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Archive for February, 2013

Happy Love Day everyone! To celebrate I’ve come up with 10 things I love about running.

Photo credit: sierrafit

Photo credit: sierrafit

1. I love that it’s me against me. As someone who started running at age 39, I’m never going to win a race but I can always challenge myself and improve.

2. I am constantly learning something new about myself and the sport.

3. I love the fact that I start out a run feeling one way (good, bad or ugly) and no matter what I end up happier and more satisfied with my day.

4. Running reminds me that my body is powerful and strong. After experiencing infertility and Graves’ Disease (an overactive thyroid), I felt betrayed by my body. Running restores some of my lost confidence. (Conversely, any running injury chips away at that confidence, but let’s not dwell on that!)

5. I’ll be honest — I love the weight loss. I was never overweight but running brought me right down to the middle of the weight range for a normal Body Mass Index for my height.

6. I love coming home to a quiet house and checking off a long run before my family has even woken up for the day.

7. I love how running is all about me. It’s the one “selfish” thing I do, and yet I don’t even consider it selfish because making physical activity a priority sets a good example for my children.

8. It’s a very tangible way of measuring accomplishments: (1) check off a training workout, (2) achieve a split on a speed workout, (3) complete a new personal distance record, or (4) earn a PR at a race. That type of accomplishment does not even compare to the everyday things like: (1) do some of the never-ending loads of laundry, or (2) remind children who do not chew with their mouths closed no matter how many times I nag them about it.

9. I love love love when I enter a workout into MapMyRun.com, and when I enter the amount of time I ran it says I burned 453 calories, and then when I enter the distance I ran in that time, it says I actually burned 566 calories. That little bump up in calories makes me so proud of how far I’m come in my running over the last two years. I’m a little bit speedy! Sometimes I run a little bit faster than the MapMyRun average based on time!

10. I love that running is a healthy activity I can share with my husband, my kids, and friends. Runners are my people. Our common passion for the sport bonds us no matter how different we are in the rest of our lives.

What do you love about running?

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With my refrigerator practically bursting with winter greens from my CSA farm shares, I decided to use up a bunch of kale by making kale chips. My kids and I devoured these so quickly I wished we had even more kale! Try these as an alternative to potato chips.

Baked Kale Chips with Olive Oil and Sea Salt

one bunch of curly kale
one tablespoon of olive oil (I used Extra Virgin Garlic-infused Organic Olive Oil from Trader Joe’s)
salt to taste (I used sea salt)
parchment paper if you have it

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Wash and dry the kale thoroughly. Remove the center rib from each kale leaf with a kitchen knife, scissors, or by tearing. Tear or cut each leaf into bite-sized pieces.

Raw kale, ready for a sprinkle of olive oil.

Raw kale, ready for a sprinkle of olive oil and salt.

Toss the kale with the olive oil and salt (tip: it’s best to add the least amount of olive oil necessary to coat the kale — any more than that and the kale leaves will remain soggy rather than become crispy). Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper (if available) and spread the kale evenly over the sheet.

Glistening with garlic-infused olive oil and salt.

Glistening with garlic-infused olive oil and salt.

Bake for 10-15 minutes, watching carefully in the last minutes to remove the chips as soon as they are just browning at the edges. You can use tongs to toss the kale chips halfway through cooking. If you remove the chips as they begin to brown, they will be crispy but not crumbly.

Goodbye beautiful baked kale chips. Prepare to be gobbled up in seconds!

Goodbye beautiful baked kale chips. Prepare to be gobbled up in seconds!

Have fun with this recipe and experiment with the flavorings. Some people use seasoned salt. Others like to coat the kale with soy sauce or vinegar instead of olive oil. Have you ever made baked kale chips? What’s your favorite way to season them?

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Brea 8K 2013 logoAre you racing the Brea 8K this year on February 24, 2013? I highly recommend the Brea 8K. It’s a well-organized race with a fun finish line expo that features tons of free food from many well-known vendors. The 8K (4.97 miles) distance is unusual and makes for a nice challenge — not so fast-paced as a 5K but not such a big commitment as a 10K or half marathon. The 2013 race will be the 22nd annual running of the race.

Race Fee: The fee for 2013 is $30 for adults and $25 for minors (there’s a $5 price increase after February 20). The kids’ 1K fun run is $12 and includes entry to the finish line food expo. I’d say this is a fair price for a well-organized race with a fantastic finish line expo. Plus, you can feel good about supporting this local race that benefits the arts and academic programs at Brea Olinda High School.

Packet Pick-up: You have two options for packet pick-up — on Friday evening at Brea Olinda High School or on race morning at Brea Mall at 6:30 before the 8 a.m. race.

Race Parking: Parking is free and could not be any easier at the Brea Mall and Brea Marketplace (near the Target across from the mall). I arrived half an hour before the race start and had no trouble finding a parking place within easy walking distance of the start.

Pre-race: You’ll find typical long lines at the porta potties but the facilities were adequate and close to the race start.

The course: The course has a few slight hills but I would not call it challenging. You can check out the exact route here. There are three water stations on the course. I carried my own water though so I cannot speak to how well they were managed. I can say that February makes for nice racing weather in Brea — not too chilly but not warm either. Bring a throw-away jacket for before the race and ditch it before the start.

Bling: Unless you make it on the podium there’s no medal for the race but I have to say that does not bother me at all. You do get a cotton t-shirt with race registration and there are some vendor freebies at the finish line expo in addition to the goody bag from packet pick-up.

Finish line expo: The Brea 8K boasts “SoCal’s Finest Finish Line” and I have to agree with that statement! There were all sorts of free food treats available in the massive finish line expo at the Brea Mall parking lot. Last year’s food sponsors included Panera Bread, Jamba Juice, The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, ChickPita, Corner Bakery Cafe, Mother’s Market & Kitchen, Ralphs, The Melting Pot, Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour, Olive Garden, Hot Dog on a Stick, California Pizza Kitchen, Pinkberry, Tacos & More, Rubios, BJ’s and Sprouts. Just note that to enter the food expo, you have to have a race bib (so that means no family and friends unless they’ve registered for the race or the kids’ fun run).

Things You Should Know: Dogs are allowed to participate in the race if their owners keep them on a leash and clean up after them (although dogs are not allowed in the finish line food court). Strollers are also permitted (although for the child to enter the finish line expo she or he must be wearing a race bib as well).

Ways to improve the race: The only thing that bothered me was that I lined up with the 7- to 8-minute starting sign and there were a ton of people who were slower than that in that area. I ran the race at a pace of 8:21 and I should have started a couple people back from the starting line. I ended up dodging people, even some people walking from the start, for the first two miles of the race. Without setting up corrals I’m not sure how this could be improved, but it’s at least something to pay attention to as a participant.

Best part about the race: You’ve gotta love a well-done, community-supported race. I’ve never been to a better finish line food expo.

Would I do it again? You betcha! I’ll see you there this year!

For more on the Brea 8K you can read my race recap from the 2012 Brea 8K.

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For today’s Second Annual Virtual Run for Sherry, runners from across the United States and various other countries run together in spirit to remember Sherry Arnold, the 43-year-old mother of two who was abducted and killed while on an early morning run in 2012.

Before I headed out the door on my run, my 10-year-old snapped this photo of me:

Ready with my virtual race bib on.

Ready with my virtual race bib on.

After yesterday’s thunderstorms and HAIL, today the weather smiled on my run with sunny skies and about 50 degrees in Southern California. Everything came together and I had the best run I’ve had since the Santa Barbara International Marathon last November. This is the end of week 1 of my training for the Mountains to Beach Marathon, and my Run Less, Run Faster training schedule called for 13 miles at 9:05 pace. About three miles into my run, another runner caught up with me and paused to chat. He paid me what I consider the ultimate compliment by asking, “Are you training for a marathon?” LOVE IT when another runner recognizes me as a peer! This guy had run the Long Beach Marathon in 3:19 and was training to go for a 3:15 BQ at Los Angeles in March. He looked in great shape for it and I told him so before he picked up his pace again. We met again around mile 10 of my run and talked training plans. What a joy to encounter a fellow runner and encourage each other along the way!

Sherry, these miles are for you.

Sherry, these miles are for you.

I finished the run in just under 2 hours, hitting an average pace of exactly 9:05 as planned! On my cool-down walk I called ahead to my husband and put in an order for hot chocolate (to be consumed in my recovery ice bath) and his signature egg sandwich (whole wheat bread, two fried eggs, avocado slices and melted Italian cheeses). I feel fantastic and I can’t help but get a little emotional when I think that participating in the Virtual Run for Sherry for my 13.1 miles had something to do with that. All I could think on my run today was: “I am so lucky to be here doing this.” I don’t take any moment for granted.

Did you run today? If you’re going out later, will you print and wear a bib for Sherry?

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After Mike and I started dating in high school, he taught me how to snow ski. Fast forward a whopping 24 years and now we have three daughters who ski with us. Yes, even the four-year-old, who was first on skis when she was two and skiing on her own by the time she was three.

Ballerina Skier rocks the slopes!

Ballerina Skier rocks the slopes!

That ladybug can really fly down the bunny hill!

That ladybug can really fly down the bunny hill!

For the past couple of years we’ve had annual ski passes for Snow Valley, but this year we decided to forgo the passes and spend the money on a bigger trip at a different resort (to be decided). We still like to go up for the occasional day at Snow Valley, and that’s how we got interested in SkiForFree.com (this is not a sponsored post). I was skeptical when I heard there was a place to get discount ski lift tickets for five different California ski resorts: Snow Valley, Mammoth, Homewood Mountain, China Peak and Mt. Baldy. Frankly, I thought it was a scam. After researching it further though, I discovered it’s legitimate. The only thing to be aware of is that the site charges an additional facility fee per ticket (last time I checked it was $5), and a ticketing fee ($3) so the total discount for Snow Valley is a little less than the stated 50% for weekend and holiday tickets or 60% for midweek, non-holiday tickets. You need a promo code to purchase the tickets. The promotion code can be found at the Ski For Free Facebook page (last I checked the promo code was “board”). If you want the best possible deal on discount ski tickets, make sure you compare prices first by checking the ski resort’s home page and Facebook page for any deals, and other discount ski ticket sites like Liftopia.com (which offers discounts at resorts around the United States and Canada — the tickets might be cheaper there (without charging facility or ticket service fees) but the catch is that the tickets are date-specific: you must buy them at least one day in advance and purchase them for a specific date, whereas Ski For Free tickets can be bought the same day and are good any weekend/holiday/weekday depending on the ticket type).

I found the Ski For Free website to be easy to navigate. I added the tickets to my order, paid by credit card, and printed out the receipts for the tickets. I took those receipts along with my photo ID and credit card to the ticket booth at the resort and had no trouble redeeming the receipts for lift passes for a weekend day. For four tickets (my youngest daughter skis for free), we saved about $74.

My four-year-old and Mike on the ski lift at Snow Valley.

My four-year-old and Mike on the ski lift at Snow Valley.

Do you snow ski? Have you ever tried SkiForFree.com or any other discount ski ticket site?

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During the last two and a half months of “off-season” I’ve been following a loose plan of running three days per week and cross-training at least two other days. During triathlon season, my cross-training would consist of a mix of swimming and cycling. Ever since the Nautica Malibu olympic distance triathlon though, I’ve wanted a break from swimming. Maybe it was all the work I did on open water swimming, but I simply burned out on spending time in the water. What is an off-season for if not to recharge and ready oneself to get back to training as usual?

Me entertaining myself with the old cell-phone-photo-in-the-mirror trick, showing you how my Nautica Malibu tri cap happens to match my favorite TYR reversible swimsuit.

Me entertaining myself with the old cell-phone-photo-in-the-mirror trick, showing you how my Nautica Malibu tri cap happens to match my favorite TYR reversible swimsuit.

Somehow, fate conspired to get me back into the water. Last week I helped my fifth grader get ready for her “Famous American” oral report on Clara Barton (founder of the American Red Cross). My daughter and I shopped at the thrift store for a long skirt in keeping with the Civil War era clothing. She tried on several skirts with a white blouse we also found on the rack. I asked her if we should buy the white shirt too, but she insisted she had a blouse at home already. “Does it still fit you? Do you know where it is?” Yes, yes. In reality? No, no. That’s how, the day before the report was due, I found myself back at the thrift store, plunking down $3 for that darn white blouse.

What does all that have to do with swimming? Well, the outdoor pool is just down the road from the thrift store. If I was going to drive to that part of town, I might as well stop in at the pool. Fate had spoken: Angela, GET IN THE WATER. So I did. And it felt great! Outdoor swimming in the winter in California can be a fun treat (really!) The weather was sunny and in the 70s, but cool enough that the pool water felt warmer than the air so it was easy to jump in the pool. I made up my own swim set for a simple 40-minute workout:

Angela’s Don’t Get Bored in the Pool, Completely Random Swim Set

200 yards freestyle
200 yards breaststroke
200 yards backstroke
200 yards freestyle kick with kickboard
repeat above
plus 1 lap your choice to make it a full swim mile (33 laps).

I swam at a leisurely pace with no rest intervals in between. I suppose I should start throwing some speed work in to my swim workouts sometime soon. I don’t have a triathlon on my calendar right now but I do like to stay in shape in the pool. I plan to start picking from some of these 50 Swim Workouts. That requires printing out the workout and putting the paper in a Ziploc bag so it doesn’t get wet poolside, but I trust that someday I will be organized enough to plan ahead and do just that!

Do you cross-train with swimming or train for triathlons? What’s your favorite workout in the pool?

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Guess who is a happy happy girl when she gets to run on new-to-her trails! Last week I had to go to the dentist to get shiny clean teeth. A while back my dentist had the nerve to move his office away so it’s half an hour from my house. That drive is a giant pain in the patoot, but it presented an opportunity to try out some nearby trails at Peters Canyon Regional Park in Orange, California.

Peek-a-boo view of the lake on the Lake View Loop Trail

Peek-a-boo view of the lake on the Lake View Loop Trail

The wide dirt trails at Peters Canyon make for excellent beginner trail runs. I started out with the easy Lake View Trail, which provides nice views of both the lake and the mountains.

I just love the contrast of the palm tree with the view of snow on top of Mt. Baldy in the background!

I just love the contrast of the palm tree with the view of snow on top of Mt. Baldy in the background!

Soon I veered off onto Peters Canyon Trail and then linked up with the East Ridge View Trail and the Gnatcatcher Trail. “Easy” became “difficult” in a hurry!

You call that a hill? Just wait until to get to the top of the East View Ridge Trail!

You call that a hill? Just wait until you near the top of the East View Ridge Trail! Photo by OCParks_CA.

By the end of my meandering I had run 6.2 miles in 1:07. I love how hill work is another form of speed work, even when you’re not going very fast! Some of the hills along the East View Ridge Trail were so steep that I could walk up faster than I could run.

I would definitely go back to Peters Canyon Regional Park. Enough people utilize the trails on the middle of a weekday that I never felt unsafe. The beautiful lake and mountain views alternate with interesting views of the surrounding homes — I mean, mansions. Wow there are some spectacular estates tucked into Peters Canyon! Tip #1: bring double the amount of water you think you’ll need! The park entrance features two drinking fountains but the rest of the park does not have any water. With the exposed trail in sunny conditions, you can become dehydrated very quickly even in winter. I took 20 ounces of water in my bottle and should have carried another bottle. Tip #2: grab a park map at the entrance as the trails get a little confusing in spite of the trail signs. I took a nice unintentional detour on the Basin Trail. Tip #3: Parking costs $3 at the main entrance at the north end of the park, but if you park at the south end you can park for free on the street. Tip #4: bathrooms are located at the main park entrance and porta potties are available out on Peters Canyon Trail.

Do you run on trails? I haven’t done many trails but I find I love it when I get the chance! Question: At what point should I invest in trail running shoes? Do you have a brand that you recommend?

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