Friday, March 22, 2013

Well, It's Official...We're Running Pittsburgh!

A new city.  Our first spring race.  Our first hilly course!  I'm EXCITED!

Yo Pittsburgh!
As you might have picked up, I've been having some ankle/arch issues which have turned out to be (by my best estimation) Posterior Tibial Tendonitis.  Because runners have a love/hate with looking up their aches and pains online (we go from "a little kink" to "death by foot cancer" in under 12 minutes!), I waited for a few months before finally giving it the Ol' Google.

I had a good laugh when the first result was..."PTT is highly prevalent in active women over the age of 40".  Consider me diagnosed.  Thankfully, the injury is pretty common and the treatment is something I can handle myself.   So I'm on Recovery Road and feeling better about KNOWING what the heck is happening.

Because of the injury and indecision about my running, I'd put off registering Mark for the Pittsburgh Marathon.  I've got pain after about 10 kilometers.  How exactly will I be running 42? Anyone?

I put it off one day too many and the race sold out yesterday!  That's when God stepped in and took the wheel :)  After my panic over the bright red SOLD OUT sign, I went to Facebook and the first entry under "Bib For Sale" was a couple who had a marathon bib AND a half marathon bib for sale.   I knew it immediately -  It's time to run my first stateside half marathon!  The body is saying no no no to the full but I'm sure I can rock a half.  I contacted the couple and had both bibs in my hot little hands within a couple of hours.  Thanks Nick Williams!

In all of this I realized that somehow I've become a girl who runs a few marathons a year and will say yes to almost anything.  No IDEA how that happened.  Actually, that's a lie.  I know exactly how it happened.  I started setting seemingly ridiculous goals when I turned 40 and the train hasn't stopped since.

Stop eating animals when you (think you) love meat.
Run your first half marathon when you (think you) hate running.
Start a blog to chronicle your experiences even though you truly believe that no one will read it.
Be honest in every single word.

Quit your government job and get back to your first love.  The gym. Boxing. Clients. Sweat.
Run The Marine Corps Marathon - your first.  Finish with a smile on your face.

Say YES to pacing at the Western States 100.  Soak up every moment.
Run your second MCM and see what you can do.

Say YES to running your first 25 mile trail race all the way across the country you love.
Start selling whole, plant-based food from your kitchen.  Take the next step.  Be a benefit to others.
Say YES to Pittsburgh.  Do what you can.  Just keep running!
Set your sights on an Ultra Marathon attempt in August.
Try the Raleigh Marathon in October.

There have been many smaller races and goals along the way but these are the highlights.  Not because I'm blowing the Lauren Horn, but because I have been motivated throughout the years by women who didn't start running until their 40's.

Sure, I felt kinda crappy about it.  "I'm only 29 and she's 40 and running her first marathon.  I suck!  Wouldn't that be cool?  Can I be her?  No.  That looks hard.  I hate running."

It's the same feeling we ALL get when watching the ParaOlympics or the veteran doing an Ironman after losing a leg in one of our wars, or the 65 year old woman crossing the finish line at Western States 100, or the father pushing his mentally disabled son in a Jeep-inspired wheel chair across all 50 States.  "My God.  They're doing THAT and I can't get my ass out of bed to get to the gym?"

But the inspirational story fades.  You turn the channel and the Ironman coverage is replaced by the Sunday NFL game - bust out the vegan nachos and settle in!  The father and the wheelchair, the veteran-turned-athlete, the woman who didn't start running until she turned 40 - all of them live somewhere in your mind.  Deep in the back of the brain closet.

One thing I've learned is that there is ALWAYS someone doing 'more and faster' than me.  I have to let it motivate me - not stifle or deter me.  I'm happy that I can sign up for a marathon and not worry (much) about my ability to complete it.   I love that I can run a half marathon any day of the week and not give it a thought.

But there is always the friend who runs a marathon an hour (or more) faster than I do.  The friend who is an Ironman.  The friend who runs 100 mile races through the mountain ranges of California - it goes on an on.  Their accomplishments drop my jaw on any given day and my abilities may inspire my clients to do better because I'm a little older than them.  All relative.  All good.

So, set your ridiculous goals and start stepping toward them.  You will not be disappointed.

See you in Pittsburgh on May 5, 2013!  Cinco De Mayo Margaritas to follow...

Monday, March 18, 2013

Simplify - Plan and Scan

Simplifying is well underway.  On Saturday we took a huge step and sold a TON of stuff at a multi-family yard sale.  Any blogger worth her salt would've taken photos of the stockpile or the car packed up like a giant Jenga tower but I was too hot, sweaty and frankly over it.  "Surry!"

We've done mild purges at other yard sales but this one had the distinction of including most of my husband's tools and "man things".  It was hard to watch.  Many of the items were purchased while we restored and renovated "the beast" in Wilmington.  Strangely, even I felt some emotional attachment to a few of items.. the knee pads I wore for a year while hand refinishing the floors, my level, sanding blocks that smoothed my old kitchen cabinets and the wedgy-thing I used to lift at least 1000 carpet nails.  All of them went for next to nothing but I was happy to see them find new life.

In addition to the Vitamix that must be mentioned in every post we have another new addition to the family.  Meet my Fujitsu ScanSnap!  "Fuji" for short.

Fuji McHugh
The Scan Snap (for Mac) is helping me meet my simplification goals by scanning everything in my 15 boxes of files.  We are going totally digital and the boxes we've toted for 12 years are slowly starting to dwindle. The cost of this scanner is ridiculous (much like the Vitamix) but here's why it's awesome:

1.  It's small, sleek and darned-near stylish.  It doesn't bug me that it's on the desk.
2.  It's lightning fast.  I scanned a 10 page magazine article, both sides simultaneously in under 10 seconds.
3.  It never ever jams or takes two pieces at a time.  I've scanned everything from business cards to legal size paper.
4.  The software is perfect.  I scan something and a little box comes up and asks me where to put it on my iMac. Photo? Documents? Email it? Share it?  Zero problems with it so far.

Of course, going digital requires finally getting serious about backing up my computer and making our information safe and secure.  I'd like to admit right now that due to not backing up, I've lost my iTunes THREE times in the last 10 years.  No way to replace the music... just gone. Hundreds and hundreds of dollars completely down the drain and completely my fault.  No more!  I've done the following:

1.  Signed up for Life Lock to protect our identification and our credit reports.
2.  Bought a large external hard-drive to run Mac's "Time Machine" program continually.  My computer is continually backing up here at the house.  I chose a My Passport for Mac at 1 TB of storage.  More than I need but who cares?
3.  After MUCH deliberation and research galore, I chose Crash Plan for online backup of our computer.  This was a long process and I won't bore you with the whole dilemma but I read more techno-nerd articles than you can imagine.  The biggest complaint about online backup is that it slows the computer down or doesn't work quite right with Mac.  Crash Plan runs perfectly in the background and hasn't slowed my computer a bit.  The initial backup to their site took about 15 days but now it backs up every hour by searching for changes I've made and updating only those items.  Meaning, if I ever crash our information is current to the moment and I never have to "remember" to back up.  Because I will never remember to back up.  Best to know who you are, admit it, and find services that compliment your weaknesses.  There is always someone who 'does that'.  Find them.

Finally, before I signed up I called to test their customer service and was helped in an instant by someone who spoke perfect English.  This is the last place you want to mess with a company that has poor customer service.

So far, I highly recommend going digital with the papers of your life.  I also highly recommend selling or donating everything you haven't touched in the last 6 months - except your Christmas tree :)

There is a sense of freedom and calmness that washes over me when I slide a closet door to find it completely empty or open the drawer of a barren dresser.  We're cutting ties to all that holds us down and back... one little string at a time!    

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Pumping Up Your Enerprime Shake

Enerprime is my favorite 'foodstuff' on the planet but sometimes I need to bolster our shakes with more calories.  You don't have to have crazy running/training days to need more calories - just an active life or a time crunch in the morning.  Why make a shake and breakfast when you can hit both at the same time?

Also, any additional nutrition that you can pump in via liquid is that much easier on the digestive system.

When your digestive system is at ease, your body has more time to shore up your immune system, replace dying cells with brand-spankin-new ones and build lean muscle tissue.  Every time something enters your mouth, it literally becomes you.  Is it a food that boosts your health OR is it causing your body to work harder to a) identify it, b) break it down and c) get it the hell out?  Because while your body is focused on dealing with your crappy choice, it cannot focus on renewing you.

Whoops... I almost fell off my soap box!  I'll just step down...

Each shake already contains 1 tablespoon of Enerprime, 1 banana per person and 1/4 cup Apple, Pear or Pineapple juice (absolutely no sugar added and not from concentrate) and 3/4 cup water.  Here are some additional items that send our shakes over the moon!

Per Person:

1 tablespoon ground flaxseed.  Flaxseed (or commonly referred to as Linseed here on Barbados) must be ground in a spice grinder or coffee grinder.  Flaxseeds in their whole form will pass directly through your gut, undigested.  1 tablespoon of flaxseed delivers 37 calories, the Adequate Intake (AI) of ALA Omega 3 fats for women and about 3 grams of fiber - mostly insoluble.

1 tablespoon Udo's 3.6.9 Oil.  Udo's is wonderful for your heart health but cannot be heated.  In fact, it needs to be refrigerated after opening.  It works in salad dressings but since I hate lettuce (see my first ever post) I find that my Enerprime shake is the best place to utilize it.  1 tablespoon of Udo's delivers 120 calories and 13 grams of perfectly balanced Omega 3 and Omega 6 Essential Fatty Acids.

(I'm working on a post that breaks down Fats and Essential Fatty Acids into child-speak.  Stay tuned.)

1 small gala apple.  An apple a day... delivers 80 calories and an additional 5 grams of fiber.  If you have a Vitamix (are you SICK to death of hearing that?!) leave the seeds and core in the apple for even more liquified fiber.

1/2 cup of fresh pineapple.  Pineapple delivers 70 calories, manganese for the strength of bones, helps with the breakdown of proteins in the digestive system and also acts as an anti-inflammatory.  Plus, it tastes awesome with Enerprime.

Just a few more ways to help you SHINE on the inside!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Tortilla Soup As Promised

This soup scored BIG with the husband and my pregnant-soup-loving-girlfriend Rachel - so you know it's good!

I'm so cheesy!  Pic from the cookbook -  it looked JUST like this - honest!
My mom and I based our soup on the recipe in the Vitamix cookbook but made modifications that I'll share below. 

Soup Base*:
2 Cups Vegetable Broth
2 Cups Water
3 Roma Tomatoes
6 Baby Carrots
2 Celery Stalks
1/4 Yellow Onion
2 Garlic Cloves
2 thin slices of Red Pepper
6 Mushrooms (crimini)
1 teaspoon Taco Seasoning
Dash of cumin (I ground my own from cumin seeds - a dash is all that's needed)

The Vitamix recipe called for a slice of cabbage and a slice of yellow squash - neither of which were available on our soup day.  Feel free to add - it can't hurt!

We made two batches of base - tasting the first to see what it needed for balance.  The ingredients/quantities above are the total numbers.   If you are not using a Vitamix or other high capacity blender, break the above ingredients into two batches. 

Place all base ingredients in your Vitamix (or other blender) and blend on high for 3-4 minutes, or until steam escapes from the vented lid.  

Optional Ingredients:
Crumbled Field Roast Mexican Chipotle Sausage (amount up to you - I was feeding omnivore husband so I made quite a bit of "sausage")
1 cup of fresh, frozen or canned Mexican Style corn
10 small pitted olives
1 1/2 cup of black beans

You can drop the optional ingredients in through the top and blend on Variable 1 for an additional 10 seconds OR move the base to the stovetop and add the options.  We added everything except for the olives but I think they would've made a nice addition. 

Top with Tortilla Strips:  Cut two corn tortillas into strips with a pizza cutter, spritz with a little non-stick spray and spice to taste.  Place in the oven at 350 until crispy - about 5 minutes. 

*You could easily never try this recipe because it seems wasteful to use such a small amount of each item.  In the two days following our Joint Soup Effort, I used the leftover tomatoes, onion and garlic to make salsa.  I combined the remaining mushrooms and black beans to make veggie burgers (froze the extras) and then roasted the remainder of the red pepper and added it to my tofu/broccoli stir fry.  All used.  All good.


Friday, March 8, 2013

Welcome to the World Vitamix!

Nine years ago I gave birth to Tyson, my Dyson - and now we're welcoming my new bundle of bolts...

Precious Peanut!
No, I will never hear the pitter-patter of little feet on my kitchen floor (unless the mouse moves back in) but I will hear the grinding hummmmmm of my new Vitamix churning in the kitchen for the next 18 years.  I am overjoyed!

"Is a Vitamix overrated?"
"Is it worth $500?*"
"Why is it so much better than a blender?"

Because.  In under fifteen minutes I can blend a completely clear soup broth using raw vegetables, make creamy peanut butter using no oil, bang out some olive tapenade, and top it all off with a perfectly blended margarita.  And then it cleans itself using water and a drop of dish soap.  Truly miraculous.

I have fought with myself for MONTHS about making this purchase - just ask my yoga girls.  I swear I've laid out the pros and cons at yoga about 50 times.  I know they're internally screaming "JUST BUY THE DAMN THING ALREADY AND SHUT UP!"

In these economic times, it's not easy to part with that kind of money for a "blender" but then again... it's a Vitamix.  The King of blenders.  The One that is coveted by all vegetarians and vegans in their deepest heart of hearts.  Arguments can be made for the Blendtec or other commercial blenders but if we dig down deep enough - we find Vitamix Lust at the core.

In the end, I didn't have to make the decision or part with the cash.  My mom sent it to me for my birthday on March 2.  Here's where the * comes in:  The only way I found to get any sort of discount on a Vitamix is to take advantage of the Bed, Bath & Beyond "20% Off Any Item" coupon.  It's an online coupon issued for signing up for their email list.  This lowers the price to $400.  Outrageous? Yes.  But definitely less than $500!  Unfortunately, this coupon cannot be redeemed online for a Vitamix BUT they will honor the coupon in-store.  I asked my mom to purchase it for me and bring it down in her suitcase on her recent visit but instead she mailed it ahead of her arrival with a note that said "Happy Birthday Sweetheart!"  Awwww.

I repaid the gift my making absolutely everything in the Vitamix while she was here.  Of course, EnerPrime shakes were churned out ad nauseam but we had the most fun making the Tortilla Soup recipe in the beautiful cookbook that accompanies said "blender".  It also comes with an instructional DVD with chef Michael Symon who gave me the best pieces of Vitamix advice I've heard so far:

1.  Don't ever be afraid to work the machine.  It's smarter than you are.  It will shut itself down if it overheats and will turn back on when it's ready.  Try anything and everything - it's made to be used and abused.

2.  Don't put the Vitamix in a cabinet (mainly because it won't fit!) but leave it on the counter.  You'll find yourself using it 10 times a day.  Let it integrate into your life.

I took #2 to heart and rearranged my whole kitchen around the new baby.  The counters are cleared except for the Vitamix, a bowl of fruit for my Enerprime and a platter filled with spices. The Vitamix has center stage and I'm abusing it.

I'll post the Tortilla Soup recipe this weekend.  We made several modifications to the cookbook recipe and it came out beautifully.   Until then, just listen for the hummmmm!