The City by the Bay

The San Francisco marathon had been on my bucket list for a long time.  The romance of the Golden Gate Bridge and the City by the Bay was so appealing!  So, when Ron finally announced that this was the summer we were flying to Cali to see his family, I jumped at the chance that we might could squeeze in a few days to ourselves in Frisco.

We signed up for the half marathon and boy was it a doosey!

The marathon was top notch all the way.  The expo was at Fort Mason and was very well run.

Fort Mason

It was a big race but they had plenty of volunteers to keep things moving right along.

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fitbit was a sponsor of the race and they had this neat photo booth.

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Another cool thing was I got to meet Joel from Allied Medal Hangers.

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They made ours and we love them so much!

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(I promise, Ron designed his own. LOL)

After we looked at everything at the expo, we went to the beer garden they had right outside and both enjoyed a Lagunitas.  This was our view from the garden.

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Alcatraz!

We were tired the day we arrived so we decided to stick to East Coast time and so for the early morning marathon on Sunday we were all smiles.

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Here’s a nice shot of that bridge (The San Francisco – Oakland Bridge) in the daytime.

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Hoka was another sponsor of the race and they let us download these race photos for FREE!  So cool!

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Ron and I did so well!  We were both thrilled with our race.

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Yes, they gave out space blankets in July!  It was pretty chilly once we stopped running.  Oh, and there was no beer at the end of the half.  You got Irish Coffees!  That was awesome especially since it was so chilly.  My beer lovin’ husband even warmed up to the idea and had and Irish Coffee too.

Here’s our results:

Mel SF resultsRon SF results

That was an 18 minute improvement for me over our June race and 27 minute improvement for Ron.  I know we both trained better but I think that it was the cooler weather and the pure joy of running.  We had a blast.  I was so happy for Ron!

The big question that everyone asks me about this race is about the hills.  To be honest, they really weren’t that bad.  We had 2 pretty good hills before and after the bridge and then near the end there was a lot of rolling hills.  The hardest for me was this one big downhill that we had.  It was huge!  I caught myself trying to hold back and I could really feel it in my quads.  I even saw one racer get a bad cramp and have to hop over to the side of the road.  When I saw that, I decided to just stop being scared and I decided to fly down that hill!  It was exhilarating.

Here’s a shot of the medal and the shirt.  I love the shirt but the medal was a little skimpy.  I saw the full medal and it was much prettier.

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We took the shuttle back to the full marathon finish line and enjoyed the post race celebrations.  Then before we went back to our hotel for showers, we rode a trolley!  Smile

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Ron was singing this song and I had it stuck in my head the rest of the day.

I really did love SF and this race was a dream come true!

Happy Racing!

 

 

 

 

To Do List

Well I’ve made it back from vacation and I’m starting to get back in the swing of things.  I’ve got a lot of things on my to do list so I thought I’d share them here and ask for a little of accountability.

  • I need to get my San Francisco half marathon race recap up.  It was wonderful and I want to share while the memories are still fresh!

Mel on the GGB SF half marathon

  • I want to share all our Pacific Coast Highway adventures.  It was amazing.  I’ll get that post up soon as well.

PCH and Mel

    • It’s August and I want to be “All In for August” like my friend Amelia.  I want to focus on strength, running, eating right, and getting plenty of rest and H2O.
    • I want to be like my friend Ann and sign up for EDD  (every damn day) at CrossFit.  We sign up each week and usually I only do 3 CF classes but I’ve longed to write EDD like Ann and some of the other CFers.  They are amazing!
    • I also want to complete my long runs just like they appear on my 50 mile training plan.  Here are the distances for each Sunday from now until the race.

26  26  10  28  28  10  10  50

That’s right.  Only 7 more Sunday’s until Lake Hinson and 4 of those 7 Sunday’s call for a marathon or better long run.  My friends Connie and Kim say that I don’t need to worry and that to prepare for a 50 miler I don’t need to focus so much on huge miles.  That was confirmed today when I read this blog post.  (Check out #3 in particular)

I still want to do those long runs though.  I’ll be too nervous at Lake Hinson if I don’t get some miles in.

My Wednesday runs are getting longer on the ole’ training plan too.  Here are the next 6 Wednesday’s:

10  10  8  12  12  8           I have no idea how I’m going to manage that!

So there you go.  Are you a list maker?  I have always been one.  I’ll probably print out this post, hang it on the fridge, and check things off as I get ‘em done.

Here’s another good list I found on Pinterest.

list from Pinterestsource

Happy Checking your list off ya’ll!

Weight Loss Roller Coaster

Uggghhhhhhh!

Oh the journey of weight loss!  What a roller coaster it is for me.

Disclaimer:  Keep in mind that I’m not a doctor.  All information on my blog is my own ideas and experiences and is not intended to be a substitute for consultation with a doctor or healthcare provider.  I cannot accept any responsibility for any adverse effects resulting from this post or any post on A Handful of Spinach.

First of all, what I have come to finally realize is that there are many different paths to follow and many ways to achieve your healthy weight.  The Paleo’s can get you there and I really believe they have an awesome program.  For me the “nothing processed” is the way to go.  Dr. Fuhrman can get you there.  Dr. McDougall can get you there.  Whole 30 can get you there.  Weight Watchers can get you there.  Just cutting out sodas and desserts can get the lucky ones there.

You get the idea.  I’m finding that you have to find the plan that works for you and stick with it.  None of them will get you there if you give up and resort back to your old habits.  Most often just choosing “this not that” and doing what you can when you can “wycwyc” are the little healthy steps that can lead up to a whole new life over a long period of time.

I’ve tried nearly every single plan you can name.  I was an Atkins girl in the 90’s, a WW girl early in this century, and for the past 5.5 years I’ve been an on again off again vegetarian and vegan.  I keep coming back to vegetarian and vegan diets for ethical reasons.  I love cheese but I hate the dairy industry.  I cannot look at a pig and for one second think about eating them.  Factory farming gives me nightmares!

However, I can totally take the approach shown in the movie Avatar, and if you give honor to the animal and kill humanely, I’m ok with that.  Salmon Fish Farms, NO but my brother in law’s fresh catch of the day from a beautiful Missouri lake, YES.  Eggs from the normal factories where the hens never touch their feet to grass, NO, but eggs from my neighbor’s backyard chicken coop, YES.

That’s my view on the subject of weight loss.  However, I want the weight loss to come off fast and be easy to maintain.

28 days ago I embarked on yet another weight loss experiment.  I’m going to go ahead and put the numbers out there for your reference but please note this scale disclaimer.

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I started off at 153.  I brought it down 5 pounds to 148 by just being mindful and cutting out the desserts and too many breads.  At 148 I started Chef AJ’s weight loss program.  I do need to say that I did not purchase her complete program and only took bits and pieces of her advice from what I could get for free on the internet.  So, this may not be a true experiment.

Anyway, what she preaches for weight loss is no sugar, no salt, no oil, and no nuts.  She explains about caloric density and how to try and get the healthiest volume of food to fill your stomach for the lowest calories.  A pound of most veggies is only 100 calories vs. a pound of oil at 4000 calories.   On her program, I could have all the fruits, veggies, and whole grains that I wanted but I needed to consume 2 pounds of cooked greens before the other choices.

In one week I had lost 8 pounds and made it down to 140 pounds.  I was on cloud 9!

Things that I learned that I could do that I never thought I could change:

  • I had steamed broccoli and cauliflower for breakfast and didn’t have my normal smoothies or oatmeal. Yes, steamed greens for breakfast.  Believe it or not it is possible and they are so filling!
  • I learned that I really didn’t have to sauté onions and garlic in oil. You can put just a little bit of veggie broth or plain water and sauté’ just fine.
  • I learned that I COULD live without the salt shaker. I am now a recovered salt-a-holic .  I found some delicious salt free spicy seasoning, some salt free mustard, and a very low salt salsa that flavor things deliciously.

After that 1st week, I gained back 2 pounds and I think it had to be the fact that I stopped concentrating on the 2 pounds of greens daily. For weeks 2-3, I let myself by with only 12 ounces and sometimes as little as 8 ounces.  At the end of week 3, I splurged and went out to brunch at a restaurant.  I had a Thai peanut bowl and even though I didn’t eat the peanuts, the creamy sauce did me in.  I also had a good amount of noodles later that night.  At the beginning of week 4 I was at 146!  I was heartbroken.  After all that work I was close to where I started.

My husband had similar results.  He lost a lot in the beginning and then he stopped eating so many greens and the weight loss stalled.  He stopped the program after 21 days and is now back to Paleo.

I’ve stuck it out and this week has been better.  I’m back down to 142.  My good friend sent me this article and I’ve discovered that I’m actually large boned.  According to this, my idea racing weight may be somewhere around 130-135 pounds.  (65 inches tall x 2 = 130 + 5 more for being big boned)  I don’t think I’ve seen a number on the scale below 140 in probably over 24 years and I have no idea how I’m ever going to get there.

I do know that on vacation next week that I will have some sugar.  I can’t go to Millennium and not try a dessert.  I’ll probably have some salt.  I’ll probably have a glass of wine and a craft beer and maybe even a mixed drink or two.   I might even have some meat.  (We’ll be with Ron’s family for some of the trip and I never want to be “that vegan person.”)  I am all about modeling a healthy lifestyle and not being so preachy preachy.

After vacation I plan on focusing on getting more protein after all my morning runs but still staying away from the sugar and oil.  I plan to stay away from drinking my calories (i.e. smoothies) and to try and stay away from too many grains.

My biggest commitment for after vacation is to go back to the track.  Ron at 50+ Runner does a track workout very often and he has inspired me to work my way back to 8×400’s.  I’ll still be in the middle of my 50 mile training after vacation and that plan calls for merely getting as many miles as possible under my feet.  But I can’t wait until after September 26th and my 50 miler.  I’m itching now to focus on speed.

Happy Running everyone.  I’ll post my San Francisco race recap as soon as possible after my return to NC in August.  I’m California bound in T-15 hours.

Race 13.1

Here’s a quick recap of this past Saturday’s Race 13.1.

This is a local race that has all the feel and perks of a big race.  The number one thing that was so awesome was it began at North Hills Mall so there was plenty of free parking.

Ron and I were ready to race!

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We weren’t running together but we were both planning on running intervals.  I decided to give the 60:30 a try.

I hated it!  It wasn’t a big race but most of it was on the greenway and it was an out an back.  By mile 4ish, the leaders were heading back at you so you had to keep to the right.  There were lots of people doing intervals and we kept stopping and starting at different times and playing leapfrog.  Intervals themselves are ok but in races I find them very annoying.

By 6 miles, I was done with them.

My pace to that point was 12:06.  By mile 7 I had dropped my average down to 11:57.  By mile 8, I was averaging 11:55.  I stayed at 11:55 until around mile 11.  The course was pretty flat except for the Lassiter Mill Hill on the last half mile.  Even with the flat, I was slowing down quite a bit.  I ended up with a pace of 12:12 overall.  Makes me wonder what would have happened if I had stuck with the 60:30s.  Would I have stayed at the 12:06 or possibly gotten quicker?

Melissa's results Race 13.1 June 2015

Ron didn’t do a good as he usually does but he had a good run and a lot of fun.

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He finished up at 3:11.

Ron's results Race 13.1 June 2015

I’ve made him promise to actually train for the next 7 weeks and make sure he clears the 3 hour cutoff at our next race, the San Francisco Half!

Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC was at the race and they took this neat photo.  I pledge to Eat Better.

Pledge to eat right

I chose the background of the mountains because my hero is currently running the AT.  Go Scott Go!  And who can eat better than The Jerker?!  Goodness knows that’s where I need to focus.  I’ve done pretty good this week.  Breads are my total weakness.  I tend to do better the better I prepare.

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And I did do better after the race thanks to the awesome restaurant that provided the race food!  Three cheers for Sassool!

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Rice and lentils, pita chips, and hummus!  Yummo! (They served chicken too for the omnivores.)

I loved the race and the shirt and medal are very nice.

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Happy Racing!  Happy Running!  Happy Eating!

50k for my 50th

I spent May 30 (the day before my birthday) running all day long.  I had a blast.

My Plan didn’t go exactly as hoped starting out with the fact that I overslept.  Sorry Amelia and Kim!  It was so sweet of you guys to offer to run with me.

I woke up at 5:23am and I had hoped to be running by 6:00.  Ron was going to run with me too and there was no way he was going to get ready that fast.

I think we started around 7:15 or so.

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Take a look at Ron’s shirt.  That awful Beaver with the banjo was the Rock-n-Roll shirt.  Horrible!

Anyway, 5k #1 and #2 were awesome.  Ron and I did intervals of running 3 minutes and then walking 1 minute.  It was a gorgeous morning and we both did really well.  Our time was 1:29:23.

Next up I really wanted to go to the Galloway kick-off so I took a break and headed to Raleigh.  I wasn’t shy this time and I got this picture and an autographed book from Jeff Galloway himself!

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Jeff re-qualified for Boston recently with some insanely short intervals.  I am excited to try them out this summer.  I think the group that I will be in will run for 60 seconds and then walk for 30 seconds.  I’ll know next week at my first Galloway run.

When I got home it was after lunch and the heat and humidity were way too much for me.  I decided to tackle #3 and #4 on the treadmill.   I cranked the AC down to around 72 and put the ceiling fan on high.  My time for those was 1:19:40.

I should mention some of my fueling strategies up to this point.  Before the first 2 5ks I had a banana.  Afterwards I had a huge green smoothie.  I took one gel during #3 and #4 and then afterwards I had a hummus wrap filled with greens.

Next up my good friend Connie met me at White Deer Park and we did 3:1 intervals for 5k #5.  Our time was 37:47.  Thanks so much Connie for running with me and for my birthday present of White Chocolate Wonderful Peanut Butter!  You know I love it!  (PS.  I can’t believe I forgot to ask you to pose for a picture.  Sad smile)

Then I was supposed to meet some other friends to walk my next 5ks but that didn’t end up happening.  I walked a mile, ran a mile, and walked the last 1.1.  Then I did 60:30s for the next 3.1 and my time was 53:21.  It was beginning to cool down some and I really had a nice time.  I love White Deer Park so much!

Next I slipped through the Wendy’s drive thru and got a baked potato and a junior Frosty.

Then Ron met up with me again and we ran #8 and #9 on the Clayton River Walk by the Neuse River.

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We did a combination of 60:30s and 2:1s and had a great time.  I was so impressed with how well Ron was running.  Our time was 1:31:35.  It was getting dark by this time and we didn’t have headlamps.  Ron was all set to run anyway even though that would have meant over 15 miles for him.  The farthest he’s ever gone is 16 miles.  He was so sweet!

I couldn’t ask that of him though and we stopped after #9 and headed to Double Barley Brewing to celebrate!  Deep River Brewing closed at 9:00 and it was a good thing because DB had it going on.  Their beer garden was so inviting and relaxing.

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We had my favorite guacamole and chips and chips.

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And then I had this awesome pizza!

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Oh my word.   Delicious!

We made it home around 11:00 and I hit the treadmill to knock out #10.  I have to admit I was a little tipsy after 2 Thilla in Vanillas the first mile was interesting to say the least.

I got it done though and finished up with a time of 49:25.

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I finished with 5 minutes to spare in the day!  Smile

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I hopped in the shower and was asleep in no time!

My combined time added up to be 7:42:12.

The best news was when I woke up on Sunday I wasn’t sore one bit!  Intervals rock!  Seriously.  31 miles and it was like I hadn’t even run.

I am so stoked to try for a 50 Miler this September at Hinson Lake!

Next up my 13.1 recap from yesterday!

Rock-n-Roll Raleigh Repeat

Oh my goodness!  I am so far behind in updating all my running events.  I share a lot on Facebook so for many of my readers who are also my FB friends, this will be old news.   However, I really like to keep the running recaps so I can refer back to them from time to time.   So here goes!  Smile

First up was the Rock-n-Roll Raleigh half marathon on April 12th.   Ron and I ran it last year because I have always wanted to see what all the hullabaloo was with the Rock-n-Roll series.  It was a good race but Ron didn’t do well and he wanted to give it one more shot.  We signed up for the 2nd time and it was much better. 

The course was a teeny bit flatter (you can’t get hill free in Raleigh) and Ron put in put in a good amount of training.    We were ready to Rock again!

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With these large races even though it was in our hometown, we still had to get up very early.  Parking was better this year.  They did a much better job all around with all the logistics and I have no complaints.  The expo was fun and the course very, very pretty.  The bands are very motivating.  I love it when races have entertainment.

I did not do intervals on this race.  I ran the whole way and only walked a little at the water stops.  My ITB behaved and I had a super day.  I felt very good the entire race.  Ron did good too.  I finished in 2:25 and Ron came in at 2:54.

Melissa Rock-n-Roll results

Ron Rock-n-Roll results

Ron and Melissa with Sir Walter Raleigh

I love this shot of us by Sir Walter Raleigh  Isn’t it cool that they had a guitar and a knee brace on him?  So funny!

This year Ron and I slipped in and right out of the after race party.  They were only serving Michlob Ultra and there is no way Ron was interested in that.  I didn’t much like it either.

After the race we were on a runner’s high and Ron mentioned to me that we should make running the Rock-n-Roll Raleigh a tradition and sign up for it every year.  A few days later though, we both realized that we have had enough of this one.  I like the Rock-n-Roll series for the fun and the inspiration that it gives new runners.  I don’t like this series because they are a for profit group and try to trick people into thinking that some of the proceeds go to charity.  Not one penny of our race fees went anywhere but to the Rock-n-Roll payrolls.  Bad form Rock-n-Roll.  Bad form.

Next up was a crazy idea I had to run 10 5ks for my 50th birthday.

Freedom

Last night Ron went to the WRAL’s Freedom Balloon Fest.  It was a blast!

The balloons were so pretty and the weather was wonderful!

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The festival is still going on for the rest of the weekend so if you have a chance, I’d highly recommend it.

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We parked at the Mudcat’s stadium and took one look at the free shuttle line and opted to walk the 2 miles from the parking area to the festival.  We made it in about 40 minutes.  I met a person that rode the shuttle and she said it took her 2.5 hours.  It was obvious that the organizers were not prepared for the amount of people that turned out.

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Ron happily enjoyed the beer garden and then I went in search of some food.  This is where the wait got me.  I waited almost 50 minutes and when I finally made it to the front of the line I ordered Ron a BBQ sandwich and me cheese pizza. They were out of pizza and it was going to be another 10 minutes so I just asked the guy to run and grab whatever was available.  He came back with 2 ears of roasted corn, 2 hot dogs, and some funnel cake bites.  I also grabbed some peanuts before I walked away.  I ate the corn and funnel cake bites and some peanuts and Ron ate everything else minus one hot dog that I offered our new friend that had waited so long on the shuttle.

Next up was the balloon glow!  So amazing!

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Afterwards guess what Ron and I did?  You guessed it.  We walked the 2 miles back in the dark to the Mudcats stadium.  We walked along with hundreds of other festival goers that didn’t want to wait on the shuttle so even though it was dark, I didn’t feel unsafe at all.

If you go, I hope they have more shuttles running.  Or, just go ahead and go early and pay the $30 premium parking up close.  If they are full at the $30 lot there are some houses along the way that are offering parking for $15-$20.  Or, be crazy like me and Ron and log thousands of steps and enjoy this beautiful weather!

Happy Memorial Day weekend and thanks to all those who serve to protect our freedom!