FFTFL premiere

FFTFL premiere

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Fusion Juicer Review

When my friend contacted me about the possibility of reviewing a juicer for my blog, I jumped at the opportunity. You see, I USED to have a juicer, way back when. I hated it. It was such an obnoxious contraption to clean and I didn't have a dishwasher and so "ain't nobody got time for that!" Ever since I sold the thing at my first yard sale to raise money for Relay For Life, Chelsea's been just heartbroken. Okay. Not really. She just really wanted to try it, and so here was my opportunity to turn that frown upside down!

Isn't it pretty?

It was like Christmas day opening the box. I expected the juicer, but I was pleasantly surprised to find a small blender as well! Along with both appliances, there was the instruction pamphlet, a booklet with a 6 week program to help improve your health through juicing, healthier eating and exercise, and a 190 page, full color "raw remedies and juice recipes" book, which even has recipes that include using the pulp by-product of juicing! NO WASTE! I was a little apprehensive about the machine, but once I actually read the step-by-step instructions on how to take it apart and put it back together, my fears were alleviated. So simple.

So now it was time to actually use the new toy. I bought a 5 pound bag of tangerines and enlisted the help of my husband to peel all those little suckers. It was fun having him in the kitchen with me (to boss him around...hehehe...). The couple that juices together...? We just peeled them and broke them in half, which probably wasn't necessary. We didn't pit them, however, and an occasional pit did fly out the chute. Wasn't prepared for that! I guess you should keep the plunger in the chute while grabbing more produce! Lesson learned!

The tangerines were on sale for $1.99 and when they were all "processed" we had almost 4 cups of juice. When you think about it, a half gallon of refrigerated orange juice can cost $2 or more on sale. Yes, I only got half the juice, but 1). it was TANGERINE juice (cant compare the two!) and 2). it was as fresh a glass of juice you can get unless I was in the grove itself and *just* picked the buggers myself.

I had to get another receptacle to catch more juice!

The best part? It was delicious!! Even the boy had some, and he's not a citrus fan! Clean up was pretty easy. I just scraped all of the pulp into the garbage, (you can line the catch with a plastic bag then just toss the bag, making clean up even easier!), washed the top and bottom with warm soapy water and then tackled the blade. Little did I know that having a kitchen brush would be the key to enjoying a juicer. Under running water I just used the brush to get all of the little bits out of the blade and crevices. Easy peasy.

After using the juicer I decided to try the personal sized blender. I already have one of those bullet kind, but I figured I'd give this one a go. I believe the purpose of the pair is to juice and then possibly make a smoothie with the juice and other ingredients that can NOT go in the juicer, like bananas. I make a panzanella salad and the vinaigrette is so much better blended than not, so I tried that.

It's just some olive oil, vinegar, dijon mustard and garlic.


The blender makes it into a creamy dressing, but the garlic gets mixed well throughout so every bite is infused with a little bit of heaven! As you can see, the Fusion Booster has the capacity to make a lot of dressing!

I've used both appliances several more times. I bought a pomegranate for the first time and had the pleasure of getting all of the itty bitty flavor pods out for this recipe.

Pomegranate, apple, grapes, carrots and a bit of ginger! Pretty purple!

I also bought a bottle of Pom Cherry Pomegranate juice, and after a taste test of the two, Chelsea said she preferred mine! High praise! I also used the blender to puree my crushed tomatoes for my Tuscan white bean and sausage soup, since my son doesn't like tomatoes. Well, when they're actually part of the broth, I don't have to pick them out!

With them blended like this, they add so much flavor to the soup AND the boy's getting lots of nutrition!!

One more recipe: apples, carrots and ginger. Jen said it's her favorite juice and now it's my son's, too! Amazing!

This much food...

...makes this much juice.

All in all, I loved the juicer! Yes, it takes a large quantity of food to make just a few glasses of juice, and it's a bit of work with prepping the produce, but if I can get my 17 year old son to ingest a fruit or a vegetable or, *GASP*, BOTH, then it's worth it! I would definitely recommend it for people with children. They think they're having a fresh glass of apple juice and you're able to sneak in a veggie or two. No harm in that!

If you're interested in getting your own Fusion Juicer, head to www.fusionjuicerspecial.com, where you can save $20 off the retail price, PLUS get the bonus Fusion Booster blender, PLUS free shipping, AND choose your color!! You have your choice of black, white or red! I LOVE RED! I also love the fact that it's five payments of $19.99, so you can charge it and not get hit with a big punch on your bill. Then you can shop more ;)

(As with any  review, these are my honest opinions and I have not been compensated for them.)

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Back To The Lab Again...

Gosh, I really suck at this, huh? I lost two readers, most likely because there's NOTHING for them to read! It makes me sad, since I only had 113 followers, and now I'm at 111. Like I need something else to bring me down.

I'm just going to put it out there now and get it out in the open. I weighed in at 169.8 this morning, and that's probably only due to the fact that I woke up to pee every hour and a half last night. The 6 flights of stairs I climbed to get back and forth to the bathroom helped burn some calories. I told my friends I've been eating like I'm going to the electric chair, and my working out and running have been half-assed at best. It makes no sense since I've been working less and have MORE time on my hands. (Well, being constantly in the house without distractions definitely doesn't help my eating out of boredom, but it's still not an excuse.) I had two bags of Halloween candy left over, which I usually save for the kids' Christmas stockings, but I managed to polish off a bag of "fun-sized" Kit Kats all by myself. Nobody knows this because they were kept in the basement for me to "sneak" them while doing laundry. A bag of fun-sized candy makes me blimp-sized. The cookies and cream Hershey bars will sit there, I swear. Note to self: next year only buy Jolly Ranchers!

Working out and running have suffered because of my weight gain. I ran to pick up my husband's van from the shop, and two miles managed to frig up my knee. It's not horrific, and I managed an okay 7.25 mile run on it, but it concerns me. Babying an injury only opens yourself up to jacking another part of your body up, and Charlie and I have the Festival of Lights Half Marathon in Brooklyn (a.k.a. the Chanukah Half!) on the 24th. It won't be pretty.

In the last six weeks I've had some bright spots. The Diva Half was on 10/6 and I managed to beat May's half time, but not P.R. If you don't put in the work, you can't expect more. However, I still believe, in my experience, it's the most fun you can have running 13.1 miles, and the ginormous medal is the cherry on top.

I also managed to get a shirt that fit me this year. The Diva shirts run so damn small!!

The best part of running the Diva, though, was finally meeting most of my fellow running chicks from Island Girls Running Club. The group started because it seems that Island Running, another Facebook page, had been semi-hijacked by all of the girls' posts. (Thankfully my friend Gigi invited me to the group!) So, the night before the half, my longtime friend Lynda graciously hosted a pasta dinner at her house, and we had a great time swapping running stories and hearing about a couple of the girls' NYC Marathon training experiences.

flip-flops, *sigh*

This was just a handful of the twenty or so ladies that ran the half. It was great seeing all of the familiar faces on the course, high-fiving and hugging every one of them. It was a definite morale boost! Afterwards, an after-party was arranged and we got to "rehydrate" and refuel. Alicia made slutty brownies- that biatch! LOL Iced, no less!!! My spinach dip was heavenly on a fresh bagel! (See my problem!!!)

We'll have IGR running shirts by December!!

After the Diva, I didn't do much. I worked a lot, which has helped with all the damn expenses that keep hitting us, like the first heating oil delivery, dance costume deposits, Charlie's senior yearbook, etc. I definitely can't race as much as I would like to! However, I was SO looking forward to the Dash to the Finish Line 5k the day before the NYC Marathon. Jen from my From Fat To Finish Line Ragnar Relay team was running it too! We had registered for 2012, but due to Hurricane Sandy, it was cancelled. All I had to do for this one was take the LIRR into Penn Station and walk to the start line, which was at the United Nations. It was the BEST 5k ever. I don't know if y'all know this, ;) , but I L-O-V-E the city, and this course passed some iconic landmarks and finished in CENTRAL PARK! We ran down 42nd St., chatting away, passing Grand Central Station, NY Public Library, Radio City Music Hall, The Plaza Hotel's Oak Room bar (where Charlie and I toasted our engagement), Grand Army Plaza and finally, finishing at the NYC Marathon's finish line in Central Park! It flew by! Jen and I will definitely be working out a plan to run together again. Since she's in Jersey, we live too damn close not to see each other more often!

Thankfully Jen has a smart phone! This is her pic, complete with that cool course map added to the image! Thanks, Jen!! 

Unfortunately Jen couldn't stay long after the race, but we had a great walk/talk back to Port Authority, complete with her saving my life from traffic a couple of times! Distracted walking- guilty! I wandered around a bit by myself on the way back to Penn Station, doing some browsing, and stopping into the Cake Boss Cafe for some over-priced rugelach. Looking forward to my next trip in!

That brings me to today. My hometown, which is all of five minutes away, held the 1st annual Beautiful Bay 10k. Since I'm running the half next week and can't do all the races, I decided to volunteer for the very first time. I had such a great time! I got to the registration area at 6:45 am and haned out bibs to pre-registered runners. I got to meet Jennifer and Katie from IGR, finally, I saw one of Chelsea's elementary school teachers and I even bumped into an old high school friend. After that, 5 of us squished in a car, hopped in front of the lead police car, and one by one were dropped off at the mile markers, stop-watches in hand, to yell out splits. I basically laid claim to mile 5, the mile I thought would be the best. I loved cheering on the runners as they came into view, shouting out their times as they hit the mark. The lead pack of guys showed up at 25:00!! First place male finished in 30:42.7! Holy sh*t! Did I mention there was a $1,000 cash prize for first place? I will be running this race next year. Being close to home and the water views are worth it.

The only things missing from my volunteer experience was Charlie and a cow bell! Oh, and I wish I had made a sign!! There really wasn't that many spectators out, since it was a pretty chilly 46* with a bit of a drizzle before the start. I heard from a few runners we were the loudest. I'm not surprised. I know what it's like to be on the other side, needing the boost, especially towards the end! Now I know what I can get my kids to help with to fulfill their volunteer hours requirement! It would be nice to have them out there when we're actually running a race. Getting handed a cup of water from one of them would make a nice photo op!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Catching Up In Pictures

I spent August 12-September 6 at grand jury duty. I made some great friends and we started a walking group on our lunch break. After sitting around a few hours, with some of the intense testimony weighing heavy on us, it was SO nice to get out into the sunshine and fresh air and purge some of that tension.
You might recognize my friend Carly from our From Fat to Finish Line team! We had our own little summer challenge going after she mentioned she was doing one with her coworkers. Carly helped push me and I shed a few pounds, but she did SO fantastic coming in 2nd place at work, losing 12%+ of her body weight!! All of her hard work paid off at her last half marathon on 9/21, setting a PR and getting some race bling, even after having a stomach bug and strep throat the week prior!! 

Charlie and I ran our 4th Smith Point Bridge 5k on September 7th. It started out chilly but quickly warmed up and made the bastard hill of a bridge even more challenging. We managed to PR that course, though, with a 30:07 finish!

Some of this amazing stuff made it into my belly (and onto my gut!)!!

On September 14th I ran the Bellport Run or Walk It Out 5k along with my friend Irene and placed!! Ok, there was only 17 runners, but I finished 1st in my age group (there were no other runners in my A.G.! LOL!) and 3rd female finisher overall!! Only a 15 and 17 year old beat me. Not bad for 40-frickin'-2!!!

My bling from 9/14!

Note to self- STOP TAKING FREE WATER BOTTLES AT RACES! I think 12 are pictured here, which doesn't include the few I gave to Charlie for work and the ones rolling around on the floor of my car!

On Monday, I locked my keys in the car after going to load the groceries. I had to run/walk the half mile home to get my frozen food in the house and call a locksmith. I wonder if anyone got any pictures of THAT while I was running down a main highway, crossing the railroad tracks...

Last night was the expo for the LI Diva Half and I got to meet Ali Vincent, the first female contestant to win Biggest Loser! She's running the half tomorrow, as well, and was trying to convince Tara Costa to run with the girls. Hope she was successful so maybe I'll finally get my pic with Tara!

This will be in my sweaty little hands by 11 am tomorrow!!!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

A New Lease On Life

I can NOT believe it has been four years since the day I decided to start caring about myself again. I spent most of my life, from I'd say the age of 12, on a "diet," times where I restricted what I ate, how much I ate and tried to increase my activity. I'll never forget getting so upset with my mom because she wouldn't buy me Richard Simmons' Deal-A-Meal. I cried and cried, so she broke down and bought it. That was 10th grade, and my Sweatin' to the Oldies tapes were Betamax. Of course she must have known it was only going to work so long as I stuck to it, and up until then, I had never stuck to anything.

June, 1989

I always had the best intentions of losing weight over summer vacation. One summer I didn't eat a single cookie for 6 weeks. I remember actually marking my calendar. It worked and I got a lot of attention at marching band camp that year, (If you don't know by now, I was an extreme geek.), but who can live without COOKIES? The weight came back and then some.

Fast forward to my first year of college where all I had to do was show my meal card and the cafeteria was an endless smorgasbord. The "Freshman Fifteen" became more like "Freshman Forty." I mean, who can pass up on tortilla chips smothered in pumps and pumps of brightly colored orange cheesy goodness? And they had the most amazing selection of cookies the size of your hand and blondies and brownies to wrap in a napkin to take with you to class, because I'm sure I didn't have enough to eat at the actual meal.

The Romero 7

Then I was a bridesmaid at my sister's wedding my sophomore year in 1991and I wanted to lose weight to look nice in my dress, and also because I had asked my brother-in-law's friend Charlie to be my "+1." Just like the dining hall had enough crappy food to clog your carotids, they had just as many healthy selections, plus there was a fantastic gym and indoor and outdoor tracks at my disposal. I would head to the health center every Saturday morning before my shift at the campus center to weigh in (and grab a handful of free condoms, but that's a story for another time). I could count on losing almost 3 pounds every week when I was diligent in my efforts. I did well and got down to a size 16.

This was all going on between January, when I asked Charlie to be my date, and the wedding, which was March 17th. Lo and behold, Charlie and I were writing back and forth and talking on the phone. I would come home for a fitting and I'd see him at my sister's apartment. We became really good friends and things blossomed, and then so did I. It was like I finally got someone to like me and I didn't need to care anymore. While it is extremely lovely that Charlie has never cared about my size, it also wasn't a good thing, either. I didn't care myself.

I was a fat bride. I had a 3 year engagement and it STILL wasn't enough time to lose the weight! I hate looking at my wedding pictures, even though it was one of the best days of my life. I was marrying my best friend and all I can see is how fat I was. It makes me sad, but I can't change it. Charlie looked handsome though in his black tails, though.


We got pregnant three months after we were married and I had both of my kids before our third anniversary. There were many attempts to lose weight through my years as a wife and stay-at-home mom. I updated my Deal-A-Meal and bought Richard's Food Mover and I'd put the kids in the double stroller every day for a walk. Breakfast and lunch seemed to be easy. While preparing dinner, however, I'd start to graze and then by the time the kids went to bed it would become a feeding frenzy. I think I was under the impression that if no one saw me eat it then it didn't happen. Of course the box of Twinkies would be gone and I'd be gaining weight, but I was in denial. Charlie never called me out on it.

And then back in August of 2009 I had that panic attack in the middle of the night that sure did feel like a heart attack when it was happening. Having a visual in my head of my 13 and 11 year old children going to my funeral was what did it for me. I couldn't live the way I had been anymore. So I started cutting back on all of the cookies and cake and ice cream and candy. I stopped eating late at night. I exercised every day. I never expected perfection. I did my best and if I wanted cookies I'd have a couple and tell myself if I wanted more, I could have more, tomorrow.

Y'all know the rest. Sum and substance (I'm on grand jury duty right now and this is officer lingo): I lost about 50 pounds and then it got harder to continue to lose, so I started using My Fitness Pal on 4/1/11. I hit 75 pounds lost on 7/16/11 and managed to get down to as little as 147 on 10/29/11, where I imagine I was there for all of two days until Halloween hit. I have since bounced around the 150's and even dabbled in the 160's for the beginning of 2013. I am very happy to say that I recommitted myself to better training in regards to running and stricter use of MFP continuously throughout the entire day. After beginning the month of June at 165.8, I am very happy with my 4th anniversary weigh-in this morning.

Down 8 pounds since 6/3 and only +3.8 pounds from my 75 pound loss.

I'm working hard at running faster and I'm being honest with myself about what I'm eating and good things are happening. I celebrated my 4th anniversary with a 4 mile treadmill run in 36:41. I'm excited to see where I'll be come August 17th, 2014!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

A Phenomenal Run

No, it wasn't fast by any means. 9 miles in 1:43 averages out to an 11:26 pace. The first 4.6 miles I got done in 48 minutes, (10:44 pace), so the last 4.4 miles took 55 minutes (12:30 pace). But that's not what I'm talking about here. I decided before I even left the house that I was just going to run and enjoy it. I wasn't going to fret over my pace and I was going to stop to hydrate. I even took a 5 minute breather when I arrived at the beach to use the restroom and bask in the glory of the incredible breeze that was blowing through the tunnel I was in.

I ran pretty well going to the beach. It was hot though. Not much of a breeze. I had my tunes playing, my sweat towel and my hydration belt to be as hands-free as possible. I was chewing gum to keep my mouth from getting dry. I HAVE to chew gum on long runs. It's key for me. Turns out their was a dangerous rip current at the beach, though, so no swimming for me. Hehehe...

After the 5 minute respite, I was off and running again. Back over the monster of a bridge. It's a drawbridge where the middle is 22' above the water. It feels like a huge-ass hill when running it. That's all I can say. Doing it the second time on tired legs is even worse. I did enjoy seeing the hundreds of cars crossing the bridge, families going to spend the day at the ocean (little did they know they couldn't go in it!). Jesus was kind to me again on the way home by sending glorious breezes to keep me cool, seeing that I was heading home at 11:30 am. I thanked Him many times. And that was pretty much the difference between this run and almost ALL of my other long runs. I stayed positive. I never once crossed over to Negative Nelly Land. I never once thought "I can't do this." I just frickin' did it and enjoyed my playlist. I had Rob Thomas, Justin Timberlake, Bruno Mars, Macklemore and Fall Out Boys to keep me company. When LP's "Into The Wild" came on I thought about all of my From Fat To Finish Line team mates and how far they've come with their fitness goals. Have I told you how lucky I am to be in their company?

So, you see, it's all about perspective. I'm lucky to be able to run any distance, no matter how slow or fast I go.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder, Yes?

I've been M.I.A. No, really. I haven't just been sitting around, eating Jif Mocha Hazelnut Spread, (maybe a little), not working out and getting "fluffy." June and July have been pretty busy with some work, some races, some rest and some relaxation. I've had plenty to write about, but just no *umph* to sit and do it (although if you are friends with me on Facebook, you know I've spent plenty of time getting my fix of Candy Crush and now Diamond Dash!).

June began on the 1st with my all-time favorite 5k, the Long Island MacArthur 5k Run For Veterans. It was my 1st 5k ever (have I mentioned that already? hehehe...) and also the 1st time the organization ran it. So, my 4th LIMA 5k, and again, for a spring day, it was as hot as a mo-fo. After coming off our half marathon in May, I should have been more than prepared for this race. To quote the hysterically funny Drazil: it sucked big, hairy donkey balls. Full sun and 80-something* of about 2 out of the 3.1 miles on an airport tarmac makes for a very unhappy and weak-minded Linda. Charlie did fine and was always his usual step ahead of me, which kind of makes me panic, like I can't keep up. However, when he's behind me, I'm wondering where he is. Can't win for losing.

31:52 finish. 51/154 AG (40-44), 971/2126 finishers

So then the following week I ran the Moriches Community Center 5k, solo. It's a great small race only 10 minutes from home and I get to see a lot of familiar faces, like Bob Beattie, who owns Island Timing USA, a company that does the timing for a lot of the races I participate in. It wasn't nearly as hot running through a residential neighborhood with trees to shade you and lovely, friendly spectators standing out with a hose to cool you off. It doesn't hurt that about the last quarter mile is somewhat downhill, to help make a faster finish.

29:52 finish. 18/38 AG (40-49), 132/235 finishers

No selfies of me at that race.

I worked a bit in June and was busy with all the dance/end of school year hullabaloo that makes me despise that month. I told y'all about that already. Finally, the race I had been anticipating had arrived. On June 29th I ran the 1st Annual Neighborhood Rd. Miracle Mile. I had never heard of a one-miler before and I was so excited to see what I could do. Apparently there are a couple more here on LI, but about a 40 minute drive to get to. I really don't want to drive 4 times as long to get to the race as it does for me to run it! We'll see... Anyway, it was a nice overcast, misty morning. I've realized that is perfect for me. No sun to overheat me or make me squint, since I run without sunglasses or a visor. I started out WAY too fast, and at my first quarter mile split I was running a 7:00 pace! That didn't last long. At one point later I looked at my Garmin and saw 9:30. I wish I hadn't blown it all in the beginning, but when you're part of such a small race, you don't want to be left ALL alone! Even though I slowed down a bit, I still managed to pass a few people. Okay, one guy was pushing a jogging stroller with THREE kids in it, but I'll take it! Is that considered 4 kills then?


That's me with the race director and the mayor of Mastic Beach Village getting my 2nd place age group medal! Now, before you get all excited and congratulatory, I was 2nd in my age group of only 3 women, aged 41-50! LOL! The 1st place winner in my age group came in at 6:44. The overall winner ran the course in 4:13! I placed 46th out of only 60 finishers, but it was my first age group medal and at a race in my hometown to boot, so it was a great moment.

How cool is it to have almost all of the runners of a race fit in one shot?!?

This month has been raceless and pretty uneventful. Last night I went to another group track workout with We Are Athletes. It's usually an interval run, where you run hard, and because it's been so hot we've been "taking it easy." That means we only ran 3-200's twice, with a 100 m recovery in between each 200 and a full 400 m walk after the 1st and 2nd set. After that it was 2-100 m intervals with a 100 m walk in between. To finish off the night, we did 2- 50 m accelerations, where you start out at a nice pace and aim to finish at about 80% of your maximum speed. Last week I wore my Garmin to give me an idea of just how fast I was going. As a disclaimer, I KNOW I would never be able to keep up this pace, but my first set I ran my intervals at a 6:12, 6:21 and 5:53 pace! I'm five frickin' feet tall people! And still could stand to lose another 20 pounds! When Charlie comes I love to see him FLY! He's SIX frickin' feet tall, people! LOL I'll have to teach him how to use the Garmin so we can see his pace next! Anyway, the sky opened up on us right at the beginning of the 2nd set, but that didn't mean anything. We kept on truckin'. Other than tasting my sweat and having pruney toes, it was a lot of fun!

Not much on the schedule for a while. A 5k and 10k in September, hopefully, then the Diva Half on 10/6!!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

MyOatmeal Review

When my friend Gigi of Running On Candy shared the link for a great opportunity to try MyOatmeal, I couldn't pass it up. All I had to do for my free bag was to promise to write a review of their product (and pay for shipping, which was about $6). In fact, the coupon code at checkout was "ipromisetowriteareview!"

I've been eating a lot of oatmeal lately. My favorite is apple cinnamon with a tablespoon of peanut butter swirled through it. If I'm feeling ambitious, I chop up an apple, nuke it with a bit of cinnamon and honey, and then toss that on top. I checked out My Oatmeal's website and they had tons of flavors (50 to be exact), including apple cinnamon. Some interesting choices would be German Chocolate Cake, Key Lime Pie and Mint Chip! So when you get to the ordering process, called "building your own blend," you start with what size bag you'd like, and since the My Oatmeal coupon code would cover up to a $12 bag of oats, I chose the 1 lb., or small, bag. You then select which oats you want as your base. Next it's time to choose the flavor you would like. I lied. Mine was called "apple brown sugar." It still sounded heavenly to me.

After that, you then select what fruits, nuts and sweetener (recommended when adding a flavoring to the oats) you desire in your blend. You can go crazy during this process! There's 22 fruit and 11 nut choices! I chose to add dried apples and cashews to mine, along with sucralose or Splenda as the sweetener. The BEST feature to the ordering process??? While you are creating your own personal oatmeal blend, My Oatmeal is constantly calculating the calorie count of a serving of your oatmeal with every selection, as well as the cost of the bag!!!! How frickin' cool is that? The final step of the building process is to name your blend!

My bag only took 2 days to arrive!

This is what 1/2 cup dry looks like- look at the huge pieces of dried apple!

My 1st bowl- 1/2 c oats with 1 c water makes a huge bowl! Add 1 T of peanut butter and the entire breakfast is only about 250 calories!

My "Grandma's Apple Pie" blend- 152 calories per serving

I microwave mine every time- easy peasy!

I absolutely loved how much 1 serving of Grandma's Apple Pie made! It seemed to be SO much more food than one of the packets you get in a box of instant oatmeal. The dried apples were huge, unlike the little nibs in that other brand, and you could actually see the pieces of cashews in the bowl, which added a nice crunch to my oatmeal. The only negative thing I can say about my choices is that I don't really like the taste of the artificial sweetener. Now, I'm a person that does not shy away from sweeteners and I'll save a calorie anywhere I can, but I can actually taste the sucralose, where I usually don't notice it in other "diet-y" foods. However, once I add the peanut butter (which I always will do) and the chopped apple, I can't taste the difference. If I bought My Oatmeal again, I'd choose another sweetener.

I think my favorite way to eat My Oatmeal is as a topping to my Greek yogurt! I'll dump the yogurt container in a bowl, add some cut up fruit, only 1/4c of My Oatmeal, and mix it up. I got fancy and added some fat free Cool Whip on top. It is the perfect cold lunch on a hot summer day, and we've had WAY too many of those on Long Island already this summer.

Blueberry Greek yogurt with 1/4 c My Oatmeal, 1/2 c sliced strawberries and 4 T fat free Cool Whip!

My Oatmeal is a really fun way to customize your absolute favorite oatmeal blend. There was just so much to choose from, you can reorder to your hearts content and NOT duplicate a flavor combination. The combination I chose would have been around $8.50. It was worth the $6 shipping to give it a try, however I can't justify spending a lot of money on a single item that only I eat. It's definitely a nice treat that I may splurge on from time to time, most likely this winter!

If you go ahead and like Myoatmeal.com on Facebook, they are in the midst of doing another $12 coupon for you to test it and write a review!

These opinions are my own and I was not paid to write this review.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

High Anxiety

In two hours and 15 minutes, I'm running the 1st Annual Neighborhood Rd. Miracle Mile. I can not believe how nervous I am about this race. It's a sprint and it will be over almost as soon as it began, and my protein bar is hovering  just between my boobs. I guess I have high expectations. I want to push myself hard for this. I want to do well and prove to myself that I can do more than I thought possible. I want to run fast and finish with no regrets.

Hoping the race report is good and I can include a picture of myself glowing with pride.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

I Didn't Fall Off The Face Of The Earth

I'm still here. Still plodding along. Still doing whatever the hell my thing is. 5 weeks have passed since my last post. I suck at this. There's either nothing to write about or WAY too much and I don't know where to start or what's all that necessary to share.

After the half marathon, I was supposed to start Insanity again, but I just couldn't get into it. I was still participating in my May Challenge with my team and our Beach Body coach. This time I had one team member just never show up. Not one post of a workout or a motivational quote. Zero participation. Another team mate participated half the time. We came in 2nd to last. With running, I've realized I'm pretty competitive, and not winning sucks, not that I EVER win at running. I just don't get why someone would sign up to "play" and then never join in?!?

One of my last sweaty shots for points!

I worked some in May. For two days I went to one high school and helped primp students for senior portraits, and one weekend I got to take the group shots for my daughter's dance studio, which was a lot of fun. I know a lot of the moms and the commute was PERFECT with the studio not 5 minutes from my house!

Only 4 of the 18 girls showed up for Chelsea's hip hop class photo. She's on the bottom left. I loathe most of the hip hop costumes!
This is her tap class- she's second from the right. My personal camera was acting wonky so the shot is dark. Much cuter costume, though!

Not much went on for the rest of May. I worked out, ran some- no real excuses for not blogging.

June. June is probably my least favorite month of the year. It's the epitome of the expression "when it rains it pours." I either have nothing on my social calendar or too much. So far, in less than three weeks of June, I have had two 5ks, three school concerts, two Relay For Life meetings, Relay For Life, Father's Day with my father, then with my f-i-l, a birthday, a dance recital and I worked three days this week. One night I had Chelsea's dress rehearsal for her recital, Charlie's outdoor jazz concert and a RFL meeting. Needless to say, I couldn't do all three, so Chelsea went with my sister and came home with a friend. I just can't stand June. Now school is over and I can finally exhale!

Now that I've caught up a bit, I'll save my 5k race recaps for another post. If i tell you now I'll have nothing to talk about for another five weeks!

Monday, May 13, 2013

LI Half Marathon- The good, The Bad and the Fugly

Alarm set for 4:30 am. No need for it this morning. I slept, but off and on, and finally got out of bed at 3:15 to watch some tv. Unfortunately, getting out of bed kind of woke Charlie up too, so there wasn't going to be any issue with getting out the door at 5:30 am for the hour-long drive. I got dressed and made my breakfast, which was my usual huge cup of coffee and a dark chocolate coconut Balance Bar. *de-frickin'-licious* I brought my coffee with me, but forgot to drink it. pooh.

We arrived at Eisenhower Park by 6:25 am, and the parking fields were almost completely full. We managed to get a spot, grab all of our gear out of the car, and head to the start line which was at least a half mile away. It was pretty cold and breezy out. I was prepared with mittens, but only had on my LIMA 5k tech tee and capris. Charlie had a jacket on over his shirt plus track pants. He was still cold, poor thing.

My hair looks hideous here.

See! Windy!

We used the port-o-potties and I'm happy to say I was the first one to use mine! I even had to take the wrapper off the t.p.! Apparently there was a really bad issue with parking, causing lots and lots of people to be late to the start, which meant no time to wait on the potty lines; we started seeing a lot of guys climbing a nearby hill and peeing in the grass. Never in my life have I seen what transpired just minutes after that- LADIES dropping trou and popping a squat all over the same hill. Lily white asses were everywhere. I thought of the PStyle I won from a blog, which I brought with me to FL. One or both of the Jens got to test it out. It's the ingenious invention that allows women to pee standing up, and I bet some girls would've appreciated it on Sunday, instead of chilling their cheeks in the wind!

Sorry, no hiney shots!

Thankfully, the race started on time. We didn't actually start running until we crossed the timing mat, about 4 minutes after the gun. We were averaging about an 11 minute mile and everything was looking good. Even though it was cold and we hadn't warmed up, we felt fine. My calf wasn't announcing itself to me and my heels felt great in my new shoes. The beginning of the course takes you around Nassau Coliseum, home to the NHL team, the NY Islanders, and Museum Row. It's pretty boring. I just kept an eye on our pace and watched for the mile markers.

The 1st 4 miles were great and we stopped for some chews and Gatorade. We walked and ate for about .1 miles and got moving again. I figured we'd stop again at miles 8 and 12. I was wrong. Mile 7 came and I was struggling. We walked about half of that mile while I ate my gel. Mile 8 wasn't so bad after that. Then came mile 9, where I totally bonked. I took out my ketchup packet, which a runner at Ragnar had suggested for the salt intake, and after the initial throat-closing shock of the vinegar, it was okay. I love ketchup, so it wasn't a horrific chore. While I was eating it, I saw my friend Lynda come up from my left, and the only reason why I noticed her was because she had slowed down to yell out "Keith!" to her husband. He must have been socializing, slowing their pace. When he passed us as we were walking he asked "What are we having, a BBQ?" I think it had to do with us walking and NOT the ketchup in my hand!

We picked up the pace again at around 9.75, and I said I would run from there on out. I lie like the devil. I honestly don't remember walking TOO much after that, but our roll was slow. Charlie said as I was walking mile 9 I said "I don't know if I have another 4 in me," and that made him nervous. I don't remember saying it, but I definitely know I was thinking it! I do remember looking at my Garmin at mile 10 and seeing a time that was not going to make for a PR, unless I could get a 5k in under 30 minutes after running for 2 hours already! Once that realization hit me, I kind of stopped pushing. I knew I'd finish, but I didn't give a shit about my time. It's almost like when you have a bad day eating-wise and your crazy head turns that into a bad week. Makes sense, right?

I think mile 12 was 2 miles. Bastards. When we made the turn into Eisenhower Park, I knew the finish line wasn't far, but it still took an eternity. The boost I needed was right before mile 13, when one of the LIMA 5k guys I had met at the race expo cheered me on with "Go LIMA 5k shirt girl!" (At the expo, I told the LIMA 5k reps that their race was my first 5k, first race, ever, and it was coincidentally their first time putting it on. I've done it every year since then and I can't wait to do it on June 1st!) The energy he shouted out at me was enough to get me to the finish line. I pushed it and we crossed the finish line, hand in hand, arms raised in victory. Of course my right calf cramped the moment we crossed the timing mat and the photographer captured the moment for all eternity!

Every muscle in my legs pretty much seized as we walked through the finish line chute. We got our medals, mine fell, and I could NOT bend down to pick it up. The volunteer had a good laugh, and then we got our goody bag backpack, which was filled with a muffin, bagel, banana, donut, corn bread and a slice of pound cake. Holy carbs! I grabbed a bottle of water and decided to stretch. About 2 minutes later it hit. Light-headedness, a little nausea, the sweats, rumbling in the stomach... People were asking Charlie if I was okay, if I needed the medic tent, but I just wanted everyone to stop talking. So we sat down and I drank my water, slowly, and I felt a bit better, but my heart felt like it was racing. When I felt well enough, I got up, but it hit me all over again, so we sat back down. We sat there forever, about 45 minutes. Finally I mustered the strength to get up and we started for the car, but the guy who asked if I was okay earlier saw us leaving and asked again if I wanted to go to the medic tent. Knowing that I had an hour car ride ahead of me, I figured we should make sure I was okay. I did NOT want to puke or get the grippers in my car!

After going into the tent and coming in out of the sun, I was freezing, so they wrapped me in a space blanket. My B.P. was 120/80. They gave me some Gatorade to rehydrate. I drank two cups while laying there for about 20 minutes. They took my vitals again and they were the same, so I was able to be released. I got up slowly and began to walk away, and the action of sitting up managed to cramp one of my upper abdominal muscles so badly that it felt like a rock under my shirt. I just walked it off because I wanted to get the hell home already. I walked out with the blanket wrapped around me and volunteers were asking if I got my sweatshirt, because marathoners get sweatshirts, and they're the ones usually wrapped in the blankets! I should've snagged one, but that's not right, is it?

As we made our way to the car, I was able to eat a snack-sized protein bar and I was feeling a lot better. We watched one guy hobble down the sidewalk and we could totally commiserate with him. When we finally caught up to him, he was lying on his side on the grass. He said he didn't need help, just waiting for his ride. During our conversation he said that the sun could have helped in my dehydration. I still haven't researched that, but it does make sense, because sweat would evaporate more quickly on a sunny day, causing more dehydration. I guess 20 oz. of Gatorade, 2 PowerBar gels, some PowerBar chews and a packet of ketchup was not enough to get me through a half marathon without the dreaded side-effects I experienced post-run. I should have grabbed more fluids at the water stations they had EVERY mile! I should have drank my morning coffee! DOH!

The slow walk to the car had me back on even keel and I decided to do the drive home, but not before getting a picture of us and our bejeweled necks!

Charlie was a trooper. He walked when I needed to walk. He ran when I could run, whatever pace that might have been. He's so damn agreeable! He said his only goal was to finish, with me, no matter how long it took. Yesterday, in my Mother's Day card, he wrote "I would rather crawl across the finish line in last place holding your hand than sprint across the finish line in first alone." I'm so blessed to have him as a friend, husband and running partner.

(You can see the rest of our race proofs, if you're at all interested, here. My favorite is the first picture. Charlie's expression is priceless.You'll also like my impersonation of Michael Jackson in a couple of them!)

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Getting There

Pre-race day. 4:30 pm. I'm calm. If I think about things too much, the heart starts racing. I made it to packet pick-up this morning, an hour long drive, with my 14 year old daughter as my wing man. We got there with no issues. The expo is small, but since the Diva expo is there also, I don't have anything to compare it to. I got mine and Charlie's bibs with no problems and then got on another line for the race shirt. You obviously don't run in it, since it's a cotton, long-sleeved hoodie. I LOVE it! It'll be what I change into after the race, (sans bra)!! We also got a pair of New Balance socks and a race lanyard. I saw my buddy from Sayville Running Company at his booth and I was very happy to see the people that put on the LIMA 5k there so I could tell them it was my 1st race and theirs as well. That'll be my 4th LIMA 5k on June 1st. That's a race I can really get excited about.

Here's the race sign that my friend Jen (who is running the New Jersey half simultaneously with me) made to help cheer me on to the finish line! I'll be hearing Shaun yelling at me to "DIG DEEPER!" for many miles. And at the finish? "This sh*t is buh-nanas!!!"

The ride home was a different story. I printed out reverse directions, but it's crazy around Nassau Coliseum, (where the NY Islanders play), and Museum Row, so things got sketchy. We did get to see geese and their goslings and an actual duck crossing sign, just blocks from a frickin' mall. Well, we wound up taking the scenic route, completely south to the Atlantic and then headed east, then north and east, again, home. Thankfully I know my way around since I'm driving more for work. It was a very peaceful drive and only 5 or 10 minutes out of our way. Anyone who knows LI will appreciate the amount of driving I did on the following roadways: William Floyd Parkway, Long Island Expressway, Northern State Parkway, Meadowbrook Parkway, Ocean Parkway, Robert Moses Causeway and Sunrise Highway. Believe it or not, on an island that's only 118 miles long and 23 miles wide (I Googled that), there's plenty of highways I didn't touch. Joy of joys, I get to do the ride again tomorrow.

So, I've been doing some laundry, buying some songs and rearranging my running playlist and playing plenty of Candy Crush. My legs feel tired from just laying around doing a whole lot of nothing lately. Charlie and I went for a 1.25 mile run yesterday and we got it done in 12:49, and the calf felt good. I can't see into a crystal ball and know that there won't be issues, but for now, it's put my mind at ease. I've been a sobby mess, though, the last couple of days. I've been reading and hearing about a lot of people's race stories and I can feel every bit of frustration and sadness that they experienced as they were running their race. And when they finished? I was right there with them at the finish line, knowing the pride, satisfaction and jubilation that was bursting out of them, while they held their medals and smiled for the camera. I will hold that memory of that feeling while I'm trotting along the course tomorrow. The best part? I'll be experiencing the entire thing with Charlie!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Pre-Race Jitters To The Umpteenth Power

It's Thursday. The LI Half Marathon is on Sunday. That's 3 days away. As I write I'm icing my left calf. My last long run, actually my last run, period, was FUGLY. The weather was perfect for a 10 mile run. I was feeling fine. We decided to start on the trails of the refuge again, do both trails, totaling about 7 miles, and then finish up in the neighborhood around the house.

So, once my Garmin found a satellite we started running to the refuge. We started on the longer trail and finished it at around mile 4. We stopped and had some chews to help refuel. This was my first run with my new hydration belt, and I was so glad I bought it! All I have to carry now is my sweat mop and my right bicep thanks me for it! My handheld holds my iPod, phone, chews and 20 oz. of liquid. Carrying that for a long time really tired my arm, so that's one worry crossed off the list. Now Charlie carries it, which I feel bad about, but it IS a step up from him carrying a regular old water bottle. He can put his iPod in there and carry his own fuel.

After the 1st leg of the run, we then ran the shorter trail and finished at about 7 miles. Running those trails are tough. There's a lot of small hills, constantly, and a lot of sticks, pine cones and small holes from squirrels, I'm guessing, (and hoping), to avoid. I like it because you don't have to worry about cars, kids, dogs, bikes, etc. but you could wipe out at any moment from the debris. A couple of times my left foot shoved a stick into the side of my right foot and nearly gave me a heart attack. Falling would not be good.

I felt better after 7 miles this time than my last run. We stopped again and ate some more and I made the stupid decision to do the short loop again. Only a mile in my left calf cramped. It was just a quick twinge, but I knew I'd be fighting it the rest of the way, and I did. By the end I was basically shuffling through the pine needles. At 10 miles we were on our way home. A half mile walk took about 15 minutes, that's how slow I was moving. Charlie was in great shape, which makes me happy.

When we got home I stretched and foam rolled a lot. On Monday I was feeling fine. I went to the gym and did 45 minutes on the arc trainer. Tuesday is when it hit the fan. I went to the gym and did 15 minutes on the rower, 15 minutes on the elliptical and then a half hour walking 3.5 mph at a 5% incline. That's what did me in. My calf muscle felt like a rock. I could walk with no pain, but when I pointed my toes which flexed the muscle, I felt pain. It's not excruciating, but it's there, and I'm worried.

Listening to everyone who I've asked, I'm dutifully icing it and stretching. It feels better today. Yesterday I just mowed the lawn, but nothing strenuous. Other than that, if I'm not up to prepare food or do some light cleaning, I'm sitting here, babying my legs and on the computer, most likely playing Candy Crush. That game was made by the devil. If you haven't played it, don't! Your house will fall down around you and you will become a slug! At least that's my experience.

I believe that the trail running in regular running shoes effed me up. Add the fact that I AM running in the new shoes, which is changing up the rest of my alignment, and my calf could not take it. So, I'm sort of panicking about 13.1 miles. I can only hope that all of that trail running will make running on asphalt easier and I'll become The Flash out there. The calf is feeling better and I hope it's as good as new and not an issue at 8 am Sunday.

I have a lot to think about and remember while I'm running those 13.1 miles. This picture will hopefully make me think of Sheldon from 'Big Bang Theory' and how hysterical he looks in this costume. I also have the new mantra "Run if you can, walk if you must but finish for Boston" to chant in my head. There are many innocent people that were standing on the sidelines of the Boston Marathon cheering on runners coming into the finish line that no longer have a leg, or even two, to walk on, let alone run. If I have to hobble and shuffle across the finish line, I will. Charlie will make sure of that.