Friday, September 30, 2011

Out of the Mouths of Babes

When you think about it, your children reveal alot about you. Whether you were a tough love parent. If you babied your kids. Do they have a good sense of humor and coping skills. Or did you allow technology to let vital skills slip from their fingertips. I am guilty of all these. But this week was especially comical...

Case in point #1: I was working with Bridget on what letter does a word begin with. She brought me in a leaf (I have more leaves in my house than the Metropark has!). I asked her what letter does LEAF begin with? I then sound it out - la, la, la, la. To which she replies, "it begins with a song?"

Case #2: Megan is putting together college applications and requests for recommendations. These requires a stamped envelope. She looks at me and asks for confirmation, "the stamp goes on the top right?" At first I was stunned, but then I realized that she is the queen of texting and probably hasn't personally sent snail mail.

So there you have it. Parenting at it's finest! Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Massachusetts Fun Facts

I'm running a neat little 5k race in Cambridge this weekend as part of their Oktoberfest celebration (costumes are encourages and oh I have my costume ready!). The girls and I are flying to Boston, doing a little Boston authors kind of tour, eating pizza in our room, and paying outrageous in-room movie pricing as part of this weekend jaunt. As with all our states, I like to throw in a sprinkle of education with "fun facts."

Boston is one of my favorite towns and I never tire of visiting there (love San Francisco as well!). So let's begin with some odd stuff that makes MA awesome:

1. Boston built the first subway system in the United States in 1897.
2. There is a house in Rockport built entirely of newspaper.
3. The Fig Newton was named after Newton, Massachusetts.
4. 1634: Boston Common became the first public park in America.
5. Glaciers formed the islands of Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard during the ice age.
6. The Boston Tea Party reenactment takes place in Boston Harbor every December 16th.
7. The first Thanksgiving Day was celebrated in Plymouth in 1621.
8. The official state dessert of Massachusetts is Boston cream pie.

Yay 34 states! Massachusetts, here we come!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Great App for Cycling and Running

My husband is far more into apps than I could ever dream of being. I find it time consuming searching for that ultimate application and, besides, I get "menu anxiety" when there's way too many options to select. Good thing I have him to do the searching for me. His latest "find" was the Cyclemeter app, which can be downloaded from iTunes. We used this iPhone-friendly app for Eddy's Sweet Corn Ride and it was awesome. The stats it gives is incredible and it easily hooks onto your handlebars (you'll need to purchase the case first). I'll be trying it out on my long run this weekend and will definitely be using it on my 100k bike ride the end of October.

For more in-depth review, go here and here.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Best Gear Advertisement

I really like this company. Even Facebook "liked" them. They're funny, make a good product, and I'm all about the up-and-coming small business making a way for themselves. But this's the best. You can't tell me it didn't make you laugh a little, too!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Weekend Fun in the CLE

I've said it here loads of times, but there is so much to do in the Cleveland area. Love this town. Saturday, we enjoyed the Farmer's Market in Shaker Heights. Made a little trip into Little Italy for those wonderful cinnamon stars from Presti's Bakery. Then checked out the RIPE! Festival at the Botanical Gardens. Here's my two darlings having fun - and it's root beer. Although Hubs and I were enjoying a nice brew.

After squeezing in a long run Sunday morning, the girls and I checked out a new playground. Bridget is always on the lookout for the next, best, most awesome-est playground out there. We hit the jackpot. As an added bonus, there was a huge hill for rolling down. This was Bridget's first time to enjoy this rackous good time and I had so much fun showing her how. That is...until she asked to do it again! Ahhh, was the second time rolling down that hill that I thought I was going to hurl. I tried standing up, but could only muster the cow pose on my hands and knees...then I toppled over like a sorority girl who needed to be taken home at the end of the evening. Phew, that second "roll" took a couple hours of recovery time, but it's all good now!

No matter how old I get, I never progress past the age of 12!

Hope your weekend was just as fun!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Dual Focus

The last couple of months I've been mostly focused on running, but that's a changin'! My training is in pretty good shape to handle the multitude of events coming up for October - one 5k, two 10ks, and a half marathon. As luck would have it, I am tentatively scheduled to bike my first 100k this year as well. This means a long ride on Saturday and a long run on Sunday (phew, I'm tired already!).

When we got into this whole crazy-travel-run-races thing, I wanted to make sure that we tried different types of events. Don't get me wrong, I think it's a great accomplishment for someone to run a marathon in every state. But I wanted to step out of my comfort zone and try races that scared me or required me to build upon a physical weakness (hello, swimming!). In the process, I have tackled triathlons, an adventure race (which included mountain biking and canoeing), several marathons, more than a dozen half marathons, and an assortment of 5k and 10k races. Even better, my daughters and husband have joined me along the way - whether it's running the races with me (including Meg completing HER first triathlon), going along in the jogging stroller, or participating in all this craziness by cheering me on to the finish line - it's been a family deal. But the one thing I've yet to complete is an all-cycling event. I am now signed up to tackle my first 100k cycling event, which has the added bonus of raising funds for a good cause.

Training for a cycling event presents interesting challenges in our rain-soaked state, which is experiencing a very wet fall. Thank goodness for spin classes and my CycleOps trainer. My Saturday morning spin class was nothing short of awesome. And it was the first time that I used my new Pearl Izumi cycling shoes. These shoes may be the ugliest fashion choice on the planet and I have appropriately named them my "Pat Boone's" because they are all white with black accents (please tell me you're old enough to know who Pat Boone is?). And yes, they were on sale. Otherwise, I would have bought something far less atrocious looking! But wow, what a difference in power. I felt like I was hardly exerting and could have cycled for hours! I have no idea what took me so long to make this purchase. Even funnier was watching me attempting to clip in and out - zero coordination on top of having no clue what I was doing made for a funny experience. So while training for the ride, I'll be blogging about both running and cycling and all the mayhem both bring to this family.

My question to you: if you could complete an event, other than in your regular sporting field, what would you complete?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

What Is Your Entrance Song?

My husband and I were at an afternoon Indians game (yes, during the workday!) last month and marveling at how players get to choose their own music for when they're at bat. It's kind of cool because their song choice reveals something about their heritage or maybe it's a kick-ass, get you pumped up to win song.

Later in the game, Firestarter was played. Light bulb! I leaned over and told Greg, "This is the song I want played when I enter a room." I'm a redhead - that's gotta make me a firestarter alone. The beats, the energy, it's all there. Now, I'm the first to admit that I don't look like your typical Prodigy "fan", but they do produce high energy music. So if you hear this song, chances are I'm entering the room!

Do you have an entrance song? I'd like to hear it.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Quick Random Stuff

1. Had an awesome 3.5 mile run last night. For the first time ever, I tackled this one very challenging hill without stopping! I kept my stride short and light and couldn't believe that I didn't fatigue. The hill not quite a half mile (.45), but tough as hell and I won last night. Woot!

2. Tonight is library night and I'm excited. That either makes me a geek or very dull or possibly frugal. And since when did I start getting excited about going to the library?! (since 5 actually)

3. I finished Civil Disobedience - amazing how something so long ago could feel so current. I'm now reading Alice Waters and Chez Panisse by Thomas McNamee. I can't stop reading it. Such an incredible story about Waters' restaurant in Berkeley and how she's credited with starting the local food movement.

4. I found the best dark coffee beans at the Westside Market. It's the Gothic blend and it's described as dark and stormy. As if I didn't already have a love affair with coffee before, but this takes it to a whole new level. Mmmm!

Happy hump day!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

5 Meals/5 Ingredients

With the evenings getting darker earlier, and me trying to fit in running and biking when I can, the dinners are getting a bit hectic. So today, I prepared 5 dinners using 5-6 ingredients with the intention that prepping these meals would be relatively easy and could go from fridge to table in a half hour (45 minutes tops!). Plus, they had to be kid-friendly yet palatable to adults. Tough challenge, but I think I mapped out a good dinner strategy.

Classic Pot Roast
Easy peasy - roast, carrots (or root vegetables), potatoes, chicken stock, seasoning. Toss in a crock pot on low for the day.

Baked Penne Pasta
Penne, sausage, sauce (marinara or pesto), basil, cheese. Boil penne, saute sausage, mix all ingredients together, top with cheese. Freeze in aluminum foil pan. Bake 30 minutes at 350 when ready. Goes well with a side of broccoli or small salad.

Chicken Enchilada Casserole
Chicken breasts, tortillas, cheese, salsa verde, can of cream of chicken soup. Be creative by adding additional ingredients such as black beans, diced sweet potatoes, jalepenos, or tofu). Boil chicken breasts, then shred with fork. Mix shredded chicken with cream of chicken soup. Layer in tortillas, roll, placing them side by side in a 9x12 baking dish (coated with cooking oil spray). Layer with salsa verde and more shredded cheese. Freeze in an aluminum foil plan. Bake 350 for 20-30 minutes. Goes well with a side of quinoa or brussel sprouts sauteed in olive oil with red pepper flakes and chopped garlic.

Stuffed Baked Green Peppers
Beans or meat, rice, diced tomatoes (I prefer the fire-roasted ones), corn and sauce. Cut tops of peppers and layer in pan. Mix rice, diced tomatoes, corn, sauce and beans or meat. Scoop mixture into peppers. Top with sauce and sprinkled cheese. Freeze till ready. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes. Leftovers can be turned into Baked Pepper Soup and is great for lunch, too.

Baked Potato Soup
So simple, low-fat and takes less than 30 minutes from start to finish. Great mix of carbs and protein for post-long runs. Boil 6 cups of skim milk, then whisk in 1/3 cup flour. Microwave 4 large potatoes (prick with fork, wrap in wet paper towel). Remove skin, mash and add to milk mixture. Pour in 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese; mix well till melted. Pour in 8 oz reduced fat sour cream. Serve with fresh crumbled bacon, diced onions, shredded cheddar cheese. Goes well with grilled cheese (with pesto spread between the slices) or a good crusty loaf of bread.

Don't forget to season as your taste desire. I love lots of pepper and garlic in everything I cook. So what's your go-to dinner that's quick and easy?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Great Little Strength Workout

I'm always on the lookout for a good strength workout. I tire easily of the same old, same old. How can I keep my muscles guessing if I do the same workout in the same order? I tried one round of this core workout after my lunchtime run and I want to hurl. Something tells me I should keep this up if I want results!

50 crunches
20 squat jumps
1 minute plank
2 minute wall sit
30 side crunches
20 push ups
150 calf raises (90 regular, 30 left, 30 right)

Repeat for 2-3 sets (are you kidding me?!).

What mini sessions have worked for you?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Fall Bucket List

Autumn is my absolute favorite time of the year. How can it not be? Running is a pleasure, the colors of nature are at their most vibrant, and you can bring out the sweatshirts (yay!). I came across this cool little Fall Bucket List, so I thought I'd give it a go for my fam. Adapt it for you and see what you can check off as well!

Apple Picking

Make Leaf Art

Photoshoot in a Leaf Pile, then jump in!

Make Caramel Apples

Enjoy S'mores by a Fire

Go to a Pumpkin Patch

Make Fall Cookies

Take a Nature Walk (and Learn!)

Go Trick or Treating (or, for us, enter a Trick or Trot Race)

Bake Pies (suggestions?)

Carve a Pumpkin

Have an Outdoor Picnic While We Still Can!

Do you have any Autumn traditions or celebrations? What would you add to your list?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Mmmm Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

One of my favorite fall recipes - so quick, easy and lowfat.

2 cups sugar
2 cups canned pumpkin
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup fat-free vanilla pudding (I use those little pudding cups)
4 large egg whites
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1-1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Stuff To Do
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Combine first 5 ingredients, stirring with a whisk. Combine flour, cinnamon, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture, stirring just until moist. Stir in chocolate chips.

3. Spoon batter into 2 (8x4-inch) loaf pans coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes, then serve.

152 calories, 5g fat, 2g protein, 20g carbs, 0 cholesterol, 137mg sodium.

Best of all, your house will smell amazing! Enjoy!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Unique Gift for the Endurance Athlete

I stumbled across this cool little gift idea from the barrage of etsy emails I receive each week. Very unique and fun gift for the endurance athlete/cyclist on your holiday shopping list. And if your person loves chocolate, then he/she is really going to love these edible candy gears! While you're at it, check out the scrabble tiles in white chocolate - so neat!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Running in the Rain

The weather forecast here in Northern Ohio is calling for wet, wet, and more wet. As long as I can have this lovely visual of Matthew McConaughey and Lance Armstrong running in the rain, I will have more bounce in my mudpuddle step. Running in the rain, baby!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

I Love My Bike

While spending a little R&R time in Chautauqua this weekend, I found the most wonderful little book called I Love My Bike. Authors Matt Finkle and Brittain Sullivan photograph and provide brief interviews of cyclists all over the United States who love their bikes. I have enjoyed the amazing photographs, as well as where people are from (hometown and current home), and their bike choice. Anyone who has a kinship with their bike could clearly relate to this book. There's no bike snobbery here, either. People are not featured with $10,000 bikes. It's everyday bike owners, which made this book so much more enjoyable. Well, enough about the book. Got a date with Mama Violet (Bridget's bike is Little Violet) and it's time for a ride!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Feels Like It To Me

Finally, a little less summer...a little more Autumn. So excited since it's my absolutely favorite time of the year!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Intervals and New Music

Had a really good speed session today. I needed to get in 8x400 workout, but time only allowed for 6x400. I completed all 400 sets at 7.0mph or 8:32 mile with recovery at 6.0. I can't believe how good this pace felt. Very manageable. I told Greg it's got to be the biking and the addition of squats/lunges. Next week I'll be tackling 800s and I'm going to see if I can hold this same pace for longer intervals.

On a music note, I'm listening to the new album from Red Hot Chili Peppers. Love this group ad I'm really enjoying what I'm hearing so far!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Easy Snack Using Chickpeas

Garbanzo beans. Chickpeas. Whatever you call them, they make a nutritious post-workout snack. And best of all, this recipe is super simple.

Short ingredient list: can of garbanzo beans, sea salt, garlic peppercorn mix (or seasoning of your choice), aluminum foil lined pan.

Rinse beans.

Dry with paper towels.

Spread on cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees. Shake half way through.

Done! A 1/2 cup serving size has just 120 cal, 2g fat, 20g carbs, 6g protein.