Monday, April 30, 2012

April Foodie Pen Pal Reveal

The Lean Green Bean

Wow!  I can't believe April is almost over.  Time is whizzing by!  The end of the month means Foodie Pen Pal Reveal time, and I'm so excited to show you what Katie at Oh Shine On sent me!  If you want to see what I sent Erin at Girl Gone Veggie, just head over to her blog to read her recap.

Katie sent the best package full of wonderful treats and some of her own recipes.  To say that she went above and beyond is an understatement.  Her package was so thoughtfully put together that I felt like I was receiving a care package from an old friend, especially since she sent me numerous variations of my favorite food:  Chocolate!

When Katie's package arrived, I could barely wait to open it.  Like last month, I ignored everyone in my house and immediately started opening the box to see what goodies were inside.

The first thing I opened were the original recipes.  I already knew that Katie was quite the cook because I checked out her blog when I found out she was sending me treats.  So, I was so excited when I discovered some beautifully handwritten recipes in my box...they're all Katie's original recipes.  I already have plans to make the bars this weekend!

Once I stopped drooling over Katie's recipes, I opened the rest of the package.  Katie sent me her favorite granola, which quickly became my favorite granola too!

And, she sent me this incredible chocolate bar.  I already ate the whole thing.

But wait, that's not the only chocolate she sent me.  She also sent these yummy chocolate covered almonds.  I have been snacking on them at work each day, and I definitely have to practice restraint with them so I don't eat the whole bag at once.

As if that wasn't generous enough, Katie also sent me a box of her favorite cookies.  I hid these from Paul and the kids so that they wouldn't eat all of them.  I think I ate two of them before they found them and ate the rest of the box.

I can't thank Katie enough for this wonderful box of goodies.  This program is so much fun.  I love getting to put together boxes of goodies for bloggers and getting packages from others.  It's so much fun to get packages, plus I get to "meet" new bloggers!

If you aren't already part of the Foodie Pen Pal Program, I encourage you to join!  Lindsey does a great job of pairing everyone up each month and organizing the whole program.  Here's what she has to say about it:

-On the 5th of every month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.

-You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penal!

-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!

-You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)

-Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you are to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month.

If you’re interested in participating for May, please CLICK HERE to fill out the participation form and read the terms and conditions.

You must submit your information by May 4th as pairings will be emailed on May 5th!

If you want to see what all of the other participants sent and received, head over to this spot and check it out.  Over 600 people participated this month.  That's a lot of food love!

Friday, April 27, 2012


We decided it was time for a family weekend getaway...without our computers. I'll be back Sunday night with my adventure update for the week, and Monday with my next Foodie Pen Pal post. Have a fabulously fun weekend!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


So, in all the excitement of my half marathon PR and new adventure, I missed the fact that my last post was my 100th post!  How did that happen?  It seems like I just started this little blog.  But, I actually started it last June, so I have been writing here for almost a year.

It's funny...I wanted to start a blog for so long, but I was so apprehensive.  I worried about sounding and looking stupid.  I worried about people reading my blog and people not reading my blog.  I worried that I wouldn't have anything to say.  I guess you can say I'm a worrier.

I spent months thinking of blog names and potential posts, and I even created a few blog templates through blogger and wordpress so that I wouldn't lose the rights to the names if I ever started blogging.

I wrote my introductory post about two months before I actually started blogging. But, even with all of the preparation, I just never hit publish.  It wasn't until I decided to participate in Emilie's Clean Food Challenge for the first time that I finally decided to take the leap and start blogging.  After all, it only seemed natural.  I love blogs and read them every day.  So, why wouldn't I have a blog of my own.

In the beginning, it felt a little awkward.  I'm an "academic," which means I'm trained in the art of research writing.  So, I really had to adjust my writing style to fit more with blogging.  It has been a fun process.  I finally feel like I'm finding my groove.  I'm constantly blogging in my head and I'm starting to gain some readers.  Not a lot, but a few.  I'm commenting on other blogs and participating in fun challenges and blog events.  And, I'm making some new blog friends in the process.

So, what's in store for the next 100 posts?  Well, the first and most exciting thing is that this blog is getting a new name.  When I started the blog, I chose "My Own Trail" because I really liked the way it sounded.  Unfortunately, I never checked to see if it was an available .com domain.  So, a few weeks ago, when I decided that it was time to take my blog to the next level, I naively went to Go Daddy to purchase the domain, only to find out that it wasn't available.  So, I did what any calm, rational blogger would do.  I stomped around and pouted and told my husband that I didn't want any other domain name.  I only wanted "My Own Trail."  Luckily, after my very zen husband calmed me down and reminded me that lots of bloggers change their blog names at some point, I relaxed and began looking for new domain names.  I finally found one that I LOVE and actually think is better than my current blog name.  So, I immediately purchased it and I'm starting to work on transitioning my blog to the new domain.  I'm not sure when I will make the official switch, but it will be sometime in the next few weeks (maybe after I submit the final draft of my Master's thesis).

So, what is my new name going to be? 

Fit Like a Mother

I really like the name and think it does a good job encompassing me and what this blog is about.  So, I'm really excited.

Anyway, that's the next big thing for this blog.  I'm hoping the next 100 posts are just as exciting as the first 100.  Even though it took me so long, I'm really glad I finally hit publish last June!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Plattsburgh Half Marathon: A PR and an Adventure!

So, today was the half marathon and I'm happy to report that I finished strong in spite of major calf cramping the last two miles.  This is the first half marathon I ever ran (last April), so it has a special place in my heart.   It's a great course and I just love the whole vibe of the race.   It's a local race for me, which makes it even better.

This was my third half marathon, and I have to admit that I went into this one with a lot of anxiety and self-doubt.  It's strange, because I was more nervous than I was the first time I ran a half marathon.  I finally figured out that it was because my last half marathon was a pretty awful one.  I started out strong but ended up walking most of the last mile because of severe leg cramping, and my final time was actually 9 minutes slower than my first half marathon.  So, I think I had some fear that I would have the same problems again this time.

I started out really strong this time and felt confident most of the run.  This half had a relay, so I was able to see my time at the halfway point.  When I ran through the relay exchange, the clock said 1:00:15, and I was elated.  For me, this was a fantastic time.  It meant I was actually running faster than I thought.  The second half of the run was great...until I hit mile 11.  Just like my last half, my calves started to cramp up.  I ran the last two miles with charlie horses in both of my legs.  It wasn't fun.  But, unlike last time, I made myself keep running.  I knew that if I stopped I would never start running again.  So, I reduced my speed, found my groove and just kept running.  It wasn't the most enjoyable experience, and I had to do a lot of bargaining with myself and give myself a lot of motivational talks during those last two long miles.  But, in the end, I was OK.  I didn't stop to walk and I crossed the finish line feeling strong and proud.  My time was 2:07 (still waiting for the exact chip time).  Last year, I ran the same race in 2:13:37, so this was an improvement for me.  It was also a PR!  I feel good about my results, even though I was secretly hoping to be under 2:05.  If my legs hadn't cramped the last two miles, I would have met my secret goal.  Oh well, I guess I'll just have to train better for the next one.

So, that's the first half of my post, but what is the adventure part of all this, you ask?

Well, I didn't wear my Garmin during the race.  I know this might not seem like a big deal to some of you, but it's huge for me.  I'm a bit addicted to my Garmin.  I need to use it so I can know at all times how far and fast I'm running.  Quite honestly, I think sometimes it does more harm than good.  So, since I was already feeling anxious about this run, I decided t leave my watch at home and just listen to my body.  I ran the whole 13.1 miles paying attention to the cues my body was giving me and reassured myself that I would run the half in the amount of time that my body was capable of running.  Other than the time clock at the halfway point, I had no idea how fast I was running.  It was actually really liberating.  Sometimes I become fixated on my watch and ruin my run because I put too much pressure on myself.  I really liked running without it today.  So, I think I'm going to leave it at home more often.  I'm still going to use it...just not for every run.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Opening Day!

Here in Upstate NY, our summers are short and our winters are harsh.  Unlike warmer regions, we only get to experience the benefits of summer for a brief period.  So, we get really excited when the weather gets warm enough for opening day.  No, I'm not talking about baseball.  I'm talking about something much more important.

Ice Cream!

When spring gets warm enough to be considered "almost summer," the local soft serve ice cream places open up.  It's a big deal around here.  Since soft ice cream is only around for a few months, summer evenings are often spent driving to an ice cream stand to enjoy a cone while the kids get all sticky and run around in the adjacent field.

Yesterday, I saw on Facebook that our favorite ice cream place had just opened for the season.  So, I did what any good parent does.  I loaded the kids in the car at 7:30 pm on a school night and drove 15 minutes to the ice cream place.

We were all very excited

Even Elliot

It looks like summer is almost here.  I love opening day!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Taper Week

It feels kind of funny to "taper" during the week before a half marathon, but I know it's important to rest my legs, so I'm doing a modified taper.  I only ran 7 miles this past Saturday (with an overall pace of 9:11, which is astounding!), and my mid-week runs are shorter, slower and less frequent.  I used the elliptical on Sunday to give my running legs a rest.  Yesterday, I ran with two of my co-workers.  We only did 3.5 miles, but it still felt good to stretch my legs.  I have an early morning run scheduled for tomorrow and then I plan to do a short, 2 mile run on Saturday to stretch my legs and loosen them up before the race on Sunday.

So, I'm hoping my legs will be nice and fresh on Sunday.  Last year, I ran this race in 2:13.  I'm hoping to beat my time this year, and I really want to be under 2:10.  Anything more than that will just be an extra bonus.  Let's see if all of my hard work will pay off.

Now, if I could just change the weather forecast for Sunday...

Sunday, April 15, 2012

My First Adventure

As you know, I signed up to participate in Janetha's Adventurous April Challenge.  Unfortunately, I was not able to accomplish my goals the first week due to way too many unforeseen circumstances.  And, I was barely able to squeeze it in this week.  But, today, the last day of the week, I finally did something that I have always wanted to do.  It's not a big deal, but it's still something new to me.

I finally used the Precor AMT trainer at my gym.  For the past year, I have been watching people use it and I have always wanted to give it a try.  But, for some reason, I have been completely intimidated.  I didn't want to look stupid while I tried to figure it out.  I was worried that it would be too hard.  I felt like I should just stick with my favorite machine: the elliptical.

But, today I went to the gym with the plan already in place.  I knew I was slacking on the Adventurous April challenge, and I wanted to end the week with at least one new thing under my belt.  So, I woke up this morning and decided that today was going to be the day that I was going to tackle the AMT.

So, after a year of building it up in my mind, how did it go, you ask. wasn't as great as I thought it would be.  I figured it out pretty quickly and I used it for a while.  It gave me a good workout, but I still prefer my beloved elliptical.  It just felt awkward.  But, I realize that it could be because I'm not used to it, so I'm going to give it another chance.  I just don't see it becoming a regular part of my workout routine.

I have big plans for my new adventures this week, so check back next Sunday for a full report (oh, and a half marathon report as well since next Sunday is my half marathon).

Hope you are all having fun adventures of your own!

Friday, April 13, 2012

So close...

So, lately I have been working on this little thing called a thesis.  You know, the last thing I have to do before I can graduate with my Master's Degree in History.  I am in the process of working through my thesis advisor's recommendations and making final edits.  Every night, my dining room table looks like this.

This is actually my second thesis.  I already have a master's degree in administration, which I completed many years ago.  And, just like childbirth, I somehow forgot how involved (and painful) the process is.  But, also how worth it it is in the end.  I may not be creating life, but I am creating something pretty big.  I have immersed myself in the research process and it has been a large part of my life for the past few months.  I'm so excited to be done, but at the same time I'm sad to be done.  I know that doesn't make much sense, but this really is bittersweet for me.  I have been so involved in researching and writing about my topic - the Back to the Land movement - and I'm going to feel so disconnected when I'm not looking for sources or staying up way too late so I can just finish writing one more section.

It looks like I will be submitting my final draft by the middle of next week, which means I will be graduating on May 19th.  I'm so excited.  It's so close, but I still feel like I have so much to do.

But I have promises to keep
And miles to go before I sleep
And miles to go before I sleep
                         - Robert Frost

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Green Day

No, I'm not writing about the band.  Although, I really like them.  I'm actually writing about my food.  I know, I know...I don't do a lot of food posts here, but sometimes I feel like it.  Today is one of those days.

On any given day, I strive to eat as many (natural) colors as possible.  I love to see a beautiful rainbow on my plate.  It makes me feel so healthy.  But, sometimes my day of eating ends up being a little less diverse.  Today is a perfect example.   I must have been in a green mood, because this is what I ate:


This was a delicious green smoothie made with water, baby spinach (4 cups), banana, clementine, frozen mango, frozen pineapple, chia seeds and hemp seeds.  This is one of my favorite smoothie combinations!


Split pea soup!  It doesn't look very vibrant, but it was yummy!


OK, this really looks like a big mess, but it sure was delicious!  It's a makeshift "taco salad."  It's mostly lettuce and avocado with a veggie burger crumbled on top and some salsa sprinkled about.  It was the most colorful meal of the day, but it still had a lot of green in it.  Ignore the container.  I had to eat this "on the go."

I had a few snacks in between, including an apple cinnamon Chobani (green label) and a bunch of snap peas.  I also had a cup of green tea.

My day wasn't comprised of only green foods, but that seemed to be the overarching theme. I wonder what tomorrow will be like...

Do you try to eat as many colors as possible each day?  Do you ever have days where you eat mostly one color?  What are your favorite colors to eat?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

What Day is it Anyway?

I am so off this week.  Amelia is on school vacation and Paul and I have done our best to piece together care for her.  But, we each have had to take some time off (no complaints here!) and I'm feeling so lost.  I realized today that I don't even know what day it is, and for a moment I couldn't even remember what month it was.  I'm going to blame it on the school vacation, too much going on at work, the end of half marathon training, and some new projects in the works.

So, in the chaos of the week, I hope you are finding your zen and taking some time to enjoy your family, friends and yourself.  After all, we all need a few minutes of quite reflection and "me" time.

Hopefully, the next time I blog I will actually know what day it is.  As long as I don't miss my half marathon on the 22nd, I'm OK.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

What a Weekend!

Whether you celebrate Easter or Passover or just weekends in general, I hope you had a good one.  I sure did!

My weekend was spent in the best way possible...with family and friends and tons of random fun.

We colored eggs

Flew kites

Hunted for eggs

Dressed up

And enjoyed some alone time

It was wonderful in all the right ways.  We were busy, but not too busy.  We spent time with friends, but we also spent time as a family.  We had a lot of adventures, but we also had a lot of time for quiet reflection.  Quite honestly, it was the perfect mix of everything.  It was a great weekend!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Snack Attack!

I am a snacker.  Always have been, always will be.  When I was younger, I used to diet all the time (that's another topic for a different day), and I always tried to limit my eating to 3 meals and one snack a day.  It never worked, and my diets always failed.  Well, except for the period when I had a minor eating disorder.  I say minor because it only lasted a year or so and I didn't end up far below my healthy weight.  Still, during that time I subsisted on diet pills and very few calories, which meant I didn't snack much.  However, for the other 34 years of my life, I have always been a snacker.

I like to eat every 2 - 3 hours, which means I eat a lot of small meals each day.  I don't eat tons at once, but I do graze throughout the day.  Alright, who am I kidding, there are plenty of times when I eat a lot in one sitting.  The fact of the matter is that I LOVE food.  Luckily, I really like healthy foods, which means my constant snacking isn't a bad thing.

Since I love snacking so much, I always have an arsenal of food in my purse or desk.  Add two hungry kids into the mix and sometimes I feel like I'm carrying an entire grocery store around in my purse.  I have a large desk drawer devoted to snacks in my office and I'm always picking up items to add to it.  Here's what it looked like on Thursday:

It's actually a little sparse by my standards, but I'm going to pick up some additional snacks at the grocery store this weekend.  The item on top is beet chips. They're awesome!  The soy crisps are great for when I feel like a crunchy chip.  There are two packets of instant miso soup for a quick lunch addition or afternoon snack.  I also have a packet of Justin's almond butter and a bar.  The two boxes on the bottom are instant organic oatmeal.  I'm not a huge fan of instant oatmeal, but I like to keep it on hand since I eat breakfast at my desk each morning.  It's great for mornings when I forget to bring something or when I am running late. 

I also have a mini fridge in my office that I keep stocked with cut up veggies, fruit, Chobani, Baybel and laughing cow cheese.  I try to keep a box of crackers and rice cakes and some kind of nut butter on hand as well.

I know it seems like a lot of food, but I work full-time and spend about 8 hours at work each day.  If I don't keep healthy snacks on hand, I'm more apt to go to the college bookstore or cafeteria when I'm hungry which would result in a lot of unhealthy impulse purchases.

Since I'm a snacker and I have no plans to change that any time soon, I want to make sure I keep my snacks healthy.  That way, when a snack attack hits, I'm prepared.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

I'm Adventurous!

Janetha at meals and moves wants all of us to be more adventurous this month, so she created this challenge.  I signed up as soon as I saw it.

adventurous april

This is what Janetha has to say about the challenge:

april is dedicated to being adventurous! trying new exercises, eating new foods, testing different trends, making new friends, and anything else that is a NEW adventure for you.
the way it works is simple.. you just get out there and do something you wouldn’t usually do, then report back to me. i challenge each of you to try at least ONE new thing each week. and by new thing i mean ANYTHING. these things can big or small–just as long as you are putting your adventure pants on and taking a step out of your comfort zone.

In addition to the satisfaction and excitement of trying something new, Janetha is also rewarding us with some fun prizes.  Check out the full details on her blog!

Since I have been in a rut lately, I thought it would be good to step outside my comfort zone and try some new things.  I'm so excited.

I already know what I'm going to do this week and I'll post about it as soon as I accomplish it.  I also have some other things in mind for this month, but I still need to come up with more ideas.  My goal is to try two new things each week.

I think we could all use some adventure in our lives, so head over to Janetha's blog and accept the challenge.  Trust me, you'll have so much fun thinking of new, exciting things to do.  I know I am!

Monday, April 2, 2012

I'm getting faster!

I am not a natural runner, and I'm definitely not a fast runner.  I work hard to run long distances and I have to train for weeks just to complete a half marathon.  I'm not one of those people who can decide to run a half marathon three weeks before the event without a solid base of distance running and then successfully complete it.  I have to work at it.

When I started running in July 2010, I was ecstatic to be able to run 1.5 miles and I had no idea what my pace was.  In November of that year, I ran my first 5K and finished in 32:16.  So, I averaged a 10:23 minute mile.  I was shocked!  I really thought my pace was even slower.  Since then, my pace dropped to about a 10 min. mile.  Last April, I ran my first half marathon in 2:13:45, which was a 10:12 pace.  Not much faster than my 5K pace.  Of course, the distance was much longer, so that was to be expected.  I spent those first few months of running just building up my distance.  Pace wasn't a concern at all.  Even though I wasn't trying to be a fast runner, I always read other blogger's race reports with a bit of envy when they listed their paces as 8 or 9 minute miles. 

I have always struggled through every mile of running knowing that I couldn't go any faster. But, I'm starting to think that I'm just limiting myself because I'm afraid to push myself.  I think I can run faster than I let myself.

Yesterday, I ran with a friend.  It was supposed to be a 12 mile run, but we had to limit it to 6.5 miles because I'm recovering from an Achilles injury.  We kept up a great pace the entire time and I felt like I was pushing myself, but I didn't feel bad at all.

Last night, she sent me the following email:

Hope your Achilles is still doing well this evening.  You probably already know this from your watch, but you averaged a 9:34 pace today...very nice!!!

Your splits were:

9:26 (last 1/2 mile)

That's a 2:04 to 2:05 finish!!!  COOL!!!

I know this doesn't seem like a big deal to those of you who run much faster than this, but for me it's incredible!  I maintained that pace the entire time, with an injury, and I definitely felt like I could have run 6.5 more miles without slowing down.  I think I'm finally getting faster!  Next week we'll be running 12 miles, so I'm going to see if I can keep up the pace the entire time.  If I can, I think I will have a PR at the half marathon on April 22nd!