Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Marine Corps Marathon

I survived!

I have lived to tell the tale of ANOTHER amazing marathon! Yes, this past Sunday I ran the roads of Washington, D.C. along with 30,000 of my closest running friends. What an amazing race!! So many people, so many stories, and soooo much motivation.
My DNation team

I'm so grateful for the experience I had this weekend. I ran officially with Team DetermiNation for the American Cancer Society and more or less, un-officially, with my training team Capital Area Runners (CAR). Everyone has been so supportive and uplifting. Many friends helped me raise over $1,200 for the ACS in honor of my best friend, Katie Ball (as well as their loved ones!), and even more spoke encouraging words and offered well wishes throughout my training, as well as on race day.
Picking up my bib and checking out the expo

Thank you all for being amazing friends! I am so blessed to have the support that I have in you all! 

A view of the start! Only a fraction of the 30,000 runners
Race weekend loomed with the threat of hurricane Sandy destroying the day we had all worked so hard for.... But as we rose early Sunday morning, there was no rain, the temperature was perfect for a run and I felt GREAT! ACS had it's own tent pre/post race with lots of food/water, close access to (and no waiting) port-a-potties, bag storage, and a short walk to/from the start/finish lines. Thankfully, we had a very stress free pre-race morning not having to mess with the metro, parking or most of the crowds. In our tent I was able to meet up with Melanie, a friend I made on a long training run through Dnation/CAR.

Melanie and me at the start!
Melanie's super fit and fun, and we ran most of the race together (thankfully). Melanie had an extra boost of energy around mile 22 and I told her to kick it without me. My butt was burning so badly going over that stupid bridge I wasn't sure how I was going to kick it up the stupid hill climb to the finish!

One of the few action shots of the three of us! :) Love it!
Around mile 15 my girlfriend Kristen joined us to help keep our pace, carry our water/food, and run to the boys for additional supplies if needed. She was INCREDIBLE!!! She found us at the perfect time (we were still feeling good at that point) and stayed with me right until the finish (and through the time around mile 23 I thought I was going to barf) sending me through the crowds and around the curve before the dreaded hill climb with positive words and an extra boost of energy!

My finishing time: 3:43:24.

I was quite happy with my time. Ultimately I was shooting for 3:30 (my Boston qualifying time), but when I had to stop running 3 weeks ago due to an injury and move my workouts to the pool, I knew something might have to give and NOT getting to the starting line was not my option!! :) Thankfully my pool time kept my heart and lungs in marathon shape (for the most part), but I could tell my glutes and hamstrings hadn't been on a run recently! They were spent by mile 22.... after that, I think I was just pushing off with my calves.

Or so, that's how my legs felt Monday. 

Post race - At this point, my legs were locked
up and I was FROZEN! Todd practically
had to carry me to the car.... Okay, I leaned 
on him a whole lot. 

So, where I had planned to kick it up "another notch".... I more or less just kept going around the same pace I had been going. I listened to Coach George and despite my lack of kick at the end, I feel I did a great job doing as I was told to do for this race. I was spot on with my pacing from mile 1.... start slow, finish fast. I'll continue to work on the finishing fast part... since miles 25 & 26 were my only slightly faster than the pace of my first 8.

Overall, it was a great race. I wouldn't change much! I shaved 12 minutes from my last marathon, I didn't come close to pooping in my pants (refer to posts on my last race), the crowds were outstanding, and I'm looking for my next race.

Nihad (Melanie's Husband) and Todd - Super Husbands! Best road crew yet!

Recommendations? :)

Better yet --- what's your next race?!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

A Big Fat Greek Salad

I love salads.

Especially crunchy, feta-filled ones. :)

I found this one on Women's and pretty much make it all the time. I switch up the beans and us cannellini beans too.... They're just buttery!! Yum-o! You also can't skimp on the olives. Buy GOOD olives.

You might catch yourself trying to lick the bowl when you're done too.

.... or is that just me?


In a large salad bowl, mix the oil, lemon juice, vinegar, oregano, and pepper with a fork.
Add the tomatoes, chickpeas, cucumber, red onion, parsley, and olives. Toss to mix well. If you have time, let marinate for 15 minutes.
Add the greens and feta and toss again.

Friday, September 7, 2012

My Stand [UP] 2 CANCER

Tonight is the big, annual, television domination for the Stand Up To Cancer, celebrity endorsed tele-thon on all the major networks.

It's amazing.

Really. I think it's incredible what they are able to accomplish for this cause. (plus, it sure as heck bets all the politickin' on tv these days!)

But, it really makes me a bit jealous too. I mean, why didn't I get invited?!?! Don't they know I'm raising money for the cause too? Plus, I'm a sassy southern girl with red-hair..... won't that attract SOME DONATIONS!?

;) geez!

You may recall back in March when I informed everyone that I was running the Marine Corps Marathon. (Well, in case you missed that... catch up here.) Not only am I running this marathon, I'm running it to BEAT THE HECK OUT OF CANCER!!!!!

Yes, that means I'm raising money.
Yes, that means I'm going to ask you to donate.
Yes, it means a lot to me.
Yes, you should.

I could give you all the reasons you should support me, but I'll just show them to you instead. I'm a visual person and pictures mean more than words sometimes.

Katie Ball - Angio Sarcoma
My best friend from the first week of college. Katie was a vibrant, extroverted personality that instantly meshed with mine. We simply were "Red and Ched" throughout our time at UNCG. People knew us, knew our friendship, and probably were a bit jealous of it. ;) haha Just teasin'... We really were sisters. We grew up on completely opposite ends of the great state of North Carolina... and met in the middle. (Over make-up too!!!) After our initial introductions, we only were separated by miles. After we graduated, Katie went to ECU to work on her master's. I went to work. For months, she wasn't "feeling right" and it seemed almost a constant battle with her health, pain and problems. Then it came. I'll never forget the call. I was in the Pittsburgh airport returning home from my work week when Katie called. All I heard were tears. Then... "They think I have cancer!" came screaming through. I said nothing. The tears and fear followed. Not much was said after that. I said I'd be there tomorrow morning and as we hung up, the lady sitting next to me in the waiting area, put her hand on my back and just sat with me. I never even said a word to her, but she knew. She knew the fear that I felt. The fear that I had for my best friend who was now, starting the hardest fight of her life. 

For 5 months, the battle was constant. With her and her family, we saw this shining spirit that we all loved so dearly, being destroyed by this cancer. No matter how hard she worked, her doctors and nurses worked, or how much the rest of us prayed... Katie was loosing this war. On December 14, 2007, we lost Katie to cancer. 

Since then, my life has changed. I've been motivated by her in ways a lot of people don't even know. I'm a nurse because of her. Every challenge presented to me, I push through because I know she had it worse and was still smiling. :) Now, I've ran a marathon and am running my second FOR HER! 

These are the other's I know, love and run for. (and yes, their names will be on my jersey too!)
Lee J. Ball (Katie's half-brother) - Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma
My Aunt, Karen  & Ms. Betty - Breast Cancer
Melanie Ketner - Colo-rectal Cancer

My maternal Grandmother - Hodgkin's Lymphoma

There are many patients who have also touched my life who have fought, are fighting, or have lost their battles with cancer. Each of them have also earned a special place on this journey to fight cancer. Together, each mile of my 26.2 mile journey will be dedicated to my friends, family and the loved ones of those who support me on this challenge. 

Currently, I have 6 donors and I have 52% of my fundraising goal. That means I need sponsors for the first 20 miles!! :) Come on... You know you want to!! 

Go on. It's easy: Donate NOW! You won't regret it. 

And tonight while you're watching S[UP]2C on your TV, you'll know you helped someone you know doing good for the cause. 

Thank you all for your support. You're amazing! 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Happy Anniversary to US!

It's crazy to think that 4 years ago today, Todd and I got married!! In a small chapel in Linville, NC, 21 days after our "official engagement", with only our very immediate family (parents, siblings, nephews and grand-parents) present, we made our commitment to each other "for better or for worse". We also knew in 2 weeks Todd would be deploying to Iraq. I will forever be grateful for our friends, Natalie and Dan Watson, who were able to be there to capture this day for us always.

I know in the grand scheme of things, 4 years isn't all that much (I look forward to 10, 20, 30+!), but I can't help think about how quickly they've gone by!! What an amazing relationship and friendship I have with Todd. He truly is my joy. He just gets me. Without even having to say a word, Todd can just put a hand on me and instantly everything feels better.

God has given me so much to be thankful for in Todd. I love the life we have together and look forward to the future God has in store for us too. Yes, one day, I hope to become a parent with him. We're hopefully going to own our first home together very soon! And we're convinced retirement is going to be awesome!

You Are My Joy by Snow Patrol became one of our favorites right as he was deploying. To this day it remains one of those emotional favorites between the two of us. It just seems to say it all so easily.... I even had "You are my joy" engraved on the inside of his wedding band. :) Here's the cute video you can watch while you're at work today. I'll just go about my day taking care of patients knowing that I have the world's most patient, kind and honest man as my husband. I also know that I am loved just as much in return....

And my cup runneth over. I love you Todd. You are my Joy -- Happy Anniversary!  :) xoxo

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Full Steam Ahead.... Choo! Choo!!

Okay - So, even at work people have been sort of harassing me about my blog. Er, well... the lack there of. I'm not going to name names, *cough* AMY *cough*... but I'm going to try to do better. Today, I'm sitting down working on several postings.

Maybe this will make some of you happy! Geez! ;) Tough crowd.

Training for this marathon in October has been uber taxing. I'm not sure exactly why, but I am feeling especially drained today. I'm quite convinced that if given two seconds to close my eyes, I'd be out for a few hours. Marathon training is tough. It's time consuming and hard. It's constant.

I try to plan my work schedule to allow me certain days off a week to get to the track once a week for interval and/or tempo workouts with my team, to give me a few days off to get in some mileage and at some point, I'm running my long runs. The rest of the time I'm eating and sleeping. Well, almost.

August was hard on me because as luck would have it, my schedule gave me only ONE weekend off between the two hospitals. Well, then I messed up my back the first weekend I was supposed to work and had to call out (Which I HATE to do!! It's horrible to be the ones at work without all of your teammates and you're one of the few having to help pick up where the absence is felt. So, I don't ever do it unless I'm practically dying or immobile. Both of which I was, or thought I was, at some point.). Then we got a crazy hair and bought a house!

YIKES! Holy cow. We really might be going mad! :)

Okay, well excitingly so. But it's down right NERVE WRACKING! But, now we're under contract and just awaiting our final loan approval and dotting all the "I's" and crossing all the "T's".

AHHHHH! I just want to KNOW already!? I mean, they pre-approved us and all... so that's good enough right? :) 

So, in my head, I'm planning every fine detail of my future home that I can. (And that's exhausting in it's self!! Please, someone, make this brain turn off!!) Thank goodness my sister will be down soon to stay with us for a few weeks to help! :) YAY!

Maybe not working this weekend and having an extra long weekend with my sweetie to rest and be lazy (when we aren't out running) is what I need.                                Or maybe a massage?

Best part of this crazy month so far:
FINDING OUT MY SISTER & ROAN ARE HAVING A BABY GIRL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

She has appropriately been named "Lady Ellis" until Meg & Roan decide they can let the world know her name. But who knows, "Lady Ellis" is quite awesome and as far as I'm concerned, it might stick!

 :) More soon Lovies,

Friday, July 13, 2012

Training Plans

What's yours? 

Training for a marathon is very different than training for weight loss or health.

I lost a cup size in my bra training for my last marathon (and my boobs have NEVER shrunk for any reason until now!!), my periods kept getting farther and farther apart, my feet have never looked so rough and don't even get me started on the acne I had due to the heat/friction from my sports bra and my visor. 

Training is fun, but lots of hard work. Lots of preparation and planning. Eating, drinking and sleeping became HUGE aspects of my focus this Spring.... Some might even tell you I was (almost) crazy. Thankfully though, Todd gets it. He's ran his own races before too. He was a MAJOR help making sure I had food, fuel, water (he knew when I got home from work that the first thing I always wanted, was my jumbo Hardee's cup filled to the brim with ice-cold-aqua!) and a plan. He also understood when I fell asleep on his lap/shoulder/arm/leg/etc on the couch every night for several weeks. 

This marathon I know a little more. I know what worked well and what didn't. I know what was hard for me to do and where I struggled. I've got great running partners. I'm adding more speed work and tempo runs in to my weekly plans.... and I've got a new goal:

BOSTON. (for me: 3hours: 35minutes)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Wednesday Workout: Rolling


Not rolling in the hay or rolling down the road...... Foam Rolling! 

I've had a foam roller for a while now and I'll admit... it has done more to get in the way than to be of use to me in the past. After running my first marathon I learned a little more from my muscles and my body. I'm not a beginner runner so I have to work for injuries. In other words, I'm past shin splints and knee issues... it's all down to stress build up on these mighty muscles! 

Over time and as my distances have gotten longer, my time and commitment to stretching properly has been cut so short that I'm barely doing anything at all. [slacker] Seriously - it's a major issue I have to address pronto or I'm going to be paying for it with a nasty injury that I might not be able to bounce back from. 

I know, I know! ---- I'm working on it! 

Foam Rolling is part of this big correction. I've found that my legs hurt a lot when I roll. Seriously... I'm so tender in many of these tiny muscles I've almost brought tears to my eyes. I've also discovered how amazing it feels on my back and shoulders after one crazy weekend at work! :) Sooooo.... I'm moving the foam roller off of my back and to my glutes, hammies and hips. 


If I'm going to tough it out, I want company. "No pain, no gain!" I use this mantra sparingly, but when it comes to rolling, I'm afraid it's more truth than theory. 

Here are a video you can use to get started. Roll what feels good (or hurts). There are TONS of options when it comes to rolling. Be smart and a bit creative if you must! 

There's not a real science to using a foam roller. Some say use before exercise, others say after. Some say just do 10 rolls per area, some say you should roll until it's pain free. Regardless.... I just roll. A lot of these moves require odd positioning and upper body support so I'll go until my arms are too tired to hold much longer. This is often when I roll on to my back for a bit of a reward. :) 

All hard work deserves a reward. Save the best for last... trust me, your back will love it! 

Roll On my friends! :) 

The Blog-Wagon

Considering it's been almost four months since my last blog post.... I think it's completely reasonable to say I have completely fallen OFF the Blog-Wagon.

SORRY!! I have had so many people ask, email and comment to see where I've been in the blogging world and my excuses weren't very good. I just had to give it up for a while. Training, working and managing life just were taking my time and my blog was becoming a "chore"..... Not what I ever intended my world wide expression (and mission) to become!! Now, I miss it.

To quickly catch-up:

- Girls on the Run finished the same day as my marathon. What an amazing season!! We had a blast every week running and growing together. I'm sure we even learned a few things from each other along our journey.

Done - Cramping and way over heated
At the 13.1 mile marker
- My marathon was amazing. Seeing my long time friend Katie Wade was so much fun! I miss her sweet smile so much and spending a weekend with her made me realize it even more!! Certainly finishing my race was the MAJOR highlight. It was my first marathon, 87 degrees, I nearly pooped my pants and I still finished under 4 hours!! (YES, you read that correct. If you know anything about how the combination of electrolytes, sugar and an unexpected heat wave... you'll understand!) I've started training for my next two races already - a half marathon this September and Marine Corps Marathon in October... all with the hopes of running in Boston next April. We're also thinking about going crazy and running (or trotting/walking depending on if I BQ) Big Sur two weeks after Boston.... but that's to be determined.

My running partners - Don Smythe (Katie's Kick Ass Dad), Katie and Meghan (Katie's college roomie)

- Work is wonderful. CRAZY, but good. It's insane at how hard we've had to work in the ICU lately. Seriously, I'm amazed at how much we're able to accomplish each day. I wouldn't say we do our best work every day.... but we certainly do our best with what we're handed. Being short staff, having crazy sick patients and insane demands are wearing us out, but thankfully I work with amazing women (and a few men!) who motivate me to come to work everyday ready, prepared and willing to be better everyday. I'm closing in on my one year date at Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center and I'm proud of how I've grown professionally.... but remain a bit intimidated at how much I STILL have to learn!! Hence the constant desire to go back to school... yikes!

- My mom, step-dad and little sisters are slowly getting things together to make their BIG move to VA this Fall. Todd is loving his job. They've got a place to live come August. Molly's ready for High School and to start marching band. And Allyssa is ready to come see us in DC! All we need is a job for my mom.... then all things would be GLORIOUS! :)

If you know are or know anyone in the Fairfax Co. School System - please send me a message!! My mom is top-notch (and I'm not saying that because she's my mom... She's really just that great at what she does!). 

- My sister, Megan, and her husband are with CHILD! :) I'm going to be an Auntie this January! YAY! We don't know yet what gender this little bundle is.... but I'm thinking it's a boy. Meg hopes for a girl.... and I'll be honest, I do too.... but either way, this baby is bound to be gorgeous, have incredible eyes, brains galore and probably enough attitude to keep my sister in line for the rest of her life! ;) It will all come honestly:
See - Aren't they gorgeous?!

See... Not that much has changed. :) BUT, I will work on keeping my blog up to snuff. There are too many people in my life working hard on themselves to not add some extra fuel to their fire. 

Now, to talk my dad and brother in to running the 1/2 marathon with us this September! 

Have a GREAT week friends! I hope you've been doing well. 

Friday, March 23, 2012


Todd ran this after he returned from Iraq and we ran alongside my friend, Lori, last year. Each time, I've always been invigorated by the crowd, the bands, the spectators, the runners and the energy. This year, I'm running it. Well, I'm running it yes... but I do have every intention to do more than "just finish" it as well. I'll narrow down a time goal and hopefully that might coincide with Boston time restrictions. :) 


2012 is a big year for me as a runner. 

I signed up for my first marathon a few months ago and I'll be running in the Poconos with girlfriends from all over for my first "official" 26.2 mile race. May 20th is also the day of our 5K for Girls on The Run. The girls are all sad that I won't be there to cheer for them, but they're so supportive and encouraging of the race I will be running the same day that many of them will be running their first 5K! :) 

Two weeks ago I signed up for my Fall challenge: The Marine Corps Marathon! 

But besides running it. I'm running with a purpose too. Before registration for MCM, I had looked in to running with Team DetermiNation for the American Cancer Society.... but come the day of registration the decision more or less was made for me! MCM registration for 30,000+ individuals sold out in 2.5hours!!! I was working that day but thought I'd be "safe" to register as soon as I got home, but apparently NOT! (Lordy!)

So, happily I signed up immediately with Team DetermiNation! Yes, I have to raise money... and some people hate doing that. But, I lost my best friend to cancer and I'd do about anything to save your best friend from cancer!! This is my attempt. A few people have asked why I don't do the Susan G. Koman walks or fund-raising events... and my answer is simple. There are SO many other forms of cancer out there that we know very little about, can't treat, and can't defeat that I want my money and time to help THERE. Not that breast cancer research isn't important, because it is. But Katie didn't have breast cancer. Katie had Angiosarcoma. Yea... you've probably never heard of it. I haven't met another person since her with it either. But still - the google search hasn't changed. Treatment is still aggressive and often symptomatic. Nothing has changed. 

I'm running to help MAKE a change. I'm not unrealistic. $1800 isn't going to change much... but it will help. I'm making the promise to put the miles in and I'm counting on you, friends and family to make a financial promise to help me succeed! I'll be running for Katie October 28th.... and Melanie, Lee J., Betty, Aunt Karen, my Grammy and for all those around me I love who have loved and/or lost someone with cancer. 

Let's be honest. Cancer's a bitch. Let's work together to kick it!!! It may not be within my lifetime... but eventually is always encouraging. 

Any and all help is appreciated. I'll even take cheerleaders the day of!! If you feel the desire to support me, THANK YOU! You're able to do so here on my team page. 


Thursday, March 22, 2012


So, this morning one of my "friends" whom I follow on facebook posted a nifty little tip:

Running by The Book 
Runners need sleep! Our bodies recover from hard/long runs while we sleep. A good rule of thumb: for every mile you run during the week, you need an extra minute of sleep each night. So if you run 20 miles a week, you need 20 extra minutes of sleep each night. Are you getting enough sleep?

I immediately turned to my running log to see how much I've been averaging recently and NO WONDER I'm so exhausted. I have had close to 30-40 mile weeks this month and I've not been sleeping much more than I usually do. Especially the nights I've been at work or before I work. I TRY to be very routine with my sleep pattern. 10:30PM - 5AM is my work schedule. 6.5 hours never feels like enough anymore.... but now that I know I should actually be getting at least 7 hours ...nights I'm off, I should be getting like 8-9 hours?! Holy cow! I knew I had a legit reason for feeling so tired. I'm not the kind of person who usually sleeps a lot. 6-7 hours is usually all I need - until I started training for a marathon. Goodness! 

I've got to start working on this training-sleep-tip! 

Keep this tip in your pocket as you advance and achieve your fitness goals. I've been running for years now and had no idea of this training tip! 

THANKS Connie! I promise I'll be ordering your book soon! It's my Summer training plan. :) If you've not hear of Running by The Book, check it out on Facebook or Amazon too.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Why be a Girl On The Run

I often tell people I'm a coach for Girls On The Run. 
Some people know how awesome it is. 
Others, have no idea what GOTR is. 

Girls On The Run is many things... 

Yes, we run (skip, hop and jump). 
Yes, we work hard.
Yes, there are cheers :) and lots of smiling faces. 
Yes, there is dedication. 
Yes, we build confidence. 
Yes, we create strong girls. 

But what I love best.... 

GOTR makes the girls of today, strong and ambitious women of tomorrow. 

I encourage you to help out if you can. Volunteer for the local 5K this Spring. Take your girl for a run.

Or just go out and cheer on the smiling faces! :) 

CHEERS! Here's to our Spring Season and making amazing little girls everywhere! 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Mental Health Day

Today would definitely count as Amanda's first mental health day for the year 2012. I feel like I've been going non-stop since the start of the new year. I took on another job, I'm training for my first Marathon, Todd's been busy with his job and Navy career, we almost bought a house, I want to go back to school, my step-dad has moved in with us until the rest of the family can make the "BIG MOVE" to the city...  AND Girls on the Run started this week for the Spring season! :)

All is going very well here in the Delp household, but quite frankly... I'm exhausted. I'm working hard to fight off the grumpy's and NOT be that over worked and exhausted nurse everyone hates. I'm running a lot. Actually, my running is amazing right now. I've never felt so strong or ran as well as I am now. I've actually almost talked Todd in to running in Poconos with me in May too!! YAY! (fingers crossed I can beat him over the finish line! haha)

So, today, I took a day. I took the entire day. I kissed Todd goodbye this morning from my big comfy bed and went back to sleep and I think the clock said 9:43AM when I finally cracked my eyes open again. I did have a moment of panic because I had slept so late and I hadn't been up and doing something. After a few belly rubs of Ginger I didn't care anymore. I had oatmeal and coffee while I sat on the couch watching TV. I didn't make a to-do-list and I didn't clean anything besides making the bed and the mandatory wipe-up of the kitchen counter-tops and the bathroom. No vacuuming. No dusting. No laundry. Nothing. It can, and it will, wait for tomorrow.

Taking a day is hard for everyone. Especially when we're busy. I know that by taking today will help keep me nice, healthy, loveable (Todd shouldn't have to have a grumpy wife) and able to keep doing all the many things I love to do!

Plus, tomorrow gets the added bonus of being called "Coach Amanda" again. :)

Have a great week friends!!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Motivational Monday: Tough

Pardon the language... but I saw this one evening and KNEW I had to share it. I was running hills in the pouring rain this morning with Britney Spears' song, Outrageous on repeat.

In my head this is exactly how I was feeling. I hope you're feeling it too. This week, get out there and PROVE it to yourself. You are WAY tougher than you think you are. Prove to yourself, your husband, your kids, your co-workers and your mama that YOU are one tough chick! :)

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Beer Margaritas

In college one of my famous and oh-so-popular creations was a Sandra Lee recipe for Beer Margaritas

Don't snarl or turn that nose up!! These things are BANGIN'! I haven't had them in years, but a friend recently reminded me of this delicious drink and I thought I should share the goodness before the heat gets here. I think I always tripled (err... quadrupled) this recipe when I made it. I always prefer using Coronas and a very liberal measuring of the tequila... but that's just me. :) 

It will be a go-to-crowd pleaser at all your get together's this year. 

Sip, Sip, Enjoy! :) 


  • 1 lime, cut into 8 wedges
  • 1/4 cup coarse salt
  • 2 (12-ounce) bottles your favorite beer, chilled
  • 1/2 cup frozen concentrate limeade, thawed
  • 1/2 cup chilled tequila
  • Ice cubes


Rub lime wedges around rims of 4 margarita glasses. Dip rims into salt to coat lightly. In a medium pitcher, combine beer, limeade, and tequila. Fill prepared glasses with ice, then with margarita mixture. Garnish with remaining lime wedges. Serve immediately.

Winter Favorites

Today, I realized that Winter is almost over! Despite the icky, nasty rain we had on and off all day, I couldn't help but notice the pink little flower buds perking up on the tree branches outside our living room windows. :) They're beautiful.

Spring is on it's way! YAY!

It got me thinking about how good we had this Winter! I had expected our first Winter in DC to bring tons of snow and nastiness... thankfully, we've been lucky. Rain? Yes. Gobs of snow? No. Thank goodness! We got some snow showers here and there to make things pretty for an hour or two, but nothing to stop traffic in its tracks for days on end!

This Fall and Winter I lucked out on a few amazing finds that I must share with my friends and readers. I'm convinced I'll never survive another Winter (mild or extreme) without these finds ever again! :)

For all the running I've been up to, I couldn't have stayed as warm AND comfortable through the wind, rain and few snowflakes without my New Balance Windblocker Jacket and tights set. The coat is so warm without the bulk, has internal pockets (I can even fit a water bottle in them!), LOTS of reflective technology and thumb-holes. Together, these are a must have from New Balance.

Winter skin is always hard to escape. This year, I had a few tools to help. You've to got try the Clairsonic skin cleanser! It comes in a bunch of great colors and talk about a clean face. Try it once and you'll feel what I'm talking about. Plus it's a fun little girl-gadget. :)

I've also discovered Philosophy's When Hope is Not Enough Replenishing Serum. I am a lover of most of Philosophy's products, but this one is truly brag worthy. A few drops right after a hot shower (or a scrub with my Mia!) keep my face moisturized all day. Plus, it just feels good. Yes, it's an oil based serum... but never once has my face been oily looking. A high recommendation for all of us with flaky faces! I also should say I like the vitamin C booster, Hope in a Jar, all Amazing Grace scented products and their cleansers.

Last but not least, my comfy blanket from Pottery Barn. For Christmas we bought new furniture. In our hunt for the right stuff, we fell in love with this throw. I don't even bother folding it up anymore because it's ALWAYS on someones lap or with Ginger napping on it. It comes in several colors but I got the blue/green color for us and the mushroom for my sister and her husband. This is worth EVERY penny spent. It's not too heavy and it's not too light. It's always just right.

Oh, did I mention Netflix?! If you don't have it or if you've not tried it. Get it. The Redbox is sooo 2010. ;) Instant watching from the click of a mouse or a button is amazing!

Do you have any favorites to share?! I'd like to see what you guys are loving now too!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Running on Empty

So this week I ran across this insightful and way too close to home article published in the March issue of Runner's World. This might be a touch heavy for a Saturday read... but very real and worth it.

Running on Empty, the title and literal translation of what this story is about shook me hard this week. I am so thankful Runner's World published this. Eating disorders and disordered eating have been apart of my life in MANY different ways.

I struggled in Middle/High Schools with my "off limit foods", friends with eating disorders and my family runs ram-pet (myself included) with emotional eaters.Then I went to college and became an Division I athlete.... I wasn't our fastest runner (and I wasn't our slowest)... but I had a hard time focusing on speed and time... hell, all I cared about 85% of the time was that I wasn't the skinniest athlete on the team or the department and THAT'S what motivated me to show up to practice every day! I roll my eyes in disgust at these thoughts now... but they were real and unlovely, and I've had to deal with them. I know I wasn't alone in these struggles. On my team alone... the men and women's teams both had problems. I know this for certain because it was the first time in my life I had ever heard a group of young men, my age, discussing their weight, "pinching an inch" (of skin) and completely believing if they lost 5# they'd shave a few minutes off their time. These were some of the fittest men I had ever met too! Not one without a rock-hard-six-pack, extra-trim thighs, great arms and likely -2% body-fat already. I've never forgotten it. Some of us were worse than others, but I am convinced that many of my teammates (and those from other teams too) would agree with me on this.

Despite my struggles then and now with disordered eating (because I wouldn't say I ever had a full blow eating disorder) and I'd say after the broken hip part of my life, compulsive exercising, this story really touched me on so many levels. I am thankful I have found a better balance in my dietary lifestyle. A lifestyle that I do believe is healthy. I am thankful for those I love who have struggled with eating disorders seeking help, making changes and finding balance again (no matter how hard) with food. For those I love who continue to struggle with eating disorders, I hope that this article speaks to you on some level and offers some encouragement to seek help and wellness in your life.

Enjoy friends, family and fellow runners. Happy fueling. :)

Running on Empty

One runner discovers firsthand how easy it is to cross the line from eating smart to barely eatingBy Caleb DaniloffImage by Adam VoorhesFrom the March 2012 issue of Runner's World 
Running on Empty
The scale reads 158.2. Up a pound from yesterday. And after a run, no less. Son of a bitch. I step into the shower and scrub the dirt off my calves and ankles, the sweat from my face, from behind my ears. I know it's irrational, but a germ of a thought percolates in my brain:Maybe, just maybe, collectively erasing these micrograms from my skin will bring me into 157-pound territory. I towel off and step back on the scale. I'm running my first marathon next month, and at five-foot-eight, I want to toe the line at 155 pounds, preferably 153. I'm hellbent on breaking four hours. I look down. Dammit. Same unfeeling numbers. Okay, scratch tomorrow's rest day. Later, as I pack my lunch–debating between one or two mini wheat bagels to go with a wedge of light cream cheese and an apple–I pray it's nobody's birthday at the office today. Cake is the devil.

Little did I know that nutritionists had a name for this swirl of thinking: disordered eating. At the time, I'd never heard the term. Eating disorders I knew about, but I was hardly a skeletal anorexic, nor did I purge my meals. I was simply a dedicated runner with what I considered serious willpower. Besides, didn't a marathon demand Spartan discipline?

When I'd mailed in my registration, I was 39 years old with a daddy belly and a double chin. I'd been running for six years, mostly five-mile stretches. I hovered just below 175 pounds, was prone to shinsplints and knee pain, and ran on dirt wherever I could find it. Obviously, 26.2 miles of asphalt could be a problem. The thought of being branded a DNF was my ultimate nightmare. But somewhere along the way, I'd heard that I'd run about two seconds faster per mile for every pound I lost. This bit of information–accurate or not–radically changed my diet.

For the first time in my life, I scrutinized nutrition labels. I parted company with meat and learned to love tofu and soy milk. For breakfast, it was fruits and fat-free yogurt. I'd begin my small dinners with an appetizer of boiled broccoli. No desserts. As my weekly miles piled up, my waistline started shrinking. I announced each lost pound to my wife like a sniper taking out another enemy soldier. The flattened landscape of my belly made me swoon. Food became one of my mind's favorite topics. I got off on the sensation of my stomach grumbling and learned to fall asleep hungry. But god forbid the scale go up. If it did, I seethed.

"The more competitive people are, even if they're just competitive with themselves, the more likely they are to have the kind of extremist thinking that can lead to disordered eating patterns," says Patricia Kaminski, associate professor of psychology at the University of North Texas, who's helped many people with eating disorders. "'If running five miles is going to help me train well, then running 10 is better. If a 1,200-calorie diet is good to help me lose weight, then a 500-calorie diet must be great.'"

Disordered eating differs from an eating disorder in that food intake isn't manipulated to deal with underlying issues of depression, anxiety, self-esteem, and control. The most common forms of eating disorders–anorexia (self-starvation) and bulimia (binging and purging)–are serious psychiatric illnesses, with significant physical consequences, and can be fatal. Disordered eating, on the other hand, refers to less-severe abnormal behaviors: eliminating food groups from your diet; regularly replacing meals with energy bars or coffee drinks; excessive weighing and calorie-counting; and tacking on extra miles as punishment for, say a cheeseburger the night before. Often, the regimen includes compulsive exercising like hitting the bike after an 18-miler.

The condition is far more common among female runners, mirroring the trend seen in the general public. It's estimated that three out of four American women between ages 25 and 45 practice disordered eating, according to a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill study. A 2009 report in the Journal of American College Health showed more than a quarter of female college athletes exhibit disordered eating patterns. And in surveys of collegiate athletes, some 55 percent of women tell researchers they experience pressure (both external and self-imposed) to achieve a certain weight, and 43 percent say they're "terrified" of becoming too heavy. Between two and three percent of female college athletes have a diagnosed eating disorder, which is about the same for the general population. Men who compete in sports where body shape and size are important also are at higher risk for disordered eating.

The costs can be profound: Prolonged disordered eating can lead to anemia; loss of muscle strength, endurance, and coordination; more frequent injuries, including stress fractures; longer recovery time after intense workouts and races; anxiety; and fertility issues in women. The most worrisome consequence, however, is the onset of a full-blown eating disorder.

Leslie Bonci, R.D., director of sports nutrition at Pittsburgh's UPMC Center for Sports Medicine, says the most common sign of disordered eating is when food choices become about what not to eat.

"A lot of people have their good-food list and their bad-food list," Bonci says. "Nothing high in fat, nothing fried. They'll eat only organic, only local, won't touch anything processed. They might start to avoid social situations because they don't know what the food will be."

Obviously, runners, and especially marathoners, demand greater nutrition than sofa spuds. An endurance athlete's ideal fuel is glycogen, carbohydrates stored in the muscles and liver. A low-carb lifestyle is clearly counterproductive. When glycogen stores are low, protein, which is essential for muscle growth and repair, may be robbed for energy. Zinc and vitamins A, B6, and E are important for the immune system and bone health, but are found in red meat, nuts, and dairy–often seen as kryptonite by fat-phobes.

"When you look at a lot of media, the message is everybody's on a diet, everybody needs to lose weight or restrict," says Colorado-based psychotherapist and former U.S. marathon champion Jane Welzel. "Instead of how do you support your lifestyle through nutrition, the message is reduce carbs and fats, or this has a high glycemic index, or don't eat too many bananas. It's the sound bites, the headlines, that grab attention. Then people add it to their list of rules. It's totally out of context for what they need to do to support their level of training."

While not all disordered eating leads to an eating disorder, almost all eating disorders start as disordered eating, so it can be scary territory for a runner, particularly an emotionally vulnerable one or for someone dealing with significant stress. Manipulating one's food and body offers a sense of control and perfection, a substitute for happiness that may be absent when they're not laced in running shoes.

"People lose weight and run faster," says Bonci. "But for some it becomes like this addictive drug. It's a really a fine line between healthy and unhealthy weight loss, and there are a lot of people who straddle that line day in and day out."
As part of my marathon training, I wanted to run with the cross-country team at Boston University, where I work. I was a nine-minute miler on a good day and was hoping to pick up some speed tips. I e-mailed David Proctor, the BU captain. The previous year, Proctor had broken the four-minute mile, the first Terrier to do so. He knew fast.

A week later, I was hauling ass along the banks of the Charles River with six tall, lean dudes almost 20 years my junior. They took pity on me and ran a 7:30-per-mile pace instead of their usual sub-6:00.

I admired the way Proctor moved, limbs etched with muscle, loose yet under control. I felt the swell of a runner crush.

But at the time, I'd no idea the amiable Briton was just two months past his second bout with anorexia, one of an estimated 1 million men in America with an eating disorder. All in the name of speed.

A junior U.K. champion in the 800 meters, Proctor was recruited to BU on scholarship. Tall and naturally slim, after touching down in Boston in fall 2004, he embodied the "freshman 15," and then some. By mid-November, his weight had gone from 145 to more than 160 pounds. One day, Proctor's coach ribbed him about his affection for American cuisine.

"It was totally innocent, the way guys joke with each other," Proctor later told me. "But then I thought about it. My clothes don't fit the way they used to. And once I weighed myself and processed it, I felt like a failure. If putting on weight makes you slower, then I'm letting the team down. I'm failing at my job."

So just like that, Proctor all but cut out breakfast and lunch–disordered eating. "Any food that had very low to zero fat got a check mark," he says. "Anything that had more than one or two grams of fat per serving was out. Fruit was on the list until I found it had really high sugar."

He worked himself down to 500 calories a day, and within a couple of weeks, he'd shed almost 20 pounds. Not for a second did he see this as abnormal. "Track is so focused on numbers; you run your repetitions at this time, your recovery at this time," he says. "This just seemed like an extension of that."

Proctor was determined to break a school record, and every hunger pang confirmed his dedication to that goal. Soon, he was seeing the shaved-down numbers on his stopwatch. Like a greyhound chasing a mechanical rabbit, he kept pursuing that next ounce, that next half pound. By mid-December, the six-foot freshman stood a gaunt 133 pounds. Still, he scrutinized his reflection pinching a quarter inch of skin, convinced it was fat.

"I was on the scale every hour to see if something changed," he says. "If I went to pee, I'd weigh myself before and after."

After passing out during a run, not a morsel touching his lips for three days (punishment for gorging at Christmas), he met with a nutritionist. Not to add the fats and proteins his body craved, but for tips on how to lose weight without fainting again. He was a full-blown anorexic.

Paradoxically, he clocked his best 800, 1:50:54, that winter. And it was just before Easter when he dipped to 129 pounds–after a long morning run, with no food or drink in his system. It was a moment of glory, almost ecstasy. Still, the runner had rules. No dinner until six, not a moment before. He was famished and had hours to go. He lay on his bed to pass the time.

"I felt nauseous because I was so dehydrated," he says. "It was disgusting. I lay there and it got to be 5:50, and I was praying for the clock to hurry up and tick over to six so I could go down for dinner."

Then he had a moment of clarity. "I don't know where it came from or why I suddenly realized it, but I just thought, This is stupid, the difference between ten-of-six and six. You're waiting, eyes fixed on the clock, almost passing out you're so tired."

While the doors to some of Proctor's darker rooms would remain closed–he admits to trust issues and a "desperate desire" to achieve greatness–that spring, a BU sports nutritionist and sports psychology professor helped the middle-distance star grasp the concept of the body as a machine that needed proper fueling to run efficiently. Slowly, he began to eat more and eased up on his food rules.

Two seasons later, Proctor broke a school record as part of a medley team. Then came his crowning achievement–breaking the four-minute mile his junior year (3:59.14), capturing the second-fastest college time in the country that year. During his balls-out final sprint, he weighed 154 pounds, just eight pounds less than the all-time high that started it all. But like many anorexics, he would relapse several times before moving into a period of sustained recovery.

"I still define myself by my successes and failures," says Proctor, who is back in England working at a hospital and training for the 1500 meters in the U.K.'s Olympic Trials in June. "But I look for them elsewhere, not just on the track."
While I wouldn't claim any records, I finished the marathon without walking, not even at the fluid stations, my shirt a bib of spilled Gatorade. I broke the tape at 4:20, a bit of a disappointment considering the rigors of my training. As I'd slogged up the hilly course, my feet feeling laced in concrete blocks, more than once I wondered whether there had been too much oil in my prerace pasta.

But curiously, after staggering through the crowd of finishers, a medal bouncing against my salt-squiggled shirt, all I wanted was a burger. Just like that, I stopped counting fat grams and calories and watched the pounds start checking back in. I ran a second marathon five weeks later, coasting on my earlier training, and shaved almost 16 minutes off my time. I was elated, but also confused. Weren't weight and speed inextricably linked?

"Sometimes a runner will have a breakthrough, and they'll credit it to losing weight when it might be the past six months of training or a certain maturity they've had with their running," says Welzel, the marathon champ and psychotherapist. "The thing that's identifiable is that they lost five or 10 pounds, but that may have just been a small piece."

There could be something else at play beneath the surface of cutting calories and shaving seconds, says Kara Bazzi, the clinical director of Opal, a Seattle eating-disorders clinic. "Many athletes with disordered eating wouldn't want to admit this, but there's this sense of self-righteousness–they can accomplish a six-minute-mile pace or 20-mile run while others can't. There's part of them that's threatened to be average. That's a strong force to reckon with, that mentality."

Bazzi speaks from experience, as a runner whose personal struggle with disordered eating began her freshman year at the University of Washington. By midseason, she was one of the fastest on her team, thanks to drastic cuts in her diet. "I was getting lighter, then faster," says Bazzi. "I saw big results. You can run pretty well for about a year under a highly restrictive state, but then your body breaks down." In fact, a stress fracture ended Bazzi's competitive career, her bones stripped of essential nutrients.

Bazzi and other experts interviewed agree that the volume on education and awareness of disordered eating needs to be cranked up in all sectors, from the locker room to the running club to the media. Welzel also says she realizes the sway she holds as an elite runner. Once, while she was eating fries and hoisting a beer, a recreational runner was taken aback and said to her, "I thought you guys just ate lettuce."

"If we're out there putting food in categories and restricting, then they're going to hear that's what you have to do to be a better runner," she says. "Hard workouts need to be replenished. Healthy eating isn't eating less."

Even though I was back on steak and fries, my marathon training had left some sticky residue. I still felt flashes of anger when my Garmin displayed anything above a 9:15 pace. I'd instantly analyze everything I ate the day before and maybe hurl a few curse words at myself. Why had I convinced myself that stopping to walk during a race, even for fluids, was for pansies? Why would not breaking four hours translate to failure?

I began to wonder whether there were unresolved personal issues that I'd allowed the digits, the food rules, and the rigid routine, to tamp down. I was always hard on myself, perhaps threatened to be average as Bazzi said. I loved running, so why did I strike out with one arm whipping my own back? Who was I doing this for anyway?

As I found myself registering for more marathons, I vowed to look in the mirror with a renewed consciousness and to leave the Garmin at home every once in a while. Sure, it was strange at first. I felt a bit unmoored, a bit aimless. But I became more aware of the feel of the run and started looking around like I used to before I began pinning on bib numbers. With the taste of sweat on my lips, I understood the obsessive-ness, and the yielding David Proctor was talking about. More and more, I run for the joy rather than the PR, to hear not the numbers in my ears, but the wind.

Find out if your relationship with food is healthy or hazardous by taking our true-false quiz

Caleb Daniloff has received multiple awards for his writing, including the Ralph Nading Hill Jr. Literary Prize, several National CASE awards, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Caleb's first book, Running Ransom Road: Confronting the Past One Marathon at a Time, a memoir about running as a sobriety tool, will be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in Fall, 2012.