Get it together!

Lately, I’m feeling unorganized. In my life, lack of organization equals stress, which ultimately equals crankiness. I am not a fan of being cranky, nor are the people around me. I mentioned last weekend actually two things I needed to work on: sleep quality and organization.

I’ve pretty much nailed down what time I need to be in bed every night in order to have a good nights sleep. Much to my surprise, it wasn’t 9 or 9:30. I need to be in bed no later than 10:30, and the TV off & lights out by 11. Waking up at 5:30 gives me about 6.5 hours of sleep. Weird, right? I’m always reading how it’s recommended you have 8 hours of sleep every night in order to reduce stress and increase productivity. Different strokes for different folks.

This weekend I am planning on tackling my organization approach. I don’t feel organized unless the coffee table/dining room table is clean, the laundry is done, and there aren’t any (dirty) dishes in the sink or (clean)dishwasher. Here is my downfall: when I clean off the dining room & coffee tables, I put everything in the bedroom. Uh, how does that make any sense? I’m just relocating clutter. And to the worst possible place, in a room where I need to relax and sleep!

After work tomorrow night, I’m dragging all of my stacks of papers and the rest of the random items out of the bedroom and into the living room. I will file papers/bills, I will throw away things I don’t need, and everything will be put in its place. I need to stop looking at it and stop thinking about it and just DO it!

Between work (I leave the house at 6:20am and return home at 6:15pm), blogging, NaNoWriMo, training for half marathons, and spending quality time with my boyfriend, I’m noticing some things just don’t get done. The only thing which is consistent is work, and that is because it is something I MUST do. However, everything I listed are things I MUST do.

I am going to start scheduling tasks, and treat them the way I treat work. For example, I will schedule 1-2 hours a day to knock out my 2,000 words for NaNoWriMo. If it’s written down, it must be accomplished.

Tomorrow, I am going on a hunt for a good planner on my lunch break. I got a few good ideas from Sarah, so I know what I am looking for. After watching this video from the Healthy Living Summit, I am incredibly motivated to get the ball rolling!

Editing is for December

Or so they say. National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo, kicked off yesterday and many writers already are knee deep in thousands of words. Never heard of it? NaNoWriMo is an extreme approach to writing a novel. Basically, you have until November 30th to crank out a 50,000 word novel (approximately 175 pages). You can read a little bit more about it on their “What is NaNoWriMo?” page.

I came across this annual project last year, right as it was wrapping up. I thought it was an awesome idea, but since I showed up late to the party I’d have to wait until the following year. Enter November 2010. I’m less than two weeks away from running my second half marathon, so that means taper time. After the race, I’ll prob take it easy for a week or two before I embark on training for my third half (who am I?!). I think this would be the perfect time to jump in on NaNoWriMo!

I’m not going to lie, I’m incredibly nervous. This is going to take A LOT of dedication, as well as consume any amount of free time I have until the end of November. However, I’ve been toying with the idea of writing a novel for a couple years now, so why not! I have confidence this is 100% doable. It’s only 30 days, right?

Hey NaNoWriMo, I’m up for the challenge – count me in!

It only started yesterday – it’s not too late for you to sign up too! 🙂

Pumpkin Penne

I know I know, the pumpkin recipes in the blogworld are running rampant. Generally I stick to pumpkin pies and that’s it. My mom sent me a link to a recipe for pumpkin penne and I figured since I had an extra can laying around I’d give it a shot.

I will also preface this with the fact that I absolutely cannot stand Rachael Ray. The recipes exceed 30 minutes, her voice drives me up a wall, she abuses nutmeg on a regular basis, and most importantly – her dishes just don’t taste good. BUT I was feeling adventurous so I gave this one a shot anyway.

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1 pound whole-wheat penne

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 shallots, finely chopped

3 to 4 cloves garlic, grated

2 cups chicken stock

1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree

1/2 cup cream

1 teaspoon hot sauce, to taste

Freshly grated nutmeg, to taste

2 pinches ground cinnamon

Salt and black pepper

7 to 8 leaves fresh sage thinly sliced plus more, for garnish

Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

 

Now for the modifications. I used all dried spices because I didn’t have fresh on hand, upped the garlic to five cloves, and substituted a parm-asiago mix. I also added crushed red pepper flakes because the teaspoon of hot sauce just didn’t do it for me. I like it HOT!

Finely chop the shallots, and grate the garlic. I’m assuming she used a microplane, but I’m not cool enough to own one of those. I used a regular handheld grater. Add to the pan with 2 tbsp of olive oil.

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Add two cups of chicken stock, and then stir in the pumpkin.

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Add 1/2 cup of cream. You can substitute fat-free half and half if you are looking to keep calories low. It will just take a little bit longer to thicken up. Add the hot sauce, cinnamon, sage, and nutmeg. Add salt & pepper to taste.

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I didn’t photo this, but I boiled one box of penne rigate and then added it to the sauce after it had thickened up after 10 minutes or so.

I decided to roast a head of garlic and serve it with a loaf of French bread. In the interest of time, I chose Pillsbury Simply Rustic French Bread.

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Garnish the pasta with shredded cheese and a sprinkling of sage.

Here’s the finished product!

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The best way to describe the taste is deconstructed butternut squash ravioli. Since we love the ravioli, we really enjoyed the pasta! I didn’t add any salt during the initial cooking, but I definitely felt it needed it afterwards. I added salt, cracked black pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes to my plate. It really helped bring all of the flavors together.

Thanks Rachael Ray, finally I got a winner!

Sunday Morning

This morning the boyfriend and I headed downtown with our dog to take him to the dog park. Lucky for me, the park is right on the trail at Town Lake so I was able to squeeze in a quick run!

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Another beautiful morning in Austin, and another great run. Here are my splits:

Mile 1 10:34

Mile 2 11:04

Mile 3 10:46

We were in a rush to get moving this morning and I forgot to grab a Gu or Clif bar. I ran these three speedy miles solely on coffee we picked up on the way downtown. “Melissa runs on Dunkin!” 🙂

Operation Jack

During the winter of 2009, I found myself wrapped up in running blogs. Danica at Chic Runner and Sarah at SkinnyRunner amazed me with the amount of miles they covered during the course of a week. Mileage totals I had never ran in my life they were running in 7 days. I was inspired. I set my sights on Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio (the full, but I later downgraded to the half due to an injury) in November 2010.

At the end of January, I discovered a post on Danica’s page talking about Operation Jack and it’s founder, Sam Felsenfeld. Sam is attempting to run at least 1 marathon a week (61 total for the year) to raise Autism awareness. His son Jack was diagnosed with Autism just after he turned 3 years old. He hopes his 2010 year of marathons will help raise money for autism research as well as awareness across the country. He has just 10 marathons left this year to reach 61. Check out these posts to see how he went from couch to marathoner:

Where I Come From

From Unable to Run a Mile to a Full Marathon in 18 Months: Not as Unrealistic as You’d Think

Why I Think Couch to 26.2 is a Reasonable Goal

And then also, he posted another one today after I asked him via Twitter what his pace used to be like before he started BQing like nobody’s business:

The Secret of My Success

One of the races he is participating in is the RnR San Antonio next month. I created the team “Your Pace or Mine” and set up a donation page. Unfortunately, neither of my teammates are going to be joining me, so I will be flyin’ solo – running for Operation Jack! If you would like to make a donation to my team, I would greatly appreciate it! $1, $5, $10 – whatever you can! Fundraising really isn’t my forte; I feel awful asking people for money, especially with the economy the way that it is. Any little bit helps though 🙂 thank you in advance if you do donate! It’s really for a great cause.

Don’t forget to check out Sam’s blog to watch his progress, and if you’re on Twitter, you can follow him at @operationjack.

The Great Running Shoe Debacle

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Last fall when I first moved to Austin, I came to the realization I would need a new pair of sneakers. I had a couple pairs which I wore casually, but none I would be able to run regularly with.

After a bit of research and test runs in Academy, I decided on Asics Gel Nimbus 11. They fit like a dream, as if I was walking on soft, pillowy clouds. I used them for a few classes at the gym, and on the elliptical.

When I began training in May for my first half marathon, I slipped on the Asics and hit the road. A month went by, and I decided I needed a new pair. They weren’t worn out, but they just didn’t feel right. And hey, I’m a girl – I love buying a new pair of shoes 🙂

Enter Mizuno Wave Rider 13. I really liked how light they were and the way they looked, but after a few runs I noticed they weren’t quite supportive enough. I ended up wearing them to work instead (be jealous, I wear jeans & sneakers to work) and switching back to the Nimbus.

In the beginning of July, I was plagued by an intense case of shin splints. I was icing after every single run, stretching, and following a training plan that increased weekly mileage by no more than 10%. I took a few weeks off from training to allow my legs to recover.

I went to the Road Runner Sports website and answered a few questions from Shoe Dog to determine which pair was best for me. My feet are incredibly flat, so I pronate quit a bit when I run. At this point, I was using the Nike+ system and I was looking for a Nike shoe. From the results the website provided me, I chose Nike Structure Triax 13.

I am really not a huge fan of Nikes to begin with, but these really alleviated the problem. I was officially pain free. For about a month. This was just enough time for me to wear down the cushion on the arch of the shoe.

Next up? Asics GT-2150. The arch support in these shoes was the best out of all of the previous shoes, as it is a stability shoe. After an 8 miler and a 9 miler, the pain returned. Gah! It was at this point where I headed to Runtex to see if they could help. I was given a prescription for orthotics, and off to InStep I went.

The combination of the 2150 and orthotics was just what I needed! I ran the half marathon in them, and I had no shin pain whatsoever afterwards.

After my recent 10k, the outsides of my calves started hurting. This was a completely new issue, which I can blame the speedy downhill running I did for an hour. I think also it may have come from “over-correcting” my pronation problem.

Yesterday, I went back to Runtex on a mission to purchase a new pair of running shoes. A few pairs were recommended to me, and here’s the winner:

 

 

Mizuno Wave Inspire 6. I am keeping my fingers crossed this will be the LAST time I need to change running shoes. I am tired of having to take unplanned rest days because of shin pain, and most importantly? I’m tired of shelling out $100+ every couple months! Wish me luck!

What running shoes do you run in? Did it take you awhile to find the “perfect” pair?