Monday, October 13, 2014

Honey Curry Chicken

Another gorgeous autumn day is in the books. 10.5 perfect miles left me feeling confident and happy.
I don't know where my niece found this, but it made me smile when she sent it to me. Whenever I want to run long (especially on a Monday) this gets me moving:

After a good run, I'm usually feeling like I deserve a treat. Today I indulged in diet Dr. Pepper and this delicious bread:

It was perfect!

 I After I've spoiled myself, I crave something warm and somewhat spicy to finish filling my belly. A curry dish comes to mind. Tonight it's Honey Curry Chicken.


The recipe is super easy and everyone in the family cleans their plate. What you get is a spicy-sweet chicken with the warm flavors of curry, onion and peppers. And all those peppers and onions give me a chance to use  my new favorite kitchen tool: the Vidalia Chop Wizard (not a paid endorsement). Seriously, the whole family loves chopping fruits and veggies with this tool. And that makes me one happy mother!


Honey Curry Chicken

  • Chicken breast (3 large or 8 tenderloins)

  • 1/2 C chicken broth

  • 1/2 medium onion chopped

  • 1 C chopped sweet bell pepper

  • 1/4 C honey

  • 1/4 C prepared mustard

  • 1 Tbsp curry powder

  • 1 tsp chili powder

  • salt and pepper to taste

  • 1 tsp cinnamon (optional, but a nice addition)

Combine all ingredients except chicken and mix well. Pour mixture over chicken in either a crock pot or large casserole dish and toss or stir to completely coat chicken. Bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour or until chicken is well done and falling apart--OR cook in crock pot on low for eight hours or high for four (preferred method). Serve over rice or quinoa (this recipe tastes great with quinoa so give it a try!), and with a healthy side of green veggies. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Let the Sunshine In

We live in a noisy world that constantly sends us messages.
Some messages are good. I mean, just think about all the positive body-image messages that have been produced/released lately. Music lyrics and ad campaigns targeting the worn-down self-esteem of  women and girls, lifting and enlightening. Lots of Girl Power going on lately.
And that is great.
But . . .
there are still plenty of negative messages aimed directly at our hearts, minds and souls. We are bombarded with print ads, radio ads, T.V. and films, even entire cable channels directed at filling our time and minds with junk. And the constant message that we never quite measure up.
We hear do this, be that, get this, buy that. More! More! More of everything! 
I literally battle against 'more' every day.
I've said it before and I'll say it again:
You are enough!
Never let anyone tell you that you aren't or that in any way you are lacking.
Yesterday I had the most uplifting conversation with a new friend of mine. She recently had her first baby--an adorable little boy who is smart and full of energy. Her pregnancy was rough, requiring nearly three months bed rest! (I cannot even imagine!) Consequently, she gained quite a bit of weight. Weight that she'd like to lose but the task seems so daunting. She's been working out regularly, eating healthy, and having some success. But some success doesn't quite feel like enough. She feels like she needs to lose more.
Do more! Run more! Sweat more!
The message is overwhelming.
We agreed the word 'more' is the enemy. 
Let's eliminate the word more and watch what happens.
Suddenly things seem doable.
Do! That's it. Don't do more. Just do!
 Run! Sweat! Eat! Pray! Love! Smile!
That's it. 
If by chance you find something within yourself in need of improvement, focus on the little things--baby steps. 
Start by doing the right things--now. One step at a time.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

If only I had her energy. . .

If you follow me in Instagram (and you should) then you've been introduced to the newest member of our family.
Meet Carly!

We love her; she's totally adorable. But, lets face it, she's a puppy. And puppies are a lot of work. Up all night, busy all day--it's like having a toddler again. If only I had some of her energy. Finding time to blog has been difficult. But I know it will all be worth in the long run--right?

The good news is the weather has been amazing! Gorgeous! Perfect weather for potty training a fur baby. Between the house breaking and running, I've been spending a lot of time outside this past week, soaking up the last of the warm-weather vitamin D. But I still find myself dragging midday (from all the middle-of-the-night potty breaks). It's been important to find healthy, energizing snacks because adult life doesn't offer much nap time, you know what I mean.

So, in the spirit of sharing and passing along anything good and healthy, I will share my new favorite snack:

No-bake Cinnamon Bun Balls
  • 1 C pitted dates
  • 1 C almonds (raw)
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar (optional; may reduce or omit)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ¼ C shredded coconut
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until a sticky meal forms. Using a small cookie/ice cream scoop or your hands, form 1-inch balls with the sticky meal. Refrigerate and store in an airtight container.
I use almonds for these treats just because I prefer almonds to cashews. That said, you can use cashews and get a doughier mixture that forms well and can be easily made into bars. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

Any tips on house breaking a puppy? Please share, I'm desperate.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


I had great intentions for a challenging Mix Method class this morning. I had planned, choreographed, and rehearsed a great sweat-inducing flow. I was going to educate the class on the importance of strong pelvic stabilizers. And for the most part it went as planned.

I even got to work on my favorite flow, Dogging Cobra:

We transitioned through the barre segment into the yoga section seamlessly. When we headed in the mat Pilates portion of the class, I noticed a shift. The women started talking. Normally talking during class really irritates me. How on earth are you listening to my cuing and educating if you are chatting it up with the girl on the mat next to you? And, for that matter, how are you focusing on your breath and alignment if you're constantly turning your attention to someone other than your teacher and yourself? But today was different. They weren't talking in a bad, we're-bored-and-you-are-losing-us sort of way. More in a I-feel-I-need-to-speak-now sort of way. 

Recognizing the need for these women (myself included) to just talk, I cut a few moves from the Pilates section and transitioned into the cool down with flowing Mermaid, energizing Rockstar stretches, and a restful Seated Eagle. I didn't even formally close the class, choosing instead to let the women dictate when class was over.

We lingered on our mats, swapping stories, sharing parenting advice, simply talking--slowing down to enjoy a moment of connection. And I noticed as we rolled up our mats, collected our keys and purses and left the room that we were all smiling. Smiling isn't unusual following one of my classes. I mean, I certainly hope you leave my class smiling, uplifted, refreshed. However, I noticed a certain buoyancy as we walked together to the parking lot. There was talk plans for the next class, even lunch dates later in the week. I felt carefree though I was headed back home to take care of a houseful of laundry and dirty floors. 

So this morning's class didn't go exactly as planned. And I'm okay with that because the practice of yoga and Pilates is about making connections, after all. And when our minds and bodies are connected, it's that much easier to complete the equation by reaching out to connect with someone else.

 How do you connect with others?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Marathons and a 20-Minute Treadmill Workout

Some days are better than others. And when you wake up to a cat who's been sick all night, all over your floor--Why?--you know it's going to take some serious work to make the sun shine. This bracelet helps a lot.

I got it from The Beaded Butterfly.
And it makes my heart smile.

Yesterday I rocked a 12 miler. But not every day can be a 12-mile day, can it? Nope. Today it's simply not going to happen. I'm too busy cleaning cat sickness off the floor. (Rolls eyes dramatically.) So today I'm going to have to push through and just get a quick run done.
Finish in a Flash!

My sister, Mindy, ran the Top of Utah marathon on Saturday. She's part of at least a half dozen pacing groups (not literally, but she is in a lot of pacing/running groups) and ran this one as a pacer. If you remember, she ran the Big Cottonwood marathon last weekend as a pacer as well. This time she was slated to run the five hour pace. Seriously, five hours of running??? That's a long time to be running/jogging.

To top that off, she's also running the St.George Marathon in less than two weeks! The girl loves her marathons.
Which leads me to ask a question: How much is too much?
It's a hard question to answer. Even experts don't agree. 
The Physiology of Marathon Running: Just What Does Running a Marathon Do to Your Body? by Jake Emmett, Ph.D. both posed and answered questions on what happens to the body during the 26.2 miles of a marathon.
Admittedly, I have never run a marathon (not yet, anyway), but after running two half marathons in one month at PR pace, I can tell you my body felt all of those miles and then some. My muscles were achy and sore following both races despite my training. And today, well today I'm fighting off a cold.
In his article, Dr. Emmett states, "Microscopic damage to the muscles from running a marathon can cause more than soreness. As part of the repair process, cytokines are released from the injured area to promote the influx of white blood cells from the immune system. In particular, neutrophils, monocytes, and lymphocytes are elevated after prolonged endurance events such as a marathon ... The muscle damage incurred from running a marathon can divert some immune cells for muscle repair and weaken others, leaving the immune system less able to protect against upper respiratory tract infections."

To counteract any negative physiological reactions to marathon running, the author gives these recommendations:

  • Keep other life stresses to a minimum.
  • Eat a well-balanced diet.
  • Obtain adequate sleep.
  • Avoid putting hands to eyes and nose.
  • Avoid sick people and large crowds.
  • Avoid overtraining and rapid weight loss.
  • Use carbohydrate beverages before, during, and after marathon races and long training runs.

  • Seriously, people. I cannot stress enough how valuable a healthy body is. Never, ever take it for granted! In today's culture of ultra-endurance fitness, it's hard to know how much is too much. If running a marathon, ultra, or Ironman is on your bucket list, please do so with smart training, adequate nutrition, and under the care of a physician.

    How much do you think is too much?
    Are you gearing up for a marathon, ultra, or Ironman?

    Thursday, September 18, 2014

    Good Enough

    I've been riding a roller coaster since last Saturday. One moment pleased with my PR. The next moment questioning if I could have done better; telling myself I should have done better.

    We runners are an interesting lot. We can be so highly competitive with our own selves that we become our own worst enemy.

    Speed is a relative thing. It is highly dependent upon innumerable factors. What one runner considers a slow, easy jog is another person's personal best. We all know and accept that. And for some--for me--running isn't always about competing, improving, or meeting goals. For the most part, running to me is about moving, breathing hard, feeling alive. And that is 100% okay. Or is it? At what point do we feel okay not giving it our all, because, let's face it, we can't give 100% effort every run. That is just ludicrous. Sometimes I need to run long and slow, taking my time to enjoy the feeling of running.

    Just last night I went for a run with my hubby. It was only about 159 degrees outside and I had only eaten about 114 pounds of food. I was sweating before we even hit the road and my gut felt like it had been filled with rocks. At some point though the feeling of air rushing in and out of my lungs and my legs pumping beneath filled me with joy and I forgot about how uncomfortable I felt. That's what keeps me going more than any goals, PR's, or prizes. Sometimes the work is the reward. The key is to keep moving, making the effort every day.

    So there's your pep talk, your daily dose of motivation. Get out, get it done.

    Monday, September 15, 2014

    Big Cottonwood Half Marathon

    This is how race day started for me:

    I got up at 3:30 a.m. and ate two slices of my pre-race staple, cinnamon swirl bread. It was awesome. I felt great, not nervous at all. My sister and I drove down to Cottonwood Heights on the dark and lonely freeway. Parking was awesome--volunteers ushered us right into a parking stall in a well-lit parking terrace. We got out of the car and walked with the excited, if not energized crowd to the buses. This is where I said goodbye to Mindy--she was pacing the marathon while I was trying out my speed on the half.
    I got on the 4:50 a.m. bus and we were on our way. During the ride up the canyon, I chatted with a nice lady from Michigan, currently living in St. George, Utah. All 50 states and several countries were represented in this race. That certainly added to the excitement.
    We got off the bus at a camp ground. In the dark. In the cold. Did I mention it was dark? And cold? I believe the low temp. was around 35 degrees. At any rate, it felt like winter up there--and I am not a fan of winter, especially in September.
     There were literally tons of port-a-potties. Clean toilets. Awesome! 
    This part was not awesome. The race was supposed to start at 7:00. We had been told that the last buses would leave at 5:30 (marathon) and 5:45 (half). Apparently everyone decided to wait until the last minute and catch the latest buses. Subsequently, there weren't enough buses to get everyone up to the start on time. Oh, except for those of us who caught the earlier buses. We were stuck waiting in the cold, dark camp ground for an extra 30 minutes. The race directors did include mylar blankets and gloves in our race bags. Life saver! Despite the blanket and knit gloves, my feet became numb in the cold. When we finally did start running it felt as if I had blocks of ice instead of feet for the first three miles.

    I forgot to start my Garmin until almost a whole mile into the race. That turned out to be a positive as so much of running for me is mental and not knowing my true pace/distance really helped.
    The miles flew by due to the sharp downhill grade. Between miles 4 and 5 I could feel a twinge in my achilles. I reminded myself that pain is temporary and that a PR would be worth it. I kept pushing and actually felt really good. 
    Until mile 10.
    At mile 10 of the Big Cottonwood Half Marathon the course exits the beautiful canyon and continues on city streets. Up hill.
    My pace slowed considerably and I had to remind myself to just keep moving. It's a straight shot to the finish line and the whole way is lined with cheering spectators. And I have to say that the police personnel and volunteers along the route who were cheering us on and encouraging us really helped get me to the finish line with a  smile on my face.

    The finish line was AMAZING! Once we crossed the line, volunteers immediately offered you your medal and a cold, wet towel. That towel = perfection. There was plenty of cold water, soda (diet Coke after a race??? Yes, please!), pizza, macaroni and cheese, yogurt, chocolate milk, and raspberry bars from Whole Foods, etcetera. There were also vendors offering free samples of their nutrition/running related products. There was also a live band that added to the party.
    After downing water and plenty of diet Coke, I dodged into a port-a-potty and changed out of my sweaty shirt so I could wait for my sister in comfort.
    I was happy to get my official results (as my Garmin failed me): 1:45--a 9 minute PR! I'll take it!

    The medals were huge! I LOVE mine! And the race shirts are comfy and well fitted. (That's mine in the picture.)
    Mindy finished the full in 4:55. The full marathon course has a tricky uphill out-and-back section that just about undoes everyone who runs it. Mindy did okay by walk/running that portion and just powering through it. Sadly, there were many runners who had quite a difficult time. I've never seen so many medical personnel at the end of a race. I saw three marathoners taken away by ambulance, several hooked up to IV's, and innumerable runners vomiting as they came across the finish line.
    I think I'll stick with the half, thank you.

    Over all, the Revel Big Cottonwood Half Marathon was the best running event I've been to (not that I've been to many). I definitely want to make this one an annual race.

    Monday, September 8, 2014

    Moonlight and Marathons

    This guy will be our running guide for the next nine months as we journey into fall, survive winter, and hold on through spring.

    Running in the dark is different than running in the light. It's harder for me; not being able to see what's in front of me, unsure of each footfall and never quite trusting the roadway. And then there's the danger...but that's all part if the training, what makes us hardy, confident of our ability to do hard things.

    I don't like doing hard things. I've never been intrigued by a challenge. I've done hard things though and know the joy of conquering. And sometimes I'm tempted to push my own limits. Sometimes. . .

    Yesterday I read saw on a blog a meme about the marathon. On it was printed a version of Psalm 26:2 "Examine me, oh Lord, and prove me; try my reins and my heart." I love it! I love how both the scripture reference and the verse apply to running--the marathon with its 26.2 miles, especially. And now I'll admit that I went searching for an equally inspiring scripture referencing a shorter distance--say 13:1??? Nada. Couldn't find one. So I guess 26:2--the marathon--it is.

    And just because I'm astounded that the moonset could be as breathtaking as the sunset, here from my run this morning:

    Thursday, September 4, 2014

    Detours and Dead Ends

    This morning an acquaintance challenged me to write another book. Actually, he challenged me to finish a book I started writing years ago. He's challenged me several times in the past to finish this book to which I've laughed and replied that I'm either taking a break from fiction or that project is dead. But this morning his nudge seems to have hit me in the right spot (or write spot, ha ha).

    It's been a year since this happened:

    And three loooong years since this happened:

    And I swore I'd never do it again. You see, I've had three separate publishing contracts in my life. And all three have been . . . well, lets just say they've each been incredible learning experiences. For many, yours truly included, writing a novel is a bucket list item. But rarely are we ever satisfied with merely checking a box on our list. We want success. We want to live the dream. Are we satisfied with merely running a marathon, or do we want to qualify for Boston?  We at least want to PR, right? Is it ever enough just to jump from an airplane with a parachute strapped to our back? No. We want to fully experience the weightlessness, the wind, the breathless thrill. We want our friends and family cheering us on, maybe diving with us. Would we be satisfied with merely flying to Hawaii, landing at the airport, looking around, and then flying back home? No. We want to enjoy the sand and surf. We want to explore the tropical island by day and by night. We want to do touristy things while secretly dreaming of becoming a local. And for me, merely signing a publishing contract and holding my own paperback in my hands, flipping through the pages of my own creation, just wasn't enough. I wanted to earn a real paycheck, maybe pay my husband back for all of his support. I hoped for some success. I dreamed of signings and lectures and tours and events. And I did have signings and lectures and tours and events. And I did get a paycheck here and there. But all those things weren't what I had hoped they would be. Which was what, anyway? Learning experiences.

     And I haven't felt the need to go back to that and . . . have more learning experiences. So I walked away from my writing (well, except for blogging, which is kinda like writing--but not). I took a year off completely and I worked on me. 
    I certified in Sport Yoga.
    I crossed some running goals off my list.
    I read . . . a lot. And actually enjoyed it. (The love of reading left me when I got published.)
    I certified in Pilates.
    I fell in love with teaching group fitness classes.
    I started blogging again.
    I spent more quality time with my kids.

    And in the back of my mind something (or someone) kept nagging at me. Had I left that part of my life for good, or just for now? Had I given up? Am I a quitter? 

    I preach all the time that we need to keep a forward momentum, looking for progress. And yet, in this one part of my life I've been stalled. Is it time to kick myself into gear and get moving once again?

    I pulled up the old file of this next great work of fiction that has been calling my name. A strange and slightly familiar sensation began growing in my gut. Before I could recall what that feeling was, it crept up into my chest, tickled my throat a little, and spread across my face. I smiled as I recognized the feeling of excitement that only writing can bring, that old creative flame, the call to get lost in my own head, getting to know and understand my own characters, and my own demons.

    Will I finally finish the book now? Only time will tell.

    Friday, August 29, 2014

    What fills your bucket?

    So, I turned 39 this week. There, I said it. We will have a moment of silence as I reflect on the fact that I will shortly be leaving my 30's (aka: the best decade of my life thus far).___________________________________________________________________
    Now let us move on.

    Can we just talk about this for a minute:

     I guess if getting older has taught me one thing it is this: to work to reach my own potential, not the potential I wish I had. 

    I am mediocre at a lot of things. I am not trying to be humble when I say that. It is instead simply the truth. I have tried many, many things in my 39 years. Sometimes I am good at them, mostly I am just okay. I got good grades in school but was not valedictorian by any means. I sang in my high school concert choir, but was never considered worthy of a solo. I have written a couple of novels. One even reached the top 50 best-seller list for its genre on Amazon. But I know I will never write a New York Times Best Seller. Again, not trying out a false humility. I am just being honest here. And I am fine with all of that.

    I run. I like to run. I enjoy the community of runners. I do not run fast, or all that far for that matter. I will likely never qualify for Boston or run an ultra marathon. Nor do I really care to. I do not win races or earn sponsors. I do, however, try. And for my efforts sometimes I am met with a reward of some sort, a PR, a runner's high,  eating lots of bread without any hint of guilt. And I am satisfied with that. Sure, there are times when I wish I could run sub 7 minute miles--heck, I'd like to regularly run sub 8 minute miles. But that is not the point of running. That is not why I do what I do. I do what I do to strive for my own potential. To fill my bucket of joy. And if I'm constantly measuring that against what fills someone else's bucket I will never find happiness. There comes a time when we have to be satisfied with what is in our bucket and stop wishing for more.

    I have a dear, sweet friend who has dieted and obsessed over every morsel of food she eats for the last 20 years. Once when I asked her why she replied that she didn't want to end of up looking like her mother (who looks just fine in my opinion). I was saddened. She has been sacrificing joy out of fear of comparison. (Not that food is joy, but I really do see a desperation in her that has to hamper her ability to fill her bucket with joy.) I wish I could express to her the need to celebrate her healthy body today instead of living in a future that hasn't happened yet. I figure the only guarantee I have is today. I'd better like what I have, who I am, what I'm doing today or else I have nothing--an empty bucket.

    It's hard not to be competitive in this world we live in. With social media--media in general--it is nearly impossible not to compare every aspect of our lives with what we see from others'. But the truth is, as cliche as it sounds, comparison really is the thief of joy. Most of what we see is illusion anyway. What I'd like to know is how would our lives change if in order to pick up one admirable trait from another person we had to pick up every other trait as well? By that I mean what if in order to have the six-pack abs of that swim-suit model, we had to go through the years of adolescent torment she endured for being seven inches taller than everybody in her 8th grade class. What if in order to have the generous nature of our neighbor, we had to go through twenty years of financial hardship she suffered when her husband lost his job and walked out on the family? What if in order to run as fast as that first-place finisher, we had to grow up in the same abusive house she did, spending our nights running in order to escape a volatile home? Do not wish for what you do not have.

    My point is this: We each have been endowed with our own gifts that have been sifted through our own experience and refined by the work we have done to improve them. They are unique to just us--only us. There is no use in comparing any aspect of our lives with those of others'. The only potential we can reach is our own. And there is no such thing as perfection, just progress.

    The end.

    Tuesday, August 26, 2014

    Top of Utah Half Marathon

    I'm kinda embarrassed to show you this picture. But I can make fun of myself, so here goes. . .

    What the heck am I doing with my hands? My daughter snapped this picture as I crossed the finish line at the Top of Utah Half Marathon. I didn't know she was there. I didn't know anyone was there. Needless to say, I was pleasently surprised. In fact, the entire race was filled with pleasent surprises.

    If you will remember, the night before the race was wet, cold, miserable. Packet pick up took place at a park, where the finish line would be the next day. The staff and volunteers were set up under a pavilion, but for the most part, the entire affair took place under a slow and steady drizzle of cold rain. To be honest, I wasn't excited about the race the next morning and was really bummed about racing in the rain.

    I met up with my sister for the packet pickup, then we went to a little carb-loading party with a few of her friends. We snarfed down plates of pasta before ditching the party to go watch my niece perform a drill team routine at her high school football half time--in the rain. It was miserable. I was excited to head back to our Cache Valley vacation home for a good night of sleep.

    I woke up before my 4:30 a.m. alarm, brushed my teeth, slapped on some mascara, and dressed in some Old Navy compression capris and an Under Armor t-shirt.

    Breakfast was cinnimon swirl toast and half a banana, washed down with 12 ounces of Coke Zero--I swear by this breakfast before every race. Then we bundled up and headed out just in time to catch the 5:45 a.m. bus to the start.

    The Top of Utah people put on a good race. Everything was organized and ran smoothly. There were plenty of port-a-potties at the start, finish, and along the route. 

    We started 7 miles up Blacksmith Fork canyon in Hyrum, Utah. I was worried about the cold and rain from the night before, but thankfully we woke up to clearing skies!

    My sister was pacing the race for a friend, so my sis-in-law Janelle and I ditched her at the starting line. I had gone with a goal if beating 2 hours but secretly hoped to break 1:56. With how cold it was, I didn't know if that would be possible. So, Janelle and I started out at a comfortable pace. It rained between miles 2 and 3, but then steadily cleared as we moved down the canyon. I was still comfortable at mile 7, but knew it was time for fuel. I packed some Clif Bloks and breath mints and carried my own water in a Nathan handheld.

    I had been running with Janelle, chatting and enjoying the race to this point. But around mile 8, Janelle started having trouble with her back. I didn't want to push her, but, you know, I had a goal. So I struck out on my own. I had been warned that between miles 10 and 12 the road has an uphill grade. But to be honest I didn't really feel any hills, the grade was so slight. At mile 11 I checked my Garmin and realized I was well within my goal time. My handheld had run out if water so at mile 12 I took a cup and walked a few paces while I drank. I have to say that felt soooo good. 

    Regardless of how good the break felt, mile 12 felt endless. I could see the finish line for about a full half mile! What the...? I finally crossed at 1:54--can't remember the seconds. I grabbed my medal and headed toward the food tent for some water. That's when I saw my family. I thought they were all still sleeping. I was so happy to see them and wanted to hang out at the finish for a while, but I was freezing! So as soon as Janelle and Mindy came through, I was ready to go.

    I never like my finishline photos, but I like this memory with my girls.

    Later that afternoon I was sitting with my husband and had the craziest thought ever. I actually said to him, "I clearly remember taking the bus up the canyon to the start, but I can't remember how we got back down." I guess I was a little tired.

    All in all, it was a great race for me. I'm happy with my time and can't wait to crush it at the Big Cottonwood Half in September!

    Friday, August 22, 2014

    I can't believe I'm doing this...

    The half marathon I've been planning on all summer is tomorrow! The problem with planning for a race (as opposed to signing last minute like I usually do) is that you have time to set goals and form expectations.

    Yep. I have done just that. I've been planning on a PR all summer and, until yesterday, felt prepared. Then I heard the weather report.

    See that thunder cloud? That means rain. Now, I don't exactly live in a rain forest. Rain here in the great state of Utah usually feels more like a spritz than a shower. But this time if year, aka monsoon season in the desert, when the forecast calls for rain you'd better be prepared for a flash flood.

    I don't love running in "weather." A gentle rain would be fine, but a thunderstorm? Not so much. So I'm packing, but I feel really unprepared.

    Hurry! I need your help! What do I need to pack for a race in the rain? Rain jacket or poncho? 
    Any tips to keep a runner comfy and dry? 
    What should I expect racing in the rain?

    Wednesday, August 20, 2014

    All it takes is 15 minutes...

    We all know that sagging feeling between the hours of 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. (at least that's when my energy seems to drop off). And we've all adopted our own ways, for better or for worse, to pep ourselves up mid-day. I've learned that for me nothing works better than physical activity. Whether it's some yoga stretches or a quick 1-mile sprint around the block, sometimes all it takes is 10 or 15 minutes to wake up and re-energize.

    Lately I've been liking high intensity interval training (hiit). It's pretty simple; just set a timer and work HARD for 50 seconds and rest for 10. 
    This workout is simple; nothing complicated here. Just set a timer and go.

    Tuesday, August 19, 2014

    Three Important Tips for Monitoring Intake

    There was a time in my life when I weighed myself every day, sometimes multiple times a day. I don't know why exactly; It was just a habit. But at times I did feel like a slave to the scale. If I saw one, I had to step on it. After my first pregnancy that all stopped. I just quit weighing myself. I fell out of the habit partially due to the fact that weighing myself brought on unreal expectations for that pregnancy/post-partem phase.

    Well, that was fifteen years ago. I am a little older now, have had four pregnancies since and have gained and lost a combined total of about (because I don't really weigh myself, this number is an estimate based on the doctor's scale)110 pounds throughout the course of all of those pregnancies. I have learned not to judge myself by a number but rather by the way I feel.

    Lately, I've been feeling uncomfortable. I've been feeling, for lack of a better word, fluffy. Soft, I guess. Whenever I feel this way I know it's time to check in with myself--not with my weight, but with my eating habits. I know I've got the exercise thing down. I NEVER skip a workout, keep the workouts varied, and make sure I do at least some strength training. What I don't do is monitor my food intake. Sometimes monitoring food intake can lead to obsessive or compulsive behavior, and believe me, I want nothing to do with any of that. But there are times when we all need to check in with ourselves. How is my nutrition? What am I missing? What am I getting too much of? To do this, I enlist three tools: food labels, measuring cups, a food diary.

    1. Food Labels. Do you ever read these things? I'm sure you do. Food labels are an important tool for monitoring your nutrition. Knowing what a serving size is is just as important as knowing what is in the food you eat. If you don't understand what a portion is, then the rest of the numbers on the label don't really matter. If the "serving size" is vague (listed in ounces or grams) measure it for yourself. You can buy a food scale for as little as $5 or $10 at Target or Wal-Mart. Learn the serving sizes of the foods you eat most.

    2. Measuring Cups and Spoons. This is a no-brainer. Instead of using serving spoons at meals, I use measuring cups to serve food. I use measuring cups for pouring cereal, measuring spoons for making cookies, and so forth. This way, I know how much I'm serving and can check this against the food label so I can see exactly how much I'm taking in. Measuring cups not available? You can use your hands as a portion guide.

    Check out this "handy" portion guide from Precision Nutrition.

    3. Food Diary.  This is usually my first word of advice to anyone trying to loose weight. Sometimes I munch all day long, not really paying attention to what I'm putting in my face. Then, at the end of the day, I feel bloated and uncomfortable. Using a food diary helps stop that mindless munching. I like My Fitness Pal app, but a simple notebook works fine too. An act as simple as picking up a pen every time you pick up a piece of food can go a long way in any weight-loss plan. For me this is just a short-term tool--something I do for maybe one week, just to bring mindfulness to my eating habits. Also, journalling how you feel along with what you eat can alert you to allergies or sensitivities.

    I've been using these tips this week to help get rid of the frumpy, tired, bloated feeling and so far, so good. Hopefully I'll be back to my energetic self by Saturday in time to rock Top of Utah!

    What are your best diet tips?
    What are your goals for this week?
    Anyone else running a race this weekend?

    Friday, August 15, 2014

    I Love to Taper!

    Next week is the Top of Utah Half Marathon. I know for so many runners a half marathon ain't no thang. But for me it's huge. I ran my first half ten years ago. And HATED it. HATED! I didn't want to run again after that experience. EVER. After struggling through 13.1 miles at a slow (for me) pace of 10:30 I felt defeated when I arrived at the finish line about ready to heave. I thought maybe running wasn't for me. It took years for me to realize that not all races are the same. This particular race was 100% uphill, ever-so slightly, but up hill just the same. Who does that? Who creates a race that's up hill the whole way? Needless to say, this race is no longer in existence. Also needless to say, I am exited to run a half in which the first 7 miles are downhill.

    Also, in my obviously inadequate training for that first half marathon, I failed to taper, running hard (for me) up to the day of the race. I didn't understand training, thinking I just needed to run more miles. Now I get it. I've felt the results of appropriate training and learned how vital the taper is.

    The idea of reducing mileage leading up to a race is a hard one for many runners to get their minds around. It can play games with your head when cutting a regular 40 mile week down to 25. But it's important to let your muscles rest, rebuild glycogen stores, and mentally reboot. I appreciate running so much more when I'm not worried about getting in all the workouts prescribed on a training schedule. By the and of most weeks I feel slow, heavy, and inflamed. At the end of a taper I feel energized, light, rested. And let me tell you, that is exactly how you want to feel going into a race.

    I also have more time. And that is one thing everyone can appreciate. Am I right?
    Just this morning, I took the kids to the dentist. NO CAVITIES! YAY!
    Then we took a jaunt to the farmers' market

    Peaches are the best this time of year. I can't wait to sink my teeth into these beauties.

    Then we diverted to Fiiz for a treat because NO CAVITIES!

    The Dirty Diet Dr. Pepper tasted sooo good!

    And now I get to re-energize my afternoon with this routine:

    I love tapering! 
    I'm off to Cache Valley again for the weekend where I will do just one easy run with hubby for fun!

    What are you weekend plans?
    What's your favorite thing to buy at the farmers' market?
    Ever been to Fiiz or Swig or something like that?

    Wednesday, August 13, 2014

    Enough of the heavy

    Last night's post was a little heavy. Important, but heavy. Enough of that! That combined with some research the hubby was doing and I was up way too late. Nevertheless, I got up and ran the extra mile this morning. My mind came to an agreement with my legs that we would do five easy miles and call it good. But after four miles my energy was starting to pick up. Five miles turned to six and we called it good. I try to listen to my my body when it's asking for a break.

    A green smoothie with chia seeds and an egg filled my belly this morning. But don't think I didn't sneak a cookie to fill a craving later on.

    I'll be spending some time with my yoga mat this afternoon for this quick pick-me-up:

    I'm counting down the days until the Top of Utah Half Marathon next Saturday. Really, I'm excited for the taper next week. I'm not the best at sticking to a training plan. I run every day anyway. But I WILL taper, cause nothing feels worse than trying to compete on tired, heavy legs.

    What's your next race?
    What do you do to boost your energy?
    What's your favorite asana?

    Tuesday, August 12, 2014

    All the things we should have said ...

    Trapped inside my memories, all the things I would spill to the world if circumstances were different. With the tragic passing of Robin Williams I feel the prompt to write about a subject I want to broach each and every day, but can't. I have held it close to the breast (at least on social media, those I know in real life are very familiar with this story) for the sake of the precious family involved. Today, I will do it. But because there are those who wish this story be kept quiet, I will change names and other identifiers as needed.

    I know of depression. I know all too well about addiction. And I know that secrets grow darker when they are buried and hidden. 
    This week marks the three-year anniversary of the death of someone very close to me. I loved this person. We will call him The Colonel. He was my best friend and I talked to him every day.
    The Colonel and I didn't grow up together, but we had shared history, we confided in each other and understood each other in a way any old common friendship would not allow.

    The Colonel confessed to me on more than one occasion his deepening depression, his desire to be healed, and his struggle with self-medicating.

    He talked to me about the Hole, the hollowness, the darkness he first recognized at the young age of nine. He talked of a desperation, an urgent need to fill the Hole. And, left in a troubled home, how at that tender age he first began experimenting with alcohol.

    I had known for years about his adolescent dalliances with drugs and alcohol. His cigarette smoking at the age of 12 couldn't be hidden and was, therefore, common knowledge.
    But he beat all that. He gave up drugs, alcohol and tobacco at the age of 20. That's when we began to grow close. He became a beloved member of our family.

    Sure, I knew there were still issues. Too much cold medicine on occasion. Constant complaints about a back injury. An obsession with watching Cops and Intervention, shows of that sort. Sometimes his behavior was erratic, his laughter too loud, his moods strangely intense. But most of the time he was lovable, kind, the life of the party. And that's what we all choose to remember.

    But I feel the need to tell more, to tell the truth. 

    The truth is, he later confessed to me, the Hole never went away. The truth was he'd never truly given up his dependency. I listened to him confess his feelings. A legitimate back injury had led to the use and later abuse of prescription medications. Before long he was doing ANYTHING to get more. I talked to him about treatment options, presenting him with any information I could find. He turned it all down stating he'd tried it all before and it never helped. I cheered him on as he attempted a 12-step program, only to quit with only four weeks left. I prayed for him and with him and stuck by his side as his depression began to spiral out of control.

    Then the bomb dropped. I got a call from an old friend and neighbor who informed me that The Colonel had been caught breaking into a neighboring house in search of narcotics.
    "What should we do?" she asked. "You know him and his family best."
    I wasted no time, not a second of hesitation. "Call the police."

    Can you see why this has been kept in the dark? Can you understand why we've been asked not to talk about this? He was a father, a scout leader, active in his community. Think of the shame.
    The police came, took him down to the station, did all the stuff they do there with first-time offenders, and let him go back home.

    I confronted him the next day. Again I presented him and his wife with treatment options, real solutions I felt. They were rejected. Again, they "wouldn't help."

    So I did the only other thing I thought I had in my power--I severed my relationship with The Colonel, telling him that if he couldn't accept help, I couldn't continue to support him. What followed was a month of mental anguish. Had I done the right thing? Would my "shunning" help him in any way? It was a long, quiet month with no contact with someone I'd previously seen or talked to every day.

    One morning I received a phone call from The Colonel's bishop (LDS clergy leader) asking me if I knew where The Colonel was. Why on earth would I know where he was? I hadn't spoken to him in a month.

    Turns out The Colonel was in jail. His wife posted bail later that morning and he returned home with future court dates on schedule. He'd done it again, broken into a house in search of ANYTHING to fill the Hole. Seems my "shunning" hadn't done a thing. I was heart broken. A sick feeling blew up in my gut. This wasn't good. "This doesn't end well," became a common expression for those of us who loved The Colonel. Still, I kept my distance, determined that I would hold out my support until he accepted the help he needed. Though my heart ached badly and I missed our daily interactions, I felt I was doing the right thing.

    Over time I have learned to listen to my gut, to trust the quiet urgings of the Spirit. So when I felt the prompt to drive over the The Colonel's house one day, I listened. I rang the doorbell unsure of why I was there or what I would say if/when he answered the door. I was surprised what came out of my mouth when I saw him. "Come to my house, please." And he did, though begrudgingly. What happened that evening ended up comforting us through the hard months that followed.

    All the pleading by that point was over. There was no begging him back from the ledge he was standing on. We didn't know it so much as we felt it. That night together, standing around in the kitchen, my family said goodbye. Of course not in so many words. We said instead, "We love you. We want you happy and well. We want to continue to see the best side of you. We want The Colonel in our lives."

    Three weeks went by and I didn't talk to him. He didn't call me. I didn't call him. I prayed daily for change. I'm sure he did too. But those prayers fly up easily but only come to fruition through sincere, hard work. As it was, days and weeks passed and I'm not sure any real effort was made.

    On a humid summer day I passed through the automated doors into the cool air-conditioning of Super Target. I was shopping for printer ink cartridges, of all the mundane things, when my cell phone rang. It was him, his number anyway. His name popped up on the screen and I thrilled thinking how long it had been since he'd reached out to me for anything. I quickly answered the phone.

    Hey, you.

    Fiauna? Something's wrong with my dad.

    It wasn't The Colonel, but his pre-teen daughter.

    What's wrong?

    He's all purple and blue. You need to come here fast.

    And that's how it happens. That's how your world comes to a crashing halt, how time comes to a standstill.

    The rest of that day and night are all an awful blur. It was heroin, the poison that killed him. Later, the detective assigned to the case explained that it's all too common. What begins as a pain-pill addiction spirals out of control. Heroin is commonly the next--sometimes last--step.

    I don't write this as a warning about heroin, addiction, drug abuse, whatever. I write this so others might recognize patterns. Recognizing patterns of depression (a.k.a. the Hole) and addiction might just be the key to saving someone's life. At the end of the day, we will never be sure if it was truly heroin that killed The Colonel, or suicide. We suspect he used the former to induce the latter. It doesn't matter now. What matters is knowing that we did all we could, all that came to mind, to save him. We fought for him when he would not, could not, fight for himself.

    Was shunning him the right thing to do? I've been told yes and no. I feel confident that one cannot be forced into a true rehabilitation. True change can't be forced but must be fostered.

    Later, on a old blog of mine, I wrote:

    Things I've learned in the last two weeks:

    Your best days can quickly become your worst nightmare.
    Sometimes strength is overrated and tears are the order of the day.
    Sometimes tears make matters worse.
    Children are amazingly resilient.
    Children need and deserve a mother and a father.
    In times of test, the family is best.
    We need prayers even when we've passed through this life.
    Honesty, complete and total, is the best policy.
    Secrets grow darker when they are buried and hidden.
    Never, NEVER fail to let your loved ones know exactly how you feel.
    God's love and atonement are infinite and never-ending.

    I still stand by every word of it.

    Now, what you can do for me is this: If you know someone suffering from depression, please, I ask of you, love them. Comfort them, support them. If you know someone suffering through addiction, again, love them, find local resources for help like Al-Anon. And never, ever, believe you are somehow to blame for their situation.

    There is help, there is hope, and there is a joy still to be had. On the darkest days the sky still radiates sunshine.

    © 2014 Fiauna Lund

    Monday, August 11, 2014

    Summer Lovin'

    Last weekend I got lucky and got to run with these two: hubby and sis-in-law. They make me a better runner. He makes me fast, she helps me moderate my pace. We did a quick four miles around the small town of La Virken.

    Sight seeing in Southern Utah means taking photos of my slinky--I mean my daughter. She poses like this everywhere we go and posts the photos on her Instagram account Scorp.aroundtheworld. That'll be fun to look at 20 years from now.

    We had a little night swimming with cousins. The kids stayed up way too late. That means I stayed up way too late as well.

    And then today it was back to school for this handsome 6th grader. The school he goes to is on a year-round schedule. Four kids + four different schools + four different school schedules=one frazzled mama.

    Because this morning started out kinda crazy, I had to rework my regular workout schedule. Ten minutes of Barre3 from their mobile app (LOVE!) before breakfast and 7 miles on the treadmill later in the morning. Haven't heard of Barre3? You should definitely check it out online at Warning: you will get hooked.

    Wednesday, August 6, 2014

    Dead Ends

    I recently picked up a book called Nothing Daunted.

    In it the author tells the story of two society women who at the turn if the 20th century left behind their lives of luxury for adventure teaching school in the wilds of the Colorado frontier.

    While attending school at Smith College, the two women in the story recalled the school president asking his students, "Are you a lifter, or a leaner?" That got them thinking--and moving.

    It got me thinking too. For a long time--the better part of my coming-of-age years--I struggled with leaning. Sure, I was a nice girl, smart and helpful. I always had  a job and paid my bills. I took care of my obligations--but nothing more.

    I leaned.

    What I mean by that is I needed a lot of support to keep moving in a forward direction. Still do. I need cheerleaders. And that's not all bad. But what I've found is that for a long time I needed someone to tell me to do things and the keep cheering me on or my motivation would wain. 

    For me, everything had to have a purpose. I wanted someone to validate my choices for me, fearing that if they didn't see the point in what I was doing, didn't give me their approval, then I was wasting time and would fall out of their favor. It is/was true with my parents, friends, husband, children. I didn't want to put them out.

    I thought I was being considerate of others, letting them take the lead and meet their needs before trying to meet mine. But what I was really doing was self-sabotage. And everything became a dead end. I found myself feeling resentful. Other people seemed to find the time/money/ability to do things. They took dance lessons, participated in activities, joined teams...and I never did.

    And then I realized that other people didn't seem to need that validation. They just did things. Because they wanted to. What? That's when I learned what is meant by the expression doers do. It's not that I was lazy. I lacked confidence. But if you never try anything--on your own, under your own power with your own motivation--you gain no strength. You do not grow. You are a dead end.

    It's called called Esteem and Self-actualization and it's right at the top of Maslow's hierarchy of needs--a psychological theory to outline the general motivational patterns behind human behavior.


    So a while back I decided to run. Not because I was training for something. Not because someone asked me to. Not because I needed to exercise. I just ran because I wanted to, because I enjoy it. And nobody died.

    Believe it or not, I had never done that before. My mind was blown. Suddenly I realized I could do other just because I liked them. I could certify in Pilates just because I wanted to. I could start a blog just because I wanted to. And I didn't need anyone's approval.

    You know what? Once I started meeting my own esteem needs and self-actualization needs, I stopped leaning and started lifting. It's a wonderful feeling!  Why on earth did it take me so long to figure it out?

    Are you a lifter?
    What have you done just because you want to?

    Thursday, July 31, 2014

    When Running Seems Too Hard

    Some days running just seems too hard. I've been running for 20 years. You'd think it would be like breathing for me at this point. And it is, to a point. 

    Pretty much a day without running is like a day without brushing me teeth. Yuck. But somedays running just seems too hard. Then what do I do?

    1. Crosstrain. I'll be honest with you. I'm not going to NOT exercise. Running is by far my fave workout, but on the days when my body says "nah,"  still going to move. Elliptical, cycle, spin, swim, kickbox--heck, pole dance if that's what gets you going. Just do something other than running.

    2. Take it slow. That's right. Take it down a notch. Chances are if your body is telling you it doesn't really want to run you might just be hitting it too hard. If I'm not scheduled to do a speed workout or a particularly hard workout I pull back on my pace until I feel in control and comfortable.

    3. Do intervals. This happened just today. Running felt awful but I was still 3 miles from home. I switched things up a bit by running hard for 1 minute then walking for 30 seconds. I finished my run and didn't barf. Hooray!

    4. Rest. Evaluate your body and think about your training. Are you feeling achy, fatigued, depressed. Have you recently increased your mileage? Have you been stringing together several consecutive days, weeks, months of running? You might be overtrained. Stop. Rest.

    5. Embrace the suck. You know what? Sometimes running just sucks. It's called homeostasis--the body resisting change. Running is work; it promotes change. And your body will fight to maintain homeostasis. Embrace the battle within. Push through those tough miles and reward yourself for a job well done. Sometimes it's all mind over matter.

    Bottom line is this: at the end of any run you should be thankful for the opportunity to move, to breath hard, to run.
    Take on the climb!