Thursday, January 31, 2013

Travel Thursday: Running Races App

The Husband sent me a most wonderful email the other day, inviting me to download a new app that he paid for.  The Ultimate Running Races App is AMAZING.  If you love to travel and, of course, you love to run, this app is for you.  The app lists 500 of the "biggest, strangest, most loved, and most extreme races from around the world."

The app allows you to search by all, location, time of year, type of terrain, distance, favorites, races completed, recently viewed, and then basic search. I'm loving it already!

The Ultimate Running Races App is just $0.99 and can be downloaded from the iTunes store.

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Workout Wednesday: Snowshoes Anyone?

I missed out on the first snowshoe race of the season here in Northern Ohio held on January 26. Rats! However, with a little searching, I found another equally as exciting snowshoe race for this weekend.  This one is at the Lake Metroparks Farmpark. And how exciting, it's on Groundhog Day!

There's a distance for everyone - 2.5K, 5K and 10K.  I haven't been in my snowshoes for at least a year so I'm going to try for the 5k distance, since I know I can at least run that distance. I'm definitely going to earn some serious Nike+Fuel for this workout! 

If you're interested in trying out snowshoeing, and it really is quite a great workout for runners, there's two more races to sample.  On February 12, the Sasquatch Snowshoe race will be held in Russell Township.  On February 19, the Polar Bear Snowshoe Race is in Brecksville.  Both of these races are sponsored by Northcoast Endurance Coaching and Vertical Runner.  No snow? No problem.  The races will be run on the trails - so come prepared!

And maybe celebrate with a nice cup of hot chocolate post-race! 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

So Did You Enjoy Today, Too?

Can you believe the kind of day Mother Nature gave us? Wow is all I have to say...and Thank You! Even though I had to battle the rain drops, I managed to get in a nice little run after work.  Bridget agreed to go along in the jogging stroller to "relax" as she said, and I had a nice, oh-my-gosh-this-feels-amazing kind of run.

Spring was really teasing us today!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Meatless Mondays: Kid-Friendly Recipes

I came across this Pinterest site that features meatless recipes for kids. I think we'll try the Honey Apple Stacks, which just requires slicing the apples, whisking 1/4 cup of honey with juice of one lemon, pouring over the stack, then baking at 300 degrees for 35-45 minutes. Simple, fun and easy dessert for Bridget and I to tackle after work!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Nike+Fuel Band Update

Just a little snapshot of last week's activity. I wasn't as active as I *should* have been, as you can see, I still logged in 27,996 steps or 11.5 miles in 5 days of activity. Being able to see my progress has made me become more active this week and, wow, did I really need that!

I'm also learning what gets logged and what somehow doesn't get logged as much. Running on the treadmill does not have the same results as forward motion running on pavement. Also, I enjoyed an hour of Hot Powerful Yoga this week, a very exhausting class/practice, and yet the Nike+Fuel Band credited me with less than 100 fuel points. I was pretty bummed about an hour of intense activity not scoring many points, but I also realized that I was mentally and physically in a better place after yoga, so it's all good.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Best New Cleveland Coffee

Whenever traveling, Megan and I always search out a bag of beans from an independent roaster. We have come across some amazing blends over the years and enjoyed many cups of coffee while remembering those great trips. But this week I came across a local Cleveland chef, who has started his own line of coffee. Zack Bruell, chef and owner of Chinato, Table|45, L'Albatros, and Cowell & Hubbard, has come out with his own line of coffee. While typing today's blog entry, I am enjoying a smooth, bold cup of his Chinato blend. Mmmmm! Simply a wonderful start to a lazy Saturday morning.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Travel Thursday: Three Great Travel Apps

Tackling so many states in the past five years requires a great deal of travel. When we first started, it required regular visits on our home computer to Expedia to compare air fares or hotel rates, as well as going to MapQuest to print out directions. Thank goodness for the iPhone! With Greg traveling as much as he does for work, and me trying to make Silver status on United another year, travel apps have come in handy on each and every trip. Three favorite ones are:

1. Organizing --> TripIt. By emailing my hotel, air, car rental reservation, I can give up the manilla folder. They will organize all your reservations into one itinerary, as well as adding weather, maps and directions for your destination. Pretty cool.

2. Food --> Yelp!. I seriously love this app. No matter where we are, I pull this baby out and can immediately find exactly what we want. Today, I used it for ice cream. Sadly, Honey Hut was closed for the season! Since Greg and I are often looking for either a really good microbrew or a great little asian restaurant, Yelp! has come in handy.

3. Lodging --> HotelTonight. Although I have not used this app yet, I have downloaded it because it's highly recommended on all the travel sites I frequent. Last year, we were stranded in Newark overnight and I don't wish that on my worst enemy. I would have given the world for this app. It's in most major cities and shows steep discounts for same day travel plans. So if you get stranded at a hotel and need a room that night or right away, this is the app for you. Or, if you sometimes travel like we do, and just wing it, HotelTonight will provide us with a deep discount when we do decide to settle down for the night.

Happy travels!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Workout Wednesday: Century Cycles Bike Clinics

During this wicked cold weather, I can't help but let my mind wander off to warmer days and how fun it will be to start cycling again. In lieu of an actual workout today, I thought I would share with you the wonderful upcoming cycling clinics being offered by Century Cycles. I think I'll make 2013 the year of becoming a more informed cyclists. Wanna join me?

Basic Bike Maintenance
Roadside Repair
Shifting Adjustment
All About Brakes
Cleaning/Lubing Drive Trains
Cleaning and Storing Your Bicycle
And Many More!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Disney on Ice wth My Little Princess

Since both Bridget and I had the day off Monday in honor of the Martin Luther King holiday, we were lucky enough to sneak in the final afternoon performance of Disney on Ice: Rockin Ever After. So much fun!

One of my pet peeves, though, was looking around and seeing so many parents on Facebook DURING the performance. Come on, parents! It's one and a half hours. You get a break called Intermission, if you have pressing correspondence. But don't light up my area with your need to read someone's status update when we have a talented and exciting performance to view instead. Ariel, Merida, Rapunzel and Belle, as well as your children, would appreciate your undivided attention.

Seriously, isn't ice skating just beautiful to watch?! We both dressed up, faced the bitter cold and terrible downtown Cleveland winds head on, and made a fun afternoon out of our day!

UPDATE ON THE SOUP: I substituted a 3-bean can mix and it was amazing! This may have been one of the best bowls of chili I've had. And it was perfect for these freezing temps. Yum!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Meatless Monday: Black Bean and Pumpkin Chili

Since I'm home today, and it's FREEZING outside, I thought a nice big bowl of soup and crusty bread sounded perfect. Maybe you'll even be tempted to join me for this meatless soup. The recipe calls for using just black beans. Since I don't have black beans in my pantry at the moment, I'll be substituting a bean mix. I'll let you know how that substitution impacts this recipe.

Black Bean and Pumpkin Chili

3-15 oz. cans black beans
2-14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes
1 cup pureed pumpkin
1 cup diced yellow onion
1 medium yellow bell pepper, diced
1 TBSP chili powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp nutmet
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Add all ingredients to your slow cooker. Stir. Cook on low for 8-10 hours. Serve.


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Weekend Update

Not as good as the SNL version of Weekend Update, but hey, I'm an amateur!

1. Loving my Nike+Fuel Band. I can't believe how it's really motivated me to get up and move. The best part was Saturday when I reached my daily goal (first time this week). The little alien looking guy jumped up and danced and cheered me on for reaching my points goal. It was an unexpected and very welcomed surprise. I've gotten out of my chair at work more, walked more, danced more (Kinect), and even squeezed in an awesome 3-mile run.

2. Lance's confession. Sadly, I was a huge Lance supporter. I didn't miss a Tour stage - even went to France to see a stage in 2006. Yes, the same year Floyd Landis tested positive. I still think he's quite an athlete, but he cheated. I'm not one of those people on Twitter or Facebook who can so easily condemn, but it was a sad week for cycling. I am, however, looking forward to the always happy Jen Voight, the Schleck brothers, TJ Vangarderen, Bradley Wiggins, Mark Cavendish, and Peter Sagan competing in the 2013 Tour de France. I look forward to the Vuelta, the Giro and the Tour Down Under. Cycling is exciting and will recover from this messy episode.

3. Made my first trip to Costco. Amazing. I bought a gigantic 4-pack of Clorox wipes (necessary purchase) and enjoyed all the food sampling. That place is insane and, seriously, unless you are the Goslings, do you really need THAT LARGE of items?! I can't wait for my next trip!

4. Went to Arhaus Outlet to "look" for a coffee table and a chair. Came home with a library table. Yep, focused shopper I am not.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Great Little Challenge for Clevelanders

I follow the Cleveland Metroparks on Twitter (@clevemetroparks) and this week they issued a cool challenge asking followers if they have visited all the Cleveland Metroparks reservations. If not, try visiting them all in 2013, they tweeted! What a wonderful idea!

Big Creek
Bradley Woods
Euclid Creek
Garfield Park
Mill Stream
North Chagrin
Ohio & Erie Canal
Rocky River
South Chagrin
Washington (including Rivergate)
West Creek

So I challenge you, Cleveland readers, to do the same. I will take my Nike Plus Fuel Band, load up the kid and maybe the dogs, go for walks in the spectacular (yet strange) weather, get in some hiking and enjoy the wonders of the Metroparks!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Friday Funny: I Before E

Who doesn't love a little nerdy humor?!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Travel Thursday: It's the Little Things

I recently read a good article from one of the travel sites I follow - I wish I could remember where, but one of the tips intrigued me. It was recommended that, when traveling, you carry $5 gift cards to give to passengers for their inconveniences, such as when you ask someone to switch seats with you so you could sit with all your family or your travel mate.

While Greg and I were discussing this, we differed a bit on the views. For example, we always try our best to never inconvenience others because traveling is tight and cramped and, quite honestly, why add to the misery of it all. When we have asked someone to switch seats, it usually resulted in giving them the better (closer to the front of the plane) seat, and we never asked someone to give up their aisle or window seat for a middle seat. But I argued that if people were kinder, and maybe did reward others for doing somethink kind in return, then maybe it would help make the cattle call of traveling a little more bearable.

What do you think?

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Workout Wednesday: A Ladder 100

I've been keeping up this strength training routine at least 3 times each week for the last three weeks. The first time I tried it, I almost gave up after completing the 100 jumping jacks, then seriously considered throwing in the towel after 80 squats! I've noticed that, while the routine is still exhausting, I am shaving a few seconds off each time I complete the entire series. Give it a try and see what you think!

100 jumping jacks
90 crunches
80 squats
70 leg lifts
60 jumping jacks
50 crunches
40 squats
30 leg lifts
20 jumping jacks
10 minutes running

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Nike Plus Fuel Band Update

It really was simple to set up! The hardest part was setting aside the time to do it, but once I did, it took less than 10 minutes to go through the motions and maybe another 20 minutes of reading. You indicate your height, weight, which wrist you'll be wearing it on, and your goal daily points. Easy Peasy.

The first day I wore my Nike Fuel Band, I purposely didn't do any exercises. I wanted a baseline of how active or inactive I was. Well, it turns out I don't get out of my seat at work nearly enough! When I set up my Fuel Band, I set it for moderate activity, or 3,000 points. Monday, I used (or burned) 2,178 Nike Fuel points.

I was initially worried my band wasn't registering my activity. It doesn't stay lit up like one would expect. However, when I pressed the little button, I was informed of my points. What was really neat is that the bar above the points balance indicates how close you are - red, then yellow, then green. By the end of the day, my Fuel Band was reading red and yellow, but no green...not today, at least. The light indicator line reminded me of the old game, Light Brite, which made this gift so much more fun.

I love my Nike Fuel Band. The size took a little getting used to, but it didn't bother me at work while typing and it looks like a thick black bracelet. My coworkers don't expect me to be fashion-forward. After all, I've been wearing a black, rubber Timex watch that still registers Mountain Standard Time.

Now it's time to get competitive and beat that daily goal!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Meatless Monday: Making Your Own Almond Butter

Really simple to do and extra yummy. Just chop almonds in your blender. Keep pulsing until it's a thick paste. Keep going. Keep going. A little more. Keep going. And before you know it, you have the desired consistency for almond butter. Spread it on apple slices or onto a banana and you have a healthy snack!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Quick Trip to Phoenix

Earlier this month, we all loaded up in a United plane and traveled off to the land of warmth, sunshine and no snow. While I do love my town, it is always a nice break to get away from the cold and see how the other half of the U.S. lives.

The best part of this trip was seeing how much the new generation of "cousins" enjoyed themselves. We spent an afternoon at miniature golf. I started out doing really well with a couple hole-in-one efforts, but I peaked too early, and it was all downhill after that! The kids enjoyed themselves and, fortunately, no one kept score! *phew*

During one afternoon, we wandered around the downtown campus area of Arizona State University. Meg found herself a nice top, we enjoyed some really yummy tacos, and Bridget piled up on candy at the Candy Addict. But the best part was stumbling across a wonderful independent coffee house - the Cartel. Seriously. Best. Latte. Foam. Ever!

One wall was nothing but bicycle spokes/tires. Great looking art. The music was inviting and Meg and I commented on how we could easily kick back, drink coffee, read and waste away an afternoon in this joint.

The most fun, I think, was when the kids just got to hang out at Aunt Kim's house and be kids. We heard lots of giggling, they ran around like banshees, and tried beating each other and Uncle Greg at Mario Kart. Great fun!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

What I'm Listening to Now

I've been listening to Alabama Shakes for a few months now and really loving their soulful sound. I'm not even sure what I like best - the mix of instruments, the mellow sound, or the amazing voice of the lead singer. Check them out and maybe you'll spend a little extra time on You Tube sampling some more of their tunes.


Friday, January 11, 2013

Friday Funny

Seriously, who couldn't use one of these?!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Travel Thursday: 3 Packing Essentials

One of the major elements of this blog is traveling. In order to tackle all 50 states, one must travel - either my car, plane, subway, get the picture. All four of us, yes even Bridget, have really become efficient at packing a suitcase. So I thought it would be cool to share some of the lessons we've learned, either through the advice of others or by learning the lesson the hard way!

1. Pack a hat. Hats are great for bad hair days, keeping the sun off of you, or just adding flair to an otherwise boring outfit!

2. Pack healthy snacks for everyone. I usually have a Kind bar, a small baggie of almonds, or twizzlers for Bridget. Something good to nosh on, but not something that will add bloating or pounds.

3. Pack dryer sheets. They make your clothes smell fresh and help make your dirty clothes on the return trip smell less funky. Huge help on those long treks!

Three simple things to aid in making trips fun!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Workout Wednesday: Power Yoga Moves

Just returned from a short, little family trip to Phoenix to visit the relatives in the land of sunshine. We had a weekend of wonderful conversation, delicious food and a killer workout. Kim, Megan and I took a Power Yoga class at her gym. Let me tell you, there was no power left in this body after the class was finished! The best part, though, is that I took away a few helpful moves that I can easily incorporate into my 3x/week strength training that I've been doing. My favorite power yoga moves were:

1. While in plank position, we did jumping jacks. Amazing how hard this was, yet will make such an impact on my weak core.

2. The second killer move was also in plank positon, then you twist your right hip to touch the floor, move back into center plank position, then left hip twists to touch the floor. I collapsed on the first one, but kept giving it a try. I'm kind of excited to see how much I can improve over the next several weeks.

3. My third favorite take-away move was a variation of lunge. Hold the lunge position for 5 breaths, then do 20 knee lifts bringing the arms down to meet the knees, then move back into lunge for 5 breaths. I couldn't believe how much my thighs hated me!

Do you have a favorite strength training move you'd like to share?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Snow Much Fun Around Here

We've been loving all this snow!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Meatless Monday: Week One

Serves 4

1/2 cup water
1/3 cup uncooked couscous
1 tablespoon water
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 large egg whites
3 large eggs
cooking spray
2 cups red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 cup onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup manchego or monterey jack cheese, shredded
Preheat oven to 350°.

Bring 1/2 cup water to boil in a small saucepan and gradually stir in couscous. Remove from heat, cover and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Combine 1 tablespoon water, salt, black pepper, egg whites and eggs in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk.

Heat a 10-inch ovenproof nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add bell pepper, onion, and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes.

Stir in couscous and egg mixture and cook over medium heat 5 minutes or until almost set. Sprinkle with cheese.

Bake for 10 minutes or until set.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Racing Goals This Year

As a family, we have officially tackled 48 states. Wow. 48 states! Our two remaining states are Idaho and Hawaii. And wouldn't you know it, they are also two of the most expensive states remaining. Hawaii will be last so that we can enjoy a nice long vacation to cap off this amazing challenge. But, Idaho? It's been tricky to plan. Therefore, I will add Idaho to this year's racing schedule and leave Hawaii for 2014...maybe late 2013.

Since Cleveland has such a fantastic running community filled with great racing opportunities, I will focus more on local races for 2013.

Right now, my wish list of races for 2013 looks something like this:

January - Not ready yet. I'll be working on getting off some of that *ahem* holiday weight!

February - local 5k snowshoe race. I have snowshoes, but if you do not, they will be renting snowshoes for $10. I might also try to join Megan for the Miami University Indoor Triathlon - 20 minute swim, 20 minute bike, 20 minute run.

March - Saturday, March 16 is the St. Malachai 5-mile run. I haven't run this race in about 7 years, so it will be nice to add it to the calendar.

April - Ragnar Race in Southern California with my sister-in-law, Kim. Three legs totalling 20 miles will be fun AND exhausting!

May - Kind of leaning toward the Capital City half marathon in Columbus the first weekend in May. I've heard so many good things about this race, plus I could talk my sister into cheering me along with my girls.

June - a small race possibly in Ireland, while on vacation, maybe? Kim, can I talk you into this?!

July - Biking in Idaho. I'm thinking Meg and I will tackle the Goldilocks 40 or 60-mile ride.

August - Lorain/Lakeview Spring Triathlon with Megan.

September - Nothing scheduled.

October - The CVNP Trail Series, which meets each Tuesday during October. Such a fun event series.

November - Cleveland Turkey Trot 5-Miler on Thanksgiving Day.

December - Holiday season break.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Why We Fall in Love with Cycling

I came across this great little blog article and wanted to share it.

As the ground is covered in snow, and we have to retreat to our basements to ride, it's nice to be reminded of why cycling is so wonderful.


Friday, January 4, 2013

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Nike Fuel Band

Santa left a Nike Fuel Band under my Christmas tree this year. Greg always tries to get me the latest fitness gadget on the market. He loves technology and I...well, I love my cheap $30 black rubber Timex watch. I'm simple like that.

So I'm going to learn how to operate this darn thing. The directions are simple (uh huh). Under HOW IT WORKS, it says: "Your Nike + Fuelband measures your everyday activity and turns it into Nike fuel. It also tracks each step and calorie burned, displaying it at the press of a button and syncs with your mobile phone or computer. If that doesn't impress you, it's also a great watch." I swear, these directions were written with me in mind. It's also a great watch!

Wish me luck. I'll be figuring this out today and hopefully turning some activity into fuel!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Happy New Year!

Here's to a wonderful 2013 ****

Last year, Pumpkin and I rung in the new year with our first ever Polar Bear Plunge sponsored by the Cleveland Triathlon Club. And this year, Polar Bear Bear Plunge for us! The Lake Erie water temps were hovering in the low 40s, which is even cold for our neck of the woods this time of the year. So we passed - phew! I don't know who felt more relieved - Megan or me?!

Am I pondering any resolutions for this year? Nope. Except, I do hope to beat Megan in all the Dance series on xBox Kinect. At least that's my goal.

Borrowing from Karen's challenge two or three years ago, I am going to make a serious attempt to blog more, maybe even every day. I've laid out a template to follow for January - let's hope I can keep it up in February. I am a bit like Doug in Up! The mention of squirrel and I change subjects, losing all concentration. But I do like chronicling little stories about my daughters as well as the ups and downs of training for races, running, biking and even swimming (which I seriously would like to do more!).

Cheers to a happy and fit new year to you and yours!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Megan and Bridget: Their 2012 Holiday Interview

Last year, I started chronicling brief interviews between my two daughters to preserve memories...and to give us something to laugh about years from now.

1. What one word best desribes you right now?

2. What is your favorite thing about your sister?
BRIDGET: Her messing around with me.
MEGAN: Our Mitchell's ice cream trips.

3. What is your favorite thing to do with your family?
BRIDGET: Spending time with each other and watching Christmas movies.
MEGAN: Traveling and experiencing new places.

4. What is your favorite holiday candy?
BRIDGET: Candy corn.
MEGAN: Angie's buckeyes and Mom's potato candy.

5. What do you want to be when you grow up?
BRIDGET: A Veterinarian (age 5).
MEGAN: Why does everyone keep asking me this? Can't I just be the Sonic girl on roller skates?! (age 19)

I had only prepared 5 questions. However, Bridget was enjoying these questions so she and Megan came up with a few more!

6. What is your favorite animal?
BRIDGET: Dolphin.
MEGAN: Dolphin.

7. What is your favorite place that we have traveled to or visited?
BRIDGET: Arizona.
MEGAN: Spain - Barcelona, Madrid and Seville.

8. What is playing in your iPod right now?
BRIDGET: Taylor Swift, Carly Rae Jepsen's Call Me Maybe, Justin Bieber, and Luke Bryan.
MEGAN: Lumineers, Hoodie Allen, Taylor Swift, and Mumford & Sons.

9. What is your favorite thing to do?
BRIDGET: Go to the park, get ice cream, go swimming, spending time with my family.
MEGAN: Sitting, checking social networks.

10. What is your favorite stuffed animal?
BRIDGET: Holly, my new Christmas dog.
MEGAN: Eeyore (her only stuffed animal that she's had since age 3).

11. What is your favorite ice cream?
BRIDGET: Mitchell's Coffee ice cream with dinosaur sprinkles.
MEGAN: Moosetracks!

Love my girls and I loved how excited they both were to answer these questions (and to humor their mom).