Saturday, June 25, 2011

99/100 Week 4: June 19 - 25

Here's my mileage for the fourth week... 
of the 99/100 Challenge

Before I list everything, tho, I thought you might want to see the new handy-dandy spreadsheet that I created to help me track mileage.

Click here to see my Activity Tracker!
Pretty nifty, eh?  I know, really not that exciting, but it's helpful - and it does math better that I do.

I was VERY busy this week...
Tthis week was the final push before I back off a bit for next week's "taper week".  The one-week countdown to the TRI has begun.  I've even gotten my Tri-bag out of the closet and started loading it up with stuff that I'll need (so I won't forget it when I have to leave next Saturday at 5:45am).

Sunday, 6/19 - Dad's Day was a rest day for me.  I ate too much and exercised too little, but I was with family, so it's all good.  Oh wait!  I did do 15 burpees this day... so that was good.

Monday, 6/20
   BIKE - Blasted 16.1 miles of hills on the bike today... wore a new shirt and got sunburned.  Oh well.

Tuesday, 6/21
   RUN - 3.8 miles, baby!

Wednesday, 6/22
   WALK - 2.5 miles - out with a friend and her bullmastiff, Hippo.
   SWIM - 0.7 mile (1200 Yards) - New pool!  Springville is closed for the summer, so off to Holland we go!  Interesting tidbit - this is considered "open swim" instead of "lap swim", so there were a bunch of random people doing random things in the pool (swimming, floating, playing basketball), so it really made me work to keep my swimming in-line, much like open-water swimming.

Thursday, 6/23
   RUN - 5.3 miles - my longest distance ever!  (Sadly, I cannot say that I ran the whole way... but I did manage at least 4-miles, I walked up the big hills)

Friday, 6/24
     BIKE - 7.0 miles (averaging 13.2 mph!  WOO HOO!)
     RUN - 1.5 miles (at approximately 6 mph!)
This is about 1/2 the distance for each event in next week's triathlon.  I went out first thing in the morning, without "fuel" and still felt pretty good at the end of the 45-minutes it took me to finish.  I'm excited that next week (when I'm properly sugared-up), I'll be really ready to go.

Saturday, 6/25 - Rested today.  Well, if you can call hanging out with my niece and nephew "resting".  We were on the move all day!

Totaling up the week, it's my highest mileage week since I started keeping track.   
38.4 miles for the week.  Wow!  
Of those 38.4, I ran for 10.6 of them.  Wow, again!

This week really helped me get back on track for the 99/100 Challenge.  Currently, I'm sitting at 32.2 miles of running in 4-weeks.  67.8 miles to go by Labor Day (Sept 5).  Woo hoo!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

My Fitness Pal: A Review

Created by MyFitnessPal - Free Calorie Counter

A little over a month ago, a friend introduced me to "My Fitness Pal" a website and app for my phone (she introduced me to a LOT of apps that day, but that's another story).  MFP had become her best friend for weight loss: tracking calories and exercise, so she didn't have to.

Now. I'm not "dieting".
I don't believe in it.
I think diets are really terrible ways to make people feel like their doing something good for their bodies, when in many cases, people are starving themselves or going through some strange nutrient-deficient 10-day "cleanse" blah blah blah.
No.  I believe that in order to lose weight, your calories in must be less than your calories out.
Oh, and in order to not have our bodies go into starvation-mode, there cannot be too huge a deficit.

I also feel that I need to lose some weight.  Not much, but since the scale has been slightly on the rise these last few years, I thought having a tool that could help me figure out my calorie imbalance might be useful.

Useful?!  THIS APP ROCKS!  Everyone should use it.  I'm totally serious.
Why, you ask?
Here's what I love about this app...

It's SO easy.
To start, you input your height, weight, age, goal-weight, and activity level.  Then, it calculates what your average daily calorie consumption should be (with details on how many carbs, protein, and fats).
From there, you track your foods and exercises.
This is a little time consuming at first (for foods) because you really want to measure everything.  Is that a tablespoon of salsa or two tablespoons?  How much peanut butter are you REALLY putting on your sandwich?  Is that steak 6 oz or 8 or 12?  Those things are important to know.

But as I mentioned... this is EASY.
For example, once you know that you've eaten 4-Tbsp of Tostitos All Natural Chunky Salsa, you just do a search on My Fitness Pal and voila! you know how many calories (and other nutrients) you just consumed.
Click on the pix to see a large screen-shot
You do this throughout the day, and the tracker keeps you up-to-date on where you stand for calories (consumed & remaining).  You can plan the rest of your day accordingly.

Here's what my food intake looks like for today:
I haven't had dinner yet, but you can see that I've got 954 calories to "spend" for the rest of the day.  I'm excited... I might have ice cream later (and not feel guilty).

You'll see at the bottom of the Food Diary shot that there's a message to me (*You've earned 540 calories from exercise today.)

Yep!  I did!

I ran for 45 minutes this morning, then took the dog for an hour-long walk.
So, not only is this easy, but the program is SMART!
It can calculate (a rather good estimate, in my humble opinion) how many calories someone will burn for each minute of exercise.
You can see here, that my running at 5mph burned 397 calories. (YES!)
It then adds those calorie expenditures to your overall calorie goal.  (Yes, burning more calories means you can EAT MORE calories!)

Finally... probably the most important reason why I LOVE MyFitnessPal... is it works!
As I mentioned at the start of this post, I've been using the program for a little over a month.
And guess what!?!?
The scale has started to move in the OTHER direction.
It's not going up any more!
I've lost 5-pounds in just under 5-weeks.
I really do believe it's because I've paid attention to my calories in and calories out.
I think it's due to My Fitness Pal.

You can even have "friends" who you can share your weight-loss journey with and support each other.

I can't think of anything that I don't like about MFP.  I guess I would like to be able to see a full "calendar" of activity/food tracking along with weight... but that's nothing I can't live without.  It has other reports you can see that are okay - I'm sure others find them more useful that I do.  But hey, that's great!  The more tools, the better.

So, visit today and sign yourself up.  It really is an amazing tool - if you dedicate yourself to it (like anything).

Saturday, June 18, 2011

99/100 Week 3: June 12 - 18

Here's my mileage for the third week... 
of the 99/100 Challenge

This was an AWESOME week, full of "bests" and a strong feeling of success.  This week solidified my belief that I'm going to do well this year.  I'm actually looking forward to the Tri, because I know I am ready.

Two weeks from today, we'll see how well I actually do.

For now, here's what I've been up to this week.

Sunday, 6/12 -
   Run - 1.0 mile run
I did a "speed trial" - asking how fast can I run 1.0 mile?  Answer - 9:36 (not bad!)
* I also did 15 burpees.  Don't know what a burpee is?  Click here.  Why am I doing burpees?  My cousin is doing the 100 burpee challenge (yes, ANOTHER challenge).  It's a 100 day program where, at the end, you do 100 burpees in a row.  Think it's easy?  HA!  Try doing 15.  Try doing 10!  Hell, try doing 5.  You'll see they are NOT easy.

Monday, 6/13
   Swim - 0.85 miles (1500 yards)

Tuesday, 6/14 - Rest, yes... I forced myself to take a rest day.  It's getting harder and harder to do.

Wednesday, 6/15
   Run - 4.8 miles (yes, this is correct... almost 5-miles!  I constantly ran for 4.0 miles, and had some walking/running intervals for the other 0.8)  This is a new milestone for me... a new "longest run".
   Walk - 2.0 miles (Mackie needed a walk... so off we went for a nice easy hike in the woods)
   Swim - 1.0 miles (1800 yards) - I SWAM A MILE!  It took me 45 minutes, but I did it.  Pretty proud of this milestone, too.
** Wednesday was a VERY good day! **

Thursday, 6/16
   Bike - 10.0 miles (this was ANOTHER good day.  I figured I'd just do an "easy 10", but once I got started I felt very strong, so I went with it and pushed myself.  I finished in 48-minutes, averaging 12.5 mph).
   Hike - 2.5 miles (in the woods, uphill, both ways).  Good time with my sister and her 4-legged child.

Friday, 6/17
   Hike - easy 1.5 miles in the Forestry.
   * 15 Burpees *

Saturday, 6/18
   * BRICKBike - 6.7 miles then Run - 1.9 miles

For a grand sum total of 32.25 miles this week.
My total running miles were 7.7, leaving me with 78.42 miles to go (before Labor Day).

Interesting little side note... I totaled up my mileage for the first 3-weeks of the 99/100 Challenge... if one was to include ALL activities (not just running)... I'd be sitting at 99.95 today.  SO CLOSE!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Tis the Season... for JAMMING!

I can't tell you how many people has asked for my jam recipes.  Usually it happens after someone has tried some and fallen in love with it.  I must admit, I LOVE all the ooohhs and yummmms I hear when people taste my jam.  It makes me so happy.

There really is nothing special to my recipe for any Jam.  I (basically) follow the Sure-Jell Low-Sugar recipe (contained in the box of Sure-Jell Premium Fruit Pectin), with a few modifications.  All of the "processing" directions I follow pretty closely.  It's the ingredients that are altered.

So.. for example, Strawberry.  My personal favorite.

The recipe says -
6 cups of crushed strawberries
4 cups of sugar

I make my jam with -
9 cups of (mostly) crushed strawberries (I use a potato masher to bust up the berries, leaving some almost whole and others pulp)
~ 3 cups of sugar (I scoop out four "almost" cups... I measured with my most recent batch and my cups are more like 3/4 cups)
I use butter with the fruit - about 1/2 Tbsp.
I don't skim off any foam (tho usually, I don't get much, if any) before ladling the mixture into jars

That's it!  Those are the only differences.  No magic, or ancient family secrets.

However... there are a few things I've learned over the years that help make REALLY YUMMY jam -
- Fresh fruit.  I try (tho it doesn't always happen) to make jam from perfectly ripe fruit.  My strawberries were processed within 24-hours of being picked.  I use "seconds" for nectarine/plum/apricot because I don't care what they look like, I just want tasty fruit.  (I also try to only use locally-grown fruits.  Nothing from the supermarket, just farm-fresh fruits.)
- Let your "rolling boils" roll... give them a little time to build.  Don't rush to add the remaining sugar or hit the 1-minute timer.  I've found that it's really hard to overcook jam.
- Don't worry about EXACT amounts of fruit or sugar.
- I use the "inversion method" to seal the jars.  After filling and screwing on the lid/rings on the jars, turn the jar upside down and let sit for 5-7 minutes.  Once that's done, flip them back to their upright position and let them sit for the next 24-hours.  Listen for the "pop" and cheer when you hear it - your jar is sealed!

Hope this helps.  Feel free to ask if you have any questions about jam-making.  I'm no expert, but I've been doing it for a while and may be able to assist.

Happy Jamming!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

12-of-12: June 2011

Any other Sunday this month and I likely would have brought you twelve stunning photos of waterfalls, rolling hills, hiking adventures or some other cool travel destination.

But, today, we had a guest arriving at 2pm, so we stayed home and cleaned up, cooked, then entertained.  So, you all get 12 pictures taken around the house... examples of what we have to offer here in Western New York State.

First, the flora...
Rhododendron - the last blooms
Beacon Silver Dead Nettle
Happy little Hosta
New Blue Spruce
My Big Backyard

And, now, the fauna...
Mackie - making sure we don't have squirrels or chipmunks in the yard

Can't see me
Peanut Face
Stump Speech

CHUBBY (and comfy) Gold Finch
That's all I've got for you this time.  Come back next twelfth and see what's going on.  If you want to join in, visit Chad Darnell's blog at this link - he's the one who started all this "12-photos on the 12th day of each of the 12-months."

Saturday, June 11, 2011

99/100 Week 2: June 5 - 11

Here's my mileage for the second week... 
of the 99/100 Challenge

Sunday, 6/5 - Rest

Monday, 6/6
   Swim - 0.91 miles

Tuesday, 6/7 - Rest

Wednesday, 6/8
  *BRICK*  Bike - 11.0 miles & Run - 1.8 miles

   Swim (open water) - 0.25 miles (400 meters)

Thursday, 6/9
   Walk - 2.14 miles

Friday, 6/10
   Run - 4.08 miles (of that, ran 3.5 continuous miles - my longest run yet!)

Saturday, 6/11
   Walk - 1.32 miles (trail walk with Mackie)
   Bike - 13.5 miles

For a grand sum total of 35.0 miles.  

As for the 99/100 Challenge... I'm a bit behind on running miles at the moment because I'm trying to make sure I hit all three Triathlon events.  Three-weeks till the big day.  I'm still feeling VERY good about my progress and am expecting to blow last year's time out of the water!

My total running miles were 5.88, leaving me with 86.12 miles to go (before Labor Day).  Will just keep on keepin' on!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Turn the Page... Tuesday

Hello Book Lovers!
I'm sorry I've been away these last few months.
But now, I'm back and have caught up on a lot of reading, so here are my reviews.

For those of you who don't know about Turn the Page... Tuesday, visit Adrienne's blog at Some of a Kind to learn more... then play along!

I've completed FOUR books since I last blogged about them back in February.
The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
This is the 2nd in "The Millennium" Series - where we learn more about Lisbeth Salander's dysfunctional family and upbringing.  The story was far less interesting than the first book (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) in that the story dragged, you didn't really care about the characters, and you kept waiting for something to happen.  That something did finally happen (in the last 50 pages of the book), but it was a long time coming.  If I hadn't felt compelled to finish it before I watched the movie by the same name, I could have easily just put it back on the shelf without a need to go back.
I have The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest waiting for me, but I don't know if I'll make time to read that for a while, if ever.
 The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
I have mixed feelings about this book.  My Book Cub read it for our May meeting and it seems many of my fellow members were conflicted about it as well.
The story starts in the 1940s/50s when Henrietta "donated" her cancer cells to science (without her consent or knowledge).  Ms. Skloot's investigation tracks the HeLa (Henrietta Lacks) cells and Henrietta's very poor, uneducated, and highly dysfunctional family for 50-years.
We learn of the numerous scientific breakthroughs attributable to the HeLa cells (vaccines, AIDS research, etc), but then have to weigh that against the ethical issue of taking Henrietta's cells without her consent.  Then, there's the question of money - how many scientists achieved money and prestige from these ill-gotten cells?  Should it matter, since the studies are helping so many around the world?
It's funny - for me, my struggle was not the bio-ethical issue raised by some, it was more of the story itself.  This should not have been a full-length book.  Instead, it could have easily been made into a journal article or paper.  Explain the science and mention the family - not create a long, drawn out drama.  I gave the book a 3.0.
Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris
Sookie is BACK!
I finally bought last-year's Book 10 in the Southern Vampire Series.  What fun it was to get back to Sookie and her strange world.  "Big thinker" book this was not... but a nice, light, almost-summer read.  Plus... I was quite pleased that poor Sookie didn't get too bumped around this time.  In fact, she seemed to be a rather strong character in this episode.
Ha!  I just noticed that the title is really quite appropriate this time... lots of family stuff in Dead in the Family.
The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
Ohhhhh, what a wonderful story!  You MUST read it!
Kate Morton puts the essence of The Forgotten Garden perfectly on her website -
... a lost child.
... a terrible secret.
... a mysterious inheritance.
This book follows the lives of three generations - all with their strengths and quirks... and more dysfunction.  But you fall in love with each of them (even the "bad" ones) and can't wait to turn the page to find out more.  In addition to the main story, the author includes "fairy tales" written by Eliza, the main character, that illuminate the feelings (or the truth) behind the story.
I have recommended this book as my Book Club's Summer Read - I'm excited to lead the discussion and hear what the ladies have to say about it.

I can't wait to see what others have read this month - I'm working on Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier now - which I KNOW one of the TTP...T participants read recently.  I'm a little less than half-way through, so I expect I'll be talking about it next month.

Thanks for visiting!  See you in July!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Weekly wrap-up

Here's my mileage for the week... 
(kicking off the 99/100)

Monday, 5/30
   Run/walk - 4.0 miles
   Creek-walk - 2.0 miles (Saw the most spectacular waterfall at the 1.0-mile point.  Amazing!)

Tuesday, 5/31
   Cycling - 15.4 miles

Wednesday, 6/1
   Hike - 1.5 miles

Thursday, 6/2
   Hike - 1.44 miles

Friday, 6/3
   Hike - 3.52 miles

Saturday, 6/4
   Run -  4.07 miles (VERY proud of my two 1.5-mile run intervals during this workout)
   Walk - 0.77 miles (cut short due to rain, thunder & lightning)

For a grand sum total of 32.7 miles.

However, keeping to the original plan of running 100 miles in 99 days, I'm also going to track just my run miles.  My 8 run miles this week puts me at 92 to go.  Yay!

BTW, four-weeks from today is the Triathlon.  Today's run has made me feel quite confident that I'll be fully prepared for the event this year.
... let the countdown begin!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Birthday shoes!

My hubby will have a birthday soon... so today we went shopping for his present.  He's been talking for months about Vibram's FiveFingers... you know them as the shoes with individual toes.

He's terrible at waiting for presents and these shoes require precise fitting (you really have to try them on to know if you like them and if you have the right size).  So, off to the store we went.
Here he is... enjoying a nice beverage on the back deck... in his new VFFs.  He says he's going to wear them to work tomorrow - we'll see what kind of reaction he gets.

I'm thinking about possibly investing in a pair for myself... not yet, tho.  When I do, I'll be sure to post a picture of my funny feet.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Counting down...

I'm a month away from my 2nd Triathlon.
I'm completely confident about my equipment - bike, especially.
I feel good about my swimming ability.
and... I'm getting there for the run.

The next 3-weeks will be the deciding factor on how much improvement I can make at the race.

I'm excited to see what's going to happen.