Wednesday, February 27, 2013

So Done with Winter

I've recently sworn back on to a weight lifting routine.  Monday I spent nap time lunging, squatting, and pushing up in the basement.  I guess I thought that after 3 months off, I should just do the same routine with the same weights as when I left off.  Ouch.  What better thing to do then, on Tuesday, but run speed intervals and get some more time on my bike.  Dead legs.  Lots of whining.  Pain.  Ibuprofen.

Riding the bike trainer, running on the treadmill and following the black line at the bottom of the pool is making me psychotic.  Okay - the black line is my friend because fish are NOT.  At the beginning of Indoor Training Season, I always say that I don't mind it, but by now - I'm whining like everyone else.

I am now half way through training for my first Marathon.  Saturday I get to run the longest distance I ever have.  Fourteen miles.  I'm ready and excited, but not sure if I will be able to do this outdoors. :(  BIG SAD FACE.  I did twelve miles on the treadmill and it wasn't unbearable, but not really something I care to repeat.  The weather is supposed to be a high of 35 that day, and if the wind stays reasonable, I'm hoping to run outdoors.  Which trails are cleared of ice and snow...I'm not sure.  I may end up running the same 5 miles of trail over...and over...and over almost a third time.

I hope I survive.  I hope I'm not to slow.  I hope I don't have to stop to often to use the restroom.  I hope I can do it outside.  I hope I don't get hurt.  I hope I really can run a Marathon!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Bike Fitness

I did my first brick workout of the season, yesterday.  I haven't given my bike much attention this winter - I dislike riding on the bike trainer more so than I dislike the treadmill. I've logged only half a dozen rides since Thanksgiving (shame).  Losing fitness of any kind is a shame - but the bike leg is the longest one in tri.  I will try not to let that happen again!

Yesterday's ride wasn't as disastrous as Sunday's cycling slog-fest, but getting OFF the bike and on to the treadmill was as much fun as it was the first time I ever tried it.  I had only had my usual green smoothie breakfast about an hour prior - but my stomach totally rejected this activity.  I know from experience that the stomach calms down after a bit, so I "gutted" it out for a couple of miles.  Total workout time was just under an hour, so not a long brick - but solid training and THAT'S what really matters.

Today, we are having our second snow day in a row!  The kids are home from school and I don't have my daycare kiddos.  I actually end up with more children this way - but at least it's acceptable for me to skip hair and makeup and let the house look messy.  Our roads are actually pretty good - so I might end up at Wal-Mart doing the weekly shopping.  Our two older kids need shoes really badly, so it will likely be a trip to shopping Hades with all four of them.

I might need to be medicated.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

My Vegetable Lasagna

I created a delicious vegetarian lasagna tonight that I just can't wait to share with you!  I started out with a recipe that I found in my folder and had purchased ingredients for.  It had ground beef in it, which I already anticipated substituting or just omitting, but then I had some eggplant that needed to be used...and zucchini looked good...had a little Provolone sitting around...  You get the idea.What I ended up with was wonderful - and even good enough that our 10 and 14 year olds liked it.  Our 3 and 5 year olds didn't appreciate it quite as much.
Here's a play-by-play...scroll to the bottom if you just want the ingredients without the how-to.

I began by cooking 9 lasagna noodles according to package directions.  While that was going, I sliced a large eggplant into quarter inch slices.  Eggplant is very spongy and watery, so I sprinkled it with large grain salt and put it in a colladar over a plate to draw some of the moisture out.

After draining the pasta (slightly undercook it when adding it to a casserole), I shredded up two large zucchini and began to fry it over med-high heat with a tablespoon of coconut oil.  As that softened, I added two cans of diced tomatoes with basil and onion.

In another pan, I threw in a bit of butter with a large diced onion and some cloves of chopped garlic (much as you like) with about 2 cups of cooked black beans.  I had some on hand from earlier in the week when I cooked up a big batch to use in chili.  As the onions soften and the beans heat, I tossed in a bunch of fresh basil.  I totally need to start growing that stuff - it's pricey in the grocery. 

With all that heat going on - I took a bowl and whisked up 2 large eggs.  Gently stired in two cups of lowfat cottage cheese, a quarter cup of parmesean cheese and a little salt and pepper.  This really worked well for the "cheesy" layer of the lasagna and nobody missed the layers of cheese in between.

I put a bit of the zucchini/tomato mixture in the bottom of the 9x13 pan and put on three of the noodles.  The layers went noodles, tomato/zucchini mix, sliced eggplant, bean mix, cottage cheese, repeat.  For the third layer I did noodles, then tomato/zucchini and sprinkled with 1/2c shredded Provolone cheese and 1/4c parm.  Bake it uncovered (lots of moisture in there) for about 40 minutes at 350.  Let it sit for 10 minutes before cutting.

Here's the recipe in proper format for your convenience.  Please try it and tell me what you think!

Andrea's Vegetable Lasagna
9 lasagna noodles, cooked
1 large eggplant - sliced into 1/4' slices
1tsp large grain salt
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1tsp butter
1/4c. fresh basil, chopped
2c cooked black beans
1T coconut oil
2 large zucchini, shredded
2 cans Italian style diced tomatoes
2 eggs, beaten
2c lowfat cottage cheese
1/4c parmesan cheese
salt & pepper to taste
4oz Provolone, shredded
1/4c parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to package instructions.  Meanwhile, slice eggplant and sprinkle with salt.  Add onion and garlic to pan with butter and cook until softened.  Add black beans and heat through.  Add basil at the end just to wilt.

Shred zucchini and cook over medium-high heat in coconut oil.  When somewhat reduced, add the cans of tomatoes and boil for 5 minutes.  During this time, combine eggs and cheeses with salt and pepper.

How to layer:

1/2 cup tomato/zucchini sauce
3 lasagna noodles
1/3 of remaining tomato/zucchini sauce
1/2 black beans
1/2 cottage cheese mixture
Last 3 noodles
Remainder of sauce
Provolone Cheese

Bake at 350 for about 40 minutes.  Let sit for 10 minutes before slicing.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Worth of It All

So far, 2013 has been a year of discovery already.  I have been fortunate to experience the pain of growing into a few important principles.  I'm sure there's more to come - but here's what I've learned in the first two months of this year.
1.  That people WANT to help.
I can't even list the many people in the last couple of months that have rushed to my aide.  Most of them don't really want to be recognized, anyhow.  Such humility is rare.  I've learned to practice a little humility myself.  Sometimes accepting help is a hard thing to do.  From anonymous packages, to gift cards, to loaner vehicles and quite literally the kitchen sink...all things that have been needed have been supplied.  I always freak out a little and doubt, but I forget how big my God is AND how loving His people are.

2.  That I don't have to do it ALL.
Sending the kids to public school and ending home schooling was such a hard thing to do.  I felt somewhat excommunicated from The Club and was so hard on myself as to why I "gave up."  Interestingly, I feel less concerned with what they are being taught at school than I am with folks thinking I'm a quitter.  Oh, how I tend to focus on me, me, me.  Sickening, really.  I'm still pretty pained about it - haven't even put the books away yet.

This school year has given me some much needed room to breathe. I'm confident that we can educate our children in Biblical principles at home and with the help or our church body.  They can go to school and learn to relate with other people that have differing opinions and beliefs, and be better for it.  It takes a more intentional effort to raise your kids as Christ Followers when you let them out in the fallen world.  Makes us better Christians, to.

3.  That I can't, and never will be able to, change others if they don't want to.
Several years ago, I realized that my lifestyle was extremely unhealthy.  I smoked cigarettes, drank to much and was 80+ pounds over weight.  I had started seeing a therapist in the after-math of an abusive relationship and light was shed all over things.  I learned that I was my biggest problem.  Me.

Through the years I've put the pounds back on and taken them off once.  I haven't ever touched a cigarette again, and try to focus on experimenting with healthier and more nutritious foods.  I've tried to educate myself on nutrition (not fads or trends) and hope to pass good eating habits on to our four children.

I thought that I could change people through my discoveries.  I have gotten so frustrated and so sad that I can't seem to do this.  I hate that I feel that no matter what I do, I can't do anything.  Somewhere along the line, I actually decided that punishing myself by denying myself anything that could be deemed unhealthy like coffee, chocolate, or cheese would effectually atone for my loved ones poor nutrition habits.  Looking back, it seems insane.  It didn't work.  I wasn't happy, and they weren't any healthier.  I had to stop that earlier this month.

Which brings me to the 4th thing I've learned in 2013 -

If I want to be happy, I have to BE HAPPY.

There's a difference between happiness and joy.  I have joy.  Deep down in my heart.  Where?  Down in my heart to stay.  I am joyful and free.  At peace and content.  Joy is a condition, a constant state of being brought about by the knowledge that you are meant for what you are.

But happiness is different.  It's the spring in your step, the desire to smile for no reason, or hum a tune stuck in your head.  I've been so busy trying to take on all the problems of the world and the work of five people that I've skipped over happy.  I thought that when I was finished conquering the world, happy would just occur.  It didn't.  I have to go get it.  And it doesn't have anything to do with anyone else.

Some of this may seem like a bit of a "duh" to those that have been there.  I'm not ashamed of my learning curve, no matter how wide the arch.  I am happy that I've realized these things!  It's rare to see light as we stumble through life.  I guess all the interesting things that have gone around lately have served their purpose, after all.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Sunday No Church - Again

Oh my goodness, I got owned this morning.  By my bike.  

I used to ride every Sunday morning in addition to a few times per week.  Once upon a time, in a land far far away...  But due to illness, and the fact that I signed up for my first Marathon on May 5th...I've had to run when I can and rest the remainder of the time. 

I could NOT believe how difficult 30 minutes on the trainer was.  My handy dandy Garmin Speed and Cadence Sensor ($30 and hooks into my phone!) just HAD to be wrong.  I was only averaging 13mph and had sweat dripping ALL OVER MY BIKE.  

After being made a fool of by my Trek, we drove to GI to get my Mom's van back to her. What a gal - loaned us her beautiful red van for over a month until we could afford to fix ours.  Momma supports us in not going into debt.  "Aint nobody got time for that."  Love my sweet Momma.  She drove sub-standard while we were riding luxury.  Even at my age, my Mom takes care of me.  

Cameron had to wear his SpiderMan suit under this coat.  With cowboy boots, of course.

Going to my Mom's was nice.  We brought the casserole of blood from last night and Mom made jello salad for the kids.  The kids were really good in the car and I didn't once feel like I needed to be sedated:

I had a hard time controlling my eating this weekend.  Yesterday spiraled into disaster. I ate for spite, for stress, for no reason at all.  When  my tummy was full - I ate still.  Wish I wasn't so angry, still.  I guess I think that if I sweat enough, it will somehow even out.  Meh.  Will keep trying.  Just wreckage being cleared.  Takes time.
Anywho - sorry for the heavy.

It's been a long weekend.  A long couple of months.  A long life.  Not sleeping real great and feeling far to much.  

The girlies are off school tomorrow so that means it's time to bake something while listening to Journey!  :)  I'll keep yo posted...

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Saturday Something Else

Today I basked in the glow of my training comfort zone.  I ran 12 miles in the wee morning hours (on the treadmill, where's my Bucky Beaver Badge?) and next week is a low mileage week where my long run will be six.  In two weeks, my long run will be 14 miles.  My longest run *ever* is 13.1 miles.  I'm scared, now.  My only hope is that I can do the remainder of the long ones out doors.

Distance running always surprises me.  Your body is so amazingly resilient and adapts "on the run."  My left hip played games for a couple of miles and then stopped.  My left knee that whined and fussed last week didn't say a word.  I stopped to change the movie that was playing after I had run about 8 miles.  I wasn't stopped more than 90 seconds.  In that time, my feet had a strange reaction and my first few steps back on the treadmill felt like they were ballooned to double!  It was disturbing and painful for about a mile - and then I was okay.  So weird!

I was tired by the end but the distance wasn't unreasonable for me. I ran slowly and walked for one minute at the beginning of each mile. I tried not to think about the fact that my current goal distance is more that double of what I did today.  No reason to worry - I will be ready.  I hope.

My poor, sweet husband is having a slight delay in his spring training.

WARNING:  This is a link to a picture of his stitches.  Ouchie Foot Pic Here

After a very early morning long run, grocery shopping, and then cheering our 3rd - 6th graders on at Bible Quiz all afternoon, David took pity on me and whipped up a casserole for our hungry family while I put my feet up.  He went to get the casserole dish out and a glass pie plate fell out and hurt him.

I looked out to the kitchen just in time to see a terrible amount of blood.  Eight stitches later, we managed to come home and un-scare the kids and un-murder scene the kitchen.

Good grief.  If he was jealous about all the medical attention I've been getting lately, this was SO not the way to deal with his feelings.


Another week, another medical visit!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Things That I Love

Happy Valentines Day!  Here's a list of things that I no particular order. :)
Coffee with coconut oil.

Best show, ever.

Though I try not to - I do loooove cheese.

Which is a good thing I love running.

Kids - any and all.  Yours, mine, theirs, short or tall.

Need to move to a warmer climate.
Dark chocolate...on top of...


And my David.  Sweet, handsome, smart and funny.  I married UP!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Laughing Kids, Generosity & Swollen Nodes

Oh - and Jalapeno Cheetos.   But I digress...

Tonight at AWANA it struck me what a joy it is to hear a child laugh.  After a day of taking care of other people's kids, it's sometimes difficult to *want* to go and do it some more at church.  I'm always glad that I do - 100% of the time.  I walked in to Council Time and 3rd grade Sarah patted the seat next to her "Sit here, Miss Andrea!" she said.  My whole existence warms at an invitation like that!

After club, I was talking to a friend and she was dutifully listening to my recent news.  This sweet lady is always so good at listening - I sometimes walk away and feel badly that she got the full story.  Tonight she one upped even herself by pressing a grocery store gift card into the palm of my hand.  She said "It's not much, but maybe it'll help."  I just hugged her and said thank you.  What more can you do?  So humbling and yet makes me feel so important as a loved human at the same time.


On a less awesome note, I have another skin issue going on.  I have had these blisters on my finger since Sunday.  They seem to be getting worse no matter what I put on them - and the pain is distracting.  This morning I noticed that I have a lump on my inside elbow and that my armpit hurts on the same arm as the 'Stupid finger."

Lymph nodes?
The finger in question.
Not sure what to make of all this illness.  One bout of cellulitis is enough to make a girl cry.  But two, in the same leg and now a suspect finger?  Well, I can only assume that my body is rejecting all the quinoa, kale and rice milk and is demanding more beer and red meat!  Right!?

Oh well.  I think I will just ignore this finger thing for another week or so.  Who knows...and besides, I have 12 miles to do on Saturday.  After that - I can whine for a couple of days.  Two.  No more than that.  Got it?

Friday, February 8, 2013

Good to the Extreme is Not Good

I've long been a proponent of good living.  Now, I know that's subjective, but just go with me on the generally accepted tenants of a healthy lifestyle which include:

1.  Eating a minimum of 5 servings of vegetables and fruits per day.
2.  Avoiding processed foods.
3.  Limiting "extras" like candy, fried foods and alcohol.
4.  Drinking water with your meals and in between to thirst.
5.  Moving your body at least four times per week for a minimum of 30 minutes.
6.  Getting 7-9 hours of sleep each night.

These things are not easy in today's world.  Life moves fast, there are a million things to do and stress is a killer.  But with a little prioritization, you can make this work.  No need to strive for perfection, just being aware of your choices yields big returns.  But choices - so many choices!  What are the right ones?

Last year I went vegetarian, and at the beginning of this year, I tried a vegan diet.  I stared reading books by vegan endurance athletes and had plenty of time to do research since I've two and a half weeks out of the first month of this year off for injury.

I got a copy of Thrive by Brendan Brazier and things got a little crazy for me in the vegan world.  I limit meat because it's cheaper to eat vegetarian and it forces me to get protein and iron from a more diverse source.  I liked the idea of limiting dairy because it helps with inflammation.  But Mr. Brazier suggests limiting everything that could potentially cause a sensitivity in the system, including:

Wheat Gluten

He also suggests things like coffee, commercial vitamins, and any and all processed sugar is highly acidic and when eaten causes your body to leech calcium from your bones to neutralize the imbalance.  He gives compelling arguments as to how these seemingly innocuous foods can be dangerous to your system and even cancer causing.  There is also the suggestion that you eat food as raw as possible to retain all of the nutrients.

My Dad died of cancer when I was 21.  I try not to let fear of illness rule my life, but this new info made me slip a gear, spiraling into a vortex of fear and guilt.  Fear of foods that I know are good for me.  Guilt that I can't afford all organic produce or exotic grains that are $7 per pound.  Confusion that was keeping me up at night wondering if I'd already damaged myself, my husband and our children with my cooking!

I even gave up coffee.  For three and a half days!!

That was the straw that finally broke the vegetarian camels back.  I'm not sure that I'll ever really eat meat again, just don't have the taste for it, but I cannot follow a diet that is so restricted.  Do you know how hard it is to cook for a family under these restrictions?  I had it pretty dialed in (and widely accepted!) with excluding meat, but it's almost impossible to get children to eat things without cheese, milk or eggs to work with.

And not drinking coffee or eating peanut butter just makes me sad.  Sad, sad, sad.  I hope that I don't seem wishy-washy in my convictions, but I tried the vegan thing.  Can't do it.  Won't.  It was ugly when I gave up the coffee.  So I will throw caution to the wind and stick with vegetarianism.  I hope it's the right choice.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Groundhog Run 10k Race Report

We were excited to race the 31st Annual Children's TLC Groundhog Run in Kansas City on January 27th.  My sister lives in KC and graciously hosted 3 silly runners and 4 sillier children for the weekend.  Thanks sis!!

This race is a unique fundraiser that is entirely underground in the Hunt Midwest SubTropolis.  It is a two loop course that began near the mouth of the cave and wound around and past the many business that make their home underground.

We passed Hallmark, a U.S. Post Office and many more.  The floor of the cave is paved as a street would be and the pillars are covered with a protective coating to (presumably) combat crumbling.  The ceiling was unfinished and reminded us, as we ran, that we were in a cave!

The mouth of the cave.
We parked across the highway and were bused to the entrance of the cave.  It worked out great!  The weather was a little chilly, but the buses were heated and we didn't have to wait long.  We noticed folks that parked and walked - but why?  I would guess we all made it back to our cars in the same amount of time - and we didn't risk a ticket by being illegally parked!
Me and my running buddies.
My husband ran with me, and his brother ran in a little faster wave.  My training plan called for 6 miles at easy pace, so hubby and I took our time and enjoyed the course.  Well...after Mr. Speedy Start stopped trying to run away from me!  He always starts out fast - but I'm a very slow runner an ace at pacing and reeled him in.

Street signs at the start.
The SubTropolis is like an underground neighborhood.  The businesses have addresses and there are street signs pointing the way.  I was intrigued by all of the "no idling" signs.  Being underground, I'm sure that vehicle emissions would be a concern.

I was surprised at how many aid stations there were!  We passed one every mile with volunteers handing out water and a porta-john just in case.  The SubTropolis maintains a temperature of 65-70F all year round, so it wasn't too hot (or to cold).  I didn't stop for any water - didn't need it.

Cool how the lights snake around on the ceiling.

The finish line was fun, with a person in a groundhog costume giving high fives!  I couldn't believe the food at the finish of this 10k!  There was water, chocolate milk, bananas, oranges, tortilla roll ups (!!) with meat and cheese, and piles and piles of Kashi bars.  I was really surprised!

All-in-all a great race.  My only complaint was that there were no safety pins in the packet.  I think there were some in a bowl on the table at packet pick up - but c'mon folks, put them in the envelope with the bib! Dave ended up making a trip to Wal-Mart before the race to get a few to keep in the car.

It was nice to go and see my sister and brother in law and run with David and his brother.  No PR's were set , but we all got a few miles and a good sweat in.  The kids had a great time with their Aunt and Uncle and the ride home was somewhat quiet. :)