Completely random

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Thursday, August 11, 2016

I love this video:
I feel like Meb is the father of running.  I've heard him say multiple times that his focus of each day is doing small things to make himself better; from strength to nutrition to stretching.  However, it's not to look better or be better than the next person, but just a better self.  It's refreshing.  I also completely needed to hear what he said about posture.  I've been working on more core training, but it's still easy for me to not put as much effort into it as I should.

We started taking Maya with us on short jogs around the block this week.  The vet said she shouldn't run more than a mile until she's a year old...but that was also before we knew she was a greyhound.  It's been the most hilarious experience taking her.  My 7:30 pace is a s.l.o.w trot for her.  She definitely helps with the speed work and I forget all about running because I'm so entertained by her.  She absolutely LOVES being out with us and comes back acting like she's the coolest dog in town.

Surviving July

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Sunday, August 7, 2016

Every day in July was above 100° F. In fact there were only 5 days in the month where the high was below 106° F and we had 12 days where it got to 110° F or higher! I was nervous about this month long before I moved here. Running and desert heat is just a bad combination. Yet I survived.  I managed to run 141 miles this month. I won't say that I thrived because that would be a stretch. I slogged through some miserable hot runs, I plodded along on the treadmill, and drank gallons of water. Here are the four things that helped me survive the month:

1. Get out of town.
I spent the first few days of the month in Canada (and got one run in after my fishing trip), and I spent 6 days in San Diego for work. I made sure to run each day in San Diego and enjoy the cool weather. These brief respites from the heat were mentally necessary. Not only did the cooler temperatures feel great, they let me run outside without feeling like I was being cooked alive.

Running Mission Trails in San Diego

2. Embrace the treadmill
Maybe embrace is too strong a word. Mentally I have come to accept the necessity of the treadmill. But I still loathe the machine. Given the choice I'd rather be a hamster then not run at all.  I logged most of my miles in July on the treadmill. On a positive note I found that there is a certain brand of treadmill called Woodway that actually feels pretty good. They have two of them at the gym on base. Their unique slat belt tread actually feels like running on the road. If you ever see one I highly encourage you to run on it you should give it a try if you can't run outside.

I have a great treadmill running partner!

3. Ditch the long-run
I normally do a 10 mile run once a week. I love this routine because it gets me a lot in terms of fitness and endurance and it also gives me a great sense of accomplishment every week. I only did one 10 mile run this month and it was while I was in San Diego. While I miss the long-run and can't wait to to incorporate it back in my routine, I've accepted that I just have to let it go in these conditions. There is a time for everything and right now it's not time to run 10 miles. 

No big runs but at least I caught a big fish.

The perfect stride

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I've been running on the treadmill for the last 3 months and it's killing me.  My feet started hurting, so much so that I was only able to make it 1 single mile before having to jump off.  Ben took a slow motion video for me to see what could be causing this pain, besides the hard surface of the treadmill.

It didn't take long to see how horrible my stride was.  It makes sense, though.  First of all, I have poor posture to begin with and second, the treadmill makes my running feel so artificial.  It almost feels impossible to run well on it, but perhaps that just a mental thing.  Does anyone really love running, but not going anywhere?

I committed to working on my form and began with research.  We watched some Youtube videos and I got a few workouts off of Pinterest.  Ben got me some new running shoes, which always makes running way more fun.  Still love my Brooks!

I followed this workout plan from and this and this strength training workouts from  Only 2 weeks in and I can tell a difference.  I was reminded how quickly I drop strength training off my workout schedule.  Running is my priority and whatever time I have left I'll do a few things, but it's not my priority.  I realized how much better running will be if I invest in my strength as well.

I was so fed up with running on the treadmill that I started getting up crazy early this week to run outside.  It was *only* in the 90's, but it actually felt fine.  You know you've adjusted to life in the desert when you type a sentence like that.  It actually felt amazing.  Watching the sun rise and smelling the flowers and hearing the birds chirp were fuel for my soul.  And guess what?!  My feet didn't hurt!  Nothing hurt.  I felt like I could run forever.  Well, until my water ran out that is.  After months and months of a running slump, it was crazy encouraging to enjoy running again.

The perfect stride is out there.  Just don't neglect strength training and take some time periodically to check yourself and make sure your form is right.

Whole 30 turned Whole 10

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Monday, August 1, 2016

I wrote this post a week into Whole 30:

Don't you love how Ben scientifically proved that I'm SUPER stinky now?
It's true.  The sweat that pours from me during a workout is a whole new beast without carbs.

115 outside means Ben will finally run on the treadmill!
It's funny how a week can seem like eternity.  Ben and I were reminiscing last night about the one time we attempted the Atkins diet *back when we were young* and only made it 5 days!  I finished this week feeling strong, like I had conquered this huge battle, and then realized it's only been 7 days.

Some things about this week:

1.  The hardest part is being the only one in my family committed.  Everyone has jumped on board with 96% of how I'm eating, but the 4% that's left is hard.  Ben will offer a sip of his beer in the evening or make rice to go with dinner.  The ultimate test of self control was taking the kiddos for ice cream and non of them finishing their cone!  AGH!  That was hard.

 2.  The book outlines for you day by day what you will most likely feel.  I found them to be really accurate, but also couldn't fully blame it on the way I was eating.  Sure, I was a little cranky on day 5, but then I was also woken up at 6am by a puppy and 3 year old and missed my precious, quiet, coffee time.  I was a little more tired on day 7, but we also had a full week of homeschool and errands and some fun activities.

3.  This challenge has opened up a whole new door of dinners for us and we are loving it.  I borrowed the book from a friend and have tried a new recipe every night and each meal was delicious.  I was also really impressed that my kids ate and were satisfied with the food.  I did add a grain for them on a couple of meals, but I think they would have been content without it.  I'll be posting all of our favorite new recipes on our family recipe blog if you would like to get some new dinner ideas.

4.  I can already see positive change.
No giant zits this week.
I noticed our consumption of honey go WAY down.
For the first time in history, I didn't feel the need to have a snack before bed.
Haven't had the afternoon "crash" that I usually feel where I reach for some espresso beans.

5. I love that the challenge emphasizes pre and post fueling for workouts.  Honestly, I am terrible with this in general and usually just grab a snack when I feel hungry after a workout.  I find it refreshing that they lay out what your body needs 15 minutes before a workout and 30 minutes after and emphasize that it's not a meal replacement, but a refueling.  I love that it's not about less calories or losing weight, it's about taking care of your body the right way.

6.  There have been times that it's really bothered Alison.  She notices what I eat why more than I want to believe.  For example, she requested pancakes for breakfast one morning and helped me make them, but then was disappointed that I didn't eat them.  I'm very nervous for how she'll react to my food choices on Colin's birthday this week.  I may just have to break the rules for the sanity of my 8 year old.  We shall see...

Then my Whole 30 came to a crashing hault when our puppy was let out of our yard without us knowing and got lost.  We spent 36 hours searching and searching and searching for her.  We stopped everything and made phone calls and put up fliers and drove around and around.  Our neighbors brought over a basket of giant blueberry muffins and I literally lived off those and coffee for the entire time we searched for her.  I didn't have the brain power to think about cooking food or what I was supposed to eat.  I know it's just a puppy, but it felt like my child lost in the blazing hot desert.  The night before we found her, I broke down in tears and cried to Ben, "I've lost my puppy and I failed the Whole 30!" (I felt like I was in the scene of Dumb and Dumber when he cries about his birds head falling off).  We did find Maya, barely alive.  She has miraculously made a full recovery and I am thankful for the 10 days of the diet.  It really has changed my thinking about food and we have continued to cook some of the recipes.  I have continued to eat what I was eating for about 80% of the time, but have not been strict on dinner.  I think Ben would say that it's good I stopped because it was creating a constant conversation about food among our kids; conversations of things they didn't need to worry about. 

The Heat Is On

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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Before you can read this post you must press play on the video. It'll get you in the right frame of mind. Seriously, press play. Then scroll down.

I hope you pressed play. So...the heat is on here in Yuma. And yes, it is a dry heat. But if I hear that one more time I might go crazy. When it's 120° it doesn't matter if it's dry, it's HOT. Sure, when it's 98° and 85% humidity I don't want to run in that either. What makes the Arizona heat different is the sun. The UV index is consistently in the 9-11 range. This basically means you are being fried by the sun. Take a look at my forecast. Now tell me it's a dry heat...I dare you.

I've come up with a few strategies to run in the heat. First, don't. Second, run on a treadmill, and third, run early before the sun comes out to kill you. Of these strategies number two is my go to choice. I'm not much of a morning runner and I feel weird when I can't run at all so I don't have much of a choice. Unfortunately I don't like treadmills much. I had to comes to terms with the treadmill when I was deployed on the ship. It was either run on the mill or not at all. I choose the mill. I find running much easier physically on the treadmill, but much more difficult mentally. 

I don't listen to music when I run outside, but I do when on the 'mill. Don't let my smile fool you, I hate this machine.
The perplexing challenge I have is how to get in my long run day. Since January I've consistently done one run of at least 10 miles per week. This is something I've come to enjoy. It also gives me a great sense of accomplishment on top of giving me a fitness boost with more endurance. I don't think I can do 10 on a treadmill, that's my problem. Last week I got up early and knocked it out. That's how I re-discovered that I'm not a morning runner. I also ate no breakfast before the run so that' didn't help. My body didn't wake up enough to know it was hungry until about mile 7.

So what do you do in the summer? Do you embrace the treadmill or just go early in the morning? I'm just hoping that the heat in the summer is a fair trade-off for 9 months of perfect running weather here in the desert. For now....the heat is on. 

A Whole 30 challenge

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Monday, June 6, 2016

Well, I've been working on a post about how fabulous running in San Diego was, but Ben has pretty much taken all of my points...he likes to do that :)  The jest for me was; it was so encouraging to run there!  My pace was back to what it was pre-move and I felt like I could run forever.  It helped me to see that running in the dessert does condition your body in a way no other condition can and that my slower pace and feeling like I'm going to die is an affect of the heat and not my fitness.  It was nice to feel like old Jen again and it was SO refreshing to be by the water.  Plus, I got to really barefoot run, which was one of the most fun things I've ever done.

Now that you get the jest of the post I've been working on for way too long, here's the real reason for this post.  I decided to take on a Whole 30 challenge and what better way to stay accountable than to blog about it!

Challenge=NO dairy, sugar, grains, legumes or alcohol for 30 days.

I'm sure you are wondering why I would want to do this.  The main reason is because of my skin.  I have been prone to really deep pimples since the teenage years, but the last year my skin has taken a turn for the worse.  It seems that I always have a giant zit trying to eat my face and I've tried everything I can to prevent/take care of it and I've had enough.  I believe that dairy may be the culprit and have tried to eliminate it from my diet several times, but it always seems to creep in.  Since I haven't been 100% committed, I would be halfway through dinner and realize that I put parmesan in the sauce or oops, I'm eating 2 slices of pizza!  How did that happen?

The second reason is I realized that my clean eating may not be as healthy as I thought.  I took my kids to the dentist a few weeks ago and it was a completely horrid experience.  My two older kids have an enamel "condition" due to having acid reflux as babies.  Because of this condition, they are extremely prone to cavities and we are very careful about their hygiene and sugar intake.  However, this dentist told me that my kids' teeth problems are a direct result of all the sugar I'm feeding them and I need to find out where they are getting all their sugar from.  I invited him to my house to look through my cabinets because I can tell you exactly where their sugar intake is from.  Yes, there is a form of sugar in the Chobani yogurt we have and there is honey in the homemade granola bars they have for breakfast and in the homemade bread they have for lunch.  He didn't buy my answer and basically called my a liar.  I had wine for lunch that day and cancelled all further appointments with said dentist.  BUT, I sat down that afternoon and thought, "Am I really that naive?  Am I really feeding my kids a ton of sugar and I don't even know it?"  We eat "clean", but honey and maple syrup are clean and are still sugar.

All that to say, my goals for this challenge are to for once and for all see if food is causing my skin problems (or if it is just hormones) and to open my eyes/redefine the food we are eating.

I'm just finishing day 3.
I thought it wouldn't be that big of an adjustment since we already eat a healthy diet.
I was wrong.
You can take dairy and you can take sugar, but I need carbs!!!
My eyes have already been opened to how much I rely on carbs.  It's my go-to, quick and easy, fill me up quick and make me happy food.  I have also realized how quick I am to eat mindlessly.  I'll finish Eli's sandwhich or eat that last muffin so I can wash the tupperware or munch on things as I make snacks for the kids.

Ben has jokingly called this my "30 days of black coffee".  I LOVE creamer in my coffee and while I buy "natural" creamer, I fully know that it's not healthy.  I tried green tea the first morning and it's just not very satisfying.  I'm hoping this challenge is just what I need to get me drinking black coffee!

Does Your Sweat Smell? Eat More Carbs!

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Sunday, June 5, 2016

From time to time I notice that during a run I really smell bad. I don't mean the normal sweaty smell, but very acrid and funky. It's almost an ammonia smell and it's extremely gross. I was worried that I am dying so I turned to google to help me out. This, by the way, is almost always a bad idea. It seems to me that any time you search symptoms on google you will end up coming away from the experience assured that you have cancer are are going to die. If you are a runner, or do a fair amount of cardio, then you may have stinky sweat like me. The reason is not cancer and you are not dying. The reason is simply that your body does not have enough carbohydrate energy and is breaking down amino acids for energy. The best explanation of why this happens is from a great article from Here's an excerpt from the article:

The chemical make-up of ammonia is NH3. This means that there is one Nitrogen atom bound to three Hydrogen atoms. Ammonia can be a weak acid or a weak base, depending on what type of chemical it is suspended in. Ammonia has a strong, pungent odor that is easily recognizable in cleaning products, cat urine, and, for some people, sweat!  The key to ammonia in urine and sweat is the nitrogen. The only macronutrient in your body that contains nitrogen is amino acids, the building blocks of protein. In fact, many bodybuilders are always seeking a "positive nitrogen balance" meaning that less nitrogen leaves their body than enters their body. Since nitrogen is in every amino acid, and amino acids are the building blocks of muscle, someone in positive nitrogen balance is more than likely gaining muscle mass.
Your body uses amino acids for energy every day. There is no way to avoid this. Your body constantly goes into catabolic (tissue breakdown) and anabolic (tissue building) phases. When you accumulate mass (lean or fat), your anabolic phases exceed your catabolic phases, but you still experience both phases. When your body uses an amino acid for energy, it must convert the amino acid to a useable form of energy.

It does this by stripping the nitrogen atom off of the molecule. The skeleton molecule that is left behind is then further converted into glucose and used as fuel. In order to get rid of the excess nitrogen, your body typically processes the nitrogen in your kidneys and forms urea, CO(NH2)2 - basically, a carbon dioxide molecule bound to nitrogen and hydrogen. Urea is then excreted in the urine. If your kidneys cannot handle the load of nitrogen, then the nitrogen will be excreted as ammonia in your sweat.

One other factor to consider is water intake. The methods used for getting rid of excess ammonia, such as urine and sweat, all require water as a transport mechanism. If you are not getting adequate fluid, then the solution (ammonia + water) will not be diluted. Therefore, water plays a definite role. If you are not drinking enough fluids to have at least one or two clear urinations every day, you should drink more.
Based on this explanation, it is clear that your sweat will smell like ammonia only if an excessive amount of amino acids are being used for energy, or you are not receiving adequate water. This helps us find a solution to the problem. (source)
Having stinky sweat does not mean that your protein intake isn't high enough. In fact, it may be the opposite! You may be getting plenty of protein but not enough carbohydrates. They key to avoiding the 'smell' is to eat enough carbs for your activity. If your body does not have sufficient carbohydrates it will break down amino acids (protein) and you will smell like cat pee. Don't smell like cat pee, eat more carbs!

Since I learned this I have made sure to eat some carbs before I go on run. It can be as simple as an eating an apple or a granola bar. The upside is that the carbohydrates will be used by your body to provide you with an energy kick. That means you will have more energy to run harder faster or longer. So if your sweat smells like a litter box just eat more carbs before you exercise.