355. A Fresh Start

I’ve been  struggling with this blog for a while now.  I haven’t felt connected with it.  I’ve struggled to find my voice.  I’ve tried to start over, but I’ve yet to find a way to make it “fit” for me.  So after much contemplation, I’ve decided what I need is a fresh start and a claim slate.  So here we are.

A new blog.  A new approach.  A fresh start.

Running in Chucks: it’s about more than just crossing the finish line

I won’t be taking this blog down, but I won’t be posting here anymore either.  I will probably be transferring some of the content here to my new blog, but definitely not all of it.

So check it out and come along for the ride.

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352. Marathon Monday: Week 8

This week’s lesson in marathon training: check, double check, and triple check your route and mileage before embarking on your longest run ever; failure to do so may result in an even longer longest run ever.

If you follow me on DailyMile then you already saw how my 14 mile training run turn into a 16 mile training run as a result of my inability to properly map a route and do basic arithmetic.  There’s a really nice set of trails near the boyfriend’s house that I run on pretty regularly.  To date, I’ve only ever run the red trail which is a 9.4 mile loop.  However, since this loop connects to other trails, I decided to run these rather than doubling back on my usual loop.  I thought it might be fun to see some new sights.

So Saturday night I mapped out my route, and set my plan using the handy dandy Forest Preserve District map which I’ve included for your reference below along with some fun notes.  Anyway, my plan was to start at the bottom at the beginning/ end of the 3.1 mile purple loop.  I’d run the purple loop north until I hit the green trail.  The green trail is a 1.7 mile trail which connects the purple loop to my usual red trail.  I’d run the 9.4 mile red loop and then run back, finish the purple loop and get back in my car so I could stuff my face with homemade bagels (more on that tomorrow).

So if I add it all up…9.4 + 1.7 + 3.1 = 14.2.  Perfect, right?  Wrong.  Does anyone else see my failure there?  I certainly didn’t…

16 Mile Run Map Girl Can Do

Somewhere around mile too late to actually matter I realized that I forgot to consider the 1.7 I would have to run to get back to the purple loop from the red loop.  Oops.  I probably would have been more upset about this fact except for the fact that about the time I realized my mistake, a coyote ran across the trail 30 feet ahead of me.  I was pretty sure I was going to be eaten so I wasn’t going to see that extra 1.7 miles away.  Luckily (or maybe unfortunately?) I was not eaten so I did have to run that extra 1.7 miles.

So that’s how my 14 mile run turned into my 16 mile run.  Honestly, I’m kind of glad it did.  I’ve been feeling pretty confident about my training and tackling these longer mileage runs, but I would be flat out lying if I said I wasn’t scared shitless by the idea of running 16, 18, and 20 miles…I mean, 14 miles is less than a mile more than the half marathon distance which I love so that wasn’t a big deal to me.  16 miles or 18 or 20 is a different story.  I could see myself freaking out the night before one of these runs.  My surprise 16 miler didn’t give me a chance to freak out.  And you know what, 16 miles really wasn’t that terrible.  Don’t get me wrong; it was no walk in the park, and I don’t think I’ll be heading out for 16 mile runs on the regular once this marathon is over and done with.  But it wasn’t nearly as terrible as I probably would have built it up to be.

Overall, I had a good run.  I felt pretty good until around mile 10 when I started to get tired.  (This also about the point that I started having to run into the wind which certainly didn’t help.)  Around mile 13 I was starting to hurt.  It wasn’t a “oh my god, I need to stop running now” kind of hurt but more of a “okay, this isn’t fun anymore am I done yet” kind of hurt.  Afterward I felt like I had run 16 miles, but I wasn’t dying.  My knees, ankles, and the sole/ arch of my left foot were particularly sore last night, but otherwise I felt pretty okay.  I made sure to ice my knees before bed last night which helped a great deal.  My quads are quite sore today, but I’m fairly sure that’s because I completely forgot to stretch them yesterday.

Also, rather than limiting (or forcing) myself to posting on Mondays, I’m going to be poating Marathon Musings whenever I damn well please.

349. Marathon Monday: Week 6

Before we get to my marathon Monday post, I wante to let you all know about the raffle Cassie at Back to Her Roots (one of my favorite blogs at the moment) is hosting to raise money for the Avon Breast Cancer walk she’ll be completing with her sister’s in June. Go check it out, make a donation to an awesome cause, and get chances to win awesome prizes.

Cook for the Cure Raffle

Now, on to my post…

I don’t have much to say about this week’s training since I’m still in “familiar” territory so I thought today it would be fun to take a look back on how the hell I got to this point. I mean really, if 10 years ago you told me I’d be training for a marathon I would have laughed in your face.  Heck, if you’d told me a year ago I would be training for a marathon, I would have laughed in your face.

I was not a runner at.all. I was a swimmer through most of grade school and high school, and I absolutely hated running. My chief complaint during land work-outs was that if I wanted to run, I would have joined the track team. Sometime in college, or maybe it was shortly after college, I found myself a little bit envious of those people who would just get up and go for a jog. I still subscribed to the “run only when being chased (by something life threatening)” theory, but a tiny part of me secretly longed to be one of those runners. I’d try to go out running every now and then, but I would always end up going too hard, too fast, or too far. I’d be sore and miserable the next day and decide I just wasn’t cut out to be a runner.

I tried to find the exact date I decided to start the Couch to 5K program, but I couldn’t.  Truth is, as I’m trying to look back at it, I actually haven’t kept a very thorough record of my running history.  Maybe I should change that….

Anyway, I know it was sometime in early 2009.  It might’ve even been January or February when I decided running was going to be the drug of choice for my new healthy lifestyle and weight loss journey.  I started the Couch to 5K program on the treadmill at the gym, and I don’t even remember if I finished the whole program, but I remember bits and pieces and celebrating small victories along the way.  I remember how frustrating and difficult transitioning from treadmill to street was.   (Hard to believe how much I loved the treadmill back then considering how much I absolutely loathe it now!)  I remember celebrating every mile further I was able to run on the street.  I remember the indoor track at the Oak Lawn Pavilion being my summer in Chicago running “safe-haven.”  I was so excited the first time I ran 4 miles on the indoor track that August, and after my longest outdoor run that September.

I ran my first 5K in October 2009.  I was so terrified to even sign up for a race that my friend Sarah, who was my racing buddy until she up and moved to Austin on me, basically told me ‘Sign up, or I’m signing you up.’  Even after I was signed up, I was terrified of not being able to finish.  I buckled down and trained hard.  By the time race day rolled around, I was probably well enough trained to have run a 10K.  I had already run 5 miles.  I ended up having an amazing race that day and actually set a 5K PR that I didn’t touch for nearly 2 years.

That was also the day I spent an obscene amount of money on my first pair of “real” running shoes forever sealing my fate as a runner which is good because I also became addicted to races that day.  I ran the Girls on the Run 5K a few weeks later and the Santa Shuffle a couple weeks after that.

Less than 6 months later I was registered for my first half marathon.  As you may remember, that race wasn’t my finest moment.  My training was derailed by my personal life.  However, despite a less than stellar first half marathon, I was officially obsessed.  I quickly signed up for the Dallas 13.1 half marathon when Laura suggested it in November 2010, and since October 2011 wasn’t nearly soon enough, I went ahead and signed up for the Wisconsin Half Marathon as well.

Sure there are times when I’m totally disinterested in running, but ultimately, I love it.  To date I’ve run (at least) 15 races including 4 half marathons.  When I started running in 2009, I had no idea where it would take me and what it would teach me along the way. But in the last three years I’ve learned so much.  With a dedication and focus, and maybe a moment or two of temporary insanity, you can accomplish things you never thought possible.  I’ve got a long way to go to cross that finish line after 26.2, but I’ve come this far so why stop now?

Total Weekly Milage: 16.0
Total Monthly Milage: 30.55
Total Training Milage: 46.55

278. It’s a Brand New Day

(Please sing the post title to the tune from Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog.  Thank you – The Management.)

I’ve been blogging for nearly two years now, and in that time I’ve really struggled to find my voice as a blogger.  I’ve tried different approaches, and learned a lot about the content of posts that I enjoy writing (recipes, goal setting, random musings) and those I don’t really enjoy (chronicling my daily eats).   Prior to, my recent informal hiatus, I spent a great deal of time considering my blog.  I decided about a month ago I wanted to revamp it.  I’ve tried a lot of different things along the way, but one thing has become very clear.  This has always been about all the things I’ve gained since I started my weight loss/ healthy living journey back in January 2009.

So here we are.  The new and improved Girl Can.  I’ve got a brand new layout and a fresh, new approach.  I’ve always been resistant to labeling myself, and my blog is no exception.  I’m not calling this a weight loss blog, or a fitness blog or a food blog, but there will be elements of all of these things here.  If I had to label the blog, I would definitely steal Heather’s concept of a happy living blog.  Here are some of the things you can expect to see around here in the coming weeks.

New Layout: This is already in the works.  You may have noticed the new header, which had an #epicfail spelling error/ typo the first time around.  I’ve got a sweet new tagline Girl Can: Losing Weight, Gaining Life. I plan to add some more functionality and such in the sidebar.

Updated Categories and Tags:  My goal is to get posts broken down into four main categories:

  • Girl Can Eat will be the “food blog” aspect it will include things like recipes, restaurant reviews, my favorite food related things,
  • Girl Can Move will be the “fitness blog” element with fitness challenges, race recaps, training updates,
  • Girl Can Lose will be all things “weight loss blog” (more on this later), and finally
  • Girl Can Do will be the more “general life blog” posts.  Updates on my Mission 101, goals, general ramblings about things like my dog’s adoptiversary

A More Structured Posting Schedule: Going forward my goal is to post a minimum of three times a week.  I’ll be posting a weekly weigh-in, a weekly recipe, and a weekly training report.  I know there will be other posts sprinkled in, but these are my “bare minimums.”

More “fun stuff” Frankly, I have no idea what this means yet, but I do hope it includes more guest posts, a giveaway or two, and hopefully strengthened ties with others in the blogging community.

273. Defeating the Dough

It all started innocently enough.  My grandma bought a nearly new bread maker from Goodwill and gave it to my mom. Since my mom already owned a bread maker and clearly didn’t need two, she decided to hand her old Breadman down to me.  (This is how I have acquired several of my small appliances including my KitchenAid stand mixer and my older-than-I-am food processor.  Oh and that crock-pot I returned to her a year later.)

I was pretty stoke to receive the old Breadman figuring it would play a vital role in helping me knock that pesky “get over my fear of making yeast bread items” off my Mission 101 and Culinary Bucket List.  I knew right away I was going to make it happen.  I went out and bought some yeast to ready myself for the task of making me some homemade bread.  The B-Man sat unused in my pantry nearly a month.

It all started innocently enough.  Nik wanted cinnamon rolls for breakfast one day.  I knew I couldn’t feed him those canned Pilsbury cinnamon rolls.  I harp on the whole “unnecessarily processed foods” thing way too much.  If I was going to do this, I was going to do it right: real foods from scratch.  I decided Easter Morning was d-day.

I used a very basic white bread dough recipes my mom gave me in the disaster that is my recipe binder.

White Bread Dough
Ingredients
1 ½ c warm water
2T butter, cut up into small pieces
4 ½ c all-purpose flour
¼ c sugar
2 t salt
1 T yeast

Do It

  1. In the order listed above, combined ingredients in the bread maker
  2. Set to dough cycle and start
  3. Relax until the bread maker is done

I rolled out the dough, mixed up some cinnamon, sugar and butter, spread it on, rolled it up, and sliced my way to some pretty awesome cinnamon rolls.  They were so good I ended up beingin the rest to Easter “dinner” (Is it still dinner at 1 in the afternoon?) to share the goodness.

Of course, I’m not sure one small cinnamon roll victory really counts as conquering my yeast dough fear. Like I said, it all started innocently enough.  Later that week, dinner plans with Nik were grilled pineapple and chicken sandwiches on pretzel rolls.  I had stowed away some Trader Joe’s pretzel rolls in the freezer a few weeks prior.  Unfortunately when I hadn’t noticed was these rolls had started molding prior to me getting them in the freezer.  Well, damn.

I remembered a few days earlier Jessica had posted a link to her pretzel roll tutorial over on Tasty Kitchen.  Bingo!  Now was the time for me (and B-man) to shine!  Whipping up homemade pretzel rolls at 6:00 on a Thursday night it totally normal, right?

I used the same white bread recipe to make the dough for the pretzel rolls.  Once the dough was finished I followed the method in Jessica’s post.  (By the way, they turned out absolutely amazing, and you should definitely make them soon!  I’ve never been a huge fan of pretzel bread, but I have seen the light.)

Since those pretzel rolls, I’ve used B-Man to make more pretzel rolls (this time in the shape of hot dog buns) and whole wheat cinnamon rolls while Laura was here to visit.  I also made pizza dough (more on that later) Monday night.

Thank to B-Man, I think I can officially cross   “get over my fear of making yeast breads” off my Culinary Bucket List.

Next up…homemade bagels, soft pretzels, and assorted experiments with the B-Man…

221. December Grocery Budget Challenge Final Look

I guess it’s time to look back and see how I faired in my grocery budget challenge.  My challenge was successful in that I stayed under my budget of $250;  I actually managed to stay well under $200.  However, it was less successful in terms of my methods. 

Getting sick half way through the month really threw me off.  I didn’t eat much of anything for about three days, and when I did eat, I was basically scraping something together because I knew I needed to eat something.

I didn’t bother with coupons at all, but I did do some price comparing.  I made sure to check cost per unit and compare the price and size of different brands rather than just grabbing what was on sale or  the name brand.

There was also a lot more dinners out this month.  Since I buy the groceries for dinners in, Nik usually pays for dinners out.  So my food budget was definitely down, but I expect his was probably up.

Here’s how my weekly spending broke down:

Week 1
$61.95 – grocery store
$3.65 – Panera
$8.42 – Panera

Week 2
$53.50 – grocery store

Week 3
$38.47 – grocery store (This was primary supplies for holiday gifts.)
$9.96- Panera
$5.38 – Pazzo’s
$3.05 NYC Bagel Deli

Week 4
None – I was in Mexico.

Totals
Groceries: $153
Fast Food: $24
$177

Overall, I’m satisfied with the outcome of the challenge.  I’m definitely going to continue to work on keeping my grocery budget between $200 – $250.

219. Best.ChristmasPresent.Ever

Happy New Year everyone!  So far 2011 has been unexpectedly busy.  So busy that writing my grocery budget challenge results, goal setting and New Year’s Resolutions, and other awesome posts has taken a back seat to everything else going on.  Before I get into that stuff though, I figured I’d share with you what’s been keeping me away.

As you may have figured out, I spent my Christmas on the beach in Mexico with my family.  It was a fantastic time full of fruity drinks, sunburns, delicious dinners, and quality time with the fam.  I was sad to leave, but the real excitement was waiting for me at home – my Christmas present from the boy!

I was dying to know what I was getting from him.  My entire family knew what it was, and they did not hesitate to remind me of this.  I had a hunch, but that just seemed totally unrealistic.  I was wrong.

I came home to a partially renovated master bathroom!

I don’t think I ever posted pictures of my condo except for my kitchen (maybe I should!), but my master bathroom was epically gross – especially the shower.

Disgusting Shower pan

Yummy isn't it?

I also wasn’t sure if that nastiness extended beyond just surface or if there were actual damage to the drywall behind the tile.  I wanted to make sure I had enough money to fix it if there was actual damage so I didn’t use my master bathroom at all.  I have two bathrooms so this disaster wasn’t an issue.

Bathroom Vanity There used to be a tacky gold mirror above that sink.Toilet and Shower Closet

My sneaky boyfriend had my brother build a vanity which he stained.  He cleaned up the tile, fixed the shower basin (It looks almost new!), painted the walls and trim, cleaned the toilet, and cleaned and painted the heater and exhaust fan.

He only had a week – definitely not enough time to finish, and he thought it would be best to let me pick out the countertop, sink, faucet, mirror, and lighting. So after partying away the last minutes of 2010 with our friends, I’ve been helping him.  There have been many, many trip to Home Depot, Menards, and HOBO, but I’ve got everything picked out.  I should have a full functional master bathroom in about two weeks!  I’ll share picture with you then.  (C’mon now, I can’t give it all away.)

I’ve got to say, this is definitely the best Christmas present I’ve ever received.  Of course, I also informed him he can’t break-up with me now because then I’d have to completely renovate my bathroom again.