Saturday, May 28, 2011

When running becomes eco-friendly

My car needed an oil change.  I always prefer to drop my car off at the place on Friday night so they can work on it first thing Saturday morning.  I picked a new place that was close to my house and instead of having my husband follow me or meet me there I went home, changed into running clothes and drove to the place.  I then ran home..adding in more mileage to give me a total of 4.3 miles for the run.

When my car was ready this morning I put on my running clothes and ran the 2.5 miles to the place to pick it up.

Not only did I get in two great workouts but I saved money on gas and I reduced my carbon footprint.  Sounds like a win-win to me!

To make it an even better run for me, I went faster than normal this morning but didn't slow myself down since I knew I had less than 3 miles to go.  I ended up with negative splits!  Woohoo!

The guy that checked me out at the business also talked to me about running and said I looked like I was in great shape.  I'll take complements any day of the week.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Change the World Wednesday - Garden Green

This week's edition of Change the World Wednesday hosted by Reduce Footprints is focused on your garden.

This week, please share information on planting anedible garden. Tell us what you grow and share any tips you've learned. We'd like to know if you use containers, raised beds, etc. and how you grow successfully without chemicals. Tell us what has worked and what hasn't.

Or ...

If you grow food but not in an Eco-friendly way, please make at least one "green" change. For example, switch to organic fertilizers. Investigate which plants repel bugs and insects and use them instead of pesticides. Find out which plants, in your area, require the least amount of water ... or investigate ways to water efficiently. And, of course, we want to know all about it so ... write a post.

Or ...

If you don't grow food, please do so. Try a container of herbs or plant some onions. Swiss Chard and Kale are nutritious powerhouses and make a lovely addition to gardens. Even if you don't have much space, try growing one thing. And yep ... we want to hear all about your adventure as well.

I'm happy to report that this year I am making my first effort at actually growing something edible. I'm not sure how it's going to turn out, but I'm making an effort.

A couple of months ago I bought some lettuce and spinach seeds. I planted them using organic top soil and in cardboard egg cartons that I saved.  I had several seeds germinate and start to grow...but think I put too many in each little hole and they got crowded.   Then I was so busy I didn't get around to switching them to larger containers until this past weekend.   All containers are still inside because the plants are so small I'm worried about damage with hard rain and frost.   I'm worried this won't work this year but I'm happy I tried.  Plus, I could still be surprised.   I really hope the lettuce grows though since I eat a salad roughly 3 days a week for lunch.  This would be a huge cost saver for us in the long run.

Earth day weekend Lowe's was selling tomato plants 2 for $1.  I had the husband pick up 4 plants while he was at the store.  I finally planted those into their own containers this past weekend too. Since these are already plants I have a better hope of these making it.  These are currently outside.   I like tomato's but rarely eat them. However you want to know why I want to grow them? I'm hoping I get a good enough crop that I can freeze almost all of them (whatever the husband doesn't eat) and we can use them for tomato sauce and diced tomatoes all winter long.

I also have one pepper plant that was given to us. I don't eat peppers but the husband will sometimes use them to cook with.

As mentioned..I'm using an organic soil that I bought.  It's more expensive but I felt better using it since I was planning to eat the vegetables grown in the soil.   I also mentioned containers.  While I do live in a house with a big enough yard for a vegetable garden, I decided to use containers for now.   I'm not always the best at remembering I need to water plants outside.  So this is a test to see how well I do growing vegetables. If I do remember to take care of them, I'll work on creating a vegetable garden in the yard somewhere this fall.

The other reason I wanted to use containers for now is because our subdivision backs up to a state park.  You know what this means, deer.   We have a lot of deer.  It's not uncommon to see deer hanging out in our backyard (even though we are in the middle of the subdivision and not the closest to the park).  My hope is that by having the items in containers on our deck, we won't have to worry about the deer or rabbits eating the vegetables.  

One plant that I know, ok, am about 85% positive will do well, this year is my blackberry bush.  I planted it last year and actually got two fruits from it.  This year it looks to be coming back nice and strong so I hope to get a lot more.  I know it can take several years to get fruit from a newly planted bush so I don't know what to expect.  However, I think because I was green when I planted this one I might get more than most 2nd year plants.  How exactly was I green?  Instead of buying a blackberry bush, I took 2 clippings from my sister. What's more green than that? The only carbon footprint in getting these clippings was the gas to drive them to my house and even that can't all be on my shoulder since her husband dropped them off on his way to his parents house.  I didn't do anything special to the soil when I planted this one. I basically planted it next to the fence that is around our pool.  I thought about using some of the organic soil I bought around it, but it's coming back so well I don't want to mess with it.  I also think that because I used clippings and didn't buy the plant new, that's why I did get a couple pieces of fruit last year and why I hope to get more this year.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Get Fit Mondays - Week of May 1st

I'm finally back to workout out regularly..and boy does it feel good.   I went through a several week period of eating like crap and barely working out. It always feels good to get back in track.  I'm still not eating 100% better, but I'm doing better than I was.  My problem? Easter candy.  I didn't buy any, but I had some given to me.    While I'm back to working out regularly, I haven't been doing much running.  I want to run, but I also wanted to start working towards a sprint triathlon so I've been doing other cross-training.   I sat down a couple nights ago and created a weekly workout schedule so I can get in runs and still cross train.  It won't totally go into effect until later in the month but I have my fingers crossed it will work.

So here's what I did for the week of May 1st:
Sunday - swam - roughly 10-12 lengths - I don't remember
Monday - This was a rest day although I did have a fitness assessment done at my gym so I did walk on a treadmill for 15 min.  The end result of all the testing..I have the body of a 21 year old.   Go me!
Tuesday - Ran 2 read that right..I only ran 2 miles
Wednesday - Spin class - loved it! Lots of intervals.
Thursday - Soccer - Technically I did sprint and run a lot so I guess it counts for running
Friday - more swimming - There was an old guy walking in the lane next to the one I was swimming in. I don't know if I should be embarrassed or impressed...because he was lapping me.   lol!   I did a total of 10 lengths.
I did 2 easy lengths of what I call a modified butterfly, then freestyle for 4 lengths, 2 lengths using a board and kicking, 2 lengths of combined freesyle and modified butterfly.   This is nowhere close to where I need to be if I want to do a sprint triathlon. I think I've come to the realization that I won't be able to do one this I need to just work on getting better at swimming and focus on running for my next half later this year.
Saturday - run! I finally got out for a run.  I did two runs, roughly an hour apart.  The first run was 2.7 miles and the second was 2.6 miles.

You want to know the best part?  I did all of this..all those workouts, with a cold!

One change that I'm excited about is that I signed up for Big River Running's speed workouts. Big River Running is a local running store and favorite running store in STL.  They put on a lot of the races that I love (such as the Castlewood Cup)   Plus, another reason they are my go to store, they are locally owned. Love supporting the locals.  I have decided not to play soccer anymore because I think it's causing some of the issues I've been having with my back and my IT band.  I used soccer as speedwork (because I'm too lazy to do it on my own).   Since no more soccer after a couple more weeks I knew I would need to do speedwork and since their program is free, it was perfect.  I had to sign up, so I feel like I'm accountable.  Since I signed up I know I'll make myself go even if I don't feel like it that day.  I'm nervous, but I'm excited.  The speed sessions Start on May 10th and are every Tuesday until August 2nd when there is a timed 5k on the track to see what our pace is and how much we've improved.  My goal is to get under 25 min or an 8:06 min/mile.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Driving slow or speeding along?

Back in February one of the Change the World Wednesday challenges was to reduce speed.   When I wrote about it I mentioned how I normally speed to/from work because I just want to be home..I don't want to spend my time driving to/from work. Boy it really does suck to live so far away from my job!

Since then I have actively been working on not speeding and going 60-65 mph on the highway.  I didn't think it was going to make much of a difference but I'm amazed that it has.  

I normally would average 322 miles per tank.  Yes..I'm one of those that doesn't normally get gas until the light comes on telling me I'm nearing empty.   At first I didn't pay too much attention but last month I noticed I got a lot more miles than normal so I started to pay attention.  I've been able to get up to 367 miles per tank of gas (although I was seriously on empty when I filled up. haha! The light came on when I was at work and I don't work in the safest of areas and decided I could make it home..which I did..barely).  However normally I get at least 20 more miles per tank of gas than I used to.  With the rise in gas prices, this really makes a difference.   I was talking to Husband about this and the next time we were in my car (we normally take his) I showed him how I had started to keep track (lame..I know) and we figured out that I'm now averaging around 28 miles/gallon.

On another note, my husband filled up his new car, which is a hybrid recently. He said he went 3 weeks and had over 700 miles.  That's awesome! I can't wait till we get his paid off because then it will be about time for me to get a new one and I want something that gets as good of mileage.

However there is one other thing I wanted to mention about not speeding.  I thought I would have to start leaving earlier in the mornings in order to get to work on time, but that's not the case. I'm leaving at the same time and I'm arriving on time.  I've also noticed, and to me this is the most important change, that I"m less stressed.  I honestly didn't even realize that the commute was stressing me.  After I had been going slower for several weeks it dawned on me that I didn't feel stressed, I didn't feel pressured. It was such a jolt to realize that I had been stressed out on my commute. I just hadn't realized it. I'm much calmer in the car. Not that I had road rage, but I would get annoyed when somebody would get in front of me and be going slower etc.  I love that I'm more calm.  This was an unexpected perk of reducing my speed and I'm so glad I did.

Unfortunately, while I am getting more miles per gallon with my car, due to joining a gym I'm also driving more.  I hate that but live is about balances.  I don't want to give up working out in order to save a couple bucks on gas.  The gym is only 5 miles away, so I'm not adding on a ton of miles, but it's still significant when gas is $4.00/gallon.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Hey, I finally joined a gym, you got something to say about that?

In late March I decided to start taking yoga classes.  As a runner I'm putting my legs through a lot.  My legs aren't always happy about this.  I felt that  yoga could make my legs happier and if my legs were happy my performance would improve.    I searched around and found that a local rec center offered yoga classes. I didn't want to join the center because it's pretty expensive but did more digging and found that I could get a class pass for $50.  This would give me 10 classes ($5 per class).  Then when my 10 classes were up, all I had to do was give them another $50.  I could take as many or as few classes as I wanted.   This was perfect.  My husband saw that spin classes were an option and suggested I try that. He has mentioned it in the past, thinking it's something I would like.  So I took one.  I liked it.

I had a new routine.  Sunday was my long run day, Monday was a rest day with yoga, Tuesday was a run, Wednesday was strength training, Thursday was a run, Friday was spin class, Saturday was either a rest day in anticipation for a long run on Sunday or another workout that I decided that day.   Repeat.

Then a couple of weeks ago at an employee meeting one lady talked to us about this Vitality program my work started using last year.  I have been using the Vitality program but she introduced me to something I was unaware of.  Vitality has partnered with some gyms in the areas where Vitality is available.  Ok, I did know that.  What I didn't know was that if you link up your gym account with Vitality you could get a subsidiary.  To make it simple..they give you money towards your gym membership.
Front lobby I'm interested.  I quickly got on Vitalities website and started looking up the info. I found a couple of gyms in my city that were close to me. One I drive by frequently and it's fancy smancy.  Every time Husband and I would drive by and he would catch me looking at it he would tell me to not even think about it.  So at first I didn't look at that one.  But then on a whim I decided to look at what the subsidiary would be.  For the level I'm at with Vitality (you earn points for working out, doing other healthy things and this allows you to move up levels) the subsidiary for this fancy smancy gym would $50.  How expensive is this freaking gym?!  I went to the gym's website and couldn't find it so I contacted them.  I found out it's $60 per month.  That seems like a lot, but knowing I would get $50 back I knew it was affordable. I knew it was cheaper than what I was paying now for only 2 classes per week. Plus once I reach the next level with Vitality the subsidiary will be $60 per month, that covers the membership!  I'm working on moving to the next level by August.

I mentioned all this to Husband and he was not on board with it.  So I created an excel spreadsheet detailing the cost of the 2 classes I was doing and both gyms I was looking at.  I did cost from May through December, pointing out when I would start getting the subsidiary, when I would break even, and ending with out much money I would save by joining the gyms compared to the current method.  He still wasn't sold.

I made an apt with a sales rep at the fancy smancy gym and dragged Husband along to look at it.  We talked to the sales guy first, got a tour of the gym, went back to the office, and Husband agreed I could join.   I was super excited!!   This gym has everything I wanted.

locker room
The gym is Life Time Fitness.  The benches in the locker room are granite. The lockers are wood.  There is granite in the showers.  There is a huge spin room with a projector.  There are a ton of treadmills, bikes, and other equipment.  There is an outdoor pool and an indoor pool. Including a lap pool.  The gym is open 24 hours.  There are two sauna's in the locker room.  There is a spa inside the gym.  There's a cafe inside the gym.  I don't need to continue do I? You're already sold right?

How much will I use the gym? Only time will tell.  I know I plan on taking at least 2 classes each week. There's a third class I will probably start taking too.   I joined a week ago Saturday.  Since then I have used it  for a spin class, barbell strength training, treadmill, pool, and I had a fitness assessment. (By the way, the fitness assessment has determined that my body age is 21, so from now on that's how old I'm telling people I am. haha)

cycle room
One of my goals for this year was to do a sprint triathlon.  I know how the pool so I can start swimming and access to bikes.  I'm pumped!

After my half I kinda lost it.  I still wanted to run and still wanted to be active but I wasn't. The half was a bad race for me and that took something out of me.  It was hard to get back into the swing of things.  Combine that with no big race until Fall and I had nothing to work towards.  With the gym, I've got my interest back. There is so much I can do there.  I'm excited about working out again!  I won't use it to run a lot, but I will use it sometimes. I'll use it when the weather is bad. I'll use it when I want to work on pace.

I think it's funny when I talk to people about the gym and mention the cost.  I think $60 is very expensive for a gym but can understand why this place is so expensive. It truly is super nice.   However a lot of people think it's a decent price. In fact, those who know what you get with the gym think it's a decent price and not expensive at all.  I guess it's all in how you view things.

**copyright info - all pictures were taken from the lifetime fitness website for the location I go to. I didn't snap the pictures myself.  However..they are accurate as to what those areas do look like**

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Change the World Wednesday - cleaning the air

This week's Change the World Wednesday Challenge hosted by Reduce Footprints is:

This week, stop smoking for at least one day (forever would be better) ... yep, 24 hours ... no smoking! It's hard but I know you can do it!

Or ...

If you are not a smoker, remove toxins in your home by cleaning (yep, dust is a toxin), opening windows (fresh air, sunshine and a rainy day actually help clean indoor air), adding a plant to your environment, etc.

Or ...

If you don't smoke and have already taken the above actions, please let us know about any other actions we can take to purify the air in our homes.

It's been awhile since I participated in Change the World Wednesday.  I think the daily challenges and then my life getting hectic for awhile caused me to just stay clear of my google reader for awhile.  I hope to be back though!   Let's hope this starts another long trend of me participating in CTWW.

I'm not a smoker, I never have been and never will (or so I tell myself).   So not smoking for 24 hours isn't a challenge for me.

We've been having some crazy weather here lately and we go from having the heat on to having the AC on. Ok, I wouldn't have turned on the AC but the husband did it because he was hot.  We've had a lot of days where it's been nice though.  A bit chilly to wear shorts outside but warm enough to have the heat off in the house.  We've been opening windows when we can.  In fact, they were open just last night.  Sometimes they are only open for a couple of hours before it's too cool and we have to close them but I do like to open them for a little bit.

I have 3  house plants in the kitchen and recently, in an effort to be a surban farmer, I've planted some lettuce and spinach seeds.  These are currently still in the house as it's too cold yet for outside.   In the last couple of weeks I've also added 4 tomato plants and a pepper plant to the inside garden.   I'm looking forward to putting them outside but until then, they sit on the floor in the kitchen in front of some big windows.

Since it doesn't appear that not smoking and adding a plant to the house was an issue, let's mention the third part of the challenge..doing something else to help purify the air.

While I can't say I don't do anything specific to purify it (although I'm looking forward to reading what others do so I can copy) I can tell you what I don't do.  I don't normally use air fresheners.   When I do, it's because Myla had an accident in her kennel and the smell is over powering.  I'll then spray something in that area to get the smell to go away.  

I don't use the glad plug in's or other similar products on the market. I just don't see how that can be healthy. There have to be chemicals in them that I would be putting into the air in my house.    Plus I don't think we need it.  Our house doesn't have a "bad" smell to it so I just don't see the point of them either.

I will admit that we burn candles, but in an effort to make that better for us I hope to find some soy ones when I'm in need of more.  At least I think it's soy that's better, it appears I need to do more research on this before I do anything.

pssst..when I went to Reduce Footprints to link my post I read the other comments and Eco Friendly Homemaking had a great suggestion.  She said that by removing your shoes before you step inside you can eliminate roughly 65% of the toxins that we pick up when out and about.  I believe I have read this before, or something similar, but forgot about it.  Husband and I do remove our shoes once we are in the house..but do walk around a bit. He walks only a couple of yards before removing his but I normally walk through the house to our bedroom to remove mine.  I'm going to try and remember to remove mine either right before I step into the laundry room or right after I do and then carry them to my closet to be put away. Right now I normally put my shoes on in the kitchen when I'm getting ready to head out the door and I'll try to do that in the laundry room from now on.  

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Happy Spring Cold

That's right, I'm suffering from another cold.  My husband is the sharing type, which is good except when it comes to germs.

I brought my organic honey to work so I can eat it periodically throughout the day.  I don't know anybody who likes to just eat honey by the spoonful, but I have no idea what to mix it with so that's how I eat it.

I've been working on the rest of the Dove Chocolate bunny my Mom gave me for Easter.  I don't think the milk chocolate is the cure-all for colds but it sure makes my day more enjoyable.

I was just getting back into a regular workout mode, still not running a lot but working out regularly, and now the cold decides to pay a visit.  Mondays are generally my rest day. I went to the gym early in the morning for a fitness assessment and decided not to work out that night.  Ok, fine, dinner was ready when I got home so I decided to eat instead of run.  Who wouldn't?    I'm still trying to decide if I want to run tonight when I get home. I think even a 2 mile run would be worth the effort.   I've read several reports that say working out when you first get a cold can actually help you get over it faster.    Plus, if I do polish off this chocolate bunny I will need the 2 miles just to burn off an ear.