Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sushi Saturday/Sunny Sunday

This weekend Sam came to interview for grad school at Michigan! He had great interviews and we had such a fun weekend together. Last night we met up with our favorite couple to hit up an Ypsilanti favorite- Asia City Buffet.
We've known Josh and Tiff since this summer, he's a fellow first-year grad student (in neuroscience) and she's applying to vet school. Sam and I have gone kayaking, weightlifting and had many a sushi dinner with these two.
So tonight was no different! We went to Asia City Buffet which is basically a giant Asian food buffet. What makes this place special is the raw fish and sushi bar-- pretty much exclusively what we eat from! This is my plate:
The fish is sushi grade and sooo delicious. Josh wastes no time by loading up his plate with tons of it.
I went for a more balanced approach, but don't get me wrong, I had plenty of raw salmon too :)

The best part is of course the fortune cookie! I had a great fortune, but I felt more fortunate to be with Sam and our great friends for the weekend.

After the meal, we headed back to Josh and Tiff's for a game night! We played Blockus (Tiffany schooled us both times!):

And a new game called Smart Darts. It's a lot like trivial pursuit, but with the added fun of a magnetic dart board to determine what question category to choose from! The boys kicked our butts-- they kept getting point multipliers with their darts!

My favorite part of the night though was seeing their cute kitty, Theia! As fellow cat-parents, we always enjoy having a furry friend around.
We ended our night with 7-11 slurpees, Josh's favorite. A perfect Saturday!

Today was a freakish day in Michigan winters: warm and sunny! After dropping Sam off at the airport I got outside for my long run of the week. Because of the high temps (30 degrees!) the sidewalks were clear and I could go fast. This is the fastest long run I've had since Florida!

My splits:
Mile 1: 9:52
Mile 2: 9:52
Mile 3: 9:44
Mile 4: 9:22
Mile 5: 9:42

I felt so good at the end of this run and can't wait to start my marathon training this week!

Now I'm in lab and brought a packed dinner to munch on.
Science never sleeps!
What did you do this weekend? I had a great time in the sun!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Extreme Snow Running

I'm addicted to snow running. Totally unexpectedly, I've loved all of the times I've been able to get outside this winter and run. Something about the cold air, quiet streets, pretty snow and rush of running combine for an awesome adventure. Quite simply, I've never felt more alive.

This weekend I went back to my hometown of Holland, MI which is right along the lakeshore of Lake Michigan. Per my training plan, I had scheduled a long run for Saturday. When I woke up to a snowstorm, I knew it wasn't going to happen. But after some prodding from my running partner, I suited up and we headed out into the storm.

The snow was totally ridiculous. Most of the time we were running through about 6 inches of snow, but that was nothing compared to when we hit the lakeshore and knee-deep snow was the norm! We had a crazy amount of fun jumping over drifts and playing in the snow.

The only other life we saw out there was a lone snowblower and 2 other runners! I love this crazy sport.

We ran about 2 miles, and ended at Lake Michigan. Climbing to the top of a dune, we were totally exposed to the wind and looking out on the lake felt amazing.

Coming back in to warm up I grabbed a cup of hot chocolate. Perfect.

Today Ariell and I decided to tackle our long run in Ann Arbor. It snowed a bunch during the day, so we were hesitant to go but once we started out it was fantastic. Night running in the snow with a great friend, there truly is nothing better.

Our splits were slow for us, but we kept a great pace and more importantly didn't fall down once! That's the best way to snow run.
Mile 1- 10:11
Mile 2- 12:02 (steep snowy hills!)
Mile 3- 10:40
Mile 4- 10:13
Mile 5- 10:50
Mile 6- 11:22

Afterwards I came home and was starving. Luckily Sam is always willing to order me some delivery thai drunken noodles. I had the same thing as last week: noodles with veggies, eggs, tofu and spice! A complete meal.

Last week:
This week:

Have you had any fun in the snow lately? I want to get out and do some sledding!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Kyla's Wedding Weekend!

This past weekend I had the pleasure of heading to Kansas City for my BFF Kyla's wedding!

We partied...
We got ready...
And we celebrated!
I've known Kyla and Jay since they started dating in college, and it was so fun to be a part of their special day. I love them both and am so happy for them!
While in KC, I had packed and planned to workout at least twice. Of course, that didn't end up happening due to all of the bridesmaid duties, but the ladies and I busted out some pushups and situps right before the ceremony. Plus there was plenty of dancing on the dance floor :)

My running lately has been mediocre. Last week I did a 2m hill workout on the treadmill and then skipped my weekend runs. Yesterday I managed to squeeze in 1.25 fast miles before my strength training for runners class, and today cranked out 3m at 9:40 pace.

Right now I'm just trying to maintain my fitness before starting on my training plan for the races this spring! The weather has been super icy, so I've been forced indoors. I'm starting to get sick of the treadmill :(

After yesterday's workout I was crazy hungry, so I made a smoothie:
It contained frozen berries and bananas, a scoop of pumpkin, rice milk, and protein/peanut powders. Yum!
Later I followed it up with some thai drunken noodles with tofu. Delicious.

Anyone else sick of the treadmill?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Two Tutorials

Man, this week has been crazy! This is the first full week of classes and life is busy again.

This week I have stuck to my training plan really well. Monday I cranked out a 3 miler on the treadmill with the same pace as last week's. Yesterday I attended my first "Strength Training for Runner's" class at the University. It was a combination of floor work, weights, and plyometrics and holy crap am I sore this morning. The craziest move of the night? A core exercise!

Start like this: kneeling on the floor, legs tucked under you and feet flat.

Then, use your core to quickly jump up and flip your legs under to a squat position. Repeat 10x!
Today I was planned and ready to go to yoga to stretch my sore legs but when I got to the class it turns out you had to RSVP first! I didn't read the email clearly enough so I went home to stretch.

After more microbial genetics reading, it was time to clean. I found the swiffer mop was out of mop pads to wash with. So I problem solved:
Now I'm going to go hang out with this cutie:
Anyone ever seen that move before in a fitness class? My legs are so sore!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Tips for Snow Running

As per my training plan, this weekend called for a long run! Yesterday my running buddy and I suited up for 3 miles outside and planned on 5 miles today. These were my first runs outside since Florida, and it made me remember how hard running in the snow is! Thankfully it has been super sunny out so the runs were really fun.
Here are my tips for running in the snow:
-The weather in the winter can be unpredictable! Check it when planning your run to find the best time of day that works for you (typically it's warmer in the mid-afternoon!)
-The sun is a great motivator and is energizing in the winter. Try to schedule workouts when you can get some vitamin D.
-Snow and ice are the obvious challenges you'll deal with. I hesitate to run if it's a snow shower, but a light flurry makes you feel like you're running in a snowglobe :)
-Avoid black ice or icy conditions in general: not only can you slip and injure yourself, cars and bikers are more slippery too.

-The right gear is crucial to your success in snowy runs. It's important to wear clothes that fit close to your body and wick away sweat. If you sweat too much in the cold, you run the risk of freezing and even hypothermia. For this reason, cotton fabrics are generally avoided in winter gear.
-I follow a 3-layer system when doing middle distance runs outside. I start with a base layer of running tights (spandex) and silk long underwear top. Sidenote: these can be cheap! My tights are from when I was running in high school and the top is from Gander Mountain.
-The second layer is my warm layer. I put on fleece/polyester running pants and a fleece pullover. If I'm doing long runs, I take off the fleece top as I get way too hot. I also wear SmartWool athletic socks and they keep my feet hot throughout.
-Finally the third layer is all about protection from the elements. A bright wind jacket helps block the cold and keep me visible. The fleece headband is warm, but cooler than a hat and I also run with polyester gloves.

Your Run:
-The most startling thing about snow running for me was how HARD it is! The level of exertion is higher in the cold, plus the snowy hills and streets make gripping the pavement difficult. Often times it feels like you're running in sand.
-For that reason, don't worry about your time. You will go slower, and it will feel harder to run but it's unwise to push yourself hard in a harsh climate.
-Don't forget to hydrate! Just because it's the winter doesn't mean that you don't sweat :) I also try to remember chapstick and sunblock if it's particularly windy or sunny.

All of that being said, both of my snow workouts were great. I did go slower, but they were great runs!

Saturday: 3 miler splits- 10:09, 10:14, 10:44

Today: 5 miler splits- 9:57, 10:50 (section with 200ft climb!), 10:06, 10:14, 10:22

When I got home from my run today, I had my first Green Monster, which is basically a smoothie full of greens and goodness. Into the blender went:
-a handful of spinach
-1/2 cup rice milk
-scoop of Vega Chocolate protein powder
-scoop of peanut flour (yum!)
-1/4 cup pumpkin

The verdict? It was absolutely amazing! Sooo yummy and full of great protein, veggies, fruits and deliciousness. I'm hooked!

Any more tips for snow running? Or smoothie recipes? I love them!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

1st Marathon Training Plan

I really like running. After a summer of hard training for my first half marathon in Detroit, I ran the race feeling proud and strong. After I crossed the finish line, I knew I was hooked. Later I was wondering just how much I loved running and how far I could push my body as an athlete. What better way than to pursue a tougher distance? I love the feeling of accomplishment that comes from daily training workouts and the feeling of crossing the finish line is divine.

With that in mind I signed up for the Bayshore Marathon in Traverse City, MI. This race has over 1,000 positive reviews on MarathonGuide and is a small race of about 2,000 people. Not to mention it takes place in my favorite area of Michigan, Grand Traverse Bay.

Finally I'm ready to share my training plan. I made sure to include a lot of different training styles. I built this plan as an adaptation of Hal Higdon's novice training plans and from a plan my friend's Ironman dad built for her. Alongside my normal weekly runs, I've planned hill and speed sessions, long runs and cross training with swimming and biking. Additionally, I signed up for a 'Strength Training for Runners' class at UM and a month-long basic yoga class. During half marathon training I neglected strength work and was lazy about stretching, so I'm excited to try these classes.

Also, as a way to stay motivated, I've signed up for races throughout training, which will also substitute for my long runs those weeks. Two races I'll be checking out are:

The National Half-Marathon in DC- 13.1 miles

and the 5/3 River Bank Run in downtown Grand Rapids, MI- 25K +4.5 miles (to make a 20-miler weekend).

To kick off a week of pre-training, I hit the campus rec building for some treadmill work on a snowy day. It was absolutely PACKED at the gym, full of resolutioners! Luckily I only had to wait for about 2 minutes for a free treadmill to open up.

I jumped on and ran 3 miles:
Mile 1: 9:49
Mile 2: 9:40
Mile 3: 9:31

As I ran I thought about how a year ago I couldn't even run 5 minutes without stopping. I'm so happy for the strength and health I've had over the past year.

After I came home I had dinner and promptly spent the rest of the night in bed with Bigcat, thank you notes and the Office. I also ate the last of Sam's chips (about a serving) for a snack. Kettle Cheddar Sour Cream chips, you are divine.

Anyone have any great chip suggestions? I think I'll be needing them as I head into marathon training!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

3 Store Grocery Shopping

As part of my 2011 goals I'm trying to be more financially aware and pay down my credit card debt. One area I know I can cut down on is unnecessary expenses while grocery shopping. After reading Emily's post on how she shops, I decided to plan out my shopping today with trips to three different stores: Trader Joe's, Whole Foods and Meijer (local grocery chain).

First I made a list. I did two things wrong here: I didn't check the pantry when I made it and I didn't consult the sales ads online. This resulted in me buying double of what I had at home or missing a better deal at another store. Lesson learned!

After a quick breakfast, Sam and I headed out to shop. We also picked up lunch on the way from the Whole Foods salad bar. YUM.

After 2 hours of power shopping, here's what we returned home with:

When I go to TJs I go for the natural foods at a good price. I rarely buy produce here (quality isn't as good) but I did pick up dried mangoes, pecans, frozen berries, rice milk, powdered pb, spinach, mushrooms, hummus and energy bars. All of these things totaled to just $30.15. Pretty nice!

Then we went to Whole Foods. Generally I don't shop here because it's fairly expensive, but I love wandering around looking at the food goodies. Today I was here to buy some specific items, namely Vega chocolate protein powder (first time trying it!), Justin's chocolate pb, and some natural cheez-its and sour cream cheddar kettle chips for Sam. The total here was $42.32 but the protein powder was over half of that total. I hope I like it :)

Finally we went to Meijer which is a large grocery store chain in the Midwest. I grew up grocery shopping here, and my mom even did a stint as a cashier at one! They have low prices across the board, a great organic generic line and a huge produce selection. I came home with so much food here for under $50! I snagged beans, yogurt, peppers, tons of tangerines, squash, eggs and more. The total was $47.33.

One of the things that makes grocery shopping nice in Michigan is that food is untaxed, so you can stretch your dollar even further. Besides groceries, I also spent extra and stocked up on cleaning supplies for the house, a litter box and cat food, plus notebooks and pens for this semester. These are generally once-a-semester expenses.

So in summary:

Total spent on food: $119.80

Total spent on extras (cat supplies, school supplies, house supplies): $114.59

Total spent today (including lunch and taxes): $233.66

Overall I feel good about keeping my food total low. Without the protein powder it would be under $100, which is an easy budget goal to start with. Plus, this amount of food will last me a long time! My pantry shelf is nice and full :)

Anyone have any other grocery store shopping tips? Next time I need to go back to reading the sales ads and coupon hunting!
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