Fun Things To Read On A Friday

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Yep. We matched. Unintentionally. Like Dorks.

Happy Friday, y’all!

I still have some fun things to say about Iowa last week (So good to see AndreAnna — I’m so glad you all agree with me that she should bring her blog back: BRING YOUR BLOG BACK ANDREANNA! HEEEEEEE) but this week has been NUTS-O (Of course it has. When, oh when, will my life feel under control? UNKONWN.) But I guess I will be saving that for another day. Today I thought you might want some things to take your mind off…well, whatever it is you are avoiding doing right at the moment.

Internet rabbit holes, FOR THE WIN:

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So I’ve been contemplating my workout routine and trying to strategize how to make it more well rounded for me personally. I know! What a concept! There isn’t One! Right! Workout Routine! (GASP.) Anyway, based on my current life, stress load, health goals, etc I haven’t made any decisions but I’m gathering information and working it all out. The following posts have given me some good food for thought:

*Steady State Cardio A Thyroid Killer
*15 Ways to Squeeze More Yoga Into Your Everyday Activities
*Sprinting and Walking are totally underrated
*Top 30 Tips to Lose Belly Fat — Look I’m sick of Bikini Body magazine articles too, but this list is actually useful.
*Core Fitness For Women — Yep, they talk about kegels as core fitness. WHAT?

Anyway, that was a lot of info about exercising…sheesh! How about some other stuff, like…

*100 Questions to Inspire Rapid Self Discovery— ooooh, some good ones, right?

*I watched this in the Minneapolis Airport on my layover last week and totally loved it.

*Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls…so I will — nothing like a sensationalized title to get ya clicking, eh? But I thought there were a lot of great points in here.

*Why Vegans and Paleos Should Stop Hating Each Other YESSSSS!

*A friend of mine is gathering 8 people together for dinner and sent us an email that included a link to this interactive online scheduler. HOW BAD ASS IS THIS? Game: Changed!

*Things I am cooking this weekend:
Chicken Bacon Alfredo
Avocado with Warm Bacon Cilantro Dressing
*Kiwi Blackberry Summer Sangria
*Bloody Mary Salad
and maybe just maybe a Grain Free Chocolate Pudding Pie :) We’ll see!

*Speaking of things to cook: I’m hosting a Great Gatsby themed dinner party in a couple of weeks for book club — any recipe suggestions? FIRE AWAY!

What are you all up to this weekend? We are getting Buster groomed for the first time (OMG that dog is shedding like a crazy dog. He is leaving clumps of hair around the house that look like those old school rabbit’s foot keychains. Which, btw? Those were GROSS, right?) Also doing some heavy lifting, some dog walking, and some serious iced coffee drinking. It’s going to be over 100 all weekend! Hope you all have a good one!

The Great Iowa Adventure (Part One)

Greetings! I’m back from my 7 day adventure traipsing all over Iowa and I’ve had about a day to recover, so hey — why not get right back into it. (Boy, I need a weekend to recover from my weekend.) I fully intended to blog my way through the state, but it went by so much quicker than I thought and I just never felt like pulling out my laptop — so indulge me in a little recapping, would ya?

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I started my week last Monday at 3:30 in the morning. When I booked my flight out, 6am seemed like a reasonable idea, but let me tell you, A 6AM FLIGHT IS NOT A GOOD IDEA. I don’t know what I was thinking! But after about 6 hours of travel (and a nap or two) I made it to Des Moines safe and sound.

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I hadn’t been there since early 2006 and while many things looked the same (airport, hotel, etc), so much seemed different – especially with respect to my life. Back in 2006, when I first started working for my company, I had to go to Des Moines for 2 weeks for training and at the time, Garrett and I had only been together for a little over 2 months so it all seemed SO DRAMATIC to have to be gone for 2! WHOLE! WEEKS! This time around I was like “Ok babe! Take care of the dog! Hope you don’t starve!” hahahaha. Well, not exactly, but you know what I’m saying, right?

After I checked into the hotel and got settled, I decided to brave it and walk over to CrossFit Primal and get in a workout. Visiting a new CrossFit gym is always so intimidating. I always expect it to be full of fire breathing Games Athletes that are going to roll their eyes at me. It NEVER is though, so I’m glad I put on my big girl (workout) pants and headed over.
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I felt right at home with the instructor and the class and it was nice to feel like I had some semblance of routine even though I was on the road. I am a pretty good traveler but 7 days on the road is a long time so I wanted to keep things as normal as possible (which is why on my way home I totally stopped at Walgreens all disgusting and sweaty and bought handsoap for the hotel bathroom…because seriously? A BAR OF SOAP? Who washes their hands with A BAR OF SOAP?) Anyway, the workout was fun and I knew INSTANTLY that my legs would be feeling it the next day.
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And lo and behold, they were! Which made it glaringly obvious how low the the hotel toilets were, but that is neither here nor there. Tuesday morning I woke up early after a SUPER crappy night of sleep. Tons of thunder and warnings of tornadoes kept me a little anxious all night so needless to say I didn’t squeeze in a workout before I headed into the office.

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Luckily the weather was pretty nice all of Tuesday and despite not staying outside to enjoy it the day just flew by. Tuesday and Wednesday were my long days at work so I just tried to stay focused on the tasks at hand. But by Wednesday night I was ready for some vacation! I met up with blog reader Jillian for some well deserved cocktails and we had an awesome meal chatting it up like we had known each other forever. I had a real “I Love The Internet” moment!
Yesssssss! #earned

Afterward I walked back to the hotel and got everything ready for my big road trip to Davenport the next day to hang with AndreAnna. It had been almost a year and a half since we had last hung out and I was super excited to get to her neck of the woods and see her in real life!

Tomorrow I’ll tell you about how the vacation portion of the week went down….

Fun Things To Read On A Friday

Because I do everything @homesweetsarah tells me to do.

Howdy folks! Happy Friday! I don’t know about you but I’m counting the minutes until cocktail hour. (PS – Sarah once told me to go out on a limb and try this Pinot Grigio ($6.89 at Costco, WHAT???) and I’m so glad I did. It’s pretty darn awesome!) It’s been a great week around our house and even better on our plates. We’ve been eating super duper clean (I feel GREAT!) and so I think I’ve earned a little Friday night glass of something special. I can’t wait to sink my teeth into some tri tip tonight and coast into the weekend.

I plan to soak up some time at home because I’m going to be in the great state of Iowa all next week for work (and some play!) I’ll definitely be missing Garrett and Buster, but I really like Des Moines and haven’t been there in a while, plus I also get to squeeze in a little visit with AndreAnna! Fun, fun!

What are YOU up to this weekend? Cooking or reading anything fun? Please dish! And now…onto some links:

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*In the mood for a marathon? Uh, TV Marathon that is…I have enough running lately. :)  Check out The Best TV Shows for Binges

*Mark’s Daily Apple has had some good posts up lately. Not that he doesn’t regularly or anything, but I just particularly enjoyed: Why It’s Important to Cook Your Own Meals and 10 Psychological Hurdles Keeping You From Losing Weight & How to Overcome Them.

*I’m intrigued by this homemade electrolyte drink. Let’s be real, I’m equally intrigued by this recipe for Lava Flows because they make me miss Maui! (Hot damn, we had a fun time there!)

*I’m in a kitchen creating mood – I think I’m going to make these lemon bars this weekend.

*I love this post about resilience. Volatility is the new normal.

*Who couldn’t use a confidence boost? I liked these 10 Rules for Feeling More Confident and these 50 Self Esteem Quotes to Give Your Confidence a Boost.

*This tip about The Magic of Later is something I do ALL THE TIME! So useful!

*Need some web distraction? How about checking out 100 Websites You Should Know and Use.

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Hope you all have a great weekend!

Easy Detox Mocktail

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Can I confess something? I don’t really love the word detox. It sounds like this magical transition that you can achieve by drinking some special tonic and well, the human body is so much more complicated than that! But Easy Summer Drink That’s An Alternative to Plain Water That Isn’t Full of Sugar Artificial and Otherwise That Can Also Help Support Some of Your Major Organs just didn’t have the same ring to it, so…Detox, it is!

A friend mentioned the combination on facebook the other day and I happened to have all the ingredients on hand, so I mixed myself a glass and was completely sold. It’s tart, refreshing and kind of makes you want to drink it with your pinky in the air — which I can’t always say about a glass of ice water. See how easily influenced I am? Glad she wasn’t drinking a bourbon milkshake or it would have been straight to the liquor cabinet. :) Juuuuust kidding. OR AM I?

Anyway, here’s the method if you would like to try one for yourself:

Easy Detox Mocktail
 
Ingredients
  • 12-16 ounces of Ice Water
  • The Juice of 1 Lemon
  • 1 oz of Unsweetened Cranberry Juice
  • 1 teaspoon of Organic Ginger Juice
  • A Few Pinches of Cayenne Pepper
Instructions
  1. Fill glass with ice water
  2. Add Juice of 1 Lemon
  3. Add Cranberry and Ginger Juice
  4. Add Cayenne
  5. Stir!

See? Totally NOT rocket science. Yet equally impressive, I’m sure. :)

I like the Ginger People Ginger Juice (in my grocery store it’s sold by the vinegars) and make sure to buy the UNsweetened cranberry juice. It’s very easy to find but somewhat expensive as far as juice goes, but it will last A LONG TIME because you just use the tiniest bit!

Ginger is full of anti-inflammatory compounds, lemon supports digestion and liver function, cranberry helps out your kidneys and lymphatic system and cayenne promotes healthy circulation. But let’s not get too academic about all of this — it is also just beautiful, delicious and easy to make and because it is basically a giant glass of fancy water (try it with sparkling water, too — YUM!) A little Cran-Raspberry La Croix action? AHHHH-MAZYING!

It’s very simple, and it’s a bit of a play on Liz Wolfe’s Skin Care Beverage that she recommends in The Skintervention Guide (GREAT read, by the way!) and something to shake up your everyday water drinking. If you enjoy it, let me know.

The Relay – Part Three

Oof! That middle of the night leg was a beast, wasn’t it?

When we left off I was just about ready to crack! Eventually though, I made my way into the back seat, curled up into one of the comfy captain’s chairs, grabbed my pillow and was able to grab a little shut eye — at least 30 minutes worth — and man, was that a game changer! I say that without an ounce of hyperbole. The biggest challenge of this event, in my humble opinion is the lack of sleep. Part of that was maybe a little bit of poor planning on our parts (it was all of our first times though, so how could we have known?) but also, this is sort of the point. They don’t call these things endurance events for nothing — there will come a point where you (and your body) are expected to feel challenged to endure, ya know?

Anyway, the other game changer? Our next exchange INVOLVED A PLACE WHERE THERE WERE SHOWERS! AND A GYM FOR SLEEPING!

We didn’t have time for both, and honestly if I had to go back and choose – as gross as it sounds – I would choose to sleep and not shower (hindsight being 20/20 and all that) but right there on the campus of Canada College I took the most epic shower of my life! It felt amazing to finally de-gross-ify, sit under the hot water, and to put on my comfy clothes again. I washed my hair twice, just so I wouldn’t have to get out of the shower. And these were like low budget, glad I was wearing flip flops kind of showers but man they felt GREAT! We all waddled back to the car — quad and hip soreness was definitely setting in — (and at that point I was SUPER happy I had packed a pair of compression sleeves for my calves) and then we headed off to breakfast.

We dined at a place called to Alana’s Cafe which was much more memorable than our last meal out. It’s an old restored Victorian, very quaint and cute, and the breakfast menu looked delish! I got a huge plate of potatoes, sausage and eggs (ok, ok and rye toast. I’m a sucker for rye toast!) and began to chow down. Here’s the weird thing about events like this though: when you are going for so long and not sleeping and then running and drinking electrolyte stuff you wouldn’t normally drink or chugging Gu or whatever — your whole body just feels so out of whack. The fueling part was very hard to manage. What ended up happening for me was that I was so hungry when I sat down and so excited to eat, but I took like two bites and felt a little bit sick to my stomach. Not so ideal. The toast was the easiest stuff to get down, but ultimately all that gluten didn’t make me feel great either. It was a bit of a lose/lose. But I forced myself to just keep eating (and I’m glad I did) because I knew that was going to be my last “real meal” before I had to run again.

Right as we placed our orders our other van texted to say their 3rd runner was already on course. Uh oh. That meant we were going to eat quickly just to get to the next exchange on time. Garrett got ready in the car and , once again, got the hand off from Gina. Gina was doing one of the hardest and ugliest legs on the course that was basically 3 miles straight up hill in the Santa Cruz mountains. It was rough but she came up the hill smiling as usual. I think Garrett was still digesting his breakfast.

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But just like every other leg, he just put one foot in front of the other and killed it. His last leg was 6.2 miles that was all down hill. “Hey babe, it’ll just a quick 10K,” I said. And he looked at me and said “You better have a better birthday present coming for me.” Oh yeah, didn’t I tell you? This was Garrett’s birthday weekend and I thought this event would be a fun way to say “Hey! You’re 32! Woo hoo!” Next year I will plan a couple’s massage or something. Haha

At that point we were in the Santa Cruz mountains so despite it being warm we were running through a lot of shade, which was nice. Garrett’s downhill leg was a challenge on tired leg/knees but he rolled into the runner exchange like a bat outta hell and passed off to Grace. We celebrated for a minute that, for him, this race was DONE!
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Grace started her leg and about a mile into it she rolled her ankle on a tree branch. No bueno! But she powered through her leg like a champ and then it was my turn to get started. I have to be honest, even though I was *mentally* in a much better place than I had been the night prior, this run worried me a little because of its physical considerations. At 6.7 miles it was my longest leg and while it was mostly flat and downhill there were a few places with elevation change. The only thing that kept me going was that my last leg ended at a liquor store. :) (What’s up Ben Lomond Liquors!)

Oh yeah, and my favorite running shirt, of course:
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CrossFit Estes Park — I owe you one for that shirt! It’s gotten me through a lot of shit-tastic workouts/runs!

So I hopped to it and just told myself “It’s won’t be more than 90 minutes! You can do anything for 90 minutes and then YOU ARE DONE!” And really, that’s the truth of all of this stuff. It’s so much a test of mental endurance. If you can get your mind right — in fitness, and in life — it can really change everything. The whole weekend was one giant exercise in how the mind affects the body and while I definitely could have physically trained more (and therefore run faster) the mental training that I get day in and day out at my CrossFit box could not have been better for this event. Struggling through wods and having lots of practice at digging deep to find that place in you that just has no quit — that was what helped me be successful this weekend. And I felt really, really grateful for that on my final leg! (Also grateful for my awesome 90 minute playlist! It was such a nice soundtrack for running through the mountains.) I had a friend tell me that the running was the easy part of this relay, and while I didn’t believe her then – it is absolutely the truth!

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I passed off at that last runner exchange at about 4pm and it was honestly the best feeling of the whole weekend! Just knowing that I had been doing this relay for 49 hours at that point, that I had made it (with no knee trouble – WOOT!) through 18 miles — well, that was an amazing feeling. We also coincidentally ran into our friend Matt (hi Matt!) at the runner exchange for my leg (he had a team participating as well) so that was fun to see. We got to swap stories for a second and then it was on to the next, because we had 3 runners left to go until we could finally sit in a hot tub with some cocktails.

The last legs were pretty rough for our runners – my friend Megan hurt her knee and Kalie’s race leg was probably not the most memorable run she ever had despite getting to cross the finish line — but in the end, we just celebrated BEING DONE! And that was priceless!

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We met up with our other van on the beach at the finish line (which by the way — WHO FINISHES A RUNNING RACE ON THE BEACH? Sand in your sneakers is ANNOYING and not what you want to deal with after being awake for two days, let me tell you!) There were some tears, some high fives, some sighs of relief and also LOTS of blankets Did I mention it was freezing? The weather that whole weekend was so extreme!

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It felt great to be done and it was time to head out to our awesome beach front hotel and toast the night away with some sangria and some hot tubbing for our sore muscles. Ok, ok and some pizza! Which despite being a total gluten bomb, was RIDICULOUSLY GOOD.

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So, after all of this recap I’m sure you are wondering whether I would do this again, right? Had you asked me the night it ended I would have said HEEEEEELLLLLLLLLLLLL TO THA NO! And honestly, I’m still firmly in the “Probably Not” and “Once and Done” camp. However, the major challenges I had this time around mostly dealt with the fact that I was inexperienced – so the food/fueling and sleeping issues were INCREDIBLY hard to deal with – and also some last minute course changes by the relay organizers that made things harder to navigate for our van. So — maybe next time could be better? Or maybe running a more organized type relay like the Ragnar series would be better? I don’t really know.

I will tell you this: the experience was memorable. And in the end (now that it is over, ha!) I am glad I did it. But it was also incredibly stressful, and since I was ALREADY dealing with some incredibly stressful stuff in my real life, doing an extra curricular event specifically designed to Add Stress was probably not the best idea. But we committed in December and how could I have known all the changes that would happen during that time — I couldn’t. So in the end it just kind of is what it is. I love the idea of a team relay, but logistically I think I could have been more prepared. I love the idea of an endurance event, but practically speaking maybe I don’t need to be ENDURING for 2 days you know? I like running quite a bit, but whenever I have a running event looming on the horizon preparing for it undoubtedly takes me away from CrossFit, which is my first love — and I hate that. So the jury is still out if I would do it again.

But if you have read this blog for any amount of time, you know that I NEVER SAY NEVER. :)

(My mom just dropped dead reading that I’m sure. Hi, Mom! Sorry I do crazy stuff that you have to stress about. LOVE YOU!)

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Any specific questions about this type of thing I can answer in an upcoming post that would be helpful? Let me know. Otherwise I think I’m ready to put this whole experience to bed. Oh man…beds! I have such a great appreciation for my bed after doing that relay. I LOVE YOU BED!!! :)

The Relay – Part Two

Let’s see, where were we…ah yes, I had just run my first leg in 90 degree heat, was convinced I was dying of heat stroke and had passed the torch to our next runner Ryan who had arguably one of the hardest legs of the race. Of course he nailed it, so I decided I should probably keep quiet about how hard my silly 4.4 mile flat run was — but you guys I really wanted to whine OMG THAT WAS HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARD. Luckily though, like I said, I had worn a tank top. I was glad I wasn’t running in this whacky lizard get up. This is our teammate Grace with some guy running in a unitard. With a mask. I mean, I thought we were crazy for running in this race in this heat, but we weren’t THE CRAZIEST people on the trail by any means!

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So our runners 10, 11 and 12 headed out to do their runs (ROCKSTARS, by the way — they had some challenging legs with respect to both distance and terrain — not to mention heat — HAVE I MENTIONED THE HEAT YET?) and then it was time to meet up with our other Van at the next Van exchange. The exchange was at the Marin Cheese Factory, which is ironically a really relaxing place that Garrett and I love to go to when we are in the mood for a day trip.

marin cheese factory

It’s beautiful, charming and fun, and by the time we got there I don’t think any of us felt beautiful, charming OR fun. :) But we cheered our team on — Carolann (Runner 1) was back out on the course and then it was time to head to our next van exchange. We had about 5-6 hours until we had to run again so we figured we’d get some food, head over to the next van exchange at the Golden Gate bridge and then get some sleep. Things only SORT OF went as planned.

First we drove closer to SF. Our exchange was at the bridge so we figured we’d just find a place to eat that was local. Despite all of us with our fancy, scmhmancy iPhones and apps we couldn’t really find a suitable location. Also — 7 peoples opinions, cravings and nutritional preferences to contend with — so, you know how that goes. We finally found a random restaurant that seemed normal — I can’t even tell you what city we were in because, also? We were all sleepwalking at this point. It was about 7:30 and we had been up for 15 hours and running in the heat with no showers, so um…geography? Not really at the forefront of our minds — but the line was really long. Our time was limited, so we just headed to some other place a few doors down and grabbed a table. I probably have a receipt somewhere that would tell you the restaurant, but rest assured it was not worth remembering. We shared a table with a family that had a rambunctious child, we were right by the bathroom, and all of us were comlete zombies. BUT THE BREAD WAS GLUTEN FREE! (I’m reaching for silver lingings here.) At this point we were so tired that we had to apologize to our waitress for how low energy and anti-social we were. We explained what we were in the middle of doing and she was like “Ah, makes sense. Hey, you don’t smell like runners!” so, you know, that was nice. :)

We finally got back on the road and drove down to the bridge where we were supposed to have all sorts of time for sleeping, right? But a few hours had already gone by when we were traveling and eating and then traveling again, so by the time we got to our destination there was only about 2.5 hours until it was time to run again. We tried to get some shut eye, but the attempt was pretty laughable. There were CRAZY (like 40 mile an hour winds) up at the bridge so our van was a rocking (and we sure as shit didn’t want ANYONE to come a knockin!) and the van was FULL. Person in the driver seat. The passenger seat. Both captains chairs in the back seat. And then there were 3 of us in the back bench seat. Garrett on my left. Ryan on my right. AND ME RIDING BITCH! Have you ever tried to get a few hours of sleep while squeezed on a bench seat between 2 other people? I DO NOT RECOMMEND. Look, I can’t even relive those few hours of exhaustion without having some serious PTSD but I will just say this…VERY LITTLE SLEEP. And then it was time for Garrett to get ready to run, because, again, he was the first runner out of our van.

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The thing about night runs are that they require a whole mess of different gear — headlamps, reflective vests, flashing butt lights — the works! It was our first time running in all that stuff so we were a little nervous. Garrett again took the hand off from Gina (who had just run over the Golden Gate Bridge in the middle of the night: fun!) and he was off to go 6 miles through the streets of San Francisco, and we would meet him at the next runner exchange. (PS, thanks for the photos Gina!)


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Except uh, we didn’t…because we got lost. Call it sleep deprivation or crazy SF streets, but in the time it took for Garrett to go 6 miles on foot, we could not DRIVE to the next location. Things were about to go DOWNHILL. So we were late to pick up Garrett, which meant he had to stand around and wait for Grace to do the pass-off. When we finally showed up, Grace started running and I immediately became nervous about running my night leg because I was next. This was my “hardest” leg as far as difficulty rating, plus it was 6.5 miles, plus I was going to be alone, running in a town I had never been in, IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT. So um, anxiety. Which meant we high-tailed to the next exchange so I could hit up the porta-potties. Sorry, real talk. I was FREAKING NERVOUS. And right about when I instagrammed this lovely, and oh-so-well-lit porta potty (2:30 am, btw if you are keeping track) a man walked out and said “Sorry. No more toilet paper.”

2:30 am on a Saturday night. No place I'd rather be. OH WAIT...   #therelay

And then I contemplated murder and suicide, both right in the same moment.

Luckily we had brough TP in our van (BRING TP FOR YOUR VANS, PEOPLE. IT WILL BE NECESSARY.) but right as I went to grab it the van heard from Grace, who was on course, but whose head lamp had just run out of batteries. The van had to leave to go give Grace replacement batteries so I had to grab TP and ALL OF MY FREAKING RUNNING GEAR at once. It was trial by fire and all I can say is I’m glad Garrett was there with a level head because my mind was otherwise occupied with thoughts of “Hey Holly, don’t shit your pants. Mmmmkay?” It was a low point, you all. A really really low point.

But hey — then it was time to go run 6.5 miles. Just like that. It was so freezing out there that I couldn’t even stand at the exchange without Kalie’s super awesome leopard snuggie (Also add to your packing list: LEOPARD SNUGGIES) but then it was my turn, so I let the snuggie go, put one foot in front of other and ran my tail off! And you guys, NO JOKE! It may have been the best singular run of my whole entire life. For about 4.5 miles. It was cool, it was peaceful, and I felt alone but since a runner would pass me every once in a while I knew I wasn’t like ALONE ALONE, you know? I was listening to the best playlist ever (which I will TOTALLY publish shortly) and I was getting in my groove. Then, during the last 2 miles everything sort of got wonky. All of a sudden those crazy gusts of wind that we were feeling at the Golden Gate came back with a vengeance and I felt like I was running into a wind machine — only at the moment I looked much less supermodel and much more Chris Farley yelling “Luuuuuuuuke. I AM YOUR FAAAAAAAAATHER.” One minute I was running a 12 minute mile and the next minute (with no change in effort or “speed”) I looked down at my Garmin and I was running a 16 minute mile. CRAZY headwinds. Mentally, it was brutal. But I huffed and puffed my way to what I thought was the runner exchanged and went to do my hand off…

…but my team wasn’t there. It was a really crowded exchange and I was looking all over for my team but I couldn’t find them anywhere and I was so tired and disoriented that I finally looked at one of the volunteers and said “Am I in the right place” and she looked at me and said “Up the road and to the left.” Ah, ok. This wasn’t the runner exchange. That made sense as to why my team wasn’t there. So I started running again and got half a mile down the road and the course started to turn and I thougt back to the map of my course and my leg of the race HAD NO TURNS. All of a sudden all of these speedy, fresh legged runners were passing and just flying by me. It was then that I realized that the volunteer had given me directions for the START of the following leg. The one my teammate was supposed to be doing when I handed our stuff off to him. SO I HAD TO RUN BACK. And you guys, I just started crying. I don’t know why…tired/disoriented/realizing that I had to run an extra mile, that my team was obviously lost again, that my water bottle was empty, that I just wanted a hot fucking shower and a bed, and that I still had one more leg to run in 12 hours — all of it just got to me in that moment and I really almost lost it. HELLO, BASKET CASE.

My team finally showed up, we made the pass off and I got in the van. And I can’t even tell you what happened for the next few hours because I just kept saying to myself over and over:
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The conclusion of this whole saga the next time we chat. I have to go sit in a corner and rock back and forth just from reliving this night to tell the story. haha :)

Monday Morning Mojo

My original plan was to have Part Two of my Relay Recap up today, but you guys — the night legs of the race were a DARK TIME, uh, literally and figuratively. And this morning I woke up in such a bright and shiny mood I just couldn’t justify putting that post up. I know, I’m weird. I like my blog posts to actually reflect my moods, so sometimes that means last minute changes to the editorial calendar, but what can I tell you?

Anyway, I don’t know if it is that I finally got some sleep this weekend, but I think I’m finally getting my mojo back…and boy has it been a long time coming! I think there are a few reasons for this:

New Season

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I know spring sprung a long time ago, but around here it is really starting to feel like summer. Well, not really — summer around here generally feels like you being smothered by a blanket of molten lava — but right now the sunshine is out, and the heat actually feels pleasant instead of suffocating. This weekend we grilled and ate on the patio at every opportunity and it was just so comfortable. I am loving it.

New Routines

I'm kind if loving dropping Garrett off at work. Makes me feel like my city is pretty.

This is Garrett’s third week at his new job and he is starting to settle into his new routine. I am mostly settled into my routines too after a few months of my new gig (the most notable that are still in flux: this blog and my email inbox. YIKES!), but with all of Garrett’s changes, plus anticipating The Relay, we had yet to figure out workout stuff, meal stuff, sleep stuff — you know, THE IMPORTANT STUFF THAT MAKES YOU FEEL HUMAN. I think we are finally getting there!

This week we are trying out a new workout schedule and I think it is going to be life changing! It’s kinf of a perfect mix of optimal productivity/efficiency and rest. I so hope it works out! I am completely ready to be back in the gym regularly, lifting some heavy things and sweating my tail off (but not in a race scenario that will last more than 24 hours…NO THANK YOU.) This past weekend I did a 90 minute workout completely devoted to snatching and all I can say is that I loved it. Like really loved it! It has been a long time since I’ve been sweating like crazy and just really loving it. I think it’s quite possible the reason that I tied my own personal snatch PR. I haven’t been able to lift that much weight over my head in almost a year and a half and on Saturday morning I did it. And it felt like I was reaching back to my more confident self from a year ago and it felt really good.

I know it probably makes me super boring, but I love routines — so I am so, so happy to see some new ones forming!

New Protocols

Kobe Burger Bowl with Kale + Kraut. #lunch #paleo

I am changing some things up, nutritionally. I don’t mean I’m deviating from Paleo (no way, no how) but I have just been trying some new things. I’m about a month in to a new supplement protocol specifically for stress and gut healing and I am LOVING IT. I have long resisted supplementation of any kind because I just hate the idea of popping a pill to fix something that is really a lifestyle issue. But I guess I’m changing my outlook on that a little. I still don’t believe in popping a pill to change a lifestyle issue, but I’m starting to see supplementation as a way to support myself THROUGH some of these lifestyle changes and that makes more sense in my head.

Also, I’m trying to listen to my body a little bit more. What does that mean? Well, while I am in NO WAY a Paleo Perfectionist, I can definitely get caught up in doing things “the right way.” I think there is a whole subset of us (particularly, I would imagine, those who have struggled with weight loss) that want defined rules and want to follow them exactly, and spend a lot of energy trying to do DO IT RIGHT. This is probably an entire post in itself, but for now I will just say that my eating has gotten away from being this nourishing and pleasurable thing and has become almost academic. And I don’t love that. Mostly because I become very unmotivated when my eating is academic, which usually just sends me diving head first into a giant vat of sugar.

The best I’ve ever felt while doing Paleo was when I was sticking to the framework but focusing on what tasted good and what felt right — not when I was trying to eat the perfectly calibrated portions or the most optimal foods, always! Sometiems I can just send myself spinning by talking myself out of a delicious smoothie because I’ve heard one too many times “Liquid Food Is Terrible For People Losing Weight” or “Protein Powder is The Devil Incarnate” — you know what I’m saying? The ironic thing is, I had this realization as I started looking more into my own personal MICROnutrient needs – and man, you can’t get anymore tedious and nitpicky than when you are looking at micronutrients, but something about that has given me this ability to exhale and kind of recalibrate my attitude towards food.

Hmmm…maybe I will post about this completely separately. I feel like I’m rambling right now.

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So, this isn’t to say that everything is just coming up roses — I still have some serious goals, things I’d like to accomplish and things that I could be doing better — but for the first time in WEEKS, maybe even months I feel like everything is going to be alright. And I’m so damn happy to be back here.
Peek-a-Boo!

The Relay — Part One

Well after all of the fretting about my knee, half-assed training and having anxiety about WHAT THE HELL I GOT MYSELF INTO — last weekend Garrett and I completed The Relay — and I will tell you what, I feel like I barely lived to tell about it! After 44 hours of no sleep, 18.5 miles of running, poor fueling, dehydration and general suckitude, it took me almost a week to recover. If I had advice for anyone doing something like this in the future it would be: give yourself a few days off when it’s over! I took 3 days off of work and was MIA on the blog and that was almost not enough. But anyway, enough with the complaining — let me breakdown this crazy weekend for you.

First – a quick recap: The Relay is 36 leg relay style run completed over 2 days by teams of 12. Each person runs 3 legs and the total distance covered is just under 200 miles. This particular relay was from Calistoga to Santa Cruz. It promised to be very scenic and have pretty mild, coastal weather. Garrett + I teamed up with 10 other people from our gym and spent about 5 months getting ready to run. On Saturday, our 7am start time up in Calistoga called for a super early wakeup call.
...and so it begins. #therelay

We had spent the prior evening packing all of our food, gear and clothing into the most compact bags possible. The deal with the relay is that your team is split up into 2 vans which carry 6 runners each plus a driver. With 7 people in a van you have to be fairly organized with your space as there is very little of it. You are crammed in there with all of your stuff and as the weekend wears on it just gets messier and messier as the runners get nuttier and nuttier. Let’s be honest though, we started out pretty nutty to begin with :)

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I consulted a number of different relay type packing lists online to make sure I had everything that I could possibly need and I still ended up needing stuff I didn’t have. This is clearly something that gets better the more experienced you get, and well I was mostly prepared – no list will have all the answers.

Packing for #TheRelay - I guess that means it is really happening! T-minus 6hours until wake up call! #TeamLongestWODEver

So we left Sacramento at about 4:30 am and drove up to meet our team at the start line in Calistoga. It was incredibly beautiful, but also very, VERY warm already. Not super promising when it’s 6:30 in the morning and your run isn’t until 3 in the afternoon, but at this point we were super excited and pumped full of adrenaline so we didn’t waste too much time thinking about it.
Ready to Run! #therelay #teamlongestwodever

I sent this picture to my mom and she said “How fun! It looks like all of you are camping but with less beer.” Which is sort of an accurate description of how the entire weekend felt — camping, but with less beer and a shit-ton more running. Maybe I will just organize a camping trip? :)

Our first runner to take off was Carolann, and you could hardly tell she was nervous! There was a little bit of pomp and circumstance at the start line and then the runner’s were off. It was so crazy to think that from moment on, someone from our team would be physically running for the next 36 hours. NUTS!
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How it works is each team has 2 vans with 6 runners each. Runners 1-6 are in Van 1 and they each run their first leg (4-8 mile increments) and then pass the baton to the next runner. The van drops off each runner and picks up the runner that has just completed leg while all the other runners hang out inside the van. Often times, with longer legs, the van will stop half way through the course to check on their runner, cheer them on, or give them extra water if it is especially hot (FORESHADOWNING!) Hopefully that makes sense so far.

Then every 6 legs there is a “van exchange” and the second van will get on course with their 6 runners, and the first van can take a little break while Van 2’s runners complete their 6 legs. And this continues on and on until 36 legs have been run. Garrett + I were in Van 2 so after we saw Carolann off, our van had to stay off the course until it was time for Runner 7 to get on the course. Since we had a few hours to kill, we got to decorating our van.
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We also added some check boxes so we could track our progress through the run. It felt good to be able to add a checkmark next to your name throughout the process.

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After the van was nice and festive, we headed off to get some breakfast at the Napa General Store. I let my hair down a bit and ordered a breakfast sandwich with potatoes. It was amazing, but in my effort to be a little more free with my carbohydrate intake since I was going to be running, I ate a lot more gluten than usual throughout the weekend and it really didn’t do me any favors.

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We finished up and decided just to head over the van exchange and wait for our runners. We had a couple hours to kill and in hindsight, we should have laid down some blankets and taken a nap. But instead we just kind of goofed off and hung out. Good for bonding. Not so good for long term energy conservation. :)

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Finally at around 1pm, we got word from Van 1 that they were approaching our exchange so we had to get our first runner ready. Garrett was Runner 7, so he got pumped and prepped to take on his first leg. He was super nervous since he was the first runner out, and when Van 1 showed up they were very up front about HOW HOT IT WAS! All of there runners had needed water halfway through their legs so they suggested we stop and meet Garrett in the middle. Garrett got ready and the runner exchange, and shortly thereafter Gina came around the corner ready to pass off.
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Garrett’s first leg 4.4 miles with a hill in the middle. He ran it like a boss and passed off to Grace, our Runner number 8.

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I was Runner number 9, so it was time for me to get ready and I was NERVOUS! It was 89 degrees out so when it came to for me to take my picture (a tradition we did before and after each leg) all I could think to write was this:

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I was speaking from the heart. :) My first leg was 4.4 miles and very flat, but the heat was like nothing I’d ever run in. At first I hadn’t even packed a tank top because I’ve been feeling bad about my bingo arms lately, but I’m so glad I did and at 3pm that afternoon I could give a shit about vanity. I donned that tank top gladly and headed out for my first run.

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I don’t know what to tell you about that first run except that the heat made me want to die right there on that flat, wine-country road. General running advice tells you to dress for 20 degrees hotter than the temperature that you are running in but let me tell you — there is no way to dress comfortably for 109 degrees, AMIRIGHT? I was instantly super hot/sweaty and the whole run was kind of a drag. I was most looking forward to that leg and I wanted it to set the tone for the weekend and it did not go at all how I planned. That said, I was happy to check it off when I finished!

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I was done around 4pm on Saturday and after being up and going for 12 hours, and having only 1/3 of my runs completed, I was starting to freak out about what I had signed up for. There was a long way to go and I wasn’t sure if I was mentally (or physically) prepared for what it would require.
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Next time I’ll tell you how the afternoon/evening went and my middle of the night run. EEP!

Stress Inventory

Miriel posted a link to the Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory Test on Facebook this morning and I read it and laughed the maniacal laughter that only a CRAZY! STRESSED OUT! PERSON! can laugh. And then it helped me put things in perspective.

I’m walking through my results below if you are intersted in taking a gander.

sTRESS INVENTORY

In the past 60 days I have experienced the following:

11. Major change in the health or behavior of a family member
16. Major change in financial state (i.e. a lot worse or better off than usual)
22. Major change in responsibilities at work ( i.e. promotion/demotion etc)
25. Outstanding Personal Achievement
26. Spouse beginning or ceasing work outside the home (YAY! for new jobs. But WHOA! for routine disruptions)
29. Revision of personal habits (HOLLY PUT DOWN THE SUGAR AS A NUMBING DEVICE)
31. Major changes in working hours or conditions (which of course has led to…)
34. Major change in usual type and/or amount of recreation (which of course has also affected…)
36. Major change in social activities (Gym! and Friends! I MISS YOU!!!!)
37. Taking on a loan (car/tv/freezer etc.) (We only bought a car, but MAN that loan process was LAME. And STRESSFUL!)
40. Major change in eating habits (OHMYGOD DON’T EVEN GET ME STARTED.)

GRAND TOTAL: 278 points

So what does that all mean?

Am I sharing this just to add one more post to the bucket that says “OHMYGOD LOOK HOW STRESSED I AM?” The answer is a definite no.

The point of all that is because the results were an eye opener for me. Check out what it is supposed to mean:

STRESS INV KEY

A 50% chance of a Major Health Breakdown in the next 2 years. OH REALLY? You mean those next two years when I plan to continue my career, get married (#7!) and have a baby (#14!). Gee, that seems like some POOR ASS TIMING! :)

I’m being a little tongue in cheek here, and I also realize that this test is not the be all/end all predictor, but I think it is so so SO SO SO important to recognize how stress affects our lives. Sometimes we don’t even acknowledge that things are “stressful” because they seem like good news (changes in financial conditions) or like everyday occurences (little arguments with your spouse) but all of that stuff adds up. I was listening to a podcast recently (I can’t remember which one) and the discussion was about stress and my major takeaway was that most people’s stress-related health problems don’t come from Major Life Events (although those obviously complicate matters.) Most stress-related health problems are the result of doing just a little bit too much, every single day, for a long period of time. And WOW I felt like a lightbulb went off.

I write a lot here about my journey to health, and frankly the posts where I get to talk about EXTREME WEIGHT LOSS! or DELICIOUS FOOD! are probably a lot sexier than the posts where I talk about stress. Talking about stress isn’t really Pin-worthy. I get it. But stress-management is such an integral part of living a healthy life and it is something I have become extremely committed to getting under control very quickly…before I do have some “health breakdown” and I think it is worth talking about.

I don’t have all the answers (AND WILL NEVER CLAIM THAT I DO, OHMYGOD!) but one of the things that I love about this website: this awesome space and THIS COMMUNITY OF REAL LIFE PEOPLE SITTING BEHIND THEIR COMPUTER SCREENS (hey, that’s you!) is the accountability, support and encouragement that it brings to my life. Sometimes all I have to do is say something “out loud” here and it really helps me commit. So this is my Standing On The Mountain Top Decree: I WILL be working through the management of my crazy stressful life, DAMMIT! I know it’s not the sexiest storyline, but you are more than welcome to come along for the ride.

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Did you take the test above? How did you score? Are you thinking about making some changes? Shout it from the mountain tops with me, would ya?

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