Monday, December 30, 2013

No More Cupcakes....

Having done my blogger's due diligence by recapping this past year, now it's time to look forward to 2014.  I've already got my big races scheduled, so not a lot of new available there.  But as I look forward to my gym being flooded by "resolutioners" who will take up all the treadmills for the month of January, I did decide to start my own little challenge.

No more cupcakes.

I know - now I'm just a random triathlete.  A very mediocre one at that.  Boo.  Jokes aside, I decided to try this Clean Eating thing that everyone is raving about.  It seems like the last couple of years everyone is eschewing gluten, grains, sugar, alcohol, caffeine (in other words, everything fun) and reaping huge benefits in terms of energy, health, and overall bad-assedness.  So I jumped on the "What is Cool Now" bandwagon, in the hopes to redeem myself for never being cool a day in my life so far.  

Cookie Monster so has the right idea....

In all seriousness, I am giving up gluten, dairy, refined sugar, alcohol, and maaaaaaybe caffeine for the next 30 days, starting yesterday.  (The caffeine wasn't on the list until my five-year-old piped up and told me that caffeine was bad for me too so I should try to cut that out as well.  Who teaches her this stuff?  My goodness I am creating monsters.....)  My personal goals are to see if this eating plan will positively impact the number of migraines I get, and if it will help with the constant stomach woes that I have while training hard (aka running 3-4 times per week).

I ran this idea by my tri-friend Kate, who will now known as "Spark", due to her insistence that Spark energy drink is better than coffee.  Yeah right.  She did a 10 day eating clean challenge in December and loved it.  She must have, because even when her little guy was in the hospital she kept it up.  I would have been living out of the vending machine and coffee carts like all hospital parents.  Go Spark!
So Spark agreed to be my buddy, then suggested that we start a Facebook group to help support each other and a few other friends we knew who were prone to this sort of behavior.  Six hours later we had 59 people signed up.  48 hours later we have over 70 people.  As Jedi said to me, casually and with one raised eyebrow, "Well, now you really have to do this...".  Yikes.

Day 1 was yesterday - the day after the last of my family Christmas celebrations.  Our New Year's tradition is to actually NOT drink and instead rock New Year's Day with something outdoors and preferable athletic that will represent how we want the coming year to be.  In the past we've gone hiking, snowshoeing, skiing, and when the kids were really small maybe to a museum or other fun activity.  This year I'll be racing the Sterling Freezer 5 Miler, a local road race with a reputation for being exceptionally hilly.  Bring it.

Anyway, I started up the challenge with some cooking, and some shopping.  I made hard boiled eggs, as well as crustless quiches (really just veggies and sausage baked with eggs in muffin tins) for breakfast.  Packed a bag of walnuts and raisins for the gym, and stuffed the kiddos into their coats and into the car.  We headed out for a mile plus swim workout for me, kid gym for them, then swimming for all.  Next stop was the local Wegmans for lunch and to stock up on supplies.

Lunch Day 1 - salad with veg and chicken plus coconut water.
Naturally the kids ate all my post-workout walnuts and raisins.  I really must pack better.  But I dutifully ate my salad while they had pizza and mac'n'cheese and I tried to not push them onto the floor and steal their lunches.  Then we hit the produce department for sweet potatoes, spaghetti squash, kale and the bulk aisle for all the ingredients for home-made granola.

Eating clean grocery munchkins
Last night I made the granola and we had homemade ham and split pea soup for dinner.  Kids and Jedi got rolls and cheese to go with it.  I did not.

This morning after a pre-run snack of granola, a few miles with Gypsy, and some of the quiches for breakfast, I baked a whole spaghetti squash, some yams, and a giant batch of quinoa.  Then divided it all into packets in the freezer and fridge so I have things to grab.  

Lunch Day 2 - tricolor quinoa, tuna and tomatoes over greens,
with lemon juice, olive oil and pepper
Dinner tonight after an afternoon of skating with the kiddos (which takes a surprising amount of energy) was spaghetti squash with tomato sauce and sausage.  Side note: you may be wondering how I justify ham and sausage as clean eating.  I don't.  But we seem to have killed an entire pig judging by the Christmas leftovers in my fridge, I'm just too poor to waste them.  I'll be salmon-ing up soon.

The leftovers of this did me in - my dad's retirement cake
I have to admit that so far, I hate this.  I have a rampant, angry sweet tooth that is totally pissed off by this process.  Which is why I caved this evening and had a piece of cake.  In about 10 seconds, with my hands... while no one was watching.  Oh yeah.  

My daughter firmly scolded me for this when I confessed at story-time, which frankly I felt was a little hypocritical coming from a munchkin who ate half a gingerbread house for dessert while I had to watch not an hour previous.  Even now I'm having a tough time summoning up any guilt, because it was really good.  Though how much calmer I feel after wolfing down cake does point to a rather troubling sugar addiction.  Hmm....

It is also well touted that the first few days/week of any clean eating program are the worst.  That it is normal to have no energy, headaches, and be a rampant bitch that hates the world at first.  Check, check, aaaaand check.  I can only hope that it does get better soon and that the urges to devour baked goods and candy subside.  Or at the very least, that my family eat the last of the damn Christmas goodies and stop waving them in my face. Failing that, Spark, Hummingbird and most of the Clean in 2014 group are starting New Year's Day, so at least I'll have company soon.

You know what misery loves, so if you'd like to come along on this challenge join us!  I'll be checking in soon.  

Sunday, December 29, 2013

How Did I Get Here? 2013 in Review

This was me in March of this past year.  Beer in hand, having just jogged/walked the St. Patrick's Day 5K in 35+ minutes.  On a dead flat course.  Followed up immediately by chugging two beers and having the brilliant idea to buy my kids a plastic toy trombone thing that deeply annoys us (and certainly the neighbors) no end.

Now admittedly, that race was a blast because I was there with two awesome friends, BUT I've come a long way since.  I've read innumerable blog posts from other athletes summing up their years, so in the interest of not making mine just one more, I'll try to keep it brief.  By the numbers:

  • 6 5K races.  That includes 2 color/glow runs and a Warrior Dash
  • 2 10K races
  • 3 sprint triathlons
  • 150+ miles of charity bike rides
  • 3 rides up and down Mt. Wachusett
  • 4-5 open water swims across a substantial lake and back, during none of which did I drown
  • 764 miles logged total, according to my various compulsive tracking programs.  That's combined sneakers, wheels, and swim.
  • 12 pounds lost
  • 5 weeks in a walking boot on crutches
  • 1 coach obtained
I love numbers just as much as the next endurance athlete, but the most important moments of 2013 are those that can't be quantified.

Like becoming a triathlete on the same day as my kids.

And teaching them to love being active as much as I do.

Like getting spectacularly messy with friends.

And meeting some of the most amazing women I know.

Also defying the number are how many fears I've conquered, and how much I've learned - not just about the sport and being active, but about myself.
  • I am no longer afraid of falling off of the back of treadmills (though maybe I should be).
  • I know the difference between a spin bike and a regular exercise bike.
  • I learned how to swim (kinda....)
  • I learned how to put on a wetsuit.  Even more impressive, how to get one off.
  • I learned how to change my own bike tire.

  • I learned how to shower at work and wear spandex in front of whatever coworkers happen to see me running near the building without being embarrassed.
  • I learned how to sleep in workout clothes in order to get up and out the door just that much faster for a 5:45 a.m. strength class.
  • I learned I push myself too hard.  In all things.
  • I learned just how important it is to have Date Night.
  • I learned that many people will not understand, and not be supportive.  You lose friends.  But you also gain friends, and those that stick with you and cheer you on are worth a dozen of the ones who drift away.
  • I learned that a really good workout is better therapy than a really good beer.  And that when you can't have one all of a sudden, the beer doesn't really help either.
  • I learned am learning moderation.  And humility.  And hopefully to let things go and let someone else drive for a while (that's the coaching part.  Eventually I imagine he'll stop letting me schedule my own workouts).
  • I even learned that I'm not actually afraid of things I thought I was.  Like rock climbing...
next up... dinosaurs (maybe)

So yeah, 2013 was a heck of a year.  Add in our oldest starting school, our first year doing wedding cakes, and the day to day business of sick kids, ER visits, work, promotions, bills, homework, and forgetting to buy cat food and I'm somewhat amazed I'm still standing.  I don't believe in New Year's Resolutions specifically, but I do have some ideas for what I want to work on next in this journey on mine.  

More on that soon...

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas - Salted Caramel Pretzel Bark

Merry Christmas everyone!  I have many ambitious post ideas floating around in my head, like a recap of 2013, a list of my favorite triathlon toys, but I am way too mellow after my 5:00 am boot camp strength class and run with Gypsy to do much more than sign on to wish everyone a very happy holiday.

I will get to all those longer posts, but for now let me share a new recipe we tried for our family holiday baskets: Salted Caramel Pretzel Bark from one of my favorite bakery blogs, Brown Eyed Baker.

Salted Caramel Pretzel Bark

  • 2 cups of good-quality caramels (we used Werther's soft caramels)
  • a bag of pretzels
  • sea salt
  • 1 16 oz package of milk chocolate chips
Spread parchment paper over a baking sheet (make sure to use one with an edge - you do NOT want to scrape caramel off the bottom of your oven).  Unwrap all the caramels (little helpers are great for this).

Space out the caramels evenly on the parchment paper, and put in a 350 degree oven until they melt.  You can use a spatula (buttered) to spread a bit if needed.

Sprinkle sea salt over the melted caramel, followed by an even layer of crushed pretzel bits.

Top with the chocolate chips.  You can use any kind you want - we liked the slightly sweeter milk chocolate to offset the salty caramel.  Put back into the oven for another 5 minutes to melt the chocolate.  

Once chocolate is melted, remove and spread (if desired).  You can press whole pretzels into the top for a decorative finish.

Use a large knife to cut the COOLED bark into squares.Enjoy right away, or wrap up in cellophane for gifts!


Lest you all get the wrong idea, it hasn't been all bark-making around here.  Though the number of Christmas cookies I've consumed this week is truly shocking.  For real.  I must stop.  And I will riiiiiight after Christmas.

My workouts of late:

Wednesday: 35 minute bike trainer
Thursday: 2.5 mile run, FIT strength class
Friday: 1000 yard swim, 2.76 mile fast finish run
Saturday: Total Immersion class, 5 mile long run
Sunday: Rest
Monday: 35 minute hill run in the pouring icy rain outside my office
This morning: FIT class and a 3.55 mile run in Gypsy's oh-so-hilly neighborhood.  Best way to start the holiday!!!

Enjoy this time with you loved ones, be safe, do what brings joy to your hearts, and don't eat too many cookies everyone!!  

Merry Christmas from my Family to Yours!!!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Man for Christmas! My New Coach

A few nights ago, fueled by a glass of Naughty Elf wine and a rare moment to myself with kitty in lap, I decided it was time to take the next step.  Now that I back to training 5-6 days per week and running regularly, with races ahead of me and injury [hopefully permanently] behind me, it was time to just go ahead and admit that I am in over my head.  As a fellow tri-er said, "If you are the point that you're asking yourself if you need a coach, you already do".  Ok then.

So a while back, I introduced my friend Anthony as my Coach Sheriff.  The was true, but only in the sense that I sent him confused emails every few months, which he very patiently answered ("Running shoes go on your feet, Miranda....").  In one of these exchanges he offered to coach me for real if I ever got serious.  A truly generous offer, considering the amount of time and effort it takes to coach a triathlete, especially a hot mess like this one.  There was also the consideration of being coached by a long time friend - awesome in that he is well acquainted with my particular brand of crazy, having watched it grow up.  Yet also a little odd, since coaching is pretty personal.  Kinda like asking your bestie to be your gynocologist.  Yes, Anthony, I did just compare you to my OB-GYN.  Having second thoughts yet??

Ain't he a cutie?
Anyway, after a flurry of late night texts, we established that yes, Anthony was indeed up to the challenge.  I got myself a Training Peaks account (which I cannot stop playing with - OMG), linked us up, and away we go.

So, once again, let me introduce my real, honest-to-goodness, watching-everything-I-do, going-to-kick-my-butt coach, Anthony Bagnetto!  To be referred to henceforth as the Sheriff, for reasons previously explained.

Sheriff was a competitive swimmer in high school, then moved to New York City after college in 2002 and became a strength coach & trainer.  He was bit by the triathlon bug in 2006, and since has raced all distances - some of the highlights being 70.3 Montauk, Escape from Alcatraz, Ironman Wisconsin, and most recently USAT Age Group Nationals for the Olympic distance this year.  I take great comfort that no matter how pain he's putting me through in 2014, he'll be in more himself, as he is taking on IM Lake Placid in July. (I will be there along with a gaggle of our high school friends to cheer him on).  He is a Level I USAT Coach, trains athletes of all levels, and was voted "One of NYC's 15 Nicest Instructors" on RateYourBurn. See?  I picked a NICE coach.  He also maintains a blog, website, and all manner of other social media.  He recently launched what I'm sure will be a truly epic website,, where athletes can connect and read about each other's experiences at specific races.  Yes, you can even read about me there!  Clearly this guy is going somewhere.

Iron Sheriff.  IM Wisconsin.
He seems to pick all the hilly races...

Which really is not surprise, considering that Sheriff was basically the President of our high school.  No exaggeration - at the ten year reunion people were actually fighting over which table he sat at.  It was amazing.  All my family and friends have met him.  My coworkers have met him.  My kids love him.  There is really no one on the planet that has met him and not liked him.  He's just one of those people who is always so happy and positive that you just want to shake him.

Sheriff and then-girlfriend came to visit and fell in love with our kids.
Never let your wife hold a baby, dude.... no more IM training for you!

I'd like to share some of my favorite Sheriff moments, both by way of introducing him to you all, but also to give myself some fond memories to look back over when I'm cursing him four months from now in peak training weeks.

  • The time he dropped me on my head.  Yes, really - this was the first (and only thus far) vaguely athletic thing we've done together.  Being both die-hard band geeks, we were runners for our high school color guard, which was performing a swing routine where we flipped each other over our arms, over our backs, etc.  We tried the over-the-back flip.  On a concrete floor.  Bad news.
  • Dancing at my wedding.  We played that same song and danced to it (sans flips this time), so well and for so long that my new mother in-law assumed that we were old sweethearts and was a little concerned that I was jilting the Jedi within two hours of marrying him.  Oops.  Bonus - the straps of my dress kept sliding down, and by the end I had massive bruises on my upper arms.  On our honeymoon Jedi made me wear a sweater the whole time so that people wouldn't think he was a wife-beater.  As the cruise was to Alaska, this wasn't a problem.
Swing dancing
    On my honeymoon.  Note giant bruises.
    Somehow I think this will not be the only time Sheriff hurts me...
  • That time in NYC.  I was in New York for work, went out with my coworkers, had way too many beers on the corporate card, and decided that Sheriff needed to come meet us immediately.  At 11:00 at night.  I have vague memories of stumbling outside, of Sheriff asking me what cross street I was near, and then within minute he appeared, having ridden his bike to the bar.  Now, maybe midnight bike riding is normal in NYC, but it seemed pretty badass to me.  Even more-so as he had at least two spin classes to teach starting at 5 am the next day.  I have no idea how far his apartment was from where I was.  It could have been a block or miles.  Who knows?  My coworkers and I were so unprofessional that night that we forever ruined Sheriff for working in corporate America.  Service rendered if you ask me...
  • Making the grooms' cake for his wedding.  Yes ladies, he is married.  And his wife is every bit as amazing, nice, and gorgeous as he is.  Sorry.  We offered to make a groom's cake for his wedding last fall.  Triathlon themed, of course.  It was three tiered - I made the three separate cakes, drove 5 hours to New Jersey with them in the back of my car, and then hastily stacked and assembled the cake in my hotel room upon arrival.  The cake was a surprise for Sheriff, and seeing how psyched he and the rest of the guests were made it hands down one of my favorite projects ever.  Plus, the next morning hurricane Sandy hit the coast right where the wedding was, making the weekend even more memorable.  He even does his wedding extreme!

The couple makes me take a bow before they cut it

I am very very happy to have such an experienced, talented, and positive coach working with me.  Even more happy to have maintained 15 years of friendship with such an awesome guy.  Let's hope that continues to be the case!  Just kidding....

Want more Sheriff?  Who wouldn't?

Website & blog:
Follow on Twitter @anthonybagnetto

Sheriff is taking on new clients both in the NYC area and for online coaching.  He doesn't know it yet, but he's also going to write a Q&A session for new triathletes with me in the next month or so, so if you have question leave them in the comments!

Monday, December 16, 2013

A Very Happy Birthday

What a perfect birthday card.  Thank you to my mother-in-law.  Life in indeed a journey, and what shoes you wear are a big part of your happiness along the way.  Both literal and metaphorical shoes....

Mice concert ornament at the botanical garden
This weekend I turned 34.  Yes - I'm admitting my age publicly.  Why not?  Honestly I am so much happier and fulfilled at this age that I was at 24, 14... actually maybe I was pretty happy at 4 years old, but I just don't remember.  So right now, overall.... life is good.  My weight (normal + 4 lbs of Christmas cookies), and my pace (about a full minute slower than I'd like to admit).... I will keep to self :)

The specifics of life lately have been a little hairier.  For one thing, Mother Nature decided to dump a foot of snow on us over the weekend, so the original plan of my parents watching the kids so the Jedi and I could have a date was scrapped.  Instead, we decided to meet my folks at a local botanical garden on Friday to see a holiday display I've been wanting to see. Local, free, and safe.  Unfortunately, even though we ALL had the stomach flu last week and should therefore have been past it, my son woke up vomiting Friday morning.  After several hours of watching him, we decided he was ok to still go, and we headed out.  We had a very nice time - the display was beautiful.  The plan was to hit the gym on the way home for my fast-finish training run and to let the kids play in the kid gym.  That plan was also scrapped when my daughter got hit by the flu while we were at the garden (I'll save the details).  Needless to say, getting her home and into bed (bathroom?) was key.

Heading out into the dark and cold.
I am Rudolph.
The kids were bummed to miss the gym and so was I.  I made the best of it - dressed for the cold and lit myself up like a Christmas tree and took my run outside.  It was a little icy (scary!) and dark (scarier!).  Not sure how I feel about night runs.  I know that many people do it, but... man.  I just don't know.  At least I got the run done.

Saturday morning started with the kids seeming a little better, so rather than subject them to grocery shopping with Dad and all the crazies stocking up for the storm, I took them to the gym with me for what should have been my Total Immersion Class followed by my long run for the week - 4.5 on the treadmill.  Got the kids settled in Kid Watch and got to my class a little late.  Five minutes.  Was just starting to warm up when..... there she was - the staffer from child watch.  I went upstairs - little guy had nearly (but not actually) had an accident.  I got him cleaned up.  The staff was ok with him staying and he and his sister were having fun, so I crossed my fingers and went back to the pool.  I made it through most of the class (although my attention was sadly still upstairs with the kids), but then 10 minutes before then end, there she was again.  "Your son has been in the bathroom for 10 minutes".  Oh God.  I'm the worst mom in the world.  I didn't even bother to throw on anything - just wrapped a towel around myself, grabbed my bag and followed her upstairs into the kid area to my crying little buddy who was, indeed, in the bathroom.  I got him sorted, got some clothes on, and carried both crying children home.  (The girl was crying because she didn't want to leave without her time in the kid gym, which was just about to open.  Oh my).  Long story short, the rest of the day I threw myself into being Mom (oh the guilt) and trying to get both children well again.

I don't do cold.....
So Sunday (yesterday) was my actual birthday.  We had no idea what to expect.  The storm could have dump snow or rain.  The kids could be fine or go to the ER for IV fluids.  I just didn't know what to expect when I opened my eyes.

As luck would have it, I woke to two healthy kids, a nice present and nice breakfast made by my wonderful husband, and a foot of fresh snow for my kids to play in.  After about a half an hour of shoveling our 200 foot driveway (really - we must get a snowblower), I was liberated by Merlin, who came by to pick me up for a really beautiful (and really tough) 4.5 mile snowshoe on the MidState Trail nearby.  I haven't seen Merlin in months, it seems, and it was great to catch up with her and meet some of her friends.  Once I got home, showered, and warm again, I was off to a cookie swap party.  The kids and I made the cookies the day prior, and they were dead set on winning.  Luckily we did (we've got a reputation to defend, after all!).  I got to carry a prize home for them.  Then dinner out and collapsing in front of the TV, totally tuckered out from a day where I actually got to do exactly what I wanted to.  How often does that happen???
Snowshoeing the Midstate

Of course turning older always makes you a little thoughtful.  I've had a lot of "why am I doing this to myself?" lately.  Whine whine.  I'm sore.  I'm tired.  I'm injured.  I'm burned out.  I'm not fast.  I'm all of these things.  So WHY????

There's a great article floating around about how asking yourself what you want in life is the wrong question.  That the right question is "what are you willing to suffer for?"  I've been asking myself that quite often.  I sometimes feel like I'm not quite sure how I got where I am.  The house, the career (which admittedly fine, is not in wildlife like I had planned).  These two tiny people that are forever hanging on my legs and calling me "mom".  What's with that??  It's all wonderful, but it's a little different than the kick-ass wildlife researcher / watercolor artist living in Africa that I envisioned in my youth.

So what am I willing to suffer for?  Clearly not my career, since I've mostly taken the path of least resistance, landing self in cushy corporate job that pays the bills for my kiddos and stay at home husband.  My kids?  Well sure - that's biological. That can't count as a goal.  Finishing an Olympic distance triathlon or a half-marathon?  Actually, no.  Not.

What now, you say? You're a triathlete - it's all about the next race!  

Well, sort of, but it's all a means to an end.  What I'm willing to suffer for is being the 80 year old woman at the gym's pool that swims laps every morning because she loves the water.  Being like my feisty friend in her 70s I saw at the cookie swap who still plays tennis 3 times a week.  Like my kids' preschool teacher, who has adult kids gone off to school and who's idea of a perfect date is a 50 mile bike ride with her husband.  I want to be healthy, fit, and active every day of my life until the day I die.  We had our kids relatively young - I want to hike the Long Trail once they're in college (we'll be 48, not that I'm counting).  I want to love the water and enjoy swimming.  I honestly don't care that much if I never complete a 70.3 or if I can never clear a 9:00 minute mile for a 5K.  Much - I said care MUCH.....

Taking the long view is great for training.  It lets me enjoy a snowshoe instead of obsessing my missed long run.  Enjoying some extra cookies (tho really I need to stop.  For the love - I've gained 3 lbs in a week!).  That streak of grey in my hair might to be colored soon, I have wrinkles around my mouth from smiling (yes!), but overall I'm in the best shape of my life.  And I still got carded while buying wine for the party, so....

Happy Birthday to Me and Elf On!!!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Hello Zone 2

Triathlon is hard for lots of reasons.  The most obvious ones are that is physically hard to swim, then jump on a bike, then run.  It seems straightforward, right?  Just do all of those really fast and that's how you do it.  Easy!!

That's more or less how I've approached my training.  Go as hard as I can in all sessions, and hope that it will lead to fast results.  While simultaneously cursing that I'm not able to run 7:00 miles yet.

Looking back over the year (thank you Facebook recap) I realized that I ran my first 3 miles ever, without stopping to walk, in May.  Only 6 months ago.  Only one month before doing my first sprint triathlon, and 4 months before running 7+ miles at my race pace.  Is it really any wonder that I got hurt?

I've been pretty discouraged lately - after being on crutches, then a cold I can't shake, and my family's fight with the stomach flu last week - I feel like I just can't get my mojo on.  And when I do, I'm so sore and tired afterwards I feel like I'm gonna die. How is it fair that some people are never sore after working out and I always am? Maybe because they aren't trying for PRs every single workout.  The Sheriff suggested I was over-training for the sprint distance this summer - maybe I should have listened.

Saturday I started my Total Immersion class.  First lesson - relax.  Literally - Relax your head.  Relax your shoulders, and let your head be totally supported by the water.  Go ahead and laugh... because my first reaction was "No I can't relax I won't go anywhere!!!".  Being told to relax, physically or otherwise, makes me feel more anxious.  I just am not good at it.  I'm not sure if I ever was, or if motherhood and too many responsibilities erased it from my repertoire.  Either way, it doesn't come easy.  My instructor filmed us in the water, and after lots of talking about how swim technique is all about working with the water instead of fighting it, I can easily see in the video that my terrible stroke count (30 in a 25 meter pool) is due to lots of me thrashing around and fighting the water.  Luckily my teacher says we'll work on that.

On the running side, I started a new Faster 5K running program, and was dreading running after the first workout.  So I started to look - REALLY LOOK - at how I am working out, with the help of my HRM.  I have a history of going way too hard - in the HR zones well above what the workout prescribed, because I wanted to be able to log a faster pace.  Was embarrassed to be running 12 minute miles.   Clearly this needs to change.  

After my TI class, I went upstairs and re-calibrated my Pear training system with my new heart rate zones post-injury.  Why didn't I do this earlier?  Because I am delusional stubborn.  Since then, for the last 3 runs I have faithfully tried to stay in my prescribed zone, even though my Zone 1 is walking and my Zone 2 is quite slow.  I'm learning to stuff my ego down my sports bra and just cover the treadmill screen so that the Ironman in my swim class and the mom down the street that are running 6:30s behind me just can't see.  They don't care anyway.  Seriously - get over yourself.

Some decorations on my long run - so cute!
The upside of this is that I've been way less sore and tired.  I actually enjoyed my 4 mile long run in the cold on Sunday - took in the neighborhood Christmas decorations and felt good the rest of the day instead of feeling wrecked.  Was able to actually keep up with the kids through all the weekend festivities without snapping at them.  Sore mommy = mean mommy.  Poor kids.
Letting things go, relaxing, running slow(er) - these things don't come easy.  But one of my main goals in becoming a triathlete was to use it as a tool to conquer a lot of my mental demons.  Like my ego.  Like my ability to be "just ok".  To not push myself to the edge of sanity all the time.  Triathlon teaches so much....

Do you feel self-conscious at the gym or with other athletes?
Do you vary your training, with some hard and some easy days?
How sore are you while you are training?

Friday, December 6, 2013

Recovery and Recipe: Jingle Jumbles

Remember a couple of days ago when I said that, despite my entire family being struck down by the stomach flu, I was holding on?  Famous.  Last.  Words.

I'll skip by the part of yesterday that involved a very quick exit from my office, a tense stop at Target for saltines and fruit snacks for my little guy who was also sick (now that is true parental devotion - being sick in a public bathroom rather than disappoint a sick child), and what had to be the longest commute home ever, followed by the entire rest of the day too weak to move.
Kitty was deliriously happy
with the electric blanket

This morning I had already taken a vacation day.  The original plan was to hit the gym, then take the kiddos to a nearby botanical garden for their holiday lights display, and catch up on some of the zillion holiday-related projects I am trying to accomplish in the next 19 days.  But who's counting.  That didn't happen.  Instead I am resting, trying to be somewhat productive (I don't do "still" well), and generally alternating between climbing walls and collapsing in a heap on the couch.

Birdseed ornaments.  My son has a new "photo face" -
I hope it passes quickly

We did manage to make some birdseed ornaments to hang outside for our feathered friends, to roast the extra turkey breast we bought post-Thanksgiving sale, and to make some Christmas cookies.  The latter 2 were at my insistence.  As seems to happen every week by Friday, the only thing in our refrigerator is frosting and eggs.  Buttercream omelets just don't cut it, especially with a family recovering from the stomach flu.

The cookies I made are one of my favorite holiday cookies, from the The Cookie Bible, by Publications International, Ltd.  It's one of those cookbooks produced by big manufacturers like Kraft and Nestle, which tell you that you MUST use only their brands in all the recipes.  But nonetheless, it is our cookie bible.  This recipe has all the great flavor of gingerbread (my favorite) without all that fussing around with rolling, cutting, and decorating into an army of tiny men.

Jingle Jumbles - Easy Gingerbread Cookies

  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 2 1/4 cup unsifted all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/.2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 1/4 cup raisins, dried cranberries, or dried cherries (optional)
  • granulated sugar

Cream butter and brown sugar together.  Add molasses and egg and beat until smooth.  Sift all other dry ingredients together (except raisins), and add slowly to the wet ingredients.  Beat on medium speed until everything is mixed.  Add raisins, if using.  Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375.  Shape chilled dough into golf-ball sized balls and roll in granulated sugar (this is a great job for little kids).  Bake for 10-12 minutes, until edges are brown but middles are still soft.  I recommend with eggnog and/or coffee.


So tomorrow is the first day of my Total Immersion swim class at the Y.  At 8:00 am.  I'm not sure why that feels early for a Saturday, when I get up at 5 on weekdays, but.... anyway.  I have zero desire to work out.  I actually came close to just closing down this blog altogether and saying forget it.  No more triathlete.  No more baking.  No more... no more.  Did I mention I don't handle sick very well?  It just seems like after my 5 weeks in crutches, immediately followed by a 3 week cold that I still have, and now this tummy bug on top of it that the world is conspiring to keep me from my goals.  Crawling back under the electric blanket with the cat seems like a viable option.

But if I choose to do so, at least I have cookies to munch while I'm under there......

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

In Need of Elves

Ever wonder how Santa gets it all done?

1)  He's magic
2) He has thousands of elves that work for him.

I want elves.

Ok, he's close.  He'll do.

Seriously though, after the craziness that was Thanksgiving, I was ready for some down time.  Some nice relaxing time to sit on the couch, stare at our tree, and relax.  Maybe rethink my goals and training program, having proven to myself that I can run 3 miles in the turkey trot.  Only that last part happened, though.

The Day After Thanksgiving

60 minute trainer workout on the bike at home with my Pear system, after spending the morning decorating the house for Christmas.  After I'd showered and I was just started to relax a bit, we realized that we were late for the little guy's swim class.  Parent fail.  Honestly - We are so getting coal from Santa.  Mad dash to the gym to get the little man into the pool in time to say goodbye to his teacher.  Add 45 minutes of swimming in the pool with both kids to my workout day.

Our tree
This day also marked the return of Zip, our Elf on the Shelf.  Yes, I am one of those psycho parents that does crazy things with their elf every day.  But the kids adore him and think he's hysterical, and the Jedi and I actually have a lot of fun coming up with ideas.  For his first day back, he was so inspired by the kids run at the Turkey Trot that he decided to run here from the North Pole....

Runner Zip!

Saturday After Thanksgiving

Straight back to the gym in the morning, after taking the kids to a workshop at Home Depot.  They are pretty good with hammers!!  I had a chip on my shoulder about our time for the Turkey Trot (kids and stroller notwithstanding) and wanted to see how I would do going solo.  So I hopped on the treadmill to time my 3.1 miles.  I couldn't break 30 minutes due to some tummy trouble (more on that later), but came pretty close.  Running - check.  Although my HR while running is much higher than it was pre-injury - like up in the 170s.  Very bad.  Must work on this somehow.  I followed it up with a 1/2 hour strength workout, also on my Pear system, designed to strengthen and avoid injuries common to runners.  I found out just how weak the muscles in my right foot are.  Ouch.

Sunday After Thanksgiving

Rest Day.  Took kids to the Nutcracker with Gramma.  Zip approved.....

Monday - Back to Work

At a time of year when it seems like everyone is doing a "run a mile a day" or "don't gain any weight" or "25 days of Paleo" challenge, I decided my best improvement I could work on was getting to bed early, and back into the swing of going to the gym early.  So first day - up and at 'em.  BRICK TIME.  Forget the fact that my daughter started throwing up at 4 am and that's when I woke up.  Sleep is for the weak.

I decided to ditch the Couch 2 5K program I've been doing, and move up to a Faster 5k Running program.  It is still a low mileage, easy option - meant for people that have run 1 or 2 5ks but want to increase their speed.  Even though I've run more races than that, that's probably about where I am physically after my injury.  So I started with Day 1, a 2 mile run, and followed it with some strength work and an 1000 meter swim in the pool.  Was at my desk by 9 am, and wanting to sleep on it by 10 am.  But the show must go on....

Yesterday - It All Goes South

4 am yesterday it was the Jedi's turn.  Sick sick sick.  Poor man.  I left the house around 5:15 for an early boot camp class.  I had planned on Day 2 of running, but I texted him after my class to see how he was doing.  Poor man couldn't even get out of bed.  So home I went to get the girl child on the bus, Jedi tucked into bed, and I took the little man to work with me.  Yes, I can do everything!!!!

Legos at my desk.  What is better?

I was exhausted from so little sleep the previous 2 nights, and sore all over from the boot camp class.  But work was busy, my little guy had Legos, the IPad, and as much free hot cocoa as he could drink.  Plus the unending adoration of my coworkers who were happy for the tiny distraction.  Back home to take care of the little girl and Jedi mid-afternoon.  Son was then running a fever.  Daughter still having tummy issues.  Oh h*ll.  I got everyone fed, asleep, moved the Elf to a new location, and got to sleep on the couch last night.  Fully expecting to take kids to school then Jedi for some IV fluids in the morning....

Even Zip is sick.....

Today - I rest.  Kind of.

This morning my daughter was running a high fever, so she skipped school.  Jedi is on the mend.  Son is chipper.  No workouts for me - every part of my body hurts, and I am trying very hard to not come down with the GI bug.  Someone has to stay standing around here....

So by my count, since Thanksgiving I have:
  • biked once
  • strength trained 3 times
  • swam once
  • ran twice (not counting thanksgiving itself)
  • disinfected the house and changed all the sheets twice
  • answered about a zillion emails
  • written about 30 reports
  • Put up 2 Christmas trees
  • wrapped all Christmas presents
  • Mailed 50 Christmas cards
  • Done 9 loads of laundry
  • cooked 16 meals
  • moved Zip 5 times
  • not thrown up once.
Let's hope that last one stays true.

How is your Holiday prep coming?
What do you do to stay healthy?  Any tips for when your whole family is sick?