Saturday, December 27, 2014

No-bake tasty bites!

And now for something completely different. I'm bachelloretting it for the weekend, and destroying my kitchen to make tasty things is one way I like to stay busy instead of feeling lonely. I've seen recipes for protein-energy balls and bars before but never tried them myself. Until today!

This is adapted from Gimme Some Oven based on what I had in my pantry, since I can't be bothered to plan ahead. :) I'm listing the ingredients I used and not all things were measured (clearly).

1 cup quick oats
1/2 cup Justin's vanilla almond butter
1/4 cup Nutiva shelled hemp seeds
1/2 cup mini semi sweet chocolate chips
1 tbsp-ish of honey (what was left in the bottle)
2 tbsp-ish of pancake syrup to make up for the lack of honey
1 tsp vanilla extract

I stirred together the oats, almond butter, hemp seeds, chocolate chips, vanilla, and honey. Once there was a rough blend, I used my hands to see if it was sticky enough to start shaping balls. Not so much, hence the maple syrup. I added enough to reach a better consistency, then covered the bowl and put it in the fridge. I actually left it in there most of the day as I had a bunch of errands to run.

I put the bowl on the counter while I was making dinner and rolled the dough into small balls about 45 minutes later. My hodge-podge of ingredients above made 20 balls, nestled in their Ziplock home in my refrigerator. I think that if you keep to the proportions of ingredients above, you can tweak the recipe to make other yummy flavors. Nutella, cookie butter, dried fruit, chia or flax seeds, and different extract flavors (although some of those things might alter the proteiny-energy-healthy goodness).

Check your pantry and see what you can throw together! NOM.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Owning who you are

Hi there! I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas (and/or another holiday you celebrate). This post was 99% written a week ago and today seems as good a time as any to post it. Hopefully...

This has been lingering in the back of my mind for a while and smacks me in the face each time I see the singlet hanging up in my closet. I kept thinking I had a good reason not to officially say anything, but I really didn't. 

Yeah, you might not consider the badge on the blog subtle. But, it isn’t the same as a post saying “Hey everyone! I’m part of this amazing group of runners, most of whom happen to be wicked fast and in shape and win/place in races but I’m neither of those things, just chubby and injured and slow.” Part of me doesn’t want to embarrass the brand. And part of me doesn’t want to embarrass myself. I get that “other people” chatter going in my head. “SHE’S associated with Oiselle?” following by mocking laughter while they run away on their 7 minute mile recovery runs.

But…right now my readership seems to be my sister and MS, so….yeah. Plus, chubby injured and slow IS the runner I am right now.  That isn’t the runner I WANT to be, nor is it the runner I have the POTENTIAL to be.  I haven’t worn the singlet in a race yet, partly because of the “I’m injured, I can participate but not race” thing and partly because I don’t want to post what chubby looks like in team gear. I am torn between being (gently) honest with who I am (and the many runners out there who might identify with that) OR continuing to leave this part of my running life out of the picture because I harbor the belief that I’d be 
embarrassing  poorly representing the Oiselle brand/exposing myself to internet ridicule (you know, for all 2 of my readers ;)).

However, becoming a part of The Flock involved no vetting. I didn’t have to run X:00 miles or win X number of races. There are several other team aspects of the brand that are specific to runners who can do those things. In my case, all I needed a passion for running, a love for the brand, and a desire to share both with as many people as possible. DONE.

Bottom line, the issue isn’t the imaginary “other people” or the Internet. The issue is how I see myself and the value judgments I place on what I see. So, what do I do about that? I’m not sure. For now, this is what I do know. Being a runner isn’t static. Being an athlete isn’t static. Being a human being is NOT static. Yes, I am the runner/athlete/human I am right now. But that isn’t the same runner/athlete/human I was two years ago. And I bet another two months from now I won’t be the same yet again. Not better, not worse, just different. 

So please allow me to introduce…myself. Flock runner. Head up, wings out. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Turkey Trot report and good news!

I feel like I phoned that last update in, guys and gals. Sorry about that. I wanted to get something up because there was much to talk about but my brain wasn't interested in been thoughtful or creative. My apologies. Here is the overdue report on the Pete Keyes Turkey Trot 5 Mile Run. I hesitate to call it a race report because I was not racing, not even close. I had been in PT for a month at this point and technically this distance was well out of reach for where my body was. It was important to me to be able to join the rest of my family at the race and I had a very clear action plan (okayed by my PT) in my head for race morning.

Normally the family treks an hour or so away from the house in NY to a local 5k turkey trot, but the addition of my nephew makes staying close to home a priority (especially when you need to leave said toddler with Grandma who is also trying to cook the Thanksgiving feast). Enter the Pete Keyes Run. It was super close to the house and it was a longer run for a killer reg fee of just $20 (long sleeve tech shirt too!).  Put on by the Triple Cities Running Club, the proceeds of this race go towards scholarships for high school runners in the triple cities area. Aside from the proximity to my house, I also loved that it was held at Otsinengo Park. I have ran in that park many times while still living in the area, so I know it well. Added bonus: the course is entirely inside the park so I didn't have to worry about wayward cars and the like.

So, race plan. It was pretty simple, logistically speaking, but the execution was a guaranteed shot to the ego. Warm up: walking briskly for about 5 minutes to get the blood flowing. Stretch those pesky calves. Once the race starts, take it easy. Snail-through-molasses easy. Walk as needed, and stop if the pain level in the Achilles or hamstring hits a 2 on the 1 to 10 scale. Yes, a 2. After the race, however far I get, do all the stretching and foam rolling I've been doing for the last month. Simple? Yes. Frustrating? You betcha. The most helpful thing was having my family there. My father, my sister, my brother-in-law and MS all ran as well. They reminded me that it was just great to be out here at all, that I’d been injured, that it was temporary, and that running smart today would pay off big tomorrow. Not that I’d say it to their faces, but they were right.

The race had a little bit of a late start, which irked me only because the temperature was in the low 20’s with wind and snow flurries, not to mention the 8 or so inches of snow that fell overnight. I wanted to get moving if for no other reason than to feel warm. Glad to finally be going, I started my Garmin (pace display covered with tape) and tried to settle in. The pavement was wet but not slick, they did a great job of keeping the course clear. I had that “I’m going to finish last” feeling, but for the first time it seemed like a real possibility. I’m not going to lie, the first mile was rough. My leg had been aching for the past few days, especially during the 7 hour car trip up from VA. I was trying to focus on the form tips given to by my PT and calm myself down.

I haven’t been sedentary since I started PT, but the elliptical and spinning alone haven’t kept my cardio level where I would like it to be and I felt it. I took a minute walk break somewhere around the end of the first mile, more to pull my head together than anything else. I wasn't experiencing much, if any, discomfort yet so I forged ahead. MS has been down for the count with a wicked case of PF, so I had (miserable) company along the way. Between mile 2 and 2.5, I started to stress again. It was taking forever and realizing I wasn't halfway yet didn't help. I haven’t had a DNF yet in my running career, and while it may be unavoidable I did not want it to happen today.

After the first mile and a half, the course becomes an out and back. Although it meant I knew exactly how much I had left to run, it also let me see the lead runners coming back and cheer on my family as they came by. Looking for people you know during a race is a good distraction if you are not having the best day. Other than that, I tried to focus on a specific form tip and the fact that I got to be out there in the first place. I don’t have to run, I get to. And on the morning of a day devoted to being with loved ones, surrounded by the incredibly beautiful sites along the trail. Pristine snow on the ground, tree branches draped in white, flurries coming down and landing on my tongue. Who in their right mind could be unhappy?

Like any good race, there was a short but steep hill within the last ½ mile. I knew it was there and I tried to maintain effort and form on the way up and over. Crowd support has appeared now, and it was greatly appreciated. I heard my Dad yelling for me and it was exactly what I needed. I didn't have a kick at all, but I tried to push a little harder because feeling strong at the finish is important to me. The time was what it was and I decided right there to let it go. I finished. I was not in pain. That’s a win in my book.

Because the race was small, the only pictures I've seen were of local race club members, not of all participants. We did snap a quick picture before the start (someone is clearly freezing).

No one was interested in lingering post-race so we piled into the cars and headed home (after a brief stop for coffee and donuts as per tradition). I stretched and rolled like a good PT patient, then showered and got ready to embrace the holiday. If I was sore later, fine (I wasn't).  I’m so relieved that it went the way it did and I’m looking forward to more runs as PT progresses.

I was going to wrap this up with a request for good thoughts as I waited to hear back on my application to be a Nuun Ambassador for 2015. As luck would have it, I didn't need to wait any longer. Behold:



We are so happy to welcome you to the Nuun family! You have been selected to represent Nuun in all of the amazing areas in which you live, work, play, and compete in.

This year we have restructured the program a bit and we're excited that you been accepted as a Nuun Ambassador within our program!

I am beyond excited (if the Facebook and Twitter posts didn't bear that out already).  I've got another post ready to go, you'll see that later today or this weekend. Early Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

A quick PT update

I meant to have this up before the Thanksgiving holiday but that obviously didn't work out. How I used to blog almost every day back in 2011 is beyond me. At any rate, here is a status report on physical therapy. I have been going to see Christine at the EAC twice a week since my analysis was done back in October. I put my full trust in her, our appointments at the clinic, and the exercises I did at home every day. The Monday before Thanksgiving, November 24th, was the first reassessment and I was hoping that I'd be far enough long to participate in a turkey trot with my family on Thanksgiving Day.

Our normal routine is for me to hop up on the table and give Christine an update on things have been since the previous appointment while she pokes and probes and stretches and rubs. In addition to that she did a few tests on certain areas in order to compare the results to my initial analysis. I was able to resist more to her pressure and had improvements on degrees of motion. I was also re-tested on single leg calf raises and single leg hops. NO PAIN. That was not the case during the analysis. For me, lack of pain is huge. I have been used to sitting, standing, walking, and running with some level of pain for so long that it had become the norm. No, I wasn't running. But something that used to hurt no longer did. I was pumped, to say the least.

She put me through a series of exercises that we've done in the past and aside from muscle soreness from doing the work, I was still pain-free. My sessions at home on the elliptical have also become increasingly easier, and I am confident that it is direct result of physical therapy. Christine told me to enjoy the turkey trot with my family, get in a sold warm-up, and be smart. I had no problem committing to taking it easy, focusing on my form changes during the run, and being willing to pull the plug if I reached a 2 on the pain scale. I was also hoping that the joy of being with my family and having running shoes on my feet would carry me through.

So...this post is going up a week into December. How did the race go? Stayed tuned :)