Hello? Hello? Anyone out there?

Can anyone hear me?

Life has sucked me into a black hole I wasn’t sure I’d ever get out of… I wish I could say that I was sorry that the first thing to get scrapped was my blog, but really, I’m not. I needed one less obligation. I needed my me time to serve… well, me.

But life is becoming more manageable and I’m slowly realizing the benefits of better time management, so really, it’s looking more and more like I can sustain this again.

I can, I will, I am able!

^ My mantra.

Anyway, more to come tomorrow. I promise. But for now, please forgive my extended absence (if you noticed–if you’re like me and read a bajillion blogs, you might not have noticed… and that’s fine too).

Races, paces, and silly mistakes

Confusing indeed. Better luck next time, kid.

I ran my third 5K yesterday miles… or rather, I attempted to run my third 5K.

Per my marathon training plan, this weekend’s plan was to run a 5K at the idea race pace for the (much, much) longer race in May. Last month, I did some searching on Active.com and found the Campbell Valentine’s 5K/10K — scheduled for the very day I was supposed to run at race pace.

I signed up and yesterday morning, found myself heading to downtown Campbell to jaunt 3.1 miles. Alex kissed me goodbye, wished me luck, and told me he’d be waiting at the finish line. With my chip affixed to my shoe, I took off with the other runners, enjoying the warm sunshine and eager to add another race to my tick list.

But almost two miles in, I realized something was wrong. I kept running after the first mile marker, figuring the turnaround would be soon. It wasn’t until after the water station, when I saw the 2-mile marker, that I realized something was up…

A 5K is 3.1 miles… So for me to keep running in one direction and hit a two-mile marker was an indicator that I probably wasn’t going the right way… Sure enough, there were a couple of other 5K runners on the course that were figuring out the same thing — the volunteers we passed were a bit confused, but one mentioned she thought the 5Kers were on the other side of the creek we were running on. Awesome.

So we turned around, knowing that our 5K was actually going to be a 4-mile run — no regrets, any gained distance is usually a plus, though it was a little frustrating that there were so few people who knew what was going on or where we were supposed to be. Even more frustrating was that it was SO EASY to have gotten lost — there were no markers telling us that the 5Kers were going in a different direction. Looking back, though, it’s possible I missed an announcement as Alex and I rolled into the park as things were just about to get started.

All in all, an okay race — about 48 minutes for the whole thing for me, meaning a 12:00/mile pace based on the unofficial time. Hoping to get official results soon, though I’m happy with the results regardless.

Lessons learned:

- Get there early
Very possible that I missed an announcement about where I was supposed to go. Even though I didn’t cheat and run less than the course, it still skewed my results and gives me an inaccurate read for pace — I know I lost time stopping to look around, ask volunteers, find other runners and volunteers who could help
- Be prepared
This was my first race without my Garmin (since I got it, that is). Had I taken 30 seconds that morning to grab it, I would have had an accurate breakdown of my time, pace, and distance covered — and I probably would have noticed the lack of turnaround sooner.
- Be satisfied
At the end of the day, it was still one more race done. Still one more run accomplished. Still one more for the records. Maybe it wasn’t the best, fastest or longest race I’ve done, but it was fun and got my heart rate up. And Chipotle was the biggest sponsor of the race, so I was pleased to snatch up some free chips and guac after I was done. Delicious.

But the best part of the whole race? Alex told me afterwards that he is thinking about starting to run and interested in doing a 5K. I am so excited for him. He’s gonna be great… I can tell.

What have you learned through fitness? What do you hope to learn?

Why It Matters Wednesday: Aches and Pains

ouch!

I'd hate to be on the sideline of the Big Sur Marathon watching everyone pass me... Callin' the doc tomorrow.

I’m an off-and-on tough chick. Achy stuff — headaches, back aches, stiff muscles — I’ll ride it out sans Tylenol. But sick stuff? I’m a total wuss.

So that knee injury from my birthday? Well, it’s still stickin’ around… in interesting ways. I don’t notice it unless I’m trying to sit criss-cross-applesauce (remember the days when we called it Indian style?) or if I’m kneeling. At that point (more so with kneeling than crossing my leg or tucking my foot underneath me), there’s a pressure pain in the back of the knee. It’s not excruciating, but it is pretty uncomfortable. I can run, jump and climb trees without pain… but if I kneel? Well, I quickly decide not to kneel after all.

Initially I freaked out about this injury — I thought I’d torn my meniscus. But as it felt better, felt fine, felt great — I stopped paying attention.

Aches and pains teach us a lot about our bodies and what our limits are — really, it’s silly to ignore a nagging pain, especially when the discomfort is felt so specifically and many weeks later (my birthday was almost a month ago). I will be making an appointment with my doc soon — I don’t know what this will accomplish, she may just tell me I’m crazy, but I want to rule out anything that will keep me from running Big Sur.

How do you decide to see a doc?

1. The pain is localized, intense, and/or only hurts during specific activities and lasts more than 48 hours.
2. Swelling lasts for more than 48 hours.
3. Pain occurs in a joint — not just muscle aches.
4. Something just feels “off.”

That last one is really to drive home the point that you know your body better than any blogger, WebMD page, or the Mayo Clinic ever could — listen to it… now go call your doc if you’re hurtin’.

Any injury stories you’d care to share? Has there ever been a time when your intuition proved right with an injury?

Food Processor vs. Slow Cooker: The Showdown

It’s the ultimate showdown… A clash of the Titans, even! And it has me stumped to decide a winner…

Which improves my kitchen, my food, my life even, better– the food processor… or the slow cooker?

For Christmas, my wonderful parents gifted me a Ninja Master Prep and about a year ago, I was given a 5-quart Crock Pot. I truly cannot decide which I use/need/love more… But maybe I don’t have to. Maybe you can help me decide…

 

Food processor?                                           Or slow cooker?

 

Seriously… I’m lost… Help me choose?

Heart-healthy garbanzo bean soup

You really should check out Angela's blog -- her pictures are much prettier. :)

February is American Heart Month and you can expect several heart health-related posts coming up at WellPurposed. Yesterday while perusing Angela’s blog, I found something that made me semi-audibly squeal — garbanzo bean soup.

While the name may not seem all that thrilling, for the hummus lover that I am (Angela shares the affinity, too), I think the best comparison was made by Angela herself, who “concluded that this was basically hummus in soup form.”

I can get behind that. You can find the original recipe, here, but I followed Angela’s modified version (linked at the beginning of the post) and found it too be almost-too-tasty-to-stop-eating.

Seriously.

The best thing about this recipe is just how healthful it really is– I used reduced-sodium broth and found it to still be very flavorful. I do what I can not to eat too much salt, but I did sprinkle a bit o’ sea salt on top when finished and it was just dandy. Add this to your must-try list — garbanzo beans are a low-cholesterol, low-fat, high-protein food and when blended, they have a creamy, delicious consistency that makes for good spreads and dips.

Do your heart a favor — give garbanzo beans a try! And don’t forget — wear red tomorrow!

What’s your favorite soup?

Why It Matters Wednesday: New USDA Guidelines

I won't lie... the Whole Foods produce section is practically a religious experience for me.

You probably grew up with the understanding that fruits and veggies were an important part of the daily feeding process, but recent reports are indicating that Americans, advised to aim for ‘five a day,’ are still not getting enough

Yesterday, the US Department of Agriculture released new dietary recommendations to Americans, this time focusing less on counting servings and focusing more on fractions. In addition to advising Americans to watch their salt intake, eat less sugar, and consume less processed, prepackaged food (particularly of the dessert variety!), they also created a visual example of how to eat enough vegetation — fill half of your plate.

So is the Food Pyramid becoming a pie graph?
NPR’s April Fulton suggests… maybe. “The pyramid is still in place for now, although they might revise that a little bit later,” she says here. “But a lot of people are speculating they may move more towards a plate.”

But the break down gets a little more specific.
Age and race considerations factor into advice given to people with hypertension, those over 51, and African Americans — no more than 1,500 milligrams of salt — because these groups are the most likely to experience health problems as a result of excessive sodium intake.

So will this make eating better easier?
We can hope. At the very least, this gives a very visual guide of how to approach our plates. But there is still quite a bit to be desired…

We all know fruits and veggies are low calorie, highly nutritious and do worlds of good for us, and as always… that the ounce of prevention will always be worth more than the pound of cure. But what about the long-run? What will it all mean in the next several years?

Well, this remains to be determined. We’re starting to see more in the news about work being done to make school lunches healthier, etc., and I’m certainly hopeful that these will have a genuinely positive impact on our society. In the mean time, though, keep these images in mind when you’re dishing up dinner or reflecting on your food journal:

- Most dinner plates are about 10″ across, meaning that to follow the USDA’s new half-plate advice, you should have veggies spanning 1o inches in length and 5 inches in width. About the size of a (slightly rounded) paperback.
- Consider giving up the salt shaker entirely… I won’t lie, this is a hard one to do… But Jessica, aka Sodium Girl, likens sodium-free living to being similar to not wearing black anymore — at first, a mind-boggling challenge, but later a lesson in creativity and exploration. Be sure to check out her blog which explores how delicious life can be without sprinkling tiny crystals all over everything.

Sound off!! Tell me what you think of the new guidelines — will they do any good? Are they helping or hindering?

More info/news on the guidelines here.

P.S. Thank you, Jeremy, for post inspiration this week! :)

February Yoga Challenge

I’ve been looking, scanning, scouring for tips and tricks to get myself more motivated to be a little more consistent in my yoga practice. I love me some yoga, but struggle to make it a regular part of my routine… I’ve been interested in trying out hot yoga as well, but haven’t yet made it happen.

As fate would have it, a Groupon landed in my inbox last week — 25 yoga classes at Be Yoga for $25. WHOA! Since many drop-in classes at yoga studios are around $15-20 a piece, this was a steal — if I go once, it pretty much pays for itself. And the perk? Many of their classes are heated yoga classes, too! While I’m more interested in trying Bikram (hot) yoga, I think this will challenge me to try a more intense, decidedly-heated atmosphere before I jump into this challenge at some point. (Go big or go home, right?)

Heather recently posted about her yogaversary and mentioned a month-long challenge she did several months ago and what she gained from it. I really felt inspired reading that, and since February is American Heart Month, I have decided to embrace the heart-healthiness of yoga and challenge myself to a month (albeit a short one) of daily yoga in honor of heart health awareness.

Stay tuned… and namaste.