Run The Great Wide Somewhere

I want adventure in the great wide somewhere and running is how I'm finding the courage to explore this wonderful world.

TotR: Speedwork

Welcome back to our next edition of Tuesdays on the Run hosted by yours truly, Patty from My No-Guilt Life, and Erika from MCM Mama Runs.  This week’s topic is Speedwork.  Getting faster is one of my biggest goals for this year and one that I’ve been struggling with due to the summer heat here in Florida.

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A few months ago, I got the book Run Less, Run Faster to help me start with some structured speedwork.  This book recommends three runs a week, combined with two days of cross training.  One run is repeats, one is a tempo run and one is a long run.

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Repeats are the most intense type of speedwork, requiring you to run a set distance at a very challenging pace, then to recover for a set distance (usually 1/4 mile) or time and then to “repeat” that pattern a set number of times.  An example would be 1/4 mile repeats.  The book might show it as 8×400 (400 recover) 8:45.  What you would do is:

  1. Warm up with an easy run for one mile.  During that mile, do some high knee lifts and butt kicks to wake up your quads and hamstrings.  Also do some pickups, which are when you briefly accelerate and then decelerate.
  2. Run 1/4 mile (400 meters, one lap around a standard track) at a pace of 8:45.  Your personal pace for a quarter mile repeat can be found using your most recent 5k results on the chart in the book or you can just run like an insane killer clown is chasing you with a bloody butcher’s knife.  Basically this is running faster than you ever thought you could run, but just for a quarter mile.
  3. Slow down to a very easy pace, jogging or walking.  Try not to stop.  Try not to puke.  You can drink something but keep moving for another quarter of a mile.  Super slow is absolutely fine.  This is a recovery period.
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 seven more times.  Try not to puke, pass out or die.  Your level of effort on the repeat portion should be steady throughout but as intense as you can handle.  You will be miserable but afterwards you will feel like a rockstar.
  5. Cool down with a mile jog or walk.  To be honest, I don’t actually cool down for a full mile because repeats take so long and I’m always DONE when I’m finished.  I tend to cool down for maybe a quarter mile.
  6. Walk around the rest of the day knowing that you are awesome!

Different distance repeats require different levels of effort.  A 8:45 pace for 400 meter repeats is equivalent to a 9:20 pace for a mile repeat.  The longer the distance of the repeat, the slower the goal pace should be.  But repeats should always challenge you.

Another version of repeats is hill repeats.  You basically run up a hill, then run down a hill and repeat.  I haven’t tried those yet because I hate hills and I tend to get injured when I run on hills but I need to start working them into my training gradually.

Tempo runs are when you run a longer distance (2-5 miles usually) at a pace that is challenging but not as intense as the pace for repeats.  The book has suggested paces for the tempo runs as well, with a short tempo pace and a long tempo pace depending on the prescribed distance.

And long runs are typically what you’d expect on any training plan.  The only difference is that while most training plans tell you to run your long runs as as slow a pace as you want, the book has suggested long run paces that are still fairly challenging.

I was having some great progress with the speed training from the book in the spring, but now that summer has settled in Florida in full force, I just can’t bring myself to do any of the structured speed work.  Honestly, just running regularly has been challenging this summer because of the heat and humidity.  But I’m going to work it back in to my schedule as soon as fall gets here because I think it is very effective!

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What do you do to get faster?  I know the biggest impact on my speed will be to lose weight and I’m working on that too!  Join in the linkup with a post on speedwork or any running post.  Explore how other runners get faster by checking out some of the links!

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Disney Days: Frozen Summer Fun

I somehow managed to convince my husband that it made sense to renew our annual passes to Disney (I tend to abuse them by going way too often and spending way too much money) recently.  And we live just about two hours away from Disney, so it’s not uncommon for us to take a spur of the moment trip, which is exactly what we did last weekend.

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I was browsing the hotel rates online on a Friday night and discovered that the Swan and Dolphin would let us stay using points and cash, so it ended up being about $75 a night including the taxes, resort fees and parking fees.  Sounded good to me, and we needed some distraction from some personal stuff going on, so we booked it for the next two nights and started making plans.

I’d read about the new special Frozen Summer Fun event at Hollywood Studios on the Disney Parks Blog and it sounded like an awesome adventure.  We planned to spend Sunday morning at Hollywood Studios (not a park we usually spend much time at with our preschooler).  We took the boat from the Swan and Dolphin about half an hour before park opening and were shocked by the big crowds already lined up to get into Hollywood Studios.  Anna and Elsa sure are popular ladies!

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While we waited, cast members walked around handing out what I thought were fans, they had a cut out of Olaf on a big popsicle stick.  Apparently if you take pictures with that Olaf in them having fun during the day and tweet them with a special hashtag (#OlafSummerVacation) then you might get your picture shared at the evening fireworks show.

After letting us through the gates, the cast members still had the main parts of the part roped off until after the opening show at the main stage.  Eli’s not a Frozen fan (I know, where did I go wrong?) and he’s kind of freaked out by Olaf, so we went off to the side and didn’t see it happening although we did hear his great jokes such as “What did the snowman say to the customer?  Have an ice day!”.  They let off some fake snow (I think it is tiny bubbles) and opened the ropes.

We headed over to the pretend snow play area and ice skating area as soon as we got in.  It is located just past Toy Story Mania.  We got there right when it opened and got in line for playing in the “snow”.  Now, I’m a Florida girl, but I have seen actual snow and this was really just shaved ice.  It was a big old mound of shaved ice though and it was a lot of fun. Frozen002

There is no extra cost to play in the snow, but you have to get in a line and wait.  We were second in line, but because they let you in for ten minute play periods, they had us wait for a larger group to join but it wasn’t long before they let us go in.  There were buckets and shovels and little sand castle forms that you could borrow.  The snow was a little slippery, but not too bad.  Eli has never seen snow before so he was very impresssed.  The snow held together well enough to make snow balls, but because it’s shaved ice, they asked people not to throw then (they really could hurt!).  After about five minutes of digging and filling buckets, Eli decided that the most fun part of the experience was running around slipping on the snow.

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After we finished (ten minutes was really plenty of time to enjoy the snow), we walked over to the ice skating rink.  I wasn’t sure if they’d have skates small enough for him.  When I asked, they had a little footprint on a piece of paper to put his foot on to check.  It looked just right (he wears a 9.5 in little kids shoes).  The adult skates run pretty big.  I wear a 6.5 in street shoes and rented a size 5 in women’s skates and they fit just fine.  They also only come in whole sizes.  You can bring your own skates if you happen to have them with you.

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Skating is $10 a person for a 30 minute session on the ice, including skate rental, helmet rental and a pair of socks.  I’m fairly relaxed about wearing used socks as long as they’ve been washed but I guess some people aren’t or it’s not worth the trouble to Disney to do it because they are all new socks that you can choose to take home with you or you can put them in a bucket to donate to local charities.

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I was hoping they’d have the training skates I’ve seen for little kids that have two blades, but they are all hockey style ice skates with just one blade.  We had to sign a waiver for all three of us and everyone had to wear helmets as well.  After getting the socks, skates and helmet on (whew!) I walked Eli out on the ice.

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I think we were the first people out on the ice that morning which was very nice.  I’ve ice skated a handful of times before and can handle myself fairly well, but helping an energetic, excited, estatic three year old on the ice was pretty challenging.  I suspect other kids might let you hold on to their hands and glide along, but Eli decided he wanted to run with his skates on.  Even holding onto the side, keeping him upright was a serious core, strength and cardio workout.  Just once around the rink had me sweating despite the cool temperatures.

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When we were about halfway around, a cast member came up and wanted to tighten Eli’s helmet (it was a little loose, but that’s because the kids helmets were one size for all kids and he’s only three).  When he put it back on it was too tight and he pinched Eli’s chin.  We didn’t realize it until a few minutes later when he started crying and we couldn’t figure out why.  We loosened it a little but that was pretty much the end of his ice skating experience.

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Even though it ended poorly, he couldn’t stop talking about how much fun it was for the next couple of days. They shut down the ice skating periodically to do an ice skating show and then run the zamboni.  Eli thought the zamboni was the coolest thing!

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I let Erik do some skating on his own while Eli and I turned in our skates and went back to the snow play area.  We had to wait about 15 minutes to play again, but waiting 15 minutes in a nice cool indoor area in July is pretty much heaven!  We got to watch the cast members come out and use big rakes on the snow to loosen it up since having all those people walk on it makes it get packed down quite a bit.  He had just as much fun playing in the snow the second time around.

This area had two other activities that we didn’t participate in, the Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post with lots of Frozen merchandise to choose from and a snack area with delicious treats.

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The whole area was well staged as a winter wonderland with trees covered with snow.  There was a peaceful feeling despite all the people.

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Some other festivities that we didn’t participate in but that any Frozen fan should check out are the Royal Welcome where Anna and Elsa come in on a horse drawn sleigh down Hollywood Boulevard.  There is also the First Time In Forever Frozen sing-a-long which I would have loved to have participated in, but alas, Eli just does not like Frozen at all!  Last I heard, you go pick up a pass for a return time later in the day.  So if it’s important to you to experience, you may want to pick up your return pass early in the day.   Finally, there is a Frozen Fireworks show at 9:45pm.  We didn’t stay to watch it, but we were able to see it from the bus on the way back to the Swan and Dolphin from Magic Kingdom.  I thought it was a gorgeous fireworks display and hope we can get back to see it before it goes away.

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I’m really hoping that they make this a permanent attraction at Hollywood Studios, including the fireworks.  I love that it’s a chance for families to be active together.  While I suspect that in February it won’t be super exciting for people visiting from Chicago to play in the snow, it will always be fun for those of us from the South!

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Saturday Update: What a Week!

I sometimes overshare on my blog (ok I often overshare on my blog).  I’m about to do it again today.  I had a really insane week and I’m still recovering from it.

Last weekend we had an amazing last minute trip to Disney and had a wonderful time.  I knew we had a lot to go through this week and I thought a Disney trip would help distract us and keep me from sitting around and dwelling on it and I was right it really helped take our minds off the upcoming ordeals.  Keep an eye out for a post soon about our great experience at the Hollywood Studios Summer Frozen Fun event.

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Monday morning we woke up at the Swan, packed the bags and headed home.  Eli (my three year old) was scheduled for a colonoscopy on Tuesday so Monday was the “prep”.  No solid food, lots of laxatives (in a disgusting hard to drink format of course).  We tried to make it a game with setting up the drinks in shot glasses and saying he could do a “soda test” like we did at Epcot in the Cool Club.  It worked for a while but then we ended up having to force him to drink it using a medicine dispenser thing.  Of course, we didn’t really eat either (I think I had one meal of cheese and crackers hiding in my room so he wouldn’t know I was eating when he couldn’t).   Monday my Dad also had a heart cath to find out if he had any blockages.  They found two and scheduled him to get two stents inserted on Wednesday.

Tuesday we had to be at the children’s surgical center at 6:45am.  His procedure started at 8:15 am and took about two hours.  We were freaking out because they said it would be an hour so that wasn’t fun at all.  He handled it well but the surgeon told us they found eight polyps and that he had a condition, probably genetic and would be more susceptible to cancer and I should look it up on the internet.  Worst advice ever.  The internet is a scary place people and should not be used to diagnose your child.  I got myself all torn up and cried basically for the next two days. And since they’d removed some polyps the surgeon wanted us to keep him on  a liquid diet for another 24 hours just in case he had bleeding and they needed to go back in.  All this after I’d promised Eli he could eat after we were done there!  Poor little guy.  So, we basically didn’t eat that day either.

Wednesday my Dad had his stents put in during the afternoon and had a very successful procedure and was able to move around, eat and talk with no problems.  He was able to go home on Thursday and said he felt much better.

His pediatric gastroenterologist called us on Thursday and made me feel so much better.  All the polyps they removed came back as benign and she kept repeating to me that it wasn’t dire and although we need to monitor him and have another colonoscopy and endoscopy in a year that these polyps are not the same as adults and are extremely unlikely to become cancerous and if they do it takes a decade or so.  He may not ever get another one, but if he gets more, they will just remove them.  So, not the best answer we could have gotten, but so much better than the place I’d gone to in my worst case scenario tendencies.

Friday morning we drove back to Disney for a short trip we’d already had planned.  We are staying at Coronado Springs and doing Magic Kingdom on Friday and Animal Kingdom on Saturday and coming home Saturday late afternoon.  Eli is doing really well, he’s back to his super energetic self and has a giant appetite, making up for his two lost days of eating.

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My only formal exercise this week was a three mile run on Thursday morning, but I’m really ok with that considering what was going on.  I’m planning on getting a long run in on Sunday morning and then getting back to my normal strength and running schedule next week.

Just wanted to share what’s been going on with me.  I have been a bit absent from the internet this week while I dealt with these events and all the emotional upheaval associated with it.  And work was pretty crazy too!  I feel like we’re close to being back on an even keel for a while.  Erik’s mom and dad have some procedures next week and once we know they are safely through those we can start feeling normal again!  Eli’s prognosis seems very good and while regular colonoscopies for a preschooler won’t be the most fun thing to deal with, it’s certainly manageable and it sounds like there is a good chance that this could resolve itself in time.

Thanks to all my friends who have given me positive thoughts and support, it has meant a lot to me.

 

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Friday Five: Goals

After missing last week’s linkup, I’m very happy to be back in the saddle with the Friday Five crew, Courtney at Eat Pray Run DC, Mar at Mar On The Run and Cynthia at You Signed Up For What.  The topic is Goals and if you know me, you know I have lots of goals!

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So, let’s see how I’m doing on five of them.

  1. Lose weight.  I have not done particularly well in this arena, although with the stress of the last couple of weeks, I did drop about four pounds.  I don’t think that will last and it’s not a healthy way to lose weight so I’m ok with that.  I’m working on a new diet plan from Racing Weight and it’s pretty interesting and seems healthy so we’ll see how this goes.
  2. Get faster.  I was doing a bang up job with this until the Florida summer hit.  When the lows don’t go below the mid-70′s and the humidity hovers near 100%, the last think I can stand to do is speed work (ps: our TotR linkup topic this Tuesday is going to be speedwork!).  So, my times are stagnant around the 9:30-10:30 pace.  Some of you reading this are going to be like “what is she complaining about, I’d love to be that fast!”  And some of you reading this are going to be like “wow, that is so slow!”.  But for me, it’s a respectable pace but no where near where I want to be and where I know I can be with the right weight loss and training plan.
  3. Find adventure.  This I’ve been doing great with!  Every weekend we’ve done something from water parks to beach trips and from Disney weekends to day trips to the local botanical gardens.  We’re having a great time despite the heat and making sure to work adventure into every week.   In fact, at Hollywood Studios last week we went ice skating!  Talk about beating the heat!!IMG_5096
  4. Gain confidence.  This has been more difficult.  I’ve been working on it both personally, professionally and in my writing.  I don’t deal with rejection and criticism very well but I’m still putting myself out there in uncomfortable situations more and more and it does get a teeny tiny bit easier.
  5. Get stronger.  I’ve done a great job with my strength training (although I’ve had a week off due to all our life stress).  I feel stronger and feel like my body composition is changing in a good way.  Plus, knowing how to deadlift is just kind of empowering.

So those are my goals and how I’m doing on them.  What are your goals this summer and how are you doing on them?

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Fitting in Fitness on Vacation

Welcome back to Tuesdays on the Run with me, Patty from My No-Guilt Life, and Erika from MCM Mama Runs; today’s topic is Fitting in Fitness on Vacation.  I just got back from a short trip to Disney, so you’d think I’d have a lot to say about this but to be honest, when I go to Disney I don’t usually do any structured exercise at all!

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I split my views on formal exercise during vacations into two main categories.  When I’m going on a very active vacation, like Disney or hiking in Arizona, I don’t feel a big need to work running or lifting into my schedule.  I’m usually so beat that my feet and legs are sore and I get a pretty good upper body workout right now toting Eli around wherever we go.  If I’m at Disney for a full week and have a day or two without going to a park, I will try to get a run in as long as I’m feeling not too sore.

On the other hand, if I’m traveling for work or spending a week at the beach where I’m active but not on my feet for the whole day, I do like to keep up my workout schedule.  I’m pretty flexible about it depending on what is available where I am and what the weather is.   I only do my strength training if there’s a gym available, otherwise I just consider it a rest/recovery week.

I am a lot more consistent about getting my runs in on a long vacation or business trip.  The biggest considerations are the weather and the safety of the area.  In almost all cases, if I’m going to run, it’s going to be first thing in the morning before everything else starts!

At the beach, I’ll run on sidewalks along A-1-A or a side road as early in the morning as I can get up.  On a work trip, if I’m unfamiliar with the area, I try to stick near the resort and make sure I’m running during daylight hours, ideally before my work sessions start.  Often, the front desk can provide a map with running/walking paths.

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It’s best if you can do this with a friend, but at the minimum make sure to tell someone that you’re going and when you’re expected back.  If you’re traveling alone, call a loved one and tell them to expect a call when you’re done.  Worst case, either bail on the run or (ugh!) hit the treadmill.  When traveling in an unfamiliar area it’s wise to err on the side of caution.

The worst part about exercising while on a vacation or work trip is having to pack all that extra stuff.  Shoes, sports bra, socks, bondiband, sparkleskirt, shirt (all times the # of times you’re working out) tends to take up a lot of room!  I read that some hotel chain was offering to let you borrow workout gear, but that might be kind of weird and hard to find the right fit for anything more than a light workout.

So, what’s your workout while traveling philosophy?  Rain or shine get it done?  It can wait until I get home?  Or are you like me and it depends on the trip type, duration and area?

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Protein Powders: what, why, how and who

I’ve added protein powder to my diet to help me properly fuel for both my distance running and my new weight training plan.  I’m still experimenting and learning what works best for me, but I thought I’d share what I have figured out so far.

What:

So, what is protein powder anyways?  It is a dehydrated powder typically made with whey (from milk), soy or casein (also from milk) but sometimes made from eggs or rice too.  Whey is the most common and unless you have dietary sensitivities or ethical concerns that cause you to avoid milk, it is a pretty good choice.  Soy can have a strange taste and doesn’t dissolve as well and there are still lots of unknowns in the scientific arena about whether too much soy can be bad for you because it can mimic estrogen.  Many have extra flavorings and stabilizers and either sugar or artificial sweeteners added.  In a lot of health food store shopping, I only found one brand without flavor and sweeteners added and let me tell you it was awful!

Why:

Half of the time you hear that if you’re working out, you need more protein, especially right after a workout to recover and fuel muscle rebuilding.  And the other half of the time you hear that Americans get way too much protein in their diet and any added protein is at best a waste of money and at worst actually bad for you.  This is a tough one with a lot of varied advice out there.  I don’t think the average person who works out aerobically for thirty minutes a day and eats a typical diet needs to add a protein powder to their day.  But, (and remember I am NOT a doctor) I do think that protein powders can be a good supplement if you’re working out over an hour most days and doing heavy strength training.

It’s most important to add protein (from whatever source) when you’re really pushing yourself with a new program or ramping up your level of effort.  If you’re trying to build muscle, that extra protein provides your body with the building blocks it needs.   I suspect that a chicken breast with a sweet potato would be a better recovery meal than a protein powder/peanut butter/almond milk shake, but it’s a whole lot less convenient to take to the gym and then guzzle down while you’re blow drying your hair to get ready to go back to work.

So, if your lifestyle allows you to eat whole foods at all your meals and snacks and you eat a varied diet, you may not want to or need to add protein powder to your diet, regardless of your level of exercise.  But if you’re rushing from home to the gym to work and your options are to skip breakfast or have a protein shake, I’d have to think the protein shake is going to be a better option.

How:

I like to have a protein shake in the morning, either as breakfast or right after my morning workout.  I have two basic recipes I use.  The first is to use unsweetened vanilla silk almond milk, add one scoop of protein powder and a big spoonful of natural peanut butter.  I add a big shake of ground cinnamon and a little shake of ground cloves (thanks to Finding the Skinny Geek Within for the smoothie recipe that inspired mine) I blend it with my ninja blender for about 10 seconds and it’s ready to go.

The second is to use unsweetened vanilla silk almond milk, one scoop of protein powder, a big handful of raw spinach and some cut up strawberries and/or sweet cherries.  I blend that for about thirty seconds and it’s pretty delicious.

Who:

This probably should be “which” but who worked better for my catchy title.  I have tried lots of different kinds.  The very worst was one that I got at a health food store (after literally spending thirty minutes reading labels on the packages on a full wall of choices ) which was rice based and had almost no additives.  Oh my, that was terrible.  Gritty and funny tasting and just terrible, really awful.  I still shudder at the memory of choking that down.  Thankfully I bought in a couple of single serving packets and not a big tub.

The kind that I’m using right now is a brand called My Protein.

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It blends really well and has a nice vanilla flavor and smooth texture.  I haven’t noticed any weird aftertaste and it “sits” well whether I drink it before or after a workout (in other words, no strange digestive unpleasantness).  You can store it at room temperature and it comes in a resealable pouch with a scoop inside it.

Here are the nutritional facts and the ingredients.  A serving is one and a half scoops, but I’m fairly short and not trying to get super bulked up so I felt fine just having one scoop, once a day.  I think 2-3 times a day is a bit excessive if you have a normal diet and aren’t in the gym six hours a day.

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I’m not a huge fan of Splenda (sucralose), but in moderation it’s fine.  I like that this brand doesn’t have a list that’s thirty ingredients long but they keep it simple.  And it still tastes great.

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If you’re interested in giving them a try, you can find them at Myprotein USA (it’s a British based company that’s expanded its presence into the States).  The website is a little intimidating with the GNC ripped body guy look but the products are really for everyone.  They have a neat section near the top where you can click on “Your Goals” and see the products they have for different goals.

Do you use protein powders as a dietary supplement?  What is your favorite and do you have one that made you gag?

Disclosure:  I was not financially compensated for this post. I received a sample for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience.

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Saturday Update: Is it August Yet?

Remember last week when I said how bad this week was going to be?  Yeah, it was that bad.  Work was just appalling.  My presentation went as well as it could have and I didn’t make a complete fool of myself.  But work stress and frustration is starting to get to a toxic level.  And every day brought some new crisis.  Ok, just breathe, seriously it is just work…  I am a believer that things tend to go on a pendulum and when they get really bad, it just means that it’s about to swing back in the other direction.

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My Dad got his heart cath scheduled for the end of the month and he seems to be doing ok.  He is driving his Harley to the beach this weekend which I’m not thrilled about but he’s not a hang out in the house for three weeks kind of guy.

And Eli went back to the doctor this week.  He was freaked out about them trying to take his blood pressure (the strangest things freak you out when you’re three) but I asked them not to and it wasn’t a problem.   Because he’s still having some issues, they scheduled him for a colonoscopy on next Tuesday (first thing in the morning).  Which means we do the prep on Monday.  Yeah, I could use all the positive thoughts you have on you on Monday and Tuesday.   The good news is that they should either be able to fix the problem during the procedure or verify that it is nothing to worry about.  So, by lunch on Tuesday, I should hopefully have a big stress off my shoulders (that’s been there since March).

And I got a nasty sore throat and head cold on Tuesday morning.

So, how did I do last week:

  1. Eating:  I started off really well.  And then I got sick. And when I’m sick (especially when my throat hurts) I tend to eat poorly.  I got a bunch of diet orange soda to drink because it makes my throat feel better.  I’ve improved my diet again since I’m starting to feel better.
  2. Running: I ran on Tuesday, even though my throat hurt and there was a thunderstorm.  I was hoping I wasn’t really getting sick but I was WRONG.  I know you can run if your symptoms are above your neck but I believe that when I get sick it’s usually my body’s way to try to force me to slow down and rest and so I listen to it.
  3. Strength/Cross Training: I got one session in on Monday, but skipped the second since I was sick.
  4. Adventure: Friday I had to do some work, but we’re doing lots of adventure this weekend (details below!).
  5. Self Confidence: I did two presentations this week and while it was uncomfortable, I think they were both great growth opportunities.  One of the presentations was in a very tense environment and I felt like I stepped up and handled it fairly well.  It wasn’t as smooth and polished as it could have been but it certainly could have been worse.  So I had a lot of professional growth this week.

So, in a typical spur of the moment decision, I decided we needed to go to Disney this weekend to help me not sit at home dwelling on Eli’s procedure and having panic attacks.  Friday night, I checked the hotel prices and saw that the Swan had a great deal where I could use some reward points and stay for $75 a night for two nights.  We secretly packed things up Friday so we can surprise Eli this morning.  We’ll be doing Magic Kingdom today and maybe a combo of Epcot and Hollywood Studios on Sunday.  Then we’ll drive home Monday morning.  I’ll be posting lots of pictures on Twitter and Instagram.

Sorry if this was a bit of a downer post, I am actually seeing some light at the end of the tunnel, I just need to get through Eli’s procedure Tuesday, two more budget meetings next week and then my Dad’s procedure at the end of the month!  Hopefully once we can put July in the rear view mirror, things will be awesome.

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Oh yeah, in other news, one of my Instagram pictures from last week’s Animal Kingdom trip got featured on a Buzzfeed article on hippos.  That was pretty cool!  Mine’s #8 in case you were wondering.

 

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ToTR: My First Race or “What Not To Do”

Welcome back to the next edition of the Tuesdays on the Run linkup with me, Patty from My No-Guilt Life, and Erika from MCM Mama Runs.  Today’s topic is My First Race, but any running related post is welcome to link up with us!

So, nostalgia time…  My first race might have been this one:

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But my first actual timed race with a bib was the Micanopy Half Marathon in 1997.  Yes, I chose to do a half marathon as my first race.  That race is what I would consider a “learning experience” because I did just about everything wrong.  And I paid for it!

Here’s what NOT to do for your first race:

1.  Pick a crazy distance.  Generally, the 5k is a great distance for a first race.  I chose to pick the half marathon for my first race.  Go big or go home, right?  Wrong!  I can’t actually remember exactly why I decided to start with such a challenging distance other than the fact that I was in my twenties and invincible.  You can always build up to longer distances, but 5k is a great choice for a first race.

2. Don’t train for the distance.  I did train, I really did.  But I didn’t train for the half marathon distance.  I figured that if I ran at least 8 miles in training then I’d be able to do 13.1 in a race setting.  Well, I was able to do it but it was pretty miserable and there were lots of tears!  Whatever distance your first race is, make sure to find a training plan and stick with it!

3. Wear cotton clothes.  Yes, I wore all cotton clothes.  I don’t know if I’d even heard of wicking clothes at that time.  I think the only running specific things I wore were my socks and shoes.  I was drenched by the end and I don’t want to discuss the chafing.

4. Don’t research the race.  I had no idea what the course was like or what fuel and hydration would be available.  And so, I had no idea that there would be only two water stops and one gatorade stop.  I had never heard of “fueling” for a race, so I didn’t have anything to provide that needed energy on the course either.  No surprise that I ran out of steam somewhere between 8 and 10 miles.  Here I am drinking a whole jug of gatorade after the race!

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5. Start off very fast.  This is the most important thing to remember and the hardest rule to follow.  Despite what you’ll feel like, you did not suddenly get much much faster all of the sudden on race morning.  I started off much too fast because, well I guess I thought I’d gotten much faster all of the sudden on race morning.  It didn’t take too long to discover that I was wrong.  For your first race, you’re going to get a PR (personal record) no matter what, so don’t go out too fast.  Intentionally hold your pace down for the first mile, then if you feel great you can speed up.  In addition to feeling awesome, you’ll be able to get the joy of passing other runners in the last half of the race.

Despite all these terrible choices (all of which I learned from before my next race, the Gate River Run 15k which went so much better!) and some tears on the last few miles, I did manage to finish the race and it didn’t make me afraid to race again.

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What did you learn from your first race?

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EatTheGreatWideSomewhere: Yak & Yeti

Whenever we go to Animal Kingdom, one of our traditions is to have an early lunch at Yak & Yeti.  Animal Kingdom doesn’t have a lot of restaurants to choose from, so it’s lucky that they have one that we just adore!

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As you might expect, Yak & Yeti is a table service restaurant located in Asia.  We like to get reservations right when they open (at 11am) because we have our own table that we like to eat at on the second floor next to the windows overlooking the big tree with prayer flags in it.  Generally if we are the third or fourth group to be seated we get that sweet spot.

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The whole restaurant is gorgeous with lots of artifacts from Nepal and beautiful decor.  The theme is that it is a restaurant at the base of Mt. Everest in the town of Anandapur.  The servers are attentive and the service is usually quite prompt without being rushed.  Yak&Yeti3

The food is mostly Pan-Asian with standard menu fare like crispy honey chicken, lo mein, chicken fried rice and bourbon chicken.  The bourbon chicken is my favorite and on my last visit my server explained that they make the sauce from scratch.  The bourbon flavor is distinct without being overwhelming.   Most menu items come with either steamed white or brown rice, but you can order a side of chicken fried rice if you prefer.   Most of the entrees come with lots of fresh veggies mixed in.

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We love the food here and typically choose from the items listed above (we really should branch out and try new things!) and we always start with the delicious pork pot stickers, yum!  They also have fancier dishes like Maple Tamarind Chicken, Malaysian Seafood Curry and the Kobe Beef Burger.  You can  review their full menu here.   You should always save room for their signature dessert, the Fried Wontons.  These little wonders are cream cheese wontons, deep fried and served with pineapple skewers, vanilla ice cream and a sinfully good honey vanilla drizzle.  Warning: you might not want to share!

Erik always gets a Bloody Mary and says it’s delicious (I think tomato juice is disgusting)!  Like all the restaurants in Animal Kingdom, they use those awful paper straws to help protect the animals from ingesting plastic straws that guests might litter.  My oldest son is not a Disney fan at the moment (teenagers!), but even he can be tempted to go with us if we’re visiting Yak & Yeti!

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It’s a kid friendly restaurant and although they do have a lot of seating on the second floor, they also have an elevator for anyone who would prefer not to have to climb stairs.  They take advance dining reservations, are not part of the Tables in Wonderland discount plan but they do take the Disney Dining Plan and give a 10% discount to annual passholders.  While they take reservations, they almost always accept walk-ups as well, especially if you go right when they open.

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If you’re in a big hurry or can’t get a table, the quick service next door has a limited menu but the food is cooked in the same kitchen and is the same high quality.  I always look forward to our Yak & Yeti tradition whenever we go to Animal Kingdom for the ambiance, the service and the food.

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Saturday Update: Stress!

This has been one heck of a week.  I’ve been dealing with a lot of stress, and not necessarily dealing with it well.  We’re in budget season at work and it’s a highly politicized process lately.  I can’t really go into details, but it’s tough and extremely stressful.  I’m also in charge of a major computer upgrade that has some major issues, sigh.

My Dad had a problem with his heart (he was heavily exposed to Agent Orange during the Vietnam War and despite being thin and a non-smoker, he had his first heart attack at 40, quadruple bypass at 50 and now at 65 is having some issues again).  He was admitted to the VA for four days and for the last two, we were on pins and needles because they told us they would do a heart cath procedure “any minute”.  For two days.  And they never got him in, so they released him on Tuesday night and finally on Friday we learned they have scheduled it for the end of the month.  Sigh.

And Eli is having some health issues too, and we have to take him back to the pediatric gastroenterologist next week and will probably be scheduling a colonoscopy for him.  His doctor has reassured us that he’s very confident there’s nothing to worry about but he may have benign polyps (they’re different in kids than adults and are not cancerous but still need to be removed).  So there’s that too.  I cannot fathom us going through colonoscopy prep for a three year old.  See why I need to go to Disney so often?

While exercising can help with stress, for me eating a bunch of junk also helps with stress.  So I did both last week!  I’m sure I’ll feel better if I can do the exercise for stress management and still manage to eat well, but it’s a work in progress for me.  So here’s a recap of last week:

  1. Eating:  Yes, it was terrible.  I’d estimate I ate poorly at least 50% of the time.  And I drank a bunch of Diet Mt Dew too.  I know I’ll feel better if I do better with this.  And, as usual, I have “A Plan”.
  2. Running: I ran twice this week, three miles each on Tuesday and Saturday.  I missed my Thursday run due to work insanity.
  3. Strength/Cross Training: I did manage to do both of my weight sessions.  I’ve reduced my bike time on those days to just a ten minute warm up because the weight sessions are close to an hour long and I just can’t do much more than a hour workouts on work days.
  4. Adventure: We had a lot of fun adventuring at Animal Kingdom yesterday.  Hiking around the park with a 32 pound preschooler on my back (we don’t do strollers) was a great workout!  The animals were surprisingly active and we saw the tigers and gorillas doing a lot of walking around and even saw the lion sitting on top of the rock during the safari. IMG_4469  I got some great pictures!    IMG_4478
  5. Self Confidence: I keep seeing pictures of my blogger buddies at various blogger conferences and I’m getting more and more convinced that I need to join in the fun.  It’s going to be hard for me to justify the cost and to be brave enough to meet lots of new people but I think it will be really good for me.

My new “Plan” is to give the book Racing Weight a try.  It’s designed by a guy who interviewed lots of high level endurance athletes to learn what they did to maintain a healthy body weight.  I downloaded the book to my iPhone, so it’s taking a while to slog through it but the premise is that you use a set of guidelines to track your ‘diet quality score’ which you calculate by adding points for good foods and subtracting points for bad foods.  Good foods are fruits, veggies, lean meats and whole grains (shocker I know) and bad foods (my label not theirs) are sugars, fried foods, fatty meats and processed foods.   You calculate your score based on your current diet and then just try to improve it.  They do give a suggested number of carbohydrate grams based on your goal weight and your number of hours of activity per week.  Seems pretty straightforward to me.  Kind of my “don’t eat crap” diet with some measurement attached.

Hopefully by the end of the summer a lot of these stressors will be resolved.  Until then, I am going to try to stick to my workout schedule (Wine & Dine training has officially begun) and to try to improve both my diet and my ability to handle stress.

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