You Say Va-Jetty, I Say Va-Getty (Oh, And I Ran My Fourth Half-Marathon)

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Here’s how it happens: I get intrigued by something then it builds and builds and builds, influenced by what I see and hear and read and feel, until I get so consumed, so obsessed, I can’t not make a move.

It happened to me on Monday in a Bed, Bath, & Beyond…the 20% off your entire purchase burning a hole in my pocket…I had to do it…it was time…I had to have…the…

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I combined a few different recipes with a bit of improv to make a Pad Thai-ish kind of thing. I think I ate about three pounds of squash. It was amazingly delicious. A bit of work to get all the squash converted to oodles of zoodles (zucchini noodles) and ssoodles (summer squash noodles), but time-work, not effort-work. The resultant big bowl of VOODLES was worth it!

I spiralized all my squash (a mix of zuke and summer), tried unsuccessfully to spiralize a carrot (shredded it with a peeler instead), and sliced three peppers (one each, red, yellow, and orange).

Then I mixed the sauce. That was 4T of The Heat is On spicy peanut butter. 2T of soy sauce. 2T of rice vinegar. 3T of fresh lime juice. Some cayenne pepper. Some chopped ginger and garlic. About 2t each of toasted sesame and coconut oils. I softened that all up in microwave so I could combine it. Tossed it on the veggies and let them sit. After a while I added them to my wok with a thin layer of hot water on the bottom. I started sautéing. I was worried about it not being saucy enough so I sprinkled a bit more soy sauce, rice vinegar, and lime juice on top. And some Sriracha for good measure. I started to worry that I was going overboard and got really worried at how much liquid there was and how thin it was…a sprinkle of corn starch later, it thickened up just enough, and in the end was perfect. I tossed in some sesame seeds and topped it with chopped cashews. I can’t wait to eat the —oodles cold for lunch today.

(UPDATE: I ate the leftovers cold for lunch. Straight-up awesome. I’m not even sure I knew that I wasn’t eating “real” noodles!)

Money well spent. $14.99 less 20%, worth it for the one dinner alone!

Who cares how you pronounce it?

Also, on Sunday, I ran my fourth half-marathon, finishing in 2:02. Not my fastest, not my slowest. If I can do that, you can do anything. So go. Start. Now. Push yourself. Challenge yourself. Be accountable to yourself. Forgive yourself. But get going. Only you can be the best you, so don’t waste that opportunity!

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Flying? FLYING? FLYING!!!

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So…when I first started running, people would tell me they saw me…out…walking.

But the other day, at the cookout of a neighbor-friend, I was asked how much I run and how fast, “because every time I see you, you’re flying.”

And I’ve been flying ever since!

An awesome reminder of how much we can progress, and how sometimes we see it and others don’t…but more importantly others sometimes might see what we don’t. Feel good about what you’re doing, keep doing it for you, worry about no one else, and bask in the glory, however it comes.

Me, I know I’m still training with 9:45 minute miles. But she thinks I’m fast. Maybe she’s right!

Gotta be brief, again…consulting job continues at least through this week, and life continues to get in the way. I’m keeping my head up and down at the same time, and I’m trying…I’m doing…and I’m not beating myself up for doing too much or too little.

But, before I go, I’ll tell you this: if you live in an area where you enjoy full-service gas stations, tip the attendant a dollar when you fill up. It feels amazing.

Holy Hot Hilly Hell, RunnerGirl!

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So yesterday I ran my third half marathon, and am subsequently dealing with my first disappointing race results.

My stretch goal was a PR, or breaking 1:55:54. My “good enough” goal was to break two hours. When all was said and done, I ended up with a “not my worst time of the three” finish of 2:03:33. (My first half I finished in 2:05:21.)

I was so disappointed. I never saw the 2:00 pace group pass me at the end. It was so hot. So hilly. I lost an earbud at the halfway point, so my only auditory accompaniment was my own wheezing and panting. I walked at the water stops for longer than usual. I had to pee the whole race, I really had to pee about mile 5, and I really really had to peel from mile 9 on. And then I thought to myself, “Am I making excuses?”

As I rehydrated after the race, I was just glad to be done. I was soaked with sweat and overheating. I hit the restroom, then sat down to mix some water and Gatorade and eat a banana.

Then I thought about it even more, and I decided they weren’t excuses…although perhaps I was rationalizing…but in the end I started seeing these things as the unique variables that influenced my performance. Could I have fought through more? Should I have trained harder? Could I have done better? Or did I fight and train as hard as I could?Did I do my absolute best? Did I leave it all out there on Comm Ave.? It really was a lot to process.

Then some of the positives started bubbling up.

I finished.
I finished in a perfectly respectable time.
I bumped into an old and long-lost friend after the race, and now we’re likely to stay re-connected.
My girlfriend was waiting for me at the finish line and it was her birthday.
I accomplished something huge for the third time, something that was unthinkable 18 months ago.
All that hurt were my two second toes. (Although they did—and still do—hurt a lot, and probably will preclude my wearing flip flops and getting pedicures this summer.)

Yet there was still disappointment. I even found myself unable to enjoy even looking at running clothes at Athleta.

And then it hit me, as it so often does. That there was a long list of positives and a long list of negatives…and I could choose what list I want to live. I decided to live with both. To consider the negatives in the context of the positive.

Which has led me to realize that I have now added another dimension to how I process what happens to me. I talk about balance a lot. About considering things in the aggregate and not over-focusing or over-anguishing about pin dots in the big picture of life.

But the experience I had in my race yesterday and how I have processed it since have given me another tool I can use to wrap my head around my life experiences. Sure, this race is one of those “pin dots.” But it’s really big to me right now. So I need to remember to, in these pin-dot moments, remember not to let myself get swallowed by the negatives but rather stiff-arm them and consider them in the context of the positives! Doing so will enable me to make an honest assessment of what’s happening and why it’s happening, and to address the bad stuff using the momentum of the good stuff. As I type I realize that positive momentum brings positive momentum, and that negative momentum drives more negative momentum. So I’m going to choose to fuel my positive momentum with the lessons I learn from the negative stuff. And I’m also going to remind myself that the so-called “negative” stuff is often more like “positive stuff that just didn’t go according to plan.”

This is the pic of me that my girlfriend posted to Facebook yesterday, accompanied by “She finished!”

And today I realized that she did in fact finish…she is not finished because she didn’t finish when she wanted to. She finished! A positive, positive thing!

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So now I am going to take today to decompress, and tomorrow I’m taking my $50 gift certificate to Marathon Sports to talk about some new sneakers, and maybe even a pair that can better accommodate my “descended-from-royalty” second toes. (Oh, and when my number came in the mail today for the BAA 10K on 6/22? I was ecstatic. Go figure!)

Culture Clash: A Run V A Donut

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This week showcased two “National ________________ Days,” which couldn’t have been at more opposite ends of the fitness spectrum. National Running Day, which was Wednesday 6/4, and National Donut Day, which is today, 6/6. I’m happy to say that on both days I ran, on neither did I eat a donut, but in the sprit of full disclosure, I had a piece of chocolate cake for breakfast yesterday.

And it was delicious.

However, the whole run v donut, healthy v healthy clash posed by these two days gave me a a renewed focus on the power of good choices, the need to forgive ourselves the bad ones, and the importance of ensuring that in the aggregate the majority of our choices are good. And if that is not the case, we must aim to make one more good choice with each day. Just one. Start.

Because I’m no longer eating dinner alone every night, I’m trying to do a better job of shaking things up, staying meatless as often as possible, not eating scraps from the fridge, and not going to bed hungry.

As you know, I met the wheat berry last week, and yesterday I introduced it around, in the form of this recipe. It was delicious, we both loved it, and there was no shortage of conversation about how filling the wheat berries are, especially given they are only 150c per serving.

Fast forward to today, and the point of this post. The versatility of a dish like this. Or anything with quinoa or couscous as a base. You can eat it hot for dinner, then take the leftovers cold for lunch the next day. I like the fact that eating it like a cold salad is an excellent use of leftovers, without tasting like I’m eating the same thing as I did 16 or 18 hours before. I also like the fact that I can have two great, healthy meals from a single dish. Per MyFitness pal, this dish clocks in just under 300 calories per serving, and. Don’t think it gets any better than that.

So do yourself a favor and start experimenting with wheat berries and quinoa, and see for yourself!

A Run a To Honor…An Honor to Run

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Up early this cloudy Saturday to run my favorite race of the year, a 5K—Marine Corps Honor Run. This year I’ll be running with my 14 year old nephew.

I’m waking up tired, because my training plan had me running 8 miles yesterday. This is really the first time in my running history that I’m having trouble getting through. I feel good, physically. Not injured. But when I run I don’t feel so good. I don’t get it, at all.

So here I am at a point where I’m having to self-talk and self-motivate. But I’m getting it done. I’m grinding through. I’m accessing my stable of motivational quotes, as I remind myself that I’m lapping the guy or girl on the couch.

That said, I’m learning something as this is happening. I’m still eating well. I’m not sleeping great at all. And I’m going out—and drinking—more frequently than usual. After a long, cold winter, the Spring Social Season is finally kicking off. Nah. There is no Spring Social Season. Just a lot going on, coincidentally, plus a few things that have been postponed over the winter due to the cruddy weather.

But the numbers don’t lie, and when I look at what’s going on with my training runs, I’m reminded how quickly things can shift direction in a bad direction due to bad choices. So I can choose to be depressed by my slower times, and feeling like I’m wearing cinderblocks on my feet or I can flip it back, knowing that good choices fuel good results.

Bring it!

Easter Blessings, I Suppose

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This morning I had the good fortune to be running the BAA 5K, the first of a three-race series (the Distance Relay). As I was heading toward the finish line, I heard them announcing the names of finishers as they crossed. I heard them announce “Henry Richard” and thought, sadly, “Good for him!” But when I crossed the finish line and was weaving through the exit corral, I saw him walking right next to me, in a group, all wearing Team MR8 shirts. My heart got so heavy…yet with gratitude…so it was a very foreign yet very distinct feeling, a mixture of many feelings really. I could hop on a soapbox and talk about peace and tolerance and blessings, but I won’t. That’s not why I am here. But I will encourage you all to take a moment, to step away from the congestion of life, and to count some of the blessings in your own lives. No matter where I am or what I am feeling, I can always find something good…inevitably when I do, it triggers other positive memories and thoughts, and keeps my ship righted.

Anyhow…after the race I tried one of these beauties, and boy was it good. Not low calorie by any stretch (just over 200 in a serving and the recipe is from Cooking Light but I’m not sure what it is light compared with…a cup of Crisco?) but tasted great. And it has me slightly obsessed with making my own energy bars, but ideally in the low- to mid-hundred calorie/serving range…I see puréed beans in my future.

My Saturday awaits, even though the only thing I know for sure that it consists of is a post-race shower. No matter what you are thinking right now, enjoy the day. If you need to straighten things out in your head, do. Find the good. And if you really can’t find any good, then make the good…be the good. Just start. Go.