Thursday, December 29, 2011

Food = fuel

We all know that we need to eat, runners know that food is fuel. We have our "go-to" meals the night before a big run (baked ziti for me) and our favorite pre-run meals (not too heavy or fibrous - oatmeal and some pb). But, food is important for babies too!

I'd like to stray from the "RUN" in this blog and focus more on the "MUM." So, those of you who read this just for the "RUN" may want to exit out of this window. I understand. I won't judge. Anyway, many of my friends and family members have recently had or are having babies in the next few months, and I wanted to share my experience with Oliver's solid foods. I'm not a registered dietitian or pediatric food expert by any means, so take it all with a grain of salt. (Want to follow the blog of a dietitian in training? visit!)

Starting at 6 months, we began rice cereal - once every 4 days or so, to ::ahem:: let it 'process.' I mixed it with BM (if you have to ask what BM is, you don't want to or need to know). Then, we progressed to oatmeal every few days, and eventually......sweet potatoes!
O's first bite of rice cereal

Someone loves sweet potatoes!
 Then, we did the 'oranges' - carrots, butternut squash, etc. With each new food, Oliver tries it for four days in a row (without any other new foods being introduced at the same time) to ensure that there are no food allergies. [Side note: if you know me well, and my family members you will understand how important this is knowing the genetics involved.]  

I followed a lot of what was in the Baby Bullet food guide (within reason though), combined with information on this GREAT website:
Plus, I spent a LOT of time in the produce aisle at the grocery looking for the best, in season fruits and veggies.

I usually spend 2-3 naps (roughly an hour each) a week making food for Oliver. I find the best thing to do is set up a steam basket with one food, while I use the microwave for another (like those great microwave bags of green beans, peas, broccoli, etc.) and at the same time, I puree a food that doesn't need to be cooked first - like pineapple (which we did the other day and are going to try next week!). It's a lot of multi-tasking, and it takes up a significant amount of counter space, but it's a LOT better than spending every nap, or every evening (after bed) cooking when there is SUCH good reality TV on :)   

Ben loves watching infomercials (mostly, I think, because they come on before and after soccer games on FSN), and has bought things like the swivel sweep. I knew he'd approve of me buying the Baby Bullet, once I saw the infomercial. Now, to be completely honest, there is only ONE thing that comes with the 'system' I REALLY couldn't live without:

The silicone freezer tray = UH-mazing!
 The ice cube tray is great because it has an interlocking top that prevents most (not all - oops!) spills, and the best part is that the 'cubes' are super easy to push out because of the flexible material. Most of the other parts of the Baby Bullet can be done with household items, like a good Oster blender, and some tupperware. Sorry Baby Bullet people.

Cute, little baby bullets!
From here, I place each different food in a labeled, freezer-safe ziploc bag - usually a quart size will do. The dates are very important because of the safe-food guidelines. (I always use them within 2 months of being frozen, but more often than not we go through them within a month).

Squash ready to be stored
The quart size bags (like above) then go into a 2.5 gallon freezer safe bag. Yes, they do make them, and they're GREAT.

2.5 gallons of yummy, homemade veg!
Now, you might be wondering what our freezer and fridge look like. So here you go!
First, the freezer:

...and the fridge!

I do, though, sometimes give Oliver more than homemade pureed foods. See:

 Sometimes, we have an Ella's pouch. 100% organic, great on-the-go, especially handy when you're out doing errands. Oliver is so close to being able to self-feed the pouches. Plus, they mix fruits and vegetables together to make the stronger flavors more tolerable. (This is an issue I have though... for another day, I suppose)

At 10 months, we NEED finger foods (see below). If he doesn't have something in his hands, I can't get food from a spoon into his mouth. Plain and simple. It's all about diversion right now. He looks at the cheeto/yogurt melt/wagon wheel and while he is bringing it towards his mouth - BAM! spoonful of asparagus successfully delivered.

I also keep a stock of cereals on hand to mix in with, well, pretty much everything. Oliver LOVES Barley and multi-grain, and the oatmeal just seems like a great breakfast food. (Like he would complain if he had green beans or lentils at 8am, I guess it's just my idea of what breakfast 'should' be). 

That's what we do 'round here, at least for now.
Do any of you have suggestions/opinions/favorite foods that you'd like to share? :) pleeeease?

Friday, December 23, 2011

North County Trail - 12/23

This morning, we were feeling adventurous!

After gathering our things, we headed out, albeit a bit late. Someone decided to sleep until 6:15, ate, and then slept until 8:00. In this house, that is unheard of. We are usually up and moving by 7:00, when the first feed of the day is between 4:00 and 5:00 am. Thanks, O, for the early Christmas present! 

Anyway, we headed to the North County Trail to test it out. I plugged it into my phone's navigation and off we went.

"You have arrived at your destination," said my lovely phone. Ummmm doesn't appear so.  We were in the middle of a FedEx and Coca Cola distribution plant.  I looked on my phone's map app and saw that the trail was only about 200 yards away, so we headed in that direction. Luckily, there was an access point we could hop onto. (It happened to be the South County Trail at this point, which heads towards the city, but we headed North towards our intended trail).

Bob at the access point to the trail

One mile into our run, we stumbled upon the parking lot (below, on left) I was intending on parking in. Thank you very little, GPS. Hopefully we can find it next time!

Oh, look! An official parking lot.
 The trail was great, well paved, fairly wide, and not too wet from last night's rain. There were only a few puddles on the sides of the trail, no standing water in our way.

Paralleling the Saw Mill River Parkway.
Approximately 1.6 miles into our run, my co-pilot bailed. It was almost 10:15 exactly, and he was done. The JJ Cole keeps him so nice and toasty in there, I'm sure it was cake to fall asleep. Conveniently, he woke up right when we returned to the car to stretch.

Someone's having a good time.
Trail split at a highway crossing

Anyway, here are our times from this morning, not bad considering it was our first run back in almost a month! (Gasp! has it really been that long since our back to back 5Ks??)

Mile 1: 8:40
Mile 2: 9:12*
Mile 3: 8:49
Mile 4: 8:58
Mile 5: 8:51

*Mile 2 - I stopped to take a picture of the parking lot and forgot to stop my watch, oops! Oh well.

Total: 5 miles in 44:30. Average 8:54/mi. I'll take it for now! 

Happy Holidays and Happy Running! :)

Here's the imported Garmin data (I finally updated the software and updated about 16 months worth of runs - notice there was a hiatus or two in there. Oops!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Old Faithful or New Exploration?

Now that I'm the proud owner of a JJ Cole Arctic Bundle me (yippee!) I can plan for some awesome runs. But, then I come to a very difficult question - do I rely on my "old faithful" running routes or venture off and try something new? ::sigh::

Here are some of my old faithfuls... 

SUNY Purchase:
[Map from Google maps]

I LOVE  this 5K (3.1 mile) loop. It's approximately 10 minutes down the road, which means we can usually get there and back without falling asleep in the car. Not only are there plentiful parking areas, but there is relatively little traffic (let's be serious, college students are not awake and functioning at 9am, especially at this artsy school - the #5 druggiest college (See here)). Also, there's a pretty good sized hill at the back of the school that's just long enough to view as attainable. Plus, it's in the Westchester Regional Airport flight path most days of the week, which I can see being valuable to a bored toddler. I can already hear "Wook! AIRPAAAAAAAANE!"

Tod's Point: (aka Greenwich Point)
[Also Google maps]

Wait, what? What is all of that blue on the map? Yes, that's right. WATER. This is one of the most beautiful places I've run, and I grew up only miles away.  Spoiled. It's about 15-20 minutes away (depending on what time of day of course - Stamford traffic is a nightmare!).  Non-residents are allowed in during the off-season without having to pay for a pass, and dogs have been allowed since the first of this month. The 'lollipop' loop is about 2 1/2 miles (? - I'll clock it when I run it next), and the circular part has one way traffic with a very slow speed limit. There are always people here running, biking, roller blading, taking photos, painting, sailing.... Ben and I used to park in town, run down, around and back. Only potential problem with this old faithful is that it's usually about 5-6 degrees colder and can face some pretty strong winds on certain days.

Or, do I try something new?

New could be good, but I always get a little bit nervous about trying a new running route, and the uncertainty that comes with it. Maybe it'll be worth it!?

This is a map of the North County Trailway, of which the southern trailhead is about 20 minutes away.  The trail is 22.1 miles long (!) and appears to be paved the whole way from other people's reviews. Plus, the views look awesome (see below).  You can venture south from this point, but from what I've seen you'd have to cross a few major roads as the path weaves towards New York City.

[Map and below photo from]
 Ah, fall in the northeast...

This is the Bronx River Parkway.
Now, it's not totally new - I've run the three northernmost miles, but haven't done the southern section or gone south of the first encountered train station. (Honestly, I couldn't figure out where the path started up again on the other side!) The 'top' of this trail is at Kensico Dam (free parking!) where my stroller class is outdoors, and it's super convenient located between the intersection of major highways. It's a bit hilly, and the low-lying areas can sometimes flood when there's been a bit of rain. Also, a downside is that you have to cross side roads quite often. (The parkway has traffic lights every few miles). I've heard, but haven't taken advantage of the closing of car traffic on the parkway between 10am and 2pm on Sundays during the summer. They do this for runners and bikers to enjoy all four lanes, how cool is that!?!? My sister, and avid runner Amie, used to run the south section of this trail regularly, when she lived in Bronxville/Tuckahoe - and she loved it.

So, where will munchkin and I run on Friday? I guess it'll depend on how adventurous I feel!

Monday, December 19, 2011

All I want for Christmukah is...

Oh, JJ Cole Toddler BundleMe Arctic, how I have been coveting you...  I've seen you out and about with your running Mummies and Daddies when the weather dips just below freezing, and we're racing home for nap time and cozy house exercising. Shelby and Penn have one of you, and rave about how amazing you are. Every time we see them. I might be crazy, but I would love to be outside with my rob-a-bank ski mask and two layers of pants, braving the elements with you protecting my little munchkin...

Hanukkah starts tomorrow, I may have to make a trip to Buy Buy Baby (they are backordered on virtually all websites, including the JJ Cole site) to pick one of these beauties up. Stay tuned.

This also ties into the blog I was halfway through writing yesterday, before it was decided that our almost 10 month old only needs a 35 minute nap (what?). Here's what I began to write....

Last night [Saturday] I charged my iPod shuffle and Garmin, found a new stroller-friendly route (yay!), and laid out my running clothes. Then, I checked the weather. Eeks! I wish I had taken a screen shot on the iPad, but BRRRRRR! When O and I run, we usually head out around 8:30 or 8:45 am. At that time the temperature was going to be a steamy 21 degrees. Fahrenheit. Celsius? [69.8] I could very easily deal with.  We usually wear jackets, hats, mittens (a pair over feet too) and a blanket when we walk Stella in the Baby Ergo.... but that's  for at most 30-40 minutes. Oliver loves the stroller (and has since Day 1), but he likes looking at stuff. So, as great as the BOB Weather Shield is, it's good for rain and wind, but not just plain COLD. As much as I know I need a daily workout, I just can't justify turning little one into a penguin who can't walk, move, hold a bottle, eat a Mum Mum, or play with a toy by wrapping him in 72 layers of fuzz.

So, instead of venturing out in the cold with stroller, I waited until morning nap time and did my Netflix Kickboxing DVD (thank you, Keli Roberts!). I have been paying very close attention to the 10 day forecast (almost a week without Stroller Strides coming up), to plan for a long run or four.

That is, if the JJ Cole makes its way home with me sometime soon... ::sigh::

Monday, December 12, 2011

Runner in training.

Okay, so maybe Oliver is a bit young to be running... for now...

This was Friday, 12/9.  As you can see in the above video, my life is about to change. Again.
(I'm sure yelling "YAY" made him fall down). Walking will quickly turn to running, and injuries will become more plentiful.

The above pictures were taken at the Hartford Marathon in October, and I loved that O could wear this shirt. It was given to us by a friend, obviously a running friend. In case you can't see the multi-colored letters say "Runner in Training: 2030" (he'd be 19). 

The friend who gave this to us is one of the people that has truly inspired me, as a mom and as a runner. She's the mother of four (two boys, two girls) and she's completed numerous marathons, knocking on the door of 4:00:00. Despite broken wrists, thumbs, twisted ankles, and all of the other injuries that come with four children, she runs. She runs because, like me, it makes me a better mom. It makes me more patient, more calm, more understanding, and more centered. If she can do it with four, I can try with one.

I love the shirt, not because I want him to be a runner, but because I want him to be exposed to sports, to the outdoors, to physical fitness, healthy eating, and everything I enjoy about running. I don't care if Oliver doesn't run, in fact I won't be upset if he doesn't want to run (I hope my husband will feel the same way if he doesn't want to play tennis either.)

I still remember two friends I grew up with whose parents were runners. (Side note: I buy my running shoes from the family-owned store of one of them). These were two of the healthiest kids I knew, and they always kicked butt on Field Day.  I remember envying the medals they brought in for show and tell. To me, there wasn't much of a difference between that and an Olympic medal.

My middle school social studies teacher was also an avid runner, and we always saw him on the weekends running around town. (Think about the 1970s runners with Bill Rodgers shirts and short shorts).  To a pre-driving teen, distance has no real meaning, and I remember thinking he was about 135 miles from his house.  As a teacher (former life), he made me feel like it was possible to balance work, family and running, and he did it with ease. (I still haven't managed to try all three).

I just want Oliver to be able to remember running with me, in the stroller, maybe a turkey trot or two, and maybe if I'm extremely lucky, one day he'll ask to really run with me... and I'll likely be following in his dust.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

My favorite things.

Think of Oprah's "Favorite Things" show, except I'm not giving these things away. Yet. Maybe next year?Wishful thinking!

Here is a collection of the best running-related gifts I have received, bought myself, or would gladly accept, that would make excellent holiday gifts! If you'd like to send a subtle (or not so subtle!) hint, just leave this page open and hope your significant other wanders by and takes what you're throwing. Or don't worry about being discreet and just email the post link :)

Under $10: Wright Socks 

Under $10: Body Glide
(some larger sizes are more than $10)
Great lots. Stocking stuffer, perhaps? Not the most romantic of gifts. Practical, yes.

Under $20: Road ID Slim
This is a great (and practical!) gift for anyone, especially a runner or cyclist.
The bracelet clips on, and is customizable with your name, address, phone number, emergency contacts, or whatever information you want to include. Road ID also makes anklets, shoe pouches, and other designs. Ben bought me the above ID in pink two years ago, and I loved it - while it still had the correct address!

Oliver had this blue onesie, size 3-6 months was a bit ambitious. CafePress has TONS of cute, customizable stuff - tshirts, mugs, stickers, etc.

(different brands and models range from $8.95 to upwards of $30)
I've given these "sleevies" to both Meredith and my sister, Amie, as birthday gifts - well-received (unless they're lying to me...). I have a pair of white ones, and have gotten a LOT of use out of them. These arm warmers are great for runs that begin a lot colder, and then warm up. Having done 16+ mile runs in North Carolina, this was a weekly affair. Instead of having to deal with tangled headphones or removing a long-sleeved shirt (especially while pushing a stroller), these sleeves just slip off and are much easier to store. I really don't like running with a shirt tied around my waist, or having to stop and put it under my stroller, and these are so much less bulkier than anything else. I wore them (and took them off) during Hartford. Plus, you look really intense wearing them. I'm still not tough enough to wear tye-dye or neon green ones. Maybe someday in the future...

Under $50: Sterling Silver Marathon Necklace

I love this necklace, its simplicity, and subtlety. It's a more discreet version of the 26.2 bumper sticker. They also come in half marathon models, as well as charms, bracelets and the likes.  Here is my other favorite:  (for after I do another full (?) next fall)

Under $50: BOB Single Snack Tray
This is a snack tray built for my stroller that is out of stock, and has been for as long as I've looked for it on every web site possible. If someone finds a new one somewhere, please tell me! This would make life a lot less messy and keep the vacuum in the closet a bit more :)

I bought one of these, having adored Nike tennis skirts for years. I LOVE it. I've tried many running skirts, but the fit of this is just the best. The spandex under are just long enough, there's a zip pocket on the back, and is very durable (I wash it at least once a week).  Also have the above in a nice shade of magenta.

Under $150: Tshirt Quilt

If you don't run for the t-shirts, this is a great way to keep all of your race day shirts without having them in your drawer taking up space. Although prices range, I've found that they begin around $125+.  Keep in mind they take a few weeks to put together, unless you're crafty enough to do it on your own! (I made one of my college tennis and sorority tshirts).

 Under $200:  Garmin Forerunner 305

My mom bought this watch for me maybe three years ago, and I absolutely love it. In fact, except for when it's being charged, it has a permanent home wrapped around my stroller.  I know that I haven't done nearly half of what I can do with it, and the software that comes with it, but I'm hoping to in the near future. I've played around with it a little bit, and you can see your runs on a map, as well as chart things like your heart rate, pace, and elevation on top of each other - to see how they affect each other. Pretty cool!

I LOVE this stroller. It's amazing. Plain and simple. There are tons of sites you can order from, but I've found that is most often the cheapest for things like strollers, car seats, high chairs, and other big ticket items. (Kristin - get yours here!)

There's also something to be said for iTunes gift cards, in any denomination.  They come with an automatic 'get out of jail free' card for purchases of Britney Spears, JLo, Pitbull and anything put out in the 80s or 90s. 

Does anyone have any favorites to add to this? Let me know and I'll put 'em up!

Happy gifting and run, run, mum!

Friendship and Running....

What do you like to do with your friends? 
Me? Well, I like to run with mine. 

With Meredith at the Marine Corps Expo (2009)

With my awesome Danbury Stroller Strides friends at the Hartford Marathon Relay (October 2011)
 [Imagine picture with Kristin here - there is a serious lack of Julie/Kristin pictures because one of us has been pregnant for the last 19 months]

Running is not only a great way to stay in shape, but it's a healthy way to spend time with friends without distractions of t.v., people watching at Starbucks, or cell phones.

Meredith and I trained 'together' using the same plan in '09, but 300 miles apart. (NC to DC). Although we didn't get to enjoy the long runs together, we had an accountability to each other. (Accountability is a much better word than guilt, although that was more often my feeling).  After runs, we would check in, discuss hardships and brag about high points. It was nice to have someone going through the same thing, not to mention the fact that B was glad he didn't have to hear me talk about running so much!

Sometimes when I run with friends (J+K), I care about looking at my Garmin, but most of the time my pace doesn't matter. Know that old saying "run at a comfortable pace, a pace at which you can comfortably hold a conversation." Well, that only works if there's someone there to have a conversation with!

With B after finishing the 2007 MCM

I remember so many long runs when training for my first marathon with Ben, he would just look at me and say "talk, say something, anything." Needless to say, he doesn't love running the way I do, and he needed the conversation to pass the miles. I say, whatever works!

Run, run, Mum!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Run, run, Mum!

Welcome to Run, run, Mum! 

Although I'm not new to the blogging 'world' (I've had a family blog for about a year), this is my newest venture, hopefully it will be an inspiration as I train for some races in 2012!

I haven't always been a runner. In fact, I used to hate it. Yes, hate is a strong word, but I used to hate it. As a high school and collegiate tennis player, I viewed running as a way to cross-train for tennis. And that's it.   After I graduated from college in 2005, I was a gym rat, rarely missing a day, but found myself getting bored of the elliptical (there are only so many episodes of Law&Order one can watch a week). My then boyfriend (and now husband) used to go to a spinning class on Sunday mornings. I began running the 6.5 or so miles from our apartment to the gym, and working out until his techno-filled strobe light class was finished.  I ran in the rain, I even ran in the snow, and slowly but surely, I grew to love it.  I began to love the way it made me feel (after the first two miles!), and the way it allowed me the freedom to eat more of what I wanted.  Then, one day B asked me "what are you running for?"  And, yes, I still blame him for this whole thing, and for our first marathon. It was his idea, and as we signed up for the 2007 MCM marathon sitting in a Panera Bread, I don't think he knew what a monster he was creating....

But, then in February of this year, I became a mum. It was truly the happiest day of my life, and I look at little O each day with wonder and amazement. Since then, I've had many ups and downs with running, as I am sure I will continue to experience. I ran while pregnant until about 27 weeks (there will be an entire entry about this sometime, promise!), and it was absolute torture to remain completely inactive for the 7 1/2 weeks while I recovered from my C-section. Since April 1st (yes, I remember the day I was 'cleared' to run again), I have found that running brings me a whole new sense of confidence, accomplishment, and patience.  I gained 35 pounds while pregnant, and have lost 41 since, but although running is the best exercise (except swimming, which I can not do well), it's more than a number on the scale. I've found how difficult it is to find stroller-friendly races, because let's be honest, sometimes B has better things to do than watch a bunch of runners in the cold weather. But I've also become faster, thanks to O's attention span!

Here I've collected the times of races I've run, and my PRs (*) - because you aren't a REAL runner until you have offical PRs, right? (you'll notice the distances have gotten shorter, ha!)

2007 Niantic Bay Half Marathon - 1:59:34* (with B)
2007 Marine Corps Marathon -  5:06:02 (with B)
2009 Marine Corps Marathon - 4:23:00*

since becoming a Mum...
9/2011 Danbury 10K - 52:35* with stroller
10/2011 Hartford Marathon Relay (leg #1 - 6.2 miles) - 48:28*
11/2001 Ridgefield 5K - 24:21* with stroller
11/2001 Rye 5K - 24:40 with stroller

Run, run, mum!