Thursday, April 26, 2012

Oh Shin

My silly Spring Half Marathon is 10 days away.  Woohoo!!

I've done half a dozen 10+ milers so I'm more than ready.  I was thinking that this might be the year that I  attempt a full Marathon.  Yup, with the cross training, the yoga, the conservative mileage increase, I am the epitome of safe and sane training.

I've followed the rules.  I even put away the scale this year to make sure I was getting enough to eat no matter what that number says.

Sure would seem that I'm super ready and just doing the taper thing. Yawn....

Except that I am now INJURED!!!


Okay, to be fair, my shins have hurt after a run quite a while.  They start out tight and sore, and loosen up as I go along, only to hurt afterward.  I do a little self massage and they feel better by the next run.  I got new shoes and that helped a lot.  In the last month I've been on a mission to push the limits and run faster.  On Monday, I ran the very fastest 5 miler that I ever have.  By quite a bit. My shins hurt a little afterward, but I figured as much.

You know, speed kills.

Yesterday it was hot - like 90 degrees - and windy - like 20mph.  I had to fit my run in at about 1pm so I just took it easy, took some water with me and got a 3 mile run in.  I was so hot and fatigued when I came back that the pain in my shins was even more intense.  In fact, for the first time, they had hurt all through my run.  Yeah, I thought I should stop about mile 2, but if you participate in endurance sports, you know that pushing through the pain is what it's all about.

I iced.  I ibuprofened.  I BioFreezed.  I felt better.

And then, I heard from my guts (aka The Lord Almighty).

This morning, though I wasn't in any pain (yet), I felt that I shouldn't run anymore until the Half on May 6th.  This goes entirely against everything that I I know it's the right decision.  And...I also know that it's not "me" talking.  My Father is so smart.

I'm glad He still talks to me after everything I've done.

Anyhow.  That's my story.  I've been doing a therapeutic ibuprofen dose (800mg/6hrs) and icing.  I also told my Spectacular Husband that I was in pain and what the plan was...keeps me honest about my plan.  I'm sorta bummed, but pretty sure I have a nice and easy 13.1 miles in me.  I might not get the 2:20:00 time that I want, but hey - that's life.  No crying allowed.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Hugs & Kisses & Sniffies

...and then sometimes I smell them...
Our youngest daughter has sort of a bizzarre bedtime ritual.

It goes about the same as every kid's in that we - brush teeth, read a story, and get the requisite textiles all snuggled in.  By the way, thank you Lord for drawing my attention right away to a lost blanket this evening.  I owe ya one...billion.

But Susan (age nearly 5) has invented another ritual that she calls: Hugs and Kisses and Sniffies.

Yes, not only are my hugs and kisses in high demand at bed time, but so is my aroma.  And as flattering as this may be, it super cracks me UP!

She likes to especially smell my shirt right on the collar.  I suppose it retains my perfume the best...but with taking care of infants all day, I would wager there may be some "other" smells...

It's so indicative of the way a child thinks, though.  She give me a quick hug, a little kiss and then pulls me as close as possible and inhales so deeply that I'm glad I don't have long hair!  Sometimes I get critiqued or admonished...mostly if I've been to the pool that afternoon...if I don't smell the same.  The little squirt can tell if I used my Bath and Body Works spray or my Armani Perfume!

It got me to thinking about the way I look at my beautiful life.  I usually admire it quickly and quietly but rarely take time to really inhale it.  I, too, am a creature of the olfactory sense.  During pregnancy there were certain smells that I just couldn't live with as I was way to sensitive at that time.  I like my clothes to smell a certain way, like a certain kind of dish soap, use certain herbs in cooking and baking that please me greatly.

So - what does my life smell like?

Well, I suppose in a literal sense it smells like diapers, soap, cereal and cheese.  It smells like dryer sheets, and hand sanitizer and toothpaste.  But even better, it smells like rosy cheeks from the sun, well loved blankets and mud from a pie made in the back yard.

It smells like tears and laughter and squealing and running.  It smells like discovery and pain and peace.  And even when my life kind of stinks, it is still worthy of a good long sniff.

That's what I learned from my (super duper nearly) 5 year old today.

Monday, April 23, 2012

It's Okay I Ran Today

I'm such a weirdo.

I am totally flattered that my husband loves my hair so much that he likened me to Tasha Yar from Next Gen.  I. Am. A. Nerd.  Maybe it was just because I was just out of the shower and rocking the slicked back look.  Whatever.  Liken me to a movie star - you bet!

Lt. Tasha Yar
I am sitting here feeling a little bad tonight.

I was going to go to a concert tomorrow night with a big group of ladies but bailed...  I just can't squeeze one more non-essential thing in to my schedule.  I want to.  Lord knows that I do.  I just continue to over-commit and break dinner plans and social outings.

But, a concert in another city on a Tuesday night puts me in bad shape in several ways.  

I would miss a swim workout (and I need those the most).

I would likely be out way to late - seriously, I turn into a pumpkin at 10pm - which would throw me into a tailspin because...

Wednesday is the day that I have the most babysitting kids that come the earliest and I have AWANA club at church right after work until 8pm.  

You can see why I might have been trying to stretch myself to thin with this concert thing!  And I'm only losing $15.  And the opportunity to connect with other Christian ladies.  Boo.

But, it's okay.  I ran today.

And I ran pretty fast (for me).  I've been considering my "suffering" level with my running.  I think that I need to do a little more of that.  Sounds fun, doesn't it?  Each time I decide I'm going to push the limit, the limit goes a little higher.  Pretty exciting, really!

So, to sum up...I am a huge dork, I have no life, and I love training more than socializing.  Well, at least things are normal around here!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

How to Make Mac N' Cheese Better

If you have a pulse, chances are that you like Macaroni and Cheese.  And, if you have been paying attention to nutrition news, you also know that you need more vegetables in your diet.

Enter - Sweet Potato Chile Mac.

This recipe was met with mixed reviews.  My two older children "liked it," while my two younger ones wouldn't even touch it.  There are days like that with the pre-school it's hard telling.  David and I thought it was pretty good!

Tips:  Bake your sweet potatoes the night before while you are cleaning up from dinner.  I actually did mine 2 nights before.  Just wash them and poke them with a fork, wrap them in foil and bake them at 425 for an hour or so.  Put on an oven mitt and squeeze them a little - when they're soft, they're done.

I doubled this recipe and cooked in two pans.  It must have been more than OK, because it was gone in 2 meals. :)

Sweet Potato Chile Mac (adapted from Cooking Light Magazine March 2012)

3 med sweet potatoes (about 2lbs)
1c. skim milk
1T chipotle chile in adobo sauce chopped
1/2tsp salt
1/4tsp pepper
3oz shredded Monterey Jack cheese
8oz uncoooked macaroni or penne pasta

 Peel and mash sweet potatoes (after cooking as indicated above).  Meanwhile, cook pasta accordning to package directions.

Stir in milk to mashed sweet potatoes.  Add next ingredients - chilies through cheese and stir to combine.  Drain pasta and add to the sweet potato mixture.  Spoon in to a greased 9x13 baking dish, bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

I sprinkled with bread crumbs and parsley to serve.

I used cheddar cheese in this dish, but I think the Monterey Jack would be even better.  Such a great way to get your Vitamin A, Vitamin C and fiber! Enjoy!!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A Day in the Life

Periodically, I like to snap embarasing pictures of my day and call it "A Day in the Life."  So, here's a photo journal of my life, last Friday.  Bask in the knowledge that my train wreck is on display, while yours is still somewhat private. Ha!!

David leaves for work about 5:30am...and shortly after he left the Blankie Parade marched in to our room.  The SUN wasn't even up yet!!  I am NOT a morning person, so I ushered them into our bed and laid there for the next 30 minutes thinking about how stupid THAT was.

Little ones in my bed...Cameron is sacked - Sue is NOT.
Now, I'm a person that will get up at 4:30am for a run or a ride or some time in the pool...but having my work day start THREE HOURS early made me feel like this:

I'm sexy, and I know it.
 I love coffee.  I don't remember two thirds of the times I've made it...and probably half of the first few sips are taken while I'm still asleep.

Yes, I keep a stack of Runner's World and Triathlete magazines by my bed side.
 The tiny Hitler in my house started with the demands bright and early.  By 7am, he was adamant that I find his "Tri-suit."  Now, this is really a swimming suit that we bought on our vacation - but it looks like Mama's tri-suit, so that's what it is.  I had to dig through some drawers to find it, but I managed to appease him before I found a horse's head in my bed.

You think I'm funny?  Like a CLOWN??  I'll show you funny.
 Next up on the "Torture Similar to Hot Sauce in Your Underwear" was my beautiful oldest daughter doing her Math.  It's one subject that will make her cry.  And make me swear.  Yeah, I'm still sick.

My little lefty doing her math.  <3
 I have recently decided to prepare double recipes of dinner at lunch time.  I've done this before - and it works super duper swell for a while.  So we will go with it while we can.  This creation - Cheesy Pasta Bake was a big hit.

You know that terrible feeling when your nearly-five-year-old decides that she doesn't need to take a nap anymore?  Yeah, and then the next 3 months when you fight with her every day and wind up letting her get up after she finally disturbed the other 4 sleeping kids....and, and, and, when you finally let her watch endless repeats of Wonder Pets on Netflix just so you can fling your head back on the couch in a sitting position and fall in to a coma like slumber until your own snoring wakes you??  No?  Just me then.
This is her favorite shirt.  It used to be white.
 And, if you live here, under The Morton Big Top, there will be bike repairs in your living room.  And the TV (that has no cable or anything really on it anyway) will always be on, showing the current weather and wind speed.  Oh, Lincoln Electric System, we love to pay you for NOTHING.

Our son's soon to be "old bike."  He just saved enough for the new fancy one!

After the bike repairs, we all went to Grand Island for Mom and Dad to do a little Fun Run.  We had a great time, hauled hiney home and had some tornado excitement during the night.

I'm sure my life is much like everyone else's...I'm just stupid enough to take pictures.

Does your kid have a favorite shirt you wish you could burn?

Do you look as pretty as me in the morning?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Hill Work, Friends, and a Recipe

I went out and slayed a beast yesterday.

It's odd - but I love running hills.  Here in Nebraska, we DO have hills...but you have to go and look for them.  You won't find them on the bike trail network that runs through our city - those were built on old train track routes and are annoyingly flat.

My recommendation is to find a big overpass with a pedestrian path and run up, run back down, turn around and repeat.  My back was really hating me last night - but I think it had less to do with the hill repeats and more to do with the sitting on my behind and visiting for hours directly following.

I was pretty excited to have dinner with someone that I've known longer than my husband! It's nice to chat with someone that knows the "back story" to everything you've done in the last 10 years. :)  Yes, she still hangs out with me,
Heaven only knows why.

And knowing that I take pictures of everything and post it, mercilessly, on my blog for the world to see, she STILL posed for a few photos.  Now THATS a good friend, folks!

We both left children behind when we went out last night.  Yes, we are just that mean.  It's been really nice to keep up a regular schedule of eating together once a month - I don't even have that with my husband!  Hmm...point to ponder.

I left my family with a new Meatloaf recipe that I took from Cooking Light Magazine. It was very similar to my own, with a few more spices.  The recipe calls for cubed cheddar cheese - but David said he couldn't taste it - it was just an added splash of color.  Also, I think that any commercial breadcrumb would do rather than buying french bread, cutting it up and baking it.

I also doubled this recipe and baked it in a 9x13 pan. Enough to feed a family of 6 with leftovers for hubby to take to work the next day.  I served this with steamed Brussels Sprouts.

All-American Meat Loaf (adapted from Cooking Light Magazine March 2012)

1 1/2oz French bread, torn into peices
1/2c ketchup, divided
1c chopped onion
5T chopped parsley, divided
1/4 buttermilk
1T minced Garlic
1T Dijon mustard
1/2t black pepper
1/4t salt
2oz sharp cheddar cheese, diced
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1lb ground beef

Preheat oven to 350.  Place bread in food processer, pulse until coarse crumbs measure 1c.  Bake at 350 for 6 minutes or til lightly toasted.

Combine breadcrumbs, 1/4c ketchup, onion 3T parsley and remaining ingredients; gently mix just until combined.

Transfer to loaf pan sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.  Brush top with remaining 1/4c ketchup and bake additional 25 minutes or until temp registers 160.  Let stand 10 minutes before slicing.  Sprinkle with remaining parsley for garnish.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Race for GRACE

It's spring.
It's the weekend!
It's time for another race report!!
Today, hubby and I did the 2nd Annual Race for GRACE.

This is a fundraiser for a wonderful cause.  The Grand Island Area Cancer Endowment was established to assist local cancer patients, survivors and their families.  What better reason to pay that registration fee??

The weather started out about 50 degrees, overcast, and a little windy.  Not to shabby for a spring 10K.  David and I were blessed to meet some friends from DailyMile face to face, and got a few pics of the day.
David and I pre-race.  He slouches, I stretch up = almost even height!
 I was excited to meet Amanda from Diary of a Semi-Health Nut.  She is a super blogger of all things of health interests, a newish runner - and quite possibly my new best friend.  Okay - I liked her in the real because she is exactly one half inch *shorter* than me - and that's a first in a long time!  Maybe she's just posing in this photo a little funny...anyway...there does exist people shorter than me that AREN'T children!!
Myself, and Amanda the Semi-Health Nut!
I have to mention the fantasitc SWAG bag for this race.  I'm tellin' ya - I've never gotten SO much stuff from a race - much less a small town race!!
Good thing they included a toothbrush after all those snacks!
David and I both agreed that we weren't "racing" this race.  Our Half Marathon is 3 weeks out, and this is NOT the time to see how fast we can go and hurt ourselves!  I have a very specific goal for the Lincoln Half Marathon, and have worked very hard to avoid injury and increase my speed.  

Amanda ran with us, which was really nice as I don't normally train with anyone!  We chatted and thanked volunteers while we weaved our way around to a comfortable spot.  David and I fueled at mile 3 - not totally essential - but since it was first thing with an empty stomach and no coffee, the little dose of 100cal and 10mg of caffeine was quite friendly. :)

In the last mile, I suggested we really bust it out for a good finish.  Amanda heard sprint, and boy did she sprint!  She pushed me to an 8:53 pace over that last mile.  Now, I run my "quick" 4 mile runs at about a 9:50 this pace was pretty quick for me - and the last mile of 10k to boot!

When I related this story - another runner casually mentioned that that pace was "in there" somewhere.  INDEED.  I usually consider my life to be one without limits - but this exchange brought to light my previous unwillingness to push to pain.

Learning experience - CHECK!
David finishes with a smile!
 We came in around an hour and five minutes.  Great little run to benefit a super cause.  My dad died of lung cancer in 1998 - and if he could see me (a former smoker) run like I do today - I know he would be proud.  Must remember that he WILL be there when I get to Glory!  Oh the saving grace of our Lord Jesus!  HOORAY!
Sporting my 2012 R4G Shirt!
I have to say - I wasn't super excited about the photos taken of myself today.  I guess I tend to *feel* like Mirinda Carfrae when I run...but I guess I still look like Andrea Morton.  Even at age 36, I still have these issues.  BUT - though I may look a little, um - curvy, I am healthy and strong.  I am happy and this was a great day!

I hope you all had a great Saturday as well!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Cheesy Pasta Bake

I decided to plan my meals for the week.

What?  You don't do extensive meal planning around the sale ads, Andrea?


I usually don't.  I just buy what's on sale, some staples, and throw it together with the freezer cow or canned or dried beans as a base.

As you can imagine, this is not a very sustainable way to cook for a family of 6 + daycare kids.  After so many lunches and suppers of pasta/rice/beans + sauce with a vggie on the side, even Mom is ready to run for the Chinese place up the street.

So, I planned 7 dinners this week that I plan to make a large amount of in the hopes of not having to cook lunch every day as well.  Five of these came from Cooking Light Magazine.  I always have to adapt recipes to fit family/finance/time constraints - so I will try to relate those points in the hopes of helping you do the same.

Today's recipe got a 100% positive rating from the family!

Cheesy Pasta Bake (adapted from Cooking Light Magazine March 2012)

2 x 12oz boxes Smart Taste Penne Pasta
16oz ground Turkey Breast
Cooking Spray
2 TBSP Olive Oil
1 large Onion - diced
3 tsp jarred minced Garlic
1c. vegetable stock (recipe called for red wine)
1.5 cans Hunt's Traditional Pasta Sauce
1/2c chopped fresh Basil
3c. shredded Mozzarella
3oz shredded Parmesan

Preheat oven to 350.

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Meanwhile, add oil, garlic, onion, and meat in a frying pan, cook until onions are clear and meat is no longer pink.  Add vegetable stock (or wine) and cook until the sauce reduces (or about 7 minutes).

Drain pasta and return to pan.  Add the basil, sauce, and meat mixture.  Combine.

Divide mixture between two 9x13 pans sprayed with cooking spray.  Top evenly with the cheeses.  Bake uncovered for 20 - 25 minutes or until the cheese is browned.  Makes 12 servings.

You could certainly use dried basil if you so desire - the basil was probably the most expensive item here.  Don't use 1/2c of dried basil - 1TBSP will do.  This recipe breaks down to about $1 per serving.  Yep, that's right, ONE DOLLAR.

Serve a veggie or big honkin' salad on the side.  Garlic bread...oh, yeah!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Catch Up

Since it seems like all I do lately is work and train, I haven't blogged because - who wants to read about that?

Then I remembered, that if you actually read this blog you either a.) know me personally and actually care about what's going on in my life or b.) are a runner or triathlete that is as nerdy as I am about training/gear/racing/etc.

I love to write, but get caught up in what is "blogworthy."  I forget that I started this blogging thing in 2007 as a way to record all the beautiful things in life. :)

So, here are some pictures of what I've been doing lately:

Afternoon workouts haven't been as bad as I thought they would be. David's schedule switched to super early morning, so I can't hit the road or pool at 5am.  Oh. Darn.  :D   I've actually been running consistently better times in the afternoons.  Hmm.

Here's my Easter Egg outfit in honor of spring.  I think it's my new Brooks that are making me faster!  Topped off with a purple least cars can see me when I'm running!

After a super-duper haircut about 5 weeks ago - it's clear that it's getting to long again.  I have to spend actual time "doing" it when it grows out a little.  On this day, I thought I looked like The Fonz here:

Overall, I've been spending a heck of a lot of time doing what I was born to do.  Taking care of children.  Life doesn't get much better than living out your calling each day.  I have a hard time fitting in things that are optional, such as blogging (reading and writing) and reading my magazines.  I long ago gave up chat forums, though I love them!

Why does my leg look so huge compared to my head?
Hubby and I went on a 20+ mile bike ride on Monday, thanks to our super Teen son.  The weather was a little windy - but hey - it's Nebraska so what do you expect.  Great resistance training, and great time together.

Hubby and I are racing again this weekend.  We will be doing the 2nd Annual Race for GRACE in Grand Island, Ne.  I'm excited to meet my friend Amanda from over at Diary of a Semi Health Nut!  She will be doing the race as well - photos to come.

That's all for now - it's taken me forever to write this much.

As soon as Apple comes out with that Ap that will translate my thoughts to text, I will blog on a more regular basis.  Yay!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

State Farm Run

Race report!!

Hubs and I ready for ten miles!
I raced the State Farm 10 mile yesterday.  I was pretty happy to have made it to the start line.  This was the 3rd time I'd registered for this race, but only the 1st time I'd been able to run.  The first time I was injured to the point where I couldn't run at all.  Last year, I was injured and went ahead and ran the 5k instead of the 10 mile. 

From the photo, you can see that it started out overcast.  It was about 60 degrees at 9am.  This race is sort of a late start, as most years, it's been snowy or cold and rainy.  We sure could have used some cool weather yesterday.

We were chatting with several people when we should have been lining up.  Next thing I know, they raise the flag and we take our hats off for the Star Spangled Banner.  We happened to be towards the front, and working our way to the back was out of the question.  

When the gun went off, I did my best to settle in to my pace.  I wanted to go out at a 10:50 - 11:00/mi pace to conserve and run negative splits.  I was too far to the front for that, and I ended up in the low 9's for the first mile trying not to get run over.

I did manage to slow down, but was feeling good and didn't take my 45-60sec walk breaks every mile.  This strategy is one that I use in training for any run over 10k.  It helps to prevent injury and has afforded me faster times.  Sounds strange - but I run faster after a little walk break.

Basking in the glow of a PR
The sun came out and the temps rose after the halfway mark.  I was fortunate to listen to my husband and brought my hydration belt.  The aid stations were at really inconvenient places - so while looking at the map, we agreed that it was better to be safe than sorry.  Water at mile 1, 4, 7 and 9 on a 10 mile course was kinda "off."

Though I slowed considerably in the last 3 miles - I did finish with a 10 mile PR.  My legs were really much so that I was a little confused. ???  I just did 9 miles the week before, and have done 10, 11, and 12 at least once already this year.  Was it the lack of walk breaks that made such a huge difference?

Either way - new PR.  10 miles in 1:48:44.  That's a 10:38 pace.  I'm well set up for a 2:20 half marathon in May.  Let's hope that it's not 70 degrees!

Race photos are always so - um - good.  They were snapping these photos about a half mile from the finish line.  I'm so grateful that I saw the dude and smiled!  Note to self - black top and neon shorts makes for a "does this make my butt look big" sort of outfit.  Okay for training, but maybe not on race day!