Monday, December 26, 2011

The Suits I Have Retired in 2011

2011 has been a rough year for my swim suits.  I have had to retire three different suits...the last one just this week. 

First up was the green Speedo...this was a favorite TJ Maxx suit find.  Sadly, the backside was not lined and it started to thin.  I determined that the fabric was just too thin for this suit to be worn anymore. 

Next was the plain black Tyr.  I bought this suit in October 2010 and it didn't even last a year.  I found this suit to be thinning in the chest.  I was so disappointed that I had paid full retail price at a sporting goods store and then the suit didn't hold up that well. 

The last suit was one that I bought on discount this summer.  I bought two different sizes and gave the other to my sister.  This was a very comfy suit though the last month I had been feeling like it was stretching out around my backside.  Well little did I know that other areas had stretched out as well.  On Friday I was swimming and on every turn felt like I was going to pop out of my suit.  Turns out the straps of the suit had gotten stretched out.  Boo, the suit was just way too loose now and so another suit had to be retired. 

Good thing that I follow Sierra Trading Post on Twitter because they had some great sales recently and I was able to replenish my suit supply with a couple new suits! Let's hope that 2012 treats the new suits better since I'm planning to swim more. 

For my HBBC points last week, I got in two swims during the week.  The first was on Wednesday morning with Maja and then second on Friday at lunch with Lori and Carie. 

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Secret Santa Reveal!

Thanks to Jill at Run With Jill for hosting the 2nd Annual Holiday Blogger Gift Exchange.  I was super excited to receive my gift in the mail.  My secret Santa did a great job and I loved the new "stockings" that she sent! I have always loved the joy of unwrapping small, fun presents from my Christmas stocking on Christmas morning and felt a little guilty for opening this one early. 

Below is the bounty that Julie at You Just have to TRI! sent.

The Honey Stinger goodies were all stuffed inside the fuzzy striped socks.  I love Honey Stinger products but actually have never tried their bars or gels.  I fell in love with the waffles first and then the gel chews.  I can't wait to try them out on my next run.  The waffle cookies rock!

The Biker Chick socks are super cute and remind me of a friend that bikes.  She helped introduce me to the sport and when I first bought my bike she told me that I absolutely had to have fun socks for cycling.  I think she would approve of these!

Thanks Julie! And thanks again to Jill for all the organizing!

Above is a picture of my real Christmas stocking.  Everyone in my family has the same stocking which were made for us by a friend of our grandmother's.  Now the tradition has been carried on by one of my aunts who has made them for my nieces and nephews as well as my cousins' children.  Every year when I put my stocking up I feel connected to my family knowing that they all have the same stockings hung by care on their mantels. 

I hope you had a great Christmas and Santa was good to you too!

Monday, December 19, 2011

12 Days of Christmas Swim

For this week's Sunday Funday swim our group decided to be festive and celebrate Christmas.  Most of the group is travelling and so this was one of the last chances for all of us to swim together before the holiday.  We had 7 swimmers spread out over 4 lanes.  We pair up by pace and I got to swim with my buddy Maja today!

We went with a 12 Days of Christmas ladder that was built off of repeats in increments of 25.  So for day 12, that equalled out to a 300.  Here's what our ladder looked like:

Day 12 - 300 IM
Day 11 - 275 Free
Day 10 - 250 Pull
Day 9 - 225 (25 fly, 50 back, 50 breast, 100 free)
Day 8 - 200 IM
Day 7 - 175 free
Day 6 - 150 (50 free, 50 stroke, 50 free)
Day 5 - 125 kick
Day 4 - 100 IM
Day 3 - 75 free
Day 2 - 50 (partner pull/kick)
Day 1 - 25 Sprint with limit breathing

We had several different ability levels swimming so we didn't do a specific time for each ladder.  Instead we gave a short rest break for the last finisher and then started up with the next ladder.  It's make it a tough workout if you are like me and on the slower end of the ability level but it works for our group and keeps us all working hard.  A couple times the faster swimmers added an extra 50 if there was that much of a lag between our paces. 

My friend Carie gave me a super sweet new swim cap that is holiday themed! She found them at and they were an awesome addition to our holiday themed swim party!
For Brent, there was the elf themed swim cap...perfect for his mischievous personality! Just teasing!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Tempted by Fate

I recently discovered how to add some lost apps back to my iPhone.  One of the apps that I got reloaded is called Body Fate.  I used the app last week to earn some Holiday Bootie Buster Challenge points for strength work!

Body Fate was developed by Christine Hazelton who is a trainer to the stars.  I'm pretty sure that Dane Cook tweeted about it when it first came out and that is what prompted me to purchase the app. 

I would describe this app as a fitness game.  The developers describe it this way:
BODYFATE is a metabolic acceleration training program, in other words, a GREAT workout. It takes you to an optimum level of fitness while still having fun in the process. Your workouts change every time you use BODYFATE. The program is illustrated with characters and surprises all the way through. Need a little motivation? No problem. BODYFATE will inspire your spirit with positive quotes and affirmations. Hit an exercise that’s too hard or you don't want to do? Pass on it! Keep in mind, you can only pass on a few. Mr. Good Karma will be checking your honesty. And, Karma always knows. You’ll be blown away at how much this tiny little iPhone app can change your life.
The app works with you first completing some information on the Settings tab.  You first enter the equipment that you have available to you.  For me, I have dumbbells, exercise bands, stability ball, kettlebells, and a stationary bike.  Next, I entered my fitness level as either Beginner, Middle of the Road, or Jock.  Finally, you enter a time for the length of the workout.  Then you are ready to Begin Your Fate. 

You will be given several different options for choosing your fate from pick a hand, pick a door, pick a trainer, or spin the wheel of torture!  The game will provide you with an exercise and suggested reps or it could be a timed activity.  You can earn rest or passes to skip an exercise.  The exercises are illustrated via active photos, you simply tap on the photo to see a demonstration of the exercise.  You can also ask for a detailed written description of the exercise that will provide options for making it easier or more challenging. 

My review: I loved the workout that I got with this game.  Within 15 minutes I had worked up a sweat and was definitely getting a great mix of exercises.  I have done a short workout of 15 minutes and a longer workout of an hour with the app.  I would say my hour workout was concentrated with a lot of arm/back exercises and squats.  I had some soreness for the next two days from the squats...I don't know why we runners tend to think we can skip the strength work on our lower body, but I paid for that bad assumption! It was fun to alternate between lots of different exercises and I would recommend you have all your gear out and ready because you move pretty quick between them.  I would like to keep using this app for getting strength work into my life!

Cost: Body Fate costs $1.99 in the App Store.  That's pretty cheap compared to a trainer and is a good option if you are somewhat familiar with the strength exercises and don't need much coaching on form. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Overheated and Yes, I Know It's Winter

Temps were about 40 degrees tonight as I was getting ready to head to the track for our weekly speed workout.  I checked the hourly forecast and saw that temps were going to stay about that for the workout time.  All afternoon there was some spritzing rain and the precip forecast wasn't really strong either way...rain/no rain. 

I decided to go with tights, tank, long sleeve, and a jacket.  To top it off I threw on one of my fleece beanie hats.  When I stepped outside to get in the car I felt a little too comfortable temperature wise which is a sure sign that I was overdressed.  I didn't want to skip the jacket though since the rain potential was still there. 

I got to the track and began my warmup jog.  We always complete our warmup running in the outside lanes of the track and going the opposite direction.  It's important to get time on the track going in both directions to prevent injuries.  By the time Mike had gathered everyone around to discuss the workout I had decided that it was just too hot to keep the jacket on. 

Tonight's workout was described as a strength workout.  That's usually not a good almost always mean short rest times! We did a tough 5K workout that was broken out as 2K at 5K pace, 1K at mile pace, 2K at 5K pace.  There was just 30 seconds rest between intervals. 

I definitely felt overheated by the time we hit our 1K interval.  I didn't want to take off my hat though because I was worried with my sweaty hair I would get super cold.  The rain did appear at various times during the workout and I welcomed it for the cooling effect it had!  

Runner's World has an article on what to wear for Winter running in your area.  Below is their recommendation for the Southeast which is the closest to Arkansas.  I think I could have definitely switched to just a headband or earband tonight and probably swapped my tights for capris.  I actually contemplated going with the capris to begin with.  It's funny to think that you can overheat just as easily in the winter but it's true.  I know that the last few laps in the final interval felt tough because my body was getting so warm. I was glad I had worn layers so I was able to remove the jacket before the tough part of the workout.  

As for me, I'm hoping to have better luck with my apparel choices next time.  It's hard work to get the layers just right for winter running but when you do oh what a difference it makes!

CONDITIONS It gets neither too cold nor snowy, but there are lots of ferocious storms.

1 Brooks Infiniti Headband ($14) When it's not frigid out, all you need is a lightweight, superwicking headband to keep your ears toasty.

2 New Balance Emissive Long-Sleeve ($48) This slim-fitting top layers well or can be worn alone. It's made of polyester with silver fibers built in to combat odor from repeated rainy runs. The longer cut ensures that cold stays out and warmth stays in.

3 Sugoi Versa Jacket ($120) Constructed from a water-resistant, stretchwoven fabric, this jacket can handle anything from an ice storm to a light drizzle. On dry days when you need just a vest, you can pull the sleeves off—they're attached via magnets.

4 Zoot Pulse Capris ($65) The below-the-knee cut of these slim-fitting, spandex-and-polyester capris is ideal for 40- to 60-degree weather.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A View from my Trainer

Friday afternoon I hit up the bike trainer for a workout and movie.  Here's a few pics of what I saw during the workout.

I cover my handle bars with Christmas hand towels to mop the sweat.  I move a bar stool nearby to hold TV remotes, water, and my cell phone.
I put in the movie Super started off a little slow and I wasn't super into it but I toughed it out and stayed on the trainer for the whole movie.

Midway through my workout the UPS man came by with a delivery.  I had to use one of my hand towels to cover up since I just workout in bike shorts and sports bra on the trainer.  I hit the hour mark and had to get the box from outside to see what had been delivered....a Twitter contest prize from #FitStudio. 

Hershey is pretty indifferent about the she is sitting on her couch.  I keep that couch covered in a slip cover since she sheds a ton and it's easy to wash.  She rests her head on her squeaky toys and it is pretty cute. 

And lastly for a little festive atmosphere I had my Christmas tree lights on.  I just love the lights of a Christmas tree.  I watched out the window waiting for that moment when the outdoor lights would come on but they didn't.  Somehow my timer had gotten turned off. 

The movie finished and I still had about 20 minutes to go to hit the 2 hour mark.  I channel surfed for a bit and then ended up watching a little bit of Can't Hardly Wait.  It was funny to see so many actors so early in their career.  My workout was pretty boring since it was so long.  I did 10 minutes in each gear through my middle ring and the first hour.  Then I took it to the big ring and switched to shorter intervals for about 30 minutes on the big ring.  I ended up with mixed intervals for the last 30 minutes back in the middle ring.  Overall it was a great workout but I wish the movie had been more entertaining. 

Friday, December 9, 2011

Special Request - White Chicken Chili Recipe

Last year my office hosted a Chili Cookoff contest and I made my White Chicken Chili recipe for it.  Today, one of my friends and former co-workers reached out to ask for a copy of the recipe.  Apparently they are having another chili cookoff and it reminded her of the dish I had made. 

My chicken chili recipe has a fun story to it.  When I moved to Arkansas, I joined the Junior League of Northwest Arkansas.  My sister had long been a member of Junior League and she knew that it would help me meet people in the area.  In my first year as a provisional member, the League hosted a chili cookoff and my sister signed us up to compete.  It was the fall of 2004 and top of mind to us was Martha Stewart serving her jail sentence.  You see, Martha Stewart had a special connection for us...
This is Martha Stewart Caldwell! She was my sister's first baby and one of the best dogs ever!

We got to thinking around that theme and decided that Martha would never show up at a chili cookoff with a boring red chili.  We decided to make a White Chili and be different.  Now, neither of us had ever made white chili before nor had we read the judging criteria for the contest.  I began to taste test recipes and eventually combined elements from several to create what I thought was a pretty good chili recipe. 

The cookoff day arrived and it was a perfect fall day.  My brother in law served as my sous chef and helped me with preparing the giant pot of chili.  We used a turkey fryer system to cook the chili and it worked out well except it was hard to get even heating and I was worried that the onions and chicken were burning.  Our station was impeccable with a nice table cloth, silver serving pieces, flowers beautifully displayed in a real pumpkin vase, and as the perfect finishing touch homemade truffles.  Below you can see a little of our table theme...and why yes we are wearing jail stripe aprons and Free Martha buttons!

Kristen, Our Mom, and Me!
The ladies of the League all loved the chili and raved about it.  We dutifully prepared tasting cups for the judges with the perfect garnishment of avocado and a splash of lime juice.  When the results were announced my sister and I were both so disappointed that we didn't win and didn't even place.  Kristen of course investigated this and discovered that one of the judging criteria was on the "redness" of the chili.  Well, that was a major FAIL! Oops! 

Fast forward a few years and the league was putting together our very first cookbook.  Junior League's all around the country are known for having great cookbooks!  I submitted several recipes including this one...and it made the book! So I officially have a published recipe!
Add Another Place Setting: Recipes from the Jr. League of NW Arkansas
If you would like to purchase a copy of our cookbook, please visit Junior League of NWA You can also get more information via Facebook
I looked but couldn't find the original recipe cards that we gave out...they included the logo for the Federal Prison System as well as the appropriately titled recipe...White Collar Chicken Chili.  The recipe went on to become just plain White Chili when it was published in the cookbook but it's fun to relive the origins with you all.  Without further ado...

White Chili
1/4 C butter
2 large white onions, chopped
1 jalapeno, chopped
1/3 C all-purpose flour
4 C chicken broth
3 C half-and-half
3 cans (15 oz.) Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
2-3 cans (4 oz.) chopped green chiles
4 C chopped cooked chicken breasts
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp white pepper
1 TBSP chili powder
1 TBSP cumin
1 TBSP hot red pepper sauce
1 1/2 C shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 C sour cream
Avocado slices and Lime wedges for garnish

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add the onions and jalapeno and saute until tender.  Add the flour and cook for 5 minutes stirring frequently.  Whisk in the chicken broth and half and half gradually.  Simmer for 10 minutes until thickened, stirring frequently.  Stir in the beans, green chiles, chicken, salt, white pepper, chili powder, cumin, and hot sauce.  Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Stir in the cheese and sour cream.  Cook until the cheese is melted stirring constantly.  Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with an avocado slice and the juice of one lime wedge.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Cold 200's

It was a cold night for Rush Hour at the track last night and the attendance was low...lower than the temps even! I think it was around 30 degrees out with a light wind...yuck!  And probably 15-20 people showed up for the track workout. 

I converted my normal warm-up jog into a walk in order to talk with my friend and our coach Mike.  It was good to catch him up on some of the stuff going on in my life and get his ideas and encouragement.  He is an awesome coach and friend but don't tell him I said so! We've got to keep up our banter of me thinking every workout is impossibly hard and worth negotiating. 

The workout that he prescribed was meant to be fast with little rest due to the cold.  This workout was based on your mile time and you had to keep doing repeats until you hit fatigue.  Fatigue in this case is your interval falling outside 4 seconds of the desired pace.  The distance was 200m repeats with a 15 second recovery between each repeat.  My desired mile pace is 8:00 minutes so my interval was easy to remember 1:00 min.  Given Mike's instructions, I should run from 56 seconds to 64 seconds and once I slowed beyond 64 seconds it was time to shut it down. 

I felt pretty good doing the repeats.  I was generally hitting around 56-58 seconds on each interval but I could tell when I was hitting the end.  I started to feel a stitch coming on around the 8th repeat.  I did two more and pretty much mentally checked out of the workout.  The cold and stresses of life just got in my head and took away my focus.  I know I had more 200's in me so hopefully we'll redo this workout in the future.

I started the second portion of the workout (a mile at 5k pace) and oddly running slower felt more labored than running the fast 200's.  My head was definitely out of the workout and so I packed it in and headed home.  Some days are just more difficult to stay focused on the run.  Even though I didn't finish the workout I left feeling really good about my 200's.  I would like to get them down lower but before the workout I wouldn't have thought I had the fitness to hit the times that I did.