Mainely Running
Join me as I train in Maine and race all over the world in pursuit of my goal to run a marathon on all 7 continents

Friday, September 30, 2011

New Orleans Day 1

I thought I’d never get to New Orleans. My flight from Orange County to Houston was diverted to Austin because of weather. They let us off the plane, but said not to go far because we’d be boarding again soon. They promised an update every 15 minutes. This went on for 5 hours! But finally we reboarded, took off, and in Houston I did a sprint through the airport and made the last flight to NOLA. I am staying at the Royal Sonesta right on Bourbon street and the party was still going strong when I got here at 2 am. I did not appreciate my alarm going off at 6 am, but I really wanted to get a workout in because I knew the day would be full of good food. I hadn’t gotten a chance to scope out the running possibilities because of my late arrival, so I suffered in the hot, crowded, hotel gym. Apparently fitness isn’t high on people’s list when they’re staying on Bourbon street. Then I headed down to the ballroom for breakfast and meetings. It was super interesting to finally meet all my coworkers who I have been interacting with virtually for a year. I had the totally wrong image of so many of them. It makes me wonder how different my virtual self is from my actual self. Our lunch activity was right up my alley. They brought in executive chefs from the area and we did a cooking lesson/challenge. There were 3 different courses, BBQ shrimp, crab chowder, and jumblyiah. For each course there were 3 teams making that course. My team made crab chowder. The chefs gave us the basic instructions and then we were on our own to personalize the dish. At the end, the 4 partners who own the company, chose a winner. Our chowder ended up coming in second. It was so fun to walk around and see what everyone was doing and taste the different options. It was also a little terrifying to see what restaurant chefs put in the food I would consider healthy. The shrimp had 2 lbs of butter in the BBQ sauce!!
After the culinary challenge, I headed off to city park with a group to volunteer. I always look for a non touristy way to see the city, and this seemed perfect. A group of us worked for a few hours painting at the little amusement park. City park is a wonderful public space. It’s enormous- 4 times the size of Central park, and gets no funding from the city, so they rely heavily on volunteers. It was a beautiful spot, with a thick canopy of moss covered trees. Walking among the closed carnival rides was like being in a little fairy land. During our time we managed to prime and paint the whole game building a bright, cherry red. Having done my good deed for the day, we headed back to the French Quarter to change for dinner. Dinner and the cocktail reception were at Patty O’s, on a roof deck over-looking the river. We got to see the sun set and watch the variety of boats move along the river. A great end to a great day!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Cross Fit

I have been hearing a lot about Cross Fit, but never got around to giving it a try. Mostly because I have my AWESOME boot camp class at the Y at home. However, after about 2 months in Anaheim, I simply can't stand another workout in the hotel gym or the gross Bally's next door, so I started looking for other options. There is a cross fit place about a mile away, so I figured I'd give it a go. After sitting in my car in the dark waiting for about 20 minutes because, as usual, I was so early the class leader showed up and opened the gym. It wasn't the prettiest place I've ever been, it was just an old warehouse, but it was stuffed with all kinds of cool equipment. More importantly, everyone was SO nice. They were super welcoming and made me feel right at ease. We started out on foam rollers to loosen everything up, then went for a quick run, followed by dynamic stretching. Then came the hardest part of the workout, shoulder press jerks. I couldn't get the movement right! You have to squat, lift the bar half-way, and then squat again quickly as you press the bar up to lock out your arms, and then stand. It really shouldn't have been that hard, but I had a mental block. There is a movie of them here Then came the fun part. 300 jumps with a jump rope, a 400 meter run, 10 burpees, 10 pull-ups, and then 10 knees to elbows. We were supposed to do 4 sets, but I only got through 3.5 in the 20 minutes. I was dripping sweat! I left in a fantastic mood and can't wait to go back!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Running unplugged

After my standard fragmented Sunday night of sleep (3 ish hours on the plane, and 4 more once I got to my hotel), I got up this morning to find the unthinkable had happened. My i-pod was dead. It had gotten turned on in my suitcase and the battery was drained. Since running around the concrete jungle near my hotel is pretty darn uninspiring, I rely heavily on a combination of music, NPR podcasts, and running podcasts to keep me going. I seriously considered retreating to the gym so I could at least watch TV, but I just couldn't bring myself to face an hour on the dreadmill. So I slipped on my headlamp and headed outside without my i-pod. And you know what? I had a great run! I was less jumpy about running in the dark, by myself, in a strange place. More importantly, I felt so much more in tune with my body. I switched my plan from a 60 minute moderate effort run, to a tobada workout to keep my mind engaged. I did a 15 min warm-up, and then 8 intervals of 20 seconds hard and 10 seconds easy, focusing on my cadence. I repeated this 4 times with 4 minutes of easy running between each block, and then cooled down. The hour flew by faster any run I've done recently. Sometimes, you just have to roll with the punches.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Life is Good

Life is Good (but Complicated) I was exhausted after Friday, but there’s no rest for the weary! I had to wait up Friday night because my Mom and her friend Cat were coming down for the Life is Good Festival. Then Saturday, I was up early again for boot camp and step and sculpt. After my marathon gym session, we packed up the car and headed to Canton for a day of fun and music! We totally lucked out with the weather. It poured Thursday, Friday, and Friday night, but stayed mostly dry Saturday. My Mom, Cat, my aunt, and my roomie Kristen and I had a great time dancing, chilling in our lawn chairs, drinking beer, tasting pretty much every food option there was, and playing all the little games they had set up (for kids probably, but we had fun anyway!). We made shrinky-dinks, we hula-hooped, we decorated cookies. We even got to be on stage. At the martin guitar tent they had a stage set up, and if you played, you were entered in a raffle for a free guitar. Thank goodness my Mom and aunt were there, because I would not have gone up alone. Being outside all day surrounded by live music was just what I needed to relax.
Kristen and I with the cookie we decorated. How much frosting can you get on one cookie?
My Mom, Aunt, and Cat rocking out! Today, Sunday, was my last Sunday at my gym. It’s honestly, one of the things I’m going to miss most. Thinking about it, I’ve spent a lot of time there over the last 5 years, and so I’ve gotten to know the instructors and people really well. I see them a lot more often than I see some of my “friends.” There is something about getting up early when the rest of the world is still in bed and getting your butts kicked that really brings people together. And the instructors know me, they know how to push me, but they also know my limits. I’ve started scoping out gyms near my new house, but haven’t made a decision yet. Anyone in the Portland area have any recommendations?

Holy Moly.... I own a HOUSE!

Phew….. what a crazy, stressful , fun, exciting weekend! I’ll have to break it into 2 posts because I'm too tired to type it all at once. Somehow everything came together and the closing on my house was Friday. I was up bright and early (which felt early since I stayed up past my bedtime watching the premiere of Gray’s Anatomy Thursday night) for a steamy run. After the cold, crisp weather last week, the return to 80 degree weather with 99% humidity this week was not pleasant. I was still dripping with sweat after my shower. But, I shoved my sweaty self in the car and battled the traffic to get to Portland in time for the walk through before the closing. The seller had been as time crunched as I was, so there was still quite a bit of her stuff in the house during the walk through, so it didn’t feel like mine yet. But I felt right at home when we had to wait for the Casco Bay Bridge on the way to the closing. Just like Southport! The closing itself was a slow, frustrating process. The seller is deaf, and the interpreter she hired was not friendly. We had to go over things again and again before anything was signed. But, then finally it was over, and I got the keys! When I got back to the house, it was empty, and I walked through the rooms imagining them filled with my stuff. I unloaded the car load I had brought with me, and already it started to feel like home. I hated to leave. But I had to go to the bank and set up new accounts and do a few other errands and still leave in time to be back in MA for a dinner party with the ladies from the gym. So until I move in two weeks, I’ll have to be content with looking at the pictures.
The front of my house
My little patio and backyard. I can't wait to get a grill and patio set! a
The kitchen. I am going to paint the cabinets a different color. I'm thinking white. Any suggestions?
The living room. I'm having the carpet cleaned to get rid of that stain. But I am still trying to figure out how to arrange my furniture around the fireplace. Again, suggestions welcomed!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Thank you body

I've been pushing it pretty hard lately. I haven't taken a day off from working out in weeks and then there is the chronic exhaustion from going back and forth to California every week. Those red eyes are a killer. Reach the Beach was 2 days of hard runs and no sleep. And of course there is all the stress from buying my house. So today, I gave myself a break. I forgot my Tylenol PM for the red eye, and the guy beside me kept bumping me, so I didn't sleep much. When I got home at 5:45 am it was raining and dark. I knew I should head out on my run to get it done so I could focus on unpacking and all the house related stuff I needed to do. But instead, I crawled into bed and passed out for an hour and half. I felt so much better when I woke up. It was still raining, but at least it was light, and I felt pretty good running. My past few runs after the red eye have been miserable. Then, I wolfed down a quick bowl of frosted mini-wheats and headed to the gym for bootcamp. I'm trying to squeeze in all my favorite classes before I move. Then came the best part of my day: I got a massage! I had a groupon I'd been saving, but now I have to use it before I move. It was heavenly. Parts of my body that I didn't think could be tight were tight, like my second toe and my inner shin. I left feeling amazing. Who knew my shoulders could be so far away from my ears. Since I'd started a Groupon using trend for the day, I headed to Lola's in Natick to use another groupon. It's an adorable little Italian cafe. They have a great grilled chicken sandwich with caramelized onions. Put caramelized onions on it, and I'm sold. They also have great Arancini (fried risotto balls.) I ended the lunch with one of my favorite little treats when I was in Italy, a Baci.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Happy Dance

It's a good day.

I was really feeling it at spinning this morning. I guess taking 2 easy days after RTB really helped. Monday I did 50 mins on the elliptical and yesterday I did an easy 55 min run. And last night I went out with the other consultants for a great dinner. We shared stuffed dates as an appetizer- what a surprising awesome combination. Blue cheese stuffed in a date and wrapped in bacon. YUM-O. I think I polished off half of them by myself. Then I got a giant salad with mango, avacado, and seared ahi tuna. And a side of sauteed mushrooms, which was HUGE. Barely made a dent, but they'll go perfect with my leftover ravioli from Monday night for lunch, which is good because I'm totally over the hospital cafeteria. And then I was craving chocolate, so I warmed up the famous amos that were in my hotel goodie bag this week. Not at all like homemade, but they did the trick. So I was well fueled for spinning. Rocking music and pop in my legs meant I attacked the class. It was only in the last 10 minutes after about 20 straight miles I hills that I lost my motivation.

And oh yeah, by the way, I AM BUYING A HOUSE ON FRIDAY. After not hearing from the bank or my Realtor at all the past few weeks, I figured the Friday closing was a no go. But then yesterday the phone started ringing and the e-mail started flying. I'm so glad, it's just going to be over. I won't totally relax until I'm moved in, but this is huge. I think it's going to be a couple of sleepless nights (and not just because I'm taking the red eye).

Any tips out there from home owners?

Monday, September 19, 2011

More Reach the Beach Photos

Despite a 6 hour flight last night, I'm feeling good. My legs are almost back to normal and I no longer feel like a sleep deprived zombie. I did an easy hour and half bike ride yesterday along with some upper body weights, and 55 mins on the elliptical today. Maybe tomorrow I'll try to run. I'm still on my post reach the beach high, so here are some more pics from the event that I got from my team-mates.

The whole team at the very chilly start!

Me at the start with all the other people in our starting group during a rare moment of partial sunshine.

The team slogging through the sand at the finish

We're done! And rocking our awesome shirts!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Reach the Beach

Reach the Beach is basically non-stop for 2.5 days, so it’s incredibly hard to summarize in a paragraph or two. It’s fun and fatigue and exhilaration and exhaustion. Every year has been different because of the different people on the team, running different legs, and different weather. But, this year was definitely a good one. Here’s a few of the things I noticed in particular:
Body Awareness: Because my next run is never far away, I have to pay close attention to what my body needs. When I finish a leg, I have to take the time to cool down and stretch. I refuel with healthy, whole foods. When I do eat, I eat just enough so that I have time to digest before my next leg. When something hurts, I figure out exactly what kind of pain it is and find a way to help it. It’s a cool feeling to be so in touch with yourself. Too often I ignore the signals my body is sending. I eat past the point of fullness, I eat chocolate and ice cream when my body wants veggies and whole grains. A day past the race I can already feel myself moving back towards my old habits of eating according to a clock and cravings instead of body signals.
You can do more than you think you can: I easily fall into running ruts. The same routes, the same paces, the same distances. But I challenged myself in so many ways in this event. I ran more legs and total distance than ever before, and ended up feeling better at the end. I ran a faster average pace on each leg than I have been running during my training speed workouts. I ran in the morning, in the middle of the night, in the afternoon- totally dispelling my notion that if I can’t run in the morning, I might as well not run. I need to give myself more credit for what I can do, and keep pushing my boundaries.
The fear is still there: In past years the night leg was my favorite. It was just me, the vast sky filled with stars , and the blinking lights of the runners ahead of me. This year I was terrified the whole leg. I started out on a narrow trail in the woods. It was pitch black and I was alone. I kept waiting for someone to jump out of the trees. Then I was on a small rural road. I only saw a few other runners, and nearly jumped out of my skin when they came up behind me. Obviously this is because of getting attached last fall. I hate that my ability to run alone in the dark without fear was taken from me.

Van 1 is ready to rock!

Sunset at Silver Lake as we wait for van 2 to come in and hand-off to me for leg 2

So many white vans!

It was freezing!! Look at the snow on the mountains!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Organization Queen

This weekend is one of my favorites of the fall, The Reach the Beach Relay!

It's 30ish hours running across New Hampshire. You run, hop back in the van, support your team-mates, eat some crap, run again, get back in the van, maybe sleep a little, drink lots of coffee, run again, and finally end up at Hampton Beach for a BBQ and beer on the beach. And this year, we're down a runner so I get to run 4 times instead of 3.

We always start off with good intentions, but by the end the van is a gross mess. Last year, I almost missed a hand-off because I couldn't find a sock. Not this year. Maybe I went overboard, but I packed each complete running outfit in an individual ziplock bag. Socks, underwear, sports bra, shorts, and shirt X 4 legs. And after each leg, I'll stuff the sweaty stuff back in the bag and seal it to minimize odor.

Bring it on!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Eggplant Mozzarella Sticks

I love this time of year- there are just so many great fresh veggies and fruits! In addition to my peaches and pears, I also got some great veggies at Nicewicz farm. Since I'm working at home this week, I had the time to make these Eggplant-Mozzarella Stacks I saw in the Globe a couple weeks ago.

First I baked the eggplant alone under the broiler for 8 minutes to soften it. Then I laid one layer of eggplant into a dish with 1/2 cup tomato sauce.

Then I topped each slice with a dollop of tomato sauce, cheese, and a basil leaf. The repeated, topping the last layer with panko crumbs. The final product was golden and delicious!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Apples, and peaches, and plums..... oh my!

SO after some roomie strife yesterday morning, we all managed to move on and have a great afternoon at Nicewicz farm in Bolton, where we go every year to pick apples and peaches. It's a great place because they give you free reign to roam the entire farm. You pay for your bag and can pick whatever you want from whatever tree you want. Unlike a farm which we tried last year where you could only walk down a few rows and pick from a few trees. You can even sample as much as you want. (Unfortunately, the morning arguments sent me running to my bag of WhoNu cookies for comfort, and I was still too full for much sampling). They also have the most incredible elephant heart plums, the reddest, sweetest, juiciest plum ever. We fill a big bag of apples, a smaller bag of apples, and a bag of peaches and plums in no time!

For breakfast I had this perfect peach with yogurt.

Then for lunch I made one of my favorite all time salads. Spinach, apple, and bacon with a maple vinaigrette. I used turkey bacon, and it was super good.

I also got this funny tomato. It makes me laugh so much I'm not sure I'll be able to eat it.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Moving On

Major life changes, like moving, are not easy. I feel like I'm at the worst point right now. The decision has been made and there's no turning back. All I can do is wait, and second guess my decision. One minute I can't wait to live on my own, and the next I worry about how lonely I'll be. It's complicated ending a living arrangement with friends. I instigated the household breakup, so I feel responsible for my room-mates happiness. I want to be happy about my new house, but I feel like I can't be because they're in such flux. We're having to remember who owns what, divide up common goods, and renegotiate our relationships. I've been relying a little too heavily on chocolate as a coping strategy.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Seal Beach California

Since I worked 14 hour days Monday-Wednesday, I decided to skip out a little early today. It was about 102 out, so the beach was the only thing on my mind. I was flying out of Long Beach, but the beach there is pretty gross. So I decided to check out Seal Beach.

I spent a lovely hour and half walking along the pier and the beach. It was great.

As long as you didn't look over at all the oil rigs.

Then it was time for some grub. In a new place, my rule of thumb is to pick the place with the most people in it. There was this little BBQ place, Beachwood BBQ, that was absolutely packed so I went in. Turns out they were having this sour beer fest that they only have once every 5 year. I hadn't planned on getting a drink, but hey I couldn't miss sour beer fest. I tried 2 little glasses, one an ollallieberrie and one called duck, duck, guava. They weren't kidding about the sour. But it grew on me, kinda like sour patch kids.

It was still happy hour so I choose 2 very interesting things off the 1/2 off appetizer menu- fried green tomatoes and a wild mushroom stew on blue cheese grits. The friend green tomatoes were okay. They mostly tasted like the fried breading. I used them as a vehicle to taste the 4 different BBQ sauces. But the wild mushroom stew was AMAZING. The cheesy grits were rich and smooth, the mushrooms were tender and deep flavored, and then it was topped with flash friend spinach. I would go back again and again for this meal.

So now I'm at the airport after a very interesting trip through security. I refrained from jumping in the ocean because I didn't want to be cold and wet on my flight home. Instead I laid in the grass. Except apparently the grass had fertilizer with nitrogen which set off alarms at the airport. So I got 2 very thorough pat downs and they went through my stuff holding up each pair of underwear and each smelly article of work-out clothing from the whole week.

A Change Would Do You Good

Sheryl Crow sings "A Change Would Do You Good," and since she pretty rocks, I figure she knows what she is talking about. Plus, I've been reading more and more about the benefits of high intensity of interval work-outs. I go to boot-camp on Saturday, but for my Mon-Fri on the road workouts I always revert to my old stand-by. A 60 min moderate cardio work-out, either running, spinning, or the elliptical in the morning, and then strength training and abs (but this 2nd workout sometimes goes by the wayside).

This week, because I was working super early mornings and so it was too dark and sketchy to run, I got desperate. I can't stand more than 1 day a week each on the treadmill, elliptical, and spinning. So this morning I broke out my jumprope and resistance band. I did a 60 minute tobada work-out. A tobada is 8 repetitions of 20 sec hard w/10 sec rest. I alternated between a cardio tobada (jump rope or treadmill) and a strength exercise (squats, chest flies, rows, biceps/triceps, and burpees). And I was sweating for sure, but I somehow ended the workout feeling like it wasn't enough.

Changing your routine is majorly scary. If you keep doing what you've always done, you'll get what you've always gotten. No room for improvement sure, but also no room for failure. I tend to stick with the safe and know. So this is a challenge.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Hot Peanut Butter Banana Goodness

I've been trying to limit my intake of carbs this week, because my diet had fallen into a carb only rut. Cereal for breakfast, a sandwich with lots of bread for lunch, pasta for dinner. After 3 mornings of plain yogurt, I was ready for a change. So I mixed a banana, peanut butter, and walnuts and microwaved for a minuted. Hot, gooey, yummyness.

Monday, September 5, 2011

On my own

It was shut-down week at the Y this week, which meant no classes because they were re-varnishing the floor in the aerobics room. Major bummer. So I wasn't looking forward to my week-end work-outs.

Saturday though I ended up doing a great 30 bike ride. Since I was a lame-o and went to bed by 10, I was up early before the traffic. The roads were in much better condition than when I tried to run earlier in the week. Only 2 forced turn-arounds. And now that I'm going to be moving, I am savoring my last rides on these roads I have come to know well.

Sunday was a sweaty hill workout. The humidity had returned and I was dripping when I got home. But I was home, which meant I could retreat the basement to do a quick upper body strength workout without grossing anyone out. Then I pretty much laid around like a lazy slug until I had to go to the airport.

This week I'm working in the command center every day from 7-7. This means it's too dark to run outside. I just don't feel safe. So I'm stuck in the little hotel gym for 4 straight days. Yuck.

Also, I'm on the quest for a couch that is not ugly and does not cost $1,000. HELP! Or I'm going to be sitting on the floor in my new house.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Last lazy days of summer

Weeks where I work at home, I tend to be pretty lazy. I don't know what to do with the time I have on my hands when I'm not spending 24 hours a week traveling!
Well lazy for me at least.....

Tuesday I did a great 5 am sunrise run in Maine before heading to my house inspection. I started in the dark and watched the sun rise pink and orange up over the ocean. Wednesday I tried to go for a long bike ride back in MA, but thanks to the storm and the hurricane at least half the roads I tried were closed or in very rough condition. I also went to Kelley's pilates class, which is like pilates bootcamp. I never remember how much it hurts until I'm in the middle of it! Thursday I did a special outside version of Leslie's bootcamp. Thanks to a million walking lunges and triceps dips, I am VERY sore today. This morning I did a great 12.5 mile run. I was aiming for 13, but I was so thirsty by the end I couldn't bring myself to run by my house to get in the extra .5. It was slower than I would have liked, but I felt great the whole time.

My other major accomplishment for the week was some good cooking. I made a peach upside down cake one night, and great homemade fresh spinach pasta with grilled summer squash and corn. The spinach pasta came out AWESOME.

4oz of spinach (I used frozen)
1/4 cup of ww flour
3/4 cup of while flour
1/3 cup semolina flour

process in food processor until it forms a ball and then put through the pasta machine.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


I had been reading about WhoNu cookies, and when I saw a coupon in the paper on Sunday, decided to give them a try. They are basically just cookies fortified with a bunch of stuff. 3 cookies have more fiber than a bowl of oatmeal, as much calcium and vitamin D as a glass of milk, as much vitamin C as a cup of blueberries, as much iron as a cup of spinach, as much vitamin E as 2 cups of carrot juice, and as much vitamin B12 as a cup of cottage cheese and fruit. Sounds pretty impressive....

But how do they taste? I got the Oreo style and they were pretty good. Not quite as much filling as I'd like, but good enough that I plowed through 6 before I looked at the nutrition facts. 3 cookies has 160 calories, so I'd just taken in more than 300 calories in a few minutes.

That is what makes these so dangerous. They are marketed as a health food, but they are not. I can easily see myself eating a sleeve of these at a time, because they're small and not that satisfying. I think this is the problem with how we eat. We keep trying to find ways to trick the system so that we can eat junk food and feel okay about it. What do you think? Is is better to add vitamins and fiber to food so that people are at least getting some nutrition? Or does this encourage people to eat poorly? Should we put more of an emphasis on getting people to eat whole, unprocessed food?