Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Foodie Penpals Reveal


Back in late September I stumbled across something called Foodie Penpals. I thought what a cool idea! I love trying new food and although I am a far cry from being a judge on Chopped, I appreciate good food, so when I saw that anyone can get in on the fun I signed up.

Here's how it works. The Lean Green Bean is the mastermind behind this and pairs up the participants (bloggers and readers alike).

FPP post Foodie Penpals

Here’s a detailed explanation of the program: On the 5th of the month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.

-You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal!

-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!

-You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)

-Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you can choose to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month.

I paired up with Esther Fox [Dot] Com to send to and Life Love and Puppy Paws to receive from. Both Ladies have really nice blogs about totally different things and you should check them out. Jen at LL&PP has the cutest post about Halloween outfits for your pet. This is a very cute post! Esther is a talented photographer and is also on Instagram. Definitely worth a look!

So when talking with Esther I found out that she prefers foods free of HFC, has a slight nut allergy, likes chocolate and cooking Italian. I decided to send her Blue Crab Co. She Crab Soup (a regional fav), organic stone ground crackers from Robert Rothschild Farm, GoPicnic black bean dip & plantation chips, two chocolate bars from the UK (they don't use HFS or artificial colors and flavors), and for the written item a menu from one of my favorite restaurant's in the area Back Bay Gourmet$15 goes fast!
 I hope she likes at least some of the items. I actually have never had the soup (I know, I know-it might be crap), but she crab soup in general is good and Blue Crab Co. usually has very good products, so fingers crossed! The GoPicnic is something I found at Target and have had several. They are these little prepackaged natural and organic food items in a "picnic" box. And the chocolate, well it's all natural so how could that go wrong?

I received my package right on time, thanks Jen!
Jen sent me a collection of her favorite Trader Joe's foods and I am so glad she did! We do have a TJ in town but I never go there mostly because it's across town and I never have a reason to drive over there, but I think I am going to start making time.

Here is the rundown: 2 Larabars, Powerberries, Cookie Butter, Sugared Dried Mango's, Pumpkin Butter, a pumpkin, Pumpkin Bread, and a TJ recipe for pumpkin muffins. I love pumpkin! So of course I dug right in and made the pumpkin bread. My family devoured it and I have since bought two more boxes.
My boys loved the Powerberries. I think they have no idea that they are actually fruit, not just chocolate and also bought another bag.
I haven't tried the cookie butter yet. I am not sure what to eat with it. I think I am going to use it as an appetizer for my son's bday party that is coming up soon and serve it with fruit and graham crackers.
I am holding onto the pumpkin butter too. I think I am going to serve it warm over vanilla ice cream and also maybe make the muffin recipe. I just have to space it out over the next few months. I dont' want to overdo the pumpkin and ruin my taste for it.
I would show a picture of the pumpkin bread, but we ate it too fast!
The Larabars and mango's took a trip to work with me. The bars are gone and I am working on the mango's, another all time favorite!

I LOVED my package! It was like Jen knew exactly what I would like. She nailed it and I couldn't be happier with what she sent me! Thank you so much!!!!

I am totally going to do this again, probably after the holiday's. It was fun picking stuff out but hard at the same time, everyone's taste is different. Jen did a great job and I hope that Esther likes at least some of her foods.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Wicked 10k

Where do I even start? I have wanted to do this race since it started 4 years ago, but I always had other things going on, a wedding, giving birth, you know the usual. So when I finally didn't have anything else on my calendar, I almost didnt' sign up. I am suffering from something I like to call over-scheduleitis. You have heard of parents over scheduling there kids, well I over schedule myself and have no one to blame but myself. I always feel like I can and have to do it all and lately it is coming back to bite me in the ass. I am burnt out! So what does a stressed out mom do? She runs and she runs in costume!
With only 5 days since my last race, Run Like a Girl, my legs were sore, heavy, and tired.  I went all out on the trail and I didn't have much left in my tank for any hopes of a PR for The Wicked. I knew that going in and had the mind set to just have fun and enjoy the costumes. Of course, this is only partially true and I started the race with the hopes of everything coming together so I would get that PR. Here is how it went down...

I met up with my running club about an hour before the race to get some pictures. We had some superhero's, two Mini Mouse, cheer leaders, Alice in Wonderland, The Energizer Bunny, a zebra and a bunch of other great costumes.

My two running buddies, Meagan a.k.a Robin and Randi a.k.a Wonder Woman.
I ran as Bat Girl. I already had most of my costume and it would be easy to run in and modify if needed for the weather. I was wearing my black Nike running skirt, Bat Girl socks, a black tech t-shirt that I hot glued a Batman symbol and a homemade black cape to, and I got a mask and arm sleeves at the Halloween store to complete my look.
I think capes should come back in style.
Randi and I headed to corral 1 and noticed that the other people in corral 1 aren't as festive as the other runners. In fact, most of the people running in the first corral were dressed as runners. We were a minority. We decided that fast people are boring.
Randi was set on trying for a PR. I played along and was aiming for a sub 50 minute race. I really did want a PR (who doesn't), but knew deep down I wasn't feeling it today. We started out doing a sub 8-min mile, I think around a 7:40 pace. We did that for the first two miles as we headed south one block in from the boardwalk. Now, you may have heard a little about "the perfect storm" threatening the east coast. This Frankenstorm is made up of Hurricane Sandy and 5 other storms inland or something like that...I haven't had time to read the paper. I just new that it wasn't going to really start until after the race and that was what I was focused on. I probably should have been at the grocery store getting water and bread.
Once we turned and headed north on the boardwalk another perfect storm started and my PR was way out reach.  The wind was strong causing my pace dropped to over a 10 min mile at times and my knee started to ache. As I was fighting the wind and worrying about a possible DNF because my knee was screaming at me, Randi was able to hold her pace and was off chasing her PR. 
I tried to correct my form and do all the little self checks Chi Running suggests you do, but nothing was helping. My ITB was flaring up big time. I just embraced the suck and kept moving. The course finally took a turn off the boardwalk and headed north on Atlantic Ave. For a second the wind wasn't as bad, except every time I ran past a building I had to brace myself for the gust of wind.
At about mile 3.5 I heard a familiar voice come from behind me, it was my friend Cathy. I was so grateful that she was there. I was feeling my ITB with every step and just wanted the race to be over, so to have someone to run the last couple of miles with was great.  We headed up Atlantic and turned back onto the boardwalk, this time with the wind to our backs. I felt like a new person. My knee was fine and I felt a surge of energy, so I decided I was going to try and make up some lost time and kick it into high gear. That lasted about a quarter of a mile until I realized I really had nothing left in the tank and couldn't push my pace any faster. Oh well, I put my mask back on hoping for one decent race picture at the finish line (I always look like death) and finally jogged crossed the finish line.
Randi got her PR with a time of 48:45! Great Job!! I strolled in with a time of 52:05. Three seconds slower than my 10k PR, which was a hilly trail run (just wanted to point that out).
52:05 finish time
8:24 pace/mile
28/774 in 35-39 age group
710/7264 overall
Now onto the after party. Because of Sandy the post race party was moved to the cozy confines of the VB Convention Center. What a great idea! They had Blue Moon Beer, chili bread bowls and the costume contest. Not to mention a ton of runners in fabulous costumes!

Best post race meal ever!
I am surprised this guy didn't get blown away by Sandy!

Even though my knee has been killing me for two days  I am happy that I finally got to experience The Wicked. I will definitely put this on my race schedule for next year! Over the next couple of months I am going to enjoy my family and the holidays. As much as it is going to pain me to not do a Turkey Trot or Santa themed run this winter, I need to let my body rest and get my house that I moved into in July sorted out and decorated. Don't worry, I'll be up in the gym working on my fitness for 2013. Hope you all have a Happy Halloween!


Sunday, October 21, 2012

I found my motivation and it was hiding right next to my competition. I have recently meet some really nice women who happen to be in my age group and are fast. Last week they both beat me in The All Access 5k, you can read about it here, today it was time for a rematch....

Run Like a Girl, brought to you by The Hera Foundation, puts on a nice trail race to bring awareness to ovarian cancer. Do you know the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer?
  • Bloating
  • Pelvic or abdominal pain
  • Difficulty eating or feeling full fast
  • Urinary symptoms
  • also, indigestion, back pain, bowel problems, abnormal bleeding or unusual fatigue.
If these symptoms last for 2-3 weeks and are unusual for you, experts recommend a CA 125 blood test, transvaginal US and a pelvic/rectum exam. If ovarian cancer is suspected see your gynecologist!

Last year it was a 10k and I won my age group, today it was a 8k and thank goodness for that because this trail was kicking my butt, at least 3 people fell and I rolled my ankle.
It is really hard to roll these tree trunks so you know the trail was tough.

The course was The Osmanthus trail in First Landing State Park, here in Virgina Beach. I love running at First Landing, but surprisingly enough I had never run that particular trail. As you can imagine coastal living is very flat and First Landing is one of the few places with rolling hills around here. If you don't train here regularly it can be a beeznatch come race day.

I really didn't have a plan other than to run as fast as my little legs could carry me. I started out with my friend Randi and she cautioned me that we were going too fast and about a mile in she backed off only to come back strong and place 5th overall and win her age group! I just kept at it. At mile two I rolled my ankle on a tree stump, but was able to keep moving. When we started we were in the top 5 but by the time we hit mile 3 I had fallen to 8th. There was an older woman in purple who passed me, but I was able to keep on her tail for the second half of the race. When it got closer to end I would try an pick her off.

The race was suppose to be a 4.5 mile run, so when we hit the 4 mile mark I started to close in on the lady in purple (I like to give people nicknames when I run). There was also a women, I think she took 2nd overall who was dressed in all green and I kept referring to her as The Green Lantern....anyway, I started to make my move with about a quarter mile left. I picked up speed and zoomed past her only to be not .2 tenths of a mile from the finish but over a half mile! WTH? They changed the distance and forgot to tell us! At one point I thought I took a wrong turn and purple lady passed don't want to know what word I referred to her as then....As we got closer to the end I could hear the crowd and dug deep and zoomed past her once again to finish just before her with an unofficial time of 42:04 for 5.04 miles (so says my Garmin). I came in 8th overall and second in my age group. Not only did I get a really cool medal, I also got a copy of Run Like a Girl the book and a cool back pack.

My awesome MRTT ladies!

I also got to meet some awesome MRTT members and I think we were successful at recruiting some more women to this awesome club. I did beat the two ladies that beat me last week and we now have a nice friendly rivalry going, little do they know that Randi, the MRTTer that took first in her age group, fifth overall is moving up into our age group in December. Another MRTTer that I had the pleasure of meeting today, Meghan, took first place! I'm so proud of my chapter, not only for winning, but because they are a great group of women of all paces who encourage and support one another! Thanks for making MRTT a success!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


I need motivation or sleep or both. I have two races coming up and then I plan on taking a nice big break from running or at least my pathetic attempt at training.

Last March I was afflicted (yes afflicted) with ITB friction syndrome after the Shamrock Half. My painful knee, along with a bunch of changes in my personal life, including moving and my son starting school, left me doing spotty training for a bunch of races that I had paid for in advance. The last of those two races (ok, I might have signed up for these during my attempt to overcome a painful knee and/or because I can’t say no) are coming within the next week and a half,  Run Like a Girl 4.5 mile trail run is this Sunday and The Wicked 10k is next Saturday.

My knee is doing well and I think I am moving into unconscious competence in regards to learning to not heel strike, but I have lost misplaced my loving feeling with running. I do still love it, but right now I am feeling suffocated and need some me time. I think a two month break from racing and specifically training for an event will help me regain the warm fuzzies I usually get with running. Doesn’t absence make the heart grow fonder?

I plan on spending time in the gym working on my fitness and when and if I do run it will be without my Garmin, without a specific pace, without any rules or pressure. I am going to spend more time with the kids, especially on Saturday mornings.

BUT I still need to not only get through these races but perform well. I race to race, not really to race anyone specifically, but I like the challenge and pushing myself.  I will be disappointed if I go out and give a half-ass effort. Last year RLaG was a 10k trail. I trained hard for it and did well, winning my age group. I pushed myself and it paid off. This Sunday I don’t have the training to get me through, so I am going to have to dig deep and push my mental limits if I want to repeat. I have some stiff competition again this year so it could be anyone’s race. As for the Wicked, I plan on it being a fun run and enjoying the experience of running at the oceanfront with a bunch of people in costume.

Monday, October 15, 2012

All Access 5k

The All Access 5K

I did a last minute 5k this weekend. I thought it would be fun to see if my 5k time had improved since May, when I did the SJA Stingray 5k. The race was at 5 pm which gave me all day to recover from my 5.5 mile trail run I did at 7 am. Kind of. Recover is a relative statement and since I have little ones, it was also non-existent. Oh well, it was fun to challenge myself and I got in 8.5 miles for the day.

hanging out on stage prior to the race
The race started at 5:00 and registration opened at 3:00. Since I missed online registration I headed over the Virginia Beach Amphitheater at 3 to make sure I could register and sure enough for $50 I could, but I could not get a shirt, boo! I need to follow-up on that. Since the race was at the amphitheater and as the name implies, we would be running around the grounds, through the venue and end up back stage where all the cool kids are during a performance.

My new neighbors Cathy and Cheryl were running this, along with Cathy's workout buddies who were gracious enough to let me tag along. I even got some cool socks out of the deal! Thanks Helen!

It was a small race and we were able to get near the front of the corral with no problems. Not that I am super speedy or deserve to be at the front, but there really weren't that many people running it. So up close to the front we went. As usual, the gun fired and we were off. I tried to not get caught up in the initial sprint and save some of my energy. My legs were heavy from my morning run and the hectic life I live. Helen was off and there was no catching her. Cathy and I ran together for a while, but then she was off too! Somewhere around the 2 mile mark my tank was close to empty and then my shoe came untied. Great. The final lap had us running through the seating area and there are some small gradual inclines and I thought I was climbing Mt. Olympus. Then we snaked back around and finished behind the stage.

My boys were there cheering me on! We hung out for a little, enjoyed some Moe's and beer. Took a tour of the dressing rooms and headed home. It was a nice little race to do. I got to take a sneak peak at my competition for next weekends Run Like a Girl (it doesn't look good for me!) These are some FAST (and very nice) ladies I met! Great job. Helen took 2nd, Cathy 3rd and I got 4th in our age group. Great job ladies. It was another new friends frist race ever! She did great too and I think she really enjoyed the experieince. Great job Julie. Our other neighbor also took 2nd in her age group. I am surrounded by speedy women!! Thanks again for letting me tag along!

I ended up doing it 24:24, that's 7:51/mile. Not to bad for my second run of the day, but not a PR. Now it's time to "tapper" for Sunday's race.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Warrior Dash 2012

Warrior Dash was a blast! I had an amazing time running it again this year. The course was on the grounds of Berkeley Plantation in Charles City, VA. It sits on the banks of the James River and of course part of the course runs right through the river.
I have been very busy lately and hadn't had time to train properly for the race let alone look at a map to see if the course was going to vary from last years. I had no idea that they added an additional water obstacle or that they was more crawling through mud tunnels. I went in with the mindset that I wasn't looking to break any records, but rather, to just have a good time and enjoy running through the mud, woods, and river with my friends.
It had rained the day before and when we got there the corn field/parking lot was a mud pit, so we made our own parking spot close to the road and finished fueling for the race.

I am pretty sure that pre-gaming with a banana and beer is what lead to this...

Gangnam Style

We started in the 11:00 wave and in Warrior Dash style, flames shot into the air signaling the start of the race. The first mile was just running through mud and I was maintaining a pretty good pace, right around a 8:30 mm. But within another half mile I was panting and sucking wind. An older guy came running up behind me and told me I needed to get my breathing under control! WTH! In my defense, I was sick all week with a chest cold. I grunted out something about being sick and knowing what I was doing, but he flew by me and probably didn't hear me. Oh well, I kept at it and finally made it to the first couple of obstacles (WD has clever names for all these but I have no idea what they are, you can check it out here); crawling under bared wire in the mud; over under walls; tunnels carved into the mud topped with more barbed wire; and tires covered with a mesh you had to crawl under. By now I was exhausted and I decided to really just take my time and avoid scrapping my knees any more than I had to, but then I came to the obstacle that I both loved and hated last year, the log jam. Picture a muddy creek with three logs spaced out running horizontally to shore. After entering the water you have to climb up and over these logs.  For my 5'4" butt, that is a challenge because I couldn't reach the bottom of the creek. I did do better this year and exited the creek and onto the second part of the run.
We had to scale 50 foot walls (not really but it felt like it at the top). Nothing like climbing up, probably 15-20 foot wall with wet running shoes and a rope. I am happy to say that all those push-ups and assisted pull-ups payed off and I scaled that thing like I was being chased by the po po. Now here is where it gets interesting...they added a swim. It crossed a very big pond! I am not much of a swimmer. I can float around the pool, but to swim for fitness is not my thing. I can't do the whole head turning thing and my arm motion looks like I got caught in a spider web. I decided to back stroke and side stroke my way across the pond and although I really tried to not swallow any chocolate milk colored water, I did anyway. (I am happy to say I did not get dysentery.)  In the middle of the pond was a dock that you had to pull yourself up and over, I was spent. At this point the only thing that kept me going was this woman, a little older than me, who was clad in a cheetah skirt and mesh tank top, 80's style. We kept passing each other and right then she had the lead. That is, until we hit another wall that I scaled like a spider monkey. There was a little more running on flat ground until we came to the river. This slowed me way down. You couldn't run. The water was knee high and the best I could do was high step through it. She took the lead, bitch. (She was actually really nice.) Once we hit land she was mine and I closed in on her again. We were neck and neck going into the last three obstacles, a cargo net climb, the wall of fire, and the final mud pit. I was taking the lead over the cargo net and then this really slow guy was taking his sweet-ass time going over the top of the net and this is when she took off. I wasn't able to catch her after that. Yes, I am blaming that guy. I came to the fire, stopped, got in a little Gangnam and jumped over the fire and through the final mud crawl, which, I have to say is my least favorite obstacle and not because of the mud, but because it scraps up me knees. I know....Whaaaaa.
I meet up with Chad and we waited for the rest of our neon clad friends to come through the finish line.

 We got cleaned up in the river and noshed on the traditional turkey leg (ok, I actually think turkey legs look better than they taste, so I got a BBQ sandwich).
Meagan enjoying her turkey leg like a true warrior!
According to my Garmin I did it in 35 minutes, BUT I knew I couldn't have done that well. I walked way to much and and I am a very slow swimmer. My watch  probably auto paused when I stopped at each obstacle. I actually finished in 44:18:05, which put me at a 12:27/mi pace. I came in 15 out of 1,138 women in the 30-39 year age group, 48th overall for women and 421/6,661 overall male and female combined! Take that old guy! It was a tough course and I was sick, so I am totally happy with my performance.


Until next year....

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Foodie Penpals

I know I said my next post would be about the Warrior Dash, but I have been stretched so thin this week I just couldn't find time to sit and collect my thoughts. This weekend, I promise! Anyway, here is a quick post about what I am up to and sorry, but it isn't running related!

I have Monday OFF!! So happy about that. I cleaned the house yesterday and have a long to do list of errand running today, BUT first my friend Julie and I are going to take the kids on a treasure hunt and see if we can't find one or two geaocaches in our area. One is suppose to be a treasure chest of toys so that is first up and the second, well I'm not sure but I think if I can actually find one of these I might have a new hobby (for the kids of course)!

Second up is Foodie Penpals! I am so excited about this. I love food. I think I mentioned before that in a different life I would have been a Food Network Star or at least a chef or specialty food store owner. Anyway, just like the name implies its a penpal that you send food to. The Lean Green Bean runs it and matches everyone up. You have until the 15th of the month to send out your package and then on the 31st you post what you got.  I got my match up yesterday. I am sending a package to Ester at Ester Fox [Dot] Com.  And I am receiving a package from Jen at Life Love and Puppy Paws. I can't wait to send and receive my packages and to check out some new non-running blogs! (Hopefully, I will find time to do that!)

It's to late this month, but if you are interested in joining Foodie Penpals here is some info, and you don't have to be a blogger to join!

From The Lean Green Bean:

FPP post Foodie Penpals

Here’s a detailed explanation of the program:
-On the 5th of the month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.

-You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal!

-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!

-You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)

-Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you can choose to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month.

- Foodie Penpals is open to US, Canadian residents & UK residents. Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. We’ve determined things might get too slow and backed up if we’re trying to send foods through customs across the border from US to Canada and vice versa. So, I’m going to keep two separate lists and match US w/ US and Canada w/ Canada!

Monday, October 1, 2012

A Ray of Light

This morning on my way to work I had two thoughts, one about my headlights and one about my training. I start work in the wee hours of the morning, when most of the world is still sleeping. When I was driving in today I realized how pathetically hazed over my headlights were. Driving with my brights on is the equivalent of most peoples regular lights. I have been putting off getting them restored for months. I am even surprised that they passed inspection. I haven't gotten them done for a couple of reasons, mainly time and money. Most places (ok, the one place I asked about it) wanted $80 per headlight! $80! And to replace the entire light would be well over $100 each. So, I went into procrastination mode. But today I couldn't take it anymore. I stopped at Auto Zone and picked up this little do-it-yourself kit. It retailed at $14.99 and came highly recommended by the AZ staff.

This surely can't be legal!

In less than thirty minutes I had sparkling (almost) like new headlights! I couldn't believe how quick and easy it was to clean the yellow haze off. All it took was a little elbow grease to apply the Rain-X chemicals and VIOLA, nice clean headlights. I almost can't wait to get up in the predawn hours to see what it's like to drive with actual headlights! Watch out suicidal deer, you'll have to find another car to end your life with.  I see you!


This morning seems like it happened last week and this afternoon of auto-care bliss seemed like it happened yesterday. So, even though the days are getting shorter I feel like I have more and more to cram into them. My oldest started school this fall and because of that, my me time has diminished. Now, I am not complaining (sort of) I would do anything for my boys and if that means sacrificing a little me time than I'm all for it, but this me time I am sacrificing is my workout time. SO, I need to get creative with my schedule and/or training plans and find a little extra time dedicated to yours truly.

So where in my hectic day to I cram in about an hour of workout time? Before I go to work? Do I actually lose another hour of precious sleep and either hit the creepy dark road for few miles before work or spend an hour on the treadmill in my equally creepy garage? Do I stay up late and hit the treadmill after the boys go to sleep and yet again loose more sleep or worse have a crappy workout because I am so tired from my marathon day? Now, I still have about a half hour before the boys get home to cram a workout in, which is great and I plan on utilizing this time, but 30 minutes isn't always enough time to get  done what I need to get done, especially if I am trying to get my miles up or some speed work in. I typically only run three days a week so what if I do 4-5 days of shorter runs? I wonder if I will be able to get the same results? I'm open to suggestions...

When do you fit in your runs? Morning, afternoon, or night?

How many days do you run per week?

What is your weekly mileage?