A Little More Each Day

One working mama learning to run & to maintain my 100+ pound weight loss!

Friday Favorites: Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween everyone! Anybody in costume today? I’m a black dress that will be easily converted to witchy-wear once I add my gorgeous purple witch hat for distributing candy tonight at home. 🙂

 

I can't wait to see how trick or treating goes this year! Or what costume O ultimately decides on - we have several in our stash of playthings.

I can’t wait to see how trick or treating goes this year! Or what costume O ultimately decides on – we have several in our stash of playthings.

 

I’ve got an incredibly scattered set of articles I’d flagged this week, reflecting my slightly scattered brain lately. Thankfully things have settled down in terms of work and travel and I am really looking forward to the approaching holiday season! Fair warning: Disorganized and scatterbrained post ahead! TGIF!

 

Speaking of feeling like a scattered and distracted working mom, I think I need to read this post on being enough every day. Like a lot of people (and I suspect most working moms), I constantly find myself feeling like I haven’t given enough or done enough for any of my many responsibilities. I like the idea of taking the time at the end of the day to recognize all that we do that is enough. We are all so hard on ourselves, whether it is with regards to our eating or our exercise or our parenting or our partnering or our jobs. We can be so much harsher on ourselves than we would ever be on anyone else. In this season of gratitude, maybe we should practice extending a little of that gratitude inwards.

 

A 10 minute-a-day exercise challenge was part of my original start with Weight Watchers a couple of years ago and now that I’m officially back on the wagon, I think it’ll be a good place to get me back in the right mindset and keep me on track through the holidays. I’ll use the SparkPeople #Fit2Feast hashtag to keep myself on track on Twitter and Facebook through the holiday season.

 

OMG you guys – I just noticed on my computer screen that there’s an ad for Caramel Macchiato GU. That sounds AWESOME. Going on my “runner’s stocking” wishlist for sure!!

 

On Halloween, it’s only fitting to link to a couple of posts about candy, right? First up is this Spark People slideshow showing some 100 calorie or less options, if you want to indulge. To balance that, Laura has a list of workouts to balance each treat, just to help us remember how fast those little treats add up! If you need a dose of healthy inspiration, check out Why I Do This Here (W.I.D.T.H.) on Jack Sh*t Gettin’ Fit, a new-to-me blog (but totally not new – lots of great, funny, real content there!). I was so happy and proud for all of the people featured there!

 

What treat are you going to indulge in tonight? I confess, I probably won’t have any candy. I have a big vat of chili in the slow cooker but don’t even really feel like I’m craving sweets. After my overindulgence on half marathon weekend, straying off the straight and narrow (with the GI distress that accompanies that!) doesn’t seem tempting at all. I am looking forward to some apple cider and turning on the fireplace, since it has turned really chilly here today. 🙂

 

Anybody have a particularly fun Halloween costume this year? I saw one team at work dressed as various bugs, with the supervisor as an exterminator, which I thought was cute. The girl I bought coffee from this morning was a purple minion, which was adorable too. I’ll be sure to let you guys know tomorrow which outfit Oliver settles on!

 

Happy Halloween! Stay safe!
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Rebel Challenge Training Plan

After allowing myself a couple of weeks to rest and recover after my 13.FUN training plan for the Des Moines Half Marathon, I’m ready to get started with training for the Rebel Challenge at Disneyland! This race will include a 10K on Saturday followed by a half marathon on Sunday, so it will mean a very different training and racing strategy than I’ve used before. I’ll be doing lots of reading and listening to podcasts about the previous Disney training challenge as there will be a lot of pacing, recovery and fueling issues unique to this back-to-back racing style.

A Hans Solo action figure from an old boy friend, who knew who my real first love was :)

A Hans Solo action figure from an old boy friend, who knew who my real first love was 🙂

From a running perspective, I looked to the RunDisney Galloway training plans for a loose framework. As I’m coming out of half marathon training just a couple of weeks ago and feeling good, I definitely don’t need to start at the beginning as his plan which is a 3 mile long run (although I LOVE that the training plan does start so small for beginners as I remember when 3 miles felt huge). I’ll be starting with a long run of 6 miles, which is very attainable for me now (I think, having run only once since the half marathon!).

This plan will focus on back to back runs, to simulate the back to back runs of race weekend. I’ll do these Friday/Saturday so that I can keep my Sundays as rest days and for my Oliver breakfast dates. 🙂 In that sense, it’s really helpful that the 13.FUN training plan I just completed had me doing runs of 6-7 miles on weekday mornings so I already know I can wake up early enough to get the miles in. I’ll start with 3 miles on Friday and 6 miles on Saturday, progressing by 0.5 mile a week for the Friday run, up to 6 miles, and 1 mile a week on the Saturday run, up to 11 miles. The Friday run will be focused completely on maintaining an EASY pace so I don’t wear myself out for Saturday.

I’ll keep the speed work and cross training from the 13.FUN plan. I’ve also got a promise from my husband that we’ll have a strength training session together once a week.

Here’s an overview of my plan (I’ll update the training page tonight):
Mondays: Cross training

Tuesdays: Easy runs 4-5 miles

Wednesdays: Speed/hill work, with 1 minute intervals; 6-8 intervals

Thursday: Cross training or rest

Friday: Easy walk/run intervals starting at 3 miles and increasing by 0.5 miles up to 6 miles

Saturday: Easy run starting at 6 miles and increasing by 1 mile up to 11 miles

I’ll give myself light weeks for Thanksgiving and my week of call in December, plus two weeks of taper in January. I’m enjoying my time off but I’m looking forward to taking on a very different kind of training and challenge for the next couple of months! Anybody else doing Star Wars?

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Weight Loss Wednesday: Back on the tracking wagon

As of last Monday (October 20), I’m back on the wagon in terms of tracking my WW points in weight loss mode. I’ve let things creep up over the last couple of months and if I want to have some room to indulge on some selected holiday events, I need to feel like I’m back in control of my food. I’m not a big fan of time limited weight loss goals, so I don’t have any deadline for getting back to my goal weight (167 pounds per my doctor’s note on file with WW, 164 for a normal BMI) but I do want to feel like I’ve got a better handle on things by the time Thanksgiving rolls around.

My experiment with the Simply Filling program wasn’t a complete failure. I didn’t gain much weight and my clothes still fit (mostly), but it definitely gave me too much room to overeat when I was stressed and distracted. The whole idea of healthy foods being more filling and satisfying definitely doesn’t work well enough for me in times of stress. I can eat a lot of calories in just healthy choices, after all. 🙂 I did really like the way we were all eating the same healthy meals when I was doing Simply Filling, though, and I don’t want to give that up.

One of the nice things about having tracked so much of my food in the last couple of years is that it allows me to look back to see how my points were distributed back when I was losing weight (at least at my notes and comments here or tracked on paper; the WW electronic tracking only goes back about 6 weeks). That has allowed me to devise a slightly crazy hybrid plan so that I can track my food, but also keep my Simply Filling dinners with my family in the mix.

Back when I was losing successfully and maintaining well, I was eating 15 points for breakfast, lunch and snacks (i.e. everything but dinner). Thus, on days when I’m making a healthy family meal that doesn’t lend itself to easy tracking (like chili or a casserole), I’ll use that as a Simply Filling meal and focus on eating a reasonable portion. I’ll have my 15 points to use for the rest of my meals / snacks for the day. If we’re eating out or eating something that I could reasonably track without eating a totally different meal from the rest of my family, like last night’s quesadillas that I cooked individually anyway because that’s how I cook those, I track like normal with my 26 daily points. Especially as O gets older, I want to be sure we’re modeling good habits in all sitting down together to have a healthy dinner instead of mom eating salad and everyone else eating junk. We’ll see how this hybrid approach goes. Of course, there’s no way to set up this kind of ad hoc tracking in the app, so it’ll be on me and the honor system to see how it works out. I’ll keep you guys posted.
Moving back down

Moving back down

I got a couple of little boosts in motivation this week to get me back on track. First, when I did my Tuesday morning weigh in, I was at 174.5, which means most (but not all) of last week’s big gain was just temporary post-run fluid shifting. It’s good to see most of that weight gone again but also good to be honest with myself about the fact that not all of it is gone, which means not all of it was due to just the long run.
The first part of the Weight Control Registry packet has arrived.

The first part of the Weight Control Registry packet has arrived.

The second boost was getting the consent packet for the National Weight Control Registry. As this is an actual scientific research study, there were a lot of consent forms to complete so that they can use the information they collect from me. As someone who reads a lot of research papers for a living, I’m kind of entertained by being a data point. 🙂

I was also thinking that I would let my FitBit sync with WW to calculate my activity points, rather than calculating them myself, to keep me from over-estimating my calorie burn but that syncing process is ridiculously slow! I’d rather eat my activity points (if I’m going to) on the day I earned them, but it has been a day or two before the points show up with the FitBit sync. I think I’ll just go back to manually entering my activity. As I’ve rarely eaten my activity points, overestimating probably isn’t hurting me much anyway.

I’d like to get to the point where I feel like I can do Simply Filling for select periods, like traveling, where it would be easier to practice eating intuitively and sanely without tracking. Hopefully I’ll feel like things are back in control enough by Thanksgiving that I’ll be able to do that. I’ll keep up Tuesday morning weigh ins and keep you guys posted here as I go along.

When I started tracking again, I didn’t feel deprived at all. Instead, I felt almost relieved to be back within the structure of the points system. It makes me think of all of the toddler behavior things you read that talk about how kids crave boundaries when they’re growing up because it helps them feel safe as they’re learning more about the world. I think that thought process definitely applies to making healthy lifestyle changes too, even if I try to avoid putting myself in “time away” when I slip up. 🙂
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Southern Living 5 Ingredient Weeknight Meals Review & Recipes

A month or so ago, I got approached regarding a cookbook review. I spent quite a bit of time thinking about it before I decided to accept the opportunity, because this is and will remain a non-profit blog. I use this space to share my personal experiences rather than as a monetary venture (not that there’s anything wrong with blogs that are monetized! It just isn’t something I’m interested in!). However, both of these cookbooks were things I’d be likely to read or purchase on my own if I’d seen them somewhere. Thus, I accepted the opportunity to look at them and share them with you guys (including giveaways below) but have not been compensated for these reviews and the opinions are entirely my own.First up is the Southern Living What’s for Supper series’ 5 Ingredient Weeknight Meals: Delicious Dinners in 30 minutes or less. This is definitely right up my alley, as a working mom who likes to cook for my family but usually has a very chaotic 20-30 minute window in which to accomplish this after getting O home from daycare.
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This was just released by Oxmoor House this year ($19.95) and at first glance, is bright, breezy and approachable. It’s 250 pages and filled with colorful pictures of the finished products of these recipes (although no step-wise photos).Southern Living 5 ingredient 30 minute meals

The first section includes tips on stocking your pantry with go-to ingredients and tools to put dinner on the table quickly and general tips about boosting flavor while minimizing prep time. None of the tips were earth-shattering for me, but they would be a helpful starting place for someone who is new to cooking and a little intimidated at the idea of getting started.

These pizzas sound fabulous!

These pizzas sound fabulous!

The recipes include a chapter on grilling, no-cook suppers, gorgeous pizzas and pastas, breakfast for dinner (my favorite dinner food!), one-dish meals, easy sides and 3-ingredient desserts. The focus of these recipes is on quick and simple, so there’s definitely a semi-homemade approach with some pre-made options like prepared pestos and pizza crusts. I love cooking from scratch on the weekend, but I definitely appreciate shortcuts like these on busy weeknights! None of the recipes included exotic or difficult to find ingredients. Everything should be available at your local mega-mart. They do stretch the idea of “5” ingredients in many cases, but things are definitely simple and straightforward. The techniques are also really approachable.

In testing recipes themselves, I was surprised to see that there were several recipes in here that were variations on go-to recipes I already use! This includes Korean Flank Steak (very similar to Tony’s Steak, a favorite recipe of ours from the Dinner: A Love Story cookbook) and Tuscan Tuna Salad with White Beans (very similar to my favorite Tuna Melts from Cooking Light). The recipes lean heavily in the direction of comfort food and aren’t necessarily light but you could make tweaks as you go along (as I did with the recipes I tested out below). The vanilla wafer sandwich bites (vanilla wafers, with peanut butter between two cookies and then dipped in chocolate) are very similar to a treat my mom made us growing up and had me smiling nostalgically. 🙂

This made me think of treats as a kid :)

This made me think of treats as a kid 🙂

My favorite sections to look through were the pizzas (gorgeous ideas!) and desserts, because who doesn’t like the idea of 3 ingredient desserts? For testing purposes, we tried out a few recipes and I’ll share our two favorites here. First up:

Mustard-Rosemary Pork Kabobs

Mustard-Rosemary Pork Kabobs

Mustard-Rosemary Pork Kabobs: 6 servings; 1 hr 25 minutes total time (25 minutes hands on)

1/2 cup savory Dijon-style honey mustard *I used spicy brown mustard

1 tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp garlic salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

2 lb pork tenderloin, cut into 2 inch cubes

Cooking spray

4 red bell peppers, cut into 2 inch pieces

1 (8 oz) package whole fresh mushrooms *I skipped this part

Place first 5 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic freezer bag. Seal bag and shake to blend. Add pork to bag. Seal bag and chill 1 hour. *I let this sit for 5 minutes at most and still got fantastic flavor, so I don’t know that you really need an hour.

The original recipe calls for these to be cooked on skewers on the grill, which would be gorgeous and very tasty I’m sure. It was a rainy day in Omaha when we tested these, so instead I tossed the mustard-coated pork and pieces of bell pepper in a roasting pan, in the oven at 350 F for about 15-20 minutes or until the pork was done. While the skewers are lovely and I’m sure the grill adds a nice smoky flavor, this was DELISH just as an oven roasted dish.

Next up, I had to try the three(ish) ingredient chocolate chip cookies because the recipe was like nothing I’ve ever seen before. They turned out great!

Chocolate chip cookies made with almond butter - yummy!

Chocolate chip cookies made with almond butter – yummy!

Chocolate Chip Cookies: Makes 3 dozen (I only made 12 or so but mine were big!); 35 minutes total time (11 minutes hands on)

1 cup maple almond butter (You could probably substitute regular almond butter, which is cheaper. The maple didn’t come through as a flavor)

1 large egg

1 cup sugar

1 cup semisweet chocolate mini-morsels

1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Stir together all ingredients until smooth. Shape mixture into 1 inch balls (mine were more like 2 inches, thus fewer cookies and longer cooking time) and place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets.

2. Bake for 8-10 minutes (more like 12-15 minutes with my giant cookies) or until golden brown. Transfer cookies to a wire rack, and cool completely (about 20 minutes).

These were great! Oliver loved them and other than a little nuttiness, you’d never guess this was such a non-traditional cookie recipe.

Big hit with the toddler crowd!

Big hit with the toddler crowd!

This would definitely be a great cookbook for someone looking for an easy way to start getting more homemade meals on the table. It’s really approachable, tasty food and completely doable for most busy families. I get to give away a copy to one lucky reader, for you to keep or to share with a lucky friend at the holidays. To enter, just leave me a note below. I’ll let my random selection committee (ie Oliver with numbers in a cup or the random number generator) choose a winner a week from today (11/4/2014).

Can you believe it’s already almost November? Anybody else already started with their holiday shopping? I have one lucky friend who will be getting a copy of this cookbook for Christmas because I think it’s right up her alley. 🙂

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Thanks for all of the entries! Sara M is our winner!!

 

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A good little run in Utah to get my mind right

Last Thursday, I was in a really grumpy and whiny place mentally. I was tired from travel and still beating myself up a bit for overeating over the weekend before and was feeling more than a little on edge. Thankfully, I got a good night’s sleep and woke up Friday feeling like I was in a much better place. A big part of what helped, other than the sleep, was a gorgeous easy little run to mark Utah off of my 50 states list. I confess, the only reason I hauled myself out of bed to run was so I didn’t this opportunity to mark one more state off of the list. That’s 4 this month!

Sunny, with mountains in the distance any where you turned!

Sunny, with mountains in the distance any where you turned!

I didn’t have any set plan for time or distance, other than the half mile I’ve decreed to mark a state as completed. I headed off in the direction of Temple Square, which was about a mile away.

I passed lots of beautiful buildings along the way.

I passed lots of beautiful buildings along the way.

The streets were all remarkably clean! The run felt like a real struggle to start with, feeding into my negative mental loop, but like most runs, it got easier once I started paying attention to my surroundings and just letting my legs do their job. It turns out, they know what they’re doing and it actually ended up being a really easy speedy little run in the second half!

Gorgeous church!

Gorgeous church!

Once I reached the church, I stopped my Garmin and just walked around for a while. It was so peaceful in the Temple Square complex of churches and really helped me reset my mind. Talking to a woman at a red light about my awesome SparkleSkirt also helped. 🙂

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imageI also made a brief side trip to a little park before heading back to my hotel. You guys know I’m a sucker for a little bridge. 🙂

The run I did get in was gorgeous and checked Utah off of my list (more pics coming later)

The run I did get in was gorgeous and checked Utah off of my list (more pics coming later)

All in all, this little run was less than 2.5 miles but I traveled leagues in terms of resetting my negative frame of mind, remembering that I’m in charge of my body, not food, not stress, not anyone else – it’s all just me and I can make it do wonderful things. I’m so glad I had this little 50 state challenge to force me to hit the road that morning!

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Weekly Wrap-Up: Lazy recovery week

There really haven’t been many workouts to recap at all this week. I was planning on running a couple of times through the week, with a 4-6 mile run this weekend. Instead, my only workouts have been a 30 minute run on Friday and a 30 minute walk Saturday. I’m not really sure what happened, other than life getting in the way, but I did at least get lots of steps in on the days I wasn’t working out.

The run I did get in was gorgeous and checked Utah off of my list (more pics coming later)

The run I did get in was gorgeous and checked Utah off of my list (more pics coming later)

More importantly for my week, I’m feeling like I’m getting back on even keel in terms of eating. I’ve tracked everything, had lots of water and stuck my October goal of no eating after 9 pm.

Non-scale victories for the week:

– I ate room service several times in Utah and after the first night, I asked them not to send the yummy rolls with dinner. I had the points for both of them the first night (and they were DELICIOUS) but knew I only got away with it the first night because I essentially fell asleep as soon as I finished dinner. No need to tempt fate unnecessarily. It felt a little like admitting weakness to the complete stranger on the other end of the room service line, but that’s better than setting myself up for failure.

– I’ve tracked every bite I’ve eaten since I got back on the wagon Monday morning.

– Saturday morning I went for a walk on the hotel treadmill before the conference got started early in the morning. Not the most exciting workout, but it was movement and that counts.

– I didn’t eat a single cookie despite them sitting them out at EVERY SINGLE BREAK this meeting. I drank loads of coffee as a distraction, but none of the baked goods.

Doesn't this look delicious? It was a vegetable stack, with a vegan gardenburger, Portobello mushroom, and all of those other veggies.

Doesn’t this look delicious? It was a vegetable stack, with a vegan gardenburger, Portobello mushroom, and all of those other veggies.

I’m flying home today and am so glad this is the last trip I’ll be taking without my guys until the Rebel Challenge in January. I fly home through Minneapolis, which I know has a great healthy salad bar and market for a healthy lunch. Plus I promise myself that I’ll get in at least a 30 minute walk while I’m on my layover. Next week, I’ll make a more concerted effort to get runs in so that I’m ready for the Rebel Challenge training plan to start in a week.

I hope you all had a good week! Do you already have your Halloween candy? I think I have enough for our usual number of trick or treaters, but who knows how much candy is left after Darrell has been home on single parent duty for a few days yet again this month. 🙂 He’s totally earned every bite.

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Surprisingly yummy quick and easy beef and veggie soup in the slow cooker

Last week, we planned a quick and easy slow cooker soup for dinner on Thursday night because I knew I’d be getting home after 6. I polled my guys for their favorite veggies and then just tossed them all in the slow cooker, with a little bit of beef, and crossed my fingers that we’d have something yummy when we got home. Both of my guys inhaled it and any time you can get a 3 year old to eat a big bowl of veggies, it’s a win.
Slow cooker beef and veggie soup - huge hit in our house!

Slow cooker beef and veggie soup – huge hit in our house!

This soup is definitely a good demonstration of using meat as a small flavoring tool instead of the primary focus of a dish, if you’re looking to lighten up your dishes without going full-on vegetarian. I won’t pretend that this is at all swanky or fancy food, but it is quick and healthy and a life saver for a busy working mom. It’s also a great way to use up any bits and pieces of veggies you have in your freezer, fridge or pantry. I confess that part of the carrots in this soup, the first time we made it, were a little baggie of carrots that came as a side choice with something O got as a kids meal somewhere that I found hanging out in the back of the fridge. You could use any veggies your family likes. We have a ton of potatoes from the CSA and probably should have tossed them in. We will next time!

Slow Cooker Beef and Veggie Soup:

Cook time 8 hours on low

Prep time 5-10 minutes (seriously)

Ingredients:

3/4-1 pound lean beef (we used a sirloin steak and I didn’t even cut it into chunks – it just pulled apart when things were done)

1 diced onion *I used a precut mirepoix mixture to save time

3 stalks diced celery *I used a precut mirepoix mixture to save time

1 diced bell pepper
2 cups fresh carrots (I used a bag of pre-sliced coins, plus a small baggie of carrots that came as a side with a kids meal)
1 large bag frozen corn
1 large bag frozen peas
1 large bag frozen lima beans
1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes with garlic (if you can’t find these, use regular diced tomatoes and add a couple of cloves of garlic, minced)
1 box unsalted beef stock
Seasoning to taste: I used 1 tablespoon of a grill seasoning mix I have and a few grinds of pepper. Your favorite hamburger seasoning or Mrs Dash would also work well.

Literally, just toss all of these things in the slow cooker, put on the lid and come home to dinner later. If you’re lazy like me and didn’t cut the beef into bite size chunks, it should easily pull apart at this point to shred and distribute through the soup. If you wanted to amp up the flavor and had the extra time, brown the beef and saute the onions and celery before adding them to the cooker. We served this with cornbread and it was just as good for leftovers at lunch the next day. I’d tell you how well it froze (I suspect it freezes very well) but we ate it all before we had a chance to put it in the freezer.

* I left this in the slow cooker all day, but this could easily be done on the stove top as well. You’d want to saute the beef first in a little olive oil. Pull it out and saute the onions, celery, and bell pepper, then add back the rest of the ingredients (including the beef) and let simmer until the carrots were tender. By the time the carrots are tender, everything else should have cooked through.

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Friday Favorites: Getting back on track

 

I slept 11 hours last night, got in my first run of the week and am now sitting listening to some excellent science which reminds me why I travel to meetings like this. I’m in a much better emotional place than yesterday. Its amazing what a difference a good night of sleep makes. 🙂
It's amazing how much better I feel after eating loads of gorgeous healthy veggies this week! Good food definitely makes me feel good.

It’s amazing how much better I feel after eating loads of gorgeous healthy veggies this week! Good food definitely makes me feel good.

This week, I got back on the wagon in terms of tracking my food and reining in my eating a bit  after this weekend’s struggles. I spent a lot of time thinking about my experiences in the last couple of years, what worked and what I wanted a healthy diet to look like going forward. This article from SparkPeople is a great guide for evaluating any eating “diets” or changes in your eating plan that you’re considering. It has sane and concrete questions to consider when you’re looking at your options. It’s a good starting point if you’re considering a change! I also enjoyed this article about some general rules for weight loss – sane and doable tips!

I have lots of sympathy for Denise’s struggle with balancing family and training. It can be so hard and I don’t think there’s a right answer. We just need to constantly check in to be sure we’re spending our day in a way that reflects our priorities and that keeps things moving in the right direction. Some days that means training takes priority but that means other days, family gets to take first place. The holidays are definitely a time when family takes first place. Coming out of two months where it feels like our family life has been all about me and my job, I’m looking forward to November and December, where things will focus more on our family. In looking at my training plan for the Rebel Challenge (posting next week!), I’ve made sure to allow for a light week on Thanksgiving so I don’t have to sacrifice too much family time (although I definitely will need some running for sanity and to burn off goodies!).
As much as I love sweets, I don’t struggle as much with Halloween, thanks to getting a stomach bug a couple of years ago that hit as trick or treating was starting. It ruined a lot of my positive associations with Halloween and candy for sure! If you do find yourself tempted by all of the treats at Halloween, these tips are a great way to start to help yourself on track. We wait until close to Halloween to buy candy (don’t worry they won’t run out!) and then leave it sealed up in the big bags until trick or treating actually starts. Any extra layers between us and the treats are a good thing, right? I also make sure we have a healthy dinner planned and some healthy snacks on hand so that whichever parent is supervising the distribution of candy doesn’t get tempted to grab some out of the bowl for themselves too! How do you get through Halloween without going candy crazy?
Lastly, if you’re need a little motivation heading into the weekend, check out Bari’s huge PR! It is so inspiring reading about the payoff from all of the hard work she put in on this training cycle. Congrats!!!
Have a great weekend everyone!
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A weekend where I did everything wrong

Anybody really ready for October to be over? It’s normally my favorite month of the year, but this month has run me ragged. I’m exhausted and looking forward to November, where I get a little bit of space to catch my breath. I woke up at 3:45 this morning so I could catch my 6 am flight to Salt Lake City. I am definitely done with 6 am flights! They are brutal, especially when you have to work all day once you arrive at your destination. Whew. Enough whining. Salt Lake City is beautiful today and this is my last work trip until February and I’m fortunate enough to have a job that allows me to see the country, so I shouldn’t complain, right?

The same fatigue and stress that’s leading me to whine about my early morning also triggered a weekend where I struggled mightily with my food choices. Over the last couple of years, I’ve gotten so much better at dealing with stress and fatigue without turning to food but I definitely still struggle and this weekend, it wasn’t pretty. It started Friday night, when I’d decided to make spaghetti for supper because I was running a half marathon that weekend, so pasta for dinner was fine, right? I ate a reasonable portion of pasta, but the problem came with the fresh baked loaf of Italian bread I’d grabbed on impulse at the grocery store that evening. It was sitting there on the racks by the check out line, steaming up its little bag because it was so fresh and warm and I caved (again thinking “I’m running a half marathon this weekend” – see a theme here?). I had a piece of the bread with dinner, no butter or anything and literally moaned with enjoyment of it. Bread is such a trigger food for me and this bread was soft, chewy and warm and perfect. I told my husband he’d need to take the loaf away because I didn’t think I’d be able to stop myself from eating more than one piece and sure enough, a couple of minutes later, he did have to take the loaf away when I reached for more (he did ask if I was serious when I asked him to help me and I grudgingly admitted I was). I also had a cookie that night (recipe coming next week!) and I can’t even remember what else. No true binging, but definitely a lot more than I should have eaten and a lot of excusing it because “I was running a half marathon”.

Chocolate chip cookies made with almond butter - yummy!

Chocolate chip cookies made with almond butter – yummy!

Saturday morning, we went out for breakfast and again, I told myself I needed an extra carb for the race and ordered an English muffin. I forgot to specify no butter and it came drenched with butter. Instead of sending it back like I normally would to get a replacement or skipping it, I ate it anyway because hey, I was running a half marathon (how many times did I use this excuse this weekend? Countless!). I paid for that choice with serious GI upset for the rest of the day, enough that I packed Immodium for the race. Sigh. I had several errands to run Saturday morning before we could leave for the race. I picked up take out sushi for lunch and ate two rolls in the car on the way home. Not hungry, just definitely in eating mode. The excuse making and overeating persisted through dinner, where I ate at least 4 pieces of garlic bread and two bowls of pasta. It’s a miracle I didn’t have GI issues during this race.

Post-race, I ate 2 of the sandwich halves they were offering in the awesome post-race food court, plus a Larabar and then we hit up a brunch buffet where I proceeded to eat enough that the post-binge feeling of shame and frustration totally overshadowed my excitement about the half marathon. I hate that I let food and my feelings about food rob me of the satisfaction I should have been feeling. I’d just run 13.1 miles for crying out loud – no matter my time, that was a huge accomplishment and I should have been able to celebrate that. Instead, I wallowed in more GI upset and self-disgust for the rest of the day. Even once I realized I needed to rein this in, I feel into the trap of “tomorrow I’ll get back on track” and ate a bagel with almond butter because I had them both and I wouldn’t be eating things like that once I got back on track. Might as well get them out of the house by eating them rather than wasting them by throwing them away, right? And another cookie of course. Was I hungry? Of course not. I definitely wasn’t feeding any physical hunger by this point.

Thank goodness this is out of the house now.

Thank goodness this is out of the house now.

I did get back on track Monday morning, back to tracking WW points and making healthy choices. And I did weigh in Tuesday morning, knowing I’d see a big number from the weekend of overeating and the long run (I’m always up a few pounds after a long run).

We're going to hope at least a few of those pounds are due to the long run, but regardless, I needed to face the number.

We’re going to hope at least a few of those pounds are due to the long run, but regardless, I needed to face the number.

Even when you “know better”, it’s easy to fall into the mental traps like using a long run as an excuse for days of overeating or waiting until a magical day to restart healthy choices or eating the “bad” things so that you aren’t tempted by them anymore. In a sense it’s been a relief to get back to the structure of WW points this week, but I’m working on consciously forgiving myself for this weekend and learning from it. This is a constant learning process and slip ups will happen. The victory is in picking up and making the next healthy choice.   Although I do wish I was carrying my half marathon medal with me as a tangible  token of victory. 🙂

 

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Des Moines Half Marathon 2014

Approaching this race, I never felt any real nerves or excitement. I was looking forward to it, but because a) I knew I’d finish (which was a fear I had last time) and b) things have been so busy I haven’t thought about it much at all! It wasn’t really until we got in the car Saturday afternoon to drive off to Des Moines that I even gave it much thought at all other than being something on my to-do list for the weekend! We gathered up all of our things, packed healthy snacks and hydration and hit the road for Des Moines.

As we came into town, we first went to the Expo at the Iowa Events Center. We paid to park in the lot rather than try to find parking along the street in a city we were unfamiliar with, especially as we’d be taking O in with us. We’d told O that we were going to a big running store, which is a pretty accurate description of a race Expo, don’t you think? Our first stop was dropping off shoes at the donation bins, as they were collecting food and shoe donations at the Expo.

It looks like a lot of people donated!

It looks like a lot of people donated!

We next headed back to packet pick-up, which was in the back of the Expo space. The Expo space was larger than I expected and much larger than Omaha was at last year’s marathon weekend! It was not nearly as crowded as Princess, thankfully. Packet pick up lines were sorted by bib number, which they’d emailed us earlier in the week and also had printed out on a series of long tables if you didn’t have the email. There was no line at all and I had my bag, complete with goodies, long sleeved tech shirt (very nice!) and bib in just a minute. They didn’t even ask for ID, which was a big departure from RunDisney as well!

Surprisingly big Expo

Surprisingly big Expo

We then wandered the Expo for a while to let O stretch his legs. There were booths from several shoe companies (Altra, Hoka, Brooks, etc), the SweatyBands headbands, running gear and Jeff Galloway (who I was geekily excited to see, but I didn’t stop for a picture because that would be too much).

Very tempting

Very tempting

Oliver loved the booth that was giving away cow bells and tattoos, both of which he armed himself with before we wandered back out the car. We could have gone straight to the hotel and walked to the Expo, but we didn’t realize they were so close together! The Iowa Events is only a few blocks from the race course, for anyone who is planning on heading out for this race in the future and staying near the race course. We stayed at the Savery Renaissance hotel, which was a block from the course and only 3 blocks from the starting line so it was really convenient.

cowbells!

cowbells!

And tattoos that O still has not let us wash off.

And tattoos that O still has not let us wash off.

We got settled in to the hotel and ate dinner in hotel restaurant, where they were doing an all-you-can eat pasta bar instead of their usual menu in honor of the race. In hindsight, I wish they’d been doing their usual menu because for some reason, I let myself fall into the trap of “gotta carb load” and ate two bowls of pasta, plus who knows how much bread. I was so uncomfortable for the rest of the night! I know better than that!

 

There was a table of African runners near us and my oh-so-smooth husband commented on how he guessed they were a lot faster than me because they were more “aerodynamic.” Thanks babe.

I was able to get to bed early, thankfully, but it was not a particularly restful night as all 3 of us were sleeping in a king sized bed. O was sideways between us, kicking Darrell, playing with my hair constantly and talking in his sleep ALL NIGHT LONG. We were all a little grateful when 6 am rolled around and we could just get up. Being so close to the starting line and with a smaller race, I didn’t need to leave until 7:30 am, so I had plenty of time to get dressed and pick up the bagel box they were offering runners down in the lobby. I ate my usual oatmeal, but I had the bagel for snacking later.

Bright and shining start.

Bright and shining start.

It was an easy walk down the starting line and there wasn’t much of a wait for port-a-potties or anything else. As O and Darrell were meeting me at the finish, I didn’t need to check a bag so I just wandered over to a starting point near the 2:30 pace group. They had signs for projected pace, plus several different pace groups, so it was very easy to figure out where to line up.

Not only were the groups well-marked, most people actually self-seeded appropriately.

Not only were the groups well-marked, most people actually self-seeded appropriately.

If there was much fanfare at the start, I didn’t see or hear it where I was and soon enough we were off running. It was a friendly crowd of runners, with a surprising number of spectators at the start given how chilly it was (low 40s). I was most nervous about missing the split for the half marathon course. We all started together, marathon and half marathon, and the half course split off somewhere after mile 2. The half marathon course is a lot flatter than the full marathon course, but I didn’t want to wait until the hills started to realize I’d missed the turn off point! I was worried for nothing. Not only was there a giant flashing sign, there were volunteers lined up a block before the split yelling and pointing.

The volunteers for this race were truly amazing! In the start and finish area, I was never out of sight of a volunteer with a big “ASK ME” sign and a clipboard to point you in the right direction. Throughout the race, we were always in sight of these fantastic bike riders as well:

Seriously the best course support ever

Seriously the best course support ever

They had first aid supplies, tissues, water and even Twizzlers. 🙂

The water stations were also frequent and most of them were sponsored by specific groups and themed accordingly. My favorite was the tropical themed station, that promised the water was margarita flavored and gave out leis to the runners. There were also stations with Gu and fruit. As I was carrying my water bottle, I didn’t stop at any aid stations but I enjoyed seeing them.

There were also lots of little bands and musical acts along the way, a lot more frequent than I was expecting!

Loved this silly little musical act

Loved this silly little musical act

The course itself is very flat (only a couple of small hills) and scenic. Most of the half marathon course is through parks and green space, with the gorgeous changing leaves of a Midwest fall. The weather was also perfect – crisp, cool and breezy. I had a good time listening to the crowds, which lined the whole course, and the other runners cheering each other on. All of this made it easy to keep my A goal of having fun!

I loved the miles that looped along the water

I loved the miles that looped along the water

As far as my B goal of running strong and keeping to my intervals, I’m proud to say that I did! I skipped a couple of walk breaks (including one spell where I accidentally turned off the interval timer) but didn’t walk when I wasn’t scheduled to, even on a hill at around mile 11 where I really wanted to!

I was on track for my 2:30 time goal until around mile 9-10, which was where the course got a little compressed to let the marathon winners come by (yes, the marathon winners finished before I finished the half!) and I got stuck behind the big mass of the 2:30 pace group. I was moving faster than them during my run intervals, but slowing for the walk intervals which meant things got slowed down overall when I couldn’t get past them. It was frustrating to say the least. I thought about just sticking with them for the rest of the race, but knew as tired as my legs were, I wouldn’t be able to stick with them for the 3+ miles that were left without walk breaks and I didn’t want to mentally break the pattern I’d set of sticking to my current intervals. I reviewed my goals and reminded myself that feeling like I was running strong was more important than the time, so I’d stick to my intervals, which I knew I could carry to the finish. I was happy with that decision when I got to that hill at mile 11 and was able to keep running up it rather than stopping to walk!

Brilliantly sunny day!

Brilliantly sunny day!

I definitely gave all my little legs had in this race. I think I definitely have a sub-2:30 half marathon in me, but with the overall fatigue I’ve got from work and all of the travel I did this week plus the lack of adrenaline I had (again because I had other things on my mind this week!) it just wasn’t in me Sunday. 2:32:48 is my official time and according to my Garmin, I traveled more than 13.1 miles to get there so I’m happy with that time! At 13.1 miles on the Garmin, I was actually somewhere between 2:30-2:31 so I got very close to my goal except for a lot of weaving on the course. 🙂 This time is a big improvement over my official Princess Half Marathon time (2:45) and over the time my Garmin said I was actively running (as opposed to waiting in character lines, bathroom lines) at Princess (2:35). Maybe I’ll try to get into the Lincoln Half Marathon in the spring to gun for that sub-2:30 time goal that still out there. I’m sort of glad I still have it to shoot for (although I definitely won’t be shooting for any time goal for the Star Wars Rebel Challenge!).

We finished on the same bridge where we started

We finished on the same bridge where we started

All in all, it was a great day to run and I would definitely run this race again. If you’re in the Midwest, this would be a great first time half marathon with all of the course support, the flat course and the liberal time limits. As the course is shared in places with the marathon, it stays open for 7 hours so there were a fair number of walkers in the half marathon. Definitely check it out if you’re in the area or looking to check Iowa off of your 50 states list!

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