“A List for the New Year,” an(other) Update.

Oh hey! It’s October 18, 2013.  I figured I owe you all a second update on how my 2013 To-Do list is going.

So, here you are! Enjoy!

Noelle’s (Re-Updated) List of Things to do before December 31, 2013:

1. Create a logo for the blog and go self-hosted.

Not gonna lie, STILL haven’t done this… however, I have gotten some ambassadorships that are pretty awesome and feel like I’m moving in the right direction. (you guys get 25% with my code for Energy Bits!)

I also finally broke down and got Twitter and Instagram… not that I know how to use them very well, but it’s all about networking, right? (usernames for both are NoellesNotebook if you’d like to give a follow!)

I’d love to know what you, readers, would like to see content wise…I realize that this space has morphed into a different animal from what I originally intended it to be… but I’m okay with that… however, I want to keep it interesting for all of you…so I’d love your feedback!

2. Excel in my job.

Confession: I struggle with this one.

I feel like my “promotion” has transformed into something else… my time is filled up with special projects that seem to take over what I’m actually supposed to be doing. And honestly, I have days (or months) where I just wonder how I am supposed to get everything done…  Does anyone else have this problem?

My boss tells me I’m doing well, but some days, I really have trouble believing that….but I just keep on going and I’m hoping that counts for something.

To be completely honest, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking on this particular aspect of my life, what’s to come of it, and what not.

3. Make 2013 a “Yes!” year/7. Be more present.

I’m killing this one.

  • Strides for James was amazing–we had over 200 participants and raised over $5,000 after expenses. We were able to reach our scholarship goal in less than a year and someone in our community is already benefitting from our group’s hard work.
  • Farmer Ben won tickets to a Red Sox game. We went and loved it.
  • The Hubby and I were in the bridal party/catered our friends’ wedding. Not gonna lie, it was exhausting but worth it.
  • We got to do some hiking this summer! I cannot tell you how happy this made me!
  • Just starting a new online class today.
  • Farmer Ben and I just returned from a kick-ass road-trip and are craving more adventures. We drove to St. Simons Island, Georgia, then headed up to Charleston, South Carolina. I am ready to move there!
  • On our road-trip, we ate Barbecue for 3 days. I’m not even a little ashamed.
  • Ben finally got to meet my good friend Natasha who lives in DC and we visited (and by visited, I mean had a couple of drinks and crashed on her floor before getting up ridiculously early and hitting the road again) Liz–FINALLY! I even got to show him my old apartment.
  • Also on our trip, we spent the night on a sail boat-a first for me!
  • I also ran my first marathon.
  • Spent more time with family
Catamount Mountain, August 2013

Catamount Mountain, August 2013

I think those are all of the big ones, but honestly, I feel so blessed this year with all of the adventures we’ve had and I am wondering what’s next!

As far as spending less time on my phone, I’ve absolutely cut down on this. I deactivated my Facebook account and haven’t looked back. I may re-activate it when I get back into the heart of planning Strides for James 2014… but for now, I am content to be in the dark about what that girl who was in my gen ed class, freshman year is doing. I’m learning to appreciate those around me and treasuring the time with people I don’t see every day.

Any suggestions to continue my “Yes” Year?!

5. Take more time to read.

Yes. Doing this.

I won’t bore with the entire list, but these are my favorites I’ve read this year (Not gonna lie, it looks almost exactly like the list in my last update):

  • My Bible
  • all three Hunger Games Books (twice)
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  • The Girl Who Played with Fire
  • Garlic and Sapphires
  • The Girl Who Kicked a Hornet’s Nest
  • The Great Gatsby
  • Pride and Prejudice
  • Born to Run
  • Eat & Run
  • The Dirty Life
  • The Beautiful & Damned

Any other reading suggestions?

4. Run a half marathon/6. Run 26.2 miles.

Half Marathon-I’ve run the distance but haven’t raced it. Can we call this one even? I may look for a race in the next month or two… just to check it off the list, but I won’t be heartbroken if I don’t get that race in.

Marathon-Done. One of the most difficult and worthwhile things I have ever accomplished… and I’m already planning to do another!

I did it!

I did it!

8. Pay off at least one big bill–Get better about saving money.

I’m getting closer.

9. Do 100 Burpees in a row.

I still haven’t been working on my burpees.

10. Do more food-ing.

Absolutely!

I definitely went on a vegan recipe kick after reading Eat & Run. I’ve also been experimenting more with using different ingredients, especially when I was training for the marathon, I had to get creative with pre/during race foods because of some digestion issues.

We’ve also made an effort to eat at home more this year…and when we traveling, we try to eat at a local restaurant.

Roasted beets, cukes, lettuce, beet greens, tomatoes, carrots and homemade horseradish avocado dressing.

Roasted beets, cukes, lettuce, beet greens, tomatoes, carrots and homemade horseradish avocado dressing.

So, there you have it. I’d say for the most part, I’m doing pretty well…I definitely see areas where I can improve, but I am happy for now.

Now it’s your turn! How are you doing with your goals? Anything you’re struggling with? OR, do you have any advice to help me out?! Let me know! 


Confessions: Words with a Kooky Doctor

As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, I finally gave in and went to the doctor to see about my weird leg pain…

I don’t have a primary care doctor, so I did a walk-in right after work because I couldn’t get an appointment and ended up getting a full physical because I hadn’t had one in… I don’t even know how long. Shame on me.

Confession: Between work and our road-trip, I still haven’t gone to get the blood work he ordered… hopefully tomorrow? Double shame.

Anyway, while I was there, I quickly realized he had no idea what was wrong with my leg and that he wasn’t going to be much help in that department… he even told me so… but I figured I’d get the most bang for my buck and went on with the rest of the physical.

I mentioned that I had run a marathon and we talked about some health concerns (mostly that I am prone to some wicked headaches/dizziness).

His response? “Well, you’re obviously very healthy. You’ve run a marathon, the proof is in the pudding!” He continued with, “I don’t know what to tell you about the headaches other than they probably aren’t anything to be concerned with, it’s just an annoyance.”

He then asked me about medical history and asked me if I had any symptoms of depression…three times.

First, who says “the proof is in the pudding?”

Apparently, there is proof here.

Apparently, there is proof here (Source: finecooking.com).

Second, Yes– while running a marathon is a good sign of one being healthy, I don’t feel that it is an end-all, absolute indication of one’s physical health being perfect. Not that I have any major health concerns, but I was irked by his assumption and brushing off the one concern I did have…and repeatedly asking if I was depressed… it just didn’t sit well.

Anyway, the rest of the visit was equally enlightening. I discussed BMI with him next…

Side note: When I last saw my gynecologist, she was impressed that I had lost the weight that I have and that I did so slowly… but said it would be beneficial to lose about 15-25 more pounds. I feel like that’s kind of standard coming from a doctor and for all I know, she could be right. Honestly, I would be okay with 10 more pounds.

My current BMI is 28, so I am technically classified as overweight. Now, I realize that this is merely a guideline and even when I was in the best shape of my life, my BMI was close to what it is now.

I also realize that I AM healthy, but, I figured since I was there, I would ask his professional opinion… he is a doctor, after all.

I felt a bit silly asking, but I got it out, “you know, I’m just wondering because my BMI is a bit high… if it’s something I should worry about… I’ve lost about 30 lbs but it’s taken me a really LONG time to do so… and I know that’s a good thing, but at the same time, I don’t know if it’s normal for it to take as long as it did… I’m just wondering–“

He interrupted me (!) and even raised his voice for a moment.

“–You DO NOT need to lose ANY weight. You are perfectly healthy, you ran a marathon, so you’re obviously healthy. But, if you want to lose weight for physical attractiveness, or competitiveness, or whatever reason, the only way to do that is to eat way less and make yourself completely miserable. So if that’s what you want, then by all means, make yourself miserable.”

Cue my jaw hitting the floor.

That was not what I was expecting to hear and I was, for one of the few times in my life, completely speechless. Not gonna lie, it was nice to hear this, but I think he completely misunderstood my reason for asking the question.

I mentioned that my main concern with my current weight is the impact it has on my joints when running and that I know losing said 10+ pounds will be easier on my body, which he quickly dismissed by saying, “Not true.”

He went on to say how the only way to eat less is to know exactly how much you’re taking in and the only way to do that was to count calories (obviously) and then proceeded to tell me it didn’t matter what I ate or where my food was coming from, it only mattered the amount I was eating.

You can imagine my indignation at the last statement. This was a doctor telling me that nutrition value and where food comes from didn’t matter. I almost hit the roof.

Apparently eating things like this doesn't matter... Grrrr

Apparently eating things like this doesn’t matter… Grrrr

In short, the proof is apparently in the pudding; I am perfectly healthy.

Some Updates:

  • My leg seems to have healed itself and I went on my first run post-race last night. It was only 2.5 miles, but I had no pain. Let’s hope it stays that way.
  • I’m currently experimenting with my diet to see if something I’m eating/drinking is causing the headaches.
  • First experiment: cutting down my coffee intake.
  • Next step: getting the blood work done so I can get an official letter saying that I am “perfectly healthy,” and I can move on to finding a primary care doctor who I don’t find kooky.
  • I’m also going to get my eyes checked to see if the headaches are vision related. I am getting older, after all.

Let’s discuss, what’s the strangest/most outrageous thing a medical professional has said to you? BMI-do you pay attention to it? Any weird ailments? When’s the last time you went for a physical?


Finding a Balance: Burgers and Big Workouts

Hi Friends!

Farmer Ben and I are back from our road trip/vacation down south! Can I tell you a secret? I don’t think I’ve ever eaten so much barbecue in my life…I loved every morsel…but I must admit, it is good to be home, sleeping in our own bed and cooking at home. I’ll do a full post on that later…

I need to get something off my chest.

I was perusing instagram the other day and came across a photo of a giant cheeseburger with French fries. To put you in the right frame of mind, the burger was similar to this one, minus the braised kale:

Pictures like this speak to me.

Pictures like this speak to me.

Anyway, my immediate thoughts? “Oh my, that looks delicious!”

Obviously, I was drawn to it and stopped to read the caption and comments.

I won’t tell you who the user was but the caption was something along the lines of “Yes, I ate this…trying to tell myself that my ridiculously long, strenuous workout makes it okay.”

Cue screeching record sound… What?! 

I’m sorry… but that is ridiculous.

Why do you have to do a ridiculously long and strenuous workout in order to justify eating a cheeseburger and fries? Why do you have to burn a million calories in order to enjoy it? Or, make a vow to run a million miles the next day? Why can’t you just eat it and say, “man, that was delicious,” without feeling guilty?

Now, don’t misunderstand me. I am in no way saying that you should go out and only eat cheeseburgers and fries (or whatever your guilty pleasure of choice may be), obviously.

Not at all… but if you eat well most of the time, and yes, if you do ridiculously long and strenuous workouts more often than not (as this person does), then what the heck? Eat a damn cheeseburger!

Occasionally enjoying an “unhealthy” meal is not going to “ruin all of your hard work,” and it’s not going to make you gain 20 pounds or ruin your diet/workout regimen. Depending on the burger and your digestive system, you may be a bit bloated or gassy after…but it’s not going to ruin your overall health plan. It’s about balance, people!

I guess what I found most disturbing was the user who posted this picture. You are a role model in a healthy living community. That is not a healthy state of mind…and it’s a common theme I am finding as I peruse my instagram and twitter feeds of bloggers/people who claim to have a healthy lifestyle…people I look up to!

People would rather drink a protein shake or eat an energy bar full of artificial sweeteners and ingredients they can’t pronounce, than enjoy real, whole foods that happen to be calorie dense. I see more protein shakes with a side of celery or a few apple slices  than real, balanced meals on my feed. WHY?!

When did we get so far away from balance…and eating real food?

Again, I am NOT saying that a cheeseburger and fries is “healthy meal,” nor am I saying that all protein shakes/energy bars are bad…not at all!

I’m just saying, everything in moderation.

Neither of these options is going to completely nourish/sustain a person, especially a highly active person.

Balance is necessary.

When you start looking at food as the enemy or depriving yourself…or even trying to justify what you are eating with ridiculously long and strenuous workouts, then there is a problem…and this I am saying from personal experience.  On the same note, you also can’t look to food for comfort/stress relief…again, it’s about balance.

I am in no way perfect, and I am totally guilty of having that small voice in my head saying, “are you sure you want to eat that? Do you know how many calories are in it?!”

But, I’ve come to appreciate balance and I’ve finally learned the “everything in moderation” principle…Yes, I watch what I eat…but I don’t completely deprive myself and I don’t freak out after eating a burger. I’m no expert, but I think I’m a lot healthier now because of this.

Thanks for letting me ramble.

So tell me, what are your thoughts? Cheeseburgers, yes or no? Are you guilty of trying to justify your meals with workouts?  Favorite food to drool over on Instagram?


Scenes from a Full Weekend and a Confession

Hi Friends!!!

Life has been moving pretty fast around these parts lately…I’m looking forward to some much-needed time off and a road trip with Farmer Ben, later this week (Georgia and South Carolina, here we come!).

This weekend, I went to a women’s conference with some ladies from my church in Worcester, MA…this was a completely new experience for me and one that I needed.

I actually hemmed and hawed about going because, well… I just felt like I wouldn’t have time…but I made time and it was so worth it!

Not only did Natalie Grant lead worship (so powerful!), but we got to see some great speakers. I learned a lot and came back feeling refreshed and empowered.

Please excuse my blurry fan-girl photo...

Please excuse my blurry fan-girl photo…

My favorite speaker was definitely Valorie Burton.

Valorie Burton...I wish you could see the shoes she had on!

Valorie Burton…I wish you could see the shoes she had on!

I mentioned that this conference was something I needed and I found Valorie’s workshop especially relevant to some things I am dealing with right now.

I got home from the conference really late and Farmer Ben and I were up bright and early on Sunday Morning to volunteer with our church for our Faith in Action Sunday… basically, the congregation divides up into groups and does various service projects around town…

Our group went to a local park and raked leaves…for three hours. By the time we left the park, we had 97 giant bags of leaves and a ton of piles that we just didn’t have the man-power to bag. Needless to say, I am sore today and have some really attractive blisters on my hands.

After volunteering we went to my mother’s house and took a quick shopping trip… I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this, but I absolutely despise shopping at Wal-Mart…This shopping trip reminded me why. I think I’ve had my fill of misbehaving, screaming children and rude people for the next three years.

We dropped my mom off and then headed to our friends’ house to make a quick dinner.

I made this mac & cheese from Pinch of Yum and fooled their son into eating butternut squash. Not only was it delicious, but it only had 1 cup of cheese in a double recipe!

Delicious.

Delicious.

After dinner, I whipped up these cookies…they were also a hit.

Farmer Ben and I finally made it home at about 9pm and I immediately went to bed.

Other than that, life has been good…

We’ve been going to the market.

$1 for this entire bag of "imperfect produce"

$1 for this entire bag of “imperfect produce”

This was $38...$20 for local meat and cheese.

This was $38…$20 for local meat and cheese.

Hubby bought me some beautiful flowers from a local farm….

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And we’ve been enjoying the weather. I finally got to break in my sweet orange wind-breaker from the race.

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And now for a confession… 

My biggest frustration at the moment is that I haven’t run since my marathon. I took a few days off for recovery and, much to my dismay, ended up having to work both jobs for the entire week following the race.

Running a marathon and then working 12-15 hour days for five days is not conducive to recovery.

That Saturday, I was going to go for a short run but I started having a weird pain behind my knee. It hasn’t gone away. It’s more annoying that downright painful and almost feels like a snap or a pinch…does that make any sense?

It’s not my knee… but I don’t know how else to describe it. I did some google-ing and am guessing that it’s either a baker’s cyst or a meniscus but doesn’t feel painful enough to be either.

I did notice that the pain was a little more annoying this past week, depending on what I am doing. Yesterday, it was pretty uncomfortable and by the end of raking it was burning.

Any ides as to what this is?

I broke down and went to a walk-in doctor but honestly, he was no help. He felt around and played with my knee, stood back and said, “Well, I don’t know what’s wrong with you…I have no idea what to tell you!”

Super helpful, right? I did, however, finally get a full physical, for the first time in at least five years.

I don’t think I’ll be returning to that doctor as, honestly, I found him a bit kooky (and that is saying a lot, coming from me), but it’s nice to know that as far as he could tell, I am perfectly healthy.

Anyway, I have a friend who works for a knee specialist and she offered to get me an appointment… it sounds silly, but I am putting it off because I am convinced it’s actually nothing and will feel silly if I turn out to be right.

These are the things that go through my head… sigh.

Well…that’s all for now… It’s going to be a short work week and a lot of driving. I cannot wait!

What have you been up to? What are your weird aches and pains? Cooky doctors-discuss. Butternut Squash, yes or no?


GBN: That time I ran a marathon

Well, I did it.

It was one of the most difficult, amazing, ridiculous, painful and spiritual things I have ever done, but I did it. I finished a marathon.

On Saturday morning (after a quick stop for breakfast), my mom and I headed the hour south to go to the race expo. After picking up my packet and sweet (and by sweet, I mean BRIGHT orange) half-zip windbreaker, we meandered around the gym, visiting with volunteers and looking at what the vendors had to offer. Note: They had my mizunos for significantly less than I paid for them, but I restrained myself from buying a new pair–Farmer Ben was so proud.

This was probably the smallest race expo I’ve ever been to, but it was really nice because we weren’t fighting a crowd and didn’t feel rushed to get in and out.

After the expo, my mom and I decided to scope out the course. We took the leisurely 26.2 mile drive around Schroon Lake. My mom’s reaction? “This is beautiful,” followed by, “You’re going to run this?!”

I knew the hills were going to be tough, but now, at least, I had a point of reference and would have an idea of what was ahead. We started out on the main drag, turned onto a side road that just kept going up and then came out right next to the lake, then, we went back to Route 9….

Here are some pictures from the drive:

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Beautiful, isn’t it?

Saturday night, Farmer Ben and I stayed in and watched Ratatouille, complete with a big bowl of pasta and marinara sauce.  After laying out all of my clothes and fuel for the day, I showered and went to bed… but I’m sure you already know that I barely slept.

I woke up on Sunday morning, a big ball of nerves, complete with a nervous stomach. I toasted two English muffins and put a smear of peanut butter on each and grabbed a banana to eat on the drive down (it’s about an hour and a half from our house). Unfortunately, I was so nervous that I could barely swallow… I only managed to choke down the first English muffin and most of the banana.

After parking, I immediately found the bathroom. Then we had some time to kill, so we meandered around; Ben got a coffee, we went back to the car so I could drop off what I didn’t need and grabbed my fuel belt, put on my number and did a last check…then I found the bathroom again…

I don’t know if it was the realization that I was actually about to run a marathon, or if it was just nerves (or maybe a combination of both), but I was a complete basket case on Sunday morning…at one point, I was holding back tears and was starting to have some serious doubts about running…. luckily Farmer Ben was there to hold my hand and talk me down.

He told me that once I started running, I would get into the zone and be fine…and he was right…

I managed to get a pretty good spot on the starting line and started off at a relatively quick pace…when we passed the first time clock, I realized I was going way too fast (even though it felt comfortable) and slowed down.

I was still going a little faster than I should have, but I was feeling good.

At mile 4, the hills started. Now, the elevation chart shows a straight up-hill until mile 6, then a straight down-hill…and then some little hills in between miles 7 and 11 (the next giant hill). This was not the case.

Instead, you went up, then flat, then up, then flat, then up, then down, then flat, then up and up and so on and so forth… I looked at my splits on mapmyrun this morning and they are all over the place…. I managed to run all of the hills until mile 11…I decided to sacrifice running up this hill in order to save my strength for the rest of the run, looking back, I definitely made the right decision.

I was feeling really good for the first half, once you hit mile 12, you come out right next to the lake…it was a beautiful day and the sun shining, but after running so many hills and being super sweaty, the breeze from the lake was not pleasant… the last half of the race was very cold.

I got to the halfway (13.1miles)mark at 2 hours and 27 minutes… I kept a steady pace until about mile 16. I was getting tired. I slowed down a bit and took a few short walk breaks.

Throughout the entire race, I was repeating three things.

1. Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

2. Run your own race.

3. (Wo)man can plan their course, but the LORD directs their steps. (Proverbs 16:9)

At mile 18, we turned onto the Word of Life Campus and were welcomed by a wall of cheering people on either side (Note: I could hear their cheers all the back at mile 16, I could NOT figure out where it was coming from).

This gave my spirits the boost I needed to keep going… people were yelling for me, cheering me on, playing music, calling my number and my name…

Not gonna lie, I almost cried because I was so happy…so grateful for these beautiful people who were helping me go on.

Actually, I almost cried a few times throughout the run because of the volunteers and the spectators… everyone who came out and watched the race, supported the runners… it was an emotional day. Hearing people call my name, who took the time to look up my bib number and find out my name, I was completely overwhelmed.

I made it to mile 20, still riding on the cheers of that amazing group… but then I started to hit the wall… I hurt. Everywhere. My feet were the worst, every time I took a step, I felt like a thousand knives were being pushed into my feet, my bones felt like they were shattering… but I kept going.

My hands swelled up to twice their normal size and I could barely bend them, my wedding ring was starting to dig. I was covered in salt from my sweat and my under-arms were raw…not to mention, the pain in my feet and legs was getting worse.

Luckily, there was a girl running near me and we ended up duking out the last 6.2 miles together…slowly but surely. We ended up doing a lot of power walking for that last 10k…at that point, running was so painful that power walking was a faster mode of transportation… we did the power-walk/run together and I told her I was glad we ended up together because we kept each other going.

There were two more hills (though, I must admit, they were not even close to the hills between miles 4 and 12) before we finally neared the finish… we came around a big corner and realized we were less than a mile away.

I looked at my new friend (Liz) and said, “come on, let’s go!” We started kicking it to the finish…I managed to look up just in time to see Farmer Ben standing there with a big smile on his face, iPhone ready to take pictures and yelling my name.

You can't tell from this photo, but I am incredibly happy at this moment

You can’t tell from this photo, but I am incredibly happy at this moment

I turned onto the side street and pushed it to the finish, my entire being hurting and fighting to make those last steps…. I made it!

My time was 5:24:37…not the best time, but it’s a PR for me (the perks of it being my first marathon)…and this was a crazy difficult course! I’m just happy I finished….and now I have a time to beat.

I got my medal and my thermal blanket (thank God!) and turned around, waiting for Liz. I hi-fived her and thanked her sticking with me… and then Ben and I took a couple more pictures….

I did it!

I did it!

I would not have been able to do this without my amazing husband.

I would not have been able to do this without my amazing husband.

After finishing, we went down to the finishers’ area and I managed to get a bagel, a bottle of water and some grapes…unfortunately, my body and brain were on power-save mode at that point…I tried to walk around for a few minutes, but ended up just sitting down in a chair, staring off into space. Ben had to hand me grapes and small bites of bagel in order to get me to eat anything.

Again, I had to hold back tears…the realization that I had just finished a marathon was heavy. My body and soul felt absolutely empty.

All finishers were entitled to a massage, but I worried if I got one, I wouldn’t be able to get up, so, when my lips starting turning blue from the wind, Ben made the decision and helped me hobble back to the car.

In the warmth of the Versa, my brain starting working again, slowly but surely.

In my post-race fog, I knew that I needed to change out of my sweaty, and consequently, soaking wet clothes. I told Ben “I need your help.”

I pushed my seat all the way back and Ben fumbled around in the back seat for my big comfy sweat pants and long-sleeved shirt… I painstakingly started pulling off clothes, not caring if someone happened to walk by.

I started with my sneakers, then my socks. I don’t think my feet have ever hurt so much in my entire life. Then I pulled off my leggings and my underwear. I slowly pulled on my sweat pants, with Ben’s help, really glad I had gone for the XL pair.

The next part was a lot more difficult. my shirt was soaking wet and my skin under my arms was raw (Note: I used Body Glide, but apparently I didn’t use enough under my arms). I managed to pull the sleeves from my tank top down and held my shirt over my chest (I am a lady, after all!) while Ben helped me pull my sports bra off, one side at a time. After I pulled on my long-sleeved shirt, I ditched the tank top.

We debated going to one of the restaurants in Schroon Lake, but everyone else had the same idea, so we headed home. I could not get comfortable and spent the entire trip putting my seat up and down, moving it back, propping my feet on the dash, and stretching them out on the floor… then I passed out for the last 30 minutes of the trip.

Upon reaching our apartment, I realized that I was going to have to climb the stairs in order to get inside. My heart sank. Luckily, Ben took everything in from the car so I could use both arms to pull myself up.

After sitting with my feet propped up for an hour or so, we got an invitation to go to a friend’s house and visit with them and their family. Ben whipped up a quick dish to bring with us and I took a hot shower. I cannot even begin to describe how good it felt.

I conquered going down stairs, slowly but surely. And we got to our friend’s house for a great night of relaxing, good food (a lot of it!) and good times. It was the perfect way to end a monumental day. I finally had the energy to snap a picture of my sweet medal….

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I’m so blessed I have the ability to run, that I was able to finish a marathon. I still get teary-eyed remembering different parts of the course, how I was feeling, the spectators and the volunteers… It was amazing and something I will cherish forever. It tested my faith, my mind and my body, but I survived…and came out stronger (and somewhat chafed).

Today, I’m sore…I hobbled around the office at work all day and am looking forward to a week of rest… but, I wouldn’t mind doing another marathon sometime in the (sort of near) future. I’ve already scoped out a few races… as a 14-time marathoner that I befriended yesterday told me, “you definitely picked a difficult course, your next race can only be easier.”

Before I end this post….

A major thank you to Farmer Ben. You are the world’s greatest husband. The end.

And to my friends, Jona and Kristy. You are both such strong, amazing women and hearing/reading your running journeys continues to inspire me and helps me to keep pushing in mine.

Also, thank you to my other friends and family who have had to deal with my ridiculous schedule, constantly listening to me talk about my training and just being supportive.

Did you race this weekend? What is your best race moment/memory? What’s the worst thing about post-race recovery?


GBN: Pre-Marathon Jitters

You guys…I’m running a marathon this weekend!!! (Did anyone else just picture that scene in Mama Mia? Anyone?)

Yesterday, I found myself telling Ben that I was going back and forth between “feeling ridiculously excited and absolutely terrified.” No matter what happens this weekend, I am going to give it my all….and I am going to enjoy the ride.

I’m taking a lot of comfort in the fact that my last couple of weeks of training have been really enjoyable. I’m feeling strong on my runs (even if they are shorter) and I am have a great time in the process!

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Night Runs are exhilarating!

Anyway, it’s been a busy week in our house. Luckily, Farmer Ben is the best hubs ever.

So, here is my week in training…and then some life:

Monday: I ended up having to work at job 2 on Friday and Saturday night…between that, church, group meetings and having a minor car issue (my muffler decided it was going to break) which entailed a lot of running around, I ended up doing my final long run on Monday night.

Not having my car that day turned out to be a blessing…I finished much earlier than normal because I had to run from my job to meet Ben when he got out of work. My stomach was finicky the entire time, but I found my zone and ended up going a lot faster than I thought I was going. I don’t know if that is good or bad…..regardless, it was a beautiful day and I felt great! I ended up doing 9 miles instead of the prescribed 8.

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This is the face of confusion…sweaty confusion.

Tuesday: I got stuck at work until late and ended up taking a rest day… I took a deep breath and told myself this was not a big deal.

Wednesday: It was a much better day.

Not only did Farmer Ben get my muffler fixed (Yay!) but, he also got my oil changed, took me to lunch, went for a run with me and made a banging dinner.

Oh…you want to hear about my run?

We ended up doing one of our regular loops featuring a big hill backwards… there is still a hill going the other way, but not nearly as steep.

Ben ended up taking off and getting pretty far ahead of me as I was trying to stay closer to my goal pace for the marathon…but then my competitive side kicked in…. and I ended up booking it up the hill in order to catch up with him… when I finally caught him, he had a look of confusion on his face…

And then he asked the question: “Do you have a funny taste in your mouth?”

Me, completely confused and unaware: “…No…what sort of taste?”

Ben: “You don’t taste something? Like Dust? (insert pause for effect) because I certainly DON’T!”

It took me a moment to get the joke, then I burst out laughing and slapped his arm.

And then I left him in MY dust…for a couple of minutes.

I ended up slowing down a little bit for the last mile, but overall I ended up running faster than planned. In the end, I still felt good!

Practicing for race day with my fuel belt...

Practicing for race day with my fuel belt…

I had to take a picture of Farmer Ben after his zing… notice his smirk:

wpid-2013-09-18_19-04-06_21.jpg

 

Anyway, after our run, Ben whipped a Swiss Chard risotto (complete with garden veggies, homemade chicken stock and almond milk) and some (local) chicken sausage meatballs.  I had two helpings, it was soooo good! I have to say, I am pretty darn blessed to have such a good husband, even if he does tease me during our runs.

 

A bowl of yum.

A bowl of yum.

So what’s going on the rest of the week?

  • Tonight: I’m going out for an easy three miles to make up for Tuesday.
  • Friday:  Rest day.
  • Saturday: I’m heading down to the race expo and going to scope out parking, bathrooms, clothing check and the like… I’m also going to squeeze in an easy 2 miles to keep loose.
  • Sunday: Race day!!!

As for food, I’m focusing on quality… I’m trying to load up on my veggies and avoid too much dairy, sugar and heavy foods in general, as my stomach has been a bit off the last few days (nerves). I’m also taking my ENERGYbits, focusing on drinking a lot of water  and logging my food on myfitnesspal to make sure I’m getting enough of everything… Saturday night, I’m planning on a simple pasta meal and then Sunday morning, I’m going with a bagel with peanut butter, honey and a banana for breakfast.

Tell me, any advice for race day? What do you eat before a big race? Have any good running burns? 

Happy Running!


Confessions: Life & GBN (Marathon Training Update)

Hi friends!

September is flying by!

I realize it’s been a while since I’ve done a “Confessions” post… so here we go.

You may have noticed some new widgets on my sidebar:

Sweat Pink

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Loved coming home to this package!

I am super excited to announce that I am a Sweat Pink Ambassador, pink shoelaces and all!

For more info, click the image on the sidebar or check out the Fit Approach website.

Here is the Sweat Pink Mission, from the Fit Approach website:

We believe that kicking ass is best done in pretty shoes. We’ve learned that real women sweat, and sweat hard. We know that assertiveness, strength, and ambition are the ultimate feminine qualities. We concede that sometimes it takes hours to get ready, but we’re also no strangers to just rolling out of bed and going. We’re convinced that we run faster in pink shoelaces. We believe in pushing ourselves, and we believe in giving ourselves a break, too. We’re all about the rush of endorphins and the thrill of the challenge. We’re all for looking great and feeling even better. We’re committed to finding our best fit, and making it stick. We sweat pink.

Pretty awesome, right? I am pumped to be a part of this community!

ENERGYbits

I’ve mentioned ENERGYbits and how they have become part of my fuel for marathon training and life in general. They are an amazing company and doing great things….and I am so happy to be a part of it. The best part is  that I can share a sweet discount with all of you (Use the code “NoellesNotebook” at checkout for 25% off!)! Also, if you’re interested in trying a sample, contact me and I can hook you up!

Officially an ENERGYbits Ambassador!

Officially an ENERGYbits Ambassador!

In other news, marathon training is coming to a close…less than 2 weeks until race day. I have to admit, I am sort of enjoying the taper, but my body is a bit confused.

I bonked a bit on my 20 mile run and had a minor freak-out about being ready…

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After a soggy 20 mile run…probably the most difficult run I’ve done in a long time

After I calmed down from my freak-out, I analyzed what went wrong… I think a big part of my bonk was my food choices from the couple of days before my run, not drinking enough and the weather. It was hot. Really hot. And humid….and raining.

So what am I using for fuel?

I have decided on ENERGYbits (of course!), Island Boost–another great company–and various fruit. This will depend on what I can fit in my running belt…

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I was going back and forth as to whether or not I should wear my camelbak on race day, but I decided against it. There will be water stops on the course and honestly, the camelbak is a lot of extra weight and extra sweat. It’s great for training runs, but I don’t want to worry about it on race day.

Thoughts on Marathon training:

Next time around (yes, I’m already thinking about next time! Let’s just get through the first one, shall we?!), I am only going to be working one job…and won’t be involved in as many real life commitments. Life happens. I got way too stressed out with training this time around because honestly, I skipped a lot of runs. Between trying to prevent/having an injury and just being over-extended, some days it felt impossible to fit in a run. I realize that there are people out there who do way more than I do (and I give them MAJOR props), but this time around, I had to make some sacrifices, and some weeks, it was my training runs.

I have a good friend (Hi Kristy!) who gave me some peace of mind a while back. She said that as long as you get your long runs in, it’s okay to skip some of your runs during the week.

Now, I am NOT in any way saying that you shouldn’t train for a marathon, because that would be moronic. But, sometimes life happens and things come up. And that’s okay, as long as you get back on track.

She also reminded me that as this will be my first marathon, I am going to PR. No matter my time, it’s going to be a personal record. Doesn’t that take a lot of the pressure off?

Again, I’m not saying that I won’t go out there and try and run my hardest, but…if I have to walk for a bit, I am still doing 26.2 miles in one shot. That’s still pretty hard-core.

With that being said, I’ve been having some really great runs lately. During and after each run, I have felt unstoppable…isn’t that the best feeling?!

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After totally rocking an 8 mile run.

Also, I purchased a foam roller ($15 at TJ Maxx for the win!) about a month ago… such a good investment! Luckily, Farmer Ben loves to torture… I mean take care of me and has been super helpful with working out the kinks in my legs. My recovery time has decreased significantly as a result…so thanks Farmer Ben!

On a totally unrelated topic, marathon training does a number on my digestive system. I’ll leave it at that.

Oh! I almost forgot, I need your help! I am deciding on whether to run with or without some tunage.

If I do run with music, I need to create a killin’ it playlist. What would be on your kicking butt soundtrack?!

In remembrance:

Today, 12 years have passed from that fateful day. I still remember exactly what I was doing when I heard the news. I think about how much our nation–and our world–has grown and changed, and I pay a moment of silence and remembrance to the past and those who were lost.

Anyway, those are my musings for today.

What about you?! What do you use for fuel during your long runs/race day? Any advice for a first time marathoner? What is on your killin’ it playlist?!


Scenes from a Long Weekend-Part II: Garden Eats

In my last post, Dad, Eileen, Gary and I were in Saranac Lake getting our local food on… I managed to pick up a few goodies….

My new addiction...

My new addiction…

 

I have a weakness for goat cheese....

I have a weakness for goat cheese….

After bringing Farmer Ben a surprise coffee, I took Gary and my Dad for a long walk on a bike path by the lake. It was hot…and sticky.

I then rushed home to clean-up and make some more delicious eats….

Here is what I whipped up….

Avocado-Tomato Bruschetta

Bruschetta... under a mountain of parmesan

Bruschetta… under a mountain of parmesan

What you’ll need:

  • 1 baguette…preferably local
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil, plus more for drizzling on bread
  • 2 large tomatoes (or 3-4 small-medium)
  • 15 fresh basil leaves (approximately)
  • 1 tbsp. or a splash of balsamic vinegar
  • Sea salt and cracked pepper to taste
  • 1 avocado

What to do:

  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Mince garlic.
  • Heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat, add garlic. Stir…cook garlic until it softens-do NOT let burn. This won’t take long. Pour garlic and oil into a metal mixing bowl and set aside.
  • Chop/dice tomatoes (this will be depend on how big you want your chunks to be–side note: chunks is not an appetizing word.) Add to mixing bowl with garlic and oil. 
  • Also, if you don’t want soupy bruschetta, drain some of the juices before adding to bowl.
  • Chop basil. (tip: stack some leaves on top of each other, roll them length-wise and slice into thin strips) Add to mixing bowl.
  • Add in remaining balsamic, salt and pepper and stir. Set aside
  • Slice baguette on the diagonal into 1/4 -1/2 inch slices. Place on baking sheet and drizzle lightly with olive oil.
  • Place in oven and let brown. Meanwhile, dice up your avocado and add to the bruschetta mixture–do NOT do this until ready to serve.
  • Remove toasted baguette from oven and top with bruschetta mixture.

If you’re feeling extra naughty, grate some parmesan over the top.

Serve immediately and enjoy!

Garden Delight Pasta

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(Or…trying to use up all the veggies on your counter/in the fridge pasta)

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 lb whole wheat pasta (I used angel hair)
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion (or 1/2 a giant onion like I used…), diced
  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 1 medium eggplant, chopped
  • 6 large kale leaves, sliced (I just ripped it up)
  • 2 large Swiss Chard Leaves
  • 2 sprigs fresh parsley, chopped (about 1-2 tbsp.)
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 large tomato, chopped (or, if you have leftover bruschetta mix, that will work too!)
  • 3 oz. goat cheese (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

What to do:

  • Heat water for pasta and cook according to package
  •                  While your water is boiling….
  • Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat.
  • Add in onion, until it starts to soften.
  • Add in zucchini and eggplant, stirring occasionally, be careful not to let veggies stick/burn. Reduce heat to medium low. (This should take about 10-15 minutes, depending on your veggies/size of pan)
  • Add in Swiss chard and kale, cover and let wilt. Stirring occasionally.
  • Stir in cooked and drained pasta (it should be hot) and mix in remaining ingredients.

Remove from heat and Serve hot. Makes 4-6 servings.

Favorite seasonal meal? How do you use up all of your leftover veggies? Goat cheese in pasta, yes or no?

Stay Tuned for Scenes…Part 3!


Confessions: Running out of a Rut

I have a confession….I’ve been in a major rut the last couple of weeks. Blame it on my insane schedule and my inability to ignore desperate pleas from Job 2 begging me to come in, but I have had a really hard time getting my runs in lately…or anything else.

I know this sounds an awful lot like an excuse, but up to late last week, I was working 13-16 hours days, 5 days a week… this is not conducive to a.) getting up early to run, b.) running after work, or c.) having energy to do anything.

Now that wedding weekend is over, I’m hoping that my schedule will open up. Marathon weekend is quickly approaching–less than a month away!–and I need to get those miles in. I’ve already warned Job 2 that I will not be available that much in September.

Anyway, I failed at getting in my long run this weekend, causing me to admit, that, yes, I am in a rut.

But I’m not looking back…because, well…it won’t change anything. Instead, I am looking forward and I’ve got a plan.

Get out there and run!

Get out there and run!

Noelle’s Plan for Running Out of a Rut:

1. Do something different.

Last night, instead of a run, the hubby and I opted for the 30 Day Shred. It felt great to get my sweat on after taking care of other details for the last week and it was a nice change of pace.

2. Pick a new route.

Not gonna lie, doing the same few routes can be boring. I’ve been looking for something different… so, I decided to sleep in this morning and brought my running gear to work…I’ll be hitting the pavement in a different area this evening!

3. Unplug.

I’ve noticed that paying attention to times, pace and mileage can get stressful. Sometimes, I just want to run! Today, I’m ditching my tunes, my watch, and mapmyrun and just heading out.

4.  Change your tunes. I have a routine of turning on a girl power/girly pop station on Pandora. Every once in a while, I’ll haul out my mp3 player from college (completely different!), or turn on some country music, just to try something new….or, as I mentioned above, I’ll just run without and get lost in my thoughts.

5. Appreciate Your Abilities.

Again, paying attention to time, pace, calories burned and mileage can be stressful! Do you ever stop to think about how amazing it is that we are able to run? That we can get out and just move?  I’ve been taking this for granted… so today, I’m taking a deep breath, and relishing the fact that I CAN run.

6. Remember Why You Run

What are your goals? Are you having fun? For me, running is a major release…there is nothing better than pounding out your frustrations and worries, while taking on a serious hill or a crazy trail. I run because it makes me feel good.

After some reflection, I realize that I  have been ignoring this…and, instead, I’ve been focusing on how little time I’ve had and how tired I am…that’s not helping anyone, is it?

7. Just Run.

The best way to get out of a rut, is to just get your butt out the door. Those first steps are the hardest…but the most rewarding.

Are you in a rut? What is your best advice for getting out of it? What do you do to change your routine?

Happy running!


Two Years Ago…

Two years ago today, Farmer Ben and I got married. It has been an adventure, each and every day…and I can’t think of anyone else I’d rather spend this life with. This man is such a blessing!

Anyway, I was going through some old photos of us and thought it would be fun to take a trip down memory lane.

Our rehearsal dinner:

The day before our wedding.... August 2011

The day before our wedding…. August 2011

 

Our wedding day:

The first of many "happiest days of my life."  (photo courtesy of Jona Favreau).

The first of many “happiest days of my life.” (photo courtesy of Jona Favreau).

In the last two years, we’ve run a few races together…

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Wounded Warrior Run, May (?) 2012

Ragnar Relay Finish Line!

Ragnar Relay Finish Line! September 2012

Turkey Trot, November 2012

Turkey Trot, November 2012

We’ve taken a few road trips….

Finger Lakes Bound, August 2012

Finger Lakes Bound, August 2012

Food Experiments at the Brooklyn Brewery, December 2012

Food Experiments at the Brooklyn Brewery, December 2012

Boston for a Sox Game, June 2013

Boston for a Sox Game, June 2013

We’ve gone to some fiestas, celebrations and weddings…

Wedding, June 2012

Wedding, June 2012

And worked together…

A typical day...

A typical day…

We’ve climbed mountains together….literally and figuratively.

Catamount Mountain, August 2013

Catamount Mountain, August 2013

But the fact of the matter is that we’ve done everything together. We’re a team. Each and Every day.

Happy Anniversary, Farmer Ben. I love you, always!

Do you have an anniversary coming up? What do you and your person do together?