Saturday Snippets: The New Year, the Comeback & the Dress

The New Year:

Hello 2015!  You will be a GOOD year!  I haven’t been one to make a New Year’s resolution for quite some time.  My hat is off to those who do make them, because it is always a good thing have goals and improve.  For me, I like to think of the New Year as a time to do more:  more clean eating, more me time, more sunscreen, more personal bests, more books, etc.  The one thing I won’t do more of in 2015 though… breaking bones.  If I were to make a resolution, it would most certainly be that.  Here’s to hoping that we all have a 2015 full of all the things that make us feel happy and alive.

The 2015 Mantra...

The 2015 Mantra…

The Comeback:

The last time I blogged, I was just returning to my life as an athlete.  I wasn’t running by far, but the time in the gym was becoming a reality.  From October to the beginning of December I went to weekly physical therapy through Kaiser Permanente Hospital.  I was really fortunate to get a physical therapist that had an athletic background.  Often times, when PT is delivered in a general hospital/clinic setting it is more rehab based.  Of course, I needed the rehab, but the rehab I was looking for was not to return to normal everyday activities, I wanted to return to running.  My therapist knew this was my goal and said that I would be running starting January 1st.  Talk about a huge blow, but I told myself that I would come back smarter and stronger so I vowed to listen.  I did the weekly visits, made time to do the exercises, and for one of the first times in my PT history, I followed the rules.  Each week, I felt stronger, was able to walk longer, and the pain was getting less.  Things were looking up! And then…

On November 1st, our insurance changed.  This wasn’t really a huge deal as I chose the program that would make the most sense for our family.  I continued to go to PT and pay the extraordinary cost that counted towards our deductible.  Until… I got a letter from work saying that our insurance was going to change again.  All the money that I was paying towards my deductible would just start over on February 1st.  I figured that if I was having to pay and the deductible was no longer in my favor, that I would use that same money to see a PT that all my friends in the local running community raved about.  What did I have to lose?  It was going to cost the same, if not a bit less.

On December 9th, I had my first appointment with Dr. Jeff Moreno from Precision Physical Therapy and Fitness.  We chatted prior to the appointment and he asked that I come ready to run.  Say what?  The last time I had worn my running shoes was on August 26th… he wanted me to run?  Indeed he did, and indeed I did.  I arrived for my appointment terribly nervous…. Would running hurt? Would I fall? Would I suck wind so much that I’d be defeated in a minute?

We started with a few of the normal range of motion and strength tests.  Dr. Moreno then asked me to walk, skip, squat, balance on one leg and then RUN!  We did this for quite a while and just when I thought that session one was coming to a close, he put me on the treadmill.  I got to run, and I survived.  Dr. Moreno gave me some exercises to complete pre and post run and then he handed over just what I was looking forward to most… a Return to Running Program that spelled out in detail just how much running I could do.  He cautioned me to not get carried away, but to listen to my body.

With my plan in hand, I called my pal and running buddy Meg and said I had a green light to run.  She said she would be there for my first run and that she was.  The first run included a 1 minute run followed by a 1 minute walk repeated 8 times.  It was only 8 total minutes of running, but all 8 minutes were run with the biggest smile on my face.  Check it out…

Celebration picture after my first run...

Celebration picture after my first run…

Since then, I’ve moved along on the schedule and today I completed an 18 minute run, 2 minute walk, 12 minute run.  Of course, I’m not a speed demon by any means, but I’m running with purpose, better form, and an enormous amount of gratitude.  This year, I don’t plan to “race” a single race.  I’m going to enter a few of my favorite races as a participant and just do what Dr. Moreno says over and over… Enjoy the Process.

No speed records, but I am RUNNING!!!!

No speed records, but I am RUNNING!!!!

On December 30th, I had a follow-up appointment and I was officially DISCHARGED from PT.  My ankle is in good shape and with continued care and exercise, I will return to my former self… just better.

I can’t help but thank my husband, my family (especially my Mom), and all my friends that have been a part of this comeback.  I’m looking forward to logging the miles.  Thanks to my friend Elise, I have the perfect journal to connect with the process.

Awesome journal from an awesome pal...

Awesome journal from an awesome pal…

The Dress:

Fingers crossed that my husband misses this post because he hates it when I show off something that he has purchased for me.  I tell him it’s hard to not show something off when he has such amazing taste.  Enter the most recent addition to my dress collection:  The Alice and Olivia Checked Print Dress has been on his radar for a long while and it finally went on sale.  Lucky for me, it wound up in our house and was planned for a New Year’s Eve date.

The dress... H.O.T.

The dress… H.O.T.

Unfortunately, after lots of travel and feeling kind of lame… we nixed a hot date on NYE and settled for a nice dinner at home and a movie.  But… tonight is sexy date night and this little number is coming out.  First, I have a big decision to make.  What shoes?  These are the three that I have it narrowed down to.

Decisions, decisions...

Decisions, decisions…

While I’m back to running, I can’t say that I’m back to walking in heels without looking like a newborn deer.  While I am not looking like a super model when I walk, I don’t really care what other people think.  This new walk is my current personal best so I will rock on.  What heels would you pick?

That’s all for this week (and hopefully, I can find myself blogging more than the past two months).  As always, hoping your Saturday is full of joy and the chance to do something extraordinary! Enjoy!

Saturday Snippets – Google be Damned

Google be damned.  The Saturday Snippets have been a bit MIA the last few weeks, and I blame it all on Google.  The last time I blogged on a Saturday, I was all upbeat about how I was going to come back from this broken leg mishap stronger than ever.  That was the plan (and still is the plan), but when I googled “recovery from broken fibula,” “returning to running after broken fibula,” “exercises while recovering from a broken fibula,” and such, I didn’t find anything positive… at all. I searched out positive articles, but they were all negative.  Counter these articles with the daily struggles of adapting to life on one leg, and you get one huge pity party.  Seriously… it was my birthday month and all I could come up with was Eat. Drink. and Be Angry.  Sad, but true.  As a result, I was bad company and became the queen of good energy sabotage.  I felt that if I blogged anything, that it wouldn’t be a reflection of my true feelings so I decided to stay mum.

I finally turned a corner last week when I got to return to Body Pump.  Mind you, I am teaching with my knee on a chair and using very light weights, but I have a mic on, I have my members with their smiles and hard core attitudes, and I feel… just a little… my heart rate on the rise.  Last week, I also got a walking boot.  It isn’t made for walking just yet, but by the time I write my snippets next week, I should be able to walk a bit.  It was quite the site, but I even went to a couple of barre practices.  Getting to exercise makes me feel like the return to my former (but better) self is near.

Thanks @peglegmeg for the picture

Thanks @peglegmeg for the picture

When this broken leg ordeal is finally over, I plan to write a lengthy post on the real recovery from this type of injury.  It will include the good, the bad, and the ugly, but the good will be the main focus.  Have you ever had a major set back?  How did Google help or hinder you?

While I’ve been digging out of this funk, some really good things have happened.  To begin, I turned the Big 4-0.  While it wasn’t exactly how I had planned to spend my birthday, it turned out pretty gosh darn good.  My husband (who has the  Husband of the Year award won hands down) planned a sweet surprise party with some of my girlfriends.  He, and my friend Meg, should look into careers as secret agents.  They had me fooled completely.  I am really grateful for all of the friends that made my BIRTHDAY MONTH one to remember.

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Most of September, my diet consisted of cake, wine and more cake.  There were also a couple (um… lot) of trips to the all you can eat sushi place too.  Besides all this sugar and sushi, I did explore a couple of new recipes.  Two that turned out to be super delicious came from Iowa Girl Eats.  If you haven’t checked out her blog, I urge you to take a peek.    Maybe it is because we don’t have typical seasons in California like back home, or maybe it’s just that her recipes and insights are just my style, but I feel like I can experience the comforts and seasons of home in my little sunshiny beach town.  IGE has changed to gluten free recipes, but don’t let that stop you… everything is delicious and my anti-GF husband asks me to repeat the meals time and time again.  Okay… so here are the two recipes that you have to put on your fall menu:

The first is the Smoked Sausage, Kale and Cider Quinoa Skillet.  As a recovering vegetarian, I only eat chicken so instead of the smoked sausage, I used Aidells Chicken and Apple Sausage (the casing is pork, so you can just take that off).  The rest of the recipe I stayed true too and it was delicious.  Adam thought is could be a little more flavorful, but he also ate before I had dinner made.

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The second recipe (which was awarded more “Oh Wows!” than the first) would be the Kale and Wild Rice Bowls with Honey-Balsamic Vinaigrette.  I followed the ingredients exactly as they were written (with the exception of leaving the almonds off of Adam’s dish) and oh holy goodness!!!  I’m making it again this weekend.  The only thing that I changed, and believe made the whole process easier, was that I made the rice in my rice cooker.  This was perfect because I was able to mix everything into rice cooker during the final steps, which freed up a dish.  This dish was a whole pile of cheesy, flavorful awesomeness.  We’ve had really warm weather in Santa Cruz lately, but this transported me right back to a cool Midwest day.

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While the warm weather has made transitioning to Fall a tad more difficult, it has really helped in the fashion department.  I’m limited to what I can wear because of my not-so-fashionable cast.  However, I am counting down the days until I can put on a pair of jeans and rock them with some killer boots or stilettos.  One denim trend that I’m thankful for being around this fall would be the updated boyfriend jean.  Let’s face it… with this lack of exercise I’m not feeling my best in skinny jeans.  One look in particular that I’m loving is this one from Madewell.  Hey teachers (and students)… did you know that Madewell offers a student/teacher discount?  They do!  Anyway… I am picturing these jeans with a white t-shirt, blazer & scarf.  Shoes are TBD…

Photo courtesy of WhoWhatWear

Photo courtesy of WhoWhatWear

For more denim trends for Fall, check out the site WhoWhatWear.  I’m slowly becoming a fan of the patchwork denim, but I’ll have to look for those at Nordstrom Rack or Saks Off 5th.  I have a difficult time buying trendy jeans at full price.

Now that I’m getting back to the gym, it helps to have some cute shoes.  I stopped at the Nike store the other day to grab my husband a new pair of LunarGlides.  Lucky me… these babies jumped out in front of me and I had to buy myself a set of LunarGlides too!  I love all things animal print, so scoring a pair of gym shoes with PINK and ANIMAL PRINT was like hitting the lottery!  What do you think?  Maybe I’ll return to running fast like a cheetah?

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As always, hoping your Saturday is full of joy and the chance to do something extraordinary! Enjoy!

Are You Ready to Meet at The Barre???

I know the blog has been a bit silent lately (more on that to come later this week), but one thing that I want to shout out loud would be the opening of The Barre Studio in Capitola.  If you have never done a barre class before, now is your chance to try a class for FREE… that’s right… FREE.  If you have done a barre class before, then you know how incredibly awesome the workout is (and you can try for FREE too).  Keep reading for all the details…

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If you’ve checked out the About section of this blog, you know that I’ve been a fitness instructor for a long, long time.  In this time, many trends have come and gone, but one thing that is here to stay would be strength and flexibility.  This happens to be just two of the benefits of a barre class.  If these don’t have you convinced, let me tell you more.  According to Jessica Von Duerring, a certified Pilates and Barre instructor, barre is:

  • hard on the muscles, but easy on the joints
  • beginners have no fear… barre is for everyone
  • it’s a full body workout (but, hello sexy butt!!!)
  • work muscles to failure (sounds scary, but it’s all good)
  • your muscles will become more flexible… and they will thank you for this
  • it’s fun
  • you’ll lose weight and inches
  • increased range of motion (which transfers to other sports)
  • results so fast your friends will wonder what you’ve had done

Still not convinced… read the whole article 10 Benefits of the Barre

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In the last few years, I’ve started to notice several imbalances in my body from doing the same exercises time after time.  Don’t get me wrong, I love running, teaching my classes, and subbing for others, but muscles have memory and if we do the same things over and over, we start to develop weaknesses in some areas while overdeveloping other muscles.  Over time, those weaknesses can turn into injuries or lost range of motion and tightness.  When exploring options for workouts that can turn my weaknesses into strengths, I kept winding up at a barre class.  It was shortly after that a friend of mine had this idea to open up a barre studio.  This girl raised her hand quickly and said… “I’ll do anything you need.”  Soon, I will get to join an awesome group of instructors to bring this amazing class to Santa Cruz County and beyond.  We have all been certified and have practiced over and over to bring you a top-notch barre class.  And if you recall… you get to try the class for FREE!

Now… just one more thing before I give you the details on the studio and those FREE classes.  If you are new to barre, it can be scary to enter into a studio.  The good news is that most people in class with you will be brand new too.  Even better news is that I’m going to tell you what to expect in a class.  Here goes:

EQUIPMENT:  You will be told what to grab at the beginning of the class.  This will/may include a mat, weights, a ball, a strap, or a band.  The studio will have a barre mounted to the wall.  One piece of equipment you will need to have for class would be those sticky socks.  They will be available for sale at the studio if you don’t have them already.

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CHOREOGRAPHY:  Fun, uptempo songs will keep you moving throughout the class that will include a warm-up, upper body (oh… you will be asked to grab weights or bands here… don’t be cocky… this is hard and even going without weights will make your arms burn, baby, burn), butt and thigh work at the barre, flexibility after you make those legs shake (and burn… big time), core work, more flexibility and a cool down.  Here’s the key… most moves are done about 16 times.  Just when you think you can’t keep going, remember that you are really, really close to being done.  Breathe and keep pushing… your goal is to work the muscle to fatigue.  You will be rewarded greatly for doing so.

LANGUAGE:  Barre is a descendant of ballet.  You will hear some ballet terms like relevé, arabesque, and plié.  Don’t fret if you haven’t a clue what they mean… you will learn, and with this new knowledge, you will slowly start to adopt these words as a part of your everyday vocabulary.  Before long, you will feel like a dancer and your body will become graceful like a dancer, your posture will improve, and of course, all will start to ask for your tips on looking so fine.

TECHNIQUE:  Open your mind to a completely new experience.  Other than the warm-up, there are very few large movements in a barre class.  Muscles are worked through very small (one inch most of the time) movements.  You may hear the word “pulse” or “micro movement” during class.  It’s very important to understand this concept because this is what will give you the results you are seeking.  Don’t be alarmed if your instructor gives you a little tap or puts a hand out to help make your movement smaller.  You will be grateful when you slide into your skinny jeans.

CLOTHING:  Like I mentioned before, you will need sticky socks for class.  Other than that, there isn’t a barre uniform, but you will feel most comfortable in leggings or capris.  It is best to wear a top that is somewhat form fitting in the beginning.  This will allow the instructor to see that you are aligned properly during the movements.  The Barre Studio will have a clothing boutique with so many clothes that are too cute for words.  Bring some extra dough because you will want some for your next class.

CALORIE BURN:  A typical barre class (when done correctly) can burn between 300-500 calories, and you will continue to burn calories for hours after class.

Now that I hopefully have you convinced that this is a can’t be missed workout, taking advantage of a FREE class is a must do!  The Barre Studio opens on Saturday, October 18th and you can sign up for FREE classes on Saturday and Sunday here.  After you try out the workout (and you’ve fallen in love with the workout) the studio is offering a 1-month unlimited special for $99.  You have nothing to lose but inches and some lbs.

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I’ll see you at the barre!

Saturday Snippets – Laps On Hold, Meeting at the Barre, and Fall Foods

September is my most favorite month of the year because it happens to be my BIRTHDAY MONTH!  Back in the day, I used to celebrate the week of my birthday until my dear friend, Mary Ann, told me that a week wasn’t enough time to celebrate.  Together, we have been celebrating this fine birthday month tradition for over ten years.  

Not only is September my birthday month, but it also marks the arrival of many things fall.  My favorite fall traditions are pretty much summed up by this 25 Things All Basic White Girls Do During the Fall.  I think this list is hysterical, especially since it encompasses many of my girlfriends as well.  Do you relate to this list?

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The other thing that I love about Fall is that it opens up a whole new season for racing.  I had big plans to race the California International Marathon and had dates circled on my calendar to sign up for the Boston Marathon.  Now, I have dates penned on the calendar for things like, “Dr. Appt – get new cast” and “return scooter.”  If you recall from my SeaWheeze Half Marathon recap, I showed off my sprained ankle.  Turns out, that sprained ankle was really a broken fibula requiring 7 screws and one plate to correct.  I’ve been pretty quiet on social media about this incident.  My biggest reason was that I needed time to process this whole incident myself.

For as long as I can remember, running has defined a big part of my existence and the feelings I get from pulling my hair up (if you can run with your hair down… please explain) and hitting the pavement or trails is pure pleasure.  These runs are also a time to connect with girlfriends and to push myself just a little bit further than I thought possible.  It’s true… running is good for the soul.  I knew if I posted about the extent of my injury that I would get a lot of wonderful messages from family and friends.  These messages would surely bring comfort, but they would also bring a big reminder that I wouldn’t be running any time soon.  Now that I have made it through surgery, I have put things into perspective.  It will be at least two months before I can even contemplate putting on my running shoes… and I likely will only be pounding out some strides in physical therapy.  Here’s the rundown from the doctor:

  • Surgery on 9/4 
  • Check hardware and put on cast 9/17
  • Plaster cast no weight bearing 4 weeks
  • Get walking cast and start PT – 2 weeks plus
  • 6-7 months after the above – hardware removal (another 2-4 weeks rehab)

What’s a girl to do?  The good news is that I’m not completely broken so I can start to work on some of those goals I’ve had tucked in the back of my brain.  For a while, I’ve thought about building more muscle like you would see in the bikini fitness models.  Does this mean I’m entering a contest… who knows, but what fun to see how I can get my body to change by trying out some new weight lifting workouts.  I also hope to get on my bicycle.  Really, I have the best cycling coach around sharing my bed each night so I should tune into what he has to say.  Look… I even have the bike ready to go!

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This will also mark a time to study up on my barre training.  What better way to strengthen and fine tune those small, yet powerful, stabilizing muscles?  New to barre… check out The Barre Studio, which is opening late September.  I’m not only excited to teach at this beautiful studio, but I’m really looking forward to participating in the shake and burn with a whole new set of friends.

I’m not going to deny that I will struggle putting my laps on hold, but I look forward to doing more lunges (well… lifting anyway) and since I’m not going to be able to wear jeans for a bit… my leather shorts will find themselves in the fashion rotation a lot, lot more.  

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Now that I’m not burning a ton of calories through fitness activities, I’m going to have to really look at the cleanliness of my diet.  Fortunately, with fall fruits and vegetables in abundance, I shouldn’t have much trouble at all.  To start, I’ve been loving this Asian Pear and Arugula Salad.  It’s easy and fast to prepare.  For a source of protein, I’ve added some smoked salmon to my salad.  

Photo courtesy of Food and Wine website

Photo courtesy of Food and Wine website

And while sweets are not going to happen much in my diet, I do love this cupcake and enjoy making it during the fall (which ties in nicely to the “all things pumpkin” as mentioned in the 25 things above).  Seriously…. what’s not to love when the words brown butter, pumpkin and salted caramel are in the title????  Also, don’t let the salted caramel sauce scare you away.  Making homemade caramel sauce is actually pretty darn easy.   Seriously… don’t wait, make these Brown Butter Pumpkin Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting soon.  Your friends will think you are a super talented baker extraordinaire! 

Is it wrong to want to eat the screen?  Photo courtesy of google search.

Is it wrong to want to eat the screen? Photo courtesy of google search.

As always, hoping your Saturday is full of joy and the chance to do something extraordinary! Enjoy!

Saturday Snippets – Lattes, Therapy, Outerwear & Reviews

With school back in session, my Saturday Snippets have been a bit MIA the last couple of weeks.  Not to worry… life is finally starting to get into a bit of a routine again.  With school starting, I start to crave all things fall – sweaters, soups, pumpkins, mums, my birthday month, and, the oh so yummy, Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks.  These sweet treats return to Starbucks on September 2nd, and if you are on social media, you probably saw some of the hoopla over the PSL this week.

Food Babe had a post this week regarding the PSL.  Per her investigation, this cup of deliciousness is full of terrible, very bad things.  While I can’t take the word of someone that calls herself, “babe,” too seriously, she does bring up a point… there’s a whole lot of crazy things in the latte.  Check it out…

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Of course, another source you may be familiar with, Snopes, has countered Food Babe’s article (again… you determine your level of faith).  Snopes happens to say, FALSE,  the Pumpkin Spice Latte is NOT full of toxins and that the Caramel Color Level IV that Food Babe went on about is, in fact, safe.  

 

My version of a PSL

My version of a PSL

By now you are probably wondering who to believe, so let’s go to my personal source… Facebook.  I posted the picture above and it received 23 replies.  Some folks had read the article from Food Babe and were in support of a PSL ban, and others, honed in on their high school chemistry skills and noted that all things in our world are chemical, which is true.  Perhaps the best comment was comment #23, “22 comments on a photo of coffee.  Seriously folks?”

So here’s my take… maybe it’s because I lived in a rural community where farming was the norm.  My family raised and butchered animals, had a garden, collected eggs and thought that a newly hit deer was a bonus for the deep freeze.  I didn’t question where my food came from because it was pretty evident.  I’m also very lucky that I live in the “salad bowl” and see lots of items I consume grown just down the road.  I have a tendency to want to eat what is local.  If it is fresh, has a majority of ingredients that I can pronounce, and has been raised humanely, then it is worth consuming in my book.

However, there are some things that don’t fit neatly into my categories above.  I don’t turn my back to such cravings, I just limit my intake of these things.  With that being said, if I’m craving a PSL from Starbucks, then I shall get it, and if I’m craving a PSL but don’t want the added sugar and things I can’t pronounce, then I’ll make one at home just like I did in the picture above.  If you want to make one at home, here’s the recipe (partly from Food Babe, partly from a recipe I’ve had tucked in a cookbook, and partly from Nespresso (this gadget is the BOMB… buy one!).

Homemade Pumpkin Spice Latte

  • 1/4 pumpkin pie spice
    • (I used 4t cinnamon, 4t ginger, 4t nutmeg & 3t ground cloves to make a batch of pie spice)
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 1 shot espresso (I used a Nespresso pod)
  • 3/4 cup milk (I used almond milk and filled my frother to the top line)
  • Top with whipped cream (I didn’t… I’m not a big whipped cream fan)

Enjoy!

Last week, I mentioned that I sprained an ankle after falling down the stairs.  I’ve been desperate to mend this thing so RICE has become my friend.  I spend a lot of time in the car, and with a sprained ankle, I have tried to spend a lot of time sitting versus walking.  I couldn’t get the ice to quite stay in place so I was looking for options.  

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As luck would have it, I ran across the Cold Wrap from Arctic Ease in one of my running magazines (note to self… don’t read running magazines while injured – it doesn’t help).  The ad said that I could make the purchase at CVS so I figured that I could find it at Rite Aid as well.  It wasn’t at Rite Aid, but this was:

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While it isn’t the same product, I was pretty pleased with the results.  It was cold, I’ve reused it several times, and the strong Ben-Gay like smell at least made me feel like it was something special.  I think a good old ice pack is best, but when trying to elevate my ankle high, or while driving, this was a pretty darn good thing.  It was on sale for $8.99, but I didn’t have the Rite Aid card so it was $9.99 for me.  Now… if only this ankle would speed up the healing a bit faster….

In the leather department, I fell in love with this jacket from The Flawless Fox Boutique.  What do you think?

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Link to the jacket is here.

I’ve never ordered anything from here before, but the price point isn’t bad and the jacket is darling in my book.  Please share if you have any experience with an order from here.

And now… a recipe review:

The simmering sauce...

The Italian Stallion simmering sauce…

On the last Saturday Snippet I mentioned that I planned to make Italian Stallion Crock Pot Chicken from the blog He and She Eat Clean.  While the recipe wasn’t too difficult to make, it just wasn’t very flavorful.  Sadly, it didn’t get a single, “Oh Wow!” from Adam.  Because it is a holiday weekend, I haven’t thought much about a menu this week since I get a bonus day off.  Do you have any new recipes on your radar this week?

Hoping your Saturday is full of joy and the chance to do something extraordinary!  Have a fun and safe Labor Day too!  Enjoy!

 

 

 

Lululemon SeaWheeze Half Marathon – Race Recap

The trip was short, but the fun was endless at lululemon’s third edition of the SeaWheeze half marathon.  I’ve been a lulu fan since the beginning and could write endless blog posts just on this topic alone. If you’ve ever owned a piece of their gear, you can probably agree that the stuff can make life in the gym, on the road, or at the coffee shop better.  

My friend and running coach, Michele, lives in Seattle and I had mentioned to her that we should do a girls’ trip to run this race.  Michele was quickly on board but stated that she would have to run for fun as she would be in recovery from a 50 miler.  Um… okay.  I understand. 

Originally, I thought that I would use my Wharf to Wharf training as a springboard for a kick butt race, but my summer bad luck did not let that plan play out.  So, like Michele, this was a race for pure fun… and a smidge of pace pushing.

After a flight into Seattle, Michele and I drove across the border into Canada on Friday.  We got to the expo a bit later than expected as there was some traffic just past customs.  The expo closed at 8:00 and we got there around 7:15.  Fortunately for us, there wasn’t much of a line and we got right in and right out.  At the expo, we were given a timing chip, a cute messenger bag (not of the highest quality, but cute and I’ll find a travel purpose for it I’m sure), a water bottle, and a plastic bracelet that served as our ticket to the Sunset Festival post run.  Oddly, the race didn’t have bib numbers.  I kind of liked this, but the former race director in me wondered how many people would bandit the race.  

Lulu teased us by showing pictures of the Showcase Store… take a look… isn’t it lovely?

SeaWheeze Showcase Store (pic from lulu IG)

SeaWheeze Showcase Store (pic from lulu IG)

Sadly, you had to get in line at 4:30 AM in order to get any goods.  Considering how late we got to the store, there wasn’t much left unless you can wear doll sized clothing, or you wanted to shop for your man (and he wears Paul Bunyan sized clothing).  Lots of race participants were really upset that the doors were open to the public and purchasers could buy 15 items each.  If you didn’t get to make a purchase, you can now go to eBay and pay double or triple the cost for an item.  It sounds like this has been a problem all three years so I’m crossing my fingers that lulu will listen and make some changes for future events.

After getting race packets, Michele and I headed out for a lovely dinner and some pre-race vino at Italian Kitchen.  Our meal was delicious and just the right amount for race day.  By the time dinner was all said and done, we headed back to the hotel in order to get some shut-eye before the 7:00 AM start.

Race morning, the logistics to get to the event were easy peasy.  We were just blocks from the start.  Once at the start, corrals were clearly marked and there were “Pace Beavers” holding big signs so runners knew where to jump in.  I gave Michele a good luck cheer and went to line up with the 1:40 pacers.  After the singing of the Canadian National Anthem we were off.

10,000+ runners ready to tackle 13.1 miles (pic from lulu FB page)

10,000+ runners ready to tackle 13.1 miles (pic from lulu FB page)

My intentions for the race was to run a 7:30 pace for most of the run.  I figured that sticking with the 1:40 pace group would be a good start… wrong.  The first mile was a 6:54 and the next two were under 7:10.  I decided to back off just a little as I didn’t have the training to sustain such fast paces.  This is the point that the race became a lot more fun.  I took the time to take in the scenes and make some friends along the way.  As for the course, the race starts and finishes in front of the Vancouver Convention Center.  It weaves along the coast and heads thru the city blocks until Burrard Street.  Runners get to cross the Burrard Street bridge which seemed to be the biggest climb on the course.  This part was fun as you could see the leaders making their way back on the course.  After crossing the bridge, there is a quick out/back past lululemon’s headquarters, and then back over the bridge… which means the biggest climb comes again.  While I am calling it a climb, it really wasn’t, but the pacer made a big deal about it so I went with it.  In California, where people call an actual mountain, “The Hill,” my idea of climbing is slightly altered.

Some things I will never understand, but this dude was out in front and I got quite the view while on the bridge.  Kudos to him for being so comfortable in something that looked solo uncomfortable.

Some things I will never understand, but this dude was out in front and I got quite the view while on the bridge. Kudos to him for being so comfortable in something that looked so uncomfortable.

Burrard St Bridge... I'm not a fan of bridges, but this was pretty.

Burrard St Bridge… I’m not a fan of bridges, but this was pretty.

The return trip on the bridge marks the 10k portion of the race.  Shortly after the bridge, runners are directed towards the magnificent Vancouver Seawall.  The seawall goes around Stanley Park (the largest park in North America… I didn’t google this.  Just took the word of the hotel guy).  When I visited Vancouver in July, I loved running in this park, and this time around was no exception.  The only bad part of this piece of the course is that there was a ton of energy in all the miles prior and the seawall was pretty quiet.  The volunteers at the aide stations did a nice job of cheering, and there were a few groups out there to cheer as well.

It was at this point in the race that I made the most friends.  In fact, I started talking to a guy only to find out that he grew up in the town next to my husband and they were actually really good friends in high school.  What a small world!!!  The two miles I spent running with Ian were my slowest miles (no jab at Ian’s speed… the guy just did an Ironman four weeks prior), but these were the BEST miles of the course.  I love chance meetings like that.  Finally, Ian told me he was finished and that I should carry on.  Since I was close to the finish, I pushed on through for a finish time of 1:37:34 (7:23 pace).  I was pretty happy with this result and felt like it was a good place to be going into training for the California International Marathon… until…

The summer klutz award goes to.... ME!

The summer klutz award goes to…. ME!

There was a post-race party in Vancouver that looked like lots of fun, but Michele and I had a very special soccer game to get to so we made the trek across the border after a shower, lovely lunch and celebration gelato. After a long day running, playing and going to the soccer game I tried to carry too many things down the stairs and took a tumble.

With Seawheeze barely in the rearview mirror, lululemon just announced that registration for the 2015 event will be September 10th.  I would definitely sign up for this race again… want to do it with me?  You can find sign up information here:  www.seawheeze.com

Final score:  8.5/10

Pros:

  • Easy to get to packet pick-up
  • Excellent swag
  • Fair price considering the swag
  • Fun course with good aide stations
  • Post race brunch was healthy and had gluten free options
  • Cute post-race lulu hat for messy running hair and a cold, wet washcloth to greet runners at the finish

Cons:

  • Disappointed that the coveted store was barren 
  • Early registration for 2015 (nearly a year in advance) is a bit soon
  • The pacers ran the race too fast – Most pacers try to get runners within a minute of the pace mark.  Nearly 3 minutes is a considerable difference.

 

 

 

Race Thru the Redwoods (or as I like to call it, Race THROUGH the Redwoods) Race Recap

According to my coach,  I start training for the California International Marathon right after Labor Day.  Until then, I’ve been in maintenance mode and just running for fun.  Up until late last week, I was planning to run a cross country race with my pal Meg, but when we realized that Santa Cruz Endurance would not have a full women’s team at the race, we decided to jump into the Race Thru the Redwoods instead.  Here’s the thing… I don’t race trails (and if you have ever tripped on something as silly as a speed bump and broken your hand, all ideas of racing trails with no sense of irrational fear is long gone).  For that reason, this race was simply for fun.  Fun was what I had, and I actually surprised myself to boot!

Because I had signed up for this race last minute, I didn’t have my normal pre-race stress.  In fact, I didn’t even look at the course map until Friday.  At that time, I thought… “Oh crap! This is going to be rough.”  Take a look…

Do you see that hill?

Do you see that hill?

That’s right… There’s a big whopping hill right in the middle of this course.  I figured that I could prepare myself a little better by asking Meg what the hill was like.  Her response was, “Well…. I’ve never actually ran up the whole thing.  It’s impossible.”  Okay…. it must be a considerable hill since I think of Meg as strong on hills.  

With this in mind, I proceeded to do an 11 miler on Saturday with Elise, as she had 18 miles on her schedule.  After that, I went to a Barre class/Practice session to prepare for another one of my new adventures – becoming a Barre instructor (stay tuned… mega blog post coming up on that soon).  For final race prep, I put on some high heels and went out for a nice dinner with my hubby.  This isn’t how I typically prepare for a race, but I knew this was just for fun and didn’t feel any race pressure.

Sunday morning, I planned to meet Meg at her house to carpool to the race.  Meg’s friend Dustin rode with us and was running the race as one of his first races ever.  Go Dustin!  We grabbed our bibs, did a warm-up mile and restroom break, shared some hugs with other teammates and lined up.  Shortly after that, the gun went off and Meg and I used Mile 1 as a bit more of a warm up.  This part of the course just meandered through some paved roads, and at the end of this mile the trail started.  Shortly after this, I just went with a pace that felt comfortable.  Mile 2 was pretty uneventful, and then… the hill started.  Mile 3 was simply conquering the hill.  I ran on the less steep parts and power walked the rooty, steep parts. In fact, I even got a few compliments on the speed of my power walking.  Thank you fellow racers!  

IMG_8315

 

Mile 4 was a rolling out and back section which was great because I could see some of the runners in front of me heading home.  This was also the point that I realized that I was the 3rd place female.  Cool!  Right after the out and back section, the hugest downhill ever was included in Mile 5.  Don’t misunderstand me… downhills are awesome, but these were super steep and I had visions of speed bumps in my head.  It’s all good though… I now know a perfect route for Boston training this spring.  Towards the end of Mile 5, we ended back up on trails for the last half mile or so of the 10k.  This is where the magic happened… I was stoked to be back on the trail.  Once I hit the trail, I had a moment of true appreciation of where I live and realized that trails make me happy.  Running makes me happy (90% of the time), but to run on the trails felt really freeing.  Prior to entering this last bit of trail, I’d been running pretty much neck and neck with a young man.  When we got to the trails, he entered before me and I let him go.  I know… you are probably thinking, “Silly girl!  Go get him!”  Believe me, I thought about it, but I also wanted to savor that feeling of running for joy.  It was simply amazing!

My race buddy... I'm not sure he felt the same way, but I say we're friends.

My race buddy… I’m not sure he felt the same way, but I say we’re friends.

When all was said and done, I finished in 46:14 which was fast enough for 3rd Female and 1st in Age Group.  Not bad!  If I had to rank this race, I’d give it a 7/10.  On the plus side, the race was easy to get to, parking was good, bathrooms were plentiful, and the course was well marked with helpful volunteers.  For the negatives, there wasn’t race day registration, the shirts were regular old cotton t-shirts, the awards ceremony was odd, and there wasn’t an ounce of coffee to be seen even though there was a tease of a pancake breakfast after the race.  Overall though, it is a race to put on your list for sure!