Sunday, February 23, 2014

South Western "Mac" (Quinoa/Cauliflower) and Cheese and Week 8!

The hubby and I frequent the book stores in the area on a pretty regular schedule. We both have a big issue buying books....

Purchasing our 5th shelf this week to handle the overflow...
I suppose there are worse addictions

So as I was perusing a table of (clearance!!) vegetarian cook books this past week, I knew I could not justify bringing another book into our house (especially given the half a dozen I had just bought/inherited over the last few weeks-oops!). So, I improvised and just took pictures of the recipes that I was interested in trying with my phone. I may have been eyed by a few employees, but got my pictures and went along my way before they came over and asked me to stop (my husband said if he can't go back to a bookstore because of me, it's over - humph - at least I know where I stand now).

One of the recipes I stole found in the cookbooks was a simple spinoff on mac and cheese. Though the recipe in the book used regular pasta, I figured I would just substitute my quinoa/cauliflower mix for the pasta and then follow the rest of the recipe to spice it up!

1/2 C of Quinoa
1 head cauliflower chopped
2 cans of diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cup salsa
3 C shredded Taco Cheese blend 

1. Chop up the cauliflower and boil. Add 1/2 cup of quinoa to the boiling water. Boil until quinoa/cauliflower has absorbed all the excess water. You may want to mash up the larger cauliflower bits using a masher to speed this along. 
2. When water is absorbed, add in the cheese and mix. Then add in the diced tomatoes and salsa.

Another recipe that looks like gruel. Looks are deceiving...this was good! 

Have I mentioned before how much I love recipes that involve dumping in all the ingredients and cooking? SO flippin' easy! And SO freakishly yummy! Nate said he would forgive me for almost getting us kicked out of the book store (not really!) because this was so tasty. 

Week 8 Recap
Holy crap, where is this training cycle going? Somehow today marks 69 days until race day. This week marked another great week of training with 51 miles ran and nearly 3 hours of ancillary work. I really enjoyed the speed workout this week - 3X1 mile at goal 10k pace (7's flat) with a 600 recovery jog in between each. This is one of only two speed workouts that repeats in Hanson's (the second being this weeks 6X800s), and I am really looking forward to doing it again in two weeks. It's repeat will also mark the end of speed work, as week 11 changes over to "strength" workouts. I am very nervous for these as they will be 11 miles long each Tuesday. Yowza. I was really pleased with how the legs/body felt doing these mile repeats, and equally as pleased with how easy the breathing seemed. The 7 minute pace seemed conservative. 

This week was also the last of the 7 mile marathon tempo runs. Next week, we crank it up another mile! This run was another mid-week confidence booster, as I ended feeling strong physically, mentally and aerobically. Bring on the extra mile at tempo next week, and bring on week 9! Here's my motivation for the week...

"Skilled sailors do not come from smooth seas. Only dead fish go with the flow." 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Marathon Training Week 7 - Check!

Hansons Marathon Method Week 7 Recap
Soooo...who else in Maine is getting a little irritated with the snow ruining their running plans? These past two weeks have been unrelenting and guess what? 4-8 more inches tomorrow!

This was my first 50+ mile week for Hansons. By the end of the week I logged 54 (and a quarter) miles of running. The speed workout this week was my favorite (ugh - not so much) - the ladder. I am so relieved there is only one ladder in the speed workout sequence. Knowing that I only had to do it once helped me get through it.

 This week also marked my first run over 12 miles since I started - a 14 mile long run (finally!). I ended up doing a SUPER crazy hilly route for this run with about 1000ft of elevation. This is a route I usually do once a year, and then never want to do it again. But this time, I loved it (and I'm already planning on doing it again next weekend). I ran on heart rate (instead of pace like I was suppose to) so I didn't burn myself out on this first big mileage week, but in the end only ended up about 10 seconds slower per mile than I was suppose to do. I figure given the course, it would more than even out.

I also put a lot of time into my strength/warm up routines this week. I have been consistently "myrtle-ing" and "ITB (p)rehabbing" and doing the "standard core workout" for 7+ weeks now, and this was the week where I started to see the difference. It may seem like a small victory, but yesterday, I could hold a side plank on each side for a minute, and do the 10 suggested leg lifts in the middle of the planks! Yay! I love progress!

 Also, and this is slightly embarrassing to admit, but I am AWFUL at lunges. Seriously, I couldn't really do them prior to this training cycle. I would fall over and had the worst form ever. However, I was recommended a great warmup routine that was all lunges that is suppose to help prevent injuries and I really wanted to make it part of my daily running routine. So, I gave it a try. And guess what! I can do a pretty great looking lunge now! (I am sure to many of you that sounds ridiculous -but, again, small victories).

On another note, I have to thank Jen from Running With the Girls and Sarah for the great conversation about Daily Mile. I have used DM to log my training for over a year and love the graphs and how it tracks unique useless facts about your training (as of yesterday, I had burned off 1,999 donuts over my lifetime on the site - sweeeett!). However, being the awful type A personality that I am, it also felt like a competition. And it's NOT. And I hated it. But I loved it. But I hated it. You get the point - I have a bg issue comparing myself with others and I am trying to stop...and "social media" doesn't really help my cause. So, with Jen and Sarah leading the way last month and giving it up, I have decided to be a follower and give it up as well (thanks ladies!). Well, kind of. I'm still on it, but only using it for personal tracking, not for social media. So, if I was "following you" on Daily Mile, and no longer am, that is why. I need it to track my training, not to peep on other people's training. Everyone is different and therefore everyone's training plans are different. There are many roads to get to the same path...and your goals should be YOURS, not what you feel they need to be because of someone else's. (That was me preaching to myself BTW).

And on another, kinda related note - if you haven't read this blog it. Now.

Zoe Goes Running: Look at What this Body Can Do

Really amazing. And very well put. I felt kinda ashamed reading it, because I know that if I knew Zoe, those questions - "OMG - how much weight did you lose...what did you eat?" would have been the first out of my mouth. And that is an awful, yet honest, reflection of my unconscious priorities. But Zoe is SO right in her post. It's not about weight, or how you look. It's about what your body can do today, that it couldn't do a few months ago. I mean,  I can freaking do a side plank with leg lifts now. I can freaking do awesome lunges now! Dear me: It DOES NOT matter than you haven't lost a single pound doing this new regiment, because you are getting faster, healthier and stronger, both physically and mentally. So - thank you Zoe for sharing with the rest of us and making us aware. I would have asked you those questions, and it never would have occurred to me how wrong those questions were until you said something.

I know I'll have Zoe's words in my mind during my runs/workouts this week.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Quinoa and Kale AND Lentil Burgers

Food prep Sunday this week brought new recipes number 7 and 8 to my Mission 24 New Year's Resolution. The best part of these recipes - I made them simultaneously and they only took 40 minutes (together!).

Here's recipe #7 - Quinoa and Kale
Another quinoa recipe - no surprise here! I love how versatile cooking with quinoa is. The possibilities of what you can mix with it are endless. This recipe was super easy. The recipe itself called with spinach, but I have been eager to try kale, so I substituted a bunch of kale for the spinach.

1/2 onion
bunch of kale
2 cloves garlic
Olive oil for sautéing
salt and pepper
lemon juice
1c quinoa
Vegetable broth

1. Cook quinoa in vegetable broth until water is gone.
2. Sauté onion, garlic, and kale until kale leaves have wilted.
3. Mix quinoa, sauté mix, parsley and a dash of salt and pepper in a bowl.
4. Top with a few squirts of lemon juice and feta cheese.

SUPER Easy and quick!

This quinoa dish is by far Nate and I's favorite quinoa meal yet! (He surprised me big time by a. not questioning the kale and b. by actually saying the kale is what makes this dish so tasty). This dish surpassed both the Tomato and Feta Quinoa and the Quinoa and Black Bean Salad meals in terms of tastiness. I will definitely be making this again next week...and will also be adding way more kale to it!

Now, here is recipe #8 (and the second new recipe for the day!) - Lentil Burgers/Patties
I have been dying to make my own veggie burgers for a while now and have quite the extensive collection of recipes gathered to try out, but I am yet to try one. Many of them seem like a lot of work, or have ingredients that I am not familiar with cooking quite yet. (I have come a long way with cooking in a short time, but certainly have a long way to go!). But when I found this recipe last week I knew I had to try it. It gets bonus points for 1) having just a few ingredients (all of which I am familiar with) and 2) being very quick and easy!

1 cup cooked lentils
1 carrot chopped
1/2 onion
Olive oil for sautéing
3/4 cup rolled oats
3/4 cup bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

1. Cook lentils until very soft. When water is gone, smash lentils against side of pan.
2. While lentils are cooking, sauté onion and carrot.
3. Mix the lentils, onion/carrot mix, breadcrumbs, rolled oats and salt and pepper.
4. While still warm, combine into patties. You can either freeze the patties or cook them immediately.
5. To cook the patties you have two choices. You can bake them at 400 degrees in the oven for about 15 minutes until each side is brown. OR, you can fry them up in a pan with olive oil, flipping so each side is brown. (I recommend frying them).

Wondering how the heck this is going to turn into a burger/patty?
A word to the wise when making these...cautiously add the oats/breadcrumbs. You may even want to add a little bit less of the recommended amount of oats. If you add too much and the mixture dries out, these will NOT stick together.

When I put these in front of my husband today, he tentatively observed that they "looked like meat pie." He is not a fan on meat pie. I, simply refuse to eat meat pie. The only thing that should ever be in pie is apples or blueberries. End of story. However, after his observation, he proceeded to woof them done. When done he said, "ya know, those weren't that bad." And they weren't!

Our plan is to give them a try on the grill come spring (if spring ever does come). Out of curiosity, I cooked half of the patties in the oven, and the other half of the patties in a frying pan. DEFINITELY go with the frying pan option for these as they dried out in the oven. These were not my favorite new recipe, but with a little work (more veggies and spices needed) I think I could spice them up a bit. I'll play with the recipe in the next few weeks and update it once I perfect it. What I really love about these though, is that you can prepare them ahead of time and freeze them. A very good recipe for Marathon Mondays (and other busy nights). 

Lentil Patties! Not bad...a good meal for the right mood!

On another exciting front, this came in the mail today! Can't wait to dig into this book and try out some new recipes! 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Hanson's Week 6 Wrap Up!

Week 6 Wrap Up 
Today wrapped up week 6 of 18 for my Hanson's Marathon Plan. So far, I have run just over 250 miles in this training cycle (and 59 so far this month). I'd like to say I'm 1/3 of the way there...but that would only be true in terms of training weeks and certainly not in effort or mileage. I have my first big ramp up in miles coming in 2 weeks, and then, once March 11th hits, it is game on!
Getting it done this week meant a 5AM snow run (before the
real snow came!) 

Week 6 

I started wearing my heart rate monitor again this week, after Sunday's race. I am very impressed with how this training plan has affected my heart rates already. I am running much more efficiently at level 2 heart rate. My easy runs this week (9:00 - 9:30 pace) averaged a heart rate between 140- 145ish (25 - 28 beats below lactate) and my long(ish) run at a 8:50 pace averaged 148. When I trained with my coach for my previous 9 marathons, level 2 runs (most of training with the exception of lactate runs and speed/strength work) were done at 10-15 beats below lactate, and nearly the same pace I am doing now with much lower heart rates. I am debating whether or not I need to "speed" up my recovery days 15-20 seconds per mile, but am thinking I am just going to keep to the lower end of my pace recommendations for now.

Additionally, my lactate (168) pace has dropped from a 7:40-7:45 ish pace to a 7:20-7:25 pace! I averaged 168 for the race last weekend at a 7:22 pace and felt great! I am going to try upping the ante on the tempo runs for the next few weeks to see how I feel (Hanson's says that whatever your doing your tempo run at entering week 9-10 of training, is what pace you've committed to training for for your marathon).

I've noticed that I am beginning to feel different when running this week. Gone is the "pep in my step"/caged animal phenomenon that I used to get running on fresh(er) legs during my more difficult workouts (long runs, lactate runs or speed workout). There are NO fresh legs with this program. But a feeling of strength has replaced the caged animal feel. My legs may feel tired, but I am ending every workout, including the hard ones, feeling as though I could either run way more miles, or run way faster. Those easy, seemingly purposeless, miles that I once thought were the ones I could skip every now and then, that aren't S.O.S. (something of substance) runs according to Hanson's, now have purpose. Number 1 - they have helped my heart rates drop, as previously discussed. Number 2 - they keep demanding more on my legs, without wasting them for the S.O.S. runs. And, number 3 - they are teaching me to run sans pep/the caged animal feel.

Theory: I think there are some runners who can run a marathon, in its entirety, on the caged animal/pep in step feel. I am not one of them. My marathon/racing history suggest that I, like most hobby runners,  can make it to mile 20-22 with that feel...and then crash. In Hartford, I made it to 23.5ish before that. Most runners, can run a banging half, 10k, and certainly a 5k on the caged animal plan. Hanson's is beginning to make more sense to me. There are no more caged animals, only legs (and bodies) that have been trained to handle the demands of the entire 26.2 miles that a marathon covers. Here's to hoping I can make it through the next 12 weeks of training to test this theory out on race day!

Stay tuned for Tuesday, when I post my two new recipes for the week for my 24 in 2014 Clean(er) Eating plan! Here is a preview of the fun...

Quinoa and Kale

Lentil Burger Mix!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Motivational Monday!

On Saturday Fellow Flowers unveiled their new flower for Declare It Day 2014. The timing of this was ABSOLUTELY amazing. I read it and reread it...and reread it again...maybe about 20 times. I could not even believe how fitting this was to my last few months. Seriously, I think someone from Fellow Flowers invaded my brain and took the mantras I have been trying to engrain in my deep unconscious right out. 

My January Recap may have understated how rough this past month was. I spent 195 freaking miles "looking within" and finding the "courage" to um, how should I say, shut the eff up, and do what was right. Well, maybe not "what was right," maybe more of what was the path of least resistance. The path that maybe, just maybe, would be better in the long run (hmm title of my blog..maybe I actually am on to something here)...but really effing sucked at the moment. And I am the five year olds I teach. I want instant gratification...none of this "wait it out" BS.

I spent the last month focusing on "MY OWN RACE," my own journey. Mentally and physically. I turned raw, disgustingly painful emotion into miles. I learned more about myself in the last month than I ever have. I learned that in the end, it is me who has to take care of me, because no one else knows my journey like me. I am lucky enough to have my amazing husband and one close friend, who can support me and challenge my thinking (Thank you, D - you helped me through January). 

 This month, I learned more of who I want to be and what I desperately do NOT want to be. On a run a few weeks ago, I had some pretty awful word vomit about someone and immediately felt horrible about it. It was inappropriate and uncalled for. After the run, I apologized to my running mates and something one of them said has stuck with me. I've been reminding myself of it, as it applies to two of my "storm fronts" from January. I don't remember the words exactly, but the sentiment is generalized in this quote...

Men of sense often learn from their enemies. It is from their foes, not their friends, that cities learn the lesson of building high walls and ships of war.

I am not a big fan of the word "enemies," however, the point stands. These "thorns in my side" the last month have really made me examine what I do NOT want to be - actions I do NOT want to take, or be responsible for - qualities that maybe, I want to, no - need to, temper in myself. I know part of my problem is that I expect a lot from people. I expect people to care. I expect people to be sensitive. I expect people to have a sense of duty. I expect people to reciprocate. I expect people to appreciate. Maybe this last month was so tough for me because I finally realized that I can't expect anything from people. And I don't mean that in a negative way. Maybe this month was so rough because as much as I want the world to be completely a cause and effect relationship, it isn't. Maybe everyone knows this except for me? (insert chuckle here...?) 

I am still on cloud nine about how great I felt during yesterday's race. But then, something happened that **almost** and I do mean **almost** took away from it. But I was damn proud of myself. For a split second, I almost fought fire with fire. For a split second, I almost acted as another had acted. But..I didn't. I laughed. I laughed..and then I slyly thought to myself. Fuel. Fuel for the fire. I will turn this into more raw, disgusting miles. Miles, that may be painful (physically and emotionally) to start, always turn into ones that cleanse. And I will use it as energy to take care of me and to meet MY goals. My running goals...and my goals to be the person I want to be. Signing off for now...I am have a second workout to get to today... ;-) 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Ramble On: Mid Winter Classic 10 miler 2014

Despite the title of this post I will try not to "Ramble On" about how the Mid Winter Classic 10 Miler went today. Going over this race in my head today I was reminded of one of my favorite song lyrics by Bob Marley in the song Trenchtown Rock...

"One good thing about music, once it hits you, you feel no pain" 

I had no race plan for today. I had no idea what to expect. I've never run as many miles as I have been in training and I did not taper for this race. I did not want it to interfere with training. And then I felt a cold coming on the night before. I did not have my heart set on a PR, but I figured if I did get out there and feel like actually racing, there was a good chance I would given my training over the last few months. 

I decided to run with music today, something I've never done during a race. I got to the start and ramped it up as loud as it could go. I don't know just felt right. The race started, and I immediately got into a zone like I've never entered before. I opened it up and let it rip for the first mile and felt freaking amazing. Free. Stress-free. Worry-free. Happy. Like myself. It was great. The first mile flew by in 7:03. Umm..oops. I guess I'll slow it down a bit...I have nothing to prove. 

Then I didn't check my watch again till the corner right after mile 3. Again, I was in the zone, listening to my songs, singing along a bit (sorry if you were near me, I'm sure I was obnoxious). Mile 3 heartrate - just at lactate. Perfect. I don't remember much from mile 3 to 5, but I remember thinking that I was tearing through the downhills. I have never been a good downhill runner, but for some reason, today I was able to open it up and pass quite a few people on the downs. It felt right. 

Mile 5 - in the zoneeeee! 

I got to mile 5 and "woke up" from my zone just in time to see that dreaded turny hill that had always signaled the beginning of my slow demise the previous four time I have run this race. I took some deep breaths, turned up the music again, and charged ahead. Hmm...not as bad as I remember it...and heart rate still at lactate. 

Again, I zoned out until I got to the Beach to Beacon start (6.5ish?? maybe??) And then the strangest thing happened. For just a few seconds, I thought the wheels were coming off. Literally though..just a few seconds. Four years ago, my grandfather passed away while I was running this race. I was on my way back home to CT to see him after the race, knowing that he wasn't doing well. I never made it home in time to see him. The last two years running this race have been very hard knowing that he passed while I was running it. But this year, I didn't even remember. There were no tears at the start. But in those seconds I felt the wheels come off, he popped into my head and I smiled. Maybe I was a lot more tired than I thought...but I swear he told me he was proud of me because of how hard I worked. He was the hardest worker I have ever met. Immediately I got back into my zone. Matthew popped into my head quickly too. Wheels back on. In an instant. 

Mile 8 let's get this done!

I kept trucking through and the miles were going by like crazy. At mile 8 I had a burst of energy and started passing people (that has NEVER happened to my at mile 8 of this race). Mile 8 had always been where the I start to struggle big time at this race. I felt a burst of confidence growing in me that maybe, just maybe, I would be able to keep pace till the end. I saw the mile 9 sign and thought "shit, that burst came a bit too early." 

And then it happened. Freaking "Ramble On." Oh, Led Zeppelin. You, like my Grandpa, never fail to pick me up right when I need you. I swear to God if "Fool in the Rain" had come on at the particular moment, I may just have ran a 6 minute mile just to make that the last song of this race. I  yipped out a quick "F*CK YEA" (sorrryyyy to anyone near me, it was a complete impulse) and freaking ran. Right as the song finished I saw Dee ahead working traffic which motivated me to keep on moving through. I gave Dee the thumbs up and ran through that ah-maz-ing downhill finish. I rounded the corner and saw 1:13:41 on the clock and gave another involuntary "F*CK YEA." (again, friendly event, I know, I know) finishing in 1:13:44 (gun time). 

BOOM last mile! RAMBLE ON! 

SO HAPPY with this performance! 

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled about a three minute PR on this course. But I am WAY more thrilled about how I felt. AWESOME. Awesome and STRONG. The wheels stayed on. My heart rate stayed at lactate, and even a little below in my slower miles (6 and 7). I enjoyed every single mile of this race...and every single note sang. I have two loves - two hobbies that I am passionate about. Running and music. Singing is sadly something I don't do much anymore, but god do I still love it. Music + Running = feel no pain. Thanks Bob Marley. Oh, and thanks Led Zeppelin. I rambled on, and I sang my song and I was going round the world....

"Mine's a tale that can't be told, my freedom I hold dear

How years ago in days of old when magic filled the air

'twas in the darkest depths of Mordor, mm-I met a girl so fair
but Gollum and the evil one crept up and slipped away with her
her, her, yeah, and ain't nothin' I can do...."


Saturday, February 1, 2014

January Recap

This is the first time I've ever done a "monthly recap" post. But with giving a new training plan a try, I want to document as much of this training cycle as possible. The reason is two-fold - 1) If I end up doing great, I want to be able to re-create this cycle and continue to grow and 2) If I end up blowing up and dying, I want to be able to reflect on what factors (or culmination of factors) led to my demise.

So here goes...

Miles RUN: 193.6 This is a monthly record by about 15 mies. I also ran more days in one month than I ever have previously this month too - running 27/31 days. I was originally very intimidated by the six day a week schedule Hanson's suggests, but I am finding it more and more enjoyable, to the point where I think I would continue it even after this training cycle ends. Friday is my sacred day off from running, so right now I am running Saturday through Thursday. Mondays are tough because I work our after school program, but we are rapidly gaining daylight (and the gym is sloooowwwlyyy starting to clear out), so this shouldn't be an issue much longer. The main thing that I have learned about running 6 days a week (and enjoying it) is to follow Hanson's pace plans to a T. DON'T GO FASTER! The plan contains 2-3 S.O.S. (something of substance) workouts each week where you can open it up...but all other runs are done at an honest, easy pace.

My January....that is a lot of days running for me....

Cross Training: This plan does not suggest cross training while in a marathon training cycle. The reasoning is that 1) if you want to run a marathon, you need to run and 2) you want to give all your energy to those S.O.S. workouts, and cross training may take away from that. I'm not really sure if I completely agree with part 2 of that, I think there is a time and a place for cross training and it definitely has some great benefits, but seeing as I'm not married to any one type of cross training, I have no problem not doing it for the next few months for the sake of seeing how Hanson's works. I am, however, doing a new strength training routine where I cycle through three different routines after each of my runs. I am really enjoying these "routines" as they are super short (the longest one takes about 15 minutes, if that), target to runner's areas of weaknesses, and the fact that I can do this routines consistently and still run. I already feel the difference, especially in my hips.

"New Year's Resolution"/Mission 24 Check In: This month I tried out five new recipes. Our all time favorite was the Roasted Spaghetti Squash and Mushrooms recipe. We LOVE this dish and have been making it weekly since trying it out. Hmmm....just thinking about it makes me want to try it now. On another food related note...I have a problem...

Said problem is mostly with my wallet...
I may have polished this all off in a week. What can I say...I'm running more miles than least its clean fuel...

Races: None!! That's right, I can actually go a month (well, two really) without racing and not spontaneously combust. Now, with that being said, this is the eve of the Mid Winter Classic 10 Miler. I am not sure my plan for tomorrow. I will, at the very least, at least be running 6 miles at tempo pace to replace my tempo run from Thursday, as suggested by the Hanson's plan for racing during training season. But...we shall see. I honestly do not know what to expect from my legs right now after my highest month of miles yet. I really don't know if they are ready to turn over yet...and I am tentative to even try and risk an injury right now.

High Point of the Month: TIE between...

Finding out that Chicago changed their entry procedures and are offering guaranteed entry to their marathon this year for females who have a marathon time 3:45 or under. Nate and I have not gone on a honeymoon yet, and in 9 years together (this month!) have never taken a trip together, been on a plane together, ect. So...we are (**most likely**) freaking going...with Mama Attardo in tote to sherpa again. I cannot even contain my excitement about this one. Boston next year will most likely be my last marathon for a while, as it will be time to start thinking about family, so I wanted to be really picky about what marathon I pick for the fall...and I just feel like this was meant to be. Begin major penny pinching!


FINALLY finding out what was wrong with my foot/toes after Hartford. After running the Hartford Marathon in October, my foot/toes swelled up like a sausage. It went away after a week, but every now and then some aches and tightness would return to the foot. Umm..and maybe now is a good time to admit that I had a numb second toe for about 3 months straight. Hehe - oops. After a run about two weeks ago the spot on my foot started zinging again and my ankle got really right. The ankle was fixed the next day by the AMAZING new miracle worker at my chiropractor's office, but I needed peace of mind so I scheduled an appointment with Sports Medicine. My appointment went AMAZING. After chatting for less than 5 minutes and taking a look at my foot, I was told I either have a poorly healed stress fracture or a Morton's Neuroma. A stress fracture was ruled out with an X-ray so we moved on to ultrasound and found a little neuroma in between my second and third toes. I got a steroid injection in between the toes and I can finally feel my toe again! Now, knock on wood that puppy doesn't come back!

This was also a nice surprise this month...Thanks Maine Track Club <3

Low Point of the Month (that turned into some great points): This month would be a great example of "everything happens for a reason." Taking on this plan has taken a lot of me mentally and physically, and that has been a very, very great thing. So far 2014 for me has been the "year of the bad news" everywhere I turn..and on not one, but three separate fronts. Luckily, I have been so focused on this plan and so consumed by it (and I mean that in a good way) that I have been able to power through like a champ (pats self on back - I feel like I have the right to say that...things got pretty rough there for a while). Nate has been my rock through this month. He hit the nail on the head the other night, saying that my "three fronts"of stress can all be summed up in this following quip -
"Your actions are speaking so loudly, I cannot hear your words."
Thursday, I had a bombshell and a half thrown at me (enter in the third 'front' of the month). I also was suppose to take the day off because I had the steroid injection the previous day. I had 9 miles on my schedule, but I was ok missing them. I got home and immediately  started "mourning" the news I had received. And before I knew it, I had my shoes laced up and running gear on and was out the door. Oops. So much for taking the day off. I promised myself only 4 miles. And then I returned home an hour and a half later with 10 miles logged on my Garmin. Oops again. Running really is therapy I guess and I am thankful for the timing of this new training plan.

Running Related, Non-Running, News: When I wasn't running or working this month, I finally got ahold of a few decent reads.

First, I read In Defense of Food, by Michael Pollan. I have wanted to read this one for a long rime. I had a lot of "aha" moments while reading this book and it put a lot into perspective for me. For one, as someone who has struggled with eating her whole life, I know that I have some distorted ideas in general. However, according to Pollan, as Americans, we all have distorted ideas about food, thanks to advertising, government policies of the 40's and 50's and capitalism. Horrifying - yes.After I got over my initial..."holy crap, I never want to eat anything that I don't personally grow" phase (which lasted a few weeks) I started doing some research and really analyzing my diet. I have made some huge improvements in the last year and a half..but now I know where I am going next. First off, this book really made me get serious about getting out garden up and running this year. Secondly, I've reworked my budget a bit to spend some more money on food. Pollan points out that while it is ridiculous that healthy foods cost more than unhealthy ones in American, we, as a nation, tend to want to spend less on food and more on luxury, where in almost every other country healthy food is the priority. Thirdly, I really have little desire to eat meat much anymore. Currently, I really only eat meat on the weekends (when we go out to eat). I'd like to keep it that way (if not gradually cut that out eventually too). I have a feeling I will be revisiting this book, and the companion reader which I've read a number of times already, in the near future.

My second read of the month was Night Runner, by Brian Wallace.

I wanted to read this book because it, in large, was mostly about the Boston Marathon. I was a little turned off when there was a typo on the second page (and others throughout the book) and the book itself read like a movie script instead of a book. But honestly, I actually really enjoyed the story in and of itself. The characters were likable, and it made me super excited to volunteer Boston again this year AND to run in 2015!

Coming Attractions: Training plan related, I only have two more weeks in the 40 miles (47 next week and then 49 the week after). The remainder of the plan calls for 50-62 miles each week. If this mileage is too much, I am going to modify the non-SOS days of the plan and mesh the beginner's plan with the advanced plan. I figure it will still be way more than I've ever run, so hopefully I will reap the benefits! Also - although the bad news of January was great fuel for my training, I'd also be a-ok with some better news in February!