Thursday, January 29, 2015

Pool running keeps me sane + Thursday stuff

I have developed a love of running in the pool for three reasons:

1. It feels like you are actually running (almost!)
2. I have that really good "I just worked out hard" feeling afterwards
3. I know running in the pool is going to keep me in great shape for actual running




Hands down this is one the best exercises for injured runners and I think pool running is great even when you ARE running. 

Here is the shakedown of my 60 minute workout today:

10 minute warm up

10 minutes of hard running with a 5 minute rest X 3 reps

10 minute cool down

I found a great video that shows you exactly what to do for efficient pool running. Go HERE to check it out!

I started the day with a tasty breakfast...


Yes, that is one of the cranberry pecan biscuits I made from yesterday! :) I love oatmeal. I eat it for breakfast practically every day!

My day is always filled with lots of kiddo drops and pick ups. I spend a nice amount of time in the car and sometimes I need a snack while I am at stoplight...


Tomorrow is Friday! We love Fridays! Friday in our house means lots of playtime, usually pizza for dinner and a movie (with popcorn, of course). The kiddos LOVE it.
Interesting thing - my kiddos used to love, love pizza. We would order from our usual 1 or 2 favorite places and life was good. In the past month, the enthusiam for pizza has gone way, way down. In fact Josh told me he doesn't want pizza anymore. What?
So I started investigating pizza and what do they really put in it anyway? Do we really know?
Then I found the Food Babe's article on pizza and if you read it, you may never order pizza again.
Go HERE to check it out. 
Well, I have decided to start making our own pizza - yep, our own pizza dough and our own toppings. We will know everything that is going into our favorite Friday indulgence.

Friday I am making a delicious corn meal pizza dough and it is really good. I'll post the recipe for you  :)

I loved my dinner - a light and delicious chicken salad. I think I have talked about this before - I love making it -  It is super easy - grilled organic chicken strips on a bed of organic red leaf lettuce. Add black beans, orange and yellow bell pepper, avocado (pretty much any veggies that are in your house) and strawberries + a yummy coconut lime balsamic vinaigrette,
 And yes, I made it for the kiddos too and they gobbled it up :)



I was craving a little chocolate tonight. I love eating a handful of chocolate chips - its just enough, but not too much...



Friday is SBG's birthday! She will be two! I am just in shock that she is turning two already and I am sort of mourning the loss of my baby :(
But, she'll always be my baby...

And lastly, I know everyone is talking about the guy that shoveled the snow away from the Boston Marathon finish line...


I just love the spirit of runners.


What are your weekend plans?
SBG's family birthday party, random fun on Sat and I may be cheering on a friend at the Surf City half marathon on Sunday!

How many miles are you running this weekend?
I will be in the pool and on the bike.

What is your favorite Friday night meal?

Happiness Is Running Life!
xo,
Natalie

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The homemade scones that turned into something else + sometimes your body needs a mini break...

Wednesday! Half of the week has already gone by...

Another busy day...

Took SBG to our Mommy and Me Class


So fun for us to have our special time together and SBG LOVES all the fun toys!

Later it was off to tennis...



Whoa! I discovered that Meg is fierce on the court! She really loves it.

Wednesdays are occasionally funny for me workout wise... During a training cycle, I find that after a long run on Sunday and track work or hills on Tuesday, by Wednesday I am tired. Most days I pushed through my recovery run and would take Friday off. Some days I had to rest on Wednesday and run on Friday.
Now that I am only cross training during my injury, I make sure I am working out 6 days a week and let the one day of rest come as I feel.

Today I was tired.

So, I did my core exercises, talked to a friend during Mommy and Me about trying some new fitness classes (there is an Orange Theory nearby that we talked about trying together!) and enjoyed a day off.

I also made a great new recipe (my first original!) that I want to share with you...

So my Mom makes the most amazing scones. SO GOOD.
They are melt in your mouth good and the recipe is all her own. She has perfected it over the years and each time they taste even better than before.
So - I asked her if I could share her scones on the blog - I thought it might be a nice way to enjoy your coffee or tea in the morning or as a snack after a long run (you know with some berries or something...)
Anyway, she said yes, and that is where it started falling apart. Sort of. Totally on my end.

I called her up to ask for the ingredients. As she is patiently reciting the ingredients - which include white flour and white sugar - I wonder if perhaps I could change a few things?
You know, make it more of a healthy snack?

I (reluctantly - she was initially not thrilled about me mangling her recipe) got her blessing and here it is! 
I am totally laughing right now - these are NOT scones. They are really good, but they are more biscuits than anything. For the first time in my life, I came up with a brand new recipe. Who woulda thought?!

Cranberry Pecan Biscuits 

(I know, I know I have been on a cranberry kick lately. Yes, I realize that the holidays are over, but cranberries taste SO good!

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees

Ingredients

- 2 cups soy flour
-1/4 cup whole wheat flour
-3 teaspoons baking powder
-A pinch of salt
-3 tablespoons honey
-1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
-1 orange (you will only need the zest)
-1/2 cup chopped pecans
-1/2 cup orange juice
-1/4 cup milk

NOTE: I decided to substitute soy flour + a bit of whole wheat flour for white flour and honey for white sugar - this is how the whole recipe changed!
Couldn't find fresh cranberries anymore, so used frozen and they were good! Forgot to add milk and orange juice to the pic :)



Step one:
In a large bowl combine soy flour, baking powder and salt.



Step two:
Add 3 tablespoons of honey



Step three:
Using a cutter, add in the butter (you want the butter to be cut into pieces). If you don't have a cutter, then you can use a knife to cut butter into pieces.



Step four:
Peel and zest an orange. Then cut the zest into smaller pieces



Step five:
Chop up a 1/2 cup of pecans. Then mix the orange zest, pecans and cranberries and add into the flour mixture.


Step six:
Make a small hole in the middle of the flour/cranberry/pecan mixture - then add the 1/2 cup of orange juice. Lightly stir and then add 1/4 cup of whole milk and the 1/4 cup of whole wheat flour.
Make sure not to over stir, you don't want the biscuits to turn out tough :)



Step seven:
On an ungreased cookie sheet, use a tablespoon to scoop rounded balls onto the sheet and bake for about 10-12 minutes.


They are finally done! Looks good and tastes... delish! 


So, here they are - cranberry pecan biscuits. A healthy snack any time of day! I hope you enjoy them as much as I did. :)
A special thanks to my Mom for letting me mangle recreate her recipe.



Cranberry Pecan Biscuits 

Prep time: 15 minutes               Cook time: 10-12 minutes          Total time: 30 minutes

This healthy biscuit made with soy and whole wheat flour + honey is perfect for breakfast, a snack or anytime during the day!

Recipe by: Natrunsfar
Serves: 6-8


Ingredients

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees

-2 cups soy flour
-1/4 cup whole wheat flour
-3 teaspoons baking powder
-A pinch of salt
-3 tablespoons honey
-1 stick (1/2 cup) butter
-1 orange (you will only need the zest)
-1/2 cup chopped pecans
-1/2 cup orange juice
-1/4 cup milk

Directions

In a large bowl combine soy flour, baking powder and salt.
Add 3 tablespoons of honey to the flour mixture
Using a cutter, add in the butter (you want the butter to be cut into pieces). If you don't have a cutter, then you can use a knife to cut butter into pieces.
Peel and zest an orange. Then cut the zest into smaller pieces
Chop up a 1/2 cup of pecans. Then mix the orange zest, pecans and cranberries and add into the flour mixture.
Make a small hole in the middle of the flour/cranberry/pecan mixture - then add the 1/2 cup of orange juice. Lightly stir and then add 1/4 cup of whole milk and the 1/4 cup of whole wheat flour.
Make sure not to over stir, you don't want the biscuits to turn out tough :)
On an ungreased cookie sheet, use a tablespoon to scoop rounded balls onto the sheet and bake for about 10-12 minutes.
Serve warm


A quick update on my injury:
First, I can't believe I haven't run in 7 weeks. 
Second, I am having these crazy dreams about running and more running.
Third, I miss it so much, but am trying to keep my mind busy, busy with focus on cross training and maintaining my fitness. My time will come to run again, hopefully sooner rather than later :)
Fourth, I have had some serious thoughts about surgery on my knee. Am I moving too quickly in my decision? What if it can heal on its own?
Fifth, I have decided to get a second opinion, just to be sure. I trust my doctor, but I think when it comes to something as serious as this, I need to cover all my bases.

I'll keep you up to date on what happens. What am I hoping for? I am hoping that perhaps I won't need the surgery and can just take another 3 weeks off and the bone will heal on its own.
These are the options I will explore.

In the end, if I have to have the surgery in order to run again, absolutely I will do it.

Something really cool that happened today:
An old friend from my high school in Ohio - we ran cross country together - contacted me through my blog!
It was so wonderful to hear from her and she is totally still running! 11 marathons and counting and we have so much to catch up on. Love that we'll be able to talk about running, family and life.
This was such a highlight of my day! Running friends really are the best.

Have a great day and happy running!

What day of the week is your typical rest day?


Are you a morning or afternoon/evening runner?


Happiness Is Running Life!

xo,
Natalie

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Homemade energy bars and a good gym session

Tuesday was good...

Nothing spectacular - just a happy, productive day.

I was excited to make homemade energy bars! I am always in need of a snack pre or post workout and the idea of making my own was very appealing. I love that I would know exactly each ingredient that went into the bar.
I found a recipe that is super easy and they are delicious!



In the October 2014 issue of Runner's World (pages 77-81) they have a great section of DIY energy bars, I decided to make the Four ingredient Cranberry Walnut Bars created by Pam Anderson (she has a wonderful blog with the most amazing recipes! Go HERE to check her out!)

Here are the ingredients:

1 cup walnut pieces
1 cup pitted dates
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut



- Preheat over to 325F

-Place walnuts in a small baking pan and toast for 10 minutes or until fragrant and lightly browned.





- Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

-Line an 8 inch square baking pan with plastic wrap. Coast the inside with cooking spray. I don't use cooking spray, so I spread a tiny bit of butter instead.

-In a food processor, combine the dates, cranberries, walnuts and coconut, 



- Process until fruit and nuts are ground into fine pieces.


- Add one tablespoon of water.


- Continue to process until mixture begins to hold together when pressed with your fingers.

-Pour mixture into prepared pan. With your hands or back of a spoon or measuring cup, spread the mixture out and press to compact.



-Refrigerate for 1 hour, then cut into 16 squares and serve. YUM!! They are so good! I can't wait to share them with the family!



I went to the gym and had a fun 90 minutes on the bike...



Worked on holding the plank for 2 minutes...



Finished the workout with the rest of my core routine, and just felt all kinds of happiness at the end of a great workout!


I'm also happy that even though I can't run in my Brooks Adrenaline GTS anymore (it is a stability shoe and I need a neutral shoe!), they make a great shoe for going to the gym :)
I hope you had a great workout today!

What is the longest time you've ever spent on a stationary bike?
90 minutes has been my max so far, but I'd like to extend the time gradually.

What type of running shoe do you wear?!
Now I am wearing the Brooks Ghost 7!

How many miles are you running today?


Happiness Is Running Life!

xo,
Natalie

Monday, January 26, 2015

A great marathon support system, some weekend haps + a fun Monday :)


We had a really fun weekend!

So, J has been talking to me a lot about how he and the kiddos can be the best support system for me when I get back to marathoning.

When I race, usually the whole family comes out to support me. It's so fun for the kiddos and J always likes to cheer me on. After the culmination of a training schedule and all the hard work that it entails, I really love having them there. (Thank you honey - I couldn't do this without you!)

The question is "How can a husband/friend/partner and multiple kiddos effectively support and cheer on their favorite runner?"

Enter THE VEHICLE:




Here are five reasons why I would highly recommend a cargo bike as a super cool and fun mode of (marathon!) transportation:

1. Cargo bikes are a perfect spectator vehicle for the marathon (Hello, lots of wait time and getting to multiple viewing spots!)
Plus there is plenty of room for extra water bottles, GU and other nutrition must haves.

2. Cargo bikes are great for families or couples on a date! (One adult can fit pretty easily in the box) 

3. It is an incredibly fun way to tour your own city and make less of a carbon footprint.

4. These bikes are great for those 16-22 mile long runs when you need extra support - even if its just a cheer and a wave.

5. This is THE way to get around in Europe. It's time for Americans to get out of the car and onto a bike!

So, our family went to Aika Trading  in Santa Monica and the friendly staff let us test ride the Gazelle Cabby.

Here are five reasons why we loved the Gazelle Cabby cargo bike:

1. Seating for two kiddos - from infant with a car seat up to 8-10 years old. Plus seating for the bigger kiddo with an add on to the back rack.

2. Weighs 84 pounds. It is super easy to handle and has 7 gears to handle heavier loads or hills.

3. This bike has a double leg kickstand, so it is very stable for loading and unloading.

4. The Gazelle Cabby has an upright riding position with swept back handle bars for a comfortable ride and good visibility.

5. The cargo area has fabric sides that can be folded together or removed completely for storage and narrow spaces.

When I ran the Ventura Marathon last September -  we were able to test another cargo bike to actually see how it would work as a support vehicle during an actual race:
We used a Cetma cargo bike for the marathon.  J rode and the two older kiddos were in the box. SBG is pictured here after her nap (post race) just hanging out...





Here is a pic right after the race, getting a ride back to the hotel :)



For a more in depth review of the Cetma cargo bike + its use as a marathon support vehicle go HERE!

Now on to the weekend update + Monday!

Friday:

Josh got to present his book report at school. He worked very hard on it! (proud Mom moment)



I got in a 40 minute Pilates DVD and then later a solid 30 minute core workout. Two really fun workouts!

Saturday:

We rode our bikes to the beach and hung out for the whole afternoon!



And got to experience another amazing sunset together as a family...



Sunday: 

I rested. It was awesome. I slept in, hung out and took the day off from working out! :) I didn't even take pictures!






Monday:

Happy Monday! Wishing everyone a great start to their week!

I rode the bike for 90 minutes and then did 30 minutes of core work. Today I was feeling tight and sore - it was a struggle to get through the core work - but I did it! :)
The stationary bike time flew by, because I am reading a new book The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins. The book was recommended by Tara from Running N Reading. If you haven't checked out Tara's blog, you should definitely pop on over! Tara is a great runner and also writes amazing book reviews. Her review on The Girl On The Train convinced me to download it on my kindle. I can't put it down.
Thanks Tara! :)





And I made a really easy, delicious dinner tonight! 




Sweet potato black bean enchiladas with swiss chard on the side.

I love this enchilada recipe from weelicious,com - I made it in 35 minutes and added a side of swiss chard for a complete meal (LOVE swiss chard!) Have you heard of Weelicious? Oh my, you must check out Catherine McCord's wonderful website of delicious, easy meals for busy families! 
I have been going to her site since Josh was a baby and I have never been disappointed! Check it out. :)

How many miles did you run this weekend?

Did you race?

What is your idea of a perfect Sunday?
My idea of a perfect Sunday is sleeping in, eating a huge breakfast with the family, going to church, taking a nap and then going for a long run (or for me at this moment - a hike!). All of that followed by a long bath and early bedtime. LOVE!

Happiness Is Running Life!

xo,
Natalie

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Let's talk about skiing, baby! Cross Country style

Moving on from the knee...

It's there and I have accepted that its going to be a bit of a journey.

You have to embrace it and find the good. Find your happy place.

I am looking forward to embracing all kinds of cross training - opening myself up to whatever my body will allow.

I am so excited about the future (June!) and how wonderful running will feel.


So - let's chat about one of my favorite winter activities!


Cross Country skiing


Cross Country skiing is one the most incredible activities to look forward to during winter!






Perhaps it's because as a long distance runner it feels like you are going on a long scenic run when you step on a groomed trail.
Maybe it's the idea of gliding through the snow and taking in the gorgeous scenery.
Perhaps it's because of the hushed quiet, the only sound being the swish, swish of your skis, or the chirping of a beautiful cardinal.
Or maybe it's the idea of being out in nature's winter beauty with your friends and family.
Pretty much guaranteed to put a smile on everyone's face!

Perhaps it's the fun, huge lunch (usually in a quaint, rustic lodge) that always happens when you work up such an appetite.
One thing is for sure - after a morning of skiing, that first sip of hot chocolate hits your tongue and brings such a delightful feeling to your whole body.
If you haven't tried cross country skiing or it's been a while since you've been - I encourage you to do it!



Okay - that's lovely, but how does it relate to my running?



You can enjoy cross-country skiing if you simply grab a pair of skis and head for the woods on a snowy day, but you'll enjoy it even more if you condition yourself first. Many runners consider themselves to be in good shape--and they are, for their main sport of running. But cross-country skiing demands an even higher level of physical fitness. Done properly, skiing is a Total Body exercise that involves the arms, shoulders and core-body muscles as much as the legs. Plus it's a test of flexibility and agility. The various positions you must assume going up and downhill will challenge all your muscles.

Sounds perfect for runners, right?

I would recommend taking a lesson to learn proper technique and to make that first time out enjoyable.


Three ways cross country skiing can compliment your winter 

training:


1. It is not as risky as downhill skiing. Many runners choose not to ski during marathon training for fear of injury.

2. During a winter holiday (Hello, President's Day weekend!), XC skiing can be a fun activity to do with your family after your morning run - my advice would be to schedule your ski day with an easy run day. Another idea for beginners is to XC ski for a couple of hours to replace your run. 

3. If you are not training for a marathon this winter, XC skiing can be great cross training while you build your winter base.

Note: During your winter marathon training, cross country skiing shouldn't be done on a scheduled day off from running. You will need that time to completely rest your muscles.

Check out long distance runner (and three time winner of the Boston Marathon!) Uta Pippig's super informative article on cross country skiing HERE!


There are so many incredible places to XC ski in the US. 

Check out Gear Patrol's 2015 list of killer places to XC ski from Maine to California!





One question that many new skiers have is: "What is the difference between classic cross country skiing and skate skiing?

Skinny skis.com explains the difference:


CLASSIC SKIING: 
Classic Skiing refers to the technique most people probably envision when talking about cross-country skiing. It looks like traditional forward movement (as you’re moving your left hand and right foot together and your right hand and left foot in tandem), similar to walking or running. At first you may just focus on managing your poles and skis enough to move you forward, but with a bit more practice you’ll begin to focus on your glide (i.e. getting further with each stride). Often, beginning skiers will simply “shuffle” down the track, whereas intermediate skiers “glide” along the snow. Classic skiing can be done on groomed trails or “off-trail” though each requires slightly different equipment for an enjoyable experience.

SKATE SKIING: 
Skate Skiing technique involves moving by pushing forward with the inner edge of the ski, much like ice skating. When a skate skier pushes off with the inner edge of the ski, they naturally make a “V” shape with the skis. It tends to be a more aerobically intense workout than classic skiing, but beginners may find mastering the technique takes a bit longer. Skate skiing also requires use of a groomed trail, as making a skate skiing movement in deep snow is almost impossible.

Now that you have the basics down (location and technique) - what should you wear?!




Three tips to remember:
1. Dress in layers
2. Cotton is not your friend

3. Sunglasses - not goggles!
I found a great article from REI on exactly what to wear XC skiing HERE!



Next is the equipment. 

Three pieces of equipment you need for XC skiing:

1. Skis

2. Boots

3. Poles

I would recommend renting for your first time out. The rental fees are relatively inexpensive and then you can get a feel for the sport.


If you have young children, I would advise renting a covered sled for the littles. They will be warm and cozy inside and all you have to do is strap it to your waist and off you go! They are sure to be lulled to sleep by the whisper of your skis and sounds of nature.


....And that is definitely better than this! :)


Safety

It's important to be safe while you are out on the trail. Here are a few safety tips I would recommend:

1. Don't ski alone (especially as a beginner)
2. Bring a map of the trails and the general area
3. Bring your cell phone (but again a map is important in case there is no signal!)

For a super detailed checklist and plenty of information about everything you may need for a day on the trails go HERE! and HERE! 
One final fun tidbit, if you ever are XC skiing in Aspen, you absolutely MUST ski on the most breathtaking groomed trails which will lead you to this incredible restaurant - Pinecreek Cookhouse -  for an unforgettable lunch! 


Click the image to check out this awesome place!

You'll be able to kick back and relax with a beer (or glass of wine) after all your hard work and take in the breathtaking views while a friendly and attentive staff take great care of you. 

So, get out on a (groomed) trail and start having fun! :)


Favorite winter sport?

Have you XC skied before? What kind of experience did you have?


Happiness Is Running Life!

xo,
Natalie

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Gosh, that rainbow is much further away than I EVER anticipated...

I got the news I have been waiting six weeks for today.

You know what I am talking about, right?

Will I or won't I be toeing the line at the Boston Marathon?


credit: picgifs.com

I am sad to say that the answer is No :(

Ah, man! I am SO bummed (understatement of the year!)
My knee is in the same shape that it was 6 weeks ago, which means it is NOT okay for me to run on it. If I were to run on it, that would mean the end of my running "career".  I still have so many goals and so much to do in my running, so that is definitely not an option :)



The injury is without a doubt a stress fracture (in this particular case, also called an osteochondral defect) and it doesn't seem to be going away on it's own. It is proving to be a stubborn cookie...




So - after a long meeting with my doc today, we have decided that it would be best for me to have surgery (!) for it to heal.
This means that he would take stem cells from my pelvic bone and then drill holes into my knee and deposit the stem cells. This would stimulate the blood flow and help the fracture heal.

I will be on crutches for 6 weeks and then it will take four months to heal. Four MONTHS until I can run again...

Funny thing about being a runner is that I am already calculating the days. I immediately flipped to my calendar and started looking at my summer.
I am aiming to have the surgery in about a week, which means I hope to start running again the end of May, beginning of June. The absolute goal is to run Boston in 2016.  This means I need to qualify by the 2nd week in September of this year. I am thinking the Ventura Marathon again, to minimize travel and the race is scheduled for the week of September 12-13th.
I would have roughly 14 weeks over the summer to train - after a 6 month layoff...

Holy cow - I need to seriously keep cross training in the pool and and on the bike over these winter and spring months! I need a super positive attitude and to keep reading all the inspirational blogs that I have connected with and live vicariously through their running for a while :)

One thing that I know about myself is that I am stubborn when it comes to my goals. I will work and work until I achieve it!

So, that is my new normal! I was really hoping to avoid having surgery on my knee.

My doctor said that millions and millions of people run, but only a very few have this type of injury...

Okay.

Deep Breath.

HAPPINESS ALWAYS WINS.



I had my wine and cried in my soup - but you have to pick yourself back up and know that

HAPPINESS ALWAYS WINS.

I will get through this and be a better ATHLETE because of it.



My son was so incredibly sweet today. He was so excited to come to Boston with me and we had it planned out that he would come - the whole family was coming.

So today, he says: "Mommy, we aren't going to Boston?"

And I explained to him the situation and what Mommy needed to do to heal her knee.

Josh: "Mommy, I think you are the BEST runner in the whole world and you will get through this" (He gives me a big hug)

Me: "Thank you sweetheart, That means so much to me. Mommy will get through this - which means a little surgery on my knee and we'll go to Boston next year."

Josh: "I know Mommy. You will be there next year. I love you Mommy. You are the best runner and the best Mommy in the whole world. (another hug)."

How do you not get excited about THAT?! 

I love my son!! :)

The plan for now is to continue with cross training - biking 90 minutes one day, swimming 60 minutes the next day with interval work. Core work will happen 6 days a week and I'll just keep plugging away until the surgery. After the procedure, I'll do what the doc prescribes during the 6 weeks on crutches.
6 weeks on crutches with the kiddos - that should make for some interesting footage! :)




Speaking of happiness, we had such a fun day on Monday! 

Disneyland!




It was SBG's first time ever at Disneyland! In the past, I have left her at home and just taken the older two. Monday we all went and let's just say she was awestruck over Rapunzel... :)

We had the BEST time! My Mom came with me and the kiddos - such a special day...




I'd like to share an article with you that is in Zelle this week -  "5 Unhealthy Health Foods"

Very interesting - so many times, we think we are eating healthy, but we are really fooling ourselves...

What's your favorite amusement park?
I'd have to say Disneyland - I surprised myself. I don't think I would have said that a year ago :)

Favorite breakfast food (s)?
Oatmeal and a hard boiled egg

Are you racing this weekend? If so, which race?


Hope you are having a fantastic week!

Happiness Is Running Life.

xo,
Natalie