New Doctor, New Attitude

I had an appointment today with a new doctor, a type of doctor I never thought I’d go to. Ever. A chiropractor.

It’s not that I dislike chiropractors, I just get weirded out by the snapping and cracking they do to the body. It just seems so unnatural.

Since my sports medicine doctor doesn’t think my injury is sexy enough, I tried a Team in Training-recommended practice nearby my office. The accolades from my coaches about the doctors there were rather convincing…and now I understand why.

What did I learn from the doctor today?

  • My hips are uneven, making one leg (my left) 1/4 inch longer than the other. (Got that fixed.)
  • I might be dealing with a minor shin splint. (No!)
  • The “meat” of my calf not damaged. (YAY!)
  • I need to listen to my body. Apparently, running 12 miles in pain is a no-no. (I’m skilled at ignoring pain.)
  • I need to incorporate more cross-training. (Good thing I got my bike fixed this weekend.)
  • Physical therapy (PT for short), including deep tissue massage, electro therapy, and icing should do the trick. (By the way, deep tissue massage hurts like hell!)
  • During training, I will likely have to continue PT, but not as often. (For now, I’ve been prescribed 3x/week for 2-4 weeks.)
  • I might be able to start running again this Saturday! We’ll see what happens at Thursday’s appointment. (Fingers crossed!)

I knew my injury was nothing serious, but did not anticipate regular PT sessions. Thankfully the office location is convenient and staff are super friendly. Today, as a matter of fact, I’ve been in the least amount of discomfort since this whole debacle happened. Looks like I’m on the road to recovery!

Catching Up

It felt weird not getting up at 5:00 a.m. today. I’ve been doing it for several weeks, attempting to beat the summer heat for my long runs. I did manage to sleep until 7:30 a.m. though, and I kind of liked it.

I don’t have many updates on my calf injury, other than it’s feeling better since my sports massage on Thursday. I went to Alexandria Massage Therapy and my massage therapist, Rich, did a fantastic job. If my budget allows, I’m going to add sports massages into my training schedule. Among those who have suggested I do that is my friend Sarah. I trust her — she’s an ultra marathoner and just ran her first 50-mile race a week ago. Talk about inspiring! She’s my go-to person for all things running-related.

Because I was feeling so good yesterday, I went to a barre 3 class. I felt great while exercising, but was sore and a little uncomfortable for the rest of the evening. I popped a few Advil and iced; this morning I felt much better. I’m going to take it easy this week (no running) and hope that I can join my team next Saturday for a 12-miler.

While futzing around the house this morning, I found a t-shirt that I forgot I bought a few weeks ago.

In anticipation of completing my first marathon this October, I bought this...on sale.

In anticipation of completing my first marathon this October…

I’m wearing my 13.1 t-shirt today. Sometimes I can’t believe I’ve run two half marathons. I still can’t believe that in 3 months, I’ll be running twice that distance. I’m putting this shirt on after crossing the finish line!

I spent some time today catching up on thank you cards and blank greeting card sets for those who donated $100 or more. The cards look like this:

Each donor gets one of each and a set of four blank envelopes.

Each donor gets one of each and a set of four blank envelopes.

These were fun to make. I love using embossing powder! <nerd alert>

Each of these cards was dusted with some and then I used a heat tool to set it. The stamped image is now sparkly and has a raised texture. I made five sets today and have to get more supplies to finish off the other five sets I still need to make. I hope my donors like them!

Now that I’m done crafting for the day, it’s time for my daily dose of Vitamin D. See you on the flip!

It’s Official: I’m Frustrated!

Since my calf injury, I’ve tried to remain positive, but I’m just downright frustrated. For those who know me, you know that I’m very active and love my fitness routine. Listening to my body, the advice everyone is giving me, is excruciatingly difficult for me. I’m an all-or-nothing type of gal, and this “take it easy” fitness regime I’ve had this week is killing me…and I’m only 4 days into it. It’s testing my patience.

Although I haven’t run since Saturday, I have been walking and went to barre 3 class on Tuesday. I had zero pain and it was lovely! I didn’t do Power Leg on my tiptoes (See! I listened to my body!), but all the other poses and exercises I did with little or no modifications and did not have pain. After class, however, the walk up the hill to the bus stop was a bit uncomfortable, but it seems that if I keep moving, the discomfort is much less.

This has been my view every night since Saturday. Twenty minutes on each side. Check out the fancy dish towel and fresh pedi! No gnarly runners’ feet for me…yet.

First we ice the calf…

First we ice the back of the leg...

Ice, ice, baby.

Then we ice the shin and everything else…

Only another 20 minutes...

Only another 20 minutes…

I’ve taken this “downtime” to reflect on the human body and what it’s capable of. I think deep down I thought I could train for this marathon without getting injured. But, when you train for endurance races, you’re pushing your body’s limits. When we do that, I think an injury — whether minor or major — is inevitable. Is training injury-free truly possible?

I remember getting home from Saturday’s run and crying out of fear, frustration, and doubt. Was I even capable of running 26.2 miles? How far back was this injury going to push me? How many miles was I going to lose? How was I going to maintain my cardio and endurance if I couldn’t run?

After my mini-breakdown, I realized that not only could I complete a marathon, but that I could also get over this minor setback. This was a battle between the mind and the body. Like coaches and fitness instructors have said in the past, your mind will always give out before your body. I believe that now.

To prove it to myself, I submitted my re-commitment paperwork to TNT today. I’ve officially gained entry into the Marine Corps Marathon! Shit. Just. Got. Real.

So what’s next? I’ve already scheduled a sports massage, made a call to my sports medicine doctor, and am in the process of contacting my TNT coaches for advice. I’ve got a bad ass support group scattered across the country, and I know they’re cheering for me through the highs and lows. I can’t let them or myself down, and I certainly can’t let my cousin David down.

It’s time to reset. I got this.

No Pain, No Gain?

I did it. 12 miles!

Almost halfway there!

Almost halfway there!

I hit 12 miles this Saturday. One thought that kept returning to my mind was something my friend Jean mentioned to me when I was still considering running a marathon. She said to me, “Chrissy, you’re going to be shocked when you see how quickly you get to half-marathon mileage. Training for a half took us 3 months. You’ll hit that mileage mark in like 8 weeks.”

She was right. I can’t believe that when I was training for my half-marathons that it would take 3-4 months to reach 10 miles! I basically run 10 miles in my sleep now.

Although I hit the 12-mile mark this week, I also suffered an injury. It’s hard to identify what the particular injury is, mostly because I’ve never had this pain before. I usually get tendonitis in my left hip flexor, but luckily, I’ve avoided that so far in my training. What I’m dealing with now is a bizarre pain in my left calf (to the right of my shin or the inside part of my calf). I can’t determine if it’s a shin splint because I’ve never had one. The pain isn’t in my shin, but it’s near it. I can walk on it, but it takes a good dozen steps before I can walk normally without pain. I’ve been icing it which seems to help; Advil does not seem to help. At rest, I’m in no pain. I’m not really sure how to treat this…

I ran my miles this weekend on the Capital Crescent Trail. It runs from D.C. into Montgomery County, Maryland. I’d never run this trail before, but I heard it was not crowded (if you get out there early enough) and that it’s mostly shaded and paved. Here are a few pictures from my excursion.

Trail Entrance

Beyond this creepy, ivy-covered archway is the trailhead.

Beyond this semi-creepy, ivy-covered archway is the trailhead.

The Trailhead

Here's the trailhead to the Capital Crescent Trail. It's a part of C&O Canal National Park.

Here’s the trailhead. It’s part of C&O Canal National Park.

Bridge Crossing

This bridge is about 3-3.5 miles in from the trailhead.

This bridge is about 3-3.5 miles in from the trailhead.

Hidden Mansion across the Potomac River

How the "other side" lives.

How the “other side” lives. The mansion is on the Virginia side of the river.

Pretty much my view for the entire 12-mile out-and-back.

Peaceful, but lonely conditions.

Peaceful, but lonely conditions.

My calf started acting up about mile 4, so it was a rather uncomfortable run. Funny enough, it hurt more when I stopped running and had to start back up again. Temperatures were mild and the conditions comfortable. It was mostly cloudy, a welcome change from the direct summer sun I’ve been training under.

I planned this run well. At mile 10, there was a boathouse, Fletcher’s Cove, that had a water fountain so I could refill my fuel belt. Hydration wasn’t an issue this week. Woo Hoo!

Speaking of hydration. Remember the post about my friend Vicki? She was working on a project, 30 Things before 30. She mailed me a letter saying that a gift to help me with my training was on the way, and I received it on Friday. Know what it was? THIS!!!

Me and my new CamelBak Marathoner!

My new CamelBak Marathoner!

This baby holds 70 ounces of liquid!

This baby holds 70 ounces of liquid!

I can’t wait to take this with me on my super long runs (more than 14 miles). There are lots of pockets to stash my protein bars and GU energy gels too. I love it!!!

Before I start on those majorly long runs, I need to heal my calf first. Looks like I’m taking it easy with barre and relevés this week. I’m dialing back to two classes instead of four. I’m also going to take it easy with running. Although I get relief when I actually use my leg, I’m scared to overdo it and really hurt myself.

You know, not running this marathon is NOT an option for me.

If you have any tips to help with my injury, please share! I’m so frustrated. Blargh!!

The Power of the Handwritten Note

Today I received an unexpected piece of snail mail (and no, not an unexpected bill). It was a letter from a childhood friend. We haven’t seen each other in quite some time, but we keep in touch through Facebook, and every year she gives a generous donation toward my fundraising efforts for the National Eating Disorders Association. Even though Vicki and I have known each other for a very long time, I didn’t expect an encouraging note from her to get slipped through the mail slot. But that’s what happened today.

Inside the envelope was a seashell-shaped card — perhaps a reminder of my Jersey Shore roots. Vicki wrote that she was working on a project, 30 Things before 30 (she turns 30 next June). One of the things on her list was to send a friend a random gift either “just because” or “to help them”. The letter assured me that I would receive a package soon; she hoped it would help me with my marathon training and future races.

She encouraged me to keep my head up when the training got tough and that she was rooting for me back home in New Jersey. Wow. I didn’t know anyone cared that much. A handwritten letter and a gift on the way?

To my dear friend Vicki, thank you. It’s hard to find the words to express how much your letter touched me. It could not have arrived at a better time.

26.2 or BUST!

Inside this seashell card was Vicki's thoughtful note of encouragement.

Inside this seashell card was Vicki’s thoughtful note of encouragement.

How Many Homes Do You Have?

Here’s what the sky looked like at 5:30 a.m. this morning

The moon was on its last hours of duty when I stepped outside this morning.

The moon was on its last hours of duty when I stepped outside.

Another humid morning. Sigh. I knew this 4-mile run would be a challenge, but reminded myself that I ran 10 miles on Saturday in much worse heat. Ha. Four miles? That’s nothing! I got this.

(P.S. The new songs I added to my playlist are keeping me super motivated. Check out “Rather Be feat. Jess Glynne” by Clean Bandit and “Prayer in C (Robin Schulz Radio Edit)” by Lilly Wood & the Prick.)

I’ve said this before, but I love this city in the early morning. It’s so quiet, calm. It allows my mind to wander. After running through a gaggle of geese and stopping off at the World War II Memorial for a few pictures,  I thought about what “home” means to me. Why? Because I saw the New Jersey and Washington, D.C., pillars at the World War II Memorial and thought, home.

Washington, D.C., pillar at the WWII Memorial.

Washington, D.C., pillar at the WWII Memorial.

The early morning sky over the WWII Memorial.

A beautiful photo of the WWII Memorial. The New Jersey pillar is to the left and out of the frame. I could's get a close up because of construction.

A beautiful photo of the WWII Memorial. The New Jersey pillar is to the left and out of the frame. I couldn’t get a closeup because of construction.

New Jersey will always be home, the motherland. I love where I grew up and my roots are deep there. Washington, D.C., has been my home for almost ten years and it’s become my “adult” home. I arrived in 2005 with a little bit of money, no job, and rented a small studio apartment I wasn’t sure how I would pay for. Grad school started, I found a full-time job in 3 weeks, and started making friends. I figured out how to live a life away from all things familiar.

But where else is home? Is feeling “at home” the same thing?

Sometimes when I’m running alone, I feel at home. I see familiar landscapes, hear myself breathing, and feel my legs working. At my barre 3 studio, I feel at home. I’m friendly with staff, instructors, and students. We chat. They ask about marathon training. I ask about their life outside of the studio. It’s a cohort of comfort. A tiny community that I love being a part of.

My fourth home? Barre 3 Georgetown.

My fourth home? Barre 3 Georgetown.

So, what does “home” mean to you?

Kitchen Fitness: 3 Healthy Recipes

I love spending time in the kitchen trying new recipes. I love creating my own, but also love experimenting with recipes from food bloggers or friends. The three recipes I’m sharing tonight are not my own and credit is due.

My good friend Tana, fellow barre 3 fanatic, introduced me to two recipes from Love Your Lower Body, a book by barre 3 founder Sadie Lincoln. I’m addicted to both recipes and have made several tweaks to get them just right.

The last recipe I’m going to share was inspired by a co-worker during a conversation one day about pesto. I don’t know about you, but I could eat pesto pretty much everyday. What’s not to like?

First, let’s talk breakfast. I need it. If I go without, I am not pleasant to be around. Enter DIY muesli. You can buy muesli in the store, but it’s always packed with sugar and preservatives, and it can be expensive. The muesli recipe that Tana shared with me is not only easy, but also much more affordable. It’s become a breakfast staple for me. I mix it with almond milk and fresh berries. This recipe is gluten-free and vegan.

This muesli is packed with protein and keeps me full almost to lunchtime.

This muesli is packed with protein and keeps me full almost to lunchtime.

Here’s how I make it:

DIY Muesli

2 cups rolled oats
Pinch of cinnamon
1/2 cup slivered almonds
2 TB chia seeds or other seeds
2 TB golden raisins or other dried fruit
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/2 cup or more of fresh berries

Mix all the dry ingredients together and store in a Ziploc bag or airtight container. When ready to eat, the ratio of muesli to liquid is 1:1. I enjoy mine with unflavored almond milk, raspberries, blueberries, and half of a banana.

You can also eat this warm. Just heat up your water or milk and add to your muesli.

Next up is the best homemade protein bar I’ve had yet. Tana can tell you how many variations I’ve tried and none stand up to the recipe she uses from Love Your Lower Body. In the book, this recipe is called Protein Power “Barre” and is packed with 4g of protein. Not bad for a healthy snack! This recipe is gluten-free and vegan.

Here’s how I make it:

Protein Power “Barre”

6 dried figs (I use Mission figs)
2 TB coconut oil
1/4 cup sunflower butter (also called sun butter)
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1/4 cup almond flour/meal
Pinch of cinnamon
1 TB cacao powder
1 cup pecans

Here's a collection of the ingredients I use for the protein bars.

Here’s a collection of the ingredients I use for the protein bars.

Add the figs, coconut oil, and sun butter to a food processor and pulse until blended. Add the raisins, coconut, almond meal/flour, cinnamon, and cacao powder. Process until well blended. (It should be a little chunky in texture.) Add the pecans and pulse until the mixture starts to resemble cookie dough.

Here's what the mixture should look like before you transfer it to the 8x8 pan.

Here’s what the mixture should look like before you transfer it to the 8×8 pan.

2. Transfer the mixture into an 8×8 pan lined with plastic wrap. Use a spatula or the back of a spoon to spread the mixture flat and evenly in the pan.
3. Refrigerate for at least one hour before cutting into bars. Use within one week.

NOTE: There are many variations to this recipe, so be creative! Use whatever dried fruit you like. For example, the recipe calls for dried cranberries. I used golden raisins simply because I like those better and there is no added sugar. The recipe also calls for chocolate chips, but I used cacao powder instead.

These bars are great pre- or post-run. I also like to have one as a 3 p.m. snack or right before barre class.

This last recipe is intended to make chicken fun again!

Breaded Pesto Chicken

1-1.5 lbs of skinless chicken breast tenderloins
Homemade pesto (recipe from The Kitchn)
Traditional breadcrumbs
Panko breadcrumbs
Grated parmesan

1. Make pesto according to directions.
2. Put chicken tenders into a large Ziploc bag or sealable container. Add pesto and stir to cover chicken evenly. Put in refrigerator and let marinate for at least 30 minutes.
3. Preheat oven to 375.
4. On a plate, pour about 1/2 cup of traditional breadcrumbs, 1/2 cup of Panko breadcrumbs, and about 1/4 cup grated parmesan. Stir with fingers to incorporate. NOTE: These measurements are all estimates. I usually eyeball it.
5. Line baking sheet with aluminum foil.
6. One by one, dip chicken tenders into breading. Shake off excess and place on baking sheet.
7. Bake for 7 minutes and then flip the tenders over. Cook for additional 7 minutes. If the tenders aren’t getting golden enough for you, try putting them under the broiler for 1-2 minutes.

I eat lots of vegetables, so here’s what dinner looked like tonight:

No shortage of veggies on my plate!

No shortage of veggies on my plate!

I hope you enjoy these recipes. If you have any recipes you’d like to share or want to leave feedback, please do. Happy eating!

Ten $10 Donations Achieved!

After running 10 miles yesterday (my first double digit run in the training program), I challenged friends and family to make ten $10 donations ($100). Would you believe that I achieved that in less than 24 hours and on only two donations?

The first donation was from Denise, my “second mom” who lives back in New Jersey. I grew up with her daughter, Ali, and she and I remain besties. Sometimes I can’t believe how long we’ve been friends. It’s well over 20 years now! Since I don’t have a photo handy of me and Denise, I’m going to post a picture of me and Ali instead.

Thanks for your donation Denise!! (And thanks for birthing such a kick ass daughter!)

Best friends since first grade!

Best friends since first grade!

The second donation came from my friend Jen. We met through mutual friends and have know each other for almost ten years! WHAT?! That’s crazy talk. Jen has always been one of my biggest supporters and I love the girl to pieces.

Thanks for your donation Jen!!

A past birthday celebration. Here we are with the Tambourine of Shame. (I'll save that explanation for another time.)

A past birthday celebration. Here we are with the Tambourine of Shame. (I’ll save that explanation for another time!)

10 Miles! Can I Get Ten $10 Donations?!

Today I hit double digits — 10 miles!

Kickin' ass and takin' numbers!

Kickin’ ass and takin’ numbers!

It was a hard run. Even at 7:30 a.m., the humidity was already at 70% (yuck). Many of you know that I’ve been struggling with staying properly hydrated, and to help with that, I bought a new fuel belt. Now I can carry 20 ounces of fluid instead of 8 ounces. What a difference it made today!

My new Nathan fuel belt can carry 20 ounces of fluid. I filled one with water and the other with Gatorade.

I filled one flask with water and the other with Gatorade.

My TNT coaches send weekly emails, and this week’s focused on the dangers of over-hydrating. (Yes, there is such a thing.) The key to avoiding that is to not just drink plain water — you can actually drown yourself! You have to also incorporate electrolytes, sodium, and sugar. I filled up today with water and Gatorade and noticed a big difference in how my body felt. Thank you TNT coaches!

Today’s 10-miler took me to Haines Point / East Potomac Park, a peninsula-like wedge that juts out into the Potomac River. It’s also part of the Marine Corps Marathon course and rumored to be the toughest stretch. Well, it’s a good thing I experienced it today because yeah, it downright sucks. It’s a long, boring stretch. It’s windy. Oh, and it’s got lots of those jerk cyclists that travel in packs and race like it’s the Tour de France. Needless to say, I was not in my prime the latter half of this run. I was really hot and really tired, but I finished. Here’s two cool things I saw along the way:

The Lee Mansion at Arlington National Cemetery

Lee Mansion

Poor quality, but how cool, right? Can you imagine being General Lee and looking out from that vantage point during the Civil War?

An airplane landing at Reagan National Airport

Look closely. The plane is to the right and even with the apartment buildings.

Look closely. The plane is to the right and even with the apartment buildings.

So now that I’ve conquered 10 miles, I’m going to ask something of you, my readers. Can I get ten people to donate $10? I know it doesn’t seem like a lot, but if ten people donate just $10, that’s $100 total going toward finding a cure for blood cancer. This might mean skipping a few lattes next week, but what a difference you can make in the life of those battling leukemia, such as my cousin David.

P.S. Cousin David Update: He ended up back in the hospital this week totally unexpected. I don’t have a lot of details other than he’s starting physical therapy soon to get some of his fluidity and movement back. My cousin Lori reminded me that we’re all working on our strength training — so when life gets challenging, look it in the eyes and say, “You’re no match for me!” I think it’s best if you use your best Wolverine or Hulk voice. It’s much more intimidating.

The Power of Positive Thinking…and Zoos.

To avoid the downer attitude I had last Tuesday, I woke up for yesterday morning’s run and made a conscience effort to be more positive.

Yes, getting up early and running in humidity really sucks.

Yes, I would rather sleep the extra 90 minutes.

But, I made a commitment and dammit, I’m sticking to it.

After altering my attitude, I ate a few homemade protein balls, downed some water, and mapped a new 5-mile course in hopes it would keep me from getting bored and unmotivated. It worked.

Instead of running downtown, I ran uptown. Obviously, I’m a glutton for punishment because the first two miles were uphill.  The bright side? Those 2 miles would be downhill on my return home!

My course took me to the National Zoo. I didn’t know that the grounds opened at 6 a.m. during the summer, so I actually ran 1.5 miles through the zoo! To be there that early, with no tourists or crowds, was incredible!

The entrance to the National Zoo at 6 a.m. on a Tuesday. No people, no crowds.

The entrance to the National Zoo at 6 a.m. on a Tuesday. No people, no crowds.

How could I be a Debbie Downer running past a freakin’ zebra?!

Sorry to disturb your breakfast time, Mr. Stripes!

Sorry to disturb your breakfast time, Mr. Stripes!

And baby turtles?!

This pond had lots of baby turtles and one pair of ducks paddling around.

Baby turtle alert!

And prairie dogs?!

Oh! Hello!

Oh! Hello!

It was evident that making a few changes in my routine was all I needed to stay focused. The zoo critters were my cheerleaders. Running didn’t feel like a chore anymore.

Per my Tuesday fitness routine, after work I headed to barre class (my third in three days) and killed it with scoops. A scoop is an ab exercise; it allows you to access your transverse abdominis, a deep muscle group often hard to target. After three days of barre workouts and scoops, I’m definitely feeling it today (in a good way).

The power of positive thinking realigned me and has carried over into today. Let’s see how long I can keep this going!