Half marathon, check!

This past Sunday I finished my first, and certainly not my last, half marathon. I ran the Detroit International Half which as I mentioned before takes you over the Ambassador Bridge to Windsor Canada (yes, you have to run with your passport and they can stop you if you look 'suspicious'), along the shoreline and back through the tunnel to Detroit for 6 more miles of running in the D. Aside from the tunnel (as hot and humid as I imagine hell must be) it was freaking fantastic.

A friend of mine ran the full marathon which runs the same course and at mile 13 splits and flows through the rest of the city. They also have a US only half which takes on that second half. I think I'll go that route next year so I can see the second half of the course. I'm not crazy enough to tackle a full. Not yet anyway, at the end of my 13 I was ready to be done. Part of that may have been due to the 3 1/2 hours of sleep the night before.

The nerves began to set in the moment I picked up my packet.

Can you tell?

I rarely get anxious, I'm a real 'go with the flow' kinda gal, but this whole race threw me for a loop. I don't know what it was exactly, I knew I'd finish. For some reason I couldn't sleep, and that is never my problem. I'm embarrassed to say I cried because I couldn't sleep. Now I laugh about it, but then - I cried.

I finally fell asleep near 1 am and 4:00 came quick.

Can you sense the excitement?

Aside from the view at the top of the bridge (which is the most amazing thing I've ever seen) my favorite moment was at mile 7 when some random runner started to talk about the Breaking Bad finale (which I haven't seen) and I yelled "No! Stop!" And he answered "Run Faster!" And I did - it was a much needed push. Too bad I didn't have that threat the whole run.

I think the lack of sleep seriously slowed me down. My pace was off by close to a full minute. But I finished. By God, I finished.

2:26. A full 16 minutes off my goal. But I got my medal, I got my Shorts Soft Parade (the best beer in the world) and I finished.

Now next time, next time will be a different story.

 
 

When I started my long runs I would find myself running by this massive cemetery halfway through. I had driven past it a million times but this was the first time I was ever right next to it.

I started thinking "can I run through there?" And "is that considered poor taste?" Well being a pro at poor taste I finally bit the bullet and looped my way in. And oddly enough, it was awesome.

Does that make me a weirdo?

Something about the quiet, the winding never ending sequence of trails and scenery just did me in. Why doesn't everyone run through the cemetery? Did I just tap into a hidden gem in the world of running? At first I thought "what if someone stops me?" And I had a whole scenario worked out in my head, thinking I would say a family member was buried there and it was my way of visiting. But then I thought, I shouldn't have to lie - and it probably isn't a good idea to lie in a cemetery. (Using both meanings of the word).

Since that time I've been through a few other cemeteries. Some are boring - small with similar headstones all in a line. Others have grand monuments and massive trees lining the footpath. I think I must be a wacko for finding such solitude in such a sad place. But sometimes I think "some of these people never have visitors. I read their names aloud in my head. Atleast someone is acknowledging their prior existence." Sappy? Sure. But if I'm anything, a sap is certainly it.

Today I signed up for a 10k race on November 2nd in Southwest Detroit (a traditionally Hispanic neighborhood) celebrating Dia de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead). It's a holiday celebrating those in our lives that we've lost. The race winds through two cemeteries, the neighborhood surrounding and a park. There is music, food, and people dressed in the traditional garb (think skeletons with a Mexican flair).

I don't know what it is, but I'm addicted to the cemetery runs. Maybe I've had too many suburban neighborhood runs this summer. Or maybe I like being the only one who gets out alive.

 
 

So, April. That's the last time I posted. Yeah. I guess I fell off the wagon. But here I am, clinging to the hubcap and scrambling back on. No time like the present.

So what's new? I ran another two 5k's and a 10k and I'm nine days away from my first half marathon. No biggie. Or big biggie. I get them confused. Everyday I get more anxious, but mostly excited. It's not the distance that worries me - it's just the day and all it entails.

The Detroit half is a unique race which in part is why I chose to do it, along with my living just outside of the city for the past 7 years and in it for a year and a half before that. But the best part is, it doesn't just stay in Detroit.

Over the Ambassador Bridge you go, into Windsor, Canada and across the shoreline of the Detroit River. Then you need to come back to the US I suppose, but let's go in a different way. Let's go under the river this time through the tunnel. Okay.

I.Can't.Wait.

The 7 am start is outside of my norm. The cold temps they're predicting is not what I've had to contend with on my 9 am runs (working afternoons has it's perks). And the thousands upon thousands of people both on the course and off will be a trip (word is when you enter Canada the spectators are insanely amazing. Of course they are. They're Canadian!)

So that's what's been going on. Amongst other things. But we can start there.

 
 
Obviously I love food. But one thing that makes food even better is enjoying it in the sunshine. And while spring is technically here I haven't been able to do much of that until this week.

Today I ate my lunch on my backyard patio. My work schedule has me home every day for lunch (I work 2-10 pm) which I love. It means I can make big, veggieful (it's a word) meals everyday that I never tire of. I had a salad I made which was kind of a spin on the Classic Cobb. Chock full of veggies, it also included the obligatory egg and avocado, although this was topped with my new fave: coconut bacon.
I'm maybe more than slightly addicted to the coconut bacon (which I feel tastes nothing like bacon) and I may just eat it straight out of the Tupperware container I put it in after making it last week. Maybe.

Regardless of what meal it is, I feel like its better when eaten in the sun. So I just may be spending every single lunch on that patio until the snow returns (which hopefully isn't until the actual winter).
 
 
Here's a handy little recipe I whipped up trying to find a more natural approach to a protein bar. These are a great snack after a hard workout to help refuel and replenish.

Blueberry Cocolate Protein Bars

1 1/2 cup old fashioned oats uncooked
1 cup bulgar cooked
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup almond butter
3 scoops chocolate protein powder
2 mashed bananas
1 cup blueberries
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1 tablespoon honey
A few dashes of cinnamon

Spread in a lightly greased pan and cook at 350 for 30 minutes. Cool, cut, eat!

Quinoa instead of the bulgar would work. I'd probably add more chopped nuts next time as well.

I've kept these stored in the fridge in a plastic container for 3 weeks and they're still tasty.
 
 
My IPad and I are great friends in the morning, especially when you add Netflix into the mix. I do all my cooking by the light of Mad Men and Weeds, along with quite a few movies that the husband would pass on. Food, Inc., King Corn, Craigslist Joe - and this morning - No Impact Man.

The movie is about a man along with his family who aims to have no impact on the planet. Over the course of the year they give up all that is not local. They buy nothing new and turn off their electricity living by candlelight. Travel only by bike/scooter/foot and minimize waste as much as possible. (No toilet paper? Yikes)

Over the past year or so I've tried my own take at lowering my impact. We started off by composting.
It's amazing how little goes in the garbage (or down the drain) when this bucket goes in the composter week after week.

I recycle too but that alone is debatable as the process of recycling is not always earth friendly - and a lot of what you put in your recycle bins may not be recyclable at all. But overall recycling some is better than recycling none. It still boggles my mind that there are people who choose not to recycle, even when they're already paying for the service that would pick it righ up a their curb.

My biggest change by far came January 14th of this year when I decided to take the plunge and give up meat. And amazingly it hasn't been nearly as hard as I thought. I had slowly lessened my meat intake for some time and I generally would choose leafy greens over a bloody burger. Learning about the global impact of meat has really put into perspective to me how if I don't need it, and especially I'd I don't miss it, then why consume it.

I still eat dairy and eggs (obviously based on my post on egg toppers) but I limit the amount of cheese and milk that I take in. Greek yogurt and eggs are my two animal products that I don't think I could give up on, at least not now. Trying to always keep those vices organic and cage free is a plus and a must but I do understand that the dairy an egg industry is nearly as much of a burden as the big meat suppliers.

So I try to have the most colorful plate with every meal.

Farmers market season is upon us here in the mitten so the next step is to try and ensure that as much of the color on my plate comes from as close as possible to my home. (The only tough part of that for me is getting my butt out the door on a Saturday morning)

I'm not anti meat. I said when I made the switch that if there was an opportunity for me to have meat I wouldn't be opposed if I knew where the meat came from and knew the process it went through. For example my dad is a hunter - if he served something he hunted I'd feel more comfortable eating it because I know it's local, and I know how it was processed (or not processed).

I may not live without electricity. I may not live without my car. But I feel that making small changes is better than no changes. And choosing changes that lessen my impact make me feel like I'm making some sort of difference.
 
 
I'm not much for sleep. I hate taking naps. I always feel like I'm missing something. I've been known to sleep in but only after staying up late (as in 4 am late). Once I'm up I'm up and it takes a Mack truck to knock me out enough for an afternoon nap.

In the past I couldn't drink coffee, or really any caffeine for fear that I would get jittery and shakey. Friends would give me espresso for 'fun', basically I would act like a meth addict minus the bad teeth and facial sores. But when I hit 30 something changed.

I still fight sleep like the plague. And I continue to have a hard time sitting still. But caffeine and I have slowly become friends. It all started with this:

I discovered this gem at Trader Joe's and got myself hooked. It doesn't help that this is seasonal so I have to hoard it like a weirdo in order to make it last through the year.

In an effort to stretch that goodness I decided to ration it and allow other teas into my life.
This is actually an old picture of my crack drawer. Add 5 or so more boxes and you're getting close.

Then I thought, "well if tea is so wonderful just maybe coffee and I could be friends". And since I don't do anything half assed I just had to make sure I had the best type of coffee there is.
My goodness, the French Press is good.

And so, here I am-hopped up on caffeine. I don't get as high as I did back in the day, but it certainly has an effect. Working until 10 pm through the week has me hooked on an afternoon cup of that drug every afternoon. And my breakfast is always accompanied by a mug of one of my favorite teas. I keep telling myself I need to wean off natures upper. But somehow that steamy goodness finds its way into my hand every single day.
Yum.
 
 
Put an egg on it (its the most fun to say when you think of the Portlandia skit "put a bird on it")

One of my favorite toppings isn't really a topping. It's an egg. Or two. Usually a bright orange yolky egg. It's only rival is Greek yogurt in my opinion, but I usually get past that battle by combining their forces into something amazing.

Black bean burgers (or a meaty burger back when I was eating those) are made magical with the incredible, edible egg.

Salads, any salad is made even better with a super runny egg. Who needs dressing?

Tex-mex food - whatever that may be. Egg.

Mushrooms. It's like they were made for each other.

I love my veggies, and I no longer eat meat. But the egg and I are wonderful friends. Until I eat it, then it's gone so we're not exactly friends anymore. Free range organic of course - because yolk should be traffic cone orange. Freal.

Case in point:
Black bean patties topped with my little friends. This is where combining the greek yogurt equals amazaballs. Best breakfast ever.
Black bean bulgar burger (say that 5 times fast) with a portabella and sunny runny. On spinach because I have Popeye pipes. (Or want, one or the other)
My lunch today: dandelion greens topped with black rice (another major obsession), tex mex-y goodness and guess what else?
 
 
Some may say I have a problem. Maybe go as far to say an addiction. I on the other hand see my 'obsession' not as something that needs its own reality show but is just my way of life. I love good healthy food. I drool over vegetables. I'd rather get my sweat on in the gym or by running a few miles than sleep in. But no worries, because I also love gin. And beer. And did I say gin?
So here I will chronicle all those things that I love. And probably a few of the things that I hate.