Craft Your Holiday Cards

This week I have a few easy craft projects to share with you.  Today I’m starting with a super simple way to reuse your holiday cards.

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Since we have moved to Michigan, we have been recycling more than ever.  When we lived in NYC it was mandatory that you place recycling outside of your building.  The Department of Sanitation would fine the building owner and this was incentive for all of us to separate our garbage.

However, when we moved to Chicago, they have a much more lax recycling program.  Unfortunately, this made recycling far less convenient for us and I am sorry to say that we got a bit out of the habit.

Interestingly enough, recycling isn’t mandatory up here in Michigan.  But our local recycling center makes it so incredibly easy, that we now recycle more than ever.  All you need to do is pull up to the building and bring everything in.  They have bins labeled to help you separate materials.  The employees will also come out to your car and help carry everything in and separate it for you.  We now have far less garbage to put out every week.

Now that we recycle more, I try to think of ways to reuse things we have around our house.  One fun thing we have discovered is making gift tags for next year out of the holiday cards we received from family and friends.  This is also a great project that you can involve your kids with on a cold winter day.

We have dozens of these cards each year.  I have a rack that we set out to display cards and this year Mary had a blast looking at the pictures and hanging the cards up.  However, once the holiday season is over, the cards often just get tossed into the garbage at some point.

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Most holiday cards are made of nice material and come in many fun colors and adornments.  Instead of tossing the cards out, try taking some of your favorites and cutting them into tags to use for next year’s gifts.  This creates less garbage and also saves you money when you purchase gift wrap next year.  You can even do this as a family and spend time looking at each card one more time.  Mary finds this to be a fun way to name each person she knows.

Take a look at your cards and find fun prints or pictures and then simply cut into shapes.  Mix up the sizes and styles of your cut.  You can even get creative and use different types of scissors with various borders.  Use a hole punch to make a space for string.  Or leave alone and tape onto packages next year!  Don’t forget to look on the back of the cards.   This is where you usually can find some really nice designs.

Do you day any family crafts when the weather gets really cold?

Year In Review

Happy New Year!  It’s been a bit over a week since I last posted.  I attribute that to a whole lot of fun activities going on over the holidays and to an early Christmas present from Mary in the form of the Norovirus.  The latter wiped me out for nearly a week.  What can I say?  We do encourage her to share as much as possible!

2017 was a really fun year for our family and also for my running.  It didn’t involve many races or racing goals, but there was plenty of mileage to be had anyway.  Here’s my quick recap and mileage.

January:  132 miles

I started this month out by jumping into training for the Boston Marathon.  We got hit almost daily with several inches of snow and I quickly realized that winter marathon training in Northern Michigan can be quite miserable.

February: 171 miles

I continued training for Boston, until we found out that we were expecting in October.  At this point, I decided that I would rather not train for a marathon while being pregnant and hope to qualify again another year.

March: 197 miles

Being pregnant certainly wasn’t going to stop me from running.  When we got to Florida, I spent 10 days running on the beach with Rock and enjoying some warm, snowless, weather.

April1.4

April: 159 miles

We headed out east to New York City for 2 months of work.  Mary got to skate at Wollman Rink in Central Park, where we used to work, and where Rock and I first met.  I got to enjoy running in the park, along the East River, and on Randall’s Island.  We also got some running together as a family up in Fishkill, NY.

May: 84 miles

May was a learning month for me.  When you are pregnant, your body requires far more electrolytes than it normally does.  I ran through what felt like a terrible calf cramp that ended up being a muscle tear.  This lead to some down time for healing.  When I finally got back out to run, I tripped over a brick and messed up my pelvis (thanks pregnancy hormones!).  It was June before I could even walk properly again.

June: 161 miles

This was a recovery month for me.  As I eased back in to running, I wasn’t certain if I would be able to do the only race I had planned for the year.  Fortunately, I played it smart and took my time.  Many days I broke my runs into two parts and this seemed to really help.

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July: 158 miles

I spent a week pushing Mary in the running stroller in Rhinelander, Wisconsin and the following week I was feeling well enough to do the Cherry Festival Half Marathon in Traverse City.  At 27 weeks pregnant, I was careful not to push myself too hard and was pleased by both the beautiful course, and my 1:53 finish.

August: 143 miles

I could tell my outdoor running was coming to an end as we enjoyed a week of family vacation up in Glen Arbor, MI.  However, as I took my runs inside and was feeling great, I was surprised when some early labor lead to modified bed rest.  Our fabulous doctors and nurses kept me and the baby healthy enough to just hang out at home.

September: 27 miles

Lucy Carroll Dudek arrived 4 1/2 weeks early and stole our hearts.  I was so scared about sharing my time between Mary and another sibling and couldn’t imagine how I would possibly love another child as much as my first.  The truth is though, that I love being a mom more than ever before.  These two girls bring so much love into our lives.

October: 160 miles

I took 18 days off after Lucy was born and then eased back in on the treadmill.  This was both easier on my body and also for a mom who now has a toddler and a newborn to take care of.

November: 192 miles

This month marked my first outdoor and double digit runs.  We tried the Winnetka Turkey Trot in Winnetka, IL and had a blast.  This was also Mary’s first time riding with me during a race and also her first kids race.  It was all a success!

December:  193 miles

Despite ending the year with a GI bug, the whole month marked some really great mileage and runs.  We had a fabulous Christmas and start to our New Year.  We are so blessed as a family and I thank you for following my adventures.

Total mileage: 1777 miles

What was a highlight of your running this year?

Body Reboost Salad

I don’t know about you but I had a wonderful holiday week.  Actually, it is going to continue a bit this weekend with a little New Year’s celebration.

Admittedly, I overindulged.  I knew what I was doing and I was okay with it at the time.  Generally speaking, I eat very well.  I enjoy eating healthy but also enjoy a little sweetness in my daily routine.  However, I ate a lot and I ate a lot of some not so healthy foods last week.  It was fun.  But now I feel a bit puffy and sluggish.

Nothing feels better after a little overindulging, than to get back on the healthy bandwagon.  One thing that is great for your body and belly is beans.  Beans are a powerhouse of nutritional goodness.

When we walked in the door from a week away, we had very few things in the refrigerator or cupboard.  However, anytime I got to the grocery store and they have a sale on canned goods, I stock up.  Mary loves chili and I love that she is a fan of beans.

I quickly went to town making this “salad.”  I knew she would gobble it up. I also knew that it would fill the rest of us up and leave our bellies feeling a little better.  One thing that happens when I eat a bit differently than normal is that I get horrible heart burn.  Giving your belly a little “reboost” can help to reset your body.

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This recipe is super simple and likely already in your kitchen.  Here are a few benefits of this fun “salad.”

Black beans: are packed full of fiber, potassium, Vitamin B6 and folate.  They are low in cholesterol and heart healthy.

Garbanzo beans:  are high in fiber, protein, magnesium, potassium, and iron.  They are low in fat and calories and again are really great for your heart healthy lifestyle.

Kidney beans: are high in protein, fiber, iron, potassium, maganese, Vitamin B1, and folate.

Corn: is also high in fiber, and a wonderful antioxidant.  Antioxidants help repair damage from cancer causing agents in our bodies.  Chemicals in this vegetable also help improve vision.

Red onions: continue on our healthy eating plan by packing in calcium, folate, thiamine, potassium, magnesium, and Vitamins C, K  and B6.

Our bodies rely on a variety of these minerals and vitamins.  Getting an abundance helps to ensure that we keep our bodies functioning and healthy.

So how do we make this super simple salad?  

Ingredients:

1 can black beans, drained

1 can garbanzo beans, drained

1 can red kidney beans, drained

1 can sweet corn, drained

1 small red onion, chopped

1 tablespoon EVOO

Salt and pepper to taste

Balsamic vinegar (optional)

Directions:

Drain all of the canned vegetables and rinse in a colander.  Chop the red onion and add all ingredients to a bowl.  Toss with EVOO.  Add a little salt and pepper to taste.  You can also add a little balsamic vinegar or apple cider vinegar to give a little kick.

I love adding this on top of my green salads.  It also tastes delicious with a little salsa and a dash of cheese.  This is a great one to make a big batch and add to other dishes throughout the week.

Yes You Can Be A Runner!

Happy 2015!  Many of us woke up today ready to take on new resolutions.  I personally did not set a resolution but for the past 2 weeks I have admittedly had some pretty terrible eating habits that included dessert with every meal (yes, even breakfast).  Every night I claim that tomorrow will be the day I kick this holiday eating funk and since it is a new year I figure now is the time to finally stick to my word!

HappyNewYear

In the spirit of the New Year many of us opt to ditch bad habits or take on new healthy goals.  Thus why the gym is a mad house in January!  For many of us, getting in shape is often a major goal at the beginning of the year and running is a wonderful way to reset your body.  However, the thought of running can send many of us racing back to the couch or away from the gym.  But I am here to share with you some simple ways to get into the running habit.

First of all it is important to remember that nobody picked up their first pair of running shoes and just went out for 3 easy miles.  Don’t worry!  You have to ease into it.  One day of running did not an athlete make!  Start nice and slow.  Pick an achievable goal.  Start at the end of your driveway and run to the first light pole, stop sign, or other landmark.  Give yourself a pat on the back.  You just went for a run.

Start nice and slow and build up in increments.  Once you make it to your first landmark allow yourself to walk.  Tomorrow pick somewhere a little further and push yourself to get there.  Once you make it to your new goal, go ahead and walk.  Slowly build up over time and before you know it you will be running a mile or two or even three!

There is nothing wrong with walking.  I repeat: There is nothing wrong with walking.  In fact, over the years I have coached many runners who successfully used run/walk programs to finish half and full marathons.  There is no rule that says you must run constantly.  Pick a time increment.  Start with 2 minutes of running and 3 minutes of walking.  Over time you can spread those increments out and, if you wish, end up running without walk breaks.  But always remember that it is okay to walk.

Accept that you are going to get winded and uncomfortable.  Even the most accomplished runner gets winded.  Any time you do an aerobic activity your body briefly goes into an anaerobic phase in the first few minutes.  That means you are going to feel like your lungs need a break.  Give it a few minutes, let your body settle in, and it will go away.  But you must also recognize that with any new activity you do and by pushing yourself to a new level, discomfort is inevitable.  Relax, breath in and out, and it will go away.

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Be your best friend/running coach.  When things get rough I talk to myself.  Sounds a little Sybil?  Seriously, it works!  As you struggle with your running it is important to talk to yourself and say the greatest of things.  “Good job.”  “You are really improving.”  “I can’t believe I just did 3 miles.”  ” I am amazing!”  You will be surprised how much this can lift your spirits and push you forward.

During the Chicago Marathon last year I came across one of my own athletes struggling at mile 18.  When she saw me her eyes lit up and she said, “Coach thank goodness.  I need your help.  I hit a wall.”  I chatted with her for a mile and told her that I couldn’t run the rest of the race with her but that she could help herself get to that finish.  I told her to be her own best friend and talk to herself like I would.  Cheer yourself on.  Urge yourself to keep moving forward.  It makes a world of difference.

Below are a few hints to help you get started:

Go to a running store and ask an expert to help you find the proper footwear.  Getting yourself in the right shoes will help you start off on the right foot (pun intended).  Don’t set yourself up for disaster, or an injury, by wearing gear that isn’t appropriate for the sport or your body.

Listen to some music.  Throw some headphones on and listen to some good music.  It helps you keep a pace and distracts you too.  Music can help turn your focus away from how difficult you perceive the activity to be.  By changing the focus you might find this to be much easier!

Join a group.  There are a ton of running groups all over the place and I think you would be most surprised to see who joins these groups.  Most people are hesitant to join because they are concerned that they are “slow.”  But more often than not, these groups are full of newbies looking for the same thing you are.  We runners are a friendly bunch and when we chose to run as a group we are looking to do just that.  No one attends to race.  We want some company!  Any good running group will divvy its runners up based on pace and have leaders to help you find the right fit.

See out a charity.  I am of course biased because I coach for Team Momentum but from my experience charity running is a perfect fit for new runners.  You will find lots of other new athletes looking to get some help while fundraising for a great cause.  Most charities offer coaching, training plans, group runs and great gear.  I for one would be happy to tell you about our program.  We have both local and virtual training and offer great run/walk and first time running programs!

Boston

Find a great read.  One of my favorite running books is “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall.  Many people take away different lessons from this book, such as topics on ultra running and barefoot running.  But I personally believe the title sums this read up perfectly.  We are all born to run.  I didn’t say we are all born to run marathons or to break a six minute mile.  However, by nature we are all born to run.  With a little patience you can find yourself out on the track, a treadmill, or a trail enjoying your miles.

Happy Running!

How Many Miles Are In a Year?

Wiping the slate clean to start logging miles again.

Wiping the slate clean to start logging miles again.

For the past few weeks I have found myself out on my runs trying to count in my head just how many miles I have done in the past week.  When I first started running I logged each daily run and workout but over the years I have gotten away from that.

The Chick’s Running Night that I joined at Fleet Feet keeps track of each ladies’ miles and gives out free swag for reaching certain goals (Free stuff for running?  Yes please!).  Some of those women have racked up a staggering amount of miles during their time with the group.

That got me thinking…..just how many miles do I run in a year?  I started to realize that I run a lot more miles than I first thought.  In fact, a lot of my life can be noted in miles.

The board is still covered with marathon training from the spring!

The board is still covered with marathon training from the spring!

Last year was my final full one as a year round New Yorker and a lot happened.  Early on in the fall Super Storm Sandy came plowing through the city.  My fiancée  and I were spared any damage to our apartment but transportation throughout the city was a mess.  As we waited for the trains to start working again we started running to and from work.  We quickly realized that we lived only a few miles from Central Park (where we both taught ice skating and hockey) and thus began an entire year of running to and from work.  It was an incredible experience.  We would often jog to work together and many times I would go home before him.  I would find new routes to weave around the city and usually found some awesome place to tell him about when he got home.  We never took a train or bus after the storm.  This was the best way to experience NYC before moving on.

It was really sad coming back to work and seeing so much of the beautiful park destroyed by the storm.

It was really sad coming back to work and seeing so much of the beautiful park destroyed by the storm.

One of the coolest experiences I have had in my life was training for a marathon and doing it alongside my fiancée.  We have a friend who was generous enough to create a pretty tough training plan and together we stuck to it from start to finish like diligent little running soldiers.  There were some angry grunts, and some ticked off glares to each other at times, but we also worked to help pull each other through speed workouts, random training, and all of those long runs together.  We watched each other reach new places neither of us had ever been.

We ran the marathon together and pulled each other along at different stages of the race.  It was a tough experience and we both struggled at times.  My fiancée’s brother jumped in and finished with him which meant a lot not only because he had done the same for his brother but it was awesome to share the entire experience with family.  We both wanted to finish in under 4 hours and we surpassed that not only by quite a bit, but I didn’t even realize at the time that I had qualified for Boston.  My heart races with pride and happiness as I type this out thinking about how we worked together as a team for months to make it happen (you will find this even more amazing considering that we work together running a business 24/7…and we still wanted to get married!)

Crossing the finish. Not pretty. (Disclaimer: the marathon timer is behind the one showing the half marathon time. I didn’t finish in 3:02!)

Lucky to have family helping us along.  That's brotherly love!

Lucky to have family helping us along. That’s brotherly love!

And then we got married.  We even practically ran to the altar (figuratively, not literally).  I know tradition says that the bride and groom shouldn’t see each other the morning of the wedding, but I got this awesome phone call the morning of asking me if we could have breakfast together.  We dined and then did what we always do, went for a run.  I figured nothing could be more perfect than spending the entire wedding day with my best friend from start to finish.

Best night of my life.  Dancing with my best friend and running partner in crime.

Best night of my life. Dancing with my best friend and running partner in crime.

In 2013 I ran through the woods, along beaches, around our new city getting to know it, through a cross country ski course in the middle of the summer, with my new family in a Thanksgiving Turkey Trot, and so much more.  Call me a running dork but all those miles made for some awesome times.

I think this year I am going to dust off the old training logs and keep track of how many miles I cover in a year.  Don’t worry, you won’t be getting daily updates on my mileage.  But it will be fun to see where the miles take me this time and to finally figure out just how many miles there are in a year.

Have a Happy New Year!