Saturday, March 16, 2013

To Compete Well, Eat Well: Amazing Meal

As you guys know, I'm a veggie. If I could sit around and pig out on cauliflower, carrots, kale, broccoli and blueberries all day long - well - I would do that! My digestive system says that I can't. But I have found a organic, raw, vegan supplement that packs the punch of all my faves! 

I must say - in no way am I endorsed by Amazing Grass; I'm just willing to give an enthusiastic review when I find something that I really love. I stumbled upon Amazing Meal while browsing the super fun health section at my local and wonderful Whole Foods. I picked up a couple of their individual packets, so I could try all four flavors (Original, Vanilla Chai Infusion, Pomegranate Mango Infusion, Chocolate Infusion.)

I love them all! I think the Vanilla Chai Infusion is probably my favorite, just because I blend it into my breakfast and post-run banana smoothies. I found that all of the flavors have a very mild, earthiness - it tastes like all the green stuff that's in it. I like that. Some people get turned off when they can detect a supplement or when it does not taste like a McDonald's shake, but I am not one of those people. I like the subtle reminder that all of the colorful things from the ground are actually in the supplement. I also use half of the amount they suggest, just to keep the texture of my smoothie from becoming too chalky or grainy.

So, what superfoods are found in Amazing Meal? It boasts an impressive resume; have a look for yourself!
See! Awesome stuff. Don't get me wrong - I agree that the best way to get the nutrients that we need is to eat the things that have them. Sometimes a marathon runner does not have the time, money or energy to eat all of the whole foods that would provide these health benefits and nutrients. 

Here are some of the other reasons to give Amazing Meal a shot:
  • Raw
  • Vegan
  • Organic
  • Gluten Free
  • Soy Free
  • Dairy Free
  • Lots of Protein
  • No Sugar Added
Try it out for two weeks and I bet you'll feel energized, lighter and generally more healthy. Like I said - you can pick up a sample pack at Whole Foods for around $2. It is pretty versatile, so you can add it to any of your meals for an added punch. You can't go wrong!   

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Running Alone: Stranger Danger

As promised, I am finally getting around to writing my creepy retelling of what happened to me just over a week ago. I hope it encourages you to take precautions - because it was too close for comfort for me.

Running Alone
I have always been an anti-social runner. It's not that I don't enjoy company or competition, but it is just my personal time to clear my head - so I go alone. I have been running circles around Southeast Wisconsin for the last seventeen years, so I feel like I have a pretty good handle on the hazards: the good areas (and the bad,) the big scary dogs, the unsafe intersections, etc. I try to take the proper safety precautions: I run with mace; I stay on main roads; I wear high visibility/reflective clothing; I always let people know which route I'm taking and when to expect me back home. 

I was still caught off-guard last Sunday.

I was running a 14 mile out and back at around noon. The route takes me through the nicest parts of my hometown. The entire length of the route follows Lake Michigan, so it is full of great views, huge homes, busy streets and lots of cute paths. The last 10% of the route gets a little bit isolated - edged on one side by the lake and industrial buildings on the other. Behind those buildings is a rather unsavory neighborhood that has its share of crime. I only entered this area because I needed the extra mileage and I have run there a million times before.

Lake Michigan Lakefront in the summer. Obviously.
As I was running, I noticed a faint squeaking sound behind me, so I turned around. Sure enough - a green Cadillac following fifteen yards behind me matching my pace. At first, I didn't think much of it and I kept running. About thirty seconds later, I turned around - still following me. I started to get scared, because there was nothing I could do - no where to run, no other people around, no secret ninja moves up my sleeve. After about a quarter mile, I finally stopped running altogether hoping that the driver would just pass. He slowed down next to me and made eye contact. He got in front of me a short distance, pulled over and stopped the car. At this point in time, I was freaking out.

HOLY SHIT. What am I going to do?

At that exact moment, two women that had driven passed circled back and asked me if I was ok. They were watching him follow behind me from down the road and thought it was so strange that they came back to check on me. Guardian angels exist! I ended up turning around while they watched to make sure he did not follow me anymore. 

I called the police right away and they wanted to do a formal police report. Even the football player-sized officer was like, "Wow - that is really creepy." And yes - it was. I've never really felt that vulnerable before. But I learned a really valuable lesson about my safety - being aware and prepared is so incredibly important.

Going forward, I vow to follow these safety precautions any time I'm on the road:
1. Stay on main roads with high traffic
2. Let people know the route and when I should arrive back home
3. Carry a cell phone
4. Carry Mace Sport Jogger (If you don't have one - get it today. NOW.)
5. Do not run with headphones
6. Run during daylight hours whenever possible
7. Run with others more regularly


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Runner's Savings Account - One Year Later

I made it! Today is the one year payout date of my "Runner's Savings Account!"  I thought I could reflect on how everything went this first year, so you know what to expect when YOU start yours.
Print from johnsonmade
I guess the better poster for me would have been "A penny earned is a penny saved!" because all the the pennies from my Runner's Savings Account were hard earned through a few thousand miles last year. 

For those of you that are like, "What is she talking about?" Here's the summary: You run miles. You pay yourself for every mile run (I pay myself 50 cents per mile - but you can adjust for yourself) and you put it a separate savings account just for this. You pay yourself bonuses for things like a PR, seeing a fox on your run, getting beeped at, etc...whatever fun thing you can think of to "earn" extra loot. You use all of the money to pay for races, running gear, whatever you deem worthy of your runner's cash. Got it?

Let me start by saying, a year goes way too fast! I feel like I was just coming up with this idea on one of my long runs, and here I am reflecting on it. I ended up with enough money in the account to pay for all of these fun things!
  • My entry fee into the 117th Boston Marathon 
  • My 4 day trip (flight and hotel) to Boston for the marathon
  • Some swag from the marathon (a jacket, so far!)
  • Maybe most importantly, my dog's annual trip to the vet ($350 - what?! She only weighs 12 pounds!)
Celebrating when my Boston jacket arrived.
If it is any indication of how I felt about doing this experiment for a year, I started another account this morning! It ended up being a game for me. I am certain that it improved my workouts, because I would run longer to make bigger deposits. I guess it sounds silly, but it actually played into my training. I loved getting to put extra money into the account when weird things happened, like adding $5 for every "Run Forrest, run!" that was yelled at me or an extra $1 for every mile raced. I also added all of the money found along my runs to the account which added up to over $60 dollars! Seriously, I had a lot of fun. Do it! Do it!

Print from colorbee
I don't know if all banks offer accounts like this, but my bank has a "VIP Savings" which means you can't withdraw from the account for one year and you have to make monthly deposits, but then they pay you a bonus $25 at the end of the year. Perfect for this! 


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Spring Break & Marathon Training

I would like to apologize for my absence the last couple weeks. I'm a teacher and this last push before Spring Break has been really hectic professionally and privately. Like - bashing my head against a wall busy (training for Boston, a baby, a funeral, a broken car, life.) But the glorious day has arrived; IT IS SPRING BREAK! HELLS YES. 9 days. No children. No co-workers. Good sleep. Good food. MILES, MILES, MILES. Amen.

My plans over break are going to be almost entirely geared toward my training. I am looking forward to having the time to focus. My long runs are up to 20 miles (comfortable miles) - but I still need to get in some more hills/speed work in the last few weeks before taper.  
                  FIVE WEEKS...WHAT?!

I also have a massive back-log of recipes and blog posts to get up, so watch for that! (Especially the story about my creepy brush with a kidnapping pervert. Oy.)

How your training going through the doldrums of this sloppy winter to spring transition? Hang in there!