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Oh, Sweet Smoothie!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

I have never been the healthiest eater. Far from it. I'm also a very picky eater and it drove my parents crazy. They were more than happy to pawn me and my eating habits off on my wife.

That is a little oversimplified, I have to say. Eating a very narrow range of food has its disadvantages, including getting bored with a limited diet. But, at least it was a self-imposed limit. And as I grew old and wiser, I began to force myself to try new things.

Enter my wife. She is a self-professed salad and vegetable lover. While I was slowly breaking out of my diet shell (very slowly), she has helped me break out a little faster. She not only introduced me to elementary basics such as salad dressing (so THAT'S how people learn to like salad), she also has an "in" that has helped her convince me to try new fruits and veggies and other foods where my parents could not. I could go into much detail, but I digress.

My wife loves to eat all kinds of fresh fruits and vegetables and has made sure to feed our daughter a wide variety of healthy fresh fruits and vegetables. She pureed all of our daughter's baby food, herself. Our daughter is not even 2 years old and she already eats - and likes - a wider variety of fruits and veggies than I do. Again, I digress.

So, A year or so ago, my wife bought a food processor (to make our daughter's baby good) and convinced me that she also needed a juicer to make herself fresh juice. Well, the food processor got a lot of good use, but the Jack Lalane juicer initially got a lot of use, but then quickly fell out of favor. It was just too much of a pain to clean, we never really used the leftover pulp, and while fruits and veggies are zero points under the new Weight Watchers Points Plus program, fruit juice is not (since the fiber is missing). The juicer sat unused for a number of months and then got sold to a friend.

My wife then decided that for Christmas, this year, she really wanted a Vitamix blender. She insisted that it would be great for smoothies (which neither of us really drank, except for the occasional trip to Jamba Juice) and making all kinds of products that we usually buy at the store in a way that was fresher and healthier without all the added preservatives and additives.

It sounded good, but I was skeptical - and it was expensive. I'm usually a fairly even-keeled guy (often too even-keeled), while my wife is more excitable on both ends of the emotional spectrum (not really that surprising, I guess - compared to me just about everybody is more excitable). She will find something new and get smitten and go ga-ga over it. In this case, it was a Vitamix. Often, if I sit on it for a couple of days she will eventually think it over and change her mind, but this was not one of those times.

So, I got together with some family members and we all pitched in and gave her the money for a Christmas/birthday present. That was awesome for me because I am terrible at finding presents for her - but, enough about me. So, one she got it, she just went bonkers telling me about all the cool things she could make with it, like peanut butter, hummus, ice cream, etc, etc. I was still skeptical, but hey, I'm often too much of a realist/skeptic, I admit it.

Anyway, she started off by making smoothies for herself, and slowly introducing them to me. She mixed and matched various fruits and veggies to see what worked and what didn't (mostly hits and a few misses) until she found a good base that she could then add or subtract ingredients to.

Now, not only do I enjoy my orange-banana smoothies almost every morning, I look forward to them. We even had to buy bigger cups so that I didn't have to take two cups with me to work, every day!

Previously, I would have my cup of OJ and the occasional banana for breakfast and then an apple and maybe a fruit snack for lunch and then sometimes a side-salad and/or a vegetable for dinner. Depending on the day, I would have between 2 and 5 servings of fruits and veggies per day. Now, with my orange-banana smoothie I often have 6 servings of fruits and veggies before I even get to my office!

I'll have a glass of OJ and a vitamin, then my smoothie will usually include 1 cup of OJ, 1 orange, 1 banana, sometimes 1 apple, and sometimes various other fruits of veggies. For a few days this week, she added in a 1/2 cup of spinach. It turned my smoothies green and the picky eater in me really had a hard time, initially, but I found it really only changed the contents and the color, but not the taste. Today, she added in 1/2 a mango. Other days, when we ran out of bananas, she added in some mixed frozen fruit.

I have to say that I was very skeptical at first, but now I'm a believer and we're getting our money's worth out of that Vitamix. I love the smoothies my wife makes for me, every morning, even when she decides to surprise me with the occasional new ingredient. And the best part is that not only am I getting my fill of all that healthiness that I had been previously been missing, I'm also enjoying it! Who knew THAT was possible! Definitely not my parents.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BRANDIMACD 3/1/2012 11:02PM

    Glad you like them, relieved! Thanks for trusting me enough. ;)

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CASEYTALK 2/29/2012 11:03PM

    Frozen strawberries in a blender, add yogurt, maybe some mint or vanilla, a little stevia (optional) and you have a milkshake. emoticon

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CCASKEY37 2/29/2012 4:54PM

    Anything to get more fruits and veges. (I used to act like steak could count if I trimmed some of the fat).

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ASMITH3B 2/29/2012 2:33PM

    It sounds like you're getting good use out of that Vitamix! I started making myself smoothies recently, too, and am really loving strawberry-banana-cherry smoothies.

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KKINNEA 2/29/2012 2:28PM

    :) I wish I could get off my dead side and do this kind of food prep.

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Benjamin Button Cold Update

Monday, February 27, 2012

The reverse cycle of my Benjamin Button cold has nearly run it's backward course.

The worst of my cold was Friday and Saturday. As I described in my last blog, I still got in my long run on Saturday, but oh was it a joy full of hacking and congestion.

But... it and my 4 miles on Sunday seems to have cleaned me out. Or, rather, my cold in reverse is nearly at it's beginning - which in this case means it's almost at it's end. Today, other than some minor loose phlegm and a couple nose blows, I've been fairly un-congested. Mostly, I just have that tight feeling in my sinuses like I'm a little stuffy, but for the most part, my nose isn't really running at all.

I keep popping the occasional cough drop, now just to ward off any possible cough... and because they are kind of like candy and they keep me from drinking soda or eating other unhealthy snacks. Mmm... menthol...

This means tomorrow I should be completely healthy except for maybe a low grade fever and some body aches that will go away by the end of the day.

Unfortunately, it's not working out as well for my poor 21-month old daughter whose cough was getting better on Friday, but since then has been getting worse. Worse enough that she gagged and puked up her dinner last night. And then this morning she woke up and couldn't stop coughing and hacking up phlegm and bile for at least 20-30 minutes. My wife had our bags packed to take her to the ER - while I sat with her in the bathroom next to a hot steamy shower - when she finally was able to get her coughing under control. So, I took the morning off and we took her to the pediatrician where they gave her a breathing treatment and she was fine again for the rest of the morning.

Of course, after I went back to work, she puked up her lunch during her nap... during which of course, she only slept for 15 minutes at a time. Our poor, poor girl! It just breaks my heart. I hope the breathing treatment, claritin, and ibuprofen get her over this cough real soon! :(

I hate going to work and making my wife deal with a sick toddler for 9 hours every day. Wish we could either switch off, or that I had a lot more sick time to take off. Anyway... I don't usually mention personal issues in my blogs unrelated to my running, but this has me particularly sad and anxious at the moment - and my training runs are pretty boring to blog about day-after-day.

sigh. Life. Live it. Love it. Deal with it. It's good when it's good and it sucks when it sucks.

There is little in life worse than a sick child.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

INTHEFASTLANE2 2/28/2012 2:15PM

  Whew...It took me a bit of doing, but I am now registered and able to comment over here. Thank goodness, I am sure you were wondering what you would ever do without my sparkling comments and wit.

Sick babies/kids are the saddest thing, and even though they don't really have to do with running, they do. I know that when one of my kids goes to bed sick, I spend my whole morning running wondering how they are feeling and are they going to wake up while I am gone even sicker and how will the husband deal with that, and what will the day bring?

Good for you in pushing through your cold. Most of the time, running when I have a cold actually makes me feel better, at least for a while, as long as I can get myself out of bed to do the run.

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Short Sick Run Saga

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Okay, so maybe "saga" is a bit too dramatic of a word. Maybe "summary" would be a better word to use, but it's so much more boring. Anyway, here is a quick summary of my run, today.

I woke up at 5:35, got dressed, check mapmyrun.com to find a 9 mile run, and then finally set out a few minutes after 6. I was 42 degrees when I woke up and the sun came up within the first mile of my run. It warmed up to around 48 by the time I returned home. (and in case you're wondering, it's now 68 degrees)

Last night I could barely breathe thru one nostril and my nose was running like a faucet. In fact, I tried to use mouthwash before bed, but had to stop after less than 20 seconds, gasping for breath, because I couldn't get any air in thru my stuffed up nose.

Well, at least I could breathe a little bit thru my nose when I woke up this more morning, but not a lot. So, I knew the first part of my run was going be fun.

The run I planned was about 9.15 miles as measured on mapmyrun.com, but I quickly forgot where my start and end points were - if they were by my house, or if I was supposed to start around the block on the main street. I decided to go by the longer option, just in case, because I would rather run too far than too short.

So, here's how it went:

The first mile and a half, I slowed down at least a handful of times to cough up loads of phlegm. Fortunately, I didn't have to stop at any point to double-over while hacking up something nasty like I did on Thursday. Oh, so lovely.

I brought my handkerchief with me to blow my nose with and to wipe my running nose (it likes to get in its own exercise) and ended up using it liberally for the first five miles.

The last four miles, tho, were nice. I ran while holding my handkerchief in one hand or the other, but rarely had to use it at all.

I started out purposefully slow so as not to overdo it and make my cold last any longer. However, after a couple miles I decided that my pace just was too slow and sped up. A sped up again a couple more times.

In the end, my 9.15 mile run turned out to be a 9.5 mile run (since it turns out I took the long route) and I finished in 96 minutes, which was right about the pace I wanted to run at, anyway.

And, as an added bonus to my run, my nose and throat seemed to have cleared up some from my run and I feel much better than I did last night. Maybe it'll be completely gone by tomorrow, or Monday.

A bonus to my cold, tho, that I will miss when it's gone, is the extra bass in my voice. I love being able to hit the low notes that I usually warble and miss when I sing my daughter to sleep...

4 miles, tomorrow.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

RUNNER12COM 2/27/2012 7:40PM

    Yikes, good job with the stick-to-it-ness.

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KKINNEA 2/25/2012 8:46PM

    That sounds more like a success than a saga or a summary - nice work!

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Getting Sick In Reverse

Friday, February 24, 2012

So, last Saturday I started getting sick. Or maybe that was actually the day I got better? I have the Benjamin Button cold. It seems to be happening in reverse.

My daughter came down with a normal cold on Thursday. Runny nose, red eyes, wet cough, low fever. After a couple days the fever went away and a day or two later the runny nose was gone and now she's slowly getting rid of her cough. In a couple more days that will be gone, too.

My cold is working in the opposite order.

On Saturday, it all started with a feeling that I had fluid or *something* in my chest, and a dry cough.

Progressively, my cough got worse and made me worry about having bronchitis or pneumonia.

However, as the week wore on, my cough got wetter and more productive, and my chest felt like it was clearing up.

The feeling in my chest is now mostly gone.

However, on Tuesday my nose began running lightly and Thursday afternoon my nose began to get stuffy and I had to blow my nose most of the rest of the day.

Today, I woke up to heavy nasal congestion and the wettest part of my cough, yet.

So, I'm confused. How did I start out with a cough when I didn't even have a runny nose, yet? My began to run a little bit TWO days after my cough appeared and I didn't start to get stuffy and congested until FIVE days after my cough started.

So, on the bright side, that means that in a couple days will be the day I come down with my cold (since it's happening in reverse order) and it should all suddenly disappear and I'll be completely healthy and normal, again, right?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TARANITUP 2/24/2012 2:38PM

    I definitely like your "benjamin button cold" reference lmao. Hope you feel better soon.

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KKINNEA 2/24/2012 2:31PM

    I never try to outguess an illness though I do bury myself in clothes and blankets and try to burn it out!

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EJHEINRICH1 2/24/2012 1:28PM

    Viruses effect your weakest area first. For you it must be the lung/broncs.
I hope you are feeling better!

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*Cough* Missed *Cough* Training *Cough*

Thursday, February 23, 2012

It's amazing how time, age, and attitude can make all the difference.

It used to be that I would take any excuse not to run. Some seem like no-brainers, like, being sick, or heavy wind, or rain. But, I also skipped out on my other runs whenever I could, too. Thought the workout sounded too long or difficult? Just didn't feel like running? Had a friend who didn't feel like running? All were great excuses to sneak off and skip a run.

Now, I rarely allow myself *any* excuse to miss a workout. Busy schedule? I run in the morning and get up earlier if I need to. Visiting my parents? Pre-plan a time and place to run. Wife out of town? Ask grandma to come watch our daughter while I run. Windy? Doesn't matter. Cold? Dress warmer. Hot? Bring water and run before the sun comes up.

When I'm running because I WANT to... when I'm running for my own health... when I'm running to train for a race that I WANT to run in... I make no excuses. I WANT to get out there. I WANT to be my best.

So... last week, it took a few minutes of arguing with myself at 4:45am to skip my Tuesday workout when it was cold and raining. It was the first workout I had skipped in over two months - the last being when I took a week off to rest a possible injury. I skipped my run on Tuesday because it was just too close to my race to risk getting sick, plus I knew it wasn't going to rain the rest of the week, so I was at no risk of needed to skip any other workouts (if it had been forecast to rain all week, I would have sucked it up and ran, anyway). I only allowed myself to skip my workout because it was for those very reasons that I never skip a workout. It was because I had a goal, and this one run could possibly jeopardize that goal.

I run 5 miles on Tuesdays, 3 miles on Wednesdays, and 3 miles on Thursdays. So that week, since I skipped Tuesday, I ran 5 miles on Wednesday and Thursday, instead, so I ended up only missing 3 miles, instead of 5. No real loss.

I got in my 13 miles on Saturday, but began to feel a tightness in my chest on Sunday morning. Sure enough, on Monday, I had a nice chest cough, courtesy my sick toddler.

I decided to run on Tuesday, anyway. My 5 miles went fine, despite the 39 degree temps. There was no wind or rain, so I felt comfortable that it wouldn't make me any more sick. Afterward I felt like it helped clear some of the congestion out of my chest.

I woke up for my 3 mile run on Wednesday (yesterday) and it was 53 degrees outside - the warmest running weather, yet this winter and weather I was really looking forward to running in - however, my throat felt a little worse AND it was really windy. Dry desert air combined with high winds and flying dust is just a recipe for disaster when combined with a chest cold/cough. So, for the second time in just over a week, I skipped my workout. This decision didn't take as much time as a chest cold with a cough is on the list of ailments where it's better to rest than run through.

Well, skipping that workout and needing to be at work early for a meeting threw my whole day off. Today, I was determined to run, anyway, and I hoped that the temperature would stay work, the wind would die down, and my throat/cough would feel better.

I got 2 out of 3. It was 56 degrees for this morning's run, and the wind died down to a nice light breeze. My cough seemed to be somewhat better, but not by much. I began my 5 miles sucking on a cough drop. That got really annoying really quickly since I was coughing up junk from my throat and spitting it out while trying not to also spit my cough drop out, or choke on it. It was finally gone by the end of my first mile and the rest of my run went by fairly uneventfully. My only goal was to run easy enough to not aggravate my cough, even if that meant running 11 or 12 minute miles, so I was very happy when I found I finished in 50:30 while maintaining that easy pace at a nearly 10:00 minute/mile pace.

I'm glad I have a scheduled day off tomorrow before my 9 mile run in Saturday. I'm hoping my cough will be gone by then and I won't have to miss any more days! February was supposed to be my first month of running 5 times a week. However, so far, I've done that only once - during the first full week of Feb. Last week and now this week I'll have only done 4 days. It feels like a setback, but I know that I haven't been missing my Sunday run which is really the most important. It's my short run the day after my Saturday long run. That is really what's going to get me ready for my back-to-back races in April.

And as of this Saturday... only 3 more weeks until my first race of the year!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CONFIDENTLY_FIT 2/23/2012 7:22PM

    Gotta listen to your body.
Take care and best of luck with the rest of your training!

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KKINNEA 2/23/2012 5:04PM

    Tough but smart planning - sometimes it's too tempting to push through!

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