Sunday, April 19, 2015

Menu plans - April 19

The week looks like this :

Sunday - clams/shrimp seafood stew (this was supposed to be last nights meal but a crazy fun midday kid birthday party turned into a wild dance party fueled by many bottles of prosecco and loud singing of songs from our younger years (think "humpty dance" "baby got back" "ice ice baby" "it takes two" etc). Our kids, if they don't already, officially think we are nuts. 

Monday - skirt steak and broccoli stir fry (steak marinated in oyster sauce, soy sauce, and a touch of coconut sugar ; hot peppers thrown in the mix and served over soba noodles topped with fresh scallions)

Tuesday - spinach and ricotta lasagna with roasted red pepper and probably dusted with fresh Parmesan 

Wednesday - kale and chick pea dish with fingerling potatoes 

Thursday - leftovers bc I will hopefully be out for girls night 

Friday - homemade sausage/pepper/onion pizza 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Half Mile Repeats

I should probably do a little research on proper 5K training - I've been basically winging it doing whatever sounds good. This week has held three runs in a row: Tuesday and Wednesday were easy 3 milers with the stroller and today was my speed workout. I chose half mile repeats after discussing loosely with C of Team Stick. We decided 5-6 of them at a race pace.

After a mile warm up, I knocked out the first three in 7:30 pace. These intervals flew by pretty quickly. For number four, I ramped it up to 7:18 (which is secretly (or not so secretly since I just stated it) my goal race pace). The fifth half mile was also 7:18. And I closed things with a 7:13 800. And then a mile cool down. As usual, this speed session left me feeling both high as a kite and totally spent. I can definitely feel some improvement since I started regularly incorporating speed work (but who are we kidding - I've been scraping the bottom of the barrel for years regarding fast leg turnover..). Funny thing is that my fastest 5K mile splits are still nowhere near what some of my Sticks can maintain for an ENTIRE MARATHON. Geeeeezzzz. They are just amazing - it's truly humbling. But I'm doing what I can, and with my goal race just 9 days out, I think that means I can indulge in a few beers tonight and maybe squeeze in another tough run before game day. Sounds like a plan.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Big Girl's Birthday Dash

Big Girl turned four on Friday - her birthday weekend was beyond a blast! It was filled with fun, but perhaps the highlight was her very own "Birthday Dash" that yours truly created, organized and directed. It was my first go at "race directing" - and it was a huge success! The kids dash was the activity component of her birthday party on Saturday morning. Luckily her friends are extremely awesome about being totally on board with our crazy unique ideas. 

Here's a look as to how "race morning" went down.. 

The kids and their families all assembled at 11am in a nearby park - the weather could not have been more gorgeous! We really lucked out with a fabulous sunny day! Everyone was so excited as they pinned on (homemade) bibs and warmed up. It was technically a fun run, because racing would have implied that one person could "win" - and really all of them were winners. 

We had little cones marking our start and finish lines - and the kids eagerly took their place behind the line. I gave an uber short speech about being safe and having fun before saying "on your marks, get set,.." and blowing my whistle. They were off!

little runners behind the start
and they're off!

birthday girl breaks the tape

My dad and husband manned the finish line - they used yellow streamers to make a finish line tape - and did their best to make sure everyone who crossed could break the tape. They did a fabulous job as finish line managers ;) 

The kids absolutely loved this idea and showed it by running all over the park - totally getting the "fun run" concept, with beaming faces and happy strides. The parents kept saying how great of a party idea this was, because the kids could exercise, have fun, and run around all in good fun. We even had some spectators who got a serious kick out of this - it must have made their day to watch the little ones running so seriously with bibs on their shirts on a random day in the park. They clapped and cheered as if they had been told ahead of time. I was ecstatic to watch this dream come true - this idea has been brewing for quite some time but I never expected it to become a reality. It just sort of all came together and worked out beautifully. 

Here are some snap shots of the rest of the party -

birthday balloons

awesome shirt!

runners at the start

Baby J hanging with the big kids

the start


on the course 

medals at the finish

congrats, runners!

everyone's a winner

post race bananas and granola bars

birthday cake

a happy birthday girl

just a few of my awesome mama friends
The rest of the party was filled with fun - we had a rockin' finish line festival theme with bananas, bagels, and granola bars available for immediate refueling. We also served a more substantial lunch that included bubbly beverages. Big Girl loved her birthday song and cake, and the adults enjoyed conversation and time together. My friends are really the best - and our kids are so lucky to have known each other since they were infants. And I should mention that the grandparents played a huge role in orchestrating, supporting, and helping out with everything. Thank you!! We couldn't have asked for a better celebration! Happy fourth birthday, Big Girl! 

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Mile Repeats

The last time I did mile repeats was at the tail end of my Philly training cycle. I was in pretty good shape - good enough for a marathon PR a couple weeks later. I had to look back at that workout, and it seems I did the miles at 7:53, 7:45, and 7:37 pace. It was also an 8 mile run, with those fast miles sandwiched in-between. I remember that workout because it was on a treadmill at a health club in Chelsea on 6th avenue that does not exist anymore - if it did, I could probably tell you exactly which treadmill I was on that day. In any case, I remember feeling pretty proud of myself for that workout because it included speed - and I never did speed.

Now that I'm training for a 5K, I have no choice but to do speed. And it's hard. Especially when you have tired legs and a slight dehydration factor from the previous night's sherry indulgence… But I digress. Every Thursday I am fortunate to have a regular babysitter watch my little one so I can have a few hours a week to myself - and I typically begin the time with a workout. Most of these have been on a treadmill - usually because of the (nasty) weather, but also because the treadmill is best for me for speed work. Today I decided I was going to do mile repeats. I kind of figured I HAD to, on account of my first goal race being a couple weeks out. The timing seemed right for a kick-in-the-ass tough workout. I picked the pace of 7:30. I wasn't sure what to expect.

I started with a warm up mile and then kicked up the pace. The first mile seemed long. But I wasn't dying. I just tried to find acceptable songs on pandora and hold steady on the belt. It didn't help that the gym was humid due to the intense fog and rain outside. After that first mile, I huffed and puffed and jogged/walked about a quarter mile. It wasn't clear to me what kind of a recovery should follow a tough mile repeat. I figured that if this workout were on a track, I'd probably be doubled over after the mile, hands on knees, breathing for dear life. Then I'd likely walk around in a circle a few times, hands on hips, proud scowl on my face. And if it were outdoors, I'm sure I would spit (like 10 times). And then maybe I'd jog a bit before starting the next repeat. So my indoor treadmill mix of walk/slow jog (with aforementioned proud scowl on my face) seemed appropriate. The next mile was tougher. But I hung in there - just kept the legs rolling. I tried to visualize a race course and summoned that feeling of needing to dig deep to maintain the pace. I constantly watched the distance add up (slowly). And finally that mile was over. Again, I slowed to a walk, huffed and puffed with mad authority, and then vowed to make the last one count. I knew it would be the hardest, and it was. But I did it - 3 x 1600s @ 7:30 pace. My proud scowl stayed with me for the last quarter mile and then some - I'm sure I looked ridiculous, running on a moving belt, going nowhere, sweat flying in every direction, and sporting a look like I was some sort of Olympian. But no matter, it is my race and my training, so I'm going to own it.

I'm thankful it's over. One thing I've noticed that after a hard effort like this one, I'm pretty beat. It used to take upwards of 16 miles to knock me off my (compression) socks, but now a fiver filled with speed does the trick just fine. C of Team Stick said she thinks I'm going to take down my PR - I'd like her to be right!

Anyway, I'm turning my attention to my Big Girl's Birthday weekend - which kicks off tomorrow. If all goes well, I'll cross another item off my pretend bucket list ;)

Monday, April 06, 2015

April 5 by the Fifth 5k

The race setting: overcast with a wicked glare. 10am. Chicago burbs. 
The course: A winding cloverleaf on quiet, suburban streets
The field: just me
The warmup: half mile jog to the start
The first mile: 7:26. Legs were uneasy and a bit wobbly. Was still searching for my groove. 
Mile two: 7:48. Slowed by a headwind (and fatigue).
The last mile: 7:37. Tried to ramp it up for the finish. 
The final 0.1: 0:45 seconds (7:30 pace)

Finish time: 23:36 (7:37 average per mile)

april 5 by the 5th

Just a few thoughts on this effort- I skirted the positive split phenomenon, but barely. My first mile was too fast (but really I'd like to be able to hold that pace and then some for the whole distance). My second mile slowed, but I did find some energy to bring it home. Since this was really just a run (and not a race environment), I think it's pretty good considering I was not psyched up by crowds or official recording devices. Hopefully at the end of the month, when I have a goal 5K, I'll be able to really bring something home. 

I was glad to get this "race" out of the way before the Easter weekend festivities began. It was a busy weekend with family - lots of cooking and visiting and a killer Final Four game Saturday night that had our Wisconsin Badgers beating Kentucky for the honor of playing in the NCAA championship tonight! Watching us hiding eggs and playing "Easter Bunny" after that game must have quite a spectacle! But the kids had a blast finding the eggs and discovering their treats the next morning, so it was totally worth it.

easter goodies

And this week's menu plan is based off the many leftovers we were fortunate to bring home from Easter weekend: 

Sunday - last night we ordered sushi

Monday - tonight we are grilling moroccan lemon herb chicken and doing lettuce wraps with that. Possibly grilling radishes too. And beers for the game. 

Tuesday - tacos with leftover rib roast from Easter, salsa, sour cream, avocado and cilantro 

Wednesday - cubanos with ham, pork swiss cheese, mustard and pickles (I'd also like to add a bean dip for some raw veggies - I feel this meal needs some lightening..) 

Thursday - leftover chicken over greens

Friday - Big Girl's Birthday (WTH - how did that happen so fast?!) so homemade pizza is it as per her request. I cannot wait to share the details about her birthday party, but I'm going to wait until after it's over to share.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Spring Break 2015

We were so so fortunate to spend the past week in beautiful Montego Bay. It was just our immediate family, which is the first time we have vacationed together since the little ones were born. We stayed in a villa and enjoyed privacy, a housekeeper, home cooked meals, a gorgeous view and precious time together. 

It really couldn't have gone better, considering we traveled with a one and a three year old. We were four hours delayed on our outgoing flight - but the kids held it together incredibly well, so much so that we received compliments like, "your kids deserve an award with the way they're behaving!" Who, my kids?!?! It really meant a lot. And they kind of did deserve an award for their behavior. Nine hours is a long time to be sitting on an airplane! But we finally arrived safe and sound. 

After settling in, we got the kids in bed and retired early ourselves. It was a wise move because the kids were up EARLY - the first morning it was 5:20a (subsequent mornings were 4:45a). And we had not yet stocked the villa with coffee. But we did catch a breathtaking sunrise..

sunrise over the ocean

Every morning our housekeeper prepared breakfast. We were able to chill and relax while the kids played. We had a small deck off the living room, so we could enjoy fresh (warm!) air and a beautiful view! The sunshine and warmth were such a nice change of pace compared to the frigid winter we had; it was so nice to be in shorts and tanks instead of sweaters and boots (and hats, scarves, gloves, and puffy coats). 

Big Girl scopes out the view (in shorts and a tank)
We did do some swimming at the pool, but Big Girl wasn't keen on the (very few and perhaps invisible) bugs she felt were raining on her parade.


Luckily the beach was great for everyone! Our first visit was short, but the water was warm and the sand occupied the littles. Sand --> endless hours of fun for kids!

Truth be told, beaching with wee ones is not at all a relaxing concept - usually Baby J was all over me, and Big Girl frequently came to us with her share of concerns. But we did our best and managed to catch the occasional moments of calm. 

"playing" in the sand 
Obviously, I have to include some food talk here. We specifically chose a villa for the cooking possibilities (among other things). Our housekeeper cooked our first dinner, but we took the reins for the next few. Once we discovered the vast selection of goodies at the commissary, we knew we could whip up some treats. The first dinner we cooked was a green bean dish with fresh tomatoes, thyme, onions, garlic, plenty of olive oil, a splash a balsamic, and some toasted baguette croutons. An icy Red Stripe was the perfect bevvie for this vegetable central feast.

 beans and beer
Most of our days were spent at the beach - it was perfect. One day Baby J amused herself on her shaded beach chair snacking on cheerios and granola bars, bestowing on us some badly desired peace and quiet. Big Girl was totally cool with the sand/water activities and busied herself beautifully. I admit that sometimes her complex sand operations seemed so fun that I occasionally joined in and built things myself - like a duck pond ;) We also did silly poses and smiled a lot.

We could only take so much sun per day, so we often spent the late afternoon chilling at the villa. One of my favorite afternoons was spent out on the breezy deck watching our girls play. They are the sweetest sisters ever. I was truly amused at the games they created and the way they interacted. I must have taken a thousand pictures that afternoon because it was just too precious. This one is possibly my favorite. This is what life is all about.

sweet sisters 

Another dinner we prepared was a repeat of my butter beans and bacon dish - except I didn't have caramelized onions and placed it over pasta instead. This idea came to me when I discovered butter beans in the commissary - that is how meals are born. We also added peas because Baby J currently has a love affair with peas - so we had plenty prepared. A crisp white complemented this meal perfectly.

butter beans, bacon and pasta 

Back at the beach we discovered a fun water toy - a trampoline! Big Girl loved bouncing around in it, and Baby J tolerated it for a reasonable amount of time. It was actually quite a workout, especially when the waves were considerably rolly. Perpetually holding Baby J while the trampoline bounced up and down almost caused a huff/puff situation - seriously! Who needs a gym?!

water trampoline 
One night we let Big Girl stay up a little later and she enjoyed dinner with us : homemade pizza. We couldn't help ourselves when we discovered pizza dough in the freezer section of the commissary. It was obvious what we had to do. This one had sautéed green pepper, fresh tomato, sliced onions, and fresh mozzarella. It was awesome! Though much thicker and chewier than I make at home. But Big Girl was thrilled to be a part of this and even ate some pizza.

homemade veggie pizza 

so fun to hang with my 'rents

Another day we hired a nanny to take the kids so we could RELAX. This was the best decision ever. Big Girl was so psyched about her nanny (perhaps sick of us) that sat herself by our front door and declared, "I'm going to sit right here and wait for my nanny." My guess is she had noticed that many other kids had a nanny and that was the "cool" thing for kids to have, so she wanted one. Plus she wanted to go to the (exclusive) kids club, which she was too young to go to unless she went with her nanny. So it was a win/win.

While the kids were happily playing, we enjoyed some peace and quiet that started with a lovely lunch, which I kicked off with a mai tai.

cocktail at lunch, beachside
After lunch, we set up shop on the beach. Besides lounging on a comfy beach chair under a thatched roofed cabana, I was able to try some standup paddle boarding, which was pretty fun! I've always wanted to do this on Lake Michigan, and now that I've had the opportunity to practice, I should be good to go this summer.

taking the board out to sea
heading out

i think the zoom was used on this one - i was WAY out there!
As for running, I was able to do a little on the treadmill only twice. One workout was a four miler with 6 x 400s at paces from 7:30 - 7:00 pace (progressively faster). The other was a three miler with each mile a little faster than the previous (9:00, 8:45, and 8:30). Running really wasn't a huge priority on this trip; I just wanted to move my legs a few times to keep from going stale. 

We did do a lot of walking :) Haha, not really, but the little ones enjoyed walking around the property .. and feeling empowered with their freedom to roam.

One afternoon when everyone was showered and dressed, we took a family picture by the sea. 

the fam
And that night we were treated to a Jamaican jerk chicken dinner on our deck with rice and vegetables. The kids had a non spicy version but they mostly ate the the fistfuls. Because they have mad manners like that. 

jerk chicken with a view

The last day of any trip involves a mix of emotions from trying to make the most of it, wrapping things up, and a bit of eagerness to get home. By this point, Baby J had perfected her beach lounging skills.. (note the crossed leg and laid back chillin' position..)

this girl knows how to beach

And the girls wanted to play "baseball while we wait for our tractor" (Big Girl's sports identification needed a bit of a did her understanding of a golf cart vs a farm vehicle..). In any case, they were pretty adorable with the basketballs, attempting bounce passes and dribbling. 

Post bball, we hit up the beach one last time before our "tractor" (read: golf cart) took us back to the villa. Baby J was so confident in her beaching abilities she basically walked right into the ocean!

And Big Girl took one last kayak trip with Daddy (she didn't want me to take her because I didn't go far enough out - Daddy goes farther). 


We ended our trip with some silly selfies before we headed to the airport. 

Speaking of airplanes, the coolest thing happened when we were deplaning in Chicago - Big Girl simply wanted to ask the pilot his name, but they invited her into the cockpit, let her sit in the pilot's seat and wear his hat, and "fly" the plane! She even used the loud speaker to say farewell to the passengers! 

"Captain" Big Girl

making the engines roar

so glad we were already on the ground! ;)

And that's a vacay report wrap! Ya mon!

If you're still with me, the menu plan this week is short:

Sunday - we landed late in Chicago so we picked up a rotisserie chicken, some salad greens, and some fresh bread to top with radish and triple cream.

Monday - Beef and broccoli stir fry over soba noodles

Tuesday - homemade chicken noodle soup (using up leftover rotisserie chicken and some of our homemade stock)

Wed - Sun - away for Easter weekend

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Menu Planning - March 22

Before this week's menu plans, I wanted to mention that I actually had a pretty good week running wise. There were five days of running - three with the stroller and two solos. The stroller runs were short, 2 - 4 miles each. My solo speed workout was one of my best to date: 6 x 800 at 7:18 pace. With a warm up and cool down mile, I hit 6.5 miles total. But that pace, or thereabouts, is what I want to hold for a 5K at the end of April. Today I got out for a solo 5 miler in weather more resembling winter than spring. Yuck. Anyway, onto food. 

Friday night we had a blank in the menu plans. We kind of wanted to do something fun, but since it's the dead of winter and nothing is in season, nothing seems appealing. The hub ended up bringing home bagels and lox - which was simple and good enough. With icy IPAs.

bagels and lox

Saturday night was a big cooking night with shellfish and pasta. The first course was langoustines and razor clams (the latter of which was grimier and sandier than usual). That was followed by Pasta alla Norma (eggplant, tomato, salted ricotta) - the pasta was papparadelle and the basil was a nice preview of summer.



This week's menu:

Sunday - tonight we are dining out. 

Monday - Sunday - I have no idea! It will be a surprise ;)