Monday, November 26, 2012

Elfin Forest

Not sure if I've written about Elfin Forest on this blog before or not, but it's truly a hidden treasure here in SoCal!  A few weeks ago, I ventured out on a beautiful Saturday morning to hike up the "Way Up Trail."  The weather was absolutely perfect and the views were fantastic.  

I love hiking because you get such a great workout, but you don't realize how tired you are because the scenery is so beautiful.  There were lots of folks out enjoying the perfect weather!  Not a ton to write about, but lots of pictures to show!

Where's your favorite hiking spot?

Friday, November 23, 2012

Spartan Beast NorCal

Last weekend I ventured up to Sacramento to run the Spartan Beast NorCal.  It was definitely a spur of the moment race.  One of the guys I work with had signed up and wanted someone to run it with him.  I checked out the race website and decided it would definitely be something up my alley!  13.something miles and a ton of mud later, I'm glad I decided to sign up.

The volunteers were amazing!  It was cold and rainy on Saturday, but they all showed up ready to help ensure the race ran smoothly.  We arrived early for our 0830 start time and stood around shivering waiting to start.  Originally, both of us had planned to run with Camelbak packs because we thought we might need our own water and food.  After some thought, we both opted out of that and decided to just hope that the water stations would do the trick!  I'm so glad that we did because navigating the barbed wire obstacles would have been awful with a pack on!

The course was laid out on pasture lands at the Van Vleck ranch.  Lots of hills and mud!  There were balancing obstacles, rope climbs, monkey bars, cargo nets, barbed wire obstacles, and some other crazy stuff!  We had to tie a rubber band around our ankles and hop up and down a hill.  We had to drag a cinder block hooked to a chain up and down a hill.  And all of it was a ton of fun!

For anyone looking for something a little different from the standard half marathon or trail race, Spartan Races are for you!  They do a fantastic job running these events.  Aside from how cold it was, I thought the race was awesome.  

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Joys of Coaching

Ok, so let me start off with the fact that I'm not talking about joys I get out of coaching...I'm not the least bit qualified to coach anyone when it comes to triathlons!!!  However, what I am talking about is how ecstatic I am about having signed up with Mike Plumb from TriPower.  I was a bit hesitant at first to spend any money on a coach, because in theory I should be able to use all of the available resources on the internet to find great training schedules.  However, that rapidly became overwhelming.  

I went ahead and decided to try it out for a few months and see how it went.  It's only been about a month, but I can already tell that I love it!  Mike e-mails me my workout schedules on Sunday.  It includes everything I'm supposed to do each day of the week, to include the swim workouts.  I've never actually done a real swim workout.  I just go to the pool, hop in, and do laps until I'm tired.  Now I have guidelines for how to push myself in the water.

Additionally, I have unlimited e-mail contact with him and can ask him as many questions as I want.  He has us log into Beginner Triathlete to log our training on a daily basis.  This helps him tailor our weekly schedules.

So, I'm not sure I can effectively say what kind of difference this will have in my race performance, but I do know that I'm super excited to be training with a purpose.  To have someone with years and years of knowledge help me prepare to move up in race distance and to improve myself!  

Friday, November 2, 2012

MCM Recap

Last year, one of my fellow Stroller Warriors decided to run the Marine Corps Marathon just a few weeks before the event. (One of our other members was planning to do it, but sadly sustained an injury leaving a free bib.) We all logged on to watch her 10k updates as they posted, constantly streaming comments on our SW Facebook page, I started to get the itch. Yes, I have done two previous marathons, but that was before I ever liked running.

So with high hopes and a stomach full of nerves, I sat down at my computer moments before the event registration opened and managed to secure one of the slots that sold out in 2 hours and 41 minutes! That brought on the mad search for the "right" training plan. I ended up with a mix of a couple plans that my dear husband helped me figure out.

I briefly wrote recaps of my training weeks, but then we packed away our computer and embarked on our third move as a married couple, my 15th since 1998! We lived with my in-laws for nearly 6 weeks and then finally moved into our rented house in Mt Vernon. Those first 6 weeks were a blessing for my training. I ran stroller-free most days and had the company of my husband who had also decided to run. Unfortunately, those weeks were plagued with PF, a sore right hamstring, and several runs that left me thinking, "What on earth have I signed up for?!"

I had not printed out my training plan and couldn't access the computer until post-marathon, so my training was scattered at best. My focus was getting the house unpacked and livable for the Weasel, and while I did manage to get a few longer runs in, I wasn't feeling super confident. I originally started out with a goal of sub-4. I quickly changed that to just finishing the race.

On Saturday morning, Grandpa came and picked up Weasel (she was spending the night with them so we wouldn't have to get a sitter on Sunday) and left us to relax. Sunday morning arrived and we woke at 4:40. That gave us enough time to eat breakfast and for Jason to down some coffee. We hopped on the Metro and rode to King Street where we met a friend. Neither of us carried anything we couldn't run with because we wanted to avoid the chaos of the bag drop at the end. (Hence the lack of photos in this post!)

After catching up with LOTS of my Stroller Warrior buddies, we made our way to the 4 hour corral and got ready for the canon to sound. We crossed the start line just 3 minutes after the bang and quickly found our stride. It was Jason, me and our friend, Pat. The first few miles were crowded with spectators cheering loudly.

Mile 1 - 9:24
Mile 2 - 9:25
Mile 3 - 9:00
Mile 4 - 8:50
Mile 5 - 9:15

There were a few hills that were challenging but not terrible and we made our way into Georgetown which offered a huge downhill! The main road was packed and there were so many people cheering! At that point, Jason said, "Hey Jen, do we know anyone up here in Georgetown?" As he said it, we saw our friend, Sean Cox (in uniform as he was working the race) and that was quite a pick me up!

Mile 6 - 8:37
Mile 7 - 9:04
Mile 8 - 8:54
Mile 9 - 8:58
Mile 10 - 8:33
Mile 11 - 9:11

We cruised just ahead of the 4 mile pacer and I was running quietly, but still feeling ok. Jason was great as he occasionally asked how I was doing and if I needed anything. Then we came to Hains Point (the dreaded part of the MCM course regardless of what year you're running). It's mostly free of spectators and often produces winds due to the fact that it's surrounded by the waters of the Potomac. The first 1/2 mile of it was lined with large pictures and names of soldiers, sailors, and Marines who have been killed since OIF and OEF started. That gave me the motivation to keep running. But I was starting to hurt.

Mile 12 - 9:01
Mile 13 - 9:05
Mile 14 - 9:49
Mile 15 - 9:52

Around mile 14, I could feel my pinkie toenail on my right foot throbbing. I had issues with the nail earlier in my training and figured it was probably working its way off my toe! I just kept running. As we left Hains Point, I started taking brief walking breaks. I stretched a couple times too. Jason would run ahead and get cups of water and Gatorade for both of us, bringing mine to me so I didn't have to alter my path. BEST HUSBAND EVER! He was looking good and could have finished well before me, but said, "We started this thing together and we will finish TOGETHER!"

Mile 16 - 10:16
Mile 17 - 10:38
Mile 18 - 10:56
Mile 19 - 10:29
Mile 20 - 11:34

As we turned into Arlington, we ran by places we used to walk to from our first apartment as a married couple. It was full of cheering people and even though I still stopped to walk a few times, I was feeling better.

Mile 21 - 10:18
Mile 22 - 11:46
Mile 23 - 11:24
Mile 24 - 11:14
Mile 25 - 11:56

You can see just how much our pace had slowed by this point. My legs felt like lead and even though I knew I was running, it felt like I was being sucked backward. I should mention that the weather was phenomenal! Those winds and rain predicted for the day had held off and it was truly spectacular running weather. We ran that last mile and then made the left turn to run up the final hill to the Iwo Jima Memorial (Marine Corps War Memorial). It felt amazing. We were 25 minutes off my original goal, but I couldn't have cared less.

Mile 26 - 11:44

We ran around people who were walking that final hill, linked hands and crossed the finish line at 4:24. Most people would look at these splits and say we went out too fast. I disagree. The first half of the race was awesome. If I had run any slower, the pain in my legs and my little toe would have just come along at an earlier mile marker. I was happy with our race.

We made it home about 2 hours after finishing the race and I finally took off my shoe. My pinkie toenail hadn't come off, but the enter toe was one big blister! I wish I had pictures to share with you from this race, but I'll always have the memories of a successful challenge completed with my best friend at my side.

As for my future in running? Who knows! I will not be signing up for any more full marathons, but I definitely see a few half marathons in my future. I'll probably stick to 5ks and 10ks for a while though:)

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Thankful Thursday: What are you grateful for?

Because this is a running/tri blog, I'm going to try to keep the list narrowed down, but five things I'm thankful for right now are:

1) The number of races here in SoCal - seriously, if you wanted to race every single weekend of the year, I'm pretty sure there'd be one within 50 miles of where I live.  Granted, you'd need an unlimited budget, because it gets pretty pricey, but you could do it.

2) Other athletes - last weekend I ran a sprint triathlon down in San Diego and I went by myself.  At first I was kind of bummed, because after the race I didn't really think I'd have anyone to hangout with until the opened the parking lot.  However, I met some really awesome women standing in the line waiting for our results and we had some great conversation.  Turned out that one of the ladies has the same triathlon coach as me!  Small world.

3) My best buddy Leonie - she's the one who got me started into this crazy world of triathlons.  Although I had NO idea what I was getting into, I followed her to my first race and absolutely fell in love with multi-sport races.  She's been an inspiration along the way and I love her for that and so many other things.  She's taught me simple things like how to maintain my bike, how to pack for a race, and how to push myself when I don't think I have it in me.  Unfortunately she's all the way on the east coast now :-(

4) Gorgeous Weather - living in SoCal, I've become soft.  I expect the weather to be 70 and sunny year round.  Pretty spoiled living we have out here.  But while I am stationed here, I have the privilege of enjoying how wonderful it is!  Even when it rains, it's still warm enough to head out on a run and not bundle up.

5) Running Skirts - I only have one of these, but their flagship store is right here in Encinitas!!!  I absolutely love my running skirt and will definitely get down there to get another one.  It's super comfy.  

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tracking Progress

I'm a huge fan of spreadsheets and data crunching...yes, I lead a thrilling life.  There's something exciting about putting a bunch of numbers or data points together to identify a trend, whether it's a positive or negative trend.  I despise statistics without meaning.  I want to know what factors haven't been included, what have, and how accurate the results are.  

So, where am I going with this?  Since I started doing triathlons, I decided it would be important to keep track of how I did in each one.  Unfortunately, triathlons are a bit different than your standard running races.  A half marathon, regardless of where you run it, will ALWAYS be 13.1 miles.  However, a sprint triathlon can have varying differences for the swim, bike, and run distances.  This made tracking my progress somewhat difficult.  Therefore I decided to add a few more columns to my spreadsheet and it involved a bit of math (not my forte), but I calculated out my pace per kilometer or mile (depends on how the race distances are calculated).  

Do you track your race stats?  How do you do it?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Race Prep Helpers

The most nervous part of a race for me is the night before any race.  When I was only doing running races, it was easy to get my gear together.  I never forgot my shoes or my race number.  Then I ventured into the world of triathlons...that added a whole new aspect to the pre-race night jitters!  There's so much stuff to remember!  

For anyone that's venturing out to do their first triathlon, I highly recommend you use a racing checklist.  You can find great ones at any of these sites:

Here are some other tips that can help you ensure a smooth morning on your big race day:

1) Fill up your water bottles the night before with whatever electrolyte replacement drink you want to take on the bike with you.  

2) If the bike portion of the ride is long, use a small piece of electrical tape to attach an energy gel pack to your bike.  If you just tape the top of it to the bike, you can easily tear off the top and eat the gel while on the go!

3) Put your bike, bike shoes, helmet, wetsuit (if you're wearing one), and post-race snacks in the car the night before.  Helmets and shoes are commonly forgotten items!

Sleeping the night before is always tough for me.  I toss and turn and worry about waking up late. 

Does anyone have some tips for how to get a good night's rest before the race???

Monday, October 15, 2012

Genetic Traits

We all know that certain traits are genetic...I believe that clumsiness is the gift that both Jen and I received from our mother!  Last week Jen set out to do an 18-miler and took a nasty fall at mile 9.  This week apparently it was my turn.  I went out for a lovely 8-mile run.  I wasn't feeling great when I woke up, so I didn't hit the road until 0830.  Luckily it was a gorgeous day out - perfect for a run down Pacific Coast Highway.  

It was supposed to be an easy run, so I just set a nice pace and trotted off.  On my way back, I had a brief (and painful) encounter with the sidewalk.  I was nearing home and apparently not paying very close attention to my footing, when out of nowhere I smashed into the concrete!  As it turns out, there was a bit of a lip on one of the sidewalk squares that I must have caught my toe on.  

This is what I looked like post fall prior to getting cleaned up.

Luckily it was on a road with traffic and the first truck that came upon me pulled over and this very nice couple got out.  Additionally, a man who was walking to the store heard me fall and rushed over to help.  He helped stop the bleeding on my head and the other man got me some water while his wife called Sean.  Then the gentlemen in the truck drove me the last half-mile home where we met Sean, who took me up to the Camp Pendleton hospital.  

In addition to my face, which took the brunt of the fall, I also got a nice scrape on both my left knee and shoulder.  Not sure what my hands were doing while I was falling, but they were definitely not there to catch me.  There's hardly a mark on either one of them!  
Once we got up to the hospital, it was a 2 hour wait and then we got to see the doctor.  He said he could use glue to close the cut above my eye, which was much more preferable to me than stitches!  
Much better post ER visit!  You can barely even see the glue!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Race Report: Run Like a Diva Half Marathon

Ahhhh, back from 10 days of vacation!  We travelled to Virginia, Maryland and New York, so it was quite a busy trip.  My mother-in-law was signed up to run the Run Like a Diva Half Marathon in Long Island on Sunday, 7 I decided I should run it too!  

At first I was pretty nervous.  I haven't run more than 6.5 miles in the last 10 months.  But I thought, why not?  It might not be my best time, but I love all women's events and this seemed like a great opportunity to get in my first long run.  

So for the race recap: weather turned out to be PERFECT!  They had been calling for rain all week and I really don't like running in the rain when it's cold out.  The temps were a little cold for me - I think it was 54 degrees when we arrived at the race.  But the sun showed itself as we started the run and it was perfect running weather.  

The course was overall very flat.  We ran around Eisenhower Park and some museums which was cool.  There were tons of folks out cheering us along the route.  Aid stations were placed every 2 miles and were very well run.  It never got too crowded when trying to get water.  

Now for my favorite part - at mile 12 they had a station where they handed out pink feather boas and tiaras!  How much fun is that???  I loved it.  

Fixing my tiara for the photo-op!

At the finish line, we were presented our medals by some very nice looking firemen sans t-shirts ;-)

They had a ton of post race food to include the standard bagels and bananas, but also had flutes of champagne (or ginger ale for the non-drinkers like me) and delicious Luna bars.  

I ended up finishing in 1:55:10, which I was thrilled about!  I would absolutely run one of their events again!  What an awesome event that encourages women of all fitness levels to get out there and challenge themselves!!!  

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Challenge: Embracing the Positive

"My legs were so heavy on the run today and I was super slow."

"Last week I lifted heavier, I must be getting weaker."

"My hair is a mess, my job sucks, my kids are driving me crazy..."

Sound familiar?  We are surrounded by so much negativity in our daily lives, a lot of it coming directly out of our own mouths! (And just because you don't say it out loud, doesn't mean your mind doesn't process it!)

So, what's this post all about?  It's a challenge to our fellow bloggers, Tweeters, and people in general.  Bring the POSITIVE into your life.  Starting TODAY, eliminate negative phrases and thoughts from your life for seven days.  You can do anything for seven days, right?  

Now I know this doesn't happen overnight because we want to change.  We have programmed ourselves to think a certain way - but we are all capable of change.  When a negative thought creeps into your mind, try to turn it around.  I do this all of the time.  For example, if I'm out running and feeling kind of slow, I commend myself for getting out and doing a run at all!  I remind myself that I'm making a healthy choice by being active regardless of what my Garmin says.  

Who's with us???  One week of Embracing the Positive!!!  This extends to anything you post on your blog, on Facebook, on Twitter, and any other crazy social media network that I just don't even know about.  By focusing on all of the good things in your life (even if there only seem to be a few), you can be a happier, HEALTHIER, person!

You are each amazing in your own way and it's time to EMBRACE it!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Kindness of a Stranger

As someone who's new to biking, sometimes I'm not to great at checking every last detail before I hit the road.  On Sunday, I was riding along the San Luis Rey Bike Trail and a gentlemen rode up behind me.  He let me know that the skewers in my wheels were not locked!  I honestly wasn't 100% sure what he was talking about and I told him so.  We were about three miles from the end of the bike trail, so he offered to stop and help me there.  And THEN, he let me draft off of him for those last three miles!!  Never even got the guy's name, but I sure was happy that 1) he pointed out something that could have been a giant disaster and 2) that he was willing to interrupt his ride to help a total stranger.  

(photo from

I have always had faith in the kindness of people, but it always makes me smile to see such a true example of it!  

100% sure the gentlemen who stopped does NOT read our blog, but if he ever happens to on to this page - THANK YOU!  

Monday, September 24, 2012

Goal Update - Week 3

As usual, it's time for my weekly goal update!  This really helps me stay accountable to myself!  Again, you won't find perfection here, but you'll find a lot of HEART and motivation to keep pushing myself.  
(photo from

Exercise Goals
1) Run 25 miles a week - So, as I've mentioned the previous two weeks, this was a bit ambitious!  This week I got in 16.67 miles total.  I even hit the treadmill one day to work on speed!  I'm not good at pacing myself for sprint workouts, so that's where the treadmill comes in handy.

2) Swim at least three times a week - Well, I got in two swims this week, both in the 50m pool on base and did a mile each time.  I'm really thinking about looking for a swimming coach because I know I need work on my technique to improve. 

3) Bike to and from work at least once a week - This didn't happen, BUT...on Sunday I did a 32.81 mile ride!  That's the furthest I've ever ridden in one stretch.  Note to self - pack more than one gel and carry more water if it's hot out!  Oh yeah, and sunscreen would have been a brilliant idea!

4) 10 dead-hang pull-ups - As always, I've been faithful to the Recon Ron Pull-up Program.  This week it called for five sets - 9, 7, 6, 5, 5 - and I got all five days in.  I was pretty sore this week, so I ended up kipping more than I probably should have.  

Nutrition Goals
1) One caffeinated drink per day - Doing great here and feeling good!  There are some days where I don't have anything caffeinated and don't even need it.

2) One carbonated drink per week - Oops...I messed up on this one and had two this week.  I had a Diet Mt Dew and a Lo-Carb Monster.  That's okay though, at least it wasn't every day!

3) Keep a food journal - I am in love with MyFitnessPal.  It's so easy to use, even to add in recipes to ensure you get an accurate calorie breakdown.  It also helps me to make smarter choices throughout the day about food!  

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Mental Games

Do you ever find yourself playing mind games during a workout?  My twin sister, Jen, counts...she's a weird one.  I look around for new trails to take on my next run.  However, this week I used machines to workout TWICE!  That's pretty rare for me.  

On Tuesday I went to the gym and used the StarTrac elliptical after my swim because I wasn't feeling a run outdoors with the heat.  First of all, I must be super fast because according to the StarTrac, I ran 7.76 miles in 20 minutes!!!  Ok, maybe the machine was not quite calibrated correctly...

Then on Wednesday instead of hitting the track by myself, I chose to do my sprint workout on the treadmill.  I did a one mile warm-up and then 4 x 400m sprints - first two at an 8 min/mile and second two at a 7:30 min/mile, with a 400m jog at 10 min/mile in between each.  

So, where do the mind games come in?  Well on both of my machine workouts, I had to play mind games to keep from getting bored.  On the elliptical, I challenge myself to stay above 90 RPM for the minute, and if I fall below that, then I have to stay above 95 RPM!  It's good motivation for me.  Then on the treadmill, I promised myself that if I didn't ever touch the "speed" button and slow my planned pace down, then I would be able to enjoy 15 minutes in the sauna.  

What do you do to distract yourself when you're stuck on a machine?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

More about Us

After reading SUAR's hilarious post, we decided to "consider ourselves tagged" and answer her questions.  Disclaimer - we are not NEARLY as funny as this lady is (and definitely not as fast).

1. Best run ever? 
Jess: My first ultra marathon - The Old Dominion 50-miler in Woodstock, VA.  I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but I loved every second of that 9 hour and 51 minute adventure and met some amazing folks!
Jennifer: My third half marathon. I ran with a friend and her husband, and we managed to chat the entire time and surpass our goal time!

2. Three words that describe your running? 
Jess: Steadfast, clumsy, slow
Jennifer: Middle-of-the-pack (that's one word, right?), improving, mental

3. Your go-to running outfit? 
Jess: The t-shirt I got in my first 5k ever (from 1994) and my USMC black, I know.
Jennifer: Almost any pair of my Nike running shorts and a dri-fit t-shirt from a triathlon, and sadly, my inserts because running without them is not feasible right now:(

4. Quirky habit while running? 
Jess: Snot rockets - no, it's not pretty, but it is a necessity!
Jennifer: I count. Nothing in particular, but I find that it helps pass the time.

5. Morning, midday, evening?  
Jess: Morning unless work gets in the way.  I'm more likely to run first thing in the day, less time to come up with excuses for why I can't do it.
Jennifer: Well this certainly took a personal turn...oh wait, you're still talking about running. I'm definitely a morning person...for both. (and for the same reasons mentioned by Jess)

6. I won’t run outside when it’s ______
Jess: Sleeting.  I'll do rain, snow, or wind, but sleet is a no go. 
Jennifer: Super dark. I can do pre-sunrise, but when it's really dark, it's just asking for an injury.  

7. Worst injury—and how you got over it.  
Jess: Crossing my fingers and knocking on wood here, but I've never had a serious running injury.  I had PF really badly, but what runner doesn't and I fixed that by running less and biking more.
Jennifer: When we were in 3rd grade, Jess and I were on the track team. At practice one afternoon, as I gracefully loped around the track, I managed to somehow fall into a hole (off the track) and broke my arm. Yes, I may quite possibly be the only genius with such an injury. I got over it when - after two days of telling me to suck it up - my dad took me to the hospital, it was pronounced broken, and I received a very shiny, very brand-new Sony Walkman.

8. I felt most like a badass mother runner when ______

Jess: I wore my first running skirt EVER and ran a 5k PR during last year's Oceanside Turkey Trot.
Jennifer: I placed 3rd among female participants at a local 10k and I was pushing the Weasel.

9. Next race is...
Jess: no idea.  I just got back from Afghanistan and I'm still deciding whether I'm up for the Blue Water Triathlon in Oct.
Jennifer: The MCM!

10. Potential running goal for 2013? 

Jess: Hoping to find a 12-hour race that doesn't get cancelled and see how that goes.
Jennifer: We've just moved to NoVA, so my goal for the next year is to get comfortable running all these hills. Right now, I just do my out and back runs because all I can think about is how much it will suck running back up!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Everything's Amazing & Nobody is Happy

This clip from Conan O'Brien with guest Louis CK says it all!

Do you constantly hear people around you whining about EVERYTHING?  We've become so accustomed to having everything right away - instant gratification!  This doesn't just come with technology though...

Everyone wants to the miracle weight loss drug.  I want to be faster - NOW.  I want to be a better swimmer - NOW.  Not really too interested in putting in all the blood, sweat, and tears necessary to get there.

This post really has very little to do with running I guess, so it may not seem applicable to this blog, but I wanted to share this video because I got a good laugh from it!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Goal Update - Week 2

Interested to see how I'm doing on my goals?  Thanks for stopping by - I feel good about this week and it just keeps getting better.  I'm in a routine and that's good for me because I thrive on structure!  

Exercise Goals
1) Run 25 miles a week - Much better this week!  I got in three runs and covered 15.5 miles.  They were slow, but I attribute that to the hills and not being used to them.  

2) Swim at least three times a week - Two-thirds of the way there!  I got to the pool once and this weekend I headed to Camp Del Mar on Pendleton and swam in the jetty.  I got in a solid 2.5 miles of swimming this week!

3) Bike to and from work at least once a week - Not there yet, but I got the bike out and cleaned it up, lubed the chain and took her out on Pacific Coast Highway!  It was a quick 10 mile ride, and it was awesome!

4) 10-dead hang pull-ups - Still on track with the Recon Ron pull-up program.  This week I only got four of the five sets in, but that's okay because my right shoulder has been bugging me a bit.  This week the sets were 8-7-5-5-5.

Nutrition Goals
1) One caffeinated drink per day - Barely had any caffeine all week!  I actually feel like I have more energy these days too!

2) One carbonated drink per week - We went to see the new Batman movie on Saturday and I opted for a small diet coke as my carbonated drink of the week - it was delish!

3) Keep a food journal - doing great here thanks to MyFitnessPal, which I wrote about last week.  It's so easy to use!  You can even add your own recipes in there!

Friday, September 14, 2012

I Love SoCal

It's so great to be back in SoCal (that's Southern California for anyone who isn't lucky enough to have visited this amazing place).  Why do I rave about this location???  Well, I'm glad you asked:

1) Weather - it's always perfect weather here!  Okay, we get a little bit of rain here and there and sometimes it can be a bit overcast near the coast, but that makes for nicer runs!  

2) Food - as a vegetarian, this place suites me!  I used to be stationed in Camp Lejeune, NC (pretty much they live off of BBQ there) and it was not conducive to my dietary choices.  Everywhere you look here there's a vegetarian restaurant to be had (My favorite is Hill Street Cafe in Oceanside).  They also have farmers' markets EVERY DAY of the week!  

3) Fitness - everywhere I look people are outdoors doing something - surfing, walking, running, biking, hiking, and anything else you can think of!  If I'm ever lacking motivation, I just need to walk a mile down the road from my house to Pacific Coast Highway and I'm guaranteed to see at least a dozen people working out.  Additionally, there's always some kind of race going on every weekend, so you don't have to drive far for a challenge!

4) People - we have all kinds here.  Hippies, business people, surfers, tons of military, CrossFitters, triathletes, cyclists, yogis, tree huggers, gun rights activists - we've got them all!

5) Dog Beach - this might be last on my list, but it's one of the best parts about this place.  They have beaches where the primary users are DOGS!  As the proud owner of a five-year old Golden Retriever, Nessie, who loves to swim, this is a huge win.  As soon as Labor Day hits, the beaches allow the dogs to be off-leash.  She's free to roam around, swim, chase balls, and pee wherever she likes!

If you've never been here, you NEED to come!  

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Afternoon Munchies

Since returning home, I've gotten back to my normal routine of working out first thing in the morning at 0600.  It's convenient because there's no traffic on the way in and the weather is still cool.  I always pack all of my snacks and lunch so I can save money.  I also eat a lot healthier if I bring food to work, rather than running to the store and grabbing whatever looks good.  

However, I have a big soon as I get home in the late afternoon I eat everything that is not nailed down!!!  Seriously, if it can't run away, I'm going to eat it (good thing our Golden Retriever, Nessie has legs!!).  

Any ideas for stopping the afternoon binges?  I try to drink a lot of water and keep myself busy, but I always wind up right back in the kitchen!  Any advice would be much appreciated!!!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Running Mantra

Do you ever get to that point in a run where all you can think about is how heavy your legs are, how ragged your breath is, how the sweat is dripping into your eyes, how you just don't know how you can go on?  If not, please share your secret!  If you're like me though, you get to this point.  Not during every run, not even during all of the hard ones, but occasionally your mind runs through all of the reasons you just CANNOT go on for another step.  And when I get to that point, I need something to get me through and that's when my mantra comes in handy (actually I have two).  My old faithful one is

Let Go and Let God

But very recently I came across another one in a book I'm reading that I absolutely love and it helped me through six miles and a LOT of hills this morning

I am the Lord, God of all mankind.  Is anything too hard for me?

Do you have a mantra to get you through those tough moments when quitting seems like such a great option?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Words to Run By

Back in October of last year, we did a post called Inspiring Words with running quotes that we love.  I enjoyed doing that post, I thought it was time to bring it back!  When other people can say things in such an articulate manner, I think the best way to honor that is to quote them.

"Man imposes his own limitations, don't set any"
-Anthony Bailey

Champions do not become champions when they win the event, but in the hours, weeks, months and years they spend preparing for it. The victorious performance itself is merely the demonstration of their championship character.
-- T. Alan Armstrong

The five S's of sports training are: Stamina, Speed, Strength, Skill and Spirit;
but the greatest of these is Spirit.
--Ken Doherty

Don't bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. 
Try to be better than yourself.
--William Faulkner

Do a little more each day than you think you possibly can.
Lowell Thomas

What is your favorite motivational quote?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Goal Update - Week 1

After a week, it's time to provide an update on the goals I set last week.  Based on what's below, you might think that I would be disappointed, but I'm not!  I feel like any progress is better than none at all and I've learned not to be too critical of myself.  That just leads to discouragement for me and then I start to feel like I'll never get anywhere.  So, for all to see, here's the little bit of progress I DID make this week!

Exercise Goals
1) Run 25 miles a week - This was probably wayyyy too optimistic.  Having just returned home and after four months of barely running at all, I should have set a more achievable goal.  Additionally, Camp Leatherneck is very flat...and Camp Pendleton is NOT!  So with the lack of miles, the brutal hills, and me just trying to get back to normal life, I wound up only getting 11 miles.  But I'm okay with that!  It was 11 more miles than I got last week, so I'm happy!
2) Swim at least 3 times a week - fail on this one.  Big plans to get in at least one swim this week though ;-)
3) Bike to and from work at least once a week - Hmmm...seems to be a trend here.  Definitely didn't accomplish this one.  I did get a bike pump and will be ready to hit the road soon, I promise.
4) 10-dead hang pull-ups - Finally, one that I'm making good progress towards!  I'm doing a pull-up program called "Recon Ron" and it increases the number of pull-ups gradually each week.  I'm on week three and you do five sets a week.  This week I did 8-6-5-5-4 and I'm happy to report that I got all five sets in!

Nutrition Goals
1) One caffeinated drink per day - I did really well here.  In fact, I only had two caffeinated drinks all week.  I caved one afternoon because I had a headache and figured it might help.  
2) One carbonated beverage per week - Again - WIN!  I had one Monster (which also counted for one of my caffeinated drinks this week) on Tuesday and that was it!  
3) Keep a food journal...preferably one where I don't cheat and leave things out - I got a late start on this one, but after seeing some others Tweet about MyFitnessPal, I decided to check it out.  I have two days of logging everything I eat - without skipping anything!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Joy of Cooking

While I was deployed, one of the thing I missed most was being able to cook for myself!  Don't get me wrong, having three meals a day prepared for me in the chow hall was also nice.  All I had to do was show up and there was a buffet of choices waiting for me...the biggest issue was that the vegetarian fare was somewhat lacking.  The typical Marine wants meat to be a part of EVERYTHING!  

So now that I'm back my kitchen awaits me!  Last week I made a whole-wheat, green bean, and kidney bean salad that lasted me all week (I love to pack my lunch and save some $$$).  Today I decided to try something new - Black Bean and Chickpea Chili with Veggie Crumbles - a recipe I found on

My favorite part of cooking is actually the prepping of vegetables!  I love to lay them all out and chop away, I find it to be very relaxing.  This recipe called for an onion, two green bell peppers and five sliced carrots.  

It took me approximately 1.5 hours from start to finish.  And I had a delicious and healthy meal waiting for me for lunch!  According to the website, each serving has 147 calories, 5.3g of fat, and 16.5g carbs.  (That might be if it has ground turkey in it, which is optional.  The nutritional content might change with the veggie crumbles.)

And the final and delicious result!!!


Saturday, September 8, 2012

Pulse Pilates

Today was my second EVER Pilates class!  Sean took me to a mat class at Pulse Pilates in Carlsbad on my first weekend home.  Having never done Pilates, I was a bit nervous and pretty much had it in my mind that it would be way too hard for me and I would end up looking really silly trying to do all kinds of "weird" stuff.

As it turns out, it wasn't awful and today Sean and I headed back for my second mat class with Natalie Dent.  She is amazing - patient, positive, and challenging!  I was incredibly awkward with all of the movements, especially the ones that left me shaking because my body was revolting...but she guided me through each movement as I needed help.  The class size was small, nine people total this morning, which is perfect for me.

The class is challenging but fun.  It forces you to engage your core and work on flexibility, which I really, really need to do based on the fact that I can barely touch my toes!  So for anyone looking to bolster their training plan, challenge themselves and have fun - check it out!  If you are in the Carlsbad area, I highly recommend you check out the Pulse Pilates studio where you can meet the lovely Natalie Dent.  

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Running for Stillness

It seems somewhat counterintuitive that I need movement to find stillness.  I'm talking about stillness in my soul, stillness in my mind, and stillness in my heart.  After eight months of going non-stop, or what felt like non-stop, I need to find a way to calm myself.  A way to cease the need to always be doing something.  

I've tried meditating, but I seem to be too restless to calm down.  There are hundreds of thoughts bouncing around in my head and as soon as I push one thought out, there's another one just waiting.  

I've tried yoga...I really love it, but it is hard to work into my schedule and costs a lot of money.
But I always have old faithful - the trails that do not desert, do not cost much, and are always open whenever I can fit them in.

I find that stillness on the trails.  Lacing up my running shoes, tying up my hair in a ponytail, and pounding out the miles is the best way I know how to do that.  

There's no "to do" list when I run.  There's no judgement when I run (unless I'm being extra critical of myself).  There's no requirement to think (well, for the most part).  
It is extraordinary that such a simple act of putting one foot in front of the other can bring such calmness to my mind.  Perhaps it is the simplicity that makes it so peaceful.  I choose not to overthink it and just enjoy the solitude, the break from a busy day, the quietness.  

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Time for Some Goals

Now that I'm back in the swing of things, I guess it's time to set some goals.  I'm on the hunt for some fall races to do - mostly looking at triathlons right now.  I find that signing up for races helps me focus on training more.  Additionally, for anyone who has read our blog before, you know we are huge fans of setting goals and holding ourselves accountable by posting weekly updates on how we are doing.

Exercise Goals
1) Run 25 miles a week.
2) Swim at least 3 times a week.
3) Bike to and from work at least once a week.
4) 10-dead hang pull-ups.

Nutrition Goals
1) One caffeinated drink per day.
2) One carbonated beverage per week.
3) Keep a food journal...preferably one where I don't cheat and leave things out!

Stay tuned for updates on how things are going!

What goals are you working towards right now?  Anything big on the horizon?