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

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Ending the Year with a (freezing) Splash!

I like to do events to make occasions, so I was excited when I heard about the Polar Bear 5k and Polar Plunge to benefit the Natural Resources Council of Maine. And then I saw the weather forecast "freezing rain with a chance of sleet." Great.

When I woke up and left for the gym this morning it wasn't bad. But, by the time I was leaving the gym the freezing rain was pouring down. I was so tempted to go home and stay home. I mean I'd already gone to kickboxing. Didn't I deserve to spend the rest of the morning on the couch with a blanket and hot coffee?

But then I got a phone call from a friend telling me that a friend I'd worked with for more than 10 years passed away last night. He was in his early forties and no one expected it. So I decided that I would run the race for him because I could. Life is short and I want to live it to the fullest.

So I tossed on my rain coat and headed down to the back bay parking lot. I stood in the rain to register and then got back in my car to wait for the start. At this point I almost bailed again-  I was freezing and wet already! But when I saw the crowd gathering I got excited again and hopped over to the start trying to regain some feeling in my feet. It was definitely not a day for a PR. Most of the race was on the trail around back bay and it was completely iced over. I ran on the frozen, uneven grass on the side of the trail and my main goal was not to fall on my face!

This was one race I was not happy to see end, because it meant it was time for the plunge! The water temp was a balmy 42 degrees. The race organizers wanted everyone to go in at once, so I had just enough time to get really cold between the run and plunge. It was pretty fun though to see all the people in costumes- polar bear costumes, grass skirts and leis, tutus. I waited until the last minute to strip down to my tights and tank top and then I was in (and out again pretty fast). Luckily, my wonderful, wonderful Breezy came to meet me at the end with a hot peppermint mocha, a towel, and most importantly a ride back to my car where I'd parked it at the start of the race.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Best of 2011- Part 3

September- I bought a house!!
Probably the scariest thing I've ever done because it's a huge commitment.  But, I absolutely love being back in Maine and having my own house.

October- Reach the Beach and New Orleans
I just couldn't pick one, because both were a blast! My company meeting in New Orleans the first weekend in October was surprisingly fun. New Orleans just has so much spirit that it is impossible to have a bad time there. I really enjoyed getting to know all my coworkers and felt so lucky to be part of such a great company. And then, my Reach the Beach team was super fun this year and I kicked some butt on all my legs. 

November- The giant Redwoods in Northern California
I went up to Eureka for work and was totally stunned by the natural beauty. The rugged coast and the towering redwoods totally captured my heart.

December- Connecting with Old Friends

One of the best parts of moving back to Maine is connecting with old friends. I don't know if anyone will ever know you as well as your friends from junior high and high school. We spent pretty much all of our waking hours together and it's been so much fun to see how everyone has changed (or not) over the past 10 years.

Let's hope that 2012 is just as fulfilling and exciting!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Best of 2011- Part 2

May- I got my Master's in Public Health
After 3 years of working full time and going to school, I finally finished my Master's. The best part of this program was my practicum in Ghana. It was no easy to convince my job to give me the time off, but it was so worthwhile. I learned so fun, and made some amazing friends, including the 6 am running crew seen here.

June- I finished my first 2 sprint Triathalons
I have been wanting to do a tri for a few years and this year I finally sucked it up an signed up. The first swim, in a pool, was fine, but the second swim in the lake nearly killed me. Still, I loved the races- the quick changes between portions is such a nice change from the monotony of the marathon. My goal for 2012 is to improve in the swim.

July- The Peak's Island Race
I missed the race last year and so was excited to do it this year. It's a blast because we make a whole day of it. We take the ferry out early the morning, and I run the race while my Mom and her friend Cat work a water station. Then we spend the rest of the day biking around the island, hanging out at the beach, and eating lobster rolls and drinking beer. Perfect summer day!

August- I became an unofficial goat tender
There is a lighthouse right outside the harbor at my Mom's house. The coast guard was going to tear it down, and so a group of people from the island formed an organization to buy, restore, and maintain the lighthouse. (Cuckhold's Light). This summer we put a pair of goats out there to eat down some of the over-grown vegetation and keep away the sea gulls. They were spoiled farm goats though, and so someone had to paddle out there frequently to give them their special food. It was a lot of fun to kayak out- they'd see you coming and wait at the shore and then about capsize the boat trying to get to you as you landed.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

2011 in Review: Part 1

When people tell me I lead an exciting life, I don't quite get it. Most of the time I feel like my life is pretty darn boring. But then when I start to look back at all the things I did last year, I realize that, wow, it actually was a pretty incredible year. Here's a highlight from each month of the year.

January- Skiing in Colorado
Over MLK weekend last January I met a friend to ski in Colorado instead of flying home for the weekend. It was a whirlwind trip- we hit up Keystone, Vail, Breckenridge, and A-Basin. The deep, deep powder and glade skiing was a totally new experience for me. It took me awhile to get into it, but once I did I was hooked. I can't wait to go back!

February- Running the Antarctica Marathon
I do not think of myself as a hard core runner, so finishing (and even winning my division) one of the hardest Marathons in the world was a major accomplishment. One of the best parts of the race was the support from the other runners. We'd been together for more than a week before the race, so I knew every face I passed and never failed to get encouragement.

March- Seeing the Antarctica Peninsula
With the pressure of the race lifted, we got to spend the whole first week in March cruising the Antarctica peninsula. The incredible beauty of this place, coupled with the remoteness and solitude, makes it difficult to even describe. I am so glad I got to share the once in a lifetime experience with my Mom.

April- Seattle
When my friend Cheri invited me to come meet her in Seattle for the weekend, I jumped at the chance. We had a great weekend wandering the city and eating a lot! Cups and cups and cups of great coffee, crab omelets, and pastries. Luckily, Seattle also had a lot of running paths so I got in plenty of running too! I totally loved this city and can't wait to go back.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I've got you, but you've got yourself

I'm I admit the truth to myself I have to concede that running marathons is not good for my body. I was not built to run long distances. I am short and muscular, perfect for a gymnast, but not so much for the marathon. But, I have the mind of a distance runner, I am stubborn and determined.

I've realized that if I'm going to complete my 7 continent goal I have to take care of body, so I'm trying to fit lots of yoga and stretching into my schedule. Getting myself to yoga is such a struggle, but it's always so worth it. Being in the studio with an instructor forces me to forget about everything else, and it seems like I always leave with a new pearl of wisdom.

Yesterday the instructor was assisting me in a pose, helping me to go deeper. As she pushed my body a littler further she said "I've got you, but you've also got yourself." I repeated the phrase to myself the rest of class.

I like to polarize things, so I tend to think that I either need to be totally independent or I need to relent and let people do things for me. But it doesn't have to be an either or. I can maintain my sense of self that I value so much while also letting other people in.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Majorly Dissapointed with CW-X

Last year for Christmas I got a pair of CW-X tights. I'd wanted a pair for a long time, but couldn't bring myself to pay more than $100 for tights for myself. But I figured with the Antarctica Marathon last year, they'd be a good gift idea. I got a pair of the Women's Insultor Stabilyx Tights, and I love them. They were perfect for Antarctica because they're super warm. In fact, they're so warm that I only wear them when it's pretty chilly out, so I don't wear them all that often. I'd say that I've only worn them a total of 20 times. This morning when I went to put them on, I noticed that they already ripping on the inner thighs. I'm talking some pretty major holes. I am so disappointed and pretty mad too. These cost a lot of money and they didn't even last a year. Has anyone else had this experience with C-WX tights or apparel?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Healthier Holiday Treats: Bailey's Irish Cream and Peppermint Whoopie Pies

The part of marathon training that I find the hardest is recovery. I am SO bad at taking days off. But yesterday I made myself do it. To keep myself busy, I decided to whip up some holiday treats for my friends and neighbors. I like to give out tasty treats, but am also conscious of calories. I like to think I'm giving my friends 2 treats in one- something yummy and something that won't leave them starting the new year weighing 10 extra pounds!

For my friends I made home-made Bailey's Irish Cream. It was really easy to lighten up, and still amazingly good.

  • 1 C fat free half and half
  • 14 oz reduced fat sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 2/3 C Irish whiskey
  • 1 t instant coffee
  • 2 T Hershey's chocolate syrup
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1 t almond extract (I used Torani hazelnut instead)
  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and set on high speed for 30 seconds.
  2. Bottle in a tightly sealed container and refrigerate. Shake before using.
  3. Will keep for up to 2 months
Since most of my neighbors are over 65, I decided to skip the booze for them and make some peppermint whoopie pies. 

3/4 cup sugar
2/3 cup mashed banana
2 eggs
1 cup skim milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup cocoa
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup powdered sugar (I ended up using way more because my frosting was not thick enough)
1/2 cup Neufchatel cream cheese
1/4 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt

1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray nonstick spray on cookie sheets.
2. In a large bowl cream together sugar and banana. Add eggs, milk and vanilla. In a small bowl combine the cocoa, flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt.
3. Add the dry ingredients to the liquids beating together until smooth.
4. Drop batter (about 2 tablespoons at a time) on to the cookie sheets to make 18 cookies.
5. Bake 15 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.
6. To make the filling, cream together the cheese and sugar add yogurt and continue to mix until well blended.
7. Assemble sandwiches by spreading the filling on the flat side of one cookie and topping with another pressing down to distribute filling evenly. Repeat with remaining cookies and filling.
8. Wrap whoopie pies individually in plastic wrap or place them in a single layer on a platter as they will stick if stacked on top of each other.

These were my first 2- they don't look that pretty. My technique improved as I went!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

It's begining to feel a lot like Christmas

Being in California for the last 2 weeks, I was having a hard time getting in the holiday spirit. It just doesn't feel like Christmas to me when I'm standing in front of a palm tree wearing a t-shirt! But after yesterday back at home, I'm totally in the mood.

I woke up to a surprise snow storm. I would have preferred it wasn't during my scheduled 17 miler, but I am anxious for a white Christmas so I didn't mind. With the snow and wind I could barely see during the first half of my run and I was quickly getting soaked through.  But running on the greenbelt I passed other intrepid runners and we exchanged smiles, and then I got out to Bug Light and the snow on the water was so pretty, that it kept my mood up. The second half of the run was harder, I was on a less scenic portion of the trail, I was alone, and I was tired. But, I stuck it out and finished the 17.

After food, a shower, and some stretching, I headed into Portland to meet Breezy at Dobra Tea. It was freezing outside, and I was tired from my run, so it was the perfect afternoon to settle inside and drink some tea. We got one of the tables sunk into the floor and plopped down into the pillow chairs. The tea menu was pretty overwhelming- almost 100 pages! We ended up with a Jasmine green tea and a lychee black tea. And then we waited..... The couple next to us ordered at the same time and had theirs within 20 minutes. So by the time the tea came we had to basically gulp it down. But I definitely want to go back on a day when I have more time- the atmosphere is great and I can see myself lingering all afternoon with a pot of tea.

The reason we had to hurry is that we had tickets to ride one of the Casco Bay Ferry Boats in the Boat Parade. The boat was all decorated.

It was freezing out on the water, reminded me of being in Antarctica. But we stuck it out on the bow for the whole hour. All the boats gathered outside of the harbor and then we came in in a line and made a circle. Then there were amazing fireworks. I love watching the fireworks over the ocean because they reflect off the surface of the water so it's like they are doubled.  It was hard to get pictures of the boats in the dark- they were way prettier than they look in the pictures.

After the parade we needed some food and a place to warm up, so we headed to the Merry Table Creperie because I had a living social deal I wanted to use. It was perfect. It is on a back cobblestone alley in the Old Port, so it feels like Paris. Inside it is small and cozy, with French prints on the wall. We tucked ourselves in a little booth in a back. The service was excellent, and we quickly had our appetizer- sliced baguette with goat cheese and mushrooms. The mushrooms were obviously reconstituted dry mushrooms because the texture was a little off, but the bread and cheese were great. We then shared the
Poulet crepe, which had Grilled Chicken, Oven Roasted Tomato, Caramelized Onion, Tarragon, and Bechamel. The crepe itself was perfect, but the bechamel had a slightly off taste and too much pepper. For dessert we went with the classic banana and nutella crepe. Classic chocolate gooey goodness. All in all, it wasn't the best food I've ever had, but it was good and a great place for a chilly night if you're looking for something a little different.

Friday, December 16, 2011

My new pal the Cardiac Monitor

The first day home after being gone for 2 weeks is always crazy. In addition to all the usual stuff (laundry, groceries, bank), today I also had to go the cardiologist. Since I passed out a month or so ago, I've had frequent dizzy spells, so I was glad to finally be going to the doctor. My vitals and EKG were normal, the next step was an echocardiogram. It was actually really neat because I was able to watch the screen and see my heart in 3-D, as well as hear the blood moving in and out of the chambers of my heart. The human body is totally amazing. And technology that lets us watch the inside of our bodies is pretty cool too.

Since my dizziness is intermittent, I also have to wear a cardiac monitor for 2 weeks to try and capture what's happening. It's not that big or heavy, but it's annoying.

I keep catching the wires on things. It's definitely coming off for my 17 miler tomorrow, and my date Sunday!

After traveling for 2 weeks and eating out all the time, all I wanted was a home cooked meal tonight. I wanted something warm and hearty that I could make multiple meals out of, so I roasted a chicken on top of diced sweet potatoes, carrots, and eggplant. I also make my favorite port cranberry sauce. I'll eat the chicken for a couple days, and then use the left overs to make chicken and dumpling soup.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Apple Valley California

Yesterday was a LONG day. I was asked to go to an all day meeting in Apple Valley, which is about an hour and half from my hotel. And there were many warnings about the drive being terrible because of snow, so I wanted to hit the road by 6 am. That meant I needed to be up at 4:20 to hit the gym. Whenever I have to get up extra early for something, I'm paranoid that I'm not going to wake up so I don't sleep well. Yesterday I started waking up every 15 minutes starting at about 2 am. I finally gave in a got up at 4. I hit the hotel gym for a cardio session. 30 minutes on the elliptical which consisted of 3 sets of 5 minutes at a hard resistance and then 5 minutes of Tobata; followed by 30 minutes on the treadmill. 5 minute warm-up then 4 sets of 1 min at 6.5, 1 min at 7, 1 min at 8, 1 min at 7, and 1 min at 6 with a 5 min cool down at the end.

The drive was not bad at all. I should learn never to trust Californians when it comes to weather, they ALWAYS over react. It actually really pretty, up highway 15 through the Cajon pass. The variety of terrain in California always amazes me. We went from super flat sandy beaches to rugged mountains in less than an hour.

Apple Valley was a really interesting little town. It has remnants of a funky little frontier town (the original route 66 ran through town), but also has clearly been hit by very hard times as many of the buildings are vacant and crumbling. Yet there are also signs of new growth, like new housing developments. The people at the hospital were great- friendly, down to earth, and hard working. I always find that I like the people better in remote little towns.

We got to spend the morning out in the floors observing the life cycle of a physician order. I always love to get away the computer and out into the patient care environment. Then we look a break for lunch. They took us to a great Mexican place- Pedros. I was starving and wolfed down every bite of my grilled shrimp, beans, guacamole, and home made tortillas. Real Mexican food is just so good.

We spent the afternoon mapping out the processes we saw in the morning. I didn't get start heading back until 4:30, but luckily I was going against traffic. After the super early morning I was beat, but it is one of my coworkers last week on the project, so I felt obligated to go to dinner. We tried the Lazy Dog in Anaheim. It was just what I wanted, solid comfort food. We split sweet potato hash browns (holy yum) and salted season edamame for appetizers, and then I got a flat bread with shredded veggies and goat cheese. I was expecting  a pizza, but it was more like a salad on flat bread with globs of goat cheese. I polished off the whole thing, and then collapsed as soon as I got back to the hotel.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Is Cross Fit enough?

I've been going to cross fit 2-3 times a week when I'm in California for work. However, I'm still mentally struggling to accept that cross fit is enough to count as my sole workout for the day. I am an admitted cardio and sweat junkie. I like to get in a good solid hour of cardio a day and be dripping with sweat at the end. So after a cross fit workout that is primarily strength, I sometimes feel like it isn't enough. In the hour workout, I feel like I'm only working really hard for 10-20 minutes. While I have always enjoyed being active, my primary reason for working out is to burn calories. So I am left asking myself is cross fit enough? No doubt it is helping my all around fitness by encouraging more dynamic movement and strength, but does it burn the same number of calories or am I better off sticking with running or a spin class?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Balboa Island California

As much as I love my new house and want to spend as much time as possible there, I've decided to stay some weekends in California to save some wear and tear on myself. Flying is just so unpleasant and exhausting. So yesterday after going to the gym and doing some work in the morning, I went to see a friend in Newport Beach. She took me to Balboa Island, a super ritzy community. It was a nice sunny day and we basked in the sunshine after spending the week working in the dark basement. We spent almost 2 hours walking around admiring the amazing houses and Christmas decorations.


I could never in a million years afford to buy a house here, but it was fun to look! We worked up an appetite walking, so we went over to the main street for lunch at Ciao, a cute Italian cafe. We split a salad with fresh raspberries and goat cheese, and a pizza with mushrooms and sun dried tomatoes. The salad was amazing! Instead of driving the long way back we decided to take the little ferry. It's a super deal- only $2 for the car and passenger, and $1 for each extra adult. Granted the trip is only like 5 minutes, but I'll take any boat ride I can get.

Friday, December 9, 2011

correrĂ² a Roma!

It's official- I am signed up for the Rome Marathon! I have been toying with this idea for awhile. I'm anxious to get another continent checked off for my 7 continent quest, and since I spent all my money on buying a house, it had to be somewhere where I could pay for the whole trip with miles. But I didn't want to run just any marathon in Europe, I wanted it to be somewhere special. Italy definitely qualifies since I spent my junior year of college there. The hardest part was convincing someone to come with me. Really friends and family? Why aren't you jumping at the chance for a free trip to Rome?? I am taking my little cousin (and by little I just mean younger, since she's now in college and about 10 inches taller than me). I think it will be really fun to show her all my favorite places and things in Italy. Hopefully having this on the calender for sure will help me have more motivation for my long runs. Gelato here I come. Other random observation of the day. I think it's interesting how fitness terms have their own dialects in different parts of the country. I went to a step class in Anaheim, CA today, and I put myself way in the back. Since I couldn't really see the instructor, I had to rely on her cues. The terminology she used was completely different than what I am used to at home. And yes, I still do step. I love step. I am always sweating buckets by the end and the choreography keeps me so mentally engaged that the time just flies by.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

One year later

It was a little more than a year ago that I was attacked while running on a trail by myself. It was such a shock to me both because I tend to be trusting person, and because it was during the day in a nice suburban neighborhood. I struggled after the attack because my job forces me to workout in the early morning (so it's usually dark) in places I don't know that well. For awhile I confined myself to the treadmill, but that wasn't practical because I didn't always have access to a treadmill, and it was boring me to death and making me hate running. I've been back outside running now for about a year and I can't decide if I am triumphing over adversity, or just being stupid. I like to look at it as I am refusing to let some stupid guy keep me from doing what I love. On the other hand, I think everything happens for a reason. Maybe being attacked, but escaping unharmed, was a warning. Am I ignoring that warning and putting myself in serious danger by running alone and unarmed at 5 am in Anaheim (which isn't the safest place) when I'm traveling?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

All in my Head

It always amazes me how much of running is mental. Yesterday I did a 14.5 miler and I was really struggling the first half. After slogging through my marathon training alone last winter, I was desperate for a training partner this year. I didn’t have many options, so I settled on running with a guy who is super nice, but faster than me. Yesterday I felt like I was totally dragging him down. The first half of the run my legs just felt like lead. I was struggling. It could have been the head wind, or the fact that I really, really had to pee (note to self, don’t drink 2 cups of coffee before a long run), or that he was leading and I didn’t know what to expect. Then, after the turn around point I suddenly felt great. I went from barely being able to hang on to the 10 min/mile pace to doing 8:30s. Granted, I did finally find a bathroom, and the wind was now behind us, but I think it was all in my head. I always spend the first half of a long run dreading how much I have left to do. It’s only when I start to see the end that I allow myself to feel decent and relax into the run. Bad strategy, I know, but what can I do?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Healthy Cold Weather Dinners

It's getting cold here in Maine, so I am craving comfort food. Luckily, I'm working at home this week, so I've been able to whip up lots of healthy meals that also satisfy. Tuesday morning I woke up early and set up my bread machine. While I ran, the bread machine whipped up this awesome Honey Whole Wheat Bread. 1 1/8 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C) 3 tablespoons honey 1/3 teaspoon salt 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour 1 1/2 cups bread flour 2 tablespoons vegetable oil 1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast Add ingredients according to the manufacturer's directions to your bread machine. Use the wheat bread cycle and light color setting.

I'll admit, I ate half the loaf on Tuesday!
Scallops and Squash Wednesday I went grocery shopping and scallops were on sale. I also had some lovely butternut squash my Mom gave me from her garden. I peeled the squash, cubed it (microwave it for a few minutes and it's WAY easier to cut), and then roasted it at 350. While the squash was roasting, I sauteed onion and garlic in olive oil until they were soft. I then added white wine, a little butter, and the scallops. When the squash was done, I tossed it with the scallops. Easy and SOOOO good. No pictures because I ate it too fast!
Pasta, Bacon, and Arugula. Thursday I was watching the Chew, and they made a pasta bacon and cabbage dish that left me craving both pasta and bacon. When I was at the store getting the bacon, I saw organic arugula on clearance, so I grabbed that as well. In a skillet I cooked the bacon, while I boiled water for the pasta. When the bacon was done, I drained most of the grease (saving just a little for flavor). I then browned some garlic in the bacon grease. When the pasta was done, I added it to the skillet with the garlic, tossed in the arugula, crumbled the bacon on top, and mixed.

Coach Jenny's Holiday Challenge
To keep myself motivated during the Holiday's I'm participating in Coach Jenny's Holiday Challenge. All you have to do is post your weekly goal and mileage workouts and you can win great prizes!
This week's prize is Agloves. Boy do I need these!! I start my run on a moderately busy road, go to a very busy road, then go onto a bike path. All this means that I have to constantly adjust the volume on i-pod. Not soo easy in the winter when I'm wearing gloves. I would totally love to be able to change the volume without having to take off my gloves and freeze my hands!K