Three Friends

Three Friends
Three Friends

Monday, December 17, 2012

Tasty AND Healthy - SUGAR FREE Choco-PB-Banana Pie recipe

Recently I had a person living near me ask for a Sugar free pie, preferably one that has chocolate, peanut butter and bananas as primary ingredients. Hmmm... that's a tall order since commercial peanut butters often have sugars added in. So I put on my Bing search hat, and got to work.

I hit pay-dirt on a blog that inspired me and I bookmarked it. See the original recipe here (to be fair to the lady who came up with it first!)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Jingle All the Way!

Jingle All the Way

For our (maybe) last race of the year, Spinster Beth and I, Slick, decided to sign up for the Arthritis Foundation’s local Jingle Bell Run.

As it was just a 5k I didn’t really do much in preparation.  My wonderful husband did buy me a new pair of running gloves a week before the race (more on them later).

The Jingle Bell run had many great things going for it. It and packet pickup were only half an hour from my house. It was in an area that I had never run in before. But best of all, I didn’t have to be there at o’dark hundred. It started at 9:30. And of course it was for a good cause.

Spinster Beth and I got into the spirit of the run and the season by wearing antlers…apparently so did everyone else, because the race was full of antlers, Santa hats and different combinations of red and white. 

The course was gorgeous, running through beautiful Centennial Park in Ellicott City.  There was plenty of parking; in fact I was able to park near a port-o-potty that was line-free.  I was so excited that I tripped walking into the port-o-potty and one of my gloves went flying right down the drain.  May it rest in peace…because there was no way I was going after it.

Even with this little mishap, it was my best time since recovering from my stress fracture…around 11:00 minute miles. Not my personal best, but getting closer. When my mom was my age she was running 5ks in 9 minute miles…I would love to get to that. Maybe that will be my next goal.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

San Antonio Rock N Roll Half Marathon 2012

This past year I, Slick, signed up for four half marathons.  The first was the DC Rock-n-Roll, second was the inaugural Irongirl Half Marathon in Columbia, MD, the third was the Virginia Beach Rock-n-Roll,  and the fourth was the San Antonio Rock-n-Roll.  Due to a series of injuries (stress fracture) from my training for the first one, I was unable to run at all in the Irongirl, and after five months of no running yet still injuring myself again (shin splint) I was only able to run a 5k at the Virginia Beach. 

Which left me determined to run the San Antonio, training or no training.  So imagine my dismay when my daughter came home early from Tae Kwon Do complaining of a stomach ache the night before we were to leave for San Antonio.  My husband put our daughter to bed and I ran a couple of errands, during which I received a frantic phone call that our darling girl had turned into the girl from “the Exorcist” and was vomiting everywhere.  I then spent the next 7 hours holding her head, cleaning up spills and washing every piece of bedding she owns.  But it was all worth it when at 2:30 am she informed me she felt better and would like some water.  With one hour sleep we were able to make it to the airport in time for a stop at Jamba Juice before our flight. 

Packet pick up is one of my favorite parts of the Rock n Roll Series.  The Expo has so many free samples and the latest in running/fitness products.  You can also score some nice swag.  I won’t bore you with a detailed list of all the swag, but will leave you guessing with a picture of the most unusual item.  My husband won this item in the Brooks exhibit:

If you have never been to a large running event then it might be difficult to fully appreciate the energy that permeates the air before the race.  The excitement of the thousands of other runners and walkers can be felt well before the gun goes off.  

Due to my injuries, but mostly to not training, my goal was to finish the half with as little damage to my body as possible.  This is what worked for me…I am not qualified to say that this would work for anyone else.  I decided to do intervals of walking and running; five minutes running and two minutes walking.  To keep myself from getting caught up in the momentum of the crowd, I purposely chose a slow song to start the race with…Natasha Bedingfield’s “Pocket Full of Sunshine.”   For those of you who are not aware, one of the Rock-n-Roll Series Marathons claim to fame is that there is a band at every mile and there is upbeat music at the beginning and a live performance at the end.  

San Antonio Half and Full Marathon courses are pretty flat…as much as can be expected, so it wasn’t hard to keep my intervals going.  My lack of training really hit me around mile 8,  my legs started to feel like jelly.  By mile 10 I knew I had to change my intervals.  I wasn’t out of breath, but my legs were very mad at me…I added a minute to my walking and decreased a minute on my running…4 minutes of running, 3 minutes of walking.  I was able to keep this up for most of the rest of the race and was able to come in at 2:47.  Not my best time, but I am very happy and proud of myself.  

Rock-n-Roll Bling

It must have been something my daughter ate, because on Saturday she participated in the ING Kids Rock  fun run. She brought home a bit of bling all her own.

Her Fun Run came with a free ticket to the San Antonio Zoo! 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Flabby Arms

Hey it’s Slick again, and this is my flabby arm.
I know you are all wondering why do I care about arms with sweater season almost upon us.  I dunno.  I just know that a month ago they were a lot firmer, but then I got sick with this lingering cough from…well, you understand. 
Anyway I have decided to spend the next 30 days focusing on my arms.  The goal isn’t to have huge muscles, just to firm up what is already there. So here is the before stuff; the obligatory, unflattering picture that my hubby took and my starting measurement of 11.5” or 28 cm, at the largest point around my upper arm.   
So here is the plan…every other day I will work on arms...that way they get a rest.  Using the four machines pictured below as well as dips and push-ups at home.  Why don’t I do push-ups at the gym…I have a hard time putting my hands on the floor or any mat that hundreds of other people have walked on and/or used.  I am a bit of a germaphobe.  Okay…a big germaphobe, I wipe each machine down before I use them.
I am not really a hand-weight girl.  I prefer the machines…not sure why, but I do.  With a thanks to my local Planet Fitness, here are the machines I use at my gym.
 The Fly (used to work the chest muscles) ...
The chest press...
The shoulder press ...
The pulldown machine (used to work the back muscles).
I also plan on doing push-ups and dips at home.  
Wish me luck!  I will keep you posted on how it goes.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

E-Book Review: Tugboat: My Voyage Out of Obesity

Full disclosure: I received a copy of this e-book with the expectation that a review would be done and posted to a fitness blog. It has taken me quite some time to finish reading the book for a couple of reasons: 1) We've been moving to a new house, and that has taken quite a bit of my time away from the screen, 2) on top of moving, home schooling is back. in. session. - which means any time I spend on my screen seems to equal open season for the kids to slack off (!), and 3) I am discovering that I really do prefer bound books, the paper-and-ink sort of books, that I can hold in my hands to the digital variety, so I read more slowly on the digital sort.

The Reason: Tugboat: My Voyage Out of Obesity, is an e-book that I discovered through a home schooling group that I am part of. She was looking for people to review the book and spread the word, I am always on the look out for media regarding the struggle people have with being obese, and how they kicked the extra weight to the curb in a safe manner.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Outside Looking In: 5ks and Half-Marathons

A few months ago, my oldest son ran his first-ever 5k with his dad and Spinster Beth; my 10 year old ran a mile; and the two younger kids each ran as well. It was an early morning trek to get to Gettysburg for the 5k, and (from a non-runner perspective) a Whole Lotta' Crazy.

After their first-5k at Gettysburg. All still look pretty fresh
It was a beautiful day. The weather was fairly mild; excitement and energy were high. Spinster walked the 12-year-old through some stretches and gave him a Gatorade super-sugar thing (no idea what those are really called, but they come in a fairly small packet that you drink to boost your sugar to superhuman levels for sustained endurance

Sunday, August 12, 2012

What Moves You?

What moves you? 

So while procrastinating by surfing pinterest  for jello shots, uhh…I mean  for health and fitness ideas,  (it is like window shopping without leaving your house), I (Slick) saw lots of links so-and-so’s top workout songs.  What a great blog idea.  I can mention what I listen to and maybe someone will suggest a new song to me because I am always keeping an ear out for new workout music.  Music is very important to my fitness regime.   If I forget to bring my Ipod in my gym bag, my workout is more work less fun.  In my non-scientific opinion, music is a necessity.  Fast songs help me increase my speed and slow songs help me relax and slow down after a grueling run. 

I admit I have heard all the naysayers on why we shouldn’t listen to music.  And I follow the suggestion to a certain extent.   If I am running on the road I don’t wear my headphones so I am aware of the traffic around me...of course, I drive out of my way so I don’t have to run on the road.  I also have noticed that I do tend to adjust my stride to the music when I play most of my country music or 80’s love ballads. So I save these for my cool-down.

As music is very personal, what I like to listen to might not be something that you like at all.  But here are my latest top-ten…chosen because they get my feet moving.

In no particular order:

1.       Shadows of the Night – Pat Benatar
2.       Firework – Katy Perry
3.       Red Blooded Woman  -- Kylie Minogue
4.       Cotton Eye Joe – Starsound Orchestra
5.       Hey Mickey – Tony Basil
6.       Get the Party Started – Pink
7.       Bad Romance – Lady Gaga
8.       My Sharona – The Kinks
9.       Stronger – Kelly Clarkson
10.    Don’t Stop the Music – Rihanna

This is not all the music I listen to…I am a pretty slow runner and need a lot more songs than this to get through a half-marathon. 

What Moves the Spinster...

    Well, first off, here is my little music setup ... although this isn't what I take to the gym. This is my red ipod nano, and my happy little chickaboom speaker, which I use around the house. The chickaboom recharges on the computer and works for four hours. 

       And is really, really cute. 

     You know those people who say, "Oh, I like all music?" Well, I'm not one of them! I'm pretty particular. If it sounds even vaguely like rap, I hate it. So I stick to pop, rock, and anything else that might have a good beat! Although sometimes, a slower song like Adele's "Set Fire to the Rain" is energetic enough (swelling orchestra, driving emotional undertone) that I can run to it ... but lately my speeds have increased to the upper 5 mph ranges, so I need to start looking for faster songs. (When I started running, 35 pounds ago, I ran at about 3.9 mph. Now I am cruising along at about 5.7. Can't wait till it's cool enough to run outside again!)

     Here are my ten current favorites ...

  Venus (Bananarama)
California Girls  (K Perry)
Crazy Train (Ozzy)
Part of Me (K. Perry)
Since U Been Gone (K. Clarkson)
Bad Romance (Lady Gag)
I Kissed a Girl (K Perry)
Poker Face (Lady Gag)
Hot N Cold (K. Perry)
I Hate Myself for Loving You (Joan Jett)

We're always looking for something new and peppy to work out to, so feel free to comment on your own favorites.

  Tillie chimes in ...

       Because there are almost always children with me, message is as important as melody in the music I listen to. The 12-year-old tries to put on some of the popular pop-rap "fusion" radio stations and we end up changing them frequently because of the messages the songs send. 
Having Little Girl sing "Bad Romance" at church is not ideal! So my songs run a wide gamut of style and nationality to try to find things that are peppy, appropriate for a wide range of ages, help me introduce new cultures to the kids (that's the homeschooling Mom in me!) and don't require a running discussion about sex.

Some current favorites are:

Good Feeling (Flo Rida)
Sweet Dreams (Eurythmics)
the Despicable Me theme song (Pharrell Williams)
Wayward Son (Kansas)
Fighter (LMFAO)
Asmamaw Belew (an Ethiopian song - a little different but very peppy, as a side note, watching the videos, I'm pretty sure break dancing came from Ethiopia...) Link for this song is here:
Johnny Cope (Rachel Garland - can't find a youtube link for her version but we got it off of iTunes. It's Scottish.)

There are others I run through but these are the ones that come to mind immediately as we listened to them while packing yesterday. They show up pretty frequently.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

So There We Were, Climbing the Walls ...

  And we had a great time!

At Earth Treks Climbing Gym  in Columbia, MD

Here I am (Spinster Beth) trying to look like I know what to do ... 

I don't remember the staff's name, but she was very nice, very helpful. We went on Open Climb day; the staff are available as belayers.

So easy! Of course, it was the beginner wall. 

I immediately bit off more than I could chew! I was supposed to put my foot on the piece under the stalactite, but I didn't trust my arm strength to haul me up. 

Tillie very quickly showed us how it was done, though! If she doesn't sufficiently brag about her wall-climbing prowess, I'll come back and tell you about it.

I followed Slick up this one. It was harder than the beginner one, but easier than the stalactite! 

All the way to the top! 

But this photo makes it look like I'm barely off the ground. Let me show you a not-close up...

Almost to the top! 

I went to a wall-climbing gym about 10 years ago, several times, to conquer my nervousness of heights. It worked -- I was not at all afraid of being so high up, after the first few minutes. I will say that forearm strength is a must for this sport. You can only rely on your legs so much!


I've (Tillie) always looked longingly at rock climbing walls at various events (Army recruiters like to have them as a draw for young men at fairs and festivals) but never tried them out. I can't explain why I didn't when I was younger, but as I got older, I almost always had a young child on my hip! But a few years back, the boys were invited to a birthday party at an indoor climbing center and one of the give-aways were certificates for a free climbing session. Three boys, three certificates. 

Did I say "years"? Yes. I had the certificates for about three years, just floating around from place to place on my desk. But they didn't have an expiration date, and so it made for a great girls' morning out. And I believe I have found my go-to-sport. I loved it. Loved it enough that some day I might even buy the shoes for it! Loved it enough to not balk at paying $20 to go again this coming Saturday.

I'll admit that before we started that first little "training" wall...
I was pretty nervous about the height. I had real difficulty with the jump (forward) when we went to a high-ropes course last year. But as I got to the top of the wall, and then made my way back down, it was much easier than I expected. Rappelling down backwards is much easier then jumping forward into thin air. 

The one climb that stopped me was a stalactite-looking thing. First I had to climb up a set of boulders stacked at the bottom. They reminded me of the blocks my kids make towers out of, only sturdier. Then there was a gap. So I had to reach waaaaaay up, grab the first hold I could, and hook my foot into a protrusion below.

It was awkward. I made it over the gap and then worked about half-way up before I couldn't find a hook close enough to get my hand over the top of. I tried jumping (thank you, belay-girl, for holding tightly as I missed!) for the next hook, but it was just too far beyond my reach.

After I came back down, she told me that one of the other hooks that had been closer was an "under-grab", in which I had to hook my fingers under the rock and pull up that way, using mostly forearm strength. Yikes! Next time, I will beat you, Stalactite! Or one day I will...

Apologies to Spinster Beth for semi-distracting the belay girl with questions. I was full of them - and might write a follow-up post about what I learned later on. 

For now, I await another adventure on The Rocks!

As this is a fitness blog and not a running blog, you would think I (Slick) would be more open for new fitness/physical experiences.  After all it is the experiences that make life great.  But when Tillie said she had some gift certificates for rock wall climbing, all I could think of is, please let it be a day I already have plans.  I am not afraid of heights, I am afraid of plummeting to my death. 

One of the reasons I have never tried rock wall climbing is because I am challenged…vertically challenged.  I come from a family of vertically challenged people.  It is very hard to climb when you are not tall enough to reach the lowest tree limbs.  Plus I am weak.  I can barely do push-ups, so how was I going to get my big butt up a wall.  Then I saw our belayer, we were the same height.  She said she has been doing this for a year.  She told me where to put my hands and feet to start and which colors I should be able to reach and as I keep telling my daughter, every time she tries rock wall climbing, to push yourself up with your legs.  These two theories worked out well for me.  I pushed myself up with my legs and I was careful where I put my hands so that I would be able to reach the next “rock.” 

Probably the biggest reason I have never done this before was that I had a huge fear of failing.  Not only in front my friends, but failing myself.  I think the main reason I went was to prove to myself that I could.  And it was fun, adrenaline can be very addictive.  Now I want to go white water rafting, who’s with me?