January recap and FitFluential

First of all, I’m excited to announce that I’m joining the FitFluential team! I follow a number of bloggers who are part of this network, and they have had great things to say about their experience.  I’m looking forward to the opportunity to learn more from each other.

January Recap: At the end of each month, I plan to revisit my 2012 goal post as part of a monthly recap to track how my progress and to record my stats.  Here’s January!

Running Related

  • January stats: 13 runs- total 89.4 miles; 9 spin classes- total 200 miles; 1 swim- 1.2 miles; 17.25 walking miles and weights 2x/week
  • Cross Training Challenge: Check! I went to the Ball-ates class at our gym
  • Running Buddy: No success here yet… but I haven’t been working too hard

Personal and Family Balance

  • Evening quiet time:  I’ve been trying to read most evenings before bed, although most nights I don’t always get too far before falling asleep
  • Computer balance: Sticking to my plan so far of early am, naptime and/or pm computer time rather than getting off and on all.day.long.
  • Reading: Finished “Running Without Pain” (Bridge) and “Generous Justice” (Keller)… and hundreds of kids books, that should count for something  :)

I’m happy with this month’s stats… I’ve been running low mileage with only 3 runs a week, but plan to build it slowly over the next several weeks.  The highlight of the month was definitely the Houston half marathon weekend and meeting other blogging friends! I’m also excited to have kicked off the Purposeful Running stories, starting with Jamie’s.

Final update… just last night I decided to leap into Twitter land.  I still know very little, but I look forward to connecting with many of you there.  Let me know if you tweet so we can follow each other!

My handle is @mommyrunfaster, or you can find me here!

Sunday tidbits…

1) Long Run: What a gorgeous day for a run yesterday! Sunny and 60’s here… I must say, living in Texas is growing on me.  :)  It was one of the first runs in a long time that I felt really strong the whole way through, and wanted to keep going.  I ran 12 miles at an even 9:00 min/mile pace.  I’ve always resonated with the advice that says give your body one day of recovery for each mile you race before you can expect to feel “normal” again… yesterday was day 13 after racing 13 miles, and I could tell my legs were back.

2) Race Updates:  I was debating racing the Houston Fit 5k this morning, but in my delay to register, I missed the deadline.  So I’m obviously not running it.  But I did officially register for the Austin half in February… yay! This is also our first visit to Austin, so any tips for activities or sights with a toddler in tow?

3) Blogging Schedule: Lately, I’ve been falling into a pretty consistent blogging pattern… Monday, Wednesday, Friday and once over the weekend.  I like having a schedule, and a day on/day off is much more manageable with computer time management.  It’s flexible, of course, (I plan to break it this week with a January recap on Tuesday), but I enjoy connecting with Wednesday’s WIAW posts, and the Fitness Friday group most weeks.

4) Training: I’m mapping out a training schedule for the next few months that I’ll share later this week.

5) New shoes:  It’s time for an update!  I love Brooks, and have spent the last several cycles in Glycerins.  For some reason the latest model (9, I believe?) was irritating my Achilles, so I might venture out and try something new.  I’ve heard so many good things about the Brooks Cadence and Brooks PureFlow, so I’m going to look into these, (thanks Robin for the vlog!) Any other suggestions, especially along the lines of transitioning to a slightly more minimalist shoe?

Virtual run and race shirts

I finally completed Toni’s 3.5 Virtual Run this week, and used it as part of a tempo run.  I took L in the stroller, and forgot how hard it is to run a decent pace while pushing a toddler!

Unfortunately, my Garmin had a low battery, and died at 3.2 miles… here are the splits I recorded:

Avg Pace
Summary 25:27.4 3.20 7:57
1 8:00.4 1.00 8:00
2 7:45.2 1.00 7:45
3 8:04.3 1.00 8:04
4 1:37.5 0.20 8:05

I finished it off at the same pace, but I can’t document that, so I’ll add a 10-second buffer and estimate my final time as 28:05. Close enough!  Here’s my jogging partner, looking thrilled:

And much happier below with her afternoon snack… apples post-nap have been our go-to stroller snack lately.  It took her almost the entire run to get through it!  Happy baby= happy running mama.

We swung back home about the time my husband was getting back, so I dropped L off and finished with another easy 3 miles for the day.

Side note here: I love the shirts we got for completing the Houston half… soft, tech material, and a really nice fit.  So much better than some of the bulky, cotton shirts I have from shorter (read: cheaper) races! But I thought twice before putting it on.  I finally went with it, as it was the best clean option in my drawer, but running in it makes me somewhat self-conscious, like I’m trying to brag or something… is this valid?  Silly, I think, especially for a nice shirt.

I went on a very popular (and busy) running trail, which could be part of it.  Or maybe it’s because the race was just 12 days ago.  I probably wouldn’t care if it was a year old!

Which leaves me wondering…

Do you wear your race shirts? What do you think of runners who do? :)

Have a great weekend!

Birthday treats and WIAW

As of Sunday, we officially have a two year old in the house. We had a few of L’s playmates and their families over for dinner on Sunday to celebrate her birthday.

She had a blast playing and giggling with her friends.  They decorated their party hats with fun stickers, and loved “cooking” with her kitchen.  All the kids were 2 and under, so we didn’t feel the need to organize any party games.  The kids were happy to run around and play while the adults got to socialize.

For dinner, we made jambalaya, mushroom macaroni & cheese, skillet cornbread and cabbage slaw.  We also had a veggie tray with hummus and tomato bruschetta for appetizers.

Everything came together well, although Sunday was a bit stressful.  I tend to cook too far in advance, and then have to keep everything warm, so I held off until the last minute to make the mac & cheese and cornbread, but then I was rushing around and realized I hadn’t yet decorated her cupcakes! So they aren’t anything special, but the kids certainly didn’t care, so I decided not to care either.

After all the dessert indecisiveness, I finally went with these angel food cupcakes, and they were a hit!  L requested blueberries and strawberries on her birthday cake- not the most seasonal choice, but she was happy!

It’s definitely helpful to have a silicone muffin pan or cups to keep them from sticking.  The ones in the second photo were slightly smaller for the toddlers.  I also made a simple cream cheese icing. I really didn’t try to “healthify” this recipe at all, but I figured angel food was lighter than a typical cupcake, and a bit of “real” icing would be appreciated by the adults.

L was so excited to have everyone sing happy birthday to her, after anticipating this for weeks! She gobbled up the cupcake, too.

We also had to make a birthday treat to share with her Mother’s Day Out program Monday morning.  I like when the school treats are in my control–they’re toddlers, they have no idea if something is a “real” dessert or not! So I made these banana-raisin cookies… wholesome ingredients and still yummy.

Banana Raisin Cookies (print recipe)

  • 3 very ripe bananas
  • 2 c. rolled or quick oats
  • 1 c. raisins
  • 1/3 cup applesauce (plus optional tablespoon oil)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Mash the bananas and mix all ingredients.  Let mixture sit for 15 minutes.  Drop by spoonfuls on a greased baking sheet, and bake at 350 for 14-16 minutes.  They will hold their shape, so you can flatten them before baking if you prefer a more traditional looking cookie.  Makes 2-3 dozen, depending on their size. Enjoy!

I also sometimes add a shredded carrot and they’re just as delicious!


For WIAW, here’s a glimpse of my Sunday eating.  It was a party day, so we started off with whole wheat blueberry pancakes at L’s request.  I had two pancakes with peanut butter and sliced banana on top.  We ate a quick bowl of leftover black beans and rice for lunch, and then started prepping for the party.

Birthday dinner was followed with a cupcake.  And I might have had a bit of ice cream, too.

What’s your favorite birthday treat?

Versatile Blogger

L successfully turned 2 yesterday, and the angel food cupcakes were a hit! I’ll share more about her birthday soon… in the meantime, here’s another random post.

About a week ago, I was tagged by Carrie at Family, Fitness, Food for the Versatile Blogger Award. Thanks, Carrie!

The Rules for this award:

1-Nominate 15 fellow bloggers.
2-Inform the bloggers of their nomination.
3-Share 7 random things about yourself.
4-Thank the blogger who nominated you.
5-Add the Versatile Blog Award picture on your blog post.


I enjoy playing along in these blogging-world games, but it wasn’t that long ago that I wrote the 21 Things post.  So I’m scrambling a bit, but here are seven additional random things…

1)  I get a lot of satisfaction from canning… it’s something my mom always did to preserve food from the garden, and I had no interest in gardening or canning until long after I was out of the house.  So I think it has shocked and pleased my parents that I enjoy both now.   In NY, we canned 35-40 pints and quarts each year, mostly tomatoes, salsa, pasta sauce, and a dozen half pints of blueberry jam.

2) Our first house needed a bit of work, and we naively took it on ourselves so we learned quite a bit about remodeling that year… gutting and re-tiling the bathroom, tiling the kitchen floor, refinishing wood floors, and painting everything inside and out.









3) My husband and I went to the same high school, although we didn’t start dating until college.  I had a crush on him in 10th grade, and wrote in my journal that he was the “type of guy I could see myself marrying,” not at all expecting that would happen.  :)

4)  I’m a type A, control freak in certain things (aren’t most runners?) but completely laid back in others (a spotless house, for example!).  I get competitive with myself, but am less so with others.

5) I love cloth diapers.  L is happy in them, and my husband has laundry duty, so I’ve lucked out there.  But I do look forward to diaperless days eventually.

6)  Both my husband and I enjoy singing parts (he’s a bass, I’m an alto).  We’re hoping L will be a soprano and maybe we’ll have a tenor singing son or daughter someday to create a full quartet.  :)  I’m not a strong singer, but was roped into singing in a trio for a Christmas concert this year that pushed me a bit out of my comfort zone… but I had fun.

7)  When we got married, we were living in Philadelphia and challenged ourselves to live with only one car.  Seven years later, we’re still going strong.  We’ve been fortunate enough to find houses within walking or biking distance of my husband’s work, and have had very few inconveniences along the way.

So there you go.  I should be all set for random-thing-posts for quite some time!  I’m going to break the first and second rules, and skip the nomination.  I can’t keep track of who has or has not been nominated already, but if you have not listed seven random things and would like to, please consider yourself tagged!

Purposeful Running- Jamie’s story

I’m excited to kick off the “purposeful running” stories with Jamie! She blogs about her journey at From Couch to Ironwoman, and I’ve really enjoyed getting to know her the past several months.  She’s already well on her way to achieving her goals.

If you missed my original post, I want to share your purposeful running stories this year… reasons you run beyond physical fitness.  What additional benefits got you hooked on running, or have you discovered along the way? I’ll share a guest post every other Sunday. I’m also starting a tab to track these stories as they’re posted.  Thanks for participating!

Here’s Jamie’s!

When Laura asked for bloggers to share their running story as a part of a purposeful running series, I knew that I had to jump at the opportunity!  I hope that some of you can relate to my story or that it inspires you to get your significant other out there running with you!

You would think that I would enjoy running by myself. Part of the reason that I loved swimming (I was a swimmer from eight years old until my second year of college) was that it gave me a lot of time to “myself”. Yea, I had teammates in the same lane as me but 85% of practice we were swimming, which makes it a little challenging to have a conversation. I used swimming as a way to get rid of the stresses of my day and contemplate a variety of topics. Sometimes I would just zone out, hey it happens!

Running has a lot of the same inward benefits, stress relief being a huge one!  However, if I had to pick one main reason for running it wouldn’t be the stress relief, the endorphins, the impact it has made on my body nor the ability to set goals and achieve them, although all of those are added bonuses.  It would be something entirely different and it has to do with why I started running in the first place.

While I enjoyed swimming alone, I love running with someone else. A specific someone else: Mike, my husband.

In April 2011, I decided that we were going to start the popular Couch-to-5K program after seeing it mentioned on Facebook numerous times.  Of course, we started running to get in shape but for me it was something we could do together. I never once wanted to do the Couch-to-5K by myself; I wanted to do it with Mike.

We trained for our first 5K, 10K and half marathon together and we just recently signed up for our first marathon, Wineglass 2012!  We’ve done most of our training runs together, with the exception of when I have been injured and a few days where our schedules just didn’t match up. Sure we’ve run with my mom and Mike’s mom (both of them are runners), which was nice, but if I could only pick one person to run with the rest of my career the choice would be easy. Mike is my partner in more ways than just in our relationship.

Even though we don’t race “together”, with the exception of our first 5K where we crossed the finish line together, we run in the same races.  I don’t even want to sign up for a women-only race because Mike wouldn’t be able to run in it with me! I’m sure he would make a great cheerleader, though!  At times I feel bad that he has to run slower when he is with me, but I think that we still bring out the best in each other. He motivates me to do better, I have to if I want to keep running with him, and I am so proud when he excels!

We don’t talk much when we run, but we are communicating in so many other ways. I listen to his shoes hit the pavement, his breathing and follow him to where he wants to take us on our training run. Running is our “us” time and I cherish every moment.

Could I ever run with other people without Mike there? Sure. Is that my preference? No.

Do I ever want to join a team? As of right now, no. Let’s be honest here, would Mike and I get to run together if we did? No, because he is faster than me. While running teams may be beneficial and necessary for some people, I don’t think it is a good fit for us. Maybe in the future I will change my mind but I’m not holding my breath in the meantime.  We are contemplating joining some group workouts, though, so that we can get a little variety in our routine and Mike can run at a faster pace.

Mike and I are going to run together, swim together and bike together until we don’t want to do this anymore. We will support each other when we struggle or are injured and we will celebrate when we achieve our goals and cross finish lines that we never imagined that we could.

So, why do I run?

I run so that I can be with my husband, my partner, my best friend.

Everything else, in my mind, is trivial.

Thanks, Jamie!

Cross training challenge and looking ahead

Thanks to Kim’s New 2 U Cross Training Challenge, I’m determined (and excited) to try some new things this year.  I’m most curious about some of the unique classes at our gym, with intimidating names like “Chiseled,” “Cardio Sculpt” and “Ripped.”  I’ve backed off my running this week to recover from Sunday’s race, so I figured this would be a good week to venture into the group exercise room.

I chose a class offered Thursday mornings, called “Ball-ates.”  One of my friends has taken it, and told me it can be awkward in the beginning but a great workout.

I have no idea if this is a standard class, or if it’s something this particular witty instructor created.  (Has anyone taken a similar class?) The description was vague, but it’s mostly what it sounds like– a fusion of pilates and other strength moves, incorporating the exercise ball for balance.  We did standard moves like push ups and crunches on the ball, as well as trickier (for me!) balance moves like abdominal twists with the ball in the air between our legs, and side planks on the ball.

We were supposed to look something like this:

I don’t want to know what I looked like, but I did have fun in the class.  It was challenging, but I always feel like I didn’t get a “real” workout if I skip cardio, even though I know it’s not true.  Is anyone else like that? I still had energy to burn, so I went for a short run before dinner, too.

With less running this week, I’ve had time to think about what’s next and am trying to write up a basic training plan for the next few months.  I was going to run a 5k next weekend, but haven’t registered yet and am wondering if it’s wise to race hard again so soon.

I’m still planning to run Austin’s half in February, but have to decide if I want to race it, or use it as a fun training run toward a full later in the spring.  I’ve been unsure about squeezing in a marathon yet this season, wanting to build up to it very carefully, but watching all the full marathoners finish on Sunday gave me a serious marathon bug! So we’ll see… I think I may start the training, and back off if my body isn’t ready for the longer runs quite yet.  My husband keeps reminding me that there will always be marathons to run.  Thoughts?!

Race recovery and baking fail

Besides having little left in the tank after my half, the second sign that I under-trained a bit was how sore my quads were on Monday!  The good news is my shins feel fine.

I took it easy on Monday and Tuesday, with just a few short walks to and from the playground with L.  I’m planning to head back to my spin class this evening, but will probably skip the hill work.

I’ve never really experienced the post-race blues, but I think I did on Monday.  I’m sure it was also connected to the fact that I hadn’t slept well for several nights, and I do not function well on little sleep.  L seemed to sense my exhaustion, and was testing the limits all day after being sweet as could be for daddy all weekend!

It didn’t help that we were without a car for the day (unexplained car trouble) so we had few options to get out of the house.  I decided to test out one of the cupcake options for L’s party this weekend, and have her “help” me.  I always crave sugar when I’m tired! Unfortunately, the combination of my fatigue and L’s determined boundary pushing was not a good one.  (Did she get the memo to begin the terrible two’s a week early?)

She was up on a stool to be my helper, and was doing a nice job stirring the flour together, keeping her fingers out of the bowl. While I was scrambling around for ingredients, she decided to dump the olive oil on the counter.  Salt dumping was next, with a taste test (“ewww, I don’t like it, mommy!”) Then her hand was in the sugar bowl for another taste test, (“mmm, I LOVE this one, mommy!”)  I am not sure why I didn’t have the foresight to remove these items from her reach– I guess I wasn’t moving fast enough to keep things interesting, and in the past she has followed my instructions better. Sigh.

In any case, I managed to throw the cupcakes in and had her help me clean up the mess.  Sadly, my experimental cupcakes didn’t fare too well.  I’m sure they would have been yummy if I had been more careful, but somewhere in there I lost track of the liquid, and they came out gummy and a bit too moist.

After more failed attempts at keeping us both entertained, I finally called my husband in tears around 4pm, and he came home a bit early to give me a break.  I guess it was just one of those days… I’m glad they don’t happen too often. Thankfully, yesterday was back to normal for both of us.

Have you ever experienced the post-race blues? I think that was the first time for me, and luckily it didn’t last long.  Any tips for avoiding them altogether?!

Also, L keeps asking for blueberries and strawberries on her cake, so I’m thinking about trying angel food cupcakes… has anyone had success with these in cupcake form?

Houston Half Race Recap

Well, I already gave away the bottom line… I managed to get my A goal (under 1:42) with just a minute to spare!  Here’s a longer version, for those of you who like the details.

I was up before my alarm, got dressed, ate half a bagel with a banana and pb, and was ready to head out the door by 5:45 am.  I was driving in alone, and my husband and L were going to come later to catch me at the finish.  It was a short drive to the Convention Center, but the exit I needed was stacked up with a HUGE line of cars.  I could feel my stress level rising, but all I had to do was find parking, use the bathroom one final time, and jog to the corrals before they closed at 6:40am.  We crawled along, but I soon got off and whipped into the first parking lot I could find, settling for a $20/day lot instead of the free street parking I had planned on.

It was nice to have less time to kill waiting for the start, and I chatted with a girl from Austin in my pace group until the race began.  I started with an extra throw away long-sleeved shirt and throw away gloves from the Expo, both of which I tossed right before we started.  It was in the low 40’s at the start, so it was chilly when standing still, but perfect running weather once we got moving.

I was hoping to start with an 8:00 minute pace for the first mile, with most of the rest of the race at 7:45 or better if I was feeling good.  It never felt easy, but I managed to do pretty much just that:

Avg Pace
Summary 1:41:13 13.20 7:40
1 8:02.8 1.00 8:03
2 7:39.4 1.00 7:40
3 7:40.0 1.00 7:40
4 7:35.0 1.00 7:35
5 7:41.5 1.00 7:42
6 7:38.0 1.00 7:38
7 7:49.2 1.00 7:49
8 7:33.5 1.00 7:33
9 7:41.1 1.00 7:41
10 7:38.8 1.00 7:39
11 7:28.3 1.00 7:28
12 7:43.0 1.00 7:43
13 7:30.1 1.00 7:30
14 1:32.5 0.20 7:54

The first half flew by, and I was pushing myself a little to stick to the 7:40 pace, but was feeling pretty good.  The second half began to get harder.  I was mentally breaking up the race into a 10 mile run and a 5k, and found the countdown to the first ten helpful.

Around mile 7 or 8, the lead half marathoners started passing us on their way back after the turn around at mile 9, where we split from the full marathoners.  I was focused on reaching that split, and was so thankful I only had 4 miles remaining, rather than 17!

I hit mile 10 feeling pretty strong, and had every intention of picking it up a notch for the final three miles, but my legs weren’t cooperating (maybe this is where my minimal training came back to bite me!).  Mile 11 was actually my fastest mile, at 7:28, but I think I pushed a little too soon, because I had trouble keeping that pace for the final two.  By the last quarter mile, I had slipped back to an almost 8 minute pace… no final sprint for me!

My husband and Lily caught a shot of me in the last quarter mile, although I was so focused, I never heard their cheers.  I definitely look like I’m read to be done (in the blue shirt):

The last mile felt really hard. I was a little disappointed that I couldn’t increase my pace and cut under 1:40, but I also know that I gave all that I had today, so that feels really good.

CHIP TIME: 1:41:03


I had to keep reminding myself that my goal was 1:42, not 1:40, so I am pleased to have met that goal. And now I have something else to work towards.  :)

Checking out the metal post-race:

Family shot:

After refueling and meeting up with my family, I headed back outside to catch the full marathoners finish.  I saw Amanda and Terzah cross the line, but the photos didn’t turn out.  I know Corey and Kathy had great races, too.  And I look forward to hearing about Holly and Kellie’s!

Thanks for all the thoughtful comments and words of encouragement. Knowing that many of you were cheering from home made a huge difference in getting me through that final mile.

I definitely had moments during the race where I caught myself thinking, why do we do this to ourselves again?! But as soon as it was over, I was thinking about the next one.  I can’t wait to push myself through another difficult race! No wonder people have trouble understanding runners. :)

Bloggers meet up and Olympic Trials!

I’ll get a race report up soon, but I made my goal! Thanks so much for the supportive comments! Chip time was 1:41:03, with a minute to spare. :)

This weekend was a blast.  I was a little nervous that my legs would be tired from all the standing, but it was well worth it!

Friday morning I got to meet my blogging friend Andrea, who was here to watch the Olympic Trials Saturday morning.  We met up at the Children’s Museum where our kids could run around and play while we got to know each other better.  She was really sweet, and we realized we have a lot more in common than running!

I got up bright and early Saturday morning to meet some other bloggers downtown to watch the Olympic Trials.  It wasn’t nearly as packed as I expected it to be, so we snatched a great spot at mile 2, at the start of the 8 mile loop, so we caught them three more times as they ran by, at miles 10, 18 and 26.  Because the women started 15 minutes after the men, there was never much of a break before one of the groups would come running through.  What a blast! I knew it would be exciting, but I felt like a like a giddy little kid.

Blogger buddies: Me, Kellie, Terzah, Holly, Amanda & Corey

Girls coming at mile 2

Desi up close

Top four guys, mile 10

Guys mile 18

Abdi at mile 26

Shalane, clearly the winner, at mile 26

After the race, Corey and I headed over to the Expo to get our packets and wonder around.  Apparently, everyone else had the same idea –watch the Trials and hit the Expo afterwards, so it was difficult to maneuver through.  But it was great to have extra time to chat with her!

We split ways, and I met up with other blogging buddies, Kathy, and Terzah for a talk by Run Like a Mother authors, and lunch before heading home to rest my legs a bit.  They both lucked out with some special volunteer opportunities this weekend– Kathy as a volunteer medic for the Trials this morning, and Terzah with a press pass!  I loved hearing the inside scoop on the elite athletes. It was great fun to hang out in person, after following one another’s blogs throughout this training season.

They had plans to meet Dimity and Sarah (from Run Like a Mother) for dinner, and were sweet enough to invite me along! Great running-mama talk and delicious pasta was the perfect way to prep for the morning. I’ve been reading articles by Sarah and Dimity for years, and it was somewhat surreal to meet them and realize that yes, they do exist in the real world.  :)

All of these women were so sweet and supportive.  Runners are such a special community! These girls all ran strong, impressive races this morning, too.