Two Kinds of Pride

I have two things to talk about today.

First of all, I ran my longest distance yet yesterday, and it was definitely the toughest.

Five miles on a treadmill. (Thanks, Winter Storm Cleon.) In all reality, I thank God for this weekend, because while the weather was terrible and it was bitterly cold, we never lost power and we were lucky enough to be safe both times we ventured out to drive on the ice. Others were not as lucky and I hope those still without power get it back soon. 

But anyway, the treadmill. So boring, and hard, thank goodness for this playlist. Really. It was hard not only because of the stagnant nature of the treadmill, but because there were a couple points where I really just wanted to quit. Around 3.5, and then again around 4 miles. It took a lot of mental energy to force myself to keep going.

But I did the whole 5 miles, and I am really proud of myself. For the first time I think, I’m letting myself feel proud of this accomplishment. I was thinking about it, and if you had asked me a month and half ago to run 5 miles, I would have laughed at you. It’s amazing to reflect back on how far I’ve come in such a short time.

Screenshot_2013-12-08-12-43-14

Secondly, I need to give a shout out to my cousin, friend, co-conspiritor and running peer-pressure coach, Erin, who ran in the BCS Marathon in College Station yesterday! Not only did she have the determination to train for a full marathon, but when the race she had originally planned on got cancelled due to ice (thanks, Winter Storm Cleon), she got in at the last minute for another race. And while I was a little disappointed I couldn’t be there to cheer them on, as I had planned on in Dallas, I cannot imagine going through all that, having a race cancelled, and not giving up, but signing up for a different race on three days notice, and then finishing!

I am so proud of her, and my Aunt Susan for finishing their first marathon. They have been a huge help in getting me into the world of running, helping me figure out training plans, races, gear and just providing overall moral support that I could not be more proud of them as they accomplish their goals.

1463413_10202611650758900_446500501_n

Ice, Ice, Baby.

Okay. I know I said I got a taste of running in the cold a couple weeks ago, but nothing, nothing I have ever been in compared to what is going on in Dallas right now.

And I’ll be honest, I had every intention of running while I was in Ohio last weekend, but that did not happen at all. Luckily I did get to run this week, once on Tuesday (in a beautifully dark 60 degrees, it was amazing even though my GPS mismeasured my run by a mile and a half) and then again this afternoon.

Here’s the thing about today.

Thursday night, it dropped 40 degrees and started sleeting heavily, meaning I woke up Friday morning to this.

icemaggedon

Yeah that’s not snow. Our parking lot (as well as everything the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex) was completely encased in ice. We got about 2 inches when all was said and done, and as of Friday afternoon it was 26 degrees with the windchill putting it near 11 degrees.

I’m sorry, I know runners are supposed to be ready to run in any weather, but no. Even the Dallas Marathon cancelled its race this weekend.

Moment of sadness for my awesome cousin Erin who was going to run in it for her first full marathon. 😦

I am not hard-core enough for this. Not to mention I can barely walk on the stuff, much less run on it. I know my limits, and this is what they look like.

icemaggedon2

icemaggedon

Yeah no. So I slowly, carefully padded across the parking lot to hit up the fitness center. Yay for not having to drive to a gym.

It was boiling in there. And yes, this is a combo mirror-gym-no makeup-all natural selfie, probably the worst kind of selfie. Judge away. See if I care. I was really proud of myself for getting out of bed this morning seeing how cold it is.

20131206_131249

I did get a solid 3.5 in as planned, and felt pretty good about it, despite the boring nature of the treadmill.

One thing I do like about treadmills is they force me to keep running, and I find myself walking a lot less while on them. Granted, when I do run, it’s at a slower pace, but I like knowing that I don’t have to walk as much anymore.

Also my new favorite running toy, courtesy of an early Christmas present from my best friend since third grade. A running pack for my phone and keys and any other small items I may need. Hallelujah, I didn’t realize how much I needed this until now.

20131206_131352

Nice and small, lays flat and does not bounce. Just big enough for my phone and key. Running hands free is greater than anything I could have imagined.

That’s all the updates I have from the frozen front. We’re expected to be iced in for the rest of the weekend, but I’m going to get back out on Sunday to do my longest distance yet – 5 miles.

My First Race

So it finally happened. After about 10 months of talking about running a 5K, this weekend I ran in the Shiner Beer Run 5K.

I don’t know if there is much to say except that it was cold, very cold. I learned I like running in packs, because peer pressure keeps me from walking too much. Also I run faster in the cold. I got a PR of 35:58 (previous PR for a 5K was 38 and change) and Adam blew everyone away by finishing in 23:49.

I really enjoyed seeing my cousins and family run the half marathon, and seeing them finish got me really excited for New Orleans in February.

But for now, here are some pictures. Keep in mind it was 37 degrees with 19 mph winds and a windchill around 27.

20131123_090952

IMG_820325538022065

FB_IMG_13852155353996300 (1)

Next up is an appointment with an orthopedist to look at my knee. I’ve been feeling some pain in the ligaments and I want to get it checked out sooner rather than later. Until then, I’ll be sitting out boot camp and (hopefully) just running to stay on track. The good news is it doesn’t really hurt when I run, so I’m trying to stay positive.

I’ll be in Ohio for Thanksgiving, hopefully hitting 5 miles over the weekend. I hope y’all have a great week and a very happy Thanksgiving! Don’t guilt yourself if you eat too much, it is a holiday after all. 🙂

Recipe: Spicy Edamame

I’m a very strange bird. I don’t know if y’all have realized that. If not, it was bound to happen soon.

But here’s the thing: I will walk past the dessert buffet every day in favor of salty and savory snackage. I prefer appetizers to desserts when eating out and I cannot count the number of times I have thrown my weight loss train off course because when I crave snacks, I crave salt, and I do not care how terrible it is for me.

Enter edamame. And my relief that I can now have my salt and eat it too.

Edamame, for the uninitiated (as I was no more than six months ago) are essentially immature soybeans. Kept in the pod, they are very popular in Japanese, Chinese and Hawaiian cuisine. Usually as an appetizer.

I can eat them all day long. Especially when boiled and tossed with this spice blend.

seasoned edamame pods

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 pound edamame pods, fresh or frozen. Note: this recipe is written for frozen pods, which can usually be found in the freezer case of the natural foods section of your grocery store of choice. If not, check out Sprouts or Whole Foods
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon onion salt
  • 1 tablespoon garlic salt
  • cracked black pepper, to taste.

This is ridiculously easy, I promise.

  1. Fill a medium pasta pot with 6 cups of water and a couple pinches of salt. Put on the stove on medium-high heat, to get it to a steady boil.
  2. Pour in your frozen edamame and bring it back to a boil. Note: If you are using fresh edamame, please pay attention, these pods will cook very quickly and after they boil, will probably be about 30-40 seconds away from being done
  3. Boil for 2-3 minutes, or until cooked about 90% of the way through.
  4. Pro-tip: pour the water and edamame into a colander in the sink and run cold water over it. This will stop the cooking process and greatly reduce your chances of over cooking them.
  5. Strain the edamame, getting the majority of the water off of them.
  6. Pour said beans into a medium bowl, and while they are cooled, but still damp, season with the red pepper, onion and garlic salt, salt and pepper to your tastes.
  7. Toss edamame in your seasoning mixture, lightly coating all the pods.

I went ahead and (before I could eat them all in one sitting) put them in plastic bags because these make most excellent office snacks. Much better than Doritos.

20131117_211154

Now store them in the fridge and bask in the glory of knowing that you can satisfy your salt cravings without derailing your new healthy lifestyle.

Taking My Own Advice

So it figures that, not three days after my rant on healthy food as fuel goes up on this very blog, I break my own rules.

Hey now, I’m only human.

I took Friday off to rest my ankle, because I was feeling some pinching and tightness near an old injury, and I didn’t want to push it. I’m going to test my shoes this week and make sure I don’t need a new pair yet.

Saturday we went to Austin for a family picnic and I took the opportunity to have lunch with my girls. I allowed myself an indulgence of a delicious burger and fries with a beer (No Label Brewing’s Pale Horse, if you were curious) and figured I would be find for my run the next day as long as I behaved at the party we were going to.20131109_142146

Well it turns out my stomach has shrunk quite a bit, because when we got to the party I was so full I couldn’t eat a bite. I did however partake in a few beers (it was  a party after all) and though I tried to drink a lot of water, It was harder than I thought it would be without my trusty 20 ounce water bottle.

Moral of the story: I got back home for my run on Sunday and even though I had dedicatedly drank at least 40 ounces of water that morning, the first couple miles of my run were tough. It could have been a lot of things, including the dehydration, or the fact that I was running on an empty stomach. Oops. Lesson learned.

That being said. I did make my 4 miles, even though the first couple miles were tough. I’m still trying to focus on controlling my speed, and even though I felt like I did terrible during this run, I was able to maintain a slower, but more consistent pace through the run, which I am happy with.Screenshot_2013-11-10-17-10-29

So all in all, I like to think I succeeded in turning a bad situation around, learning from the mistakes that got me there, and swearing off alcohol and burgers on the day before a long run.

Considering how much my family (and I) enjoy eating, training during this holiday season might be harder that I originally planned.

Running Song of the Week (RSOTW?)

If you know me at all, you know that I love everything ever written by Panic! At The Disco. This song has been playing on my work playlists for a while, and they even performed it when I saw them in concert back in October, but it didn’t strike me as a running song until it came on my Songza station while I was out this week. It’s called Ready to Go [Get Me Out of My Mind] and it is a great representation of how I feel in my training right now. I hope you enjoy it, and it inspires you to get out and start pounding pavement!

Favorite Lyrics: 

All of them. Really.

Food is Fuel

During college, I would get really frustrated with my fitness routine, because I never saw any results from those hours I spent at the campus rec center. I know now why I never saw any results. I was your typical college student, surviving off of Kraft Macaroni n Cheese, Cousin Vinny’s pepperoni pizza, massive amounts of coffee and probably equally massive amounts of beer. (#sorrynotsorry)

My favorite breakfast: non-fat greek yogurt with whole grain granola and honey

My favorite breakfast: non-fat greek yogurt with whole grain granola and honey

This frustration continued immediately after college, after I moved home to my mother’s amazing cooking skills. I still worked out almost every day, but again, with no results, only stagnation.

At the time I figured it was because that’s how the world works, and I would probably never see myself lose weight.

I now know why. I was fueling my body with – let’s call it what it was – crap. Delicious, wonderful crap, but still crap.

It wasn’t until I joined Texas Fit Chicks last spring that I realized the importance of what I put in my body. Sure, WeightWatchers taught me the importance of vegetables and portion sizes, but TFC is where I learned the hard way that what I eat will directly impact the way my body performs.

As part of joining TFC I was put on a high protein, high fiber, low sugar, low sodium diet, and only then is when I started seeing a change in my body. Suddenly I was not only getting smaller, but I was getting stronger, faster and better at my workouts.

Nice story, Julia. But what’s your point?

My point is that the food you eat is fuel. I allow myself one cheat day a week, usually Saturday or Sunday, to eat the foods I really want to eat. Other than that, I am pumping my body full of good things like yogurt, spinach, eggs, chicken, lots of veggies, peppers, carrots and all other kinds of real food – fuel – that I need. And I can feel the difference.

Home-made chicken tortilla soup. With home made tortilla chips because sodium is bad.

Home-made chicken tortilla soup. With home made tortilla chips because sodium is bad.

Very little of what I eat now comes out of a box. I cook at home a lot more, I read labels on everything I eat and I rarely eat out at restaurants. We’re talking once every two weeks, maybe. I monitor what I eat and how it effects my body very closely. If I don’t like how I feel after I eat something, I throw it out. I don’t need anything in my diet that makes me feel any less than amazing. I don’t keep crap food in my pantry any more. If it’s not there, I won’t eat it.

My body takes a lot. I work out 6 days a week and even one off day of eating will impact how I perform when it counts. This is why my meal prep time on Sundays is so important to me. It is during that time on Sundays when I lock myself in my kitchen and make not only Sunday night dinner, but usually 2 other full dinners for the freezer to ensure my success during the week.

If by chance I do end up going to boot camp or out for a run after eating like crap for a day, I can tell. It’s not only that I simply don’t have as much energy as I’m used to, but I can feel it in every part of me. My muscles refuse to loosen up, and when they do, they tire much more easily. I get winded quickly, and it takes longer to catch my breath and control my heart rate. In some cases I will feel nauseated and light-headed. This is why I know the importance of food. Because I have experienced what it feels like to try and push yourself when your body is running on pizza and cokes or Chinese food and decadent desserts.

A fresh take on chicken salad: chicken, tomatoes, parsley, artichoke hearts dressed with white wine vinegar and olive oil.

A fresh take on chicken salad: chicken, tomatoes, parsley, artichoke hearts dressed with white wine vinegar and olive oil.

Now I’m not saying don’t eat the foods you love. But be more aware of how these foods effect your body. Eat the crap out of spinach and tomatoes, eggs with low fat feta and green peppers, whole wheat pasta and veggie sauce. Fuel your body with real food, and you’ll feel the difference I’m talking about. Trust me on this one.

I really am not trying to sound superior or anything. Just trying to show you how switching my mindset from food being an indulgence to food being fuel has changed everything.

Hard Truths

Going into the third week of official training, I’m beginning to come face to face with a couple really hard realities about running. I’m sure there are more, and I’m sure I will learn more about them as I train, but here is what I realized during this weekend’s long run.

  1. Running is not fun. There. I said it. There were several points during yesterday’s long run where I thought to myself “this is not pleasant. nope. no fun at all.” Training for an event in this sport is hard, because sometimes, it sucks. No one told me this. Granted, it is a great feeling when you finish, reaching your goal, even if it was just to finish a small training run. But no, right now, running is not fun for me. Still, it is something I want to do, something I think I can do, and that’s what keeps me going.
  2. You’ll never be at 100%. Queue evil laugh. Thanks for that realization, Erin. I’m coming to terms with the fact that it is only going to get harder going forward, and that tightness in my calves may never go away completely (maybe on February 3rd?). But again, this is still something I want to to, something I think I can do. The feeling of pushing my body past what I think my limits are is almost addicting at this point.four miles sunday

So I mentioned above that yesterday I had my long run. 4.4 miles in the books. It went pretty well I think. I was pretty tight for the first half of the run, but as I got past the mental block of the numbers and the pain, I got into a smoother rhythm and was able to finish out pretty strong I think. I’m really focusing on finding that happy medium between my sprinting pace (between 8 and 9:00 per mile) and a walk. I think if I can find that comfortable in-between pace, I’ll be set for the distances I need to cover.

Running Song of the Week:

I’m also going to try and share with y’all my favorite running songs each week, because I will tell anyone who asks, these songs are the only reason I can get my butt up, out the door and clock the distances I need. This week my favorite song is one that’s been my favorite for a long time now. Empire of the Sun’s Walking on a Dream perfectly sums up what it feels like when I’m running, mentally. The official video is kind of strange, but if you focus on the lyrics I think you’ll see what I mean.

This is the final weekend until 2014 where all I have to do is rest and run. I’ll be going to a wedding in Austin next weekend and then the insanity of the holiday season comes down upon me with vigor. It will be a real challenge to make sure that running, training and resting remains an important part of my schedule. Wish me luck.

On Absence.

You ever have one of those weeks where you start going, and before you know it, the week is already gone and all the little things you love to do in your spare time have just fallen by the wayside?

I’ve had one of those weeks.

I’ve actually had a few of those weeks all strung together.

In typical PR style, this fall has had me running around like a crazy person. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job, I love what I do and I am finding time to fill those extra minutes each day with the people I care about as well as the usual meal prep/workout/training programs.

Oh yeah, training programs.

Last time we talked, I had just wrote about taking up running again. Well I did, and I made a big decision last week.

I will be running in the Rock ‘N’ Roll New Orleans Half Marathon in February.

New Orleans Half Marathon

I’ve got a sweet training guide, and awesome support community including the newly-returned-to-blogging Allison, my cousin Erin and of course, Adam. (Shameless linking because two of them have awesome blogs of their own.) As well as amazing friends and family who I hope will still be around in February after hearing me talk about running nonstop for three months. (Sorry in advance, y’all.)

If you are a long time reader, you know I come from a big, tight-knit family, including quite a few cousins. Four of us are within a year and two weeks of each other, and these four are going to be running together for 13.1 miles.

(For the record, here’s the order: Julia, Erin, Michael and Kelly.)

I know. It sounds insane. In fact, when Erin first approached me with the idea, I laughed for probably about five straight minutes. Me. Run in a half marathon???? You’ve got to be kidding. I can’t even run 3 miles. 

But then I thought about it.

For a while.

Work picked up again. We signed on a couple new clients and I joined boot camp again. For a six  month commitment this time. About two months in, I thought about it again. And I thought. I wonder if I could do that…. 

It’s really curiosity that is fueling me. Along with my competitive drive. My inner drive to push myself and see how much I can take before I completely melt down? Yeah, That’s a line I’ve been happily walking since high school.

In typical Type-A fashion, I have an Excel spreadsheet with a training plan that incorporates boot camp (and the all important rest day) and it is taped to my fridge. Yes, I am that girl.

I’m still eating clean, though I am increasing my water intake as well as letting myself indulge a little more often now. I mean hey, I am now working out 6 days a week.

Tonight will be a “quick” 3 mile run, and hopefully the park I love will have dried out from the week of rain.

I’m still struggling a bit at the 3 mile mark. But I’ve scheduled about 2 and half weeks of 3 mile runs to get myself comfortable before moving up.

Sunday I take on my longest distance ever at 4 miles.

My biggest hurdle hasn’t been the distance though. I’m trying not to minimize what I’m doing. I know so many people who run long distances that it’s hard to make myself feel proud of running 3 miles when I know people who finished 18 and 20 mile runs over the weekend. Something I’ve got to get better on is not comparing myself to others.

I’m beginning to understand what they mean when they say training for a race like this is just as much about mental preparation as it is about the physical. I’m on my own training plan. This is not about where other people are in their training, but about me.

That’s just what I need to keep telling myself.

So, here’s to an early New Year’s Resolution, Early Birthday and Christmas presents to myself and most importantly: to 13.1.

Today’s Personal Victory

I know I’ve been quiet lately, but I just wanted to share a personal victory I had today.

image

I was seriously craving Chipotle for lunch but instead had this delicious greek salad that I brought from home.

Trying to be healthy is hard and it’s certainly a large and daunting task. Focus on the little victories during your journey and hopefully the process won’t seem so unattainable.

That Time I Started Running

One thing you should know about me is that I love doing things. And more than doing things, I specifically love doing things with other people.

It’s part of the E in ESFJ for me to love being around people and gain energy from sharing common activities, interests and the like.

So while at first I resisted the idea of running, what with having a bum ankle and all, I was so proud of my friends who did get out there and run. Allison has long been a supporter of the idea that you should work out in whatever way fits you. But she’s also in love with running, and that’s contagious. My cousin Erin is also a big runner, and she has (for a very long time) been trying to get me to run a 5K with her, even though she’s about to run her first marathon in December (go Erin!).

Together, these two convinced me to get out and try running.

Not on purpose, but by being an example. I saw through Facebook, Instagram, E-mail and everyday conversations. They would always talk about how running helped them relax and set their life in order. Oh, and they were getting in wicked awesome shape, which is always a nice side benefit.

So after I finished my boot camp last spring, I finally felt healthy and fit enough to start running. It was a lot easier to motivate myself because I already felt good about my body. I felt like I could conquer the world after boot camp, so why not running too?

Turns out its not as easy as it seems.

I was used to having my trainer (Hi, Meridith!) encouraging me during boot camp workouts, reminding me why I was there, pushing me when she saw I was slacking (#sorrynotsorry).

You don’t have that when you’re out on a run. You just have yourself, your music and the pavement.

julia after a run

Me and my post workout high.

It was hard. But after searching for a replacement for the post-boot camp high of sweat, adrenaline and exhaustion, I found it in running.

A lot of people run to keep their life in order. A lot of people run to manage stress. A lot of people run to lose weight.

I run for the feeling I get after a run, or any really good workout. Dripping in sweat, gasping for air, feeling the sun beat down on me as I try to control my heart rate.

I don’t feel tired or worn out. I don’t feel pain or fatigue.

I feel powerful.

It’s in those moments when I know exactly how powerful my body is, and I revel in that feeling. I love the feeling after boot camp when I look around and realize that in one night, I did 80 burpees. The feeling after a run after work when I look at the lake I run around, knowing that I did that.

The ache the next morning is just a reminder of what I accomplished.

Do you run? Why? What gets you out there?

(Side note: I am also motivated by select pictures of the monster I call “Fat!Julia”. I must beat her.)