Independence

Although I’ve always been a people person and loved being around others almost 100% of the time, I’ve also always been really independent when it comes to my relationship with Steve. I had a lot of friends in high school that I felt would drop all their friendships when they were in a relationship and I never wanted to do that with my friends, so I sometimes hardly saw Steve at the beginning of our relationship, and even when we lived together, I often went out without him, and really kept my independence and being an individual a priority.

Then I went away to school and we spent 2 1/2 years being apart. I hated a lot of things about it, but to this day, I really value the fact that i was able to experience college on my own, grow, discover who I am, and have the experience of living with my best friend. When I would come home to visit, I felt like I had to spend every moment with Steve before we would be apart again, so when I moved back for good in 2009, I fell right back into that, and spent every waking moment with Steve. We began to meld our lives more, and more, and before I knew it, I was definitely more a part of an “us” than a “me”. I didn’t feel like I had lost myself, but I did begin to lose sight of my independence and why it is important to me.

We’ve come a long way. but it’s still a struggle sometimes to find balance. And then, sometimes, life forces balance on you, and I kind of feel like life is a bit of a jerk, but I guess it’s okay and all for the best and all that stuff.

Yesterday, Steve left for a 5 week trip to California. He got a fancy new job that is based there, and he will be able to work from home, and then he will be here all the time and I will probably wish he was back in LA, but he has to go there for training first. Obviously, I was thrilled about him leaving. I even helped him pack. I’m such an awesome wife.

You're welcome!

I also definitely did not unpack the things he’d already packed and hide them. That would not be a fun game. For him. Anyway, the silver lining in all of this (other than, you know, the whole awesome jump for Steve and his career) is that I have the next 5 weeks to refocus on some of my independence, as well as other relationships with family and friends. Although I already miss him a lot and kind of wish the 5 weeks was up, I also know that we have the rest of our lives to spend together, and it’s good for me to focus on myself as well. Not to mention that I already signed up to leave him for 6 weeks this summer to go play at theatre camp, so I guess we’re even. ;)

So for the next 5 weeks, I will be focusing on being comfortable spending time with myself, having awesome workouts, putting quality time into family and friendships, and cleaning my house. Come on Ari, let’s keep this honest.

I know some people really enjoy their alone time…If you were left alone for a month, would you be excited or bummed? What would you do? If you already live alone, do you like it?

Weekly Workouts

Hello friends! Life seems like it has been crazy busy lately. It’s all been good stuff, but it’s nice to take some time to breathe and have some much needed me time today.

Considering how exhausted I was from The Lost Dutchman, I had a surprisingly productive work week of work outs. I took two full, amazing total rest days, then got out for a slow 3.7 mile run, a couple easy-ish bike rides, followed by a super awesome 25 mile ride on Saturday and spin class yesterday. I can’t even tell you how in love I am with my bike! I am not the fastest on it by any means, but I love having a second, less hard on the body form of cardio that I can do outside! And you know what’s awesome? I have ended every ride so far feeling like I could just keep going for miles and miles if I had the time/desire. Plus, I’ve been using it to get to work when I can. I love feeling like I am multi tasking by commuting and exercising at the same time. Yes folks, that is the highlight of my life. Jealous?

A few days ago, I read a post on Sarah OUaL’s blog that got me super excited! Did you know the garmin has interval workouts, so you can do your own speed drills without a track? Check out her post for awesome pictures and step by step instructions! Ever since I read it, I was super excited to try it. I’d been feeling a little bit like the running motivation bandwagon dropped me off for a little pit stop then bolted and was suddenly no where in site, and since I currently don’t have a big race on the calendar (hey self, let’s fix that ASAP!), I needed something new to pump me up.

This morning I planned to run 3 miles with Jason, and I decided to get there early and give this speed interval thing a shot. You know, try to be a real, legit runner or something. I thought I would HATE that I couldn’t see my pace, only the remaining distance and laps, but actually I think it was a blessing in disguise. I set it up for 4 x 0.5 mi intervals with 2 minutes of rest in between. So I just ran as fast as I could for each segment and hoped for the best. Turns out 1/2 a mile is a little longer than one would imagine. I started off booking it, then was like “I must be done by now, right?” Only to look down and discover I’d gone about .15 miles. Basically each rest period, I kind of thought I was going to die if I had to go out again, but I finished and I’m actually pretty proud of myself for how I did!

My goal was to keep each interval at an 8:15 pace and in the back of my mind I was like “Hah–yeah, that’s a nice goal. We’ll see if that happens.” Well I finished the 2 miles (active time, not including rests) in 16:11 which is about an 8:05 average pace! Boo ya stupid negative brain! Look at me! I’ll be doing this sub 8 in no time, bitch. Sorry. I cursed. It happens sometimes.

Okay, so can some smart person pretty please teach me how to upload my splits onto my computer?? I opened the garmin training center and all I see is some graph I don’t understand, and I want to see how I did on each section.  Ugghh, technology and I do not get along very well.

So to help keep myself motivated, I scheduled in all of my work outs for the week, and here’s what it looks like:

Monday: 4x800s + 3 easy miles
Tuesday: Spin + strength (omg strength training! ew)
Wednesday:
5 mi tempo (or whatever crazy speeds Ashley decides we will run)
Thursday:
Active rest–easy bike ride
Friday:
Long run…alllllll alone. Wahhh. I’ll prob end up doing 10 miles, but I’m hoping to push myself for a few more.
Saturday:
20 mile bike ride
Sunday:
Spin!!

Anyone want to run with me Friday??? It will be so fun, I promise.

Trigger Point Dry Needling

If you’ve been reading for a while, you may recall that I have had chronic achilles tendonitis for the past 10 years or so. It kept me from running for a long time, until I decided it wasn’t going to anymore. I tried to be super smart about it–I only run 3 times per week (most weeks), and try to never run consecutive days. My body just doesn’t particularly like it, so I try to thank it for putting up with me and carrying me to a few finish lines. I also try to ice every day that I run, and for a while my body was holding up great, but when I started to feel more significant pain, I started going to physical therapy.

You may remember when I wrote my post about the Astym. Let me tell you, that was fun. Every session I was like “KT, do I get astym today?!?! She would be like “Calm down, Ari. I know you love astym, but sometimes my soft, gentle calf massages are so much better.” Yeah, astym is not fun and it is super painful, and so are KT’s massages, but it really was helping. The last time I got it done, I was whining and crying like a pathetic baby taking it like a champ, and one of the other therapists suggested I get the dry needling. He said it would hurt less than astym. Ummmm, you want to stick needles into my legs and shake them around?!?!?! I politely said no thank you, and have skirted the subject ever since.

I’d actually been considering it a little bit since. They explained that it’s essentially like hitting the “reset” button on a muscle that has been tight for a significant amount of time and hasn’t been cured with massage and foam rolling. My calves have two settings–tight, and ridiculously tight. Finally yesterday as KT was massaging and said “You need a needle in here!” I nervously agreed.

They handed me a special consent form, and I immediately got even more nervous!

One of the risks is lung puncture. I mean, I’m no anatomy expert, but that sounds basically impossible while needling my calf. However, it still scared me! I signed, and tried to prepare myself. I begged KT and Ashley to hold my hand, but KT was on photography duty and Ashley, well, Ashley our friendship is over. Except when I need you to make me run fast. Then we can be friends again ;)

Matt explained that he would be putting the needle in four different spots. He also told all sorts of awesome jokes like saying “Oh I’m so glad I finally get to do this on someone!” Great, Matt. Thanks for that.

The first one actually didn’t hurt at all! I barely felt it. He asked how I was doing and I was like “Great!” Hah. You see, it’s not the actual needle going in that hurts–it’s kind of similar to acupuncture where the needle is really thin, but this one isn’t hollow. The part that hurts is when they shake it around in there. The first spot was on the outside of my calf which is less sensitive. Then they did one in the middle and all of the sudden it felt like a charlie horse! Holy crap. It was not fun. The third one was even worse! I asked for a little break before the 4th one, because it was rough at this point. They basically make your leg muscles spasm, and I don’t know about you, but I don’t find that to be the most pleasant feeling.

The last one was so weird! It was down closer to my achilles and it made it feel like my foot was asleep! You know the spidery tingling feeling when you stop on your foot when it’s asleep? That happened and it freaked me out! They said it as normal, and before I knew it, I was done. If it works nearly as well as they say it will, it’ll definitely be worth it in the end. The only other part that is less than fun (other than, you know, the 4-5 more weeks I have of this) is how sore I was yesterday! They warned me that I would be, but you know that feeling when you’ve had really bad charlie horses during the night, and the next day your calf is so sore that it’s hard to walk? Is that just me? Anyway, that’s how it felt. You should have seen my trying to teach choreography. Yikes.

Have you ever experienced TDN? Any other crazy physical therapy or other medical things?? I think things like this are so interesting, and I’m always curious to know what other people have experienced!

Change of Plan

Can I just say that I didn’t ever, for one single minute, consider that the idea of finishing my second half marathon 9 minutes faster than my first, only a month later, even possible! The thought never crossed my mind. I knew in the month I had in between that I wanted to get faster. I read a lot of speedy peoples’ blogs, I got some help from the amazing Margot of The Faster Bunny, and I ran with some speedy friends, but pretty much I made up my own plan, just like I had the first time.

Apparently, something worked? I am, of course, no expert on speed, or running at all for that matter, but I figured I would at least share some of what I did that seemed to work out pretty well, and maybe it will help other turtles out there like me! :)

Here is what a typical week looked like:

Mon: 3 mi with sprint intervals
I kept my intervals really short–like the distance between driveways. I didn’t go for any specific times, I just set out points of distance in my neighborhood and kept my jogging and my sprinting distances about even. I kept my jogging pace around a 10 min/mi and just went as fast as humanly possible on the sprints. I don’t know is this is good, bad, or if there is even a technical term, but I did it, and I felt like it kicked my butt and was really helpful.

Tues: Spin
I love spin, and I really think it helps with my running. My favorite teacher Linda is a racing machine and she also believes this. The woman is 50, does several races a year (including tris), and teaches like 20 gym classes per week. If she told me standing on my head would help, you better believe I’d be posting upside down right now.

Wed: 5-6 mi tempo run
Most of these did not end up being tempos because I ran with speedy gonzales AKA Ashley who runs at a 7:30 pace. We would warm up for a mile around a 10 min pace, run the first “tempo” mile around where I thought I should be–like 9:10ish–and then negative split from there, then end up with a cool down mile. These runs killed me, but this girl got me to run a 7:33 mile!!!! Granted I made her stop 3 times because my lungs felt like they were on fire and my whole body was going to burn down with them, but even so, it was the fastest I have ever run. Running with fast people is pretty much the secret to running fast yourself. In my expert opinion.

Thurs: Rest or bike ride
Rest is nice. Bike rides are fun.

Fri: Long run
I only really did 2 long runs, but they were good ones. 15 and 12. I think going beyond the race distance gave me more confidence. I knew that I could, in fact, run longer than 13 miles, so I could actually push it a little during those 13 and not spend all my time worrying about the distance. The last 2 miles of my 15 mi run were ridiculously hard, but it may be my favorite long run I’ve done, and even though I don’t plan on training for a full for a while, I can’t wait to complete some new PDRs just because I want to!

Sat: Rest or bike ride
See Thurs.

Sun: Spin
Even with perfect weather and a bike of my own, I am still inspired to spin twice a week. That’s how good Linda is!

So, how is this different from my first training plan? You know, the other one that I just decided I was smart enough to create on my own even though I had never run before. Well, that one was totally focused on distance for me. I ran 3x a week, with two 3-4 mi runs and one long run. I tried to get faster on the short ones, and worked on having negative splits, but did absolutely no legit speed training. I thought you just got faster by running more, and I did because it was so new to me, but this time around, speed was my main focus. I feel like in my first plan, the miles mid week were more like junk miles because they had no plan, and no real purpose. My very favorite running blog taught me that every run should have a purpose.

So there you have it. I still don’t know if any of this is good, or right, or whatever, but I know that I shocked myself on Sunday, and that I am beyond excited for what I can accomplish in the future. Which brings me to the question….

Now what???

Well, there is a very small tri that I’m planning on doing with Nicole at the end of March. I am planning on the Firefly Run, and Pat’s Run in April, and I am this close to registering for the Disneyland 1/2 in September. But I want something more than that, and I want it sooner. It is kind of killing me that there is no full marathon I can sign up for right now, and I really want to do one more half before the weather turns to burn. I feel like I need a big goal to work towards that will happen soon. Any suggestions? I’m already antsy! This running thing is like crack.

 

 

Gluten Free Almond Joy Cupcakes

Happy belated birthday to my super, awesome, lovely, beautiful friend Carolyn! If you haven’t checked out this girl’s blog, you really should. Her work outs are amazing, and she has been a total inspiration to me ever since I met her! She is also super sweet and a truly amazing friend.  She eats gluten free, and I always feel bad that when I make desserts for things, she can never eat them. So Nicole and I put our heads together to plan out some awesome surprise birthday cupcakes for her. Well, then poor Nicole got sick, but still gave me all of the fantastic ingredients I needed to carry out our plan!

My friend Christina sent me a recipe for gluten free coconut cupcakes that I used as a base. I’m not sure who it’s originally from, so dear person who created it, if you read this lil ole blog, please tell me so I can be like “Hey readers! All 3 of you! Go look at ______’s awesome recipes”. Thanks in advance. I’m a big fan of your recipe!

I altered the recipe a bit to make it healthy(ish) and put some of my own touches in. Also, Nicole gave me all of these gf flour options, so I ended up getting a little accidentally creative on the flour mix, but I think it was pretty much the happiest accident ever.

Sometimes gluten free things come with weird textures, but not these babies. Friends and family scarfed them down, and my step dad called them the best cupcakes I’ve ever made! Who knew creating recipes around different diets could be so fun? It makes me want to explore more with gf, vegan, paleo and any other fancy diet recipes. I found that I really like creating things for people who eat a certain way and may not always have foods on their plan provided.

Gluten Free Almond Joy Cupcakes

yield 24 cupcakes

For the coconut cupcakes:

  • 1 cup raw cane sugar
  • 1 cup Splenda
  • 1 cup egg substitute
  • 2 1/2 cups brown rice flour mix (see below)
  • dash salt
  • 1 tbs baking powder
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut vanilla almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon coconut extract

Brown rice flour mix:

  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 1 cup sweet white sorghum flour
  • 2/3 cup potato starch (not potato flour)
  • 1/3 cup tapioca flour

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line 2 muffin tins with cupcake liners and lightly spray with nonstick spray.
  2. Beat sugar, Splenda, and egg substitute at medium speed for approx 1 min. Add in all remaining ingredients and beat at medium speed for 1 min.
  3. Evenly divide the batter between your 24 lined cups. Each one should be about 2/3 full.
  4. Bake for 18-20 min, until top springs back when you press lightly on the middle, or toothpick inserted in center comes out mostly clean.
  5. Cool completely on wire rack, then frost with chocolate almond cream cheese frosting.

For the Chocolate Almond Cream Cheese Frosting:

yield enough to frost at least 24 cupcakes

adapted from How Sweet It Is (I love pretty much every single one of her recipes)

  • 3 x 8 oz blocks reduced fat cream cheese (you could also use fat free, I just had red fat on hand)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 1/2 oz grain sweetened chocolate chips, melted and cooled
  • 1-2 tsp almond extract

Directions:

  1. Beat cream cheese on medium speed in a stand mixer until smooth. Add almond extract.
  2. On low speed, add in powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time, followed by cocoa powder.
  3. Increase to medium speed and add melted chocolate.
  4. Beat until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl often.
  5. Frost and enjoy!

Optional Toppings:

  • raw sugar
  • almonds
  • shredded coconut