Thursday, October 30, 2014

What's for Breakfast?

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day! I know you've never heard that before but that's why you read my blog, for groundbreaking revelations.

Seriously though, there are a lot of reasons that breakfast is important to eat. It gets your motor revved up for the day, feeding your brain early and often keeps it focused and eating early can actually help stave off cravings or excessively large meals later in the day that can leave you feeling sluggish.

That said, here's a quick post about my top 3 favorite fast and easy breakfasts. *Disclaimer* These are not the most nutritionally beneficial meals in the world. If you have time a very full and balanced breakfast with fruits and vegetables is best. But for people like me, I take what I can get.

1. Oatmeal

I may or may not be obsessed with oatmeal and may or may not have paid for imported Canadian oatmeal based solely on a television show and clever advertising. Luckily, it's actually really really good!

Oatmeal is one of my favorites because as I mentioned, I really like it but also because all you need is hot water and it stores really well. I have oatmeal in my desk at work and I'd like to think most of us have access to clean, hot water in the morning. The finding time to actually eat it can be tricky but for the very few of us lucky enough to have office jobs, it sits just fine next to the keyboard. Nevermind its fibrous (does that mean what I think it does?) benefits and also consider the creativity that can go into such a chameleon of a dish. Oatmeal is just fine with a little brown sugar and cinnamon or you get fancy with fruits, other spices and a host of other gems that warm up together nicely.

2. Waffles

Not the fancy waffles with batter that you make in a waffle iron (which we should have asked for as a wedding gift...), just your unfancy frozen ones. First and foremost, check the ingredients. A lot of frozen foods are not what they seem. Otherwise, waffles are just as fun as oatmeal because they can also be dressed up so they seem different but are pretty good on their own too.

I'm a simple eater so I usually go with a plain waffle, add almond butter (Justin's is my favorite), a drizzle of raw local honey and sometimes dried berries on top. Fiber, fruit, good fat and you know, carbs. Because I'm a carb-aholic and I don't even care.

3. Oatmeal Raisin Walnut Clif Bar

When all else fails, I grab a clif bar. Now the "breakfast bar" is typically a big no no as they're usually highly processed and packed with nothing but sugar but Clif is a company I like, their nutrition philosophy is pretty transparent and they sponsor my third husband Tim O'Donnell.

In case you were wondering, no, I don't go on adventures but I'm hoping one day just eating Clif Bars will make my life like their advertisements. A girl can dream.

More importantly, I try not to rely too heavily on these as a "meal" although they are higher calorie than your typical fruit and nut bar. Still if you're really in a time or money crunch, these babies travel easily and keep well so if you can only get down half before a quick catch up meeting with your boss, it will still be waiting patiently for you as you left it when you get back.

None of these will probably hold you over until lunch time although that will vary based on your serving size and activity level. I eat almost every 2 hours so keep that in mind if you're planning to serve these up as your breakfasts for the week and plan accordingly.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Indianapolis Marathon Race Report

Hey friends! I ran another marathon on Saturday! Fun, right?


Let's Tarantino this and start at the end. I had a 3 tiered goal with this race as I usually do. First and foremost was to finish but this was the first time I had goals other than survival or beat the cutoff in a marathon so it was a little scary. My next goal was to beat last year's 5:42 which on one hand would be "easy" since I didn't have any broken bones this year but on the other hand, still scary because a lot can happen in 26 miles...not mention the .2. The last goal was a 5:30 or better. That was the time goal I had floating around in my head last year but not anything I was actively chasing. This year I was.

I met my first 2 goals but I missed 1 FREAKING MINUTE.

Another stellar performance by me (not quite last in my age group) but more importantly, they also sent us these cute certificates we can print for ourselves.

Why didn't I hit my elusive 5:30 goal? Let's go back...

This race experience was actually quite uneventful which is of course the way you want a race to go. The Colonel and I headed up to Indy Friday afternoon and after battling construction traffic made it to the expo close to 6. Louisville was sunny and quite warm when we left but the clouds moved in and by the time we got to Indy it was overcast, chilly and super windy. I bought a hoodie at the expo because it was cheap and finally got around to getting one of those 26.2 magnets for my car (because I'm totally that person) then we headed to the hotel. I had my usual dinner of rice and beans then rolled out my calves before deciding I'd go to bed.

First, of course, I made a video and I have to admit, the tone wasn't entirely positive.

I'm not sure why, but I was (and still am) really having a tough time mentally surrounding this race. I noticed I was seeded in corral E which also happened to be the last corral and it sort of sucker punched me a little. I went around for a while embracing my slowness because I was doing the best I could but recently I've been backpedaling on that and really thinking about whether or not I'm actually pushing myself as hard as I could be. Hence, this post.

Anyhow, I managed to actually get some good-ish sleep and only woke up 3 or 4 times before the alarm. I unfortunately didn't wake up feeling my best. I didn't feel sick or bad or sore or anything, just not as fresh as I would've liked. We stopped off at a gas station to pick up some throwaway gloves and made it to the start with plenty of time to spare. It was a cold morning and the wind was still very much gusting which made me feel really bad for The Colonel and any other spectators. I made the decision to bring my sunglasses along for the ride even though it wasn't sunny at all and it turned out to be a good decision when we'd turn into a headwind later on.

Two pit stops and I was in my corral.

I like small races for a lot of reasons and this time it was because I was easy to spot for pictures! The Colonel even managed to take a video of me and I saw him! Too bad for you, I have no idea how to share it so...there's that.

I tried to jog the first mile as an extended warm up like I usually do but (like I usually do) I pretty much just went with the pace the people around me were going which felt really easy but turned out to be just over 11 min/mi. I was trying to average 12's for the whole race so I already felt like I went out too fast and tried to back off. The problem was that basically all of the hills on the course were in the first half of the race and a fun fact about me, I like to run hills. I like to destroy them. I like to dominate them. I like to win. So I kind of do a charge when I see hills and that lead to my splits being faster than I had planned.

It also didn't help that the hills really weren't that bad. The park near my house boasts some tough hills and I run there a lot so maybe I'm just getting better at them, or maybe I'm crazy. Either way, the hills weren't getting into my head and being able to see and hear other people's reactions when we'd reach a hill gave me some serious mental pushes as I'd pass them. In case you didn't realize it, I'm not used to passing people.

The first half was really uneventful. The half marathoners didn't split from us until just before mile 13 so it was fun to have lots of people around for much longer than normal. I saw The Colonel right before the split and it had been drizzling off and on. I was a sweaty mess but he still offered me his fleece. Such a gentleman.

Seeing him gave me a little boost I definitely needed in my not so fresh feeling legs and I soared through mile 14 somewhere in the 11:20s which is not where I planned to be at all. After mile 15, things got interesting. I hit 15 feeling alright but shortly after when my 3 hour snack break came I couldn't bring myself to eat anything. I opened my honey stinger (which by the way, is one of the most delicious things I've ever eaten period) and could barely get it to go down. I was so nauseous out of nowhere! I went along for a few more minutes and sipped some water then decided to try again. No dice. I tucked it away and tried a shot blok, another lovely little staple in my training diet. I had to spit it out. I told myself not to panic because that would use a lot of energy I was going to need and to just drink some Gatorade. I have 2 bottles on my belt and usually start with a bottle of water and one of Gatorade or occasionally another sports drink. Once the sports drink is gone I switch both bottles to water and start chomping on food. It's always worked. Until hour 3.

To make a long story short, for the next 2 and a half hours I had to choke down lemon lime Gatorade at every aid station and keep my bottles full so I could just sip non-stop for some calories. It was refreshing to know I could drink as much as I did without any real GI trouble or cramping. I also didn't have an upset stomach in any way unless I put a solid in my mouth. I still can't explain what happened but it's definitely something to keep in mind going forward and I'm a little excited to try out some new things in my next training cycle to create a back up plan. Especially since I may never drink lemon lime Gatorade again.

By mile 22 I could feel the lack of calories starting to catch up to me which was frustrating because even though I didn't feel great, I could have been running better. Short of 2 women who I passed when they stopped for a bathroom break, every person I passed on the back half of the race never passed me again. In fact, I never even saw them again except during out and back sections. Although I was panicked about my pace apparently I did pretty well. A little after mile 25 I knew I'd be close to 5:30 but kind of realized I wouldn't hit it, still I kept pushing and didn't let the dream go until my watch hit 5:29 somewhere after mile 26. I emptied the tank and gave it all I had to see how close I could get and was really excited to have only been 1:35 short. 

I didn't feel great at the finish but did finally feel like I pushed myself a bit further than normal and was proud of that. I was hungry and thirsty so grabbed a bottle of water and headed to the food tent. I am still bitter they claimed to be out of veggie burgers. I settled for some cold cheese pizza but only managed a few bites before I was over it. 

 I still haven't entirely digested the race so I don't have any takeaways or words of wisdom just yet. But I'm really happy to only have minimal soreness and to have been walking close to normal Sunday and Monday. I do think I have a little bit of a cold which isn't terribly surprising so trying to take it easy and be smart so I can make it through Savannah in a few weeks. 

Saturday is a local half marathon I really want to do so please send constant reminders to me to be smart, recover and focus on the bigger goal which is to not get injured or hate running before Ironman training starts in January!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Marathon Music Playlist

With a mere 2 days and 20 hours left until race time, it's time for me to update my playlist!

Here's my current top 10 of must have songs but I want your input too! One of my favorite parts of road racing is the ipod playlist because you can unleash your inner teenager, give in to your guilty pleasure songs and have someone's soulful voice with you through the emotional marathon rollercoaster.

1. Taylor Swift - Shake it Off: I have no idea why I resisted this song for so long.

2. Fun - Carry On: A slow song, yes. But so perfect when I really really need to carry on.

3. Katy Perry - Roar: I hate this video. But who doesn't want to roar?

4. Kris Allen - Live Like We're Dying: This song is good at getting me to "snap out of it!" and remember why I'm doing what I'm doing. In running and in life...

5. Katy Perry - Firework: I like Katy Perry ok? Are there people who don't visualize finishing a race with this song playing?

6. Lil' Wayne feat. Drake - Right Above It: What is a running playlist without some rap you don't want your Grandma to know you listen to? 

7. Imagine Dragons - It's Time: Another slower song but I like the words and of course it's's race time!

8. Lupe Fiasco - Show Goes On: If you've heard this song, I feel like it explains itself. If you haven't give it a listen.

9. Flo Rida feat. Sia - Wild Ones: Flo Rida anything represents my inner party girl. This song was also the one playing when I was at a cheer station for the Derby mini a few years ago and decided to start running long again.

10. Pink - Try: There's no way I could ever not involve Pink. I love her madly. But more importantly, the line "just because it burns doesn't mean you're gonna die" plays perfectly into those last few miles or up that late hill (did I mention there's a hill right after mile 25?)

So what else do you have for me???? Obviously I have more than 10 songs on my playlist but these are my staples and the songs I almost never skip. Starting to get super pumped and ready to run!

Monday, October 13, 2014

More Taper Crazies

Anyone who has ever "properly" tapered for a race has to know the feeling(s) I'm having right now. Everything seems off somehow. I can't keep my focus, can't make a decision and can't really answer any questions about anything other than my fueling plan.

In case you missed it, I'm running the Indianapolis Marathon in 5 days and however long the little countdown clock on the sidebar says. My training got all out of whack from that little wedding and I've been quietly stressed about it for at least a month. I got in every long run (except for the 2nd 16 miler, I just jumped to 18 and went on from there) and added lots of 10 milers to make up for the mid-week runs I just could never seem to get to but I still feel undertrained and not quite ready. I'm beginning to think that's a normal feeling for anyone who races so I'm trying not to let it bother me.

Hopefully writing something, anything will help me empty out my cluttered little head and shine some light into my slightly enlarged heart.


Kona is my favorite thing so it shouldn't be surprising that Saturday was spent watching Kona in almost its entirety. I went for a late run (got started around 10am) with my sister and just wasn't feeling it. My legs weren't there and my head was just spinning so instead of 8 miles I made it just under 7 before deciding to call it. I thought I was feeling terrible but actually eeked out a 10:07 4th mile although it was mostly downhill. It does make me feel good to know my downhill running is improving though.

Back to Kona (see? My brain is a wreck). I was only willing to run until noon because the canon was going to fire for the pro men's race at 12:25 my time and I had to be home by then. I made it home by 12 (thanks to a shorter run) and took a shower with my ipad nearby so I could still hear everything. Once the National Anthem ended I shut off the water and got ready to tuck in for a long day. I totally have a dream of going to Kona.

No, not to race, I'm not delusional.

But I want to go for race week one year and I know I will.

The Colonel couldn't quite understand why I enjoy watching people swim since they all look the same and the announcers are just guessing who's who but the swim is kind of my favorite part. It's the first glimpse of the race and something about it just makes me giddy. I was less excited about watching the bike portion since it was going to be 5 hours and I still don't love cycling but of course that didn't stop me. Does it make me a real triathlete that I'm able to watch an Ironman live feed from start to finish?

Let's fast forward through my feelings from every part of the race and just say it was just about everything I'd hoped for. I was sad for my favorite males Tim O'Donnell and Chris McDonald since they didn't have their best days but was happy for Sebastian Kienle who won a much deserved championship. And Mirinda Carfrae...I mean, seriously? She makes me want to work on my run. In fact, I made a plan to do just that. Every athlete put on a great show and left me with a lot of mixed feelings. Especially knowing that in one year (less than one year now!) I'll be putting on my own Ironman show.

Speaking of my Ironman...

I haven't dropped out yet so that's a plus! I'd be lying if I said the thought hasn't already crossed my mind because I'm so freaking scared. I'm hoping it'll pass but I'm really having a hard time coping with what's to come right now. I'm hopeful that once my marathons are out of the way and I get a few weeks to just be I'll be recharged and ready to get after it. I already feel like I'm not doing enough and that's not a good place to be so far out.

I did finally decide on a coach and I'm really excited about him. He seems to have the patience of a Saint which he'll need with me and seemed genuinely interested in my improvement after this year's Ohio River Swim. He's also not exactly thrilled about my 2 marathons in 3 weeks coming up or my interest in a spring marathon which tells me he cares at least a little. More about him later.

I took Dottie (my bike) and the trainer to their new home in our upstairs weird attic room. I'll take some pictures once it's all finished but I think it's going to make a really nice training space for the winter. It's felt like what I imagine preparing a baby nursery feels like and I'm actually a little excited to get to training up there!

In my head I was all set to get my next tattoo. And as usual I immediately wanted to go swimming and decided against it. Then I thought if I got it now I'd have plenty of time to get back in the pool. But now I'm all frantic and thinking I must swim because Ironman. Oy vey.

And finally, the marathons...

I'm pretty sure I've mentioned this already but just in case, I'm running the Indianapolis Marathon Saturday then on November 8th I'm doing Rock n Roll Savannah with my friend Erin who runs a lot faster than me is very nice. It'll be her birthday and because I'm awesome I'm sacrificing my body to celebrate with her during a death march through the streets of Savannah, GA.

I haven't spent nearly enough time behind a bib this year so to say I'm ready to race is an understatement. I also have the pretty lofty goal of cutting 11 minutes off of last year's time. I feel like I'm in better shape and I recovered from each run much better this year than last but it's still a tall order. 11 minutes is like...a mile. So there's that. However I don't have a broken leg right now (knock on wood) so I'm hoping that'll help me out too.

I really am excited. But anxious is probably the best word to describe it. One minute excitement, the next nervous, the next almost dreading it. I need to remember why I do this and why I love marathons. I have to remember that I do this for fun. I enjoy this and it my hobby that I've chosen for myself. The only expectations out there are mine so I need to be in control of them.

I hope this wasn't as much of a cluster as it feels like it was. More importantly, what should I be doing this week? Taper doesn't know if it wants a nap or to rearrange furniture...

Friday, October 10, 2014

No Meat Athlete Meets Louisville


No Meat Athlete is now in Louisville! Well, kind of. Here's the story...

Sometime last week NMA posted on their Facebook page about their branded running groups that were developing all around the country (and the world) and it prompted me to check out Louisville's group. With Ironman already towards the front of my brain I'm making a big social push right now to force people into training with me without really training with me in hopes of making the experience as enjoyable as possible.

What I love about Matt Frazier (the original No Meat Athlete and kind of a genius btw) is the relaxed attitude he's able to convey around a plant-based diet. I have a really hard time as a vegetarian (and had an even harder and very brief time as a vegan) because there's a lot of attitude in our community. If you know me well, you know that for the most part I genuinely don't care what people want to do with their lives, especially when it has nothing to do with me. I don't like persuasion which is probably why I never did well in sales. My version of persuasion is based on fact and education. If you want to lose weight, I'll teach you how. If you want to eat less or no meat, I can teach you to do that too. But the thing is, people have to make decisions about their lives by themselves. End rant. No Meat Athlete is a place where you can ask the question, "So what do you eat?" and get real answers. No snark, no pictures of diseased cows and sad chickens, just education (and some really nice shirts).

I was really excited to meet (I actually typed "meat" initially. Probably a vegetarian faux pas...) other veg, veg-curious and veg-friendly runners, walkers and aspiring athletes in my very own city so I clicked over to the list of NMA branded running groups. Imagine my surprise when I didn't see Louisville on the list.


Since I can sometimes be a do-it-yourself-er I decided to dig a little deeper and emailed the almighty Matt Frazier himself. Surely there had to be people in Louisville working on this group already, maybe it just wasn't posted yet.


Matt emailed me back and I totally geeked out and I read it calmly like an adult and said only one person had shown interest in a group in Louisville during his initial surveying so as of now there just wasn't a group. He made a great little PDF of how to get a group started in a city and some basic ideas to help guide things and I got to work reading it. I sent the initial email 8 days ago and as of today there is now an official No Meat Athlete - Louisville Facebook group with members other than myself and we are on the way to starting an official running group!

So here's where we are now...

Basically, I'm heading things up and have had 2 other people show interest in helping me get things started. The Facebook group has 8 members and I'm hoping for our first run to happen in November some time. I'm really excited about what's to come and I'm hoping YOU will help me out by spreading the word!

You do not have to be meat-free to join us, you just have to be open minded and preferably not a jerk with some interest in a meat-free (or meat-less...get it? eat less meat?) lifestyle. If you're already doing the Meatless Monday thing, come on out!

Now, more importantly, which shirt do I wear for the marathon next week? Pink or Blue?

I don't have an unobstructed picture of the pink one but the design is the same as the blue one
After last year's marathon.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Graze Box - Try it FREE!

Hey friends!

Super excited to tell you about a new thing I'm totally into and to of course, pass the info on to you!

A few weeks ago I was watching tv and a commercial came on for something called a Graze Box. Somehow it managed to get my attention and keep it long enough for me to visit the website and look around. The way it works is you can order these boxes and they come with 4 portioned snacks. Since I'm always looking for ways to add variety to my incredibly boring diet I was excited to try some new things. What I really liked about this was the price ($6.99 per box including shipping) and the transparency. They provide nutrition facts and an ingredient list with every box so you have the deets on what exactly is in your box. The biggest benefit is the convenience. I'm a lazy city girl so I love convenience so much I'm willing to pay for it. Just like I'll pay higher taxes to live in the city and not pay for trash pickup, I'll pay $6.99 for a box full of snacks that with a little lot of work and time I could probably make on my own. There's also no commitment so you can cancel or change your orders at any time.

When you sign up there are pictures and descriptions of all of their offerings and a rating system so you can determine what types of snacks you get. I love this because I can be a picky eater and I've always been afraid to sign up for things like this because I'm afraid I'll hate everything I get. The system allows you to pick "trash", "try", "like" or "love" as your rating on a particular food and you can even go into your account and "trash" an entire category like all spicy foods or snacks that contain milk. You can use the settings to avoid allergens like milk, nuts or gluten but they are not an allergen free company meaning cross contamination can occur. So if you have serious food allergies I would advise against using this service.

My absolute favorite part is that everything is currently vegetarian! Don't worry meat eaters, it's not just seeds (although I do get a seed mix in mine sometimes), there's also popcorn, nuts, berries, raw bars and flapjacks which are their version of a sort of granola bar (except way way better!) The boxes are mailed to you on whatever frequency and quantity you want them and because they're so awesome they gave me a coupon code to share with my friends!

Visit their website or Facebook page and sign up using my code: RENNAY9DB and get your 1st and 5th box free!

*Disclaimer - Graze did not sponsor or even know about this post. The thoughts and opinions are entirely my own based on my own experience.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Know When to Fold Em

I can't say that phrase without thinking of that hilarious Geico commercial...

Anyway, this week I've given in to the rest my body has so desperately been craving. I'm getting increasingly concerned since my runs have not been up to my standards in both quality and quantity but I also know that trying to force junk miles in when I'm already tired never ends well.

Case in point, Monday...or maybe Tuesday...I was practically narcoleptic and felt pretty crummy all day. In spite of this I was determined to run because "I have a marathon damn it and marathoners push through everything!" Sometimes I'm a little dramatic.

Anyway, I did attempt a short nap between work and running both because I was tired and because it was hot and I was hoping the temperature would cool off (which it did not). It was less than an hour's sleep and I still woke up groggy, grumpy and possibly even more tired than I was to begin with. #napfail. I continued to ignore those obvious pleadings from my body to just stop moving and got dressed to run and had to put my shoes on twice because the first time I forgot to put the sock on one foot without an issue. I filled my waterbottle and drove off before deciding where I was actually going. I ended up at one park and decided to drive to another (eyeroll at my own indecisiveness) with bigger hills. When I know a run is going to be bad I try to make it worse by either doing hills or speed or apparently both this time. I parked my car and got to warming up, literally, I was dripping with sweat before I'd actually taken a step before deciding to forget going "by feel" (my preferred method of running) and go hard.


So I ran.

I chose the opposite direction from the way I normally run this particular loop and hit a really nice climb I normally love because it's normally a really long downhill. Needless to say, it sucked. But I continued because I was mad at myself for being tired and being slow and all kinds of other ridiculous things that are completely absurd when you're not in that state of mind. I finished the first mile only 30-60 seconds faster than my normal pace and was pretty spent which made me even angrier at myself. I walked a quarter mile and then started running again (in time for the next hill of course). Since I was even angrier I decided I'd punish the hell out of myself and show my legs and body what tired "really" meant.

Do you see how terribly this story is progressing?

I decided to not only run faster but to get the same mile time as the first one despite that quarter mile walk. This mile luckily hit a long downhill but whoever said downhills were easier really lied. I absolutely hate speed. I hit the second mile at the exact same split at the first and promptly collapsed and died.

Not true.

But I did stop and decide I was done running for the day. I also noticed my completely full water bottle which is never ever ever good but particularly not good when you've spent the prior few days hardly eating or drinking things other than alcohol.

I got to my car and fell into it before driving to the grocery store which worked out well since I was quite nauseous from my running brilliance. I got home and showered then sat on the couch to get some work done.

I didn't get any work done.

The nausea continued, I kept sweating for a bit, my legs were cramping and hurting, my breathing was labored and I hated everything. I managed to fall asleep at some point and woke up to The Colonel asking me what I wanted to eat. I forced down a pb & j and went to bed. I slept like a log but woke up still very tired which is a state I've remained in since then.

Moral of the story? Don't punish your body. That's stupid.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Best Tweets of September

Do you follow me on twitter? You should. I'm kind of becoming a big deal over there. In recent history some of my favorite people I've never met have tweeted and followed me and I'm not gonna lie, I put out some true gems now that I kinda know how to tweet. So, for a little comic relief or just plain confusion as to why I giggle at myself, here are my favorite tweets from myself for the month of September.