Monday, January 28, 2013

Healthy Guacamole Recipes

Guacamole Recipe Print from lucileskitchen

Admit it. You LOVE guacamole. All sane people do. The problem with guacamole is that it can become pretty unhealthy pretty quickly - especially when you can't stop shoveling it into your pie hole. Salty chips. Sour cream. Calorie dense avocados. OY.

I want you to know that I'm a reasonably credible judge of a good guac. Remember that Mr. Lace & Race is Mexican and I'm a vegetarian. His Mexican family likes my recipe enough to let that be the dish I bring to celebrations. *dusts shoulder off

I have found that the secret to a really great guac recipe is simplicity and fresh ingredients. My recipe is also healthier than many others I've seen. Guacamole should be a healthy-ish treat; it is loaded with good fats and lots of nutrient dense, colorful fruits and veg. I use a lot of substitutions without really taking away from the flavor - in fact - I dare say the simpler recipe enhances the flavor. If you're looking for a crazy light version of guac, try this Broccomole recipe from Domestic Fits. But for now, here is my take on the party staple:

Lace & Race Healthy Guacamole Recipe

- 6 to 8 ripe avocados
-1/2 diced red onion (medium)
- 2 to 3 diced roma tomatoes
- 3 finely chopped garlic cloves
- 1 to 2 TBSP lime juice (lemon works too)
-1/4 C chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 mild green chile (optional)
- cumin to taste
- sea salt & pepper to taste

 *optional garnishes: toasted pumpkin seeds, queso fresco, bacon

1. In a large bowl, roughly mash the avocados. I think leaving some chunks is preferable for texture. Also - use REALLY ripe avocados for creamier guac to avoid icky sour cream. (IF YOU INSIST ON ADDING A CREAM FILLER, use Greek yogurt as a substitute.)
2. Mix in everything else with a spoon, but add the tomatoes last so you don't crush them.
3. Taste for amounts of salt, pepper and cumin
4. Think of creative chip alternatives. You just need something crunchy - so I like to use cauliflower. I also make chips at home from fresh corn tortillas baked in the oven.
5. Let the guacamole sit for about an hour in the fridge before serving
6. Most importantly, don't over-do anything. Simplicity is key.



Saturday, January 26, 2013

Lace & Race Week in Review

One week ago today, I was feeling like hell. I thought I was nursing an unjustified hangover, but I ended up actually being sick. So this was a weak of rest, flexibility and patience - which I don't have much of.

Saturday - This was an absolute waste of a day. The headache and fatigue I had were disabling, so I just laid around in pajamas and acted like a gigantic baby. I was truly miserable. :( BOOOO. NO FUN.

Sunday - I still wasn't feeling 100%, but I did feel well enough to do an Insanity workout for 45 minutes and followed it up with some core work. After that, I made a trip out to the Nike Outlet. How dangerous is it that I have a huge Nike outlet about a half hour away from me at all times?! This trip ended up being really, really fantastic because NIKE HAD A SALE! I spent a mere $54 and I ended up with two new pairs of running shorts and two Nike running hoodies. WIN! (In retrospect, I should've bought more gear, but I was trying to be responsible.)

Sunday night was fun, too - because I had a date night with Mr. Lace and Race and my mom! We went to see Grace Potter & the Nocturnals at the beautiful Pabst Theater in Milwaukee. My mom is a huge fan.  It was a great show, but I'll take any excuse to go to the Pabst. It's a stunning Milwaukee gem and you should visit if you're ever in the area.

Monday - Since I am a teacher, we had off on Monday for MLK Day. I was happy to be home to watch the Inauguration with all of its pomp and circumstance. Did anyone else see Paul Ryan creeping around behind Jay-Z and Beyonce? haha - I love awkward moments. That Beyonce scandal is a whole different story. Who cares? I did manage to workout on Monday - stuck inside because it was NEGATIVE 25 windchill here in Wisconsin. I did a 60 minute plyometric workout. I followed that up by cooking the night away.

Tuesday - I woke up absolutely DRENCHED IN SWEAT. Yuck. I must have had a fever over night, because my sheets were soaked and I felt terrible again. I stayed home from work to take a rest day and keep my germs to myself. 

Wednesday - I was feeling a little bit more like myself, so I went to work where my students were doing a lab. We've been learning all about minerals, so our lab was extracting iron from cereal. They loved it, but they were also equally grossed out by the amount of metal in their food. If you're a female with low iron, Total cereal isn't joking about the amount in a single serving!

I worked out after school. I did repeat 800s on the treadmill and followed that up with an arms/abs session. Every time I run on the dreadmill, I feel like I have shin splints. Hate it, but a necessary speed workout is done.

Thursday - I did a 6 miler along the lake with a few tempo miles and hills thrown in. The temperatures were finally reasonable (meaning: back in the positive digits) and I was happy to get out. 

Friday - I played a game of student vs staff volleyball at school. I scored six points when I was serving - WOO HOO! But I also got too aggressive at one point and ended up on the ground after going for a ball. I think that jacked up my right knee a little bit and it is still sore. Every time I play in a student vs staff game at school, I get hurt; in the last basketball game, I got a black eye being too scrappy. When I got home, I did a slow 5.5 mile run in the snow. It was really wonderful to be out in the dark, with no noise and no humans - just me and my foot steps in the new snow. 

Don't mess with me. I'll sacrifice my face to win something.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Illness and Training Don't Mix

Take Lots of Naps - Get Well Card from aLouCreations
As I sit here, I am hot and sweaty - but not because I just had a great workout. I am sick. Being sick makes me really angry. I did not plan for this! I don't have time for this! I still haven't quite figured out what kind of "sick" I am - whatever kind has these lovely qualities:
  • can't stop sleeping
  • can't stop sweating
  • monstrous headache 
  • razor blades in throat
  • SORE - like I just got done being kick-boxed
The biggest problem when I am sick is not that I feel crappy; it is the fact that I cannot do anything. The idea of "rest" is something I am just not down with at all. I have never been the type of person that is content sitting still, watching a movie or relaxing with a book. I think those things sound great, but the reality is that I get really bored, really fast. I usually go stir crazy and start doing "irresponsible when sick" kind of things - like working out, cleaning the house or fighting crime.

The rest and recovery thing is especially problematic when I have a strict training plan to stick to. I understand that rest, hydration, proper nutrition are absolutely necessary when you come down with some form of plague, but my head (guilty conscience) is saying:

 "You're fine. It's a cold. Go get your miles in!" 
On the other hand, the grown up in me is demanding that I take it easy and ignore those pushy voices. This helpful article from Women's Running gives some good advice on "Running From the Flu." It isn't necessarily ground breaking stuff - we know what we should and should not do when when we're sick, but sometimes we need a reminder (or permission) to take it easy.

Since working out would be a bad decision, I have been keeping busy in other ways. I spent last night doing one of my favorite things: COOKING. I ended up making a giant pot of Fifteen Bean Cabbage Soup. It sounds kind of boring, I suppose - but I promise - it is delicious and loaded with all sorts of good stuff that will help speed up my return to health.
Rinse the beans! All 15 kinds.
Lots of fresh veggies all loaded up with the good stuff.
Barley, wild rice and dried sweet peppers.
I followed that up with a big batch of my favorite Power Scones. I swear these things have magical powers.
As for today, I'm taking a sick day. I work in a school, so I can't subject all those people to my cooties. I am going to take it easy, eat my cabbage soup and hang around with this girl. I might not feel great, but it is a decent way to spend a Tuesday. Hopefully, I'll be feeling better tomorrow; when I am, I'll be laced up and ready to run.
Gertie - my favorite little girl of them all
How do you deal with training when you're sick? 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Marathon Training - Less Is More?

LESS IS MORE OR LESS from Fifty Five Hi's
Before any of you purist marathoners go H.A.M. on me - hear me out. The training plan I used for my last marathon was pretty rigorous - and I loved it for being so ridiculously demanding. I planned to just keep using that same plan for Boston, until I reread the article from Runner's World, "The Less-Is-More Marathon Plan." Thanks to @rUnladylike for posting it HERE.

In order to be able to masterfully conquer the 26.2 distance, you have to put in a billion trillion miles. That means that you are hitting the pavement daily, gradually increasing distance and intensity of your runs. This is logical and linear. My Virgo brain likes things that work this way. (Obviously - this is a gross over-simplification of any effective training plan. Calm down.) This all takes a ton of time and planning, thus throwing your life into a total tailspin - but you're a dedicated runner and you do what the plan says. Runners like rules.

All of that sounds wonderful, so why would anyone stray from a traditional marathon training plan? I cannot speak for anyone else, but there are several reasons why I found RW's article to be interesting. The basic idea is that you put in fewer "junk miles" - really focusing on three quality workouts a week (speed work, tempo, distance.) Quality over quanitity! This does not mean that you have 4 days of total rest; you have 4 days to focus on recovery, cross training, strength and did I say recovery? I would like to stay injury free before and after this race.

I know what you're thinking: this sounds like the lazy man's plan. I assure you, it isn't. Here are the reasons why I am thinking about trying a modified version of this Less-Is-More plan:
  • My 31 year old joints get really angry once my mileage approaches 60 mpw
  • I live in Wisconsin, where it is quite cold and unpredictable throughout the winter
  • I am a teacher by day. My days are LONG and unpredictable. This means I am running in the dark whether it is a morning run or a night run.
  • I am a stationery designer by night. Again - long days. Not enough hours in them. 
  • I make all of my food from scratch in the evening (though I try to make if for multiple dinners at a time) - again - NO TIME
  • I get bored and variety is a necessity in my life - otherwise I will go legit insane
  • I do believe that being a complete athlete means lots of cross-training, strength training along with running
  • I already have a really solid fitness base, so I'm not starting without the endurance
Realistically, I try to do what the Runner's World plan calls for already - but they have it laid out in a pretty and organized way. (Virgo - I like plans.) I think there is a certain amount of mental freedom with a plan like this too. Someone as reputable as Runner's World is telling me that I don't have to poke along endlessly logging dopey miles, because that's what "marathoners" do? That's fantastic, because I'd rather work on kicking ass. I'm considering this flexible, but intense option heavily.

Quality Over Quantity from powerandlight

 What do you think? This seems pretty reasonable, doesn't it?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Gear Wish List - January

I try desperately to not be the kind of person that is always longing for things. I think I do a good job purchasing practical and necessary gear to make my running lifestyle successful; 
sometimes a girl wants the newest, baddest, most impractical, frivolous and pretty things around. This is just a fact. Here are some of my "Look, but don't touch" things for January. Some of them might become mine anyway - as long as the Runner's Savings Account is happy.

Nike Studio Wrap Pack - THEY ARE TRANSFORMERS - WHAT?!

Lululemon Runder Under Pant - YAY FOR STRIPES

Zella Z Quilt Moto Jacket (Zella is found at Nordstrom)

Nike Sphere Dry Half Zip

New Balance 1400 (I cheated; already bought these!)
Lululemon Do It Up Duffel - ANOTHER TRANSFORMER

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Mister Lace and Race

I thought I would take a second to introduce you all to Mr. Lace and Thaddeus (best name ever, right?!) This is my partner in crime for the last 9 years and he's my "coach."  He's pretty cool and I want to talk about how much I like him.
We are very chic.
I decided to write this post today when we went to Target. It is a running joke that every time we go to Target, I visit the baby department while he checks out the guys clothes. I'm not actually baby obsessed; I do it specifically to torture him - in a loving way.

I thought I would be particularly pathetic today, so I took down a baby jogger from the shelf. I pretended like I didn't realize he was looking and I pushed it all around the aisle. He immediately rushed over and described it as "the saddest thing he's ever seen." hahaha
God bless him for being so patient with my humor. We'll have kids sometime - but not soon. We'll also get married one day - but not until we want to have a massive party in my parent's barn.

I simply cannot say how much of a team we are. He is so supportive of my very busy and weird lifestyle. He's my unofficial running coach - taking video, analyzing my form, chasing me around at races, etc. He's even taken up running so we can spend more time together. He's the most thoughtful, intellectual and handsome dude around. He is my biggest fan and I am certainly his. Thanks, Thadman.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Joy of Sprinting

Raise your hand if you hate sprinting? By sprinting, I mean your fastest, craziest, heart-poundingest run complete with flames behind you; the kind of run that might make you double-over, cry and think about vomiting. Do you hate that? You might be surprised to learn that I do not hate sprinting at all. I actually love it.

Sprinters by Sean McSorley

I started off my running life as a sprinter, embarrassing boys on the playground for years, so running fast is really no big deal to me. I don't mind speed work, intervals or even challenging my middle-school students to races. (I'm yet to be beat - thank you very much.) But many people seem to be afraid of sprinting. I suppose it is scary in a lot of ways - you have to push your body to its absolute limit and the only thing that is guaranteed is that you're going to be very uncomfortable in a short amount of time. Let's review the physical responses that you might encounter:
  • shortness of breath
  • dizziness
  • nausea
  • lightning bolts
  • fainting
  • panic 
  • numbness in lower extremeties
  • cotton mouth
  • muscles that want to burst through your skin and set themselves on fire
  • severe diarrhea for the remainder of the day 
I hope it is obvious that I am mostly joking. The fact of the matter is that you DO experience some of those things when you fully exert yourself, but duh. The real concern with sprinting is injury - it happens to the best sprinters out there, because sprinting is an extreme sport. Just because you are a great distance runner does not make you a sprinter. If you don't believe that they are totally different sports - please compare the bodies of elite sprinters and endurance runners. I can definitely see the effects of an early life of sprinting in my own build - massive thighs and glutes which are necessary for speed. Those sprinter thighs often get in the way of my distance running, but also help to power it.

Distance vs Sprint Bodies
I'm not saying one is better than the other; I am saying they are very different. The goal is the same (cover a distance in the shortest amount of time = speed,) but the means for achieving the speed is quite different - and the resulting bodies are equally different.

As a former sprinter turned distance runner, I feel like I can comfortably speak to the benefits of adding speed work to your training plan; if you want to increase your race times, you don't have a choice. One of my favorite road workouts is doing alternating block sprint intervals - which is exactly how it sounds. Every other city block is a 90%+ sprint followed by an equal recovery block of 65%-70% - over and over for as long as I can take it. I am certain that I look like a maniac sprinting my hardest down Main Street - but who cares? 

I also like to use ladder workouts on a track (example: 100 x 2, 200 x 2, 400 x 2, 200 x 2, 100 x 2 - all done at top speed.) You can obviously change the number of repeats and distances to meet your specific needs. 

Also - marathoners - you are surely doing Yasso 800s, but if you're not - get on it! This is a really common and effective speed workout for those that go the looonng distance.

Keeping the Pace from OutdoorSportsArt
I think everyone should build one down and dirty speed workout into their week. Not only will you increase your speed, but you will gain confidence in your running. When you sprint, you are pushing your body's limit to its max - and that makes you improve, makes you strong, makes you confident in your ability. 
Speed = Strength

Finally - there is a primal, animalistic factor in running your fastest (fight or FLIGHT.) You will feel like a hardcore runner - practically an Olympian - as you pound down the road. Picture it now: wind in your hair, arms chopping, knees high and a face that says: do not mess with me 'cause I'm crazy fast. Have you ever seen a sprinter smiling? No. Never. Intensity only. All of that ass kickin' will leave with a glorious runner's high and your stress...well...what stress? 



Sunday, January 6, 2013

Cookin' At Home

Another goal I am working on for 2013 is cooking pretty much everything at home. This is probably the easiest of any goals I've set, because I already cook dinner from scratch most nights and I have a super cute kitchen to work with.

Yeah, I took a picture of myself in my kitchen. What of it?
The only real change is cutting out restaurants on weekends - maybe not entirely, but at least one of the nights. This is trickier than it seems, particularly in the winter in Wisconsin. If you're not from here, you might not know that we entertain ourselves in two ways during the winter: drinking and eating. If you plan to be social, you will likely end up going out to eat and following it up with a bar or many, many bars. I end up being really anti-social, because I have an aversion toward hangovers. Weird, I know. (Do not misunderstand me: I enjoy a nice craft beer as much as any other Milwaukee person. Don't get me started on how much fun the brewery tours are. Milwaukee Brewing is THE BEST.)

Back to the goal at hand: eating at home. I figure that this will be a good way to save more money and to have total control over my nutrition prior to all races this year. And honestly, I just really LOVE cooking. I think I spend an absurd amount of time fantasizing about the food I want to make. I work really, really hard to make sure that we're getting the best plant-based ingredients and that they are prepared properly. That sounds snooty, but dudes - don't ruin your food with bad cooking.

Roasted Beets & Veg, Cajun Bean Cake, Spinach Salad with all the fixin's
Another reason that I prefer to cook at home is that most restaurants in my price range and my area are not super inventive when it comes to vegetarian food. Most places offer a variety of salads and maybe a veggie burger, but those are typically frozen. That's ok sometimes, but I think a good rule of thumb is this:


I know, I know - that's not the reason why we go out to restaurants. It is just the guideline I use picking something off of a menu. Choosing your meal is a big decision and if you pick the wrong thing, well - then your night has just taken an ugly turn.

I do not claim to be some amazing chef, because I am not - but I do know how to prepare food for myself in a way that I know I will enjoy it. My family trusts me to cook for them and they're all meat-eaters, so I must not be terrible. I feel like you can't really go wrong if you use fresh, colorful and simple ingredients. For that reason, I have two veggie gardens in my backyard. I know I've mentioned it before, but it is a big part of my life. A garden is like a child in a lot of ways; it takes all kinds of time and tending otherwise you're going to be dealing with some bullllllllshit later on. On the other hand, if you take care of it, you will be rewarded with a bounty of healthy and pretty vegetables for most of the year. You cannot beat eating fresh tomatoes from the garden. Have you ever had carrots from right out of your dirt? Oh my god. You'll be mad you've been paying for those icky grocery store carrots. 
PaperMichelle Illustration for Growing Power

In conclusion, the reasons to cook at home are plentiful and they are as follows:
  1. It is both fun and relaxing (I could chop vegetables ALL. DAY. LONG.)
  2. It will save boat loads of money
  3. It is the only way to know what I am putting into my body
  4. It gives me way more options with my food choices and an excuse to experiment!!

Friday, January 4, 2013

No Sleep 'Til Boston

100 days. We have 100 little days to get our shit together and be prepared to run the oldest and one of the most highly revered (Paul Revered?! hahahaha) marathons of them all - the Boston Marathon.  


27,000 runners will line up and put all of their hard work on the line. The reputation of this race and the caliber of the runners in it demands that we take it seriously - that we respect the tradition and excitement of it all. It is an honor to get to participate at all.

Boston Skyline Print from GoingUnderground
I have to be honest; when I got accepted into the race, I was pretty intimidated by it all and I still am. I am definitely honored that I get to compete along side all of these other amazing athletes, but...I have been a little bit torn in how I wanted to approach the race. Self doubt, panic, etc.

I am a decent runner, but I am not a professional athlete. One side of me is saying "You need to run your ass off - COMPETE!" Then, this other side of me (the wimpy, artistic side) is like "You might never do this again. You should just enjoy it. Soak it all in...wave at the crowd...bla bla bla. You're not going to win, so what's the difference?" THAT SIDE OF ME MAKES ME INSANE - WHAT ARE YOU SAYING?! NO!

Running Art Print from soulgraffiti
It took a heart to heart conversation with a friend of mine to talk real sense into me. He happens to be a former USATF team member and USA Speed Walking Champion, so he understands big races and nerves and pressure and competition. He reminded me that it is ok to not win. It is even ok to not place in the top half if that's what the field presents on April 15th. He reminded me to stop comparing myself to the other runners and run my best race that day. That's all we can do.

This isn't new advice by any means. I think we hear and say this every time a race comes up - but the revelation is that the advice doesn't change when it is THE RACE on the line. We can only show up and do our all things in life. Time to do work, so I can do my best when I arrive in Boston. Good luck to everyone else training and competing. 
See you there.
T.S. Eliot Print from StephLawsonDesign

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Valentine's Day for RUNNERS

OK - runner friends - I know you people love free stuff. (I've seen you trample each other for real.) If you do like free stuff, handmade stuff - continue reading.

You might or might not know that I am also a greeting card/stationery designer when I'm not running. You can check that out here or follow me on Twitter @papermichelle. (Get it? Like paper mache?)

Time to combine my two loves: running and paper - so I came up with a card for the 2013 Valentine's Day season. You probably have a crush on someone and you'd do a lot for that person - BUT you are also a die-hard, competitive runner!!!  It's like that Meatloaf song, "I would do anything for love, but I won't do that..." haha. I'm seriously laughing at myself right now.

"I love you like crazy, but you won't beat me in a race!"

Do you like it? DO YOU WANT ONE FOR FREE? I'm not being totally selfless here; full disclosure - the print isn't perfect so I don't want to SELL it...but it wouldn't be horrible to give them away to runner friends!! If you're wondering what the print issue is - "I love you like crazy" printed on a slant...not a big slant but big enough.

So - here is the deal. You have to do these two things and then I'll snail mail a card with an envelope to you. I can only do this for the first twenty people, because that's all I've got! 
  1. Retweet this post on Twitter
  2. Post a comment on my blog
I will send a message to the first 20 people that do both, so you can send me your US mailing address. Simple as that. Good luck and thanks for visiting my little blog.

And...feel free to keep PaperMichelle in mind for any future silliness that might require a card! 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A New Year: Runner's Savings Account

In what I have heard and read over the last couple weeks, a common resolution for nearly everyone is to get their finances in order. MONEY! This happens every year, as we all look at our pathetic bank accounts and scary post-Christmas credit card statements. Where the hell did all the $$$ go? Panic ensues. 

Show Me The Money from PeanutoakPrint
The new year gives us a great starting point for changing our spending habits. This new year is going to force us all to look at our money behaviors a little bit, with the changes in payroll taxes, etc. I can only speak for myself, but I'm trying to find ways to make up that difference. 

Enter: The Runner's Savings Account

I started a Runner's Savings Account last year. I spend a lot of money on gear and races, so I thought I would set up a separate account just for my running needs. The only trick is that I have to EARN every dollar that goes into the account. After one year of doing this, I am paying for my trip to Boston with my Runner's Savings Account - which is EXPENSIVE. Oy.

Money Doesn't Grow On Trees from ShopLarisaMartin
 Here is how it works:
  1. Set up a separate savings account through your bank. My bank has an account that I can put into over the course of a year, but I can't take anything out. After one year, they pay out to me. I suggest something like that if you can.
  2. Decide how you're going to pay yourself. Initially, I said I would pay myself $1 for every mile I ran. That quickly became expensive, because I run lots and lots of miles. I dropped it to a more manageable 50 cents per mile.
  3. Decide how you'll keep track of your miles. I used a spreadsheet and now I use DailyMile. I count the miles I run during every two week pay period to calculate my totals. 
      • 108 miles x .50 cents per mile =  $54 dollars deposited for that period
  4. Add in some bonus payments. Example: I pay myself $2 per mile for every mile I RACE during a pay period. I also pay myself $5 for every time someone yells "Run Forrest, Run" at me. If I have to take a potty break on a run, $5. If I throw up, $10! Make it fun and reward yourself for all of your hard work!
  5. Pay yourself first every payday! This is just a good rule of thumb anyway. When I get my check every other week, the first thing I do is take move my running money into my runner's savings account (along with my other savings accounts, 401Ks, bla bla bla)
  6. At the end of a year, you'll have a nice little cushion that reflects all of your efforts and it will help you pursue your future running goals. Sweet!
I actually have a lot of fun with this. I will even extend my workouts, so I can add more to my account. If you try it, let me know! I'd love to hear how it is working for you!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A New Year: Make the Days Count

I think New Year's Day is really important for everyone. For one day of every year, we get to formally clean the slate, proclaim to the world that we'll accomplish really amazing things in the new year and then we get to take action on those goals.
Inspirational Calendar from Bear and Robot
One thing that I love about Twitter and all social media, is that it holds us accountable to ourselves and the goals we set. We get support from those around us as soon as we say I AM GOING TO DO THIS THING. JUST WAIT! We get really genuine support from tons of people that don't even know us - not really. That's pretty amazing.

So - make the days count and say your goals out loud. Tweet them. Write them. Yell them. Tell strangers. Tell families. Remind yourself every day that you are worth the work it takes to achieve the life you want. Writing this blog post is a reminder to myself. Good luck to all of you in the new year and I will be a cheerleader for anyone that needs it. Now - go put in those miles or write page one of the book you've been plotting out for the last five years. DO IT.