The Great Moth Invasion, and a Hurt IT Band

Race Shout-Outs:

I want to wish good luck to Jamie from My Run is Not Done who is running the Law Day Half Marathon on May 1st.  She just recently ran her first marathon, so this should be a nice, easy walk in the park!

And Whitney from Racing the States (who I totally missed last week when she ran her half marathon and PR’d by 5 minutes) is running the Mud Hen 5-K.  I’m also excited to welcome her to Albuquerque next week where we’ll both be running Run for the Zoo! (That’s 3 races in 3 weekends for her if you’re counting).

Nataliya from I Run for Ice Cream who is running the La Jolla half this weekend! As if her being in La Jolla doesn’t make me jealous enough, she’s also enjoying some In N Out Burger in between the miles!

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Typically, in movies, big swarms of flying bugs signal bad things to come.  This is not a happy time for the characters.  In fact, in many cases, the characters are about to go into The End Times.

This is kind of how I (and everyone else in the Albuquerque Area) has felt since Sunday.

Apparently we are some kind of pit stop for the Great Moth Migration, but they seem to be sticking around for a while.  It is impossible to open up a door without a bunch flying in.  At night, walking and/or running is a nightmare.  Like, an actual nightmare where you have millions of little flying creatures swarming around you, trying to eat you.

 {I wish this picture captured the sheer density of flying creatures}

And even though I am so grossed out by this, I also have a hard time killing moths.  I will kill ants, spiders, or cockroaches in a heartbeat (that’s a lie…I squeal and Aaron kills), but I can’t kill moths.  Someone once told me that in some culture (Filipino maybe?), moths are the souls of dead people.  This actually makes the whole situation much creepier…but at the same time, I don’t want to be the type of person who crushes people’s souls.

So… I have a bunch of little moths in my house that I refuse to kill.  Giuseppe is in little puppy hunter heaven.  He hardly ever gets to hunt living, moving creatures (as opposed to treats or stuffed squeaky toys), and he is doing a good job of keeping the moth population under control in our living room!

{I can’t even express how much I LOVE this picture.  Aaron is one talented photographer}

The moths also add another unpleasant aspect to our runs.  Not only are we trying to breathe with all the pollen and unseasonably warm April temperatures, we now have to worry about little moths.

UPDATE: As of yesterday evening, we got a huge wind storm, so it looks like maybe the moths are being blown out of town.  I hate the wind.  I hate moths.  I feel like I can’t win in this situation.

AND THEN, as we were running Wednesday, my IT band cramped up, and I had to stop 1 mile in.

I think one of the worst things ever in the world of my running is when I’ve made the effort, I’m out on my run, and BAM, I have to stop.  It feels like such a waste of a workout.  Plus, Aaron had to stop his run so he could walk home with me  to make sure I didn’t collapse in the street, so his run was a waste too.  I don’t like it.  We consoled ourselves with cold moscato and Costco pizza (I was going to quote the rap song about moscato here, but I can’t remember it! I looked up all sorts of rap songs with moscato in the lyrics, and none of them sound familiar).

I’m doing all of the responsible things like icing and stretching and rolling out.

I took advantage of looking like I ran but without the gross sweatiness to finally take some pictures of my Medi-Dyne RangeRoller in action that had been requested of me.  The look of pain is quite real.  Rolling out an IT band that hurts too much to run on is probably the worst form of torture.

Aaron started having sympathy pains that turned into full-blown leg spasms.  Like, he’ll be walking and then he’ll just collapse in agony. I asked if he needed me to take him to the doctor.  He opted to do 30 minutes of  yoga poses instead.

We’re kind of broken right now.

*Also, I think I was misleading last week since people keep asking about my half marathon this weekend.  I literally meant 2 half marathons in two actual weeks.  Not weekends.  My next half marathon will be NEXT weekend.  The day after Cinco de Mayo.  Methinks margaritas have lots of carbs in them, as do nachos.  I have lost exactly 1 pound since the beginning of April.  I wonder why?

Have a happy weekend!

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Baby Showers in the Air

By the looks of my facebook feed, Saturday was a very popular day for baby showers.

Right now about 95% of my facebook friends are pregnant, engaged, or recently married.  I’m perfectly happy not fitting into any of those categories (though truthfully, if I could get both Aaron and my dad on board, I would hold a vow renewal EVERY year).

This weekend is also the first time I had someone actually very genuinely, jaw droppingly surprised when they found out my age and that we weren’t interested in having kids yet.  Not that I’m bothered by it, but it did feel a little odd.  It’s not like I’m THAT old.

Anyway, I did my part in contributing to the Saturday baby shower madness.  Immediately after the major half marathon suckage, I booked it home, got showered, and made it across town to help a couple of other ladies in hosting a baby shower for a friend who is going to have a baby this weekend.

Dear men folk (and really, anyone who can’t deal with looking at any more baby shower pictures if your facebook feed looks like mine), you will not hurt my feelings if you don’t gasp in amazement at our baby shower hosting skills.  I mean, yes, we spent hours pinning and crafting, but if fluffy pink balls hanging above pink cupcakes aren’t intesteting to you, that’s ok.

For everyone else, here are pictures of fluffy pink balls hanging above pink cupcakes! Friend Rebecca can take credit for a lot of this, but I did make the fluffy balls, the celebrity baby game display, the favors, and the 10 million little triangles.  Her baby shower motifs were (for a girl obviously) onsies and bunting.

Albuquerque Half Marathon Recap

Sometimes, I should probably read my own blog.

Like, when I say that I haven’t been training, so I’m just going to enjoy the half marathon ride instead of trying to PR.

But first….

 

The Albuquerque Half Marathon is a small, local race with just over 600 runners.  No expo, no race photos, no race swag. It took place on Saturday and got off to a late morning start at about 8:10 on what turned out to be a very warm day.  Not quite Boston warm, but still in the mid-80’s.

The race course took us through Albuquerque’s Los Ranchos and North Valley neighborhood which is a little bit of country in the middle of the city.  It smells like farm.

As the gun went off and I felt the surge of energy, I decided at that moment that I could keep a 7:50 minute mile pace (11 seconds per mile faster than my last half marathon in January), PR, and have a nice day. Nevermind that I had no evidence that I could hold this pace for 13.1 miles, and nevermind that I hadn’t trained to run at this pace.  And those running experts who say not to start off fast? What do they know?

After my initial 6:45 start, I slowed down a bit to 7:45 and I was able to keep it for awhile, never getting above 8:00.   I was feeling awesome! At a looping point, I saw that there weren’t very many people ahead of me (Aaron of course was one of them). I was the cockiest little running skirt girl on the course.

I ran my fastest 10-K ever at just under 48 minutes.

At around mile 6.5, a whole mass of people passed me.  Something was wrong.

I looked down at my Garmin and realized that my 7:50 pace had become an 8:20 pace without me even realizing.  I tried picking it up a bit.

About this time, it was 9:oo am, the sun was getting hotter.

It was also about this time that I could feel a bunch of yuck phlegm start to build up in my lungs thanks to the pollen in the air.  This is the first time I’ve ever felt like I was going to suffocate while running.  I will  have  to start taking Musinex before runs, because coughing up phlegm balls while running is not cute.

I was starting to get to the point where every little thing was driving me nuts.  I was convinced that the bike rider people along the course (race marshalls?) were making me run slower.

I took my GU at mile 7.5. Typically my GU makes for a nice mid-race treat that I look forward to.  This time, I was having to squeeze tiny little squirts in my mouth, trying hard not to have them come back up.  I also didn’t time it very well, so I had to run half a mile before reaching a water station.  Phlegmmy lungs plus sticky GU and no water was just a little more than I wanted to deal with.

And then I started getting cold chills.  On a warm day, I didn’t take this as a good sign.

But I ran on.

I had decided before the race that if I finished 10 miles in 1:20 or less, I would push it hard and attempt a PR.  All I’d have to do was run 7:55 miles, and glory would be mine.

I hit the 10 mile mark at 1:20:35, and I decided to go for it.  Finally, I started passing people again!

This is about when those 7:45 miles started catching up to me.

My pace dropped back down to 8:20.  I decided to wait until mile 11 to start picking up the pace.  I hit mile 11, and figured picking up the pace could wait until mile 12.  I came to a water station, and for the first time ever, I came to a complete stop to drink in the shade.  My knees started to collapse under me.  I had to keep moving. More cold chills.

I started playing with the idea of walking the last mile.  No shame in that right?  Mile 12 came.  I didn’t pick up the pace.   In fact, I did mile 12 in 8:39, which is the slowest I’ve ever run a mile during a race including the Shamrock Shuffle when I actually tripped, fell, and limped in agony for several feet.

Even as we turned the corner, and the finish line was in sight, I had a hard time mustering up the energy.  I finished strong, sprinting to the finish line thanks to all of the nice cheering people.

I crossed in 1:47:31, 6 seconds slower than my slowest half marathon time.  I finished 102/641 overall, 27th female overall, and 6th in  my age group.

Right after crossing the finish line.

The difference between my best and worst times is less than 3 minutes.  I can at least say that I’m pretty consistent?

My last few races haven’t been wonderful in either time or overall disposition since February, so I’m hoping that this will be the peak of race suckiness.

Aaron finished 30th overall, 4th in his age group.

We toasted our water bottles to what will hopefully be our worst half marathon ever.  This race was really not fun at all for either of us between allergies and the heat.

After finishing, we made a beeline for our car (parking was another 3/4 mile walk, which was not fun), rushed home, and I got ready very fast in order to help host a baby shower across town less than 2 hours after crossing the finish line.

And had to apologize for coughing up yuck stuff the entire party.

Two Half Marathons in Two Weeks

I’ve done it before.

I ran my first half marathon two weeks before I ran my second. The build up, hard work, and anticipation leading up to those two weeks made crossing the finish lines after 13.1 some of the happiest moments of my life.  My first half marathon was a symbolic gesture of hard work and determination to do something I never thought I would do.

This time around, things are a little bit different.

These upcoming two half marathons are “fun” races.  No pressure, no nervousness, much less pride in what I’m doing because I’ve done it before.  Aside from doing our long runs on the weekends with some shorter distance runs during the week, we didn’t follow a half marathon training plan.  I’m untuned.

I wouldn’t classify it as not trying or not putting forth my best effort.  I actually feel like I’m running faster in general than I was before Rock n’ Roll Arizona in January.  And I can’t say that I won’t try to PR or try to leave as many people in my dust as I possibly can (I’m far too competitive for my own good).  But I also won’t feel defeated if I don’t.

But, we have our reasons.

In June, we will kick-off our marathon training (dun dun dun).

I realize how lucky I am to run my first marathon in Chicago, one of the top 5 marathons in the world, and I don’t want to waste it.  I want to cross that finish line knowing that I pulled out all the stops, and I want a race and a time that I’m proud of.  If I’m not bawling like a baby at the end, so overwhelmed with happiness and dehydration, I will be disappointed.

But I also know that after all of that running (10 mile runs during the week, and 20 miles during the weekend????), by the time I hit the “peak,” I will be so burned out on running that I will consider taking up competitive step aerobics instead.

Even after 3 months of training when 10 miles WAS my long run, I was ready to take a break.  The last thing I want is to kick off marathon training already bored with it.

So, we didn’t follow a training plan for these halves.

Every once in a while, I need to just enjoy the ride.  Plus, I think racing in itself can be part of the marathon training.  More experience with juggling water stations, course bathrooms, and proper pacing is never a bad thing. And who knows.  I didn’t really train for Arizona either (there are about 10 blog posts of me internally struggling between desperately needing to train and not wanting to because it was cold and warm Christmas alcoholic beverages needed my attention). I still ended up with a PR time and I felt really good.

And, this has all also reaffirmed my decision to run a full marathon.  When you are no longer as excited about achieving a goal that you’ve reached, maybe it is time to move on to bigger goals.

Have a happy weekend everyone!

The Little Massage RangeRoller That Could

FIRST: I want to wish lots of luck to Erika from You Just Did What?! who is running the SoCal Ragnar Relay this weekend.  She’ll be running from Hunington Beach to Coronado Beach (as part of a relay team) over the course of 24 hours.  I’m sending happy thoughts for her not to fall asleep in the middle of the road!

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You may remember that a couple of weeks ago I won the #runchat giveaway, and my prize was a Medi-Dyne RangeRoller (at first, I thought I won a Range Rover and I was REALLY excited!).

After some pleasant email exchanges with Lara from Medi-Dyne, my RangeRoller came in the mail a few days ago.  As I suspected, the RangeRoller is a deep tissue massage stick

Before I get into a review, I want to emphasize how incredibly important products like these are for runners, cyclists, endurance athletes, cross-fitters, etc.

In addition to causing discomfort, tight muscles can create a whole array of other problems.  For example, Plantar Fasciitis (my biggest running injury fear aside from collapsing inches away from the finish line)  is sometimes caused by having tight calf muscles that pull on the bones in your foot.  The PlanFas will keep you away from running for a year, which is really not cool.

So, in order to stay healthy, muscles need to be loose and flexible.  Aside from professional massage therapists, using tools like foam rollers and massage sticks is a great way to make sure that you stay injury (and discomfort) free!

Personally, I’m not a fan of foam rollers.  They are big and cumbersome, they don’t really give me the pressure I want, and they aren’t very flexible.

The Lavenders use both the extra long version of The Stick, and The Stick fascia ball.

{The Sticks}

 

The Medi-Dyne RangeRoller is a similar item.  It’s a massage stick designed to loosen muscles and prevent injuries.   As far as I can tell, if you use either, you will get the same benefits, however the RangeRoller has some neat features.

(For this giveaway, I chose the Original 19 inch RangeRoller).

Things I love about the RangeRoller:

1) You can choose the color combination of your “bead things” (do they have a real name?). This is kind of a selling point for me. I was beyond excited when Lara asked me what color combination I wanted! I chose periwinkle, but there are multiple options.

2)  The multi-dimensional “bead things”.  The 3-D beads dig deeper in the muscle making me wither in pain (from what I understand, this means the roller is working). It looks as if this is the signature feature of Medi-Dyne.  It really does feel like it is hitting spots that I haven’t been able to reach before. 

3) The comfort grip handles.  They are perfect for my tiny hands, and the grip is easy to grasp and comfortable to hold.

4) Price. My RangeRoller retails at a very reasonable $24.99.  (The Stick is more expensive, FYI).

5) The 19 inch Original stick (the one I got) is perfect for travel.  They also have a Pro (firmer for deeper massage), and an XL model giving you lots of options.  I will say that I’d be a little scared to try the Pro model since the Original gets pretty deep.

Things I like about Medi-Dyne

1) Their customer service and social media presence.  Obviously I didn’t have the typical customer experience (I don’t think Lara will email everyone back and forth about color combinations), but I feel like the company is very accessible if I ever had any problems or questions.  They encourage customer feedback and interaction.

6) The range of products.  Seriously, wherever you hurt they have something for you.

7) Their website: it is super easy to navigate and ridiculously informative. You can check it out at www.medi-dyne.com.

Constructive Criticism

I always, no matter what try to provide feedback (comes from those days in school where you had to do three compliments and a constructive critisism for peer evaulations).  And really, I’m good at finding things to improve on, even in the most seemingly perfect situations.  Just ask my husband.

I don’t have anything bad to say about the RangeRoller or my experience with Medi-Dyne. The only thing I can think of is that the craftsmanship isn’t quite as good as The Stick, but it works just as well, so this doesn’t bother me at all. 

Truthfully, I think the RangeRoller is a great product.  It does what it needs to do.  I think what differentiates it in my mind is the attention to detail.  Does the periwinkle/white color combination make my muscles more flexible? No.  But it adds a nice touch, and it makes me feel like my needs for a bright colorful things are taken seriously by the company.

I absolutely recommend the RangeRoller, and encourage getting yourself a massage stick if you do any type of exercise and don’t want to get injured.  In the three days I’ve been using it, my legs have felt great, and I feel ready to tackle my half marathon this weekend.  You don’t get to Boston by not taking care of yourself!

{Our massage Stick Roller Family}

(Obvious statement: While my RangeRoller was awarded to me free of charge with the understanding that I would provide my feedback, I was not compensated for, or even asked to do my blog review.  There is currently not a nice Medi-Dyne staff person holding a water gun to my head, making me write favorable things about them.  My views are my own, and I can’t be bought!…usually…).

Also, Lara asked if I could send some pictures of the RangeRoller in action.  I have a feeling this isn’t what they meant… Nice ankle sock tan!

The Carb Cycle Weight Loss Secret That Isn’t So Secret

(My Wordpress “Reader” isn’t working.  I usually opt out of email notifications because of the Reader, but I am probably missing people’s posts left and right, so I apologize.  I promise I’m not ignoring people on purpose!  Does anyone know how I fix this? It was literally working until Sunday…UPDATE: I downloaded Google Chrome.  Problem fixed!). 

So, I know everyone is over it already, how crazy was Boston?

I was at work during the race, so I couldn’t watch it (thank goodness for twitter peeps giving me the play by play), but I was tracking a few people as they ran along. Knowing how fast these superstars run normally, it was quite obvious that everyone was running “smart.”  I’m guessing most Boston Marathoners never thought they’d run a marathon that slow.  I kept watching in relief as another split was updated, because that meant that people hadn’t passed out along the course.   A couple of runners gave me a scare between the 35k and 40k mark, but everyone I was tracking finished!

Only 427 people deferred to next year.  After all of the training and traveling, it would take a lot for me to give up the opportunity.

All of the excitement also kind of made me sad that my marathon falls just weeks after the 2013 qualifying deadline, so the most I can hope for is a chance to participate in the 2014 race, two years from now.  Looks like I’m not having babies anytime soon!

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Right now I’m on my “taper” for my half marathon.  Because I’m not working out too much this week (and seriously, pollen, you are kicking my butt big time), I’m doing a carb cycle.

And I don’t mean cycling through different donut choices throughout the day.  Mmmmm….donuts!

I was first introduced to the concept about a year and a half ago through a weight loss/fitness challenge that we participated in through the gym Aaron works for.

(FOR THE LOVE OF GUMDROPS please realize that I am not even close to a registered dietician.  Aaron, though very well-educated in nutrition, is also not a registered dietician.  Though we’ve researched this, and I’ve done it myself, we are not qualified to give out nutritional advice.  I know you all obviously understand this, and really, I don’t think most little bloggers get sued by people over diet posts, but who knows? Please don’t sue me!).

I think everyone pretty much knows by now that carbs transform into fat on your body when you don’t exert enough energy.  Unfortunately just about everything tasty in life is a carb (very cruel world we live in).  But, it makes sense that if you want to lose fat fast, you reduce your carb intake.

For just about any normal person, giving up carbs altogether is next to impossible because they are so good and they give you energy, hence the whole “carb load” that I love so much.

So, in comes the carb cycle.

Benefits:

1) You can lose weight fast.  I usually lose about 7 pounds in a 2 week period.

2) Because you are still eating protein, the pounds you are losing are fat opposed to muscle (your body breaks down muscle faster than fat for energy, so a lot of times rapid weight loss only means rapid muscle loss.  And losing muscle is bad, unless you like heart attacks and osteoporosis).

3) As long as you don’t go crazy right after, you can keep off the pounds for a while.  I do this maybe 2 times a year and eat pretty liberally the rest of the time.  As long as I keep my workouts consistent and don’t eat fast food every day, I can maintain it until major holidays come along.

4) You aren’t completely depriving yourself.  Every 4 days you get to eat like a normal person!

Drawbacks:

1) This isn’t a permanent solution.  Your body will drop pounds fast, but then it realizes what you are doing, and the weight loss gets less and less drastic. A healthy diet and exercise program is the only way to get longterm results.

2) By the 3rd day, you will be grumpy, tired, and hungry.  The very thought of a slice of pizza can cause you to go over the edge.  And that annoying coworker will literally drive you to the point of considering throwing them out the window, and then stealing their bagel.

3) As most of you are runners, this isn’t something that combines well with training.  Early on in taper weeks, sure.  The rest of the time, running and carb cycling makes you want to die.

So, the way I do it is on a 3 day cycle.  I typically eat 5 “meals” per day: breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, and dinner.  The first three days of the cycle are “Low Carb” days.  For the first 2 meals, I eat 20 grams of carbs.  Then, that’s it.  No carbs until the next morning.

The 4th day, the “High  Carb” day, you can eat carbs with every meal (but still, not too many…30-40 grams per meal).  This “high carb” day helps prevent the binge that comes with deprivation.  It helps renew your energy, and it gives you an end point to the three days of suffering.

Then, on day 5, you go back to Low Carb. I’m only doing one round this week so I can start carb loading tomorrow for the race, but I’ve done it for up to 2 weeks.

I try to make sure I have plenty of protein and fiber in my diet during carb cycle days.

Sample Day of Meals:

Breakfast: Plain oatmeal w/ protein powder mixed in

Snack: Yogurt (Greek yogurt has more protein in it)

Lunch: Meat (chicken breast or sliced turkey), mozzarella cheese, carrots, handful of nuts

Snack: String cheese

Dinner: Either grilled chicken breast or grilled fish, asparagus, salad w/ vinaigrette dressing

For me, after the first 3 days I drop about 3 pounds.   I try not to weigh myself because the fluctuation is pretty drastic.  I get addicted to dropping 1.5 pounds a day and disappointed when I only lose .2 pounds, and then I get tempted to cut food intake even more, which is dangerous.  I prefer to actually go by how I look and how I feel.  Right now I’m 2 days in, and I can feel the belly bloat going down. I also am starting to see a faint hint of my Jamaica abs peaking through!

Super blogger celebrity Monica  from Run Eat Repeat did a post recently about carb cycling (like me, she has thyroid issues and her body can’t regulate her metabolism on its own without synthetic hormones.  Her diagnosis is much more recent than mine, so she still is trying to get that all under control.  From experience, I know that physically not having control over your weight is frustrating).  Her post has a lot of links to other great resources on carb cycling.

In my opinion, this is a much healthier and more reasonable way to lose some unwanted fat rather quickly.  You are still getting the nutrients your body needs, you aren’t reducing calories, you aren’t working out for unhealthy amounts of time, but you are limiting those foods (like soda, white bread, pasta, potatoes) that aren’t good for you and that make you gain weight.

Hopefully this is helpful!  Have you ever tried limited carbs?  Has it worked for you? Have you ever wanted to punch someone as a result, or is that just me?

Boston, Titanic, Sneeziness, Etc.

Happy Friday the 13th!  Every 6 years my birthday falls on Friday the 13th, so I bear no ill will toward the occasion or the number 13 in general. Though I suppose if I break a mirror today, I may get a bit creeped out.

Also, tomorrow marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.  Even though the movie is terrible, (and I get SO ANGRY at Rose for not letting Leo on the door with her) the story itself is so incredibly tragic, and it kind of makes me mad how things were handled.  I don’t know how to celebrate the occasion properly since I flat-out refuse to watch that movie again.  Any suggestions? Celine Dion sing-a-long? Iceberg lettuce wedge salad? I don’t know, but it seems like an occasion worthy of remembering.

Meanwhile, I am sneezing my eyes out.  I am loving the warm weather, but the spring wind has shown up, and my allergies are miserable.  Growing up, I never had any problems with allergies.  But over the last few years I’ve suffered the sore throat, itchy eyes, stuffy nose, and tiredness that comes with too much pollen in the air.  I’m not sure how one developes allergies later in life (especially because I pretty much live in the same neighborhood aka pollen zone that I grew up in), but I am now a mild allergy sufferer.

Aaron on the other hand has always had bad allergies.  To everything.  Don’t put this poor boy in charge of de-shelling shrimp unless you want to see a big puff ball of a Lavender. And pistachios? Forget about it.  Springtime (actually all the time except for winter) is one long sneezyfest.  Even with allergy medication, running outside can get miserable.

As a result, we’ve been way unmotivated this last week to run outside.  Apparently we have forgotten about our half marathon next weekend? Treadmill runs just aren’t the same, and mileage has been lower than it should this week.  Plus, both of us just feel so congested. I feel like I’m not getting adequate oxygen intake when I run, and it isn’t pleasant. But me and everyone else, right?  Guess I’ll just have to suck it up and roll with it.

So even though I’m not getting good runs in this week, I wanted to do some HUGE good luck shout-outs to some awesome folks taking over Boston this weekend.

1) Julie from Run Revolution is running the Boston Marathon on Monday! She has been training since September, and she has worked so hard (plus, she has the cutest race day outfit).  I am so excited for her and I know she is going to do amazing!

2) The 2 Fat Nerds crew is running the 5K version of the Boston Marathon this weekend.  For most of them, this is their first race.  They have all been working hard toward this goal, and I know they are going to dominate!

So, if you could please join me in sending your fast thoughts toward Boston, these folks would appreciate it!

Is anyone else racing and in need of some fast thoughts?

Also, I am slightly jealous of anyone at Coachella right now (and/or next weekend).  I have been wanting to go for a few years, but Coachella is in the middle of nowhere (no direct flights to the area), I hate camping in non forest situations, but hotels are crazy expensive, plus tickets aren’t exactly cheap.  Too many factors to consider, and I just have never done the advanced planning to get us there.  I feel like next year should be our year because after that we start becoming the weirdo old people.  Heck, we might even already be.  Though, with Radiohead, Dr. Dre and Snoop Dog as the headliners, maybe they’re shooting for an older crowd.

ANYWAY, I hope you have a lovely weekend!  I have some baby shower crafting, 11 miles tomorrow, and some serious Mad Men catch up to do in between all the sneezing and Coachella Envy.

SIDENOTE: I’m considering registering my own domain (www.lavenderparking.com as opposed to www.lavenderparking.wordpress.com).  Has anyone done it and regretted it?  I don’t want to self host because I’m just not that creative, but I wouldn’t mind having a shorter URL.  Also, they make a big deal about making your information private for an extra $8.  Is this paranoia, or something I should be genuinely concerned about?

Well…They Were SUPPOSED to be Vegan Cupcakes…

A couple of weeks ago I had brilliant idea:

While browsing the internet, I found these earl grey cupcakes with lavender frosting, and I thought, WOW! That was the most amazing idea for a cupcake ever.  And you know,  if it’s lavender themed, I like it.  I pinned it to Pinterest, and at least 19 people repinned, so obviously I wasn’t the only one to think this was brilliant!

So, instead of doing the normal thing and following the recipe, I thought, HEY! Let’s be creative! Let’s try to make these cupcakes vegan style!

I am not a vegan.

Also, I’m not very good at anything kitchen related.

Making extravagant gingerbread houses using edible materials?  Yes.  But if it has to taste good and/or be sanitary enough for human consumption, forget about it.

So why I thought I could not only bake cupcakes but also convert the entire recipe to vegan is beyond me.  I guess I wanted to be a cool food blogger, too.

Recently, I have been inspired by the number of vegan recipes around the blog world.  And while I’m not vegan and I  have about 0% interest in becoming vegan, I am lactose intolerant, so I’ve been drinking soy milk for a long time. That’s almost the same thing, right?

So, I gave it a shot.  I made one batch regular (still using soy milk), and one vegan batch.

Aside from the usual substitutes, I used Chia seeds as an egg replacement, which is a nifty idea I got from Laura from Mommy Run Fast.  When Chia soaks, it turns into a gooey gel. Plus, chia is so trendy right now, so bonus points!

Chia

The vegan batch ended up tasting better.  Both were a little dry and hard.  More like a scone.  The recipe called for self-rising flour which I’ve never used, and the little market where I bought all the ingredients didn’t carry it.  I looked up a substitute recipe, so that might have affected things.  Also, my little house is a mile above sea level, so perhaps the recipe needed some high altitude altering?  Also, the frosting was a bit too sweet.  I don’t know what to add/take away to keep it less sweet, but if you really like sweet frosting, this is great! Any baker types have any suggestions?

If you’re looking to bake a nice vegan scone, this is your recipe.  They weren’t bad, because obviously I ate 3-4 per day and thoroughly enjoyed, but I wouldn’t call them actual cupcakes because they kind of aren’t.

So here are Amy’s Vegan Earl Grey Lavender scone-esqe type things (you can find the REAL recipe and pictures of much prettier cupcakes HERE)

Earl Grey Cupcakes

  • 1/2 cup milk, room temperature (SOY MILK)
  • 4 earl grey teabags or 4 teaspoons loose leaf tea
  • 8 tablespoons butter, room temperature (VEGAN BUTTER SUBSTITUTE)
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 2 large eggs (PER EGG: 1 TBSP CHIA, 3 TBSP WATER)
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons self rising flour (PER 3/4 CUP: 3/4 CUP ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR, 1 TSP BAKING POWER, 1/4 TSP SALT)
  • 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon all purpose flour

Line muffin tin with cupcake liners.  Heat milk in a saucepan until almost boiling.  Remove from heat, add teabags, cover, steep for 30 minutes and discard teabags.  (I used looseleaf Cream Earl Grey tea so I just stirred it in and strained the milk after infusing).

In large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugar till smooth.  Add almond extract.  Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each.  Sift the two flours together and add one third of flour mixture to mixing bowl followed by one third of the infused milk.  Mix well.  Repeat flour and milk additions until all has been added.
Spoon into cups, filling them about 2/3 full.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or till tests done.  Cool completely before icing. Makes one dozen.

Vegan Version

Not Vegan Version

Lavender Frosting
  • 1/3 cup milk (SOY MILK)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried lavender
  • 3 cups confectioners sugar
  • Violet food coloring (optional)

Love me some lavender

Bring milk and lavender just to a boil in small saucepan.  Remove from heat and let steep 10 minutes.  Strain and discard lavender.  Whisk in sugar until smooth.  Strain again.  Add food coloring, if using, until desired shade is reached.  Frost cupcakes immediately.

Easter Was My Lucky Day

Happy Monday!

(I wrote everything below this morning, before the day started.  I will say that the day took kind of a weird turn, not for me specifically except for spilling an entire 32 ounce glass of water on my lap at work and having very wet pants all morning, but the day wasn’t so good at all for other people I know, and I was in a funky mood all day. Seriously, Monday.  You win yet again).

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I don’t know about you, but I am STILL pretty full off of the Easter feast.  We started off Easter right at a buffet brunch with my family and we ate A LOT. Like, pancakes, prime rib, eggs Benedict, 3 little mini pies, and 3 trips through the line a lot.  Obviously I am unconcerned about Operation Anti-Jiggle.  And obviously Coach Aaron will make me regret trips 2 and 3 through the buffet this week.

Then, just a few hours later, we went to dinner at Aaron’s aunt’s house, and more food was eaten (though considerably less).  The food was wonderful!  But feeling like Violet Beauregard, the girl turned blueberry from Willy Wonka who has to be rolled around, made me realize why I can’t eat like that all the time.  Yucky doesn’t even begin to describe it.  I actually woke up today excited to eat a boring amount of healthy food.  WEIRD.

I also had a rather lucky Easter, and I’m not just talking about my Easter Basket winnings including chocolate and a bottle of mimosa (THANKS, MOM!)

Yesterday, we took Giuseppe to my parents’ house for a Puppy Easter Egg Hunt! (my mom hid doggy treats around the backyard for the puppies to find).

Both dogs knew that they were searching for something, and they played along, even if they had no idea why.

While they were running around looking for treats, I was looking through the grass, and happened upon a patch of clovers.  In my childhood, I used to find 4 leaf clovers in my parent’s yard pretty often.  I haven’t found one in years, so I figured my luck had pretty much run out.

But then yesterday, in a tiny little clover patch in the middle of the lawn, I found…a FOUR LEAF CLOVER!

If that had been the only thing to happen yesterday, it would have been a good Easter.

But better things were in store.

Last night, after rolling myself back home from my second feast of the day, I participated in #runchat, an hour long Twitter Q & A that takes place every other Sunday.  I’ve actually found a lot of new Twitter runner friends on #runchat.

Each bi-weekly #runchat has a different giveaway sponsor, and 1-3 lucky participants win a prize just for twittering along.

I NEVER win stuff like this.  Sometimes I win at the “everybody wins” drawings, but not always.

Well, thanks to the powers of Easter and my clover, I WON last night! I was selected as the winner of a Medi-Dyne RangeRoller.  I don’t know too much about the stick or Medi-Dyne.  It looks a little different than my massage stick.  We’ll have to see how it works when it arrives in the mail! But regardless, I’m just so excited that I won!

Anyway, I hope your Easter was wonderful.  It is possible that we are all in need of some serious boot camp (or maybe I was the only one who thought trying every dessert was a good idea?).  And I hope your Monday went ok.  I’ve always thought the Monday after Easter should be a holiday.   Then we could have ALL day to work off the Easter feast.  Or, you know, party like a puppy.

I Want My Old Metabolism Back

Sometimes having a personal trainer as a husband is cool.  I get neat equipment samples for our house and no end to fitness tips and new exercises to try.

But…sometimes, having a personal trainer as a husband is not as cool.

Like when I write a blog post about how I want to lose 7 pounds in one month.

Then I get text messages like the following:

“I saw your blog. Do I need to boot camp train you into shape?

-Also, no more cookies.

-Or cupcakes.”

Typically, Aaron leaves his gym persona at the gym.  We do run, and he’s helped a lot with that, but any other strength or core training is usually on my own.  And that’s a good thing (and also probably why I don’t look like Gisele).  Among our old workout group friends, he is known as Dr. Evil.  I’d rather not encounter Dr. Evil in my living room, stealing my cookies out of my hands while making me do push-ups.

But, his excitement for torture was pretty apparent this time around.

Boot camp officially started on Tuesday (it was supposed to start on Monday, but, oops).  I have lost half a pound already….which means I have 6.5 more pounds to go in the next 25 days.  Doable? Maybe.  I was hoping to lose 1-2 pounds per week, and I’m already behind.  This really makes me miss Amy’s 18 year old metabolism.

Team Beach Body

We’ve been sticking with our regular running workouts.  But, now that I run so much, my body is becoming pretty efficient at it, and I’m not getting the same calorie burn that I used to.  In addition to eating protein and veggies for dinner as opposed to less healthy options, we’re also having to incorporate a lot of exercises that we haven’t been doing, and switching them up everyday to get the body shock factor.

One of the first things we did was Aaron’s Deck of Cards workout, a.k.a. how to hate squats in 40 minutes or less.

Each suit represents a different exercise (squat jumps, push-ups, lunges, sprinter sit-ups).  The number on the card represents the number that you do.  Face cards equal cardio type exercises like mountain climbers, groiners (yup, real exercise), squat jumps, and burpees (20 each).  Aces equal 1 minute planks.

This keeps your heart rate up while getting in some tried and true muscle building exercises.  Plus, you never know which card is getting picked, so it makes it more…well, fun isn’t the word.  Interesting?

The whole deck takes about 40 minutes.  It was the most unfun 40 minutes I’ve had in a while.  20 burpees after 20 squat jumps followed by 10 lunges hurts even more the next day.

{EVIL cards}

At times like these I feel like just not eating for 5 days would be easier.

ON THAT NOTE:

I hope everyone has a wonderful Easter weekend! I hope the Easter bunny brings lots of chocolate!