Exercise update: 10K training

10K training plan

Three weeks ago, I started my training for a 10K race I signed up for in May.  The first week, I hit the ground running, literally, and completed each day of training exactly as the plan specified.

As a way to keep me motivated, I have the training plan taped to my refrigerator and I check off each workout as I complete it.  Look at how nice and neat that first week looks with all the check marks.

By the second week, however, I realized that fitting in each workout wasn’t always going to be easy. I have to coordinate my runs with Tim’s irregular work schedule, Luke’s feeding schedule, and our family meals.  I learned that I might not fit in every single run each week and sometimes I have to modify the plan.

I have to be honest, the last three weeks have really kicked my butt.  It isn’t the training itself that’s been especially hard, it’s life in general and trying to fit everything in. Managing to run five days and cross train one day a week on top of all of my other responsibilities has been a challenge. Some days I feel like I have to put “breathe in, breathe out” on my t0-do list as a reminder to take the time to breathe.

Last Saturday, I had my longest run to date of six miles.  I felt great running it and the run itself went well.  That evening, however, I hit a wall.  Extreme exhaustion took over my body and I felt like I don’t remember feeling ever before.  That night I developed another clogged milk duct, a sure sign that I was running myself ragged.

As much as I hated to do it, I took the next three days completely off from running and exercising.  I knew something had to give, and my body needed some rest.  It’s interesting, but the complete exhaustion was not from training too hard or even the running itself, I think it was just a cumulation of everything I’ve been trying to do.  I felt like I was spending everyday trying to squeeze two days worth of tasks into one day.  It just finally took its toll, emotionally and physically.

I’ve come to accept that I don’t have to run this race super fast. It’s okay if I just run it. Not following the training plan to a T is not the end of the world.  It’s hard for me not to put pressure on myself to perform at a level that I think I should.  I’m competitive and I know what I’m capable of, yet I have to remember the stage of life I’m in will only allow me to do so much.

After saying all of that, I can tell you that I’ve loved training for a race again.  Even though I wish I had more time and energy to devote to it, the time I’ve spent running has been great.  My pace is gradually getting faster (I’m averaging between 9:15 and 9:30 miles whereas when I started I was running around 10:15 miles) and feeling easier.

I’ve done some tempo runs, where you gradually build to near 5K race pace and hold that pace for a few minutes.  I have no idea what my 5K pace is right now, so I’ve just gone with what felt challenging, but not so hard that it was going to kill me.  On these runs I’ve been able to build to a 7:45-8:00 minute mile pace.  I did one speed workout of repeat 400s, which was hard.   I did it on the road and realized that doing speed work is much better in a group.  One day maybe I’ll have the time and freedom to join a running club so I’ll have some training partners.

I have another four weeks until the race, and my goal is to maintain the training I’ve been doing and complete the race.  Maybe next year at this time I’ll be in a better position to worry about times.  For now, just running has to be enough.


Healthier make-ahead frozen French toast sticks

French toast sticks stack

Since adding a second child to our family, I have learned to not necessarily work harder, but work smarter.  Meghan’s been asking for French toast for breakfast often, and as much as I would love to be able to comply and make it fresh for her, some mornings that just isn’t possible.

I had a few options.  I could buy the frozen French toast sticks you find in the freezer section of the grocery store.  Even before I looked, I knew that probably wasn’t the best option.  But when I did investigate, I found far more ingredients than I wanted, including unhealthy oils and extra sugar.  Why do you have to add sugar to French toast?!  These are already going to be topped with maple syrup, I don’t need even more sugar.  Plus, I knew the ingredient “dried egg whites” wasn’t as healthful as the full, farm fresh eggs I would use.

Next option.  Limit French toast to weekends when we Daddy is home and we don’t have to rush to preschool.

Oooooorrrr…I could make my own batch of French toast and freeze them.  Guess which option I chose?

Yep.  Work smarter, not harder.  One big batch of French toast is simple to whip up.

Cut into sticks.

And get ready to freeze.

You don’t need any fancy-pants bread for this French toast.  Kids like it with regular sandwich bread, homemade or store bought.  Of course it would also be wonderful with a loaf of brioche or challah.  You decide.

Once you have the big batch made, it’s easy to pull a few sticks out of the freezer and pop them in the toaster for a quick breakfast.  Meghan prefers hers topped with peanut butter, and then dipped in a little maple syrup.  Choose your toppings and enjoy your healthy, quick breakfast!

How dinner went down: March 18th-24th

First, let me apologize for no new recipe posts popping up last week.  It was a doozy of a week made much harder with Luke’s growth spurt and crazy short naps.  He is getting back on track with his naps (night sleep is another story…) so I hope to have more time to get you some recipes this week.  If not, there’s always next week! Thank you for your understanding and stickin’ with me.

With that, here’s what came out of my kitchen at dinnertime last week.

Sunday

15 Minute Lemon Parsley-Spinach Pasta from The Diva Dish.

I get excited about dishes that I like, but I think I get even more excited about food that Tim likes.  It’s so satisfying to serve a meal that we both enjoy equally.  Believe me, it doesn’t happen often.  Our taste buds are just different.  But this dish was one we both loved.  Bonus that it is a 15 minute dinner.  Can’t beat that!  Thanks for the great recipe, Ari.

Monday

Veggie Pancakes (made with all sweet potatoes)

I had 2 1/2 pancakes.  The first two I went savory and topped with corn and black bean salsa.  Tim cringed as I did it, but it was delicious!  I loved taking these the savory route.  The last 1/2 was my dessert pancake and I topped that one with peanut butter.  So good!  Pancakes are not just for maple syrup anymore.

Tuesday

Lightly seasoned bone-in chicken breasts and potatoes prepared on the grill and a mixed green salad.  We had unseasonably warm weather this week which meant we used the grill!  I love grilling season.  Delicious food and easy clean up.  Win.

Wednesday

Barely Risotto with Asparagus and Mushrooms and Crispy Sesame Carrots from Clean Food: A Seasonal Guide to Eating Close to the Source with More Than 200 Recipes for a Healthy and Sustainable You.

I mentioned it was a tough week, right?  Yeah, pictures at dinner time just didn’t happen.  Sorry about that.  I hope to share the barley risotto recipe soon.  The sesame carrots from Clean Food are really good.  If you have that cookbook, make them.

Thursday

Calzones on the grill.  Did you know you can make calzones on the grill?  You can.  And they’re delicious.  I used this basic whole wheat pizza dough recipe and just shaped the dough into calzones.  My calzone had caramelized onions, broccoli, and tomato sauce.  Tim and Meghan both had their calzones with cheese and tomato sauce with their broccoli on the side.  Even though I made Meghan a mini calzone and it was the cutest thing I’ve ever seen, she wasn’t that into it.  She ate a few bites, but didn’t love it.  She’s the kid who won’t eat pizza or spaghetti, either.  I thought all kids liked those kinds of foods?!  Nope, not mine.

Friday

Eat Yo’ Greens Soup and Beet Chips

This soup is a great way to use a lot of greens.  For this batch I used a combination of beet greens, spinach, and pack choi (spinach and pack choi from my CSA).  Baked veggie chips are always a hit around here.

Saturday

Chipotle take-out

Quite simply, I ran out of time on Saturday.  I did some cleaning and laundry, fed Luke, helped Tim clean out the garage, fed Luke, went on a 6 mile run, fed Luke, and then I was exhausted.  Chipotle hit the spot.

I hope you have a wonderful week of food and fun with your family!

Question:  What’s on your meal plan this week?

The pros and cons of joining a CSA

It’s that time of year again.  Every Wednesday evening from now until December, I’ll hear my doorbell ring and find a box of locally grown, organic vegetables and/or fruit waiting for me.

Just like a vegetable fairy.

This is my second season being a member of a Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA.  With a CSA,  you are buying a share of a farm’s produce.  Every CSA is different, but in general this means that you will get a portion of what the farm grows and harvests each week.  With my CSA, the produce gets delivered right to my doorstep.

I have loved being a part of a CSA, but like anything, there are pros and cons.  I’d like to share the best and the worst of being a member of a CSA for anyone out there on the fence about joining one.

Keep in mind, my experience is limited to one particular CSA, and every farm will have theirs set up a little differently.  One feature that my farm includes that many CSA’s do not is a partnership with wholesalers.  So our weekly box includes vegetables and/or fruits from their farm and then is supplemented with organic produce from trusted wholesalers.  In the summer months it is mostly all home-grown produce, but early in the season there is more from the wholesalers as they only have a few things that grow this time of year.

This makes my CSA a great value as I can always count on a full box and the price is reasonable.  (We pay $20 a week for a good sized box of organic produce–the picture you see above is just the greens from a week, not everything that was included that week)  You have to investigate the CSA’s in your area and see what kind of features are available.

Since I’d like to end on a good note, I’ll start with the cons.  Even though there are cons, I think the pros outweigh them by a long shot.

The Cons of Joining a CSA

  • There are forces outside of your control that could damage crops and therefor your share–weather, pests, etc.  This is the risk you take in joining a CSA.
  • You may get a large quantity of a type of produce that you don’t care for.
  • You may get a large quantity of a type of produce that you like, but don’t have enough uses for to use up quickly.
  • It may be difficult to use up all of the produce before it goes bad, depending on the produce intake of your family.

The Pros of Joining a CSA

  • You are supporting small, local farming.
  • You have access to the freshest, most local produce available, which is the most nutritious way to eat.
  • You can eat seasonally, again, the most nutritious way to eat.
  • You are forced to get creative with preparing fresh fruits and vegetables in order to eat up all the goodness in your share.
  • You can learn about new fruits and vegetables you’d never heard of before, like kohlrabi.
  • You will likely eat more fresh fruits and vegetables than you normally would.
  • You can teach your children about fresh, real food.  (We brought Meghan to the farm where we get our produce last summer)
  • It’s wonderful for a busy mom having the box delivered right to my door. (Not all CSA’s do this)
  • Fresh, seasonal produce tastes so much better than produce that’s traveled across the country to make it to your house.
  • For us, it is a great value.  Again, every CSA is different.

If you are interested in finding a CSA in your area, this Local Harvest website has the largest database of farms offering CSA’s.  Type in your zip code and find out what’s available in your area.  You’ll be happy you did!

Question:  Are you or have you ever been a part of a CSA?  If yes, would you add anything to my pros and cons list?  If no, is it something you would consider?

Postpartum update: 3 months later

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I should have learned by now never to promise a post on a certain day.  I said that I would give you this update yesterday, but then Luke started a growth spurt.  When baby isn’t napping well and wants to be fed every 2 or 2 1/2 hours instead of 3, even with the best intentions, blog posts don’t get written.  Especially if mama wants to get dinner made, run, clean, and do all the other day-to-day responsibilities that rest on my shoulders.

No complaints, here, though.  I am really loving life in all of its craziness right now.  At 3 months, Luke is one happy, smiley baby.

I fall more in love with him everyday.  When he stares at me with so much love in his eyes, my heart just melts.  And these big, toothless grins do a number on me, too.

Luke’s most recent achievement is rolling to his side.

Maybe this will help with the flat spot on the back of his head that is the result of spending so much time on his back.  He can’t reach out and grab toys yet, but he’ll hold onto one if I put it in his hand.  Speaking of hands…

He’s

totally

obsessed.

If he isn’t staring at his hands, he’s putting them in his mouth.  Most of his awake time is spent with a focus on those hands.

As you can see, Luke is doing great.  I can’t imagine where the growth is taking place in this spurt because he’s already so big!  According to our scale he’s around 16 pounds; the clothes you see in these pictures are all 9 months, except for the green pants.  He’s a tall, solid boy.

Breastfeeding is going well, but we are still trying to figure out exactly what is causing his irregular stools.  I had been off of dairy for 4 weeks when I saw a little streak of blood in his diaper.  I called the doctor and she told me the next step was to eliminate soy along with the dairy.  It turns out many babies with milk protein sensitivities are also sensitive to soy protein.

After a week of eliminating soy, I didn’t notice any improvement and saw blood streaks in his diapers a few more times.  His spitting up was also getting worse, as well, with a few instances of huge projectile vomits that seemed like his entire meal had come up.

Then, I realized that both my prenatal vitamins and my fish oil supplements have soy in them!  Once I cut them out, things seemed to improve some.  His stools are still mucus-y, but I haven’t seen any blood streaks in over a week.  I’m hoping they will continue to improve.

Okay, I’m sure you’ve heard enough about baby poo now.  As much as I’d love to talk about Luke all day long, I guess I’ll give you a little update on how I’m doing.

I’ll save the details on my 10K training for another post, but I will say that consistently exercising has been great for me.  I think it’s helped with my overall mood–it’s such a stress-reliever.  Fitting it in everyday can be a challenge, but I’m making it a priority so it gets done.  Sometimes that means I don’t have as much time to prepare dinner, and naps just don’t happen for me anymore, but it’s worth it to me to have the time for fitness.

In the last month I’ve lost 2-3 pounds, which has helped me feel better about my progress towards getting my body back into pre-pregnancy shape.  The one area that is the biggest challenge, however, is my midsection.  I am trying to remind myself to be patient, but I sure would like that pooch to go away!

We had an 80+ degree day yesterday, so I wanted to wear a tank top for my run.  I cringed when I put it on and looked at myself in the mirror.  I tried to stretch it out with my knees, but to no avail.  It clung to my stomach, revealing the aftermath of giving birth to my darling son.  I couldn’t fathom running in a hot t-shirt, so I just kept it on and figured no one would be looking at my stomach when I was running anyway.

Here I am after my run.  Looks like one of my pregnancy shots, right?  I think my belly was smaller at 13 weeks pregnant! Patience, patience, patience.  That’s the word of the day.

Life with a 3 month old and a 3 year old is busy, but I’m discovering that I can be super efficient and get just as much done, if not more, than before Luke was born.  It’s like the busier I am, the more I get done because I don’t have time to sit around or procrastinate.

That’s good because I have a huge list of spring cleaning tasks I want to complete.  But now, I have to go, because guess who wants to eat again?  Let’s hope this growth spurt only lasts another day or two.