Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Any advice? Training Tuesday

Hello all.

It's time for Training Tuesday! Link up here and grab a button, if you want. :)

Get ready, friends. This was not my best week of training.

Workouts this week:
Tuesday: Intervals! Makes it go by super fast.
Wednesday: Rest day
Thursday: Two miles, supah fast.
Friday: Unintentional rest day.
Saturday: Unintentional rest day.
Sunday: Lamest worst run of my life.
Monday: Unintentional rest day. Again. Whoops.

Pits of the week:
Check out all those rest days. Dang. I missed a run and then my long run was so, so bad. It was supposed to be 12 miles. I made it 7.5 and then called Pat and made him pick me up. I think there were a lot of reasons -- I went camping the night before and then volunteered early, meaning broken up/not so great sleep, I probably wasn't hydrated enough, it was 80 degrees out and I was sweating more than I've ever sweated before. There were a lot of reasons, but none of them are excuses. I should have run all my scheduled runs and I should have finished my dang long run.

I swear I even thought about the prospect of having to write this. I thought about my dang list of goals and the Forever Fitness Challenge ladies and the fact that not finishing my run technically meant I wasn't going to meet all my goals. But I just couldn't fathom running for another freaking HOUR. So I stopped.

A lot of training plans stop at 10 miles. When I was looking into training plans, I was like, that's dumb. I have time, I'll go up to 12 and that way I'll know I'm super ready.

But I think there's a reason. I've already done 11 miles. I knew I'd be able to finish the run if it had been race day. So now my motivation to run 12 is suddenly... not there.

Hopefully this didn't screw me up for race day. I don't think it did, but there will be doubt in the back of my mind, I'm sure.

Peaks of the week:

On to happier topics.

I am now two weeks out from my race -- less than, even. And I know a lot of you all have done longer races before.

So the question this week is -- what advice do you have for a first-time half runner?

One thing I've been wondering about is what I should tell my family + Pat to do. Where do you like to have your supporters stand? 
Do they usually pick a spot and stay put or do they move ahead and wait for you somewhere else?

Other than that, is there anything else I should know? Anything you wish you knew before your first half? Anything I should expect?

I started my running life long ago (okay, not really) by asking for advice. It feels significant somehow to ask for it again.

So who out there has run a half marathon? What do you remember from your first race? What should I know going in? Thanks in advance, loves!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Book review: Naked

Naked by David Sedaris

Description from Goodreads (below) can be found here along with other reviews. Linking up with Blonde... Undercover Blonde for Book Club Friday.

Welcome to the hilarious, strange, elegiac, outrageous world of David Sedaris. In Naked, Sedaris turns the mania for memoir on its ear, mining the exceedingly rich terrain of his life, his family, and his unique worldview-a sensibility at once take-no-prisoners sharp and deeply charitable. A tart-tongued mother does dead-on imitations of her young son's nervous tics, to the great amusement of his teachers; a stint of Kerouackian wandering is undertaken (of course!) with a quadriplegic companion; a family gathers for a wedding in the face of imminent death. Through it all is Sedaris's unmistakable voice, without doubt one of the freshest in American writing.

I've had several friends who were HUGE David Sedaris fans. I'd never really given him too much of a shot, but when I started listening to This American Life, I started hearing more and more from him -- he's a regular contributor. So I got his boxed set of audio books from the library -- I think there's four? -- and this is the first one I listened to.

Naked is a collection of true short stories or mini-memoirs, I guess -- stories about his life. 

Some of them I really loved -- one in particular about his father's constant warnings of men who lost a limb skateboarding or chopped off their thumbs chopping up vegetables reminded me of conversations with my own parents. 

Some of them were a little obscene or graphic and I was glad I was listening alone. Nothing too gory -- David as a child found a book about an incestuous family, for example. That plot line had a few interesting quotes...

Overall I enjoyed Naked. I laughed more than I cringed, for sure, and soldiered on to his next book, which is obviously a good sign. I gave it three stars on Goodreads.

Are any of you familiar with David Sedaris? One of his books, which unfortunately isn't in the boxed set, is about when he was a Christmas Elf in a department store -- can't wait to read that one!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A flat, a 5k, and a festival

Hi friends! Last weekend, I finally made my way out to western Kansas to visit my friend Simone, who has been living out there for almost two years.

Simone grew up on a farm in western Kansas, and her passion is helping small towns in rural areas develop and become places people would LOVE to live (is that close, Simone? :) Last weekend, she put on a festival! So I got to visit Simone, run a 5k, and go to the Wind and Wheels Festival all in one trip!

I started the day off Friday with a run, then put in a few hours at work before leaving early to begin the five and a half hour drive across Kansas.

About two hours into the drive, my car (which has 208 thousand miles on it) started sounding different and started handling different -- it was a struggle to steer to the side of the road and slow down, which I did.

Guys, I was a hot mess. I called my dad, my sister, Simone and AAA and cried on the phone with ALL of them. I was on the side of the big, main highway in Kansas with cars and semis whipping past me. My dad suggested I get out and check under the hood, but after seeing how close some of the semis were getting to my little Honda, I knew I was NOT getting out till the tow truck got there.

Well, he got there, and within a minute he diagnosed my car: I had a flat. That's all.

I'm only kind of sorry to say that I'm not at the level of blogging that when something goes super wrong, I remember to take a picture to prove the event. So just picture me crying my face off and a burly tow truck driver (who may have hit on me?) with a pitying/condescending look as he told me it was just a flat.

So, another half an hour and I was back on the road, a little emotionally drained, pretty embarrassed, but in good shape to actually finally make it out to see Simone still.
Sorry for the blur. I liked the blurry picture better :)
 And I did make it! We didn't do a whole lot Friday night -- played pool and then Simone and I stayed up talking for a while. It was great to catch up!

Saturday morning, Simone headed out at an ungodly hour to set up for the festival. Compared to her, I slept in till about 8, then got up and got ready and checked in for the AIM for the Track 5k!

It was about 34 degrees or so when the starting gun (really!) went off.

The race course went through the high school campus, out into a neighborhood and included sections on grass and a dirt road! I mostly just followed the girl in front of me, who was wearing a BRIGHT pink jacket. :)

There were probably only about 30 of us, which made it really kind of fun, especially at the finish line. I think I was one of few strangers to the other runners, and they were not shy about cheering their friends on! It was fun to watch everyone finish.

In the end I got a new personal record (PR) for the 5k -- 29:11. My first race under 30 minutes! I was pretty excited. I also got second in my age group and got a medal! There were only two of us, but Simone's parents said I should just tell people I got second. :)

There's been a 5k for a few years in Simone's town, but it never was for a cause. This year, it was! The local high school has a great track team, but a dirt track to practice on. The money raised in the 5k is going to replace the track.

The rest of the day was fun and packed with events: two bands played, there were kids kites and giant professional kites and a helicopter landed that the kiddos got to tour (well, adults too really!). It was a lot of fun!!

Saturday night I saw Simone perform in a play put on by the Arts Council. It was like a potluck -- everyone brought a dish, we all ate dinner, and they put on a melodrama. So fun.

Sunday, Simone and I went driving around on dirt roads. We went out to her boyfriend's house and I got to meet their dogs, and we went through devil's dip, a part of a dirt road that is seriously like a roller coaster.

Around here, western Kansas gets kind of a bad rap. People don't seem super interested in small town life, and everyone moans and groans when they have to drive through western Kansas.

But with my visit to Leoti, I saw a whole lot of good.

In Lawrence, and in non-rural life, there are family events all the time. Library events, plays, concerts, musicals, parades. We have access to a lot of entertainment, and because of it, I think we take it for granted. Had the Wind and Wheels Festival happened here -- I 100% guarantee I wouldn't have gone. And I had a blast at the festival! But here, I would have slept in instead.

I was so impressed with all the people who came out for Wind and Wheels -- and for the play. I expected families with little kids, but there were teens and people my age and old people -- I helped one grey-haired lady decorate a kite for herself, and then she went off and flew it. At the play, I sat with Simone's parents, her boyfriend, her boyfriend's parents, and his two grandmothers. It was a real family event.

They were living life with excitement and making small things fun. They don't take things for granted -- not getting out of the house, not spending time with the family. And it was great to see.

So that's my plug for western Kansas. I wish I could put it more eloquently -- I had so much to say when I was there, but it must have flown out the window on the drive back.

Did any of you grow up in a rural community? Did you love it or were you racing to get out?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Favorite running gear: Training Tuesday

Hello all.

It's time for Training Tuesday! Link up here and grab a button, if you want. :)

Workouts this week:
Tuesday: 4.63 miles outside. Was supposed to be 4.5 but I wasn't paying attention till after
Wednesday: Rest day
Thursday: Rest day
Friday: Woke up early (five freaking thirty) and got 11 miles done before work.
Saturday: AIM for the Track 5k! Recap... someday. Maybe.
Sunday: Rest day
Monday: Unintentional rest day. Whoops

Pits of the week:
I got chaffed on my long run. Boo.
That's pretty much it. Well and my unintentional rest day, but I'll probably make up for it this week.

Peaks of the week:
I PRed at my 5k!

My long run also went really well. No major complaints and I kept a good pace.

Running Gear

Since last week I shared my thoughts on fuel, I thought today I might share some reviews of the gear I use while I'm running.

I got this water bottle, made by Ultimate Direction, from the running store in town for around $20. I like it... but it took a while. The mouthpiece is NOT normal and not intuitive. You have to pull it out with your teeth and then squeeze the water bottle really hard. It took me two long runs to figure it out, and if I'm walking, I just take the whole lid off.

But. I like having a water bottle with me while I run (I wasn't carrying water at all before), and this one is pretty easy to carry. It's also nice to have another pocket for carrying things, like my jelly bean fuel. They have some with a fabric sleeve around the water bottle that's supposed to keep the water cold and your hand from getting cold. I think I'd get that version if I bought again. (Search for Ultimate Direction water bottle on Amazon and it's the first result.)

I got this armband (or one a lot like it) made by armpocket at the same time for around $25. It took a while to adjust to using an armband rather than carrying my phone. It bounces around more than I expected, and it's not easy to change the song or volume. But I started using the kind of headphones that have the volume thingy on the wire near the earbud and that helps a lot.

I also carried a lot of tension in my shoulders and neck when I was holding my phone, so using an armband helps a lot and I don't have that problem anymore.

I got these shorts in plain black a few weeks back and LOVE them so much that I went back and got them in this color too. I've had other similar shorts that ride up but these are PERFECT and stay in place for my whole long run. And they're only 17 bucks at JC Penney. LOVE.

If you aren't ready for full-on spandex shorts, I'd look for some that have spandex underneath jersey shorts. I have a pair, also from JC Penney, although I can't find them online, and wore them for like every run until I bought the spandex ones.

I got this shirt at the same time and have only worn it once, but it's only 7 bucks on sale and has the coolest thumb holes. I think I'll really like it!

Most of the time I run in basic t-shirts or a tech shirt I got at a 5k, but when I do buy actual workout clothes, I love the Xersion brand from JC Penney. I've gotten several things from that brand and have loved all of it. Plus, if you order online, JC Penney ships to their nearest location for free, so you don't have to lose the shipping cost if you end up returning whatever you bought.

What do you all love to run in or with? I'd love to hear!

PS I'm totally not getting anything from reviewing these products. Just sharin the love!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Book review: Hawksong

Hawksong by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes

Description from Goodreads (below) can be found here along with other reviews. Linking up with Blonde... Undercover Blonde for Book Club Friday.

DANICA SHARDAE IS an avian shapeshifter, and the golden hawk’s form in which she takes to the sky is as natural to her as the human one that graces her on land. The only thing more familiar to her is war: It has raged between her people and the serpiente for so long, no one can remember how the fighting began. As heir to the avian throne, she’ll do anything in her power to stop this war—even accept Zane Cobriana, the terrifying leader of her kind’s greatest enemy, as her pair bond and make the two royal families one.

Trust. It is all Zane asks of Danica—and all they ask of their people—but it may be more than she can give.

I loved Hawksong from the start. From page one, you're right in the mind and world of Danica -- an avian shapeshifter, heir to the throne in a world torn by war. Danica is to inherit the throne soon and simply can't stand the war anymore. When a member of the enemy's royal family -- a shapeshifter who turns into a cobra -- shows up and pleads for movement to create peace, Danica embarks on a journey toward peace.

The greatest strength of this story is the incredible world building. You will be enamored with Danica and Zane's world. It was one of those books that I listened to every minute I could, even if it was just for a minute, and I couldn't wait to get back to it when I put it down.

There is a bit of action here and there, but a lot of the plot line is emotional. My two complaints about the book are that it was a bit predictable -- I bet you can already guess some things that will happen -- and that the plot lines were rushed at the end -- there was a loooot of buildup for a couple climaxes that were wrapped up all in the final pages. Poof, done.

Still, I really enjoyed this book and have already read the sequel! I have the third of the series on hold at the library now. I gave Hawksong four stars on Goodreads.

Have any of read Hawksong? What did you think?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Ten miles and choosing fuel: Training Tuesdays

Hello all.

First I want to quickly express that my thoughts are with everyone in Boston. I can't even imagine what the racers and others in Boston are going through and I'm wishing for speedy recoveries of bodies, hearts and minds.

Now, on to Training Tuesday.
Link up here and grab a button, if you want. :)

Workouts this week:
Tuesday: Rest day
Wednesday: Rest day
Thursday: Two miles (inside... womp womp) Each lap, I tried to pretend it was my only lap. Finished in 19:38!
Friday: Friday I was supposed to run 4 miles but instead I came home and fell asleep for two hours.
Saturday: Four miles. Four FAST miles.
Sunday: TEN MILES.
Monday: Two miles for recovery.

Pits of the week: Okay, guys. Here's the thing. My ten miles did NOT go smoothly. At all. I blame it on the wind, which was ridiculous, and some stomach issues. I was good for the first three, then I started to REALLY need a bathroom break and started walking all over the place. Every time I ran it felt like I was going to pee my pants, and then when I walked, it was manageable. This was a serious, I'm in the suburbs but eyeing those bushes kind of need. So miles 4-7 sucked so bad. One of them was nearly 15 minutes, which shows how much I was walking. But...

Peaks of the week:
I made it home after 7 miles, took a bathroom break, then forced myself to go back out for the last three. Which was hard. But I did it. My 8th mile was pretty good -- back in the 10-minute range -- but then I let the wind and my fatigue get the best of me and let myself walk some more. But I finished. And now I've run/walked into the double digits.

When you put all of this together, it was kind of a miserable run. During the run, I was terrified I'd never make it through my half and it was going to be the worst experience ever. I was getting really scared and convincing myself I wouldn't be able to do it.

But then when it was over it's like, Holy Cow. I've done 10 miles. It wasn't pretty, but I did it. Some training plans STOP at 10 miles. I'm going to be fine. I can do this.

So that was my pit and peak this week, all wrapped up in one run.


Not a whole lot of thought went into my decision to use energy supplements in the first place. I'd been looking for fueling advice for a while and when I was about to start running significantly more than an hour, I felt like it was time. Before my 8-mile training run, I went to a local running store and bought three different kinds of supplements, listed below.

Across the board, I just want to say none were the worst thing I've ever eaten. I feel like you hear about how awful Gu is A LOT and, going in with that expectation, I didn't think it was so bad. I chose to avoid supplements with added caffeine (or, in the Gu's case, with little added caffeine) because I'm more interested in replacing what my body uses, not in gaining extra energy.

That being said, none of the ones I tried gave me so much energy I realized or noticed a kick -- but I was able to keep on keepin on with my run and not collapse at the end, which was really my goal.

One more thing -- I bought, at the same time, a water bottle that I can take on runs with me. It's super important to hydrate when you're using fuels. I thought I pinned the article about it, but I didn't, so from memory -- when you use a fuel you're putting a LOT of substance in your body in one small shot. Your body needs water to be able to digest it properly. Otherwise you're going to have-not-so-happy results.

The first kind of supplement I tried was Gu gel in Vanilla flavor. I didn't hate the taste and it wasn't impossible to stomach -- it reminded me of the gel icing you can buy at Wal-mart to write on cakes, you know that kind? That's the texture it has. But I knew it probably wouldn't be my favorite. If it's what they hand out at my race, I know I'll make it through now because I've had it, but I don't think Gu will be my first choice.

The second I tried was these Jelly Belly jelly beans made for runners (I had them on Easter :). I liked these a lot! They tasted great, they were fun, and I could portion them out and eat a few at a time. I did drop a couple -- there were like 15 of them! -- but I think they still got the job done. This link isn't to the exact flavor I tried -- I had some kind of mixed flavors, but they were red.

The final one I've tried was Gu Chomps in watermelon flavor. These were big gel things. Hard to explain. Maybe about the same size around as a quarter but tall. I liked them all right. They tasted great and weren't as hard to chew as I'd thought they would be.

I think my final decision is going to be to go with the Jelly Bellys for now. The other ones gave me a little bit of stomach trouble (but nothing serious) and the Jelly Belly was just my favorite. If I'm ever needing to buy a ton in the future, I might go for one of the Gus because they're cheaper and easier to find, but for now, with only two long training runs and my race left, I'll pay the little bit extra.

Do any of you use running supplements? What's your favorite?

Monday, April 15, 2013

Five things (times five, so really 25 things) about me.

I found this post (forever ago) from Jen, who found it from someone else, who found it from someone else... so I'm stealing it. :) I did change one of the questions though.

5 Things...

...you'll find in my bag.
Well, I prefer to only carry my keys, which are attached to a little wallet. But when I do have a bag, five things in it might be...
1. My folder for class Actually I've been forgetting that quite often... but it should be in there!
2. Headphones
3. Tupperware from lunch and/or my water bottle
4. A pencil case :)
5. My planner! Obviously.

...you'll find in my bedroom.
1. Pat. haha.
2. Brown blanket -- the softest blanket ever my sister gave me as a housewarming gift
3. Clothes everywhere
4. My training plan!
5. Lots of books 

...I'm currently loving.
1. That I ran (and walked) TEN FREAKING MILES yesterday.
2. That the cranky mood I was in all last week seems to be over.
3. The colors I'm wearing today -- navy, light purple and grey
4. That I'm going to see Simone FINALLY this weekend!!!!!!!!!
5. The scholarships I got for next year (thank you generous donors to the KU School of Education!)

...quirks I have.
1. My hips pop. SUPER loudly.
2. I have my library card number memorized! 1130701607941 :)
3. Before me and Pat lived together, I would watch the same movie every night for a month (or months...). Common culprits are the first Harry Potter movie, Love Actually, Up! and You've Got Mail. I also went through a Fellowship of the Ring phase in high school.
4. Probably my favorite article of clothing is the hoodie. At last count, I think I had twelve.
5. The ability to recognize narrators of audio books from one to the other (currently listening to Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, which is narrated by Sarah Drew, who is my favorite).

...you'd know if we had met in real life.
1. I'm afraid of Zombies. Like, leave the room when a commercial is on, never talk about it in front of me afraid.
2. I don't like feet. I don't want your feet to touch me and I don't want you to touch my feet and I probably don't want to look at your feet either.
3. I never turn down ice cream. When I studied abroad, we sometimes ate it twice a day. Truth.
4. My handwriting looks like this:
5. My car is Betsy. Sometimes this confuses people because Betsy is quite old and I often talk about having to buy a new car. ("It all depends on when Betsy dies... If she holds out a little longer I might not have to take out student loans...")

Now it's your turn! What is one thing I would know about you if we'd met in real life? Or what's something you're LOVING right now? Can't wait to hear!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Happy birthday, Dad!

Last week, I told my friend Ashley that I might go home this past weekend. Today is my dad's 60th birthday, and Emily and I wanted to surprise him.

My mom had called me about a month ago, wanting to get ideas for birthday presents, but none of us had been able to think of anything. We wanted something big and wonderful and amazing. I mean, 60 is a big deal. And my dad is very awesome. But none of us had any strokes of genius.

When I told Ashley it was his birthday and we still needed a present, she said, "Get him a steak. That's what I did." And then I told her it was his 60th, and she said, "Get him 60 steaks?"

With no better ideas, Emily and I headed home, stopping at a grocery store to pick up steak, potatoes, asparagus and beer. We stuck a ribbon on the six pack and rang the doorbell.


I wish I had thought of something amazing to give my dad for this birthday, because he is so deserving.

My dad checks my oil and my windshield wiper fluid and my tire pressure every time I'm home. He has patiently tried to teach my all of these skills to no avail. 

He cleans my room before I come home and makes sure the heat or A/C is turned on and that I have blankets.

He sends me a text to celebrate every Friday, and he is my favorite person to text about pretty much anything.
When it was almost Thanksgiving break
When I signed up for my half
When I was terrified because I was taking 26 students
on an overnight, out-of-state trip

My dad has worked so hard at every job he's ever had, even though he's had some miserable jobs, because he loves us and wants to support our family.

My dad deserves the best birthday in the world. He deserves all the presents we could think of and all the presents we didn't think of. He deserves a much better post than this (like the one I wrote last year).


My dad told my mom that me and Emily coming home for his birthday was the best present he could have ever gotten. 

And if that doesn't tell you what kind of person he is -- if that doesn't show just how much he deserves the happiest of birthdays... well. I don't know what else to say. Because those are the words of a man who loves his family. And we most definitely love him back.

Happy birthday, Wolf.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Food! and Training Tuesday

Hi friends!

It's Training Tuesday again! I'm using it to track my half marathon training, but if you have any goal you've been working on, feel free to join me and Tamara in the fun. We want to congratulate you!

Link up here and grab a button, if you want. :)

Workouts this week:
Tuesday: Three miles inside. I had a stomach ache and it was a pretty yuck run.
Wednesday: Rest day
Thursday: Two miles around campus! Love that its staying light out later now.
Friday: Four miles outside. I was SUPER happy with my pace on this one -- 10:06 overall. :)
Saturday: Rest day
Sunday: Crappy, crappy run. I ran three then walked the last mile home.
Monday: 3.11 miles -- a 5k. More in the "peaks"!

Pits of the week: 
I shoulda been able to pull out that run Sunday. Not sure what was up with it. I don't feel too guilty, I just have no excuse. I tweeted about it, though, just because I don't want anyone to think I only talk about the good runs. It was a route I'd run before, it wasn't bad weather. I'd slept a lot the night before. As if she knew, Shut Up And Run (I don't know her name... whoops!) posted this. Not sure why my run sucked. My head just wasn't in it, I think.

Also, as whiny as it will sound, I think I'm having a rough time adjusting back to warmer weather. It's only in the 70s and I'm already wearing the shirts I cut up for when I was running in the 90s last summer.

Peaks of the week:
Yesterday, I set out to run 3 miles. I'm not sure what happened -- maybe it was because my run the day before sucked or because me and Pat had dinner plans and I knew he was super hungry.

Whatever it was, I did my first mile in 9:47, which is really good for me, especially considering the first mile of this route has a decent hill. After I knew I ran the first mile that fast, I just decided to see what I could do, I guess. And then when I was getting close to three miles and was still under 30 minutes, I PUSHED it and took almost two whole minutes off my best 5k time! Granted this wasn't in a race, but still. Exciting. I was only two seconds short of being a full two minutes faster. Insane.

Changing the way I think about food

I've been mulling over this topic for weeks, not sure exactly how to write about it. I'm going to talk a little about watching what I eat and calories, so if that's a trigger for you, you might want to skip the rest of this post.

Starting last January, I counted my calories for nearly every meal. I was under my (pretty low) calorie goal almost every single day, by increasing my movement, by watching my portions, by the usual healthy methods.

But I didn't change what I was eating exactly. I was just eating less of it. When I got near the end of the night  and had a calorie deficit, I thought, cool. And then I scooped myself a heaping bowl of ice cream or ate more chocolate.

It was all about the calorie count. And for the purpose I was pursuing, it worked -- I weigh about 18 pounds less than I did January of 2012, and at one point I was down 20 pounds.

But I hadn't exactly developed healthy habits. I only cared that I was under that calorie goal.

When I started really training for my half, I tried to maintain my calorie counting habits, but it was difficult -- mentally and emotionally. Even when I estimated how many calories I'd burned and added that to my goal, I hesitated to eat back my exercise calories.

It looked and felt so good to see a 500 or 600 calorie deficit at the end of the night. I was scared I'd gain back the weight, scared it'd get out of control again.

At the same time, I knew that poor nutrition would negatively affect my running. When you don't eat well or don't eat enough, you get fatigued faster and are more prone to injuries.

So I had to mentally make a switch from a losing-weight perspective to a perspective focused on fueling myself for the amount of activity I'm pursuing.

I stopped counting calories. Since then, I haven't gained weight. I haven't lost, either. It was really difficult at first, but now I don't really think about calories at all. Which is what is healthy for me at this point in my training and in my life.

Lately, I've been looking a little bit more at what I'm actually eating. I'm trying to eat more whole foods -- fruits and veggies -- and more minimally processed foods -- looking at the ingredient list's contents (can I pronounce the ingredients?) and number of ingredients (fewer ingredients = better for you).

I'm not always perfect at it. I don't pass up free food and don't overthink what I order at restaurants, because it's so rare that I go out. I eat dessert. But I'm getting better.

My new goal is to take it the final step. When I'm hungry at the end of the day, I'm still telling myself, Oh, I have calories, why not? and filling up on ice cream or other treats. And I don't think I should be doing that. I don't have an exact goal yet -- I don't think I need to cut out desserts altogether, but I want to cut down drastically.

From now until my race, May 11th, I'm off all drinks except water and milk (empty calories that do nothing for me!) I'm also considering a dessert hiatus -- or cutting it down to one a week. (Maybe two...)

Just in case you're curious, here's some of what I have been eating! Keep in mind that I'm a vegetarian. :)
A typical lunch -- carrots, apples and cuties, yogurt with frozen berries and granola. 

Or sometimes a salad as one of the elements of my lunch -- this one with cheddar cheese and sunflower seeds!
One of my favorite snacks -- whole almonds and reduced-sugar craisins

Whole wheat pasta with tomatoes and yellow squash. Recipe here.

The beans part of my Hawaiian Beans and Rice -- recipe here.

One move I've made in my pursuit of healthy-ness is to switch to products made with whole grains. 

Whole grain products provide several benefits you won't get from products that use refined grains, like reducing blood cholesterol levels (possible reducing likelihood of heart disease) and feeling fuller longer on fewer calories.

Looking to add more whole grains to your diet? Look for this logo on the products you buy.

This label means that the product contains 51% or more whole grains by weight and that the product is low in saturated fat and cholesterol.

You can also find whole grains by reading nutrition labels. If the first ingredient is whole wheat, graham flour, oatmeal, whole oats, brown rice, wild rice, whole-grain corn, popcorn, whole grain barley, whole-wheat bulgar or whole rye, then you know that you're getting more whole grains than anything else (they have to list the biggest ingredient first!).

Hope you're all doing well with your training! Can't wait to read all about it.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Book review: Dreamland Social Club

Dreamland Social Club by Tara Altebrando

Description from Goodreads (below) can be found here along with other reviews. Linking up with Blonde... Undercover Blonde for Book Club Friday.

Jane has traveled the world with her father and brother, but it's not until her fractured family-still silently suffering from the loss of Jane's mother many years before-inherits a house and a history in Coney Island that she finally begins to find a home. With the help of a new community of friends, a mermaid's secrets, and a tattooed love interest with traffic-stopping good looks, the once plain Jane begins to blossom and gains the courage to explore the secrets of her mother's past.

Colorful characters, beautiful writing, and a vibrant, embattled beachfront backdrop make this the perfect summer read for anyone who has ever tried to find true love or a place to call home.

I really liked this book.

Jane moves into the house her mother grew up in on Coney Island as a junior in high school. Her mother died when she was very young, and Jane begins to uncover a lot about her mother and the grandparents she never knew by living in the place -- the house, and the community -- where they all lived.

There are a few driving themes in Dreamland Social Club. One, obviously, is Jane's discovery of her mother and her maternal grandparents and what their lives mean to her. The process is slow and steady, emotional, and overall, realistic.

Another huge theme, though, is conformity versus nonconformity. I have to assume the name Jane was picked for a reason -- to evoke the thought of Plain Jane -- because that's how she feels going into her high school. Jane's classmates fully embrace the sideshow culture of old Coney Island. They are known for their quirks -- a seven foot tall "giant," a little person, a bearded lady, and more. It was a really interesting backdrop for the typical struggles of cliques and high school.

One thing I did struggle with, though, was that the characters never lost their original monikers -- the giant stayed "the giant" throughout the book, even when Jane got to know him and considered him a friend.

Otherwise, I really liked this book. I thought the relationships between characters were realistic and fun, and the romance was adorable and butterfly-inducing. I gave it four stars!

Have any of you read Dreamland Social Club? What did you think?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Exhaustion: Training Tuesday

Hi friends!

It's Training Tuesday again! I'm using it to track my half marathon training, but if you have any goal you've been working on, feel free to join me and Tamara in the fun. We want to congratulate you!

Link up here and grab a button, if you want. :)

Workouts this week:
Tuesday: Recovery day from my eight miles
Wednesday: Rest day
Thursday: Two miles inside
Friday: Cross! Went disc golfing with Pat and our roommate Jake
Saturday: Shoulda been 3.5 miles, but instead it was a nap
Sunday: Nine miles!
Monday: Recovery.

Pits of the week: 
Missing a run is always a bummer. And then I obsess about where to fit it in in the next week, but really, I don't need to be (and maybe shouldn't be) running five times a week, so I'm just going to have to let it go. I'm still in fine shape to get my overall goals. Still difficult to let it go.

Peaks of the week:
The weather has been gorgeous here! My long run was in almost-70-degree weather and Friday was a beautiful day for some disc golf. Gotta get used to running in heat again after all these 30-something-degree runs!

So as you can see from the title of this post, I. am. EXHAUSTED.

I caught a cold near the end of last week -- which is why I missed my run Saturday. I took a nap Saturday and Sunday. Yesterday I came home from work early and took a nap because I'm just exhausted.

I can't blame it all on training, of course. Work is still super busy and I have three classes to also think about. I'm a full time student, almost a full time employee, and a full time runner. It can just be a lot.

My training plan has a couple weeks built into it that are recovery weeks. What that means is this week, my mid-week runs are just as long -- actually, the one on schedule for today is slightly longer than other mid-week runs have been -- but my weekend run is 4 miles. If I didn't take a recovery week, it'd be 10 miles.

Can I just say this is coming at exactly the right time?

My body is tired. I'm sick. And I just need a lighter week right now. I'm glad I put it on my schedule, even though at the time I had no idea how much I'd need it. Do you guys ever take a lighter week now and then?

Sorry for kind of lame topics this week and last, friends. I've got a million ideas in my head for Training Tuesday posts and just no time/energy to write them yet. Soon! Promise.

How is your training going? Do you ever take recovery weeks?


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