Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Me! Me! Me!

Admittedly, this blog has gotten away from the running focus it had in it's inception. Which makes sense since it's author has done the same.

I was absent here much of 2012 because 2012 was not about me. It was about my children and rebuilding my little family after it was shaken by a scary chain of events at the end of 2011. It was tumultuous, overwhelming, exhausting - and remarkably beautiful, all at the same time.  In retrospect, I'm thankful for the past year and the intensity with which I was able to focus on my family. But it left little room for any sort of focus on myself. There were no races last year, no mileage to speak of, and no weekend running retreats with my peeps. And that is exactly how 2012 needed to play out.

But now that I find myself here in the wee hours of 2013 I can hear that selfish little voice inside me dying for some attention. And, although cliche, it is true that I can't take care of anyone else without first taking care of myself. So I'm grabbing for the oxygen mask and bringing a little more balance back to this new shiny year.

Monday, May 28, 2012

What'cha Grillin'?

It's Memorial Day. And so many of us celebrate with cookouts and barbecues. Normal fare around here is ribs, brats, burgers, and steaks. But I have a lot of healthier recipes in my arsenal and thought I'd share a few. When I started bringing healthier alternatives to cookouts I really thought it would just be for me and everyone else would stick to the more traditional stuff. But, it turns out, lots of folks really like the healthy stuff if someone takes the time to prepare it. So I thought I'd share....

Grilled Shrimp
This is one of my all time favorites. I've been making it for years and everyone loves it. Leftovers are great the next day tossed in pasta or just cold in a wrap. Although, if I want leftovers I have to double this recipe.
2 pounds of peeled and deveined shrimp
1 cup olive oil
Juice of one lemon
Zest of 1/2 lemon
1-1/2 TBS hot pepper sauce
2 TBS tomato paste
1/4 chopped fresh parsley
5 cloves of garlic - pressed or minced
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
Make sure your shrimp are all nice and clean. If you are using wooden skewers, make sure you soak them for at least 20 minutes so they don't burn on the grill. Mix all of the marinade ingredients together. Toss the shrimp in with it and let it marinate in the fridge for a couple of hours. Then cook them on the grill - about 3 to 5 minutes per side depending on how hot your grill is. Tip: When I'm preparing for a party I will skewer the shrimp before putting them in the marinade so all I have to do is throw them on the grill when people get there.

Fish in Packets
I don't really have recipes for this. It totally depends on what kind of fish I have and what kind of mood I'm in. Here are some examples:
Traditional: Tilapia fillets with thinly sliced or julienned veggies.I like zucchini, red pepper, carrots, and mushrooms. Place everything in a packet of heavy duty aluminum foil. Add some sort of liquid like chicken broth, white wine, or melted butter. Seal up the packet and grill for about 15 minutes. There is no need to flip the packets.
Asian: Salmon fillets with honey, soy sauce, grated fresh ginger, mined onion, and pressed (or minced) fresh garlic. I usually add a little rice vinegar and fish sauce for the liquid, but you could use chicken broth too.
Southwest: Tilapia or other white fish. Top with black beans, corn, and salsa. So easy! And you don't need to add any other liquid.
Italian: Grouper or any other fish. Season with Italian seasonings, add petite diced tomatoes, diced onion, diced bell pepper, and a little Italian dressing.
The possibilities are endless. But you get the idea. Just fish, veggies, seasonings, and some sort of liquid. Use good, heavy foil. Don't flip the packets. And use a spatula, rather than tongs, to move things around so you don't let all those yummy juices escape.

Grilled Peaches
Super simple. Just cut peaches in half, remove the pit, and grill for about 5 minutes. I really don't think they need anything else. But I have made them sweeter for the kids by putting the peach in foil (cut side up), filling the center with brown sugar, cinnamon, and butter, and then grilling that way.

Grilled Pineapple
1/4 cup maple syrup (Use the good stuff here. Real, actual, maple syrup - not that nasty pretend stuff.)
3 TBS of melted butter
Fresh pineapple cut into rings
Mix the syrup and butter together. Put the pineapple and syrup mixture in a freezer bag and marinate overnight. You can get away with just marinating them for 30 minutes, but I just like to do as much ahead of time as possible. Grill them for 3-5 minutes per side until they are caramelized. So yummy!

This is my kids' all-time favorite grilled veggie. They ask for it ALL the time! And its super easy.
Just toss fresh, trimmed asparagus with olive oil, salt and pepper. Grill it for 5-8 minutes turning until the asparagus has grill marks and is tender.

Grilled Sweet Corn with Roasted Red Pepper Butter
Okay, this one isn't as healthy. But my rationalization is that the roasted red pepper means I'm eating my corn with less butter. Right? It makes sense to me. And it is SO good.
1-1/2 sticks of butter, softened
One jar of roasted red peppers, drained
Combine butter and roasted peppers in food processor until well blended. Put butter mixture onto plastic wrap and roll into a log shape. Put into fridge so it can set up.
Soak corn, in husks, for about 30 mins to an hour in a sink full of water. Then place on the grill directly. The corn steams in the husks. It takes about 20 minutes, depending on how hot your grill is. Just keep turning them. Some of the husks may burn a little - that is normal. The corn inside will be perfect. I've made sweet corn a bazillion different ways. This is the best - and the easiest. After the corn is cooked the silk will come out easily in one swoop. Peel back the husks and you're good to go. Slice up the butter you made and enjoy!

I don't have pictures for you. This was just an impromptu little post and I'm actually not grilling today. But these are recipes I make pretty frequently so I will snap some pics next time and add them to this post over the coming weeks.

Sunday, May 27, 2012


I rarely feel disappointed in others. Mostly this is because I don't have very high expectations of others. I realize this may not be the most healthy outlook, and really - not even very nice, but that's just how it has been for awhile. And, frankly, my underestimation of the human population has served me well in two ways:
  1. I rarely allow someone else to influence my mood by disappointing me. 
  2. I am truly amazed and inspired when people go above and beyond expectations. 
Of course there are cons to this way of thinking. Mostly, I have a hard time trusting people and I don't delegate well. This makes me a control freak and frequently leaves me feeling overwhelmed at the amount of tasks it takes to get through each day.

Recent events have caused me to step squarely outside of my comfort zone and trust some friends more than I normally would. And, sadly, I'm feeling that rare case of disappointment that I've spent so much effort trying to avoid. It sucks. And I hate it. And I regret allowing it to happen.

But I'm trying to stay positive. So I decided to take the time to reflect and see what I could learn about myself through all of this. During my reflection I realized that this stupid emotion called disappointment is so jarring to me because I just don't let enough people get close enough to have that power.

Also, I have no problem feeling disappointed in myself. 

I guess this explains why my first reaction was to hook myself up with some really good ice cream and feel sorry for myself. Yes, in hindsight this appears to be a stupid idea. But at the time it was brilliant. And comforting. And made me happy. And the familiar feeling of disappointment in myself seems easier to deal with than feeling betrayed by a friend. But we all know that dealing with someone else's bad judgement call by making my own bad judgement call is not the way to go. It worked in the short term. But, clearly, is not beneficial to my long term goal.

My quest to get back into shape has moved slowly. I am gradually getting back into my good eating habits. And I'm feeling better because of it. I'm already behind on my training program though. Wanna guess how that makes me feel? Yeah. Disappointed.

According to this equation I need to either lower my expectations or raise my reality.

Or both.

So the summary of my deep thought of the day is that: You can't let the actions of other people derail your vision. You should have reasonable expectations. High expectations mean nothing if you don't have the reality to back it up. And people are surprising. Most good. Some bad. I can't control that. I do, however, buy the ice cream.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Refusing to Fade Away

It has been months since I posted. And they have been some pretty rough months. During that time I've written a few posts in my head, but sadly, its not the thought that counts when writing a blog.

My time has been consumed by some pretty heart-wrenching family drama. I wish I could say that I've dealt with the stress well by keeping up an exercise schedule, but that couldn't be further from the truth. In fact, I have comforted myself and my kids with oodles of baked goods and dinners that consist of some sort of cheesy, creamy goodness. I haven't had a full night's sleep since December 18th. My body is showing the signs of all of this neglect.

I've seen bloggers disappear in the past. Some I've reached out to because I truly loved reading them every week. And I wonder how they are doing on their journey and what caused them to fade away from the interwebs. I don't want to be one of those that fade away. But I think I may understand a little why they do. Taking a hiatus is sometimes necessary when life demands. And when your blog is about your choice to live a healthy lifestyle or strive toward a goal - it is sometimes easier to stay gone than to admit defeat.

But I miss my blogger friends. And I miss my real-life runner friends. I don't feel like I'm "part of the club" anymore. It seems we just don't have much to talk about when there are no plans to make for the next race that is coming up. I get jealous about those status updates of smiling faces with medals around their necks while I'm sitting at home in my pajamas drinking a third cup of coffee to fuel me after a long night. I'm happy for them, but sad for me at the same time.

As overwhelming as circumstances have been, I realize I'm doing myself no good in my current state of pity-partydom. And there have to be others out there who have experienced major setbacks like this and still managed to climb back on the wagon. So, while I don't feel great, I do feel hopeful. I'm looking at a printout of a 30 week training program mocking me on the bedroom door. And the decision has been made.

I'm starting from over from scratch.

Square One.


I can't muster up a whole lot of excitement right now. But I do have enough determination to at least take the first step.

And I just really want to be one of the cool kids again :)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Check Out My Guest Post

You guys should all go to Rochelle Melander's blog over at The Write Now Coach. Why? Because I'm her guest today! I met Rochelle online after noticing some of the great coaching work she was doing in Milwaukee. She is an author and writing coach who is currently participating in National Novel Writing Month. Her blog features posts this month to inspire others who are also participating in NaNoWriMo.

Rochelle has just released a brand new book, Write-A-Thon: Write Your Book in 26 Days (And Live to Tell About It). Laying the foundation for fiction and nonfiction writers alike to write a book in less than a month (and survive), Write-A-Thon provides the blueprint to do it all in less than a month! Write-A-Thon contains three sections: Training, Write-A-Thon, and Recovery. Each section utilizes introductions, brief valuable essays filled with practical tools, and just enough encouragement for the writer to press on and finish what may very well be the challenge of their life (or simply the challenge of the month). Perfect for accomplished authors or those who simply write, Write-A-Thon provides the complete guidebook for brainstorming, writing, and finishing that book (preferably with all sanity intact)! 

In honor of her new book, Rochelle is giving away a copy of the book to one of our readers. There are three simple ways to enter:
1. Comment on this post.
2. Follow my blog.
3. Comment on my guest post here.

Do one, or all three. You'll get one entry for each action taken.

In addition, for the first 50 people who buy the book and email her a receipt, she will send you an encouraging postcard during November via snail mail! (

Have any of you ever participated in NaNoWriMo?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Chicago's Perfect 10 Race Report

The Race
Chicago's Perfect 10 is a new race this year. They offer a 10 Mile option and a 10k option. Both start and finish at Navy Pier and run through Grant Park. I do love running along Lake Michigan, and they were giving medals for a 10k - so I was in!

The Morning
This race called for a VERY early morning for me. The race organizers changed the start time to 7:00am just four days before race day. (There was some conflict with the Parks Dept.) So my plan of taking the train into the city was nixed since the trains don't run that early on Saturdays. They moved packet pick-up to 5:00am. I was nervous about lots of people picking up their packets that morning and wanted to be safe in case there were long lines. So I left my house at 3:30am to get there shortly after 5:00am.

Did you hear that? 3:30 AM! I remember days that ended at 3:30am. Starting at such a time seems unnatural. This meant I had to actually wake up about 2:45am. In order to prepare, I went to bed at 9:00pm. Seemed like a good idea in theory. But I tossed and turned until 12:30am - which is closer to my regular bedtime. So with just two hours of actual sleep under my belt, I gave up and just got up before the alarm even went off.

The drive into Chicago was the easiest EVER! Apparently, most people believe they shouldn't be out at such a ridiculous hour on a Saturday either. Driving all by my loneseome on the Eden Expressway was a little eerie. I felt like it was the apocalypse or something.

The Expo
I arrived at Navy Pier shortly after 5:00am. There were a few athletically dressed folks meandering through the parking garage, but we certainly weren't fighting over parking spots. So that was one great perk of the early hour.

I made my way up to the expo and picked up my race packet. I didn't have to worry about lines. There was no one there yet. And they seemed to be very well-organized. Race shirt was nice - a long sleeve tech shirt. I'm not a huge fan of red though.

The 10 Mile runners got the same shirt in a dusty blue color. I LOVED that color! But, it wasn't worth the extra four miles. Those folks deserved the "cool" shirt. I didn't spend a lot of time looking at the booths at the expo. I was tired and just wanted to relax a little. I texted Lynn and Timre who were both meeting up with me this morning.

Timre lives in Chicago and was heading over with a friend of hers who was running the 10 miles. Timre and I agreed to just walk the 10k together since neither of us had been training properly at all. Lynn would be running the 10k.

Soon we all met up outside the expo. Its so nice to have friends to do these events with. Even though we are all at different levels and abilty as far as running is concerned - we can meet up before, during, or after, and share our experiences. I just love that.

The Start
It was cold. About 35 degrees. Most of the runners stayed inside Navy Pier until just before the start of the race. It was nice having such a big indoor venue (and indoor bathrooms) with the starting line directly out the door. So we didn't freeze to death before the race even started. Loved that. Timre and I lined up at the back of the pack and took a few pictures.

I made it abundantly clear that I was not running this race. It was just my way of easing back into training and logging some miles. I was sleep-deprived and unprepared. There was a generous time limit for the 10kers, so I wasn't at all worried about time.

The Run
Have I mentioned how much I love running walking in Chicago? If I lived in Chicago I swear I would run every day. Its so beautiful. Here are a couple pics:

I realized two things during this 10k.

1. I am ridiculously out of shape. I kept comparing times to when I was running regularly and I couldn't believe the difference. It is much easier to lose your endurance than it is to get it back.

2. I could never be a power-walker. I noticed this in Boston when I was walking with Lynda too. Her and Timre both have very fast walking paces. I don't. And things seem to hurt more when I walk. I'm actually more comfortable at a slow jog than I am walking. I just didn't have the endurance for it.

Overall, it was a good experience. I did have to run to catch up to Timre a few times. She was perfectly okay with leaving me in the dust if I didn't keep up :) So anytime I stopped to take pictures or if I slowed to a "normal" walk I found myself having to run just to keep pace with her walk. I was thankful to have the extra push though.

At the end of the race we were handed one of these little beauties:

It totally made the early morning worth it. I'm a sucker for the bling.

The Recap
I liked this race. It was smaller than some of the Chicago events. They had 3,000 registered, but I don't think that many showed up since there was some who were angry about that last-minute time change. But for those of us that showed up, it was perfect. The course wasn't crowded and was well marked. They seemed to have plenty of volunteers. For an inagaural event, it seemed to run very smoothly. I especially appreciated the race day packet pick-up. So many of the Chicago races don't allow for same day pick-up and it means an extra two hour trip just to pick up a bib number. I hate that. (Unless they have a really great expo....but they usually don't.) I would definitely do this race again.

And I'm guaranteed a better time next year :)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

No Excuses!

Today is the one day of the year you can't use the "I don't have time to exercise" excuse. You have a free hour today. Go use it!