Monday, September 29, 2008

Lifting up as you go down.

I've been thinking about downhill running lately. Probably because I do so much of it. Also, Kara had a post recently about foot strike and mentioned how landing heel first effectively means that you're putting on the breaks. I so agree.

Downhill running is tricky. It is easy to just pound down the hill, not worrying about form, just letting gravity pull you along. But, as I said, it is tricky and I learned this the hard way.

Let me go back in time to my glory days. 2004. The marathon. My (I hope this won't always be the case) one and only. The flat and fast course in the race description was code for enough downhill to shred your shins and macerate your toes if you are not careful and you enter the race without ample downhill training. Only, I apparently didn't have the appropriate decoder ring so I couldn't read the message. The downhills kicked my butt. Or, I should say, they kicked my legs and feet.

There was one downhill stretch where I thought for sure I would end the race with broken foot bones. The pain, in a word, sucked.

But the last miles of the race were actually flat and after I finished I was so happy that I forgot about those pesky downhills. Sure, my feet were tired and sore but, hey! I just ran 26.2 miles so they had every right to be tired and sore. It wasn't until I started adding hills and downhills back into my running that I realized that running down a hill involves some skill.

Now, I'm used to running downhill and I do it, mostly, injury-free. I was thinking about how I've been able to do this when I was out for my run on Saturday. The one thing that occurred to me and the tip that I wanted to share with you is this: I feel my body anticipating (does that seem weird?) lifting my foot up well before I land. It is tough to explain but I was listening to my body as I ran down one particularly long hill and I felt a lifting sensation in my legs as I was preparing to land each step. Each time I would land, it was as if I was already lifting my foot, so my landing was as light as possible.

For me, that's the key to running downhills effectively. I hope it works for you, too. If you have other ideas, please share. I'm always looking for good tips!

I might have to change my name.

Not my name name. My blog name. I'm thinking The Happy Cross-trainer.

OK, not really.

Running is still my #1. But, I'm getting into this cross-training thing. I worked out with Jackie Warner on Thursday and did one of the Biggest Loser workouts on Friday. Saturday, I felt the effects in my core, my butt, my arms, my whole body! I'm hoping that this renewed enthusiasm for cross-training will have a positive effect on my running. I think it will. It certainly can't hurt. I had a decent run on Saturday and an enjoyable, although fairly slow, run on Sunday.

In other news . . . I made my September to Remember goal! If you recall, I set out to run more than 60 miles this month. As of yesterday, I had run 71.1 miles -- well past 60 and I will probably sneak in another run before the month comes to a close! I'm so happy with how I did and grateful to JKRunning for setting up the challenge.

Friday, September 26, 2008


And now, for your Friday, I present . . . food!

I've been mixing it up around here, trying new foods and new recipes, all in an effort to eat a wider, more healthy variety of foods. Weekends are a great time to try out new recipes, since most of us have a little more time then. So, here's the first of what I'd like to make a weekly habit: Friday Yummies!

Couscous Salad*

1-1/2 c. couscous
1-1/2 c. boiling water
1/2 c. fat-free plain yogurt
1/4 c. olive oil
2 tsps. white vinegar
1 tbsp. curry powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. ground pepper
1/2 c. grated carrots
1/2 c. dried cranberries
1/2 c. slivered almonds
2 scallions, thinly sliced

Pour couscous in a bowl and pour water over it. Cover and allow couscous to soak for about 5 minutes.

Whisk (important! Use a whisk!) together the yogurt, olive oil, curry, salt and pepper until slightly emulsified. Fluff couscous with a fork. Pour yogurt sauce over couscous and mix well. Add remaining ingredients and mix again. Adjust seasoning to taste. Serve cool or at room temperature -- I prefer it at room temp.


*Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


I finished reading Bart Yasso's book, My Life on the Run, about a month ago. I enjoyed it; it was a quick, fun read. At one point, I thought about posting a review but I didn't get to it before I had to return the book to the library. So, the review is gone forever. I will say that Bart's stories of far-flung and often loony runs and races gave me the itch to get out there and run some different races. I'll let you know when I actually start to scratch that itch.

Yesterday, I picked up Run Less, Run Faster and Ultra-Marathon Man at the library. I have a long-term goal of running another marathon in two years. It's just not on my list for right now but I think that fall 2010 will be the perfect time for me and the marathon. I can see possibly using the FIRST plan outlined in Run Less, Run Faster when I do get around to training for that marathon. We'll see if I use any of the techniques and training plans for my current runs. Since I'm working on my endurance, I'm hoping that I will pick up some tips from these books that will help me improve in that area.

Also yesterday, I had an enjoyable, easy run that had only one down-side: My socks! On most of my recent runs, I've been wearing the DryMax socks that I won from Runners' Lounge. Yesterday, they were dirty and I am not one for re-using the dirty socks. Too skeevy for me. So, I went for the Thorlos and . . . unh-unh. They made my feet feel heavy and hot. Lesson learned: It is time to splurge on a few more pairs of the DryMax! I've been trying to get by on the two pairs that I have (weak, I know!), but that requires a lot of coordination in the laundry department. I guess with the money I save from taking books out of the library I can afford some socks, right? Yeah -- why not?

Have a great day, everyone!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


You know that feeling you have when you run strong up and over a hill that normally kicks your butt, and you're gliding through a flat patch and that easy downhill is within sight?

I had that feeling through my whole run tonight and it was marvelous.

I attribute my good run to how I ate today. Lately, I've been trying to eat more of the good stuff (fruits, veggies, lean protein, low-fat dairy, etc.) and less of the not-so-good stuff (mountains of jellybeans, scoops of melted cheese, assorted junk food, etc.). I've also been trying to eat a little more regularly, with smaller meals and healthy snacks throughout the day. Today, I had success. I started the day with a bowl of mini-wheats, had a mid-morning snack of almonds, a lunch of leftover veggie soup and a mid-afternoon snack of half a cinnamon-raisin bagel. In the morning I drank coffee and then switched over to water.

By the time I headed out for my run I was neither hungry nor thirsty. Nor was I crampy from chomping on some last minute dried cranberries or some such thing before I headed out.

Eating has such an impact on running. When I eat well, I run well. Most of the time, that is. Sometimes there are other issues but, for the most part, it is true: Eat well, run well.

So, I'll continue to strive to eat better and hope that by doing so, my running will improve. Now, I will not become some kind of strict health-food-only maniac. I will still eat ice cream. I will still have a cocktail now and then, and French fries, nachos, burgers and all that. But, I will make most of what I eat the healthy, good stuff. Runs like today's run have made me a believer!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Cross training.

No running today. Instead, I cross-trained. Yea, me! I've been terrible about cross-training for the past year and I'm really trying to do it more often because I know that it helps prevent injuries and improve running performance. So, I turned on my Exercise TV on-demand and got to it. As always, it felt good to workout in a completely different way than I am used to. And, I have to add that when Jackie called for one minute of push ups, I was able to crank them out with ease! So, the never-ending push up challenge is doing me some good.

As a follow-up to yesterday's post, I am pleased to report that I have no lingering ITB pain today. V. happy about that!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sunday long run.

Seven miles may not be long for most people, but that's what I ran today and it was the most I've run since I got back into running post-pregnancy. Today's run also pushed this week's mileage to 22.2 -- another post-preg. high!

It was a pretty good run. Very hilly (of course) and even though I went out in the afternoon, it was quiet. A few cars passed by when I was running on a main road, but not many. There was only one little glitch. As I was running down one of the hills on my route, I stepped awkwardly and felt it almost immediately in my left ITB. I cursed to myself and then stopped to stretch. I stretched my ITB, my quad and my calf and then I walked a little and stretched again, adding in an extra ITB stretch for good measure. Then, I began to run again. A few minutes later, I felt that pesky ITB so I immediately stopped and stretched/walked/stretched. This time, I'd gotten it. When I picked up my run again, I felt fine and I didn't have any problems for the rest of the run. Good thing, because my misstep was only about two miles into my run! I would've really been upset if I'd had to call it a run at that point.

Even with the ITB break, I finished my run in 1:05:45. I guess those cocktails didn't hurt me after all!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Do cocktails count as hydration?

If they do, then I'll be all set for tomorrow's long run. If not, I'm in trouble.

Owen and I had a big cocktail party to go to tonight and I definitely enjoyed some cocktails from the open bar. My toddler was safe with grandma and grandpa so all was good. Now home, Owen is watching the dvr'ed (dvr'd? dvred? recorded?) Ryder Cup and I'm wondering if I should replace the cocktail he just poured me with a glass of water. Probably. I'm planning on a long run tomorrow and I would hate to blow it because I'm all dehydrated.

We did have fun at the party, though. It's something I miss now that I am a parent -- getting out. I carve out time for running, time for work, time for volunteering, but time for other fun often ends up getting bumped. Bad idea. Everyone needs to have fun! Not that I don't have fun -- don't get me wrong. But, just not as much as I used to because priorities have shifted. Blah, blah, blah! It was fun tonight, but I have plans for tomorrow -- I should get off my butt and get some water so I can have a good run!

Hope you're all having FUN this weekend!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Almost the weekend. Phew.

Wow, am I ready for the weekend. The weather looks like it will be great so my plan is for a regular run this evening and then a long run on Sunday. Nothing like what all you marathoners will be doing, but long for me!

I also have push ups on the agenda. Nope, I haven't given up! I'm still pushing through Week 5, although you could say I'm hanging out in Week 5 because it's been a while and I'm still stuck on Day 2. I had better be done with this by the end of the year.

And, I have 2 toddler birthday parties to go to. So, yup. My weekend will be toddler-rific.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, September 18, 2008


Today's Take it and Run Thursday theme is BYFB . . . Bring Your Favorite Blogs. Since it is Runners' Lounge, the focus is on running blogs. Not dim-witted celebrities making dim-witted fashion choices. Although, I do like to read blogs about that.

Anyway . . . back to the running blogs.

Here's the thing with me and the blogs. Like other Running Bloggers, I love running blogs. My Google Reader is full of them and I cannot wait for updates. I am Seriously Addicted. And I think this is wonderful.

See, I'm a solo runner. At various times in my life, I've tried to run with others but it just doesn't work for me. I like to run alone. But while that is true, I also like to read about running and gain insight from other runners. I need to learn and to improve.

Since I found running blogs, my running has changed for the better. I've learned a lot from other runners and picked up many tips that have improved my running experience. There is a wonderful feeling of camaraderie in this virtual running community and that feeling has buoyed me on many occasions. I've been so inspired by many runners' journeys -- from those who have recently started running to those who are accomplishing amazing feats and successfully reaching their goals. Some bloggers keep me laughing and some keep me challenged. Others keep me connected. All of them (and there are more than I can mention here) help me be a better runner.

I'm forever grateful for the ability to run, because it is something I love to do. Now, though, I'm almost as grateful for all the running blogs that I've come across. Don't stop blogging, Running Bloggers! I'd be lost without you.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I'm a bit of a liar.

I was going to run today. Well, at first I wasn't, because I was feeling cruddy and then I went to the doc (unrelated to cruddiness) and had 9 vials of blood taken. So, I wasn't going to run. Then I read this post and decided that if she could run 12 miles, I could run 4. I even left a comment stating as much.

I was going to run.

Then it all went to hell and I didn't run. My comment is out there now, a big ol' Internet lie. Hanging out there and over my head. The least I could do was come clean. Thank you for listening, Internetters.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Thanks to this blogger, I am now watching Dean Karnazes try to break the treadmill running record. It's real exciting stuff, let me tell you. Ha!

Yeah, not really. But, I keep peeking in to see how he's doing. And he's usually running. On the treadmill. Which he'll do for 48 hours.

This is coming at the perfect time for me and I do hope that Dean's quest can inspire me a bit. I had to run on the treadmill yesterday and, well, bleck. When I'm on the treadmill, I have to play games with myself in order to keep going. I don't see the point of changing the elevation because my usual running routes are full of hills so I play with speed. Not speed speed, just little pick-ups, mostly. Yesterday I warmed up for a mile and then ran 8 min/mi pace for a quarter mile followed by a quarter mile in 9.5 min/mi pace. I did that for two miles. Whoopie-dee, I know.

But, like I said, it is the only way I can stave off the boredom.

I'm hoping that most of my runs can continue outside this fall and into the winter. But, I'm realistic. I don't like to run in the dark so my window of opportunity shrinks a little every day. The treadmill will allow me to get my miles in, just not in an ideal way.

That's life, I guess. Let's just say I'll never be going after any treadmill running records!

Monday, September 15, 2008

More about food. This time, of the list variety.

Recently, I've read about the Omnivore's 100 on a few blogs and since first doing so, I've seen a few more of these lists pop up. The one I've found most notable is the Vegetarian 100 listed here because, right now, I am trying to make my diet less similar to an omnivore's diet and more similar to a vegetarian's diet.

If you haven't seen one of these lists yet, the way to play along is simple. Copy the list to your site and bold the items you have eaten and strike out the ones you would never eat and then post the list on your blog. Feel free to put comments next to the foods (as I've done below, in italics). And, if you want, leave a comment linking to your results so I (and others!) can read them.

Here's mine!

The Vegetarian Hundred

1. Real macaroni and cheese, made from scratch and baked (One of my favorite foods. Ever.)
2. Tabouleh
3. Freshly baked bread, straight from the oven (preferably with homemade strawberry jam)
4. Fresh figs
5. Fresh pomegranate
6. Indian dal of any sort
7. Imam bayildi (Didn't know what this is but now that I do, I want to try it!)
8. Pressed spiced Chinese tofu
9. Freshly made hummus
10. Tahini
11. Kimchi
12. Miso
13. Falafel
14. Potato and pea filled samosas
15. Homemade yogurt
16. Muhammara
17. Brie en croute
18. Spanikopita
19. Fresh, vine-ripened heirloom tomatoes
20. Insalata caprese
21. Stir-fried greens (gai lan, bok choi, pea shoots, kale, chard or collards)
22. Freshly made salsa
23. Freshly made guacamole
24. Creme brulee
25. Fava beans
26. Chinese cold sesame peanut noodles
27. Fattoush
28. New potatoes
29. Coleslaw
30. Ratatouille
31. Baba ganoush
32. Winter squash
33. Roasted beets
34. Baked sweet potatoes
35. Plantains
36. Chocolate truffles
37. Garlic mashed potatoes
38. Fresh water chestnuts
39. Steel cut oats
40. Quinoa
41. Grilled portabello mushrooms
42. Chipotle en adobo
43. Stone ground whole grain cornmeal
44. Freshly made corn or wheat tortillas
45. Frittata
46. Basil pesto
47. Roasted garlic
48. Raita of any type
49. Mango lassi
50. Jasmine rice (white or brown) (I've had both white and brown. Delicious. Few things smell better than this rice.)
51. Thai vegetarian coconut milk curry
52. Pumpkin in any form other than pie
53. Fresh apple pear or plum gallette
54. Quince in any form
55. Escarole, endive or arugula
56. Sprouts other than mung bean
57. Naturally brewed soy sauce
58. Dried shiitake mushrooms
59. Unusually colored vegetables (purple cauliflower, blue potatoes, chocolate bell peppers…)
60. Fresh peach ice cream (this is even better when you've made it yourself!)
61. Chevre
62. Medjool dates
63. Kheer
64. Flourless chocolate cake
65. Grilled corn on the cob
66. Black bean (or any other bean) vegetarian chili
67. Tempeh
68. Seitan or wheat gluten (Don't really like it.)
69. Gorgonzola or any other blue veined cheese
70. Sweet potato fries
71. Homemade au gratin potatoes
72. Cream of asparagus soup
73. Artichoke-Parmesan dip
74. Mushroom risotto
75. Fermented black beans
76. Garlic scapes
77. Fresh new baby peas
78. Kalamata olives
79. Preserved lemons
80. Fried green tomatoes
81. Chinese scallion pancakes
82. Cheese souffle
83. Fried apples
84. Homemade frijoles refritos
85. Pasta fagiole
86. Macadamia nuts in any form
87. Paw paw in any form
88. Grilled cheese sandwich of any kind
89. Paneer cheese
90. Ma Po Tofu (vegetarian style–no pork!)
91. Fresh pasta in any form
92. Grilled leeks, scallions or ramps
93. Green papaya salad
94. Baked grain and vegetable stuffed tomatoes
95. Pickled ginger
96. Methi greens
97. Aloo paratha
98. Kedgeree (the original Indian version without the smoked fish, not the British version with fish)
99. Okra
100. Roasted brussels sprouts

There are a few foods that I would add to this list, including sun-dried tomatoes, freshly ground peanut (or other nut) butter and brick-oven margherita pizza.

What have you eaten? What would you add?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

I've been thinking a lot about food.

My mom's birthday was earlier this week but she and my dad were away, so they are coming over for dinner tomorrow. I've been trying to sort out what to make. Browsing the Internet, I found this site and I AM HOOKED!

I can't turn away. I'm clicking like a crazy lady and bookmarking like a banshee. I'm sure some of you have seen it before but for those of you that haven't, check it out. It is mouth-watering!

As for dinner tomorrow, I'm still not 100% sure what the full menu will look like, but it will include an appetizer of local goat cheese with almonds and dried fruit, a salad of local arugula, baby lettuce and orange cherry tomatoes and an apple pie for dessert made from -- you guessed it! -- local apples. That's as far as I've gotten. Maybe my run tomorrow will fill me with entree inspiration!

Friday, September 12, 2008

The good news is that I now have a new goal.

After my failed mile test last week, I decided to try again today. I thought I could run under 7 minutes. Well, not so much. I finished my mile in 7:10.

I was a little disappointed, only because I had built up this test in my mind all week. I pictured myself breaking the imaginary tape in well under 7 minutes, with my hands in the air and a smile on my face. Instead, I made it to the 1 mile mark feeling like I was going to puke. Oddly enough, I think I started out too slow and I had to seriously pick up the pace in the last half mile. For the last quarter mile I was really pushing it and I felt it at the end.

Lesson learned and new goal established. I will now add, "Running a mile in under 7 minutes" to my other goals for 2008. I can handle it.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

On the other side of busy. Finally.

I ran 6.13 miles on Sunday.

Continued on with Week 5 in the push up challenge on Monday.

Haven't done push ups today and doubt I will. With any luck, I'll get in a 4 mile run.

I had a big meeting yesterday so the past fews day have been meeting prep insanity, with a little bit of crisis management tossed in. I haven't had much time for anything other than that and the toddler.

Today, though, I have my life back. Took the toddler to the playground where he ran around like a maniac for a solid hour. He is now enjoying some restorative sleep. I'm enjoying the quiet and the time to myself to catch up on, well, on everything.

It's a sunny, crisp afternoon. I can't wait for my run.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

When you head out for your run . . .

it's a good idea to bring your brain along with you. Otherwise, you may find yourself timing .71 miles instead of a full mile. And no one wants to be that person, right?


Sadly, I'm that person. I had mapped out a mile on my route. Unfortunately, when I started to time it I misremembered the marker where I was supposed to start. I was supposed to start as I headed up the small hill (I know, hills aren't what people usually include in their mile tests) but I started timing as I turned at Windy Way (real name!).

Grrr . . . I have no mile test time. I just have .71, run in 4:44.

The good news is that now I have an idea what my mile time might be, based on the wimpy .71: I think I could break 7 minutes. I just need to bring my brain along the next time I head out to time my mile.

Friday, September 5, 2008

One challenge not enough for you?

Well goodie for you! I've entered another challenge. So, not only will I be able to regale you with stories of my push up progress (Week 5, Day 1 is going well, thanks) but I will now have jkrunning's "September to Remember" challenge to tell you about. I know! You can't wait for the updates!

Settle down, please. You don't even know what the challenge is yet (unless, of course, you're in on it). The challenge is to beat your highest mileage month of the year (biking, running, swimming, whatever). I'm looking to beat 60 miles of running.

Do you think I can do it? I'm pretty sure I can. Whatever happens, though, I'll pass along the updates.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

A changing world.

For today's TIART, Amy and Tom at Runners' Lounge have asked us to show off our running world in pictures.

And so I have pictures for you. Some recent, some older. My running world has changed as my life has and where I run now is v. different from where I ran just four years ago.

Four years ago, I was childless and training for a marathon that ran along the Mohawk and Hudson rivers. I spent a lot of time on that route, especially the trail that winds along the Mohawk, while I was training.

After the marathon, I still ran on the trail, just not as often. I mostly ran routes in my city neighborhood and stuck primarily to 5K races like our local Race for the Cure:

the Freihofer's Run for Women:

and assorted other races. Then, this happened:

I didn't run during my pregnancy but as soon as I was cleared to do so after giving birth, I was back at it. I missed running for those 10+ months and it felt great to get back into it.

A year later, I have a toddler. I fit in my runs when I can and I no longer drive to the wonderful trails on which I used to run. We moved out of the city and into the total suburbs. Now, my runs almost always start at my front door:

and they take me out on to my street, through the winding, hilly roads in my neighborhood:

That's my running world right now. I run when I can, where I can. I toss in a race here and there. Someday, my world may expand again but, for now, this works.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

What's for breakfast?

For me, it's a smoothie*. I love that I can get calcium, fruit and protein all in one drinkable meal.

My favorite smoothie? Strawberry Banana. Making it is really easy.

Place about a cup (6 or 7 or so) frozen strawberries and half a banana in a food processor. Blend until the strawberries begin to break up. Add about a cup to a cup-and-a-half of nonfat plain yogurt and 2-3 tablespoons of wheat germ. Blend until smooth, pour into a tall glass and enjoy!

The strawberries contain vitamin C, the bananas have potassium, the yogurt has calcium and protein and the wheat germ adds vitamin E, folic acid and a little more protein. Someone with more credibility would be able to break the nutrition content down in more detail; I can just give you the highlights.

Take my word for it, it is a yummy breakfast that is easy to make. It is also easy to keep the ingredients on hand because the strawberries are frozen (and you can use any frozen, non-sweetened fruit) and if your bananas start to go bad, just freeze them, too. Frozen bananas work just as well as fresh in this recipe!

* Now. Sometimes it's Lucky Charms mixed with All Bran and on those good days when the hubby makes pancakes . . . well, it is definitely pancakes. Unfortunately for my taste buds -- but fortunately for my waistline -- it doesn't seem to be bacon all that often. That's what holidays are for.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Week 5, Day 1.

In this alternate push up world, today I began Week 5. In the real world, I have been working at this challenge for 10 weeks. For some reason, I have stuck with it. I don't know whether that reflects something good or weird about my character . . .

Either way, today I started Week 5 with the following sets: 30/24/22/20/31*

I did them all. They were tough. Day 2 looks to be even harder but since it has taken me 10 weeks to get to Week 5, I plan to repeat today's schedule for the rest of the week. Call me a slacker, I don't care.

*That last set nearly killed me.

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