Monday, November 29, 2010

Motivational Mondays: Best Racing Year Ever

It's not quite the end of the year yet, not quite time to do year-end recaps, but for me it is.

When I ran the Mission Inn Half Marathon on Nov. 14, I also completed the races I'll have run in 2010. It's kind of a downer to know that I won't race again until February but that just means I'll be able to focus on my next race, the Surf City Marathon on Feb. 6.

Anyway, I wanted to look back at the year I had in races. In terms of running, this has been the best year ever.


Feb. 7: Surf City Marathon

My first marathon! How superb it was to start the year off with a bang, jumping feet first into my first-ever 26.2-mile effort. I'd trained for the marathon so hard and did everything by the book beforehand. I was nervous, anxious, excited and worried about the race. The race itself went off without too many problems until I got past the Mile 22 mark. I hit the wall hard at Mile 23 and it felt like the last three miles took an hour. But I survived and shuffled across the finish at 4:42:26.

The whole race and the days leading up to it were very special moments to me. It sort of culminated all of what I'd gone through for the previous four years, from having weighed 308 pounds to having lost 120 to then having taken up running. I wore a bib on my back with an inspirational message I wrote and it really hammered the point home. I became a marathoner on Feb. 7, and that's something that nobody can ever take away from me.

Race report here.

Will I run this again in 2011? I am already registered! So, barring injury, this will be Marathon No. 3.

March 13: ARMC 5K

After having tackled a marathon, the thought of running a 5K seemed insignificant. However, this race was anything but. First, I wanted to get a more accurate read of the type of runner I was now. My only other 5K had been my first-ever race, back in 2008 when I was a newbie who didn't know what was going on. Also, I bet my brother, my more-athletic, in-shape, works-hard plays-hard brother, that he couldn't beat me in a 5K. We had a lot of fun talking smack before the race and we really did want to compete and beat one another.

I had one of my strongest performances here. Since it was only a 3.1-mile run, I went all out. I hit top speed and stayed there. I finished in 23:03 and beat my brother by more than one minute. I still talk smack to him about this race, and I know it eats at him. I've offered a re-match but he's scared; he just won't admit it.

Race report here.

Will I run this race again in 2010? Well, considering it was free, I'd like to. But I won't run it for speed. I'll save my thoughts on this one until I know it's going to happen but I'll probably be there one way or another.

March 27: Lefty's 5K

Another free race. I signed up for this mostly because it was free, reason enough to get me out there in the fierce wind and run. Also, I enjoyed the race because it was at a bit of a unique place. How often, after all, can you run on a NASCAR track? The best part of the race, bar none, was running on the track at the California Speedway. There were so many skid marks and tire marks on the course, it was unreal. My favorite memory of this race was running down pit row and seeing all the pit areas up close.

Race recap here

Will I run this race again in 2011? Not sure. If it's held again I might want to run it again.

April 19: Run Through Redlands Half Marathon

The challenge, should I have chosen to accept it, was to run a half-marathon in under two hours. I ran with Loper pal (and then-blog buddy) Angie since she also wanted to PR. It was a hilly course and the sun began to weigh on us the further we went along but that wasn't enough to stop a pair of determined runners. We each set a PR, each got under two hours for the first time and each were proud of our accomplishments. My year wasn't close to being over after this race but I believe this was my best performance of the year, that I ran my best race in April, in Redlands.

Race report here.

Will I run this race again in 2011? If I don't take a break after the LA Marathon, I might want to run this again.



May 1: Run For Rescue 10K

I had run my first marathon, shattered my 5K PR and gotten under the two-hour mark in a half marathon. But there was one more obstacle to tackle. I wanted to get under 50 minutes in a 10K. The Run For Rescue course was uphill for a good portion, making the task more difficult. Despite fretting about the hills, I got through them just fine and at the end of the race I knew I was close to a sub-50 minute finish. I was all but out of gas but still fought through and crossed the finish at 49:42. I even placed fourth in my age group!

What also stands out is that my daughters ran their first race afterward. It was called the Kiddie K but it really was just a loop around the parking lot. It was a fun experience for all of us.

Race report here


Will I run this race again in 2011? Probably not. The race was actually for a good cause and it's a small race but I don't know that I'll be up for a 10K in early May.
May 22: San Bernardino Mud Run

I didn't want to find a closer and better race than Camp Pendleton - and didn't - but rather I wanted for my daughters to participate in a Mud Run. The SBSD Mud Run had a children's 1K Mud Run and this was the main reason why I chose to run this race. The course was not as challenging as Camp Pendleton and the obstacles seemed to be just pure mud, mostly mud pits. It was a 5K so not a lot of running either but I still enjoyed myself out there and got plenty muddy. The kid's course, though, was a true 1K; the first portion mostly running and the last part the same exact obstacles we had to go through. Yvie surprised me with her determination while Kennedy cried through a lot of the race but still pushed through. In the end, we were all muddy and all proud of what we'd done.

Race report here

Will I run this race again in 2011? It's a pretty safe bet that we will. I don't know if I'll do the 5K but the girls ask about the Mud Run and seem excited about it.
June 5: Camp Pendleton Mud Run

The race that started it all for me. The bonus this year - I got to meet blog reader Anne (aka Tahoegirl) and her husband. The race was fun as always, perhaps made even more challenging because of my inactivity. I didn't run at all the week before to see if rest would help my ongoing heel issues. I didn't bother trying for a PR and I didn't come close to it. But that didn't diminish from the experience at all.

Race recap here

Will I run this race again in 2011? Yes, the only question is the date. I'm hoping for June 18.
July 25: San Francisco Marathon

The mother of all hilly runs. I took this one on head-first. I wanted my second marathon to be special, and this one certainly was. Mrs. LB and I traveled up to San Francisco and made a weekend out of it. This race had so many special moments, it's tough to narrow them down. The few miles I spent running on the Golden Gate Bridge were an absolute highlight of my running life. The hills, though, took their toll on me and the last few miles my legs were shot. However, I tried to finish strong and fought through the hill-induced aches. I finished in 4:37:51 as I bested my Surf City time by about five minutes. I also got to meet three blog buddies! Amanda of Fat Wuz Here, Katie of One Run At A Time and Jill of Run With Jill. And Mrs. LB and I had a fantastic weekend - how's that for a race experience?

Race report here


Will I run this race again in 2011? Even though I told my wife as I hobbled walked back to the hotel room that I would not run the full marathon there again, I am all but sold on the idea of running that race once more.


Oct. 17: Long Beach Half Marathon

I had already set a half-marathon PR earlier in 2010 but I wanted to beat it. I wasn't sure if I could but my previous PR was on a hilly course. Long Beach was advertised as "flat and fast" and it lived up to the billing. Despite sleeping only four hours, I was up for the race. My Garmin, though, was not. The Garmin was not reading accurately in Mile 3 so I stopped relying on it.

The loss of the Garmin made me focus on simply getting to the next mile marker. I enjoyed the beachfront path and the smell of the ocean. Once off the path and headed down the stretch, I knew I was close to a PR. I cruised into the finish but still wasn't sure what my official time was. However, a few minutes after finishing Mrs. LB sent me a text with my official time - 1:55:03!

Race recap here


Will I run this race again in 2011? If I run this race, I might run the full. Otherwise, I might just pass altogether.


Nov. 14: Mission Inn Half Marathon

I closed out the year with my local race, the Mission Inn Run. I'd run the 10K the last two years but opted for the half marathon this time (it's only been the second year the race has featured a half marathon). I wasn't feeling confident about setting a PR - and didn't - but I knew I had a strong race inside of me. I figured that if I ran strong and ran a good race, I would be happy. I did that and finished strong. My time of 1:56:20 is not my PR but it's still a time I was very happy with.

Race recap here


Will I run this race again in 2011? I'd like to. It's my local race so that makes it very appealing.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Friday Leftovers: post-Thanksgiving Day edition

Aw, what the heck? I was going to relax and stay away from the blog today - I mean, isn't everybody out shopping anyway? - but what the heck. I'm up, I have the energy so why not?

Thanksgiving Day Run

I could get used to this.

On Thursday morning, I joined a bunch of fellow Lopers in Loma Linda and ran 10 miles. It's the second consecutive year I've done that, so I guess I'm making this a bit of a tradition. That's nice, considering I never used to do anything but eat on Thanksgiving. This year, and last, I really felt like I earned my bird.

It's also nice just to hit double-digit miles during the week. I don't do that often, and I think I should try and do that now that my work is slowing down a bit.

Word Association

Play along here.

1. Emotional :: Crying
2. Bite :: Head off
3. Get off my :: ass
4. Heroic :: Deed
5. Clothing :: Store
6. Home :: Sweet home
7. Spelling :: Bee
8. Attitude :: Adjustment
9. Argument :: Fight
10. Satan :: Devil

Nothing out of the ordinary I don't think.an

5QF

Here goes with another version of Five Question Friday, the post-Thanksgiving edition.

1. What is your favorite part of a Thanksgiving meal?

Turkey and stuffing. I just love the combination. It just does not get better. At my mom's, we'll have cranberry sauce and I like that on my turkey but the turkey/stuffing combo will do just fine.

2. Are you a host or a guest for Thanksgiving this year?

We've never hosted Thanksgiving and not sure if and when we will. Both our parents cook and enjoy cooking on Thanksgiving (we think). Actually, the last couple of years we've had Thanksgiving early at my in-laws and then have spent the day at my parents' house but this year it's Saturday at my mom's while Thursday was spent chowing down at the in-laws.

3. When you think of one Thanksgiving tradition, what comes to mind?

To be honest, there isn't one tradition... until this year I suppose.

But as far as family goes, aside from the usual - visiting with our families, etc. - there isn't really any one thing that's a unique tradition.


4. You have two pieces of pie in front of you and you HAVE to eat one...do you choose pumpkin or pecan?

Pumpkin. Having said that, I'm not really a big pie person. We never really ate pie growing up and whenever I did, it was just okay. But I do enjoy pumpkin pie so I'll take that.

5. Are you a Black Friday Shopper?

Absolutely not. We used to deal with the crowds on Black Friday but in 2003, when Yvie was a baby, we had such a horrible time we opted to not go anymore, and we haven't. My last Black Friday memory is of pushing an almost-2-month-old Yvie through a mass of humanity at Montgomery Ward's, feeling utterly frustrated and irritated.

It's just not worth it. Wasn't then, isn't now.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Mt. Rubidoux Excursion

Just had to share these pictures from our excursion to Mt. Rubidoux on Tuesday.

Since the girls are out of school this entire week, I wanted to take them up Mt. Rubidoux at least once. They ask to go a lot, so I figured why not?


Ready to rock Mt. Rubidoux!
It was a little chilly when we set out, but the girls got warm right away so I took their ponchos and put them in my backpack.

At the top of the mountain
The girls made it up Mt. Rubidoux with minimal complaining. That's a great step forward. We even tried running a little but that lasted a few steps each time. We went up the steep side since it's about one mile from bottom to top, as opposed to two miles from bottom to top.

 
I am a champion!

There is a giant flag at the top of Mt. Rubidoux. Yvie was happy to be in front of the flag for a few pictures.

Yay for us!


Then they both got into the act.


Now, after this Kennedy took a little tumble. She scraped her left wrist and got some cuts. She I told her she was brave for going up there in the first place to try and quell her tears somewhat. So she had a bit of a strange look on her face when they were asking for peace.


Peace, baby!
Now, this has to be my favorite picture below. On the way down, Kennedy started running. I didn't ask her to run or didn't run and then try and have her follow me. She just took off. She asked if she could run and I said yeah.

She ran a long part of the way down. She'd stop and look to see where we were every now and then. I don't know if she felt good running downhill or just running, period, but she took off and barely looked back.

Runner in the making

Afterward, she asked me if I could call her Kenna Brave Runner Girl. I said no problem.

Tired and ready for a break
All in all, a good walk up, run down Mt. Rubidoux.

Weigh-less Wednesday: Ordering Salad? Not So Fast...

For most people, there is one rule that seems pretty simple and valid when it comes to eating a nutritious dinner.

Salad = healthy

If you have a salad, you are eating healthy. You are making the right choice and you should feel happy for yourself.

wrong

I hate to be the spoiler but that's wrong. Now, salads can be healthy. If you prepare them yourself, you control everything there about your salad and you can toss in whatever you like. But of course when you go out to eat and leave the preparation up to somebody else, then you throw that all out the window and you are the mercy of the restaurant you are at.

The always-trusty Men's Health has compiled a list of 20 terrible salads and while I'm not going to list all 20 here, I will post a few to give you a quick idea of the dangers of the salad.

How bad are these salads? MH actually says you'd be better off eating a Whopper at Burger King than you would eating any of these salads.

Some places you'd do well just to avoid. Chipotle and PF Chang's each consistently get poor grades and/or poor reviews when it comes to healthy eating, and this is no different. Each has a salad on here. Chipotle's Chicken Salad has a not-that-healthy-at-all 720 calories. The vinaigrette alone has 260 calories and 25 g fat, and they don't have any alternatives to the dressing.

PF Chang's Chicken Chopped Salad w/Ginger Dressing has 730 calories and about 1,200 mg sodium. PF Chang's also has the saltiest food in the land, so it's no surprise they also weigh in here on this list.

Fast food salads can be tempting especially if you are stuck going to a fast-food place. However, Jack in the Box, Taco Bell, Wendy's and El Pollo Loco all have a salad on here. Still, one thing I learned was that if you omit the croutons and use light dressing (some of these places do offer light dressing, you just gotta ask) then it cuts down the calories. I used to get a salad at McDonald's (I think they did away with it) and I'd just leave out the croutons and use about half the dressing it came with and that would cut down like 75 calories. That doesn't sound like a ton but that's an AM or PM snack.

One thing too is portion size. MH dings Quiznos for not providing accurate portion-size descriptions. Their Chicken Caesar Flatbread Salad (with bread) comes in at 920 calories, 66.5 g fat (20.5 g saturated, 0 g trans) and a whopping 2,090 mg sodium. This is the "regular" size, and they recommend a "small" salad, the Raspberry Chipotle Chicken Salad, that comes in at a much more reasonable 350 calories.

California Pizza Kitchen has four salads in the top 10. That's just not a great endorsement for that place. I don't necessarily think of it as an unhealthy place to eat but the salad choices there are obviously pretty bad. MH says that their "salad menu is filled with gigantic gut-bombs" and by the looks of things, that seems like a fair description.

No. 4 is the Waldorf Chicken Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing at California Pizza Kitchen. This salad has 1,570 calories, 30 g saturated fat and 2,082 mg sodium. The calories are bad enough but throw in that much sodium and this salad is just a poor choice all-around.

You'll have to see the full list for the top three, but if you like TGI Friday's you might want to check out the top spot.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Day After Video

Well, the morning is crazy busy around here, which happens when the girls are home. No school this week for them so we're going to Mt. Rubidoux this morning. We haven't been in a while and the girls are happy to go, so off we go.

For your viewing pleasure this morning, here's a video that I've been meaning to share. It's pretty funny. I've been told that I'm like the last person.

I might check in later today. Until then, enjoy.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Motivational Mondays: Me, A Leader?

I've been with my running group, the Loma Linda Lopers, for two years now. This is my second year, and I feel like I've learned a lot and have a lot to offer because of it.

Now, I've been given the chance to influence others a bit more directly.

I have the chance to become a pace leader of my pace group, the 10:30s. I filled in a little bit on Sunday during our 14-mile run, and filled in a little bit the time before that, two weeks ago on a 13-miler.

Our pace group has two leaders already but one is 15 weeks pregnant and probably won't be able to log long runs before too long. We have 15 planned for Sunday and then have 15 and 18 on consecutive Sundays in December. Our other pace leader has had foot problems and recently was forced to take a month off from running. He's slowly working his way back.

So they've turned to me to see if I would be able to fill in. I said I'd do it and am grateful and humbled to be thought of in that way.

To be honest, I thought that it would be interesting and perhaps enjoyable to be a pace leader someday. I thought that it would be rewarding to help first-time marathoners get through the training and then run a full marathon for the first time, run it alongside them and help them get to the finish, but I didn't expect it to happen so quickly.

Now, the thing about our group that might make it more appealing to have me aboard is that this is an experienced group. We've had some members drop off so we have either one or two runners who haven't run a marathon yet but not sure if they are still with our group since I haven't seen them in a few weeks. Nevertheless, had our group had more first-timers maybe the group would have needed someone with more than two marathons to help the first-timers run their first marathon.

Still, I do feel that I have some good qualities that will help me be a good pace leader. The main quality I feel I bring to the table is strength. I can get through runs. I'm determined to get through runs. And group members need a leader who is strong and who can finish runs.

Sunday was a good example of that. I really didn't feel like running 14 miles in the rain but when I was out there on the course I felt good. After two miles, one of the pace leaders asked me if I would be able to lead and I agreed so I jumped to the front and led. My first mile in front, I ran it at 10:35. That's perfect. I kept us in that range for the four miles until our group had whittled down to four. We were pretty much running in pairs at that point but I still wanted to be strong for the other runners' sake. I think it's more encouraging when you have someone who looks like they're strong and have energy remaining, and I don't anticipate that being a problem when I'm in charge.

Next week we have a 15-mile run planned. I may be in front the whole time next week or it may be a mixture as it was this week. Whatever the case, I'll be up for it.

All eyes will be on me so I don't have a choice but to respond with another strong effort.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Four Questions

I was recently tagged by Tales From The Back Of The Pack to answer four questions about myself. Pretty cool questions so I figured I'd take the time to answer them. I was also tagged by another cool blogger for another set of, well, questions I suppose, so keep an eye out for that. Was going to include them both in same post but will post separately.

Anyway...

1. What is your favorite holiday and why? Any special traditions?

My favorite holiday is definitely Christmas. It's not so much the presents and things like that but being a dad, I really do get into the Christmas spirit. All holidays have either taken on new meanings or been re-born now since the girls have been a part of my life. Christmas is awesome because of them. Of course, they love the presents they get but they also love decorating the Christmas tree, enjoy making sugar cookies, enjoy the lights on all the houses, enjoy the Christmas carols (in both English and Spanish) and all the awesome food as well. And because they enjoy it, I enjoy it.

2. What songs are on your go-to playlist? Describe how or why the music motivates you.

We go from warm and fuzzy to this. Well, I'm not much of a soft music guy, so this is anti-warm-and-fuzzy. My playlist consists of Metallica and others. I've actually changed up my musical selections. Before I would load the last half of playlists with Metallica, figured it would give me a huge boost when I needed it the most. Lately though I've been putting their stuff throughout. Part of me realized that I wasn't getting to some of the good songs on my playlist because it would be over by then. I had a few just-in-case songs near the end, figuring that if I needed them they'd be there just in case I wasn't done, but more often than not I was done.

My top three runnings songs, though, have not changed.

3. Highwayman, Johnny Cash
2. Damage Inc., Metallica
1. Orion, Metallica

Orion is an instrumental and lasts about 8:30, so I know that when it starts to when it finishes is roughly a mile, give or take. The beginning has a bit of an ominous feel to it, which is cool, and once it gets going, it just totally allows me to get into a groove.

Lately I've been running to a lot of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club as well, and I also listen to a lot of Flogging Molly, but I think I had eight Metallica and eight BRMC songs on my Long Beach Playlist.

Highwayman kind of goes against the grain but that's just an awesome song. I can lose myself in that song. It's too bad it's only about three minutes long.
3. What is your dream vacation? Money is not an issue.

Tough question. I've been to and had a great time in Costa Rica, Montreal, Trinidad & Tobago and would love to go back to one or all three. However, I'd also like to visit new frontiers.

I don't know though, I like the idea of going to some far-off remote location. I don't really have a bucket list of must-visit places but one place I'd like to go to is Perth, Australia, simply because to me it seems like the most remote location possible. Australia is remote and far off, and Perth is remote and far off within Australia. Maybe just for kicks, Perth with visits to Sydney and the Great Barrier Reef and Ayers Rock while I'm at it. What sucks is my brother visited the last three places, not Perth, but the others. I mean that's good for him... so I guess I'll have to live vicarously through him.

4. Looking back at 2010 so far...what are you most proud of?

Running two marathons. I'm proud of having run my first marathon, the Surf City Marathon in February. I did that with a group, my beloved Lopers. I trained with a group and about 10 of us ran it together... for the first 12-14 miles anyway. But I'm proud as well for having trained and ran another marathon all on my own, the San Francisco Marathon. I'm also proud that it was San Francisco, "the race even marathoners fear." And I set a PR there! I beat my Surf City time by about five minutes.

Well, that's what I've got time for. I think I'm supposed to tag other bloggers but I've never been any good at that. Anyway, hope you enjoyed the answers.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Mission Inn: No PR; What's Up Next

It's been a few days since my half marathon but I wanted to take a look back at the race and write about some things that didn't make the race recap.

No PR

I don't want this race to be remembered for not having set a PR. I did, though, have a stretch where every race I did, I did just that. I set PRs in each of my two previous half-marathons, this year; had improved my 10K time the last two 10Ks I ran; had bested my marathon time in the second one over the first.

So this is sort of new to me, running a strong race but not setting a PR.

I'm not upset. I wasn't upset during the race when I realized it wasn't going to happen, wasn't upset after the race and am no upset now, a few days after.

It would be one thing if I didn't know why my time wasn't what it was in Long Beach. I hadn't run as much as I should have been running after Long Beach and, perhaps more importantly, I didn't do any speedwork. Speedwork is critical for improving time, and I did none of it.

Still, I managed to get a 1:56:20 so I'm not exactly lamenting over a poor time.

Hometown Race

I've lived in Riverside since 1989 save for a two-year stretch Mrs. LB and I did in Temecula (yeah, it was like a prison sentence). Oh, and then there were the few months we picked up and moved to Mexico, in 2002. But aside from that, I've lived here in Riverside since '89, and Mrs. LB longer than that.

But it wasn't until 2008 that I participated in the Mission Inn Run. That year was my first year as a runner, and by November '08 I was embracing that. I ran the 10K that year as there was no half-marathon option. Last year I ran the 10K again because the Lopers recommended that I do as much, but I was pretty bummed that I didn't run the half as it was the first year.

After having run this race for the third consecutive year, I think I'd like to keep running it for the foreseable future. I might not run the half every year, might try to set a 10K PR or something, but it's cool to know that I have a hometown race that I enjoy and now have some history with.

That being said, it would be nice if the course ran through more streets and less of the out-and-back bike path.

Tape Issues

When I went to Seattle, I bought some medical tape for my nipples. It's worked great, and considering I lost the other tape I had it's been a bit of a lifesaver.

(If you aren't aware, I have nipple issues as they bleed on me like crazy if I don't take care of them. Don't believe me? Look here)

Well, I had taped the nips before the race... okay, well, let me rephrase that. I had tape on them. I'd had tape on them from earlier in the week. Sometimes I just like to let the tape stay on there because it kinda hurts to take off.

Late in the race, I felt the unmistakable nipple pain that's cause me so much grief since I've been running. I dismissed it though because I was focused on the race. Also, my undershirt of choice is one that's pretty skin tight so it helped stave off pain and blood.

Later, when I took off my shirt the tape was indeed gone from both nips and I felt some tenderness in the area.

I'm just lucky I didn't bleed.

What's Next?

Sadly, I have no more races to run in 2010. This was race number 10 and it concluded a memorable and busy calendar.

My next race won't be until Surf City 2011, on Feb. 6, when I will run Marathon No. 3. I would like to run a half marathon in January, to use as a training run for Surf City but not sure if that will happen.

My next half-marathon won't be until much longer. Next spring, the Run Through Redlands will present another challenge but I'm not sure if I'll run that. I will run the Fontana Days Half Marathon in June and will look to PR there since it's all downhill... literally. The course is downhill from start to finish. Can't beat that.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Weigh-less Wednesday: Places To Avoid

One of the things that helped me lose more than 100 pounds was controlling what I ate. That meant eating at home and not eating out as much.

Now, by not eating out, I mean that I stopped relying on fast food as much. I ate out a lot before, yes, but it wasn't like I was eating at a sit-down restaurant every night. But fast food is not the only place where you can down 600, 700 or 1,000 calories without really breaking a sweat - it's just the easiest.

Men's Health rated the five worst restaurants (well, four of them are restaurants) in the nation.

So if you need another reason to not eat out (or at least cut down on it; I mean, you can't avoid restaurants altogether), then take a look at these calorie disasters.

5. Claim Jumper

I've always known Claim Jumper for their gigantic portions, which the mag mentions. Claim Jumper features a beef-rib supper worth 2,253 calories and a chocolate-chip calzone worth 1,794 calories.

Here's their items, at least the ones with nutritional info available, per CalorieKing.com

4. Regal Cinemas

The lone non-restaurant on the list. Going to the movies can be an expensive proposition if you add in the candy and sodas and popcorn and whatever else you might want to indulge in. But what sets Regal apart is that they offer a bucket of popcorn for free. And who doesn't mindlessly eat popcorn while watching a movie? That's a death trap.

Now, popcorn is actually a good snack, but it's a good snack when prepared at home. At the movies, it can be too much of a good thing.

3. CiCi's Pizza

I've never heard of this place so I'll have to take their word for it. But according to the mag this place offers a five-dollar endless pizza buffet, which includes some 170-calorie-per-slice pizza choices.

I don't know if I'd have the willpower to stop piling pizza on my plate if it was endless like that. Best to just avoid that place altogether.

CiCi's Pizza on CalorieKing.com

(Further research reveals that there is a CiCi's Pizza by me, in Chino Hills, and there's another in Gardena... and one in San Diego... but those are the only ones anywhere nearby, which is a good thing)

2. Red Robin

Red Robin makes the list at number two because a) they offer bottomless steak fries with each burger - two baskets of fries equal 868 total calories - and b) half of their gourmet burgers are more than 1,000 calories.

And if you think you'll get a wrap there and be good, their Whiskey River Wrap has 1,112 calories and 2,500 mg sodium. Yikes!

Red Robin on CalorieKing.com

1. Shula's Steak House

Again, not heard of this place. The red flag is the restaurant does not have nutritional stats for its foods (according to the mag) and that's never a good thing. The mag says their 48-ounce steak has about 4,000 calories. That's just insanity.

Obviously, no stats available at CalorieKing.com

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Disneyland Trip

I made it out to Disneyland last week after all and I'm glad I did. Even though it was crowded (Veteran's Day) and we didn't actually go on many rides, we had a great time at Disneyland. That's the thing - we always did. Even when the crowds were ridiculous, we always made do.

Anyway, I wanted to share some of the pictures from that day.

The Christmas decorations were all up, including the most massive Christmas tree you'll see.

The tree seems like it goes on and on towards the sky...


We had hoped to ride It's A Small World but we were unlucky. Little did we know but Nov. 12 (Friday) was the first day of the Holiday season at Disneyland. We were a day early.

We were bummed.


But we did get to see some characters up close. The girls got their umpteenth picture taken with Goofy.

That Goofy sure is a card.

We also got a rare picture taken with the Big Cheese himself...


We went to California Adventure and got our picture taken with Lightning McQueen and Mater.


Probably, though, the most memorable picture is this one. We got FastPasses for Space Mountain right away, pretty much when we walked into the park. We went back later and instead of the 45-minute wait, we were in line probably 10 minutes before boarding. Since there three of us, we got into a car by ourselves. Actually, not sure how that happened but it did, and I wasn't complaining.

The best part was that it made for a great picture opportunity. The girls sat up front and I sat right behind them. Both of the girls had been on Space Mountain before and hadn't cried or been afraid or anything. While we were in line, Yvie told me she was "a little nervous" which probably meant she was crapping her pants. I can only imagine what Kennedy felt. It is a bit ominous in there, with all the space stuff and sound effects, and that's just in line. But neither wanted to bail on the ride so we went on it.

I could hear the girls at the beginning and they seemed fine and looking forward to the ride. Once it got going, though, it was dark and I couldn't hear anything but the music that's played on the ride and the ride itself.

Towards the end I knew we were near the part where the cameras are. Sure enough, some bright lights popped at us and I hoped that the picture was going to turn out.

About the same time, I heard Kennedy sobbing. She'd been crying. Apparently the ride was too much to handle.

It did make for a great picture...

Of course, Yvie is quite concerned about her sister. And I'm all smiles in the back.

It kind of reminded me of another picture of us, well, of Kennedy and me anyway.

Yes, we are going to use these pictures as torture later in life.

Just some of the many memories we had at Disneyland.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Motivational Mondays: Mission (Inn) Accomplished

While it's fun to race in a new location, there's something to be said about familiarity and close proximity to home. Such was the case Sunday as I was running in the local Mission Inn Run. I woke up at 5 a.m., tossed and turned until 5:35 and then got up to get ready. By 6:10 I was in my car, and by 6:20 I was looking for a parking spot.

The Mission Inn Half Marathon offered a close location to home but also offered the chance of running another half marathon, my third of the year and fourth all-time. I had been going back and forth on whether I wanted to PR or not and ultimately decided I was going to go for it but knew that it was possible, likely even, that I would not come close.

While the Mission Inn course was relatively flat, it was not flat and fast as Long Beach. Add to that the wind that was blowing in from the north and it was going to be a challenging race.

I walked around towards the start area, ran into some friends and hung out for a few minutes. Then, I warmed up by running almost back to where I'd parked and then back towards the start line. All told, I ran about .8 mile, which worked out great.

Once near the start line, I felt the usual pre-race excitement. I was happy that I was running yet another race and trying to soak in the moment of what would be my final race of 2010.

The horn went off and the half-marathoners spilled forward onto Market Street. Very early on I had to dodge around plenty of other runners. The street sloped downward and helped my time, but I was also eager to get out in front and set a strong early pace. But after one mile, I felt I'd come out too fast. I'd run an 8:04 mile right off the bat and needed to slow down. Mile 2 swung us around a park and back through some residential areas, and at 8:42 was a more comfortable and manageable pace. I felt good, felt strong and did not feel any wind.

The course took us right by the entrance of my beloved Mt. Rubidoux, a place I've run sparingly since the spring, when it became a once-a-week fixture on my racing calendar. I felt the urge to run on the path briefly, just to say I ran on Mt. Rubidoux during a race.

We meandered through some more residential areas until about Mile 4, when we went around the base of Mt. Rubidoux, and the course was then a paved bike path. Eventually I came up behind the top of Mt. Rubidoux and saw the flag and cross that are prominent displays atop the local landmark.

At this point, we crossed the place that was the turn-off for the 10K. The 10K course deviated back through the park we originally ran through, past some houses and back towards downtown. That would await us near the end, but before then we had to run about four miles along the bike path, turn around and run four more miles back.

Miles 3 and 4 were run at 8:44 and 8:30 while Mile 5 was at 9:13. Most of Mile 5 was run with the wind blowing against me. While the houses and the park had offered protection from the wind, I was out in the open on the bike path.

I plugged along though, trying not to think about how awfully far it would be before I could turn around. I tried to keep landmarks in mind for the return trip. The course took us under four streets/freeways, which was about the only protection we had from the wind. I'd turned my hat around early on so it woulnd't be a casualty of the run. Somewhere along the path, the wind blew a hat clean off the runner in front of me. I reached for her hat but couldn't get it and she had to dart backwards to grab it.

I wasn't sure how to run in the wind. I tried to keep my arms close to my body, tried to stay compact but didn't want to throw off my mechanics.

But the wind wore on me. Mile 6 (8:54), Mile 7 (8:47) and Mile 8 (9:26) were all run into the wind.

I'd wanted to be at Mile 10 before the 1:28 mark. I figured if that were the case I could give it a good final three-mile push to get close to the 1:55 I needed to PR. So Mile 9 then meant some pushing and I ran it in 8:17, which was encouraging. But it also seemed to take a toll on me. The next mile was at 8:55 and I was at about 1:29 when I finally got to Mile 10.

Still, I felt strong and felt encouraged by that. In Long Beach, I felt like I was stuck in the same speed, a not-too-fast speed, for the final 4-5 miles but I felt like I had a kick in me this time. I wanted to stay strong, stay at my pace and then pick it up for the last stretch.

Mile 11 (8:43) was done and I finally was off the bike path shortly after. Originally, I wanted to pick up the pace here, once I was done with the bike path and close to the finish. But that did not happen. I didn't have much left and wondered if the wind had indeed won the battle. Mile 12 (9:13) was tough mentally but I kept reminding myself that it was my last race of the year, that it was only a small amount of time before I'd be done, that I would be upset with myself if I didn't give it my all here.

Now, earlier Mrs. LB had called and told me she was setting up with the girls. That was the big carrot dangling in front of me. I wasn't sure where they would be but figured it would be near the finish. I hoped that their presence and cheers would give me the energy I'd need to tear through to the finish.

The final mile was probably the toughest. This one was the only one that featured any sort of hill, and it weighed on me. I trudged up the hill and while I was giving it a good effort, my speed was not exactly there. Finally I turned the corner and had to keep running at an incline but only briefly.

Up ahead I saw the girls. Mrs. LB had the camera poised and ready and the girls were cheering loudly.

"Go Daddy! Run Daddy! Yay Daddy!"

Both the girls had their hands in the air, smiling broadly, jumping up and down, and their energy was the boost I needed. I didn't feed off it right away but once I got back on Market I went into a sprint. Mile 13 (9:06) could have been worse but I picked up the pace enough to make a bit of a difference. Finally the last corner was ahead of me and I was giving it all I had at that point. I saw the finish line, saw the time was at around 1:56:xx and knew that I was in fact not going to PR.

But it didn't matter to me then. I knew I had given it everything I'd had in me, knew that I ran a strong race and felt happy about my effort.

I tell this to my girls all the time: "It doesn't matter to me if you win or lose. What matters to me is that you give it your all. As long as you try your hardest, I'm happy."

So I took my own advice. I tried my hardest (my muscles constantly reminded me of just how hard I'd tried) so I had no reason to not feel happy about my effort.

What made the race a truly unforgettable one, however, was this:

How could I not be happy when I've got this kind of support?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Mission Inn Run Is Done!

The Mission Inn Half Marathon is in the books. I finished with a time of 1:56:20. I didn't PR but I am happy with the time because:

A) I ran a strong race, the kind of race I wanted to run

B) I feel like I gave everything I had

C) There was a lot of wind to contend with, and few obstacles to block it, mostly miles 5-11

D) It's a half marathon, for eff's sake!

I'll have a full recap later. For now, it's time to try and recover and hopefully nap.
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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Mission Inn Half

I barely had time to blog about the half marathon but I am running a half marathon on Sunday! The Mission Inn Half Marathon! Yay.

I'll update shortly after the race. The race starts at 7 a.m. PT and I'm hoping to finish before 9 a.m. I'm going to go for it, go for a PR but am fully aware that I may not be able to get it. I will be much more well-rested than Long Beach and the course isn't hilly. It is an out-and-back, for about six or seven miles.

Anyway, I'm ready. My legs feel ready for a long, fast run so here's hoping the rest of me is too.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday Leftovers - Number 1,000

Greetings! Welcome to Friday and welcome to my 1,000th post.

I'd been thinking for a while to do something special for number 1,000 but I never did come up with anything exciting so my 1,000th post will be just like numbers 1-999; a little bit of everything.

Thank you for taking the time to read this trusty blog and for all your comments and supports and everything else along this journey. It would be less fun and less rewarding to run the races I run and to write about what I write about, running or otherwise, without having this blog to plan/vent/share with you all. So, muchisimas gracias.

Word Association

As always, play here.

1. Everything :: Anything
2. China :: Doll
3. Essence :: Fragrance
4. Immediate :: Gratification
5. Obstruct :: View
6. Force :: Delta
7. Constellation :: Stars
8. Intuitive :: Felt
9. Complain :: Not satisfied
10. Train :: Rails

I used to like the Delta Force movies when I was younger. I can imagine how bad I'd think they are if I watched them now. Maybe I'd still enjoy them, who knows?

Five Question Friday

And the usual Friday staple, the Five Question Friday. Thanks to Mama M for hosting this every Friday. Makes for a good end to the week.

1. What is the most physically painful thing that has ever happened to you?

At the end of each marathon, my body was in pain. It's the only time in my life that just walking was painful, and by painful I don't mean a few things hurt - everything hurt. It hurt to walk. It hurt to stand. It hurt to sit. It hurt to sit down. It hurt to stand up. After Surf City (my 1st marathon) the pain lingered but I felt much better after San Francisco sooner. Don't get me wrong, I still felt like I had been hit by an 18-wheeler but the seemed to dissipate quicker.

Ah, but the pain leaves your body and the medal and the accomplishment remain. So to me, the marathons are worth the pain. Easily.

2. How much sleep do you get at night?

On a good night, about six hours. I wish it was more but my schedule always seems out of whack and since I work from home and am responsible for a lot of the household duties, I sometimes have to put off working until they're asleep. So that means working at night and that cuts into my sleep time.

** SPOILER ALERT **
3. How long did you believe in Santa Claus? How did you find out that he does not exist?

Well, I hope I didn't ruin the spirit of Santa for you. I don't quite remember when I stopped believing in the big guy but it was early. I don't really remember believing in Santa for too long so I'm guessing by 7-8 it was gone.

We're trying to keep Santa's presence alive and well here but we know before too long our girls will stop believing. It's fun though for now. They believe and they get excited about Santa's visits.

4. What was the last movie you saw in a theater?

Megamind. One of the girls had earned a trip to the movies and we went and saw that. It was pretty good, had stuff for both the kids and the adults.

5. What do you wear to bed?

Usually just a pair of shorts. I can't sleep with shirts. They get all tangled up because I tend to move around a lot at night so they bother me. I'll sleep with socks on sometimes but I tend to just take them off at night.

I also wear my C-PAP... does that count? Well, I don't wear it every night but that's something that has to change. I need to wear it every night. So if I have my C-PAP and a pair of shorts on, it means I'm having a comfortable night's sleep.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

End Of An Era

Part of the reason why I think I was (and am) so emotional about this whole Disneyland thing is that it's essentially the end of an era, the audible closing of one chapter of this book of life.

The girls aren't little anymore. I know that, of course. But Disneyland was so ingrained in us that it just felt like second nature. However, that's a part of life when the girls were little. School and the girls' extracurricular activities dominate their lives now, and we can't really bend or mold that any other way.

So when these passes expired (well, at least when Yvie's did), it was the final passing from one stage to another.

We'll get passes someday again, I'm certain of it. And when we go back, it will be fun but it'll be different. Better in some ways. They'll be able to do more things on their own and will be able to stay up later and last longer. But the time we went when they were younger will be treasured time for me.

from our first trip, in November 2007


from our last trip, November 2010

It was a fun ride and I'm lucky I had the chance to partake in it.

D-land

Thanks everyone for your comments on yesterday's post.

We will, in fact, be at Disneyland today. We'll enjoy it and it won't be our last trip. It might be for a bit, but not ever. And I'm trying not to think about that.

Off to Adventureland!
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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

We Interrupt This Blog...

Alright, I need your help/advice/ears (or eyes I guess)...

If you've read this blog for a few minutes, you know how much I love Disneyland. We've had season passes since late 2007 and we've been to the Happiest Place on Earth more than 50 times easily since then.

On Thursday, Yvie's pass expires. Kennedy's expires next month and Mrs. LB's pass, along with mine, expires in late January. Not sure how that happened but...

Yvie's pass expires 11/11/10. Sad.

What's even more sad is we've decided not to renew. Sad sad. Triple sad. Quintuple sad times infinity...

Why not? We barely went this year. We didn't go at all from early March to mid-September. Not once. Not even during the summer. We went once in September and once in October. Our weekends are usually filled with other things, and last summer was short (six weeks) and packed, with camping, family vacations, our San Francisco Marathon trip and swim lessons. There was no time to squeeze in even one trip to Disneyland.

I would still like to renew, but at $329 a pop, we can't justify spending that much money for such few trips. We just can't.

So it's the end of an era and I'm genuinely saddened by it.

My question is this: should I go on Thursday? There is no school so we can go old-school, like when the girls were 3 and 1, 4 and 2, and we could go whenever the hell we wanted to, at whatever damn time we wanted with no restrictions.

But I'm pretty sure I'll be a little emotional and not sure how I'll enjoy the trip.

Every time we go, the girls have so much fun. Their eyes light up now at the same things that lit up their faces the first time we went. That place does not get old no matter times we've gone. The girls enjoy it to the max and that's what will make me sad, knowing that they won't get the same enjoyment there any more.

Part of me wants to go, to do all of our favorite rides one last time: Small World, Pirates, Buzz Lightyear, Thunder Mountain, Space Mountain, and the ride we've gone on the most, Alice in Wonderland.

But part of me doesn't want to go because it will be too painful. I know, I'm being selfish, possibly turning away a potentially memorable day because I don't want to deal with the emotional fallout.

So, what say you, dear blog reader? Should I go for old time's sake? Or should I just concede defeat and find something else to do with the girls on Thursday? I'm guessing that if we stay home, we'd probably watch a movie, bake some muffins/cookies, maybe go to a park, nap... fun stuff but nowhere near as fun as Disneyland.

Sad LB...

Weigh-less Wednesday: Arm Yourself With Knowledge

When you put something in your mouth, do you think about the calories? About how much, if any, fiber it has? About the amount of sodium or carbs it has?

I don't. Well, I don't always think about it, I should say. That's in part because I've already got some things programmed in my mind. An apple is between 80-100 calories, for instance, while a banana is about 100. A handful of chips is... bad... but it has maybe 70 calories, maybe more (most serving sizes for chips are between 10-14 chips).

One simple way to figure out what's working for you in your meal plan is to figure out what you're ingesting. It's easy sometimes to just grab something and eat it without thinking about the nutritional part of it, but a quick glance at the nutritional facts box on the packaging will help you decide if you want to eat it or pass on it.

However, not all foods have that. I've been on a sweet potato kick lately, and have a bowl of cooked and mashed sweet potatoes in the fridge. I can't exactly look at the packaging to see how many calories one serving is, and exactly how much one serving is in the first place.

But there's a great web site that has all that info handy. Calorieking.com is easily the best site to find nutritional info.

Now, I sort of did it the backwards way. I ate first and asked questions later. But I had a rough idea of what I was eating. So for lunch... and dinner... I took out a measuring cup, got myself one cup of the sweet potatoes and went to town (after I heated them up and added a few things - a splash of milk, some cinnamon).

Later I checked calorieking.com and was pleasantly surprised. One cup of cooked and mashed sweet potatoes has 250 calories, 58 g carbs and 8.2 g fiber. Since I had two cups of that throughout the day, I got in more than 16 g fiber just in those two meals alone. Add in the 4.4 I got from my apple and I have more than 20 g fiber. I'm pretty sure I got what I needed in terms of fiber.

Calorieking.com is the best resource I've found for any sort of nutritional info.

How many calories does a baked potato have?
I ate a Fiber One bar but threw out the packaging - what did I eat?
I had a cup of grapes with my lunch, how many grams of fiber did it have?

and the site provides answers...

About 141
Fiber One bar - 140 calories, 9g fiber
Only 1.4, but it was only 100 calories to begin with

Also helpful is their restaurant info. I've done it many times where I'm at a restaurant and am on my phone, scanning the site for any sort of meal info. Let's say you are Olive Garden and want to order the Lasagna Clasico but aren't sure if that's more calories than you have left. A search on my phone reveals that it has 850 calories, not terrible, but 2,830 mg sodium, which is bad. So I start scanning for alternatives and stumble across the Cheese Ravioli, which has 660 calories and 1,440 mg sodium, so I opt for that. I'm also trying to ignore the fact that each breadstick is 150 calories.

Anyway, that's just a scenario that could happen.

I didn't get sponsored by the site or anything. My trainer told me about that site a long time ago and I've used it quite often since then. It's the best starting point for me with regards to calories and nutritional information, and I do use it often on my phone, when I'm out at places.

So you can't memorize the nutritional facts for every little piece of food and not all foods have that info handy. The best thing you can do, though, is to give yourself a fighting chance by finding that info out on your own.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Marathon No. 3

I did it!

I signed up for my third marathon, the 2011 Surf City Marahton.

On their Facebook page, Surf City announced that their races were almost near capacity and the last thing I wanted to have happen is to not be able to participate in either the half or the full. So I took the plunge.

I have had so many things running through my mind since registering. I was mostly excited that I'd done it and that I will run 26.2 again, and to do it where it all started for me makes it more exciting.

I wasn't sure whether to do the full at all because this would have been... will be, I guess I can say that now, the first of two marathons I'll run in a six-week span. I plan on running the Los Angeles Marathon on March 20, six weeks after Surf City (Feb. 6). I think I can do it, and now I suppose I won't have a choice.

As far as a goal time, it's too early to say what time I want. I do want to break my PR which I set in San Francisco with a time of 4:37:51. How much time I think I can shave off remains to be seen.

But that's secondary. For now, I'm pumped that I did it and that my next marathon is within sights. It's not exactly right around the corner but there is a time and date now to look forward to. And look forward to it I will!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Motivational Mondays: Allure Of Racing

Is there anything more motivating than race day?

I've thought about races a lot recently - how my races have gone this year, what races I want to run next year, how many races I want to run in 2011 - and no matter what I come back to the same thing: racing is fun.

My next race will be Sunday, the Mission Inn Half Marathon in Riverside, which has spurned all these thoughts about races.

It's fun to participate in such events simply because of the energy alone. There are so many people out there, all trying to reach some sort of goal, and everyone is focused and prepared and concentrated (well, at least it feels that way). And everyone is also sort-of on edge as everyone's trying to push those last-minute doubts and jitters aside.

Once the race starts, we're off! I still remember the feeling I had in my first race, a 5K in Fontana in June 2008. I had a smile from ear to ear when we started the race, for no other reason than I was excited about racing. I had no goal in mind, no time to beat, no past performance to atone for, no bar to set. I just had fun because I was racing.

Things have changed a little since then. I look at races as a measure of where I am in my training. Races give me something tangible to prepare for, to train for, to bust my butt for. Usually during training runs, I think about upcoming races to get me nice and motivated.

Next week's race will be fun, like all other races I've done. This one is my local race. The start/finish line is about six miles away and I can zip in and out of the area without fear of hitting traffic or getting lost. The course will take me along a bike path which I've not run but might incorporate into my upcoming runs. It will also be the longest I've run in Riverside city limits. Technically we live in an unincorporated area of Riverside so within the city's boundaries I've not run 13.1 miles before.

On Sunday then, I will have a good measure of where I'm at, a decent gauge of what I am capable of and what areas I should try and improve on. The best part about that is I will get to do so while knocking out yet another race.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Not A Fan

I guess not everyone is a fan of running, nor does everyone have respect for runners.

This story here questions whether those participating in today's NYC Marathon are athletes, but goes beyond that and really slams all marathoners, well, all but the top 500 who are the true athletes, the writer says.

This story kind of hit me from behind as I wasn't expecting something this unflattering so I haven't quite yet wrapped my mind around it, and I do think I want to write something more than this on the matter. But still felt the urge to post it today since today is the NYC Marathon.

Off now to run 13 miles. Not that the writer of that blog post would give a crap...

(thanks Morgan for the link)

Friday, November 5, 2010

Friday Leftovers (Nov. 5)

Greetings and Happy Friday! I know it's not a holiday but I love my Fridays. It's usually the best day of the week for me. Our nights are usually wide open, which is a rarity, and after running around all week and writing like a madman on Mon-Thu nights, I usually don't have much to write on Fridays.

It's my weekend.

Anyway, here are the leftovers...

CA Dreamin' Jacket

I never did post a picture of my CA Dreamin' Jacket. I got this jacket (along with a special medal) for running the Surf City Marathon, San Francisco Marathon and Long Beach Half Marathon.


Well, there it is.

It's awesome. I love it. I'd wear it more often but it was in the mid-90s out here on Thursday so it wasn't exactly jacket weather.

I took it to Seattle and it kept me warm, though. It's light and I think meant to be a running jacket but not sure if it will get cold enough down here for me to use it as that. But I'll use it though, don't get me wrong.

Word Association

Play along here

1. Adhesive :: Tape
2. Bill :: Cosby
3. Swing :: Shift
4. Counter :: Top
5. Fluid :: Brakes
6. Investigate :: Crime
7. Chit chat :: Jibber jabber
8. Humane :: Society
9. Boss :: Hogg
10. Furniture :: Chair

Funny. I watched the Dukes of Hazzard growing up some, I suppose, but it wasn't exactly my favorite show, although I had a little toy car, their car, and I thought it was pretty cool. So I wasn't expecting for Boss Hogg to pop up.

Five Question Friday

And here's the other thing I participate in every Friday. Do so yourself over at Mama M's blog.


1. If you could have any talent and turn it into an occupation, what would it be?

Pastry chef. I'd love to make some delectable dessert, something that I created, and for people to love it.

2. Would you rather have a house at the beach or a cabin in the woods?

Hands down, a house at the beach. Even in the winter, when it's cold and you don't want to get in the water, the views would be pretty. And then of course in the summer, the beach is right there.

And as long as we're fantasizing here, how about a house on this beach?

I miss you, Costa Rica.

3. Is there any meaning or reasoning for the names you chose for your child/children?

Yes. We were very adamant that our children carry on family names. We didn't want to just pick random names that may or may not mean anything. Not that there's anything wrong with that necessarily, but it just wasn't for us. We wanted for our children to carry on the memories of family members we respected and cherished.

So Yvie and Kennedy are family names, and so too are their middle names. We hope they live up to their names and also at some point when they're older embrace those names and why they were named the way they were.

4. What is your guilty pleasure? (I know we've done this one before, but I'm guessing people's "guilty pleasures" change frequently. At least, mine do!)

Hmmm.... I'm going to have to think about this one... a guilty pleasure. I dunno really, does surfing the 'net count?

5. Do you live in a house that is deep cleaned or straightened?

If the cleaning fairy would do her damn job, then our house would be tip-top but she must not have our address.

Our house isn't... well, it's not spotless, but we have a lot of fun with our girls, we make memories daily, and instead of making memories I suppose we could spend the time cleaning the house, but then where would those memories be?

So, if you're coming over I need a little bit of time to pick up, maybe a few minutes, maybe more, but we'll have a lot of stories to share about the girls and what we've been up to. And wouldn't you rather hear that then how I managed to dust the living room and mop with the Swiffer almost at the same time?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Weigh-less Wednesday: Not Worth Its Salt

Do you watch your sodium intake?

It's tough to keep tabs on so many things - calories, fiber, protein, carbs, sodium, etc. I prioritized two things during my weight-loss journey. My main priority was calories as I tried to stay around 1800 a day (and 2800 every fourth day). My second priority, though, was fiber. I figured that if I kept my calories at 1800 a day and got in 25-30 grams of fiber a day, everything else would take care of itself.

But that doesn't mean I could ignore sodium altogether. I wasn't quite sure how many grams of sodium were recommended each day so when I'd look at the nutrition facts and would see something like 700mg sodium per serving, I wondered if that was normal, bad or terrible.

Well, there are two schools of thought with regards to sodium intake. The Institute of Medicine recommends 2300 mg a day, which is roughly a teaspoon of salt. The average American consumes 3400 mg a day.

Not surprisingly, most excessive sodium comes from processed foods. Salt equals flavor and if processed foods didn't have so much salt, they would be bland.

Home cooking doesn't make for excessive sodium levels. According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, 77 percent of the sodium in an average diet comes from processed and restaurant foods. As far as lowering your sodium levels, the simple answer is to eat lots of fruits and veggies, and cook at home.

If you do have to go out, do what you can to avoid these foods, which Men's Health labeled the Saltiest Foods in America

5. Saltiest Nachos: On The Border, Grande Fajita Chicken Nachos (appetizer) - 5,180 mg sodium, 1,540 calories, 85g fat

4. Saltiest Steak Meal: Claim Jumper, Country Fried Steak - 6,157 mg sodium, 2,288 calories, 68g fat

3. Saltiest Breakfast: Perkins, Southern Fried Chicken Biscuit Platter - 6,680 mg sodium, 1,860 calories, 86g fat

2. Saltiest Burger: Chili's Jalapeño Smokehouse Bacon Burger - 6,710 mg sodium, 2,140 calories, 139g fat

1. Saltiest Food in America: PF Chang's, Double Pan-Fried Noodles with Pork - 7,900 mg sodium, 1,652 calories, 84g fat

* for a full list of the Men's Health 30 saltiest foods in America, click here

Oops

I messed up! I just now realized that today's post didn't post. Grrr...

I had/have a good post on sodium intake too, being that it's weigh-less Wednesday. Double grrr...

I'm tired, have had a long day and its 6 pm now and there is no end yet in sight. Anyway, when I get home I will publish the post.
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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Seattle Tidbits

I made it home from Seattle in one piece after some unnerving moments early Monday morning, but I made it. Just wanted to share a few things about the trip that made it memorable, aside from the run...

Bloggy Meet-up

One of the best things about blogging has been the chance to interact with other people in other parts of the country who share similar interests. Before my 2009 trip to Seattle, I hit the mother lode with running blogs as there seems to be an insane number of Seattle-area running blogs. Last year I ran into two of them on my 18-mile run, and on Sunday I ran into both of them once more. This time, though, the run-in was planned.

I met up with Kerrie of Mom v Marathon and Zoë of Run, Zoë, Run in their neck of the woods, about 20 minutes south of Seattle. We had a great brunch, chatting about all sorts of things, from family life to running to blogging.

Kerrie had her camera and we snapped this shot of us together. Notice Zoë (in purple)? Yeah, she's about to have her first baby, a girl. She's due any day now but luckily her baby decided not to join the world when we were having brunch, although that would have made for a good blog post.

I was extremely lucky to have met these ladies in the first place, last year, and was lucky to have had the chance to have brunch with them this time around. One day I hope to run a race in Seattle. There are two major races there, the Rock n Roll Seattle Marathon in June and the Seattle Marathon which is held every year on the Sunday after Thanksgiving.

To be honest, the latter one appeals more to me. I don't know if it's because I've been to Seattle twice and it was raining and chilly both times (though it was much colder in 2009) and I think running a race in Seattle in those conditions would be memorable, but that one is enticing. I mean, they both are to be honest. The Rock n Roll one would be fun but it's during the summer and sometimes it's tough to get away during the summer because of work. My work slows down, interestingly enough, around Thanksgiving.

Anyway, there will hopefully be a bloggy meetup once more in our future, and it could involve a race. So I definitely have something to look forward to.

Getting Out Of Town

Have you ever flown out of Seattle? Out of Sea-Tac International Airport? It's a nightmare. The security checkpoint lines are ridiculous beyond ridiculous. If you ever have to fly out of there and aren't really aware like I was (even though I flew out of there last year), please make sure you allow yourself an extra 30-40 minutes to get through that line. I boarded my plane about 15 minutes before it took off. Had I been another five minutes late or so, they'd have slammed the door on me.

Not. Fun.

Apple Cup

I think I decided where Yvie will go to college. I'm sure she'll have her own ideas but I've made the choice for her, so she won't have to worry about it. Yvie's going to attend the University of Washington. She has to. I mean, what better reason for me to visit Seattle more frequently than having a daughter in school there?

I think it's a good school. I've heard good things about it. I wouldn't send her to a dumpy school, but really academics takes a backseat to location. Right? Yeah... that's a good criteria. Location...

Um... well, to try and plant a bug in her ear I bought her a souvenir.

Now, I haven't decided where Kennedy is going yet. I bought her a shirt as well to kind of put a bug in her ear but not sure if having both girls attend college in the same state would be good for my travel schedule. I mean, I'd like to see more of the country so I might choose for Kennedy to go to school elsewhere, like somewhere in Colorado. I went to Denver in '08 and really enjoyed it.

Uh... anyway...

I had the girls stand together for a picture so they could show off their new shirts and...

... you can't really see the shirts there.

I took a few more shots and...

...much better

And judging by the looks of things, UW's bashing and heckling of WSU will continue in the Bueno household.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Motivational Mondays: A Running Tourist

I've always liked traveling. When I was younger, I liked the idea of traveling since I didn't have much money for... anything, let alone traveling. As I got a little older and started to work, I did some traveling.

In my pre-weight loss days, I visited such countries as Trinidad & Tobago, Japan and Germany and went to cities like Dallas and Chicago. I did some sightseeing, some touristy stuff while in those respective locations (all but Germany were work-related trips).

Now that I'm slimmer and enjoy running, I look back and think of those trips as missed opportunities. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed those trips... most of them. But looking back on it now, I could have logged some awesome, memorable and unique runs. I mean, how many people can say they've run in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad? It's a bummer too because Port-of-Spain has a huge park in the middle of the city, the Queen's Park Savannah, or the Savannah as the locals call it. It's a little more than two miles around the diameter of the Savannah, and along one side are these cool Victorian homes called the Magnificent Seven. Not sure if they are government buildings or just some old homes that used to house royalty or British elite (Trinidad was a former British colony) or what. How cool would it have been to run alongside that?

Or how about the Schwarzwald in Germany, otherwise known as the Black Forest. How awesome would it have been to say that I've run in the frickin Black Forest? Or in Munich where we stayed one night? I could easily have gotten up early and knocked out a four-miler the morning we were in Munich. I mean, had I been in the shape I am now back then. I wouldn't have been able to run four miles anywhere in 2004... you get the point.

Grrr....

Well, instead of fretting too much, I use that as motivation. I was a different person when I went on those trips. I looked different and had different priorities. Exercise was not among those priorities.

Now, of course, I love to run. I am a runner. I am a marathoner. When I think of far-flung cities like Seattle (where I spent the weekend), Denver, Salt Lake City or foreign countries like Greece and China, I think of runs and races. I'd love to go back to Seattle and run a marathon. I'd love to run a marathon in Salt Lake City and Denver and Chicago and Phoenix and Athens and the Great Wall of China. Mrs. LB said she is down with me running the Athens Marathon so one day, we'll make it happen.

But I'd also just love to run through such cities, even if no race was involved. No matter how you experience cities, to me the best way to experience any of them is on foot, not in a car or bus or cab or on a train or airplane. So when I run somewhere new, I'm seeing things up close and am taking time to absorb them.

That's what made my first trip to San Francisco so memorable. I got to run past Fisherman's Wharf and on The Embarcadero. I got to run on the Golden Gate Bridge. My first time on the Bridge was on a run. How awesome is that?

Trips to Seattle, Montreal, Mexico City and San Diego in the last 18 months have all included runs, none of them were races, all of them were memorable.

Running has opened the door for many memorable moments, and I'm taking full advantage of them now.