Friday, December 27, 2013

Setting Goals for 2014!

It's that time of year when we can look back and say, "Wow, I can't believe another year is over!" Each year seems to go by faster and faster. It reminds me of that Andy Rooney saying,
"Life is like a roll of toilet paper. 
The closer you get to the end, the faster it goes!"

Like every year - 2013 was packed with its ups and downs. As far as running, it was a tough year. I battled through hamstring pain, opting not to do PRP (plasma rich protein), but instead to use:
Food and supplements to fight inflammation, 
TPTherapy Total Body Kit and Foam Roller for myofascia release,
Stretching to maintain flexibility,
and exercises from 
Going forward into 2014, I'm not setting resolutions. Resolutions are meant to be broken. Goals are different. I like using the S.M.A.R.T. Goals outline: Goals should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-targeted. There's a sense of planned determination with goals versus resolutions. And going into 2014, I'm sticking to the above plan for continued healing of my left hamstring, and strengthening my glutes - I want a tight arse! 
Strong glutes --> Happy runner!
And what's wrong with wanting
 glutes (and body) like Allyson Felix?
My running goals for 2014 include:
Five more half marathons (already set for DC in March)!
My goal for these halves are the same - 
shoot for top 10 in my age group! 
Run some shorter races - some local 5K's and 10 K's
and get my times down.
AND,
My Ultimate Running Goal for 2014 is (trumpets, please)
The NYC Marathon! 
This will be my first marathon. I will be in a new age bracket in November, and this goal is something I have dreamed about doing for when I turn the big Five-Oh! I am very excited!

Other 2014 goals include:
Support my daughter as she finishes her 1st year of college,
Cheer on side-kick's daughter as she graduates from college,
Help my son apply and get into college,
Assert my patent, develop a working model, 
and market it in rehab settings,
Finish my RD internship, take and pass the exam, 
and finally, finally, finally become a 
Registered Dietitian!

What are some of your 2014 goals?
Do you set running goals? Life goals?

Train Smart Today!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

State #18! Yes!Women's Half Marathon Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Yes! I finished #18!
And I placed 1st for my age group!
This makes 14 out of 18 that I placed 1, 2 or 3 in my age group!
This wasn't an easy race. It's not that it was hilly, or challenging like without oxygen, i.e., Park City, Utah. It's because it was 38*F (3.333*C) and rainy.
Let's get this race started, I'm freeeezing!
Standing on the race line, I met the cutest young girl, Summer! Hey girl, I told you I'd give you a shout out! Congratulations on finishing the Baton Rouge, Louisisna Half! 
Overall, 
I don't think the race had as good a turn out as expected. The "Finish Fest" was pretty much a wash out due to the downpour. I think because of all the rain and cold, I really don't remember much of the race.
I did run it a little differently.
This time, I really took the notion of pack running seriously. 
I ran steadily for the first few miles. And tried to hold a 7:40min pace. I picked one person out in front of me, and tried to catch her. When I caught her, I hung with her for a little bit, and then focussed on another person in front of her. I did this about four times. The person in the yellow jacket standing behind me in the above picture was one of those people. I met her at the end of the race - I think her name is Kristen. I told her how inspiring she was and how I tried to hang with her the whole race.
There were also a few younger runners. 
One was being paced by their coach, male friend or boyfriend. IDK.
How do you feel when you're running in a women's race and a guy is pacing someone?
I didn't mind, but I think there is definitely an advantage. I gotta try that some time ... I think. IDK, what do you think? Do you feel it's like sort of cheating? Either way, they were helpful because about mile 5, my watch died! Ech! Don't you hate when your Garmin just flat out leaves you hanging? This is my 3rd Garmin - I am always returning my watches and they are always sending me back refurbished CRAP!
Does anyone recommend a better watch or a better system?
I'll try anything ...
So as this young "pacer pack" passed me, I asked them about how fast they were going. The young girl told me she was trying to maintain a 7:35 min/mile pace. I thought, "That would be my ultimate goal pace for this race" Since I was really trying for 7:40, I figured if I could hang with them, I would meet my goal, and finish with a 1-hour 40-minute overall time. As you can see, I was close - but oh that extra 1-minute. They took off about mile 11 - and although I thought I was running fast, some guy passed me (I know, another guy - weird, right?) and I asked him how fast he was going - he told me about 7:45. So, I guess I lost some speed at the end - even though I was still passing people. One woman, I think she said her name was Tammy, passed me at this point. I yelled out to her, "You go girl, finish strong." The woman (Kristen) with the yellow jacket was still in front of me, and I still wanted to catch her. I kept repeating to myself, "Push. Go faster. C'mon faster. Faster. I even was spelling in my head:
F-A-S-T-E-R!
You can take the girl out of her High School Cheerleading uniform, but you can never take the Cheerleader out of the girl! Yes, I am Cheerleader turned runner - and the two bizarrely become one during races - and at my lowest points in life! 
So, as I was repeating FASTER, and spelling F-A-S-T-E-R, I passed both, Kristen and Tammy.
You ladies rocked it! You were my Garmin watch, my pacemakers, my Ideal pack leaders. You are the reason I pushed and kept going strong! Thank you! And thank you to Jenna. After the race, Jenna came up to me to thank me for setting a pace that she was striving to keep, as well.
Thank you, Ladies!
I hope I am getting everyone's name right. I'm really glucose negative after a race, and my brain is very slow. I was freezing cold, too, and wondering where Side-kick was. After about 5 minutes of looking, Side-kick came with tons of stories about military boats and memorials that he visited along the Mississippi River. I thought it was nice, but couldn't focus. I needed to take a hot shower! Of course we didn't leave before sharing a celebratory beer...
Purple Haze, brewed in Louisiana
A perfect way to celebrate finishing state #18
After that hot shower, Side kick and I ran back to the tents - dodging rain drops as best as possible. The volunteers were starting to pack up. They must have been freezing cold. Someone printed out a ticket - and told me I took 1st AG 45-49! And another person gave me a martini glass, etched with a generic "Women's Half Marathon". It's adorable, but I wish it had something etched in there about Baton Rouge.
LOL! You can see the rainwater in the glass!
Next stop: ACME Oyster House, French Quarter New Orleans!
RD Notes: Oysters are one of the few foods with vitamin D, and vitamin D is great for muscle soreness and recovery!
Plus Oysters are super yummy!
Of course on the way to New Orleans Side-kick was freakin' out knowing that we were passing the same stadium that Drew Brees was going to be playing at in a few hours ....
Go Saints!
The ACME Oyster House is great fun. They sit you at long tables, so you're eating with total strangers. But there are no strangers here - everyone was super friendly - and most everyone had on a #9 Saints Jersey. And why not, wasn't Drew Brees just named NFL's FedEx Player of the week for the 4th time this season?
What a great guy!
State #18, cold, rainy, but still lots of fun!
The worst part was that I missed taking pictures of my son and his date at the Winter Candy Cane Dance. I'm sorry I missed you before the dance mini-man!
My little Clark Kent! <3
So beautiful!
LOL, I don't think he missed me!
Train Smart Today!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Post Thanksgiving! Go Sissy!

I miss reading all my blog friends' posts. I am so thankful I have gotten to know all of you. I love cheering on your training, and all of what is important to you - your family, friends, and pets. I hope this holiday season is a happy and healthy one for all of you!
It has been an unbelievably busy past few months. 
I am barely hanging on to my training, let alone my blogging.
Yesterday was my first run since Sunday!
And it was a great one.
I got up, stuffed and prepped a 21 lb turkey. Set the internal thermometer for 170*F and put that bird in the oven. I drank some coffee, beet juice, and 1/2 an energy/protein bar, and met my sister for the Ashenfelter Classic 8K. This race celebrates and honors Horace Ashenfelter's accomplishments and Olympic success. Horace lives in town, so it really is a "Classic" run.
Go Horace!
The Thanksgiving run is always great and
I love that it honors your accomplishments
Since Sissy and I both have Crohn's, I told her to meet me by the port-o-johns! :D
I told her we would warm up together - so I told her we would run four 100meter strides. After four, she was like, "Okay. Enough. I just want to run the race."
And that she did!
Last year, Sissy ran a 10+ minute mile pace. Not this year! She blew her time out of the water and ran a whole minute faster per mile! She rocked it!
Sissy and me!
So proud of my Sissy!
Celebratory Bloody's!
Of course!
Train Smart Today!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Ech. I hate running!

I run about 30-33 miles per week.
That's about all I can squeeze in for now.
I dream of running and training for a marathon one day, but for now I'm just training for my next half, going to school and working to become a Registered Dietitian.
When I tell people I'm trying to run a half marathon in every state, I either get, "Wow, that's so cool. How many states have you done? How do you train for that." And sometimes I even get, "What do you eat?"
More often than not I get:
 "Ech. I hate running."
Whenever someone responds that way, I feel a slight tinge of hurt. It's almost as if they've told me directly that they don't like me. Running has been a part of my life since I was 17.5 years old. Over the years, when people have asked me how I stay in shape. It's no secret - I run. If they told me they play tennis - I wouldn't say, "Oh, I hate playing tennis." So why do people feel it's okay to tell me they hate running? When I was younger, it used to really irk me, but now that I'm older I usually take a deep breath, smile, and say:
"That's okay.
Running isn't for everyone. 
What do you like to do?"
Now, I just try to suppress my anxieties when I hear them say, 
"I don't do anything." 
Which is the purpose of my post.
"It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can only do a little. Do what you can."
 ~ Sydney Smith
Everyday I see people in the hospital with depression, obesity, heart disease, and cancer. There are some main contributors to this in the United States:
Smoking, 
which is the most preventable cause of death in the USA. 
Inactivity
which is the second most preventable cause of death in the USA, 
leading to our overweight and obesity epidemic.
About 75% of Americans are overweight and obese
So, you don't like running? That's okay ....
but dooooooo something. 
PLEEEEEEASE!
Listen to your body. Listen to what it likes to do, and
Just freakin' Do Something!
Harvard Health even has a list of things you can do to burn calories in 30 minutes. There are hundreds of ways to stay active. I usually find myself rattling back things from this list. 
The next rebuttal I hear is: 
"I don't have time." 
These are usually the same people that tell me what TV shows they like to watch each night! You gotta make the time! The ACSM recommends 150 minutes per week of physical activity. That's only 30 minutes every weekday - just 21 little minutes a day. It could mean just waking up 25 minutes earlier each day! 
This past week, I heard about this guy at work. 
He has two full-time jobs - grant it he doesn't have small kids. He works 5am - 1pm. Goes to the gym. Works out. Showers, and then goes to his second full-time job, from 3pm - 11pm. Wow! Now that's dedication! That's inspiration!
The next excuse I hear is: "I can't run. I have bad knees."
First, I look at the person. If they are 50-100 pounds overweight, I often wonder if their knees would be so bad if they weighed less. It's a catch 22. The bottom line, if you have a physical or medical ailment, ask your doctor what physical activity he/she would recommended. 
Funny....
I see plenty of people who have gotten the "big scare" and are actively participating in hospital cardiac rehab centers.
But my question, 
"Why wait until you have a heart attack?
What if you aren't as lucky, and you don't survive your heart attack?"
Then, I think of people that inspire me, like Warrior Woman and another woman I have had the honor to train alongside of, Rebecca. Rebecca was hit by a car two years ago. The car broke her hip. She had major surgery. After the surgery, they told her she would have problems walking, and she would probably never be able to run. Rebecca just completed her first Marathon in 3 hours and 30 minutes! She was determined! She wasn't going to let her accident stop her. 
But she was smart. 
She started slow:
She trained and built up her strength and endurance, gradually. 
She stayed focussed 
and eventually met her goals.
So, set some physical activity goals. Of course, check with your doctor if you have physical or medical problems. You don't have to like running! Find something you like and start small. Life unfolds, maybe it will take awhile to reach your goals. Rebecca didn't get out there and run a marathon right away - it took her two years. She started small, with that 1st mile, but she stayed focussed, and was consistent.
Give yourself freedom to change your goals,
 especially if the ones you set no longer work for you!
Do what you can - 
and remember:
Train Smart Today!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Alcohol and Athletic Performance

Cheers Mate!
As we approach the season of "joy and merriment", 
I thought I would highlight some of what SCAN (Sports, Cardiovascular, and Wellness Nutrition) and the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) have outlined regarding alcohol and its effects on athletic performance.
Alcohol, according to Merriam-Webster, 
is defined as a "colorless, volatile, flammable liquid."
Sounds scary, doesn't it?
After reading that, if you still choose to drink, it's good to keep in mind serving and portion guidelines. The number of servings per day for men should not exceed one to two, and the number of servings per day for women should not exceed one. As for portion sizes "one" drink equals 12 oz of beer or a wine cooler (about 150 calories), 5 oz of wine (about 100 calories), and 1.5 oz of 80 proof liquor (also about 100 calories). Binge drinking is considered 5 or > drinks for men and 4 or > drinks for women within a two-hour period.
Once ingested,
alcohol is quickly absorbed into the blood stream.
This is why when you drink on an empty stomach, you feel its effects quickly. Alcohol is then metabolized either for energy or stored as fat ...ech. Since alcohol suppresses the central nervous system, it's also considered a drug. That's why drinking alcohol can slow reaction time, hand-eye coordination, accuracy, balance, judgment, focus, stamina, strength, power and speed for up to 72 hours, or three days, which could also lead to sports injuries.
Regular consumption of alcohol can 
depress the immune system 
and slow down the body's ability to heal. 
Alcohol can interfere with the body's ability to absorb B vitamins, like Folate and B12, as well as vitamin A and Calcium. These are important micronutrients because they help the body maintain healthy cells, help muscles contract, and aid in muscle repair. Sometimes drinking alcohol will interfere with eating nutritious foods - this could lead to poor magnesium, iron, and zinc levels - which are really important for athletic performance.
Drinking alcohol also causes you to pee.
An all too familiar sight!
Yup, alcohol is dehydrating - i.e., the dreaded hangover headache. When dehydrated, athletic performance tanks. Dehydration can cause an increase in core temperature, heart rate, and contribute to fatigue - all hurting athletic performance. It doesn't take much, either - athletic performance can decrease by 11.4% just by losing 2-3% of your body weight!
What about post race celebrations and all those post race beer gardens?
Wow!
I love a good free beer post race. 
The key is to not go crazy overboard because drinking after a race can affect recovery by affecting blood sugar levels, and muscle energy synthesis and storage. This could hurt you in future races. After a race, decreased muscle energy (glycogen stores) should be replenished with nutrient dense carbohydrates and some protein (like chocolate milk). The protein can also help with muscle repairs.
And let's not forget sleep ...
Alcohol interferes with sleep, especially REM sleep. Even though you may fall asleep faster, or rather ... pass out, staying asleep can be a problem with even just a few drinks.
And what about body composition?
Alcohol can be mixed with sugary sodas, juices, or even topped with whipped cream. Sounds yummy - but drinking empty calories could lead to an increase in body fat accumulation. For males, drinking alcohol could result in reduced testosterone production, which could affect the ability to gain muscle mass, compounding the effects alcohol has on body composition and performance.
I hate to be a kill joy - so here's a plan ...
As a rule of thumb, 
athletes should sustain from drinking alcohol at least 48 hours prior to competition, with the ideal being 72 hours before competing. So, if you are going out to eat, or catching up with friends before a race, plan ahead. Maybe you can be the designated driver.
Share your goals with family and friends. 
The other day, I was at work and one woman, who lost 50 pounds, told me she did it by going vegan. Sitting next to her was a co-worker, who was eating pizza. This co-worker shoved the pizza under the vegan's nose, and said, "Loooook, mmmm, smellll! This is what you are missssssing...." I scolded the pizza-eater, "That's just wrong."
My point:
 Recruit positive support from everyone around you.
Seek out those who will support your goals.
'Cause that's what friends do!
Pace yourself. 
If you're going to have a drink, or two, alternate alcohol with non-alcohol beverages. Start with water. Re: Alcohol is dehydrating. It's not uncommon to feel thirsty and wind up drinking more than you planned. Take small sips to slow down how much you drink, and drink one drink at a time - this way you won't lose track of how many you've had. This also helps you drink at your own pace - not someone else's. 
My personal fave:
Don't drink on an empty stomach!
Eating before drinking will slow down the rate alcohol enters your blood stream. Also, eating while drinking can slow down your drinking pace.
And last, but not least,
end the evening with water.
Cassidy Phillips, the founder of Trigger Point (TPTherapy), believes that most sports injuries occur because the athlete is dehydrated.
So drink up ... but make it a water! 
Do you have any tricks to slow down or limit the number of drinks you have at a party, celebration or holiday?
Train Smart Today!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

October Grain of the Month: Maize, aka Corn

I know October is almost over, but I would be remiss to not post about 
The ugly, the bad, and the good.
Aaaah Clint. So freakin' good-looking!
First, the ugly:
It's sad that every time I find out a product contains corn, I'm immediately turned off. According to Mother Jones, 90% of USA corn is genetically modified.
What's that mean?
It means the crops are Round Up Ready: Engineered to be pesticide resistant. Corn is also engineered to produce its own toxin, Bt Toxin. Bt Toxin comes from bacteria. It attacks the intestines of insects by paralyzing their digestive tract. This is why it's used as an insecticide. I feel scientists have gone too far genetically modifying sweet corn crops to self produce this toxic material.
SH*T (No pun intended), 
I got Crohn's.
There ain't no way I'm eating GMO Corn!
She's not that convincing,
She needs to be doubled over more, don't you think?
Next, the bad:
Just for laughs (OK, I'm a nerd), I googled how many products have GMO corn in them. It's bad! High fructose corn syrup lends itself to Soda, Gatorade, BBQ sauce, Cookies, Cakes, Candy, Chocolate....BABY FOOD! GMO corn oil can be found in margarine, mayonnaise, and salad dressings. And, let's not forget about all the breakfast cereals!
Corn is in over 3,000 grocery products!
GMO Corn = Ubiquitous!
If you want to find out if your food contains GMO Sweet Corn, the kind you find in the grocery aisle, the farmer's markets, and processed foods, the Non-GMO Project has built a data-base and you can use their search bar.
So many people I talk to, 
and a lot of you bloggers are trying the new Grain Brain diet. 
I am curious to know:
Are the grains really contributing to 
dementia, chronic head aches, anxiety, or depression, 
or 
Is it due to the Round-up Ready and Bt Toxins in our grains? 
But at last, the good:
There are different types of corn. Most of the US genetically modified corn is Sweet Corn. Dent Corn (field corn) is used in animal feed, and in industrial products (often a NON-GMO type). The 3rd type of corn is decorative Indian corn - used for, duh, decorative purposes!
Nothing says "Fall" better than Indian Corn
The American Indian word "mahiz" means "that which sustains us". And it does: corn contributes about 21% of human nutrition world-wide. Most of the corn grown in the US and Canada is fed to animals. Corn is also found in industrial products, like cosmetics, fabrics, medicines laundry starch, glue, and ink.
Corn has its rightful place in our diet.
It's really high in vitamin A (10 times more than other grains). Vitamin A is an anti-oxidant, which may help protect us against cancer and could prevent age-related macular degeneration. Corn is often eaten with beans, which is great because their complimentary amino acids (parts of proteins) make up complete proteins. This is super important if you're vegan because so many plant proteins are not complete proteins. 
Corn is a great source of fiber. 
From a runner's perspective, fiber may not be what you want to eat a lot of the day before a race, or right before you're going go for a long run, but there are some energy benefits to the fiber in corn that shouldn't be overlooked. In our colon, the soluble fiber from corn is metabolized by our gut flora (bacteria) into short chain fatty acids (SCFA). SCFA provide energy to the cells that line our colon, lowering our risk of colon cancer.
For you Gluten Free Foodies out there, 
Bob's Red Mill makes a gluten free corn flour, 
cornbread mix and corn meal.
Click Here to try a Gluten Free Cornmeal Pancake Recipe
My favorite way to eat corn is to pop it.
For years I was grossed out by microwaveable popping corn, and disheartened by GMO corn. I wouldn't allow any of it in the house. But then a fellow runner told me that she microwaves organic popping corn. You can get organic popping corn from Trader Joe's, Eden Foods, or Arrowhead Mills. Just get a flat-bottomed, brown paper bag (like the kind you use for school lunches), add 1/2 cup organic popcorn kernels, fold the bag over 2X, pop in microwave for 3 minutes on high. Stop when popping slows - like when you hear the last 1 or 2 last kernels pop. 
Top it however you wish:
Use a tiny bit of salt or Mrs Dash; chili, onion or garlic powder; sesame, ground flax or hemp seeds. Of course you can make it on the stove too. If you make it on the stove, you can experiment using different flavored olive oils.

Have you experimented with organic popping corn? 
Have better experience with one brand over the other?
Do you have a favorite recipe?
I'd love to learn about them - it's so corn popping season.

Train Smart Today!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Prairie Fire Half Marathon: Wichita, Kansas, State #17!

State #17: Kansas
There are no direct flights from Newark, NJ to Wichita, Kansas. So, Side-kick and I flew into Dallas/Ft. Worth, and then on to Wichita, Kansas. I wanted to run in Kansas in honor of my daughter's performance as Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz this past year.
There's no place like home!
Girlfriend is at college in Boston, and couldn't come, but she really wanted to. On the other hand, Mini-man wanted to be "mature" and stay home by himself. He proved he could do it - my home wasn't trashed by drunken teenagers! So proud, Dude!

Anyway, after we landed in Kansas, we made our way to the baggage claim. I usually always check my bag. I think it's ridiculous how people try to jam their luggage in the overhead compartments. I think it's even more ridiculous how panicky and bent out of shape they get when the stewardess says, "I'm sorry, we are going to have to check that below."
On the way to baggage claim area, 
we noticed this 9/11 tribute:
We Will Never Forget! 
The eagle is spreading its wings above one of the steel beams form the WTC
I got very choked up. I took some photos and texted them to my kids, saying, "See, I was meant to do this! To run a half in every state!" This goal is so very important to me. It's my way of saying that they didn't crush us. They killed my husband, but they cannot and will not keep his family down - not in New Jersey, New York, or any of the other 48 states!
It is also my way of saying that Crohn's disease will not keep from running
 ...just make sure I get to the Port-O-John (STAT) at the end of the race!

After picking up our bags, and getting the rental car, we checked into the Wichita Hyatt Hotel, and picked up the packet. The race was set up right outside the Hyatt ...talk about convenient! The race goodies were "eh", although the knapsack bag was nice. We walked around town, and had dinner at the River City Brewing Company. Great beer list! Wichita has some very beautiful sculptures, statues, and water features around town. The paved pathways made it easy and fun to explore the town.
Sidekick along-side the Arkansas River
More sculptures in the background
Lots of water features
I was a tiny bit nervous before the race. See, I just finished my RD Med-Surg rotation at a local hospital, and hardly got any sleep the week before the race. I slept 2 hours from Sunday to Monday, 0 hours from Monday to Tuesday, gave my lecture on neutropenic colitis, secondary to chemotherapy, secondary to endometrial cancer, slept 4 hours from Tuesday to Wednesday, and only two hours from Wednesday to Thursday - only to repeated that from Thursday to Friday. I was exhausted! I still am!

On race day thousands of runners lined up to run either a half or full marathon. On the way to the race, the announcer shouted, "Okay runners, make your way to the finish line." I was walking next to a small woman - she looked a little older than me, but was much smaller - this is pretty hard to beat, since I am only 5'2.5" and like 105 lbs. Anyway, we looked at each other and started to laugh, "Finish line," she said, "He must be confused." She had a little accent - Indian/British sort of. I laughed and said that maybe he just didn't wake up yet - quite like myself! We laughed, and lined up (at the start). Someone sang the Star Spangled Banner, and we were off.

The weather was great - about 55 degrees F, with a clear skies. I ran the race in 1hour and 41minutes. It was the fastest I've run since last year. I have to say, finally the TP Therapy foam rolling, TPTherapy Total Body workouts, and exercises from Dr. Metzl have paid off. I've really felt a lot stronger, and faster lately, in spite of the lack of sleep. Of course, it didn't hurt that this 13.1 was a fast, flat course. Nonetheless, I finished 2nd in my age group, making this the 11th, out of the 17 states that I've come in 1, 2, or 3 in my age group.
2nd in 45-49 yo females
In comparison, this was one of the most well-run races. The most impressive thing about this race was that there were over 1,000 volunteers. The best part of this was that for about ten miles, I ran next this young man, who kept thanking all the volunteers we passed along the way. He was cracking me up. I kept telling him he was the most polite person I've ever met!

When I finished, the announcer announced my name, and stated that I was from NJ. Just then, out of nowhere, a guy came running up to me, "Did they say you are from NJ? OMG. I grew up in NJ!"
What's that expression? 
Six degrees of separation?
Well, it gets weirder. 
On the flight back to NJ, we flew from Wichita to Houston to Newark. Boarding the flight to Houston, I see the woman that I was walking next to when the announcer told us to line up at the finish line. I smiled to her, but it looked like she didn't recognize me. When we landed in Houston, Side-kick and I jumped on the air tram to the next terminal. There was that woman, again - on the air tram. I asked her if she remembered me from the race - she did. She asked me where I lived - I told her NJ. She started to laugh. She said, "Me too!" At the same time, we asked each other, "Why were you running a race in Wichita?" She told me that she was trying to run a marathon in every state, and that Kansas was her 48th state! Wow! I was so impressed. I told her that I was trying to run a 1/2 in every state, and humbly proceeded to say, "This was only state #17!"
She was incredible.
She had lots of fun state racing stories, 
and some great running advice.  
What are the odds?
Talk about six degrees of separation!
Train Smart Today!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Food Facts: September Grain of The Month: Rice

September is ....
Back to school for most colleges and schools,
Time to get some cozy sweaters out,
Apple-picking season,
Great for running - I am loving these cooler runs,
and
Whole Grain Month!
Give it up all y'all!
~ Okay, I'm not from the south, so I have no idea where that came from! ~
September is also ...
National Rice Month!
And more specifically, Wild Rice Month
Give me a show of hands, if you didn't know this .... (ssssh, don't tell my dietetic preceptors, I didn't know this either).
Years ago, I worked for Matsushita Electric Corporation of America (Panasonic Company). I remember asking one of my co-workers, who was from Asia, if they ate brown rice where she grew up. She looked at me and laughed. Then she said,
"Why would we eat something we feed our livestock?"
Aside from feeling really dumb that I asked that question, I wondered why was the FDA was telling people to eat whole grains - like brown rice. If you are like me, you love sticky sushi rice - and wonder, if it's so bad for you, then why is Okinawa, Japan a blue zone?

The difference between brown rice and white rice is that brown rice is a whole grain, and white rice is not. (Wild rice is a whole grain, too). Brown rice still has its layer of bran and germ, two parts of the grain that are removed when processing white rice. Bran is a good source of fiber (think good food to keep you pooping regularly), and the germ has lots of great vitamins & minerals (B vitamins, manganese, selenium, and iron).
Both brown and white rice have the same amount of carbohydrates, and the same calories. So aside from the bran, and some vitamins, why does the FDA want us to eat what they're feeding their livestock in other countries?
Well to start, look around. 
I can name five people off the top of my head that are overweight or obese. 
How about you?
I can name another five that have high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. 
How about you?
I can name another five people that have Type 2 Diabetes. 
How about you?
All grains raise your blood sugar, they are carbohydrates, that's what carbs do. But some ...well, they raise your blood sugar slower. Those are the carbs that are high in fiber (bran), like whole grains, veggies, and most fruits. This is key if you are diabetic or pre-diabetic, which by the way 50% of all Americans will be by 2020.
Fiber also helps your body pull out some fat (bile), which makes your body have to work harder to make more, This helps to lower cholesterol and maintain a healthy weight. Fiber in the whole grain brown rice can help Americans lower their cholesterol (102 million Americans 20 years and older have high cholesterol), and because it does not cause the spikes in blood sugar, it can keep you feeling fuller longer, which can also help maintain weight.
With 75% of Americans being overweight or obese, 
I get why the FDA recommends eating whole grain brown rice.
We may go for a run, and go to the gym, but for the most part, Americans are not as active as some people who can afford to eat white rice in the rest of the world. Aside from that, we are constantly bombarded with foods that are processed, genetically modified, high in fat, and low in nutrients. Food is big business, and these companies are in business, to stay in business, not to see you maximize your health!
Okay, I'll get off my soap box ....
You can look up lots of recipes with brown rice on the Internet. Right off the bat, when I Googled, I found 17 interesting brown rice recipes from Martha Stewart, but here's one that I have used for years, as a mom pressed for time.
Half-Crazed Quick Rice & Chicken Dinner
1 Box of Organic Brown Rice Pilaf (has par-boiled brown rice for 20 minute cooking time)
1 large onion, chopped
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 pound of frozen package of vegetables, or can (washed to lower the salt) of beans, or Le Suer peas
1 pound of chicken breast, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes.

While the rice is cooking, according to the directions on the box, I saute the onion in the olive oil in a large skillet. Next, I add the chicken to the skillet, and cook thoroughly. When the rice is almost completely cooked, I add a package of frozen vegetables (corn, peas, mixed), or a can of the sweet french peas, or a can of beans. When the rice and veggies are finished cooking, I pour them into the large skillet with my onion and chicken, and mix. Serve with a side salad, and you have a great quick, "OMG Mom has no time to cook a meal", for at least four people. We usually have leftovers, which I pack for lunch for the next day, another time-saver.

If you have more time, you can prepare and use fresh veggies, instead of frozen. If you have some left over white wine, substitute some of the water with wine to cook your rice, and add some fresh mushrooms to your onion saute.
Do you eat brown rice?
Have any brown rice recipes to share?
Fun Rice Facts:
* Rice is naturally gluten free.
* Rice is grown on every continent, except Antartica!
* Rice is second in production to corn, but the number one in contribution to human food!
* Rice comes in three sizes: long, medium, and short. Short rice has a certain kind of starch (amylopectin) that makes it sticky - better for eating with chopsticks! Sushi, anyone?
* Thailand, Vietnam, India and the United States are the top 4 rice-exporting countries in the world!
* France eats about 10 pounds of rice per person per year. Americans eat around 26 pounds of rice per person per year. Asians eat about 300 pounds of rice per person per year. United Arab Emirites eat about 450 pounds of rice per person per year! Whew!
Train Smart Today!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

For My Children, on the 12th Anniversary


Even though you heard it almost everyday
going to school, 
for about three years after 9/11,
it's worth repeating ....
"You Gotta Be"
By Des'ree
Listen as your day unfolds, challenge what the future holds
Try and keep your head up to the sky
Lovers, they may cause you tears
Go ahead release your fears, stand up and be counted
Don't be ashamed to cry

You gotta be
You gotta be bad, you gotta be bold, you gotta be wiser
You gotta be hard, you gotta be tough, you gotta be stronger
You gotta be cool, you gotta be calm, you gotta stay together
All I know, all I know, love will save the day

Herald what your mother said
(My favorite line!)
Reading the books your father read
(My second favorite line!)
Try to solve the puzzles in your own sweet time
Some may have more cash than you
Others take a different view, my oh my, heh, hey

You gotta be bad, you gotta be bold, you gotta be wiser
You gotta be hard, you gotta be tough, you gotta be stronger
You gotta be cool, you gotta be calm, you gotta stay together
All I know, all I know, love will save the day
(Yeah, you guessed it, my third favorite line!)

Don't ask no questions, time goes on without you
Leaving you behind if you can't stand the pace
The world keeps on spinning
You can't stop it, if you try to
The best part is danger challenge staring you in the face
(I took some liberties.)

Remember, listen as your day unfolds
Challenge what the future holds
Try and keep your head up to the sky
Lovers, they may cause you tears
Go ahead release your fears, my oh my heh, hey, hey

You gotta be bad, you gotta be bold, you gotta be wiser
You gotta be hard, you gotta be tough, you gotta be stronger
You gotta be cool, you gotta be calm, you gotta stay together
All I know, all I know, love will save the day

You gotta be bad, you gotta be bold, you gotta be wiser
You gotta be hard, you gotta be tough, you gotta be stronger
You gotta be cool, you gotta be calm, you gotta stay together
All I know, all I know, love will save the day
.... and remember
Perception is a Product of Perspective
and of course ....
Train Smart Today!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Three Things Thursday!

I'm doing the blog thing!
Three Things Thursday!
There's a first for everything!
#1) I set my daughter off on her college journey this past weekend. I'm like, 'Call me, sometime, okay?'
Daughter: Ahahahhaha! Yeah, right! 
Texting this many miles away is awkward, and unsatisfying: Waaaah! Sniffle, sniffle!

#2) I'm tired. I have been up until 12 midnight every night this week doing homework, laundry, dinner, and lunches for the next day. Somehow, I am managing to get my runs in, but I need to stretch more, and have been cutting it short. I'm feeling that tight pull at the bottom of my left foot - oh yeah, Ye Old Plantar Fasciitis thing-a-ma-jig! Could be that I also need new running sneakers. Talk about semi-barefoot running! I also need a pedicure desperately ...but I digress.
Actually, I think I just need more time.
Time is too elusive these days!
#3) I am in love with Jason Fitzgerald's Standard Warm-up. I've been including it in my pre-run routine, and feel like I just keep getting stronger & stronger! My times have improved a bit on my weekly runs. I also love his ITB Rehab video, especially the clam shells and iron cross.

Any stretching or warm-up routines turning you on lately?
Train Smart Today!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

A Grueling Work Out!

Today started at 5:30. 
No more sleeping in: 
Summer is OVER!
While the coffee was brewing, I did Day #25 August Core Focus Challenge: two sets of 3 minute straight arm planks. Had a pre-workout snack (soy protein bar), and was off to the gym. After running hills, yesterday (yes, I know I shouldn't do hills before a track work out), I was a little tight, so I rolled (love TPTherapy). Next I did about 100 crunches, and about 75 push-ups.
After that I did four sets of eccentric load lunge drops
Eccentric Load Lunge Drops
& four sets of split-stance Zerchers, 
Split-Stance Zerchers
And then I did four sets of chest press, four sets of dips, and four sets of tricep kickbacks (love those).
Next stop: Home
By that time, I was starving. I ate a bowl of oatmeal,  finished my coffee, and got ready for my track work out. I'm gonna miss these morning track work outs. 
My Internship starts tomorrow. 
So, from now on, my track work outs will be Wednesday nights! Maybe that's why Coach made today's track work out a grueling tough one?
This summer was tough. 
I sat at my desk for 2/3 of the day doing homework for my Dietetic Internship. And now, it's going to be tough working all day, and going to the track at night. What's my alternative, though?
Today's work out started as usual:
Warm-up: Easy 1.5 miles.
Strides: Six 100 meter strides. (At 18 seconds. Yes - I am getting stronger! Woohoo!)
Then came the intervals ....
They were not that usual:
Twelve 300 meters intervals with a 100 meter jog. The first four sets: 6:40 pace, the next four: 6:30 pace, and the last four at 6:20 pace.
The guys from the UK that run the soccer camp for the kids were poking fun, "Ahahaha. Coach has finally got you winded! Hey (hahahahaha) you're REALLY winded!"
Ha-Ha: NOT
I was so sucking wind! Forget jogging that last 100 meters - I was just concentrating on simpler things like breathing and staying alive.
After the intervals, I got my "Golden Ticket"/homework for the next week:
Absolutely better than the
American Idol Golden Ticket!
After, I ran an easy 1.3 mile cool down. I ended with more foam rolling, lots of stretching, and four sets of 90 minutes of traditional planks (day #29 of the August Core Focus Challenge). They were the topping on the cake! I really struggled through them.
I loved today's work out, even though it was grueling. 
It was a sort of a farewell to my summer work outs!
Are you switching gears as summer winds down?
Do you have any tough grueling workouts that you love (but secretly hate)? (And if you say burpees, I totally agree!)
Train Smart Today!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Park City Half Marathon, Utah

What a great week! Hectic, but great!
Utah is absolutely spectacular!
Such a fun state!
Good Morning!
We flew into Salt Lake City & had lunch at Red Rock BrewPub! Utah has some odd drinking laws. All tap beers are 4%. Even a Belgian White Ale (my favorite beer) has only 4% alcohol!
Interesting fact: The Great Salt Lake is 10 X saltier than the ocean!
We took a short tour of some major sights in the city. Wow. Lots of churches!
Random Shot
Next, we were off to southeast Utah: Moab!
Moab is a blast! We went horseback riding ...
Mini-man, Girlfriend, and me!
Drove ATV's in the desert ...
Wooohooo!
Ooops!
Thankfully the guys at Moab Tour Company were pretty cool about everything!

Of course Sidekick rode a dirt bike!
Okay, we found Uranium Arch, but how do we get back?
Utah has some beautiful National Parks. We visited two: Arches and Canyonlands!
Climbing up Balanced Rock @ Arches!
The arches were amazing!
And Canyonlands was incredible!
Now you know how I got grey!
Mmmhmmm!
I was scaling back all week, but I ran three days out in Moab. There ain't nothing but road there.
It just goes on & on!
There's no need for MapMyRun. In New Jersey, I haft-a use MapMyRun to try to plan my runs along the most quiet residential streets because cars will literally pass right next to you (I think some people like to play chicken with the runners). You can imagine how surprised I was when people waved and drove into the other lane when they passed by (around those mountain curves, I went with the flow of traffic. I was scared not to know what was around the bend).
People Waved!
Next stop: 
Park City, Utah. 
Side-kick is a huge skier, so he's been to Park City before. By the time we got there, the Friday before my race, we were already exhausted. We tooled around the city. What a great little town. The galleries and handcrafted art and furniture reminded me a lot of  Vermont.
We had pasta at Grappa - so I could carb load.
When we were finishing dinner, we saw George Lucas, the director of Star Wars! 
We were all pretty star struck! 
It was a good distraction' cause after dinner, I got a little nervous about the half. I kept thinking, 'I only live a couple of hundred feet above sea level, how am I gonna climb to 7,000 feet? There was one point in the day, before packet pick-up, that I actually started to cry, wondering how I would complete the run. My goal has been to come in the top 10 in my age group for these halves - and so far, I have in all but three. I often think I should run them again. There was no way that I was going to want to run at 7,000 feet again! Sidekick, and my two kids were cheering me on.
You can do this, Mommy!
I can do this, I can do this, I can do this!
When we drove to get the packet, everyone was really nice. I got a great big Lululemon bag. It's nice and sturdy! When I came out, Sidekick said, "You have nothing to worry about. I think someone is trying to send you a message."
Mustang with three 3's
Now if you know me, you know I kept my late husband's car, the 35th Edition Mustang Convertible. I call her RADRLUV. I learned how to drive her after 9/11 - I was determined! And if you know my story, you know that John used to call me up from the 104th floor of the World Trade Center to rush out these words, before he'd hang up and get back to that insane job:
"It's 3:33. I love you, I love you, I love you! I gotta go. Talk to ya' later!"
There we were, after packet pick up in a parking lot full of Mustangs. All different kinds. And then there was the one with the three 3's! Wow! A sort of calm came over me and I heard in my head,
"You got nothing to worry about. You're gonna do just fine" 
And for the rest of the day, every time I got nervous, I just repeated,
"You got nothing to worry about. You're gonna do just fine." 
The race started on Saturday morning, a bit late, around 8am, on a beautiful day about 60*F.
I'm somewhere in there!
Looked a lot different during the race, with runners &
little children handing out water & PowerAid
Without the humidity, I climbed, a steady 1% for the first seven miles - all the way up to 7,000 feet. I felt myself trying to catch my breath and suck in as much air as possible. We ran passed this barn, and kept climbing up steadily. I heard strange huffs & puffs from my mouth, like my suffering had a voice of its own. I was feeling it. After the turn around, when we started to come back down, my legs felt like rubber. Worse than I've ever even felt on the track. I felt like my legs had a mind of their own, and they were just flailing out from my hips. I kept thinking "Core, Core, Core. Stabilize your core" I didn't want to go home with a hamstring or knee injury - or another tendon injury!" Thanks to Kat at Sneakers and Fingerpaint's and her August Core Focus Challenge, my core felt strong.
And, I just kept running ....
The best part? 
Seeing my family at the end cheering me on! 
It's great to hear your kids shout, "Go, Mommyyyyyy. Gooooo!"
Mini-man, me & Girlfriend!
And it's great to fall into your best friend's arms,
and hear him say,
"I'm so proud of you!"
Side-Kick & Me!
So PC was not my fastest half (duh!), but I did manage to place in the top 10 in my age group, 5 minutes off of third, taking #8!
But this trip & race ranks up there as one of the best!
If I didn't train so hard leading up to this race, and I didn't watch what I ate, making sure I ate enough lean protein, healthy fats, whole grains & a variety of fruits & veggies (which is really hard to do on vacation), I doubt I would have done as good as I did.
Cheers to half #17, and my 16th state!
Train Smart Today!