Are Mud Runs a Crazy Trend?

With the year wrapping up everyone is creating lists of this and that to sum up 2013.  Top 10 this, worst 10 that, they’re everywhere and actually I have fun reading them.  But there are a couple in particular that really caught my attention.

I read 2 or 3 that were different lists of the ‘craziest workout trends’ of 2013.  I read about something called prancercise, which I’ve never heard of but people I asked about it have. I read about exercising wearing a gas mask to limit your oxygen while working out, I guess to mimic high altitude, I’m not really sure. There was also more common things like hot yoga, naked yoga (um, no), aerial yoga (I’d break my neck), and paddle-board yoga, which I would so try. I would fall a lot and it wouldn’t be all that peaceful,  but it would be so much fun who cares?

But what was the one thing in common on all the lists I read?  Mud runs!  I so protest!  I can’t argue that they aren’t a phase, because I can’t see the future and they may very well be. I hope not, but who knows. But I can say that I don’t go to a mud run to get a work out, I work out to be able to do mud runs!

My first mud run was Mud Crusade.  I had so much fun that as soon as we finished I wanted to go back and do it again. It was the perfect first run because it wasn’t overly easy but it wasn’t wicked hard either, I was able to do everything though some of it was a struggle.  Perfect.

DSCN0981

I actually ran it on accident.  I had toyed with the idea of doing a mud run but I knew I wasn’t really tough enough for something like that.  I saw the advertisement for Mud Crusade and told my boyfriend it was too bad that I wasn’t ready yet because that one was right up the road from me. He misheard me and said sure, he’d do it with me.  Um, what?   He doesn’t even run.  So we both signed up and have been hooked since.  And to this day we both argue that our first run was the other person’s idea.  Take my word for it, it was his.

I am absolutely positive that doing mud runs is what finally got me hooked on and loving running.  Not that running isn’t great and all, but if I get to run through a playground, well, you can’t beat that!  I will say that I haven’t done any of the runs that have a ton of electricity you have to run through (though I did crawl under slightly electric wire once or twice) or jump from roof height or anything like that.  It’s just not for me but more power to those that do.

But I’m curious.  Are mud runs ‘crazy workouts’ or just a phase?  What do you think? And either way, is there anyone out there that has done one and didn’t want to immediately go back and do another?

I think not.

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Vegan Meatless Monday 4

This week I went from one extreme to the other – trying my best to avoid using oil where it’s always used for breakfast and then frying my burritos in oil for dinner.  Variety is the spice of life and all!

Breakfast:

I love starchy foods.  Just putting that out there.  Potatoes and pasta are a necessity in my diet – maybe the Italian side of my family’s fault?  I don’t know but hash browns and potato cakes are always a win to me.

Since I’m aiming for healthy vegan I decided to see if I could make these without oil too and they actually turned out!  I expected to need to broil these to brown them but they turned out crispy and brown without broiling them.

Oh, and I was planning on adding unsweetened almond milk to them but all I had was vanilla which didn’t sound very potato-ee so I just skipped that.

Potato cakes:

  • 8 medium skin on Idaho potatoes – cut like steak fries, simmer till soft, then mash
  • 1 onion minced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 cup kale minced
  • 2 Tbsp chives
  • 1 tsp black pepper (maybe ought to have used 1/2 tsp, I really like pepper though)
  • 1 tsp oregano

Preheat oven to 400

Line cookie sheet with parchment paper

Pan fry the onion and garlic in their own juices

Add the kale at the end for just a couple of minutes

Kale and Onions

Mix everything into the potatoes and mash some more

Potato Mix

Form into thin cakes and put on the cookie sheets – can be touching

Bake for  15-20 minutes each side (bottoms should brown)

They brown MUCH nicer on the bottom oven rack and using a light-colored non-stick pan didn’t really work as well as an old-fashioned dark cookie pan.

I dipped them in ketchup because that’s how you eat fried potatoes and deemed them a success.  Good thing since I made enough to heat up before work all week!

Baked Potato Cakes

Lunch:

My grandfather made me a pot of vegetarian marinara for Christmas dinner and I’m cheating by using that for spaghetti for lunch – easy and by far the tastiest pasta sauce on the planet. He is one of the people who originally pretty much thought I’d die when I told them I was going to be vegetarian and now he’s practically one  himself so we’ve come a long way for him to make me my own pot of sauce!

Dinner:

Chimichangas

After soaking pinto beans for about 16 hours ( a trick I found on accident for better tasting pintos) I crock-potted them with nothing but the leftover chipotles in adobe sauce from the can I opened last week (after running them through the ninja).  No added spices or anything.  It was the slacker-est pot of beans I’ve made yet and the first one to meet the full approval of my less than easy to impress children of the corn.

We put some in a small tortilla with chopped onions, tomatoes, lettuce, cilantro and salsa and fried them for a couple minutes in a pan with a bit of oil in it.

My kids were more than amazed that I fried something.  They asked – isn’t that bad for you?  I told them it was and they immediately deemed it the best meal ever except for the part were there weren’t any seconds. Of course.  Actually, it was though – if you’re gonna have a splurge meal then do it with chimis, they are awesome.

ChimmiI had pickled jalapenos and carrots (from a can) as a side.  Not my healthiest vegan meal but definitely one we’ll be doing again!

Oh, and Lelo was down with every meal, she just sits attentively waiting for me to finally give in and feed her whatever I may be cooking!

Lelo waitingI can’t decide whether or not it’s awesome that my biggest fans in the kitchen are all three dogs.  I guess I’ll take it.

Do you think that using oil to cook with is a bad thing?  Does it make a difference to you if it’s used as an ingredient or to fry something?

Frustrated

About a week and a half ago I decided to take a week or two off running because I was having a problem with the bottom of my feet hurting.  I figured it was partly because my shoes I wear all the time are crazy uncomfortable even though they’re almost flat sandals, and partly because when I ran with my kids for their Couch to 5K I was jumping and fooling around instead of thinking about my running – not my brightest but not my dumbest moment ever.

Unfortunately although it has got better it hasn’t totally gone away, and I’ve found that just going hiking with the dogs made it worse, it isn’t just the running. Great.  So what to do?  Once again I got used to running 3 miles and then got derailed. Not by much and not for long but still. There are people who start running and then do a marathon that year, so why am I still not even running a 10K? I’m not motivated enough, not dedicated enough, most of the time I think I just don’t care enough to push through things to do better.  Except that if I didn’t care I wouldn’t be so frustrated about the whole thing.

This is the first year that I’ve run with any kind of consistency but I’m still not anywhere near where I want to be.  I don’t have grand plans for a marathon or even a half but I would like to at least work my way up to a 10K and I would like to somehow learn to push myself at least a little instead of backing off as soon as something looks like it might be getting hard.

Tonight I wasn’t feeling good physically OR mentally but I felt like going for a short run.  I didn’t want to run barefoot because I didn’t feel up to paying attention to what I was doing – where I was stepping, how my form was, or anything else. So for the first time this year I put on my old running shoes, put in both earphones to blast some metal and went out for a very short, very not paying attention to anything run.  Good thing I didn’t run across any snakes because I wouldn’t have seen it until it bit me. Not something I would make a habit of but it was kind of nice. Of course I started off way to fast and immediately tired myself out, but whatever. It was one of those nights.

You know the funny thing?  My boyfriend got me a book on barefoot running for Christmas that I’ve been reading. And as a result on my first shoe-ed run of the year I figured out a major piece of my barefoot running form that I’ve been doing wrong. The book mentioned the fact that part of running lightly is not picking your feet up higher than you need to – therefore coming down lighter on your feet. I already knew that but it seems I hadn’t thought about it in a while.  I realized that while I’ve been concentrating on cadence, bending my knees and lifting my feet I’ve been over exaggerating that lift and almost been running like I was doing a high knee exercise.  Not really to that extent, but I’ve definitely gotten in the habit of picking my feet up much higher than I used to while concentrating on the other parts of my form. Somehow or another ignoring my running form made me realize a major piece that I’ve been doing wrong.  Kind of funny really.

Anyways I still don’t know exactly what to think about my running.  I feel like I need a goal or some kind of plan but I don’t know what I want to do.  Run further? Just run stronger? Run more often? Definitely more often but that doesn’t sounds like a very exciting goal.

Do you have any running goals for 2014? How did you decide what you want to do?

 

 

Wrapping Up 2013 and Smiling About It

I have never been big on making New Year’s resolutions. I fully support resolutions made by anyone else, I just rarely make them myself.  It’s kind of like most of my sisters clothes. They look great, I really like them.  Um, no I don’t want to wear them, I meant they look great on YOU.

But I would like to improve a lot of things this year.  What to do?

First I went and signed up for the #Just1Thing Challenge Kat at Katrina Elle is hosting.  To be honest I’m not certain if you’re supposed to pick one thing to work on weekly, monthly, or  maybe even daily mini challenge but whatever way it goes I’m in.  What’s 1 thing?  Easy-peasy.

Next thing is to decide what I’d like to improve, but first I wanted to think of the things I did in 2013 that I’m most happy about.  I didn’t realize what a good year I’d had until I started thinking about it, I highly recommend you do the same!

1) New job

I got a new job that allows me to drive about 40 minutes each way instead of an hour and a half.  You can imaging the difference all that extra time makes!  My kids have been on their own for weeknight dinners for years, now we can actually eat together like a family. Definitely my biggest win this year!

2) Still running

I’ve been running off and on for a couple of years, but this is the first year that I’ve actually run steady the entire year, no month or two taken off.  I still don’t always run 3 days a week but I do know now that I won’t be quitting running any time soon.

3) No more hip pain

This is also huge for me.  My hips used to hurt almost all the time, and after a long car ride I could sometimes barely get out of the car. Talk about feeling old!  It also had a lot to do with the inconsistent running – running made it worse.  I started running barefoot and it made all of the difference in the world. Now days the only time my hips ever hurt is when a bout of ulcerative colitis is coming on and then all my joints hurt so whatever.

4) Started Barefoot running

I already mentioned why I got started but running barefoot and becoming a part of the online community has done a lot towards improving my running form (not perfected but much improved).  It’s also just a lot of fun I’m really happy I started and stuck with it in spite of some critics. I even did a barefoot mud run in December!

Climbing

5) Living without regret (still working on this one)

I’ve never had much of a problem with telling people close to me when they were pissing me off.  But when it comes to telling them anything that sounds remotely like I care it was never an appropriate time.  Letting people know you care feels kind of like an open invitation for them to know they can hurt you.  Jaded much? I know, and it’s dumb.  Now is the right time.  I changed my thinking to what if something happened to me and I never told people how important they are to me?  Now I make a point of telling my kids how great they are at every opportunity, bragging about their successes in front of them to other people, and telling the other people in my life how I feel about them – even if it’s not because they pissed me off.  (I still tell them that too)

6) Pointing out the positive

Last one, promise.  It bothers me that most people will complain when something is wrong but we are much less likely to speak up when something is right.  I started making a point this year of pointing out the good. So if it’s true I’ll go up and tell the person singing at the bar that they have an incredible voice, tell the waitress what a great job she’s doing or to be sure and tell the cook the food was wonderful, or stop a stranger to tell them they look great in that shirt.  Corny?  Yep. But it never fails to get a smile from both of us.

Oh yeah, plus I started a (now overgrown) garden, have been blogging more constantly, and Mia and the rats joined us! I can think of a lot of little things but I’ll spare you.

DSCN0169

So now it’s time to look forward to 2014.  I have no idea yet what my goals will be or how the year will go but looking back I’m feeling pretty positive.

What great things did you do in 2013?

Vegan Meatless Monday 3

I haven’t written all week and with the holidays I probably won’t write much if at all next week either.  I’m substituting holiday and family type things for writing and also for pretty much everything else.  And I am very OK with that!

Christmas light

I had to come tell about Meatless Monday though because it’s kind of become a goal of mine to be a once a week vegan. I’m thinking it may be one of my 2014 goals – to keep it up all year.  That may sound like an easy goal but only if you don’t know what a dairy addict being vegetarian has made me and only if you don’t know how slightly horrible I am with trying new recipes.

About that…

Breakfast:

Last week I tried to make this cranberry bread in the bread maker and my result was bad enough that it went straight to the trash.  I mentioned it wasn’t the recipe, it was most likely my choice of bread machine settings.

This week I just made it in the oven like the recipe called for – and I love it!  This is the first time I’ve actually bought an orange for the purpose of using the ‘zest of one orange’ but I doubt it’s the last.  I really like the way it tastes and highly recommend you try this recipe. I actually plan on making this to bring to Christmas dinner.  If you figure out how to do it in a bread machine do tell!

Cranberry bread

Lunch:

Thanks to having Christmas Eve and Christmas off it seemed kind of wasteful to make a full week’s lunches like I usually do.  I mentioned it to my boyfriend and he said he was just doing sandwiches.  Hmm, good idea. But are the breads sold at my local grocer vegan?  I didn’t even look because I kind of doubt it and even if they are you know they’re full of unnecessary ingredients.  And so I had my next bread machine (almost) disaster.

  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 2/3 water
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp agave
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3 and 3/4 c whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 c oats
  • 1/4 cup flax
  • 2 and 1/4 tsp yeast

I used the whole wheat setting for a 2# loaf.  I modified the recipe from this one on Paleo-ish Guilty Kitchen.  I was a little confused about the setting for this bread too because she says she uses the ‘rapid bake’ setting and that it takes over 4 hours but on my machine rapid bake is less than an hour.  Hmm.  I just used the regular whole wheat setting.

I looked in at the bread a wee bit through and it was all crumbly  like it had sand in it.  What?  I make bread often enough to know it doesn’t do that.  So I ran back to the site and scrolled through the comments and saw one that said they thought they may have added too much water.  Um, I don’t remember water being in this recipe.  Talk about an A-Ha moment.  So I went back to the machine and added my 2/3 warm tap water and squished it in with my hands.  I kind of wrote off the bread at that point but figured there was no harm done by letting the bread machine do it’s thing.  And what came out?  An ugly, uneven, slightly heavy but very tasty bread!  Talk about a fool- proof recipe! So sandwiches it is.

wheat bread attempt

Dinner:

I do like to stick with easy on Monday nights so this week I’m making a minestrone type soup.  I can’t give an exact recipe because my method of making soup is throw a little of this and a little of that in a pot, then switch to a bigger pot once or twice, and so on and I didn’t make this one in advance.  But here is the general idea:

  •  a can of cannellini beans
  • maybe a can of kidney beans if it looks like it needs more
  • 1 sliced zucchini
  • 1 sliced yellow squash
  • a chopped onion
  • about 2 regular sized chopped carrots
  • a stalk or two of thin sliced celery
  • lots of fresh minced garlic – at least 3 or 4 cloves and likely more
  • fresh green beans
  • bite sized kale pieces
  • a can or two of diced Italian tomatoes
  • shell or macaroni pasta (depending on what I have)
  • Italian seasoning
  • spices but I’ll just have to use the add and taste method for that part (it’s my favorite cooking method!)

This is totally unrelated to any kind of meatless Monday but totally related to spending my time not blogging.  My son just showed me this:

Alex's highlighter expeimentHe squeezed the innards of a highlighter into a glass of water and put it in front of his black light.  Believe it or not I did nothing to the above picture at all, I just took the pic and uploaded it.

Groovy!!

If you have a vegan bread machine recipe I’d love a link to it!

Also let me know what you thing of my son’s experiment. I told him I was posting the pic on my blog and he of course instantly asked me what people thought.

 

 

 

Vegan Meatless Monday 2 (and some kitchen disasters)

This Monday’s meals didn’t turn out exactly as planned…

I made this cranberry bread for breakfast. Unfortunately although it looked great on the top the flour didn’t mix in on the bottom and it didn’t cook through so looks like it will be bananas and cantaloupe for breakfast. Which I like, but still.

I’m not sure what happened there, maybe I chose the wrong setting?  I’ve never made anything completely inedible in the bread machine before. I was kind of excited to make something with fresh cranberries so I’m pretty bummed about it. Plus I burned the hell out of my hand taking the pan out of the bread maker. It wasn’t the recipe – I ate a piece of the top crust and it would have been incredible. I think I’ll try it again when I get over severely not wanting to be in my kitchen unless it’s to get an adult beverage.

Lunch:

I made enough to pack for lunches all week because otherwise I’ll end up eating just a banana or fast food for lunch.

Earlier this week I made my own version of the Barfly‘s island salsa and it was so good I wanted to eat it with a spoon.  Granted the ingredients are all healthy, but that still may have been a bad idea.  So as an excuse to eat more of it I decided to morph it into island rice.  Score!

The salsa:

  • 1 can diced pineapple
  • 1/2 a diced red onion
  • 1 finely diced habanero
  • Fresh chopped cilantro to taste – is ‘lots’ an official cooking amount?
  • diced bell pepper (not green, just because it’s cooler with more colors!)

Island Salsa

I modified the salsa by using shredded pineapple and 3 chipolte peppers in adobe sauce instead of the habanero just because I had them and it sounded good. Then I cooked a cup of brown rice with 2 cups of water in the rice cooker and threw it all together with a drained can of black beans. Turned out kind of awesome if I do say so myself.

IslandSalsaWithHabanero

The first salsa with chunks of pineapple looks nicer as a dip but they were both really good. Here’s the end result of the island rice:

Island Rice

I’m going to go totally easy and just make a big green salad with a vinegar and oil dressing for dinner.  This is because of the stupid carrot fries.

So. I decided I’d be all cool and make carrot fries too, as a healthy vegan snack.  Why? Because I have still not learned to quit when I am ahead.  Here’s the recipe, they were great.

Cut about 2 pounds of carrots into fry shapes – I made mine on the thin side and about 2 inches long.

Toss them with 2 teaspoons of oil and 2 teaspoons of salt

I put the first half on one cookie pan and then added a tsp of chili powder, a tsp of onion powder, and a sprinkle of cumin on the second half and baked both pans at 400 for a little over 20 minutes, then put them under the broiler for a few minutes to crisp up a bit.

They were so good we ate them all Sunday and so they didn’t end up being part of meatless Monday at all.  But this little trip into cooking taught me many valuable lessons, so I thought I’d share them with you.

  • The drawer under the oven is NOT a broiler, it’s for storage
  • The garbage disposal is really easy to take out, but Google it first because the screws that look like they’re holding it in are not holding it in at all
  • All of the pipes under a kitchen sink come apart and go together pretty easily, and you don’t even need putty
  • Do not run your dishwasher and then walk away when your sink is clogged up
  • Do NOT peel 2 pounds of carrots into the sink, even if you have a garbage disposal, even if you’d swear you’d done it before with no ill effects

Ya. That’s how I spent my Sunday afternoon, how about you?  Sometimes I think it’s a miracle I haven’t yet starved to death or totally broke my entire house yet…

Couch to 5K on Steriods

Ever promise to do something without actually thinking about what it would actually entail? Me too!  I’m just guessing everyone has because it makes me feel better about me.

Unfortunately I believe that people who don’t keep their word are horrible, horrible people (unless they’re saying they won’t cheat at pool) so here I am.

I told my mom and my younger two that if they did the Couch to 5k I’d do it with them.  Sounds reasonable, right? But how do I keep up MY running if I’m also running with them? Granted I’m nothing like a serious runner anyways, but still.  I like to keep up my inflated view of my being a runner and running 1 minute at a time just doesn’t fit the bill.

c25k

c25k (Photo credit: jbj)

So I figured out a way for it to benefit all of us.   I run/walk with them but during the run I set my metronome to 180 and keep up with it while lifting my knees up to as close to waist high as I can and guess what?  The end of that one minute can’t come soon enough. This week it’s thrown my off my schedule but starting the next run I’ll  run by myself afterwards just to make sure I’m keeping up the couple of miles I usually run.

I’m not sure how this is going to work as they move through the program but I’m sure it’ll be interesting and I’m sure I’m not going to be the one to say no!  Maybe this is the kick I need to finally start running further than a 5K? Only time will tell….

Did you start running with the Couch to 5K? Have you ever tried to influence others to get up and start running (or doing something else fun off the couch)?

Not Just Standing Around – Mountain Pose

I love yoga because I love the way I feel after practicing.  Kind of like I love barefoot running because I love the way it makes me feel.

Running in general really, but who’s being specific?

I started getting really interested in both somewhere around the same time but as completely separate things.  But somehow these days the two have merged.  Usually the only time I do yoga anymore is after a run, but it could be anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour. Yoga is just the perfect after run stretch and cool down.  The down side being I rarely do an intense yoga session anymore because who wants to put THAT much effort into it after all that running?  Hmmm, maybe I should start doing at least one just yoga session a week now that I think about it.

Anyways, one negative thing about my first year running barefoot is sometimes my feet hurt the next day.  Also, and this could be a good or a bad depending on your view, I notice unbalances in my body more. I often literally feel like I am not standing evenly on my feet the day after a run, I balance more on the inside of my feet. Being the oddball that I am I think it’s kind of cool that I even notice that. But still, it’s a kind of uncomfortable feeling. I’ve found that a couple of yoga poses can fix that right up.  The main one?  Mountain pose.

Now as you may or may not have read on my disclaimer page (probably not but whatever) I am not an expert on yoga or anything else so HERE is a link to The Yoga Journal’s official and professional and all that‘s explanation to how to properly do the pose.

Now for my not official nor professional nor all that take.  If you clicked the link you would see that in step one they say to ‘rock back and forth and side to side’.  This is KEY in my humble opinion.  My main goal (running related, not yoga related) is for my feet and then the rest of my stance to feel completely balanced.  This is significantly easier in theory than in reality.  Just like everything else, I know.    The thing is to do this rocking back and forth after each check in with the rest of your body.  As in – Balanced? Good.  Firmed your thighs and lifted your knees?  Good. Now get balanced again. Tucked your tailbone?  Oh good, now rock back and forth and get balanced again.  And so on.

I find that doing mountain pose (every morning at my desk at work then occasionally throughout the day just because) is a great way to just kind of get centered both physically and mentally. Who doesn’t need that during a busy work day full of meetings, customers, and whatnot?

Because

1) I’m too lazy to take a picture of me doing mountain pose

2) I couldn’t find a good picture of anyone else doing mountain pose

and

3) I miss Camelback Mountain (and all mountains, Florida is flat as flat can be)

here is a lovely picture of Camelback Mountain.  See how stable it looks? THAT isn’t falling over, push as you will.  Be the mountain!  🙂

English: Camelback Mountain, Phoenix, Arizona.

Are you a runner or a do you practice yoga?  If so do you find the two go together (you know, like peas and carrots)?