Sunday, April 28, 2013

Nike Women's Half Marathon - April 28, 2013

Wow.  What an incredible day!  

I can honestly say I will never ever be an elite runner, and I will most certainly ALWAYS be a slow runner or a run/walker.  But today I feel like a rockstar.

Today I finished my second ever half marathon!   And I beat my goal.  And I PR'd.  And I feel like I have more in the tank!  I really do feel like a rockstar.

Way back in 2005, I was about 80 lbs. heavier than I am now and I walked a half-marathon in Virginia Beach.  The Rock N Roll Half was an incredible race and felt like a wonderful achievement.  It was hot and really humid and I was hurting for DAYS after!  I barely finished.  I can remember turning the corner at mile 11 and Team in Training staff were there....and I cried.  I cried almost the whole way to the finish, a straight shot down the boardwalk.  My ankles and legs hurt so freakin bad.  I don't know how I even finished - in fact, if it weren't for those TNT staffers that day who finished with me (one on each side) I know I wouldn't have done it.  I squeaked across the finish line in a crazy 4:32:55.   And I was so proud!  I finished it!

Today....we had a 4 hour course limit.  I had a great plan to run it that mid-way through training was cut short by an injury.  I knew I could walk this if I had to and if I ran a tiny bit it would be more than before.  We had checkpoints we had to pass by certain times or we would be asked to get on a slow bus and transported to the finish on a shorter route...

I did it!  I finished in 3:21:35.  That is a whole 1 hour, 11 minutes and 20 seconds faster!!   SMASHED!  I can't imagine how much faster it would be if I wasn't hurting!  I was sooo excited that I completely forgot to take a finisher picture!

I ran about 5 miles of the race!!

I was NEVER in danger of falling below the pace and getting on the slow bus.

And I finished FAR ahead of the 4 hour time limit!

I ran in honor of Alex Nieves, a young man who has beaten his leukemia and has returned to college this year and is on the Salisbury Lacrosse team.  And I ran in memory of my Gramma May.  Gramma lost her battle with leukemia in 1998 and I still miss her!  I had their names on my jersey (on my shoulders) and on my bib with the blood droplets.    Check out my sparkle skirt!

I trained for this, I was on track to run about 3/4 of the course with some walk breaks on it before I got hurt.  After I rest and let this hip heal I will be back on track and get this record broken too!

I trained with Team in Training and I am so excited!  I raised $2730 for cancer research and patient care.  I met some incredible people who supported me and got me to this point!  Of the 15,000 runners in this half, 2300 were from Team in Training.  We raised over 6 million dollars!
I had a fabulous team, teammates and a couple of coaches (I switched from the run team to the walk team after my injury) and they really just rock!
Coach Sara convinced me that I could make the time limits even walking the whole thing.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Perfect Cold Brewed Coffee

One of the things I love most when the weather warms up is a good iced coffee.  Until about 2 years ago I always just made regular coffee, maybe a little stronger (but HOT) and poured it over ice.  Not a good plan!  This gives you a bitter taste and it is usually watered down.  I tried everything - making it stronger (too bitter) to making coffee ice cubes (MESSY!) but I wasn't really happy.

Then I discovered cold-brewed coffee.   Life changing!  Where has this been all my life!

And it couldn't be easier, if not a bit messy.

First, get the biggest container you can find.  It doesn't have to be a pitcher, but it does need to be something you can pour out of.  I have 1.5 gallon pitcher.  I think this tastes better when you make it in all glass vessels, but my biggest container is a plastic giant pitcher so I make due.  More = better!

Add about 10-15 oz of coffee grounds.   I like a dark roast, coarse ground coffee best.  Espresso roast, Folgers Black Silk, any of the darkest roast you can find.   You can of course choose flavored grounds (hazlenut, caramel, Dunkin Donuts coffee comes in lots of flavors) but most of these are mild or light roasts and don't really work for me. I have done half flavored (coconut) and half dark roast with success.

Cover with COLD water.  Fill the pitcher to the very top.  Cover and put it in the fridge - about 6-8 hours (mine is usually overnight).  Stir with a big wooden spoon to make sure all the coffee grounds have gotten wet.

Second - the filtering process.  Now, there are lots of ways to do this.  Cheesecloth, paper coffee filters - you have to figure out what works best for you.  I think the cheesecloth would be better, but it is super messy.  I am a fan of the easy cleanup.   With paper filters I am able to switch them out a few times as I filter the whole pitcher.

I also found that if I put the glass pitcher in my sink, put the metal strainer on top of it and double paper filters in the metal strainer it works best for me.  I can balance the handle of the metal strainer on a coffee cup and let it drain.  Filtering takes a while and I am sooo not patient.  I pour a bit, do a little something around the house, check on it and pour a little more.   When the filter seems to be clogged with the wet grounds, squeeze them out and throw the paper filter and wet grounds away.  Replace the filters and start pouring more.   Be sure to scrape the coffee "mud" at the bottom of your pitcher into the filters and squeeze every drop of this delicious coffee out of it.

This process takes a while - probably 20-30 minutes total if you really stay there and pour constantly.  Typically I pour and walk away, so it usually takes me closer to 45 minutes to strain but I get more done that way!  :)

Finally, pour over ice and enjoy!

I love a tall glass of this in the morning.  Sometimes I use this as a liquid in my morning shakes (iced coffee, almond butter, and a banana).

Store in a glass container, covered in the fridge for about 3 or 4 days.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Remembering....What can I do?

Yesterday was the 6th anniversary of the Virginia Tech Massacre .... this was so close to home for me. Two of the victims and the shooter were from the high school that is less than 2 miles from my house. We have several teachers on staff who were there at VT that day and who lost friends they grew up with. This is always a terribly sad day here.

And Monday, as a runner, with a half marathon scheduled in DC for 12 days from today.... I am so sad. Sad that the families who came to cheer their runners in Boston couldn't enjoy their safety, sad that runners who trained and qualified were kept from finishing by someone's act of cowardice, sad that a historic event like the Boston Marathon is not safe from harm, and so sad for everyone who was there or had runners there (we had several local friends there running).

I always wear my "We are all Hokies" shirt on April 16 in remembrance...but yesterday I was torn, do I wear my Hokie shirt or my race shirt, because we as runners won't be deterred and we stand with all those in Boston.... and that made me very sad. What a sad time for our world that we have to chose what shirt of remembrance/tribute to wear, two tragedies among the many this week (Waco, OKC, Columbine, VT and now Boston).

*sigh* I am too emotional and sad about this whole thing.

Last night I went out for a run/walk.  I walked 26.2 minutes (26:12) for each of the lives lost in Boston yesterday....a total of 78:36.  No music.  Just walking, enjoying everyone out on the trail, thinking and taking in the sunshine and blooms and thinking and remembering both the lives changed forever yesterday and those changed 6 years ago today at VT.  

Sunday, April 14, 2013

How to keep up with all the great ideas you find on blogs!!???

In my job as a technology specialist working in an elementary school I am constantly being asked to recommend a lesson or a plan or an app.   Not to mention, my creative and crafty side is always looking for the best recipes and crafting ideas....  So how do I keep track of them and keep my brain from exploding?

Two ways - first, I subscribe to a blog reader.  I used to use Google Reader and life was good.  Then, a few weeks ago we got the pop-up window to tell us that it was being discontinued.  DOH!!  So I switched to Feedly.

Feedly offers several views and until today I was getting by with it, but not loving it.  Finally I figured out how to make it work for me!  And I thought I'd share with all of you.

When you first log in to Feedly, be sure to choose the option to "connect to Google Reader" to import all of your blogs you have been following!

After you have your blogs imported, this is where the organizing comes in!   The view I found today lets me read the whole article.  Feedly defaults to Today (on the left) and Magazine view (on the right).  I change both of those!

On the left, I pick All and on the right I choose Full Article.

This will show me the full text of all new articles in ALL of the blogs I read.  This means I go to one place to read the hundreds of blogs I want to read and that I only have to see the posts that are new.

So, now that we have the view set up - what next?   I scroll through and anything I want to save or refer to later, I click on the title of the post.   It opens in a new window.  Across the top of the image below you will see all the articles I have planned to read further and save for later.
 (and of course I have facebook open because who doesn't!) 

Now I can easily pin each of those articles (if after I read them they are worth saving!) to my organized Pinterest board.

Having lots of different boards has made my Pinterest more useful.   I started out with a food/recipes board. But then I pinned hundreds of recipes and I couldn't find anything.  I now have a few:   Food -  Clean/Whole/Paleo/Primal, Food - Delicious Drinks, Food - Sweet and Yummy and Food - Main and Side Dishes.   Chances are much better now that I will find my recipe easily when I'm ready to cook!

Once I pin those ideas, I close the windows and start reading more blogs on feedly!  And I am able to find ideas I pinned when I need them.  I have 10 boards related to education, 8 for holidays, 4 for food, 3 for exercise/health and a ton of fashion/crafty/style ideas!  

Follow me on Pinterest!  

Friday, April 12, 2013

What it really is about....

I have known all along that this journey to be healthier was about more than just weight loss and smaller sizes.  Yesterday was a perfect reminder of the big picture.

Last year's Boosterthon FunRun (April 19, 2012) and this year's FunRun (April 11, 2013)

Yesterday was our Boosterthon FunRun at my school.  We are a high-needs school - most of my students don't speak English before they come to school, around 60% of my kids qualify for free or reduced lunch and we even send home food over the weekend so many of them will be able to eat over the days they aren't at school.  This is a FunRun - the kids get pledges if they can to help support our school, but on the day of the FunRun EVERYONE runs and participates.  Everyone cheers each other on.  We do one run for headstart, K and 1st.   Then another for 2nd, 3rd and 4th.  And finally another for 5th and 6th.   Each race is around a kid sized track (about 1/8 of a mile) and we run 25-35 laps.  I was out in the HOT sun for all 3 races with our kids.  Parents and teachers cheer them on, we have a dj, teachers run and walk and dance with our kids out there, we have a blast and it is an active fitness-based activity that we enjoy together!  

Best thing about the day:   I have these kiddos in 5th grade that I have worked with for the last three years.  Great kiddos, lots going on in their lives and a lot of little friends that just need extra love!   Today during the fun run, I ran a bunch of laps (not all 35 though) with my little guy I mentor, and we finished his 35 laps (each lap is about an 1/8 of a mile).  And just then another little guy says to me (from his class) - Hey Ms. S - will you run with me too?  I only need 5 more laps!   OH MY GOODNESS how can you say no to that?   SO I did, even though I was already over 12K steps and hot (nearly 90 today), I ran with my buddy.  And when we finished and I was walking a cool down lap with him, ANOTHER friend said to me....I think I'm done, this is all I can do, I can't finish, I want to sit down.  So of course I encouraged him and did the last 6 laps with him!!   I ABSOLUTELY LOVE that I am able to be out there and run and encourage the kids this way!

This is a fundraiser for our school but it is about so much more!  Our parents come and cheer on the kids.  We promote leadership, character and fitness for the 2 weeks of the Boosterthon.  I am so excited that I can do so much when those kids need a little cheering on.  It seriously makes me tear up it is so incredible.  

That is what this weight loss journey is all about.  THIS.  Showing our kids that they can have a healthy lifestyle.   That we can make a change and meet the goals we set for ourselves.


I finished the day with 17,000 steps, 7.5 miles and the warmest feeling in my heart.  Totally worth the sunburn I got!