Sunday, February 19, 2012

Great recipes

We've had some good food around here lately. I'm always in favor of sharing recipes and in that spirit, here you go!

Crock-Pot Chicken (recommended by Heather)

Brussels Sprouts with Pecans (Corey ate these. And had seconds. That's a big deal so you should probably make them).

Baked Kale Chips (inspired by Lauren, who uses garlic powder, onion powder, a dash of salt and Mrs. Dash southwest chipotle seasoning, then cooks them at 450 degrees for 5-7 minutes)

Southwestern Falafel with Avocado Spread (this was dinner tonight. It was a little tricky to make the falafel patties, but good!)


First run back!

So last Thursday I had a follow-up visit with my podiatrist to pick up my new orthotics. When I was there, he said I should go ahead and start running about 30 minutes at a time- best news ever! The only cautions were to start out slowly and not to increase speed and distance at the same time. In other words, I should only do about 30-minutes at a time for a little while and start increasing my speed, then move up to 40 minutes and go a little slower, then increase speed, then go up to 50 minutes, etc., until I get to about an hour and then I think I can just keep increasing from there like I normally would.

So of course, Friday I was itching to go out for a run and luckily, Corey agreed to go with me after work which made it even better! We decided to just do an easy 30 minutes and if Corey needed to walk (he hasn't run in four months), that would be fine and probably even a good thing because the doctor said a walk-jog wouldn't be a bad way to start back.

It.was.awesome. I really can't put into words just how much I've missed running and these few weeks off have made me realize just what an important part of my life it has become. One night when I couldn't  sleep, I literally laid in bed daydreaming about the physical and mental relaxation that comes with a long run. I craved it and couldn't wait until the moment that I could run even a short distance again. So getting back out there, even for a little bit, was amazing.

And my feet? Well, the good news is that my plantar fasciitis problems didn't really bother me, neither during or after the run, so I'm really pleased about that. It's by no means completely gone yet and I was lectured a little bit about how I really need to stretch my calves more, but my heels and arches actually felt good during the run and I had no trouble the rest of the day Friday or Saturday. The bad news is that the neuromas in my toes didn't really feel better. This isn't really shocking, actually, but I'm hoping wearing the orthotics may still help since it seems they're often caused by biomechanical problems.  If it still doesn't get better, then when I go back to the doctor I'm going to see if there are adjustments he can make to my orthotics (e.g. metatarsal padding) that will stop the nerve from being compressed and will prevent the pain. So fingers crossed!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Spring Plans and a Running Update

So it will probably come as no huge surprise that I've decide to forego my spring marathon for now (insert loud sigh and glare at the world here). My last-ditch efforts (read: another new pair of shoes, KT taping, even some freaking compression socks- I have no idea what I really thought those would do) didn't solve my problems on the last long run I attempted. Instead, the pain is starting to come earlier on runs which obviously doesn't mean anything's getting better- in fact, probably the opposite. After I made the decision I spent a few days pouting but now I'm trying to make the best of the situation and think of new things I can try now that I have a few more hours a week on my hands. My goal is to work hard so that when my feet are better I will also be healthier and stronger overall. I was hoping to also keep running short runs during this time but wise Heather pointed out this weekend that it would probably be much smarter for me to take a few weeks off, and I know she's right, so I'm going to hang up my running shoes for a bit. Here's what I am committed to doing:

  • Strength Training. I have known for a long time that this is, by far, the weakest link in my fitness routine, but I keep ignoring it because I'm intimidated and don't know what to do. Enter New Rules of Lifting for Women, a book I bought a few months ago but hadn't started yet. I finally started the program last Sunday and I really like it. I can't really vouch for it's effectiveness so far- I was sore the day after doing the first workout but like I said, I'm a complete novice in this area- but I do like how easy it is to understand and that it tells me exactly what I need to do, which is what I need right now while I'm getting accustomed to something new!
  • Recommitting to Yoga. Last winter and spring, I was going to yoga at least twice a week, sometimes more. After we moved to Charlotte I really lost some of my motivation- perhaps because I no longer had my favorite yoga studio nearby?- and I have barely been going a couple times a month. I don't know if the frequency last year had anything to do with the fact that I was also running injury-free during that time period, but it certainly seems like it could have because of the stretching and strengthening benefits (particularly of your feet!). Regardless, I enjoy yoga and it's a great activity for both physical and mental health, so it's time to get back to it. I have managed to go once or twice per week for the last few weeks so it's a good start.
  • Spinning (and other new classes). I haven't gone to spinning since the first year I lived in DC, but my new gym has a great studio that I'm eager to try out, and since I'll need a new cardio source for a while anyway I think this is a great time for it. There are also a lot of other classes that I'd like to try and a couple that I've already tried that I'd like to do more (e.g. barre) that hopefully will help me to get stronger and more resilient for when I start running again.
So there it is in a nutshell. Not what I planned on for now but I'm still motivated to get stronger and healthier and have fun trying some new things while I'm doing it. Onward and forward, right?

In other news, Corey and I are busy planning a spring trip to Costa Rica, so that makes up for missing a trip to Virginia Beach. I think We also had a great time visiting with friends this weekend and celebrating the engagement of a fantastic couple, so good times all around!

Friday, January 20, 2012

A Pain in the ***

Foot, that is. Or to be more specific, feet.

Long time no post, I know. It turns out that my tendencies towards laziness and procrastination also extend to the internet. I hope I haven't left you all completely on the edge of your seats, just dying to know what's going on in my oh-so-exciting life. ;)

First I can say that I think I picked the best winter ever for marathon training. The weather has been absolutely perfect and has made running a breeze in that sense! What hasn't been so perfect is the state of my prettttttty little feet. I've had what I assumed was plantar fasciitis for months now. Eh, not so fun, but the worst pain has been after running and my running itself hasn't been all that terribly affected. When I was going to the chiropractor for my back, though, he said I should start wearing some insoles to help that and he ordered them for me. They weren't so bad at first, but on longer runs my toes started bothering me to the point I'd have to take off my shoes and rub my feet, so I stopped wearing them.

Soon after I stopped wearing them (almost 3 weeks ago now) I started getting even worse pains in my feet on long runs- specifically the balls of my feet and my toes- to the point that I would be limping even when I walked. The first time it happened really badly I had overdone it the day before so I chalked it up to that but since then it's become a pattern. I've tried multiple different shoes and superfeet insoles and nothing was helping so finally yesterday I went to the podatrist, who took x-rays and performed an ultrasound.

Turns out I was right about the plantar fasciitis- my plantar fascia at it's widest point is swollen to about twice the size of it's normal width- but I have also developed neuromas in both of my feet as well. When he showed me the x-rays he said that I was born with a deformity in my feet (an extra bone in each) that's causing them to collapse and has led to the repeated problems I've had. I don't know if this extra bone is something that's really common and just what causes people to over-pronate, though, or not. Anyway, he prescribed prescription anti-inflammatories and took casts for custom orthotics. I'm skeptical about the orthotics, particularly because I feel like this latest problem only happened after the insoles from the chiropractor, but the doctor seemed to think because of my biomechanics and that extra bone- and the fact that my arch has started collapse- that they're essential. At this point I assume they're worth a try, although they won't be ready for 4 weeks.

The good thing is that the doctor is also a runner and didn't say anything like, "maybe you're just not meant to run." He seemed to understand how important it was to me and also saw no problems with distance running once these problems are fixed (oh, fingers crossed).

What does this mean for the marathon in March? Honestly, at this point I'm not sure. I've done a lot of reading online about neuroma and people have had varying levels of success with "band-aids" in the short-term. From what I understand, running on it isn't going to make it worse, but if I can't figure out a way to manage the pain then it's really not feasible. I have some ideas to try for tomorrow's long run but if those don't work, I've kind of exhausted all the possibilities. My attitude/mood about the matter veers from really, really sad (I just typed "devastated" and then realized just how self-absorbed that sounded ;)) to realistic to cautiously optimistic when I think I've found some solution to angry and pouty to sad again. Probably pretty fun to live with, huh? Yes, I do know there are much, much worse things but as Heather wisely pointed out right now, this feels pretty disappointing right now.

So anyway, there's my whine-fest and vent for tonight. It actually felt pretty good to type it all out. That's probably why people get private diaries, right? Maybe I should look into that... ;)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Celebrity Marathoners

Hi everyone! So to culminate the end of marathon training week #1, I thought I'd put together a fun post about celebrity marathoners. Ever wondered who else has run the big 26.2? Well, here you go!

Ryan Reynolds: New York City Marathon 2008- finished in 3:50:22

Mario Lopez, Boston Marathon 2003- 5:41:42 and New York City Marathon 2011- 4:23:30

Christy Turlington Burns, New York City Marathon 2011- 4:20:47

Katie Holmes, New York City Marathon 2007- 5:29:58

Al Gore, Marine Corps Marathon 1997- 4:58:25

P. Diddy, New York City Marathon 2003- 4:14:54

Oprah, Marine Corps Marathon 1994- 4:29:20

Alanis Morissette, Bizz Johnson Trail Marathon 2009- 4:17:03

Meredith Vieira- 5:59:00 and Al Roker- 7:09:44, New York City Marathon 2010

Will Ferrell, Boston Marathon 2003- 3:56:12

And now for some other WAY MORE awesome "celebrities" you may recognize!!!!!

David and Kimber Clark

Heather Grant- who (I have to brag for her) just qualified for and is running Boston in April!

Nicole and Brandon Bookstaver

Rachel Baxter DeBacker

Amanda Kidd Pelfrey

Demian Kendall

Carrie Montgomery

If I missed you please let me know! :)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Ode to a Friend

Man, that race was not easy.

It didn’t even start out pretty. If anyone’s interested, you can lose a lot of fitness in three weeks. Like a lot. (I wouldn’t particularly recommend trying it). And the second half got even uglier when my back became super unhappy and was aching with every step.

But that’s not what this is about. It’s certainly NOT about persevering over pain or anything heroic-sounding like that, because I did not persevere. For real, this is the first race that I really felt like I could have quit- and I can almost guarantee that I would have if it wasn’t for Pamela.  And no way was I in anywhere near the worst pain out there.  Right after the race we saw a girl with her knees completely taped up. My friend Joe (who I hadn’t seen since 2005!) ran with the race with an ankle that had been hurting for weeks. For goodness’ sake, we saw a blind man. Running alone. With a cane. Come on, that’s awesome. That’s perseverance.

What this is about is the importance of friends- or more specifically, wonderful friends. I’m pretty sure Pamela didn’t drive 7 hours to run a race with me silently gritting my teeth 90% of the time. I’m pretty sure she didn’t plan on us having to walk for “just a few seconds” several times in the last few miles while she- literally- pressed on my lower back to take some of the pressure off (who does that? Amazing people, that’s who).  I’m pretty sure she didn’t plan on having to walk me through some visualization exercise (“we’re on the trail through Georgetown. We’re coming over the Key bridge”) just to get me to keep running. She could have left me a million times over and it would have been more than understandable- expected, even.  Instead, she put up with me at my worst and pushed me to continue and finish.  The kindness of that almost brings me to tears- probably more than she even knows!

Anyway, the girl is awesomeness personified. No matter how many races I run I think I’ll always remember how my amazing friend was there for me when I was really sucking it up and just how much that meant and will always mean. I only hope I can return the favor in some small way one day although I hope I never have to at the same time!

For anyone who’s concerned, my back seems no more worse for wear than it was last week, so no permanent damage done. In fact, as soon as I got home and used the heating pad and took some ibuprofen (should have taken it before- forget that whole kidney damage situation- just kidding!) I felt like a new woman. So it’s still improving and I’m going to get back to yoga (core-strengthening and all) to hopefully avoid this happening in the future! 

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Best Soup You've Ever Had

I promise.

Ok, don't actually hold me to that, because for all I know, you've had the most amazing soup in the whole world that's made out of pure truffles and cream or something. Or you have strange taste buds that don't like awesome things. But disregarding those two things, you just may agree with me here.

Anyway, this crockpot chicken enchilada soup recipe is from So Tasty, So Yummy (although I believe she credits someone at Tasty Kitchen) and you must try it. I have tried so many different chicken tortilla soup recipes and this one blows the rest out of the water.  It's incredibly easy to make, too, which is always a bonus.

Besides amazing food news, I hope everyone had a great weekend! Mine was fantastic, although as always, it flew by! Friday night we went out to dinner with our great friends Danny and Nichole and their one-year-old daughter Stella. Then, because we can never get enough of them, we went over to their house on Saturday night to eat BBQ and watch football. I may have spent at least half of this time browsing US Weekly and the J.Crew catalog, but I'll call it "watching football". 

On Sunday we drove to Winston-Salem to eat brunch with David and Kimber at Willow's Bistro. The food was amazing. I had the fried green tomato BLT because really, how often do you see that on a menu? Gotta take advantage when that's an option, right?After brunch I went shopping and Corey did some work until it was time for dinner at Robert and Korey's house in Greensboro. They have a 17-month-old, Jack, who we haven't seen in a year, so it was so great to get to see all three of them. Omar also drove to Greensboro from Chapel Hill so we all had dinner (Korey's delicious chili) together. Such a fantastic Sunday treat.

On the way home, Corey said, "You know we're so lucky, right?" 

I couldn't agree more. :)