Monday, February 28, 2011

Making progress

I wish there were an actual recipe for progress.

Training for a half marathon was a great idea before I knew I would be traveling twice in March (although those are quick trips) and twice in April, which are longer trips. One is almost a whole week.

I have played with the training spreadsheet and rearranged some of the workouts so that I still get all the right ones each week, but maybe not in the same order...and no back-to-back rest days. I know it will be fine. I have to keep reminding myself that taking on 13.1 miles at a point in my life where I couldn't even run 2 miles is pretty remarkable. And I am not doing this just for me. This is the reminder I need that the goal is to finish. And if I love it, I can do the next one for speed.

That all being said, two weeks ago I ran 4 miles in 52 minutes. On Saturday I ran with Lisa and got in 4 miles in 49 minutes. That's progress. Great progress. And while each run is a mile farther than the last long run, none is more difficult than the one before it. That means that I am getting stronger. I actually feel like it might be possible.

I will be in MP on April 20. On Thursday the 21st I am scheduled to run 4.5 miles, but will make it a nice even 5 if it makes sense. So, a 2.5 mile out and back. Any suggestions on the route?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Too much to say and I must be a chicken

What an absolutely crazy week. Work is busier than ever and shows no signs of slowing. But for the first time since the reorganization of our department I feel like I have a minute to breathe (or blog!). I think I am finally catching up, although I am also fairly certain that this is only the calm before the storm...and I am ready for it! I love to be busy.

After my third conference call of the day I was finally able to grab some lunch (and yes, it's 2:00 pm here). I ran down the stairs to the refrigerator to find no leftovers. So I went to the pantry to find no soup. I needed to run to whole foods to pick up stuff for dinner so I thought, what the heck! Might as well go now and grab some lunch while I am at it.

Tonight we are having BBQ chicken on the Weber and a salad. Nothing fancy. I grabbed the cuts of chicken I wanted, bagged them and put them in the basket. As I turned to leave the meat department I got a whiff of the most fabulous chicken noodle soup. PERFECT! So I scooped out a small cup for me for lunch.

Chris is out of soy milk so next I headed to the dairy department, grabbed a half gallon of Silk and kept going toward check out. Then I caught the aroma of the really yummy rotisserie chickens, hot out of the oven. The smell was so wonderful that I completely forgot about my soup and grabbed a chicken for lunch (one chicken makes 4 lunches around here!).

NOW I can finally check out, although the whole trip was less than 20 minutes. As the clerk pulled the items out of my basket, she said, "wow, you must really like chicken!" And all I could say in response to that was, "well, you know what they say, you are what you eat." Really. I mean SERIOUSLY! I am a fairly quick-witted person and that was the best I could do?

So with that, my friends, I leave you today with this final thought:

Cluck Cluck.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Date night disaster

Well, it's official. I DO NOT like lamb. Nor do I like Shiitake mushrooms. They are rather woody.

And here's what I learned. Quinoa IS NOT risotto.

Here's the summary: Chris said the lamb was fantastic. I made a mint pesto, patted it on the rack of lamb and rolled it in Panko breadcrumbs. Sounded good, and if you like lamb, I am sure it was. If you don't, save the mint for a mojito!

The quinoa risotto was just shy of disgusting. Mushy brown goop with a woody mushroom in it. I love all the ingredients (except the above mentioned Shiitake 'shrooms) so I was very disappointed with this didn't turn out as planned.

The wilted spinach salad with warm feta dressing was pretty good. Next time I will caramelize the onions a little more/longer and use either red wine vinegar or maybe champagne vinegar rather than the sherry vinegar. Overall, the salad was pretty good.

Now for the cupcakes. (Kim, here you go!!). They used black tea that steeped in milk rather than water. The ingredients included lemon juice and zest, butter, eggs, sugar, flour, baking powder and salt in addition to the milk/tea concoction. They reminded me of the lemon cream girl scout cookies, with a twist. They were pretty good, and very unique. Then there was the frosting that was butter, the rest of the milk/tea stuff, lemon juice/zest, and powdered sugar. For the life of me, I can't figure out why the frosting ended up being almost waxy. A little slimy even. The kind of frosting that leaves a film in your mouth.

So, after I scraped the frosting OFF the cupcake, I enjoyed it with the salad. And the cupcakes weren't much better left over. They ended up being a little dry and crumbly. I'll try them again, only maybe use plain-jane Lipton tea rather than Tazo Awake tea.

It was not our best date night. I was exhausted from some poor nights' sleep and a faster than ever run earlier in the day. But, the wine was good and overall it was a relaxing evening with just my husband and some good music, and good wine. Who needs perfection in a meal when everything else around you is pretty darn perfect without it?

Friday, February 18, 2011

Date Night - February

Tomorrow night we have planned to have our second official fancy dishes, dining room, no hockey, no phones, no TV, jazz music, new food date night. Only this time we want to spend less than we would if we had gone out. Last month we failed in that department.

So, taking a cue from my friend, Lisa and her Frugal-Lisa-Friday, I opened the pantry and took inventory, then set out on a quest to find new ways to use old ingredients. Here's the list of what we have on hand (in addition to the standards like olive oil, flour and sugar, etc.):
2 Lemons
Feta Cheese
An Onion
Fresh Parmesan Cheese
Black Tea
White Wine
Red Wine

The shopping list (we haven't made final decisions yet on the protein yet!)
Crimini mushrooms
Powdered Sugar--I'm out!
butter--out of that too
eggs--see above!

And now, for the big reveal: THE MEAL!!

Wilted Spinach Salad with Warm Feta Dressing and Caramelized Onions
Lamb on the Gill (not sure on cut or seasoning yet)
Quinoa Risotto with Thyme and Mushrooms
and for dessert...Arnold Palmer cupcakes.

Like the beverage of 1/2 lemonade and 1/2 iced tea.
Only a cupcake! And garnished a straw...NO JOKE!

I don't typically like lamb of any kind, but Chris has been begging to try some. He really likes it and has only cooked it once because I don't eat it. Since the Quinoa is both a carb and a complete protein, I though this would be a good night to give it a try...if I don't like it I will at least get some protein in before my 4 miler on Sunday.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Getting my money's worth

Well, I opted for shorter. But this time a MUCH cuter style than I have had in the past. I really like's fun and sassy. Two attributes that I am rather full of much of the time.

Losing a few pounds doesn't hurt much either. 10 down, 20 more to go!

And date night #2 is Saturday. But more about that tomorrow!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

To cut or not to cut

My hair is as long as it has been in a REALLY long time. Chris is loving it. Me, well, let's just say that I love it out of my face and in some version of a ponytail or bun or something. I have been trying to get my hair cut for three weeks and for one reason or another it has been rescheduled four times. So, with the sun shining today, I know weather will not be the excuse. However, if my stylist is still sick, then she'll probably cancel on me...again.

So, here's my conundrum. I hate feeling my ponytail wave back and forth when I run so I put it lower and usually into a bun. When my hair is up all the time it breaks the curls and my really fine hair so I end up with lots of frizzies and split ends. However, I have tried short hair and with all these really tight ringlet curls I end up looking more like a drawing of Little Orphan Annie than someone trying to get a bank to buy into my ideas.

I also have to factor in that I will be traveling for work some and in early April I will be in Florida for almost a week. For most women, that's a non-issue. For those of us with super curly hair, the poses a styling challenge. My curls shrink about 2" in length. So I don't know that short is the way to go. I need a little length to accommodate for the shrinkage.

What do you think of these styles? Or email me a picture of something you think I should try!

Monday, February 14, 2011

First Ever 5k--FINISHED!!

Well, what a week that was. After complete work insanity for three days, I ended up in Corpus Christi, TX for work on Thursday afternoon and all day Friday for a client visit with a coworker. Great experience for me, but it made for a really long week.

So, Sunday was the big day. My first ever 5k race. I thought there were thousands that ran the race, but in reality there were 2 events happening in Wash Park which made it seem bigger that it really was. There were 509 finishers for the Valentine's Day 5k, and I was one of them. But before I tell you how I did, I want to tell you how I felt...

I was terrified. I had a few little butterflies as I was picking up my race bib, then I realized I had to pee...only we were a little late and the line was really long. So, I figured I could hold it for an hour or so. Then came the national anthem and it became very real for me. As Lisa and I crossed the start line, I felt a wave of tears and vomit all at the same time. It was like my first ski meet all over again. There were so many people on this narrow path that it took us a good mile to even out. The first mile happened right on schedule, 12 minutes: 30 seconds. A few seconds off pace, but I chalked that up to the log jam at the beginning. And then the sun crested the buildings. My face began to BURN and I realized that I was WAY over dressed for the 60 degree temperatures.

I was wearing my Under Armour cold gear pants, two t-shirts and a jacket. I was able to take the jacket off and tie it around my waist, but the 2 t-shirts had to stay race bib was pinned to both of them. The second mile finally had a water stop. They gave me 2 sips when I really wanted a gallon, but that's OK. It gave us a 90-second walking break to regroup. I felt so much better. But then I had to run another mile plus a little bit.

That third mile...oh, my. I got about half way through and told Lisa that I was going to puke. And this is why she's one of my best friends...she looked at me and said, "ok, fine. You've got 30 seconds to either puke or catch your breath, then we finish strong." I didn't puke. I walked for my 30 seconds and kept going. Even sprinted a little at the end.

I finished in 40 minutes and 7 seconds (Lisa was 40:06). About 3 minutes off pace. But the feeling of accomplishment that came with it was overwhelming. I was hot and sweaty and thought my hands were going to explode because they were so swollen. But I was so proud of what I had just done that I cried all the way home. I mean REALLY cried. I couldn't control it and I really didn't know where the tears were coming from. It was somewhere deep down in a place that I think I bury emotions sometimes.

Yesterday I spent in and out of a weepy emotional state. And it took me most of the day to figure it out (because all those tears really annoyed me). So, in a long winded, share too much, kind of way, here's what I figured out:

I carry some extra weight and have for most of my adult life. There was a time when I reached my goal but that was because I paid out the nose for a personal trainer to work me hard three days a week. As soon as I couldn't afford to do that any more, the weight came back on. I have been plagued by injuries in my knee and my foot, and generally had the attitude of "I am not a runner. I have never been a runner and I will never be a runner." I never really pushed myself to any sort of limit. I am good about getting a good sweat on at the gym, but seriously, the slightest sign of fatigue and I'd slow down or just stop.

From a self esteem perspective, well, I have come a long way, and until I actually had some, I faked it. And honestly, most of it has come since I met Chris. He's good for me. But for the 29 years leading up to that day I had some rough times through school and a practice wedding that only made matters worse. For 29 years, other people believed in me more than I believed in myself. And I have buried that so deep and faked it so well for so long that I actually thought it went away. Well, SURPRISE! Those feelings are still there, and very much alive.

The Jenna that ran the race yesterday was not Jenna today. It was the Jenna from years ago that never thought she could do it. And yesterday I invited her out to play and see how much fun life can really be. The old Jenna didn't believe the new Jenna could really ever do that, although new Jenna was pretty sure she could.

I think that yesterday, FINALLY, I put to rest some of the demons that have been holding me back. And now I can't wait to see what else they've been preventing me from doing. Maybe the old me can hang out with the new me in harmony and happiness. It's nice for all this stuff to finally surface. I want it to keep erupting like this so that I can keep moving forward.

And the best part, I have a long run date with Lisa every Saturday morning at 9:00. On the docket for this Saturday...4-5 miles. And it feels really good.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Another Snow Post

I sold my soul to mother nature in return for a super cute, red, down-filled, Eddie Bauer winter coat. Mother Nature, or in this case, my husband, was nice enough to buy the jacket for me in return for the promise of shoveling for the rest of the season. I had already spent all my spending money until pay day,but I really wanted that coat. And we don't get that much snow, right?!?!

That was at 1:30 Saturday afternoon. Since then, we have received about 18 inches of snow and I have shoveled 3 times.

The guy two doors down has a snow blower. He is also very friendly. He waved and smiled at me this morning as I moved 10 inches of heavy snow off the driveway. I smiled and "waved" back. It's a good think I wear mittens rather than gloves...he may have put the snow back in my driveway.

Friday, February 4, 2011


I know we've talked about this before. I was laid off for most of 2009. It was a very difficult time for me personally and I can't even begin to tell you about how much I changed in those 9 months. And all that change was for the better. No regrets.

That Christmas, my Mom gave me the best Christmas gift EVER. The one that I will cherish for the rest of my life. Here's a picture of the wall hanging with the most incredible thing ever on it:

It spoke to Mom when she saw it. It was how she viewed me during that time. Which means she saw in me what I really wanted to see in me.

I look at the picture every day. And every day, it continues to inspire me to be better. To be braver, stronger and smarter.

Two years ago, my father-in-law, Keith, was diagnosed with a form of Lukemia called CLL. Thankfully, Keith continues to fight the disease and has managed to avoid having to go through chemotherapy. He goes to the doctor every other month for more lab work, each time knowing that this may be the time they tell him everything is about to change. That he will have to endure chemo and his hopes of fishing and traveling will have to be put on hold. That bravery and strength will have to take over as he begins the most difficult part of the battle.

In 2010, when Stand Up 2 Cancer became an international phenomenon, Keith knew instantly that it was an organization he believed in. His doctor believes in it and that's where he will donate all his spare dollars to. It is the only organization that gives 100% of funds raised to collaborative cancer research. Most others have tremendous overhead that's paid first.

Over Christmas this year, we were told that this will likely be the year Keith will have to do chemo. I felt an overwhelming need to do something to help. Something to support him. I am not a doctor. I already cook special foods for him. I don't live close enough to transport him around and don't make enough money to hire some help for them. The only thing I knew to do was to support what he believes in. Do my part to help fight his battle. I wanted to give to Keith AND to his chosen organization: Stand Up 2 Cancer.

And to let Keith know that he is not alone in fear and that I know he is as brave as I am, I decided to run a half-marathon. 13.1 miles to show Keith that as a family we are braver than we believe, stronger than we seem and smarter than we think. And that together, we will fight this fight with him.

That's how I formed the Braver-Stronger-Smarter team via Stand Up 2 Cancer to raise funds for the organization. And because I can't ask for money just for the sake of it, I am going to run 13.1 miles to earn it. To be brave. To be strong. And to be smart (that's the fundraiser part, not the running part!).

You will notice the new widget at the side of the blog. It's going to stay there until May 15 when I run the Colfalx Half-Marathon. Every dollar helps.

So, how 'bout it? Will you Stand Up 2 Cancer with me?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Mr. Wizard Failed Me

Well, not really. But he did inspire me to do an experiment this morning. Our temperature is a balmy -12 with a wind chill of -36. That's REALLY cold for Denver. All our schools are closed because of the dangerous temps. I actually noticed that there is a little frost on the INSIDE of our windows. The thermometer in my office is reading 56.6 degrees, prompting the fireplace to burn but it's having trouble keeping up with the draft coming off the windows.

So, what was the experiment, you ask. Well, my math says that -36 is more than double freezing (nice logic, eh?!). So I bundled up, grabbed a glass of boiling water, went outside and tossed it into the air. Guess what happened...You'll never believe it!!!

NOTHING! Nothing happened. I threw boiling hot water all over our deck which I am pretty sure is now a frozen glob of ice right in front of Chris' Weber grill. It was a good idea. I even asked Chris to video tape it, just in case it was awesome. He laughed at me and said that "wind chill is nothing more than how the air feels on skin." And to actually have this work, the temperature had to be -36 with a wind chill of -50 or something. What a party breaker. But who cares! The moral of the story... sometimes you just gotta be a kid.