Friday, September 28, 2012

Friday Mishmash

I placed an order for spices recently and threw in a jar of pumpkin pie spice - not a necessity, as I still had some left from last year, but I was trying to get my order to a certain amount to get free shipping.  Once it arrived, I was glad I did...there is a huge difference between my old jar and the new one!  I guess it's true what they say, that spices and herbs do lose their flavor over time.
Sprinkling this on my yogurt/fruit/granola breakfast combos makes me think it's autumn, even though our temperatures beg to differ.

Now, if I could only remember to switch out my mascara as often as they recommend...

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Not a lot of excitement over here this week, unless you count knit-a-palooza.  Yes, I've been a knitting fool lately.  I have several projects going, and I still haven't started my sock, which is the learning project for my (MY) knitting guild this fall.  Here's what I'm working on:
Another windmill bag - these are fun gifts to knit.
Another baby hat.  I had a little trouble remembering how to do the magic loop correctly once I cast on, so I had to wait until last night to get some help with it.  I'm a little further along than the picture shows now...

Because this baby looked so cute in the first hat, she needs another:
Baby Helen - what a doll!!!

I have to say, the appeal of knitting baby things is that not only the end result is super cute because it's so tiny, but when you put it on a baby?  Cuteness overload!!!

So these baby hats.  When I was at the yarn store in Navasota last Saturday, the owner showed me this book, and I had to order it - so many great patterns and ideas, plus the author does a great job of showing how to knit...believe me, I still get muddled, and it's great to see pictures and a description of what I should be doing.
Look at this striped hat:
I have so much leftover yarn from projects, and these tiny hats don't need a whole lot, so I'm thinking I can make some really fun hats for the special babies in my life!

I'm also working on my Christmas gift project.  It uses three strands of yarn, held together, on large needles, and is hard on the hands, so I limit myself to knitting one stripe (12 rows) per day.  It's coming together nicely!
Close up of the design; I don't want to show the whole thing and ruin the surprise on Christmas morning.  I have to say, knitting in all one color, and such a basic color at that, isn't boring me to death like I thought it would; the interesting pattern really shows up this way.  Score one for moderation? LOL!

Oh, and here's my set-up for corralling the spools of yarn, thanks to Debby's suggestion of using a large bowl.  This is a drink tub, and it's working great:
All of the animals like to come over and smell the yarn - good thing these gifts are for understanding, pet-loving family members!

Last night my knitting guild had a little social knit.  We met up at a local bookstore and knitted and chatted away...it was great to get to know some of the ladies better, and, of course, get some help on my magic loop memory loss hat.  This is exactly what I was hoping to find with this guild - love my knitting ladies!

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Tomorrow we are supposed to run 9 miles.  Right now the weather forecast is for rain - which, while not pleasant, is doable.  However, there might also be some thunder and lightening, and that makes the run a no go.  I sure hope the rain holds off - we have our run, and then there's a big home football game later in the morning.  Do you think the weather will be reasonable and accommodate everyone?  We'll see...we may have to run on Sunday morning.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Wednesday Workout Update - Lowered Expectations

This Saturday's 8 miler did not feel as good as last Saturday's 8 miler.  And I spent most of the run thinking "what is wrong with me? why don't I feel great?" so you can imagine how much of a head trip this run ended up being.  Instead of feeling victorious at having completed an 8 mile run, I felt disappointed.  What. The. Frack.  I mean, seriously...running 8 miles is not an easy task for most people, and I should have been proud of myself.  But, because I had the best run of my training with last week's 8 miler, I automatically assumed that this time would be equally great, and pretty much chased that feeling the entire run - and as it stayed well ahead of me, I was confounded and disappointed to never catch it.

So, what did I learn?  Running long distance is hard.  I need to lower my expectations - in fact, go into these with the only goal of getting through them.  Surviving the distance.  Making it to the finish in one piece.  Anything else is a bonus, but don't be expecting much - it's only going to get worse as the distances increase.  I know this might sound negative, but honestly, I'd rather go into a long run not expecting much, rather than feel defeated during the run.

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Monday's short run with Jeff became even shorter, because I decided to test out a pair of CW-X compression tights - I've had them for two years now, but think I only wore them once or twice before I hurt my ankle and stopped running.  But, since I had them, I thought I might want to wear them on our long runs.  Guess what?  It was like running in Spanx.  I couldn't breathe in them!  While they felt good on my legs, the breathing issue was a deal-breaker.  Good to find out on a short run vs. a long run - I think I'll try selling them on ebay and let some other poor sucker suffer with them.  Actually, I'm sure they would work fine on people who don't have the ridiculous stomach that I do.  So the 2 miler became a 1.7 miler, and I became a much happier person once I took them off.

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Yesterday, Jenny and I brought back an old tradition of running for smoothies.  This takes a little coordination on our part - we meet in the parking lot where the smoothie place is and leave one car there while we drive the other to the park; here's the crucial part - we make sure we have the key to the car in the other parking lot with us, and we start our run.  Sure, it sounds simple when you think about it, but do this early in the morning on a not-quite-awake brain, and there's a good chance for error.  The run was hot and sticky - hello humidity, I'm ready for you to be gone - but we actually ran pretty fast.  Of course, I felt like I was gonna die, but hey - it was only for 2 miles. 

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I have to tell you about our silly cat - last Thursday, Jeff was home so he ran with Erica and I.  The route loops out and then we run past our street, and for the first time, Kip was out there, waiting for us...and then he started running with us!  Now, I don't know where he roams when he's outside, but we didn't want to encourage him to go too far, so Jeff (who he obviously was chasing, as he doesn't do that when it's just me) ended up running Kip back home and then catching up with us.

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Tomorrow I'll run a nice 2 miles with Erica, and then on Saturday, we'll tackle 9 miles.  NINE MILES!!!  After the beatdown of last week's 8, I'm just going to take it easy, slow, and do the best that I can...and I'm going to be happy with that.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Unexpected Weight Gain

...but really, is it ever truly expected??

It crept up over the course of a few months, but suddenly I realized that the belly was looking fuller.  The ribs that I used to be able to see were gone.  There was just more of a solid look overall.  Then came the dreaded weigh in at a doctor visit - one where medication was going to be necessary, so an accurate weight was important.  Up 12% since the last visit in June!  Not good.  Something had to be done.

Looking back, it was easy to see how this happened - the medicine for allergies contained a steroid, and that causes excess hunger...and without realizing it, more and more food was consumed every day.

So the diet started.  Nothing drastic, just cutting back...a little less food each day.  Of course the food rage started right away.  Why are they eating and not me???  When can I eat again?  Major crankiness and growling ensued.

Look, it can happen to anyone.  Even those who seem to be carefree about eating...the ones who routinely leave food in their dish, who only seem to eat socially - even they, given different circumstances, can gain weight.
 
You cannot possibly be talking about me...
Wait.  Where rest of my food?!??!?!???!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sorry Paco.  It's for your own good.  I know, I know, believe me...I KNOW.  Better to start the diet now, when you are just a few pounds up, than later, when you are really overweight.

Paco was the dog who would "happy eat" - meaning that when we'd come home, he'd greet us with glee and then rush over to his food dish, grab a mouthful of kibble, run back to where we were, and chomp away.  He was a social eater, to the point that I moved his food dish into my office, because I noticed that he would only eat when we were nearby, and I spend more time in my office than my kitchen, where his dish was.  I'd fill his bowl once every few days - he just ate whenever he felt hungry (and I often felt like I should take MY cues from him, lol).  He always weighed in at the "perfect weight" (according to my vet) of 28 pounds.  So I was shocked at our last visit when he weighed in at 31 pounds!  The poor dog has terrible allergies - at first they were seasonal, but lately they've stretched to nearly year-round.  We've tried steroid shots, Benadryl, and some really expensive pills - everything helps for a while, but then he starts scratching and chewing his skin again.

I forgot that steroids make you super-hungry (anyone who's taken Prednisone can attest to that), and didn't pay attention to how often I was refilling his food bowl.  Oops.  My bad.  Unfortunately, Paco is the one who has to suffer, because while he's still on the steroids, he's not getting to eat as much as he'd like to.  As the caretaker and controller of his food, it's pretty easy to put Paco on a diet.  He only eats what I give him.  He doesn't have the ability to sneak food, and while I know he's hungry, he's getting enough, so I don't have a problem giving in to his begging (every time I walk into the kitchen, he's right with me, tapping the counter where his cookie jar sits).

Honestly?  Paco is lucky.  He has no choice with this diet.  Too bad it's not as simple for us humans.
I look out window and ignore you, mean Mom.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Friday Mishmash - 700

I'm not normally one who looks at my blog stats (yikes, all those numbers), but a couple of them caught my eye - this is my 700th post since I started my blog!  Wow.  I honestly can't believe that I've written so many blog posts.  I want to thank YOU for reading them - and in a related stat, for commenting on them as well.  Speaking of comments, I recently hit comment number 14,000 - another wow!  I love reading your take on what I've written - I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for coming here, week after week.

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I showed you the cool running shirt that Jeff brought me back from Alaska in my last post, but I also wanted to tell you about the yarn he almost brought back for me.  He walked into a quilt shop and asked the saleswoman there if they carried any local yarn.  She showed him a gorgeous skein - he said it was incredibly soft, purple, and had my name written all over it, so he decided to surprise me with it.  Turns out it was Artic Qiviut, and was a cool $250.  Thankfully, he decided to not buy it - I love some good yarn, but that is too fancy for me!  He did, however, bring home a sample of unspun qiviut, which Paco went insane over:
 
Qiviut is wool from the muskox, and apparently quite intriguing to Paco - he sniffed and even licked it!

Oh, and the name of that store is The Quilted Raven.  The name of the running store where he bought my shirt is Skinny Raven Sports.  I don't get what the deal is, but apparently ravens are big in Anchorage!

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I went to my first knitting guild meeting last week, where I found my people!!!  It was wonderful to be with so many knitters - and not only did I get to see what everyone was knitting, but they also had a hands-on demo to learn how to knit in the round.  I tried several different ways, but latched onto the magic loop method.  I just have to say that it's amazing how I can learn a new technique, given the right teacher.  I was beginning to think that I would only be able to do the basics when it came to knitting, but in the last month, since I've gone to a different yarn store, and the knitting guild, I've caught onto several techniques that have eluded me previously.  I guess the lesson here is, if at first you don't succeed, try a new teacher!

So...even though my wrists were aching, I couldn't resist knitting a little something:
 A baby hat!
Posed on an unused candle for lack of a baby's head...

I've been wanting to make a hat for my cousin's baby, who was born in June.  The knitting in the round methods confounded me (especially those that have you use 4 or 5 double pointed needles), but once I translated my pattern to the magic loop method, the hat emerged!  I even made a crazy gigantic pompom for the top with my new pompom maker:
Who knew pompoms were so fun to make?

Baby Helen was the recipient of my first knitted baby blanket, and now my first baby hat.  Thanks, Jill, for having a baby so I have a reason to make these cute things!

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Our cat Kip is very attached to Jeff.  Jeff has been traveling a lot.  Kip figured out a way to get close to Jeff, even when he's gone:
I spy a cat who slid open the door to Jeff's (very messy) closet and made a comfy napping spot for himself!

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Not a whole lot going on this weekend, besides running another 8 miles, a field trip to the yarn store in Navasota (I need a different size of needles so I can start knitting a sock, eek!), and basically trying to avoid the crowds who will be in town for the home game.  Have a great weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Wednesday Workout Update - 8 Miles!

My focus for the run

Let me just say that 8 miles is a long way to run.  You are in it for the long haul, both in time and distance.  It's a mental commitment, right from the start - you need to dig deep and keep going.  I'm really proud to report that we completed our first 8 mile run and not only lived to tell the tale, but consider it to be the best long run Jeff and I have done together, so far.  Aches and pains aside, after this run I could actually visualize myself completing our upcoming half marathons with enjoyment.

The plan for the run was to start off slow and then taper off...nah, that's a joke in the running world.  We were going to take this run nice and easy, but try to keep running the entire time - slowing down if we needed to, but otherwise, keep moving at a steady pace.  And, we did just that - I even managed, for the first time ever, to run the entire distance up Boonville Hill, which is a steady, gradual incline that just seems to go on forever - 1.5 miles in reality - but it feels like it's never going to end.

The weather contributed to the pleasant run - it was barely 70 degrees when we started.  The first three miles went so well that I was surprised to see the water station appear so quickly - normally I'm looking for it, because I know we'll get a few minutes break as we refill our water bottles, take a GU, and regroup.  We did a quick stop for water and GU, and then set off up Boonville Hill.  At mile 4, when we normally would have stopped for a quick water break, I told Jeff that I wanted to keep going - who am I?!?  We made it to the top, then crossed the street where we got to run on a downhill slope for about 1.5 miles - ahhhhh.  Turned and ran through the scary statue park, although we didn't run on the path were the statues are.  The only rough part was after that park - the road we ran on was torn up from construction, and I felt every lump and bump right through my shoes on the bottom of my feet (I wondered if that was just due to my super-lightweight shoes, but in talking to other people in our group afterward, everyone felt the road at that spot).  Then we made our final turn for the last 3/4 of a mile toward the home stretch - whew!  
Ricky Bobby hasn't seen this many miles in a long time!

For runner Shelley v2.0, this time is slow.  When I ran 8 miles back in December 2010, my average pace was 11:39.  This time, it was 13:45.  Now, it was quite a bit warmer, but still...I'm not the same runner that I was, and I have to work really hard at not making comparisons.  My goal for this entire running season is to make it to the end, uninjured, and to run every race that I've signed up for.  Even with the ankle/foot issues that I'm experiencing, I feel pretty good about how I've done so far.
Please note not only my 8 fingers for 8 miles, but also the cute running shirt that Jeff brought back for me from Alaska - what a great souvenir!

I was BEAT after this run and just felt done in for hours.  When we came home from breakfast, I spent a couple hours napping off and on, and playing Words With Friends on my iPad, while Paco and Henry kept me company:
Notice how they are separated by my legs - sworn enemies, who both wanted to be close to me, yet not to each other.  Oh the dilemma!

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My ankle and foot are feeling a bit better.  I rested on Monday, and ran 2 easy slow miles on Tuesday with Jenny.  Still doing the whole ice/Motrin thing, with compression socks thrown in for good measure - I'm hoping that the pain will continue to ease up, and this week will just end up being a blip on my road to the half marathons.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Aggravated

For the first time in 13 weeks of half marathon training, I'm choosing to miss a run today.  Why?  Because I'm hurting.  I've been hurting for over a week now, and what started out with one thing has morphed into three issues.  They are:

Issue A - right ankle
Issue B - left arch
Issue C - top of left foot

I'm pretty sure Issues A and B are connected, because I had this flare up last November after I pushed myself by walking a 5K Turkey Trot race too quickly after ankle surgery; I gave myself tendonitis in the left foot by overcompensating for the right ankle pain.  This feels like the same kind of pain.  And yes, I'm disappointed to report that my ankle has been hurting once again - I've been trying to ignore it, but during our last 7 mile long run, I stepped on an uneven ridge of concrete, felt a jolt of pain shoot through my ankle, and it's been tender ever since.  I've been icing it and downing Motrin like no one's business, but it's still hurting more than it has been in quite a while.

Issue C, the top of my left foot, which has previously been tender, is now alive with hurt.  After Saturday's 8 miler (which went great - most of this pain cropped up once I stopped running), it was really bothering me.  Between the arch pain and the top of the foot pain, my left foot was not a happy camper...and neither was I.

Plus, to add to all of this, there is also Issue D.  My wrists have been aching quite a bit ever since last week, when I worked on (and finished) my throw...a lot of yarn weight on large needles combined with hours of knitting contributed to this.  I have a touch of arthritis in my wrists, and every once in a while certain activities will really cause them to hurt (e.g. push ups, heavy cooking days (like Thanksgiving), reading a heavy book for hours on end...).  The only thing that helps is for me to give them a rest from the offending activity.  Which, really??  No knitting?  Come ON!

So yes, I'm aggravated.  With the ongoing, underlying, always-lurking-ankle-issue, I try to keep in mind a paragraph I read in the book Duel in the Sun (I bolded the part that really hit me):
"Since he'd slipped on the ice while training a few years ago, Beardsley's right knee had been suspect.  All runners, however, had their own version of that knee, their own particular trouble.  Most aches healed, but there was always one that you carried from town to town, race to race, year to year, that you just hope and prayed and worked desperately to conceal."
Every runner has their issues.  When I see a runner, I see just that - a runner.  I don't see their pain - the knee that's bothering them, or the IT band that's hurting, or the heel that is sending up jolts of pain with each step.  But very few people can run for a long time without some injury flaring up - it's the nature of the sport.  I know it sounds insane to choose to do something that causes pain and injury; it's a hard thing to explain to non-runners.  I'm not asking for sympathy - after all, I could stop a lot of my pain if I just stopped running - so therefore, I'm in control of this mess.  But I LIKE running.  I really do.  I've followed a training plan, I've not pushed myself beyond what is recommended, and still, things are starting to go downhill. Which brings me to my aggravated state today...one in which I will not run, I will not knit, I will simply try to rest and heal.  To which I say, can't I just get a break over here?!?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Friday Mishmash

I'm just going to apologize in advance for the amount of pictures on today's post...you'll see why in a minute.  And now, on to the mishmash!

Remember the other day when I rearranged my bedroom?  Well, I got the bright idea to mix things up in my office when I was doing a deep clean recently.  While I can't change the position of my desk, I moved everything else.  I swear, this was harder than moving my bedroom furniture - one shelf thing is actually a wrought-iron baker's rack, and it was heavy!  So I moved things, and cleaned, and moved them and oops, that won't fit on this wall, and moved things again, and again...and here's the end result:
 
Pretty much exactly the same.  Yep. There was a reason things were where they were in the first place - they didn't fit anywhere else!  Although I did get crazy and move this bookshelf to an angled position.  At least everything got a good dusting instead of my usual "Swiffer Swipe" - and I rearranged some of my treasures, so I'm noticing them again.
Oh, and I brought out a friend for bicycle Barbie - See's Candies Barbie, that my mom gave me about 10 years ago.  (Side note: as a child, it would have killed me to leave her in the box - I played with my Barbies - but the box is set up like the store and I like seeing all the detail...however, give me a convincing enough child, and I'll open it!)

After all of that (plus a sore back from dragging the heavy baker's rack all over the room), I realized that what really bugs me is the gold chair - I've been wanting to replace it with a more modern piece, in black-and-white upholstery, but my money priorities have been elsewhere (running shoes/clothes/race fees).  So that's the deal...but hey - at least the room is spotless now!

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I have been doing really well with my ankle not bothering me too much with all the running, but last Saturday, I stepped on an uneven ridge of concrete *just* so, and a sharp pain shot up through my ankle - ARGH!!!  Ever since then, it's been making noise.  After yesterday's short run, I iced it for the first time in forever, and it's feeling better.  My nurse was a big help, what with licking the outside of the bag, too...which is why I ended up tying a towel around it:
I not lick dat.  You stop telling on me.  
(Oh, I also somehow took a chunk out of the top of my foot during all that furniture moving - hence the bandage (and Neosporin underneath).

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OK, here's where the picture explosion begins.  Because...I finished my throw!  Holy cow, I love  how it turned out.  LOVE IT.  I cannot tell you how pleased I am with it, from the yarn feel, to the color, to how gorgeous it was to knit.  This yarn was definitely a splurge, but I am so glad I bought it - and honestly, had I not been in California and in the shopping mindset, I probably wouldn't have, being a cautious new knitter and all.  Now I know - good, gorgeous yarn?  Buy it!!!

Here's the throw:
Knit with 4 skeins of Malabrigo Rasta in Zarzamora, and 1 skein in Indiecita - I divided the Indiecita into thirds, and knit it between each skein of Zarzamora.  Debby encouraged me to do this, and I'm so glad she suggested it as I think it brought even more fun to the look!
 The stripes are actually pretty subtle in person...
I adore how using the stockinette stitch shows off the colors so well.
I knitted 4 rows of garter stitch at the bottom (and top) and also did 5 stitches on the edges, to keep the blanket from curling due to the stockinette stitch.  Love how the border looks on it!
Backside - complete with dog fur.  I laid the throw on my bed to take the pictures and remembered too late that this would be the result.  And I washed the bedspread just a couple days ago!!  Story of my life - dog fur everywhere...
Just another shot of the gorgeous colors!
 So soft, so warm, so wonderful!
Without a doubt, my favorite knitted piece so far!

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I went to my first knitting guild meeting last night - more on that next week, as I think I've exhausted your knitting information patience enough for one post.  Jeff will be home today from his latest trip; we have a coupon to use up at a local Italian restaurant for some yummy carbs before tomorrow's 8 mile run.  Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Wednesday Workout Update

You know how they say "it's not the heat, it's the humidity"?  That saying was proven correct on Saturday.  Driving to the park just before 6:00 am, the car's outside temperature gauge read 82 degrees, which would normally mean a miserably hot run.  But it didn't feel bad - in fact, it felt almost cool!  Now, I realize that after running in the summer heat and humidity this might sound like we have a bit of Stockholm Syndrome going on, but seriously, it was amazing how decent the air felt, considering it was, you know, 82 degrees.  Low humidity - what a concept...and a treat!

Anyway.  We had 7 miles on tap.  We set out in the dark, on familiar territory - I can't tell you how excited I was to get back to our old running route!  Jeff (who ended up having a flight late enough in the morning that he was able to run with us), Jenny and I ran together, had a great time, lollygagged a bit (shoe tying, water drinking), saw a huge family of deer hanging out on the golf course, and just enjoyed ourselves.  Between the new (old) route and the weather, it was a banner day.  We left Jenny around mile 4.5 - she had a busy morning ahead and needed to get home.  Jeff and I turned and ran up "Boonville Hill" - somehow, it wasn't as bad as previous years...big props to hill work! 

At mile 5, we stopped at the aid station and had some water and Gatorade, refilled our bottles, and regrouped for the rest of the run.  Shortly after, I got a bit of a side stitch that stayed with me through the end of the run - I was also having a harder time keeping my breathing steady.  By the time we rolled into the finish, I was spent!  Turns out after looking at our Garmin splits, we were running pretty fast - relatively speaking - for the last 2 miles, which would explain the breathlessness.  I think the first run in decent weather contributed to this; we'll have to pay more attention to keeping a steadier pace next time.  We ended up finishing 2 minutes faster than last week, and had we not lollygagged so much, we probably would have knocked off another couple of minutes.

After we finished, Jeff left for Alaska, but I hung around and waited for Julia to come in - she was running 10 miles (and finished in great time, too - hurray cooler weather!).  We went out for breakfast with Coach Will:
 My breakfast date!  Also, could my hair be any more wild???
Coach Will - speed demon.  He stayed behind to run with the slower runners (yes, there are a few slower than me), caught up with us around mile 4, then passed us and was at the finish handing out cold washcloths when we came in. 

And then we went to the running store.  It's practically a rule now:  run on Saturday, then check out the running store for anything we might need, LOL.  I bought a pair of Yankz, which are an elastic shoelace system that I'm hoping will keep me from having to constantly stop and retighten my laces (it's not that they always come untied, but they loosen up overall, and I have to snug everything up to get the shoe feeling like it's connected to my foot, if that makes sense).  I'll let you know how they work out after a few runs in them.

Monday dawned a gloriously cool 64 degrees.  Erica came over to run with me, and I swear, it felt like I was floating.  Considering that the previous Monday, I ran after 7 miles with my legs feeling like lead, this was an entirely different sensation...and one that I could get used to.  Of course, I know it was just a tease, as it's too early for the cool temperatures to stick around, but it was wonderful.

Yesterday, since it still was coolish, Jenny and I ran after she got her kids off to school - I haven't started a run after 6:00 am in months, but there we were, at 7:45, running in daylight!  We ran a mile and then I talked her into doing hill repeats.  I don't know what I was thinking - they are still hard!  But we did 8 of them, bam! 

Thursday is another run with Erica, and then...dun dun duhhhhh...8 miles on Saturday.  Cue horror movie shriek!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Book Review - The Digest Diet

 
 
It's rare that I read a diet book and like it.  I'm cynical by nature; plus, I've been dieting for so long that most "new" diets seem either like too much effort, or else too crazy with the food and/or restrictions.  But I am here to tell you that I really liked The Digest Diet, by Liz Vaccariello.  As I read the book, I kept thinking “I could do this” – me, the person who, a year ago, declared herself done with dieting.  That’s how appealing the diet in this book sounds.  The premise is pretty simple – they offer a 21-day fat release plan, broken down into three parts:  Fast Release, Fade Away, and Finish Strong.
 
Shots of the plan and some recipes - click the picture to enlarge.

Fast Release is a four-day fat releasing jump start, where you eat mainly shakes (they give you a master recipe with suggestions for variations) and soups…this is obviously the hardest part, but it’s only for four days, which keeps the suffering to a minimum (we dieters know all about the suffering, right!?).  Then you switch to Fade Away for 10 days – along with one shake per day, you transition into lean protein and greens.  Finally, you move on to Finish Strong for the last week, where you focus on balanced, healthy meals.  I liked that this does not seem like an extremely stringent diet, and they focus on real food.  No artificial sweeteners, no Frankenfood.  Just the real deal...food that if you aren't eating yet, you probably should be.

The book has several success stories interspersed throughout, showing people of all ages losing a normal amount of weight for the three weeks they followed the diet.  This was another plus for me – no wildly trumped up weight loss, but very attainable numbers, varying from 8 to 26 pounds.
 
This success story is 48 years old...hmmm, wonder why I chose to spotlight her??

The book also gently encourages you to get some exercise in, but it's nothing horribly difficult - some walking, with a short Fat Release workout added in the second and third weeks.  Remembering back to when I started my diet, exercise was not on my agenda.  Dieting was hard enough, and my overweight body was not ready for anything too strenuous - but honestly, I could have done what this book suggests, or at least most of it, without a lot of agony.

So am I going to do this diet?  Not right now.  While taking off a few pounds wouldn't kill me, what I'm eating right now seems to be working well for getting me through my long runs, and as I ramp up to 13 miles, I don't want to mess with that.  But I plan on giving this a go once we're finished with our half marathon racing season - just because it would be interesting to see if I could get my stomach smaller.  Even though I'm done with dieting, I could do this for three weeks - and hey, if I saw enough of a change, I'd even continue it!

The Digest Diet will be available in October.

FTC disclaimer:  I was sent a copy of this book for free.  Review and opinions are all mine.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Monetizing My Blog?

I began blogging to keep a record of how hard I was going to work to lose weight.  I never expected all of the extras that would come with keeping a public journal - the friendships developed, the freebies offered, the opportunities to make some money...it all sounds enticing, right?

Well sure, but when it comes right down to it, I am just not interested enough, or motivated enough, to really monetize myself or this blog.  Yes, I've had a few link ads in my sidebar - but when my opportunity to become a BlogHer blogger came up, I decided not to go that route.  I like how my blog looks and didn't want to clutter it up with huge picture ads.  Plus, I can write whatever I want here, about whatever products I want - once you sign into an advertising contract like BlogHer, you are limited.

While I occasionally get a pang of "I wish that company would send stuff to me" when I see other bloggers wearing things that I already use or think I would like to try out, I really can't complain.  I've been extremely lucky to receive some pretty cool things over the years, and the truth is, I don't court companies.  I don't have a Twitter account, nor do I have a Facebook page for this blog.  I rarely email companies about products that I love, asking for a freebie to review and give away.  I'm not a "sponsored" runner - I don't get my shoes, clothing or race entry fees paid for like many of the bigger running bloggers.  Conferences?  Forget it...if I'm going to buy a plane ticket, it'll be for a true vacation, not a networking thing.  And therein lies the rub:  I'm just not willing to play that game.  I don't worry about things like my Klout score (never heard of it? it's like a credit score for bloggers), and I like it this way.  Obviously I'm not super ambitious; plus, I think I'm also reaching the point in life where I can't be bothered with playing games to get ahead...and honestly, while I like a freebie as much as the next person, just because it's free doesn't mean that I'll automatically accept it (hooboy, some things I've been offered have made me blush !).  That said, I'll be posting a book review tomorrow on a diet book that I really liked, so obviously I still play the game to some extent - but it's on my terms.

This post is not meant to disparage any bloggers who do play the game; as individuals, we all choose how much we want to invest in blogging and reap whatever payoff that comes from it.  There have been some bloggers who've documented their weight-loss journey and ended up writing a book - and while I've been encouraged to do the same thing, it just hasn't happened for me...writing a book seems so overwhelming compared to writing a blog post, and after my first chapter, I haven't mustered up the energy to continue with it.

I'm not the blogger to read if you're looking for tips on making money from blogging.  And while you'll probably never see me on any talk show touting my weight loss, you can come here and read about a normal person who managed to lose a lot of weight and is keeping that weight off by eating sensibly most of the time, coupled with the unexpected discovery of enjoying exercise.  Please feel free to take whatever you can out of my ramblings and make it work for yourself.  And know that if I do become a sellout, it'll be for something big - like a Mini Cooper (hah!).  Otherwise, you can pretty much count on the fact that if I say I like something, I really do...and you know I'll say so if I don't.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Friday Mishmash

My air conditioner tried to give me heat stroke Tuesday night and all day Wednesday - when I came home Tuesday evening after that running clinic, I walked into a warm house.  That is not a good feeling, let me tell you.  It was an uncomfortable night, not only because of the heat (having my box fan aimed at the bed made it tolerable), but also the thoughts of "OMG, what if this is a catastrophic failure of the unit??" along with dollar signs running through my head.  Thankfully, it was a blown capacitor - the thing literally blew its guts out.  By 5:00 pm the part had been replaced and my house, which was now at 89 degrees inside, was starting to cool down.  Whew! 
The offending part with guts on the outside - does anyone else see a ship's figurehead on the side?  All in all, best $189 I've spent in a long time!
 The "what a relief" sno cone that I bought after the A/C was fixed...
Overexposed shot of my dumb dog lying in the sun that morning.  We were sitting in the backyard because for a while, it was cooler out there ("cool" being a relative term at that point, probably around 86 degrees) than it was in the house.  Paco, who was panting and so miserable inside, insisted on sitting in the sun.  Goof!

Needless to say, Wednesday was pretty much a washout.  I went to the mall for a couple of hours to cool off, but didn't buy anything because I was worried about the repair bill.  Well, and also, I didn't need anything.  Lately if it's not yarn or running gear, I'm not interested.

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Speaking of yarn - here's a sneak peek at some of the supplies for my next project.  Cones of ecru cotton - I have been using Hobby Lobby's 40% off coupons, which brings the price for these babies down to $7.79 each.  Can't beat that!  I need one more cone and then I can begin, but I can't tell you what I'm making as it's going to be Christmas presents for family, and they read this blog.  If you are really curious, email me and I'll tell you.  Boy oh boy, this is a fun blog to read - here's what I'm doing but I'm not telling you what it is.  Nice. 
For this project, you hold three strands of yarn together and knit on big needles.  Another challenge, but I think once I get a system going (mostly of holding the cones), it should work out just fine.

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I have been fretting about having all of my eggs in one basket - er, all of my photos on my computer - for a while now...I'd hate to have the computer break and lose everything.  I tried to upload them to a storage thing in "the cloud" but took forever, so my next option was an external hard drive to use as a back up.  Normally this is something that I'd pass off to my crack tech support team (i.e. Jeff or the kids) but no one has been here much lately, so I actually did a little research (OK, I read Amazon reviews) and then went to Best Buy and bought one - go me! 
 A terabyte of storage - hopefully that will be enough.  I have A LOT of pictures!
And look - I actually installed it!  Obviously it wasn't difficult, but I even got the thing to run on my computer and got everything backed up.  Seriously, GO ME!!!  

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This morning I have the cable guy coming out to get the outlet working in the bedroom - I rearranged the TV to a wall with a dead outlet...haha, it figures.  I feel like such a responsible adult, taking care of all kinds of things this week between the air conditioner, the computer and now the cable.  But in case you're listening, universe, this is enough, OK?

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Tomorrow morning while Jeff flies to Alaska for a conference, I'll be running 7 miles again.  The really exciting part is that we are moving our runs back to the area where we used to run out of - I am so happy about this, as there is much less traffic, nice wide sidewalks and shoulders to run on, pretty neighborhoods, and a sense of familiarity.  It'll be like coming home!  The rest of the weekend will be spent laying low, as it's the first home football game of the season, and I don't want to get anywhere near the hordes of fans that will be infiltrating our town...yes, I am a party pooper when it comes to football.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Wednesday Workout Update - Newtons!

Total miles ran for August:  52!  That seems like a lot, doesn't it?  Especially considering every single one was done in adverse conditions.  I keep thinking all of this running in the heat is going to pay off when it gets cool, and I'll magically become light on my feet and practically float through my runs.  Once can hope, right?

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Saturday Jeff and I tackled 7 miles with the rest of my half peeps - it was a tough day for everyone, and even some runners who normally don't seemed fazed by the distance or the heat had to walk parts of the route.  However, it was one of my better runs - I felt really good right from the start, and we tried to keep a steady, slow pace (we averaged 13:50 for the entire run, but mile 2 was at 12:38 which was not intended...too fast for the heat and distance at this point in my training).  The route had several hills, and I amazed not only myself but Jeff as well by running up all of them, until the last long gradual hill that went on and on and on (for nearly a mile, no joke)...I did some walking there, but that was during mile 6, so I didn't feel too bad about it.  I think my hill work is paying off!
Before - bleary-eyed and blurry...
 
After - sweaty seven!

Jeff ended up getting a bit of a headache toward the latter part of the run, but I felt fine - well, hot, tired and thirsty, but that's to be expected.  I've been drinking a 20 oz. bottle of Gatorade every day, and twice on the days that I run (one after the run and one in the afternoon).  I think that has helped to keep my electrolytes up for these sweaty runs.  Jeff wasn't able to be as diligent with his pre-hydration due to his traveling, and it showed.  Preparation can make or break a long run...part of our training is learning what works and what doesn't - and it's always a hard lesson learning what doesn't work.
Breakfast of champions - chocolate milk, coffee and an egg bagel sandwich.  Plus a dry shirt, which, while it felt good, made me even more aware of how sweat-logged the rest of my clothing was.  Next time I'm bringing an entire change of clothes for our post-run breakfast.

Side note:  I had such a good run on Saturday, but my 2 milers on Monday and Tuesday?  Not great.  My legs felt like lead...not sure if they are still recovering from the long run or what, but it's amazing how you can go from a "yay, I'm getting better at this running thing" to "I suck at running" in a matter of 48 hours.  Thanks for the reality check, running gods.

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So you all know about my love for Newton running shoes, right?  Well, the Newton rep - Jordan - was at the store on Saturday morning - he brought shoes for anyone who wanted to take a test run in them (although not until after our long run - it's not advisable to run in a different shoe for 7 or 12 miles the very first time).  Because Jeff and I were wearing our Newtons, Jordan gave us some goodies - a Headsweats visor for Jeff (which matches his shoes), and a pair of socks for me:
 
Doing his Minnie Pearl impression by leaving on the tags...
Yay socks!

Last night, the running store hosted a Newton natural running form clinic.  I've read about these and was excited to finally be able to attend one.  We practiced our running form (and even did some skipping, which was fun) and hopefully I can remember everything I learned.  Plus I came home with a cute green Newton visor, which matches my running shoes - between the shoes, socks and visor, I will be a walking billboard for Newton, lol!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Labor Day!

In honor of Labor Day, I thought I'd show you my newly-acquired skill - yarn winding!
 
I can wind yarn like a pro now!
 My ball of yarn!

We went to a new-to-me yarn store in the town of Navasota - it's called WC Mercantile, and WOW.  I was thrilled, not only with everything they carried, but with the warmth, friendliness and helpfulness of the owner!  Actually, it's a mother and daughter who own the store - the mom was off the day we went, but the daughter, Stephanie, was fantastic.  She helped me with "spit felting" some yarn and also showed me how to tink, which means to undo your knitting, on my piece.  This is something that every knitter needs to know how to do, but the actual process has escaped me...the way Stephanie demonstrated how to do it made it click, and for that, I am hugely grateful.  I can fix mistakes on my own now - well, some of the simpler ones, anyway.

The yarn I bought will be what I use to learn how to knit my first pair of socks with - I'm going to join the local knitting guild, and this fall, they are teaching sock knitting at their meetings.  This is definitely going to be a challenge for me, what with sizing and numbers and MATH and knitting in the round, but I'm so happy to have the opportunity to do this with fellow knitters that I'm willing to take it on!

In the meantime, I'm having fun knitting a throw using the luscious Malabrigo Rasta yarn that I bought when I was in California.  Here's a quick peek at my progress so far:
 I'm a quarter way into it, and love how it's turning out!

Jeff is working today, so after we run this morning, I'll be sitting and knitting (with a fan aimed at me - who knits a wool throw in the dog days of summer??), watching my future second husband on DVD, and enjoying the day.  Happy Labor Day to my fellow Americans!