Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Miscellany for Wednesday--Marathon Edition

I am just a few days away from marathon #14. Here's a few thoughts I've had this week.
  • This will be my first marathon I've run on a Saturday.
  • This will also be my first marathon I've run with a Garmin. Usually I would hate this, but Coach and I have set up a specific pacing plan to follow.
  • I have lost 8-10 pounds (depending on the day) since the start of November and have made it down to the perfect racing weight.
  • I haven't had a drop of alcohol since the end of February. Yeah, I'm that dedicated.
  • I have run 424.4 miles since November in preparation for this race (and the upcoming season). Doesn't seem like a lot, but it's the equivalent of 16 marathons.
  • I haven't missed a single run workout since November 1st. Did I mention I got dedicated?
  • I am looking forward to getting some cupcakes after the marathon. I hear it's the thing to eat in DC.
  • I'm also looking forward to seeing my teammates Kati and Kiersten this weekend.
  • I thought signing up for a marathon at the end of March in a place a little more south would wield better weather. As it turns out it's going to be cloudy and in the high 30s. At least I have trained in conditions exactly like that. Packing has been a challenge, though. I've got everything I would need to wear for weather like that. I'll make a game-time decision Saturday morning on what I'll actually wear.
  • This might be the most excited I've been for a marathon ever. Let's go!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Monday's Menu

Each week, I will feature a recipe on Monday that Dave and I cooked the previous week. If you'd like to contribute a recipe, please leave a comment below or send it to me via email:

Last week we were at the grocery and saw a special: buy one get one free bags of chicken breasts. A gazillion chicken breasts for $13? Yes, please. Now what to do with a gazillion chicken breasts? We (well, Dave) made chicken cordon bleu. You can find the recipe here. And since I have no idea how Dave actually made it, I'll show it off in pictures.

This meal was so yummy. The chicken cordon bleu was so tasty and had great flavors. I had half of mine like it was built and then paired it with honey mustard for the second half. Still very yummy. This looked like an easy recipe and we will definitely be having it again.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Awesome Chopper

Since I get the privilege of working from work, I also get to experience really good TV. (I hope you got the sarcasm there.) One day I caught an informercial for this: The Vidalia Chop Wizard. I must have been really intrigued, or really bored, because I watched the entire informercial. And I knew I had to have one.

Seriously Bed, Bath, and Beyond carries everything. I knew I could find it there. And within five minutes and asking no one, I found it. I immediately fell in love and dubbed it my "Awesome Chopper." A quick trip to the grocery store and $35 in vegetables later, we were ready to make the most amazing salads.

Here's how the Awesome Chopper works:

Choose your vegetable and put it on the chopper.

Swing that chopping arm and voila! Chopped vegetables!

We put all the mixings into different re-sealable containers so we could make multiple salads throughout the week. Look at those colors!!

And here's the salads that Dave and I made. Aren't you jealous?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Sentimental Saturday

Six years ago this weekend my grandpa passed. Recently my grandma moved into an assisted living facility. My mom and aunt have been hard at work clearing and cleaning out her condo, prepping it to sell it. Today the nine grandchildren were invited to come over and choose the things we would like from the house before it and its stuff is sold.

Being the uber-type A personalities that my aunt and mom are, things were very systematic. First, there was a two hour preview before the estate sale, if you will, began. We were told what was available and what wasn't and then we compiled our lists. From there, we all drew cards and they were ordered ace high and down from there. My sister and I, being the youngest, were given the two lowest cards. So much for random. :)

The "sale" started with a flurry and for a minute I thought I was way in over my head. I had a very small list of very detailed things and my cousins were going much bigger than that. Dave and I looked at each other, completely overwhelmed. Luckily for me, though, my first pick I had hidden. My first pick: several strands of my grandmother's pearls. They're beautiful.

For what seemed like hours we picked apart the house looking for treasures and sentimentalities. Personally, I took home great things. Sure, I picked up practical things: wrench, miniature crock pot, pitchers, but I also picked through boxes and found beautiful gems. I brought home a huge box of lace. Yes lace. I also got hundreds and hundreds of buttons. I found my grandmother's old handkerchiefs. I even gave one that had amazing blue embroidery in it to my sister use as her "something blue" for her upcoming wedding. I took home a watercolor picture my mom did of my grandparents' house they lived in for over 50 years. And one of my favorite finds: a pair of lace gloves. I wish I had had these when I got married. I would have designed my whole wedding around them. Now I must find an outfit to model them around.

I thought today would be rough. How weird it is to be sifting through someone's life when they're still alive. But, I'm excited to visit with my grandmother this week and let her know how lucky I am to have her in my life.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


My dad asked me over the weekend, and again last night, if I was going to break his marathon PR (3:21:21) next weekend. The answer is no. I'm not even gunning for a new PR. So it begs the questions, why am I running yet another marathon?

That's a good question.

The National Marathon will be marathon number 14 for me. I gave up doing marathons for the "experience" after my first one. With each one I've wanted to run faster and faster. I'm thisclose to reducing my marathon time one hour from my very first marathon. And yet, I'm pretty sure I'm going to be nowhere near a PR this year. So why am I doing this?

Initially I began thinking about this race when my teammate Kati announced she was doing it. The timing would be perfect with triathlon season and I thought it would be fun to be there with my teammates. Unfortunately Kati got injured and now I'm the only Trakkers Chick doing the race. But, I think Kati and Kiersten are going to be there to spectate.

While training for Ironman last year all I could think about was missing Boston and wanting to be able to run it again. Triathlon training is so consuming; I missed the simplicity of running last year. And having DNFed at Ironman I felt a little robbed. It's hard for me to feel positive about 2010. Running makes me feel fast and free. I needed a good marathon to kick off 2011 in the right way. My training has gone tremendously. Although I don't think a PR is possible, I think a good solid marathon with a quality time is. I'm excited to be running again. I'm so excited!!!! (And the thought of cupcakes after the marathon sure helps too.)

Monday, March 14, 2011


I'm kicking off my taper with a little bit of inspiration I found in my fortune cookie a few weeks ago:

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Battle and The War

There has been a war brewing with my water belt for several months now. Let's review...

I have been wearing an old school Fuel Belt for many, many years. Like, 8 or 10 years. It was great. It was small. Fit well. Carried four 6 ounce bottles. I loved it. Although the bottles leaked significantly I continued using this belt for a long time. Over the summer, though, I noticed the Fuel Belt wasn't fitting too well. I've always worn it around my waist, but decided this summer I wanted to wear it lower on my hips. The only way I could keep it in place on my hips was to use a hand towel positioned on my backside. This worked pretty well. This winter, though, maybe with slipperier clothing, the towel trick was no longer working. Maybe it was time for a new water belt.

For Christmas my in laws got me a new Fuel Belt, the H20 Collection. I really appreciate the gesture and think it was a great gift idea, but this Fuel Belt was a piece of crap. I have the smallest size, synched as tight as it will go with the velcro overlapped and the Fuel Belt will not stay put. I put it on my hips, above my hips, at my waist, and no matter what, within 20 steps that belt is around my ribs and bouncing all over the place. I have used my towel trick and it still wouldn't hold it in place. I thought it was the slippery winter fabric and put it outside my fleece jacket or my wind breaker jacket and it still didn't matter. The water belt still wound up around my ribs. My last 20 miler, I fought with that thing every step up the way. At the 11 mile mark I had had enough, stopped, took off my jacket and repositioned all my other clothes, completely wrapped my jacket around and through the Fuel Belt and went on my way. It kept it mostly in place until I finished 18 of the 20 miles. Then I took off the belt, took out one of the water bottles and put it in the waistband of my tights.

With only a few weeks until my marathon I spent a little time checking out some details on the website the other day. I clicked on the link for the water stops and was really surprised to see that there were not water stops at every mile. They are every other mile except no water stops between miles 15 and 19. As a friend said on my Facebook page, "what marathon puts dehydration as a 'perk'?" A little panic later and a conversation with Coach, it was decided that I would wear a water belt for the marathon. Ugh! Was I really going to fight my Fuel Belt for a full 26 miles?

I have an Amphipod waist pack (aka--fanny pack) that I absolutely love. You put it on and you forget that it's there. It's lightweight and doesn't move an inch. I figured that their water belts were exactly the same. I got on the website, searched my options, Googled reviews, and put in my order. Before pulling the trigger, though, I put a call out on Twitter and Facebook for what my friends were using for their hydration. I got a lot of good responses about Nathan so I put my Amphipod transaction on hold and waited to head to a local running store the next day.

I went to FrontRunner with a bit of skepticism. A water belt is a water belt, right? I tried on the Amphipod and didn't like it. It didn't really have any stretch to it and I couldn't figure out how to get the water bottles in and out. I asked the sales associate about the Nathan one and he didn't have a lot of information. It was a new product for them. He told me to try it on and go for a run around the building. I did and it seemed okay. I went back in a talked to the associate a little more. He told me to try it out for a few weeks and if I didn't like it I could bring it back. Sold!

I brought it home, stuffed it with all the nutrition I would carry in the race, filled it up with water, and put it on. Dude, that sucker was heavy! My logic, though, is it's only going to get lighter as the race goes on. :) This morning I filled it with water and hit the treadmill wearing what I'm planning on for the race. It was only a 35 minute run but I wanted to get a feel for the belt. It.....was great! I didn't move. I was able to wear it on my hips and it didn't ride up. I didn't notice the weight of it. I was able to get the water bottles in and out with one hand, although it was a little tough. I'm sure it will loosen up with more use. I think it's going to be great for the marathon. FuelBelt may have won the battle, but me and my Nathan are hoping to win the war.

Thanks, Megan, for the suggestion.

Monday, March 07, 2011


This is my last big week before the marathon taper begins. And today kicked off the week with my last 20 mile run.

I have to admit, I was not looking forward to this run. I knew it was going to be cold; I would have to do it by myself; I had to carry a water belt (more on this later this week); and with the season in full swing, I have to admit I'm a little tired of training. I psyched myself up, though, and got my stuff together on Sunday. I woke up this morning with purpose and ready to go. It was time.

The run looked like this: several miles of warm up, more miles at race pace, a couple miles faster than race pace, and finish up with a short cool down. Okay, it was more specific than that, but I have a coach and I'm gonna protect her work. :) I started and wanted to keep my warm up pace around 9:00. But 9:00 came and went and suddenly I was doing 8:55s, then 8:50s, and then sub-8:50s. I thought, "crap, that's too fast to start out." I felt too good, though and just kept with it. The warm up came and went and it was good. The next part was a race pace. I started around 8:30s, dropped to 8:15 for several miles, and then finally was averaging around 8:05s. Perfect. Things were going well. The next part of the run dropped the pace below race pace. At this point I was late in the run and wondered how this was going to go. Surprisingly I dropped the pace down below 7:45s and was just cruising. Finally I cooled down around an 8:20 pace. I finished those 20 miles in 2:47:24, for an 8:22 overall pace.

The big run training is over. It has been awesome! I nailed every long run. I've done every short run. I haven't missed any marathon training. My body feels good. My mind is in the right place. I may not be as fast as I've been for previous marathons, I'm definitely feeling more fit, more ready for this marathon. I'm ready.

Checkmate, Marathon.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

ABCs of Me!!!

I saw this on everyone else's blog this week so I thought I would join in. :)

A~Age: 32

B~ Bed Size: Queen. Wish I had a king, although I think the twin bed upstairs is the most comfortable in the house.

C~Chore you hate: Grocery shopping. I'd rather go to the gynecologist.

D~Dogs: Sloopy!!! My 1-1/2 year old half Maltese, half Yorkshire Terrior.

E~Essential Start your Day Item: A hug from my puppy.

F~Favorite Color: Red.

G~Gold or Silver: I guess silver. But, I don't really wear jewelry.

H~Height: 5'1" and shrinking.

I~Instruments you play: Piano and I played xylophone/bells/chimes in the high school band. I want to learn guitar.

J~Job Title: Owner and President at VIP Photo Booths, Inc.

K~Kids: ZERO and I love it!!!!

L~Live: Ohio. Is it spring yet?

M~Mom’s Name: Saundra

N~Nicknames: Mer, MJ, although I prefer to be called by my formal, given name.

O~Overnight Hospital Stays: None!!! My only surgery was lasik eye surgery.

P~Pet Peeve: I'm annoyed by everything!!! Today's pet peeve is people who complain without a solution.

Q~Quote from a Movie: "That caviar is a garnish!!" You've Got Mail.

R~Right or Left Handed: Right although I was a left-handed gymnast and find that a lot of sports I do more strongly as a lefty.

S~Siblings: Sister, Amy, 3 years younger than me.

T~Time you wake up: Whenever I want!!!!

U~Underwear: Big granny panties!!!!

V~Vegetable you Dislike: What are vegetables? :)

W~What Makes You Late: My husband! My dog! I hate to be late. It's one of my pet peeves.

X~X-rays You’ve had Done: Too many to count. If I ever want to get pregnant it's never going to happen. I have to be infertile from all the x-rays, MRIs, and CT scans. The latest were an X-ray and MRI last week for my pelvis, sacrum, coccyx area.

Y~Yummy Food you Make: Spaghetti sauce, meatless taco dip.

Z~Zoo Animal Favorite: Manatees.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

February Totals

I have been working with a coach now for 2-1/2 years and it has taken me that long to adapt to her program. Only recently have I figured out how to schedule everything, do the workouts in order, and most importantly, get it all done. February was a hugely successful month for me. I did every last workout. Even after my fall, I completed all the workouts for the week. I did four long runs: 15, 16, 18, 20 miles. I did two races: CRRC 15 Miler and Last Chance. I'm feeling really good leading into my last few weeks before the marathon. Here are the numbers for February:

Swim = 19,450 meters (~12 miles)

Bike = 174.83 miles

Run = 117.83 miles

Strength = 2 hours

I decided if I got all the workouts in during the month of February I was going to reward myself. I have some thoughts. What do you think should be my reward?