Thursday, March 18, 2010

Some of My Current Favorite Things!

After my previous downer of a post, I think a more upbeat one is in order. I've been on a fresh-veggie and fruit kick lately - spring must definitely be within reach. (And yes, I know we're only a few days away from spring officially arriving, but I'm referring more to the ambiance in the air...It's been warmer and sunnier recently, and it's like a cloud has lifted.)

Lately, I've grown more adventurous with my vegetables, incorporating them into things I wouldn't have thought before. About a month ago, I decided to put some spinach into my usual post-workout banana smoothie to boost its nutritional content. To my surprise, I really, really, really liked it. The spinach taste was still there, but it didn't overwhelm the bananas. And it turned my smoothie into a rather pleasant shade of green, basically this:

Then I found out from one of my online fitness forum buddies that there's a great repository of green drink/smoothie recipes on a blog called Oh She Glows. I love it! Actually, the blogmistress there is also behind the "Green Monster Movement" website, where everyone can share the love for, uh, green monsters. ;)

I don't have a hard time eating fruit, but for the last few months, felt like I was in a rut with them. There is only so much one can do with apples and natural peanut butter, fresh berries with cottage cheese, fresh fruit by itself... You get the idea. Then I realized, why don't I apply the principles of further bringing out the sugar content in food... and bake fruit? Roasting veggies draws out some very splendid flavors in them, and the same exists with fruit like apples, pears, even grapefruit. I've been slicing up Golden Delicious and Granny Smith apples, sprinkling nutmeg and cinnamon on them, and then baking them at 375 F until they get a little soft in the center. Soooo delicious! I've been making these for dessert, and even DH gives his seal of approval.

And I've been on a genuine salad spree, too. I'm a big fan of Jason's Deli, especially because they have an awesome salad that includes:

-Sliced apples
-Red grapes
-Golden raisins & dried cranberries
-Feta cheese

And all topped with a drizzle of sweet vinaigrette dressing. But going to Jason's Deli every day isn't exactly practical, and I realized this is a very easy salad to replicate. So I stocked up on those key ingredients, and have been munching happily at dinner for the past week.

I'll admit, I've been omitting the apples here because I use them for my baked apple dessert instead.

And I've officially overcome my baking phobia. First it was making apple-oat muffins from scratch a few weeks ago. Now, I'm proud to say I've successfully tackled Irish soda bread, and on St. Patrick's Day, to boot! I used this recipe, and it turned out superb. Though I personally prefer my soda bread more on the savory side, with caraway seeds and beer, this one is quite good for satisfying a light sweet tooth. Also, it's a great partner for imbibing Irish breakfast tea, or so my hubby says.

I still can't believe my finished product came out looking and tasting great.

If there's one tip I can share about the bread, it's to not overwork the dough.

That is it until the next post!

Monday, March 15, 2010


This past Saturday, my hubby and I ran in a St. Patrick's Day 5K in Temple, TX, that also served as a fundraiser for Scott & White Hospital in the area. However, my purpose for the race was purely selfish: I just wanted to do a short and simple race, and since it fit perfectly into my training schedule, I registered, and also signed up DH, just because.

I also wanted this 5K to be a PR opportunity. But as we got closer to the gun firing off, I got increasingly pessimistic and nervous. I don't know why - maybe I was feeling tired, and just not properly warmed up... And once we were on the move, I just knew then I wasn't in a good frame of mind at all. At the first half mile, I came to an abrupt stop, and said to DH that I just couldn't do it, I didn't want to finish the race and that I wanted to just drop out. He quickly set me straight and told me to just get myself together and continue running. After a few minutes, I got back on the road.

I ran solidly for the last 1.5 mile of the race, and I wish I'd started a new lap for the last mile on my Garmin; I suspect that was my fastest split.

Once everything was done, my chip time was 27:46, and my time back was 5:37. This wasn't my proudest moment because I still cannot believe that I'd let my mind mess with me so horribly in this instance, and it produced a very un-fun race in the end. It really could've been a lot more entertaining if I'd just gone with the flow. So for now, this is simply another race result to file away - that's that. I will try not to get choked like this again sometime down the road.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Training Notes and Whatnot

This past Saturday I went the farthest I've ever run yet - 17 miles, in 3 hours. I'm really far from being a speed demon, obviously, but I was really stoked about it nonetheless because I did negative splits on the last 9 miles of it.

It took me forever to warm up, so I felt less-than-stellar in the beginning. Then as I got into a groove, I got sidetracked by a stupid chihuahua. While I was passing a row of houses (maybe at around mile 7?) a puny chihuahua came running up to me, and started barking furiously and trying to nip at my heels. Since the dog was a shortie and I could've easily shaken him off, this was nothing. All I had to do was ride it out for a half mile. I also found some wood along the road, and threw a piece of it to distract him. Still, I realized that I definitely need to buy pepper spray. Heaven forbid this was a bigger dog - then I would've genuinely been in deep shit.

The rest of the run was uneventful. I got back to my starting point, and downed my protein shake. The town was starting to wake up from its Saturday morning slumber. So I knew that was my cue to head back, clean up, and join the rest of the citizenry in doing typical Saturday activities, such as yard sale perusing. :)


Sundays are almost always rest days for me, and the only thing I do is go to church with the hubby. And have post-Mass coffee. Today was no exception. However, we also went to a nearby lake this afternoon for a special treat. An organization called All-American Beef Battalion decided to treat my husband's brigade to a steak luncheon that was being held at the recreation area on Fort Hood. Honestly, who can resist a good steak? (By the way, there was enough variety that the non-beef-eating or vegetarian soldiers that were in attendance had a good meal, too).

Hospitality is fading in a lot of places, and to see something like this was truly welcome. I'm thankful that there are still folks who take the time and effort to show their appreciation of others. It absolutely made this past Sunday a nicer one for many people.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

PR's and Personal Bests

Last week was chock-full of new personal bests in both my strength AND running workouts. It was as if the stars had aligned, and the universe was finally pulling in my favor. *snickers*

Strength-wise I deadlifted 130 lbs., then 135 lbs. Even better was the 80 lbs. I finally managed to do on bent-over rows! (Previously, I'd been stuck at the 70 lbs. mark for almost a year, ahem.) I also pumped out 1-arm dumbbell shoulder presses with 30 lbs. Shoulder work continues to be a hit-and-miss affair, so I'm feeling more confident about these gains.

Since my running schedule was low-mileage last week, my Saturday session was only a 10K distance. I decided to run this as a race, and not as my normal, take-it-easy self. I ran it fairly hard, and churned it out in 54:49. That beat my previous 10K, which I ran at Disney World, by almost 3 minutes. Smokin'.