Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Stepping Up to Wellness - Cancer Wellness Center 5K Recap

First of all, thanks to all who entered the Esprit de She giveaway. According to random.org the winner is Bobbi. Congratulations!

And now for something completely different...a soap box, a PSA and a recap.

Cancer has touched my life. My mom, my dad and my brother. Friends. Church family. Cancer sucks. Angelina Jolie has been in the news recently due to her decision to have a double mastectomy because she has the BRCA 1 gene. Thanks to my insurance and my dad nagging me every so often, I got the genetic test for the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 gene six years ago. At that time, I had two daughters, and my mom had died of ovarian cancer. I got the test done for my girlios. It was something I didn't want to pass on. I saw a genetic counselor, mapped my family history and had my blood taken. The results for the test took six weeks. In that six week time, I mulled about what I would do with my results. If I had both genes, I would have gotten a mastectomy and a hysterectomy. It was a long six weeks. A colleague's wife was tested right around the same time. She found out she had both genes and had her operations. Thankfully, I found out that I had neither gene. If you can, get tested. I did, however, fail a pregnancy test shortly after.

If you have not had cancer, the American Cancer Society is looking for volunteers to participate in a 20 year study called The Cancer Prevention Study 3. More information is available at www.cps3illinois.org or 1-888-604-5888.

My step mom volunteers at the Cancer Wellness Center. Quite a few of their services are free to cancer patients. If you know someone battling cancer, please let them know about the Cancer Wellness Center. There are several locations around the Chicago area.

Family and Friends

On June 19th, my family did the Stepping Up to Wellness Cancer Wellness Center 5k. Thanks to my step mom, it was a family and friend affair. My brother in from San Diego and my husband got roped in too. My middle girlio was so excited to run a 5k. I went early to run a few more miles with Bobbi. To put my running in perspective, I didn't run for two weeks from the Wisconsin half marathon until the day before I ran with Bobbi. Since I have a triathlon coming up, I did a 5 mi bike + 5 mi run + 5 mi bike the day before. My legs were tired, and my body was cranky. It was a struggle to keep up with Bobbi for the five miles prior to the 5k. By the time the race started, it was getting hot.

My husband did a bang up job getting the girlios to the venue. He did, however, forget the double stroller which acts as a sag wagon for tired girlios. My brother, my husband and I were each matched with a girlio. I planned on pacing my middle. My step mom and my dad encouraged us all. My brother ran with my eldest. She only walked for about half a mile and finished in 39 minutes. Hubs, who hasn't run in two years, finished with my eldest. Not too shabby. Within the first mile, my middle and little one actually ran into each other and fell down.  Skinned knees does not help with morale. My littlest tried to catch me and fell again blooding her elbow. By then my middle was not doing as well as she wanted. It was hot. My husband and I switched kids. My middle finished in 49 minutes. My littlest and I finished in 54 minutes. She chattered the whole time.

My dad is rockstar.

My dad won first place in his division, 70+. That's my strategy for winning races. Outlive everybody else. It was a great time. We enjoyed hanging out with the family all afternoon and strangely my girlios stopped complaining and played hard as soon as the race was over.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

A Giveaway and Reasonable Excuses

I just put on my running clothes. I've been up since 6:45 am and now it is 10:00 am. It is still questionable whether or not I'll be able to get out to run. This morning was the first morning in a long time that my husband has been able to sleep in. The dogs woke me up at 6:45 am and licked their lips for 20 minutes until I got out of bed. I fed them and started gathering my running clothes. With my running pants on my shoulder, I saw our bathroom light go on. My youngest was up. On other days when my husband has had the opportunity to sleep, the dog has puked, the kids have puked or someone has peed their bed. It's been awesome, and we are zombies for the rest of the day. Today, I opted to put my running clothes to the side and let my husband sleep. I thought it was a reasonable excuse to not run this morning. Other reasonable excuses have been illness, interrupted sleep and studying. I beat myself up easily for not running or working out, but there are some reasons that I don't question.

The lovely people at Esprit de She which sponsor the Tri I am doing in Naperville in two weeks are also sponsoring my first giveaway, a visor and an Esprit de She shirt. In order to be eligible, leave an answer on the blog or like the Facebook page and leave an answer there. The giveaway will run until Monday at midnight and I will use random.org to pick a winner on Tuesday. Good luck!

What do you consider a reasonable excuse not to run/workout?

Saturday, May 11, 2013

A Moment for Mother's Day

I love being a mom. I am thankful for my girlios. My own mother passed when I was young, around the age of my eldest daughter. My father remarried when I was in college. I have come to love my step mom and appreciate her very much. She's been great for my dad and is a fabulous grandmother to my girlios. It's been foreign to me because I didn't have a mom or mother figure from 10 to 20. With this in mind I am nervous yet optimistic about venturing into these years with my own girls. The mother-daughter relationship is the stuff bestsellers are made of. With three girlios, I expect at least three volumes.
Nemo and Dori photo bombed us!

As a youth, I never remembered Mother's Day. For a while, I would do something for my dad, but it didn't stick. Now, as a mom, we don't really celebrate Mother's Day well. It's at a terrible time of year for us. My husband has coached track for the past seven or eight years and May is track crunch time. He's zombie tired around this time. I've been taking classes and it's finals time.  Looking back on the last nine Mother's Days, I've been sick and called in for antibiotics. I've worked. I still cook and clean. My girlios selectively listen. This weekend even my dog is sick. My husband and I joke that he takes a nap on Mother's Day, and I take the nap on Father's Day. We generally don't do gifts for either day. This Mother's Day I'll set up coffee at church and study for my finals. Something normally happens during the weekend that disrupts 'ideal' plans, whatever that is. I don't expect anything except some sort of curveball.

This is not a gripefest. It's a commentary on a mom's life. I have had several mom friends comment that vacation is doing the same things as every other day in another place. It makes me laugh and cry because I identify. But, that's the joy of being a mom. One of the things I loved about teaching was that no day was the same. It's the same thing in the motherhood. And the hours are much much longer.

So what's my point. When my husband and I got married, I wanted to stand at the end of the aisle and take in the moment before things moved so fast and were over. A minute or two to look at my husband, look around and absorb it. Very Ferris Bueller of me. Unfortunately, the musicians couldn't follow the program, and I didn't have that moment. Don't get me started. It upsets me more than finding out one of the cameras didn't work during our wedding photo shoots. I digress.

I wish all the moms an absorbing moment this Mother's Day. A chance to mentally stop time, cherish your children at the age they are, relax in the chaos and be loved on a little. Good job moms. Kids of all ages, clear some space for your mom, mentally, physically and emotionally. She's amazing.

Happy Mother's Day!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Cheesy Thoughts on the Wisconsin Half Marathon

First of all let me say how blessed I feel to have people to run with on a regular basis. I've run for a long time and often it has been alone. I enjoy running alone, but in the past few years I've come to love running with people too. Whereas some people might get together to catch up over coffee or a meal, I have found a lovely group of people that I can catch up with on a run. A lot of talking goes on during a run. Last week I ran a race with Bobbi, and this week I ran a race with Kate. I cherish my running friends, especially with my crazy schedule.

That being said I was super excited to see Julie in the car when Kate and her family picked me up for the Wisconsin half this weekend. I haven't seen or talked to Julie in a long time. Our schedules are different, and she's expecting her first child this summer, (looking super cute btw). I have missed her, and it was good to catch up a bit.

Kate picked me up at 5:45 am which in retrospect may have been a little later than we should have left. The race started at 7 am. Let's just say it was another National Anthem that I had to stay seated for. We did get great parking, but we missed the pictures with the running club and the blogger picture and the picture with my friends from church. We did make it to the porta potties, and that's where we were when the race started. It's chip timed, and we weren't racing so no rush.

I ran the Wisconsin half for its inaugural and second year. This is it's fifth year. The last two years I have done Pittsburgh with my sister, which I highly recommend. When people say "hill" at the Wisconsin, I snicker. "Hill" in Pittsburgh has a completely different meaning. Wisconsin is flat and it is sort of an out and back course. There's a roundy bit at the beginning, but the course overlaps at two points. It was so fun to say "Hi" to so many people I haven't seen in a long time. Spring has finally sprung in the Midwest, and it's running weather.

Kate and I didn't have any time goals. We wanted to have a nice race, and that's what we got. The weather was perfect. Overcast and 50s with the sun coming out after the finish. I wore a jacket and periodically took it off and put it on during the race. The race flew by, or at least that's how I felt. We caught up on new life developments during the first few miles. Ooohed at the lake. Said hello to many many people. Had fantastic ridiculously sweet Gatorade. When we stopped for Gatorade the second time, about 6 miles in, they gave me a full glass of Gatorade which is nearly unheard of in a race. Kate asked me what was taking so long. I can't drink and run at the same time. I said, "They gave me a full cup." She replied, "You don't have to drink it all." I couldn't waste it. I drank it all.

Kim captured our smiles at the finish.

The only thing that bothered me was my jaw. I had a stuffy nose for a day or two prior to the race. My sinus cavities under my eyes hurt with the pounding of the pavement. I think I was trying to stabilize my head by tightening my jaw. Of all things, I don't think I've ever had running pain in my face before except for the occasional exercise induced headache.

At one point Kate remarked that how amazing it is that we could be out here running 13.1 miles and how our bodies allow us to do over and over again. We happened to be at a point where the race stretched out, and I could see a lot of runners ahead of us. It was pretty amazing. This was my third half  marathon of the year. Kate and I have both done multiple marathons. I am definitely a distance runner. Being able to run is truly a blessing. I do not take it for granted.

Around 11 miles I was ready to finish, but we ran into many friends at that point in the course so it was meet and greet until the end. 2:16:37 official time. Smiles all around. We kept it fun. Some of our training runs sucked so a fun race felt great. Bonus: another cute shirt and a medal/bottle opener.

On mission from Gouda

After the race there were even more people to greet. Wisconsin has a beer and brat (wrapped in a tortilla) available after the race. Since I'm not really a fan of beer I was happy to have a diet Pepsi, which came in handy later in the day. The brat tasted fantastic. I've learned the secret to good tasting food. The hungrier you are the better it tastes. Rocket science. We managed to get home in time for me to coach the afternoon soccer game, have a play date and introduce my girlios to Star Wars. It was May the 4th after all.

Medals, Brats and Smiles

Friday, May 3, 2013

Bear Trax 20K Race Recap

I had so much fun at the Bear Trax 20K with Bobbi, and since I have two races in seven days I don't want to forget to recap it. We had a grand time. From the pictures, thanks to Bobbi, it looks like we did more posing than running. Not true. There was also hills, mud, vitamin Oh, laughter, a running bear and cookies. FYI: the guy in the bear suit finished long long before us.

I love running with Bobbi. Actually, I love talking with Bobbi and running with her is a bonus. She's a mom, and we have a few kids at similar ages. I had a chance to unload some of my mom woes on her and find out that I'm not alone. It's very comforting. We both currently have weepy offspring. She also has a science brain, and I can be even more geeky.

The picture doesn't show the royal purple and the lime green
The Bear Trax 20k and Brownie Shuffle 5k are run in Lapham Peak, WI which is on the north portion of the Kettle Moraine forest preserve. We arrived early thanks to Bobbi, and the race shirts were a pleasant surprise. Super cute. Already wore it this week. Bobbi and I had recently gotten Nathan Hydration Vests. We decided this was a good race in which to test out our vests. It was nice to have another person to help make adjustments. Although Bobbi had a few more problems with hers during the run we both loved our vests. Like any set of moms given extra storage space we filled the pockets. Bobbi brought a real camera. I had my phone and half a box of Kleenex. The vests were awesome.

This may or may not be at the top of a hill
Bobbi can kick my running butt any day. She's gotten so much faster and stronger in the last year. I wanted to make sure that she knew that I was sorry if I slowed her down. I'm slow and cool with it, but I don't want to be a burden to faster runners. However, hills were a great leveling field. We both pooped out. The course was so hilly, but it was beautiful so I forgave it. After two days my quads did too. Honestly, by the last two kilometers, I was ready to be done. Did I mention that it was beautiful? It reminded me of cross country skiing in northern Wisconsin as a kid. I would definitely do this race again.

This may also be at the top of a hill. Catching my breath.
At the first aid station they offered us cookies. That chocolate chip cookie was fantastic. At the last aid station we had a sugar cookie, and its aftertaste hung on until the end. Not so good.

I really am a tree hugger.
There was a lot of vitamin Oh. Here's what I like about vitamin Oh. It's good for me, even though I may not like it at the time. And it is very open to interpretation. Oh, dear me. Oh, look how pretty. Oh, my legs are going to fall off. Oh, look another hill. Oh, let's take a picture. Oh, I can feel my heart beating out of my chest. Oh, I should do more hill work.

Happy Me! So pretty!
It took us about 2 hours and 40 minutes.The course went all over the place. Mud, sand, roots, rocks. It was chip timed, but I really didn't care. As Bobbi's shirt said, "Run Happy." By the end other people were using the trail because it was a gorgeous day. The race started out overcast, and by the end the sun had come out. One man asked how long the race was. When we said that it was 12 miles he gasped and exclaimed, "12 Miles?!" We laughed. At the very end a man with no shirt ahead of us was running the trail but wasn't part of the race. He turned, and we almost followed him except the race director yelled, "Don't follow the naked man!" Good advice.

Looking good at the finish.
Tomorrow is the Wisconsin Half Marathon. Wish me fun!

Chocolate Chip Chocolate Protein Scones

This recipe is adapted from an oatmeal-raisin scone recipe in my Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book circa 1989. I grew up with the Joy of Cooking as a cookbook staple at my house, and my husband brought the BH&G cookbook into our marriage. I confess I use it more than Joy. If I needed know what to do with fresh goat's milk, Joy would be the place to go. If I need a meal in half an hour, it's BH&G all the way.

I've made the oatmeal-raisin scones many times before and added cranberries/white chocolate chips or raisin/chocolate chips or even made them according to the recipe. Stunning. I know. Last week as I noticed my rarely used chocolate protein powder, Muscle Milk. Since I've drastically reduced my milk consumption and making a smoothie gets the blender dirty, I haven't been using it very much. I do use my vanilla protein for an overnight refrigerator apple oatmeal cup which is fantastic. More on that later. School is almost over. Anyway, I thought adding a couple of scoops of protein powder to the recipe would be delish, and I could offset the ooky aftertaste with a little buttermilk. After making it, I declared myself a genius, and the next day made another batch. Yesterday I made substituted 1 cup of brown rice flour and 1/4 cup of coconut flour for the white flour and added 1/4 cup of peanut butter. Very good and really filling.

This was the last of the gf peanut butter model. All gone.

I know it's not a traditional scone as it uses egg for a binder. It's definitely not low cal, low fat or sugar free. That, however, often translates into delicious. On another note, because I am a lazy cook, I don't often roll out my scones and cut them into cute triangles anymore. It gets another dish dirty, and I'm probably not caught up with dishes anyway. I mix the dough to the right consistency in the bowl, deliberately using a large bowl, and then scoop out the scones with our ice cream scoop. Lazy but effective. Scones are fast and tasty.

Chocolate Chip Chocolate Protein Scones
Fresh out of the oven...soon to tummy
1 cup all purpose flour
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 scoops chocolate protein powder
1/3 cup butter
1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 beaten egg
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder and cinnamon. Cut butter using pastry cutter or two knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Mix in protein powder. Stir in oats and chocolate chips. Combine egg, buttermilk, milk and vanilla extract in another small container. Stir into flour mixture until moistened. Add tablespoons of more milk if needed until dough makes large ball or teaspoons of flour if too moist. (If you want) move dough to lightly floured surface, pat dough into 7-inch circle. Cut into 12 wedges. Place on baking sheet. Brush with milk (again, optional). Bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until light brown. Serve warm.

Tweak and substitute with what's in your kitchen. I probably will.