Sunday, March 28, 2010

Have Asics, Will Travel

As all runners know, there is no better way to explore than by on foot.

Most of the races I have completed have been out-of-state. I've found this to be motivating for a few reasons. First off, if I'm traveling for a race, I better train for it! Also, I tend to enjoy the race route more if it's a surprise and I can be distracted by the adventure of what's behind each turn. Finally, there's no better post-race reward than finding yourself in a fun or relaxing destination!

Outside of races, I've also been fortunate to incorporate running into many of my travels- packing along my trusty Asics and devising my own route. Some of the highlights of my trips include running up the Champs Elysees in Paris, training along the city seawall in Apia, Samoa, and jogging along Hoan Kiem Lake (pictured above) in Hanoi, Vietnam. Here, I witnessed residents lifting weights, doing calisthenics, and performing various routines in time with choreographed music piped through speakers along the shoreline- talk about a cultural experience!

Even in my hometown of Seattle, I've found that by running with no plan other than 'this road looks interesting, I'll turn here', I've come across beautiful neighborhood streets, new businesses (including yummy post-run restaurants), and undiscovered vantage points that have left me with a greater appreciation for where I live. I've often thought it was a shame that running tours aren't more prevalent in major cities.

Now that running buddies are finding their way to this blog from around the country and around the world, I would love to hear from you about a time when you've laced up and set out to explore in your hometown or beyond. Any tips on fun destination races would be appreciated as well- the adventure must go on!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Seeds of Change

When I started this running blog in January, I was excited about the idea of motivating myself and others to a healthier lifestyle through running. At that same time, I decided I wanted to start feeding my family better. My husband immediately wrinkled his nose up at the very thought of what that might mean… Three months later, not much about our life has changed…except that I’m shopping smarter, we’re eating better, my kid’s are none the wiser (about what they are eating, anyway), and my husband is on board with the whole thing! Ahhhhhhh…the sweet little seeds of change.

So, why did I wait so long to make nutrition a priority in our lifestyle? After all, I did live in Eugene, Oregon for several years (granola capital of the world!... I think.) and Colorado Springs, Colorado (voted healthiest city in the Country by Outside magazine in 2009). Two reasons.

1) Money.

I thought buying organic/healthier foods would be too expensive. In general, healthier products (better cuts of meat, organic vegetables and whole grain products) are more expensive. But, when I finally got serious about making healthier shopping choices, I discovered that it is possible to buy better, healthier foods and not ‘break the bank.’ In fact, most of the big grocery store chains have their own organic brands that are much less expensive than the national brands. I also researched the most important produce items to buy organic (those that generally contain more pesticides) and those that are okay to buy conventionally-grown. Here’s the EWG’s quick reference sheet that you can download for yourself:

It has been a challenge for me to familiarize myself with what seems to be a culture all its own! But, it has also been a lot of fun. The best part…we are trying new foods. New, really good foods!! Here are my top three finds so far:

3) 100% whole grain tortillas: Same price as regular flour tortillas but with a lot more flavor! Why didn't I buy these a long time ago?

2) Smart Chicken ground chicken: I cannot rave enough about this product. You can use it anywhere you would use ground beef. We have put it in tacos, spaghetti, chili & enchiladas. Even my skeptical husband, who again wrinkled his nose up at me the first time he saw me browning it (his face is going to stay like that if he doesn't stop it), will rave about it now! I buy it in the “chub” pack for $1.59/lbs at my regular grocery store. That’s cheaper than the leanest ground beef! Here’s a link to their website if you want to find a store near you.

1) Seeds of Change Greek Feta Vinaigrette salad dressing: It is awesome, amazing, marvelous, terrific, wonderful and super good! You should really go and buy it, right now! I bought it on sale this week for $2.47!! Read about it here:

Love at first taste!

Every grocery trip is an adventure for me now. What’s better for an OCD driven runner than the challenge of eating better and saving money? I’m just wondering, what should I try next? Leave me a comment or email me ( Point me down an aisle and I am sooo there! Give me a coupon and I am sooo there, even faster!! 

Organic Safeway brand

Organic Fred Meyer brand

Organic Albertson brand

Shop smart, Eat well, Run a triple threat!!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Eggplant and Turkey Meatballs

1/2 eggplant, peeled and diced
1 lb. ground turkey breast
1/4 c. freshly grated parmesan
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1/4 c. bread crumbs
1 egg white
1/4 tsp. basil
freshly ground pepper
cooking spray
1 c. marinara

Place eggplant in pot, cover with water and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer until softened. Meanwhile, combine all other ingredients (except marinara sauce and cooking spray) in a bowl. Allow eggplant to cool slightly, then mash. Add to bowl and mix - then form into meatballs. Spray nonstick pan and brown meatballs. Place half marinara sauce in casserole dish. Add meatballs, top with remaining sauce and bake at 375 F about 20 minutes until bubbly

Running Buddies Review:

These meatballs have a lot of flavor and were delicious when I paired them with spaghetti (but honestly, they would be a yummy meal as is). The best part is that these meatballs are excellent as leftovers or just divided the prepared meat in half and cooked the remainder as meatloaf the next day (worked perfectly for my family of two).

Thanks Judy for the low fat, high protein meal! The eggplant is a great way to add a little vegetable to your meal!

If you have a healthy recipe you would like to submit to the Running Buddies, please email

Monday, March 15, 2010

A COUPLE things...

Every day, I tune my radio to my favorite local radio station and it plays, for the most part, all day long in my house. Lately, I have been hearing an ad for a local gym. Their slogan: “Couples who workout together…stick together.” Not the best choice of slogan... For me, it provokes a mental smell of armpit, a mental taste salt and a mental image (that I won’t describe) all at the same time! It’s not pleasant. But, when I hear the ad, I try to put all my 'less than appealing mental thoughts' aside because I love what the gym is trying to promote. Strong, happy, healthy couples!!

I love to workout with my husband! Not only is he the best “Dog chaser-awayer, woman-protector, boo-boo-fixer” that I know, he is so fun to be around! He makes me laugh constantly and can make any workout fly by, guaranteed! (sorry, I don’t rent him out…well, if the price is right...hmmmm....these are trying economic times...). Anyway, with our schedules and two small children, we take advantage of every opportunity we get to work out together. Case in point, a few months ago, our church had a “date night” (aka free childcare!) so, we dropped the kids off the minute we were allowed to do so. We quickly drove home and changed into our running gear and headed to the lake. A planned “3 mile run and movie date” turned into a longer and longer run with no movie at all! We had a great time together, but if I remember correctly we did receive a few strange looks when we returned to the church to pick up the kids - red, hot & dripping with sweat.

Here are a few reasons I think working out as a couple is so great:

Quality time together: It may not be the ideal “date” (for you!), but it’s a great time to be together and talk. If you plan it into your schedule daily/weekly, it may just become your favorite time of the day/week!

Common goals: Having a goal is exciting! It will give you something to work toward – together! Plus, it will give you a lot of new stuff to talk about.

Encouragement: It’s a lot easier to understand someone and empathize with them if you are going through the same thing. Working out together or training for the same goal will inspire you to encourage one another (and that means, you’ll say nice things to each other!).  Try this one: next time you see your work out sweetie, say: "Wow, have you been working out?" (followed by a little wink).  You won't be disappointed with the results!

Celebrate success together: Any way you want.  No need to elaborate!  ;)

Friday, March 12, 2010

What a SWEET winner!!

Thanks for all the mouth-watering comments! They were so much fun to read. I wish I could send each and everyone of you a box of Cadbury Creme eggs... but there's no way they would ever make it to the post office!!
Steffeny11 (a/k/a Steffen) is the winner of our tasty giveaway! Congrats!! She should also win a seperate prize for the longest comment in blog history under the "Running Sucks" post. Thank you for giving Brian (and everyone else) so many ideas to make running more interesting! I personally loved the comment and I'm sure he will appreciate it too if he can stay focused long enough to read the whole thing! ;)

Please email your mailing address to, and we'll send you the prize!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

It's the first “A yummy little vice is nice…especially twice” giveaway!

I’ve thought seriously about making a T-shirt that says, I run(Front), to eat carbs! (back). I absolutely LOVE to reward myself for working out. But, if I’m being really honest, I like just about any excuse to indulge myself in a lip-smacking treat!
(This looks like a picture Lemonade Makin' Mama would have taken with her new camera.  Don't believe me, check out her button on our sidebar)
My personal list of favorites is a lengthy one, but at this time of year, my chart-topping confection is the Cadbury Crème egg! (just a moment, while I delicately bite through the majestic outer layer of milk chocolate, being careful to leave all exposed crème undisturbed). I’m obsessed with them. I don’t dream about eating them or anything weird like that, but I did name my first pet rabbit Cadbury (but that was years ago). I’ll admit, it does take me an absurd amount of time to eat one and I am very meticulous (annoying even, according to my husband) about the procedure by which I execute the process (I don’t think process is the word I meant to use)…. And, maybe I do keep buying them with the intent of “putting them in my kids’ Easter baskets,” and yes, an acute shortage of crème eggs and nothing else does warrant a trip to the grocery store (in my book)… So, I’ve hid a wrapper or two so as not to appear gluttonous… and I might be brushing chocolate out of my teeth all day long… but, I promise, I’m perfectly normal!
What’s your treat “weakness?” Share it with a comment and you’ll be entered to win a gift card to Emerald City Smoothie AND Starbucks (don’t even get me started on their Chai Tea Latte!). Become a follower, subscribe to post emails, or link our (new, adorable) button to your blog and be entered again (just be sure to let me know what you did in your comment, so I can keep track of how many times to enter your name). A winner will be drawn on Friday night, so be sure to check back.

Do you ever imagine a vat of your favorite egg treat at the finish line of a run or at the end of a long workout?  Ahem…um…yeah, I don’t do that, either.

Please note: The last post was not written by me. It was written by my hacker bro-in-law, who even after posting such non-sense, is still a running buddy of mine…but, he’s posting on very thin ice!  Encourage him with a comment and I’ll enter you again!

Running Sucks

First off I wanted to say that running sucks and is in no way fun. People that run all the time and say its fun are crazy, that being said I wish I was crazy too. Running to me is like work, without work there are many things you can not enjoy. Without running and staying in shape I realize that there are many things I won’t be able to enjoy also especially later on in life. I just wish that it wasn’t so darn boring.

I am a person with very little patience. I run everywhere to get to point A to point B. I cannot stand being bored. If I have to go outside to my car I will not walk I will run. It isn’t the act of running that is boring it’s the lengthy runs that you do nothing but run for no reason other than to get healthy. If my car died a few miles from my house you can bet I would run not walk because walking would just prolong the boring trip.

Starting today I am going to start my training for the 9 mile race I am going to run with my wife in about a month. I am going to track my progress and report if I can hopefully change my mind to feel that running isn’t so terrible. My wife loves to work out and I would love to workout with her. As it stands now when we have a run planned I dread it all day long making my day feel so long and horrible.

I have tried listing to music and that gets old, I have even tried listening to books on tape and that seems to help a lot.

Please let me know your tips and techniques that makes running fun for you.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Does Red Bull Really Give You Wings?

Energizing with friends before a bicycle tour of Paris

I admit it, I’m Red Bull that is. It was not love at first taste but rather an acquired taste I have grown to love over the last 7 years and I’m not the only one. According to Jay R. Hoffman, PhD, energy drinks are one of the most popular supplements in the American adolescent and young adult population.

Not only does Red Bull give me energy and wake me up but I swear when I drink it I can’t help but be happy. My husband, who often calls it my ‘happy juice’, sometimes has it waiting for me in the mornings (I take that as a sign that I can be kinda grouchy upon awakening. lol). While there have been no conclusive studies it is believed that phenylethylamine is one ingredient in energy drinks that may enhance mood. Other vitamins found in energy drinks, like Red Bull, are Niacin and Vitamin B6 and B12.

So how does energy drinks affect athletic performance?

Energy drinks and health risks have made headlines in the early 2000’s. The herb ephedra alkaloid was linked to many heat related deaths of professional athletes (which was shown to elevate heart rate and blood pressure and unmask underlying cardiovascular problems.) In 2004, the FDA prohibited the sale of ephedra (I am unaware if ephedra is still sold in other parts of the world. My guess would be yes, so that is something to keep in mind for all you travelers out there!)

Current energy drinks in the U.S. do not contain this herb and recent studies have shown that these energy drinks are actually quite safe. Another factor I had to consider is caffeine’s effect on the body when exercising. I would often avoid energy drinks pre-race simply because I was under the assumption that the caffine may cause dehydration. Research has proven this to not be the case. When consumed in moderation, caffinated drinks will effect the body much like water.

Studies have also shown that energy drinks can delay fatigue, enhance alertness, focus, and reaction time and improve the quality of a resistance training workout but did not show any improvement on strength or power performance exercises (Hoffman).

The good news is it appears that energy drinks are not harmful when combined with exercise and can actually improve your workout. But like with any exercise regimen, use caution and listen to your body prior to adding any supplement to your workout, especially if you are new to working out, overweight, exercising in the heat or have pre-existing heat/heart/cardiovascular related issues. Consume in moderation if you choose to use an energy drink prior to a workout.

As for me, if I'm really in a workout funk, I may turn to Red Bull to give me wings but for now I will continue to drink my ‘happy juice’ in the AM or when I need that extra boost throughout the day. Afterall, I'm one of those creatures of habit Lisa was talking about in a previous Running Buddies post! ;)

Side Note: Check back on March 10th for another Running Buddies giveaway. Hey, its our blog and we can bribe our readers if we want to! :)