Friday, January 29, 2010

Cooking Challenge Week Four: Dinner Party

Last night's dinner party was pretty much a success, except for the broccoli. The broccoli was a disaster.

I started prepping about an hour or so before the BF and Emily were supposed to show up.

My menu:
Roasted garlic and butter tilapia (I bought the fish already seasoned)
Roasted potatoes

And for dessert:

Blackberry and kiwi fruit dishes topped with whipped cream

To get everything ready in time, I started chopping kiwis.

I placed the kiwi pieces and blackberries in cute dishes before covering them with plastic wrap and popping them in the fridge to chill.

Then it was on to potato chopping. You may recognize these potatoes from a few weeks ago. Emily saw them on the blog and said they're her favorite kinds of potatoes but she hasn't figured out how to make them herself yet.

So I had no problem including them in the menu.

All lined up on the cookie sheet.

And seasoned before popping them in the oven at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes.

I failed to take a picture of the fish before popping that in the oven as well.

While everything was in the oven I set the table. (Please ignore the hideous orange color of my dining room walls, the girls who lived in the house before me painted them that color. Not sure what they were thinking.)

I decide to make broccoli for the vegetable because the BF hates just about every vegetable known to man, but gave me the OK for broccoli. Unfortunately it turned out terribly. I just used one of the frozen bags that you steam heat in the microwave. I've used them tons of time before with no problem, but for some reason it didn't heat evenly last night and some was overdone and some wasn't done. Disaster.

Awkward picture of the BF pretending to eat his food. Awful broccoli in the background.

Emily's plate. Note the missing broccoli.

Emily and the awful orange walls.

Once dinner was finished, it was time to bring out dessert. I sprayed little dollops of whipped cream onto of the berries and kiwi. Holy yum it was good!

Proof of the deliciousness.

Overall the night was an awesome success. Emily also brought her computer over and let me steal a bunch of music so my poor iPod will get all updated this weekend!

Happy Friday!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Dinner party prep

I'm throwing a dinner party tonight, and by a dinner party, I mean the BF and my college roomie are coming over for dinner and I am super pumped about it.

I have an excellent, healthy menu planned all the way down to dessert, but you're all going to have to wait until tomorrow to see what dinner features. I'm really excited to expose them both to new (and healthy) foods. And hopefully surprise them with how good they can taste.

My college roomie isn't the most adventurous eater. She's picky and only likes certain things, but I'm excited to expand her horizons and hopefully find something else that she likes.

So to prepare for tonight's festivities, I did all kinds of cleaning yesterday after work. Washed a lot of dishes, tidied up a lot of rooms, found super cute dishes to serve the food on.

I also didn't work out because I wanted to rest up my hip. Not sure what I'll have time for tonight workout wise. I have to stop at the grocery store after work to pick up a few last minute ingredients, but I'm hoping I'll have time to do the Shred and grab a quick shower since we're eating later.

Wish me luck in the kitchen and check back tomorrow for the full dinner recaps (complete with pictures)!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

I need new music

So Monday's post was my 500th! I didn't realize I was getting so close to the 500 post milestone, and then completely missed it. Whooops!

In other news, my iPod is sorely, sorely outdated. The last time I updated it was to put some Christmas music on it and the time before that, well it was probably this summer. Sad, but true.

Lately I've been really into a whole bunch of the new country stuff that's come out and I just haven't downloaded any of it yet. Admittedly though, some of the country stuff isn't the best for running.

So I'm taking suggestions. What have you all been listening to lately to get you motivated for your runs. I could use some good suggestions.

Side note: I did 30 minutes on the treadmill last night. My hip still isn't quite right. I kept it slow and stopped every 10 minutes to stretch but still by the end it didn't feel great and I could feel my form getting really messed up toward the end. Grrr the frustration continues.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Cereal, hips and lunches

A favorite:
I've been a big fan of Kashi cereals for a long, long time, but I think I have finally stumbled upon my favorite ever: Cinnamon Harvest.

Think Mini-Wheats, minus the sugar coating and instead flavored lightly with cinnamon sugar. They are so good without being too sweet. Plus when I looked at the ingredients list there were only about five things listed and all of them were real things, not funky chemical stuff.

It's also my favorite dinner cereal when I'm in a pinch.

Hip Update:
My hip still isn't better, but I think it's getting there. I tried running for a few minutes on the treadmill the other day just to see how it would feel. I did about 10 minutes and then stopped because it was starting to hurt. I switched the elliptical and finished my workout on that.

The next morning I noticed my hip felt a lot better, but it's different day to day. Some days it feels great, some days it feels tight and stiff. I'm continuing to stretch and hoping that it will clear up soon.

Playing Nutritionist:

The BF asked me the other day if I would be his nutrition consultant because he wants to try to eat healthier. While I'm certainly not the perfect eater, I do have a good grasp on what we should and should not be eating. And isn't it always easier to tell other people what to do rather than do it ourselves.

The BF's biggest challenge is finding healthy things that are easy to take for lunches at work so that he doesn't end up doing McDonald's or Chik-Fil-A every day.

I'm trying to come up with some good alternatives for him.

What kinds of foods do you bring to the office for lunch?

Friday, January 22, 2010

10 things that make me happy

RockStar Tri tagged me yesterday in a fun little meme going around the Interwebs. And since it's Friday, I figure it's the perfect day to reflect on the 10 things that make me happy.

1. Visiting my family in Allentown. It's great because I get to spend quality time with the family and run on nice open roads with no traffic lights.

2. The BF. Yup I'm a sap.

3. My fabulously wonderful friends. They come to my races and make signs and are just awesome people to hang out with on a normal basis.

4. Running. I miss it a lot now that I'm injured. I can't wait to get back out there.

5. Curling up with a good book or some of my favorite shows on TLC after a long day at work to unwind.

6. The suburbs. Seriously, every time I drive through one I think they are so quaint and I'm always envious of all the great running room they have.

7. Social media. I'm a nerd. I love Facebook and Twitter and all those other sites.

8. Chick flicks, chick lit, girly movie nights. Self explanatory.

9. Blogging. I love writing and this is a great outlet for it. I love the support of the community I've found through blogging. I love all of your comments and encouragement. It makes me smile every time I get an email saying someone else has left me a comment.

10. The beach and warm weather. There is no place I'd rather be than at the beach, relaxing and soaking up the sun. Walking along the beach at night is so peaceful and calming and seriously, is there a better getaway than the beach?

OK the rules from here go that I need to tag 10 people, but since I love you all, consider yourself tagged if you want to be!

Happy Friday! May the weekend come quickly!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Cooking Challenge Week Three: Summer in the Winter

Sorry for the late post today everyone! I just wasn't on my A-game this morning.

For week three of my cooking challenge I decided to make a summertime favorite. We've been having a bit of a warm spell in the D.C.-area as of late. Sunday it was up in the 50s! Wheee! And I've been inspired by the warm weather to whip up some warm-weather food.

One of my favorite summertime foods is my mom's three-bean salad. It's one of the quickest and easiest recipes around, takes about five minutes to make and doesn't require any cooking at all.

As the name implies, you start off with three beans: Green, Wax and Kidney. I very often also add chick peas, edamame and cut up pepper depending what I have in stock, but last night, it was just the basic beans. (P.S. Don't use the French Style beans, I grabbed that can by mistake at the store. You definitely want to just use the cut beans.)

Open the cans, rinse the beans and dump them all in a bowl.

Then it's time to whip up the dressing.

The dressing is made of oil and red wine vinegar. The original recipe calls for 2 parts oil to one part vinegar, but I sometimes do a one to one mix.

Then you add lots of spices. Pepper is always a necessity and sometimes that's all I use, but last night I dumped in some onion powder too.

And then a tiny bit of sugar to help cut some of the vinegar's bitterness. (Although if you like the tart taste, the sugar is totally optional.)

Pour the dressing over the beans and pop in the fridge for an hour or so to chill and then eat.

I take this recipe to picnics and potlucks all the time because it's so easy and delicious. It's also perfect for when I'm in a pinch or I'm not feeling the most creative in the kitchen.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

How to fix injuries

For anyone who's been reading for more than a week or so, you know I've been having lots of problems with my left hip that I think are tied to major tightness in my IT bands. if you've been reading for a while now, you know I've battled several minor, but annoying injuries in the last several years.

I've learned over the course of my running career and working through the different injuries that you can fix almost any (non-super serious) injury the same way.

This is what I've been doing for my hip lately and it seems to be helping. My hip was a lot less tender today and fingers crossed that I'll be back to running soon.

Step One:

Back off running. I wasn't keen to do this at first, but it was pretty necessary to make sure everything got fixed. Cross training was still an option so I switched to the elliptical.

Step Two:
Ice. I learned it's pretty tough to ice your hip. You almost have to be lying down. Plus balancing ice packs on yourself isn't always the easiest thing to do. But this definitely numbed some of the pain and I'm sure helped cut down on inflammation.

Step Three:
Streeeeetch. Hip stretches are kind of hilarious to do. I mean you have to sit or stand in some pretty weird positions. When I do the standing ones I look like a Valley Girl with way too much sass. Seriously, hip pushed out to the side, hand on the hip, all kinds of attitude.

Step Four:
Massage and not the sissy Swedish massage kind. I'm talking sports/deep tissues massage. This step has always been pretty critical for me in getting over any kind of injury.

In Allentown, I see one of two women who are completely and totally awesome and leave me with a few bruises the next day from really working the knots out. Down in DC I've really struggled to find a good massage therapist, everyone I'd gone to was too wimpy. But then one of my Twitter peeps recommended a therapist out in Columbia and after tweeting with the massage therapist for a while, I made an appointment for the other day. Today things seem to feel a lot looser in the hip area and while the jury's still out on whether or not the massage was helpful, I'm crossing my fingers and hoping for the best.

So those are my steps to overcoming just about any running injury. Aside from a major bone break/stress fracture.

What do you do to treat injury and get back to running quickly?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Nutritionist review

I went to my nutritionist appointment yesterday with two questions in mind:

First, I wanted to know how much protein I should be getting in my diet and how to make sure I was getting enough/what foods were the best sources.

Second, I wanted to learn some quick meal options that were easy to take to work for lunch because I really struggle in that area and usually end up with a frozen Lean Cuisine because they're easy to transport and I lack creativity.

When I walked into her office, I wasn't sure what to think at first. It was very small and there was a window for a receptionist that was boarded over. That struck me as a little odd. When the nutritionist came out to greet me, she was very friendly. Before going into the appointment I had to fill out a form with information about the kinds of food I eat in a typical day and what I was hoping to get out of the appointment.

She started off the appointment by reviewing the information on the forms and then answering my questions.

In regards to the protein question, I learned women ages 14 and older should get about 45 grams of protein per day. I'm probably lucky if I get half of that. The nutritionist reminded me that almost all foods have even a little bit of protein and I might be getting more than I think. Then she recommended beans, nuts and seeds as great, non-meat sources of protein, pretty basic information that I already knew. As an experiment, sometime this week I'm going to try to count the grams of protein I get in a day because I'm curious to see just how close to that 45 I get.

As far as suggestions for good meal options for lunches, she didn't have many. She suggested taking in leftovers from meals I cook the night before. Well the problem there is that I don't cook a lot at night. I usually eat a lighter dinner, like cereal or PBJ because it's late at night by the time I get home from the gym. She also suggested cooking in bulk and freezing leftovers for later.

Throughout the 40-minute appointment I did pick up two tips that I thought were interesting.

First, she recommended that I think of food as fuel and that I plan how big or small a meal will be around what I have yet to accomplish that day. By that thinking, breakfast should be pretty sizeable, maybe more than my standard bowl of cereal. Lunch should also be larger since I work out in the evenings after work. And then dinner should be something small and simple. That's pretty much the opposite of what I do now, but it seemed like interesting advice.

The other thing I picked up on was that she kept saying that candy/sweets/junk foods, were "fun" not "food" and that we have to think whether we need food to fuel our bodies or are in the mood for something fun as a small treat. I thought that was valuable advice too.

Overall though, I wasn't impressed and I didn't learn very much in my appointment. I took the consultation with her because it was a deal that I found and thought it could be interesting. If I ever decide to go the nutritionist route again, I will make sure to research what the person's specialty is and look for someone who does most of their work with athletes. I think someone with that kind of background would be able to offer me more than just your basic dietary info, that's great for a newbie, but not for me.

Have any of you been to see a nutritionist? Did you learn anything valuable?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Meeting with a nutritionist

I made an appointment to see a nutritionist this afternoon. I've always wanted to have my diet choices analyzed and to get some guidance on how to incorporate more good-for-me food in easy ways. I especially want to ask her about how I can make sure I'm getting enough protein each day.

I got a sweet deal on the price through this site called Groupon, which basically sells group discounts to all kinds of places. So if enough people are interested in the deal and buy it, the coupon becomes valid, if not, then you get your money back.

The nutritionist coupon was posted right after New Year's so plenty of people bought it and as a result I get to a sweet dietary consultation for $25.

I'm really looking forward to hearing what she has to say. I even held off on my grocery shopping for this week in case she had some great ideas.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Creepers at the gym

Man last night my fitness center was crawling with some serious creepers.

When I first walked in there was only one other guy there, he was doing some sort of weight work freakishly close to my elliptical and was grunting so loud I could heard him over my iPod. I wanted to turn around and tell him he should probably use some lighter weights.

While I continued to kick my own butt on the elliptical, grunter dude's friend joined him. Grunter dude left about five minutes after his friend showed up. And unfortunately it was his friend of course who was the major creeper.

His friend wandered around the fitness center for a little while, as if trying to decide what to do. At the point I was just happy that another girl had walked in and hopped on a treadmill.

Creeper decided to lift some weights, also standing freakishly close to my elliptical.

At this point I finished up and hopped on the treadmill for some easy walking for my cool down and of course right as I was doing that creeper got on the treadmill next to mine and the other girl left. Wonderful. Just me and creeper alone in the gym.

He was running on his treadmill though so I just ignored him and started stretching out. As soon as I hopped off my treadmill and finish my stretching, next thing I know that dude is eyeing me weirdly and had stopped running.

Yea, time for me to grab my sweats and get the heck out of there.

Despite the weirdos being everywhere last night I still managed to get a decent work out in on the elliptical. And I think I'm seeing a little breakthrough with the hip. Stretching last night actually felt good, not painful and I made sure to ice it when I got home. So cross your fingers for me, maybe I'm on the mend!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Cooking Challanege Week Two: An Old Staple

For this week's recipe I decided to put a twist on a recipe my mom used to make all the time when I was younger, stuffed peppers.

When I was little, I never really liked them. In fact, I complained and moaned every time she made them.

But now that I'm all grown up and I actually like peppers, I figured it was a good time revisit this old recipe.

I was in search of an organic pepper at the grocery store, but no luck. Instead I ended up with this beast.

I chopped off the top and cleaned out the insides.

And then I prepared my filling. I used instant brown rice and a can of black beans.

I mixed that with tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce and some onion powder and then scooped as much as would fit into the pepper.

After drizzling the last bit of tomato sauce on top of the filling

I popped it in the oven at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.

In the end it wasn't super delicious. I probably could have used some more spices and stuff to give it a little more flavor, but it was definitely yummy.

In workout news, I did 30 minutes on the elliptical last night with no hip pain and then rolled out my IT band and iced it while I read. I'm planning on making a massage therapy appointment for sometime soon. I'm hellbent on getting my hip back in working order.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Backing off to fix my hip

I have a problem.

I'm a perfectionist who really likes to run. This often leads me to run even when I'm injured and should be resting.

It took Stacy's comment on yesterday's post for me to realize I was even doing it.

teacherwoman said...
You're still running with a nagging hip?!

That pretty much says it all.

Yes I was still running with a nagging hip because I wanted to get in the miles, because I didn't want my running fitness to suffer, because I want to be in good shape for the cruise and for several other reasons that are equally as silly.

So I'm forcing myself to take some time off from running.

In that time I will take Carolina John's advice and use the elliptical to keep my aerobic fitness up and work on some hip strengthening exercises that I learned in PT two summers ago. I will also spend some time each day working on my IT band with The Stick and following up with Icy Hot as necessary.

I'm also on the lookout for a good massage therapist or active release practitioner in the DC area who won't charge me an arm and a leg. I'm determined to get this hip thing under control so that I can train for the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler after I get back from vacation.

Feel free to leave great hip exercises and stretches in the comments.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Three miles, interrupted

Do you know what's challenging? Running on a treadmill while trying to talk on your cellphone. I know because I had to do it yesterday at the gym. (Good thing I was the only one there.)

With about three minutes left in my run, the car dealer had called to tell me what was wrong with my car. I hopped to the sides of the treadmill, jogged to the front of the gym and killed the volume on the TV all while learning that my brakes had rusted and that the mechanics needed to remove them, clean them and sand them all for the low, low price of $250. Gah!

I told them not to do anything that I wanted to think about it (aka call my dad and find out if I was about to get majorly ripped off.)

After confirming that the price I was quoted was in fact reasonable for brake work, I called back and was put on hold for like 10 minutes.

During those 1o minutes I got bored and figured I'd finish the last three minutes of my run. I'm sure I looked like a complete tool cranking out 9 minute miles with a cellphone pressed to my ear, but hey, I was the only person there so I didn't care too much. Plus I finished by the time anyone took my call.

So three miles down, still with the nagging hip pain. I treated the IT band to the Stick and some Icy Hot and I'm going to work on adding in strength moves more regularly.

Oh and I got my car back and it no longer sounds like it's about to explode.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Six miles and visiting horses

When I got home from work on Friday night I was determined to get a longish length run in because it had been such a long time. Even though I knew I was going to have to do it on the treadmill, I figured I could shoot for around 8 miles.

Unfortunately that nagging hip pain came back and every mile and a half or so I had to stop to stretch out my hip and IT band area. Around mile 5 I could feel my form was starting to get really bad so I stopped and stretched one more time and ended the run at six miles.

I started looking into places around me that offer active release. I've heard good things about it and I'm wondering if at this point that would do more for me than just a massage. Thoughts?

In other weekend news, the BF and I went to visit his sister at her new place. She's a horse trainer and started at a new barn a few months ago. I haven't been around horses since I was a small child and then it was only like once. So here are some pictures I'm sure you will all find highly amusing.

Little mini horses.

Me lunging away from the big horse while Mary laughs at me.

Mary amuses the horse so I can take a "normal" picture with it.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Cruise crackdown

With my cruise about four weeks away, I've decided I probably need to kick my workouts into a higher gear if I don't want to look like I've been in hibernation the last month and a half.

I've been a little lazy with my cardio lately and have been indulging in a few too many office sweets.

Time for a new game plan.

For the next four weeks I will:
  • Work out for at least a half hour at least five days each week. No more lame-o excuses about being too tired.
  • Get better at balancing my Jillian strength work with my running (which will benefit me later anyway)
  • Step away from the candy dish or the baked goods or whatever other treat a co-worker is offering me next.
  • Think wonderful thoughts of basking in the sun in a few short weeks in my new super cute swimsuits!

Game on!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

First (and freezing) run of the New Year

What's a girl to do when she desperately misses running outside but is a big wimp when it comes to the cold?

Head out in the daylight hours and layer up off course!

Layer one: Under Armour cold gear tights and mock neck.

Layer two: Lightweight fleece.

Layer three: Hat and gloves.

Layer four: Chapstick. This is so crucial on windy days it's not even funny.

Despite being awesomely prepared clothing wise for this run, it still sucked. A lot.

In fact I think I tweeted that it was the worse run ever.

The first mile was awesome, clocked it in just under nine minutes. Then things like hills, wind and my hat trying its hardest to fall off my head caused some slow down.

I got several side stitches because the air was so cold it burned my lungs and was making it hard to breath. In miles two and three I ended up having to walk a few times to catch my breath.

At one point the sun was shining and I was getting too warm so I stopped to walk to pull off my fleece. Of course minutes later the wind started whipping like crazy and the sun was nowhere to be found. Just my luck!

So my first run of the New Year sucked big time, which means it can only get better from here right?

3.64 miles
Average pace: 9:30

Anyone know any quick and easy ways to get rid of side stitches besides stopping to walk?

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Working out with Jill before BL9

I punked out again last night and opted for an at-home workout instead of heading to the gym in the cold. My toes were numb by the time I made the short walk from the Metro to my house, so I decided I'd just stay inside.

Since the Biggest Loser season premier was last night, I felt it was appropriate to let Jillian kick my butt as well.

I did Level 2 of the 30 Day Shred, a quick but intense workout.

I can tell all the Jillian work I've been doing lately is starting to pay off. My muscles don't fatigue as easily while I'm doing some of the strength moves. Score one for building up some strength.

While I'm happy with that fact that I've been much more dedicated to building strength lately, I feel like I've been completely slacking on my running. The last time I ran was about two weeks ago when I was home in Allentown and it ended with lots of hip pain. At some point soon I need to get back on the running horse and log something short. Maybe today will be the day.

In BL news, I live tweeted like crazy last night about the show. I can't believe how big some of the contestants are this season. I truly don't know how it can be safe for someone who is 500+ pounds to workout like they do on that show. It's got to put his heart at risk.

So far I have yet to figure out which player is my favorite. I'm sure that will happen soon in the weeks to come!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Cooking Challenge Week One: Keeping it Simple

Last night I went for a very simple approach when it came to cooking my first meal as part of my "Eat more fresh and whole foods" challenge.

My plan was to marinate some of my Trader Joe's chicken in herb and garlic and then saute it up while I roasted some red potatoes with olive oil and spices.

Imagine my surprise when I opened my chicken and realized it was the pre-cooked kind that had already been grilled and seasoned for me. All I had to do was heat it up. Not what I was going for, but oh well.

So instead, I turned my attention to the potatoes.

I took about four little potatoes and chopped them up.

Then I drizzled them in olive oil and sprinkled them with a seasoning from our spice cabinet. I choose an Italian pepper and onion mix and it was a delicious choice.

Popped them in the oven and warmed up my already grilled chicken in a frying pan on the stove.

At the last minute I decided to add some green beans to the mix.

And ta-da! Yummy and pretty healthy dinner that I cooked all by myself!

Week one = success!

Workout wise last night, I did a 30-minute living room bootcamp since it was way too cold for me to schelp to the gym and I wanted to watch some TLC. (sidenote: Comcast had taken away TLC and several other channels for like a month, so we had to upgrade our cable to get them back. I just got TLC back over the weekend. Talk about major withdrawal.) I did a very Jillian-esque style workout. Lots of strength circuits with two minutes of cardio blasts in between. It was fun, but I kind of miss running, even if it's on the dreadmill. If it's not tooo frigid tonight, I might try to brave the cold and head to the gym.

I'm such a wimp in the cold weather. I just want to batten down the hatches, cuddle up under some blankets and not leave my warm house until spring.

How do you all deal with the cold?

Monday, January 04, 2010

In Defense of Food Review

I'm currently reading "In Defense of Food" by Michael Pollan and even though I'm not quite done with it yet, it's already a book I would definitely recommend.

The book was a big part of the reason I made cooking one fresh meal each week a goal of mine for the new year.

After reading about how processed food, even the stuff that claims to be "fortified," is completely lacking in nutrients compared to whole foods like fruit, vegetables and and other things that don't come in strange packaging, I really want to try to work on getting more whole foods into my diet.

I do an OK job with fruits and veggies, but I know I eat a lot of processed stuff because it's quick and easy.

One of my favorite things Pollan says in the book is to avoid eating foods our great-grandmothers wouldn't recognize. He cites Go-gurt as an example. Next time you're at the grocery store, pick up a thing of Go-gurt and check out the ingredients list. I bet you will be shocked by how many of the ingredients are weird chemicals you probably can't pronounce.

Pollan also traces the Western Diet back to its roots and explains how we ended up with today's dietary guidelines. Long story short: Blame it on the meat and diary lobbyists.

If you're at all interested in food, where it comes from and what exactly we're eating, it's definitely a book I'd recommend checking out.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Plans for 2010

Happy New Year to you all! I hope everyone had a great time celebrating with friends and family!

Now that 2010 is here, it's time for me to lay out my plans and resolutions for the year.

Goal 1: Continue to improve at tracking my mileage. This was something I only did so-so on in 2009 and I want to have an accurate look at my running in 2010.

Goal 2: Cook at least one meal a week using fresh and organic (when affordable) ingredients. This meals like real cooking, not making some mac n cheese or oatmeal. I plan to keep a record of each meal each week on the blog. I'm hoping that when the blog redesign comes I'll be able to have this challenge have it's own page, so all the recipes I try will live together in one place.

Goal 3: Run lots of races of all different lengths. I'm registered for the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler in April. I'm considering a St. Paddy's Day 8K and otherwise, my calendar is completely open. I'd like to have at lest one half marathon in the mix and maybe, maybe one full marathon.

Goal 4: Access overall, knee health and how injury prone I've been this year before making a final decision about the marathon. If I run any marathon, it will most likely be the Baltimore Marathon or the Marine Corp Marathon. Both are local and pretty feasible logistics wise. I will only be running a marathon if I'm in a good place health wise to do it. I don't want to risk an injury or more knee problems by pushing it to get to this distance.

Goal 5: Spend the off season focusing on cross training, with a specific focus on strength training. It's something that I normally neglect pretty badly, but I want to be stronger this year so I've got to increase the strength training. If nothing else, I want this to the focus of the next few months when I won't actually be in training for anything.

I'm looking forward to working on each of these goals this year and I hope that the end result will be a fun, injury free year of running.