I Did a Gait Analysis!

It's been almost a year since I began my 'Operation Stay Healthy' quest, and I'm declaring it resounding success.  A FULL YEAR without any injuries!  And by last fall, there was some improvement in speed going on.  So, is 2015 the year of 'Operation Regain Speed'?  It's definitely a consideration, but I've rather enjoyed this year of no pain and running daily.  I'm thinking a little bit of both is essentially the long term aspiration.

Ever since reading The Whole Body Fix article in Runner's World (which I referenced in Operation Stay Healthy), I thought it would be so cool to get a running analysis, but unlikely.  The cost of the running clinic nearest me was around $250.  Maybe one day...  And lo, just last month, Everyday Athlete began offering free gait analysis with co-owner Lance Carter.  
Lance, who began coaching triathletes 17 years ago and Team in Training over 14 years ago, has completed the USAT Level I as well as Level I and II coaching certification with TNT led by Dave Scott.

The first thing he did was get me set up with a foot pod to ascertain my cadence, while watching my form on the treadmill.  I was really eager to learn this tidbit of info, as counting my own cadence is tricky and I don't own a foot pod.  Apparently, it was pretty spot on!  I was fluctuating right around 88-90 steps per minute, 90 being ideal.
A video posted by Andrea (@mrshallberg) on
My arm carriage was also pretty good.  He did advise me to try and swing my elbows back a bit more, and hold my arms closer to a 90 degree angle: I bend them a tad more than necessary. Lance stood behind me on the treadmill, and placed his hands where he thought my elbows should reach and we did sort of a reverse boxing drill with my elbows.  This was really helpful and I got a good sense of how far back I should get my arms going.
The main thing I was not doing very well was pulling up straight in my posture.  I've thought so much about Chi running, forward momentum and what my feet/hips/glutes are doing, that I've neglected my entire upper half.  As soon as he told me to straighten up and imagine a string pulling me up from my head like a puppet, my cadence hit 90+ and things felt easier.  Ergo, running faster felt easier!  We then went outside and he watched my form as I went from my usual stance to pulling up straighter to see if there were any other areas for improvement and he said that he could clearly see when I changed my posture and I totally sped up.  So great!

We chatted a bit more, about Oiselle, shoes (my Ravennas still seem to be a good fit) and he was very open about emailing him or stopping by with questions anytime.  Since then, I've done a few tempo and race pace workouts where I felt that I could hold a faster pace for longer.  I was doing pace workouts at about a 9:10 minute mile prior to making these tweaks to my form, and did one this weekend at a consistent 8:58 for four miles - a nice 12 second per mile improvement.  I have been doing my interval work, too, so that could be at play.  But I am pretty confident that Lance's input has given my running (and injury prevention) a boost.  And for that, I'm super grateful.  

Right now there is only ONE DAY left for free gait analysis on the calendar!  Hurry and snatch a spot if you're in the area.  After February 18th they'll start charging $40 a session, which is still a great deal in my humble opinion.


This Weeks Eats 1.25.15

I'm getting this post up a bit late because we enjoyed this amazing Seattle weather to the fullest today.  Apparently January 25th is a pretty sure bet for a lovely day around these parts, because my Timehop pulled up a sunny and warm post-run photo from last year.  This year, it was a perfect day to meet the new lion cubs and enjoy a visit to the zoo.

Afterward, with my belly full of Dippin' Dots, I still made it out for a nice run in the late afternoon.  Now we're sitting with the windows cracked and looking forward to a few more days of this June like weather.  Might have to fire up the grill this week...
Crock Pot Steak Chili

What you'll need:
1 cup dry pinto beans, rinsed (or put a can in about half way through cooking)
1/2 pound steak
1 14-ounce can whole, peeled tomatoes, with juice (I use petite diced)
2 cups broth (beef, chicken, or vegetable work fine)
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1 Tablespoon ancho chile powder
1 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt

Throw it all in the pot and cook on low about 5-6 hours, or if you're using canned beans you can put it on high for 3-4.

As always, I'm linking up with Org Junkie, Mommy Run Fast and Jill Conyers - be sure to check out all the great weekly menus!


Discount Code for the Everett Half, the Snohomish Women's Run AND the Snohomish River Run!

I have a new discount code to share with all my local peeps, and for anyone who might be visiting (or would like to visit) the lovely Pacific Northwest in 2015! Code: MRSHALLBERG will get you 10% off registration at any of the Snohomish Running Company races.  

The first race in this series is the NEW Everett Half.  This is the former Heroes Half.  The date, course, and charity partner remain the same.  But, there's the added benefit of being able to register along with one or both of the other Snohomish races as a package deal.  Pretty sweet.

The other two events are lovely half marathon (or 10K) races along the Snohomish River.  The next one on the calendar is the Snohomish Women's Run, on May 17th.  This was a bust of a race for me last year, but everything else about it was great!  Plus, it looks as if they have moved the start/finish area to downtown Snohomish.  This was a welcome change to last year's River Run and it makes for much easier parking with no shuttles needed.

This year's Snohomish River Run is on October 11th, which I am super pumped to run for the third time. (Race recaps are here and here.)

If that's not enough, I'll be sharing yet another discount code for 15% off the new Brooks Trailhead Run!  Right now they have their own discount code going through the end of January, but you can certainly use my code right now, and it can be used all the way through the end of MAY. It's: HALLBERG15 and I'll go into some more detail on that race next month. 

Disclosure: I was offered race entries and a monetary reward in exchange for getting the word out about the race series; although it is sponsored, all opinions are my own.


This Weeks Eats 1.18.15

Hoo, boy - I'm coming off of some serious stress watching that Seahawks vs. Green Bay game!  I kept with our tradition of going to Costco during the first half, which I'm pretty sure we did during last year's NFC championship game. It is the BEST time to go to Costco.  We parked right in front, walked the aisles while listening to the game on the big TVs, easily ate samples, and did not have a single person ahead of us as we got to a checkout.  Plus, this is in keeping with my superstition of not watching the kickoff of any Seahawks game.  Guess I'll have to go take a shower or fold some laundry during the Super Bowl kickoff and buy a cake like we did last year...

As always, I'm linking up with Org Junkie, Mommy Run Fast and Jill Conyers - be sure to check out all the great weekly menus!


A Response to the Zelle Article from Another Non Marathon Runner

There was a lot of chatter on social media after Zelle published the piece 'No Marathon for me, Thanks' from JoAnn Novak.  Most of the uproar, however, came from those who have run a marathon.  Most notably, an applaud worthy piece from See Dane Run where he goes over each point JoAnn made and why it was sort of ridiculous.  It got me thinking, does everyone think that runners who shun the marathon feel this way?  I guess I shouldn't worry what other's think, but I felt like a non-marathoner should pipe up here, too!  So please, marathon friends (which comprise of about 95% of my running peeps), do not think that those of us who don't want to run a marathon all feel this way towards marathon runners.  I really like and appreciate what Zelle is doing, building a community for women runners.  And in reading the article, I think I could maaaaybe see where she was coming from on some of the points.

What I'm thinking she meant to say was...

On the "Oprah Effect" of people 'just finishing' marathons: I'm pretty confident I could 'just finish' 26.2.  Where the ire stems from, at least for me, is the frequent questioning if I'll ever run a full.  When I respond in the negative, the inevitable reply is that of encouragement and "Oh, you could totally run a marathon!"  Um, yeah, I'm pretty sure I could finish one.  Of course, my 'just finishing' would probably be in the six hour range.  To assert that Oprah was not competing with a 4:29 is LUDICROUS.  In summary, if you're a marathon aficionado, don't assume every runner's end game is to run a marathon and try to convince them to do the same.  (But, I can understand wanting to share your love of the distance, just as I want to share the love of running with others!  So I roll with it.)     

On marathoners being all: me! me! me!: Hmmm, okay...  The way I can make sense of this point is that if I ever did run a marathon, I'm afraid I'd be EVEN MORE of a running evangelist/annoying to all my non running friends.  I am already annoying!  OR, my friends know what's important to me and they are cool with it!  Just like some of my other friends are into Crossfit, or Zumba or freaking Elf on The Shelf!  Whatever!  I do try to keep most of my run talk to Twitter, where most of my run family resides.  But, if your friends can't deal with your effusive talk of running from time to time, they ain't yo friends.  Let us all try to remember this lovely little video:

On nothing to prove: I think that we all get where this comes from, as there have been many a blog post, or tweets, or whatever about only comparing yourself to YOU.  Everyone's on his or her own journey!  Run your own race! etc.  If you've been running for long enough and have never run a marathon, it sometimes feels like there's a bit of pressure to do so - see above re: much questioning from marathoners on 'when I'm going to run a marathon.'  It's hard not to fall victim to feeling as if we have something to prove to anyone but ourselves.

Bad for knees and heart: um, yeah, I got no interpretation for her point on this one.  There are so many articles to the contrary, with one quick Google search.  

Really, the only point that should have been made in this article is one: She doesn't feel it in her heart; the marathon is not meaningful to her.  I said this before, but I feel so much more of a connection with doing a run streak (hit day 236 today!).  It speaks to me, the challenge of making the time every day and committing to my daily meditation.  I'm a bit of a control freak, and being the mom of two small kids (really the mother of any number/any age children) will make you feel completely out of control.  Like, really, your life barely belongs to you anymore.  This one thing I can control on a daily basis keeps me sane.  And, I certainly may change my mind on the marathon.  Again, I've written about this before, but the Chicago Marathon would be a temptation.  It would be meaningful to me.  It would not be about 26.2 miles.  It would be about running the streets of my heart - for about five hours if I'm being on the hopeful side... 


A Few of My Favorite Things

I started up a Twitter conversation the other week about Paula's Choice skin care, and realized that I needed to do a new Favorite Things post, just so I could talk about it in even more detail.

I happened to come across a magazine ad for this product while at the gym the other day! It is not false advertising: can't live without, even for one day. Yep.
I want to shout about this stuff from rooftops, seriously.  For much of my life I've had pretty good skin.  There were bouts of acne in the teen years, and stress related stuff in my 20s, but on the whole I've only used two things on my face for the better part of 25 years with reliably good results: Neutrogena Oil Free Acne Wash and Cetaphil moisturizer.  I've never been into lots of products and if it ain't broke...  Yet, in my great approach to age 40 (and now beyond) I've suffered from more monthly breakouts, more redness, more irritated skin and the beginning of the dreaded wrinkles.  Womp, womp.  I noticed a number of my favorite people in the Twitterverse singing the praises of Paula's Choice, and specifically the BHA products.  I hated the idea of spending $20 on something that might not work, and could possibly make my skin freak out even more.  But!  They have little $5 sample packs of their products! Plus more samples of your choosing with each order, so I got this kit and a few samples of the 2% BHA liquid which I stretched out for a week.  I could tell the difference in my skin within a few days, and ordered this stuff up right away.  I have not seen a single blemish on my skin in TWO MONTHS PEOPLE.  Plus my skin seems less greasy, less irritated, there's less redness and my pores seem smaller.  It is pure gold.  Seriously, sometimes I'll just start touching my face because it feels so good.  Even better, they are local to Seattle, so I get my orders practically next day!

Speaking of some of my favorite people in the Twitterverse (and in real life, too!), I have to share the deets on these awesome REC Shirts from Beth Baker.  Beth is one of the coolest people in the Seattle running community, and beyond.  If you are in the area and are new to running, or are even just thinking about running, you must check out her coaching services at Running Evolution.  Actually, you can be anywhere in the WORLD, as she has some virtual options!  She has expanded her talents into Running Evolution Contract shirts and swag.  Contract?  Yes, you get a contract with the item you buy:

I think all runners need this for their fridge, and it doesn't hurt that the shirts are super cool and soooooooft.  I'm pretty sure that they will be for sale soon on the website, so keep an eye out.  Meanwhile, you can buy them at trunk shows she's hosting at running stores 'round Seattle.  There will be some at Super Jock n' Jill Green Lake for ladies night TOMORROW, the 14th and keep an eye on her Twitter for more trunk shows!

If you've actually been reading along with my Favorite Things posts, you might be wondering how I've filled that enormous Julep sized hole in my heart since I gave up my subscription.  I have the perfect answer and an awesome deal to share!  Shortly after I quit Julep, someone re-tweeted a screaming deal from Zoya.  (Again, the greatness of Twitter is hard to deny.)  Well, that offer of $15 for THREE polishes (including shipping) is back!  And they're sending a mini set of 'mystery' shades this time - exciting.  I really love that they are vegan friendly and free of toxins, because my four year old inevitably wants to paint her nails the same as mom.  
a favorite color: Dana
The polish goes on well and seems to have the same amount of staying power as OPI and the like.  This is a great was to get my nail polish fix for cheaper than Julep and I can pick any combination of three from 300 colors.  The deal goes through tomorrow (the 14th at midnight), just use NYNH at checkout.  

OK, lastly, we watched A Million Ways to Die in the West the other weekend and OH MY GOD it exceeded my very low expectations.  I really liked Ted.  Yes, I admit it.  But I was hesitant about the super talented Seth MacFarlane's latest as it didn't get nearly as much buzz.  It was HILARIOUS, and I thought it even better than Ted.  My husband still holds the fuzzy bear in slightly higher regard, but we were both crying with laughter over this one - great movie night entertainment. 
A Million Ways to Die in the West (2014) Poster


This Weeks Eats 1.11.15 (and Favorites from 2014)

As I was looking back through the year of menu posts, it seems that I didn't try nearly as many new recipes as I did in 2013.  I think that I shall add trying at least two new recipes to the monthly goals...  Regardless, here are a few that we tried and enjoyed the most last year.  Unsurprisingly, it was all about tex-mex and salads in 2014:

Spinach Salad with Chicken, Avocado and Goat Cheese (from Recipe Girl)
Slow Cooker BBQ Pork Salad (from Everyday Reading)
Buffalo Chicken Tacos with Blue Cheese Slaw (from Mountain Mama Cooks)
Chicken Enchilada Quinoa Bake (from Pink Parsley)

Chicken BLT Chopped Salad with Fresh Lemon Garlic Dressing (our own creation that we make at least once a month)

This week:
As always, I'm linking up with Org Junkie, Mommy Run Fast and Jill Conyers - be sure to check out all the great weekly menus!


Favorite Books of 2014 and Books I Read in December

First up, books I read in December:

Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

It's been AGES since I read a Jodi Picoult book.  Looking through the archives, it's been since April of 2012, and my thoughts on Lone Wolf were the same as the last few Picoult books - they just felt a bit flat.  This book is definitely a redemption for me.  The characters all really come alive and have a great balance of humor and heartache.  I was completely engrossed Jenna's search for her mother and the mystery surrounding her disappearance.  I also love how Jodi Picoult very obviously researches the hell out of her subjects, as I learned a lot of cool things about elephants (which Jenna's mother studies).  I was sad that it had to come to an over-used gimmicky conclusion, but enjoyed the journey to get there.

Cress (Book 3 in the Lunar Chronicles) by Marissa Meyer

I don't think there's much more I can say about these books that I haven't said before.  They are certainly included in my favorites of the year and I loved how a Rapunzel character has been woven into this series.  Just great stuff.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

This has been on quite a few of the best of 2014 lists, and deservedly so.  It came close to being on my favorites for the year.  I immediately empathized with each of the characters and furiously turned the pages to see how each of their stories would unfold in this post-apocalyptic world.  Yes, it's another dystopian tale.  However, it is deftly told in flashbacks.  We see not only what becomes of people after the great flu epidemic, but really great back story on where they came from, which I found original and refreshing.  

My True Love Gave to Me, Twelve Holiday Stories edited by Stephanie Perkins

When deciding what to read next, I usually avoid short stories like the plague.  Why read a bunch of short stories that I'll most likely forget, when I can read an entire novel?  The exception to this is anything by David Sedaris, since all the stories are about him and they cohere in my mind easily as one story.  But I just couldn't resist a special holiday book that included a number of loved authors - I've read (and loved) books by at least five of them!  Now I need to read more!  I can't even say who's story I loved the most.  All were so very different, just as the writers are.  Maybe it was the holidays and enjoying these stories by the tree and sipping eggnog, but I just adored this book.    

Favorites of 2014!

As the year goes on, it becomes apparent by the number of times I recommend a book which is my favorite.  Hands down, the book I recommended most often this year was The Storied Life of AJ Fikry.  It's a total home run, so moving, and should appeal to everyone.  I also really loved We Were Liars, although it might not be everyone's cup of tea.  Sci-fi is definitely not everyone's cuppa, but I really enjoyed The Martian and finally Cinder and the Lunar Chronicles.  I loved this post from Book Riot: On Loving Books From Genres I Hate, complete with Clueless GIFs!  She went outside her sci-fi comfort zone and also discovered a love for Cinder. (I must admit, though, that I thoroughly enjoy sci-fi and I already had The Book of Strange New Things on hold at the library.) It can be a good thing to try a different genre, even if you think you'd hate sci-fi, YA, or (as I discovered last month) short stories.   

I'm always looking for good suggestions, so please feel free to share your best of the year books!

Also, here are my book lists for October and November, as I'm linking up with Everyday Reading's fourth quarter round up.


Open Faced Egg Sandwich with Gouda, Avocado and Proscuitto (and This Weeks Eats 1.4.15)

During the holidays, our fridge is just overflowing with so many leftovers.  Especially from our Christmas Eve wine and cheese night.  Have you ever tried a slice of Granny Smith apple wrapped up in proscuitto?  If not, I'd get on that, it's one of my favorite appetizers.  The other day on Twitter, I saw a quote that was something to the effect of 'bacon is proscuitto's fat Southern cousin.'  I had an aha moment to use what I had in the fridge for an easier breakfast sandwich (technically lunch, because that's when I like to eat eggy things).  No cooking, no stinking up the whole house is required to enjoy this much under utilized cousin of bacon.

I happened to have a hunk of leftover smoked Gouda, but I think any cheese (or no cheese at all!) would work just fine.  I also made these with some leftover pesto on another occasion, omitting the cheese, since there's plenty of Parmesan in pesto.  Also, very, very good.  

Open Faced Egg Sandwich with Gouda, Avocado and Proscuitto
  • Slice of grainy bread (I really like Dave's Killer Bread Good Seed or Franz Organic Nine Grain)
  • About two ounces thinly sliced Gouda, or any good cheese for melting
  • 1/4 ripe avocado
  • One good sized slice of proscuitto (I get the prepackaged from Trader Joe's)
  • One large egg
  • Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
Arrange the cheese on the bread and place in toaster oven to your preferred setting, or under a broiler until the cheese melts.  Meanwhile, fry egg over medium-high heat in a nonstick pan for about 4 minutes.  When the toast is done, sprinkle with salt and pepper and mash the avocado evenly over the bread.  Top with proscuitto and fried egg.

This weeks eats:
As always, I'm linking up with Org Junkie, Mommy Run Fast and Jill Conyers - be sure to check out all the great weekly menus!


Goal Setting for 2015! (Also Looking Back on 2014)

It's always a sad day when the holidays come to an end.  I think one of the reasons it's fun to set goals for the year is so that we have something to look forward to!  Although, going forward, I think I'm going to stick with a monthly to do list instead of a yearly one.  As I pointed out last year, I do much better with short term goals and it's easier to add/change/adapt monthly goals throughout the year.  Some of my proudest accomplishments from 2014 were goals I hadn't anticipated in January - namely NaBloPoMo, training a puppy, starting yoga, the run streak that I began in May (did day 222 today) and hitting 1,000 miles for the year (1012 total).  Since I hadn't looked at my yearly list in MONTHS, I told myself that I'd be pretty pleased with myself if I conquered half of them.  And, lo...

2014 goals:
1. PR in a race - hopefully a 5K. Not a 5K, but a 10K!
2. Volunteer at a race.
3. Do another trail race, or two, or three... well, I got one in.
4. Run a 5K with my son. YASSSSS.
5. Clean out the junk areas in the house - a couple of closets and drawers are getting scary. So much win on this one - all the closets and drawers!
6. Learn how to use the DSLR in manual mode. 
7. Plan another family trip. I am counting the trip to Great Wolf Lodge, yes I am.
8. Make that damn will.
9. Read more books than I did in 2013. Yay! I read 46 this year (here's my year on Goodreads), 3 more than 2013.
10. Redecorate/refurnish the kids rooms.

Six items out of ten crossed off the list and I'm calling that GOOD.  Certainly I have some overarching goals for 2015: I'd like to keep the run streak going all year, hit at least 1,000 miles, PR a 5K, volunteer at a race AND in my kids classrooms (this is the fall they will BOTH be in elementary!), read more books than last year, and then some.  And hopefully those will come by setting my smaller, monthly tasks.  So! Overview on December goals:

Set up and decorate the tree.  Done!  
Hang the outdoor lights. Womp, womp.  We never did this, probably because we were dealing with so much illness throughout the month.
Get all the Christmas shopping done.  Done!  Thank you, Amazon Prime.
Send out holiday cards. Done!
Make and deliver gifts for teachers. Done!
Make an appointment to see the eye doc first thing in January and maybe squeeze in a visit to my chiro. Half done, I'm all set for the eye doc, but I just keep putting off the chiro because I'm feeling fine.  But I really should go as a preventative measure...
Decide on Christmas day menu and get shopping. Done!
Keep up with ye olde run streak. Done, even while sick!

January Goals:
  • Decide on a plan for the Lake Sammamish Half and get to it!  I've been wanting to do this race again for the last couple of years, but it's always the weekend after Hot Chocolate.  I've decided to just bite the bullet, and incorporate the 15K into the training.  It's only two months away and I haven't really thought of what kind of plan to follow.  I'd like to do well.  I don't know if I'm in a place to PR like I did three years ago, but I'd like to put forth a solid effort and continue bettering my time from my last few halfs.
  • Keep up the run streak, of course.
  • Reign in the alcohol and dessert consumption/get back to a normal routine.  I only gained about three pounds this holiday season, and I consider that a total WIN.  But I certainly want to get rid of it, get back to eating normally, and to our regular routine with the kids and the gym.
  • Change the batteries in all of the smoke detectors - exciting!
  • Get out and run the trails, maybe try and hit up a new one - gotta put a fun and easy one on the list.
Happy New Year!