Happy Halloween!

It is scary how much I love this holiday. I used to say it is because Halloween falls in my birthday
month but I think there are the other elements involved - I love the colors associated with Halloween, the spooky fun movies, and what little girl doesn't love to dress up???

As soon as the Maui Marathon was over darling daughter and I put on our festive hats and started decorating our house for October. Some of our window decals are fitting enough that we can keep them up through Thanksgiving. That is a win-win in terms of getting to enjoy the pumpkins more but it also keeps the birds from flying into our one large window. That didn't end well months and months ago and we have kept things in the windows ever since. Thank goodness for good friends who will come remove the deadly evidence after I left to take darling daughter to school.

But onto traditions and fun since that is what holidays are all about! I truly do cherish traditions especially now that I am so far away from the rest of my family. I remember what we did on Halloween and am striving to make great memories from darling daughter even if they are different from my childhood memories.

One tradition that is already firmly planted - picking out our pumpkin! Well, pumpkins. One to carve and a couple for me to transform into pumpkin puree yumminess! We also roast all of the pumpkin seeds since we love them that much. What a wonderful time of year and yes, home roasted seeds are so much better than store bought. To select our pumpkin we go to a local farm and wander the pumpkin patch until we find the pumpkins that call our name out. They also have a fun corn maze that we did and have some yummies to buy. We don't go all out with the food but I did let darling daughter get an old fashioned candy stick mainly because it brought back warm memories of when I savored those wonderful treats. Although she poo-poo'ed my favorite flavor - root beer. Why didn't I get one for me?

Another tradition is a Halloween cake. My mom used to do a chocolate cake with marshmallow topping. I tried to get the tradition of a chocolate cake with peanut butter chocolate icing set but my family is not loving the peanut butter. So instead, darling daughter gets to pick out what she wants to do each year and it doesn't have to be the same. This year we made a marble cake with just a drizzle of icing on top. I gave her a reasonable amount of candy corn to decorate the cake with and it is beautiful. Unfortunately, we began digging into the cake before I could take a picture.

In our neck of the woods we don't have trick or treaters coming to our house so that makes it easy for me to resist buying all the Halloween treats. Add in that I am not doing dairy and the treat list shrinks some more. In fact, I only bought that one bag of candy corn and in all reality, I may toss it before it is finished. No one will know. We really wanted Halloween shaped sugar cake toppings but we couldn't find them. But I am losing focus....trick or treating. We do take darling daughter. In past years we went to our old neighborhood. I knew the people, the neighborhood was festive, it seemed right. This year we will be trying something different - the local mall is having an event that some stores are participating in and I really like the idea of that! Fingers crossed darling daughter enjoys it too.

But Halloween isn't just about Halloween night. We went to a family fun night at her school last week and had to carve another pumpkin (well, we wanted to!), her school is having a parade today (so sad I will miss it), and we have been enjoying Curious George A Halloween Boo Fest for a couple of nights. Oh how I love that monkey? And how cool is it that the Man in the Yellow Hat is a marathoner? And what about the female science genius? Just saying....

I truly hope you have a BOO-tiful day and a GHOULISHLY wonderful Halloween!

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for Curious George.
Daily Affirmation: I am in touch with my inner youth!


Enliven Product Review

Thirty30 contacted me and gave me the opportunity to try some of their new product, Enliven. I received the product free of charge for this review. I did not promise a positive review. All opinions in this post are solely my own.

I must confess, a primary reason why I accepted this opportunity is because of the cause behind Thirty30. They care about the environment and 10% of their proceeds go to protect coral reefs. How could I not be interested when my full-time job focuses on protecting our oceans? I was interested. I am always looking for companies to support that care about the environment.

The product was Enliven, which is promoted as pre-workout drink. This company is new. This product is new. It is an all natural dietary supplement that you add to your water. The flavor is pure lemon. It does contain caffeine and a high percentage of B vitamins. I wondered if this could be a alternative to the small cup of coffee I typically start my days with. I have a funny thing with coffee - during certain phases of my training cycle it just doesn't rest well in my stomach but I do like a bit of a pick-me-up especially at 4:00 am in the morning.

My first try of Enliven was not a full packet. What can I say? I am a cautious gal. I sprinkled a bit into 6 oz of water and yes, the flavor was nice and yes, I did feel a pick me up. But perhaps more than I really want as I don't like feeling jittery or any other odd sensations. I am very in tune to my body and "feeling off" makes me uneasy. To be honest, I am going to attribute that to the onset of perimenopause and already feeling a variety of odd things here and there and two recent trips to the ER that turned out to be nothing serious but still unnerving. I don't want to add to that.

B vitamins are water soluble vitamins that aid in the processes of getting energy out of food. It makes sense that this supplement would contain them. Products will high levels of B-3 or niacin can contribute to niacin flush or the feeling of heat. I don't see B-3 listed as an ingredient, which from my personal standpoint is good. But I still don't like the jitters I experienced with just a bit of the drink even if it was short lived.

Would I recommend this to others? Personally, I won't be drinking it anymore. Like I said, I don't like the jitters. But perhaps I just more sensitive to B-vitamins or caffeine. It may be perfectly fine for someone else. We all are different and in terms of my standards of reviewing a product before consuming it, Enliven passed them all with flying colors. I didn't see any ingredient I black list. It is natural and the flavor is good. And please don't forget the bonus, Thirty30 cares about the coral reefs!

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for the opportunity to give Enliven a try.
Daily Affirmation: My honesty is my strength.


Honolulu Marathon Training

40 days until the Honolulu Marathon. Depending on your perspective, that may seem so short or so long. For me though, it is 40 more days of training, anticipation, and trying as hard as I might to make my mind stronger.

I skyped with my coach on Saturday and confessed, I was nervous about my 18 miler run that I was scheduled to run yesterday. I was running solo but using that as a reason for my nerves is just an excuse. I see that now. In all reality, I feared failure.

When I posted about my run on Daily Mile I called it a successful failure. In fact, I called my long runs in general a successful failure. I still believe that but don't worry, I am not dwelling on the failure part. I see the success and embrace the success. The thing is, I am trying really, really hard to run negative splits. To start out slow. I feel I need to do this come race day in order to achieve my goals. I did a pretty good job of it on my recent 16 miler. That run rocked the boat! That run contributed to my anxiety level for the 18 miler. As much as I wanted a repeat performance of awesomeness I knew I didn't need a repeat performance to achieve my race day goals. I do not need to run 9'09" miles to break a 4:20 marathon. I don't. In fact I need to run a 9'54.9" technically but I am training on a 9'50" GMP (goal marathon pace). I like that flex room. It will bring me in at 4:17.49 assuming no slow downs or pit stops. We all know that isn't true.

With the length of my run yesterday I knew it changed the elevation profile of my course with an uphill at the end; however, I still envisioned doing the first half slower and then picking up the pace the second half with perhaps more of a speed pick up in the final four miles. If you have been following my long run discussions you will know my plans ALWAYS change.

The first mile was faster than I wanted. I was running downhill to start and I did tell myself to ease up. Yeah, that didn't work as well as I hoped. Fortunately the uphill climbs were working themselves in more predominantly and that helped me slow down but in all reality, when I hit the 8-mile mark I was ahead of where I was the previous week with my 16 miler run. Oh geeze, I was going up faster than the week before. This had me nervous to some extent. When I hit the halfway point my average pace was 9'41", not 10'13" like the week before. 36 seconds. That could mean a lot.

And this week my halfway point wasn't a turn around to a decline. I was on a hillier portion of the road and it felt like I was going up, up, up with very little downs. I feel my paces for miles 10 and 12 adequately reflect my rate of perceived exertion. I do want to note, I didn't make the attempt to really pick up my pace on the return for two reasons:
  1. I wanted to finish the 18 miles feeling good about the run.
  2. I was already below my GMP at the halfway point. I felt my goal of running 9 miles at 9'50" was achieved.
I listened to my paces when they were announced each mile and my goal was to not slow down. To hold strong and perhaps increase a bit. When I got to the final 3 miles I was dreading the incline up to the start. I went out a slightly different route so I wasn't sure what was around the corner either even though I ran down it less than three hours ago and drive it on a regular basis. I was feeling tired but yet not wiped out. In the final stretch I heard my name and was blessed to have a great lady run along my side for a bit. It may have been just a 1/2 mile but it was nice to chat a bit even if the chatting wasn't as easy as it could be and then we split ways as I made the final uphill climb. My goal was to run the whole way up but it was busy with car traffic and I was jumping to the side of the road, avoiding itchy weeds, and my switchback uphill climb was awkward. The car traffic was messing with an already hard uphill pace and I just walked some of the way. Power walked but walked. And yes, I ran the final bit and do not regret my choice.

To me the run was a success because:
  1. I finished it.
  2. My average pace was 9'37" meaning the second half was ever so slightly faster. Not as much as I would hope with the downhills but who am I to argue?
  3. My legs are not beat up today.
I keep telling myself these are the runs I need to build confidence. At one point in my run yesterday I even yelled at myself to let go of the negativity, fear, and doubt. To believe in myself. It is still hard to get there 100% but I am trying to convince my own doubtful mind that a 18 miler on hills with an average pace of 9'37" will translate to breaking a 4:20 marathon on race day.

Here is the Honolulu Marathon course elevation profile.

How do you get yourself out of the doubt trap?

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for the exercise ball I sit on at work.
Daily Affirmation: I am growing in strength and confidence.


The Top 10 Reasons Why I Run

I am a runner. I will get up in the wee hours of the morning to get my daily run in. I will run at home, at the gym, and outside. I do run each and every day and I have been since December 30, 2011. I will continue to run every day for as long as I want to and I can. I am a runner. But why do I do this?

Here are my top 10 reasons for why I run (in no particular order):
  1. For Physical Fitness: It goes without saying that running improves my cardio fitness. It is good for my body and that is an obvious plus. I originally picked up running in my college years to shed a few pounds and get more fit. I would be lying if I said that didn't matter to me anymore.
  2. For Stress Release: I tend to be a worrier. I know it does me no good to worry so much and yes, through running, I am able to process through those worries quicker. Perhaps the increased blood flow during my runs helps push those worries through my body and out. Perhaps the run just makes me realize what is more important in life. Perhaps the run just makes me feel good with those amazing endorphins. 
  3. To honor God: I believe we are each given a gift in life and we honor God by using our gift to the best we can. I am not the fastest runner. I do not run the longest either. A gift doesn't necessarily equate to always coming in first. A gift is something you are given. God gave me the ability to run. He blesses me with the ability to run every day. That is my gift. To not run would be to ignore the gift given to me. I won't do that. 
  4. To remember my Dad: My dad lost his life to leukemia on March 31, 2010. As much as I know he is in a more peaceful place now I still miss him immensely. I always will and that will never change. But I also know he is always with me and I can feel his presence greater during my runs. At times I honestly feel I can hear him telling me to "go kiddo" and what can be better than that?
  5. To be a better Mom: Yes, running makes me a better mom and that is a huge reason why I lace up my shoes each and every day. Not only am I setting a good example for my daughter to incorporate physical fitness in her life, I am finding my peace so I can be a more patient understanding mom. I am finding my strength and discovering nothing is impossible. And it is working. Saturday I mentioned my stomach was a bit uneasy. Darling daughter told me I was still going to go to the gym and run. She was right. Yesterday when I was still feeling a bit off I still got on the treadmill and ran before taking my daughter to school. After my 4 miles I stepped off and she looked up to me and said the best thing ever. She told me she was moving my clothespin up to excellent since I still did my exercise today. She gets it.
  6. To find myself: Without running I would not be the person I am today. Years ago I was insecure, quiet, doubtful. Through running both the easy and hard runs I am discovering myself. The limits I thought existed don't. I am stronger than I gave myself credit for in the past. The barriers that I still set for myself may be wrong as well. I need to keep pushing at those barriers to truly see how far I can go. And now I can sit here today and tell the world, I am a runner. I can stand up and speak my mind. I can take those chances and that is important. My blog post the other day on hydration vests is one example of me taking a chance I wouldn't have done years ago.
  7. To be part of something BIGGER: Running can be a solitary act, especially for me. I have no complaints about that since I do try to meditate and reflect upon life in some of my runs but not all of them. But humans aren't meant to be solitary. We never have been. We never should be. We have always congregated into communities to live better and fuller lives. I like that. I love being part of the running community. I love being part of the blogging community. And I love participating in HBBC at Run to the Finish. You can join me too as it is just about to start again this year. If you sign up please let Amanda know I sent you!
  8. To promote fitness: I would be lying if I said I didn't strive to encourage others to get up and get active. I truly believe in the importance of physical activity to live a longer and happier life. And just the other day I received a lovely email from a dear friend who told me I am making a difference in his life, motivating him to be active and push himself. That is an awesome feeling! It made me cry and I still feel touched.
  9. For my mental health: It went undiagnosed for a long time but I did suffer from some
    postpartum depression. I knew things were off and was often told it was all part of being a new mom. Perhaps some was but some wasn't. For awhile I even moved away from running since I had no desire to run. That was a mistake. It helps no one to stop doing what they love to do. I am much stronger now and know those days I may think I don't want to run since I'm feeling overwhelmed, those are the days I need to run the most. And I always feel better after I run. Always.
  10. For fun: I am in training mode a good chunk of the year where I am focused on doing x miles or running at x pace or doing x intervals. With all this focus it is important to remember that although I may be working very hard to achieve a goal, running is still my fun time. I can only achieve all the other benefits of running if I keep that one element at the core of my running. Never stop having fun!
Daily Gratitude: I am thankful that dear hubby took darling daughter to school today.
Daily Affirmation: I am a runner.


Should Hydration Vests be Banned?

I am not one to intentionally stir up trouble. In fact, you may often find me trying to keep the peace. To see
an argument from both sides. As I sit here writing this post I am still trying my best to do just that. But I can't sit quietly and not voice my opinion to the world because for this, I feel strongly.

Let's start at the beginning. I started my day not only with my daily run but with reading some of the articles in my most recent copy of Runner's World. I stake claim on this magazine and must read it from cover to cover before handing it over to dear hubby and yes, I read front to back. No skipping ahead.

Today I stumbled on multiple stories centered on the New York Marathon and that makes perfect sense with race day being just around the corner. And it is big with what happened last year post-Sandy and post-Boston. I get that. I understand any and all concerns. Truly, I do. But one sentence stuck in my mind and came back to me at work.

Hydration vests are prohibited. Really? Prohibited? I must have read that wrong. I checked the New York Marathon's website and no, I didn't read it wrong. Prohibited. 

With a marathon just around the corner myself it got me wondering if this will be a new trend. I checked the Honolulu Marathon website and there was no talk on prohibited hydration vests or anything along those lines. But I couldn't release a sigh of relief just yet. There was still doubt. I emailed them but haven't heard back yet and no, I don't expect an instant reply.

When a co-worker came in the prohibited vest came back to my mind. I told her about it and she firmly told me I would just need to find another way to run. My response "No!". She said I had to and I adamantly stated "No I don't! I'm not running New York!". She tried to get me to see things from a safety perspective from a post-Boston standpoint and I firmly stated my case. I didn't see it as a necessity. I still don't. Why not just have runners with hydration vests go through a security check prior to entering the corrals? Why should a runner have to race without their fuel? A runner has done no wrong, why should they pay a price? She saw my points and I should add, she is not a runner but supports me immensely in my crazy racing endeavors.

I wasn't always a hydration vest runner but even before my vest days I would hope I would see things the same way. But now that I have run in a vest I can't imagine not doing a long run in my vest. I recently raced the Maui Marathon in my CamelBak and it was awesome. I had my fuel every step of the way. I had room to carry my applesauce to go and my VegaSport Endurance Gels. I had my phone with tunes stowed safely in a pocket. My hands were free. The weight of my fuel was balanced well on my body. I didn't have to adjust to taking in fuel I don't want to ingest in my quest to be more natural in my fueling strategies. And I had my drink when I wanted my drink. Does it make me uncaring or selfish to not want to run any other way?

I know some may argue I could carry a handheld water bottle and wear a fuel belt. True but I have tried fuel belts and they chafe me like crazy. They bounce continuously on my hips and annoy me. My vest holds two handheld bottles full of my preferred sports drink prepared just the way I like it. That lasts me about 20 miles. One bottle makes things tougher and no, I don't have family or friends stationed along the course to hand me new bottles of my drink. I am running/racing solo. What I don't carry I don't have. Period.

I get wanting to keep things safe but are runners and spectators safer with runners not wearing hydration vests? Isn't there a better way to promote safety? Is this really a necessity and an item that should be banned? I argue not. Personally, I would be willing to go through a security check point to ensure I am carrying safe fuel and water. I would even be willing to fill my vest's bladder with water and add my VegaSport Hydrator right there and then with someone watching over me if that is what it took.

And regardless if this prohibition will personally impact me on race day or not, I felt so passionately about this matter that I couldn't stand by and not say a word.

So tell me, what do you think?

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for friends that will listen to me rant and rave even if they will never see my point.
Daily Affirmation: I have the power to speak my mind.


The Long Run Plan

I have a plan. Yes, I do. In fact, I often have plans in my life which I try to keep unplanned. But in all reality, if I don't find a way to schedule things my life gets way too crazy.

Currently I am following a training plan set for me by my coach. I am liking the different approach to training and am trying hard to stick to what is written versus what I feel like doing. Perhaps what I have been doing isn't on target to achieve my big goals. So if I am going to go through the effort to hire a coach I should listen. And that brings us back to the plan. My long runs.

In the past my long runs were just that. Long runs. I didn't worry too much about pace. I tried to take them easier since that is what a lot of advice out there says to do. But now about half the miles in my long runs are to be at my target race pace. That really does make sense to me. I know some train that way so I wasn't too scared to give it a try. I had a plan.

My plan for my long runs is simple. Run the first half easier and that hit my target pace for the second half. Sounds like a good training strategy to work on negative splits, right? You can read about how well that played out for me two weeks ago HERE.

So here's the deal. I am trying hard to do what I should do but am also smart enough to think about the course I am training on. It is hills. And even though there is some up and down throughout those minor up's and down's pretty much vanish when you look at the overall elevation profile. Then it just seems to be up, up, up, down, down, down. Therefore, I need to think a bit harder about my plan. Go up slow. Pretty easy when elevation is working against you, right? But not too slow. Try to be somewhat reasonable in your paces. Come down faster. Once again, not too hard with elevation working with you. But here is where things get dicey.

My plan of about 10'00" on the out and 9'40"-9'50" on the back falls apart if I am on this route. I could drive further from home and do a flat course but seriously, I am eager to run in the morning and aren't hills at elevation a good training combination? So what if I go out smart and then come down faster? What if my overall average pace is 9'40"-9'50"? Would that achieve the same training goal? I think so since I am balancing the uphill climbs with the downhills flies and hitting my target race pace. If my reasoning is flawed please let me know but that was my plan for yesterday.

I did a great job starting slow. I think being dead tired helped. For the first few miles I felt like a slug and really questioned how I was going to pull this off. Seriously, in 5 miles I need to up my pace and continue to push myself?! Fortunately I began to loosen up and felt a bit better. By mile 6 I was feeling even looser and was beginning to feel more like my normal running self. Well, at least my normal running self on a good day.

My Nike+ GPS app was giving me my average pace at each mile completed. Fortunately I love math enough to play some pace games and do some calculations to figure out the approximate pace I was running. But this could turn into a really long story if I go into all of that. Let's put it this way, at the halfway point my average pace was 10'13". Yes, I was beginning to pick up the pace on miles 7 and 8. There really was a leveling off of climb with a bit of downhill here. That helped. And I was no longer fearing the turn around. I wanted to get there fast to begin the second half of my run. The return. The strong return. Or so I hoped.

At the halfway point I motioned to dear hubby it was turning time, we crossed the road, and we began heading back. I immediately opted to pick up my pace as much as I could without going into sprint mode. I wanted to run hard down. I did the math of where my current average pace was and what it should be if I was running 9'40" miles on the way down. 9'57" was the average I was certain to beat. I wanted better though. Remember, I wanted 9'40"-9'50" originally. That goal was not out of my sight.

I embraced the downhills, I pushed the few uphills and level points, and I stayed focused. At 13 miles some of that happy running was beginning to vanish. I didn't know my current pace but I knew my average pace kept dropping mile after mile. I knew I was running faster than my target pace by a good amount but I didn't look in. That would freak me out. That would mess me up. I was already questioning my capabiilities without knowing the real numbers. I told myself to continue to push and to run strong. At mile 15 I wanted the fastest mile of the day. My legs were feeling tired but I wasn't dying. I pushed myself as hard as I could, crossed the mile 16 point, and immediately went into walking down and back up a sidewalk to give my legs some transition time before climbing into a car. And I looked at my Nike+ GPS app. Average pace 9'09". I was happy. Very happy.

But I know there is a big difference between these 16 miles and the 26.2 miles on 12/8. I was tired after this run. I felt strong but knew I pushed myself and worked very hard. I wasn't ready for another 10.2 miles. And these are all just elements to help rate a training run and to use it as a tool to predict race performance and the upcoming training schedule. But I do know tackling these training runs will build my confidence come race day! And I think that is one of my major stumbling blocks to success, that and fueling on my long runs. More to come on that second part another day!

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful my co-worker is bringing in bagels.
Daily Affirmation: I am a strong runner.



On a very rare occasion I think how easy it would be if I didn't run. How many more hours I would have in my life. But those thoughts are fleeting. They fly by quicker than the speed of a hummingbird's wings because in all reality, my life would not be better without running.

Running is challenging. Running with big race goals adds another element of challenging. Running with big race goals, raising a kindergartener, working full-time, adding on additional work duties during the crazy season, blogging, coaching, and trying to be a thoughtful, caring wife can be beyond challenging. Some days I feel completely wiped out but my daily run energizes me again. It centers me. It helps me find my inner strength and peace. I need those runs for so many reasons. And I love my home treadmill for what it allows me to do but my home treadmill represents another challenge.

Just after Christmas in 2011 I got my very first home treadmill. This was a forever dream of mine. A workoutroom at home so I can get my exercise in whenever I could. And no, I don't have a separate room. My treadmill lives in the family room. In almost two years this treadmill has brought me many runs of fulfillment but also some lingering frustrations of challenges. You see, it is at a constant 10% incline. It seemed a good purchase with my running goals two years ago. It was in my budget. I had different criteria then. One of which was that it could be folded up for space saving. You see, I didn't want my purchase to be a burden on my family. Thing is, I have never folded it up. I never will. I realized that the minute it came in my home. I imagined a terrible accident with a faulty mechanism resulting in darling daughter being crushed by the treadmill. Nope, that thing will never be folded up! And seriously, who wants to fold up and unfold a treadmill daily? But that was my criteria then. I wasn't a streaker then. Things change.

I am happy to say after almost two years my treadmill is running perfectly. I would love to say it is because I take good care of it but in all reality, I don't do the maintenance I should. It is rusting here and there. The motor is holding true. I love it. If I can't get to the gym I can run at home. If darling daughter is sick and I don't want her out of my sight, or she doesn't want me out of mine, I can run at home. Purpose served. Life is bliss!

But it isn't. I feel frustrated when I don't bang out the runs at the paces I want. I feel challenged. Is my slower incline run pace negatively impacting my race performance? Am I hurting my training my juggling workouts around to get my intervals anywhere but home? I really don't know. I love my treadmill. I hate my treadmill. I am forever thankful for my treadmill. I am blessed to be able to run at home. I know I am. I am blessed to have this treadmill performing so well. I know I am. But deep down I dream of the day I can have an adjustable treadmill at home. One I can hit my goal paces on. One that doesn't tie me to 10%. One that frees me from the gym. Will this treadmill make my life less challenging? Probably not. Okay, no. Because even the perfect treadmill at home wouldn't erase the shock that darling daughter gets out of school an hour earlier every day next week due to parent-teacher conferences. Really?! Why did I just learn about this on a Wednesday evening? I read EVERYTHING! But still, I missed this. Just another challenge for me confront this week.

What challenges you?
Do you ever play with wordle.net? These images were all created with the words from today's post.

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for my incline treadmill.
Daily Affirmation: I overcome my daily challenges with perseverance and creativity.


Running in Circles

I can't believe it is only Wednesday! From my level of exhaustion I would think it should be Friday but alas, it's not.

I am not over tired exhausted just busy exhausted. I was off with darling daughter on Monday as she was sick. An ongoing thing that perhaps we are finally at the tail end of...fingers crossed. And yesterday and today I had the privilege of being a full time Mommy taking her to school and picking her up. We are enjoying our extra time together and are keeping busy...even on the restful sick day. It is amazing how busy I can be at home. We crafted and have been decorating our house like crazy for Halloween.

Darling talked me into carving the pumpkin, which meant making more pumpkin seeds. Plus late last night in a sugar craving craze I attempted a new recipe I found for vegan pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. I made half a batch because how many cookies does one house need? They were delicious! And nope, you don't take the pumpkin and yes, there was pumpkin inside. Real live pumpkin. Pumpkin from the local farm. Pumpkin we picked out ourselves. It makes it so much better! Or at least it is a good way to justify my indulgence.

In addition, we have been learning about the bird that is frequenting our bird feeder in swarms. Okay, maybe I exaggerate a bit but seriously, this beauty is loving our seed! And we are loving watching them!

Plus kindness has found its way to me and darling daughter is already in love with the socks. More on that to come later.

And yes, I have been getting my runs in but my training week is all out of whack. I keep telling myself not to stress and to run on!

Tomorrow, things will start to get back to somewhat normal for me....I hope!

Have a happy hump day!

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for girls' nites!
Daily Affirmation: I am in control of my indulgences!


#dairyfree "Cheesy" Chicken Enchiladas

I have always loved enchiladas, especially cheese enchiladas. When I opted to go dairy free I wondered how I would be able to prepare one of my favorite meals in a way that my family would still enjoy them. Recently I buckled down and took on the challenge!

Here's the simple to make recipe!

10 tortillas (wheat) - get the standard enchilada size versus the larger burrito or smaller snack sized tortillas that are available. Check you label as some tortillas contain whey.

Sauce Ingredients:
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup pureed carrots
2 Tbl chili powder
1 tsp garlic

Put all ingredients into a food processor and puree.

Filling Ingredients:
1 cup diced chicken
1/2 cup pureed sweet potato
1 cup non-dairy cheese (read the label closely as some dairy cheese alternatives are just lactose free and have whey or other dairy proteins in the cheese)
12 oz soft tofu
2 tsp parsley
1 tsp cilantro
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 Tbl flaxseed meal

Mix all ingredients together in a medium sized bowl.

Assembly Steps:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly grease the bottom of a 9x13 glass baking dish. Add 1/4 of the sauce and spread over the bottom. Place 1/4 cup of filling into the center of each tortilla, roll, and place seam side down into the baking dish. You will be squeezing the final tortillas in. Once all the tortillas have been rolled, top them with the sauce. Bake at 350 until warm and bubbly.

Mom time-saving tip! These can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge until dinner time. Just bake them a bit longer.

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for pumpkins.
Daily Affirmation: I have the courage to do what is right.


Composting: Making Great Dirt

There is an activity I like out there as much as running. In fact, it is something I do each and every day as well and it is my pride and joy....well, my pride and joy after darling daughter. What can top her?

If you have been following my blog for awhile you probably have figured out that I am passionate about sustainability and feeding my body as clean as possible. Therefore, our family strives to grow some of our own veggies. There was a time that the only thing I allowed to be planted was something to eat. That has changed over the years but the mission is still there, to grow some of our own food. I would love to say we are a HUGE success but we have garden battles. Today's post isn't about that but a side project I started probably just over a year ago....if that long.


It bugged me putting scraps into the trash knowing those items would just go to the local landfill. The dirt in our yard isn't the most nutritious. It only made sense to start doing something about it, and the pests. Stage 1 was adding coffee grinds and crushed egg shells to the garden. I would scatter them around hoping for better plants and less pests. But there were still all those scraps and a wonderful teachable moment for darling daughter. And I advanced to stage 2. I started collecting my scraps and didn't really have a compost pile yet so I would "plant" them in the garden. But this method could only tolerate some scraps. I wanted to advance to stage 3, which I did as soon as I realized I could use an old wooden planter box as a compost bin. Darling daughter watched me move it into place and my obsession was about to take a turn for the better.

Starting things was rough. I had more scraps that "dirt" in the bin. I would occassionally gather some dirt from our yard to ensure the food scraps were covered to avoid attracting things I didn't want to have in our backyard. Eventually, I had enough "dirt" in the bin that I could easily cover new scraps. Every other day or so I would tend to my compost by stirring it up, adding more greens or browns, and a sprinkling of water if it was too dry. As things progressed more, the need to add water decreased.

Original dirt walkway we created
Serenity Garden
And then the day came when my bin was very full and my dirt was almost ready. I needed another bin and eventually, I got it. Yes, I have two compost bins now and they sit side by side. One that I am actively adding scraps too and one that is "resting" and finalizing. I have recently started using dirt from my resting bin. You can see the dark rich color of the compost in contrast to the dusty brown dirt in our yard when you look at Blooming Blossoms. And yes, darling daughter and I have been working diligently to transform this rocky, dusty, weedy side of our house to our gardens. Our fun gardening gardens with no purpose beyond our enjoyment. Mine is named "Serenity Garden" and darling daughter named hers "Blooming Blossoms". "Serenity Garden" is more focused on tropical plants, the vast majority I started myself.  "Blooming Blossoms" is about flowers and fun! In the corner darling daughter has a exploration area where she can rotate seeds. Right now she is trying to grow sunflowers quicker than the snails, or whatever, can eat them. We are doing much better now. Last time they were wiped out as soon as they sprouted. And yes, we made name stakes which we will be adding to our gardens soon!

Blooming Blossoms
But back to composting....

What goes into my compost? Fruit and veggie scraps, egg shells, empty toilet paper or paper towel rolls (I tear up the cardboard), used coffee grinds and filters, leftover paper napkin notes from darling daughter's lunch box, occassional grass clippings (from other people as we have no grass), leaves, etc.

Scrap Tip: I have a large plastic container from lunch meat by the kitchen sink. The family knows to put the composting scraps, egg shells, coffee grinds, etc. in here. When it is full I bring it out to add to my bin. It doesn't get stinky and makes the process much easier to implement. You could also use two smaller tubs.

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for my rich dirt.
Daily Affirmation: I am setting an example of sustainability and caring for the Earth that I am proud darling daughter is embracing.


Running Splits

Does pace matter? Yes, if you have running/racing goals.

Do splits matter? Yes, if you have running/racing goals.

Am I am split master? Absolutely not!

But let's start at the beginning.

Positive Splits: This is where I feel all runners fall initially as I believe it is the natural human tendency that is ingrained in us. We start out nice and strong and then begin puttering out. If you are running positive splits your first miles are your fastest miles and then become progressively slower during the course of your run. This is not a good racing strategy.

Even Splits: Easy to achieve on a treadmill, not so easy in real life. In this running and pacing strategy each and every mile is at the same pace. You are a human metronome. It would be beyond awesome to have this ability ingrained in my running.

Negative Splits: A very solid racing strategy especially for most longer races. You start out slower and your pace systematically increases throughout the course of your race. Absolutely beautiful and how amazing it will feel to finish strong! This takes commitment and work to implement.

The Reality: Even the best laid pacing plans can go haywire. And sometimes a certain strategy, such as negative splits, won't fit a specific course such as one that starts flatter than a pancake and ends with some serious uphill climbing. To go into that race thinking the negative split strategy is best is a bit ambitious but I am sure there are some amazing runners who can pull it off. And even having a plan doesn't guarantee things will go as planned.

Take my long run from Sunday as an example. I had a plan for my 8 mile run that was based on my coach's directive to run four of those miles at a 9'40" pace. I figured practicing a negative split strategy was in order. I would go out slower and then increase my pace. But I also knew my final mile had some serious incline; therefore, I wouldn't be setting myself up for success to strive for a 9'40" mile under those conditions.

My plan in a nutshell: Run 3 miles easy (thinking 10'00" pace), 4 miles at my target 9'40" pace, and 1 mile cool down get me home at whatever pace I can do. It didn't matter. I just wanted to run the entire ascent even if it was at a slug's pace.

Here is what really happened.

I started my run at what I felt was an easy pace and tried to stay nice and slow on the initial downhill stretch. Mile 1: 9'37". I saw my split and told myself to ease up some, slow down, and felt some of the subtle inclines that were coming in would help. Mile 2: 9'28". Guess my plan backfired. I just shaved off 9 seconds. I knew after one more mile my goal was to up my pace to run 9'40" miles but I was already running faster. This next mile had more uphill climbing and that did slow me down. Mile 3: 10'11". This hilly course has some up's and down's which are not easily visible in the elevation profile below.

But it is pretty much an uphill climb until my turn around. Mile 4: 9'51". I was trying to run a 9'40" mile, really I was. I was close. And no, I wasn't peaking in on pace but just running and hearing my overall average paces each mile. I may need to take my phone out of my pocket in future runs and really look at my current pace to nail a specific goal.

At mile 4 I ingested an applesauce to go and enjoyed the downhill running. I tried not to go too crazy though. Mile 5: 7'57". Wow! That was fun. At this point I already knew my pacing strategy was blown out the window. I readjusted and decided to just see what I could do, finish strong, and push myself knowing I would need to confess my failed pacing strategy to my coach later. Mile 6: 7'36", my fastest mile and the point where things start leveling out and some inclines hit you here and there. Mile 7: 8'00". I made it to my final turn and actually did look at my phone to confirm how long this final uphill, curvy stretch was and I guess it is more like 0.75 miles, not 0.5 miles. And yes, I ran the whole way. Yes, I felt sluggish at times. Mile 8: 10'39".

My successful failure at negative splits. I am calling it a failure since I didn't start out as slow and easy as I meant to. I am calling it a success because in all reality, there was a hint of negative splitting in there.

How are you at sticking to your pacing strategies?

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for the sun, the moon, and the stars.
Daily Affirmation: I am fantastic at managing projects!


September in Review

I feel like I fell off the face of the blogging world. It isn't that I don't have things to write about, or want to write about things, it is just that sometimes life gets incredibly full! Or sometimes the urge to just sit down, count stitches, and crochet takes over. But before I start traveling down too far on the road of tangents let's get down to business and talk running!

This September I ran a lovely 135 miles. Okay, not every mile was lovely. You can read my race report on the Maui Marathon from September 22nd and see that clearly. That race still holds a mix of feelings for me and even though I vowed to never run the Maui Marathon again, I will. I signed up the 26th for 2014. Who am I to argue with higher forces when a race entry of $26 is presented to me on a golden plate? Kaua'i? Well, you are waiting another year. I also reached out and got myself a coach for the week's leading up to the Honolulu Marathon. My goal to break a 4:20 marathon is still there burning deeply, tempting me, driving me, motivating me, inspiring me, and perhaps bugging me on certain days. I need to do this for me.

I am happy with what I did run though since September included the three weeks of taper, marathon HERE. This go around, yes, it kicked my butt but it didn't knock me down as hard. Within a week I felt back to my normal running self. Does that mean I didn't push hard enough? Not at all. If I woke up the next day feeling splendid, yes.
day, and a recovery week. Plus last September I only run 88 miles. And yes, I ran the Maui Marathon both years. It kicked my butt seriously hard in 2012. You can read about that

Now onto some fun numbers!
  • 641: The running streak day 9/30/13 represents. 
  • 7: The sum of the digits of 9/30/13 went brought down to one digit. 9+3+1+3 = 16, 1+6 = 7. Lucky number 7. Cool! Does this really mean anything? Nope but it is fun! And it is an example of the number game I play often.
  • 1,343: The number of miles I have run from 1/1/13-9/30/13
  • 117: The number of miles I have to run in 2013 to surpass my 2012 miles. No problem!
  • 2,811: The number of running streak miles I have run.

But seriously, what are my October goals?
  • To follow the training plan my coach gives me to the best of my ability. 
  • To run hard when I should run hard and run easy when I should run easy.
  • To not go crazy on the just a mile days. 
  • To find continued happiness and growth in non-related activities - crocheting, gardening, cooking.
  • To be the foundation of a happy, loving home. (I kinda feel I should be in a pageant now dreaming of world peace...and yes, I would love that!)

Now let's go run! Oh wait, it is a just a mile day and I have work to do first.

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for the opportunities presented to me at work.
Daily Affirmation: I have the confidence to stand up for what I believe and speak my mind.

Want an extra dose of Aloha Friday fun? Here you go!

This is John Bingham's quote: Believe that you can run farther or faster. Believe that you're young enough, old enough, strong enough, and so on to accomplish everything you want to do. Don't let worn-out beliefs stop you from moving beyond yourself.

Gotta love it!