Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Track W/O Pre-Snowstorm & Christmas Recap

Ech. I just got a call that the person I was going to go to for acupuncture on my left hammy, buttocks, knee, foot and shoulder just cancelled! Unfortunately, he is ill. Well, I hope he is feeling better soon. Coach recommended him because he has experience working with runners and he is a runner. too (I think a marathoner). I am looking forward to the first session - I hope I can get some relief.

Today, I was off - foot pain - I don't know, I tweaked it going up one of those hills in the TCS Annapolis Half Marathon. It hasn't gotten any better, but it's not swollen. I've been icing it - I hope it just goes away. It hurts the most when I start running. So, I ran my 1.5mile warm-up on the turf field to ease into the run and lessen the pain. It's really messing with my strides, too. I am at least 5seconds slower than my normal stride pace. The pain keeps me from forcefully propelling myself forward.

Coach has been taking it easy on me. Today, I ran 2&1/2 laps at an easy 7:20minute pace, jogged a half a lap and repeated it four times. I was having trouble with the last set. I had shooting pains going up the back of my hammy. I finished with some drills and a mile cool down.

I came home, iced, stretched, rolled, used the bio-freeze. Not exactly my idea of a good-time, but (no pun there, really) at least I got to run before the snow came!
And my Christmas memories with my family this year are beautiful!
We got off to a rough start - we were a bit late in putting up the tree. 
But look, not bad for a late buy!
And, it was 1/2 price!
Everyone liked their presents - which I think is a first!
...even Girlfriend!
And even Jiggy had fun with her presents!
But absolutely, no one was happier than my sister-in-law, who was in her glory feeding my son, and our nieces, lobster on Christmas Eve. Although, I believe my nieces were taking advantage of their Auntie's Italian thought process - the one that goes like this: "I just gotta feed my babies or they will starve".
Yeah, girls, you know who you are, and I got your number!
Hey Balerie, way to get down and dirty with the lobster!
Love the hands, and the sweater!
Train Smart Today!

Thursday, December 20, 2012


My training has suffered these last couple of weeks. I was studying a lot, writing papers and PowerPoints for presentations. I wasn't going to the gym in the morning, and even though I kept up with my running, I stopped my stretch routine. After a run, I would hurry to shower, then work or drive up to the assisted living facility, whenever I had a free moment, to see my Mom-in-law. This has taken a toll on my tummy, as well as my left hammy/piriformis.
Then, it happened. 
December 8th, my Mom-in-law passed away - it was and still is, very sad. I haven't even had the courage to put that in writing until now. I still can't quite wrap my mind around her passing, or her suffering, throughout her last weeks with us. I tried to help - maybe give a tiny morsel of comfort to my late husband's mom and family, but nothing - there was nothing I could do to help take away her pain, or the pain of all who suffered, while they watched her pass. There was one night, Mom's last night - a Hospice nurse came into Mom's room - he started talking to her. He said that she was beautiful, and she created a beautiful family - he said that he could tell that we all loved her because the room felt full of love - and it was because of who she was. His words were true - Mom loved unselfishly. She gave her whole heart and soul to her family, and she didn't stop there - she made every person she met, feel special. She didn't teach us how to love, she taught us how to love, deeply. She was an amazing woman - and we will all miss her ...tons.
It's not good-bye, 
It's just so long for now.
I love you, tons<3
Mom, holding her son, at our wedding, 10/20/90
Train Smart Today!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Most grueling splits, ever!

It's been a long week! 
My training in the gym has been suffering a bit, lately. I can't wait until I finish this last exam on Monday and presentation on Tuesday - I think (hope) I will get back to a better gym routine.
Still, just out-a sorts pushing for the end of the semester.
It's not that the running hasn't been going fine. Well, I missed my long run this week, but maybe it's for the best since my left leg (hammie/but) has been really sore, again, but other than that, I have been running consistently. I even went to the track and trained with Coach on Wednesday. My "fans" left me alone this week! At the track, I ran my 1.5mile warm up and four strides and then ....
The most incredibly difficult splits, I've ever done. 
(I think that's what did my left hammy & but in)
I ran, fast, like a stride, for 200meters. Then, I jogged for 100meters. I repeated this three more times for a total of two times around the track. Next, I rested for two minutes - which was the most glorious two minutes. Then, I had to repeat this torture five more times!
By the time I ran my 1.5mile cool down, my legs were numb, and I was exhausted! This had to be one of the toughest track workouts, ever!
I do not look forward to a four hour drive to Boston tonight with girlfriend.
Girlfriend has an audition at Berklee College of Music, tomorrow at 10AM! Very exciting stuff!
Girlfriend singing "The Star-Spangled Banner" at the NY Mets game 9/11/2012
Train Smart Today!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Rough Crowd in Jersey ...At the Track!

So, as usual, yesterday, Wednesday, I trained with Coach at the track.
I ran 1.5miles to warm-up, 
did four 100-meter strides, 
stretched, drank a little coconut water, 
and was ready to go.
Coach had me run splits, around the track, total length: 3miles. The splits were not by assigned by distance, but by time. I had to run a 7-minute pace (he went easy on me 'cause I raced on Saturday) for two-and-a-half minutes, jog thirty seconds, and then run two minutes and twenty seconds, with a 30 seconds jog, all the way down to 10 seconds.
It's been pretty cold, here in Jersey, and with the wind whipping around on the track, Coach drives his car up the ramp by the track, sits in his car, and keeps time. In order to let me know when to stop and start, he beeps his horn.
I'm like Pavlov's Dog. 
Now, every time I hear a car horn, I'm afraid I'll just want to take off and run.
Highway, small town roads, there, I'll be:
'Look at that, there goes Half-Crazed'
Must have been a car horn!
Beep, beep!
In his infinite wisdom, and concern for the injury (still healing, but never quite being healed) on my left side - left knee, hamstring, IT band, adductors - let's just say, my whole left side - Coach told me that I should run in the opposite direction.
He's so smart.
It was a great idea, my left side was definitely tighter, since my race this past Saturday.
So, I changed direction.
The first time around the track, I met with Group #1 Boot-Camp. They were doing their usual two laps around the track to warm-up. This group is there Monday-Friday and have been training on the football field for like 10 years, or more. They smiled, some yell out, "Hate running, don't know how you do it."
A couple of "Excuse me. Pardon Me. I'm sorry," were exchanged. 
End of story.
There is also another Boot-Camp Group - let's call them Group #2. They started coming to train, on the opposite end of the football field, I'd say, maybe a year ago. They have a track warm-up, too - they jog 1X around the track. I meet with them, face to face and say, "Excuse me. Pardon Me. I'm sorry." I was met with an angry and demanding,
"You're going the wrong way!" "Turn around!"
When I met up with them, again, on the opposite side of the track, one female participant, refused to move! 
I yelled out, "Training in the first lane."
Did she move?
I yelled out, again.
"Training in the first lane."
Did she move?
What do you think?
As she jogged toward me, slowly, she yelled out,
"You're going the wrong way!" "Turn around!"
I yelled back, "Training in the first lane!" 
Then, I passed my lovely seniors, and shouted,
"Wow. It's a rough crowd!" 
They smiled back, to me as if to say, "Sorry, you have to deal with this." I passed Coach in his car, and yelled out, "Do you believe this?"He called them some kinda' expletive, and said, "Just keep running."
Rounding the track, I approached Group #2, and yelled out, "Coach has me running this way because of an injury." Obviously, they could care less (PS Merry Christmas & Happy Chanukah), they started yelling,
"Get off the track."
"You should be banned from this track."
"Get off"
They don't even train on the track! All they do is run one 400meter warm-up. And very slowly, like at a  snails pace, might I add!
Okay, I thought:
I'm here to train. 
They don't pay my bills, 
and they don't wipe my nose when I'm sick, 
They got issues. It's not my problem.
By this time, Ms Fast-ee Pants started her training. Next time around the track, Coach yells out, "Ms Fast-ee Pants is going to join you - and run the opposite way."
I love it!
Thanks, Fast-ee!
So, what do you think happens, next? Yup, we both get heckled, but not by the same group of people. Let's say very round, woman, walking on the track, decides that she does not have to move from Lane#1 because we are going in the wrong direction! I literally have to go onto the football field because Lane#1 is just not big enough for both of us! I threw up my hands to Coach - and he called her a name that I just cannot blog about!
I don't know what compelled her to do so, but Ms Fast-ee stops her training and converses with this woman:
Fast-ee: Why does it bother you that I am going the opposite way?
Round: You shouldn't be going the opposite way. 
Fast-ee: Coach wants us to train this way.
Round: I'm a track coach, I would never ask my students to run the wrong way. (By the way, Coach has never, ever seen her, and he's been coaching for over 30 years!)
Fast-ee: I can see that, if you are coming here, after school, when the track is busier, but there are just a few people on the track.
Round: It's protocol!
Meanwhile, Coach is screaming, "Stop. Fast-ee. Stop. You're wasting your time!"
It's a rough crowd, here in Jersey - 
even at the track!
I'd like to know, although, I'm assuming this just does not happen in other parts of the country, or the world:
Have you ever been heckled, or yelled at, when you run?
I spoke to Coach. He called these people some more @*&#$&@ expletives, and said, "Don't worry about them. They are not following the rules of the track."
Me: "What? There are rules. Written rules?"
Coach: "Yes. Posted, on the sign, right behind you!"
Love These Rules!
Note, Second Rule: 
Lane 1 & 2 are to be used for fast runners only!
And, for the record, there are no rules stating that you must go in a specific direction!
Train Smart Today!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

TCS Annapolis Half Marathon: State#13!

Maryland, my 13th state!
Running in Annapolis was great!
And I'm proud to say, a new PR has been reached:
Not bad for a middle-aged chick, huh?
I wish I could say getting to Annapolis was just as easy. Sidekick was trying to talk me out of going. Girlfriend had a performance Friday night and had a whole bunch of college application stuff to hand in  for Saturday.
Girlfriend's in the middle!
You go girl!
Staying to watch Girlfriend perform would mean we wouldn't get down to Annapolis until 2AM. I said that I'd go by myself - no one else had to come. Being Half-Crazed doesn't mean I hafta make everyone  around me crazy, too. Still, I was really determined to get in one more half, this year, and that was driving everyone around me crazy! My goal is to do at least five per year. With my knee injury in May, I already cancelled two halves. I didn't want to have to cancel another. Besides, I'm was still on a HIGH from doing better than planned in the local Thanksgiving Day race, The Ashenfelter Classic, where I ran 7seconds faster/mile than I planned!

Even so, I understood where Sidekick was coming from: My Mother-in-law's health has been quickly deteriorating, I have had four hours of sleep every night this week because I have had tests, papers and presentations due - another night of no sleep, and a long drive,  does not make for a good pre-race situation. On top of that, Saturday night, my son would be going to his very first formal dance, "The Candy Cane".
Mini-man went red tie and vest!
Add to that, the young lady's corsage had to be picked up somewhere between 2-3PM.
Reasoning in my Half-Crazed Mind: 
We leave after the performance @10PM. Get down to Annapolis at 2AM. Wake at 6AM. Eat a bagel and drink some coffee, on the way to the race. Get to race by 6:30AM. Warm-up, do four strides. Race at 7AM. Hang out at race until 10AM. Shower at hotel and get on the road by 11:30AM. Home by 2:30PM, just in time to pick-up the corsage!
It's great when a plan comes together!
"Please be supportive of my goals, everyone. I can do this!"
I am blessed. My family saw how much this goal means to me, and they all pitched in. Girlfriend took care of her college applications stuff Saturday morning, and Mini-man arranged a ride for early Saturday morning wrestling practice. Side-kick, went over and above - he drove down to Annapolis and back, shaking his head, and telling me the whole way that he loves me, and that I am not Half-Crazed, but absolutely CRAZY!
There I was, 6:59AM, December 1:
Following a very aggressive, super A-type male runner while he frantically pushed his way through hundreds of people to get to the 7:30min/mi pace section of the start. It's good to be small and tag onto this kinda person - people think you're couple, they smile at you, kinda' like, "Aww, they're running together."And as a female, you don't seem obnoxious, or have other females looking at you with that look that says,
Just who do you think you are?"
Star Spangled Banner was sung. GO NAVY written on the Navy Marine Corps Memorial Stadium to the right side of me, and then, some guy (most likely from Army) yelled out, "Sink Navy".
We were off!
Race Elevation
This race was challenging. Lots of hills. So many ups and downs. I knew there was a bridge (the Naval Academy Bridge) spanning the Severn River at the mouth of the Chesapeake River, and I planned for this challenge at mile 6, but I didn't plan for the slow and torturous hill spanning the 7-7.5mile point. And then there was the turn around, so we could repeated it all again!
I had to stop at the top of the hill, at that 7.5mile point.
I was gasping for air!
There was a water/Gatorade station. When I stopped, I noted a women in a fuchsia top, grabbed the Gatorade, sucked 1/2 of it down between gasps of air, heard someone yell,
"Quick, toss your cup this way. 
She must have seen my confusion - there were runners on my right, making it up that horrible hill, and runners passing me, on my left. It was pretty cold, so I didn't want to soak anyone with sticky Gatorade. Her strong, "NOW," snapped me back into focus. I tossed the cup and sprinted down the hill, after the woman in fuchsia, hearing my friends voice in my head:
"The easiest thing in the world you can do is give up!"
I caught up to the woman in fuchsia, doing sub 6:50min/mile pace, only to face a few more hills and the Naval Academy Bridge, again. Luckily, I counted to 10 and repeated some ABC's going up the bridge the 1st time, so I knew how long it would take me to conquer the bridge on my return trip. I paced it pretty good, and when I got to the top, I screamed:
I'm done with that bridge!"
Some guys started laughing and we got to talking. I was delirious, at that point, telling them about my four hours of sleep and my goal to complete a half in every state. They wanted to know which state would be my last. I told them, "Nevada" and explained that my son will be 21, and he wants to go to Vegas, run the half with me, have a drink with me and play some Craps! God-willing, one day, I will be able to say, again:
"It's great when a plan comes together!"
The race went back through the downtown area of Annapolis, which looked super quaint. I have to admit, with all the turns, ups and downs, I really didn't focus on the scenery. I really concentrated on keeping pace uphill, and stabilizing my core on the down hill. At one point, some guy next to me just lost it and yelled out, "I can't take going downhill anymore! Where are the straightaways?"
Then, about mile 11, I thought, "God no, I'm becoming my own statistic."
I always say, about mile 10 or so, people just fall off the chart. I'm guessing they just don't train passed 10miles. Usually, about mile 10/11, I pass a good amount of people. Yesterday, though, after those hills, my legs were heavy. I was tired. The thought of how little sleep I had was playing on my head. I did that whole Colonel self-screaming thing (my kids calls me the colonel when I yell, I don a military accent - I can thank my Dad for that trait). So you can imagine what I sounded like in my head as I repeated:
This is what you train for.
This is why your out on the track every week.
This is why you do monster walks in the gym, until your legs burn!
You are strong.
Let's go.
Don't become your own statistic.
Fire in the belly.
Finish strong.
Self-talking is a powerful tool. I'd like to know what other people do to fight those negative thoughts that wreak havoc on your psyche during a race, or even during training.
I usually wind up praying for strength and oxygen ...yes, I pray for oxygen!
The race ended with runners running about a half mile through the Navy Marine Corps Memorial Stadium parking lot - which was how it started and which everyone thought was a little odd. There were volunteers handing out medals and foil blankets. After about 2minutes, I was very grateful for that foil blanket because it was about 42*F, foggy and damp.
Side-kick and I headed over to the tent, where we heard the most amazing band play! They were great!
First time I ever saw a bag-pipe hooked up to an AMP!
The Rovers
I had some veggie soup, with crab, of course, after all, we were in Maryland! Side-kick had some cream of crab soup with a little shake of Old Bay. Mmm, mmm, good! I love soup, after a chilly run!
Side-kick also went for the free beer they were giving out!
Celebrating my 1st place in age group 9AM!
I was a little disappointed there were no metals for age groups - I would have liked to have walked away with an award. But the after party was so happening, and everyone was in such a great mood, the experience was worth the trip.
Above all, I am so grateful to have my family's support and to be able to say, 
I finished my 13th state!
Go Blue Angels!
Train Smart Today!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

I'll take a little etiquette with that workout, please!

Lots of black ice on the path in the little park, where I warm-up before my track work-outs. 
Even being careful, I almost took a dive! 
Wo, Woo, Woooo!
We got about 3" of snow the other day - you know, that real heavy, wet kind? The kind that when you pass under a tree, you unsuspectingly get a huge bunch of icy slush dumped on your head!
Ripe and ready for dumping! Next victim, please!
Don't let it's beauty "snow" you!
But really - all in all - what's a little snow on the head? 
Snow, I like!
Ice thank you! 
Although, when the snow is on the track, it's a real pain! I do believe that the people who come to the park and run on the track really must think that the snow magically disappears from the track!
People: "Oh look at that, there's no snow on the track.
Why how that Mother Nature is so darn thoughtful!"
Okay, hate to burst your bubble people, but the snow gets removed from the track one way Coach! Yes my adorable Coach brings his shovel to the park and shovels the track so that the people he coaches (A-type personality, middle aged women, and high school teen boys and girls) can use the track to trainNovel idea, that training, don't you think?
Sometimes Coach will only shovel one lane, but if there's not that much snow, he'll shovel a few more lanes. If, where he didn't shovel, the snow melts and freezes overnight, there's gonna be some black ice on the track. So, after my warm-up, I ran my sprints around the track, to check and see if  there was any black ice on the track. 
This would be so much safer. Maybe Santa will bring me one for Christmas?
No black ice, but I still want one of those indoor tracks! Don't they look lush?
Coach had me run 800meters @ 7minute pace, jog 400meters, run 1mile @ 7:20pace, jog 400meters. and repeat the 800meters @7minute pace. It was a great little work-out, with one exception. During one turn, only one lane (Lane#1) was completely shoveled, so I had to excuse myself through a bunch of seniors. I hate having to ask people to move out of Lane #1 - and this time was no exception because asking them to move meant they had to walk in lane 2 or 3, which was still covered in ice and snow. I gave them fair warning, and started yelling when I was about 50meters away. Eventually, it was like the parting of the sea.
Three gals went to the right and two gals went to the left!
I yelled out, "thank you!" and they yelled back, "No problem, Just keep it up!"
 They were great!
During my 400meter cool down, I apologized for having to ask them to move and they kept telling me that it was quite alright. They're a great bunch of ladies, and I see them on the track, most every time I train! 
These ladies know Coach and are amongst the few that know he shovels the track.
Well, wouldn't you know, though, 
I would have the same problem, 
in the exact same area of the track, 
running the mile Coach assigned. 
This time it was a female jogger ...probably about my age. She was jogging, listening to her iPod, in her own world, and didn't hear me say, "On your left. On Your Left, ON YOUR LEFT! So, I thought, when I run by her, I'll sort of just "hold" her. This way she won't get startled, and run into the ice & snow in the other lanes. I thought I was doing the right thing, but, I guess coming up from behind her and holding her while I ran past, frightened the bajeezus out of her! She let out a huge scream! I, of course, kept running (I was being timed), and Coach, well broke out into hysterical laughter! 
Needless to say, this women was not happy. 
And she was also intent on giving me a piece of her mind! 
After my track work out, I met with Coach for my weekly homework/running assignments. As we were reviewing the goals for my race on Saturday, I heard, a very nasty, "Excuse me, Excuse me." I turned around, and she yelled, "Hey, you are not allowed to touch people when they are running. You hear me?"

If she only knew how nice I was trying to be, then what came out of my mouth afterward wouldn't have sounded so awful. I yelled back, "Well, you shouldn't be running in the 1st lane when someone is training! It's the training lane." She retorted, "You don't own this track. I can run anywhere I want!"
Which brings me back to my original thought .....
I do believe that people who come to the park to run on the track really must think that the snow magically disappears from the track!
So, I ask you, 
* When you walk on a path, sidewalk or in a hallway, do you stay to the right?
* If you're walking with a group of people, and see someone approaching your group, do you fall behind the people you are walking with, to give the person headed your way, some space to walk?
* When you are jogging on the track, do you avoid using Lane#1? 
* When you are training on the track, do you stick to Lane#1, so you don't mow down anyone going slower than you?
** Tell me, how do you practice road etiquette? **
Train Smart Today!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Food Facts: Turkey Chili ...mmm, mmm, good!

What did we do with all those turkey leftovers?
We made Turkey Chili, of course!
Mmm, mmm good!
Makes: 11.5 cups
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes

1 large sweet onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
4 cups cooked, cubed turkey meat (leftover from Thanksgiving, ofcourse!)
16 oz. of Organic Chicken Stock
One 4.5 can chopped green chiles
One 1.25 oz package of white chicken chili seasoning mix
Three 16 oz cans of navy beans, drained

Sauté onion and garlic in hot oil in a large Dutch Oven over medium/high heat, for about 5 minutes, or until onion gets tender. Stir in turkey and next three ingredients. Add the three cans of navy beans. Stir into chicken chili seasoning mix. Bring to a boil, stirring often; cover; reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer and stir occasionally for another 15 minutes. Serve with topping.

Avocado-Mango Salsa Topping:
2 Avocados
3 Mangoes
2 Limes
1/3 cup chopped red onion
Fresh Cilantro Leaves
Chop the avocado and mango into 1/2-inch chunks
Mix together in a large bowl
Add juice of two limes and red onion
Stir together avocado, mango, red onion and lime juice 
If more heat is desired, stir in one chopped hot fresh chili pepper

6 ounces of sharp cheddar cheese (or monterey cheese)
Six 6-inch tortillas in non 
Shred the 6 oz of cheese
Heat and toast a tortilla in non-stick skillet
Add cheese to the center of the tortilla
Fold tortillas are continue to toast until cheese is melted
Slice each tortilla into halves.
Repeat for the other 5 tortillas

Spoon the chili into a bowl, top with salsa and serve with quesadilla - or leftover biscuits, if your lucky enough to have any of those guys leftover!
Train Smart Today!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Ashenfelter Classic Recap: A New PR

Another mug has been Achieved!
Thanksgiving started on a positive note. I ran the local Ashenfelter Classic with my sissy! 
My goal: 7:20'/mile
My watch time: 7:11'/mile
Race time: 7:13'/mile
So the turkey went into the oven at 11:30AM, instead of 10AM; and dinner didn't get served until 5PM, instead of 4PM! No one starved ...that's for sure!
We are very blessed.
And it's always a joy watching my Sissy basque in the glory of finishing a 5mile run!
Go Sissy!
Sissy got lots of cheers for her Restore the Shore Tee
Train Smart Today!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Bark Less, Wag More!

I really haven't had the time to post lately.
My tummy woes have been pretty good.
And I have no complaints on how my training is going.
Coach is in Florida, taking a break from the cold, so I followed his directions for my Wednesday Track Work Out. It was a good little workout: 1.5mile warm-up, six 100meter strides and two 1.5miles of speed work. I was supposed to run 7:20pace, but I wound up doing 7:08min/mile pace. The cool down between runs was a 1/2mile jog. I ran couple miles cool down and I was off to a warm shower (it was so windy and cold on the track) and my Medical Nutrition Therapy class.

Coach has me running a 4mile next day "recovery from speed work" run, and 6miles the following day - which has really been better than going for 5miles on the 2 days following my speed work. During that 6mile run, I have actually had the energy to do some pick-ups here and there: 10seconds fast, 20 seconds slow, fast up hills, slow down hills. I like this new weekly schedule.

School has been going pretty good - all 80's and 90's - on reports, quizzes and exams. I am learning a good deal on how much the media lags behind medical nutrition findings. I've been seeing how this pans out in society. At the hospital, the nutritionists have a hard time getting patient's to change their ideas on foods because a doctor told the patient something - five/ten years ago, which was the thinking then - but has since been disproven!

Besides training, studying, cooking and cleaning for my family, and trying to help my daughter with her college applications, I have done some visiting and reaching out to some people in my life who are struggling with health issues. My Mom-in-law, who has done an excellent job at combating her non-Hodgkins lymphoma for the last 12years, is now failing. Her ascites is causing pressure on her diaphragm and spine, making her lower extremities feel as if they are on fire and causing a tremendous amount of pain. Hospice care is monitoring/managing her pain and administering palliative care. It's hard to see anyone in pain, especially a person who has been so wonderful to you. I am very blessed because I know, I have had THE ABSOLUTE GREATEST MOTHER-IN-LAW of all time. I can probably count on one hand the number of people I know that can say that. My brother-in-law and I share a joke - we both say that we married our spouses because we fell in love with our mother-in-law! I know if he read this, he'd say, "I'm not joking! Why'd you say I'm joking?" ya', Tom!

I also had the opportunity to sit with my friend, here in town. What a great lady. She's the kind of person you like to listen to 'cause she approaches life in a very clear cut manner. Life, from her perspective is simple, there are no bells and whistles, you just do what you gotta do in life. Right now, she's gotta get herself healthy. No bells and whistles, she has to go through the chemo and radiation treatments, and beat her newly diagnosed lung cancer that has been 'causing complications with her brain. I can't even come to say/write what's going on - let alone imagine what she and her family are going through or how they are dealing with everything. I did tell my friend about Warrior Woman, an amazing woman who beat brain cancer. Part of it, I think was Warrior Woman's positive thinking - each time she went for chemo/radiation treatments, she told me that she would look at her son, then about three/four years old, and tell him,
"Mommy is going to kick some cancer butt today!" 
Just, Wow!
God, I hope my friend kicks some cancer ASS!
So, after visiting with Mom and my friend, here in town, I lost it a little. A couple of weeks ago, I had a dream of another friend, Anne, who lives 1/2 way across the country. Anne is a StageIV breast cancer survivor. The cancer metastasized and traveled to her bones and brain. She was all clear this past May - Eight years in remission.
Anne is another female hero of mine. 
Another person who looks at life very simply - 
you just do what you gotta do. 
That's it. 
So, when she called in June to tell me she was diagnosed with a different form of brain cancer, I was so unbelieving that I defied her.
"No, girl, I have a very aggressive brain tumor and I am already losing control of my left side." 
Anne and her family decided to be very private with her care and progress of the disease this time around. Her sister posts updates on Caring Bridges, but after my dream, I wanted to reach out. I called the house, I called Anne's cell - no answer. No return call. Okay, so I Googled her husband's name. I know he's a vet, and I found out where he works. I wrote down the number, but didn't call.
Side-kick told me not to call - that I must respect their choice to be private. 
I couldn't take it anymore, especially this week, after seeing people I love in pain and knowing that I can't touch Anne and her family, I can't give them hugs, or pray with them - it's just too much. So, I called her husband's work and left a message. He, like Anne, is so kind - kind enough to call me back. It's hard not to be able to help - I said a bunch of stupid crap, which I know didn't make sense and won't help - what do you say? I guess I just wanted Anne's family to know that I'm praying for them and that I care.
I said to Anne's husband, "You must be so proud of the girls?" 
They have 3 girls, who are all pitching in and helping to make Anne as comfortable as possible. Of course he agreed. I said that it's amazing that they don't take the "Poor Me" approach. He told me,
"No, they would never. Anne didn't raise them that way. 
In fact, Anne always said, 'Why not me? Why should I be special?'"
"Yeah," I said, "but, Uncle!"
I told him how I told my Mom-in-law that I sometimes feel that God has earphones in and is listening to loud music! She gave me a response, that I thought Anne and my friend here in town would say,
"Good for Him!"
It's amazing, how these very strong and selfless women all have one thing in common: they're all about their family. They are grateful in life just because they were blessed with a family.
That's it. 
Nothing fancy - they love their family.
I am blessed because I know them.
Each day, I hear Anne's favorite expression in my head and I'm trying (really hard) to make it a reality, in my life:
Bark Less, Wag More!

Train Smart Today!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Food Facts: Five Hints for a No Weight/Fat Gain Holiday Season

I can't believe Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away. Losing power for 11days after Hurricane Sandy really has thrown me off. Like today, I rarely go to the gym on Saturdays - it's too crowded, but without power, it was so dark and cold in the house that getting up & out at 5AM, just wasn't happening.

This morning, I wanted to go to the gym - so I ate a pre-work out meal: cold cereal & fruit, while reading ZITE. ZITE is a free personalized magazine for the iPad. It can be addicting. It's something I don't do too often, 'cause I never have the time and you can get sucked into reading for hours. Because you customize this virtual magazine, every article is like an excitotoxin for your brain, calling you, "Read me, read me. Baby, I got what you want me!" Before you know it your panicking because you should've been somewhere, like an hour ago!

Today was no different, but I did notice a trend in my nutrition and diet section - lots of articles on how not to gain weight through the holidays. Some articles offered good advice, and I thought I'd make an attempt to summarize what I read. So, here goes:
Half-Crazed Runners Five Hints on Eating Healthy Through The Holidays:

1. Arm yourself when eating out. Of course you eat out more often through the holiday season. Friends and/or family comes to visit, your out shopping for gifts, or taking on some volunteer project - whatever - you find yourself, at a restaurant with a glass of wine, beer or Jack, looking at a menu reading the side that has the foods you would never eat, unless of course, it's the holidays. There are lots of ways to keep it honest when you eat out. I love the Apps they make these days that list restaurants, meals, nutrient content, calories, fat, protein, carbs. I listed my favorite Apps in one of my Food Fact Posts. Check them out, they can really help.

2. Portion control: Well you searched & searched those apps, but still couldn't find a similar restaurant or anything that resembles what you wanted to order, now what? Portion control! First, know the difference between serving size and portion. A serving size is usually found on a Nutrition Fact Label, on the side of the cereal, pasta cream container. Serving sizes are given in teaspoons, tablespoons, 1/4, 1/2 or full cup measures, or in fluid ounces - like 4oz or 8oz. Serving sizes can also be given in fractional amounts, like 1/2 a pizza or 1/4 of a pie or cake. Serving size can also be distinct units like one slice of bread or two cookies.  Whereas a portion is the the amount of food that you choose to eat. A portion is the amount that you put on your plate or grab. So, you may take three handfuls of chips - but that could be three times the serving size listed on the bag - unless you got little hands, it may be only be 1/2 of the suggested serving size.
Poor Dooneese. She can only grab a few chips at a time!
A picture speaks a thousand words, and this is one is a great reference illustrating portion sizes:
So, if your out with friends around the holidays, hungry, but don't want that 8oz burger & fries - look over at the kids menu - same food, smaller portions! Now, you can order a 4oz hamburger. If, like me,  your tummy can't handle fries, replace them with grilled veggies or a tossed salad, dressing on the side, of course!

3. Know thyself ...and thy hunger signs. Did you know that:
Light thirst can feel like hunger?
Emotions (any type) can trigger feelings that your hungry?
Being tired, or drained can make you feel hungry?
There are many sides to hunger:
Pre-hunger: About 30minutes before a meal. Feels like you're starting to get hungry. You start thinking about your next snack or meal.
Moderately Hunger: About 30minutes after pre-hunger. Stomach feels empty, and you may hear a slight growl. Your tummy is definitely starting to ask for food!
Starving:  You could & would eat anything. Your dizzy, lightheaded, maybe a little shaky & irritable, you may even have a headache.
Satisfied: Not hungry, anymore. Not bloated. Just content with what you ate.
Full: Stomach is full of food. You may want eat more, but the food doesn't taste as intense or as good as it did when you first started eating. You may feel like you need to take a rest from eating.
Overstuffed: You ate too much and vow that you will never, ever do this again. You may even experience gastroesophageal reflux (heartburn). You feel very bloated.

4. No time to exercise. It can be hard to keep your normal exercise routine around the holidays. Maybe you're out later than usual, and can't get up for that AM workout. Or you have a business dinner, late meeting, whatever - you just can't  get to the gym, on the track, treadmill, road... Make your work outs shorter, but more intense. Did you know that circuit training was designed to help people lose weight, build strength and endurance? Circuit training mixes aerobic and anaerobic training all-in-one, it's a great way to exercise if you are short on time - and it doesn't have to be on the "circuit". All you need is to think of 5- upper-body and 5-lower-body exercises, and two - three core exercises. Circuit training is designed to alternately exercise upper-body and lower-body, with a 15second rest between sets, which can range from 10 to 20reps. Run through a circuit (made up any large upper and lower body muscles) two times and you have a nice little intense aerobic/anaerobic pick-me-up-workout to keep you in shape through the holiday season!

5. Lighten up: So you went a little overboard and still don't have time to exercise ...lighten up, literally. A couple of days of careless eating and drinking does not define your year, or your goals. When possible try to incorporate fruits, veggies, whole grains, legumes and high fiber/high protein foods with healthy fats. Learn some lean substitutions, too:
Lighten up!
If a recipe calls for 1cup butter, replace 1/2 with applesauce. Instead of fatty beef, use lean beef and trim off the fat. Trim skin from poultry, thicken soups with 1%milk & cornstartch, instead of whole milk. Baste meat with wine, orange or lemon juice, instead of fat drippings. Use spices, instead of salt or fat, to increase flavor. Use less oil when frying by adding a little water, and use a large pot cover to cover the food you are frying to "steam-fry".

That's basically a summation of lots of articles I read, plus some of my own strategies to stay on a healthy path for a No Weight/Fat Gain Holiday Season!
If you have any other hints, share 'em. I'd love to learn more!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Track Work Out: Kenyan Style

It was frigid on the track today.
It was so windy, it felt as if it were 10*F! 
After commiserating with Coach that I still don't have power ....and may not get power until some time next week, Coach told me to warm up about 1.5miles.
Ugh. That first mile was so cold.
After warming up, I ran my six 100meter strides. The wind was blowing so hard that my strides were actually off by 3-4seconds. Amazing how the wind can destroy all attempts at speed!
Next, Coach had me run what he called "A track work out, Kenyan Style".
It was tough.
Yes, I dropped a few F-Bombs.
I had to run 6:40pace for one minute. Jog one minute and repeat 14 more times. At the end, those jogs got slower and slower, as I gasped for air.
I wound down with another 1.5miles and lots of stretches. I'm definitely going to do the foam roller tonight. I bought the "Rumble Roller":
I have this little compact size Rumble Roller.
You wouldn't think something this torturous looking could actually make you feel better!
Relief is on its way!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Jersey Strong!

Day 7: Still no power!
But, we will rise above!
We are Jersey Strong!
I did break down, though ...
I bought a generator.
There's one problem with a generator: it runs on gas .... and there's a gas shortage!
Gas closed, only the mini-mart is open.
It's actually really scary. Two-three hour wait on line for gas. The lines are 1-2miles long! People are running out of gas, while waiting on line! The stations that had power pumped all their gas. The refineries were not up and running - they are in Newark, which had no power for about 5days. Roads are blocked, so deliveries of gas from outside NJ/NY area have been limited. The NJ turnpike was closed up here in the north because the water rose so high, it lifted the cargo trains off the tracks and then dumped them across the turnpike! Eventually, as some gas stations regained power, and when people found out that a station was opened, the lines started and before you knew it, they were out of gas, with no promise of another delivery. 

Sidekick actually drove to Northeastern Pennsylvania with gas cans, to get gas for our generator! Thank goodness I listened to my dad, before Sandy hit. Dad lives in the throws of hurricane alley, in Florida, so he warned me about a potential gas shortage - he told me to fill up all the cars with gas.
Thanks, Dad!
I just had to get the generator, in spite of the dismal gas situation. Besides it being really dark, at night, it got to about 40*F in the house. And a Nor'eastern is headed our way, with temperatures expected to drop to the low 30's. I couldn't watch my kids going to bed cold and freezing one more night!
Besides, it's soooo great to have heat and hot water. 
Since the generator isn't hard wired into the house, we are limited to what we can run and hook up, which is why, I haven't been able to blog! We are limited by the fact that we only have a few extension cords. Stores are sold out of extension cords within a 100mile radius least! You get a real big dose of reality when a natural disaster hits. Even though, I believe that  have had my fill of reality. 
Hello, God? ...Uncle!
I really feel blessed, in spite of it all. I lost a small tree, my purple Plum, which you can't tell, landed on a small white decorative fence. The fence is repairable, though, not too much damage.
Pulled the roots right out of the ground!
This tree was nowhere near as large as some of the trees down in my neighborhood. Here are some pics from my first run, after Hurricane Sandy hit ...

This tree took two days to clear!

So sad. This was such a beautiful shade tree

Even in my little park, where I love to run!
Some trees hit homes, some hit power lines, and others crushed cars! Thank goodness, I didn't here of anyone getting hurt. Up here, in Northern NJ, even though there has been a great deal of damage from downed trees, it is nowhere near as awful as in South Jersey, Staten Island, or Long Island. One of my neighbor's, whom I know from the gym, has had a hard time reaching his Dad, who lives in Long Beach, Long Island. His Dad is 89years old. I haven't seen my neighbor since Friday, so I don't know if he has heard from his dad, yet. It is very sad.

My Sissy owns a second home in South Jersey. She and her husband were in tears after seeing the damage that Sandy did to their home ...
This is the back, where their dock used to be!
Their neighbor's shed is in their back yard
This is their front yard
Sissy and her husband believe the house was moved right off of the foundation. I had to hold back the tears's their whole savings. This is where they retreat to. This is where they find peace and solace.

Still, we must be strong, and forge ahead. We have to be grateful that we have each other and that we are safe (and warm). This is not to say that I am not aware of those, and pray for those, who lost their homes in the floods or the fires that started afterward. I pray for those people who lost family members - children were ripped out of their mother's arms from rushing waters, and those who drowned because they got trapped in their homes, or the frail and the elderly, whom help did not reach in time. We will continue to pray for all of you and your families.

Yesterday, they called off the NYC Marathon. There were several people in my town who trained for marathon. Yesterday, a group of us gathered to cheer on the runners, who did 3 8mile loops in town. We all took a loop and ran with them, cheering them on and psyching them up to the finish.
It's a lot like what we have to do, now, after Sandy: 
Deal with the disappointment, the frustration, the sadness; 
Cheer each other on and help each other in whatever way we can;
Strive to continue to go forward...
Jersey Strong!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Sandy my darlin', you hurt me real bad!

Hurricane Sandy is running a muck!

Yeah, no, I didn't mean this Sandy ...
Good-bye Sandra Dee!

I meant this Sandy!
Coming up the coast!
I took the day off from running. Call it an excuse, or call it cautious. I'm gonna stick with cautious. I didn't feel like getting whacked in the head with any falling branches - like the one that crashed into my roof this morning and startled me out of bed! Thank goodness - no damage ...I hope it stays that way!

Even my l'il Jack is acting weird!
Even though Jiggy's in good hands,
she's still freaking out!
It seems that all the animals are acting odd. This picture was taken by someone DTS (down the shore for you non-Jerseyans), yesterday!
Yes, that's a deer, running into the ocean!
It's a little crazy here, and we still have 2 more hours before the eye of the storm comes closer! Buttoning down the hatches, getting out the flashlights, the Coleman lanterns and charging the phones, while we still have electricity! Since my oven is electric, I made a huge pot of chicken noodle soup, yesterday, which I can heat on the stove top, in case we lose power, and then, of course, our heat!
Staying ready and looking out ....


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Love the track!

Not a bad day at the track considering that I only had 3&1/2hours of sleep last night!
Yup, up late again, trying to complete another report! Lots of work this semester - for only two classes. I thought about sleeping an extra hour, but when the alarm went off, I just couldn't go back to sleep. At 5:30AM, I made my way to the gym for some strength training. Today, I was in the mood for some Monster Walks ...hey, it's coming on Halloween ...
Trust me, I do not look this happy when I'm doing these!
I love monster walks - they are such a great all around glute, hammy, quad and abductor work out! Next, I entertained myself with 10minutes of stair climbing, 100 leg extensions, some kettle bell shoulder press, dumbbell press, back flies and tricep push backs ...oh yeah, and something even more fun than Monster walks ...
7 consecutive minutes of planks (side & prone pos'n.) and sit-ups!
And then, the icing on the cake: 

Today, I warmed up with a slow1.25miles. Then, I followed that up with six 100meter sprints to wake up my legs. I didn't push too hard on the sprints - partly because I was literally running on little sleep, but also because I don't want to re-injure my knee. 

When it came time for my workout, Coach went easy on me: four sets of 1200meters,  with a 100meter recovery jog and a 100meter recovery walk. Goal pace 7:20min mile, which I felt was a little easy, so I pushed it out a bit and kept up a 7:10min mile pace.

I finished up with a 1.25miles warm-down, lots of stretches ...and, OMG, look at the time ...home, eat, shower and off to school!

What's your favorite workout or strength training exercise?


Saturday, October 20, 2012

Food Facts: A sigh for Acai

It's been crazy here. I have had two tests every week - every Monday and Tuesday, for the last several weeks. 
I was smart enough to only take two classes this semester, but I'm not smart enough to just keep up with them! I do dumb things, like take on-line webinars, to learn more about foods and how they impact our biochemistry, instead of studying for upcoming tests. Like last Saturday, I decided to take an on-line course on bioactive substances, like antioxidants, instead of studying. This webinar, From Antioxidants to New Functional Benefits, was really eye opening! It pointed out that the
Antioxidants activity/free radical scavenging hypothesis is being dismissed. 
What? This is crazy!
For the past several years, we were told that antioxidants in the diet may help reduce oxidative stress, which is linked to aging, chronic and degenerative diseases, like cancer, heart disease Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. Now, the antioxidant theory is being dismissed? This is huge! Especially for someone, like me, who lives in a state where 34% of the 40-64year olds and 60% of those 65years and older will be diagnosed with cancer!
I want all the protection from cancer
- and if I can get it from food, mmm, mmm, good!
For years, we have been told that the active ingredients in fruits and veggies include vitamins, like Vitamin A & C; essential minerals, like potassium and magnesium; fiber, insoluble and soluble; and phytochemical, such as carotenoids, chlorophyll and flavanoids (includes anthocyanidins - the stuff everyone justifies why they drink red wine).
We were told, "Eat all your colors" based on the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) of foods, which was supposedly an indication of antioxidant activity. Foods with rich color, had high ORAC values and were deemed "Superfoods".
The theory: The higher the ORAC value, the higher the antioxidant value.
ORAC charts were completely exploited as marketing tools!
The lowly Acai Berry started to make headlines!
I never even heard of the Acai berry before 2006. Now you can find it in the local grocery store in pulp, juice, freeze dried, pill and tablet forms! Another superfood that hit headlines is the amazing Goji berry. Both Acai and Goji berry have been touted for health benefits based on their ORAC values, which was defined by the National Institutes of Health, as a measurement linking oxidative capacity to fluorescence. The degree of oxidative protection (antioxidant capacity) was quantified and interpreted as an ORAC score.
This is also (one) theory behind why raw is better when eating veggies:
Why boil or steam? Just eat 'em raw ...if you can digest them that way!
If boiled veggies have less color, steamed veggies have a little more color, and raw veggies have the most color - you should eat those veggies raw because then you are preserving the color, and not affecting the antioxidant capacity.
This past year, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), publisher of the ORAC data, withdrew its USDA ORAC Database for Selected Foods from the Nutrient Data Laboratory!
So, what's this mean?
This means that the ORAC values don't have any relevance to the effects of specific bioactive compounds.
I feel so sorry for the Acai Berry!
I guess we will have to start looking for life somewhere else!
This is not to say that bioactive compounds do not have a role in preventing or ameliorating disease - it means that the ORAC data for antioxidant capacity of foods generated in a test-tube cannot be extrapolated to real time human effects because past clinical trials have not proven a consistent link between ORAC values and antioxidant capacity. Result: claims to link beneficial effects to antioxidant activity in food are being withdrawn!
Even the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) issued a statement denouncing claims regarding the antioxidant content/properties of food!
The EFSA forbids claims in Europe touting benefits of antioxidant constituents of food since there is no proof that these antioxidant food constituents have any ability to scavenge free radicals, or offer beneficial physiological effects in humans, or protect human cells from premature aging, healthy aging, or claimed effects (like prevention or amelioration of chronic and degenerative diseases: cancer, heart disease Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease).
One reason ORAC values and antioxidant capacity of foods are being dismissed is because their concentrations in humans cannot be properly measured.
So do these fruits and vegetables that we once thought of as "super foods" offer any health benefits?
Fruits and veggies are still a great source of vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytochemicals - now, though, phytochemicals aren't being researched in terms of their antioxidant capacity - instead, they are being studied in other ways, like how they may positively impact our cardiovascular system.

I had a reader once comment, "I only eat healthy food, that tastes good." This is, by far, the best way to look at fresh fruits and veggies! I must admit, though, the idea that some foods have super powers, is seductive!
Super Garlic