Monday, January 31, 2011

Punk Rock Princess ...

As you may have noticed when reading my Frostbite 15K recap, the next race up on my schedule is the Disney Princess Half Marathon. I ran this race last year and IT.WAS.AWESOME. I dressed as Belle and rocked the course, lowering my PR at the time by 13 minutes.

So, when the opportunity to run it again this year came along, I couldn't say no. This year, however, I have decided NOT to dress as a Disney Princess, but rather let my style ring true. I'll be rocking a lime green and hot pink combo with my fo-hawk in full effect. A Punk Rock Princess, you might say.

And although I am CRAZY excited, I haven't mentioned much about this race (other than my sub 1:55 goal time). But I had a good reason. I was waiting for a little (read: super huge) announcement via The Blogrollers. And on Friday, it came.

Thanks to the wonderful folks at Walt Disney World Resort and BSM Media, I will be joining Wifey and Christie of The Blogrollers, as well as several other blogging runners, for a fun-filled Disney race weekend as part of The Blogrollers' Get Moving! initiative.

If you don't know, Get Moving! is a series of total body wellness initiatives for women dedicated to getting healthy and inspiring others to do the same. Created to encourage women to take care of themselves, Get Moving! focuses on the importance of physical exercise by making it a fun and rewarding experience.

It promises to be a fantastic weekend and I am beyond excited and honored to have been asked to take part in this event. Plus, it's always fun to run in a tiara ...

Friday, January 28, 2011

happy birthday dilly!

Dear Dilly,

Two years ago today, you entered this world and filled our hearts with joy. From the day we met, you have had a smile on your face. See? Here's the proof.And that smile is contagious. No one can resists its powers. Not even Doodle. Even when she is in full on tantrum mode. You, however, are not as temperamental as your sisters (at least not yet). As an infant, people always asked me if you ever cried. You never did. And as a toddler, everyone wants to know if you are always so easy-going. You are. And you are funny. And lovable. And immensely cute.

Your father and I love you for so many reasons. Here are just a few of our favorite things about you at age two.
  • Rather than throw your food on the floor, you say, "Mommy. Don't want this." And when I take it and replace it with something you want, you tell us, "Dilly love it."
  • You are the only two year old that I have ever met who knows the words to songs by Ke$ha, 3OH!3, Justin Bieber, Black Eyed Peas and Taio Cruz.
  • You love to sleep. And you love to nap. In fact, most days you tell me when it's nap time.
  • You are an amazing eater. You will try anything and your favorites are vegetables and Greek yogurt. I swear, the better it is for you, the more you want it.
  • No matter how hard we try, we can't stop your hair from looking like Justin Bieber's. And to us, you'll always be "Bieber Baby."
  • You look exactly like Boo from Monsters Inc. Seriously. See?
  • When you say, "Bye, Mom" or "Bye, Dad" and we ask you where you are going, you always say, "On trip." When asked to where, you always reply, "China."
Dilly, you are every parent's dream. So, thanks for making other parents jealous of me and your father. You make us look good.

Happy Birthday Baby!


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Three Things Thursday, pace edition ,,,

1. I run a lot of my miles slow (slow being a relative term, of course). During a good week, I spend somewhere around 4 hours and 35 minutes (30 miles @ 9:10 pace) chatting with my friends out on the roads. Plus, I log another 15 miles or so running in place. On a less than good week, I spend around 7 hours watching NCIS while I run on my treadmill (45 miles @ 9:20 pace. Yes, I run slower indoors.) Neither option is really all that bad, though I much prefer the time I spend with the Posse.

Hitting the streets with my crew (doesn't that sound bada**) always helps the miles fly by. And in recent months, it has given me the confidence to shoot for my uber-marathon goal. G, KC and I are shooting for a sub-four race (as in 3:59:59). And considering that my average pace for the 166 miles I have run in 2011 is 9:10 (just one second slower than goal race pace), well, let's just say my doubt at this point is almost non-existent.

2. Have you ever wondered what an 8:07 pace looks like? I always thought it looked something like this ...

Or this ...

Or this ...

But, apparently, it can also look like this ...

Not pretty.

3. My passion for pace carries over into my non-running life. I like having a fast paced life. J and I bought a house, got married and were pregnant with our first child within four months. I'm sure some people think that we rush into things. I don't see it that way. I look at it as living life to the fullest. Why put off till tomorrow what you can do today? Basically, I'm not good with feeling stagnant. I like to be moving forward. Making progress. Doing something. Improving. Even when I am relaxing, I'm not. I'm plotting my next move. Or my next twenty moves. I kind of wish I could live more in the moment.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

the first 18 ...

So, National Marathon is eight weeks away, which makes this week is the first 50+ mile week on the training plan. It's not really the 50+ miles that seems intimidating. It's the first REAL long run on the plan that carries the intimidation factor.

18 miles.

Historically, 18 miles has meant 3+ hours of running. 3+ grueling hours that I was not looking forward to. Add that mental block to the fact my two marathon buddies are out for this week's long run, and I really wasn't feeling it. (Note: G is taking a forced rest week right now and KC is traveling this weekend.) Oh, and then there was the issue of J being away on business this week. And a busy weekend with guests and birthday celebrations ahead of us (Dilly is turning two on Friday). All I could see was that running was going to be a struggle. But then, I got a break ...

A split long run.

Dizzle's BFF invited her and Doodle to play for the afternoon. Eager to have a few hours with just one child, I agreed. And then I saw opportunity. I could send the girls to play and put Dilly down for her nap, which would give me two hours to run uninterrupted on the treadmill.

Two hours = 12 miles. Add those 12 miles to the six, I could run before sunrise and I would be all set. And that's exactly what I did.

Yesterday, at 5:30 a.m., I met 3L for a quick six miles. We finished in 53:17 (8:52 pace).

Then at 2:30 p.m. (once I put my plan into action), I jumped on the treadmill for the last 12 miles. 1:53:35 later, I was done (9:27 pace). It wasn't ideal, but the 18 miles were completed and that stress was taken off my plate.

But the best part was that the pace was crazy fast (well, for me anyway). I ran the 18 miles in 2:46:52 with an average pace of 9:16. The last time I ran 18 miles, my average pace was 10:29. And the last 16 miler of my fall marathon training took me 2:46:46. That just seems crazy to me. Talk about a confidence boost.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

runner first ...

Over the past year, G and I have done some crazy things for the love of the run. We push through when others would stop. We sacrifice other things in our lives to make the run happen (usually sleep and free time). And on occasion, we have let our passion for running guide our decision making. Thus, we have come to coin the phrase, "Runner first. Logical thinker second."

It started as a joke, but more and more each day, I realize how accurately that phrase describes us. I'm not saying we make stupid decisions. We don't. We listen to our bodies and try our best to stay safe at all times. But, there are moments when I question our sanity.

So, when Megan at offered to let me design an item of my choosing. I almost instantly knew that our catchphrase needed to be incorporated. And since I'm not above a little free advertisement, I also wanted to include my coaching business name as well.

Eventually, after much indecision on my part, I came up with this design ...

I love it. It's simple and sharp. And it looks really good on the back of my truck.

Now, thanks to Megan and, I have a few extra stickers to share. So, if you consider yourself a RUNNER FIRST or if you just love me and want to advertise my coaching services, shoot me an email with your mailing address to I will send the first 25 people a sticker. And who knows, you might even get a handwritten note, which, if we are being honest, is priceless ...

Monday, January 24, 2011

Frostbite 15K recap ...

Location: Richmond, VA
Date: 1/23/11
Temperature: 26 degrees with a feels like temperature of 15 degrees
Official Time: 1:15:41 (8:07 pace) for 9.3 miles
Garmin Time: 1:15:43 (8:05 pace) for 9.36 miles
Place in Age Group: 7/44
Overall Place: 192/636

The Good:

The Company: I was joined by G (who thought this FREEZING COLD race would be a good idea), KC, 3L, D, J and Katye. Having a bunch of my posse at the start (and finish) almost made the temperatures tolerable. And of course we were the best dressed on the course. Here's a shot of me, G, Katye and KC before the start.

The Course: I had not run this race before and had been warned of hills on the course. Richmond Road Runners described the course like this, "The course is out and back beginning and ending next to the Cary Street soccer field. The course goes out Harrison to Colorado, through the neighborhood next to Maymont and into Byrd Park. Much of the course is flat, but there are a few testy hills."

Past experience has shown that if RRRC mentions hills in the course, they are probably worse than you think. Due to this, I was planning for much worse. There were rolling hills during the first two and last two miles of the course, but for every climb there was an awesome downhill which I tried to use to my advantage.

The Pace: My goal for this race (since I had never run a 15K before) was to use it as a half marathon goal pace run. That meant 9.3 miles at an 8:20 pace. It seemed doable, but I questioned whether or not I would crash at the end (as I historically do).

Anyway, 3L, KC and D were all looking to hold a similar pace. We decided to go together and once we navigated the crowds at the start, we fell into a comfortable groove. Through mile 2 we were averaging 8:10s. Around mile 3, 3L pulled ahead. I tried to keep up. It worked and at mile 4, I passed her. That's when I decided to "just run." No watch checking. No obsessing about the pace. I just wanted to run whatever felt comfortable enough to carry to the end, but hard enough that I knew I was pushing it. We looped back around mile 4.7 and I could see that most of the posse was right behind me. It was a total boost to see them. From then on, I just locked in and pushed to the finish. I felt strong until mile 8 (which was slightly uphill and directly into the wind). When I finished, the Garmin said I had an average pace of 8:05. Just the confidence boost I was looking for heading into my Spring marathon and half marathons.

The Post-Race Refreshments: After finishing, we headed to a parking deck (classy, I know) where we were given Diet Coke (my favorite post-run drink), bananas, bagels and oreos. Now, if they had only served Dunkin Donuts coffee, it would have been perfect.

The Bad:

The Temperature:
Did I mention that this race is called the Frostbite 15k and that it lives up to it's name? Enough said.

Next race on the schedule: Disney Princess Half Marathon AND a sub 1:55 finish ...

Friday, January 21, 2011

transforming ...

Back in high school, when I was a complete non-runner, I was a shot-put and a discus thrower. I was big and strong and eventually went on to compete on a Division I Track and Field team. I loved it, but no matter how much my coaches told me that running would help my training, I never listened. Running sucked. And I only had to move across a six foot circle, how much endurance do you really need for that?

Every few weeks or so, my high school coach would plan cardio days. We'd go on a longish run and then come back and do agility drills followed by strength training. I hated those days. And I only managed to put enough effort into it to make it through. A typical cardio day looked like this:
  • warm-up
  • run an ungodly distance (I always thought it was 3 miles or so. I just mapquested it. It's 1.25 miles.)
  • Finish the first half of the run at McDonald's.
  • Stop and order a "snack"
  • Run/walk/shuffle back
  • Sprints
  • Strength training
Looking back on it now, I wish I could go kick my former self in the a** and tell her that she needs to change her life and that she should embrace being fit. I mean, seriously, who in their right mind stops at McDonald's in the middle of a workout? No wonder I was 70 pounds heavier.

But that's not my point. What I am really trying to say is don't doubt that you can change. That you can reach your goals. It doesn't happen overnight and small changes add up. If you asked 18 year old TMB if she thought that one day she would be a vegetarian marathoner with three kids, you would have gotten laughed at. But the little changes and the daily choices transformed who I was and what I thought was important. Those changes and the drive to make them happen have made me a better me.

How are you going to make yourself a better you?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Three Things Thursday ...

1. I am a food journalist. As in, I keep a food journal and have pretty much everyday for the last decade. I feel like it has been a crucial part to my weight loss and maintenance. Over the past few months though, I have become lazy in my food journaling. I didn't monitor my calories as closely as I usually do. Instead, I attempted (rather poorly, I might add) to keep track in my head. As a result, I ended up carrying around an extra six pounds. After stepping off the scale, I immediately decided to go back to hardcore food journaling. And this time, I was going high tech.

I did a little research of online food tracking sites and decided to go with SparkPeople. And now, I am mildly obsessed. This site is fantastic. It's super easy to set up and customize to your preferences. And it does everything for you. You just type in what and how much you ate and it calculates all the nutritional data. After two weeks, I have already dropped two of those unwanted six pounds. And the best part is that there is a SparkPeople app for iPhone and BlackBerry. I am in love ...

2. And speaking of food, I have made a big change in what I am eating. Over the past four weeks, I have transitioned to a pescatarian diet (a vegetarian who eats fish and eggs.) I really wanted to improve the quality of my diet and I've never been a big fan of red meat (I have a take it or leave it attitude towards poultry), so the choice seemed kind of obvious. Plus, as a family, we were already eating several vegetarian meals a week. I'm not sure that I will ever get J to be a total convert, but that doesn't mean I won't try.

3. And on the topic of brainwashing, I'm in the process of converting my children into hardcore runners. Both Dizzle and Doodle have run races before, but they've been on a bit of a hiatus due to the freakishly cold weather. Yesterday, I asked Dizzle if she wanted to go on a run on the TREADMILL to which she replied, "Yes, but can we watch our TV shows like you?"

It seemed like a simple request. So, I dressed the girls in their running skirts, turned on the TV and sent them to run in place.

Each of them logged a half mile and were begging for more. I think I just figured out what to do with them when we are all going a little stir-crazy ...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

CafePress Giveaway Winner ...

With all the laughing I've been doing after looking at that hysterical picture, I nearly forgot to post the CafePress giveaway winner.

There were 154 entries and thanks to, the winner is lucky #40 ...

Lesley @

Congrats Lesley! Email me to claim your prize!

kindergarteners ...

At school, Dizzle and her classmates complete certain assignments and they get put together in a binder. That binder then gets sent home with one student each day until everyone has had a turn to view their classmates creations.

Last night, it was Dizzle's turn to have the notebook. The children's assignment was to finish a sentence and draw a picture. The sentence was:

The _____ is on the _______.

Most of them were pretty standard, but then I turned the page and stumbled on this gem. It was so funny, I couldn't help but share ...

Absolutely classic ...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

i am a treadmill slacker ...

When I first started running, I did almost all of my runs while pushing a stroller. There were even runs where I pushed a triple. The stupid thing weighed as much as me. It was horrible, but I did what I needed to do to complete my training plan.

But in the last year, that has changed. I do my best to avoid stroller running. Sure, every once in a while I have no other choice (no more than once a week), but usually I can squeeze in 40+ miles sans stroller. That means, I wake up early to get my miles in. I run on both Saturday and Sunday, so J can watch the kids. And I log a heck of a lot of miles on the treadmill.

And if we are being honest, I don't really mind it. Treadmill running is actually quite enjoyable for me. For several of reasons, including ...
  • I can wear whatever I want.
  • The room is temperature controlled.
  • I can catch up on my favorite TV shows.
  • The machine sets the pace.
  • I never need a babysitter.
  • I don't have to leave my house.
  • It can't rain/snow/sleet inside.
  • The bathroom is 12 feet away.
But even though I have a love for my treadmill, I have always found it harder to run on than the road. To me it just seems more taxing. I can't quite seem to hold the same pace I do when I run outdoors. And I almost always fall at the slow end of my pace zones.

Take Saturday for example. I was at the hotel gym running a quick five miles before the wedding festivities began. I set the treadmill at 6.2 (9:40 pace), just outside of my easy run zone, but still within my long run range. And pretty much instantly, I was sucking wind. It happens every time I step on the treadmill. I go from a runner who easily holds a sub-9 minute average to one who is about to fall off the treadmill running almost a minute per mile slower.

But then, at mile two, something changed - my father-in-law and two of the groomsmen walked into the gym. Suddenly, I felt like the belt was moving WAY.TOO.SLOW. I couldn't get my cadence right. I had to speed the treadmill up. Instantly, running became easy. And then, it clicked ...


I don't push myself on the treadmill. And I don't think about my form. I get lazy. I've got it in my head that treadmill running is harder than outdoor running and I make myself suck at it. And since there is no one there to hold me accountable (or to analyze my running posture), I don't take it seriously.

I can't be alone in this, right? Please tell me I'm not the only one who slacks off when no one else is looking ...

Monday, January 17, 2011

wedded bliss ...

On Saturday, J's little brother got married. And it was absolutely perfect. From the venue to the dusting of snow that fell during the ceremony to the two most adorable flower girls I have ever seen, I can't imagine how anything could have been more fantastic in that very moment. The room was filled with happiness and love, laughter and warmth. And I am not sure that my description could do justice to the celebration.

So, instead, here is a pictorial recap of the day (note: I am a horrible photographer and Doodle took a lot of these ) ...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Three Things Thursday, Doodle edition ...

1. Doodle has a serious temper issue and a defensive nature. She is quick to overreact and it doesn't take much to set her off, which often leads to ear-piercing screams. It's rough. For example, when she loses a game, she usually throws the game pieces/board/etc. Just this past weekend, she threw the Yahtzee dice and yelled, "I hate this game." (yeah, she's a little competitive. Wonder where she picked that up ...) And it takes a lot to get her to cool off. In fact, when I tell her she needs to calm down, she usually YELLS back at me, "I AM CALM!"

Obviously, she is not. The kicker of the situation is that she looks like a cherub. Completely innocent and angelic.

See? She is the epitome of a devil in disguise.

2. Even though Doodle is quite photogenic, she has recently started making a "pirate" face whenever she sees a camera.

In theory, I don't mind this. And I am sure it will make for a funny story years from now. But, I am almost positive that her Uncle J isn't going to be a fan if she makes that face in all of his wedding photos this weekend.

3. Doodle says funny things all the time. Yesterday, we drove past a house that had an angel statue in the window (it actually looked like a person in costume). Within seconds of seeing it, Doodle asked, "Was that angel a dead person?" I laughed and wanted to tell her that is was. Instead, I asked her what she meant, to which she replied, "You know, did that person die and someone turn them into a statue?" Yes, Doodle. I'm sure that's the case ...

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

follow your gut ...

Do you see this face?

This is the face of the adorable Dizzle, a little girl who has been running a high fever (103-105) since Thursday. A little girl who would still be running a fever if I hadn't trusted my gut.

On Friday, I took Dizzle to the doctor. Other than the fever, we couldn't really pinpoint what was wrong with her, but we (J and I) knew something was up. She was complaining about a stomach ache and leg pain every once in a while, but nothing that was stopping her from acting like a normal five-year-old.

When we got to the pediatrician's office, they did a battery of test, all with normal results. The doctor suspected a UTI, but would need 2-3 days for the results. Dizzle was to start antibiotics and I was to treat her fever, if necessary.

Over the course of the weekend, Dizzle didn't improve. She spent much of her time lying on the couch, not eating. She didn't seem to have worsening symptoms, but we just couldn't get the fever to break. Then on Monday, she woke up with a cough.

I decided to give her another day to rest. Her fever had slowly crept from 105 to 102 and I suspected that she was on the mend. But I was wrong, when Tuesday rolled around. Her cough was horrendous and her fever was back to 103. Back to the doctor. Again.

When we arrived at the doctor's office, I was getting the "crazy" looks. You know, the ones mothers get when they are freaking out over a paper cut. When the doctors all "know" it's just a virus and the mother thinks it's the Plague.

Anyway, they started by weighing Dizzle. She was down 1.5 pounds in four days. Right then, I knew something wasn't right. Then, they retested her for all of the things they looked for four days prior. No flu. No strep. No UTI.

With no clear diagnosis, they were about to give her a different medicine and send us on our way. That's when I said this ...

"Five day long fevers just don't happen. Her body is fighting something. We just have to figure out what. I had to bring her back to see what, because I would hate to miss something like, um, I don't know. Pneumonia."

The doctor looked at me and said, "Well, you know sometimes lung infections can present with stomach pain. Her lungs sound clear, but let's send you for a chest x-ray anyway. Go get it taken and go home. I will call you when her prescription is ready."

So, we went. Dizzle had her x-ray and I was about to leave. But then the x-ray technician came out and told us that we had to go back to the doctor's office. Fan-freakin-tastic!

We walked into the exam room and the first thing the doctor said to me was, "Did they tell you? You were right. She has PNEUMONIA."

Are you kidding me? That was a joke. Her lungs sounded fine. I could not believe it.

Before I knew it, three people were holding Dizzle down to give her two high-dose antibiotic shots in her legs. She was in complete freak out mode. It was sheer craziness.

But the real kicker was that if I hadn't pushed the issue and made them look deeper, we still wouldn't have a diagnosis and Dizzle would be chillin' on my couch with a 105 degree fever. And that's why you have to ALWAYS follow your gut ...

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

CafePress Giveaway ...

A few weeks back, Chris at CafePress contacted me to see if I would be interested in creating a custom (read: personalized) item of my choosing. Obviously, I said yes. I mean, who wouldn't want something made especially for them?

If you've ever visited the CafePress site before, then you know that choosing the perfect item can be challenging. With a wide range of products ranging from water bottles to yoga mats to clothing, it would be hard to not find something that you love. Plus, CafePress is the online destination for custom hoodies, personalized t-shirts and even Valentine’s Day gifts! (Wouldn't a personalized item be a wicked cute way to propose? Just saying.)

Personally, I had an easy time deciding what to get - a personalized SIGG water bottle. I'
d been coveting one for some time and was excited to finally design mine. Here's what I came up with.

I wanted to have my business name incorporated with a few of the phrases/words that keep me motivated. And I love it (although I might have gone with a slightly bolder color scheme if I did it again).

And now, thanks to the generous people at CafePress, one of my readers will win a personalized item of their choice, up to a value of $30. Here's how to enter (one entry per comment):

1. Become a follower of this blog and comment to let me know.

2. Visit
CafePress and leave me a comment to tell me what you would get if you won.

3. Visit
CafePress' facebook page and "Like" them, then comment to let me know.

4. Follow
CafePress on Twitter, then comment to let me know.

5. Repost this giveaway on your blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc. and leave me a comment to let me know.

Entries will be accepted until Tuesday, January 18th. Winner will be randomly selected and announced on Wednesday, January 19th.

Monday, January 10, 2011

some days I feel like complaining ...

99% of the time, I am happy-go-lucky. I don't really let things bother me. Especially when I can't do anything about life's little annoyances. But some days, like today, my perspective gets a little skewed and I feel the need to complain. Maybe putting it all out there will help me regain my positive energy ...

Dizzle has been running a fever since Thursday. Sometimes it's 101 and sometimes it's 105. She complains of random ailments, but nothing major or consistent. The doctor suspects a UTI and put her on medication while she waits for the lab results. Dizzle hates the taste and we basically have to force down her throat. I just want her to feel better. I'm kind of over the whole thing.

Weekends make my house messy. And I don't like mess. With everyone around, I never get to tidy up like I do when they are at school and work. Tending to a sick kid has put me even further behind. I'm not a fan.

On Friday we leave for J's little brother's wedding. J, Dizzle and Doodle are all in the wedding. It's probably going to be super cute. Well, except for the part where I have to handle Dilly once she realizes that she's the only one NOT in the wedding party. She might only be one, but she doesn't like to be left out. And she much prefers J to me and is likely to make a dash for the alter if I don't hold her tight enough. It should be a blast.

Since we are leaving in four days, I need to front load my miles this week. I know that I can probably squeeze in a five miler or two while we are traveling, but my longer runs aren't as likely. That means I am planning on running 39 miles in the next four days. And I ran 26 miles this weekend. You do the math, that's a lot of distance to cover without a rest day.

I have to pack for our trip. Enough said.

My iPod died while we were on vacation. I took it to be repaired yesterday, but of course they couldn't fit me in. So, now I have to go back this morning (with two kids in tow) to see if they can do anything. Hopefully, I walk out of the Apple store with a new iPod. One that I did not pay for.

I've got some life stresses that are worrying me. I don't really feel like talking about it, but it's kind of weighing me down. I wish I could just let go, but I'm not really good with the unresolved.

Hmm. Not really sure that helped at all ...

Friday, January 7, 2011

we eat a lot of food ...

Over the past few weeks, I have received several emails asking about how we stay on budget when it comes to grocery shopping. And while I would like to say that I am super amazing and spend a minuscule amount of money each week, that would probably be a lie. I'm sure lots of people spend far less. Just as I am sure that lots of people spend much more.

Either way, I have decided to share what works for our family. Maybe someone will get something out of it. Or maybe you will all get a peek at the ENORMOUS amount of food my family consumes. Who knows.

1. Track your current spending habits. J and I use Quicken to track all of our expenses. By creating a report, we were able to determine how much we had spent on groceries and household goods over the last year. For us, this number was around $1,000 a month.

2. Based on your current spending habits, budget a number that is REALISTIC for your family. I knew that cutting our spending to $500 a month wasn't going to happen. Instead, we cut our budget to $800 and with smart spending, almost always have cash left over.

3. Know what is in your pantry and freezer. Having a good idea of what you already have on hand will help keep you from buying things you don't need. I have found that I can "fill the holes" when I go shopping and have very well rounded meals. Also, knowing what you have and then using it in a timely fashion helps to minimize food waste and saves money. Here's how I keep track of what we have on hand:

4. Join a wholesale club. J and I do much of our shopping at a wholesale club, which is especially good for items that your family uses in high frequency. We have found that the biggest money savers at stores like this (except if there are HUGE sales at your grocery store) are cereal, hummus, tortillas, diapers, wipes, assorted household goods, lunch meat, cheese, yogurt and proteins. (Note: buying in bulk only works if you do your research and if you use the products. Just because it comes in a big box doesn't mean it's any cheaper than buying a bunch of little boxes. And if you throw half of it away, well, that's just wasted money.)

5. Use coupons. And shop somewhere that doubles them. Some people are coupon crazy and that's cool. It's just not my thing. We clip coupons for the items we use from the Sunday paper and try to match them to sales at our grocery store. The only time I use a coupon on an item that is not already on sale is if we really NEED it or if we will eventually use the item and the coupon is about to expire.

6. Shop the per ounce price. Most stores label their shelves with the per ounce or per 100 price. When there are packages of varying prices/brands, I almost always go with the one that is cheapest per ounce.

7. Make a list and stick to it. A well-planned shopping trip can keep you from spending money on items you don't need. I have the rule that if it's not on the list before we enter the store, it can't be bought until the next shopping trip. (J is more lenient with this rule.)

8. Shop once a week. J gets paid twice a month, so we look at our food budget as $400 for 15 days and we break apart our shopping as follows.

Week One: Stock up on items to last the full two weeks. Purchase more costly items like diapers and meats.

Week Two: Restock perishables (milk, fruits, veggies) and "fill the holes" in our pantry.

9. Shop the sales. 10 for $10 sales are awesome. Especially if you can match them up with a coupon. When the items we consistently use are on sale, we stock up (as long as we don't already have a bunch on hand).

10. Eat like a vegetarian. I've switched to a pescatarian diet and J and the girls only eat meat (usually turkey or chicken) about twice a week.

How do you save money on food?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Three Things Thursday, the letter "P" edition ...

1. Polite: Yesterday, Dizzle received an invitation to a friend's birthday party at Build-A-Bear. I opened the invite (yes, I screen her mail) and saw that the party was scheduled for next Saturday. The only Saturday this month that we already have plans for.

I considered not telling her about the party. I knew that she would be upset to miss it, but then I thought about it and realized that she'd be more upset if she thought she wasn't invited.

So, I told her and the conversation went like this:

Me: So Dizzle, you got invited to K's party.
Dizzle: I know! It's at Build-A-Bear!
Me: Yes, it is. But you can't go.
Dizzle: (instantly crying) But I want to go!
Me: Honey, stop crying. You can't go because it is the same day as Uncle J's wedding and you already made a commitment to be his flower girl. You can't miss that. I'm sorry that you have other obligations.
Dizzle: (whimpering) Fine. But can you write K a letter to let her know?
Me: Sure.
Dizzle: OK. I want it to say:

Dear K,
Thank you for inviting me to your party at Build-A-Bear, but I will be unable to attend because I have to go to my Uncle J's wedding in a different state.

And that's when I started laughing. Unable to attend? Seriously, Dizzle? What five-year-old declares that she is "unable to attend" rather than just saying, "I can't go"? Oh, wait. I know. The kind of five-year-old who has a mother who reminds her that she has "other obligations." Yup, we are prepping for the SATs over here.

2. Party - And while we are on the subject of parties, I need an idea for one. Dilly turns two in three weeks and I have no idea what to do for her party. G had two really good ideas, but both of them have one minor detail that could have them blowing up in my face. So I am looking for suggestions. Here's the scoop.

All of our family lives far away, so this fiesta is friends only. And since we don't have too many friends, it's going to be small. Also, I am looking for easy and cheap. Not a lot of clean up and it has to fit within our monthly budget. Oh, and it has to be suitable for a wide range of ages. The guest will include the following:

5-6 adults
1 two year old
1 three year old
1 four year old
2 five year olds
1 eight year old
1 11 year old

Any suggestions?

3. Posh - And sticking to the celebrating, did I ever tell you how we celebrated New Year's Eve? Well, my totally awesome little sister, who just happens to be the Hotel Manager of the Baltimore Tremont Plaza, put J, the girls and me up in the W.C. Smith Suite.

Talk about FANTASTIC. Here's the a description of the room:

A spacious two-bedroom Suite with over 1,400 square feet of superior comfort, including one king bedroom, one queen bedroom, two and a half full baths, and a spacious open living, dining, and entertaining area.

Yeah, it was pretty much amazing. The room included a sauna, exercise room, built in speakers and iPod docks, a television over the bathtub, and heated bathroom floors.

We were totally spoiled. Just take a guess at the per night rate ...


Sheer lunacy. (Thank God I didn't have to pay it.)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

sacrifices ...

As a running coach, I hear a lot of excuses. Sometimes from athletes who fail to get their workouts completed. Sometimes from non-runners who swear they could never be runners. On occasion these excuses are valid. Life happens. Circumstances change. But usually, those excuses are rooted in one thing.

The inability to sacrifice.

I firmly believe that you can accomplish ANYTHING you set your mind to. That the key to success lies in ones ability to do whatever it takes. This is true for any goal, fitness-minded or not.

It's not an accident that I lost 70 pounds. And it's not an accident that I run 40-50 miles per week. And it's not an accident that I have more debt than I am comfortable with. I got to this point because of the sacrifices that I was willing or not willing to make.

Sacrifices aren't easy, but they are usually worth it. Sacrificing my portion sizes and my couch potato lifestyle made me healthier. Sacrificing my sleep and some free time from my schedule has helped become a stronger runner. A better runner. Sure, "giving up" these things was hard at first, but over time they no longer felt like sacrifices and I had become a different person.

Last night, J and I had a discussion about what we are willing to sacrifice to reach our goals. We broke it down, month by month and decided what we could live without. It seems daunting. Daunting but doable. And when we calculated the payoff, a little bit of hardship now is 100% worth it in the end. And I have a feeling that before it's all over, we are going to realize that we aren't sacrificing much at all.

What are you willing to give up to reach your potential?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

open letter to Dizzle ...

Dear Dizzle,

Honey, I love you. I love you in ways I will never be able to express, but some days, like today, I can not bear to be in the same room as you. Your attitude needs to change. Get over thinking you are entitled to something that you are not. You are no better than anyone else in this house and that whinny cry-baby crap isn't going to get you anywhere.

Now, I know that I am hard on you. I expect a lot. But, I know you have a lot to give. You are strong, intelligent and capable. I am fully aware of this. Just keep in mind that there are sometimes that you do not need to demonstrate these traits. Remember that sometimes, it is best to just do what you are told. I am your mother and ultimately, I am in charge. There is no reason to fight this. I am not making you do things to make your life a living hell, but rather to make sure that things go as smoothly and as safely as possible. I am thinking of the whole. You are thinking of you.

I promise you that you will always have the opportunity to demonstrate your strengths (and weaknesses). And that one day, I will let you "do it yourself," as you so often request. But when we are working on limited time, please just do what I say. And do it the first time. That way you walk out the door with a full stomach and without me screaming at you.

I am sorry for the way I behaved this morning, but I only have so much patience and the 20 minutes between when you wake up and when you leave for school is NOT the time to test it. As for all the yelling, I swear that if I thought you could hear me when I speak at a normal volume, I would never yell.

Dizzle, I realize that our relationship is a two way street. And I also realize that we are both stubborn. But, I promise to try to keep my cool and give you more flexibility, if you promise to cut the whining and to stay on task when we are short on time.

Do we have a deal?


Monday, January 3, 2011

December and 2010 Rewind ...

Like I mentioned last week, 2010 was a fabulous year for me. I made HUGE strides in all areas of my life and rid myself of some serious negative energy. I'm in a good place. Not at all where I thought I would be this time last year, but I'm very happy with how everything has played out. And on that positive note, I give you my December and 2010 recap ...

Miles Planned/Miles Ran: 162/198.43

Rest Days Planned/Rest Days Taken: 8/8

Highest Mileage Week: 11/20-12/26: 44.1 miles

Long Runs Planned/Long Runs Completed: 4/4

Donuts Burned: 130 (my favorite statistic on Dailymile)

Current Book: Our vacation to Disney allowed me to get a little reading in this month. During the trip, I read Bart Yasso's My Life on the Run, which was FANTASTIC and a must-read for anyone looking for a little inspiration.

And last week, I started Racing Weight by Matt Fitzgerald, which was sent to me by Marlene. I am halfway through it and when I am done, I will be passing it along to another blogger. Shoot me an email if you are interested ...

Current Shame-Inducing Guilty Pleasure: I Used to Be Fat (on MTV). There is just something about watching people try to lose weight that draws me in every time.

Current Colors: Chocolate and Lime

Current Drink: Dunkin Donuts French Vanilla Coffee. With the temperatures dropping, I find myself drinking it non-stop just to stay warm.

Current Song: We Are Who We Are - Ke$ha

Current Triumph: My 1:14 5K PR last weekend. It was awesome to see all the the miles I've logged pay off and has given me some serious confidence heading into marathon training.

Current Goal: I've got a lot of them right now. New year, new goals. But in the immediate future, I want to run this month's 15K at goal half marathon pace or faster.

Current Blessing: Pretty much everything. And I don't take that for granted.

Current Excitement: 2011. January always feels like the fresh start to a future full of possibilities. I plan on doing everything in my power to live the life I aspire to this year.

2010 in Numbers:
Miles Covered: 1808
Time Spent: 299 hours, 43 mins
Highest Mileage Week: 9/13-9/19: 53.05 miles
Highest Mileage Month: August - 208.42
Calories Burned: 211,536
Donuts Burned: 1253
Pounds Lost: 0
Cupcakes Consumed: 48
PRs Set: 8. 3 miles (23:13), 5K (22:55), 4 miles (32:13), 8K (38:54), 10 miles (1:30:40), 17.75K (1:48:03), Half Marathon (1:58:02), Marathon (4:49:38)