Monday, January 31, 2011

Half Marathon Results

I officially clocked in at 1:36:40.3. Even better than I set out to run!

And the people rejoiced....

The iPod was a good idea after all. The course was contained within the botanical garden grounds, so you can imagine there wasn't much to look at in the middle of winter.

Thank you for all the encouragement and kind words, as well as the music suggestions you left for me. I ended up downloading a bunch of mp3's from Amazon using my gift card from the livingsocial.com gift card deal last week. Highway to the Danger Zone *may* have powered me through the final meters :)

I even got to leave with a little somethin’ somethin’
1st place age-group, 4th woman overall

So here are the deets if you care to stick around.....

It was a no-frills race, but I wanted to do a winter race and this one fit the bill. It delivered the conditions I was looking for….temps in the upper 40's, sunshine, and no humidity. The course description was accurate and there were plenty of rolling hills. Nothing too crazy, just the right amount to break up the monotony.

I turned on my Garmin about 5 minutes before the start of the race. We were almost to mile 2 before it synced with a satellite. No idea what the deal was with that.

I was concerned I took it too fast out of the gate, as I usually count on the crowd congestion at larger races to keep me in check for the first mile. By the start of mile 2, I was finally able to get my watch going and settled into a rhythm. My splits were pretty dead-on for the rest of the race. My one Gatorade stop was at mile 6 which made it my slowest at 7:31, but I hit all the other mile markers between 7:18-7:25. I was waiting for the crash, but by the end of mile 9 I was still holding on.

The majority of the race was on a double lane road, but the last 3 miles veered off onto a paved bike path. I was happy to be off the road by that point. All the twists and turns really made the last few miles go by like a blur. And isn’t that what you hope for by that point?

My biggest moment was in the final mile of the race. I closed the gap with a woman who had been at least a couple hundred meters in front of me the entire race. I passed her, then she passed me back and pulled away. At the final turn taking us the .1 to the finish line, I went for it and took the lead. Speed is not my strength. In a sprinting duel, I'm still surprised I came out ahead.

Mr. Blondie tried to get a picture of me crossing the finish line, but the camera was still in movie mode. Here’s a true action shot for you (youtube)



I enjoyed a rest day on Monday and did some racewalking to loosen up yesterday. Now it’s back in the saddle, um jogging stroller, to prepare for the next one!

Stats:Time: 1:36:40.3
Pace: 7:23/mile
Overall: 20/366
Gender: 4/195
A/G: 1/23

Sunday, January 30, 2011

New Half Marathon PR

Unofficial time 1:36:40

Waiting for the official posting with places. Full recap with pictures to follow....

Woohoo!!!!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Loading Up

After getting an (ego) beating from the treadmill last week, I made it a priority to run outside this week. Monday was 7 miles (57:16, 8:11/mi pace) pushing Emily in the stroller.


I’m always worried she’s not going to like the jogging stroller after an extended break, but she was still a happy camper. I don’t know what I’m going to do if/when she starts putting up a fight.

Yesterday I did 6 by myself (45:23, 7:33/mi pace). Today will be a rest day, tomorrow will be 5 miles easy. Then maybe a mile or two, plus some striders, on Saturday morning just to loosen up.

So this race on Sunday is going to be small. Much smaller than I realized, like 500 people total. I’ve heard the full marathon is popular among the 50 Staters, so I was kind of surprised when I looked at the race results from previous years. I guess I was anticipating something similar to other local races like the Silver Comet Half, which draws about 1,500 runners from the ATL metro.

Anywhoo, I swore off my iPod months ago, but I’m thinking about bringing it back. Without crowds and a lot of other runners to draw energy from, this could be a very long and lonely 13.1. I’m even going to pony up the money to add some new songs to my playlist. Cause even that old classic Camel Toe by Fanny Pack can get old after a while, teehee.

iPods are the window to the soul. Isn’t that how the saying goes?

Here's the weird eclectic list I’ve thought of so far:

Airplane – Red Hot Chili Peppers
B.O.B- Outkast
Bittersweet Symphony – Verve Pipe
Blue Heaven - Belinda Carlisle
Dirty Bit - BEP
Evacuate the Dance Floor- Cascada
Eye of the Tiger – Survivor
Just Dance – Lady Gaga
Let it Rock - Kevin Rudolph
Like a G6 – Far East Revolution
Love Game – Lady Gaga
Man Who Can’t Be Moved – The Script
Praise You – Fatboy Slim
Riding Solo – Jason Derulo
Roam – B 52’s
Singing In My Sleep - Semisonic
Smile – Vitamin C
Stronger- Kayne West
Suicide Blonde - INXS
Tonight’s Going to be a Good Night- BEP
Touch of Grey – Grateful Dead
Toxic – Britney Spears
We Are Who We Are- Kesha

What songs are you digging right now? Please leave your suggestions in the comments. Also do y’all download your music from iTunes, or is there some other site you’d recommend?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Olive Oil & Rosemary Cake with Dark Chocolate Pieces

I give this cake 3 out of 5 stars. It was OK, cause chocolate is always a saving grace, but it didn't rock my world.

Evidenced by the fact this plate wasn't demolished by the end of the day.


If you like ginger, you'll love this cake. In a blind taste test, I'd guess candied ginger was the secret ingredient. It has a bold, peppery bite to it.

Dense and not overly sweet, this is a grown-up cake. A good snacking cake, and it paired well with my afternoon green tea.

I wouldn't make this again for myself without some modifications. Orange zest in place of the rosemary sounds good. I'd also sub out half the oil with some sugar-free apple sauce to lighten it up.

However, the uniqueness of this cake wins it a spot in my recipe file. It would be something different to bring to a brunch or a friend's house for coffee.

Recipe from the December issue of Whole Living magazine.


Also made with Spelt Flour, a.k.a stone ground gold


The Jersey Shore gang kept me entertained while I baked.


Into the oven


Tada


Final verdict: Worth a shot if you're feeling adventurous

Stock-Up Saturday

Good Morning everyone! Hope your weekend is off to a great start too.

Emily and I were out the door early this morning to take advantage of some sales at Publix. We stocked on up some things for breakfast and lunch, as well as some household items and toiletries.

click to enlarge

We spent $35.04 (including tax), and saved $92.53. The diapers alone were originally priced at 19.99 a box.

Better yet, Kimberly-Clark is running a January promo. Since I purchased $35.00 worth of Kimberly-Clark products (pre-coupons), I submitted my receipt to get a $10.00 Publix gift card back. So my readers in the Southeast, it's a good time to stock up your pantry.


The produce selection was hurting at Publix today, so we hit Kroger on our way home to finish up our shopping. We also got other fresh items like milk, cheese, yogurt, and the ingredients for a new recipe I'm excited to try.

If you want to check back later, I'll be posting the recipe for Rosemary and Olive Oil Cake with Chocolate Chunks. I paid almost $8 for the little bag of spelt flour needed for the recipe, so it better be as tasty as the magazine claims. I'm intrigued by the sound of it. We'll see!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Grapes of Wrath

As I'm sure many you have, I've spent a lot of quality time with my treadmill these past couple weeks. Why is it that I can comfortably push the jogging stroller up and down hills at an 8:15/mi pace on my training runs, yet I feel like I'm dying when I run at the same pace on the treadmill? I had to dial it back to 8:34/mi pace this morning for my 8 miler, and I still felt like I had lead running shoes.

We got a deal on the treadmill last spring by buying the floor model. I'm wondering if it's calibrated wrong.....but I'm pretty sure it's just me.

It's very discouraging! Especially with the half marathon coming up next weekend. I feel confident running outside, then the treadmill kicks my arse. Please tell me I'm not the only one with this problem.

As much as I'm looking forward to some nice weather and clear skies, I'm really hoping we get a soaking rain in the next couple days.

Source
During last week's snowstorms, the City of Atlanta was short on salt. So instead of salt, they covered Peachtree and a bunch of other side streets with gravel and this reddish colored dirt. Now that all the moisture is gone, cars are kicking up these huge clouds of dust. Downtown Atlanta looks like the dust bowl. My lunchtime walks are on hold until I can go outside without being engulfed by this weird haze. Another strange after-effect of snow I wasn't quite prepared for.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Girls Weekend at Home

This is where all the magic happened this week.


First it was the "blizzard" that kept me inside, then it was the M going away to Breckridge on his annual snowboarding weekend.

Em and I where on the move doing girly stuff, and I wanted her to have proper naps in her crib instead of the jogging stroller.

Here's the breakdown:

Mon: off
Tues: 45 mins (5 min warm-up @ 6.8, then 4 min @ 7.2, 1 min @ 8.0, repeat 8 times, 1% incline), 25 mins elliptical
Wed: off
Thurs: 5 miles @ 7.2, 1% incline, 25 mins elliptical
Fri: off
Sat: 8 miles @ 7.2, 1% incline, 10 mins elliptical

While the Mr. is away, the girls will play. We had a late lunch at Mickey D's yesterday. You know, because that's what normal people do sometimes. Em seemed more interested in the play area than her hamburger, much to my chagrin. After a few bites I released her.

McDonald's happens


After romping around for a while, I gave her a thorough Purell rub down. Then it was salon time. A mani-pedi for me, and minipedi for her.

I <3 baby feet.


We wrapped up the day by attempting to watch the Wizard of Oz. That didn't go over so well. I really should have known better. The Tin Man freaked her out, then the Wicked Witch of the West sent her over the edge.

Today we made some more Cauliflower Chocolate Chip Muffins. She was literally into it as you can see.


Nothing real exciting, like say Breckenridge, but some good bonding time :) M is due home from Colorado in the morning, so hopefully I'll get to run outside tomorrow.

Y'all do some fun stuff this weekend? Was there any kiddie movie that scared you as a kid?

I was absolutely terrified of Pippi Longstocking. Ok, I'm still a little creeped out by of her now too, lol.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Pumpkin Mac & Cheese

There are numerous versions of this dish floating around the blogosphere. This is how we do it here.

A FFH version of mac & cheese.


F (ast) I often whip up a small batch of this for dinner when it’s just me and Emily. A one pot dish ready in under 20 minutes.

F (rugal)- I actually "earned" $.31 off my bill for each box of Ronzoni I bought at Publix (was on BOGO sale for $.69 each and I had $1/1 coupons). By combining manufacturer and store coupons with a sale, I got both bags of cheese for $.50 each.

I stocked up Farmer’s Market Organic Pumpkin a couple weeks ago when I saw Amazon had it for $10.68 a case. That's 12 cans shipped to my door at $.89 apiece. A great deal for organic pumpkin! Adding to my existing pumpkin stash, I should have enough to get me through the Apocalypse at least 2011.

H (ealthy)- If you haven’t noticed, I buy baby spinach by the tub and put in it just about every dinner. It’s practically flavorless and a nutritional powerhouse. Same thing goes for the canned pumpkin. I have an addiction to both. Ronzoni Smart Taste pasta is fortified with fiber and calcium making it a step above your standard semolina. The cheeses are reduced fat, but not fat-free. Blech.

So, start by cooking the pasta (duh). Reserve some of the liquid when draining it.


Put it back in the cooking pot and mix in:

  • 1/2 block of neufchatel (reduced-fat) cream cheese

  • 1 1/2 c pumpkin puree

  • One big handful of shredded mozzarella

  • A few big handfuls of baby spinach

  • Heavy handed sprinkles of salt, pepper, garlic powder, basil

  • Light dash of nutmeg, cinnamon, dried sage

  • 3/4 c reserved pasta water

  • Then stir it up. Cover and let it sit on low heat until the spinach is completely wilted. You may need to add some additional pasta water if it gets too thick and sticky.

    Top with another generous handful of shredded cheddar.


    The suggestion from Miss S was right on, adding some pan seared apple-maple chicken sausage on top was a great addition.


    Almost as cheap as the blue box and a pack of Ballparks, and don’t you feel so much better eating all those veggies?

    Want even more veggies? Try passing out one of these Cauliflower Chocolate Chip muffins as dessert.

    Do you have a recipe with a secret ingredient no one would expect?

    Monday, January 10, 2011

    Perfect Snow Day Dinner

    Emily lay there like a slug. It was her only defense.


    We had a day filled with sledding and snowman building. How was your day?

    We ended it with the perfect snow day dinner. Quiche is so easy and inexpensive to make, but I rarely do it because of the long baking time. Not an issue today.

    Stay with me here if you could use some comfort food.


    By subbing out the cream and whole eggs, this quiche is lighter than your standard version. You can make this even lighter by making it crustless, but isn't that the best part?

    Egg Beaters are on BOGO sale this week at Publix so I stocked up (with coupons they are $.65 a carton). More chicken sausage was involved too.


    I started by putting 8oz fresh spinach in a covered pyrex dish and microwaved it for 2 minutes. Then I took a paper towel and squeezed out the excess water.



    Into the mixing bowl went:

  • 2 diced apple-maple chicken sausages
  • 1 1/2 c Egg Beaters
  • 1/2 c skim milk
  • 1 c part-skim mozzerella (gruyere would have been lovely if I had it)
  • a hearty pinch of salt and pepper, garlic powder, dried parsely, 2 chopped sage leaves, and a dash of cinnamon



  • Poured into a pre-made pie crust and topped with another 1/4 cup of shredded mozzerella


    As an afterthought I sprinkled 1/4 tsp of nutmeg on top, and a smidge of chili powder to contrast the sweetness of the apple-maple sausage. For color, there's also good dose of paprika on there.

    Baked at 425 degrees for 45 minutes, then let it rest for 5 before serving


    Served with a side salad, it made our bellies happy


    Two more chicken sausages down, 10 more to go. I look forward to trying the rest of the recipe ideas y'all suggested.

    Sunday, January 9, 2011

    The Sky is Falling

    At least you would think so if you went to the grocery store last night. The shelves were practically bare. The employees were bringing milk and bread directly out of the stockroom in boxes and people were loading up their carts. It was insane. Apparently a prediction of 2-4 inches of snow requires one to have 3 gallons of milk and 4 dozen eggs on hand.

    Luckily it was still clear this morning, and I was able to attend lunch at a friend's house. I actually met her through Pilot Wives' Club (our hubby's work for the same company). Hey, if you can meet your spouse online these days, why not a new friend?!

    When we first met for lunch last January, she was hoping to be pregnant soon. Well almost a year later, I was there to celebrate the christening of their precious little boy. It was really kind of them to include me and Em in the special day. We had a great time, and way too much yummy cake.


    When I got home the sky was already turning gray, but I wanted to get in a relaxed run before the snow started. It must have been the cold temps combined with all the sugary goodness coursing through me because I had no problem finishing 8 miles in an hour.


    The rest of the week looked like this:

    Mon: 5.2 mi on treadmill (@ 7.2, 1% incline), 15 mins elliptical
    Tues: Off
    Wed: 5 mi treadmill (fartleks ranging from 7.0-9.0, 1%-5% incline)
    Thurs: off
    Fri: off
    Sat: 5.5 mi treadmill (@ 7.5, 1% incline), 25 mins elliptical
    Sun: 8 mi outside @ 7:30/mi pace

    So it was a light week with 3 days off, and mostly indoors. My workout today was solid, so I feel good about that. Looks like the treadmill will be in my future for the next few days. The flakes have already started, and they're going to shut this place dooown.

    You stay warm Atlanta. And classy :)

    Friday, January 7, 2011

    FFH Dinner

    Fast, Frugal, Healthy

    That’s my mantra for weeknight dinners. I’d love to create more elaborate meals from scratch, but in reality I have about 20 minutes to assemble something and get it on the table.

    This was a tasty combination we had last night. Normally the Al Fresco Chicken Sausage is $5.69 a package at Publix. They were on BOGO sale last week, and I had four $2/1 coupons making it $3.40 for 4 packages ($.85 each). Needless to say, there’s a lot of chicken sausage that needs to used up in the Blondie household.

    Chicken Sausage, baby spinach, apple, blue cheese, honey, and reduced-fat crescent rolls


    Sprinkle with salt and pepper, a dash of cinnamon, and a drizzle of honey

    I tried every angle…there was really no way to make it look appealing at this stage.

    [Insert your joke here]

    Then roll ‘em up and put them on a baking sheet coated with Pam (the honey oozes and you might not get them off otherwise).


    Bake at 425° for 15 minutes (I covered mine with foil about half way through because the tops were browning too fast)


    Nothing fancy, they’re really just big pigs in a blanket. I know I've got some of you cringing at my use of canned dough, but in my world getting a fruit, veggie and lean protein into my husband and toddler = nutritional win!

    Paired with a side salad, it was a crowd pleaser. The whole meal worked out to about 550 calories.


    I still have 3 more packages of chicken sausage to use up. Anyone have some creative ideas beyond sausage and pepper subs or spaghetti topper?

    And a big thanks to y’all for all your kind comments about getting a running group started. I have so many ideas swirling around in my head right now. I’ll keep you updated as it comes together. I hope to have something going by the end of the spring.

    Monday, January 3, 2011

    Just Call Me Coach Blondie

    There's a niche that needs to be filled, and I'm just the person to do it.

    That's what she said.

    In my quest to step it up in 2011, I went online to find a running club in my area. There are tons of running clubs in the ATL metro, but apparently I live in the Bermuda Triangle of running. There's a serious lack of clubs in this area. So what do you do when you can't join a club? Well, you create your own of course.

    So I'm officially registered for the RRCA Coaching Certification Course being held in Atlanta in March! I'm pretty stoked. It's a two day course scheduled in conjunction with the Publix Marathon & Half.


    You don't need to be a certified RRCA coach to start a RRCA sanctioned team, but it certainly helps. If I'm going to be training with others and giving advice, it's better that I'm not just pulling stuff out of Runner's World magazine and my a$$ my personal experiences.

    Now that I've started recognizing and greeting other runners by name at local races, I see potential for getting a group together. My first thought was to focus on a women's group, and maybe even a mommies group. Sort of like a Stroller Strides on steroids, well not steroids, but you know what I mean. Women with a competitive streak who just happen to train with their kiddos too.

    Sorta like this, but not so LAME-O


    Then I was talking to a neighbor who pointed out there's a huge home-schooling network in our area. Why not create a group for those kids? Fantastic idea! Since we plan to home school Emily, it would be a learning experience for us too. Let's see what this whole home-schooling thing really entails.

    I'm excited about the prospects. Let's see if I can turn my little hobby into something bigger.

    Saturday, January 1, 2011

    A Bread Machine Symbolizes My 2010

    You know you live in the land of plenty when you decide to bake bread at home for fun, not out of necessity. You know you've got it made when you have a gadget that will do the work for you.


    I couldn't think of anything I wanted for Christmas. A few days before Christmas I saw Amazon had a good deal on a bread machine, so I sent M the link to buy it. He thought it was weird. Isn't giving something like that to your wife for Christmas like the kiss of death?

    Seriously, I couldn't think of anything I wanted for Christmas. A new kitchen toy sounded like fun to me.

    To not need, or even want, anything is a gift in itself.

    We saw a lot of big changes in 2009. We bought our first home, we welcomed Emily into the world. 2010 was a year of status quo. Nothing big happened this year, which is fine with me!

    No life altering changes meant were able to enjoy all the fruits 2009 brought us. Work stayed the same. I can't wait to be a full-time SAHM, but working one day a week at home is an improvement. M didn't get the upgrade we want so badly, but he had great schedules and was able to celebrate every holiday and important event (and even the not so important ones) at home. Who knows when that will happen again. We were able to continuing providing for our family. Sadly, that was not the case for many in this economy.

    Emily continued to grow and flourish. We went to concerts. We went hiking. We took some fun family vacations. Despite a small health scare, I was able to run many races and return to my pre-pregnancy speed. I even won a race pushing the stroller. We got to have stolen date nights that helped make the time apart not so terrible.

    So if my biggest decision of the morning is whether I want a hot buttery slice with strawberry or raspberry jam, then life is pretty good.