Saturday, October 31, 2009

Prepping for the Rockville 10K

Believe it or not, this is actually my first 10K. I’ve ran many 5Ks and one 15K, but this was a distance that I did not want to leave out. 6.2 miles seems like a good “middle ground” for me since I’m still planning on running the Team Challenge Chron’s and Colitis next year. (BTW-I just found out that there are two Team Challenge races next summer-one in Boston on June 27 and the other in the Napa Valley on July 18. The Boilermaker 15K is July 11. Would running the Boilermaker two weeks after the Boston 1/2 be too much?)

I decided to run the 34th annual Rockville 10K because it is in Rockville, MD which would give me an excuse to meet up with newfound friend Cat. I met Cat and Jess at the Blog Summit this past summer and we’ve kept in touch ever since.

Me, Jess and Cat
Me, Jess, and Cat

I was so excited when she agreed to run this race with me, and I’ve been prepping all week for it. However, there are a few things that I will be doing differently for this race than those of the past.

My favorite race day breakfast consists of 2 Kashi Go Lean waffles topped with PB, plain Greek yogurt, and banana. The reason? The combo of carbs/protein is perfect for me. The staying power of this breakfast is amazing and it’s very portable. I ate this in the car ride over to the Boilermaker last year and it was perfect. BUT-since I forgot to pick up waffles at the store (kicking myself as we speak) I will have to improvise….by making a bowl of overnight oats instead.

In a bowl I mixed 1/2 cup oats, 1/2 cup plain 2% Greek yogurt, 1/2 water, 1/4 tsp. vanilla and some pumpkin spice together. I promptly put a lid on it and placed it in the fridge to sit for the night. This recipe was stolen a while back from Kath. It’s an awesome way to eat your oats when you’re in a hurry, or just eat them cold if you’re hot.

On top of my oats tomorrow morning I will sprinkle my regular 1T flax, 1/2 banana and 1 heaping tsp of PB, mix, and eat (probably on the way.) I’m really hoping this breakfast stays with me as well as the waffles do. It’s about 425 calories, so I’m assuming this will work just as well.

Another new addition to tomorrow’s race is coconut water. Caitlin used coconut water in her CamelPak a while back as a natural electrolyte. I used Agave water during a long run a few weeks back and it really helped keep me stabilized, so I decided to try Caitlin’s idea. I bought an 11 oz. carton of Zico 100% organic pure coconut water and poured it in my water bottle, then added about 11-12 oz. water to dilute it.


Here are some facts I dug up on coconut water:

Drinking coconut water has many benefits. Coconut Water is naturally

  • Low in Carbs
  • 99% Fat Free
  • Low in sugars

Coconut water contains organic compounds possessing healthy growth promoting properties that have been known to help

  1. Keep the body cool and at the proper temperature.
  2. Orally re-hydrate your body, it is an all natural isotonic beverage.
  3. Carry nutrients and oxygen to cells.
  4. Naturally replenish your body's fluids after exercising.
  5. Raise your metabolism.
  6. Promote weight loss.
  7. Boost your immune system.
  8. Detoxify and fight viruses.
  9. Cleanse your digestive tract.
  10. Control diabetes.
  11. Aid your body in fighting viruses that cause the flu, herpes, and AIDS.
  12. Balance your PH and reduce risk of cancer.
  13. Treat kidney and urethral stones.
  14. Boost poor circulation.

Damn, those are a lot of great benefits! I can’t wait to see how well this works tomorrow.

My clothes are laid out, my breakfast is ready, my coffee maker is set, and my GPS is programmed. All I need to do now is get a good night’s sleep and be up by 5:30…which will seem like 6:30 since we put the clocks back tonight. (the only time I will ever enjoy putting the clocks back) Trying to get over the pre-run jitters is always the hardest part.

Can’t wait to share my race re-cap with you tomorrow!

Monday, October 26, 2009

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood…

Autumn in VA

Fall is such a beautiful time of year. Yes, the colors of the leaves have changed in Northern Virginia, and the weather has been close to perfect (minus a Nor’easter we had two weekends ago but hey – at least we didn’t get any snow!) Since I’m running the Rockville 10K next week with Cat (yay!!) I have to find other ways to enjoy this gorgeous weather.

I’ll start with Sunday.

I lounged around the house Sunday morning eating my breakfast, drinking my coffee, reading the news/blogs/, and decided to make my way out for a short run at around 11:45. My plan is to run twice this week and spend one day spinning, one day walking, and one day yoga-ing…which would make my week look something like this:
Sunday: Run/Strength
Monday: Walk
Tuesday: Spin/Strength
Wednesday: Rest
Thursday: Run/Strength (very easy 3 miler)
Friday: Yoga (easy, stretchy yoga)
Saturday: Rest
Sunday: Rockville 10K!!

I want to give my body a rest from constant pounding, and considering I have a race coming up, I’d like to keep it stress free and ready to kick ASS.

Sunday’s run was meant to be a very easy and slow run. Unfortunately we have hills here so I had to push myself a little more than I wanted to, but for the most part, I ran a nice easy 4 miles. Somehow, even keeping in mind that my goal was to run slow and easy, I managed to keep a 9:15 pace. I didn’t struggle, I enjoyed myself, and ran without barely breaking a sweat (OK let’s face it, I sweat a little,  but not like a normal sweat)
Total miles: 4.0
Total time: Exactly 37:00 (not on purpose I swear)

I think because there are so many hills in my neighborhood that my times are deceiving. When I run up the hills, I’m slowing down to a 10:15ish pace, but when I’m going down them, I’m flying at 8:05ish. I don’t know if that makes a difference or not…maybe all this hard work is finally starting to pay off?

In any event, my run was quick, easy, and over in no time. I ended with an ab workout (I have 3 pound leg weights that were a major contributor to this) and 20 push-ups. The ab workout kicked my ass, so I slacked in the arm department but it was better than nothing.

Monday: Gorgeous walk. It was such a nice day today, so I decided to make this my walk day. According to the weatherpeeps, we’re getting rain later in the week so I’ll use those as my work out inside days.
I found a nice trail right by my house, so I was able to get some lovely views of turning leaves. But what made my day was getting a package from Jess in the mail.  She had a contest a few weeks back where she gave away Endangered Species organic chocolates.

Bug Bites chocolates

I happened to just make a random comment on the post and I won! Yay for me! Who doesn’t love to win free samples of chocolate? Thanks Jess!! I love how on each piece of chocolate the company states:
“We buy our cacao from small family properties, helping sustain the habitats and communities in which they existed.”
Right on!

Flu Shot: Is it necessary?
I’ve always been a skeptic of the flu shot, but with this H1N1 thing going around, it’s no wonder why so many people are standing in line for hours to get the vaccine. Do you think it’s worth getting?





Saturday, October 24, 2009

Lingerie parties are funny (and tips to staying away from the party food)

I got a text from our friend Kelly asking me if I wanted to go to a Lingerie Party (not quite her words but for blog purposes, let’s say that’s what she said) My response? “Lingerie party? Hmmm…never been to one..but why the hell not?”

Let me tell you something..if you’ve never been to one of these parties, you must go. It was one of the funniest things I’ve ever experienced. My face was so red and I laughed so hard at these ladies trying to figure out how certain things worked…wow. Funny way to spend my Friday night.

The party was given by Slumber Parties, Inc. and our party consultant’s name was Tiffany. She was hilarious. Now ladies, I know just reading this might be making you blush, but if you’re looking for a fun way to spend time with your girlfriends, have one of these parties. I seriously laughed the entire time.

The host of the evening was very hospitable and provided us with wine, hors d'oeuvres, plenty of desserts, and did I mention wine? Since I was driving I was sure to sip my small glass of Cabernet very, very slowly while drinking water in between.

buffalo chickendip
Buffalo chicken dip with bagel chips

Chips and guacamole

veggie platter

veggie platter (replaced picture because my cell phone camera sucks)

mini egg rolls

There was so much more food that I couldn’t get pictures of because of the camera situation. You get the idea.

The party started at 7, so at around 5 I made myself a nice breakfast for dinner. Thanks to HEAB, I made myself some kick-ass home made pumpkin butter .. it was so good that I just HAD to have some for dinner. (For HEAB’s pumpkin butter recipe, click here)
I made a few changes: Instead of kabocha squash I used a can of Trader Joe’s Organic Pumpkin, instead of stevia I used a tsp. of agave nectar, and I used pumpkin pie spice and omitted the cardamom, only because I didn’t have any.

I present to you: Egg white Ezekiel French Toast
I used:

  • 2 slices of sesame Ezekiel bread
  • 2 egg whites
  • splash of soy milk
  • splash vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tbsp. flax seed
  • 1 tsp. coconut oil
  • Pam
  • 1 tsp PB

Heat pan on medium heat. Beat egg whites until fluffy. Add everything else. Mix. Soak your bread. Fry in pan with coconut oil and some Pam for extra coating. Top with small slather of PB and a large heaping spoonful (or tw0) of pumpkin butter. Eat. Yum.

This kept me so full for about 4 to 5 hours. Here’s why:
Protein. The egg whites and Ezekiel bread provide a huge amount of protein. One slice of Ezekiel bread provides 4 grams of it.
Good Fat. Flax seeds and PB give you satiety. Coconut oil helps in this dept. as well.
Pumpkin. I don’t know about you, but whenever I add pumpkin to my oats, it keeps me fuller longer. Pumpkins have tons of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants…and they taste amazing. Enough said.

Try it. You will not be disappointed. Ann—you can find Ezekiel Bread at Solstice!!

I will admit, I got pretty hungry by 10, so I snacked on the veggies, guac, and a few chips and salsa. And I may have had a mini meatball, a few bagel chips and a mini eggroll too…but trust me, it could have been much worse. Eating before hand kept me away from nibbling, and saved me about 1000 calories. And because I added sweet to my dinner, I had absolutely no desire to hit up the brownies, sugar cookies, chocolate chip cookies, and chocolate cake that were staring me in the face all night. Seriously—the old Nicole would never have been able to pass that up.

On tonight’s agenda? This. And yes, this means missing the baseball game…I may have given some people permission to text me during the event to keep me posted…

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Slow Cooked BBQ Pulled Chicken and my dislike for chipotle

A lot of people think that because I’m of Puerto Rican heritage that I eat tacos, burritos and everything spicy. Well folks, this is a very bad stereotype. Puerto Ricans cook very differently than what people would think. Here’s a quick history lesson for you.

Puerto Rico’s cuisine is based on its Spanish, African, and Taino Indian roots. 

Wheat, garbanzos, olives, olive oil, black pepper, onions, garlic, cilantro, oregano, basil, sugarcane, eggplant, ham, lard, chicken, beef, pork, and cheese came to Puerto Rico from Spain. The tradition of cooking complex stews and rice dishes in pots such as rice and beans are also thought to be originally European (much like Italians, Spaniards, and the British).

Lard. Yum. Thanks for this.

Coconuts, coffee, okra, yams, sesame seeds, gandules (green pigeon peas,) sweet bananas, plantains, and other root vegetables such as yucca and yautia came from Africa. African slaves also introduced deep frying foods to Puerto Rican cooking.

Yautia—it’s a starchy root vegetable used almost like a potato

Eventually, the US played another prominent role in the way PR food is cooked. Bacon, canned Vienna sausages (salchichas,) pasta, and canned corned beef have been and are still a major part of the traditional Puerto Rican cuisine.

vienna sausage
Growing up, my mom used to make Arroz con Salchichas, or rice with vienna sausage. Thanks for this one too…haha

And let’s not forget rice and beans. We love ourselves some rice and beans.

puerto rican rice and beans

The moral of the story? Nowhere in there does it mention tacos, burritos, chiles or chipotle.

  BBQ pulled chicken

BBQ Pulled Chicken  (I also made cornbread on the side)
(This recipe was from Eating Well magazine)

  • 1 8-ounce can reduced-sodium tomato sauce
  • 1 4-ounce can chopped green chiles, drained
  • 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon sweet or smoked paprika (I used smoked)
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon ground chipotle chile
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of fat
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

Cooking Directions:

  1. Stir tomato sauce, chiles, vinegar, honey, paprika, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, ground chipotle and salt in a 6-quart slow cooker until smooth. Add chicken, onion and garlic; stir to combine.
  2. Put the lid on and cook on low until the chicken can be pulled apart, about 5 hours.
  3. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and shred with a fork. Return the chicken to the sauce, stir well and serve.

Serves 8.

Nutritional Info:
184 calories; 8 g fat (2 g sat, 3 g mono); 68 mg cholesterol; 8 g carbohydrates; 20 g protein; 1 g fiber; 257 mg sodium; 303 mg potassium.

It was very easy to make, which I liked. And if it hadn’t been for the chiles and chipotle chile, I probably would have liked it a lot more. If you like these ingredients, you won’t need to change a thing. Next time I try this, I will be sure to omit them and add more garlic and use sweet paprika instead of the smoked.

If you try it, let me know!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Agave water: My secret weapon

Since I’m running the 34th Annual Rockville 10K on Nov. 1, (hopefully still with my new blog friend Cat!) I knew today would my last opportunity for a long run before my taper week next week. Since I ran 7 miles last week, I thought I’d kick it up a notch and run 8 this week. Why? Who the heck knows. I’m not following any specific training plan, I’m just running to run.

Before I left I realized that I forgot to pick up coconut water when we went food shopping yesterday. I don’t have any Goo or sport beans or anything like that (nor will I spend my money on them) but I knew that I probably should have something with calories in it to help me along my run. I searched my cupboards for something that I knew would help keep me fueled but without that crazy sugar rush. That’s when I spotted my Agave nectar.

Here’s a little info on agave for people like my mom who doesn’t really know all too much about it. Click HERE for everything you need to know about agave nectar.

I put a tablespoon of agave nectar and mixed it in with my water bottle. I figured, what the heck? It’s a natural sugar with a low glycemic index so I knew I wouldn’t get a crazy sugar rush. If it doesn’t work, I’ll try something else.

Well, I’ll let the numbers do the talking. Check out these stats:

8 miles 1:14:03

Mile 1: 9:37
Mile 2: 8:44 (!!)
Mile 3: 9:04
Mile 4: 9:26
Mile 5: 9:09
Mile 6: 9:35
Mile 7: 9:30
Mile 8: 8:52 (!!!)

Ok now let me start out by saying that this was a fairly flat route until the last 3 miles, where there were a few good hills, but I was able to make up for the up hills by flying down the down hills. (make sense? where’s my English?)
I was actually feeling like the run was too easy because it was so flat, so I started looking for hills to run after avoiding them in the beginning, knowing I had a few good hills on my way home. But man I felt AWESOME during miles 6-8, and I just tore it up on that last mile. I honestly feel that the agave water helped give me the boost I needed to keep me fueled during the run. Also, it forced me to drink more water. I have the tendency not to drink enough because I don’t feel thirsty when I’m running.

Also, I will have to say that I’ve been doing a lot of speed work too. Last Tuesday I did a 2 mile tempo run with a one mile warm up and one mile cool down, and Thursday I ran 4 miles with a one mile warm up, 2 miles @ 2x800 sprints, and the last mile @ 2x400 sprints. So maybe there’s something to be said by that. Either way, I’m feeling great and I’m really happy to finally see my numbers improve.

Another thing I’m happy about is that I’ve made it through my 7 mile rut. During my long runs and especially during the Boilermaker 15K I ran in July (recap here,) when I reached mile 7 I was completely out of gas. I had such a hard time pushing through those last 2.3 miles and if I hadn’t been running with my buddy Ann, I would have crawled across the finish line.

IMG_0456 IMG_2244
Did I mention how awesome that beer tasted? And how much fun we had?

Ann—we’re gonna rock the Boilermaker next year!!

Off to enjoy the rest of my Sunday!!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Three things that made my Friday fabulous

OK, let me explain.

I love squash, so when Heather said she found one that would make me never want to eat another kind of squash again, I knew I had to try it. Last weekend, Dennis and I took a trip to an international market and I snagged a kabocha squash to try. All I can say is what took me so long??

kabocha_squash_sm (yes I’m recycling this picture)

I popped the entire kabocha squash in the oven and roasted at 350* for an hour. I cracked it open, put a little raw coconut oil on top and …. well, it was heaven on a plate. I couldn’t believe how amazing this squash is. The flavor is amazing and the texture can’t be described. It didn’t need the coconut oil either—I ate some more with my dinner and had it plain. So good. HEAB you ROCK! Now I’m going to see how many fun things I can make with this amazing ...ummm fruit? … and I bet they’ll mostly be coming from her!

Also, I’ve been absolutely obsessed with these:

TJ's masala-burger-box

Holy crap these are good. They’re soy free too for all you peeps out there looking to stay away from the soy. I don’t mind soy but I try to help those out who do :)

And last but not least, another star to my Friday:

stovepipe-porter-21136942 stovepipe-porter-20234-1

Here’s a beer that makes me smile. I found this beer at a bar in Syracuse when Dennis and I still lived in NY. This beer makes me smile. We found a kick ass Wine and Beer distributor about 5 minutes away from our house that sells beers from all over the world. You can mix and match your 6 pack or case, and I was so happy to see this down here. I don’t drink nearly as much as I used to, but part of enjoying life is enjoying good food and a good beer every once in a while (again, thanks HEAB for reminding me of that) It’s Friday, I’m watching the ACLS and dammit, I’m enjoying a good tasting cold one. Amen to that.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Another reason why fall rocks---more fall recipes

One of my best friends from home owns about a hundred (or more) acres of land which produces about 100 pumpkins every year. Whereas most people go out and buy pumpkins to celebrate the fall season, she’s doing everything she can to get rid of them. Last year she gave me 6 pumpkins just for decorating. Boy do I wish I was able to get my hands on some of those pumpkins this year.
For now, canned pumpkin will have to do.

I started out my day with a bowl of pumpkin banana pie oat bran. Pumpkin banana pie you ask? Yes. This was an ultimate bowl of oats. So good that I could only eat half of it. The pumpkin added a lot of volume.


It sucks to have to rely on my cell phone for pictures but this is better than nothing. Can you see the amazing pumpkin color in there?

Pumpkin Banana Pie Oat Bran

  • 1/2 cup So Delicious Unsweetened coconut milk (or whatever milk you have/want to use)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup oat bran
  • 2 tbsp canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 ripe banana
  • Pumpkin pie spice (love it!)

I topped everything with my normal flax and PB but damn this was good. Pumpkin pie spice rocks.

Here’s another recipe that I actually have to say rocked as well. When it comes to baking, I usually find a recipe I like and stick to it…I find there’s not room to play around with baking. However, I found this recipe online and knew I needed to tweak it to make perfection. I won. Pumpkin aside, the real winner to this recipe was the use of White Whole Wheat flour.

White Whole Wheat flour

I decided to give white whole wheat flour a try since Dennis hates whole wheat. According to their website:

Milled from white whole wheat, rather than red, unbleached King Arthur White Whole Wheat Flour has all the fiber and nutrition of traditional whole wheat, with milder flavor and lighter color. Thus, white whole wheat is a great way to add whole grains to your family's diet.

I figured this would be a great way to use whole wheat without changing the flavor of my favorite baked goods. I think I see some homemade pizza dough in my future.

White Whole Wheat Pumpkin Nut Bread

  • 1 & 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs (or 4 egg whites or 1/3 cup egg white/substitute)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce (you could sub more apple sauce for the oil but I didn’t want to mess with it too much and leave it dry)
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. each of nutmeg, cinnamon and allspice
  • 1/4 tsp. cloves
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Heat oven to 350*. Mix all ingredients together in a big bowl and pour into a greased (I use Pam) bread pan. Bake for 60 minutes. Cut and enjoy. SO good. Even though there’s no picture, believe me, it was awesome.

TIP: I have a really hard time baking because 9 times out of 10 most of what I bake ends up getting thrown out…we just don’t eat it fast enough. So, my mom suggested slicing the bread into individual pieces after it cools and freezing them individually. I wrapped each piece in aluminum and put them in a freezer safe Zip-Lock bag. This eliminates waste. Thanks Mom!

One last thing— does anyone out there have a heart rate monitor that they use to track their mileage/pace? I used mine today on the treadmill and I found that they were way off from one another. I’m not sure how accurate the treadmill is or how well the Garmin works while ON the treadmill but if anyone can help me out with understanding which of the two are more accurate I’d appreciate it. Do I follow the treadmill’s guide to mileage and pace or do I believe I’m running a 7:57 pace when the treadmill says it’s an 8:15? Help!!!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Running group anonymous

I’d been planning on joining a running group for a while now, but not knowing what our future was going to be, I decided to hold off until a job and location were set in stone. After researching local running groups in the DC and NOVA area, I found one that seemed to suit me: The Potomac Runners.

They meet three times a week; twice in DC for a track and tempo run, and once on Saturdays for a long run in Alexandria. I wanted to find a local place to meet up with people for the longer runs, so I set my alarm for 6:30 Saturday morning and made my way to the Mt. Vernon Trail at 8.

Mt. Vernon trail Mt. Vernon trail 2

Since this is a holiday weekend, the group was very small, but everyone was really nice and welcomed me with open arms. (Even the Red Sox fan who immediately started trash talking with me.) Oh, did I mention that I got my hands on a Garmin FR60? I got an amazing deal and I’m really glad I have it. It doesn’t have a GPS but it has a heart rate monitor, I can save and synch my workouts on my computer, and it tracks my mileage. This came in handy during my first run with the new group.

I started out running with a group that was running at a 9 minute pace. I ran a little over 6 miles last Sunday so I didn’t want to increase my mileage too much. The goal was 7 miles. This is where the Garmin came in handy. I ran 3.5 miles with the group and turned around to head back. This trail went right through Old Towne Alexandria and since everything looks the same, I got lost. When I was done with my 7 miles, I asked for directions and found that I was about 2 miles off…BOOO! I ran (very slowly) for about a mile longer and then walked the rest of the way…only to find out that the group I was running with ran an 8 mile loop! I should have just stuck with them. Who knew?

So here are my stats from the run (I’m so glad I can do this now!)
This is only from the 7 miles.
Total: 7.08 miles
Total time: 1:06:32
Mile 1: 9:29
Mile 2: 8:49
Mile 3: 9:32
Mile 4: 9:37
Mile 5: 9:21
Mile 6: 9:45
Mile 7: 9:58
Calories burned: 741
It shows that I’m burning just over 100 calories per mile. That’s good to know—I really had no idea. What I found interesting was that miles 1-4 I burned 105 calories per mile, then miles-5-7 I burned 106. Weird.

Now that I found a running group, I feel like I can start making some friends. Nothing’s better than having people to run with, even though I ran most of this run alone anyway. Once people get more familiar with me I’m sure I’ll find someone who can be my running buddy (no one beats my friend Ann though!)

Other things this we did this weekend included:
Celebrating our friend Kelly’s 30th birthday in downtown DC
Buying a new living room set (much needed purchase)
Visiting with my cousin and aunt from Richmond as they were passing through from NY
Trip to Trader Joe’s and an International Market where I found that Kabocha Squash everyone keeps telling me about (can’t wait to try it!)
And of course, watching my team win the ALDS. Go Yankees! (and football too, but I never get to see any NY Giants games down here)

No luck with the fixing of the camera, by the way. We’re just going to have to save up for a new one. Until then I’ll figure out a way to get fun ways to brighten up the blog. Tomorrow’ I’ll have a few recipes (whole wheat pumpkin bread) and another run with my new Garmin. Yay!

Friday, October 9, 2009

One big pissed off Gato

Poor Marley.

(no my camera isn’t fixed. These are from my cell phone. BOO)

A few days ago I found a bald patch on his leg the size of a quarter. After giving it some time to see how it would heal, we noticed it was getting a little funky so we knew a trip to the vet was due.

First of all, he’s a big cat. There’s no doubt about that. However, getting him into his cat carrier is never a problem. Usually he’s so interested in anything new that he walks right into it so he can see what’s going on. This time, he was not a happy kitty. He did NOT want to come out from under the bed.

I tried using treats, food, more treats, more food…nothing would get him out. He was like, “Oh hell no…not again!” We have put these guys through a lot in the past month so I’m not surprised that he was so hesitant. After seeing him poke his head out from under the bed to scope out the treats I left, I scooped his large behind up and shoved him in the carrier. (After a few minutes of wrestling with him and listening to him hiss at me)

This vet also talked to me about his weight issues. Good thing is, he’s lost 1.2 pounds since April. YAY Marley!! Bad thing is, he still has 6 more pounds to go. And he has to wear this cone type thing for 2-3 weeks while his wound heals.

Dylan didn’t like what he saw when he came home either. He growled, hissed and swatted at him all night. Poor guy couldn’t catch a break. Dylan—less than half of Marley’s size –wouldn’t let him under the bed to sleep. He’s just miserable. Poor guy.

This is Marley in our bedroom closet lying on our dirty clothes bag. It’s the only place Dylan will let him hide.

Happy Friday everyone. I have to try to get my camera fixed and get outside to enjoy this beautiful day.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Speed work, turkey chili and postseason baseball

Ahh, October. There’s nothing like it. Postseason baseball is one of my favorite times of year, especially when my team is playing.

(I really need to get my camera fixed!!)

I woke up super early this morning to get my turkey chili started. I was at the store at 7:30 a.m. buying chili powder and a red pepper (how did I plan on making chili and forget those ingredients?) Everything was in my CrockPot and cooking by 8:30. I’ve been thinking about this chili all week, and boy was it worth the wait.

Rockin’ (and really simple) Turkey Chili

  • 1 pound 99% Fat Free turkey chili
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cans (rinsed and drained) black beans
  • 1 can (rinsed and drained) corn
  • 1 whole medium yellow onion
  • 1 28oz can of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 whole medium red pepper
  • 3 or 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp hot sauce (slow cooking enhances the potency of things so I don’t overdo it. You can always add more later if you want)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

You know the rest: Cook chopped veggies and turkey in olive oil in a large skillet on the stove until the turkey is no longer pink and veggies are soft (about 10 minutes) Then add chili powder, salt, pepper and hot sauce. Give a good stir.
Transfer to slow cooker. Add beans, corn and tomatoes. Stir again. Put lid on and don’t touch for 8 hours. Cook on low.

I serve mine with a dollop of plain yogurt and a sprinkle of cheddar cheese. SO good. (Sorry, no is still broken. But trust me—it looked good and tasted even better)

Speed work:

I ran a nice long run on Sunday (around a 10K) and a nice easy 4 miler yesterday. I really needed to get some speed work in (and some weights as well) so I went to the gym after I was done getting the chili together. I started out with
15 minutes on the elliptical at level 7 as a warm up. I like using the elliptical as a warm up because it gets my heart pumping but without the pounding on my knees (which have been feeling great lately. Foot too!)
Then I hit the treadmill and ran at “race pace” for two miles. Here’s my stats:
Mile one: 8:38
Mile 2: 8:29
Total time: 17:07
Then I ran at a slow pace to recover for the next five minutes, then walked for two. I felt great! I love speed sessions. Makes me feel like I can kick someone’s ass.
Then I did some combination lifting on the balance ball. I used a 15 pound body bar and did some arm raises/crunches, and then I did leg raises and lunges on the Bosu ball with the body bar while doing bicep curls at the same time.

Then I went to the DMV. I’m officially a Virginian. No longer a Masshole.

All that running around made me ready for chili and baseball. Oh, and I can’t watch my beloved team play without a beer. (Magic Hat #9. I wanted the Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout but Dennis had dibs on it)
I’ve actually gotten to a point where I can only drink ONE beer or one glass of wine. This is obviously a good thing, since I don’t miss my crazy college drinking days one bit (well, I should say I don’t miss feeling like garbage) And since I’m putting so much work into taking care of myself, I honestly don’t WANT to drink like I used to. Uh oh, I think I’m getting old…

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

My camera died on my coconuts

I started out my day with a gorgeous run along one of the many trails in Fairfax County VA, but have nothing to show for it. I brought my camera with me and almost cried when I couldn’t turn it on. I’ve taken ridiculously good care of this camera—kept it in its case, never dropped it, always made sure it was secure and safe. I used it last night to take pictures of the cats being silly and had no problems with it. And then all of a sudden---nothing. What’s up with that?

Oh well. I’m going to take it to the Geek Squad tomorrow to see if they can fix it. Until then, you’ll have to settle for just words.

The weather here has been awesome. This morning was sunny and in the mid 60s. I actually set out to just walk since I haven’t been feeling well but I felt so good out there that I just started running.

Fairfax county has amazing running/walking/biking trails and I’ve been dying get out on them. I ran about 4 miles into Olde Town Alexandria and back (4 miles round trip) and am happy to report that I had no pain and had no nausea or headaches to complain about today. What a way to start my day!

I came across So Delicious Coconut milk while shopping this weekend and decided to give it a shot. They were out of my unsweetened soy milk so I got the unsweetened So Delicious instead. The verdict? It’s great in my oats but terrible in a bowl of cereal. It really tastes more like coconut water than milk, but I’m the one that wanted the unsweetened kind.


To go along with the coconut theme, I also remembered that I have this jar of organic coconut oil that Dennis’ sister sent to us a while ago. Since Dennis hates coconut, I claimed the jar for myself. My latest concoction: Coconut salad dressing. You really need to give this a shot.

Coconut Salad Dressing

  • 2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp organic unsweetened coconut oil (I have to put it in the microwave for 20 seconds or so to liquefy it)
  • 1/4 tsp fresh garlic
  • 1/2 tsp oregano

Stir well and pour. I like to make it ahead of time to let the garlic set, but it’s good either way. I’ve also used garlic powder instead of fresh garlic.
I really like the coconut oil in this because it evens out the strength of the vinegar and garlic. So good. Give it a try!

Monday, October 5, 2009

What is my problem with yoga?

I have a great friend who went through a major drug phase in college. It was so bad then when I went to visit her, I barely recognized her. It wasn’t a physical change as much as a personality change—she was NOT the same person I knew and loved for so many years.
It started small but eventually turned into the bigger stuff. She was then prescribed drugs to help her get away from drugs. Make sense?? She became addicted to these pharmaceutical drugs and also battled with anxiety and depression. She said she came close to killing herself a few times while she was taking these prescribed drugs, and nothing helped her…until she found yoga.
Yoga transformed her life. She is now strong, healthy, drug free and happier than I have ever seen her.

Now, if this is not a story that should convince me to change, then I don’t know what else will.

She and I had a long talk about it a few years ago. It went something like this:

Her: Nicole, I think yoga would be great for you.
Me: Why is that?
Her: Because you’re a lot like me…I was always really uptight and everything bothered me. Yoga has taught me to let things go. I think it would be a huge benefit for you.
Me: I’m uptight?
Her: <laughs out loud> Girl, I love you, but yes. You are.

When I told Dennis of this conversation, he laughed out loud too. “I’ve been telling you that forever,” he said. Damn. I’m uptight.

And my brain doesn’t like to stop. I don’t know how to shut it off sometimes. That’s why I like to run, because I’m not really thinking about much when I’m running. I listen to my music and concentrate on the task at hand. I always feel refreshed when I’m done…even if my run felt bad because I couldn’t pick up my speed or because I didn’t feel well, I still feel happier after a run than I did before. I love the fact that running makes me mobile. And I know how bad it is for my body (i.e. bad knee and now recovering bad foot) But honestly, my foam roller has helped my knee to feel better … I’ve found the source of the problem and if I can keep up with it, then I will be fine.
But I always come back to yoga.

Why can’t I get into it?

Everyone I know that participates in yoga loves it. And I mean LOVES it. My friend Reba took me to a hot vinyassa flow class for my birthday this past May and I.LOVED.IT. You can read about it here. I felt like I was hooked! However, since it’s so expensive, I gave up on it. I can’t afford to pay $20 a class. This definitely deterred me.

So I tried doing some DVDs. I hated them. I can’t keep up. I’m not good enough to do the moves without seeing them in person and having someone there to show me what to do.
So I tried a class at my gym. I hated it.
It was so stressful! I wrote about that class here.
I couldn’t keep up, I felt sick and overstressed. It took everything not to walk out.
So I tried some of Polly’s webcasts. Hmmm….now this is something I can get used to. I loved what Polly was doing. She broke them up into mini sessions so you can pick and choose which type of yoga you wanted to focus on. Abs, arms, back, legs, whatever you want. And they’re short so you don’t feel overwhelmed.
So why did I stop?

I don’t know.

I was expecting to feel this amazing transformed feeling, but to be honest, our lives got very complicated. We had to find a new place to live, then after we moved we had to find another place to live since Dennis got a job, I was in VA for a week looking for our new address, we packed, we moved…you get the picture. The past 2 months have been nothing but chaos for us. This should have been the time to use yoga to my advantage!! Instead, the thought of it stressed me out even more. I can’t slow down! I have too much to do! Run! Walk! Lift! Spin! Go go go! That’s just how my brain works!

The moral of the story? I’m reading again how amazing yoga is and I really want to know what my problem is. Why can’t I bring myself to stop and let yoga bring me the peace and happiness it’s brought to so many others? Is it because I can’t let myself stop and slow down?
If you are out there reading this and you’re a lover of yoga, please tell me what you think. Maybe it’s just not for everyone.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Off all week

This week has been on and off for me since I’ve been feeling like I’ve been fighting the flu. It started out with five days of an upset stomach and achy back and turned into the past four days of a massive headache. It’s strange too because the symptoms have been on and off – as in I was waking up feeling bad, then feeling better as the day progressed, and now I wake up feeling great and the headache gets progressively worse throughout the day. Weird. So I decided to take the last few days off from blogging to give my brain a rest. And honestly, I really haven’t had much to talk about, which is very abnormal if you know me.

I haven’t done anything great this week except for run a fabulous 10K in lieu of the race I didn’t run yesterday (I felt like garbage so I decided to skip out.) The run was nice. I ran at around a 10 minute mile pace which I was fine with. I didn’t want to push myself too hard since I’ve been “off” all week. We’ve had absolutely gorgeous weather this week so I made sure not to let the weekend slip me by without at least one run..especially since we wasted at least an hour of our day yesterday at Ikea. That place is one massive marketing scheme. They give you only one way out, forcing you to walk through the entire warehouse and pass the checkout line before you can leave. Tricky bastards. Somehow we managed to get out of there unscathed and empty handed.

October is shaping up to be a great month with postseason baseball, a friend’s 30th birthday party and a possible 10K. I also have some amazing meals planned and I can’t wait to share them all with you. Let’s just say my Crock Pot will be getting some good use this month, and so will my oven. I absolutely love this time of year—from this time through Christmas, I’m one happy girl.

Random picture of the day:


Come get your hairs done at Dana’s Hairs. Hey, Dennis thought it was funny too…