Archive | March, 2013

Final 15: Checking In

28 Mar

Yep, that’s right.  It’s 15 days out from my first 5K.


Training has still been completely on the treadmill due to the weather.  I’ve read that treadmill training is not the best idea, but I have no regrets.  This is what works for me right now and its kept me on track.  I’m not yet a “runner of steel” – how many Pittsburgh runners refer to themselves.  These frigid temps would have definitely been an obstacle for me, one which I feel I overcame by using the treadmill.  The late Pennsylvania spring promises to be right around the corner and I’m looking forward to spending many of my last training runs outside.


When race day does arrive, I know that I will have some pacing issues.  I’m okay with that.  I will just continue to remind myself to slow down and focus on finishing, not trying to keep up with the other runners.  I’ve intentionally slowed down my pace on the treadmill and repeat to myself a little mantra: long & strong.  That’s how I need to run my race.  Focus on the longer distance, not the speed.  Run strong, finish strong.


I’m so completely nervous and excited and anxious, but I’m starting to feel ready.  This week I bumped my distance up to 2.75 miles and you know what?  It’s not that bad.  I know that as long as I focus on my goal of long & strong, I can and will finish.  This whole experience has been such a confidence boost for me.  I feel like such a boss every time I input my run into daily mile and so accomplished as the distances keep getting longer and longer.


One thing I know I need to work on is food.  I’m always confused about what I should be eating.  Am I getting enough carbs?  Am I eating too many carbs?  Am I getting enough protein?  How many calories should I be eating? It’s all very confusing and I feel like I should at least be losing some weight during this process.  I’m not though, so I wonder if I’m doing something wrong.  Losing weight is not the reason why I started running, but it sure would be a nice bonus!

Monday Phone Dump

18 Mar

Well, Saturday morning started with a bang.  And good thing I didn’t hit that snooze button because procrastinating would have led to failure.

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My training progress is going well, but for the last four weeks I plan on walking instead of taking rest days.  The pink is what I’ve completed, the italics indicate when I was outside.  Really gotta buckle down before race day!

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After my run, we decided to make a big breakfast in anticipation of the St. Patrick’s Day festivities.  Her usual:

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And mine:

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And something a little festive:

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We opted to skip the parade (which we never do!), because it was freezing and her cold symptoms were in full force.  But, we did meet up with about 30 of her relatives at Rock Bottom, a microbrewery/restaurant at the Waterfront.

I have no idea where this little leprechaun came from…

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Then, we headed over a friend’s get together for a few hours…

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I opted to super-size my fun…

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And then I was cut off!

I just love Pittsburgh and St. Paddy’s Day.  Even the weather beacon downtown was touched with little luck of the Irish:

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Next year, I plan to be more responsible and sign up for a local Shamrock Shuffle to keep me out of trouble.  🙂

Especially since I don’t get this VIP recovery treatment like she♥ does:

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5 Thing Friday

15 Mar

I am making one of my Lenten staples later – salmon patties, so today I will be posting another 5 thing Friday. In no particular order, here are 5 random food facts from my week:


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Healthier snacking & eating about five small “meals” during the day (instead of 3 large meals). I’m getting to that point in my training where my metabolism has sped up and I’m physically hungry more than usual. I tend to eat my feelings, so it took me a week or so to figure out if I felt compulsed to eat or if I was actually more hungry. Turns out, I’m physically hungry (stomach aching, rumbling, feeling light headed), so in an effort to fuel myself without binging, I’ve broken my three main meals up into multiple, but substantial snacks. I’ve also been drinking about 3x more water than I normally do.


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Yeah,that’s a shamrock ravioli. Another glorious find from my CostCo haul. They are just cheese ravs, but so festive! St. Patrick’s Day is one of my favorite holidays because its the one time of year where the entire Irish community is able to celebrate in the streets. Everyone knows that if you’re truly Irish, then you celebrate your heritage year-round. 🙂 Pittsburgh has the second largest St. Patrick’s Day parade in the country and its happening tomorrow morning. We are very excited!


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How have I never bought this before? Of course I want delicious coconut sweetness in my coffee. I’ve been drinking my coffee black because its not something that I like to think of as a “treat.” Its more of a survival mechanism. But, hey! This is a better evening option than ice cream or cake or chocolate or cookies or candy bars.


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When I was a kid, I had three favorite sandwiches: PB & Banana, PB & Bologna, and PB & Pickles. If you’re wondering where the root of my chubbiness started…it might have been the PB & Bologna? Who even eats that. Anyway, while I was trying to pack a lunch this morning, I found some bread & butter pickles buried in the back of the fridge. Of course I’m using almond butter these days, but I still love me some nut butter and pickle sandwiches. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it and trust me when I say: avoid using dill pickles for this.  Just trust me, k?  Also, make sure your pickles don’t have a sell-by date of April 2012 like mine do.


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I’ve also learned to embrace the banana.  I’m prone to leg cramps and every few months am woken up in the middle of the night with a wicked charlie horse.  Turns out, this is not caused by a potassium deficiency, as many people assume.  It can be caused by a lack of sodium and dehydration (researchers don’t have a singular answer for the root of cramping).    You can read more about muscle cramps and how they can be avoided here.  Potassium does aid in recovery for runners, though, because it helps your body process sodium and stay hydrated.  (source)  That being said, I try to eat at least one banana a day, usually after a run or for breakfast.  Now if  only I could get a fruit to alleviate my restless leg syndrome…

Mushroom & Creamed Spinach Smothered Chicken

14 Mar


So, I think this might be one of my new favorite meals.  I personally needed a break from clean eating, so this was a nice treat for me.

(This recipe was adapted from Bacon, Butter, Cheese & Garlic.)

Prep:  Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

I always start by chopping my veggies first and kind of setting them aside.  It’s less stressful and it obviously allows me to manage my time better.



Once the prep is done, I rinsed the chicken breasts, trimmed the fat, patted them dry, and seasoned BOTH sides with my seasonings of choice (get creative!).  Then, I put them in the pre-heated oven and set a timer for 25 minutes.


The creamed spinach took about 10 minutes to make: sauteed onion & spinach mixed with creamed cheese and garlic.


Don’t be afraid to experiment a little with you perfect spinach to cheese ratio (I added a TON more spinach after taking this picture!).  I found that I needed a bag and a half of spinach per 4 pats of creamed cheese.  That way, I could use the creamed spinach to smother the chicken and have a little leftover as a side.

I love these Alouette garlic & herb pats of creamed cheese that I snagged a CostCo a while back.  They are a great full flavor alternative to regular cream cheese.


I use the exact same method to cook my mushrooms regardless of how I’m going to use them.  You can saute them in oil and butter (or both) until they are browned.  Deglazing is optional, but if you chose to do so you can use chicken stock or wine.  It basically just depends on your preference.

But, NEVER salt mushrooms until they are done cooking.  Salting mushrooms while they are cooking will result in shrunken, shriveled shrooms and nobody wants that.


Then, I layered:



I added some salt to the mushrooms here and then topped with the cheese.


I pulled it out when the meat thermometer hit 170ºF.


So friggin’ good.


Halfway Point: Checking In

13 Mar


Yesterday, I ran longer than I ever ran in my WHOLE LIFE.

2.25 miles.

Its exhilarating to think that I get to say that every week.  I get to have that moment over and over again.  Its crazy to think that in a few short weeks, I will be hitting the 3 mile mark.  I know in the grand scheme of life, 3 miles is not a very long distance.  But, I honestly never thought I would get to that point or even the point I’m at, for that matter.  It hasn’t been easy.  It hasn’t been as hard as I thought, though, either.  It’s funny to think about what we as humans are able to accomplish if we simply put our minds to it.  Cliché, I know.  But so very true.  I’m re-learning the meaning of dedication, of commitment.  Re-assessing and challenging where I thought my limits were.

I am exactly 30 days out from my first 5K (the first 5K that I will be running, not walking), halfway through my training program.  I feel nervous.  I feel excited.  I feel tired.  I feel strong.  I feel prepared and unprepared.  I have so many feelings about it, I don’t even know what to feel!  I’m not setting my expectations high.  I’m not even expecting my time to make it on the results page, because yes, I run incredibly slow.  But, I will be crossing the same finish line as the fastest runner.  And that’s good enough for me.  The bar I’m setting for myself is located at the finish line, no matter how long it takes me to get there.

Training is tedious.  Its not what I would consider “fun,” by any stretch of the imagination (although running is).  I’ve learned that training is just challenging.  Me vs. myself.  Me vs. my own expectations.  Me vs. my body.  I’m addicted to it.  I think about it all day long.  I think about it every time I take a bite of food or a drink.  Halfway to race time and I am still a nervous wreck about pacing myself.  I am so used to the auto-pace of the treadmill that when I get outside, I’m a complete mess.  There’s a quote that I look at every day by Dr. George Sheehan, a cardiologist and running author.  He wrote:  “It’s very hard in the beginning to understand that the whole idea is not to beat the other runners.  Eventually you learn that the competition is against the little voice inside you that wants you to quit.”  I’m working on channeling that into my training, slowing down, and getting to know my little voice.

Deciding to train for a race is the best, hardest, most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.  Even more than earning my Master’s degree.  I knew I could do that.  I knew it would be hard, but I knew I could do it.  Until I started training for this 5K, I never really believed I could do it.  I never believed in myself.  But, I did it and I still am doing it and I will continue to do it until I cross that finish line.  I don’t know who I’m kidding, I picture a lot of finish lines in my future.

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