August 23, 2014

House reno and buckets of ice

House renovation step one: completed. Well mostly (still working on the stairs). My husband, who grew up on a farm where they learned how to do every single thing ever, took the deck apart and built this new one to replace it. This was his project while we were out on our East coast road trip. I think he had just as much fun as us. Woodworking to him is like running to me -- meditative and relaxing. 

I love everything about the deck. If you look to the right, you can see the bar that starts on that side and continues around the other side and to the house, so we have plenty of spots to chow down with some friends. He found the outdoor lights at Bargain Hunt, which is a type of overstock discount store that they have in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Alabama, that I know of. The rope for the lights is super sturdy, and we just installed the metal poles to keep secure them at the height we wanted. 

Next step in house renovation: kitchen counters. I went in for a small sample, and they practically had to dolly out this sucker. That's a full-size backpack it's smashing. After we use it for sampling, we plan to make a dining room table out of it. 

The first step in renovating anything is cleaning the existing space. I spent a large chunk of today cleaning out papers and found a few gems. 

I'm kind of obsessed with Twin B's drawing skills. His stick figure mural for some reason looks like a stick figure funeral to me. Casket in the top left corner. 

Another goldmine: this recipe book that Bella made after I taught her how to use the blender. Based on this cookbook, you can tell we shop at Costco. Power greens = Costco's newest salad mix that includes kale. Spectrum blend = their bag of frozen mixed fruit. 

And after today's 19+ road miles, I could use one of those fruit shakes. 

This picture was taken an hour after our 5 a.m. start when we met the rest of the group. Just getting light out. 

Luckily, I found some trail buddies out on the skreets.

Even having friends there to take away the mental pain of a long run in 100000000-degree heat does not help the pain in my feet right now. Wearing my marshmallow Hokas didn't leave me pain free. Gotta do more long runs on the roads if I want to get used to this. Or maybe not so that the pain never starts in the first place. 

But I did get cooled off with the ALS ice bucket challenge. I tried to avoid it for a long time until I watched this video. 

For the love of everything, watch this video. It gets real after minute two. Donate and do the challenge even if you find it irritating.

I was just surprised that it was so dang refreshing, and now I'm kind of wishing I could do this after every long run.

Thanks for the pic, Monk E!

How do you feel about the ice bucket challenge?

What would your dream challenge be? I wish someone would challenge me to eat at an Indian buffet every day. 

What was the high temp where you were running today? High of 94 with 75% humidity.

August 12, 2014

The in between -- seize it

Time to get real. I am not a cry-when-I-drop-my-kids-off-on-the-first-day parent. I have always been 90% excited, 10% sad to see them go. This year I was 1% excited, 99% sad to see them go. Because this year it was all of them, and this year, my life changes. Being a stay-at-home mom doesn't mean the same thing now as it did when they were all here. I'm sure I'll adjust, pick up more hours at work, spend a million hours painting, maybe finally have all the dishes washed at once. But it's sad because it's the end of an era. And that era was pretty good, and I'm sure that I didn't appreciate it as much as I could/should have while it was here. I hate, or do not prefer (in case my dad is reading), when people tell you that you should appreciate that time with your little toddlers, who are right at that moment simultaneously trying to fling themselves under cars and finding every hidden weapon (i.e. kitchen utensils) to impale themselves with and peeing on the carpet that you just washed. But today I can appreciate that sentiment, even though I still think saying it to a struggling, sleep-deprived parent is not the best timing to express it. 

Here are their attitudes about the first day:

Happy to go, nervous about swapping classes, not happy that she got PE class with all 7th and 8th grade girls, excited to have band with one of her best friends.

Nothing gets this kid down, not nervous at all about what to wear or which friends will be in his class, mostly thinking about which snack to pack and hoping that he gets to build a robot. 

Met the teachers yesterday, first day of school is today. Both not sure what to think about school. Happy about getting juice boxes, sad about not playing with Legos all day. Sad that they had to carry so much stuff into school this morning.

This was their birthday a few months ago -- recognize those expressions? 

By the time we dropped them off, they were both smiling. I would smile at the prospect of an official naptime with my personalized mat, too.

Just when I thought I was over crying, literally (but after they left -- trying to act cool in front of them), about my kids all heading off to school, Robin Williams died. How is it possible to be so sad about someone you didn't even know personally dying? But it felt like I knew him. Dead Poets Society and Good Will Hunting were two of the most influential movies of my childhood, teenage years. I still vividly remember sobbing (shoulders shaking, snot flowing) during the "it's not your fault" scene in Good Will Hunting.

And as my kids head off to school, I think of Mr. Keating whispering to the kids in Dead Poet's Society:
They're not that different from you, are they? Same haircuts. Full of hormones, just like you. Invincible, just like you feel. The world is their oyster. They believe they're destined for great things, just like many of you, their eyes are full of hope, just like you. Did they wait until it was too late to make from their lives even one iota of what they were capable? Because, you see gentlemen, these boys are now fertilizing daffodils. But if you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you. Go on, lean in. Listen, you hear it? - - Carpe - - hear it? - - Carpe, carpe diem, seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary.

Please do that, kids.

When my mother-in-law passed away earlier this year, I found some comfort and some sorrow in this song, Alone.

Come into the world
And you go out of the world

But in between
It's you and me

I don't know what I'm trying to say today, other than work myself up into more tears and sadness. But also I'm trying to say that I want to appreciate the "in between." 

August 10, 2014

Life is good, eat s'mores (a Balance Bar giveaway!)

How soon is too soon? Too soon is tomorrow when these cool kids start back to school.

Too soon is discussing with your spouse signing up for another race the morning after you were gone all day for a 50 miler. 

Too soon is eagerly stepping into a steamy shower after a long run in the rain. Chafe much? 

But is it ever too soon to start another giveaway? Well, I'm pushing the limits tonight by starting one five seconds after the other one finishes. 

You may have noticed that my postings are so slim lately. We bought a house, I'm working more hours, the kids were out of school (going back in the morning). Plus I'm still running. So that means that I have less time for the fun part of life, making up junk to post on the internet. 

Now that the kids will be back in school, I'm going to become a professional painter while I rehab the paint on the inside and outside of our new house. 

For anyone who is interested at all (all two of you), we ended up purchasing the home that we have been living in ever since we moved to Alabama. In a strange turn of events where we tried our hardest to find another home to purchase for about eight months, we realized that the best deal for the house we loved most was the one we have been living in all along. The random rental house that we found via Craigslist and agreed to rent without ever seeing it in person. Life can sometimes be a long string of happy accidents. 

All of that to say, sorry for the little content, but not sorry to be posting another giveaway for y'all. 

This one is to celebrate National S'mores Day, which is today. You still have time to celebrate if you haven't yet! Well, at least you could probably whip up a microwave version. And, sorry, you're out of time if you live on the East coast. 

I know you're thinking, how did I not realize that such an important holiday was happening on this very day? Truthfully, if more recognized by Hallmark, this holiday would most likely be more important to people than Valentine's Day. You see, on National S'mores Day you don't have to reciprocate love to another human in exchange for chocolate, you just get the chocolate. Less pressure, just as much chocolate, with a marshmallow bonus. 

Or if you're trying to keep it a little healthier with a balanced dose of carbs, protein and fat, there are Balance Bar Gold S'mores.  

I tried them out and liked the taste. Not the exact copy of the campfire s'more, but still enough to satisfy your sweet tooth with only 14 grams of sugar.

And if you squint, you can read the ingredients above.

Interested in trying them out for yourself? Win a free box of Balance Bars just like the one above by entering the Rafflecopter below. For U.S. residents only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

August 4, 2014

BANa rehydration: review and giveaway

Let's talk hydration. Especially during these summer months, staying hydrating is clutch to successful racing and running. The less hydrated you are, the harder your heart has to work to pump blood. So better hydration equals better performance.

Along with fluid, you have to replace the salt you lose in your sweat. Here are some interesting salt factoids from Cycling News
The average concentration of sodium in sweat is 1150 mg per litre, but can vary greatly (450 mg to 2300 mg per litre). Assuming a sweat rate of 1.5 litres per hour, an athlete with sweat of average saltiness would lose about 1700 mg of sodium per hour. Excessive sweating, combined with consumption of plain water in copious amounts (e.g., 10L in 4 hours), results in a sodium deficit, i.e., dilutional hyponatremia. 
Losing salt is no joke because of the important roles it plays in our bodies. (Click here for source.)
Sodium is a vital nutrient. It’s a major component of extracellular fluid, and is essential for maintaining the volume of the plasma to allow adequate tissue perfusion and normal cellular metabolism. Because sodium is used as an extracellular cation, it is typically found in the blood and lymph fluid. The maintenance of extracellular fluid volume is an important physiologic function of the sodium in the body, particularly in regards to cardiovascular health.
Recently, I've been testing out a new hydration tool. BANa, emphasis on the Na for sodium, is serious rehydration that uses the power of salt to keep you from bonking. Dr. Benjamin Yoo created BANa after treating college athletes for dehydration. He would treat them with a saline solution given intravenously (sometimes requiring multiple bags of the solution to recover), and that's where the idea was born that they could get this treatment in a bottle on their own, no hospital stay required. One of their marketing slogans is that BANa is "an IV in a bottle." Read more about Dr. Yoo and his research here

Each container has 800mg of sodium. So two of these in an hour would replace the average athlete's sodium output. This is twice the amount of sodium in a bottle of Gatorade. And if you are counting calories, this has none vs Gatorade's 400+/bottle. Plus, check out that its formula uses natural ingredients from top to bottom. 

I like that it's sweetened with stevia (a plant!) instead of artificial sweeteners. 

Why get your salt from a drink instead of a capsule? I've considered this a lot lately with the ease of using salt capsules, but here are two reasons to stick to traditional methods of salt intake. Salty food and drinks stimulate your thirst, keeping your wanting to drink more. Also, it's possible to ingest too much salt via capsules, and that is less likely to happen via food and drink. (Click here for source.)

At first sip, this drink is quite salty but leaves a sweet aftertaste. For my personal use during a race, I mixed it half and half with water in my handheld. I was going to be drinking constantly, so I knew the whole bottle would go down easier that way. The flavor is best when served cold. 

I also found that half and half was a good mix for my hydration pack on training runs. Using the tube to drink, I didn't taste the salt as much, probably because the salt taste buds are near the front of the mouth and with the pack the fluid enters near the back of the mouth. Thanks to my big brother for pointing that out.

There is also a version for the kiddos when they get sick and dehydrated. 

Especially for the kids, I again like that the ingredients are more natural and don't include artificial flavors and dyes like Pedialyte (compare ingredients here). (And we're dog sitting this week! We love this little guy!)

Want to try BANa out and see what you think? It's currently available at some Bi-Lo, Walgreens, Whole Foods, and Piggly Wiggly stores. Check availability in your area here or order online here.

Also, I'm giving away a sample set, two bottles of the adult version and two bottles of the kiddo version (which can also be used by adults)!! So enter to win with the Rafflecopter below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway