustard.
I had bought a sugar-free chocolate cake mix on clearance one day just to have on hand. So I decided to use that to make some cupcakes. I wasn't sure what frosting to do exactly. To be honest, I don't like cakes/cupcakes. But chocolate and peanut butter go hand-in-hand right? So then I started searching for an easy vegan recipe.

I remembered one I had recently seen that looked to-die for delish. So, I decided to use a Peanut Butter Frosting recipe from Kristina @ SpaBettie. It called for 3 ingredients so how could I pass up trying that one out? I will say, mine looked nothing like hers. But, it tasted good at least.

After my run this morning, I made up a quick hummus and a Curried Tahini Potato Salad. For the potato salad, I mixed together tahini, stone-ground mustard, agave, and curry powder in a large bowl. After the potatoes had boiled, I drained them and put them back in the cooking pot to cook off any additional water, then add salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and parsley to the potatoes before adding them into the tahini mixture.

I decided they need crunch so I added in some sunflower seeds at the end. I gotta say, this turned out way better than I even expected. Not so exotic as to scare anyone, but definitely more gourmet. Jason has already put his stamp of approval on this with several helpings.

We packed everything up then headed out to the tailgate party:
Me and my friend Cris

Me and Jason (I tried standing on the high side of slope to look less short)

Me and friend Karla - she's 27 wks pregnant and made that cute dress (and it's non-alcoholic wine in her hand)

We had a great time tailgating with our friends and enjoying the fantastic weather. I knew I was going to start winding down early because of the long run, so we opted against going to the game in lieu of home and PJs.

Happy Saturday! 

Daily To-Enjoy List:
  • Morning run
  • Tailgating with friends
  • Relaxing

Friday, September 9, 2011

Fun Facts Friday - Kitchen Gadgets

Rest Day & Running Thoughts
Happy Friday and Happy Rest Day! My legs are feeling yesterday's workout in new places. Which means that I did good with the exercises I chose. Gotta strengthen the weak areas right? Now I'm just hoping they don't get more sore throughout the day as I have an 11-miler on tap for tomorrow.

Just thinking about running 11....11 long miles...it makes me both nervous and excited. Last week I did 10.5. And they were great. But what if tomorrow ends up being a crappy run? My allergies have been going nuts this week, so that worries me. At least it's not supposed to be terribly hot.

And while I'm nervous, I'm also really excited to be back in the double digits. There is definitely a feeling of pride when you start to add up those miles, not going to lie. I used to just think anyone who ran over 7 or 8 miles was just crazy. I mean really, why the hell would anyone do that. Now I'm that person. Now people look at me and think I'm crazy (well, I am but that's beside the point).

Do you get nervous when you are working towards a very set, specific goal like increasing miles or maybe increasing weights?

Fun Facts Friday - Kitchen Gadgets
While just talking about running would have been a great segue into one of my Fun Facts Friday ideas, I thought I'd go a different direction today. I do quite a few fun facts about working out, running, etc.

Since I've been spending more time in the kitchen this week being creative, I thought I'd share some of my favorite kitchen gadgets - many of them I even questioned buying to being with because I thought they were silly or a waste of money.
  • Coffee grinder - I use this several times a week to grind oats for oat flour or cashews to use in cream sauce, also to grind my flax seeds. And to think I put off spending 20 bucks because I thought it was a waste of money.
  • Mandoline - We bought a cheaper one because I wasn't sure I'd use it, and I love it. Of course, I like things to be uniformly cut so that would make perfect sense in my world.
  • Bread machine - I think I'm one of the only people who actually uses their bread machine on a weekly basis. Love it.
  • Pizza stone(s) - I have 2 because I use them so often.
  • Food processor - wish I had 2, perhaps one small and then my regular sized one. I often use it multiple times for a single dish. 
  • Electric wok - absolutely love it for stir fry dishes. Heats up quickly too.
  • Crockpot/Slow cooker - ended up starting to use our old one so often we upgraded to one with a timer. 
What are your favorite, must-have kitchen items/gadgets? Anything you bought thinking you might not use but use all the time?

Daily To-Enjoy List:
  • Friday - enough said
  • Rest day
  • Happy hour with friends (hopefully on patio)
  • Pizza Friday (gotta use that bread machine and pizza stone right?)