Monday, January 31, 2011

The Dreadmill

The only thing worse than running on a treadmill is actually WALKING on the treadmill. I am cleared to bike and swim, but not running. If all goes well next week, I can return to a very satisfying 3-miler. I never thought I'd say this, but I can't wait to knock out a 3-miler! I'm bordering on bitchy and need a quick running fix. On the plus side, I can bike for an hour with no pain other than the boredom of going nowhere on rollers. At this rate, I'll be able to do Fatty's 100 Miles to Nowhere in May. You in, Karen?!

Friday, January 28, 2011

A Red Letter Holiday

I'm not a traditional or mushy kind of girl, but I do love all the red around Valentine's Day. It could be because of the excitement as kids getting a shoebox full of Valentines at school, or maybe it's the marshmallow valentine heart peeps giving me that wonderful sugar high, or waking up to a Valentine card at my seat at the kitchen table each February 14 morning growing up. And even though we celebrate Valentine's Day with a simple homemade taco dinner at my casa nowadays, I still enjoy the fun and whimsy that the February holiday brings.

Lately, I've been enjoying Etsy and came across these "non-traditional" (i.e., not chocolates or flowers) kind of Valentines. Thought I would share my neat finds :)

A simple sign for the Jimmy Stewart in you (come on, everyone loves him!)

Of course, mine would read R+G, what a sweet, old fashioned sign of affection.

My kind of valentine card (trash mouth AND nerdy!)

So whether you celebrate with wine, roses and chocolates (you uncreative person, you) or you give your man a 6-pack of man roses (beer!), I hope you find some enjoyment with this red letter month!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Physical Therapy: My First Visit

My orthpedist set me up for a series of physical therapy sessions to improve the strength of my knee. I could clearly get used to this. I clicked immediately with my physical therapist which, as Barney Stinson would say, increased her level of awesomeness. She told me everything I was doing wrong. Showed me my knee alignment issue and how that impacted how I landed with each running stride. Forced me to do sets of leg strengthening exercises. And she didn't snicker when I couldn't hold plank for more than 26 seconds - hello, what a weakling I was today! I'm pasting some of the at-home exercise she's having me do each day. For those of you without knee pain, by all means get busy with strengthening your core. I mean, you read about the importance of core building all the time, but never think it matters "that much". Crap, it does. So get busy and start building that leg muscle.

Straight leg raise - 2 sets per leg of 10 reps. I'm pretty sure those are not HER legs in the larger picture.

Side lying hip abduction - 2 sets per leg of 10 reps each. Love this picture - he seems way too excited to toss his legs in the air.

Bridge with straight leg raise - 2 sets per leg of 10 reps each.

Bent knee lift - 2 sets of 10 reps each leg. I would never wear this outfit - although my kitchen is painted the same color as her pants. All my snazzy running clothes not only come from the sale rack, but are also in various shades of black and gray.

Here's to a week of building strength!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What I'm Loving: Mumford and Sons

Pour yourself a Guinness or Murphy's, sit back and enjoy this spectacular new group. Take in the mix of instruments, the simplicity and beautiful sounds. I'm loving Mumford and Sons. English group, but definitely a great Irish pub feel. This is from their Bookshop Acoustic sessions...enjoy!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Southern Tier Microbrewery Tour

This past weekend, husband and I toured the Southern Tier Microbrewery in Lakewood, New York. And being the fantastic examples of parenting, we took our almost 4-year-old along. Afterall, in her 42 months of life, she has developed quite the palate. The Southern Tier Brewery is quite the find! For you Clevelanders, you're probably familiar with their Pumpking or Krampus. I had the great fortune of testing 6 different beers, taking a tour and coming away with a wonderful "juice" glass. We even picked up our first growler of Gemini IPA. Super duper strong ale, that's for sure. I'm also looking forward to cooking with their Chokolat and Porter. They were absolutely yummy during the tour. I also loved the small group informal tours they conduct. There was probably 20 of us - and you could tell by the joking that everyone appreciated a good beer and loved to talk about it. For $8.50/pp, the tour was the best way to spend a Saturday evening.

It's a great day trip being just 2.5 hours from Cleveland (1/2 hour east of Erie, PA). Although after imbibing in their generous pours of six beers, you might want to stay at some kind of roadside lodging.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Visit with an Orthopeadist

Thanks to modern technology (I'm talking about you, Google), I had self-diagnosed my knee pain. Being the brilliant, unlicensed medical wanna-be that I am, I had figured that I had a bad case of ITB. I was able to rule out runners knee and torn ACL. Afterall, I'm no Meb and definitely not a professional soccer player (the only ones I know that routinely have ACL issues). What was my REAL diagnosis from a REAL doctor? Weak core. That's right - I was blown away by this diagnosis. I was hoping to hear words that I couldn't pronounce. Instead, I was informed that my quads and abs were competing to the be next Santa Claus, with its bowl full of jelly consistency. The Ortho was even surprised I made it through all of 2010 without knee injury due to my weak quads. "You really have to work on that," he said.

I have an appointment with a physical therapist "who works with runners that don't listen" on Wednesday. I'm actually excited.

On a positive note, I did enjoy my appointment. The Ortho was very accommodating with answering ALL my questions and went through my knee xrays in a manner that I could understand. Best news he gave me is that I have healthy knees and no signs of arthritis. When did I reach THAT AGE of rejoicing when hearing "no signs of athritis"?

Here's to a week of swimming and light cycling! Bowls of oatmeal and mashed foods are right around the corner along with my daisy swimming cap!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A Balanced Week of Workouts

Getting back to a running routine, while nursing this nagging knee pain, has been slow. But I did manage to eek out my highest weekly mileage since the Rhode Island race in mid November. By "high", I mean 10.5 miles running/snowshoeing. I did mix this in with 17 miles on the bike. Yay for me for at least not being dormant!

And the snowshoes are awesome. I bought Redfeather Race Snowshoes 25". They're lightweight and easy to run in after getting used to them. Greg and I took the dogs out while testing the shoes on the snowpacked trails and I loved them. They slice through the thick snow well, but I do feel the legs getting quite the workout. I'll keep up the practice as I have a snowshoe race coming up in February!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Top Places to Get a Microbrew in Cleveland

Last night we dined at Deagan's. Can't say enough fantastic things about this place. The microbrew draft beer list is spot on. Amazing selection. I had a Boulder Mojo IPA (a first for me) and a Founder's Porter. Greg had three beers that their combined alcohol percentage would equal 5. Lovely place. Food was phenomenal, too. Bonus points for good food and great beer. But it got us thinking - what are some of the best places to find a good selection of microbrews. We bantered about whether the criteria would include bottles or tap, or both. I'm opting for both in this post. So here's our unofficial list. And keep in mind, we're beer snobs and independent restaurant supporters. So I don't care if Applebee's carries the latest ale, I'm not going to frequent that place.

1. Tremont Taphouse. I dare you to find a place in Cleveland with a better food/beer combination.

2. Harbour Inn. It's a Cleveland Institution and one of the largest microbrew bottle beer selection. As a bonus, if you wear your best jeans to this place, you're probably overdressed.

3. Beer Engine in Lakewood. Best overall beer tap to bottle ratio and amazing burger selection. Cool atmosphere, except for our water who freaked out when he saw my daughter sipping the remains of one of my taste samplers. Chill out, she took in less than an ounce. She doesn't start dancing on tables till we hit the 4 ounce limit.

4. Happy Dog. This has become known as Robin's Birthday place. My last birthday I celebrated here with a hot dog and a PBR. My second drink was an amazing microbrew. Hot dogs with 50 different toppings, tater tots and microbrews. Seriously, is there somewhere better to celebrate any occasion.

5. Deagan's. After tonight, we're definitely adding this place to our list. I was equally impressed with their tap and bottle selection and besides, who else can carry off a tasy burger with damn fine brussel sprouts?!

If you have more recommendations, share your knowledge!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Music Rediscovered

I'm a channel surfer. While driving, I am constantly in search/scan mode until I hear just the right song. It's as if I'm the Jack Welch of channel surfing - I'm looking for "A" songs and willing to skip or sacrifice (or fire) "C" songs. On my drive home today, I came across a blast from the past and may have to pay a visit to iTunes to acquire the cheesy 90s download...can you name that tune:

I want a girl with extensions in her hair
Bamboo earrings, at least two pair
A Fendi bag and a bad attitude
That's all I need to get me in a good mood
She can walk with her switch and talk with street slang
love when I woman ain't afraid to do her thang
Standin' at the bus stop, suckin' on a lollipop
When she gets pumpin', it's hard to make the hotty stop

Come on, LL Cool J didn't become the Ladies Love Cool James for no reason. The man's a genius. I mean, who can get by with mentioning a Bobby Brown button and biking shorts in the same rhyme...genius...simply genius.

Perm in your hair, or even a curly weave
With your New Edition/Bobby Brown button on your sleeve
I tell you come here
You say meet me half way
'Cause brothers been poppin' that yang all day
Around the way, you're like neighborhood jewel
All the homeboys sweat ya, so you're crazy cool
Wear your gold in the summer with your biking shorts
While your watchin' all the brothers on the basketball court
Goin' to the movies with your homegirl's crew
While the businessmen in suits be hawkin' you

It's going to be hard to top tomorrow's channel surfing.

Good luck to Karen and all the other Regis runners!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Why Is It

Why is it that a Lean Cuisine looks so amazing in the box, tastes amazing, yet feels like nothing more than an appetizer! How can that truly be called "lunch"?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Newest Purchase

Ever since I took my first snowshoe class in Keystone, Colorado two years ago, I've been hooked. So I finally broke down and ordered my first pair of snowshoes. I did a lot of research - yes, I call it research...YOU might call it wasting time on Google. Tomayto, tomahto, will result in a brown box being delivered to my doorstep and a subsequent tromp in the snow-laden northern ohio trails. I can't wait! And besides, it will keep running fun and interesting being out! And I know my black lab will love bouncing in the snow - bonus!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

My Newest Running Addition

Probably not something that's interesting to the guys, but I love my new cuff from Lulelemon. It perfectly holds my car key, wipes away the sweat and adds a punch of color. Santa was kind enough to deliver one to me this year, although mine is gray. Love love love it.

What running accessory do you love or can't run without?

Friday, January 7, 2011

Fitness When You're on the Go Go

This post could begin with a Wham song - you know, Wake me up before you go go, but I'm terrible about song lyrics. I used to think Axl was actually saying "Take me down to the bare ass city." Yep, I'm that girl that sings out loud and NEVER gets the lyrics right.

But the focus of today's post is trying to get in a little fitness when you're pressed for time or maybe don't have the access to a gym because you're traveling or it's too dark for a run. Or maybe, just maybe, you just don't feel like it (been there, done that). I found this especially true during the holiday season while trying to shop/wrap/ship presents, cook, clean (my immediately family might challenge me on this one), and partake in holiday festivities (translation: trying out all those wonderful seasonal brews). So for the past couple of weeks, I've been trying out "mini" workouts and found these two workouts eliminate all excuses, well, except the "I don't want to" excuse.

1. Lauren Conrad from The Hills and Laguna Beach. Don't mock me. I love her and will shell out 4 bucks every time she's on the cover of a magazine. And you thought I was pathetic because I didn't know the EXACT words to a Guns n Roses song. LC's trainer recommends the following when she's traveling and this can be done easily in a hotel room (just use a towel on the floor...otherwise, no telling what you'll acquire). Do this circuit 6 times. I do 3 myself, but I'm not an overachiever.

20 squats
20 situps
20 pushups
20 couch dips
holding plank for 20 seconds

2. Tony Horton, creator of P90X and currently the biggest bad ass in fitness. Tony recommends 10 minutes of what he calls U.C.M.L. - upper, cardio, middle, lower. Do as many pushups as you can with good form (in my world, girl pushups count), then any kind of cardio move (mountain climbers, jumping rope, running in place) for 60 seconds. Do 30 reps of an abdonminal move. Finish with 20-30 reps of a squat or plyometric jump. Do this for 3-6 rounds. I was exhausted after one round, but am committed to not let Tony win.

The best part about both of these is that they are easy to fit into a busy schedule and will benefit us runners by strengthening our core and maybe...just maybe...bringing a PR or two this year!

Do you have a secret weapon of a workout to share?

Monday, January 3, 2011

Something Cool

Just came across a cool website and immediately signed up. If you're a book reader, give it a try! The site will organize and track what you've read, what you're interested in reading, what others are reading, and what's trending They even have a category of worst books ever!

Got another run in - looks like a habit is forming :)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2010 in Review - or How I Made Silver Status

What a wonderful, exciting, blessed and exhausting year! On the running front, I successfully managed to score personal bests or PRs in the 5k, half marathon and marathon distances with significantly better performances - very happy!

On the traveling front, I had a fantastic year traveling with family and even started a new "girls trip" tradition with my two daughters, who also have my love for traveling. We took our first weekend trip in July to New Hampshire and Vermont - what a wonderful time!

As far as checking off states, 2010 was busy! I checked off, with the help of Greg, Megan and Bridget, the following eight states by running 2 marathons, 2 half marathons, 2 10k races (I ran a half and a 10k in Delaware), 5 miler, 8 miler and an Adventure Race, which was quite the adventure!

New Hampshire
New Mexico
Rhode Island

I also tackled the Run for Regis Trail Half Marathon in the snow in January and the Fools 25k trail run in the mud in March. And to top things off, I logged in slightly over 1,000 miles during 2010, dropping from a tight size 12 to a loose size 10 in the process.

I think i'll race less in 2011 and try to enjoy each racing event more - a lesson I learned the hard way as I spent December nursing a very tender achilles and sore knee. Although, I did make Silver Elite Status again on Continental. So here's to another year of possible upgrades from Coach to First Class (phew!).

I'm not really a "resolutions" kind of girl. Instead, I like to set little goals - something achievable, not too lofty, but makes me work a little harder. So this year, I'm going to try to use a little less profanity (blech, that's going to be H-E-double toothpicks hard), floss a little more (my dentist will be appreciative), play outside a little more with my girls (does putting B in the jogging stroller count?), spend at least a half hour each evening with just the husband (watching Glee on dvr counts, right?), and check off at least five more states this year with the help of my family.

Now, I just have to figure out where the 2011 girls trip will lead us?!

May 2011 be everything you want it to be!

Dining Room Before & After

Like everyone else, I have a long to-do list, that gets longer and rarely do items get checked off, But today, with a little paint I remade the dining room lighter and brighter and hopefully winter won't feel so long with these softer colors. I couldn't believe it had been 7 years since I last painted this room!