May 31, 2013

Is gluten-free eating just a fad? And other stuff.

My gym running partners would agree that this whole work thing is really messing up my schedule. And it's not that I work that many hours, although I am up to almost 15/week. But by the time you get four kids ready to go to work with you, then come back, then juggle them in the air while you do a million other things, time evaporates. So when it looks like I'm taking a blog break, I'm just running around crazy with my new job and the kidlets, who have been out of school for a full week already. Time to make our giant list of things we want to do this summer. On the top of the list is our road trip to California. AL to LA, for sheezy. 

Also time to play catch up with y'all. 

1. I had some really fun runs this week, including an early Monday morning group run thanks to Memorial Day. For me, one good way to remember those who died serving our country is to make the best of each new day and appreciate our sometimes fleeting lives. 


We used the gravel-y trails around our local Veterans Park for this run. I never run with this group because a) they are running superheroes who intimidate me and b) it's not on a convenient morning for me to leave for a run, but it was cool to see what they are up to on Monday mornings and get worked over for a run. Red face plus salty temples = quality run. 

Then my Thursday morning group gave me a solid workout too. Minus the spider webs wrapping my face up like a Christmas present and the couple of giant roll outs, where I trip and roll completely off the trail into the fluffy trailside bed of inviting poison ivy, it was a great start to the morning. 


2. A lot of recent food trial and error. 

Error. So you definitely are supposed to turn off the burner before you hear your boiled eggs popping. Just a super helpful tip for y'all. And, yes, I've made this mistake before. 


To balance it out I created this deliciousness from fridge scraps. Fridge scraps are all of the leftover about-to-go-bad foods in your fridge. Sometimes they work together to become a delicious lunch. This dish includes previously cooked rice/quinoa, red peppers, already chopped onions, and a handful of mushrooms. The only topping was salt, and I loved it so much I could hug it. 


For the most part, I've been sticking with no gluten, no processed sugar, and no dairy. Minus a dinner out with my husband last night and minus my son's 8th birthday. Turns out that eating all three (dairy, gluten and sugar) in one meal when you've been avoiding them, will guaranteed put you in a food coma. And your pipes will suffer. Not the vocal ones. 

My nephew wrote something recently about how he thinks going on a gluten-free diet is just a fad that people are following. To paraphrase, he feels like even though some people are really allergic to gluten, for most people it's just not necessary and that they are just doing it because of crowd influence. What do you think? I do think that marketers are trying to target that population at the store because they can charge more for gluten-free products, but I rarely buy those. Gluten-free pancake mix is just some type of rice flour mix that I can make at home. Our blender will even make flour out of rice for us. Bonus: I just learned how to make rice milk. Thank you, internet. 

3. My son and number two child turned 8! 


We celebrated with cheesecake. 


And roller skating on grass.


4. I recertified for CPR this week. The more I do this certification, the more it feels natural to go through the steps. Hopefully it would feel that way in a real emergency as well. 


 If you are interested in certifying, here's info for Red Cross CPR certification in your area.

5. A lot of people ask me how I tell the twins apart. Here's the answer.




Those are strictly Twin B faces. Plus, he's the only one who wears a measuring tape as a necklace-scarf.

 6. I was cleaning out my emails and remembered this rad moment when Bart Yasso followed me on Twitter. Running life complete. The only thing is that I wish his legs were stronger.


_____________________________

In case you were looking for the winners to be posted for Color Me Rad, I posted them on Facebook and let the winners know directly.


Thanks to everyone who entered and to Color Me Rad for providing the entries and swag!

_____________________________

Do you think gluten-free eating is a fad for those without Celiac disease? I really want to hear all your pros and cons on this one.

Are you CPR certified? Why did you get certified? 

When do you relax your normal eating habits? Definitely for birthdays and sometimes when I'm eating out, which I don't do that often these days.

Are you running this weekend? I am! Rockin' Choccolocco 50K is tomorrow. I need all the luck you can wish me.

May 26, 2013

Color Me Rad 5K Giveaway

I'm so excited to post today's giveaway. Ever wanted to try running through a rainbow? Color Me Rad is about like that. 


Plus cornstarch, minus a pot of gold at the end. Leprechauns optional. 


For my Birmingham friends, you have an opportunity to check out why people go crazy for running through colored cornstarch bombs this Saturday, June 1st. Go here for race day specifics. 

This picture convinces me that I need to try it. 


What I like about runs like Color Me Rad --  you're too busy having fun to worry about your watch! This 5K is not about winning and PRing; it's 100% about having fun. So pop on your white tanks and prep your best JT dance moves, cause it's going to be a wild ride. 

Today's giveaway is for four sets of two entries to this Saturday's race, so you can sign up yourself and a friend. Plus if you want an extra chance to win, I'm giving away another set of entries at our Tuesday night Vestavia Life Time run at 6 p.m. You do not have to be a Life Time member to join us for that run, so feel free to come out and run our 2- to 5-mile route.  

Also I have a bunch of gear to give away with the entries. So if you win, you can pick out one of these cool shirts and bracelets. I love the gray one. 



Same tank, different color. 




The bracelets are a hit at our house. Best if stacked to your elbow pit. 



To enter: leave me a comment telling me about your most fun run ever.

For bonus entries: These are completely optional! But if you do them, make sure to leave a separate comment for each so I can count them all.

* Like Color Me Rad on Facebook. Leave a comment telling me you do.

* Like (or already like) Yo Momma Runs on Facebook. Leave a comment telling me you do.

* Follow Color Me Rad on Twitter. Leave a comment telling me you do.

* Follow (or already follow) Yo Momma Runs on Twitter. Leave a comment telling me you do.

* Share this giveaway via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or your blog. Leave a separate comment for each share!

Also, I'm opening up anonymous comments for those of you who need that. Just be sure to sign your name in your anonymous comment so I know who you are for winning purposes. And I'll also count Facebook entries as well. So in summary, leave all comments on here or on Facebook, and they will be counted. 

Because this race is on Saturday, I'm going to close it Wednesday night and announce the winners (chosen via random.org) on Thursday. Good luck, y'all!

Edit: I'm going to close the drawing Wednesday at 9 p.m. to give people time to register tonight. Someone kindly pointed out that the online registration ends Wednesday night. Thanks for pointing that out! If you don't win and would like to register, please message me for a discount code. I will try and stay on tap to respond ASAP. 

Color Me Rad provided the gear and free entries for this giveaway. Thanks, dudes. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

May 24, 2013

Spring Scramble 5K 2013

The Spring Scramble 5K is an annual fundraiser for our local children's hospital, Children's of Alabama. Our pediatric dentist is based out of the children's hospital, so we visit the hospital at least twice a year. We also had a pretty severe arm break a couple of years ago that they took care of for us.

Look away now if crooked arms bother you.


It was a sad day, but the staff at Children's was fabulous. Some awesome things about our visit: 1) they have free valet parking for the ER so that you can drop everything and be with your child, 2) we got in immediately -- zero wait, 3) the doctors and nurses were all great with kids, joking with them to take away their (and my) fear, 4) everything was kid sized -- last time we had an arm break, the hospital we went to only had a giant brace for the toddler arm and and an adult-sized sling. 


The whole broken arm thing didn't keep him down. 

Yes, you're right. The twins do have mohawks growing out into mullets in this picture. 

So when I say that I love Children's of Alabama, I'm for serious.

This race was held to raise funds for Children's Center for Weight Management. Here's a little more info from the race site:
The Spring Scramble 5K is the UAB Pediatric Residency Program’s annual community outreach opportunity to recognize and educate about a very important health issue, childhood obesity. We are excited and honored to help support the Children’s of Alabama’s very own Center for Weight Management with this event. Through our fundraising efforts, we hope to be able to provide equipment, educational materials, and camp scholarships for the children participating in the Center for Weight Management. Please visit the Children's Center for Weight Management website to learn more about this wonderful resource for childhood obesity.
The race itself was fun too, a flat and fast run around Homewood, AL. We registered that morning after hauling it through an early morning rainstorm to fit in 11 miles before the race.

After a very wet 11-mile run.

Luckily, the weather cleared for the 5K, and I brought extra shoes. Dry socks, shoes, and a shirt never felt so luxurious. Why did I not think of bringing dry shorts? Would have been nice to not feel like I peed my pants before I even started the race.

Jimmy is modeling the race tech shirt. Really nice for a 5K!

Before the race, I told Jimmy to go for it and not to worry about running with me. So most of the race I was by myself in the struggle zone. This was my first speedwork in a few weeks because I had skipped several sessions due to my sore Achilles. My calves felt crampy in the first mile, so I slowed down and slowed down and slowed down some more. Every mile got a little slower: 7:04, 7:47, 7:57. I really hoped that I could stick with the speed of my first mile, but by the end, I was just barely hanging on for a sub-8. My final time was something like 23:56. And Jimmy came in second place overall. Go, bro!

During my last mile, my new friend Jeff Jones was nice enough to run with me to the finish. If you're reading this, thank you so much! Even though I didn't want my brother to feel like he had to wait on me, it's always nice to have a partner in pain. Although Jeff seemed like he was not in as much pain as me. My first clue was that he could talk easily, while I could only grunt one-syllable responses. Not my most conversationalist moment, but it was still fun.

Also fun: the stroller parking at the finish line. I love that this event was super kid friendly!


And this little guy was just practicing running over the finish line again and again and again. All business in his red velcro kicks.


Another best part of this race: smoothies!!!! Smoothie King brought over smoothies for the post-race refreshments. I had at least three.


They also had a ton of door prizes to give out: gift certificates, prize packs, gym memberships.


And a gift certificate (or two) for some shoes from Mountain High Outfitters. I was really jealous of the dude who won these. 


Plus they handed out some actually useful swag at packet pick-up. I will be using all of this. I already used those mints to pay for some toddler chores this morning. 


Summary: Bring the whole family out to this race to support a great cause. They really do a great job with the after-party refreshments. And tech shirts for a 5K?! Awesome.

May 21, 2013

Alleviating Achilles pain 101

After my most recent 50K, the outside edge of my right Achilles felt extremely sore. For several days after the race, it was hard to walk and much easier just to drag my foot behind me without flexing my foot and stretching the achy Achilles. So at home, I did a lot of foot dragging, although when in public, I tried to toughen up a notch and walk straight.

I talked to my doctor, coach, and tons of other runners about the pain and have been implementing a few things that I gleaned from my search for an answer to pain alleviation and prevention. So far, so good. The soreness is pretty much gone, but I'm still trying to be cautious with it to make sure it doesn't creep back in.

So here's my list of Achilles helps.

1. Rest -- Usually I have at least one cross training day and one total rest day in a week, but after the injury I took four days in a row completely off. That seemed to help a lot, so I've been implementing two total rest days into my schedule the last couple of weeks. My legs and my Achilles seem to like that. In fact, I'm in the middle of a rest day right now, and I'm personally loving it. My kitchen sink loved it too when I finally deep cleaned it.

2. Achilles specific exercise -- My coach showed me an exercise to do on stairs that is basically balancing the ball of your foot on a stair while you lower up and down. Like a calf raise but letting your heel drop below the step with each rep. Important: use your non-injured foot to help you lift back to the start. Once the Achilles starts to feel better, you can take out the assistance.

Here's a video that describes it in painfully slow detail, but it's thorough!


I did this on both sides to stay balanced, and I did three sets of 15-20 three times a week.

3. Stretch -- My doctor recommended stretching on a step as well and angling my foot (toes turning to the middle) so that I could really stretch the outside of my heel where the pain was originating.

And as some of you recommended (thanks!), I found yoga to be very helpful, especially downward dog. Basically anytime I'm standing still for a period of time, I just start stretching my calves to keep them loose.

4. Roll -- I've also been focusing on foam rolling my calves. Tight calves aren't great for your Achilles, so keeping them loosened with rolling has helped my situation.

5. Massage -- At first I didn't notice the knots on my right Achilles, but my doctor pointed them out. Sometimes it just takes someone pointing out the obvious to make progress. Also if I feel one foot then the other foot, I notice the difference. So now that I've located the knots, I just use my hands or knuckles to perform a little tissue loosening massage. Not hard to do at all, but I think it helps.

6. Use higher-drop shoes -- I had been running trails in a lower-drop (4mm) shoe about 80% of the time, so I broke out my XR Missions to give my Achilles a little bit of a break from the lower drop.

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So I'm not sure if all, one, or just a few of these are the ticket to actually healing my Achilles because I've been trying them all at the same time, not the best way to design an experiment. But something in there is working, so I'm going to keep going with this list.

Have you tried (successfully or unsuccessfully) any of the above for your Achilles pain? 

What else would you recommend?

May 18, 2013

Endurance: it requires a pair

This has been a blast of a week for running. Coming from someone who trains a lot indoors out of babysitting necessity, getting to run four of my five runs outside was just a notch below a Christmas miracle. It helps that I am now working with the Run Club at Life Time Fitness (message me if you want to join us -- you don't have to be a member to run with us!), and that gives me a bonus outdoor run. 

Also shout out to my husband for generously gaining flexibility with his morning schedule so that I can fit in one extra trail run per week on Thursday mornings. See, he has always been the morning person in this relationship. Always. And I have always been the night person. Always. So when I started running and wanting to wake up early to run, it threw off ten years of built-up, perfectly balanced, morning ritual marriage chi that we had carefully crafted. Plus, mornings are the only time he can fit the gym into his schedule. So I'm just putting it out there that I know it's a sacrifice, and I really super huge appreciate it. 

Here's some of the group that I've run some trails with on Thursday mornings.



And yes (mentally add all caps, bold, and a million exclamation points), that's my brother on the far left. Did I mention that he's baaaaack? Did you know he left? Well, probably not. He injured his foot while climbing and has been trying to let it heal. He ran 14 miles with me today, including a second place overall finish at the Spring Scramble 5K after we already ran 11 miles. That kid is burning up the streets of B'ham.

While he's been on a running spree, I've been on a falling spree. I fell on Tuesday night tripping over a metal barrier on our Life Time run and scraped up my left hand. Afterwards, I mentioned to someone that I've only been falling on road runs lately, not trail runs. So the universe had to rectify that situation by providing a giant fall at the above Thursday morning trail run, where I busted my right hand and reinserted some dirt into my already existing left-hand wounds.   


I didn't notice it was cut until I was almost finished with the run. These were the first wounds that I've ever scraped dirt and rocks out of, and it was pretty painful. Not sure it was worth the effort, by which I mean extreme pain. I always wash my cuts, but I don't usually try to scrape stuff out of them. What do you think -- do you have to scrape the rocks and dirt out, or will your body just work that out on its own eventually? 

And this is the part of this post where I almost inserted a picture of food. My only official self-imposed blog rule is not to post pictures of food beside pictures of bloody hand gashes. Phew, that was a close one.

Instead, here's a pic of the oldest donkey I know, Seymour, chilling on my in-laws' farm. So I don't really know that many donkeys, but this dude just exudes ancientness.


Distraction over. So this coming week, I'm looking forward to a lot of things.

Things I am officially stoked about

A. Not falling on a run this week (fingers crossed).

B. Trying out some FITS socks that I picked up at Alabama Outdoors a few days ago while I was getting a gift for my daughter's teacher who is running her first post-baby half marathon tomorrow. And it's a trail half marathon! Go, Racheal! We are so excited for you and wish we could be there! (add another million exclamation points)

Back to these socks. They're made with merino wool, so I'm very interested to see how they feel with the heat coming back on with a strongness. I don't usually wear wool socks for running, so these are all new to me for sure.


C. Next week is the Netflix release of Arrested Development. I know, I talk about it every day, and you just fell asleep reading about it a-freaking-gain. Every night we have an AD date before bed. Bless you, Netflix.


D. Memorial Day Trail Race on Saturday, May 25th. 12 miles of humid, hilly bliss. 

E. Book club is this week! For May, we're reading Jim the Boy by Tony Earley.

And speaking of reading, I found this ad in the Runner's World that I'm currently reading. So CW-X is maybe just not trying to push the envelope too much with this ad, but if you're going to base an ad campaign on "having a pair," it seems like your picture should not look like a lady in the crotch region. What I see in this ad: dude hands, dude legs, lady biz. 


Maybe the graphic designer for this ad is a feminist and planted a lady crotch in the ad because the ad premise is sexist. Either way, ad fail.

Has your family made any compromises to help you out with training? The whole Thursday morning run thing is just one of many. Another main one: patience with my post-long-run bathroom requirements. 

Tell me about your last big fall. Could you have avoided it? The metal bar on Tuesday night -- yes, I could have jumped higher. I have no idea what happened on the trail fall. It was not very light outside, so that was working against me. 

Ever tried FITS socks? How did you feel about them -- love, lukewarm, or I'll pass? Do you know why the name is in all caps? All caps makes a brand name kind of high maintenance.  

What are you stoked about this week? 

May 16, 2013

2013 Cahaba River Ramble 10 Mile

Cahaba River Ramble was part two of my double race weekend. Since it was the second part, it was much more painful in an I-can-barely-walk-much-less-run kind of way, but that didn't take away from the awesomeness of the course.

Getting there: From Birmingham, it was about a 45-minute drive to West Blocton, AL. We met early and got there in plenty of time to pick up our packets. We were following someone who has already been there, so I can't really tell you if it's easy to find or not. Once we arrived, all of the racers just parked along the side of the dirt road. This worked out great until the giant dually with the trailered hovercraft tried to squeeze through to get to the river. I think I held my breath for about ten minutes while he eked through about as fast as I climbed the hills in this race (i.e. painfully slow).

Pre-race: Signing up for the race was easy. My brother had to register that morning ($40), and they got him right in with no issue at all. Once we were registered, we all just hung out and chatted by the start line, which was about ten feet from the registration table and two steps from the port-o-pots. I was grateful for the proximity because I was still kind of walking sideways with a foot drag to compensate for my sore achilles. And I was about to run 10 miles. Super smart, I know. Remember that I never said on this blog to follow my example. It's like how you learn from your parents' mistakes what you don't want to ever do. Then you end up being like your grandparents who your parents were trying to be the opposite of -- and the beat goes on.

Also I got to meet some Yo Momma readers, who I still swear are related, but they were not claiming each other. I think they seemed like sisters because they were both so equally nice and smiley. You know how you feel related to certain friends after you've been friends for a while. I think that's these two.

Pam, Elissa (love her shirt!), Lisa


Now see that misty river above. When it's in the 40s outside, that water is cold. Someone tried to convince me that the water was warmer than the air, and that person was wrong. If you're reading now and you were the one who told me that, I don't hold it against you because at least you gave me some hope that I wasn't going to die when I jumped into a freezing river.

And that's right, about five minutes before the race was when I learned that we were going to be required to jump in the river and swim across. Huh?! No one had my back in telling me about this before I got there and registered. The word on the street (trail) was that it normally isn't as high, and you can run through it. But we got lucky, and this year it would be over our heads and require swimming. I was still shivering from running for 5.5 hours in the freezing rain on the previous day, and I was very, very dissatisfied with the prospect of being that cold again.

So I did what any frozen person would do -- I tried to convince my brother that the 5K, which did not require river crossing, would be so fun. He promptly responded with heckles and boos and other big brother taunts to get me to feel douchey about trying to only run the 5K. Basically if I ask him to wake up before 5 a.m. to run with me, we are doing the prescribed/promised workout for the day or more. Never less!

Don't be jealous of the mad photoshopping skills.

So that was it. I was back in. Frozenness and all. 


Bonus, they had snacks at the start line: bananas, oranges, some other breaded things that I don't eat, water, and such. Since this was also the finish line, these snacks doubled as our after-race treats. 

The course: Even though I tried to convince my bro to run the 5K, I'm glad he was unrelenting on sticking to our plan. The 5K was down the gravel road (as pictured above) to the water and back. All gravel road equals less fun.

Once you jump into the river on this course, the fun starts. Also, jumping into freezing water takes your breath away. I'm not sure that I've ever experienced anything like that because I'm usually creeping slowly into freezing water (or not at all) instead of diving in as fast as I can. It literally took my breath away, and it felt like I was going to drown because I couldn't breath. So I flipped over and floated on my back for a minute. Then we stood around taking these pics for even more minutes. Not the best use of our "race" time, but it definitely made it more fun.

Phone pics through a protective plastic baggy covering = fuzzy, ethereal photo quality.

There were some ropes to help you along, which I used on the return trip more than the trip out, and the guy in the canoe was there to watch out for us in case anyone got in trouble, which was almost me with the whole not breathing thing.


After the freezing river, which actually wasn't as bad as I thought it would be once we were warmed up from running, we ran along the edge of the water, through sand and over downed trees. The terrain of this course was my favorite part. It had the water crossing, sand running, downed-tree hopping, rocky hills, weedy paths, pine straw covered climbs, screaming descents. It felt like places I've been in Florida, Alabama, Utah, and California, but all in one. 

So I loved the course. I was slightly confused because they described the route as a lollipop. We decided that they need to work on that imagery because it wasn't even close to a lollipop. I would call it more of a skin tag, but I guess that they were going for something more appealing with their description. 


In case you can't tell from this map, you run up and back along the same path, and then you break off for one extra loop right before the finish. 

I had heard about The Equalizer, a killer hill in this race, so I was happy that we hit it around mile 3 and got it over with. Oh, but wait, that's not the one they were talking about. It was that other one at the end. That one's The Equalizer. Super steep, but not very long, so I actually thought it was easier than the first hill. Whatever, I hiked both of them because they were both trying to kill my lungs off. 


I'm very glad that my brother was with me because I ran past the sign that told us to turn onto the route's skin tag (that loop at the end with The Equalizer). I started my watch late, so I just figured that it was a little bit off on mileage. That sign should be more neon or something because it really didn't stand out at all. Luckily, my brother was paying attention and got me to turn around and come back. Maybe I should listen to what people say at the start line, but after they said "lollipop," I lost concentration. Something Pavlovian was happening. 

My race: So as I mention above I was feeling rough at the start. Somehow my first mile was the fastest, but it really didn't feel that way. You can see that about halfway through I had a little burst of energy that conveniently coincided with some downhill running. Downhills always remind me that I totally love running. 


One thing I would not do again is wear so many darn clothes. I thought it would help to bring a jacket (that I could possibly keep dry) to put on after I got out of the water. Well, that would have been cool if you didn't have to dive completely into the water. 

Disrobing before diving into the water.

Surely I can keep this tiny ball of jacket dry. 


That was a big no on keeping anything dry. So I ended up wearing that jacket tied around my waist the entire run with the zipper slapping my leg. I kind of hate running with jackets tied around my waist. They always twist and wind around and try to hurt you in wicked ways. 


Good news -- still smiling despite that dumb, twisty jacket.


So I really felt like I was racing starting around mile 5, which appears to be how long it took for my legs to warm up and forget that they had just run a 50K the day before. I'll look for that to be my warm-up period during the stage races too. Five miles in, and things should hopefully start to work in the leg region.

The final stats for me were 1:28:16 and fourth woman (I think). My brother beat me by a minute by outsprinting me at the end. Punk.

After party: I changed clothes immediately after the race to avoid freezing my buns off. Then I partook of the aforementioned snacks while we waited for some of our Alabama Outdoors teammates to receive their awards.

Congrats to John (far left) and Ali (the girl who isn't me in the pic below) on their first place finishes! They both won a new pair of kicks for finishing first. Dan (far right) came in second, and the other John (yellow-ish hat) came in just 25 seconds behind him including a vomit session before the finish line. We should start a new winner category for fastest finisher who also vomits at least once during the race. That takes skills. Or skillz -- because the z adds street cred.


Special thanks to my brother for taking it slower with me. I love living in the same town as him!


Overall: This is a must-run trail race in Alabama. It's short enough that it's not going to kill your legs, but the scenery is gorgeous. The water is not usually as high as we had it, but there's always at least some water to splash through. All of the race proceeds go to benefit the Shane Hulsey CLEAN Environmental Education Program. Definitely run this in 2014.

Alabama Outdoors comped my entry into this race, but all thoughts and opinions regarding this race are my own.