Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Embracing 2014 and how I'm ringing in the New Year

So I've decided to ring in the New Year by getting some of the goals and resolutions that I spoke about in this post yesterday - (I know, right? Two blog posts in a row!) rolling in the right direction.

The first thing I did this morning was to renew my membership with the Moms In Motion! They are an awesome group of women and a tremendous support - I feel lucky to be a part of the group.

MIMS! I'm bottom left with the arm warmers

Secondly, I took a bold leap and also joined the RTA (Ridgewood Tri Club). It seems like a very friendly (though very accomplished) Tri club and I have been stalking admiring them from afar for a while now. From the looks of the talent and caliber of athlete there I am a little nervous that I could be way out of my league. But I exchanged emails with the owner and she assured me that they are welcoming to beginners. Stepping out of your comfort zone is where you grow - right?

I then began to build my Whole30 pantry with some staples. For those of you who missed it, I'll be doing a clean eating detox program for 30 days beginning on Jan 2. It looks like a great program and it's based on the book "It Starts With Food." The program eliminates sugar, alcohol, legumes, grains, dairy, processed foods and gluten leaving you with all the organic meat, fish, eggs, coconut milk, veggies, fruits, (most) nuts, ghee, sweet potatoes, butternut squash and olives that you want!

I totally bought a cheap food processor (the one below was only $35 at Target) because I don't own one and a lot of good recipes for this plan includes using one. I also bought some vegetable peeler thing that will make zucchini into ribbons for this recipe I plan on making and also some homemade mayo.

Some of the other things I got was coconut aminos (reportedly tastes like soy sauce), coconut milk, coconut flour for thickening stuff, cashews, ghee, coconut oil, kalamata olives and a bag of sweet potatoes. Not pictured are a ton of eggs and some organic meats and veggies.

And in the spirit of Whole30 I made my favorite butternut squash soup that is totally made to fit the plan. It's yummy. If you are interested the Whole30 Butternut Squash soup recipe is here.

I've been hydrating with my very fancy Mom in Motion pink cup - my favorite!

Then I will head to the gym (when hubby gets home so I have someone to watch Ben) I will run my last run of 2013.

A few unhealthy things I'm doing today - I am polishing off some leftover pad thai as we speak and I'll be swilling in a martini or two as I watch the ball drop from the warm coziness of my couch!

Have a very happy, safe and healthy New Year!!

Are you doing any New Year prep today?


Whole30 Butternut Squash Soup Recipe

I've been making this soup all winter and let me tell you it's delicious. Warm, hearty and comforting.

If you are vegan*, Paleo or doing the Whole30 plan this is a great soup for you. (Vegans swap the ghee for coconut oil or coconut spread).

Jen's Butternut Squash Soup
2 medium-large butternut squash (pre-heat oven to 425 and roast at that temp)
1 medium onion (chop)
1 apple (preferably granny smith but I've used whatever apple on hand) (peel and chop)
1 thumb-sized piece of ginger (peeled and diced)
3 cups of stock of choice (I make my own homemade chicken stock)
2 cups of water
1/2 cup of coconut milk from can (or nut milk of choice)
1 + 1 tablespoon of ghee (or olive oil or coconut oil) - (might want to use a little more or less)
dried sage

That's my homemade stock - it looks funky because it's still defrosting

Cut open, spread one tablespoon (or so) of the ghee over the squash - sprinkle with salt/pepper and roast butternut squash face side up until tender. About an hour to an hour and a half.

Let the squash cool a bit. Meanwhile, in a large pot, sautee up the apple, onion and ginger until soft in the ghee or coconut oil. Sprinkle the apple/onion/ginger with salt, pepper and sage. (Season to taste I use about 2 - 3tsps. of sage.

Once cool enough to handle scoop the squash flesh away from the skin and add it to the apple/onion/ginger mixture along with the stock and water.

Stir and simmer to meld flavors about 10 - 15 minutes. Add the coconut milk.

Then use a hand immersion blender (or do in batches in a regular blender) and puree the soup until smooth and creamy.

This recipe makes a lot of soup. At least 8 decent sized bowls I would say. Maybe more.



PS: After taking the picture of the ingredients I read that the canned coconut milk in the picture (Goya brand) has Potassium metabisulfite in it. I couldn't find out if that was Whole30 compliant so I used another brand I had on hand that I know is compliant.

PSS: Turns out that the Goya coconut milk is definitely NOT Whole 30 compliant so I'm bringing it back to the store!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Reviewing 2013 goals and looking ahead to the New Year

Happy New Year! 

Fat to finish line on The Today Show! I'm in the hat bottom rt

In January 2013 I ran Ragnar Miami with team Fat To Finish Line and we were even featured on The Today Show! But even with how awesome that experience was (It was one of the best events of my life), I seriously cramped and couldn't complete the 10 mile run during my second leg and that bummed me out. That first experience of 2013 kind of summed up the year - one of extreme highs and lows. 

I also participated in my first of two triathlons, (getting back in the water and on a bike) and managed to keep moving forward. I had some tough days - I've struggled with weight and running as far/fast as I might want.  Here's the overall gist on the year: 

These were the set of goals I wanted to focus on last year - here is how I did:
1. Run more miles this year. In 2012 I ran 721 miles - my goal for 2013 is to run 722. - Ugh. Somehow I only ran 520 this year. I chalk that up to running a few less half marathons this past year and also training for my first triathlons - instead of always running many workouts became swimming or biking focused. Still - this is pretty weak - I'm aiming for 722 in 2014 again! 

2. Run faster?  No way - not even close. But to be fair I didn't focus on speed and didn't make it a priority. 

3. Cross train seriously. I will be taking yoga, boot camp and incorporating more strength training into my regime. I consider this somewhat successful. I did make a better attempt at boot camp, yoga and stretching - I will continue to focus on this and this is a big goal of mine in the new year. 

4. Maintain my goal weight. Total fail - I struggled with weight this year and am over goal as of right now. It's been making me feel really low and yucky about myself but I'm working on shaking off the feelings of failure and getting my groove back - this topic is it's own blog. 

5. DRINK MORE WATER! Seriously. I have such a hard time with this but in 2013, hydration will be my bitch. Up and down - had some really great "water" streaks and had some times where I was woefully under-hydrated. Hydration is huge for me -- must continue to work on it. 

6. Keep this blog going. Yup. 

7. Eat even cleaner. Nope. Probably ate dirtier but will be cleaning up my act for 2014 

8. Track my food at least one week a month (will help me with #4 and #7 and keep me on my game) - this would've been a great idea if I remembered even making this a goal!  So, no this didn't happen. 

9. Run 4 half marathons and at least 2 5k races - to keep training for stuff. - I didn't run four half marathons I ran two halfs, 1 10 miler, 2 sprint triathlons and a few 5Ks - I'm OK with my race schedule. 

10. Run another full marathon? Maybe. Once again I will throw my hat in the ring for NYC marathon. If I get in, I will train. I have no other plans to run a full right now - with a new TV show in the works and the film -- I don't want to fully commit yet… (I know that's lame.) Nope. But I'm re-entered in the NYC marathon lottery so maybe that will happen this year. 

11. And I know this is lame too. I still really want to try a tri. I am still struggling to figure out a bike and pool solution. The gyms with pools are literally 3 and 4 times more expensive than my gym and way out of my budget. Now if some of these projects we are working on generate some money, maybe I can afford to take that plunge - sometime. We'll see. Still putting it out there in the universe just in case I can make something happen. I did this!! Finally something I can proudly check off! I did this twice - I sucked up the expense, joined the better gym and trained. I'm going for it again in 2014 and am already signed up for REV3 OLY Poconos! 

Looking ahead to 2014 here are my top goals:

1. Get back to my goal weight and clean up the bad eating habits I fell into over the course of 2013 - I plan on achieving both by doing the Whole30 program as outlined in "It Starts With Food

2. Run / Swim / bike more miles and take training more seriously - I'd like to run at least 2 halfs and do at least 2 triathlons. 

3. Continue to cross train / boot camp / strengthen up

4. Continue to blog

5. Continue to focus on water

6. Be more kind to myself. The last few months I've struggled with weight, food, running and training for various reasons. I am realizing that because of this it's easy for me to slip into feelings of shame, depression, beating myself up, feeling failure, etc. It's not even consciously most of the time. I have to believe I'm not a good or bad person because I've had a perfect food or workout day. And these feelings don't really lead to anything productive. 

Even though it was a far from perfect year I am grateful for it all. It was still an overall successful year. My son is improving, our finances are taking a turn for the better, my company sold and aired it first television show (that has a series pick-up!), I made a goal to TRI and did it. So even though there were some tough times I still can consider 2013 a great year!   

How was your year? What are some of your goals for 2014?


PS: Beginning on Jan 2 I am going to attempt to blog for 30 days in a row as I document my journey doing the Whole30 program. I talk about the program in my last post found here.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Turning Crappy into Happy Somehow

I know it's been a long time and I don't really even know where to start.

A whole lot of stuff and a whole lot of nothing has happened since the last time I decided to write.

My son (who I spoke about in this post about autism is doing GREAT on his new gf/df diet and is thriving. More about him in an upcoming post - but I thought I should let you know that he's been doing well and we've been turning corners on that front.)

Ben writing a song and my messy kitchen 

OK - So enough of the chit chat. Back to the running and stuff.  Here's the real deal of how I'm feeling about myself lately:


No other way to say it.

I feel like a fraudulent, blobby, can't-stop-eating-barely-running, bloggless blogger.

I have excuses (semi-valid ones too) I'm traveling (in fact I'm back in KY shooting our show as I write) and as I travel I feel guilty and miss my family - and I've been busy. I also started a 'holiday' running streak which got cut short because of a really weird pain I've been getting in a tendon around my inner ankle and was fearful of injury so have been running shorter and slower.

But no excuses can really take away the fact that I'm eating way too much crappy foods. When I lost the bulk of my weight I did a great job at sticking to mostly whole foods and cut out all the garbage-y processed cruddy stuff. I felt great eating like that. I never felt deprived.

But slowly but surely over the course of the last few months (year?) I started to add more and more 'convenience' foods back. Only I've been fooling myself because I've been justifying these choices because they aren't the 'obvious' processed foods I once ate. The foods I'm eating now tout organic and gluten-free labels. I buy them at places like Whole Foods and Fairway. They are pricey and not the Lean Cuisines and cheap foods I once ate. BUT the issue is that these convenience foods pack in lots of calories and fat grams and are still not as nutrient dense as just eating whole foods. They might be a quick meal made with organic chicken and organic gluten free noodles but often you're still left feeling hungry or un-satiated so you reach for more.

To make matters worse, all of a sudden I'm snacking on things like "organic coconut-milk ice-cream" or gluten free crackers (where I once snacked on fruit or a handful of nuts.) Both which has too many calories with little nutritional payback.

I also went Dairy free a year or two ago but have let that seep back in.

Annnnnd I am drinking too much. I don't think I yet need to attend meetings but I would be lying if I didn't tell ya that I like to have a glass (or two) of wine a few times every night of the week and on the weekends I make myself my dirty martinis. All those extra empty calories are adding up too. I didn't really drink when I lost my weight - not so consistently anyway. On the weekends here and there but not nightly.

I'm running a little bit here and there 2 or 3 times a week I guess (but they've been shorter runs) and it's just not enough to come close to cover all these calories.

And where does that leave me? Carrying at least 10 extra pounds (I haven't been on a scale in a while), tighter pants and feeling pretty yucky about it all.

Luckily, I have a plan!

My Moms In Motion Running Coach Dana recommended a book she is reading on our MIM FB page called, It Starts With Food. She said it was a healthy eating approach meant to kind of detox and reset your body by eating healthy foods. So I checked it out. At first I thought no fucking way that it would be really challenging because the program is very strict with 0 room for slips or cheats. No alcohol, No gluten, No grains (including 'healthy' grains like brown rice, oatmeal or quinoa), no dairy, no legumes like: beans, corn, lima beans, chick peas or peanuts and absolutely no sugar in any shape or form (including artificial sweeteners, honey, stevia, etc.) Also no artificial stuff at all - no MSG, Carrageenan, etc (that I've been on board for, for a long time), also no white potatoes.

No wine? No hummus, no brown rice or black beans even. Ugh. Poop. No way. What is this un-Godly and ridiculous diet? I mean what's so bad about quinoa and beans???

But the more I read the book the more I felt it was worth really sucking it up for 30 days and doing it. This plan isn't about the weight loss it's about reducing inflammation, healing your gut, balancing your insulin levels, etc. It's about getting your body to optimal health and then slowly reintroducing your body to some of the foods you eliminated for the 30 days. Turns out there are really good reasons to eliminate these foods and see if they are effecting you or not.

What can you eat? Organic eggs, meat, poultry and fish. Sweet potatoes, all the squashes, all the vegetables and fruits that you want, healthy fats like coconut oil, olive oil, ghee and even clarified butter as well as some nuts like cashews, macadamias and hazelnuts…. oh. and thankfully, coffee. (I am not sure if I could've given up wine and coffee so this program does have a little mercy.)

You can read more about the program here at the Whole9.  You're supposed to do it for 30 days.

The testimonials from people in the Whole9/It Starts with Food community are astounding. You can eat when you are hungry there's no calorie counting or anything. There are plenty of guidelines and I'm enjoying the book.

I've decided that I'm going to do this for the entire month of January. I need to reset my body. I need to just kind of break free of all the bad habits I've quietly and gradually slipped into. I don't think that 'moderation' will really help me right now (I'll only drink on Saturdays or I'll just have some gluten free bread once or twice a week…) I feel like I need to go cold turkey on most of these things.  If I tried to just "cut down" on smoking it wouldn't have worked either. I know me. I like all of the foods on the "can" have list so I will just have to celebrate and enjoy what I can eat instead of lament about the can't have stuff. The alcohol is going to be hard. But I have faced hard before. Quitting smoking, dealing with a child with autism, losing 100 pounds -- all pretty hard. It's going to make me healthier and stronger and I'm worth doing something hard for.

So let me know if you're interested in giving something like this a shot too. Maybe we can do it together. I am planning to blog daily (or close to it) about this new journey and I'm excited about it.

Have you ever heard of this program? Tried this?


PS: For the record this is entirely of my own doing. In fact I reached out to the book people to request a blogger copy of the book for review (hey, worth a shot!) and was denied so I payed for my own book and am doing this sheerly because I want to see if this will help me. Every opinion on this journey will be entirely my own. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Dash to the Finish Line and other stuff


I can't believe that it's been so long since my last post.

So much to tell you, so little time.

First of all - lets discuss the NYC marathon - another year another stab through the heart that I wasn't running it. I know that 26.2 is a helluva a lot of training that I would curse and struggle severely with. I know that finding the time to run 3 - 5 hour long runs would be near impossible, I know that with all my cramping issues and everything else that I shouldn't be dreaming of this race but every time that race takes off, I am eating my heart out.

Dash to the Finish packet pick up at NYC marathon expo - one of these years I'll be running that marathon! 

This year I had a few friends running it and I couldn't be prouder that each one of them victoriously crossed the finish lines.

I did get to take a little nibble of the Big Apple by running the Dash to The Finish Line 5K the day before the big marathon. That was one great little race. It's a warm up to the marathon and you start by the United Nations, and then run by Grand Central, the NY library, up past Radio City and through Central Park - ending at the actual marathon finish line. I ran it this year with Linda and it was fantastic. Perfect running weather, perfect companionship and a fun course. I loved every second of it and it was over far too quickly.

Me and Linda after the 5K

I barely had time to watch the NYC marathon because my flight to go back to Kentucky was early that afternoon. We are back and in production on LogHeads an original series my company is producing for DIY Network.  My partner and I have worked long and hard to get established and bring a show to air so we are proud and happy to be here. (Although it is very hard being on location and away from my hubby and son.)

While here I have gotten some running in, in anticipation of running the Festival of Lights Half Marathon in Brooklyn on Nov. 24 I hadn't signed up early because I didn't know if I would be working in KY or back home. Well, I determined that I was going to be home for it the other day, ran another 8 mile long run (as I continue to train here).

lots of fricken hills here! One of about 100 hills I ran this past Sunday
So I come back from the hilliest run ever and all ready to register for the race only to find that it is sold out. Waaaaaaaaaah! Waaaaaaaaaah! I am so bummed about this. There are no alternatives for me to run in NJ or NY that day and a bunch of my friends are running it. I totally missed the boat. So gross. I am so disappointed. It was an affordable race (probably part of the reason why it sold out) and I never anticipated that it would be a problem for me to get in. I should've just signed up early and rolled the dice on losing the entry fee.  Hind sight is 20/20.  It sucks so bad. In the back of my mind I was running this race all fall so I've been mentally and physically training for it. Blech. I even reached out to the race director to beg but no dice. I'm out. No festival of lights for me.

ran thru an empty golf course during that run - even hilly there 

So that's about it for me. Have you ever missed the boat on a race you meant to sign up for but it was too late?


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Fun News, Great News and Big News

So this has been an interesting week of stuff!

First the fun news.

We landed an interview with David Willey, Editor-in-Chief of Runner's World Magazine for the From Fat To Finish Line documentary film. Going to Runner's World HQ was so awesome and I was so excited to meet him. I have been a dedicated reader of the magazine since the beginning and I look forward to reading it cover to cover.

He was so awesome and nice. I am so excited we get to have his thoughtful words of wisdom in our film!

The great news:

Last week I wrote this blog post about my new found love for New Balance sneakers. The only issue was they seemed to bother me on long runs (as my big toe nail has begun to turn purple after long runs.) I ordered them on-line at Foot Locker.

Well, New Balance saw my tweet about the issue and told me that I should swing by a local store to get fit. I figured maybe I could beg them for a small discount since I blogged about how much I loved them and since I just bought these. It would've been hard to dole out more cash right now and just eat this pair.  Don't you know that they took back the damn Foot Locker sneakers that I didn't even buy with them and that I had already run a few times in! They told me that their store is #1 in customer service in NJ and I see why. The staff was friendly and awesome. They let me try on a bunch of different styles. (I wound up with a new pair 1260 V3 - I paid the difference on them). They said they would even hold on to my old sneakers for a few days in case I changed my mind! Plus, I was told to go run in the new sneakers for a few days and if I had any issue with these they'd be happy to exchange these as well!  I will be a fan and customer for life. Good service goes a long way in my book. Plus it's a mom and pop shop - love to support those!

My new loves

Plus… one of the sales people is Olympic gold medalist (1988 games) Peter Rono. How cool is that?

Rono, Me and Larry the owner of New Balance in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ
And now the big news!

I signed up for my first Olympic Distance Triathlon! REV3 Pocono 2014! My parents live up in the Pocono Mountains so I know how challenging and hilly this should be. The distance is .9 of a mile swim, 26 mile bike and 10K run. I have a whole year to train so I'm not freaking out yet. :-) 



Monday, October 14, 2013

Perfect 10 Miler Cramp Free Race Report

This was the first Perfect 10 Miler to take place in Mercer, NJ. It was an all female race that covers the odd distance of ten miles. Not a 10k, not a half marathon - 10 miles. A bunch of my Moms In Motion friends decided they were doing this race so I decided to join them since I never put a half on my fall race schedule.

Moms getting ready to run! 

I got up at 5 AM and got lost getting down there but I made it. I had to shuttle from my car to the starting line and it was very easy. Plenty of buses and a very quick ride.

Once at the starting line the Moms all met up and we got ready to start. It was a chilly-ish morning and I was ready to go.  I had no real "race" time in mind. My aim was to try to run an 11 minute mile average and hopefully keep those freakin' cramps away!

I didn't wear my garmin. I haven't been training with one and have gotten pretty comfortable with running based on feel.

Moms in Motion coach Dana
She finish in 1:17 / 7'47 pace!! 
We start running. Now what was slightly annoying about this race is it was really, really congested at the start. No corrals or waves. If I had wanted to run faster I was kind of out of luck. But the first mile felt good otherwise.

Lots of congestion trying to run
Nike does update me in my ear every mile of where I'm at. After the first mile I was at 10'44. That's a good first mile for me. I typically 'warm' up at around 11'10 or so. I was feeling good.

My second and third mile felt good too - 10'41 and 10'18. Great! Now in half marathons I'd be panicking that this was too fast and I could cramp by the end but with only ten miles (and some cramping prevention measures taken) I decided that my new goal would be to run the entire race some where between 10'30 - 10'45 pace.  I mean, why not? I had trained for this. I have been running shorter distances quicker. Why limit myself to 11 min mile? If I had to walk at the end because of some cramping well, it wouldn't be the first time, so I decided to give it a shot. The pace felt good the whole way through - challenging but not ridiculous.

I slowed a little bit on a couple of hills and there were a few places in the run where the congestion was so tight that I was forced to slow down because I couldn't get around people in front of me.

The miles went quickly. I felt great.  After 7 miles my calves and hamstrings were getting tight but that's to be expected - tight is fine! I continued to believe this would be my race and the cramps wouldn't come.

They didn't. :)

I am just about to cross the finish line- All smiles!

I finished the race in 1:46:57 a 10'42 pace.  I think I would've been in the 10'30s if I didn't get stuck behind congestion in certain places but that's OK. I couldn't have been happier.

And nice bling!! 

It was a fun race and a great race. The best I've run in a race in a long time.  I really liked the distance too. It felt good. Also kudos to the race for a well-run event. More than enough port-o potties (never had to really wait for one - even right before the race) and the shuttles were right there at the end and quickly took us back to our car. For the amount of people at the race I was on the road in seconds with no delays.

If you follow my blog you are pretty well aware of the cramping issues I've faced.  It all started with the Hollywood Half I did in 2012 and went downhill from there. I haven't really raced as hard as I wanted since because I've been trying to keep that cramping at bay.

Even my Irongirl Triathlon I faced cramping.

I've tried switching up nutrition, adding magnesium capsules, salt sticks, and figured if I just ran more that would help but it hadn't really helped that much.

Then I saw this video at Runner's World and it clicked. It suggested to be really hydrated (I was always half-assed on this) add strength training and some stretching/flexibility.

I took it seriously.

The last few weeks I've been drinking about 12 glasses of water a day on average and on a bad day maybe 8. That's a lot for me since I used to average maybe 2 - 4 glasses a day.

I also have added strength training, consistent foam rolling and dynamic stretches before every run - plus a proper cool down.

Well wouldn't you know it, it seems to be working! During the race I did make sure to take in a salt tab or two as well as a gel - I do sweat a lot and get a very salt-caked face so I figure that making sure I keep my electrolytes up couldn't hurt either.

I got tight during the race but the cramps pretty much stayed away.

It's a great feeling to be looking forward to racing and being able to hope for the best rather than fearing the worst.



Thursday, October 10, 2013

Can this relationship be saved?

First of all - thank you for all the kind comments and notes you sent in regards to my last blog post about my son. We continue to have good and bad days but I know that we'll get to brighter days soon. I  also want to stress that he's an amazing kid and we are so blessed to have him in our lives. If you look sideways you will always find someone who has it easier or has it tougher and that's how it is for everyone.  It was a hard post to write but also healing. So your kindness does really help.

But on to another topic. One that is also hard for me to write about. One that I dread having to even explore.

Recently, I fell in love with a new pair of sneakers. I went out of my comfort zone of Saucony's and Brooks and used a Foot Locker gift card to order a pair of New Balance Sneakers off line.

I didn't know what to expect because I couldn't try them on first. I tried to find them in store but I couldn't find them - I did some research and hoped for the best.

It was love at first sight.

And the fit. OMG the best. They felt light and springy. They hugged my foot snuggly but not too tightly, while still giving me the support my over-pronating feet need. I know it's my own crazy but I even felt faster. 3 miles - great! 4 miles - great! - 5 miles - woohoo! Even 7 miles felt good. And no blisters!! I was ready to buy several pairs of these babies just to have them in reserve.

7 happy miles

I've never fallen so hard for a pair of sneakers.

And then I did a nine mile run and my big toes felt a little achey - I thought not much of it. My son accidentally stepped on the left one (which didn't help) and it continued to ache. So I peeled off my toe nail polish and my toe nail is purple. Uh oh. If I'm being honest (and not trying to ignore the only little problem with these heaven-sent kicks) they are probably the teeniest, nearly unnoticeably, a tad tight in the toe box - but nothing that immediately struck me. In fact, so blinded by love am I that I don't even care that my toes ached a little after the runs - the only reason for the rational thoughts of breaking up is I'd rather not lose a toe nail if I can help it.

Though, it might be too late?

sorry. I know it's gross
Do I need to break up with my sneakers? Can I ignore the fact that they are maybe a wee bit tight in the toe box? I know Food Locker won't take back worn sneakers (I only went through FL because I had a gift card) I think going up a size will make them be way too big for me. Can't I just pretend that my son stepping on it is probably the reason it got so bruised? (The other toe did stop aching eventually and is normal color.) 

I have a ten mile race on Sunday and I soooooo want to run with these - my other sneakers are either too old or give me blisters after 4 miles. And I love my NB's. I really do. 

Have you ever had a pair of sneakers that you just love though might not be best for you?

What would you do?

Have you ever lost a toe nail from running? I did the third toe nail in once during marathon training. Didn't hurt a bit. Not sure how the big one would feel though.


PS: I got an email from an author. She's giving her book away for free - I haven't read it yet so I can't necessarily recommend it but for free, it could be worth the read here are the details: This Friday, October 11th in celebration of “International Day of the Girl,” I will be offering Weight Loss, The Screenplay: Discover Your Inner Superstar and Manage Your Weight for Life for FREE on AMAZON! You’ll be able to download it for FREE until midnight, Pacific Standard Time on Friday.

Here’s the link to the book page on Amazon: http://amzn.to/16MjChS

Monday, October 7, 2013

Running away from Autism

I don't talk about my son and his autism in this blog very often. In fact, aside from a few close friends I don't talk about it with others either. We don't think of Ben as our 'autistic' son, just our son who happens to be a handful. ;)

Ben pretending to fly with Daddy

For years we didn't really even say 'autism' around here. We preferred 'needs' it just seemed much less label-y. We've tried to downplay the issues to the outside world. It's not because we are embarrassed or anything but we try to keep things moving forward rather than get bogged down in diagnosis. 

And we work within our family to get Ben the best care and the best shot for a happy, healthy life. 

But it's been tough. I've had days where we just can't get through to him. Like any kid, he has good days and bad days. Ben is a non-stop kid. Even on his best days you can't take your eyes off of him because he likes to get into everything. 

We recently began seeing a top-notch specialist in the field and Ben has been put on a strict gluten-free and dairy free diet. He's also taking an anti-fungal to get rid of yeast build up and getting supplements to help heal. These approaches are pretty tried and true and I believe they will help him but the process has been HELL. Ben is going through withdrawal and die-off (Die-off happens when yeast dies and it's not pretty - but you go thru it to get to a better other side. Here's an article about it.) 

He's been aggressive in just the last two weeks he has hit me in a face with a paper weight (and it still throbs) has dumped glasses of water on the floor, peed on the carpet and has chucked every toy in his toy box at us (several times). He dropped my computer on my foot (my toe is still black and blue), and that's just for starters. Poor Ben is having a very hard time all around. Everyday we have been dealing with more than it seems we can take. But we figure it out.  They compare the food withdrawal in these kids to drug addicts. In fact the reason why they have to go GF and DF is because the food doesn't digest right and it turns into a toxin that becomes like an opiate in these kids. It's partially why they have such slurred reactions and seemingly don't feel pain - they have produced pain-killing opiates within!

But I have hope. There are moments of clarity now - I can see glimpses of him getting better. After a violent episode he is sweaty and flush and seems legitimately confused. He'll begin sobbing and then curl in my lap and say, "I'm very, very sorry. I don't know why I did that." And I believe him. In those moments I know that my son is in there and trying to escape a body and brain that is keeping him trapped. It is my and my husband's job to help him get out or at least reach whatever his "best" is. 

One of my fav. pics. Ben having the best time ever with Angela (who
braved lots of spinning rides and endured dizzy nausea for his joy)
And I thank God every single day that I get to run. That I have time when he is in school or some time on the weekend when my husband is home to lace up my sneakers and run. If I didn't have running, I'm sure I would be smoking, drinking or eating away those moments where I just don't know how to help him. Those moments where I feel like a shitty mommy because I just don't feel equipped to deal.

It makes me feel proud that my son knows me as a runner. He knows when my sneakers go on that  "Mommy is going to exercise." He likes to ask me about my medals. He says he wants to run someday. I can't wait for his first fun run race. 

Saturday was hard. He was in a destructive place and he was explosive. My husband said, "run." I cried in my car as I pulled out of the driveway. I know my boy is hurting and I want him to get better.  I ran a fast 3 miles. I sweated, my mind was cleaned. I came back with sweat instead of tears and we made it through the day. Sunday was better. Somedays it's overwhelming - but if I can find even ten minutes to run, it helps me keep it together and keep moving on this road of recovery for my son. 

Thanks for listening.


PS: If someone you know is dealing with Autism, ADHD or other childhood behavior issues, this book was easy to read and eye-opening: Healing The New Childhood Academics: Autism, ADHD, Asthma and Allergies. By Dr. Kenneth Bock - the expert we are seeing is his colleague. 

Monday, September 30, 2013

Running and Muscle Cramps: Cracking The Code

First of all - Hello. Sorry it's been a while. Since the Iron Girl Tri I've just had my head down and have been focusing on running again. I've had one or two bike rides and ZERO swims.

Instead, I've wanted to really, really focus on cracking the code on the cramping issues I've been dealing with.

There hasn't been one race since the Hollywood Half (April 2012) that I haven't been foiled and faced with painful cramping. And the cramping isn't limited to running alone. As I reported in my IronGirl race recap, I dealt with awful, awful cramping in the water that made me worry that I'd be unable to complete the race at all.

Hollywood Half. I've got a monkey on my back

The cramps aren't in one place. I get them in my toes, the arches and the tops of my feet, calves, hamstrings and even the tibialis anterior.

The biggest problem with the cramping is that it has put fear and apprehension in me. It is paralyzing me before I even lace up my sneakers. With all my talk of "dreaming big" and "going for finish lines," the cramping is stopping me dead in my tracks. In my heart I want to run another full marathon someday, and even possibly a 70.3 distance Tri someday. But I hesitate to even dream that big because if I can't get thru 13.1 or a sprint triathlon without cramping then how could I ever think to go for something bigger? It also doesn't inspire me to try to PR or run my best, instead i slow my roll and pray that being conservative will help me not to cramp later. It's really messing with my head.

I have finally come to grips with the fact that I've been limiting myself because of this issue.

And that shit has got to stop right now.

It's one thing to make decisions on races because of time constraints or other reasons. But being afraid of cramping up and possibly failing is not going to fly.

Recently my friend Angela sent me this video from Runner's World called, "Inside the Doctor's office: Cut Out Cramps." This was a terrific eye-opener. Up until this point most of what I've read had to do with making sure i had enough electrolytes during running and making sure to be trained. I've been consistent on that front so what gives?

Well. A lot. I have work to do.

Some of the key contributors to cramping according to the video are: Dehydration, lack of strength and lack of flexibility. I'm probably guilty of all three of those things. I am a big sweater and even after a 3 mile run I can be caked in salt. So right off the bat, yes, I have to hydrate and figure out electrolytes. I have days and even weeks at a time where I'm coming no where close to what I should be drinking in water. I always try to hydrate the days leading up to a race but that's just not enough.

And flexibility and strength? Bah. I've been amiss in paying attention to those things. Not on purpose. Remember I had that brief stint with yoga (I was going to and then just didn't stick with it - I wasn't a big fan) and I take a strength training class here and there but when training it all falls by the wayside and I focus on running (or biking and swimming.)

That's gonna change. First off, I'm sucky, sucky at hydration, which is stupid. This is a no-brainer, easy thing to do. Drink freakin' water all day. That's it. This shouldn't be a big whoop. I've got water drinking apps and playful cups - I'm going to drink water and keep hydrated.

It's the first time I have ever heard that flexibility and strength could help cramping. I have heard that it would improve my running. I took yoga to help the tightness in those muscles but for some reason I never put it hand in hand with the cramping part. It makes sense though. So I've started taking this strength training boot camp class every Tuesday night that I'll be continuing with. I've also added a few extra strength moves at home. I'm using my foam roller consistently and I no longer blow off dynamic stretching before my runs. Maybe I'll even (gulp) give yoga another shot.

It has only been a few weeks but I think it's paying off. My runs are feeling better and my legs don't feel as spent after. We'll see. The proof will come when I do my 10 mile race in two weeks.

The good news is that I now have a plan and some hope.

Hope all is well with you! What's your running fear that holds you back? Any races coming up?


Monday, September 16, 2013

Iron Girl Triathlon Sandy Hook: Race Recap Part Two

And we are out of the water and on to T1 and the bike!

Read Part One of my race recap here.

The water the day before
So after a tough swim that has left my lower body painfully cramped up I make it to my bike. I am a little panicked about how I'm going to pull the rest of the race together feeling like I am. I take the advice of Dana and down a bottle of water (with a salt stick) eat half a gel, and swig a little coconut water for good measure. I then stretch, say a silent prayer and work on getting out of my wetsuit.

As a side note, I am super proud of myself for successfully getting in and out of my wetsuit. I am thankful to my friend Jen Small. Jen gave me some really great wetsuit tips in Maine and also sent me on my way with a can of Tri Slide which really helped.

The cramping began to subside enough. (Thank God!) The cramped muscles were super sore from being so tight but workable. I washed off my feet, got my socks and sneakers on, put on my helmet and made my way all the way to the "bike out." Right before exiting I realized I had forgotten to put my ankle timing chip thing back on! GRRR! So I had to wheel all the way back, get that thing on and get back on the road.

Let's get going already!
I have no idea of how long my transition had taken. In the results they listed my transition as 47 minutes and my bike as 4 seconds. Now I will admit that my transition certainly felt like 47 minutes but even with a 47 minute transition I am pretty sure that I didn't bike a 8.25 miles in 4 seconds.

And made it to the bike! Whew.
However, I am guessing my transition to be 10 - 11 minutes easily. It took me a bit of crawling to get to my bike, guzzle 24oz. of water, eat a gel, stretch, shimmy out of the wetsuit carefully trying not to re-cramp, wash off the feet, get socks and sneakers on, head out to "bike out" not once but twice - and none of this was at lightening speed. I contacted the timing chip people and they said my bike out didn't record so they can guesstimate and make up my T1 at 4:36 but that's impossible. Plus I know that I felt pretty good on the bike and pushed it trying to make up time.

I'm feeling pretty good on the bike for the most part. A little sore but pretty good. I know that if I don't cramp again (and even if I did) I would finish this race and that's really what mattered to me most.

I'm back!
The bike was pretty uneventful. Flat a little scenery of the ocean and reduced to only 8.25 miles. I'm guessing my bike was around 36 minutes or so. It was fun to see the Moms who were in waves before me coming back in since the course was an out and back.

T2: 2:54 - Not sure what took me so long but it is what it is. 

And on to the run.

Took a minute for me to figure out if my legs would give me any trouble. I was still sore from the cramping (and would be for days after) but started off with a slow jog. In the first quarter of a mile or so I walked for a second or two and then got mad at myself and decided that I could freakin' run 3 miles, even if it was slow. I soon started to see the Moms ahead of me coming in for the finish line and knew I wasn't too far away to completing my day.

I caught up to fellow Mom'er Dede and that was great. We ran and chatted a bit. She needed to stop for water at the aid station and since I had a hand held, I kept going. 

Running without music was a little bit of a challenge. Not impossible but I was not finding that "enjoyable" thing that many non-music runners report. I felt a little bored. I know my pace would've been a bit better and the run would've been more enjoyable if USAT rules allowed for music. Guess I should consider a few non-music runs in my training for future races.

Love these Iron Girl girls! Dede, Heather and Monica
During the last mile I was getting tired I began repeating a mantra to help me to keep moving forward. I kept saying to myself, "I'm strong, I'm fast, I'm focused." Finally I entered the shoot and headed towards finish line! This was it! I set a goal and I swam, biked and ran my way to the finish line!

I'm gonna make it! And I didn't sh*t the kit! Woo hoo!
How sweet it is to see…

Jennifer Roe - You are an Iron Girl! :-) 

And every Mom in Motion made it too. A truly wonderful day!

Run time: 32:04 Total time on course: 1:50:55. That time will not get me on a podium but I'm OK with that. From here I can only go up!  I am also pretty stoked that while this swim was tougher, I was much more confident and comfortable than I was on my last Tri. My overall bike was faster and my run was faster too. They were pretty comparable (both flat). Progress!

I really loved this race. 

The bling up close

Thank you Iron Girl for putting on such a good show!

Thank you Dana for taking the time to train us for this big milestone in our fitness worlds!! 

Thank you Angela Lee and Jen Small for all of your Tri advice and hand-me-downs!

Thank you Roxi for letting me use your bike all season!!

Thank you to my fellow Moms who made this journey so much fun and so worthwhile.

Thank you to the Tri Bloggers who've inspired me over the years.

I am blessed and grateful to have had this experience and can't wait to do it again.


PS: Speaking of my friend Jen Small - the day I was doing this Sprint, she was kicking some serious butt doing 140.6 at Rev3 Cedar Point! Read her journey here. She's amazing.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Iron Girl Triathlon Sandy Hook NJ: Race Recap Part One

It's been a week since I competed in and didn't drown during the swim FINISHED Iron Girl Sandy Hook!

Race-wise it had its share of ups and downs but ultimately it was a fantastic day that has only cemented my new love for the sport of triathlon.

This was a special race (aside from being the first triathlon I had signed up for - the one that made me leap towards the sport) but along the way, 20 of my Mom in Motion friends decided to make this race THEIR first (or second) triathlon as well! It was so special to have a bunch of great friends and teammates to do this with. It really brought the experience to the next level.

A couple of the Moms at Expo: Allison, me, Roxi, Kerry and Beth
Most of us decided to stay the night. It's just far enough of a drive (about an hour and a half each way) to make it feel just a tad too long to go down Saturday to get the bike set up and pick up the packet and then go home to come back at 5AM. Once again (as I had for the Jersey Shore half marathon) I shared a room with Rox and Kerry.

We had grand illusions of resting on Saturday but the day went quickly! By the time we got our race packets, kicked around the expo, brought the bikes to transition, trembled over seeing the water we were going to swim and checked-in to the hotel, it was already time for dinner. 

After a nice dinner that all the Tri Moms attended - we figured out our "fuel" for the morning (i.e. stopping at Starbucks so the girls could have cold coffee and make 'perfect oatmeal' with our hotel room coffee pot in the morning.) Angela hooked me up with a Starbuck Via Ready Brew Instant Coffee packet which is absolutely genius for race mornings. Mixed with hot water and you get delicious Starbucks coffee just like that!

By the time we got back to the room and got all of our stuff ready it was getting late. And the how many hours do we have before the alarm clock goes off at 3:45 AM game began. Once again none of us could sleep, we started trying around 9:30 PM, we put on some movie to try to get sleepy. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation to be exact. Rox couldn't stop laughing so we had to change the channel pronto. Soon we got sucked into a few episodes of Everyone Loves Raymond somewhere around the 2nd episode I drifted off into some sort of sleep. I felt semi-asleep and semi-awake for most of the night but managed to get a little rest. 

Hmmm. I think I've got everything
I woke up with a stomachache. (Actually I also went to sleep with a stomachache) - neither occurrence is all that unusual for me unfortunately. I popped an Immodium and hoped for the best. I was wearing a kit instead of two pieces for my tri outfit of the day. The kit is cute and so much more comfortable but getting in and out of that thing is a bitch challenging because of the built-in bra that easily gets all tangled and twisted. My silent mantra was - "please don't sh*t the kit." (OK, not so silent because I soon had Rox and Kerry also chanting it). You see, at another Tri, I saw a guy cross the finish line who must've had a little accident in his kit and his kit pants were light grey. It was unfortunate and I felt for him. I now live in fear of being that guy.

Anyway, back to race day. We headed out to get our transition ready and body marked. 

Me, Rox and Tracy getting ready for the day ahead!
And soon it was time to head to the water. For the record, I have to toughen up my feet. Wow. The "sand" was rock and cut up seashells and standing/walking in it for a half an hour was seriously starting to make my feet hurt and ache. I'm a baby but I heard others "ouch-ouching" as they walked too so I don't think I was alone.

Getting ready! 
The water was unusually super-crazy choppy. I had never swam in water like this and I was very nervous. I felt like I was a little boat getting tossed about. Everyone felt it and unfortunately many women had to be pulled out that day. This race is usually considered beginner friendly but there was nothing "beginner" about this swim. It was tough. But the race did provide plenty of "swim angels" to help women rest and catch their breath along the way. I was glad that I had swam a lot in training over the summer. And even though my other ocean open water were calmer seas, that experience was super valuable - I think I would've been a way bigger mess if I hadn't swam a little in Maine in the ocean and had my OWS's in Kentucky.

This pic of Allison shows off her amazing smile and the "chop" of the water
I took the advice (and wetsuit! thanks!) of my friend Angela and approached it very slow. The goal was not to burn out here but for me to make it. I did - I took it slow and with the conditions, I will admit there was some doggy paddling and unconventional swimming to keep going forward. But I did it and I was proud that I never had to hold onto a buoy or noodle or really stop. It was forward motion - just slow. Dana said that she overheard several seasoned triathletes remark that this was the hardest swim they had ever done - it was no joke.

The bad news. In the last part of the swim my lower body started to cramp up! WTF!!!  My hamstrings were going and so were my calves. The worse was the pain in my Tibialis Anterior. (I had to look up that muscle for this blog btw.) 

HOLY CRAP they were seized up and I wasn't sure how I was going to go on. I am so annoyed by this cramping thing and didn't expect it to hit me in the swim. I even tried to ensure something like this wouldn't happen by hydrating well, and having a banana and half of gel right before swim start. Ugh. Hiss. Boo. I had to pretty much just use arms for the last part of the swim. 

In pain but smiling for the camera - I'm done! I made it!
As I got onto the beach I realized I was screwed. The cramps hurt so bad I was wondering how I would even get out of my wetsuit, never mind bike and run. But I knew that if I had to sit in transition for an hour to recover to be able to finish I would. 

Camera caught me gritting my teeth in pain, wondering what I'd do with these cramps - and
That's Sheila a M.I.M. (no wetsuit!!) We stuck together in the swim and it was a great support 
I told my coach Dana that I was cramping up and having problems. She shouted to drink a lot of water, DO NOT SIT and take a gel if I had one. I nodded these directions and crawled headed to transition unsure of how this thing was going to play out. 

SWIM: 28:23 - It was originally supposed to be a half mile swim and then the race people said they shortened it to a third of a mile. It looked longer than that. Kerry went to question the Iron Man-tee-shirt-wearing-official and he said that he had personally swum the course (it was his job for IM to ensure distance) and it was exactly .45 of a mile. So who knows? All I know is that it was tough. I had made it without drowning but could I go on with being this cramped up?