Sunday, May 31, 2009

Cooking With Yvie: Strawberry Milkshake

Welcome to another episode of Cooking With Yvie.

Today, we've got one of our favorites, actually one of my favorite creations. I had found a Paula Deen recipe for vanilla milkshake and was making that often, got adventurous and threw in some things like frozen Kit Kats to make a Kit Kat milkshake, frozen chocolate and then played around with some strawberry jelly and balsamic vinegar.

It's really good. I know it sound strange but trust me if Yvie likes that combination, it's not bad.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Last journey

The travel bug has bitten me. It's really a great chance I got to take on this latest travel venture.

On Monday I leave for Costa Rica and I'll be there through Saturday. I am going on business and staying for pleasure. I'm a writer by trade and there's a big game down there that I'll be at, players that I'll talk to and write about before the game and of course provide on-the-spot coverage from the game itself. I've traveled before for games, went to the World Cup in Japan in 2002 and have been through various sites in the U.S. for games as well (Dallas, Salt Lake City, Chicago). My favorite trip until now was a trip I took to Trinidad & Tobago back in 2001. If I figure out my scanner, I'll have to scan in some pictures of there. That place was marvelous, and I was lucky enough to go for three weeks!

Still, work-related travel plans are few and far between. Usually if I travel, it's on my own dime and then I have to try and sell enough stories to cover the costs, but that is hardly ever a good idea. This time around though one site I work for paid for my trip so that was a stroke of good fortune.

Also, Mrs. LB will be joining me down there and we get to spend two days in the rainforests of Costa Rica! It's only two days but with children two days is a lot better than no days. We haven't traveled like this since 2006 when we took a road trip to Mexico. And while we weren't exactly world travelers before having children, we did have the freedom to go and do so before we became parents, and we spent time in Mexico and visited several other states here in the U.S.

Anyway, there is hope that some day I'll be able to travel more frequently. The girls are getting older and traveling with them won't be as difficult. I don't know what 8-year-old girls are like but I can't imagine them being more difficult to travel with than an 8-month-old baby as was the case in 2006 for us. We had fun then, though that trip had its harrowing moments. We actually drove down there (LB, Mrs. LB, Danny and his then-girlfriend, now-wife) while the girls flew with my parents. It's a long story about the mix-up at the airport, Mrs. LB having to fly back home and fly back down and us leaving early (the harrowing parts) but I'll blog about the wonders of notarized letters and traveling out of the country on a future post.

For now, here's one of the best parts of that trip, which was the drive down there. This was our route. We left here on a Thursday afternoon, drove through the night, got into Mazatlan on Friday, stayed the rest of the day and night there and drove the rest of the way on Saturday.

The red is our route. The yellow dot towards the end is Mazatlan. The graphics are great: print screen, paint and a red marker. We spare no expense at Muddy Runner.

And here's a more visual representation of the journey down there.

Mazatlan is beautiful. You could go to Cancun and Acapulco but Mazatlan is a lot less touristy than those places and a lot less crowded. You can't go wrong there. Hopefully we'll be back sooner rather than later.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Where did the week go?

It's already Friday and I haven't done hardly any physical activity this week, unless you count some dancing on Wednesday evening.

I guess work got in the way of doing much this week. I had to go out somewhere on Wednesday morning and that completely threw off my whole routine this week. It's funny how one day of deviating from routine can ruin my whole calendar. I used to be a bit more flexible but with the schedule so rigid from having to take the girls to and from school, I have no choice but to conform around that.

School is out for Kennedy though and in a couple of weeks Yvie will be done with school, and I couldn't be happier. I get my mornings back. I know by the time September rolls around I'll want school to start but for now I'm quite excited that there will not be any school for a few months.

I'll be able to plan my workouts better, plan some outings (Disneyland, beach, library) and not live so much by the start and end of the school day.

Anyway, I've got three more days before I'm off to Central America and I have no idea if I'll be able to do any exercise down there. I'm hoping one of the hotels will have something on either Tuesday or Wednesday (I'm staying in separate places on both nights) but am not counting on doing anything but walking on Thursday or Friday. We're going out to a rainforest those days, somewhere near the coast. Should be fun.

So that gives me a week to really prepare for the Mud Run, the week of June 7-12. I'm going to try for some strong runs that week and then it's showtime. Before I realize it, it's going to be June 13 and I'll be standing out in start line with time ticking down until the race starts.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

A new wrinkle

While 2009 might be the year of my first marathon, 2010 could see yours truly delve into another facet of fitness: endurance sports.

Well, I suppose the marathon falls under there, but I was thinking more of something I haven't been able to do before - a duathlon.

I got my first bicycle earlier this week. I've actually owned bicycles before but that was in the mid-80s, and I don't think those really count now. I got a hand-me-down bicycle from my father-in-law, who upgraded and wanted to get rid of his old bike. It's actually perfect for me. It retails around $150-200, which is what I had thought it would cost me to get going. I'm not going to upgrade to a $600 bicycle like my FIL anytime soon so his old one is perfect for me.

It's actually in great condition and I've ridden it a couple of times already. I'll take a picture of it soon enough so you can see what I'm dealing with. (UPDATE: Picture is up!)

Of course, I haven't had the bicycle for more than a few days, haven't really gone anywhere on it, have no idea how long it will take me to bike 5, 10, 15 or whatever amount of miles, but I'm already thinking about a race.

This one.

The Camp Pendleton Devil Dog Duathlon.

The race is simple: a 5K run, a 30K bike ride and a 5K run. So that's essentially a 10K sandwiched around a long bike ride.

The 10K itself would take me about an hour I'd say, the second leg of it I'd run after the bike ride so I'd probably be slowed down some. But it would be an awesome challenge. Supposedly the bike route is mostly flat, while the run is on gravel roads. Not sure how steep it is but that area can get quite hilly.

I've actually mentioned this race before, but it was more of a pie-in-the-sky type deal since I didn't have the money to get myself a bike. Now I have one and I'm anxious to go out and ride it. This week has been ultra-busy and next week I'll be down in Central America, so my first bike ride may not happen until a few weeks from now.

Not sure how it will fit into my running either. I don't want to injure myself by riding the bike so I'll just have to ease into bike riding. No 20-mile rides off the bat for LB. Still, some 30-minute bike segments would be a good change of pace from running, so there's an upside to the running as well.

I think one of the better visions I have, though, is this: LB, Yvie and Kennedy on their own bikes down on a bike trail in a nearby beach on a less-crowded weekday. This summer, that vision will come to fruition!

As for the duathlon, we'll see but I'm guessing I'm going to make that one happen as well.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Burger upheavel

Throughout my weight-loss journey, one thing I had given up mostly was hamburgers. Like many others, I at lots of hamburgers before simply because it was convenient and relatively inexpensive.

But I went a good two years without eating hardly any hamburgers. It was difficult but also not as bad as I would have thought. It was the hardest when I was around others who were eating burgers, which still happens, and is still hard.

Still, there are times when burgers are unavoidable, at least for me. Backyard barbecues, unplanned restaurant visits... there are just some situations where burgers are among the only option I have. And sometimes, I just feel like a burger and I want to give in. Sure, those situations are few and far between but it's not like they don't happen.

To help keep the damage low, here's a list from The Mag that helps. They have the worst burger from the following chains: Chili's, TGI Friday's, Red Robin, Denny's, Dairy Queen, Hardee's and Ruby Tuesday, and also have five burgers who made their "Hall of Fame."

Here are two of the worst gut-busters.

Worst Burger: Chili's - Smokehouse Bacon Triple-The-Cheese Big Mouth Burger with Jalapeno Ranch Dressing. 2,040 calories, 150 g fat (53 g saturated), 110 g protein, 4,900 mg sodium

This one is particularly insane. More than 2,000 calories and nearly 5,000 mg sodium. That's more than you need of each in one day, and you're getting it in a few bites. Insanity!

Worst Burger: Denny's - Double Cheeseburger. 1,540 calories, 116 g fat (52 g saturated, 7 g trans), 3,880 mg sodium

That's quite a lot of calories for one burger. It's probably an excess of cheese and ground beef that makes this soar. According to The Mag, this has as much saturated fat as 52 strips of bacon.

But not all is lost. There are actually five burgers that are decent to good options at places.

Quarter-pounder options at Wendy's (430 calories, 20 g fat) and McDonald's (410 calories, 19 g fat) are not bad compared to the previous burgers while the Burger King Whopper Jr (without mayo) has only 370 calories. The best option is the In-n-Out Protein-style cheeseburger. Of course, In-n-Out is only around here in Cali. I'm not sure if the protein style means it's wrapped in lettuce or not. I ordered a burger once like that, that had a lot less calories than other burgers, but it was like that because it was wrapped in lettuce. It wasn't the best burger I ever had.

Here's the entire list.

Anyway, for those times when you just can't avoid hamburgers or you want to indulge without risking too much, The Mag kicks down with some options. Because really, sometimes you just feel like chowing down on a good old-fashioned hamburger.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Playlist enhancer: Johnny Cash's Ghost Riders in the Sky

This is one of my new favorite running songs. It's hard to pick which Johnny Cash song is my favorite to run to, but this one is quickly gaining stature in that group.

It just makes me feel like moving, like stretching my legs. Maybe it's because the song is about riding and catching herds and all that, or maybe it's Johnny Cash's majestic voice. Whatever the reason, it's a fantastic running song.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Motivational Mondays (May 25)

Sometimes during runs... okay, many times during runs... I rely on outside sources for motivation. Music, mostly. I construct my playlists with great care and probably overthink things sometimes. I get a bit too technical sometimes and try to plan out what song would best serve as motivation for me in, say the 35th minute of a 10K when I know that I'll probably need something heavy there to keep my legs churning, or in the 50th minute of a 10K, when I know I'll need something really heavy to get me to the finish line.

A lot of the times, the music serves as a prod to poke me and get me going a bit stronger during runs. But I have to have the right mentality and mindset before going out on the run, because if I'm not motivated or go half-assed into a run, no song is going to motivate me.

You've got to get yourself motivated before a run, before a walk, before a workout. There is a process to it, really. You've got to want to do something (run 5 miles, for instance), motivate yourself to doing it (grrr) and then go out and do it (huffing and puffing). Afterward you can celebrate (yay).

Perhaps that's a bit too simplistic but that's my process, in a bare-bones kind of way. The easy part is wanting. I want to go on lots of runs, all the time. The rest costs work and effort. Now, music mostly only serves as in-run motivation, but I do get motivated sometimes by other entertaining means.

Movies can serve as good fodder for motivation. There are countless scenes that inspire, that hit some deep-down nerve and make lasting impressions.

I can make an endless list of movies that were inspiring in some form or another, that provided some sort of fodder that I've hung on to or chewed on or pondered or whatever.

But there are some movies that have stood out more than others. Scent of a Woman would probably make my Top 10 favorite movies of all time. That's a daunting list to comprise and I don't know that I could ever make a definitive Top 10 list. But it would be hard to keep Scent of a Woman off that list. The performances alone are memorable, but outside circumstances also make it worthwhile. I first watched the movie when I lived in Mexico as a teenager. Plus, I had made it a tradition to watch the movie every Thanksgiving, something that lasted from about '94 until 2000, so for six years (Mrs. LB wasn't keen on the tradition, though now she might be more open to it). I do plan on resurrecting it. If you're not up on the movie, it takes place during a Thanksgiving weekend.

And if you're not up on the movie or haven't seen it before, perhaps you might not want to watch this, since this is one of the last scenes of the movie.

But this always gets me going, and if I could bottle up the feelings I get while watching this I'd be motivated for 10-mile runs every day.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The shirt

Per my previous post about my bloody experience, here is the damage left behind.

That spot there is blood. It must have bled for the last couple of miles. It's been about eight hours since the race ended as I type and the nipple still looks raw.

Body Glide is starting to sound better and better. Thanks Angie for your suggestion. I'm on it.
Sunday 10-miler

We're at our first pool part of the summer, well, technically not summer yet but still... So I'm glad I can enjoy being around water without worrying about my weight. But that's another topic for another day.

I'm still recovering from this morning's 10-mile run. Didn't intend to run 10 miles but got to 8.5 and said screw it and made it to 10.

Some setbacks: strap pain was intense over the last few miles. Gotta figure that out if I want to run the marathon.

My nipple bled like crazy. Didn't realize until I got home and Mrs. LB asked me if it hurt. I was like, huh, and looked down at my chest to see a big red spot. Ouch.

Positives: first double-digit run since half-marathon. My time was slow: right around 1:40, but that's fine.

Stats: 170 avg HR, 178 max, 1655 calories burned.

Well, off to enjoy the pool. Or, at least a cold beer poolside. I can't swim :)

Cooking With Yvie: Granola Bars

Yvie made these Granola Bars this week. Plus, she shared some big developments for her before going into her show.

Also, Kennedy and her new hairdo made a cameo. I'm still trying to get used to it.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Reassuring six-miler

I met my wife at Target on Saturday morning. It actually wasn't your typical we'll-go-separate-ways-and-meet-somewhere-later meeting.

She drove. I ran.

We did it once before, and it was enjoyable. But that was sometimes last spring. Don't know why we haven't done it since. I ran over the hill once again (I think from now on I'll call it The Hill, as it's earned its place among the Muddy Runner Lingo, uh, thingie...) but this time instead of running back over it and running home, I kept on running to Target. The store is about four miles from here on a straight shot, but I wanted to run longer so I zigged instead of zagging early in the run and took a two-mile loop.

That caused me to miss the drive-by. Last year Mrs. LB drove past me when I was at the very top of The Hill. But since she was already dressed and the girls were already dressed and I missed about 17 minutes on the loop, I figured I had missed them. And I did.

At the base of The Hill, I was doing very well with my time and HR. I can't remember my exact time but I was at around 2.8 miles and my pace, according to The Garmin, was at about 9:12. But The Hill can be very difficult and challenging. By the time I had gone over the summit (and actually by then I was in a different county, from Riverside to San Bernardino County... my cross-county run...) my pace was around 9:58 or thereabouts. I decided then that I wanted to shave as much time off of that as possible before getting to Target.

The bottom part of The Hill was tricky. I was on the northbound lanes, so the cars were coming up from behind. That side of the street has no sidewalks, and I was essentially running in the gutter (it was dry, which was good) because the part above the curb was all rocks and not much room anyway. The cars whizzed past me and I was quite anxious to get down to an actual sidewalk.

Once I did, I was moving at a pretty good clip. The one thing I haven't figured out about The Garmin is how to see your current pace as it only shows you the pace for the overall race. So it said something around the low 9:50s but I was moving faster than that right then and there.

It was a straightaway to the Target from then on. I was at the five-mile mark when I knew I could get to six so I made it a point of doing so. I had to run a tiny bit out of my once I got to the Target parking lot but I got to six miles. My time was 58:23, so that was good.

There's something about running one-way, of having a start line and a finish line that are different, that makes runs enjoyable. It's nice to run outdoors, I prefer that to the 'mill, but sometimes it can get mundane if you run the same route over and over again.

Mrs. LB has suggested driving somewhere, running, and then driving back home. I might take her up on the suggestion one day, but it seems that my time is limited enough as it is.

Still, there's something about a six-mile run where the finish line is six miles away that makes it a different kind of experience. I'm going to try and knock out a run on Sunday, maybe the same distance, maybe more, and it's going to have been today's enjoyable run that helped pave the way for that one.

Restful sleep

It's been a while since my sleep study revealed that I had indeed gone from a bad case of sleep apnea to a moderate one. And it's been a little less than that since I had my CPAP adjusted.

And it's been nice. The airflow is much less overwhelming and much more manageable. Now, I don't usually get eight hours of sleep... in fact, I don't usually get six hours of sleep. Unfortunately, my time to work is best at night, after the girls have gone down for the count. That means several hours of unmolested time to work but it eats into my sleep time. It's not uncommon for me to stay up past midnight, and I always get up at 4:45 a.m. when the alarm goes off.

Yeah, it's a fun schedule.

Still, it would be more stressful if my CPAP was still on the wrong setting. I can feel the difference too. It feels like it did when I first got it, not overpowering, just the right pressure. The noise level is better too - Mrs. LB says it sounds like a ceiling fan.

Sleep apnea is not fun but it's much more manageable now. And it helps now that my equipment is on the right page too.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Mud, mud everywhere

Three weeks from Saturday is the Camp Pendleton Mud Run. I'm excited for it, but I can't really focus too much on it right now since I'm going to squeeze a trip to Costa Rica from now 'til then. I suppose once I get back home I'll be more amped up for it. Yeah, I can feel the butterflies right now just thinking about it.

Although I won't have an opportunity to run in another Mud Run down in Camp Pendleton until 2010 (and really I think I'm going to make that race a yearly thing), there will be chances to run in other local Mud Run races.

On July 18, there is the Orange County Mud Run, down at the Hidden Valley Park in Irvine, Calif. Not sure where that is but it's near the 5 and 405 freeways (which means nothing to my out-of-state readers!). Apparently that's the first year for the race so participating in it might be fun and a unique experience. There are 4,000 slots open for that race, and unlike the Camp Pendleton one they offer a 5K as well as the 10K course.

But there's one even closer to me out here in the IE. The San Bernardino Mud Run is slated for Sept. 12 up here in San Bernardino. It's actually over by Glen Helen, a popular place for concerts (where I saw Rage Against the Machine in the summer of '07!). That one also has a 5K course to complement the 10K course, and even offers a 1K, which would be enough to get your clothes sopping wet with mud.

I really want to do both of the other Mud Runs. The latter has some awesome pictures from last year's event and they look awesome! And if I do decide to do the Marathon, I don't think it would affect the training regiment too much, if at all.

Well, my race calendar officially has one race on it - the Camp Pendleton Mud Run - but I could realistically run a race in July (OC Mud Run), two in September (SBSD Mud Run, Camp Pendleton 13.1), one in October (Long Beach Marathon) and another in November (Mission Inn).

Sounds like a fun calendar!

Now I just need someone to finance it.

Born too late

One of my favorite places to visit is Willoughby.

Okay, not the real town... wherever that may be, or even the fictional one; no, it's the blog This Stop Willoughby, written by... Willoughby, of course.

When Willoughby first started her blog, I wondered what it would be about. She claimed it would not be about the Twilight Zone, and a tiny part of me was a bit disappointed. The Twilight Zone's heyday was well before my time but I still liked to watch the shows during the occasional marathon. It would have been nice to catch up with the show a bit, but it probably would have gotten strange to see post after post on that show.

I was sort of familiar with the Twilight Zone but could not quite place the episode for which Willoughby's blog was named.

Finally, I figured I'd look into it, and lo and behold it's on You Tube.

So if you've got a minute or 20, check out the episode A Stop in Willoughby. It's pretty good.

And here are the links to the following parts of the episode:

Part two is here.

And part three is here.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Choices, and more choices

I don't get to run outdoors much, simply because of how things go here from day to day. Mrs. LB leaves for work at around 5:30 a.m. so during the week my window is quite narrow, and I haven't done a pre-5 a.m. run in a long time. I really do need to consider that more of an option, especially as the summer months hit and the sun comes up earlier.

Usually I have a window of two hours, at least Tuesday through Thursday when Kenna's at preschool, to hit the gym, but if other things come up it can be difficult. Such as today. I'm getting ready to take Kennedy to preschool and I have about two hours before Yvie's out of school. I was all set for a gym workout when I realized that I hadn't volunteered in Yvie's class for a while. Like, more than a month.

With her school year nearly over, I decided to scrap the gym workout and go to her class. I guess that's why I won't run a half-marathon in under two hours (if I ever made that a goal). Oh well. Workouts come and go, and I'll have a chance to do the same workout tomorrow, but Yvie's days in Kindergarten are numbered (20, to be precise).

This summer when the girls are out of school, I can start to plan some days around the gym and things will run much smoother. Maybe no outdoor runs but gym trips are always fun.

Chain reaction

Just got the new issue of The Mag this morning, and one of the things that jumped out at me in terms of nutrition was some of the restaurant information. Recently we had to eat out a couple of days in a row and while I don't like to do that too much, it's an unavoidable fact of life.

My biggest concern about eating out at chain restaurants is the lack of nutritional information on the menu. Some restaurants have some caloric information. For instance, we went to TGI Friday's on Saturday, and some select dishes were I believe under 600 calories. Of course, that list was limited to three entrees out of their entire menu, which was disappointing. I ordered one of those entrees, some sort of Asian-style chicken, even though I didn't feel like chicken.... or Asian-style food. It's like a no-win situation, though. I would rather have ordered that and known my calories were under a certain amount than order something else and not know just how many calories I consumed.

When I dropped my weight, I was vigilant about counting my calories. At first, my trainer had me on a meal plan that allowed for three straight days of 1,700 calories or so, and then every fourth day at 2,800. When I got under 220, he suggested I try to maintain my daily caloric intake to 1,800. It wasn't difficult in 2008 to keep it there but for some reason it's been more difficult, or should I say challenging, in 2009.

Anyway, it can be dangerous if I'm at a restaurant and order some random dish only to find out later that it had more than 1,000 calories.

Now, I usually consult which is an excellent resource, not just for restaurants but also for packaged foods and general nutritional information in your average run-of-the-mill foods. That's helpful to me when we go to places like Friday's, when we're just out and about and looking for somewhere to stop. But I can access it with my phone, and not everybody can. And even then, is not at all complete when it comes to chains. Just depends on whether the restaurant is willing to share their nutritional info since some restaurants have all their info there and others have hardly any.

Sticking to salads might seem like a good idea but that's a wolf in sheep's clothing. For instance, the Chicken Caesar Salad at Macaroni Grill has 870 calories, 2,270mg sodium and 67g fat. That's not at all a healthy alternative. That's almost half of my calories and way too many sodium and fat grams.

I've often thought it would be great if restaurants were required to post the nutritional info of all their entrees on their menus, so that way you could have that info handy. But that might not be beneficial to restaurants in the long run so it probably won't happen anytime soon. It doesn't help that The Mag said, accoprding to a study, 99.9 percent of people do not look at nutritional information at chain restuarants when available.

One of the dishes that The Mag warns us about this month is the Grilled Cheese BLT with Fries, from Applebee's. It has a whopping 1,770 calories. That's just preposterous.

The best way I've found to avoid getting caught in bad situations is to familiarize myself with restaurant menus and plan ahead as much as possible. If I know that we're going somewhere like Olive Garden or some other potentially disastrous place like that (great food, not a lot of healthy choices), I'll adjust my caloric intake accordingly. Also, I can research ahead of time and decide on a few things that would be good options.

But I have to say the worst thing about eating out is that I'm usually the only one eating light. Usually those around me have something that looks really good, like burgers or some unhealthy breakfast dish or something, and I'm there with something I may or may not have really felt like. It's hard to not to keep picking at my daughters' fries since I know they won't finish them all. I carry gum sometimes and sometimes I'll just pop some in my mouth when I'm done, to keep from picking at my daughters' plates. Yeah, sometimes discipline can be a challenge.

I prefer to eat by my own hand, by cooking my own food. That's easily the best way to control your caloric intake. Take the power away from restaurants and control your own caloric intake. Last night, for instance, I made a chicken dish with peppers, onions and balsamic vinegar with sides of red onion rice and a Greek salad, and all of it was tasty.

So Friday's had the power over the weekend and I had the power yesterday. I just try to keep more of the power and control myself. It's all I can do.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Mud Run playlist

Here is the playlist I will utilize during the Mud Run on June 13. It actually didn't take me too long to put this together.

It's the same playlist that I used during last year's Mud Run.

Yes, it's empty. There aren't any songs on there. Since the run is, well, muddy, and watery, wearing an iPod is out of the question.

While the hills will be tough and the mud and water will be a challenge, one of the most difficult parts of the Mud Run is the inability to listen to music during the run. The last half of the run wasn't too bad in that respect, since that's when most of the obstacles are, but the first half was dreadful. Running uphill with nothing but the sound of my shoes and my breath to accompany me.

I don't make it a habit of running without my iPod. I've never gone running without it. There have been times when it died on me or the juice runs out and I've had to suffer but I dont' recall a time other than las year's Mud Run that I did not set out on a run sans iPod.

Before the Mud Run a year ago I thought it would be a good idea to try running without the iPod. Much like running hills, I figured it would help me prepare for the conditions. But that run never happened, and it won't happen this time around either. I'll just have to go cold turkey.

I know there was a time when music during runs was not an option, and while I think I would have made a lousy runner in a previous pre-iPod life, I am grateful that such technology is available now.

Still, while this is a major downfall of the Mud Run, it doesn't detract too much from the experience. It's just something that I'll think about during the first portion of the race, the second part of the race I'll be scaling walls, trying to make my way up Slippery Hill and crossing the lovely chest-high river.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Injuries galore

After blogging about my respective injuries, I consulted The Book to see what other types of injuries are discussed.

I quickly realized that my injuries aren't all that damaging in comparison to what could happen to a runner. Now, I didn't exactly ever feel like my injuries were severe but they still cause me a bit of discomfort and pain.

Here are some other injuries that can cause more pain.

Achilles tendinitis, ankle sprains, back pain (sciatica), ball of foot pain, cramps, hell bruises and spurs, hip (piriformis), iliotibial (IT) band syndrome, runner's knee, runner's nipple, plantar fasciitis, shin splints, delayed onset muscle soreness, muscle strains, stress fractures, the stitch, blisters, damaged nails, Athlete's foot, calluses.

That sort of runs the entire gamut right there (on a quick aside, if you want any more info on what The Book says on any of the above injuries, feel free to drop me a note and I'll gladly give you the lodown).

I'll give you the info it says about the IT band since my brother Danny started to come down with some pain there a while back.

According to The Book...

The IT band is a tissue that goes from the outside portion of the hip over the thigh and crosses over the knee and into the tibia. Pain is felt outside the knee and up to the hip. Pain may stop as soon as the running stops.

Some of the causes include downhill running, improper shoes, over- or under-pronation, inadequate warm-up or cool-down, a sudden and excessive increase in mileage, one single excessive workout, inflexibility, hills.

How can you treat it? Stretch the IT band, perform exercises to help strengthen the hip, ice down after a run, anti-inflammatories, decrease mileage, run on soft surfaces, run on level surfaces, reduce intensity, outright rest.

It's actually a kind of scary injury. Danny would tell me that he would feel the pain coming on at nearly the same mileage point during every run, and he would go from running normally without pain to experiencing a jolt of crippling pain in a matter of steps. I think Danny's problem was the sudden increase in mileage but there may have been other factors.

Anyway, you can never totally avoid injury so it's just one of the pitfalls of running, one of the few negative effects. It actually is a part of it, something that just comes with the territory. After all, I never suffered from bloody nipples or black toenails when I weighed 300 pounds.

Painful badges

A while back, I took a quiz that tried to figure out what kind of runner I was. One of the questions centered on injuries and what types of injuries I'd suffered through. At the time, I hadn't really gone through anything too harrowing. That question was worth a lot of points in that quiz, and it was the difference between me placing as a 5K-type runner and a middle-distance runner. I knew then and I know now that I'm no way a 5K runner, so I was kind of struck with how razor-thin the margin was.

Well, I've been running a lot longer now and I've put a lot more wear-and-tear on my body. I'd say that if I took that same quiz now, I'd definitely be able to answer with more authority that I have carried injuries before.

Here's a quick list of my running-related injuries, which I actually consider a bit like badges of honor:

* Bloody nipples
* Black toenails
* Strap pain (side)
* Heel pain

I've had some progress and some setbacks. The heel pain that was so rampant during the winter is gone. I haven't laced up my soccer boots since March I think and that pretty much spelled the end of my heel pain. I'm going to have to do something next soccer season though but that's not for a while.

Surprisingly, my nipple pain has gone away as well. I think I may just have finally toughened them up enough. Yes, it's okay to giggle. I can't ever write about this subject with a straight face. But really they don't hurt me much. I don't wear the Vaseline much these days, partly because it was ruining shirts. One shirt, and I'll have to take a picture of it because words don't do it justice, has some strange looking rings, and said rings have demoted that shirt to the point where I might not even wear it around the house. But I think changing my attire has helped as well, in that I don't wear cotton shirts when running at all. Cotton does a number on my nipples... ha!

The two things right now that are bothering me the most are my strap pain and my toenails. The strap pain is, for now, what I'm calling it until I come up with a better name for it. I wear a strap to measure my heart rate and that strap goes around my torso, like this. On my right side I have a mark where it's pretty much worn right through my skin. Whenever I run more than four miles, it hurts. I ran six miles on Friday and it hurt. On Sunday I ran four and I felt it but it didn't hurt, but I could tell that a few more minutes and that would have changed.

Short of not wearing the strap, I'm not sure what I can do to help stop that pain. Now, I don't think all straps would cause that pain so I'm not trying to discourage anyone from wearing one. I used to have it really tight against my body because it would slip and then it bothered me and distracted me during runs so I figured tight would make it better, and it did but I had to loosen it a while ago because I feared some sort of pain, and this might be it.

It's kind of a trade-off, though. I need to monitor my heart rate - I can't let myself run in the high 180s for too long, for instance - so it will stay on my chest. But I think if I only wear it during runs I might lessen the damage.

The other pain is my toenail, specifically the second toe on my left foot. Each of the second toenails on either foot went black a while ago, which I found simultaneously strange and awesome. The one on my right foot has returned almost to normal, and I'm a bit sad by that because I like the black toenail. But the one on my left foot is more than making up for it.

Now, sorry if I give you too much detail but we like to keep it real on Muddy Runner. So, the toenail is strange looking. I tried to trim it with nail clippers but there wasn't much nail to clip. It was like trying to cut a stone, kind of like the nail started growing into a rock-like substance on my toe. Worse, it started to hurt after runs. The other one hurt but once it went black, the pain went away. Same with this one. The pain came, blackness ensued and the pain dissipated. Now, the pain is back.

I asked Mrs. LB to take a look at it and she grimaced and told me it looked like the nail was going to fall off. Great. That's just what I need, 10 toes and nine toenails.

I don't know what to do with it, at this point. I've thought about a band aid or some tape or something but I don't know if that would do any good. It might even do more harm than good since I'd be introducing something into an already cramped space, and that's sorta what led to this to begin with. I trimmed what I could off of it, to try and ease some of the pressure to it.

The Book actually suggested taking a needle or something sharp and cutting the wound to relieve pressure that way, but unless I'm stuck out in the wilderness and it's a life or death situation, like that'd be the only way to stave off gangrene or something, maybe. But right now, that's not a great option.

For now, I'll just have to deal with the pain and try my hardest not to pick at it. When I'm lounging around in my sandals or flip-flops, I have a tendency to want to pick at it, but I'm just asking for trouble there.

Anyway, here's the toenail of honor:

I know the last thing you wanted was to see my toes up close and personal but at least now you have an image of this, and maybe it will inspire you to get some black toenails of your own!

Monday, May 18, 2009


Just had to share some of the changes I made here with you all.

As you can see (Yvie's catchphrase!) I've changed the picture to one that I actually purchased. Although it's not of the Mud Run I figure it's a running shot and it's a good picture, so why not.

The old template got a bit blah for me so I just wanted a change of pace. I tried to get some different ones, had problems, so settled for this one.

Also, I've added some races to the Horizon list. Apparently there is a Mud Run in Orange County, and of course I'm looking into it. There's a 5K and a 10K one but I'd probably do the 10K. Not sure about this one, though. Just depends on a few things; money, time, work, you know... all that good stuff.

Anyway, just wanted to catch you up.

Motivational Mondays (May 18)

It only takes one.

One time. One run. One race.

When you haven't done something, it seems so daunting. If you haven't ever run before, it may seem like the most difficult thing ever. If you've never run a 10K before, that could seem like a monstrous obstacle.

But once you get out there and do it, it suddenly doesn't seem as bad.

Running your second 10K is not as tough mentally as the first one. And I suspect my second half-marathon won't be as rough as the first one.

See, you give yourself confidence by doing something just once. If you don't think you can six miles, try it and you might surprise yourself. Once that first barrier is out of the way, the rest will come easily. I ran my first race last June and I'm hooked now. I ran the Mud Run in October and worried tremendously about it but now that I did that one I'm anxiously awaiting the next one, on June 13.

I ran the half in April and I'm looking forward to the next half-marathon. I may run the Long Beach marathon, and if I do I know that the next marathon after that won't seem quite as daunting.

So if you're fretting over a certain distance, a certain run, a race, go out and try it and you might surprise yourself.

It's not as bad as you think. Trust me.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Big One, already?

About a month ago, I decided that I would run a marathon. I wasn't sure when or where or how old I would be, but I figured that I'd make the marathon a goal of mine at some point or another.

That point may be sooner than I'd expected.

While glancing through The Other Mag, I saw an advertisement for this: The Long Beach Marathon.

When I saw that, I got a sinking feeling in my stomach. It was reality dropping into my belly, the reality that this one could be it. This one could be where I tackle the 26.2-mile beast.

Why? Several reasons.

First, it's at the perfect time of the year for me, of 2009 that is. With my schedule, it would be less challenging to find time to train during the spring and summer months than the late fall/winter time. Now, that's not to say that such a training schedule that would run through the holidays would be impossible - in fact I'd already tentatively planned for a February marathon - but it would be less stress on my schedule to train in July, August and September. The tradeoff of course is the weather. It was pretty warm for an outdoors run at 9 a.m. this morning, so I went to the gym instead. That would probably mean distance runs that start in the pre-dawn hours, and those can be fun.

However, I worked a lot during the high school soccer season last year and that was a lot of stress on my feet and my heels.

Secondly, though, it's this year. It's pretty much now, in terms of starting my training. I know for this one I'd have to train properly (and that probably means joining the local running group). I'd have to start relatively soon if I wanted to get to the level where I would need to be.

I guess I did get a bit antsy thinking about the marathon and training for a race. I've got nothing set after the Mud Run, which is June 13. I've been looking into races and found a few but nothing like this, that would dominate my training schedule, that would give me something to shoot for. 10K races are great and half-marathons too - I'm not minimizing them at all - but this would something new and that always brings out the best in me.

Also, Long Beach has its nice parts. I've run on the beach there before and it was enjoyable. Lots of good sights and the course is flat, not a whole lot of stinking hills, and it's near the water, in October, so no chance of 80- or 90-degree temperatures.

So I'm just kicking it around right now. Glancing through the Web site makes me excited, anxious, nervous.... all those good feelings. I'm not glancing of course. I've got some time to make the decision, although right now I'd have to say I'm 75 percent in favor, well, maybe more like 73.277 percent. Not a done deal at all but pretty damn close to it.

If I'm this nervous about just thinking about signing up for it, I'm going to be a wreck for the next four months.

Cooking With Yvie: Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffins

The latest edition of Cooking With Yvie. We made Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffins.

ADD: Here's a link to the recipe. I always forget to post it! It's one of the variations, no. 21 I believe.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Uphill both ways

I'd meant to write about this earlier but the day got away from me on Friday. Actually, we went on an impromptu outing to Newport Beach and had a great time. Such an outing is a bit out of character for the LB clan, but it was a good thing.

Anyway, on Friday I went on a six-mile run but wasn't intending on running six miles. I'd only ran once earlier in the week (though i had a pair of stupid weight training sessions so I wasn't completely inactive). I had the chance to run around my neighborhood in the morning so I did.

I actually tackled the hill by my house. It's a hill that I've ran up many times before, except I've only ran up to where the sidewalk ends, just about the point where it goes from steep to really steep. So I don't get the brunt of the hill.

On Friday, I made myself run up the hill and all the way down to the other side of it before turning around and scaling it again.

Hills are tough, of course, but how tough was on display right on The Polar. I was around the 1.5 mile mark when I got to the real steep part of the hill, just beneath the top. My heart rate had been around 170 at the base, but by the time I was at the top it was hovering around 180. My HR is never at 180 before the 2-mile mark. As soon as I started to go back down the other side, it went quickly down. It got to about 165 when I was nearing the bottom.

I ran until The Garmin read 2.85, then turned around. I went back up to 185 or so when I was nearing the top. I thought it would stay high the rest of the way but when I was down towards the bottom, it was down around the low 170s, to my surprise.

At this point, I was at about 4.5 miles and my pace was slow, of course. I wasn't exactly burning rubber up the hill. The Garmin told me my pace was at around 10:14 or so and I figured I'd try to run six miles and do so in less than an hour. It was a bit rough at first because I pushed and felt my body kind of slow after a bit. The sun was beating down on me at this point and although I'd properly hydrated myself, I didn't want to drain my resources fully.

But when I was at around the 52 minute mark, I was at about 5.16 miles so I knew I could get to my goal. Eventually, I got closer to my house and I was doing great. I got to six miles at 59:43 so I was just under the hour mark.

Here are my stats for the run, according to The Polar - Time: 1:00:18; Avg HR: 174; Max HR: 190; Calories burned: 1,051.

I'll be running that hill more often now that I've scaled it back-and-forth for the first time. I suppose I can set a goal as far as time goes, run six miles over and back and see if I can get under the time it took me Friday. The Mud Run is coming up shortly so I would probably do well to run that once a week from now until then.

Next time, I'll leave earlier so the sun won't take a toll on me.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Radio daze

Being a part-time taxi, I'm behind the wheel a lot, and many times I'm chauffeuring my daughters to and from school or the library or somewhere else. To keep them entertained, I started listening to the children's music station on Sirius Satelite Radio. Of course, I got Sirius in 2006 to listen to Howard Stern and to expand my musical choices, but they are the ones who listen to it the most.

Anyway, the girls got a mention on the radio yesterday! It was pretty exciting for them. Their favorite radio show is The Absolutely Mindy Show, which starts at noon on weekdays. So usually when I'm picking Kennedy up from preschool, we're listening to it. On Thursday we went to Disneyland right after getting Kennedy from school and since I had planned the trip ahead of time, I figured why not send in a request for a song to the girls' favorite show. So I did, on Wednesday night, and when we were close to getting off the freeway, Mindy said hi to the girls.

She said she was going to Disneyland with Yvie and Kennedy from Riverside, Calif., and that she was so excited! Yvie, of course, mistook it at first and thought Mindy was going to be there in person but I told her to keep listening. She was so happy to hear her name on the radio. It's funny because she's often asked me if she could "call the radio" but never tells me why. I've called to request songs before but I just figured why not go the next step and see if they can give her a shout out, and they obliged. They even played the song I requested, one of the girls favorites - Hoedown Throwdown by Hannah Montana. Yeah, kinda sad for me that I am quite familiar with that song but I couldn't name you most of the new rock songs that are out right now.

Kennedy was knocked out so she sadly didn't hear her name mentioned but Yvie told her all about it the second she got up. Yvie talked about that throughout our stay at Disneyland, which was quite enjoyable since there weren't too many people there. May is a good month to go since the weather is good and the crowds are manageable. The post-Spring Break and pre-summer month is ideal, really. Our longest wait in line was probably 15 minutes so we got on lots of rides.

They took a picture with Mindy. Okay, they didn't really and if I tell that to Yvie I'll confuse her even more, so work with me here. Mindy says she has a lot of "invisible friends" everywhere, so she's right there in between the girls.

So that was a great start to the afternoon for the girls. And for me. No cardio yesterday but I got a ton of walking in.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Intro to Running

There was a time once when I wasn't a runner, when I was just a person who worked out often, was in good shape but just wasn't a runner. I had an idea about the positives that I could achieve from running, but I just hadn't taken that first step towards actual running.

Now, a little more than a year into my running life I've got five races under my belt, including a half-marathon, and am looking forward to many years of running ahead of me.

I figured since I took that first step and began to run, I could help others in a similar position. I'm sure there are lots of people out there who are either runners but don't know it or want to become runners but aren't sure about it. I think I was a little bit of both, though sometimes I feel like I wasted 15 years of my life by not having figured out that I had this undeveloped love of running.

Anyway, you never know who will stumble upon this blog, who is out there looking for some sort of tips and guidelines and advice. I was that person once, trying to find any bit of advice that would help me, both practical and long-term. So periodically I'll be posting random tips and advice aimed at the beginning runner. And really, there are just some things about running that are good to know and read up on even if you've knocked out a few 10Ks. I don't think there are many Olympic-caliber runners out there, so many of us are in the same boat.

With that, my first tip for the beginning runner:

Don't Worry About Time Or Distance

When you run, you have to run a specific distance, and you must do so under a certain time; otherwise the run will be worthless.

Except of course that's not at all true.

Sure, there is a part of running that is about meeting goals, such as setting a personal record or conquering a mile-marker, whether it's two miles or 22 miles. But when you're just starting out, there is no need to burden yourself with more than what you've already got on your plate.

You've never stepped on a track before? You've never run more than two miles before? Why set yourself up for failure then and try to run an eight-minute mile?

Running is about health. Running is about accomplishing things you never thought possible. But most of all, running is about having fun, about enjoyment. It really is. Running can be fun. It can be relaxing. It can be soothing. It can be enjoyable.

So don't make it a chore from the start.

Oh, don't get me wrong. There will be runs that you will hate. There will be times during runs where you will wonder why you ever thought it was good idea to set out on the run. I think that happens to me every other run. But that's just doubt creeping up on me, the proverbial little red devil on my shoulder.

Running is what you make of it. There are the elite runners who make a living from running, and somewhere far beneath that class is where most of the rest of us are, running for health, for relaxation, for fun, for challenge.

Once you get your legs underneath you and you're churning out long run after long run, you'll naturally want to test yourself and then time might become more of a factor. Then, you'll want to tackle some distance you'd previously thought was insane. Five miles to me used to seem like a ridiculous amount of miles. Now, it's not. Now, 20 does. And one day, that won't either.

Everything in due time.

First things first. Take your first step. Go on your first run. Then go on your second run. Then go on your third run. Enjoy yourself. Don't worry about time. Don't worry about distance. Run and develop your love of running.

Everything else will take care of itself.

Hate Lifting

I really hate lifting weights. I can't deny it. I realize it's a necessary part of fitness but that doesn't mean I can't hate it. In some ways it's like the dentist. Having a cavity-free set of teeth is an important part of health and hygene but that doesn't mean I can't hate a trip to the dentist's office.

I had about 40 minutes for a workout just now so I had to choose: cardio or weights. Since I had done weights on Monday I figured it was best to keep that momentum going. So I opted for weights.

And core.

While my arms shook during a 50-second bridge, I thought to myself 'I really hate this crap.'

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Thanks but no thanks

I'm at Panera right now, taking advantage of their bottomless coffee mugs and free WiFi. I didn't exactly want to be here, but work brought me here as I just ran out of time this morning.

Seriously, I didn't want to be here. I'd rather be at the gym, but such is life when you have a hectic schedule as I do, one that changes from day to day, hour by hour sometimes.

On my way here I saw a jogger. He was running slowly along the side of the road, iPod on arm, earplugs in ear, blissfully unaware of anything except for the pavement before him and probably the song going through his ear.

I wanted to be him. I wanted to be out there on the side of the road, forgetting about the cars whizzing by, focusing on myself. Just me, The Polar and The Garmin.


That's one of the many things I've seen this morning but the only one that made me long for something.

What are some of the things I saw that I wanted no part of?

* Babies. I've seen a handful of one-year-olds and, uh, zero-year-olds, some in strollers, some in their mothers' arms. I shuddered secretly as I walked past. Don't get me wrong, I love my daughters to death but man am I glad we aren't having any more children. Babies are so much work and to think that we've already given up bottles, formula, diapers, pacifiers, diaper bags, strollers... and to have to go back to that... I'd cry. Luckily the factory shut down :)

* Teachers. Actually, there is some sort of high school group here at Panera. There are some adults in the group, which leads me to believe that those are their teachers. I am so glad that I am not in their shoes. I thought I wanted to be a teacher but I was terrible at it. I much prefer my career now.

* Shirts and ties. Some business people here, stopping by to get a cup of Joe or something. I'm glad I don't have to punch a time card somewhere or work in an office or some other 8-to-5 job. Nothing wrong with that of course but it just does not fit my personality and my lifestyle. Not that I wouldn't do it if I had to of course, but I'd be miserable if I ever had to go back to working a set schedule.

* Cinnamon rolls. I've seen a few of them here at Panera and they didn't make my mouth water in the least. I'm sure they have several hundred calories a pop, and I really don't need that. Especially when I had to my workout this morning. Funny thing too was that one person who had a cinnamon roll was a really skinny girl. Probably one of those people who can eat whatever they want and not worry about gaining weight.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Bye bye bagel

I'm at my local Panera Bread, doing some work for my writing gigs and finishing up a bagel. It wasn't the bagel I wanted.

I ordered the Plain Bagel.

I wanted the Cinnamon Crunch Bagel.

But I did not want the extra 140 calories the Cinnamon Crunch Bagel came with, so I opted for the plain one. It actually worked out okay because I put a little bit of butter on it, sprinkled some Extra and some cinnamon and it came out tasting like cinnamon after all.

I feel bad for last week's trip here because I did order the Cinnamon Crunch Bagel without actually checking to see the caloric value. It has a whopping 430 calories. That's like my lunch yesterday. It was about 450 calories as I had a wrap (total of 300) and a strawberry-banana yogurt I put together (cut some strawberries, bananas and used plain yogurt, yum, which was about 150 calories or so).

I'm loosely counting my calories again since I was feeling down on myself for not doing so a week ago; actually, since my half-marathon I've not been counting my calories. On Monday I had about (210 + 100 + 450 + 100 + 750) 1,610 calories and today I've had about 500 so far, just before lunchtime.

By the way, the Tooth Fairy paid Yvie a visit last night. Mrs. LB had written a note to Yvie and included some money in there, and Yvie found it this morning. She was so excited. She wants to frame the note. Kenna got a bit jealous though. She wants to lose a tooth now. I guess you can't win for trying.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Random musings

Just had some random stuff I felt like getting out.

* My workout went... well, it went. I did an upper body workout and I didn't really enjoy it. I exerted a lot of energy and hopefully it will pay off. I also did core. I did bridges, and they blew. I was in pain.

* I found The Polar! It was underneath a pile of clothes! I'm happy :)

* Yvie lost her first tooth - literally. She's had a loose tooth for a bit now and this morning it was gone. Of course, she didn't realize that until we went to brush teeth. We can't find it. I am really hoping she didn't swallow it. We had muffins for breakfast and I asked her if she noticed if she'd had an extra-crunchy muffin but she said no. We're going to have to figure something out for the tooth fairy to take.

* I made my first cheesecake! I didn't take any pictures of it though so you'll have to take my word. Maybe it'll be featured on an episode of Cooking With Yvie sometime soon.

* My blog buddy Willoughby is into candle holders apparently so that inspired me to snap a picture of one of our more unique ones.

I'm not sure where we got it. I am almost certain it was in Mexico somewhere but not sure if it was in Ensenada or during a trip down into the central part of the country. It hangs outside and we use it, well, not really at all but it's a great decoration. We like suns. I'm pretty sure that's the original color too. I think it was meant to be outside.

* And this is what happens when you fall asleep while on the laptop:

You wake up to a screenful of Ks.

Motivational Mondays (May 11)

This is it.

This is the start of my training.

I think that Saturday's run was a great start to this next phase of my training routine. It was kind of a good send off into these next 4-5 weeks or so.

I'm not exactly starting from scratch here but I do feel like I'm wiping the slate a bit, and it's good to focus and set some goals. There's a difference between having vague goals (ie I'm going to run a few times this week) to having definitive goals (I will run at least four miles three times this week).

Up until now, I had vague goals regarding the Mud Run. Now, I have definitive goals.

First, though, here's what I'm facing.

It's a 10K obstacle-course style race. There are such obstacles as mud crawls, two walls, a muddy hill and even a river crossing. Since I've done this course before, I have an idea of what I have to do in order to run the race effectively.

In terms of the cardio, I know I can run the distance. That part isn't a question like it was when I signed up for it a year ago. But to run the distance this time will require some hill training as a lot of this course is hilly. That was a bit of a surprise last year but it shouldn't be this time around.

So this means more hill runs. There is a hill near my house that I've ran completely over once, but I've run up to a certain point many times before. I have to run over and back that hill at least once a week. Yup, I'm laying the mandate here right now. It's not a fun run, and the last time I ran it, I ran to a Target that is about four miles from my house and I crossed the hill but I met Mrs. LB at the Target and drove home. No free rides now.

I think all told that run will be at least four miles but I can stretch it out longer obviously. The purpose will be to go over and back, not necessarily the distance.

I will also try to run The Interval at least once a week as well. With those two runs each week and maybe a longer-distance run mixed in as well (six or more miles), that should get me to where I need to be with my cardio.

It's the other part I need help with. I have to get some resistance training in, and unlike my last attempt I have to do more than just a one-off weight session.

First, my core. I have to work my core. I have to do bridges and crunches and hang from the torture machine (I'll have to write a separate post on this one; I hate it, but it's effective). I need to do solid core exercises at least twice a week, and there are exercises that I can do at home. I'm not a big home workout type person so this will be a challenge. But still with the girls around maybe we can make it a fun thing. Or not.

As far as upper- and lower-body workouts, I've not worked out my legs in months and my arms, well, I need to get back into the routine of working out my entire body, not just running. (boo, hiss)

I was doing some combination lifts. That helps work out more than just one set of muscles. For instance, if you combine a step-up with a dumbell arm raise, you're working out more than just one thing at a time. I had a little routine worked out last year where I did a little circuit where I did a few combo lifts in succession. This one actually is something I can't be too definitive about since I don't have all the workout names in front of me. But I do know that I have to have at least two days of this type of gym work.

I think the most challenging part of this will be the time. I have to have the time to go to the gym primarily. I can run outdoors obviously but going to the gym sometimes can be a challenge with my daughters' schedules and my crazy random work schedule.

But there it is. My plan. Now I feel energized.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Cooking With Yvie: Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

We had so much fun recording our first episode of Cooking With Yvie that we decided to have another go at it.

The girls were a bit more of themselves in this episode.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Plusses and minuses

Two days before I lay down the mandate for the next phase of fitness, I got in a run. I ran about 4.5 miles in 40:42, so the time was decent.

The run had both its positives and negatives.

* + Positive: I felt good for most of the run. I started to hit a wall right before Mile 3 but I got past it.

* - Negative: I can't find The Polar. I'm sad. I still have my strap but the watch sprouted legs. It was the first time since last June that I ran without it.

* + Positive: I responded when I pushed myself. I wanted to finish my run in under a 9:00/mile pace. At 3.72 miles I was around 9:07 or so.

* - Negative: Dogs. I hate dogs when I run. I'm actually not much of a dog person to begin with, but when I run they are annoying. I tried to run away from houses so I wouldn't encounter any dogs but they're unavoidable. One huge dog scared the pants off me towards the end, and then when I was taking a left turn to go down onto my street, some dirty little dog was barking at me. Unlike the huge dog who was in a fence, this one was out roaming around. I paused a second and then kept running, and the dumb dog lunged at me. I kicked at it but missed. I wish I would have been prepared; I would have sent that dog through the uprights for a 50-yard field goal. I was pumped from the music, from my sprint and feeling good overall so my emotions were a bit on high.

* + Positive: I thought about the Mud Run. A lot. Figured out a plan of action on how to figure out a plan of action. See, I'm going to start by looking at the map, dividing things up into what I need to do to have maximum performance and then build my regimen from there.

* - Negative: I thought about the Mud Run. A lot. The first three miles are pretty much all running, most of it uphill. I have to pencil in some hill time. Yay. I am so excited. Can you tell?

Friday, May 8, 2009

Deep breath now

I wanted to run a 10-miler on Saturday. I decided that while I was running at the gym earlier this week.

I've not gone back since as my motivation has waned. As I mentioned before, I've gotten.. well, not complacent, that's not the right word, but rather a bit.. unmotivated. Like I said, I like races and I like to train for races and such, and without a daunting challenge like a half marathon I'm just not as motivated to train.

But that will end. Grrr!

(That was my attempt to rile myself up. I admit, it was kind of flat)

Well, I am actually going to start next week. I may try and get in some workouts this weekend, maybe at least one run or something, but on Monday I will finally, FINALLY plan out some sort of gym routine and workout that will help me train for the Mud Run.

I think once I sit down and try to figure out what I need to train and come up with a plan, I'll probably feel better. When it comes to training, I need a plan. I need to have something to train for. I mean, I don't need it to survive but it certainly gives me a sense of purpose.

I guess this also means that I'll have to figure out a race after the Mud Run. I might sign up for the Camp Pendleton 13.1 Marathon after all, but since that's not until mid-September I might also look for a 10K in July or August. We'll see. I'm guessing there will be several to choose from somewhere here in Southern California.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Expect to see some sort of detailed (or semi-detailed) training plan at the beginning of next week. I've officially set myself up here to fail, I mean, succeed. No going back on my word now!


(still flat)

A little gun shy

I posted a picture yesterday of a recent trip to Disneyland Resort. We went on Mrs. LB's birthday, which was Monday. She turned.... uh.... a year older.... and as a season passholder we got a gift card for $69, which is nice. This year, their promotion is you get in free on your birthday, and since we obviously don't need that, we had a choice of something else and she opted for the gift card. We'll probably use it to pay for someone's ticket so the girls can take someone to the park in the summer months.

Anyway, Kennedy and I separated from Mrs. LB and Yvie, and Kennedy of course had to use the restroom. I like it when she waits for inopportune times to need to use the bathroom.

It was the first time since the crazy library incident a week ago, and I have to admit I was a bit gun shy. Usually, I go into the bathrooms with the girls with a mix of anger, focus and determination. But this time, as I walked into a men's bathroom, I was apprehensive and kind of half-expected someone to say something to me.

Nobody did, of course. It's funny how many times I've gone to bathrooms at the Disneyland Resort, how many people I've walked passed, shared bathrooms with, and nobody said anything to me.

I think the only time I ever got flak for a bathroom visit at DCA was when I went into a women's bathroom. But that was an accident. I swear. That's a good story actually but I'll have to save that one.

Anyway, I was thinking of bathrooms and libraries because I may go to the library later today. Our books from last week arent' due but I may go anyway. It's a good way to spend an afternoon.

I like the library. I like exposing the girls to books and reading. I want them to develop and foster a love of reading, of books and I want that to be present at an early age. And really it is since my girls love to read books. Well, they used to like to flip through books and say stuff, but now Yvie can actually read the words on the page.

It's actually kind of always been like that around here.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Putting off work, temporarily

Yes, well, unfortunately I'm putting off doing some unpleasant work so I reverted back to the old laptop before diving headfirst into said task. Just some random thoughts that have been floating around this morning as I pick up the house.

* I don't have a half-marathon to train for so I've suddenly got more time to do actual housework. Great. I think I need to see if there's a half-marathon in late May or early June I can train for.

* Well, I do have the Mud Run to train for but I haven't sat down to plan out a training regimen for that yet. I need to, but even still that's not until June 13. I'll probably need about a good three or four strong weeks of some tough training for that, and the start of that period is still a ways away. So yeah, I'm not motivated to go out and run. Plus, the house was bugging me.

* What is it about laundry that I despise so much? That's my Herculean task. I have a dry load in the basket that needs to be put away, a dry load in the dryer that needs to be put away and a load in the washer that needs to go in the dryer. And I'm dreading all that. Oh, and that's not to mention the dirty clothes in the respective hampers around the house. Argh.

* I don't actually do laundry since I was relieved of those duties. Why? I'd start loads and let them sit in the dryer or washer for a day or two and that would really irritate Mrs. LB. So she relieved me of my duties, which is fine since I had long ago relieved her of any cooking/baking duties. I do help put clothes away, I'm not a total laundry flake, but I still friggin hate it.

* Why can't my daughters pick up their pajamas? They always leave them out in the living room and I get tired of telling them to pick them up.

* Why can't my wife pick up her shoes?

* Why can't I pick up my underwear? Ah well, I guess we all have stuff we leave everywhere :)

Okay, off for laundry duty. Wish me luck.

Bear cub

Just had to share this picture Mrs. LB took of me and Kennedy at California Adventure on Monday.

I guess a more appropriate display would have been a squirrel statue but we'll settle for bears.

Half-marathon playlist

I totally stole this idea of posting a snapshot of my playlist off another blog. I know, I'm shameless, but I wanted to get this out.

This is my playlist for the Run Through Redlands.

I made it to song 31, Damage Inc., though if my iPod hadn't have shut down I probably would have made it to Rocket. But Damage Inc. was the perfect ending song.

I spent a lot of time on this playlist but I'm not sure if I'll listen to it again, or even keep it. I don't know, it's just a unique playlist for a unique race. While it fits the bill for a long run, I don't know if that would make all long runs seem similar. But I guess I should get in a lot of long runs before I start saying that, huh?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Playlist enhancer: Marilyn Manson's "Beautfiul People"

I like all sorts of music, from hard rock and heavy metal, both current and older stuff, to 80s music to Spanish rock and Mexican music. So many songs can find their way onto my iPod and I'd be fine with them.

But bands, well, I have basically a handful of bands and/or artists that I will go out and buy their new CD without really worrying whether I'm going to like it or now.

I would say Marilyn Manson does not fall into that category. In fact, I've never bought a Marilyn Manson CD before. I don't know, just not my style. I don't mind the look, it's just the music didn't ever really grab me.

Except for this song. This is a fantastic song. The rhythm is great, the guitars are nice and heavy and this just has a feel of a song that can get you riled up in a good way.

I don't know how many times I've gone to this song during my 42-minute interval run (which hereafter will be known as The Interval), during the late 2-minute sprint. I'm tired by that point, usually drenched in sweat, last thing I want to do is hit it hard for two minutes. But this song helps me build up some mental steam before the harsh two-minute sprint.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Cinco stuff

Alright, well, it's Cinco de Mayo today which may or may not mean lots of food choices, possibly Mexican food choices. So in an effort to keep you from gaining Cinco pounds or more, here's some choices of what to get and what to avoid, according to The Mag.

It's not just appropriate for today, of course, as this is just a good general overview of this type of food. So keep this in mind the next time you feel like some Mexican food and cruise by your neighbordhood Taco Bell.

Unless otherwise stated, the following choices are all at Taco Bell.

Healthiest Burrito

Fresco Fiesta Burrito – Chicken: 330 cal, 8g fat - 2.5g saturated fat - 1,240 mg sodium

AVOID: Griled Stuft Burrito—Steak; 680 cal, 30g fat - 10 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat, 2,120 mg sodium

Healthiest Tacos

2 Fresco Grilled Steak Soft Tacos: 320 cal, 9g fat - 3 g sat fat - 1,100 mg sodium

AVOID: 2 DOUBLE DECKER Taco Supremes: 700 cal, 30g fat - 12 g saturated fat, 1,960 mg sodium

Healthiest Quesadilla

Steak Quesadilla: 520 cal, 28g fat - 13 g sat fat, 1 g trans fat - 1,300 mg sodium.

AVOID: On the Border's Fajita Quesadilla: 1,290 cal, 91g fat - 36 g sat fat, 2,260 mg sodium

Healthiest Nachos

Regular Nachos: 330 cal, 21g fat (3.5 g sat fat), 530 mg sodium

AVOID: Nachos BellGrande: 760 cal, 43g fat (8 g saturated fat, 3 g trans fats), 1,280 mg sodium.

Healthiest Mexican Kid’s Menu Order

On the Border's Kids Grilled Chicken with black beans and sautéed vegetables: 380 cal, 13 g fat (4 g saturated fat), 1,440 mg sodium.

AVOID: On the Border's Kids Chicken Crispy Taco Mexican Dinner with Mexican rice and salad with chipotle honey mustard dressing: 1,210 cal, 56 g fat (16 g saturated fat), 3,690 mg sodium.

Here's the entire list if you want to take a gander at the healthiest Mexican side dish for instance.

Oh, and just a quick thing on Cinco de Mayo... I used to think it was a big deal. Growing up, of course, there were always Cinco de Mayo festivities - not necessarily thrown by family or anything, but just festivals and parties in public and things like that.

Anyway, when I graduated high school in 93 (damn, that was a long time ago), I went to live in Mexico with some family, about 50 miles outside of Guadalajara. I'd been there before but never for more than a couple of weeks and never by myself.

So I tried to acclimate myself with the lifestyle and small-town Mexico. One of the things an uncle talked to me about that intrigued me were the fiestas. There were fiestas for everything, apparently: weddings and quinceñeras were abundnat of course but the small-town folk also partied for such things as their patron saint's day. Mexico is dominated by Catholicism, so every town has a patron saint. Some towns are named after saints, such as San Francisco, San Jose and the town I stayed in, San Simon. So their patron saint is on Oct. 28, for instance. The larger town nearby celebrated Oct. 4 as that's the say of San Francisco, that town's patron saint (the town is called Ixtlan de los Hervores).

Anyway, they partied heartily as there were eight days of celebration before the actual patron saint's day. So eight days before Oct. 28, you started to party. How can you not enjoy that?!?

So I wondered what it was like for Cinco de Mayo. Certainly they went all out for that, right?

I asked my uncle about that, and the conversation went something like this:

"What do you guys do for Cinco de Mayo?"

"For what?" he asked.

"Cinco de Mayo?"

"Um, nothing."

"What?!? You're kidding," I said, dumbfounded.

"No, we don't celebrate that. Why would we celebrate that?"

I told him about our celebrations up here for that and he was surprised. He said they might do something for it in Puebla but that's probably about it.

"September 16 is our big day."

See, Sept. 16 is Mexican Independence Day. May 5 is nothing. Okay, well, May 5 there was some victory that Mexican troops scored over a French army back in the 1800s, but in comparison to Sept. 16, it's nothing. Hence, the lack of nationwide celebrations.

Okay, thought I'd get you up to speed on Cinco de Mayo and what it means to Mexicans: not much.
Fartlek-ing All Over The Place

Just leaving the gym as I'm on my way to take Kenna to preschool. I had about 35 minutes to get in some sort of workout so I had to choose wisely.

Weights were out since I had a bad experience because of them. After lifting Thursday, I was too sore to run on Saturday. So, I ran a fartlek run. Its like intervals except you don't walk at all. I ran at a 6.0 for about seven minutes, then ran at 7.4 for about four minutes and back down to 6.0 and so on.

It was a good workout as my HR scraped the 190s. I really want to run a 10-miler on Saturday so this was a good start.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Motivational Mondays (May 4)

It's the start of the week, and to change things up a bit I decided to open up my blog for the first time and allowed a guest blogger to chime in here with his thoughts. It's not that I necessarily didn't have a topic to write about to motivate us all to get this week started off on the right foot but when I read through the guest blogger's post, I figured it would be a great fit for the Motivational Monday slot.

So, here is my little brother Danny chiming in with a guest blog on a topic of his choice.

Roving blogger

My older brother, Luis, wrote the following about me in an earlier post:

“When I was dropping my weight…it was great to have (Danny) around…to emulate…and try to reach to his level.”

In other words, he gives me full credit for his incredible weight loss and change to an active lifestyle.

To thank him for his public acknowledgment of my important role in his life, I’ve decided to contribute to his blog as a guest blogger.

Now, Luis used to be fat. Really fat. But what many of you don’t know is that about 13-15 years ago I also suffered from an EMEL lifestyle (Eat More, Exercise Less) and was also fat. Not as fat as Luis was but, still, pretty fat.

Our fat days never really overlapped so at that time (circa 1994-96) Luis was more active and spent a lot of time playing basketball at the park. I’d always want to tag along with him and our oldest brother, Hugo, but they denied me repeatedly. So, in a sense, it’s ironic that Luis limited my physical activity and, thus, kept me fat while, years later, I would be the catalyst for his weight loss.

Although I was subjected to a host of other abuses by my own brothers, I can honestly say that I’m not excessively bitter or resentful about this time of my life. I’d say I have just the right amount of bitterness and resentfulness. This has helped fuel my drive to stay in shape and also is part of the basis of our – I think “friendly” is the term Luis used – sibling rivalry.

Over the years, as I shed my pounds and Luis packed his on, I never thought we’d be where we are today – actually challenging each other in physical activities like distance running. In turn, I think this has really improved the way we train ourselves. I know that for myself I’ve increased the intensity of my training because I know that Luis is only a few minutes behind me (Mission Inn 10K: Danny - 49 min., Luis - 53 min. Owned!).

Beating each other may not seem like a “nice” motivator to train but I think it’s been working pretty well for both of us. And I can even say that I wouldn’t be too disappointed if Luis increased his training to the point where he actually beat me in a race (the 2008 Mud Run does NOT count). Do I ever think that will happen? No. But as long as we keep pushing each other I think we’ll be satisfied.

One thing that I do wish we’d be able to do more of is train together (queue audience: “aawwww, how sweet”). We’ve only done this a handful of times but each time has been really good. The 5-mile run to our parent’s house, the interval laps at the high school, and the 4.5 mile run at the beach are good examples. I always invite him to my house to train on the weekend but he’s only come over once. I think this is because he lives way out in the boonies. I guess, technically, I’m the one to blame because I’m the one who moved away.

That’s why I’m really looking forward to the mud run in six weeks where I’ll have another chance to run against, er, with Luis.

Editor's (that would be me, LB) notes:
* the 2008 Mud Run does count
* it wasn't 53 minutes in the Mission Inn Run, it was 52:55. Big difference.
* the picture was taken in June 2007, some 50 pounds ago

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Savory Sundays: the TV show!

Okay, maybe it's not quite Food Network-ish but we took a different spin on the Savory Sundays feature this week.

I've been having problems trying new recipes lately; actually have been stuck in a bit of a cooking rut, making the same dishes over and over again. Not that there's anything wrong with that - the Chorizo Tortas I made on Thursday were fantastic - but I can't exactly show you how to make the same thing twice now can I?

So I had an idea. I figured I'd put my budding Giadas in front of the camera and have them explain how to make Marinara Sauce. Actually, Yvie was pretty much the only one interested in showing off her hosting skills as Kenna went in and out of frame, so I named this show Cooking With Yvie.


Saturday, May 2, 2009

All-inclusive men's rooms

First off, I'd just like to say thank you to my respective fellow bloggers for their gracious awards and praise. I'll be blogging about that soon enough.

Also, in case you missed my previous post on restrooms, scroll down and check it out. I mentioned in there that I had wanted to write a longer blog about that, so here goes.


I enjoy almost everything about being around for my daughters during all hours of the day. I'm a work-from-home dad whose main job most days is to look after 5- and 3-year-old girls. But the one thing I despise is the public bathroom situation. In short, men's restrooms range from disgusting to vile, and having to take my girls into men's rooms can be troubling.

It's one thing for me to go; I can look out for myself. But taking my girls into some filthy sty of a bathroom and trying to clean as best as possible or minimize the possible damage... it can be a little much at times.

As many of you know, I go to Disneyland quite a bit. And you'd think that Disneyland would have clean bathrooms but that's not true at all. The Happiest Place On Earth can at times be The Smelliest/Dirtiest Place In Town. The odors can be foul and the stalls themselves just a mess overall.

I've got some bathrooms figured out, some favorites for lack of a better term. They're "favorites" not so much because they are clean but because the traffic is low. There's one by the trams, another outside the main entrance, one near the Astro Orbiters... those are the three I like to use if possible because they are not as crowded.

Now ideally I'd love to use family restrooms but the only two I know of at the Disneyland Resort are next to each other in a Bug's Land at California Adventure, and that's out of the way many times, even when I'm at DCA. Those are perfect, but very uncommon overall, not just at the Disneyland Resort.

One thing I used to fear was negative response. I was worried that some guys would be turned off by two little girls walking through the men's room. But if that's the case, the offended parties have kept quiet. Usually, though, guys don't give it another thought. I walk in, head straight for the largest stall possible and nobody says a word to me. I try to use the handicap stalls because they are bigger and there are usually three of us, and three makes for a tight squeeze in a regular stall.

I'd love for more family bathrooms. I'd love it if more places offered family bathrooms. I know I'm not the only male out there who has to take young girls into bathrooms. I've seen fellow dads in such situations, and sometimes I'll give them a nod or something. And there are women who have to take young boys into bathrooms with them as well. It works both ways. I know my daughters would like family restrooms too because they know there are bathrooms for the different genders and know that they are going into the "wrong" bathroom.

Anyway, I had been meaning to get all these thoughts out for a while now and Friday it seemed like I'd have the chance to do so until I got some ankle pictures and blogged about that instead. As it turned out, I was out of the house for a few hours and stopped by my local library. It wasn't overly crowded, which was nice, and the last thing I thought about was getting flak for taking my girls into a men's room.

Now, my girls didn't even have to go. But I like to make them go sometimes because otherwise I get caught with the girls needing to use the restroom somewhere with no bathroom nearby. So I was walking into the men's room of a nearly-deserted library when some older woman comes from out of nowhere and confronts me.

"You can't take them into the men's room."

"They're my girls. Of course I'm going to take them with me," I told her.

"That's the men's room. They can't go into the men's room. Here, I'll take them," she said, motioning to the girls to follow her into the ladies room.

"No. They'll stay with me."

"But they can't go in there."

"Well where do you suggest I take them?" I asked her. "I don't see any family restrooms here."

At that point, I started to usher my girls into the bathroom.

"They can't go in there. That's illegal."

"Whatever," I told her. "Arrest me then."

We went into the handicap stall and they didn't even have to go, which was fine. We all washed our hands and I tied the girls' hair up (they looked like ragamuffins). When I opened the door, two librarians were standing there, startled.

"Oh. Are they with you?"

"Yeah," I said and walked past them. I should have asked them if there was a problem with that, but I knew the only ignoramus who had a problem with that was gone.

I was so irritated, I can't begin to describe it. I was completely blindsided by that. Look, I get that some things are strange to some people. And I know that men's rooms aren't the best places for little girls.

But until there's some other reliable option or age takes care of the situation, LB is taking LB's girls into bathrooms with him.

Naysayers be damned.