Sunday, June 28, 2015

Homer Spit Run 10k to the Bay recap 2015

Since about Tuesday of last week I have been having some issues with tightness and soreness in my left leg. Mostly centered in my glut and lateral knee, I realized it was probably my IT band and started doing some area specific stretches a few times a day to help. I had planned on doing a 7 mile run Wednesday but cut it short at just over 6 miles because it was still feeling pretty tight, and decided to take Thursday and Friday off to try and loosen up that leg before the race Saturday. 

Sitting in the car for five hours on the drive down to Homer on Thursday did not help the healing process but instead caused even more tightness and and my leg was just constantly aching over the course of Thursday and Friday. I stretched thoroughly Friday night and Saturday morning before the race, but still felt a general tightness running along the outside edge of the leg while running. 

I ran the first mile a little faster than I had planned but was still feeling great through miles two and three. From mile four on I started to feel a lot of fatigue in my legs and the last mile it was pretty tough to keep my pace under 7:45 m/mile. My goal has been to stay under 7:30 the entire race and to finish in under 45 minutes. My time was 45:39 so not too far off but I'm excited to try and beat that time in my next 10k sometime in the future. 

Overall it was a fun experience and I'm so glad I made it down for the race! I'll mostly be focusing on training for the Her Tern Half Marathon, which is three weeks from today. I'm not trying to do anything other than finish the race while enjoying myself and enjoying my first half-marathon experience; hopefully I'll remember that when race day comes around.

According to my Garmin watch I beat my previous 5k PR (from the Heart Run), which is pretty exciting. I'm looking forward to racing a 5k at some point soon to see if I can get cut off even more time. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

a love letter to the father of my babies

When you fall in love with someone, I don't think the kind of parent you imagine they'll be is high on the list of what draws you to them; especially when you're eighteen years old. Mostly you fall in love with how they make you laugh, how they inspire you to be a better person, how they make you feel safe, and how they love you in return. Your love grows into something deeper, and you know that you want to spend the rest of your lives together.

Years pass and the day comes when it's not just about the two of you anymore. There's a new life growing inside you, and you find yourself constantly anticipating what it will be like have a baby, to be a mother. You wonder what the man you love will be like as a father, and if your relationship will change, and how. 

And then before you know it, the moment you've dreamed about constantly for nine months (and much, much longer if you're anything like me) arrives. Your baby leaves your body, takes his first breath and your life changes incredibly and permanently and it's far and away beyond your wildest dreams. You feel a divide between the person you were only a moment ago and the person you'll be for the rest of your life, between the woman you were and the mother you've suddenly become. 

During those first few weeks, you feel things you've never felt before. Love is literally coursing through your bloodstream, beautiful and extreme and overpowering at times. You laugh and then moments later, you cry. You feel this tremendous admiration for your husband during the daytime hours and yet glare hotly at him in the night as he sleeps peacefully next to you while you're sitting up nursing (again). 

Some couples seem to sail through this post-partum period, taking on their new roles and accepting their suddenly different relationship with apparent ease. Others struggle during this time, and seem to take longer to come to grips with the changes. There is no right and no wrong, there is only what is. Time eventually passes and parenting together becomes a new normal, although it never stops being hard.

In the week leading up to Father's Day this year, I spent a lot of time thinking about Steve and reflecting on who he is as a father. He's working out of town right now and we only see him once a week, on Sundays. We miss him so much during the week, but we are home and find comfort in our routine and in being together. He's away from home, sleeping in a strange bed and living out of his duffel. He doesn't get to see or talk to our kids for days on end. He misses milestones and countless everyday moments that once passed are gone forever. 

He works hard while he's gone, in a physically and mentally demanding job that leaves him with just enough energy each day to eat, shower and sleep before starting again the next day. And he does all this without complaint, finding fulfillment in the job that he's doing and in the way that he's providing for his family. And though my love for him has evolved to reflect the changes in our lives over the ten years we've spent together, it's that quiet strength and stability that I've come to rely on and love most of all since having kids together. It's his patience and capacity to love and cherish the three of us so deeply, despite our flaws and despite the fact that loving us leaves little time for himself and his own personal interests. 

Over the years he mostly hasn't been here to help me with the day to day parenting moments. He didn't change Riggs' diaper until he was over a year old. He's never gotten up in the night to soothe the baby back to sleep. Raina will be a year in two weeks and he's never put her down for the night. But he loves those babies deeply and savors every moment that he does get to spend with them. He reads to them for hours and teaches them things I don't have the patience for. He gets down and plays with them and makes them laugh in a full-bellied way that I can never seem to replicate. He takes Riggs alongside him in the garage and explains every step of the project he's working on to eager three-year-old ears. He is the best father for our kids, and puts his heart and soul into loving them.

He's also a thoughtful parenting partner, and makes it clear how much he values the work I put into being the best mother I can be. He loves me at my worst and always says just what I need to hear when I'm worn out and worn down and missing him desperately.

I'd be lying if I said there weren't moments when I wished he could help with more. When I wish I could sit and relax after dinner while he put the kids down to bed. But then I think of all the things he does do to help with them, and all the ways he sacrifices to make my life comfortable. And I think of how special it feels to be loved by such a strong, good, hard working man. And how he empowers me to be the best version of myself. And how beautiful our life is together. And I feel so thankful to have him as my best friend, and my husband and the father of my children.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

cutting out sugar and what we've been eating lately

For the last three months, I've been eating 98% clean. No refined/added sugars and as little packaged food as possible. I feel amazing as a result, which should come as no surprise,  since I'm providing my body with the best possible fuel instead of eating too much but being somewhat undernourished at the same time due to nutritionally deficient food.

I'm loving food in a whole new way and enjoying flavors that I used to hate, which is so weird to me. My taste has changed and evolved so much over the last couple of months and I'm so very glad I've finally made healthy eating such a priority in my life. I've been going through the motions for years, know what was healthy and eating the healthy foods that I was comfortable with (not trying new things or eating anything I assumed I wouldn't like) but still eating way too much added/refined sugars. I was addicted to sugar and couldn't admit it. 

I went cold turkey in the beginning of March and it was awful at first. I was so grouchy and thought about cookies and sugary chocolate   a l l   d a y   l o n g. By the end of each day I was so crabby and on edge. It took about two weeks before I started to feel better, and the cravings subsided greatly from them on. The only sugar I was eating was natural sugars found in whole foods and once the withdrawal period was over, I started to feel better and better every day. And soon, food started to taste different as well.

Fruit tasted so much sweeter to me, and I felt like I was eating dessert whenever I'd enjoy juicy, ripe strawberries or crunchy, crisp apple slices. Avocado has become a favorite food. I add arugula and spinach to scrambled eggs now and actually enjoy it (rather than forcing it down whenever I'd choose to add it before because I knew it was good for me). 

I eat more veggies at most meals than any other food group, like starch/grains or protein. I'm eating cashews, pecans, pistachios and walnuts now and loving them. Steve told me that I would never have believed I'd be eating this way now if somebody tried to tell the 'me' from even six months ago. And I've literally never felt better. 

Steve's always been a very healthy eater, and I've often made him super healthy meals while skipping many of the whole-food ingredients for myself and keeping it simple (for example, he'd get a huge salad with 10 different kind of vegetables, a protein, some rice and a pile of roasted veggies on the side. I'd have a tiny salad with the two vegetable choices I preferred, protein, lots of rice with butter, and a small serving of the roasted veggies plus a piece of toast with butter). 

I've made extra healthy snack foods for Riggs, while filling up on no-bakes and muddy buddy chex mix myself (I was using sweets to make me feel better when I was stressed or extra tired, which was more often than I realized, especially since becoming a mom of two). 

Now that I'm also fully committed to eating whole foods and avoiding added sugars and most packaged foods, I don't keep anything packaged/processed that would be easy to grab in a bind and lead back to eating more sugary processed foods. And I'm not talking about snickers bars here. Even 'healthy' and 'organic' packaged granola bars at the store often have more sugar in one serving than an adult woman should eat in an entire day. 

So now that we're not buying any packaged snack food, I've been on a mission to find snacks that are wholesome, satisfying, easy to make, and easy to bring along with us. I've been experimenting with recipes I've found on pinterest and instagram and a few especially good recipes have stood out and become instant favorites. Whenever I find something I love I want to share it, so here are some of the things we've been loving lately:

yogurt bowls
Have you seen/tried those chobani flips that come in a bunch of yummy flavors at the grocery store? I've tried them and while they're great tasting, the yogurt itself is flavored which means added sugars, and they're pretty expensive too if you're going to be eating them a few days a week. I've been experimenting with combinations of my own at home that are just as satisfying as the pre-packaged options, and much healthier and cost effective. My current favorite combination is plain greek yogurt diced strawberries, chopped pecans and coconut flakes (unsweetened). Another favorite is plain greek yogurt, raw cacoa nibs, unsweetened coconut flakes, and sliced almonds. There are so many different variations you could try out based on personal likes and dislikes, but I find that I'm a creature of habit and usually eat the same thing for a few weeks before moving on to try something else. 

bulk breakfast burritos
These pictures are from when I made breakfast burritos in bulk for Steve's lunches. He prefers the typical flour tortilla shells; Riggs and I get sprouted whole wheat shells for ours, but all of them are packed full of fresh scrambled eggs from our chickens, roasted veggies, and avocado. I leave the sausage and cheese out of ours, but Steve loads up on both and also add hot sauce and sour cream. It is so easy to take an hour twice a month to make enough burritos for about two weeks and have an easy, fulfilling and somewhat quick (I say somewhat because we don't have a microwave and use the oven or skillet to reheat ours) meal to enjoy without having to do all the prep every time we want to eat a breakfast burrito. 

 energy/snack balls
There are so many different variations of snack balls to be found on the internet, and I've slowly been working my way through most of them. So far we have three favorites: chocolate bliss balls, cashew 'cookie dough' balls, and chocolate peanut butter balls (with black beans!). These are great for when you feel like having a treat, because these are sweet (using maple syrup or honey you can avoid unrefined sugars) but also wholesome. They tend to be high calorie/fat so if that's a concern you might want to be mindful of just how many you're eating as a serving. But for kids they're full of the healthy fats needed for brain development among other things.

muffins with veggies/no sugar
Many muffins are more lake cake, full of refined sugar and unhealthy fats. But there are also many muffin recipes that offer a truly wholesome alternative and make a great snack or meal to make ahead and enjoy for a few days. Sometimes I add mini-dark chocolate chips to them when we're enjoying them as dessert, often they're left plain or with just a dusting of cinnamon. Chocolate zucchini muffins, spinach veggie muffins (trust me, they're amazing!) and apple carrot muffins are some of our favorites.

What are your favorite 'clean' snacks? Please share! I love trying new recipes and finding even more go-to snacks to add to our list.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Alaska Run for Women Race Recap

Saturday turned out to be a gorgeous day for a morning race, it was already about 65 degrees when I got to the Sullivan Arena to pick up my bib at about 8:00am. I finally decided to do the Run for Women on the Wednesday before the race, but didn't get around to registering until about 8pm on Thursday night, and the registration for the timed 5 mile race had already closed. I decided to go ahead and register for the untimed race.

I spent the night at my parents in Anchorage Friday night and left the kids with my mom in the morning. It was my first race I've ever done just completely by myself, and it was kind of weird. I was glad it was a warm morning because I didn't need to bring a sweatshirt or anything to warm up in. I just brought my car key, phone/headphones and ID in my little belt. I walked over to the stadium where all the tents were set up and where the finish line was for the race. I grabbed my bib for the untimed race, and talked to a few friends. Then I decided to head back over and ask if there were any timed race bibs left (with a chip) and there were! I was so glad I thought of asking, because I ended up having a great race, with both a 5k PR (cut over three minutes off my previous PR - that feels pretty dang amazing!) and a PR for the five mile as well.

The Run for Women is a fun race promoting awareness about/fundraising for the fight against breast cancer.
Clearly, pink is a big theme, as well as anything related to boobs. I loved all the amazingly creative bras they had for
women to try on and get their pictures in, so much fun. My friend (and survivor) Jackie and I chatted for a bit and then she
got a photo of me in the amazing floral bra. Oh and even the outhouses are pink!

I was feeling so great and ran just behind my ski coach from high school who I knew usually ran about a 7.20 mile pace. I have been training five days a week pushing the stroller 95% of the time, even during my speed workouts, so I felt like I could try and keep up with that pace, despite running the last couple of races at more of a 7.45' mile pace. I'm so glad I did, because like I said I felt really really good and like I was really able to give it my all for the entire race. I was really feeling tired, but in a good way, during the last half mile, but I made myself stay with Sara and tried to push myself to run as fast as I could around the track and to the finish.

It was kind of funny not to have any family to meet me at the finish, but I still had a great race and I know the kids were actually probably happy to have a quiet morning playing at Grandma's - they get a lot of stroller time during my runs each week.

This isn't the most flattering finish line picture, but I actually LOVE it. I love it because you can see
that I gave the race everything I had and pushed myself to my limits. I don't think there's a better feeling
than putting your all into something and accomplishing something great as a result.
I will never be the fastest but I love seeing the progress I've made. Getting 32nd out of such a huge group of women and seeing my name in the paper was pretty exciting for me. 

I also got to meet a blog friend, Michelle, whose blog, The Runner's Plate, has been really motivational for me over the last couple of years and especially this last year as I've gotten back into running after having Raina. She had her first baby this last year and is running better than ever just over six months post-partum - so inspiring! It was great to finally meet her in person. 

Overall it was a great race and I'm so glad I made the decision last-minute to do the race. Next up is the Homer Spit Run on June 27th. It's a 10k that's basically all downhill - pretty much the perfect race if you ask me! Hoping to beat my last 10k time of 48 minutes and to have fun seeing Steve's family while I'm at it. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Girdwood adventure and an addition to our family

Sunday was a full day. Steve is back to working a ton of hours (a blessing but we miss him!) and Sundays are his only day off again. We had sooo much to do, which included a lot of driving, and I knew it was going to be tricky for the kids. 

We had to drive to Anchorage to drop off a vehicle Steve was selling. Then we were off to Girdwood to look at another vehicle, this time for me. We have the truck but I really miss having a little car to run around in. Plus Steve sold his commuter rig last week and so we needed another vehicle anyway since sharing once isn't the most practical when he's gone working so much, often over an hour away from home. 

While we were in Girdwood we decided to get out and enjoy the sunshine and get the kids out of their carseats for a bit before we had to make the drive home (about two hours after running a few more errands in town). We went up to the Resort and headed out on the cross country ski trails, which are great for walking in the summer. 

Girdwood is such a gorgeous little town, and I love how everything there basically centers around being outside and being active. I also just love tiny towns with character, and Girdwood definitely has a lot of that. It was a nice change of pace after driving through Anchorage earlier. Despite growing up in Anchorage, the older I get the less I enjoy spending time there. It's nice to be able to get shopping done, and to eat at all the amazing restaurants around town too. But it's just so so busy and crowded feeling. Even Palmer seems to be growing so fast, sometimes I just wish for an even slower pace and smaller community than we currently live in.

Anyway, back to Girdwood. It was a beautiful day to visit, and the Resort was bustling with activity from the Fiddlehead Music Festival going on that weekend. We avoided it all and went right out onto the trails, but we weren't in any kind of a hurry. Steve and I both felt so bad for Riggs having to be constantly shushed while we were trying to talk about our game plan for the day, and stuck in the car for hours, basically since first waking up. So we decided to just go at his pace, letting him explore every little detail, no matter how much that meant that we were just standing there waiting for him. 'Slow parenting' has been on my mind a lot lately, I've been trying to be really intentional about following his lead whenever it's feasible to do so, instead of constantly rushing him (here is a great article about it if you're curious).

Steve showed Riggs that when you toss a stick in on one side of the bridge you can run over
to watch it come out the other side. They did this together for nearly half an hour, so much simple, easy fun.
Riggs got knocked down by another dog on the trial (the poor thing didn't want to play with Tutka and was backing away
quickly and bumped right into Riggs) and needed some cuddle time after that. I had only brought the Ergo for Raina so I
just had Riggs sit on my purse and carried him that way. It worked great and I loved the extra snuggle time, which is a pretty
rare thing these days. He was back down and exploring mushrooms within 5 minutes, of course. 

After the walk, we headed home. I got to drive my 'new' car, and Riggs rode along with me. He was so excited to ride in mommy's new car, but then fell asleep about five minutes into the drive and slept all the way to Anchorage and then stayed asleep while Steve ran into a few stores to shop for some work stuff. I'm already loving having a small, economical car to run around in. We still need to dig out our old rocket box and get that put on the roof rack for extra storage, then it will be all set up for skiing this winter too.

Monday, June 8, 2015

2015 Twilight 12k race recap

The Twilight 12k is probably my favorite race of the year, and this year I was extra excited because it was a chance to PR after all the training I've been doing lately. 

Steve's been in-between work calls so Wednesday we went camping (I'll post about that later on this week) and of course, Thursday morning he got a work call so we had to pack up quick and head to Anchorage for him to take the call and run some errands for the new job. It's a great call and Steve is really happy about the job he'll be doing, so I'm happy of course too. But Steve had also just sold his commuter vehicle and we were planning on checking out another over the weekend, so we were down to one vehicle right when we needed to be in a lot of places in a short amount of time. 

Steve had to show up at his new call Friday morning, so we were up at 4:45am to get packed for our long day in Anchorage, then loaded both sleepy eyed kids up in the pjs and were on the road by 5:45. After we dropped him off around 6:45am, we went straight to Starbucks (of course) then ran some errands in the morning and hung out with my mom at her house for the rest of the day until it was time to pick Steve up at 5:30pm and head straight downtown for the race. I'm so thankful he didn't mind hanging out after his first day on a new job while I ran, it was so nice to have him and the kids there to cheer me on at the end.

picked up my tshirt and bib Thursday afternoon
at the starting line in front of Skinny Raven about half an hour before the race started
Me and Sarah before the race, just like two years ago
There are two events at this race, the 6k and the 12k. I was doing the 12k, which was supposed to start at 7:05 (five minutes after the 6k). Anyone who's been to a big race knows that the port-a-potty lines can be crazy right before the race starts. So I warmed up on the park strip one block over and used the port-a-potty there about 5 minutes before the race was supposed to start. I was starting to feel a little nervous about being back in time so I hurried over to the start line, getting there right at 7:05. I had my headphones in but could hear the announcer and saw other people with the blue bibs to signify the 12k, so when he said go about 20 seconds after I arrived, I went.

Except it was actually the start of the 6k, things were just running a little late. The blue bib people had only been in the back, waiting for the red bib 6k people to go so that they could move up to start. And it took me half a mile to notice. At which point I had to frantically turn around and run back towards the start. It was mortifying, like a run of shame, going back against the crowd like that. Such a stupid mistake. I was feeling a whole lot of things at during those moments, including the urge to just run to my truck crying. Even though I'm not ever going to be a super-fast runner I take races seriously as a chance to challenge myself and do the best that I can, so adding an extra mile to the race and messing up my chip time was extremely frustrating for me.

Luckily I made it back just in time to watch all the fastest runners going by and get into the pack that was running at my pace. And somehow my chip results are accurate, at least according to what my running app said. I just added about a mile onto my race at race pace in addition to the mile warmup I had already done, so ended up running 9.5 instead of the races 7.45. I guess it ended up being fine, because I beat my goal time by nearly two minutes and felt great the entire race, other than being more tired than I expected during the last mile, which was probably due to the crazy sprint at the beginning to get back to the start.

about to start the last couple of hills that lead to the finish.
don't let my smile fool you, I was feeling rough at this point, just
didn't want to be grimacing for the picture, haha.
done! yahoo!
I think you can tell from my face how happy I was to be crossing the finish.

Despite my completely idiotic mistake, it was a great race and I'm really happy with my results, and with how I felt during the race. I shaved off 8.5 minutes from my 2013 time, so that was great (read my 2013 race recap, here). Can't wait to add some more mileage over the next couple of weeks in preparation for the Her Tern Half Marathon (my first) in mid-July.