Thursday, September 30, 2010

I have a confession to make...

I need to admit something to you all... I'm nervous...

I'm nervous (maybe even a little scared) for my marathon. In just two+ short weeks, I'll be running the Nike Women's Marathon, in a city I've never been to, and with a group of thousands of unknowns. I have the typical first marathon nerves, what will it be like? When or will I hit a wall? Specifically for San Fran, how bad will the hills be?

But, I've also been suffering injuries throughout my training, and that has me worried as well. As, I told you all, I've had a great physical therapist helping me out through this training, both mentally and physically, and I have a great doctor as well.

However now, do in part to me pushing myself too hard (i.e. being Type A), and also in part to my lemon of a body, my bursitis I spoke of back in July, has reared it's ugly head again after recent long runs. And this, makes me nervous too.

In fact, today, I went and got a big ass shot right in my kisser (while technically, my hip) of steroids to settle down my bursa sack for the race. I've had waaaaaay too much exposure to needles lately with this, and then the kitchen cutting incident. Luckily, there's a lot more cushion for the pushin' on my backside, so this shot didn't hurt nearly as bad as the finger one.

I've been told by my doctor and PT to hit the pool and water jog for the next 10 or so days, and just do one short run on the pavement the week before the race. I've even been told to lay off yoga for the next few days, holy crap!!

So, this is when I get irrational, and I know it's irrational, but I can't control it. As much, as I want to finish this marathon, and have that personal accomplishment, the first thought it my head when I was told these things was, "well, what if I gain weight from the lack physical exercise in the next few weeks?"

Ughhh, I get so mad at myself for thinking this way. Even though I know I wasn't blessed with naturally thin genes, and that two weeks won't have me packing for fat camp, and that swimming IS great exercise, I get all up in my head. So, I keep having to remind myself, "eye on the prize woman, San Francisco," and that crossing that finish line will feel better than any yoga class or strength training session I could ever do in the next two weeks.

Another point of apprehension for me, running this race alone. My worst long run, was when I tried to do it all alone, granted it was on the streets of Minneapolis on a random Saturday, which are nowhere near the setting of a race day.

Luckily, the Nike Women's Marathon set up a facebook page for runners to chat with each other. Although many of the women on this page are posting the "bring it on!!" posts, I knew there had to be more women like me out there With one post, I had a few women respond to me who are also running alone, or running interval style like I do, and want to run together and we're arranging to meet up. I cannot even tell you how happy I was to receive their messages!!

So, I'm not going to lie, this post was more for me, than you today readers. It was me, putting all my fears out there, outside of my head, about this race, and my first marathon. Because yes, I'm nervous, but I'm not terrified, and more than being nervous, I'm excited. I mean, I'm going to run a marathon. One day, I'll show my kids the pictures of me crossing the finish line, and I'll be so proud to tell them, "your mom did this, and you can too."

So, I guess maybe that's the difference between others and me. I'm not fearless. Whether it's about running, my career, or my personal life, and I'm not afraid to say it. But, I'm not going to let my fears stop me either. Not now, not ever.

**For my readers who are not runners, please bare with me over the next few weeks, as there will be some pretty running centric posts, but don't worry, I'll still throw in recipes, and other random life crap.**

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

When the cats away...

What is a gal to do when their significant other leaves town? I know what we think a stereotypical guy would do: drink beer, watch sports, let the dishes pile up, sit around and scratch themselves and order pizza. Am I right? That's the first thing that comes to your head?

This past weekend, Ben went back to his hometown of Boise, so I had the condo alllllll to myself, and boy, was I excited. Besides ordering a pizza myself (yeah, a woman does that too!), and watching bad (and good) TV, I was on a mission, to clean and organize the parts of our house, that were a disaster.
  • The Coat Closet
  • The Laundry Room
  • The Bathroom Cabinets
I took a day for each project.

Friday started with the bathroom, organizing Ben's cabinet (we each have our own), I found that once things were organized, there was limitless space in there, there was even enough room for our spare set of towels that were sitting in the laundry room like lost puppy dogs. I also picked up these cloth baskets from Target on sale for holding our items that reside on the counter for frequent use.
The baskets make things look neater, and make cleaning the counters much easier.

Next, I took on our laundry room. I wish I would have taken a before shot, a random smattering of old gym bags, our old dresser for "organization" filled with random crap, now all organized, and you can actually walk in here!

And finally, the hall closet, taking what was a mound of shoes and sporting equipment, and thanks to this lovely shelf I received from Molly, I was able to organize it all.
If you're thinking, "Did you have any fun this weekend?" Well, the answer is yes, I love organizing, it's like crack to me. I could have sat and drank wine in my laundry room all weekend and been happy while relishing in the organization accomplishment.

Plus, I also went out to dinner at Big Bowl with these fabulous bloggers on Friday night:
Back Row: Molly, Cindy, Erin and Jen
Front Row: Sam, Me, Sarina

And, attended a "Stock the Bar" wedding shower (which was more like a party) Saturday night for friends Wendy and Ben.
Pals: Wendy, Joleen and I at the Shower

If you've never been to one of these parties, host one now for your friends, it was an absolute blast!

So, my friends that's what this woman does when the man is away. Now I just have to try and keep this place clean since he's back!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Risotto Ramba

Here's a quick post, with a quick recipe for you.

I have never attempted to make Risotto before, but these past few weeks, something had me itching too. Then, Leanne at Glorious Greens had this post with her basic risotto recipe and I was sold!

Here it was, a recipe for basic Risotto that didn't look too hard, so I figured I had to try it. After all, I'm part Italian, my natural instincts on making this dish would kick in if all else failed, right??

I had heard horror stories about the stirring and stirring that goes along with making risotto, so I was expecting torture, and although, yes, I had to stir a lot, it's not like my wrist started to cramp or anything.

Plus, the risotto turned out great, check it out!
It also made plenty of good leftovers for lunch for both Ben and I. Plus, it was a pretty cheap dish to make. Which got me wondering, how do restaurants get off charging $13.00+ a plate for this dish?? hmmmmm...

Ben was out of town this past weekend, so we're enjoying the night back together, but tomorrow, I'll fill you in on all the fun I had while he was away. =)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Running for a Cause

The Final Countdown is on for the San Francisco Women's Marathon (cue this song). October 17th is less than a month away (three and a half weeks, roughly) and I can hardly believe it.

Training has been going well, due in part to my amazing physical therapist who told me back in July when I wanted to cry with IT problems and a bursitis diagnosis, that he would have me up and running this race. Now, thanks to his training and advice, I'll be there, woo hoo!!

So, last weekend, 18 miles in the bag, this weekend, the final long run at 20 miles. HOLY CRAP. I never thought I could run 20 miles, but then, here I am. In fact, until I ran my 15.5 mile run a few weeks ago, I was still unsure as to whether I would be able to run a marathon. But, it was when I finished that run that day, sore, but with a smile on my face that I thought for the first time, "I can totally finish a marathon."

I also had the pleasure of talking to a few women who had already finished this race, and heard their amazing, and inspiring stories, that made me want to take off to San Francisco tomorrow.

My running buddy Katy, who I've mentioned a few times who recently moved to Denver, is also training for her first marathon, the New York City Marathon. And the best thing about it, she's doing it for a good cause, The Achilles Freedom Team of Wounded Veterans.

Katy and I prior to the 2009 Twin Cities 10 Mile Race

The foundation strikes home for Katy, as her younger brother Neil lost both of his legs while serving in Afghanistan in 2005, and the Freedom Team has helped him throughout his journey since that incident.

I normally wouldn't advocate for donations on my blog, so you must know how strongly I feel about this cause. Katy is not only running for Neil, but running for others who have given so much for our freedom.

To read more about why she's running, the Freedom Team, or to donate, click here.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

For The Love of Food

What is one of my favorite things to update about?? FOOD! This week, I tried two new foods, that I had to share.

The first, the new Caribou Coffee Daybreaker Breakfast Sandwich. I got the Eggwhite and Turkey Bacon version, because it was the healthiest option, and sounded pretty tasty.

I was really skeptical going to get this sandwich last Monday, the only reason I got it was because my friend Joleen had told me how good they were, and I opted for a second press of the snooze button that day rather than making breakfast. I'm not a big fan of Caribou's coffee products, and have a strong allegiance to Starbucks.

I started off inspecting the sandwich before I took my first bite...

Looked pretty average... So then I took a bite.

YUM!! The sandwich tasted great. It wasn't "eggy" tasting at all, the bun was pleasantly warm, and soft, and the Spinach Florentine Spread they add to the sandwich added the perfect amount of flavor.

Like, I said, this was also a relatively healthy on the go breakfast option, check out the nutrition facts.

Especially compared to their oatmeals, who's terrible nutrition compared to making your own oatmeal completely shocked me; what do they do, load the toppings with sugar??

Anyway, if you're in a breakfast pinch, I highly recommend the Eggwhite and Turkey Bacon Daybreaker sandwich.

Next, this Friday I used a half day to run some errands, including a trip to Mall of America. While there I decided to check out what I heard was a self-serve yogurt place reminiscent of the love of my life while on my honeymoon in Maui, Yogurtland.

So, I walked into the place, called Freeziac, located at N375 near the food court at MOA and could feel that "ahhhhhhhh" noise that accompanies when the heavens part in movies, when I saw the multitude of self serve yogurt flavors awaiting me.

Oh Freeziac, you are exactly what I've been looking for. Sure, I've visited a lot of other frozen yogurt places that try hard in the area, but none that are self serve, NOTHING matches being able to make your own creation.

At Freeziac, you have one size cup, and you fill it with as much frozen yogurt (varying from tart to sweet flavors) toppings (fruits, candies, hot sauces) as you want. Then, you pay $.45 an ounce. (one cent cheaper than Yogurtland!). This is just a glimpse of part of the toppings area at Freeziac.
Their topping selection wasn't as much as Yogurtland, but still had a great selection, much better than any other place I've seen around here.

I got this mix of Vanilla and Cake Batter Yogurt, topped with Reeces Pieces, Caramel and Coconut. YUM!!
Now, if only they would put in one of these places in downtown Minneapolis I would be set... :)

**For the record, neither Caribou Coffee or Freeziac asked or endorsed me to write these reviews, I wrote them, because I thought you all should know.**

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Bum Finger

So, I know lots of bloggers give you the excuse of why they haven't been updating, but I have an actual good one this week.
Yeah, that's a splint you see. Tuesday night, while my husband prepared turkey burgers for us, he asked me to cut up a few slices of cheese after he saw our wire cheese slicer was dirty.

"I'm bad with knives," he said, "so you do it." He's told me this a million times, but you must also know, that we have a beautiful, new, ultra sharp set of knives that we received for our wedding; they're absolutely wonderful to cook with! So, I started to cut the wonderful sharp cheddar I had picked up from the Wedge Coop, and all be it, it was rough cutting, so I tried a few different ways, and then decided to just take it easy, and slowly cut across it.

I'm not sure what happened next, a sudden movement, and I let out a gasp, and had my bleeding left middle finger under our kitchen sink. Normally, with any little cut, the running water stops the bleeding, but not this time, it was coming out like I had never seen before.

Ben rushed over saying, "Is it bad? Oh, it's bad. You have to go in, that is not good."

"It's fine, I'll wash it, and pressure it with paper towel," I responded.

Then I looked at the counter and saw the dribbles of blood, and the blood droplet on the cheese. Then, I looked up to see where blood had sprayed the wall behind the sink when the water hit my wound, and thought, "EEK! That's gross, this can't be good" And at that moment, the what had been painless cut began to sting like an SOB and soak through the wads of paper towel I had wrapped around it.

At that point, Ben just declared, "We're going to the ER." I kept trying to convince him to clean up the kitchen first, he wouldn't oblige (it's the control freak in me!)

So, long story short, we went to the ER. I was seen by a doctor who I don't think could even shave yet (and Ben told me I was ridiculous when I started asking him when he graduated med school, where he did his residency, etc.). They gave me a numbing agent, that didn't even fully numb the top of my finger where the cut was (but was the worst needle pain I've ever experienced, I was THAT screaming person in the ER), and then proceeded to give me three stitches.

So, lovely readers, typing is a bit of an annoyance with this lovely splint, so bear with me, and remember to be careful in the kitchen!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Busy Week Recap

What a crazy and fun last week it has been!

I apologize for not blogging much, but this weekend I served as Personal Attendant for my college roommate Emily's wedding in St. Paul to Teagan.
Then, on Sunday I co-hosted a baby shower for my running pal Joleen in Minneapolis.
That, combined with my parents in town for the wedding, marathon training created a busy, busy weekend.

Then, tonight, I went out to dinner at Kierans with my Journalism School buddies from college. We had a great time catching up, and celebrating our friend Nina's engagement, and soon to be departure to France.
The last few days of girlfriend get togethers has been so nice. There's nothing I love more than catching up with these people from different parts of my life, and having a good laugh and sharing good food together.

Speaking of food, I promised you all I would report back on the recipes I tried, as I try them, so here goes.

The Basic Scone Recipe from Savvy Eats turned out OK. Other people liked them more than I did, but I felt they were a little too much whole grains and tasted too much like a bran muffin. My husband and co-workers liked them though!

The other recipe I made this week was the Lowfat Pasta Carbonara by Bethenny. YUM!! This recipe was super easy, and delicious, and made plenty of leftovers. I loved it, especially with the red pepper to add a kick, I highly recommend trying it yourself!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Queen of the Kitchen

Lately, all I want to do is bake and cook. It's the fall like weather we've been having I think. I got my first batch of apples from Ben's uncles farm this past weekend, and a butternut squash bigger than my head, from his cousin who had paid a visit, and it has my wheels turning of what to do in the kitchen.

Luckily, most of the time I want to make healthy or healthier recipes. Yesterday, I made this Pioneer Woman Recipe, and tried to make it healthier (I only used half and half, and didn't use the heavy cream she called for) and halved the recipe since it's just Ben and I.

It turned out great!
I also made a batch of No Pudge Brownies for dessert, but had 2.5 of them... they're not No Pudge when you have that many!

Maybe the baking and cooking stems from my marathon training, and the fact that running this much, combined with strength training at physical therapy has me wanting to consume extra calories.

Maybe it's from the fact that I'm so bored with food lately, I just want to spice it up a bit.

Or, the fact that Ben and I have pledged to eat at home more, for healthful and monetary reasons. However, I have to be careful not to blow the monetary reasoning out the window by spending my well earned dough on obscure ingredients that I'll only use a pinch of for a recipe, and may never use again.

My next plans of attack in the kitchen includes:
Stay tuned for reviews!

Got a favorite recipe as of lately? Feel free to share!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Summer Goals... Revisited

Well, it's Labor Day, the unofficial end of summer. Back when I was in high school and college I dreaded this weekend because it meant back to school, now I look forward to it because it means an extra day off from work, and I work all year anyway, so who cares if it's the end of summer really?! Well, since I live in Minnesota, I do get the summer blues about mid-February and miss the sun and hot weather, but luckily, we usually do a trip to some place warm in March (this year it's Las Vegas again!! woo hoo!)

Anyway, I wanted to touch back on the Summer Goals I told you all about in June, and report back as to whether I accomplished them.
  • Paint Bathroom Orange and Redecorate Bathroom with Bright Them
  • UPDATE: Turns out, painting the bathroom would be a lot of work, and I'd have to paint it back to a normal color when we go to sell in the next couple of years, so I'm waiting for my orange bathroom until our next home.
  • Redecorate Entry Way
  • UPDATE: We're re-painting our entire common area in October with the help of my Dad, then the entry way will get it's update, but everything is ready to go for it.
  • Not spend too much money at Crate and Barrel doing said redecorating
  • UPDATE: So far, so good. =)
  • Make a Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting from scratch (any good recipes to share?)
  • UPDATE: Completed, just last week, check it out!
  • Eat at Manny's Tortas
  • UPDATE: Done! So good! Why don't I make it there more?
  • Eat at the Loring Pasta Bar
  • UPDATE: Again, completed just last week with Miss Cindy, it was delicious.
  • Complete at least four 20+ mile runs (any good route suggestions in the area?)
  • UPDATE: Well, my training plan didn't call for me to do this many once I drafted it, I'll be doing a 20 mile run on Sept. 18th though, I'll need your words of encouragement as it gets close!
  • Strength Train a least once a week
  • UPDATE: Been pretty good about this because of my physical therapy, but can't say I got it done EVERY week.
  • Go to at least two Twin Cities area water parks
  • UPDATE: Well, I made it to one, Bunker Hill in Coon Rapids. It's a great place, if you're in the area, c heck it out
  • Volunteer in my local community at least twice
  • UPDATE: Accomplished, I did my normal volunteer work for our community's police department and also volunteered on our State Representative's bid for re-election. I plan to volunteer more for him as the election draws closer.
So, I didn't do perfect, but I'm glad I wrote these goals down. I'm sure come January 1, I'll be updating you all on my winter goals. Thanks for keeping me honest readers. =)

In other news, the time to enter the Sweaty Bands giveaway has come to a close, and I'm excited to announce our winner...
Emily said,
"My favorites are the skinny superstar bands - are you surprised?? :)"

Emily was the first commenter, holy lucky in the random drawing, this never happens. Emily, let me know your contact information, and I'll get you your Sweaty Bands, congratulations!!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Labor Day Weekend

I know most of us are celebrating the long weekend, and unlike our three day weekend in May, it's not Memorial Day, but instead, a time for us "laborers" to take a break.

But, check out this video about a World War II Veteran re-visiting the site where Japan surrendered, and where he stood to witness it. It's beyond moving, especially as we lose more and more World War II vets each day.

This man with terminal cancer's sense of peace is amazing, I can only hope to feel the way he does near the end of my life.

Please watch this, and think of those serving overseas who don't get to take off on Labor Day, or any day, right now.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Sweaty Bands Giveaway

Tonight was a great night for a run in Minnesota, not too humid, a little breeze in the air. Perfect for marathon training (I had hills to do), and also the perfect time to try out a new running accessory, Sweaty Bands.

Sweaty Bands describes their product as the following, "Sweaty Bands are the ultimate sports and fitness headband, uniquely designed for women and girls who want to show their style, even when they sweat a while!"

The people over at Sweaty Bands sent me over a sample pack with two of their headbands to try out, so tonight I put this one on before I headed out on my run.

If you're like me, I'm always looking for a good headband to try and hold back my fly aways on a run or working out in general, and one that won't have me adjusting it every five minutes. I've tried so many brands, but still haven't found one that is perfect, and lately have been resorting to bobby pins with a lot of hairspray, but then the pesky side hairs are blowing in the wind by Mile Two.

Upon first putting on the sweat band, I found it hard to get on because only the bottom part is elastic. It was a bit awkward to get on my head, and I had to readjust it, but once it was on there, it felt great, not too tight at all.

I set out on my run, and I have to say, I was impressed. I totally forgot I was even wearing the Sweaty Band. I never even adjusted it once, even when a five minute downpour decided to shower me. It felt comfortable!

I was wearing the thicker of the two sweaty bands, and upon arriving home, I did see that the back of the headband looked a little like it was jetting off the back of my head. But, when it comes to running, I'm all about function more than fashion.

Plus, I also have this skinnier version of the Sweaty Band to try as well.

The good people at Sweaty Bands also gave me a sample pack of headbands to share with one of you! One thicker and one regular sized Sweaty Band to help keep your hair under control during your workouts.

How you can win:

1. Link this giveaway on your twitter with the following, "@AlexaTC is sponsoring a Sweaty Bands giveaway. Try to win to keep your hair in place while you get your sweat on" 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. Visit and tell me with a comment which Sweaty Band design you like best

4. Become a follower of my blog, and leave a comment saying you follow (or already were a follower).

5. "Like" Sweaty Bands on Facebook and leave a comment saying that you did

6. Leave a comment naming at least one song that gets you pumped up while you're working out.

So, there are SIX separate ways you can win!

Here is the fine print: This giveaway is open U.S. Residents only. Entries must be received by Monday, September 6, 2010 at 7:00 p.m. Central Time. A random winners will be announced on Tuesday, September 7, 2010 and the winners have until Friday, September 20, 2010 at 6:00 p.m. Central to contact me, otherwise a new winner will be chosen.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Northeast Social & Organized Dining

Last night, Ben and I ventured into Northeast Minneapolis (I've actually been there quite a bit lately) to check out a new little restaurant with my co-worker Kelsey and her boyfriend Jason, called Northeast Social.

The restaurant is part of a super cute little neighborhood featuring smaller bars full of locals, people riding their bikes down the pedestrian friendly streets, and a couple of beautiful Catholic Churches.

The food at Northeast Social matched the neighborhood, cute and filling, but didn't leave me feeling like I had just swallowed a whale, or that it was the height of trendy.

My meal consisted of a blue cheese, apples and sunflower seeds with balsamic dressing salad, followed by potato gnocchi with heirloom tomatoes, onions, garlic, basil and beurre blanc for the main course. Both were delicious! I also received a good enough portion of gnocchi, that I was able to take half home for lunch today, not bad for $15!

I matched all of this with my favorite sweet wine, Moscato di Asti, and Ben and I split a slice of key lime pie for dessert. We're both huge fans of REAL key lime pie, i.e. it's not bright green, and has a thick graham cracker crust.

Unfortunately, I took no pictures upon my visit. =( I forgot my camera, and with the dim lighting, my iPhone camera without a flash wasn't cutting it for picture taking.

If you're around this neighborhood, I highly recommend this place. The prices weren't bad, and the service was good too.

Also, today I took a leap in the healthy meal organizer and money saver category.
I bought this marker board, magnetic organizer to plan out our meals for each week. I've always tried to plan out meals, jotting them down here and there, but my friend Emily has something similar on her fridge, and I thought it was a great idea. Plus, the board was on sale for $3.50 at Target, you can't beat that!

It will help us stick to a more organized grocery list, and eat out less, so we're able to have meat thawed out, and ingredients ready for dinner when I get home from work.

Tomorrow, I have a great giveaway for you all. Something that could help you stay more comfortable during your workouts, stay tuned!