What My Family Ate Last Week (Wk 2)

barbecued brisket

My cooking schedule did not go exactly as planned this week.  I had forgotten that my husband was going to be away Thur-Sun to play in a hockey tournament with some of his friends (aka reliving their college glory days!!) so I postponed some of those meals until this week!

Monday AND Tuesday: (Leftovers and Taco Tuesday -> Leftovers x 2) We over-ordered wraps and sandwiches for our son’s 1st Birthday Party on Sunday and decided to have what was left rather than let it go to waste.  Eggplant and fresh mozzarella, chicken cutlets with roasted peppers, and Italian subs were only a few of what we got to eat!

Wednesday: (BBQ Brisket -> Salad) My son was not feeling well most of the morning and I completely forgot to start the BBQ Brisket (requires 6-8 hours to cook in the slow cooker), so I opted for a quick and easy salad option. I added tons of fresh veggies (cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, squash), threw in some cold cuts and cheese, and a little homemade guacamole!

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    Do you Dream…


    …of running a certain race?  

    Maybe it’s one of the marathon majors – NYC, Boston, Chicago, Berlin, or London. Maybe it’s a race that is touted to be a “beautiful” course – Big Sur, Honolulu.  Maybe it’s in a part of the world that you hope to travel to one day – Paris, S. Africa, Athens.

    So here’s the question – if money, ability, time, and travel were NOT an issue, what race would you want to run?

    My husband and I have a (very) long list of races we want to do. This list is a LIFETIME list – we have NO intention of doing most of these races in the near-term.  We would love to – but we can’t afford to travel to some of the destination races at the moment (we are about to purchase our first home!), nor we do have the time to adequately train for some of the more physically demanding races.

    But that doesn’t mean I can’t be on the lookout to add new races to my list (the actual list is about 25 races long).

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      Superbowl Challenge



      After the great participation and feedback for the NFC Championship Challenge that Pavement Runner and I organized, we decided to host a similar challenge for the Superbowl on February 5th.

      Since Pavement Runner’s  49ers were defeated by the Giants (btw, he is now rooting for the Giants!!), I had to find another friend to host the challenge with me -> meet Samantha from Running and Cupcakes.

      We are runners.  Distance runners.  So the loser will be running.

      But this isn’t just limited to us – we’d love to have more runners join us in this friendly competition!!

      Rules of this challenge (same rules as the previous challenge!):
      If your team loses, you have to run the point differential in miles. Simple. For example, when the Giants beat the Patriots (for the 2nd time in 4 years), 24-21, Samantha and anyone else who is rooting for the Patriots will have to run 3 miles. 
      Mile limit: In the occurrence that the Giants blow out the Patriots, we’ve capped the miles to 20 — meaning the most either of us would run is 20 miles. This works for us because we have a solid base and can log the distance. If this mileage is too high for you based on your current training, feel free to cap it at 10 – or whatever distance you feel comfortable!
      To be run by: Within a week of the game sounds fair, but outstanding circumstances are understood.
      Prove it: Tweet out a photo of your garmin in shame… LOL.
      You don’t need to challenge an individual, just make an agreement with yourself to run the difference after you pick a team. If you could care less about stupid football, but are forced to watch the game, at least you’ll have something to root for.

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        What My Family Ate Last Week

        Ready to eat!

        My post last week “Spicing” up Dinner discussed how I am making an effort to meal plan and add variety to my family’s nightly meals.  This is my first post detailing what my family ate last week.  So without further adieu, here it is:

        Monday: Stuffed Peppers: DE-LICIOUS recipe that Victoria from Victoria Runs posted on her website.  The full recipe can be found here.  There were a few changes I made to the recipe:
        – Did not use canned sauce – I have never been able to use canned sauce due to my grandmother and mother’s influence on me from when I was a little girl. I just made a quick and easy marinara sauce (I will post my mom’s at a later time!)
        – Substituted lean turkey in place of beef
        – Did not use the Italian seasoning -> basil and parsley are in the marinara sauce that I made
        – Added a little mozzarella cheese on top when they were finished cooking
        Notes: Very easy, quick, and yummy recipe!  The best part was that my 1 year old was a huge fan of the rice, turkey and sauce mix.

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          How to Become a Better Runner



          It’s a known fact that you can often become a better runner by increasing your mileage and incorporating speed, tempo, and long runs into your training.

          But, perhaps the best way to become a better runner is simply by learning.  Learning from your own experiences in races and training as well as from friends and acquaintances who run.  And I always find that I learn MORE from the mistakes I have made.  Yes, it sucks to make mistakes (especially during races). Often they result in poor times, a painful end to the race, and the sadness of not performing well.

          After running for over 10 years, I still consider myself a student of the sport.  I’m constantly learning.  I learn from mistakes I’ve made, success I have had, published articles, and successful runners’ blogs.

          Yesterday’s run is a great example of learning from a past mistake. My plan was to run 10 miles at Marathon Pace (MP).  (Note: My goal is to start incorporating 6-10 miles at MP during my long runs.  I wanted to practice running at this pace for an extended period of time before I include it in my long runs.)

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            “Spicing” up Dinner

            Source: Naturalmamas.com


            I officially started meal planning this week.  It was a loooooong time coming.

            It came on the heels of several weeks where my husband, 1 year-old son, and I had the same 5-6 things over and over again.

            I was in a cooking rut – my desire to cook was non-existent and as a result, we had pasta, grilled chicken or take-out more times than I would like to admit the last few weeks.

            After reading a few great healthy cooking / lifestyle blogs and seeing how delicious the food they were cooking sounded – and looked – I decided to start menu-planning and try out some of the recipes. (Sweet Tooth Sweet LifePeas and CrayonsMeals and Miles, and Victoria Runs, are only a few of the many I have found.)

            9 Benefits of Menu Planning:
            1. Save money on unused food that gets thrown away
            2. Save money on last minute trips to the local deli
            3. Save money by ordering-out less
            4. Add variety to meals
            5. Eliminate the daily spike in stress levels (around 3pm) due to:  What are we having for dinner?
            6. Maintain a healthy and well-balanced diet
            7. Give my family something to look forward to each day
            8. More order in my life (dinner is ready and on the table at the same time each night)
            9. Expand my 1-year old son’s palette

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              NFC Championship Challenge (Updated – with Participants!)



              When I was in high school, my basketball coach used to make us run sprints and suicides after a game for the number of turnovers we had, (if we lost) the number of points we lost by, the number of points over 35 that the other team scored… It really made every possession count during the game.

              I no longer play on teams and am resigned to being an armchair quarterback / point guard / etc.  It’s fun to make the games more interesting –  my husband participates in a fantasy football league every year and despite telling him that I think it’s a waste of time, I really enjoy it.  It’s fun to cheer on our his players and have each possession count again!

              So when my twitter friend, Pavement Runner, a San Francisco-er, asked me if I wanted to put a friendly wager on Sunday’s NFC Championship Game, I happily agreed!

              However, this isn’t your usual monetary wager.

              We are both runners.  Distance runners.  So the loser will be running.

              But this isn’t just limited to us – we’d love to have more runners join us in this friendly competition!!

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                Sparkly Soul Headbands Giveaway Winner!

                sparkly soul

                The Winner of the SPARKLY SOUL INC Headbands giveaway is….

                Entry #138 (earliest entry is #1, last entry is #174)

                The winner has one week to contact me and claim their prize before a backup winner is selected!  Please email me at michele.king1021@gmail.com Thank you to everyone who participated and helped spread the word about one of my favorite running companies!

                  The “core” of my marathon training


                  This was a conversation between me and my husband two weeks after I ran my first ultra in November:
                  Me: I don’t think I’m in very good shape right now.
                  Hubby (with a look of bewilderment): You just ran a 37.2 mile race and finished with a 9:10 pace.  I would say you are in pretty good shape.
                  Me: Ok. Let me rephrase.  I’m in “running shape.”  But my overall fitness level is not where it needs to be.  My legs are strong, but the rest of my body is not.

                  Have you ever said this to yourself?  

                  How did I let this happen?

                  I got into a very bad habit of just running in August…I stopped doing core work on a frequent basis because my concentration was on increasing my miles for the NYC Marathon and the Knickerbocker 60k (both in November).  At the time, we didn’t have a treadmill, so I would run either early in the morning (5am) or during one of my son’s naps if a family member was able to babysit. (Note: I would LOVE to do more stroller ruins with my little guy, but he has never enjoyed just sitting in the stroller.)  I would run up until the last possible moment – whether it was a phone call to tell me my son was up or it was time for my husband to go to work – then return home to shower and start the day/afternoon with my son.

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                    Marathons + Moderation

                    ———- This was a guest post on A Healthy, Happier Bear’s Blog (Jan 11, 2012) —————-

                    Hello Healthy, Happier Bear Readers!  When Ashley asked me to be a guest blogger on her awesome blog, I was ecstatic!  I am a newbie blogger (just over 3 months) and really love “meeting” other runners through the virtual world.

                    My name is Michele and I blog at nycrunningmama.  I am the mother of a happy 1-year old boy and wife to my best friend.  I have been running for most of my life (in order to stay in shape for the sports I was involved in) but didn’t really fall in love with running until I was deployed to Iraq.  Running became my “me” time during each of my deployments – although I was pushing my body, I was resting my mind, so I happily looked forward to my daily runs.  You can find out more about me and read my bio on my blog!

                     If you would have asked me three years ago about Marathon + Moderation, I would have probably told you that those two words do not go together. I was single, living in an apartment two blocks from Central Park and had no real obligations other than a very flexible job.  I was able to run whenever I wanted and for however long I wanted.  I was comfortable and happy to log upwards of 60-70 miles/week.   Life was good.  Most days, I would run however long my body felt like running – 8, 10, 12 miles. I very rarely had anything that required me to cut my run short – so if I chose to extend my run to two hours, I could.

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                      Envisioning Success on a Long Run

                      Kara Goucher, Shalane Flanagan, Amy Hastings, Desiree Davila

                      I always do my long runs outside.  I have never been a fan of logging countless boring miles on the treadmill.  That is, until yesterday.

                      I try to minimize my time away from my son and husband as best as I can (especially on the weekends) – I’ll run early in the morning before they wake up or during one of my son’s naps.

                      I had a dilemma yesterday – there were two things I really wanted to do –  watch the Olympic Marathon Trials (aired from 3-5pm) and run my scheduled 16 miles. Instead of running for two hours in the morning and then spending another two hours in the afternoon watching the Olympics, I decided to combine the two.  I hopped on the treadmill  to run my scheduled 16 miles while watching the Olympics.  (I guess I have gotten better with time management!)

                      After reading some inspiring blogs this week (Jessica and Dorothy) about paces on long runs (hitting MP or faster the last few miles), I decided I wanted to give it a try (I usually only pick up the pace the last mile). My goal for the day was 7:45 through 13 and then 7:18 average over the last three.

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                        Sparkly Soul Headbands Review + Giveaway! ————————-CLOSED——————————


                        Hey Everyone!

                        I decided to do a 2nd review of Sparkly Soul Headbands…BUT, I wanted to try doing a video this time =)   Check out what I had to say about Sparkly Soul Headbands:

                        Read my previous review.

                        I mentioned that I had a huge pile of headbands that never measured up to my expectations (prior to finding Sparkly Soul).  Well, here’s the pile!


                        Giveaway One entrant, chosen at random, will win two headbands (one-thin and one-wide) – colors of their choice.  The contest runs from Thursday, Jan 12, 2012 until 11:59pm EST on Tuesday, Jan 17, 2012.  A winner will be announced on my blog, twitter, and Facebook on Wednesday, Jan 20, 2012.  So make sure you check back! (Note: If the winner does not contact me by Saturday, Jan 21, 2012, a second winner will be chosen.) Ways to Enter Each counts as a separate entry – please leave a separate comment for each that you complete Head over to www.sparklysoul.com and tell me you did with what headband color is your favorite Follow Sparkly Soul on Twitter @SPARKLYSOULINC Follow me on Twitter: @nycrunningmama

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                          2012 Olympic Marathon Trials

                          Source: http://www.teamusa.org/

                          The 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials are being held this weekend in Houston, TX, the day before the 2012 Houston Marathon.  It promises to be one of the most exciting races in years.  This is the first time that both the men’s and women’s race will be held in the same city, on the same day!  The 2008 Olympic Trials were in different cities, four months apart – the men’s race was in Central Park (day before 2007 NYC Marathon in November) and the women’s race was in Boston (day before 2008 Boston Marathon in April)

                          (Note: Unfortunately, due to Internet rights, there will be NO live streaming of this event.  NBC will be airing a 2-hour national tape-delay Saturday afternoon, Jan 14  -> check your local listings for more information.  Additionally, Runner’s World will be providing coverage of both races in near-real time with live text coverage – follow this link for more information.  You can also follow tweets using the hashtag #Houston2012)


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                            You’ll never understand how much you’ve taught me, my son

                            Moments after you were born

                            Holding you moments after you were born

                            Dear AJ,

                            Happy 1st birthday!   I know you are too young to read or even understand this letter, but I wanted to say a few things to you before time passes and my memory fades.

                            Can you really be a year old already!?!  I feel like you were just born – I remember delivering you as though it were yesterday – and yet, I can’t imagine what my life was like without you.

                            – The art of time management.  I used to have all day to get things done. Now, my day is structured around your routine – your naps, your meals and snacks, bathtime, nursings.  I’ve learned how to make the most out of every free moment I have – whether that’s before you get up or after you go to sleep or during one of your naps.  I no longer “waste’ time on unimportant “things”.

                            – The importance of a good night’s sleep.  Mommy and Daddy are usually in bed by 10pm.  We want to be able to greet you as cheery as we can be when you wake up – even if you choose to start your day at 5am.

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                              What’s better than two PRs in one day?

                              Me and my son

                              A couple of weeks ago I wrote that I started doing speedwork again (Here is my post in case you missed it).  As of Christmas week, there is a treadmill in our apartment.  It prevents me from making excuses.  There’s nothing getting in my way of what I’m supposed to do now except me. So, for the last 3 weeks, I’ve forced myself to do speed sessions once a week.

                              During preseason basketball at West Point, we were timed running miles on the track – my miles were always around 7:00.  When I was on the Fort Hood Army 10-miler Team, we did track workouts 1x/week – my miles dropped to 6:15-6:25.  I got my miles down to 6:10 when I was deployed to Iraq in 2007-2009. That’s been my personal record (PR) until last week.

                              I ran my fastest mile ever last Thursday (5:59). This week, I planned to run 5x mile repeats. I woke up tired, sore, and not in the mood to do miles on the  treadmill.  I debated doing them right up until the moment I stepped on the treadmill – I secretly wanted to crawl back into bed for the next hour. But I know myself and knew that I would regret my decision all day…so I got on.

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                                Push-ups for Patriots

                                After 6 years in the US Army and 3 deployments to Iraq, I have had to say goodbye to many friends, classmates, and colleagues.   I’m not sure what an accurate number would be – but suffice to say it’s a lot.  Too many. 

                                When you live and breathe the Army and the overseas campaigns, it’s easy to keep those who paid the ultimate sacrifice close in heart and mind.  However, I will be the first to admit that since I’ve returned home from Iraq (Feb 2009) and been honorably discharged (summer of 2009), it becomes easy to push them to the back of my mind.  My mind is on my son, my family, the daily chores (laundry, cooking) and unfortunately, I tend to forget.

                                It’s easy to remember on holidays such as Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day – but what about the other 363 days of the year?  I’m sure their families don’t let a day go by without a thought or memory of their loved one.

                                For the next 28 days, I’ve decided to participate in the Push-ups for Patriots Challenge.  It’s organized by two fellow FitFluential Ambassadors – @Kymberly and @Alexandra.  You can read more about their challenge and how it came to be on their blog -> http://funandfit.org/2012/01/push-ups-for-patriots/

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                                  Pushing the pace on long runs?

                                  When I was training for the NYC Marathon and my first ultra this summer/fall, I completed all my long runs at an easy pace.  NYC would be my first marathon after giving birth and since I hadn’t completed long runs consistently in over a year, my goal was to get the miles in without worrying about what my Garmin 610 was telling me.  I got very comfortable with doing my long runs at an 8:30 pace.  I was happy with that pace.  I didn’t feel the need to push myself any harder on my long runs – as long as I ran 20, 25, 30 miles, I was satisfied.

                                  I competed in the Foot Locker 5 Borough Challenge [FL5BC] as part of the NYC Marathon in November.  After separating from the other 4 runners at the halfway point (we had to run the first 13.1 miles together), I immediately tried to speed up to hit my target pace of 7:45.  No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t get my pace any faster than 7:50-8:00.  And it wasn’t that my legs were tired – they actually felt surprisingly good.  I just couldn’t pick up the pace without getting out of breath.  I actually didn’t run one mile at my target pace [6x miles were sub-8:00 and my average pace for the final 13.1 was 8:01].  I’m not complaining or upset with my performance at the NYC Marathon – my primary goal was to win the FL5BC.  But now that I am beginning training for my next marathon, I have to look closer at my training and determine what I need to tweak in order to improve my time.

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                                    Hardest part of being deployed

                                    What’s the hardest part of being deployed?

                                    This is almost always one of the first questions asked of me when I bring up my military background. As a Captain in the US Army who deployed three times to Iraq, it is a fairly easy answer: the last few weeks prior to departing the US.

                                    I would get to the point where I just wanted to deploy – it always seemed like time stood still the last few weeks I was home and I felt like I was living on borrowed time.  The quicker I left and arrived in Iraq, the quicker the clock would start counting down to my return.  Emotionally, I found myself pulling away from those I was closest with as d-day got closer.  I think I subconsciously believed it would be easier if I didn’t feel as close to my family.  The goodbyes were the worst part – that last conversation with my husband, mom, dad, sisters while I was on “American” soil – knowing that the next time I spoke to them I would be in “harm’s way”.

                                    Once the goodbyes were over, it often took upwards of two to three weeks to get from our base in the US to Iraq. The flight over was not direct and often took upwards of 20 hours – we stopped in Maine and Ireland on our way to Kuwait which was the forward staging area prior to our flight into Iraq – basically the last time to check weapons, equipment, and go over last minute guidelines.  My time in Kuwait varied each time [from a few days to a few weeks], but I’d eventually make the bumpy, hot flight up to Iraq. [I was stationed at three different bases for each of my deployments – Tikrit, Taji, and Baghdad.]

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