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Surf City Half Marathon – Take-Aways and Happy Places

shirt medal

Last Sunday I had the thrill of running my third half marathon – The Surf City half marathon in Huntington Beach, CA.  It was a thrill for a couple of reasons:  1) I traded in the 2 degree temperature of Eastern WA for the 68 degree temperature of the beach: before after

2) I ran the race with my sister, Andrea.  We are both loner runners but we made an exception this time and ran together.  We even came up with little hand signals to communicate with each other so we didn’t have to take out our ear buds.

Andrea was really sweet and ran at my slow pace which, at times, ended up being a fast walk.  She was a great running partner and terrific cheerleader…which I really needed toward the end (as usual).

READY FOR HALF1BEFORE AT SUNSET  Beautiful pre-race sunrise

After a race, I like to think about what I did well and what I would do differently.  Here are my take-aways from the Surf City half marathon:

WHAT I DID WELL

  1. I finished – I savored each moment of the race, enjoyed the scenery, took my time, then crossed the finish line.  OK, that’s crap.  I did finish but I sucked air the whole time, I whined about my toes hurting, I took lots of short walk breaks toward the end, then I did that thing I do at mile 11 – I feel like I can’t do it.  Thankfully, Andrea was there doing the countdown for me, “We only have 2 more miles.  We only have 1 more mile.   Now only 5 more minutes. We’re almost done.”  That extra encouragement really helped!FOLLOWING ANDREA1
  2. I learned about the importance of stretching – I always stretch after a run.  Short run, long run, whatever…I stretch.  What I didn’t realize is that my body needs additional stretching so I have incorporated daily stretching into my hard core workout routine.
  3. New hard core workout routine – OK, it’s not really hard core but I did participate in a 12 week training program twice a week called Strong Runner.  It focused on running drills, TRX and core strengthening.  It was a great class and I learned so much about speed, form, strength (and I met some great people to boot).   Unfortunately, I was a little over zealous with the speed training and hurt my foot, which was actually the result of my hips being super tight, hence the significance of item #2 above….stretching.  Even though my program is over, I plan to incorporate the things I learned into my regular exercise routine.
  4. I can’t think of a 4th thing I did well.  Oh, wait.  I really enjoyed my post race beer.  I think beer should be the new recovery drink.  So long chocolate milk, hello brewski.

WHAT I WOULD DO DIFFERENTLY:

  1. Stick to a training plan – I’m usually pretty strict about sticking with a training plan.  This time, however, I was all over the place.  I started with Jeff Galloway’s Run/Walk program (which is what I always use).  Then I got into Chi running and threw a bit of that in there.  Then I made up my own schedule.  Then I changed my schedule because I didn’t like it.  Then I just did what I wanted when I wanted.  Then 4 weeks before the race I hurt my foot and stopped running all together.  Then I went to physical therapy for some help with my foot.  Then I did some indoor cycling training since I couldn’t run.  Then it was race time and I felt ultra unprepared.  Next time I’m sticking to a plan (and not getting injured).
  2. Do not run 13 miles 2 months before the race – Why?  Because deep down inside I became a little over confident of my abilities since I knew I could run the distance.  The result…I did not stick to my semi-non-existent training plan.   What usually works for me is to schedule my longest run at 12 miles so that there is a sense of excitement when I cross the finish line at 13.1.  Running 13 miles before the half was anti-climatic for me.
  3. Improve my mental preparedness – I do not know how to overcome that feeling of “I can’t” toward the end of a race.  It should be the time when I get excited that the end is near but my brain does not go to that happy place.  When I looked over at Andrea I could tell she was a happy runner.  She was running effortlessly, good form, energized, smiling.  Smiling?? What the what?  I have all kinds of things I say to motivate myself (“run the mile you’re in,” “if you feel pain,  that means you’re alive,” “smile…look like you’re having fun.”).  None of those things worked.  The one thing that did work was whenever we saw a photographer, we would pick up the pace and smile so there was evidence that we were running and having a blast!

    HAPPY RUNNERS1

It was a great day and I really did have a blast!  After we crossed the finish line, Andrea was chanting, “I feel so great,” and I was chanting, “I need to stretch.”  Then we made our way to the VIP lounge, enjoyed our recovery beer, recounted the race with other runners, and BOOM, my brain found it’s happy place.  I guess my endorphins kick in a little later than most (or I need a beer at mile 11).  I was proud of finishing this race and proud of my sister for sticking with me.  She could have left my sorry ass behind but she didn’t.  What a good little sister!

AFTER HALF1

So tell me, toward the end of a race, how does your brain find its happy place?

the joys of doing it yourself

This holiday season I have been busy with Do-It-Yourself projects (or DIY for the totally hip and crafty folks).

I wanted to share some of the cool things I’ve been working on this holiday season.  I’ve broken the projects down into 3 levels of difficulty:

  1. Easy, requires very little concentration – You can work on these projects while drinking a couple glasses of wine as your iPod blasts your favorite tunes.
  2. Easy, requires some concentration – You can accomplish this project while enjoying 1 glass of wine, however loud-ish music might throw off your concentration.
  3. Hard – Don’t drink and craft.  Music is optional, might want to listen to smart music like classical music.

So here are the fun projects I have been throwing myself into lately:

  • Level 1- The DIY Dog Toy.  You can probably even drink a martini and manage to successfully make these guys.

diydogtoys

These are simply scraps of material braided with cotton batting used for quilting.  Just cut 2 strips of batting + 1 strip of brightly colored fabric (2” wide x 28”-30” long) then braid.  That’s it!  These are puppy tested and approved!

  • Level 1 – Adorable Hair Ties.  These are so easy, I’m embarrassed that I even gave them as gifts this holiday season.

diyhairties1 diyhairties2

These are great for girls because boys don’t usually wear them.  They’re great for runners, too (girl runners).  If you can tie a knot, you can make these.  If you can’t tie a knot, I’m sorry.  To make these adorable hair ties, cut 8.5”-9.5” lengths of fold over elastic and tie in a knot.  Congratulations, you’re done.

What’s fold over elastic, you ask?  It’s the cool patterned elastic used to make hair ties.  I found a great wholesale place on-line that sells most elastic for approx. $1.00/yard (some are a few cents more, some less).  You can make around 4 hair ties with 1 yard.  My new go to place for hair tie supplies:  My Sunshine Shoppe.  If you like this kind of stuff, you must check it out!

  • Level 2 – Headbands.  I wrote about my headband adventures here and demonstrated how easy they are to make.  I’ll be honest, they are a little harder than braiding or tying knots.  They include a teeny tiny bit of sewing…which is why they are in the Level 2 category.

diyheadbandfinishedside Instructions for these easy headbands can be found here.

  • Level 3 – Funky, Awesome, Sweet Pencil Case (or to put it more generically, zippered pouch).  I found this idea on Pinterest and bought a bunch of candy, ate it, then made these cute ‘zippered pouches’:

diyskittlesbag diymms

Here are the instructions for making these tasty pencil cases!  Now this project requires zipper installation so if you’re like me and don’t have much zipper experience, don’t get discouraged.  Who am I kidding…you’ll be discouraged but don’t stop trying.  You’ll get it!

  • Level 3 – Tool Roll.  What’s a tool roll, right?  It’s this:

diyrolluptool

It’s something for artsy people to use to organize their artsy tools, like paint brushes and such.  You place said tools in the Tool Roll, roll it up, tie it then consider yourself organized!  This is for my mom for her belated Christmas gift.  Surprise, Mom!!!  This is a level 3 but could almost go to Level 4.  It requires an immense amount of concentration and direction following…neither of which are my strong points.  So this gift took a little longer than usual…thank goodness for seam rippers!

I found the instructions in a book by Lotta Jansdotter called, “Simple Sewing.”  When it comes to me and a sewing machine, there is nothing simple about sewing.  Despite the misleading title, it’s a great book!

So these are the projects that have kept me busy ‘doing-it-myself’ this past month.  Working on projects for others brings me joy (when I’m not cussing at the sewing machine) so I hope the recipients experience a little joy and happiness when they open their awesome ‘DIY’ gifts!

Merry Christmas!

Easy, Inexpensive, DIY Workout Headband

When I run, I sweat.  I’m not going to try to be all lady-like about it.  I don’t glow or sparkle, I sweat.  One thing I hate about sweating is when it gets in my eyes and drips down my face.  It’s annoying and bothers me which is why I’m a big fan of the headband.

Now there are some workout headbands that are fashionable and utilized more for holding your hair out of your face.  Like the headbands from sweatybands.  They are super cute but personally, they are a little pricey for me and they don’t necessarily absorb my sweat.  They do stay in place and keep my hair out of my face but I need something more absorbent.

Then there are the poly/cotton blend headbands like the ones made by prAna.  I love these headbands but again, the price ($10 – $12) just kills me because I use 4 or 5 headbands a week.  I just can’t justify plopping down $50 – $60 bucks for little pieces of material that go around your head.  So, being the crafty (read frugal – read cheap ass) person that I am, I decided to take the Do It Yourself approach.

Here’s the Sweaty Chick’s easy, inexpensive, don’t need to be an expert seamstress, DIY workout headband.  Warning!  If you are a perfectionist seamstress, this tutorial will drive you crazy.  I do a lot of eyeballing.

First, buy a third of a yard or so of POLY/COTTON blend fabric.  The cotton will give you some absorbency and the polyester will give you some stretch.  Make sure it is a blend…you will NOT want one or the other.  1/3 yard should give you around 6 headbands.  My fabric came to $3.33 (divided by 6 = $.55 a headband!)

polycottonfabricheadband

Second, figure out the length of your headband.  My head measures 22” around so I made the length of my fabric 19 inches.  So, figure out how big your head is and subtract a few inches.  The width should be around 7.5 inches.

headbandinstructions

Third, if your fabric has a right side and a wrong side (mine did not), sew the RIGHT sides together along the top.  Keep in mind the edges of this fabric have the tendency to roll so do the best you can to sew a 1/4” seam.  Don’t get frustrated if it’s not straight.  It doesn’t matter:

diyheadbandinstructionsa

After you sew the top, you will have a “tube” thing.  Turn that tube thing inside-out and you will have a nice clean seam:

diyheadbandinstructionsb

Next, take one end of the “tube”  and fold the raw edges in, like so:

diyheadbandinstructions2

Take the second, unfolded end, and slip it in the folded end, like so:

diyheadbandinstructions3

Once the unfolded end is tucked inside the folded end, fold in half, like so:

diyheadbandinstructions4

Sew, like so.  Make sure you get through all layers:

diyheadbandinstructions5

Then, you are done, sister!  Put on your awesome, inexpensive, DIY headband and sweat away:

diyheadbandfinishedside diyheadbandfinishedfront

Have fun making headbands.  It’s a great gift idea for a runner….the holidays are right around the corner :)

Trail running – A Beginner’s Observations

I recently signed up for an 8-week trail run training program.  I thought it would be pretty cool to get off the concrete, see some new sights, get some exercise and train for the Wild Moose Chase 10K trail run coming up on 9/29. (side note: I’m not crazy about the name of that run…I mean really, “Wild Moose Chase?’  Not enticing to a slow runner who is terrified of moose. )

Anyway, next Monday is Week 7 of the training program and, as a new trail runner, I have made some observations I’d like to share with anyone out there who might want to try out trail running.

OBSERVATION #1 – Trails are hilly.  I don’t know why I pictured trail running like this:                           photo source here

Green, lush, soft dirt for my feet to pitter patter on.  Hell no.  The trails I have been running on look like this:

trailrunning1 trailrunning2  hillytrails

If you can’t tell by the pictures, this is some seriously rocky,  hilly and steep terrain.  My feet weren’t quite pitter-pattering on this stuff…they were more like galumphing.

OBSERVATION #2 – Trails are dirty.  Sure, they’re made of dirt with a dash of basalt rock, but I didn’t know I would get so dirty.  I came to the conclusion that if a runner is  doing it right, at the end of their trail run, they will have a nice coating of dust around their ankles and legs.  Maybe even some mud!!   Nothing cuter that taking off your socks only to find a perfect dirt circle around your ankle.  Kind of like an ankle bracelet from nature.  And speaking of dirt, your shoes will get thrashed so don’t even think about trying to keep them looking clean.  Trail running will take your shoes to a whole new level of dirtiness and smelliness.

OBSERVATION #3 – Trail running is harder than I thought.  I assumed that since I have been running for the last couple of years, I would be in pretty spectacular shape (she wrote sarcastically).  Well, not so much.  Running on those trails, up those hills in 90+ degree heat was really hard.  I was huffing and puffing as if I had never run before.  My calves burned, my legs quivered and my sweating was profuse.  I was a hot mess…literally.

OBSERVATION #4 – Trail running can have some dangerous elements to it so running in a group setting is the way to go.  There is safety in numbers! We all have our little quirks and mine is being a runner with an over active imagination.  I can’t help it.  I could never run on trails alone because I would be worried about so many things.  I’d worry about a deer or moose chasing me.  I’d worry that a serial killer was lurking in the woods, stalking me until his moment of attack.  I’d worry that I might stumble on the remains of said serial killer’s other victims.  I’d worry about tripping, falling, breaking my leg and no one finding me for days or weeks.  So, with that said, I believe running in a group, or with a buddy, is a safe bet (safer, at least).

OBSERVATION #5 – Trail running often translates to trail walking.  As a beginner, I can tell you that I do a lot more walking/hiking than I do running.  I kind of feel like I’m misleading you when I say I’ve been doing some trail running.   Truth be told, when I go uphill, I walk.  When I go downhill, I walk (only when it’s steep and rocky).  I try not to get disappointed over the amount of walking I do because I’m new at this trail running business and I still have a lot to learn.

OBSERVATION #6 – Trail running can be hilly, dirty, hard and dangerous but let me tell you….trail running is also spectacular, rewarding, breathtaking and well worth the extra effort!  Last week I completed a 5 mile trail run/walk/hike and when I got to the top of Eagle Peak, I completely forgot the challenges I experienced getting there!  The panoramic view of the valley was amazing!

trailrunningEaglePeak

rantothetop

I made it to the top and was able enjoy the downhill run on the way back.  Most importantly, I was proud of my trail running/walking/hiking accomplishment.

Anyone out there an experienced trail runner?  I’ve got my big 10K trail run coming up and I’m a little nervous and could use your advice.

It’s Fun to Play ‘Butcher the Lyrics’

When I run, I prefer to tune out my ‘deep’ thoughts and tune in to my pretty amazing running playlist.  I plug those neon pink Yurbuds in my ears, crank up the music, and play a fun game I made up called “Butcher the Lyrics.”   It’s a game you play when you’re alone on a long run and need something to distract you to make your run go by super fast so you try to figure out the lyrics of each song.  Sure, my cool game may sound rather dull but for someone with hearing loss, deciphering lyrics is anything but boring.  It’s like solving a mystery or putting the pieces of a  puzzle together and I just LOVE puzzles….and mysteries!

Sometimes, when I think I have the lyrics all figured out, I Google the actual lyrics only to discover how deaf I really am.   Check out some of my recently butchered lyrics:

  • Cups by Anna Kendrick – There’s a verse in the chorus that I swear says:  WENDY’S LYRICS = “You’re gonna miss me by my walk.  You’re gonna miss me by my taco.  You’re gonna miss me when I’m gone.”  Now you know and I know she’s not talking about ‘missing her taco’.  REAL LYRICS =  “You’re gonna miss me by my walk.  You’re gonna miss me by my talk, oh.  You’re gonna miss me when I’m gone.”   Let’s face it, isn’t it more fun to sing “You’re gonna miss me by my taco?”
  • Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke  – I didn’t know “Blurred Lines” was the title of the song  for the longest time, which is why my interpretation of the lyrics is a little off.  WENDY’S LYRICS =  “I have these good times…..”  REAL LYRICS = “I hate these Blurred Lines….”
  • Brave by Sara Bareilles – Once again, not knowing the title of the song, I butchered the lyrics.  WENDY’S LYRICS = “Say what you wanna say, let the words fall out.  Honestly, I want to see you baby” (you have to stretch out the word “baby” so it sounds like “baybay”).  REAL LYRICS = “Say what you wanna say, let the words fall out.  Honestly, I want to see you be brave.”
  • Mirrors by Justin Timberlake – Ok so I couldn’t sing this song even with the lyrics in front of me because he sings so fast.  But the bridge is where I was thrown for a loop.   WENDY’S LYRICS = “Cause with your hand in my hand and a pocket full of soap, I can tell you there’s no place we could go.”  REAL LYRICS = “Cause with your hand in my hand and a pocket full of soul, I can tell you there’s no place we couldn’t go.”  Whatever JT.

I guess the one good thing about hearing loss is I have a new, fun game to play while running.   The bad thing is, when I do discover the REAL lyrics, I’m often disappointed and prefer my WENDY lyrics…they’re much more entertaining!  Wouldn’t YOU rather have a pocket full of soap than a pocket full of soul?!

Do you have any songs that you have butchered?  Did you ever find out the real lyrics?  Were you disappointed?

Adventures in Seattle – Part 1: Death By Chocolate. Not Really, but Almost

News Flash.  I’ve lived in WA state for over a decade and had never once visited Seattle.  Never ever.  When people learned that about me they would give me a sad and confused, yet judgmental look.  Yes, it bothered me but I’m no longer a pathetic loser.  My husband took me to Seattle for my anni-birth-a-vers-day.  Or birth-a-versary.  You decide what you want to call a combo 46th birthday + 20th wedding anniversary celebration.

This particular post is about the “Chocolate Indulgence Tour” by Savor Seattle Tours.  My husband loves chocolate and I love my husband (and chocolate) so I bit the chocolate bullet and booked the walking tour that would take us to 7 different chocolaty places to sample 17 different chocolaty delights.  The two hour, $50/per person tour was awesome but at the end of the tour, I thought I was going to die of chocolate overindulgence.   In fact, they should change the name to the “Chocolate Overindulgence Tour.”  The thought of consuming another piece of chocolate was unfathomable…at least for the remainder of the day.  The feeling went away within 24 hours.

Here’s a look at how chocolate almost killed me:

Stop 1:  Cupcake Royale.  Here we sampled a mini chocolate cupcake and a mini-scoop of fudgy chocolate ice cream.  We also learned a bit about the cacao bean and raw chocolate.

cupcakeroyale

Stop 2:  The Chocolate Box.  Super tasty chocolate samplings included:  Mexican chocolate – salt & pepper flavored.  This stuff made my mouth happy.  We tried some REAL white chocolate, not that waxy crap in the grocery store.  The flavor – Lemon and Pepper…weird but wonderful.  Then we sampled some chocolate with chili peppers and something strange…POP ROCKS!  That was a rockin’ firecracker surprise.  Then we had a sip of some liquid chocolate (aka:  hot chocolate) that made me want to cry it was so good.

tazamexicanchocolate    chuaochocolate    gustochocolate

Stop 3:  Kukuruza Gourmet Popcorn.   Guess what they put on their popcorn…Chocolate!  Go figure.  We sampled Rocky Road popcorn, caramel and chocolate covered popcorn and cinnamon bun popcorn.  Crazy, huh?

Stop 4:  Fran’s Chocolates.  This was a real upscale chocolate joint.  We sampled a solid dark chocolate candy heart, a chocolate truffle and a WTH amazing salted caramel.  Check out this cool photo they had hanging in their shop.  An artist created the original chocolate masterpiece.   The first picture is from across the room, then I got a little closer and the last picture is right in front of the photo.

frans3   frans1 frans2

Cool photo……But wait……..It gets even cooler………What?  It’s made of chocolate!

Stop 5:  The Confectional.  This was where I started to go downhill.  This was a cool place in Pike’s Place Market.  It was a “cheesecake gone wild” situation.  We sampled quadruple chocolate cheesecake, regular cheesecake and then topped it all off with more liquid chocolate with some chili powder sprinkled on top.

Stop 6:  Perennial Tea Room.  This was a non-chocolate joint.  Thank you Lord!  We sat and had a spot of tea and relaxed before heading to our final chocolate destination.

Stop 7:  Dahlia Bakery.  I think I was in a pre-chocolate coma state but I managed to keep eating.  We tried a crazy chocolate cookie thing and then a sugar-coated, light and fluffy donut-like thing.  I don’t recall the details…mind was starting to blackout.

Good news…I didn’t actually die.  Bad news…I don’t think I can type the word chocolate one more time so I am going to close by saying…if I was forced to die from overindulgence, I would want it to be death by….you know what.

p.s. Guess how many times I typed the “C” word in this post?

I Love Presents

Don’t you just love getting presents?  I do.  I signed up for subscription to StrideBox so that I could get a present in the mail every month.  It’s a present from me to me and for $15 a month, I’m all for it.

Stridebox is a company geared toward runners and each month they send you a box with various products geared toward running and fitness.  For those who have never heard of it, I’ll give you a run down of what happens when you get your StrideBox in the mail:

  • First, you go to the mailbox.   When you see your StrideBox box, you do a happy dance.

stridebox box

  • Second, you carefully open the box.

openstridebox

  • Third, you excitedly, but carefully, remove contents from the box and arrange them so they look pretty enough to photograph.

strideboxstuff

  • Fourth, you take everything out, examine it, read about it, add up the value of the StrideBox contents to see if your $15 was worth it, figure out what looks tasty and what looks not so tasty, then decide if you are going to share the energy foods with your spouse who is training for a century bike race.  Okay, maybe that last one is just for me but either way, you can decide if you are going to share with anyone or not.

strideboxgoodies

  • Fifth, start sampling the goods and take notes on items you would purchase in the future.

July’s box was pretty cool and included:

  • A water bottle and samples of 6 different hydration drinks.
  • Sample of magic sports tape.  I’m totally intrigued about the magic part.
  • A full size PR Bar energy bar – apple pie style.
  • An energy gel.
  • An energy bar by Bearded Brothers.  Fabulous Ginger Peach…sounds tasty.

The subscription has been fun so far and if I get tired of it or can’t afford it, I can stop at any time.

I love presents which is awesome because July is my birthday month!  Yessssssss!

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