Wednesday, February 27, 2013

New addition.

Happy days in Happy Runner-ville!

My brother and sister-in-law had their second child this week. A beautiful little girl. We couldn't be happier for them!

Here I am with my boys and new niece:

Yay for new babies! Always an exciting time.

Hope you're enjoying an exciting week, too!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Quality miles.

Last week, I continued to bounce back. I ran six times, easing into the week with two very short, easy runs that were meant simply to keep my blood flowing and my muscles moving.

On Wednesday, I ran my speedwork and felt like I was flying. This run rocked for two reasons: First, I actually got it together to run in the morning and, second, I ran my fast repeats at just under 5K pace, 6:48/mi. Sure, they were short repeats but there were 14 of them and I ran strong. Quality miles.

After a rest day on Thursday, I came back on Friday (morning, again!) with a 5.6 mile that included two miles at goal half-marathon pace. Saturday was my long run. It was windy and my route was hilly but I banged out 9.12 miles at a 9:13 pace. Yesterday was straight-up recovery with a quick, easy 3.6 miles.

In total, 28 miles for the week. Quality miles.

Ah, yes. Quality miles. I'm following this good advice:

And I'm finally starting to get excited for April's half marathon! It's about time.

I hope you all had a great weekend ~ and a good week ahead!

Friday, February 22, 2013

A Good American (review).

A Good American, by Alex George, is a sweeping story of the Meisenheimer family in America.

Told by James Meisenheimer, the book begins in Germany with the story of how Jette and Frederick -- James' grandparents -- met and fell in love. It follows the young couple on their journey out of Germany and to America, finally settling in Missouri in 1904. And that is where the bulk of the story takes place: the farming town of Beatrice, Missouri.

James tells the story of Jette and Frederick settling in Beatrice and having their first child, Joseph (James' father), and then their second, Rosa. They work hard and establish themselves in the town, slowly becoming more American. Just as they change, so does the world -- we see them deal with WWI, prohibition, racism, WWII, floods, and lots and lots of death.

Family members die, as happens in life. Since James is telling the story of his family from his vantage point of an elderly man, it makes sense that he tells of all those who die along the way. You might think the book would be sad with all this death but it isn't. A Good American is not an in-depth character study by any means. So we don't really get to know characters well enough to be saddened by their deaths. Even the two deaths that the most tragic weren't all that sad.

I thought the story of the Meisenheimer family and the immigrant experience in mid-western America was an interesting one and really did enjoy the book. Alex George is a good storyteller and that storytelling made me want to keep reading. Overall, I give this book a thumbs-up and recommend it!

Have you read A Good American? 

Have a great weekend!

This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Running in the morning?

During the week I am an afternoon runner. Ideally, I'd run in the early evening, outside, but that doesn't happen. So, I run in the afternoon, on the treadmill. And I'm fine with that. It works.

Today, though, I shook things up. Like some sort of efficient running person.

I ran in the morning.

Intervals, no less.

Yup. That was me, sipping a quick pre-run smoothie, going straight from robe to running gear, warming up and then dropping down to run speedy intervals.

I wasn't sure how it was going to work out -- I hadn't even had a cup of coffee! -- but it worked out well. I ran a nice and easy mile or so and then ran one of my favorite speed workouts.

14  x 2 minute repeats that looked like this:

  • 30 seconds @ 6:48 pace
  • 60 seconds slow
  • 30 seconds speeding back up to pace

I cooled down for a half mile or so and basked in my success.

But not for too long because I had to hurry up and get clean and dressed before our first playdate of the day arrived. I know, tough life. Hey, it's vacation week and my boys have a busy social schedule -- keeps them active and that keeps me happy.

Let me tell you: Getting a good, slightly tough workout in before starting the day was quite the feeling. I usually don't have that feeling until the weekends when I often run in the morning. So today it was a nice treat. I may have to try this more often!

Do you run in the morning? 
What workouts do you prefer to do in the morning rather than later in the day?

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Vacation week!

Yay for vacation week! Schools here are closed for the week and that means my little kindergartener gets to hang out with Niall and me all week. 

We kicked off vacation with a fun visit from some of our Long Island family over the weekend. My boys loved playing with their cousin! There was a lot of train track building, some outdoor play and a fun day at the NYS museum.

They had a great time!

For the rest of the week, we're jam-packed with playdates with friends we rarely get to see. If everyone stays healthy, it should be tons of fun!

As for running, well, I'll be fitting it in as best I can. The treadmill is my friend, for sure!

Have a great week, everyone!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Mileage creep.

My mileage is slowly creeping up to where I'd like it to be. What a relief. Although, at this point in my half marathon training, I would like my long runs to be in double digits. But, they are not. Not yet, anyway, and I'm OK with that.

I'm running the runs I can run.

And this past week was a week where I had to give up on a few of those runs. You see, I was knocked out by a nasty bout of food poisoning. It was truly, truly awful. What's worse is that my whole family -- Owen, the boys, my parents, my brother and his (very-pregnant-ready-to-give-birth-any-day-now) wife, and my other brother and his girlfriend -- all had it. Yeah. And guess who made the dinner that got them all sick? Yup, yours truly.


So, Monday and Tuesday were spent dealing with a terribly unpleasant little illness and running was the last thing I wanted to do. But Wednesday, when Owen was still home from work because he hadn't recovered, I was back and I had a super-duper outdoor run.

Man, was that a good run! I'm sure a big part of why it was so good was that I was finally feeling like I was back among the living. Still, I can appreciate a good run for what it is. And that was one.

On Thursday I hit the treadmill for an interval workout. I warmed up for about 10 or so minutes and then ran 14 x 30 seconds @ 5K pace / 90 seconds slow. Then I cooled down. I pushed myself to finish the last 4 under 5K pace and I'm glad I did! Speeding up on tired legs is always good preparation for race day.

Today was my long run. My solo long run.

8 chilly and hilly miles on slick roads. I took it easy and ran around 9:30 miles for the first 6 miles then I dropped down to 9:00 pace for mile 7 and 8:05 for mile 8.

Quality miles. 

So what if I'm not up over 10 yet? I will be, soon enough. I still have two months before the half marathon. I'll be ready!

Enjoy the rest of the weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Go, Nuttzo!

"This is what real food tastes like."

A wise man, to whom I happen to be married, said those words after eating NuttZo for the first time. And he wasn't wrong. He was, in fact, quite right.

We were trying out NuttZo Original Omega-3 Seven Nut and Seed Butter.

I was sent a jar to review and, honestly, it could not have come at a better time. You may recall that I started my sugar-free diet at the beginning of January. I'm all about the real, whole foods these days, especially those without sugar. NuttZo butter is made from all organic ingredients: Just organic peanuts, cashews, almonds, Brazilian nuts, sunflower seeds, flax seeds, hazelnuts and sea salt. Eight real food ingredients.

And true to Owen's statement, it tastes like real food.

We enjoyed it with sliced apples for dessert:

And I enjoyed a spoonful in my smoothie, to up the protein content:

It is good stuff! It is not smooth and sweet -- definitely not regular ol' grocery store peanut butter. It is crunchy and full of goodness. It is real food. Real food tastes different and sometimes we forget that. Our taste buds are so tuned for highly refined, sweet and processed food that we are don't always go for real food. And that's too bad because real food really is better.

For that, I liked NuttZo a lot. I also like that it is made with all organic ingredients. And I like the story behind NuttZo. The founder, Danielle LiVolsi, started NuttZo after she and her husband adopted two boys from the Ukraine. They were vitamin deficient so she wanted to prepare good healthy food for them. NuttZo was born.

Learn more about the history of NuttZo and NuttZo nutrition.

I'm planning to try out some different recipes using NuttZo as I continue on in my sugar-free journey. I anticipate good things!

Have you tried NuttZo?

Hope you're having a great week!

Review disclaimer: I was sent a jar of NuttZo through FitFluential. I was not compensated for this post and the opinions expressed are entirely my own.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Touch and Go (review).

Holy cow.

I just finished reading Touch & Go by Lisa Gardner and . . . holy cow. What a book. What a crazy thriller of a book.

I don't read many thrillers. I've stated before that I tend to read, well, running books mostly. And the last book I read was Here I Go Again, 180-degrees from Touch & Go.

Apparently, I've been missing out. The thriller, it seems, is where its at.

I loved this book. So much, that I read it at night, right before bed, when I really had no business reading such a thriller-to-the-point-of-being-almost-scary book.

Yes, this book sucked me in right from the start.

I won't give away too much of the story because most of the enjoyment comes from turning the page and learning something new. But, the book takes place in Boston and New Hampshire and centers on a crime and the subsequent investigation that unfolds over the course of the book. It is told from the vantage points of a wealthy wife, Libby Denbe; a private investigator, Tessa Leoni; and Wyatt, a New Hampshire sheriff.

Of course, everyone has their secrets and they are doled out a little here, a little there.

The book is quite the page-turner and, really, I had a hard time putting it down. As a testament to the suck-me-in factor, I've already requested a few of Lisa Gardner's other books from the library. I'm hooked.

My one little complaint with the book is that it really lost steam toward the end and I was disappointed with how some of the loose ends were tied up. But, overall, I enjoyed it and, as I said, will be going back for more!

Do you read thrillers? Who is your favorite author?

Thanks for stopping by!

This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Triple berry low-sugar muffins.

As I've gone sugar-free, I've been moving my family's diet more in that direction as well. It is unbelievable how much sugar is in everything. It's nuts.

Anyway, one of the things I've been doing is altering recipes so they use less sugar, less flour, less junk. One of my -- and my sons' -- favorites is my new triple berry low-sugar muffin recipe!

They are moist. And berry-licious. My older son can easily eat two or three in a sitting and, honestly, I'm OK with that because they are full of good stuff! Here's my recipe so you can enjoy these goodies as well.

Triple Berry Low-Sugar Muffins


1/3 cup brown sugar (not packed)
4 tbs. butter
1 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp. vanilla

1/4 cup flax meal
1/2 cup finely ground unsweetened coconut (or coconut flour)
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup white flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda

2 cups frozen unsweetened berries I use a triple berry blend of blueberries, blackberries and raspberries


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottoms and sides of a 12-cup muffin tin.

In a large bowl, beat sugar and butter. Add remaining wet ingredients and mix well.

Add dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Stir in frozen berries. The batter will be pretty lumpy, just make sure it is combined.

Fill muffin tins with batter. You will likely have more batter after filling your 12 tins. I've found it is enough for about 4-6 additional muffins. If you have an additional muffin pan of that size, great. If not, a small bread pan (not regular loaf size) will work but you'll need to keep that in the oven a little longer than the muffins.

Bake muffins for about 22-26 minutes until the edges start to brown a little and a toothpick comes out fairly clean (but not completely -- you don't these to dry out!). Let them set for a few minutes before moving them to a rack to cool.


As you can see, these are free neither or sugar nor wheat flour. However, they are much lower in both than most muffins and I like that. So, these might not be right for me on my sugar-free diet, but they are good for my boys as I try to feed them good foods for life.

Try them -- and let me know if you like them!

Do you have a favorite healthy muffin recipe?

Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, February 4, 2013

January recap.

January was such a weird month for me. I started with hopes for high mileage that would build on my December momentum. Then, I was put on two strong antibiotics, some other medications, and a sugar-free diet.

I lost my momentum.

The first week of the month started strong but after meeting with my doctor I had a tough time figuring out how to eat when eating can't include cereal, bread, pasta, potatoes, dried fruit, etc., etc. My energy level decreased a lot. I couldn't quite figure out what to eat to fuel my runs so many of them were cut short. 

Fortunately, I've been figuring it out and my energy has come back and, as I neared the end of the month, my mileage started to increase. 

I need to keep that going.

I also need some warmer temps. Sheesh!

January stats:

Running (miles): 90.7
Racing: 1 -- the New Year's Day 3.5-miler
Cross training: 8

As I look forward to the rest of February, I want to really kick my half-marathon training into high gear. So that's my goal for the month: Pick up the training pace. 

How was your January?

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Fast 40!

Looking for a way to shake up your treadmill running routine and get fast at the same time? Look now further -- I've got just the workout for you.

I'm loving this fun, fast, 40 minute run. And it really is fun. And will get you fast. And, honest, it just takes 40 minutes.

*     *     *

Warm up for 10 minutes

4 x 2 minute 10K intervals: Run 30 seconds at 10K pace, jog/walk 90 seconds

4 x 2 minute 5K intervals: Run 1 minute at 5K pace, jog/walk 1 minute

4 x 2 minute 10K intervals: Run 30 seconds at 10K pace, jog/walk 90 seconds

Cool down for 4 minutes

Some tips: 

  • Use the last 15 seconds of your jog/walk interval to get back up to speed. That way, you start your fast section at the right speed.
  • Since you repeat the intervals every 2 minutes, it is easy to keep track of this workout by saying you'll run the 10K intervals at minutes 12, 14, 16 and 18; the 5K intervals at minutes 20, 22, 24 and 26; then back to 10K for minutes 28, 30, 32 and 34. Cool down starting at minute 36.


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