Thursday, November 28, 2013

Gobbledy Gook

Thanksgiving.  It's my favorite holiday of the year.  The day that you get to eat all of the things until you pass out, wake up from a nap, and do it again.  I hope that your family as a wonderful day full of food, family, and food.  However, if you have a few minutes between the parade and the main event, I have a couple of things for you today.

This year, I'm in charge of cocktails.  I'm making Bourbon Maple Apple Cider and Cranberry Gin Fizz.  We believe in keeping things boozy for holidays, it makes life a little more fun.  There are 12 of us this year, so it might end up being a wild time.

And then we have the best YouTube videos of this day.  I puffy heart with a unicorn head in the center these things.  I need them on this day in order to have my day be complete.  I hope they do good things for you too.

Have a wonderful one, see you tomorrow!!!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

We eat all of the things

Yesterday, we discovered the secrets to eating whatever you want while you're on vacation.  We went to Austin and had an amazing time discovering a tiny slice of the city, and eating all of the things without guilt.  Because I'm a loudmouth, and can't keep not important secrets, so I figure that if I'm going to blab, I will blab to all of you.

1)  Walk all of the places.  This is my most key secret.  We parked free over a mile from the TX capital, and then walked around for a few hours.  We did move our car again when it was time for dinner, but we walked from there, too, and had a 10 minute walk to and from dinner.  By getting so much activity, we never worried that we were just sitting around getting fat.

We parked so far away that we had to cross the Colorado river to get to/from the Capital.  It was beautiful.

2)  Take breaks between eating.  We ate all of the things we wanted yesterday, no guilt or shame.  However, we try to do something moving around/active in between each nosh sesh.  It hollows out the leg, if you look at it that way.  For instance, we got red licorice at Cabela's on our way to Austin, had Mexican food once we got there, bought cupcakes for the road, had delicious Texas craft beer, and then had barbecue for dinner.  Our technique of walking everywhere helped, but we also goofed off in a costume shop, toured the State Capital building, and looked at a really cool Cathedral, too.  Thinking about things other than food really helped take my mind off of what and ow much we were eating.

Don't mess with the Cheeseburger bandito.

3) Make up for it the next day.  We're on vacation, so we don't mind going overboard.  But today, I am certainly taking it a little easier on my tummy, in eager anticipation for the main event tomorrow.  Breakfast was an apple with peanut butter, my favorite weekend breakfast.  Similarly, when we get back from Texas, I'll be doing the Advocare 10 day cleanse with Caitlin and Sami.  Want to join us?  Hit Caitlin up, she's an Advocare distributor, and she will take VERY good care of you.  I probably asked her a billion questions last night when I was ordering mine.
4) And most importantly, don't beat yourself up. It's VACATION!  Enjoy it, live it up, and leave no food on the table.  Just get back on track after vacation.  If you make yourself feel guilty, you will get down, and it will be harder to get back on the wagon after you get home.  
   Come on, you know you want to eat this.
Do you let yourself go nuts on vacation, or do you play it safe?
What do you do to balance out delicious vacation choices?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Beer Run: conflicted feelings central

As I mentioned about a million times before, we ran the Shiner Beer Run last Saturday.  I had planned on this race being my comeback race after a disappointing finish back at the GTIS Half Marathon back in August.  I got in all of my long runs, and did substantially better following my training plan this time (probably 60% if we're being honest... not great, but not terrible).  I felt 100% prepared to run 13.1 miles this time.

That isn't exactly what happened.

We woke up to temps in the low 40's, but with wind chill and humidity, the air temp felt like it was around 28-31.  Bad news bears, as I had planned for temps not being below 40.  However, the whole fam-dangily was doing the race, and so were Meghan and Caitlin, so there was no backing out.  I reluctantly put on my compression capris, long sleeved mid-weight top, and then bundled as much as I could over the top of it all for the trip to the brewery, where the race started and finished.  Looking around, I saw a lot of cold, quiet people.  There was not the same level of excitement that I expect at these kinds of events... people looked like their entire goal was just not to freeze dangly-bits off.  Right before we took off, Ammon and I snapped a quick pre-race photo:

At this point, I was cold, but ready to go.  For the most part, my legs felt great.  So when the gun went off and we started inching toward the starting line, I was confident that the 2:40 I was shooting for was already in the bag.  I took off running and didn't look back as I left my family in the dust.

Just before the mile 1 marker, I felt someone tap on my arm, and it was Nerky!  I couldn't believe that not only was I running with one of those friends I'd made it blogging, but she's noticed me from behind, and recognized me.  I guess the back of my head is incredibly distinctive ;-).  We started running together, and we FLEW through our first 4 miles.  It was cold and wet, but we both felt pretty dang good, and we were averaging 11:04 - 11:25 miles.  I had initially projected my race pace at 12:02, so this was amazing to me!

However, all good things must come to an end.  During mile 4, we were running up a gradual incline with a strong headwind, and rain beating down on us.  It was all of the most awful nightmares you have about running a half marathon.  I mean, I had anticipated a 70 degree race day while I was training, and suddenly I was in conditions with freezing rain and wind.  Blech.  I wish I could say that we kept a positive attitude, but no.  We were not happy ladies, and we spent a good part of the race complining about how cold we were, and how much the race sucked.  Luckily, we both have the vocabularies of seasoned sailors, and so we could just let our inner monologues fly with no fear of retribution.

Around mile 6 was this section that had been dubbed "loose gravel".  Um, no, it was a dirt road with huge rocks all over it.  There was no way that Nerky, 12 weeks post-knee surgery was running the section, and my knee was hurting as well, so we decided to walk the entire mile long segment.  By that time, our pace had slowed WAAAAAAAAY down anyways, and we were just content to hang together through the half and finish.  And really, we only wanted to finish, because there was beer and barbecue at the end.  I will do a great many things for beer and barbecue.  It was about this point that we started talking about Ryan Gosling memes that we wished were littering the race course, and cursing everyone who had done the 5k and was now partaking in beer and barbecue.  We also pointed out that during a beer run, there really should be beer available at select aid stations on the course.

Just after the dirt road section, we decided to run a little bit more, just over a half mile or so before we both started hurting pretty badly.  We decided to walk some more, and hope that we could maybe run the last mile or so.  Like I said, by that point, we just wanted to finish, our time simply did not matter any longer.

The most demoralizing part of the entire run was running by our campsite and the car.  I turned to Nerky and mentioned, "there are chocolate covered pretzels in that car right now".  We were thisclose to giving up by that point, it wasn't even funny.  About 5 minutes later, we noticed someone go jogging past us, and I was 80% sure it was Caitlin!  We tried calling out to her, but she was in the zone, and there was no way we were going to catch up to her, so we let it go.  As we found out later, it was her!

There were a couple of high points in the run, it wasn't all bad.  By far, our favorite sign of the entire half marathon was just before mile 12.

I didn't know the first thing about Shiner Cheer until Saturday.  It has changed my world entirely.

We did eventually finish, and we even ran the final 0.1 miles to the finish line.  Our finishing time ended up being 3:05, the same exact time that I had at the GTIS half.  Womp, womp.

Far and away, the best part of the whole thing was hanging out after the run with Nerky and Caitlin and Nerky's friend Lindsay.  We drank Cheer, we ate, and we almost got thrown out of the brewery tour for having too much fun.

These girls are seriously the best, and I wish I lived closer to them!  Also, notice that travel cup?  It's a combination hot/cold travel mug that they gave us for our beer.  It holds a 16 ounce pour!!! 

I'm not entirely sure if we'll do this race again or not.  It would be more enjoyable in better weather, but the course was a little meh.  Even in good weather, it would get kind of boring.  However, I would run with these girls again in a heartbeat, please go visit them and say hello!

What is the most miserable run you've ever been on?  Have you ever quit a race partway?

Monday, November 25, 2013

I didn't come back just to abandon you, I swear

I can't help but feel the teeny-tiniest bit bad that I staged a triumphant comeback, and then fell off of blogging the very same week.  It was for a good reason, and I hope you all understand.
Wednesday evening I loaded my cart up with ALL of the best roadtrip foods in preparation for our big trip to Texas.  Chips, diet sodas, jerky, pistachios... we got all of the things.

After that, I had to dash home and work on getting us ready to leave / finish up the mountain load of homework I still had to complete.  I had 4 major homework projects due this past week, and it was a tough week.  I was up until 1:30 am trying to get things buttoned up.

... Only to wake up at 6:30 am to find this all over the place.  Did I mention that we DROVE to TX?  We weren't planning on leaving until mid-afternoon, and we'd heard that the weather was supposed to quit by noon, so we thought it would be no problem whatsoever.  We continued on with our ridiculously frenzied and haphazard preparations, got lunch, and were on the road by 3:30pm.  It was still snowing, but we were on our way.

If you don't take a picture, it didn't happen.

...Except, that getting out of Colorado was incredibly difficult.  Between bad weather, rush hour, and a stop to fix the headlights on the car / get Starbucks, it took over 6 hours to make a 3.5 hour drive.  By that point, I was incredibly slightly annoyed.  It's supposed to be a 15 hour drive, which is long enough as it is, and we were already 2.5 hours behind schedule.  Mind you, the snow was still coming.  And it snowed, all the way to the Texas state line, where it conveniently turned into an ice storm.  Nice.

By 2am, we were goners.  We were trying as hard as we could to stay on the road and driving, but it just wasn't happening, so we pulled off to a rest stop outside of Lubbock and passed the heck out.  Next thing I knew, it was 6:30 am, and my view looked like this:

For those of you who can't read the blurry dash, it told us that it was 26 degrees out.  In Texas, of all places.  Blech.  It was disgusting.  I t was also icy as a cold day in "you know where" out there.  So we got back on the road with a cute little pitstop for gas and some breakfast for me at a small town Burger King.  Ammon hasn't eaten fast food for well over a decade, he won't even be in the same room with someone who is eating it, so I sat inside eating while he napped a little bit more in the car.  He probably made the better decision.

All of our starts and stops aside, we finally made it to San Antonio just in time to meet up with some family for Chipotle.  When all else in life is going crazy, you can count on the fact that we'll be getting our burrito bowl on.

So that's why I didn't post Thursday or Friday, I hope you understand!  I can't wait to tell you all about Saturday, and meeting Caitlin and Meghan and Linsdey who doesn't blog but has instagram.  It was all of the good things.  But until then, have a fantastic day!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Cowbell or massage, it's one or the other

Right now as I type this, I can not get comfortable to save my life.  And while it sounds dramatic, it's totally true.  The problem is, I have some recurring issues with my IT bands, which has been causing substantial leg, knee, hip, booty, and lower back discomfort.

The only cure for all of this?


Okay, not really but really because it's flipping hilarious and laughter makes everything better.  What has been helping in a really roundabout way is massage, and a lot of it.  I say roundabout, because the massage actually tends to inflame the problem for a day or two while everything tries to heal and get better.  Once those couple of days have gone by, I start to feel A LOT better.  Until I run a long distance again, and the pattern starts all over again.  So far I have had 2 massages in 2 weeks, which to most people seems like overkill, but it is the only reason I will be running on Saturday.  I am thankful I have a massage therapist who totally rocks, and has helped me figure out where the problem is stemming from, and what needs to be done to fix it.

Super sexy knee taping to help with IT band pain on long runs.  It's a quick fix strategy that's totally helping me get through this half marathon intact.

When I say this is a recurring injury, I really mean it.  After a lot of consideration and evaluation, we've determined that my current IT band issues stem from my knee injury and subsequent recovery in early 2003, when I was a Senior in High School.

Yes, I'm really that old.  And yes, an injury from 11 years ago is apparently still haunting me in its own special way.

The problem is that when I went through recovery, they spent a lot of time strengthening my hamstrings, and the supporting muscles around my knees, but my quads never came back on line quite the way they were supposed to.  Over the years following that injury, I believed that my hamstrings and glutes were always going to be substantially weaker than my quads, and put more effort into strengthening those muscle groups.  And apparently, for 11 years or so, my hamstrings and glutes have been compensating for my disengaged quads, which caused the backs of my legs to tighten up, putting immense pressure on my IT bands.

Anatomy and physiology is so dang cool, guys.  If you get the chance, take a class or two, so that you can talk to your massage therapist, chiropractor, physician, etc without forcing them to dumb things down.  Also, you'll understand your own body better, so you'll be able to communicate what is happening inside of you better.  Like I said, it's pretty dang cool stuff.

So my goal after the half marathon on Saturday is to approach my training in a different way.  I'm going to target my quads, and work on stretching/lengthening the backs of my legs and glutes.  I want to start doing more yoga again for my range of motion and flexibility.  Also, I am looking forward to cutting my distances way back in running, and working exclusively on speed training.  Hopefully, this combination of factors will be able to help me finally lick these problems for good.

I just hope that I don't create new ones in the process.
Do you have any lingering injuries or issues that impact your life?  How do you handle them?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

11.35 miles

Over the weekend,  I had my last long run before we take on the Shiner Beer Run.  It's hard to believe that we are leaving on Thursday!  I had a 10 mile run on the schedule, and I was feeling really bored with the running routes/options in my area, so I decided to go run in my parents' neighborhood.  My parents live just outside of Boulder, CO, and their area is an incredibly popular spot for athletes to train, but especially for road cyclists.  I was so fortunate as a kid to have some of the best cycling routes in the nation literally right outside my front door.  However, it was the first time I had ever chosen to take to these same streets equipped with just my running shoes.

I had a massage scheduled for 2:00 Saturday afternoon, so I knew that I had to get my run in on the earlier side for me, so by 9 am, I was chatting it up with my parents at their house, mentally preparing for running my all-time favorite easy bike ride, which is just over 11 miles total.  It's amazing how an easy bike ride that takes less than an hour translates into a hard run that takes almost 2.5 hours.

It was BEAUTIFUL out on Saturday morning.  Holy geez.  I saw at least 60 cyclists, and 5 runners out there enjoying these last few days of amazing weather.  Yes, you did read that ratio correctly.  Like I said before, my parents' area is a mecca for cyclists, my dad has seen a great many international pro cyclists out on the road over the years.  I remember that when I was in college and I would be out on training rides, I would see those brave few runners and think "damn, those are some tough, crazy people".  I really hope the cyclists I saw were thinking the same thing about me Saturday morning, especially right around mile 9.5, when my feet swelled so much that every step hurt, and I was begging myself to not stop and call my mommy to come get me like a petulant 5 year old who has a bad play date.  Instead, I just took a lot more walking breaks, and reminded myself that I got to eat whatever I wanted, AND have an incredible massage afterward.  Somehow, food and a massage can motivate me to do just about anything in life.  Maybe if I got paid in food and massages, I would work endless overtime at work and be thrilled about it.

Yeah, you're right... there are limits even to the power of food and massage.  Apparently, these is no limit to my appetite after a long run, though, since I totally demolished an entire plate of Cafe Rio chicken nachos by myself for dinner that night.  We didn't even know that was possible for a human to do.

From Pinterest... I was too hungry to take a picture of my food

I also told Ammon that I was ready to go to bed at 6:45pm.  Somehow, I managed to hang in until 9pm.  It was a total miracle.

What do you do to recover after an especially long workout?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Kristen's Back, Alright!

Oh, hi there.  Remember me?  Supposedly, I blog around here every now and then.  That's what the rumors say, at least.  To be entirely honest, I really and truly enjoyed not putting pressure on myself to write the perfect post, to try to catch up on responding to comments, to not check blogger 85 million times a day looking to see how many page views I've had versus the number of comments per post.

Instead, we lived.

All of that time living got me thinking about what my expectations, hopes, and dreams for this place are.  Did you know that I started this blog as a fitness and healthy lifestyle blog?  As I tried to "develop my voice" I drifted far, far, far from that.  I thought I wanted to be one of those "funny, snarky lifestyle bloggers".  And that, my friends, was utterly exhausting.

I don't want to do that anymore.  I don't want to try to be successful in this space.  I want to write what matters to me.  What helps me be a better person.  What motivates me to continue on this journey called life.  I don't want this to be a place where I refuse to write a post about my butt freezing off when I run, because "people will be bored by that".  I want to talk about eating healthfully, about working out, about not working out.  About baked goods and beer.  About how to live a life that has space for joy.

I want to be a health and fitness blogger.  This space has come full circle.  It was the easiest "hard decision", and it made sense to me from the second that I considered the possibility.  Health and fitness are among my greatest passions in life, behind Ammon, Beckham, and Gunner (Ammon will debate that order, but that's his own issue).  I should have known, way back 6 months ago when I started putting out feelers to contribute professionally to health and fitness websites.  I have the credentials.  I have the passion.  I want to do something positive with all of it.  In turn, I want to feel that positivity in my own life.  I love that talking about it immediately makes me more accountable for my actions, and can serve as the motivating force to propel my personal growth and development.

With these changes, I also decided to get a little bit of a blog redesign.  Don't you love it?  Erin hooked me up in a big way with this new layout, and I'm pretty sure that I drove her crazy with all of my fine-tuning, but then end result is so much better than what I had in my head.  I also added a new page, called "Upcoming Adventures".  You should definitely check it out, I need suggestions for new adventures!

I know that some of you aren't going to be so happy with these changes that I'm making.  I get it.  Some of you are bored by workout talk and recipes.  It's all good.  But I hope you'll give it a chance.  And for those of you who are okay with it, thank you.  Thank you for sticking with me, for checking in while I was on my hiatus, for just being your awesomely blogtastic selves.  I can't wait to see how we grow together going forward!