Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tag.. I'm It!

I've been tagged. I'm pretty new to this blogging thing. But apparently other bloggers (usually folks you follow, I'm assuming) will tag you by sending you some questions. You answer the questions and come up with some questions of your own for folks you tag and so on. I was tagged by Jen at Running with the Girls. So, without further ado...

the rules:
1. you must post the rules
2. post 11 fun facts about yourself
3. answer the questions the tagger set for you in their post and then create 11 new questions for the people you tagged
4. tag people and link to them on your post
5. let them know you’ve tagged them

11 Things you probably didn't know about me:

1. I'm a HUGE animal lover. No joke, many (most?) people would argue I like animals more than people. Many (most?) people would be right. Especially dogs.

2. I've recently gone vegan. I started out going vegetarian about a year ago (since I didn't eat much meat anyway) and cut out dairy and eggs in December. The only thing I really miss is sushi. So far so good.

3. I love beer. Dark beer. My beer motto is: don't drink beer you can see through.

4. I started running July 2010 as a way to prove to myself that I was overweight, not DEAD! I'm continually amazed by what the human body is capable of.

5. It took me 13 years to complete my first bachelors degree. I'm working on my second, this one should only take me 3 years.

6. I got married on 11/23/11... because who doesn't get married on a Wednesday morning... on the day before Thanksgiving... in Ohio?

7. I have a secret desire to be a farmer and live off the land, but I have little to no ability to make things grow.

8. I was the 5th grade jump roping champion at Nathan Clifford Elementary School.

9. I played goalie in field hockey from 7th grade through my freshman year in college. We made it to the NCAA Div. III championships.

10. I have a dream to complete a full marathon by the time I'm 40... which means I need to do it this year!

11. I love NFL football. I have played fantasy football for over 7 years.

Jen’s questions for my lucky tagged friends....
  1. What is the best vacation you have ever taken?   I can't think of a specific one, but I remember family camping trips from when I was a little kid and they were awesome.
  2. What is your favorite post exercise food?  I don't usually have much appetite right after a work out, but I'll sometimes grab a cinnamon raisen bagel with PB.
  3. Why do you run? Because I can, and that alone amazes me sometimes.
  4. What is the food you could not live without? dark chocolate.
  5. Describe your most favorite race. The one where I PR!
  6. Describe your most horrible race.  The one where every step is a struggle, and it's WINDY!
  7. What is the farthest place you’ve traveled to? I took a trip to South Lake Tahoe a few years ago with friends from an outing club. I mostly snowshoed and drank wine.
  8. Chocolate, strawberry, or vanilla? Chocolate if it's frosting, Strawberry if it's a shake, and Vanilla if it's soft serve ice cream.
  9. Favorite pre-race meal? Coffee.
  10. Do you cross train and what specifically? I do 1-2 boot camp style classes a week (at Kennebec Valley Coaching), and yoga (Bikram or Iyengar) as often as I can.
  11. Do you taper for races and do you go crazy? I haven't run anything long enough to need to taper. But I'm registered for my first 1/2 marathon April 7th. My guess is that I'll take and go insane.

Tara's Questions for my Friends:
  1.  If you could meet anyone in the world who would it be?
  2. When you were 18 what did you plan to do "when you grew up"?
  3. Who is the most influential person in your life and why?
  4. Ocean, Lake, or River?
  5. Mountains, Forests, Deserts, or Tundra?
  6. When did you start running and why?
  7. Best job you've ever had?
  8. "My life would be complete if _______"
  9. Favorite fairy tale?
  10. If you could be anything in the world (regardless of money, education, talent, etc. needed to do it) what would you do?
  11. What do you do to motivate yourself on those days when you just don't want to run?
Amy @ Run Muffin

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Power of a Group

Last year I ran by myself almost exclusively. Which didn't bother me since it provides me with some much needed down time and decompression time. But I must say that since I've been running with my buddies at Kennebec Valley Coaching I've been so much more consistent and I push myself so much more, which all adds up to becoming a stronger runner.

It's kind of hard to tell but my hair is a solid block of ice and I have frost/ice on my face.

Take this morning's run for instance. It was -10 at 8 am this morning and I'm sitting in my car waiting for my friends Trisha, Lynn, and Karen to show up for our long run. We'd planned an 8 miler. Trisha ended up being the only one who made it (Lynn and Karen were with us in spirit though:) and we went along our way. Now, if I had just made a pact with myself to run 8 miles this morning I would have looked at the temperature and said &$^# it and gone back to bed. But there is something special about persevering together in such adverse conditions. Did I mention it snowed yesterday so that there was about 1-1.5 inches of fresh fluffy snow covering the trail? We took our time and had plenty of oomph at the end to really push the last 1/2 mile. But if Trisha hadn't been there waiting for me, I would not have thought I would be able to do it. I would have quit.

I find the same this is true with my strength training. I don't particularly like to strength train, but I know that it is important and necessary for me to become a stronger runner, so I begrudgingly do it. If I do it on my own, I KNOW I don't push myself. As soon as the abs start to burn, or the legs start to shake I quit. But not when I workout with the group. I do boot camp and Winter Warriors classes at KVC and I push myself every minute of every workout. I don't think it's a matter of me being super competitive or anything like that, it's the energy from the amazing people in that class that help me see my potential. They encourage me when I need it most and help me push through barriers I thought were impenetrable.

The power of the group is nothing to be scoffed at. The group lifts you up when you feel defeated, it cheers you on when you feel on top of the world, it sees in you the things you can't see yourself, and it's there to support you however you may need it. I'm so incredibly blessed to have found a motivator and coach like Amy Lawson, and a group of amazing running buddies (Trisha, Lynn O, Lynn F, Beth, Aimee, Brenda, Sue, Karen, and the rest of the group at KVC).

Monday, January 2, 2012

Meet Milly

I did it. I bought a treadmill. I'm so excited I could pee. Seriously, this is major news. Anyone who knows me knows of my hatred of treadmills (aka Dreadmills). Oddly, I've still pined for one for years assuming it'd be different at my house (vs. the stinky gym). And you know what... I WAS RIGHT!

Meet Milly (short for Millicent). Yes, I named her. She is a NordicTrack T5.7 and she was one sale:) She arrived stuffed in a box, waiting to break free! All said and done, the transformation from this...

to this...
wasn't too bad. The only BIG hang-up I experienced was during the very first step. I merely had to remove a screw from the rail, discard said screw, and secure the ground wire with a ground screw. I snapped the head off the screw. No joke. Popped the head right off it. I tried pushing it through with a screwdriver and a hammer but that didn't work. So I drove down to the local hardware store and bought a power drill. Yep, that's right, I now own power tools (look out)! With power drill in hand, I returned to the scene of the crime and attempted to drill the screw out. That didn't work. So I drilled a new hole right next to the offending screw. Sadly, the grounding screw is some crazy ass size only used in the Antarctic so NONE of the drill bits matched it. Never fear I said to myself. I'll just substitute a different screw that fits the new hole I drilled. I googled this idea first to make sure it'd be OK. After securing the ground wire (it only took 1.5 hours to complete step one) I was ready to tackle the rest of the "some assembly required". Which went relatively quickly. In all, I spent almost 4 hours 'creating' Milly. But she's so worth it!
Just look at her beautiful face. I put her in the guestroom, because quite honestly, no-one ever comes to see us. We've been in this house 2 years and we've had guests twice and one 'crash for the nighter'. I will need to make some adjustments to the room. I need to move the TV so I can see it better and I may have to do some rearranging (heck I may take the bed out all together and get one of those Aerobeds). One thing that is a must... a fan!!! Holy Nut does it get hot in there!

I ran my maiden mile (well, more like 1.5) and then tried out one of the pre-set programs. Central Park Walk. It sounded lovely, not sure what makes it a Central Park walk (other than I was watching When Harry Met Sally). Basically it was a 1.8 mile walk with inclines ranging form 0-4.5 at a speed of 3.5.

I'm excited to do my first 'real' run tomorrow morning. I still plan on running outside as much as possible, but Milly will surely help me keep my running goals this year when the weather and/or daylight don't cooperate:)

The wall in front of me is also super blank... what should I put there to motivate me to run like the wind?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

I am ushering in the New Year by cooking up a storm today! Started with wholesome vegan whole wheat chocolate-coconut pancakes (using unsweetened chocolate and coconut, there is plenty of sugar in the syrup). Then making spicy black bean soup, roasted chickpeas (for snacking), a nice big salad for the week, and HOMEMADE SEITAN!! So much cheaper, and better, to make your own, and it keeps well in the fridge for a couple weeks. Woo Hoo!!
Vegan Chocolate Coconut Pancakes (single serving)
1/2 cup unbleached white whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon Ener-G egg replacer mixed with 1 tablespoon warm water
1/2 unsweetened milk alternative (I used unsweetened vanilla Almond Breeze)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup unsweetened (or semi-sweet) dark chocolate chips (vegan)
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
Mix dry ingredients until combined. Add wet ingredients and mix well. Fold in chocolate chips and coconut. You may need to add additional milk (by the tablespoon) to get batter to desired thickness. Heat a non-stick skillet on medium heat and add 1/2 the batter. Cook until bubbles form on top and flip. Cook until set. Repeat with remaining batter. Top with vegan butter spread (optional) and pure maple syrup (or other toppings of your choice).
I don't like to say I am making a "resolution", I prefer to call them goals. I have several for 2012. One of those goals is to post to this blog at least once a month. I also have running-related goals; I will run a race a month in 2012, I will complete a half marathon in 2012, I will run 4 days a week in 2012, I will increase my weekly mileage to 20-25 miles per week. I continue to lose weight by exercising and eating a healthy diet.
The race a month goal is hardest in the winter. There are only a handful of races in January and February. I am already planning on running The Thaw (4.5 miler) on January 14th. February's race is still undetermined. I also have 3 half marathons I am considering. The soonest is April 7th, Race the Runways, and I am already registered for the Second Annual Old Port Half Marathon (I was actually registered for it last year, but was sidelined with an injury so they graciously deferred my registration). Developing a 4-day 20-25 mile a week habit will take some time... perhaps the entire year. But it's a very worthy goal and one I'm willing to be patient to develop.
There are certain times of the year when I can't help but be optimistic and full of hope for the future and New Year's is one of them (I tend to get this way in the fall and spring as well). The coming year is filled with possibilities and opportunies to increase happiness, joyfulness, knowledge, and health.
What are you doing to celebrate a new year?