Monday, August 30, 2010

Training for a Marathon: What No One Tells You

OK, I'm sorry for the lack of blogging, but the last week has been nuts. I've been doing training for my marathon, trying to stay healthy, had a bachlorette party, and competed in the Minneapolis Duathalon with my friend Sam (she biked, I ran), oy! So, here, in a couple of pictures, depicts some highlights from my last week.

Making a carrot cake from scratch with cream cheese frosting. =)
Hitting up Loring Pasta Bar with Cindy, and then going for dessert at the nearby and relatively new Fru la la. All I can say is, Rice Krispie Treats on Frozen Yogurt get an A++.
Then, there is marathon training. I know it seems pretty obvious, but marathon training is hard and time consuming. I had a mini (OK, full blown) break down about it this last week. As I was explaining my frustrations and worry of this process to Ben, the following words came spilling out of my mouth, "I've never pushed myself this hard, mentally or physically before in my life."

And it's true. I had this ah ha moment, where I realized what I ask my body to do, week in and week out. Now that I'm up to the higher mileage, and this being my first marathon, each week on my long run, I'm telling my body to do something it's never physically done before, and pushing it while my mind says, "no stop, this isn't something I've done before. But yes, keeping going, you'll never get better at something if you don't venture into the unknown." It's the weirdest feeling, it's like having a running devil conscience on one shoulder and the running angel on the other.As I stated in a previous post, my marathon training partner Katy has also moved to Denver, and the other gals I meet up with for runs are a faster pace than me. I don't expect them to slow down, they don't expect me to speed up, they're great gals, they hold me accountable for meeting someone on those early mornings to get running, so it is what it is.

Luckily, I have people who have been joining me for parts of my run, which makes my day, and I have an iPod with stellar selection (in my humble opinion). So what do you do to keep going on long runs? Past Marathoners, what has kept you going through this part of your training? Also, I'd love to hear any suggestions for motivating workout music, as my iPod and I are becoming extremely close these days. =)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Quick Post for a Winner!

Hi Folks, a quick post for you all tonight to let you know the winner of the VitaTop Apple Crumb Giveaway.

The winner is...


Jessica said, "i think the new apple vita top would be delicious with vanilla greek yogurt!"

Jessica, leave a comment with your e-mail address, or DM it to me on Twitter and we can exchange contact information.

Now, I'm signing off and getting ready for bed, as you know, I'm all about the need for more sleep lately, sleep tight friends!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Time for the Mom Cut?

It seems like every girl I know gets married, and cuts their hair within a few months. It's like, once you've mastered the up do, you're ready to cut your hair, and here I am, in the same boat.

I can't necessarily say it was the wedding though that kept my hair long. I had had short hair at the beginning of college in the dorms.
(BTW, that's me on the left, in the infamous Territorial Hall, in case you can't recognize me)

Then let it grow long...

Then had it at a medium length for quite awhile, senior year and the year post college, going to random hair dressers between the Quad Cities and the Aveda Institute in the Twin Cities.

Looking back on these pictures, I detest this hair cut. Maybe it was the random stylists, but as soon as I moved back to the Twin Cities three years ago, I started growing out my hair as long as it could go, to avoid looking at another picture like this (I also started working out and watching what I eat more for the same reasons, looking at this picture, I can't believe how much I could let myself go!). And that's what scares me about cutting my hair, growing it out and having it look like this.

Right now, my hair pretty much looks like this:
The bottom line is, I'm getting sick of my long hair, maybe it's the humidity that has it never staying how I want it, maybe it's round brushing it day in and day out. But right now, this hair is driving me crazy!

My hairdresser put in some layers last month to try and liven it up, but now they're growing out, and I think it just looks gross.

Part of me thinks, maybe I should try a Brazilian Blow Out that I'm hearing so much about them to keep my hair long straight and somewhat maintenance free, have any of you tried those?

I have a few shorter hair cut ideas, but am just a plain chicken when it comes to hair cuts.

So, thank you readers for indulging me in this self-centered post, if anything, this has been a fun way to go back in time in pictures, and for you all to see me, if you just met me, in ways you haven't before!

Come to think of it, is such a first world problem, there are a lot of people with a lot bigger problems to deal with right now in their lives, I should be so lucky!

Friday, August 20, 2010

VitaTop Apple Crumb Giveaway

I told you there would be a great giveaway today, and here it is! The people at VitaTops are at it again, this time with a new flavor, that has my mouth watering, The Apple Crumb VitaTop.
As you know from past entries and giveaways, I'm a huge VitaTop fan. You can't find a more satisfying 100 calorie treat, and I really wonder how they fit 100 calories into all that deliciousness??? I've seen this new flavor, toted around various blogs and websites, people saying it's great toasted, or even better, warmed up like apple pie with low fat ice cream on top, YUM!

So, the good people at VitaTop will mail one reader a dozen of their newest flavor, Apple Crumb, here are the ways you can try to win:

There are a few ways you can win:
1. Link this giveaway on your witter with the following, "@AlexaTC is sponsoring a great @vitamuffin giveaway, with their latest flavor, Apple Crumb, yum! Check it out:" then, leave me a comment with a link to your tweet.

2. Post a link to this give away on YOUR blog and leave a comment with a link to your blog

3. Tell me how you would eat these Apple Crumb VitaTops

4. Become a follower of my blog via the tool on the right hand side, and leave a comment saying you follow (or already were a follower).

So, there are four separate ways you can win!

Here is the fine print: This giveaway is open U.S. Residents only. Entries must be received by Monday, August 23, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. Central Time. A random winners will be announced on Tuesday, August 24, 2010 and the winners have until Thursday, August 26, 2010 at 6:00 p.m. Central to contact me, otherwise a new winner will be chosen.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Love and Marriage...

When Ben and I moved in together, I ventured into a place I had only temporary spent time in before... the Bachelor Pad. For the 30+ year old man, who had spent the majority of the last ten years living alone, and moving from city to city, he had it down. The Rou Bourbon Street Sign above the door from a trip (or several) to New Orleans (this is a battle I'm still fighting).

Or, the Gonzaga Basketball Banner to express his allegiances (i.e. obsession) to his Alma Mater, just to name a couple of things.

Of course, then there is the color scheme, Navy Blue and Red. Every thing that may have color, was navy blue and red. The throw pillows, red, the sheets on the bed, navy blue, the comforter, red, the bathroom towels navy blue (with a red back up set of course!) My only theory on this color coordination is that red and navy blue are very "hetero safe" seeming colors for a single man, so that must be why it all ended up this way.

Well, it took me awhile, but I'm now beginning to turn the page on the red and navy blue that have mobbed our home. Getting married made an easy excuse for wanting new things to begin to decorate our home, without breaking the bank. One of the most exciting so far, our new Calvin Klein Quince bed set.
Do you see that? Not an ounce of Navy Blue or Red in site!!

Even Ben said he thought it was nice, and not too girly (he was very afraid of getting too many flowers or pastels in a new bed set).

Then, a few weeks back, I was exploring Caitlin at Healthy Tipping Point's blog when she showed a beautiful pillow from West Elm that I knew would exactly match our bed set, check it out....swoooooooon.
This is how I know I'm getting old, as much as I still love shopping for clothes and shoes, I'm in love with decorating our house and have to control myself against going crazy at such stores as West Elm, Pottery Barn and Crate and Barrel.

The best part about moving in with a bachelor, the TV, an experienced bachelor always has a good TV, and I'm now reaping the benefits of that. So, there are benefits to taking on the bachelor pad ladies!!

So, next stop on the redecorating train... the Navy Blue and Red themed bathroom!

P.S. On a totally separate note, check back tomorrow for a GREAT give away!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Rental Bikes!

So, people have been e-mailing, asking what adventure Ben and I did yesterday afternoon, I guess I made it out to seem to be a more exciting than it actually was, it's my life here people, it's not like President Obama came over for lunch!

Anyway, Ben and I both have bicycles that are in desperate needs of a tune up, and it just hasn't happened this summer to due to the time to get them there, the money to tune them up after the wedding, and a million other excuses. However, yesterday Ben was hankering for a bike ride, so he suggested we try out the new Rental Bikes available in Minneapolis. Because of my hip issues, I told him I couldn't bike, but I'd gladly come along on my rollerblades.

So, we headed to Uptown, and picked up a bike at one of the many rental kiosks around the city. The program is called Nice Ride Minnesota, and it's pretty easy to use. Insert your credit card, get a printed out code, use that code to unlock the bike, and take off.
You can return the bike to any of the stations they have around the city (currently in Uptown, Downtown and the U of M area) and be charged on a daily or half-hourly basis.
Ben Getting Ready to Rock His Bike

So, Ben and I hit the Greenway yesterday to put on some good mileage, and the bike worked great! It wasn't a piece of crap, it was easy for him to ride, and equally easy to return just by locking it back into one of their bike racks. He even rode to the Twins Stadium (yes, you can bike to a Twins game, great way to save money on parking and burn off those hot dog calories before you have them!), while I turned around a bit earlier to be extra careful with my hip injury (the joys!).

I'm so impressed that Minneapolis has taken this initiative to have these affordable and reliable bikes available to the general public. It really shows the initiative this city has to keep people healthy, and also cut down on the number of cars on the street. I wish that more cities would do this, as it's simple things like that that make communities healthier, improve a person's quality of life, and cut down on health care costs for all of us.

Have you tried these rental bikes? If you're outside of the Twin Cities, does your city do something similar?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Love me some Weekend

What a WONDERFUL weekend! This weekend I felt like I had so much fun, yet still accomplished quite a bit around the house. Why can't all weekends be this lovely??

Following a 14 mile run, (thanks to Wendy, the rock star for joining me for 6.5 of it) Ben and I headed out to one of my favorite local establishments to eat, Manny's Tortas. We really don't get here often enough, but their Tortas (Mexican Sandwiches) are amazing. This Saturday, I have my usual, the Chicken Torta.
The torta may not look like anything special, but each one comes with avacado, lettuce, the meat of your choosing, refried beans, jalapenos and chipotle mayo that is SO spicy, I always get it on the side and put it on little by little.

If you've never made it to Manny's Tortas, as you can tell, I highly recommend it!

Saturday night on a bit of luck, Ben and I ended up going to the Twins Game. We had been talking all day about wanting to go, but not wanting to spend extra money, when Luther Liz, happened to post on twitter that she had two extra tickets to sell. So, she gave us a great deal, on great seats (Section 103, row 10), and we enjoyed one of those perfect summer nights for a ball game, beer in one hand, hot dog in the other; thanks again Liz!!
This morning I woke up to find of those days why I know I live in Minnesota, sure, people from other parts of the country (cough, California relatives, cough) love to tell me how great their weather is, and rub it in, but today was why I put up with those January days. Highs in the 70's, no humidity, sun shining with some white puffy clouds to boot, amazing!!

I got out of bed to meet Mary, Meghan, Cindy and Jen for brunch at Common Roots in Uptown, and it was SO fun to catch up.
I had read about their amazing bagels online, so I decided to try one, they were pretty good, but nothing to write home about. I did try other items that some of the other ladies had (Lemon Ricotta Pancakes, Fritatta, Huevos Rancheros...) and they were delish!

Tomorrow, I'll fill you in on what Ben and I did this afternoon, because it was a little adventure. =)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Alexia Potatoes and Crock Pot Chicken

Have you ever had Alexia potatoes?? (No, not "Alexa," but if I had a nickel for every time I've been called "Alexia," "Alexis," Alex," and the list goes on... in my life, I'd be rich!) They are delicious! I love their sweet potato fries.

Recently, they put out a Select Sides line, and they are amazing!! Yesterday, I spotted them at the store, after seeing them only in sporadic places, and I picked up three of the four different flavors.

Basically, they use a flavorful oil and mix it with their great potatoes and some vegetables. It's a fast (less than 10 minute prep), easy, and pretty affordable way to add veggies to your diet, and a nice side to your dinner.
Last night I made this Chipotle Sweet Potato Mix with Black Beans, Corn, Peppers and Onions, it was so easy, and tasted great.
I found these at Byerlys in the Twin Cities area, and I know that Coborns Delivers has them as well. They're around $4.00 a bag, and totally worth it.

Along with the lovely potato side, I heated up a recipe from the a crock pot culinary genious, my pal Meghan. She gave me this recipe for Crock Pot Chicken a few months back, and it's a winner! It's great for leaving while you go to work and eating when you get home, and packing up the leftovers in the freezer to eat on nights when you just don't feel like like cooking. Check it out below and try it for yourself!
  • Place three raw chicken breasts in slow cooker, Top with half to a full packet of taco seasoning (depending on how spicy you want them).
  • Top with one full jar of Salsa
  • Top with one can of black beans, juice included
  • Heat on medium for six hours (or, if you're like me and gone for longer, I cook it on low for 8-9 hours)
  • Before serving, shred chicken with fork (it should come apart easily). Then, mix with 1/3 cup low fat or fat free sour cream and 1/3 cup low fat or fat free cream cheese.
  • Serve with chips, tortillas, or eat it plain with a fork!

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Need For More Sleep

Bleh, that's how I feel right now, and it's all because of this Minnesota weather. Today was beyond balmy, or sticky. It was like the steam room at the gym, turned up so you can't catch your breath. I set my hair on hot rollers this morning and left the house with curls, it didn't take long for my hair to end up like this:
The headset I wear all day doesn't help matters, but the hair was a lost cause the minute I walked out the door.

So looking at this picture, and a lot of them lately, I've noticed that I look a lot more tired, down right exhausted, and it's not just because I ran out of under eye concealer, cause I usually only wear it for special-er occasions anyway, but it has to be my lack of sleep catching up to me.

Yes, work has been very busy, training as been busying, squeezing in physical therapy appointments for my hip, along with some volunteer work I do, and then spending time with my family of course. However, the truth of the matter is, I need eight hours of sleep, and lately that's been about a once a week occurrence.

When we returned from our honeymoon it became hard for me to go to bed at night because Hawaii is five hours behind, now I've just become used to staying until past 10PM, getting sucked into TMZ (because everyone needs to know who's getting divorced today in Hollywood!) and not turning the lights out until past eleven o'clock. Then, when my alarm clock rings at 6:15 a.m. I snooze, I snooze again, I cuddle with the dog to avoid getting out of bed and then when I HAVE to get out of bed I end up rushing around to make it to work on time.

This HAS to stop. It's obviously bad for my health by the way it's affecting my complexion, I hate having to rush in the morning (I used to always have time to take my dog for a nice 15 minute walk and have a bowl of cereal while catching up on morning headlines). Now, it's a short walk and sometimes grab breakfast to bring with me, or pick it up near work. This isn't fair to Cooper, and it's not good for my wallet.
So, I'm holding a sleep-ervention. I will be in bed by 9:30 p.m. each night. By in bed I mean, ready to sleep, lights out, maybe a little time to read or TV, but in bed ready to get in eight hours. I will update you, my lovely, hold me accountable readers, one week from now to let you know how it goes!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Cookie Monster

Have you fallen in love lately? Because this week I fell in love with a cookie. And wouldn't you guess it, it's from on of my favorite leading ladies right now, Ms. Bethenny Frankel.

This weekend I decided to whip up her Oatmeal Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies. They're made with no white flour or sugar, so they're better for than a normal homemade or store bought cookie, according to Bethenny.

My cookies turned out different than the pictures on her website.
But let me tell you, they are delicious! They're very hearty as well, with the oats, the whole wheat flour and the kick of chocolate, they really do keep you full, and fulfill your sweet tooth.

I brought one in for my co-worker Jody and she agreed as well.
Even Ben is requesting these cookies in his lunch for work!

They were easy to make, and the measurements she gives you don't mean your slave to to the oven and multiple batches of cookies all night, my one batch fit perfectly on one sheet.
I can't wait to try more of her recipes!!

This weekend was a great one! I ran the Urban Wildland Half Marathon with Ben's cousin Annie, and it was such a great race. A nice flat course, and I did it as a training run for the San Francisco Women's Marathon, so I took it nice and slow, so my hips felt good (the free massages after the race also helped). We were lucky enough to run before the humidity hit Saturday afternoon, but did get soaked by rain starting about half way through. It felt nice, but by the end got old having water running down my face and my feet feeling like they had weights on them.

Today, one of my dear running pals, Katy, is moving to Denver, and I'm beyond sad. As most of you know, a great running partner is a true treasure to find. Someone who runs your pace, provides good conversation, keeps you going when you feel like you can't, and makes you accountable to meet for runs, even on the days you feel you can't. Katy is running the New York City Marathon this fall, and her and I had been training together, now we'll have to be training virtually. If it were not for Katy, I would have never been prepared for my first half marathon last fall, so it's only natural she provide the inspiration for my first full marathon. Therefore, this post is dedicated to you Katy, I'll be running San Fran for you!!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Mad House

Direct quote from Ben last week, "We have to watch more 'Mad Men' tonight, it left me hanging, and I've been thinking about it all day."

Yes, this is my life right now, the 1960's advertising world has invaded our home, and there's no looking back.

It all started on the plane ride back from Hawaii, there were various options to watch on the little personal TV they give you, and there was one episode of 'Mad Men,' having never seen the show I figured, "why not give it a whirl? I've heard good things." I watched the episode, and with knowing little of the story line, thought it was great. (They also had an episode of my favorite show on TV right now, "The Good Wife" as an option, and even though I'd already seen it, I watched it anyway, that show is written very skillfully as well).

Then, two weeks ago, AMC was showing the best of season three episodes and I caught tid bits of them, and knew I had to start the series from the beginning.

One of my friends lent us the first two seasons, and we have been watching them in a trance ever since. Last Saturday night, we watched seven episodes, yes, seven.

If you haven't watched this show, check it out, the writing is superb. It speaks lengths about the general undertones of the 1960's United States living in the cold war era, where divorce was just starting to become part of reality, but not fully accepted, and the materialism that landed us in this current recession got it's start. If you're a history lover, like both of us are, you'll love this show for the historical references as well, and how they paint them into the story lines.
Watching this show reminds me of when I first started watching "The Sopranos" and was hooked. I am hoping, however, that "Mad Men" doesn't jump the shark in the same way "The Sopranos" did towards the end, throwing in random story lines and characters and never truly offering full resolve for many of these.

I'm a TV junkie, if you haven't noticed. =) I was completely taken off guard by the people in Journalism School who would proclaim they didn't watch TV, or own one, like it was a status symbol or something, (and, we were in Journalism school, for broadcasting, you expect to study a craft you don't even believe in yourself??)

Is there a TV show that completely captivates you?? With winter coming, I'd love to hear some recommendations. During winter, most weekends are spent either at the gym sweating to get warm, or at home watching TV or a movie, wrapped up in a blanket to stay warm. =)

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Turkey Times and Smoothie Love

This weekend was full of new culinary adventures, and some fun times with friends!!

I started the weekend off trying out a Turkey Burger recipe from Glorious Greens. The author, Leanne, and I went to high school together, and had many fun times working at the local grocery store. I remember her always being so healthy and wanting to do active activities together, through the magic of facebook I found her blog, as we haven't talked in years, and apparently not a lot has changed!

Recently she put up a post about a fabulous Southwest Turkey Burger she made, and I had to try it for myself, turkey burgers are a favorite in our house. Here they are, ready to be scooped off the George Foreman Grill:
Yes, that's right, you see black beans and carrots mixed in there, it's all part of the magic. Ben likes his burgers double, double on a bun (or sandwich thin since we had no buns) and with American cheese.
Ben is a guy who LOVES big burgers and can usually slam a double in no time, but he couldn't even finish his because it was so hearty from the beans, and lean turkey. This recipe is a winner, great job Leanne!

Saturday, after running a sometimes painful, 11 miles at the crack of dawn with my pal Katy, I decided to take McDonald's up on their offer for a free 12 ounce version of their new fruit smoothies. I had checked the nutrition facts on these as soon as I received the free coupon, and was pleasantly surprised, the small, 12 ounce size has 210 calories, 3 grams of fiber, and 48 carbs, not bad!
I have to say, it tasted great too, and was perfect for a post, long workout. It's not a go-to, always going to have snack, but it's a healthier option, and since I believe strongly in eating a good balance of carbs vs. protein within 45 minutes after you work out, it's perfect to help restore some of what you've lost when you're in a pinch for food.
As you can see, I liked it. =) (Try and ignore the dark circles under my eyes, I woke up at 5:30 to go running that day, and the humidity still caught up to us).

Personally, I have my own post workout smoothie recipe that I like to make that I'll share with you all sometime, it's a semi "green monster."

Besides eating my way through the weekend, I went to Bunker Beach with some friends (great place, a must go if you live in the Twin Cities metro), went to a cookout with other friends and finally met their not so new (11 month old) baby, and picked out Ben some new stylish glasses I'll feature on here when they come in, phew! I'm ready to enjoy a relaxing Sunday night!