Thursday, March 31, 2011

Arm Candy

Some girls want designer watches like Michael Kors or Citizen...


And then some girls (aka me) want something a little flashier...


Ta da!! The most stylish watch in the world of running. Ok so maybe it's not stylish, but it's the freaking Garmin Forerunner 405!! It tracks your running activities, goals, analyzes core training metrics, examines your splits, and monitors your performance with charts and graphs! Isn't it so much cooler than Michael Kors??

So maybe I DO want a pretty Michael Kors watch, but when it comes to one or the other, I choose the latter. Happy early birthday present to me!! I basically can't run without this little buddy on my wrist. I kinda don't know how I ever ran without my beloved Garmin to tell me how far I've run, show me my pace and routes, etc, etc, etc. I guess since I didn't know it existed, I didn't know what I was missing.

I had no idea what this watch was until last year when Justin got it for Christmas. He offered to let me wear it from time to time, but I was like "Nah, I'm ok!" Then one glorious day I was setting out for my first 5 mile run during my training and was a little unsure about how long my route would be. At the time I was using www.walkjogrun.net to map my routes. I highly recommend this site if you don't have a GPS watch. It basically lets you draw your route through Google maps and shows you the distance so you know how far your running.

But ever since I borrowed Justin's Garmin watch that one day, I've been hooked. I've used it for every run since then, which has been about 6 weeks now (thanks sweetie!!).

Who wouldn't love to see...

Their splits:

Their route:

And yeah...so much more...but you get the point :)

Anywho...I've been getting in a lot of great exercises this week! I did cycling last night at HEAT and loved every sweat dripping minute of it. It's such an addicting class. Then I actually woke up at 5:20 this morning and set out for a 5 mile run! It was 40 degrees out, and I was energized from the time I woke up to the end of my work day.

In the past, I've set my alarm early numerous times in an attempt to work out in the mornings, but I think that I'm finally able to do it now because I'm completely committed to doing it. Plus, I didn't have the option of running after work since they were calling for a 70% chance of rain. I'm definitely going to try and incorporate more morning runs and workouts into my routine!

Hope everyone's having a good week!! Tomorrow's Friday!! Hallelujah!!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Gravity

The endorphins from this morning's workout at HEAT Studios had me floating on air alllll day.

I kick started by day by attending the HEAT Beach Body class at 6am with my faithful gym buddy, Elisabeth. I'm SO excited they started offering this class in the mornings at least once a week!! It's usually during the day, so I jumped on the opportunity to finally go. The class focuses on guts, butts, and overall toning, which is exactly what I need! I love running, but it can't tone everything!

What I loved most about this class was that it incorporated sprints on the treadmill with jump rope and then strength training. I loved sprinting on the treadmill, I felt so strong after all my long runs.

Now my upper body strength is another thing. On a scale of 1 to 10, it's a 2. It's really sad just how weak I am. Hopefully this class will whip these arms into shape!

Here's an awesome video of HEAT Studios:

H.E.A.T from David Hambridge on Vimeo.

It still amazes me just how much stronger I'm getting overall by running 4 times a week and cross training one day a week. I remember I used to be so sore after my runs and even after my HEAT classes. I'm STILL sore after my HEAT classes, but it's tolerable soreness that at least lets me walk the next day, which is quite the upgrade. I LOVE IT.

I was a little unsure if I would be able to do my 5 mile run today in addition to the Beach Body class, but I did!! I don't know if it was the endorphin high that I was on today that made my run feel so free. Kinda like I was running on air without gravity to hold me back. Best feeling in the world. I've been getting so caught up in my pace during my runs rather than just running for the enjoyment it brings me. This was one of those runs that's good for the soul. :)

Speaking of my endorphin high all day and feeling like gravity couldn't keep me down, here's a video from one of my favorite tv shows, So You Think You Can Dance. It's to the song "Gravity" and it's such a powerful dance. The story behind it is that the male dancer is an addiction that's pulling the girl down and she's trying to fight against him. Maybe it's not the blissful gravity I was feeling earlier...but I love this video and wanted to share!!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

11 miles - woohoooo

Nothing like a nice 11 mile run on a Sunday afternoon to top off the week!

I was really looking forward to this run despite the dreary weather. It felt invigorating to push myself and feel in tune with my body for 1 hour and 50 minutes. It made my boring runs at the beginning of this week worth it because this weekend has been strong and energizing.

Below is a recap of my week:
Monday - Rest
Tuesday - 5 miles
Wednesday - 60 minute cycling at HEAT Studios (loveeeee it!!)
Thursday - 3.5 miles (10:01 minute pace)
Friday - Rest
Saturday - 3 miles (8:40 minute pace - click here for details)
Sunday - 11 miles (10:02 minute pace)

The overview of today's run is below :)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Celebrate the Victories

Wooooooooooooooooo for running an 8:40 pace during my 3 mile run today!!!! Sooooooo excited!! The best part about running is when you're by yourself pushing yourself to your limits for you and only you. There's nobody else pushing you to run farther or faster. It's runs like today that make the routine ones that much sweeter!


It was really only 4 weeks or so ago that I was finally breaking into a lower 9 minute pace during my 3 mile runs. I know that it's easy to make big gains in minutes or seconds during the beginning stages of running (and I can't wait to be able to run a 7 minute pace for 10+ miiles) but you have to celebrate what you've achieved as you go to keep yourself motivated! What have you achieved so far??

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Add 1 Pinch of Inspiration

Sometimes running gets boring. Sometimes I just don't feel like doing it. Sometimes I just need a little inspiration.

So far my trick to running four times a week has been by posting a schedule above my desk that I'm constantly looking at throughout the day. It already shows how much I need to run each day and motivates me to do it so that I can check it off. This way I don't fall into the "eh - I don't feel like running today" mood and instead I just do it.

Sometimes the process of "just doing it" gets a little boring when I'm running the same route every time. I got a little adventurous this past week since it's been lighter outside in the evenings and went off the beaten path to discover a nice field with a running sidewalk. I was pretty excited. It happens to be where all the other runners and bikers have been hiding. I was wondering where they were! I'm guessing you can tell that I don't explore the Raleigh running terrain too often. I always opt for Chapel Hill, but this week it wasn't an option (insert sad face).

One of my other main sources of inspiration is to read other runners' blogs. Most of the blogs I read are by marathoners, which makes me feel wimpy when I only run 8 or 10 miles for a long run compared to their 20+, but it keeps me inspired to read about what I could eventually do if I keep this up! One of the blogs posted a video about a man who was inspired to overcome his obesity and lost 120 pounds. He started out running sllloooowwwww and now he's a marathoner and an Iron Man! Check out the below video. It is so inspiring!


If this doesn't make you jump off your couch to run...I don't know what will!

Another awesome part about reading other runners' blogs is that they're always posting yummy but healthy recipes! Tofu always seems to be a staple. So I called up my sometimes vegan, but mainly vegetarian sister and asked her for an easy, cheap tofu recipe. She sent me a Tofu Lettuce Wraps recipe, which I was so excited to make! I've heard tofu can be a little iffy to make, but this recipe was Callie proof.

Ingredients:

1 pound extra firm tofu, drained and diced to bite sized squares
red pepper flakes, to taste
tamari or soy sauce or Bragg's, to taste
salt and pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons chopped garlic
2 tablespoons chopped ginger
2 1/2 cups shiitake mushrooms, chopped
1 head lettuce or Napa cabbage, large leaves removed

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread tofu out on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle with salt , pepper, red pepper flakes, and soy sauce. Bake for 35-45 minutes.

2. When that is almost done, heat up wok or frying pan and throw in the chopped garlic and ginger. Fry for about 5-7 minutes until they are softer. Throw in the shiitakes.

3. At this time, you can add more soy sauce , usually about 4 or 5 shakes. Also, if you’d like, some more salt and pepper and red pepper flakes.

4. Cook about another 10 -12 minutes, then add the tofu and finish up the cooking, about 2-5 minutes. Spoon the mixture into the lettuce/cabbage leaves and roll them up!!

My tofu of choice:


Tofu after it's been baked. I was a little nervous to find out if I did it right.


Tofu mixed with ginger and garlic...yuummm!!


Bon appetit!! This was delicious!! I was full after the first wrap!


I think I added a little too much ginger...sooooo I needed something sweet :) WARNING: this ice cream is addictive! It's hard too only have a couple scoops!


Julia also noted that this recipe is very healthy. It only has 224 calories per THREE lettuce wraps! Doesn't get much better than that. Stay tuned next week for the Tofu Stirfry recipe! :)

Now I'm off to do my 3 mile run! Gotta get these legs ready for the 11 miler tomorrow!

Quote of the Day:
Challenge in running is not to do things no one has done, but to do things anyone could do, but most never will.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Lazy Syndrome

Being lazy is exhausting.

I was so excited to see the sun was still out when I got off work, and all I wanted to do was go for a run in the warm, sunny weather, but today is my rest day - grrrrrrr. Sooooo I decided I'd open some long over due mail and download some new songs for my running playlist - and yep that was about it. Pretty dang lazy.

The saddest part is that I'm a bachlorette this week since the boo is out of town and I should be living up my new found freedom, but I feel like I just want do absolutely nothing. Tomorrow will be my active/fun day :)

Also, Dancing with the Stars premiered tonight!! I was actually pretty disappointed with the performances, but danggggg Kirstie Alley was killing it!! I was so surprised! She is my favorite! And of course her partner Max isn't too bad either ;)

Below are the new songs I added to spice up my outdated playlist:
Firework - Katy Perry
Teenage Dream - Katy Perry
Something More - Sugarland
Little Miss - Sugarland
Settlin' - Sugarland
Forget You - Cee Lo Green
Hold it Against Me - Britney Spears
Circus - Britney Spears
Born This Way - Lady GaGa (loovvveeeee this song!!!)
Africa - Toto

If this isn't the ultimate girl playlist, I don't know what is. Also, some of these may seem like hits that were "so last year" but I'm really bad about still having old (I mean old - think Backstreet Boys) still on my playlists. Eeeeeee - I can't wait to run to these tomorrow!!!

Anybody else have any ideas for some fun running songs? Any timeless favorites?? I feel like there are always running articles with lists of songs, but none of them appeal to me.

Smile of the Day:


A pic of me and my beautiful sister. I've been thinking about her a lot lately and I miss her so much! It's been too long since we've seen each other! She'll graduate from UNCC in May and then she'll be Miami bound!! I'm soooooo excited for her new adventures as a working woman!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Virginia is for Lovers

And that is exactly where I've been huddled up during a nice portion of my vacation. I must admit, it was the perfect get away. The cabin we stayed at is so remote and has no cell phone service, internet or cable tv --- can you say heaven? Considering my job requires me to sit at a computer for about 11 hours a day, it was amazing to be hiking trails and playing in the sunlight!!

Below is a pretty pic of my beloved cabin in Virginia.


In addition to hiking trails, fishing, cuddling by the bon fire at night, we brought some fun recipes to try at night. My favorite was the Pizzaiola-Style Flank Steak Pinwheels. It was delicious!!! I must admit that I watched Rachael Ray make this on the Food Network a couple weeks ago and I've been dying to try it for myself! It's actually really easy to make and was enough for two more meals. I took some pictures of the process and final product, which I'll post once I get Justin's camera :)

Ingredients:
* 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
* 1 cup arugula or baby spinach, packed
* 3/4 to 1 pound flank steak
* 1/4 pound spicy Italian salumi, such as Calabrese salami, sliced and finely chopped
* 1 cup shredded sharp provolone cheese
* 1/2 cup shredded pecorino cheese
* Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus some for drizzling
* 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced or finely chopped
* 1 small chile pepper, seeded and finely chopped, optional
* 3 to 4 tablespoons grated onion
* 1 teaspoon dried oregano or marjoram, scant 1/3 palmful
* 2 tablespoons double-concentrate tomato paste
* 1/2 cup dry white or red wine
* 1 (28-ounce) can Italian plum tomatoes
* 2 tablespoons butter
* 4 slices good quality Italian or peasant style bread
* Chopped or torn basil, for garnish
* Giardiniera hot pickled vegetable salad, for garnish, optional

Directions:

Preheat the oven with a cooling rack-topped baking sheet on the top shelf of the oven to 425 degrees F. Heat a griddle pan or large cast iron skillet to medium-high heat.

Place the parsley and arugula in a food processor and pulse into a finely chopped mixture.

Prepare the steak by cutting it nearly in half horizontally and spread it open like a book.

Top the meat with the chopped salumi and the chopped greens, then return the food processor bowl (without rinsing) to the base. Top the greens layer with the cheeses, then tightly roll the meat into a long, thin log and tie it up with kitchen string to secure. Season the meat with salt and pepper and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil. Brown the meat all over in the hot griddle pan, 5 to 6 minutes, and then transfer to the hot rack-topped baking sheet and finish cooking the steak in the oven, 10 to 12 minutes more for medium-rare to medium.

While the meat cooks, in a saucepot over medium-high heat, add the extra-virgin olive oil. Add 1/2 the garlic, chile, onion, and oregano and saute for 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste for 30 seconds, and then add the wine. Puree the tomatoes in the food processor and add to the sauce. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to simmer until thickened, 10 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Melt the butter over low heat in a small saucepan with the remaining garlic. Toast the bread and brush liberally with garlic butter.

Slice the steak into thin wheels, discarding string, and arrange on the garlic toasts, topping with sauce and some torn basil. Serve a little pickled giardiniera salad along side in ramekins, as a garnish.

----

I highly recommend (I mean HIGHLY recommend) you try the above recipe for yourself! You and your guest(s) will be happy you did.

Since I was living it up on rugged terrain this week, running wasn't a priority for the first time in a while. I had an awesome 5 mile run on Tuesday morning before we left for VA and then used Wednesday and Thursday as cross training days. I use the term "cross training" loosely this week compared to my previously more intense cross training sessions.

My week ended with the following running schedule:
Monday - rest
Tuesday - 5 miles (I think I ran a 9:10 pace, which felt amazing)
Wednesday - cross training (hiking and rowing)
Thursday - cross training (hiking and rowing)
Friday - rest
Saturday - 3 miles (this did not feel good at all)
Sunday - 8 miles (9:37 pace)

Today's 8 mile run felt really good! I was dreading it at first and put it off alllll day until around 6pm and decided it was now or never (I honestly preferred never at the time). I don't normally dread my runs, I look forward to them every time, but after last night's festivities, I was using left over Mich Ultra's in my system as a poor excuse for wanting out on today's run. Since I've been running so frequently, I've made a conscious effort not to drink a casual glass of wine or have those weekend nights that result in sleeping in until noon and being a bump on a log all day. This training has been a real lifestyle change for me and I'm loving it! (note: I was never much of a weekend partier before running, but I did have my fun nights once in a while)

Also, I want to note that my beer of choice is Mich Ultra. It's funny because the sole reason I choose this beer is because Lance Armstrong's commercials show him drinking it after he works out so I figure if he can drink it and stay in shape - so can I! :) I normally don't think Coke or Bud Light commercials make me act on their product, but Mich Ultra has it figured out. Has anybody else fallen for this or similar products? Is it just me?

Last note of the night - CONGRATULATIONS STACEY ON FINISHING YOUR HALF-MARATHON this weekend!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Wooooo!!! You go girl!! I'm soooo happy for you!!!

Stacey and I have been on the same training schedule and her half-marathon was this weekend in Wilmington. She has been such a great running buddy and I can't wait to do the Chapel Hill 10 mile race together on April 9th!!

Hope everyone is having a wonderful Sunday evening!!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

I'm a Tar Heel Born

...I'm a Tar Heel bred
And when I die I'm a Tar Heel dead!

What a weekend for Carolina basketball! The ACC tournament was quite the roller coaster of emotions and seat clenching, but it was totally worth it! I was so excited on Saturday when #40 Harrison Barnes shot 40 points. When he made 30 points, I said "Wouldn't it be awesome if he shot 40 points, just like his number?" And then boom when the dynamite and he pulled out a big "W" against Clemson! What was even better was that Justin and I had tickets to the game with Annie and Swag! It was quite the fun day! I feel like a pretty lucky girl to have gone to the UNC v. Duke game (regular season) the other week and then the ACC tournament this weekend. Mmmmm - it's great to be a Tar Heel! Below are some pics from the two games :)

Super excited to be at the Duke game!!

Love these boys...

Hello ACC tournament! UNC v. Clemson


Also, training has been pretty on point lately. I'm really enjoying my runs and making the time to work them in to my hectic work schedule. This week was particularly tough because I was pushed to get a lot of work done before my nine day vacation! But I'm happy I have some time off to relax and re-focus on life and what makes me - me.

This week I ran a total of 31 miles!
Monday - 8 miles
Tuesday - 5 miles
Wednesday - Hot Yoga
Thursday - 5 miles
Friday - Rest (mmmmmm felt soooo nice!!)
Saturday - 3 miles
Sunday - 10 MILES!!

Hot Yoga was something new for me, and I absolutely loved it! At first it was really foreign to me because the studio smelled like sweat and the beginning of the class started with a breathing routine that involved weird humming noises. I felt totally out of my element and I had 90 minutes left in this 108 degree room. Sweat was rolling off my body, but if felt clean and empowering. In the end the 90 minutes flew by and my body was very thankful to be thoroughly stretched. For the first time in a long time, my body felt loose and bouncy compared to tight.

Also, I ran 10 miles today! For some reason it did and didn't feel that great. The 8 miles I ran on Monday felt amazing and strong the whole time. I felt like I could run 13.1 miles right then, but today's run felt like I was having to push myself through it, but I knew I would finish! It was just a matter of how long. Justin joined me for the run and it was definitely nice to achieve the 10 miles together! We're almost ready for the half-marathon on April 16th! So excited!

I finished our Sunday evening by making salmon and leaks, which was delicious! I normally don't like to eat much after my runs, but I've been feeling like quite the neglectful girlfriend to Justin since it's been a while since I've made him a nice dinner. It turned out great and hit the spot!

Also, I've begun reading a book called The Automatic Millionaire, which Justin recommended to me since he thinks I'm not much of a saver. We'll see how it goes and if it inspires to me sacrifice my food budget to save money since that's about all the expendable income I have at the moment. He just doesn't understand what it's like to be on a budget! And I'll keep you posted on whether or not I actually become a millionaire...I think it takes some time...

Friday, March 4, 2011

Dr. Seuss Rx

“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”

“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”

“A person's a person, no matter how small.”

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You're on your own.
And you know what you know. You are the guy who'll decide where to go.”

“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the things you can think up if only you try!”

“Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So... get on your way.”