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THE SPARK 28 day program

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

My sister and I are taking the Spark 28 day program. I haven't had a chance to read "THE SPARK" just yet. It just got passed to me from my sister so I am starting with the program's chapters and then reading the rest. Week 1 has six steps-1. Set fast break goals, 2. Plan your SparkTime, 3. Reaffirm your focus, 4. Set up shop, 5. Choose your rewards, 6. Learn about what you currently eat.

1. Set your fast break goals-I have 3...
a. Drink 8 cups of water a day. This is actually a carry over from the first time I did fast break. But, with the cool weather I have been coming up short most days so I figure now is a good time to get back into the habit.
b. Stretch for 10 minutes. I have been meaning to get my yoga back on track but it is not happening so a couple rounds of Sun Salutation each day will meet both goals.
c. Read an inspirational story or book-hehe that one is easy now that I've got the SPARK in my hot little hands!!

2. Plan your SparkTime-my mother gave me the Spark Planning Calendar for Christmas and I have used it to some degree but I am going to start using it to its full potential.

3. Reaffirm your focus- I've lost track of some of my goals and the long term and short term goals have all short of rolled into one long goal so...
a. Short term goal- run a 5K in May
b. Mid-term goal-run/walk a 10K in June
c. Long-term goals-reach a healthier weight, and run a half marathon.

4. Set Up Shop-Candy, Kool-Aid and other junk has crept into my house over the holidays and hasn't left yet, the house guest who never leaves. I think most of it is gone now and I am reasserting myself over my shopping habits and my unwanted houseguests have recieved thier eviction notices. The second part is to retrieve my fitness gear from under the bed. It went into hiding over the holidays (a very small home left no room for tree and gear to co-habitate) and is still hiding under the bed and getting dusty. Out it comes!!

5. Choose your rewards. I already have a great list of rewards on my main page but I am adding some for each week of the challenge. Drinking all my water earns me a new pair of socks (stole this reward from my sis, except I've been coveting a new pair of socks from Save our Soles for a while now and this is a good reason to justify them-Save our Soles sells really good socks that are SUPER cute and good quality). Stretching for 10 minutes gets me a new bookcase (I have books living in boxes it is time to get them back on a shelf). Reading gets a new book (makes sense huh?).

6. Learn what you eat. I am paying closer attention to the nutritional info printed under my recipes and aiming for more balance at each meal. Balance between entree and vegitable as well as variety and colors served. Also, I am paying more attention to WHEN I eat. I have caught myself slipping into some very bad, old habits. Like skipping a meal or allowing my "snacks" to turn into mini-meals-oooo very, very bad.

So February is the month of the holiday dedicated to love. I am going to celebrate Valentine's day by showing myself some love, giving myself some much deserved attention and renewing a very important relationship. Hope everyone is having a great week!!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

WBOYACK 2/4/2010 11:24AM

  Great goals and rewards!

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LIUBOCHKA 2/4/2010 8:55AM

    Great goals! I love your rewards, too. I never would have thought of new socks! emoticon

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CAZ_NR_HEATHROW 2/4/2010 3:44AM

    emoticon Heather you're right on track hun emoticon

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    emoticon You will do this!

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FITN2014-TSP 2/4/2010 12:38AM

    Best wishes on your 28 day program. Keep up the good work. emoticon

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CHRYS13 2/4/2010 12:20AM

    You are right on track! Good for you!

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GMO_JEN 2/3/2010 11:18PM

    Great Job! I just started the book- and am really hoping it kicks me into gear. Good luck this month!

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SPHAPPYHIKER 2/3/2010 11:17PM

    Great Goals!! I am also doing the 28 Day challenge. I like the idea of blogging the goals. Thanks

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    God for you! I haven't got the book yet but I use the site daily. I couldn't imagine not logging in now! Keep up the good work!

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ZZYYGGY 2/3/2010 10:56PM

    Great job.

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New foods and picky kids.

Monday, February 01, 2010

So, the last little while I have been on kind of a new foods kick. In an effort to eat better I have been planning menus and testing new recipes, putting my library of cook books through its paces like crazy and my kids have all gone on self imposed diets!!

I am not limiting the amout of food they receive and there is always plenty to eat, but they are refusing to try the new stuff-for the most part. I do have to say I am very proud of my 6 year old. The boy in our family, he is a notoriously picky eater-you can't tell-he is built like a line backer (not fat!! Just extremely sturdy-I know that sounds like a mom thing, but you would have to see to believe-he is just a human tank plain and simple), but he is horribly picky. He has done a very good job of at least trying the new foods. Polenta Beef Stew (exactly what it says-beef stew served over a polenta base) was a flop with the kids-I loved it. Sweet and Sour Chicken (a super delicious low fat version) was also a flop with the kids, but a huge hit with hubby and me. Cabbage Rolls were untouched by the girls, but the filling was devoured by the six year old, only my husband and I ate the whole roll-cabbage and all. The three year old is the WORST!! One look and it is "mommy, me not like this". The six year old is a carnivor at heart and at least agreed to eat the meat in each dish.

Last night was the Sweet and Sour chicken. I served it in bowls over brown rice. It was quite comical looking at each bowl at the end of dinner-hubby's bowl and mine scraped clean (it was REALLY good), each of the kids' bowl had a lump of cold rice with pineapple chunks and green pepper strips laying on top with not a bit of chicken left in my son's bowl, but enough chicken left that the dog had fun picking out the chicken from the girls' bowls-he also left behind the rice, pineapple and peppers!! LOL!!

Last week the broccoli soup and then a couple days latter the carrot soup were both looked at as if they had bugs in them. In fact I think the kids thought the wild rice in the carrot soup was bugs!!

So, the good news is the kids will not starve. I know this. It is still a little disturbing to watch 3 kids barely eat dinner. The other good news is that, eventually, they will get used to green things being served as a meal, as well as orange things and maybe even yellow things. They will eventually figure out that this stuff is actually VERY GOOD stuff. Granted the whole family was a little worried about the cabbage rolls (not me I ate them A LOT during my time in Germany and have missed them dearly, but was always a little intimidated by the rolling etc.), but hubby was brave and showed the kids how to dive in and pretend until you figure out if it is good or not. Hubby judged the cabbage rolls a "keeper" BTW.

Asking my family to expand their tastes is not an easy mission, but we will get there. I just know that someday my 3 year old (maybe not until she is six, but hey, I can wait) will actually request mom's cabbage rolls for dinner and someday they will not blink at a chunk of squash sitting on thier plate. And that, my dear SparkFriends, will be a good day indeed.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

RAIN_SIS 2/19/2010 12:01PM

    There was a really good article in my local paper about getting kids to eat.
It says some kids will eat anything from birth, others won't. Some start one way and change.
An expert quote from the article says:
“The parent controls the what, when and where of feeding,” Satter says. “The child is responsible how much and whether to eat.”
So the expert agrees with your blog.

Here is a link to the online article:

I will sparkmail it to you so I can make it clickable.

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ITSHOWYOULIVE 2/3/2010 10:19PM

    LINDSAYHENNIGAN's comment made me realize how mine may have come across. I would never advocate trying to cater to what a child may decide she/he wants. That is definitely not a winnable situation.
I am saying offer a less exotic alternative, if it is not too much trouble, and let them choose from what is offered. If nothing suits them then hungry is a choice.
Do encourage them to try everything just don't force it.
That is my opinion.

From RainSIS (accidentaly deleted but then retrieved-oops!!)

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    Well Done Mommy! My niece and nephew are extremely picky and one is a carnivore, and my poor sister ends up cooking constantly to get them all something they WANT. What a way to set them up for health problems in the future, huh? Good job serving healthy and interesting food, and letting them "diet" if they so choose. They are smart enough to protect themselves, and will eat. You are right, one day they will develop an appreciation for you and your work when they realize they never had to join
My little guys are 1 1/2 and 3 and eat everything under the sun except the older one has a definite aversion to most "kid food" No macaroni and cheese in her life, which is a bummer for me sometimes. Her favorite spaghetti is actually spicy shrimp pasta in a fermented black bean and mushroom sauce. I would have never eaten that as a kid, but I think I have inadvertently raised a foodie while trying to save myself from my sisters fate.

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WBOYACK 2/2/2010 10:26AM

  I wish I knew what to do with picky eaters...

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RAIN_SIS 2/2/2010 9:22AM

    Maybe you could keep it a little simpler for the kids until they get used to it. To us plain brown rice, a piece of grilled chicken and steamed (buttered?) carrots would look like boring diet food - but maybe to a kid it would look less intimidating than these more exotic recipes.
I think I read somewhere (great reference huh) that the reason kids don't like the same foods adults do is because they taste things more vividly. We like spicier foods because our tastebuds are dead, basically.
I know making two meals per meal is a huge hassle but maybe you could cook for the kids using the same basic ingredients, just toned down a little. Keep it simple.
I found a spark recipe for oven fried chicken that I thought was good. I tried the same coating on fish and it made excellent fish sticks. I thought at the time it would be a great recipe for kids. There is no way to add a link here so I will sparkmail it to you.

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CAZ_NR_HEATHROW 2/2/2010 4:43AM

    I don't have kids but I a partner who will not try new foods.
I saw a chef cooking up a healthy "Chinese Takeaway" to replace the muck you'd go and buy and would love to try it.
I'll buy the ingredients and cook it for 4 and individulise the portions for me only.
Shame coz it looks scrummy

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SEEBEES3 2/1/2010 11:33PM

    It's been my experiece that it takes about 3 - 5 times of me introducing a food before they like it and then it's "I've always liked THIS, Mom. It's other (stuff that they've seen only once or twice) that I don't like." I've decided it's like feeding an 8 mo old peas. LOL.

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CRUNCHYBB 2/1/2010 11:18PM

    I'm going through the same with my toddler. she eats all day long but in the grand scheme I am worried she doesn't get enough of what she needs. I need to find more protein to get in her little body.

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Yummy Onion Rings

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Last night I was wanting onion rings in a big way.

So I got them. I didn't go to any of the many fast food places that could have satisfied my craving, instead I got out the laptop and headed to the section under Healthy Lifestyles! Lo and behold there were 20-something oven baked onion ring recipes. I browsed several and many of them looked delicious, but I went with the first one on the list-here is the link.

The recipe called for egg substitue but I used real eggs instead (1 egg per 1/4 cup of substitute). I also used seasoned bread crumbs and left out the salt and pepper. They were ohhhhh sooo yummy and totally satisfied the craving. Even my super picky 6 year old loved them!! He asked if we could have them with dinner again tonight!

I have to confess that they were so good and disappeared so fast that I went back and made more!! In the first batch I only used the larger rings I cut and also left out the ones I cut crooked so that the ring was broken. I still had egg from the first batch so I just poured more bread crumbs and used the flawed and smaller rings. The second time I used plain bread crumbs and added the salt and pepper, but I didn't measure I just added what looked right and the second batch was just as good as the first!!

You do have to keep an eye on them-they are baked in the oven and not fried and if left too long they burn pretty quickly (the first batch had a few that carbonized-oops).Mine did not look like the picture above (there was no picture attached to the recipe) but they were still super yummy and crispy without being fried. I am soooo excited about my oven baked onion ring successes!!

See eating right does not mean sacrifice ALL of the time!! My oven baked onion rings were JUST as good as ones that had been fried-in fact I think they were even better-they didn't have any of that yucky greasy taste and didn't leave that yucky greasy feeling in my belly! I will be making the onion rings again!!!! I may even try a different recipe next time-there are so many to choose from-one uses corn flakes instead of bread crumbs, that looks promising!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

WBOYACK 1/31/2010 7:42PM

  sweet! I've got try those!

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SEEBEES3 1/31/2010 2:38PM

    Great job in finding a way to keep from depriving yourself. You've really made this a lifestyle! WoHoo!

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JCARDINAL 1/31/2010 1:24PM

    Sounds yummy!

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NANC304 1/31/2010 1:23PM

    Great job for taking the time to look up a healthy recipe instead of running out to the fast food place! I'm going to try these myself.

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GRANDMAAMIE 1/31/2010 12:55PM

    they look yummy

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CAZ_NR_HEATHROW 1/31/2010 12:47PM

    Hi Heather
There is always a healthy alternative isn't there.....if you know where to look.
Just takes a bit of effort on our part

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JILLIANPRNCSS 1/31/2010 12:30PM

    Smart thinking on your part. I think for me the hardest part is doing the dishes afterwards but the rewards are worth it.

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RAIN_SIS 1/31/2010 12:15PM

    I just saw your status from last night a few minutes ago. I was thinking Whoa that is a tough one.
Within minutes I saw the recipe rating and blog pop up on my friend feed.
What a relief. In this harsh world to see a crisis arise and be resolved so quickly is inspiring. That is the kind of "Decide what you want and go for it!" action I can get behind.
I saved the recipe btw. I will be making it soon. Oh yeah!

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CHATERJOY 1/31/2010 12:12PM

    Yum! Those look really good. I saved the recipe and I will have to try them sometime. Thanks for sharing and congrats on your success of not giving in to fast food! emoticon

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LADYIRISH317 1/31/2010 12:04PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon
I'm going to have to try those -- they look YUMMY!

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Looking through glasses foggily.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Gotta love those moments in life when something happens and it makes you stop and think things over a bit and find some new understanding.

The first thing you have to understand is that I wear glasses. My vision is good enough that I could run without them if I really wanted to, but I do prefer being able to see more than 50 feet ahead of me. Without glasses I am in no danger of running into anything or anyone, I've just gotten used to being able to see is all. The second thing is that this time of year I can get quite fogged up during a run. Especially since I've started intervals. During the slower portions of my run I can get very fogged up. Soooo....

Last Wednesday I am running along, enjoying myself, getting close to the end of the run and feeling good. I had just started a running interval and was quite fogged up, oddly enough this happened at the one corner where I could get confused about where I needed to go next. This particular corner has a small park instead of the standard homes and right at the corner the sidewalk splits with one portion going straight ahead (the path I want) and the other section splitting off to go into the park. The combination of the fogged up glasses and the angle that I approached the corner made me think, for a moment, that I was supposed to take the park sidewalk. I realized my mistake before it was too late to take the path I wanted and gave myself a good chuckle while I used my glove to wipe off some of the fog. I've been having that kind of a week and this experience fit right into the whole theme of the week (I also zipped my jacket over my seat belt, effectively locking myself into the car-figured it out before it got REALLY embarassing though and I forgot how to get to a friend's house (I've been there several times before, but not recently) and had to call to get directions-OMGoodness!!!!!). But it got me started thinking about the fog and it's blinding qualities.

Looking through glasses foggily changes one's entire perspective, things look different in the fog. Sidewalks hide and trees and homes look different. Odd thing is that not only is fog a problem when I am out running but it can also be a problem when I am reading a new article on some aspect of diet and health. It is a huge problem when I am looking at advertisements for "nutrition supplements". And these are only the things I encounter myself. There are "doctors" out there creating fog around their "vitamins" or "supplements" and "diet plans" so that their "patients" will miss the fact that they are actually peddling snake oil just like the hucksters of old. Publishers turn a blind eye if the advertiser is paying the right amount for some space in their "health" magazine. Gurus present plans and diets that will do more harm than good. Diet companies parade skinny models as examples of what their "diet" can do for you and then put in small print "results not typical". There is SOOOO much fog out there!!!! Thanks goodness for Sparkpeople!! Sparkguy will not lead you wrong. Everything that is a part of the "offical" Spark program is based on common sense and a healthy attitude towards fitness and nutrition. Sparkpeople is the ultimate de-fogger in a world of pea soup. When the fog gets too thick and I am having trouble seeing my way clearly a little visit to Spark and my glasses are cleared up and I can see again. I know where I am going and what I need to do. Thanks Sparkguy! Thanks coaches!! Thanks friends!!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JILLIANPRNCSS 1/31/2010 12:35PM

    I think people just look for a quick fix and not want to have to think about what they eat so take every supplement to help. There are a few good ones out there but I agree it is hard to see those through the marketing fog.

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RAIN_SIS 1/31/2010 12:32PM

    Nothing pithy to add, but I gave you a LIKE.

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CAZ_NR_HEATHROW 1/30/2010 9:02AM

    Heather you made me emoticon over your coat and seatbelt.
Totally agree about SP. I only found it by accident and have never looked back- no to foggy and misleading "diets", gonna stay here where straight talking, common sense and great support can be found and relied on.
emoticon blog emoticon

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R&R (Rain and Relaxation) and KISS and Finally a working computer!!!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Finally, finally, finally, we have a working computer in our home again!!! Finally I can blog from home and I can check on my friends and everything else I've been missing for a month or so. YIPPPPEEEE!!!!!! Finally.

Now to catch you all up on the last week or so. As I've mentioned many times, but will mention again just in case someone missed it, I live in Southern California. A very dry section of Southern California. Even when other parts of the state get rain we usually manage to miss it. So, last week was a very interesting week when it rained to some degree every single day Monday through Friday. Fortunately we still got in some of our workouts. Wednesdays was especially great!! After typing my Persevere blog I went off for our run. And it was AWESOME!!! I am following a new plan along the lines of Jeff Galloway's method. I don't own a functional watch and I am not really the type who is into holding a stop watch and our running route is through a neighborhood, not on a track, so running a set distance is a problem, so I settled on using my ipod and running two songs and walking one song. So I set off on Wednesday and after the first run interval I could feel a little tightness in my shins so I slowed down my walking pace and did a little more stretching before the next running interval. At the end of the second running interval there was still a little tighness, but much less than before and by my third interval the tightness was gone!! I was LOVING my run and that's when I started getting stupid again-hehehe!! My inner runner starts going WOOHOO!!! and saying "Yeeesss, next run we will add back in that long loop we have been cutting out for forever. Yesss, we are back in the game!!" Lucky for me I also have an inner coach!!! A few blogs ago I called him my inner Spock, but this time he said "Whoa, Nellie!!" and Spock would never be caught dead saying "Whoa, Nellie" so I had to call him my inner coach this time. We are really racking up the personalities here. Anyway, "Whoa, Nellie-what are you thinking-this is how you always get into trouble-as soon as you start feeling good you push too hard and end up back at the beginning again. Back off, keep it here for awhile and we will look at adding an additional SHORT loop later, the long loop can wait awhile." Being the intelligent being that I am I had to recognize the wisdom in this advice and even left off the last interval I was thinking I could fit in before we got to the end of the route!! Very proud of myself!!

Well, later that day the rain settled in for good and Thursday's walk and Friday's run were called due to rain, and lots of it. Every street surrounding me had turned into a mini lake and even getting the kids to school was a trial so there was no way I was going to run in it! So the original plan is to do a video and still get some exercise in and it is a very good plan, but, unfortunately, rainy days turn me into a sloth. I've always known this, but failed to take it into account when it comes to my workout plan. So, naturally Thursday and Friday I did not exercise. AND, I decided to NOT FEEL GUILTY ABOUT IT!!! As previously mentioned we get VERY few rainy days. In fact last week was the rainiest period in several years soooo, I decided to enjoy my rainy days and just not be stupid when it came to everything else. I took advantage of the cold, wet weather to make so Wild Rice and Carrot Soup-VERY Yummy. In fact even better slightly cool when it gets a little thicker and the carrot flavor is a little stronger when it cools down a little. One serving provided more than 200% of my daily vitamin A!! Even though the weather cleared up for Saturday and Sunday I still didn't fit in any additional exercise so I went into yesterday's run nice and relaxed and refreshed.

Yesterday's run surpassed Wednesday's!!! No tightness, no pain, no soreness!! AND I listened to my inner coach and kept with the plan. I didn't do anything extra, I ran only as far as planned and had a GREAT time doing it!!! I still went home and iced my shins for 20 min. before taking the kids to school. That was a little uncomfortable. Due to the continuing chill in the air (which I'm not used to) the addition of the ice made me quite chilly and I got to pull a blanket around me which made me sleepy!! LOL!! The point is I'm being very good and (knock on wood) maybe the end is in sight.

I am sticking with my plan to run my next race as a 5K instead of a 10K, which was my original plan. I made this decision because my next race is timed and the last time I trained for a timed race I was too tense about making the time and I didn't run as well as I could have or should have and I don't want the stress of trying to make a time limit added to the shin problems. I've spent a lot of time thinking about this and I feel good about it. There is a 10K in June that does not have a time limit and I will still start training for that race in February. I am going to keep doing intervals and see where it leads. I feel good about recent developments and am so glad to have all the pieces falling back into place. Now, hopefully they will all stay there for awhile!!!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

RAIN_SIS 1/31/2010 12:26PM

    "Whoa Nellie" is definitely your inner Doctor McCoy.

The time of the inner Scottie seems to be past - "I just can't do it captain."
If he was ever there you seem to have jettisoned him.

Good that the crew got some R&R.

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LAURANAV1 1/27/2010 10:11AM

    Good for you just going with the weather and controlling what you can while not stressing over the rest.

So glad you are doing well with your shins.

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KARVY09 1/27/2010 9:28AM

    Glad to see you back, friend! Your runs sound awesome! I'm also going to do another 5K this spring before I try a 10K because I haven't run on the road since November. Unfortunately I don't enjoy your awesome hot, dry climate up here in New England!

Sounds like you're doing terrific though, and hey, just keep running, that's what counts, right?

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CAZ_NR_HEATHROW 1/27/2010 8:21AM

    Nice to have you back with us Heather- missed you blogging.
I love that you have an inner coach spurring you on and advising you- I listen to an inner voice too- great company huh? emoticon emoticon

SO pleased your shins are holding up bettter.
Good luck working for your next 5K

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FINZFANATIC 1/27/2010 6:55AM

    Nice progress! I'm glad you shins are feeling better too. Are you running on concrete (like sidewalks)? That always hurts my shins to I try to run on a different surface, such as the road, treadmill, dirt (not easy to find for me), etc. Good thing you listened to your inner coach!

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