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I Made a Birthday Cake for My Dog

I always wondered what kind of person would bake a birthday cake for their dog.  I guess I’m the kind of person who would do such a thing.  Part of the reason is I like to think I’m a pretty crafty chick (I’m not saying I’m a pretty and a crafty chick…I’m saying I’m a chick who’s pretty crafty).  It was Finn’s 1st birthday so what better time to test out my canine culinary skills?!

I found a doggie birthday cake recipe on allrecipe.com and a frosting recipe from The Daily Pup (yes, I made frosting).

The recipe calls for an egg, 1/4 cup peanut butter, 1/4 cup cooking oil, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1/3 cup honey (optional – I did not use), 1 cup shredded carrots, 1 cup whole wheat or white flour and 1 teaspoon baking soda.

dogcake

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 6 cup ring mold.  (I used a square brownie pan).
  2. Combine the egg, peanut butter, oil, vanilla, and honey, if desired, in a large bowl; blend well. Stir in the carrots and mix thoroughly. Sift together the flour and baking soda and fold into the carrot mixture. Spoon cake batter into prepared pan.

The “batter” looked something like this (blah):  cakemix

   3.  Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes. Let cake cool in pan for 10 minutes; then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Don’t be surprised when your “cake” turns out 1 inch thick and is the consistency of shortbread.  It pretty much looked like an epic dog cake fail.  That’s when I decided frosting was necessary to hide the flaws (actual frosting recipe link here).  I used a light cream cheese base, added peanut butter and a dash of canola oil so I could spread it on the shortbread…I mean cake.  Since the cake was so flat, I cut it in quarters and stacked the layers.  Here’s the finished product.  You’re probably digging the fancy carrot pile on top of the cake, aren’t you?  That’s the crafty part of me I mentioned earlier.

finisheddogcake 

Truth be told, I only frosted the 2 sides of the cake that you see in the photo.  My perfectionist side lost the battle to my frustrated, the-dogs-won’t-even-give-a-crap-about-what-the-cake-looks-like side.  When baking for dogs, you need to know when enough is enough.

I decided to keep my day job and not pursue a career in canine baked goods.  But if times ever get real tough and I need to rely on my mad canine culinary skills, at least I know this cake was puppy approved!

dogcakecollage

Happy first birthday Finn!

finnsfirstbday

Have you ever baked goodies for your dog?  Was it an epic success or an epic fail?

10 Commandments of a Color Run

My son and I participated in our first color run last weekend.  It was the Color Me Rad 5k run, to be exact.  Not only was it the first Color Me Rad run for my son and I, it was the first Color Me Rad 5k for our city!   Based on the number of people who showed up and the energy level that morning, I’d say the event was a HUGE success.

If you’re not familiar with a color run, here’s how the Color Me Rad organizers describe it:  “When Zoloft and balloon animals can’t seem to raise your spirits, the best way to brighten your life is to run Color Me Rad 5k….Start out as clean as a newborn babe, and throughout the run, you’ll coat your chaffing thighs with blue, green, pink, purple, and yellow until your face, shirt, and body come out silkscreened like a tie-dyed hippie on the other side. Yup…that is how you turn regular running into The Art of Running!”

Since I have one color run under my belt, I think of myself as a color run expert now and in a position to give advice on how to prepare for a color run.  So for anyone considering signing up for a color run, check out these 10 Commandments:

COMMANDMENT #1:  Wear white.  Lots and lots of white.   Go to a thrift store and buy a white shirt, a white hat, white socks and a white handkerchief.  Just don’t wear clothes you care about too much.  They will get thrashed.

clothingaftermath

COMMANDMENT #2:  Speaking of a handkerchief…I suggest wearing one so that you don’t inhale the color bomb contents.  What is a color bomb made of, you ask?  Well, it’s basically cornstarch with pizzazz.  Inhaling it won’t kill you but I just didn’t feel like tie-dying my lungs.

Here’s a before picture.  I know, I know…we look like a couple of thugs getting ready to rob a bank.

colormeradbothbefore

COMMANDMENT #3:  Wear sunglasses.  Color Me Rad provides each participant with some groovy shades and all the runners were wearing them.  Not only do they make you look cool, they will protect your eyeballs from the color bomb dust that will surely make its way to your peepers.

COMMANDMENT #4:  Wear shoes you don’t care about.  This is not the time to break out your new kicks.  Wear the oldest, rattiest, gnarliest running shoes that you own.   Something that, if they turned into the color of cantaloupe, you would not be saddened.

COMMANDMENT #5:  Bring a trash bag to put your dirty shoes and clothes in after the race.  You will NOT want those nasty, colorful items in your car.  Bring some flip flops to wear on the way home and you are set!

COMMANDMENT #6:  Speaking of nasty, colorful things…your clothes will be wretched, yet beautifully colored.  You should bring a t-shirt to change into after the race.  Or do what my son did.  He just wore two shirts and when the race was over, he took off shirt #1 and was already wearing clean(ish) shirt #2.

COMMANDMENT #7:  Bring a sheet or towel for each participant.   When it was time for the ride home, I took off my shoes, put the clean sandals on, changed out of my dirty shirt, then wrapped a sheet around my waist so I didn’t get any color bomb matter on the seat of my husband’s car.  He really appreciated that.

COMMANDMENT #8:  This is an amazing race to run with friends and family so plan accordingly.  Don’t do this one alone…It’s a very social and fun event so make it a family affair or a girls day out.   I usually do races alone but this run is an exception.  Don’t be a loner.

beforeafter

COMMANDMENT #9:  Enjoy all of the festivities.  The Color Me Rad event had gigantic color bombs go off every 10 minutes.  Don’t miss out on that!  The volunteers had fire extinguishers filled with the color bomb dust and they would spray everyone in sight.  They also had tanks of colored water that they would spray on runners throughout the run.  When runners crossed the finish line they received a color bomb (baggie full of colored cornstarch) and waited for the color bomb countdown.  5, 4, 3, 2, 1,  Poof…Everyone simultaneously threw their color bombs in the air.  Visibility was zero in the midst of a color bomb.  It was awesome.  Music was blaring, people were dancing, kids were rolling on the floor getting covered in color, adults morphed into what looked like art class kindergartners gone wild.   It was a crazy scene.  My husband even had a fun time and he didn’t run.  The people watching was entertaining enough for him!  (Thanks to hubby for all of the great pics…like this one):

colorbombinsky

COMMANDMENT #10:  A color run is a happy occasion so be happy on the day of your run and be prepared to get messy.  Don’t hold back on the color bombs…in fact, buy some extra bombs to throw on your loved ones.  And don’t worry, the color will come out!

colorbombwar

Have you ever participated in a color run? Did I miss any important commandments?

I Finished My Second 1/2 Marathon!

Last weekend I successfully completed my second 1/2 marathon and I had a blast!    Everything about this half marathon was different from my first half (well, the distance was the same).  The training methods I used, the actual race course, my goals, how I felt after…all different…and I think that’s a good thing!  So here’s a little recap about the differences between my first and second half marathons:

THE COURSE:

  • Half marathon #1 (HM1) was an unforgiving, hilly, exhausting, “why am I doing this to myself” kind of course.  It was all hills and yes, I am exaggerating but I spent a great deal of time walking up hills.
  • Half marathon #2 (HM2) was as flat as a delicious pancake dripping in syrupy yumminess.  Sounds appealing, huh?!  The course was new to me, which was a great distraction, the surroundings were beautiful, and did I mention it was flat…?

GOALS:

  • My goal for HM1 was to finish.  Plain and simple.  Finish it.  And I did.  My time was 2:49:28 but it didn’t matter and I didn’t care because my goal was to finish and I accomplished my goal!
  • My goal for HM2 was to finish it with a time of 2:30 or less.  Keep in mind, this was a lofty goal for me since I’m a slow runner.  That would mean I needed to run at an average pace of 11:27 per mile.  I was pretty sure I could do that.  At mile 1, my watch read 11 minutes.  Mile 2 = 22 minutes, mile 3 = 33 minutes, and it was like that until mile 7.  I was impressed with myself for being so consistent.  In mile 7, two things happened – the math got harder (77 minutes minus 60 = 17 minutes, carry the 1…and so goes my brain).  The other thing that happened is I had to pee.  I have a pretty strong bladder unless I’m bouncing up and down on it for 77 minutes (minus 60, carry the one = 1 hour 17 minutes).  So I waited in line at the porta-potty and used up 2 minutes and 12 seconds of precious time (yes, I actually timed it).  These minutes ended up mattering because my finish time was 2:32:58.  If I could have skipped the bathroom break, my time would have been 2:30:46…which is basically making my goal as far as I’m concerned…who cares about the pesky seconds anyway?!?
  • My other goal for HM2 was to have fun and enjoy the experience.  I accomplished that goal as well!

TRAINING:

  • HM1 training consisted of Jeff Galloway’s run/walk method.  I trained alone, mostly on my treadmill, and I stuck to my plan like nobody’s business.  Ultimately, I ended up doing 3 minutes running then 1 minute walking and that was my race  plan…except when there were  hills.  When I approached a hill, I walked up the hill then ran as fast as I could down the hill.
  • HM2 training consisted of joining a training group.  You can read about this bold decision here.  It turns out, this was a very wise decision.  I learned a great deal, like how to breathe, running form, speed work, all that good running stuff.  There were mentors who helped me along the way.  In fact, at around mile 12.75, I was SO hurting and wanted to walk even though the finish line was right there.  I started to walk and one of the mentors (who had already crossed the finish line) came up to me and said (encouragingly), “You can NOT stop running now.  Is your family at the finish line?”  I replied, “Yes.”  She said, “Then start running, you want them to see you finish strong!  Just follow me!”  So, I followed her and kept running.  That kind of encouragement and motivation is priceless and she really helped me finish strong.  Thank you Staci!
  • With HM2, I had a training plan but I didn’t stick with it as much as I did for HM1.  I did the weekly planned group runs (except for the 11 mile run) but didn’t do so well with cross-training.  This half marathon plan was not a ‘run/walk’ plan.  It was a ‘run/run’ plan so I ran the majority of the entire 13.1 miles…toward the end, I needed to take a few walk breaks because of my hips and knees, but other than that, I ran.

halfmarathonmedal

HOW I FELT THROUGHOUT THE RACE:

  • HM1 was kind of intimidating because it was my first half, I didn’t know what I was in for, I saw a couple familiar faces before the race but not one familiar face was to be seen for the duration of the run.  I felt excited on one hand, but as mentioned above, the course was hilly which really took a toll on me toward the end.  I think in my focus shifted from, ‘Wow, look what I’m doing’ to ‘I’m so uncomfortable, why am I doing this?’  When it was over, I was sore but recovered rapidly and felt great the next day.
  • HM2 I had a mission to “Run the mile I was in”.  I read a great post by Wise Running that talked about just enjoying the mile you are in…don’t focus on what you’ve done or need to do, just focus on the present mile.  I thought of that over and over, I focused on breathing and counting (it relaxed me), and I thought of how fortunate I am to be able to run.  Keeping my mind focused on those things kept me moving.  I felt super throughout the run.  Well, except  when my hips and knees started hurting.  At that point I needed some walk breaks.  After the run, my knee was really hurting and it took a couple of days before I was able to wake up and not feel like my legs took a beating.

BEST RACE MOMENT:

  • HM1’s best moment was finishing the half marathon.  I was very proud to finish, to remain uninjured and to walk away knowing I wanted to do another half marathon…just not THAT particular half marathon!
  • HM2’s best moments were:   Finishing, of course, and doing so in a time I was proud of (and setting a personal record, to boot).  I loved the fact that I saw familiar faces all throughout the run.  I saw runners from my training group, I saw the coaches cheering us on, I saw my BFF and her family on the course since they were race volunteers.  And best of all, I saw my family at the finish line.  My son was in the crowd running along with me for the last couple hundred feet.  I yelled out to him, “Keep running with me, you’re keeping me motivated!!”  When I crossed the finish line and met my husband and son there, I said to my son, “Thank you so much for running with me!”  He said in his matter of fact tone, “Mom, I was just walking.”  Oh, ok…so if he was walking, and I felt like I was sprinting, I guess reality lies somewhere in the middle 🙂

Thank you to my family and friends for all your support during my training and my second half marathon!  Sometimes it takes a village 😉

postracedogkisses My family provided me with post-race Krispy Kreme donuts, an ice pack and some ibuprofen.  Finn provided me with dog kisses.

halfmarathon post pic

Has running taught you any great lessons?

Sometimes You Gotta Ditch the Plan

GASP!  You read correctly.  Slow Girl (the control freak, the planner to a fault, the one who should take a chill pill already), says, “Sometimes, you gotta ditch the plan.”  I never ditch the plan.  I make the plan, baby.  But a couple of weekends ago, I ditched the plan like one bad-ass plan ditcher.

You see, my half marathon is coming up this Sunday (as in three days from now) and I haven’t been following my training plan like a good obsessive planner would do.  It’s my second half marathon so it’s not like I haven’t run 13.1 miles before.  I’m sure I can do it even if  I’ve missed several mid-week runs, skipped a dozen or so cross-training workouts and missed just one long slow distance run.  Sure, it was the longest run of the training program that I missed but whatever…it was just 11 miles.  Besides, it’s not like I sat around on my butt that weekend and did nothing at all.  I did something just as challenging and strenuous as an 11 mile run.  I had a family dance off, yo!

A couple of weekends ago my youngest sister, Amy, graduated WITH HONORS from college.  Impressive, I know.  I flew to California and met up with my younger sister, Andrea, my mom, my step dad and my niece, Angela.  Since we live in different states, it’s a pretty special occasion when we are all under the same roof.  Throw in a college graduation and a good time is guaranteed!  Spending time with my family always brings me great joy and this trip did not disappoint!

On Saturday night, after all of the graduation festivities, Angela and Amy suggested we play a fun game called, “Just Dance 4.”  What?  You’ve heard of it before?  Well, apparently everyone in the universe has heard of it except for me.  It’s a Wii game and you follow the dance moves of the pretend dancer on the screen.  The better you follow the moves (using the remote thingy) the more points you get.  I’m not a dancer.  I have no rhythm, no groove, no grace, no nothing.  But when challenged to a dance off by my little sister and niece, I said, “Bring it on, you little whippersnappers.”  And so the evening began.  A snap shot of the night:

justdancedontpeepants Amy is on the left, she’s the one actually dancing.  I’m on the right, trying to not pee my pants from laughing so hard.  That was my second dance outfit of the evening.  Lesson:  Don’t ‘Just Dance’ after drinking a ton of water all day….jumping up and down does not mix well with hard-core laughter.

justdance I pulled myself together, put on my game face and danced to this fun song, “Call me Maybe.”  I lost but was given bonus points for best facial expressions.  Yay me.

justdancesister $h!t got real when the song, “Moves Like Jagger” came on.  A little dance off with Andrea was underway…I wanted to win SO bad.  I didn’t.

So you see…sometimes when you ditch the plan, there is a WAAAY better plan out there.  For me, it was dancing like a dork with my family all night long.  Did I deviate from my training plan and miss my 11 mile run?  Yep.   Did it really matter in the grand scheme of things?  Nope.  Was I sorry that my family made me laugh so hard  I peed my pants?  Not really.  Am I going to buy my own Just Dance game so I can secretly practice my moves for the next reunion/Dance Off?  Hell yeah!

As for my half marathon that’s coming up in three days…I’m feeling fine physically and great mentally/emotionally.  My head’s in a good place, I feel like I’m going to kill it.  I’ve completed a 10 mile run during my training so what’s a few more miles?  Honestly, I think spending time dancing with my family was more beneficial to my race preparation than running my scheduled 11 miles all alone.

To Sunday’s Half Marathon:  Ready or not, here I come!

Does emotional/mental preparation play a role in your training?  Do you freak if you deviate from your training plan?

Finnigan Strikes Again & Again

Finn, my whippet puppy, is doing it again.  He’s driving me mad, batty, coo-coo.  I’m supposed to be training for a half marathon but instead, I’m chasing after this goof ball:

slywhippet

He’s a 10 month old whippet, which I’m convinced is old enough to know better…right??  We (the humans) recently took a big leap of faith and started leaving Finn home alone, uncrated, when we left the house.  At first, we left him alone for 20 minutes or so and everything was fine when we returned.  Then we had to leave him for 45 minutes, then an hour, then 4 hours.  Yes, you’re right.  Four hours was a little risky on our part…especially knowing he gets bored so easily.

Here’s what tickles Finn’s fancy in the absence of human supervision:

grass Removing all of the dried moss from the potted plants and then leaving the moss on the kitchen floor.  What’s so fun about that?

mantle Finn knows that we keep all of our winter shoes in the basement closet.  He also knows that we are a forgetful bunch of humans and never close the closet door.  He finds great pleasure in carrying our shoes up to the living room where he chews and chews and chews on them.  When we get home and find all of our shoes (and boots, and hats, and slippers) around the house, we just throw everything on top of the mantle because we know if we put it away in the closet, we’ll forget to close the closet door and we’re back to square one.

mismatchedshoes Where the hell are my missing flip flops, Finn????  I can NOT continue walking around like this!

When I come across one of Finn’s messes, I think to myself, “When I find you, Finn, I’m gonna…” then I find this:

adorablewhippet …An adorable whippet who drives me crazy and melts my heart all at once.  I forget exactly what it was I was going to do to him and instead I pour a glass of wine, relax with my trouble maker and make a mental note to close the closet door.

We Should Use the Word “Super” More Often

I never hear anyone use the word “super.”  When I ask someone how they are doing, they never say, “I’m doing super!!”  No one ever says, “This froyo is super,” or, “I saw a super movie last night.”  I don’t know why…It’s a great word (even if it is a little on the dorky side).   It’s positive, fun to say, and you can make it sound better by adding “duper” at the end.  All I know is I’m going to start saying “super” more often and I’m starting now.

Supersource

I had a super duper 10 mile run yesterday!  Last week’s 9 mile run was bad and I whined about it in my last post.  I’m glad I whined about it because Kat from Travel. Garden. Eat reminded me that occasionally, a bad run is going to happen while training for a half marathon and she is right.  I did not want a repeat of my bad 9 mile run so I adjusted a few things to make sure my 10 mile run was…say it with me…super:

  • Hydration – 9 mile run:  I did not hydrate the days leading up to the run.  10 mile run:  I made sure to drink plenty of water all week long…which I should do anyway.
  • Food the night before – 9 mile run:  Pizza for dinner and a couple glasses of wine.  10 mile run:  Teriyaki chicken and rice and no tasty alcoholic beverages.  Just water.
  • Food the morning of – 9 mile run:  I tried out a new oatmeal.  It was a sample that we received in the mail…who knows how old it was or where it came from.  I think it had a bunch of sugary junk in it and it was a bad breakfast choice.  I knew better than to try something new the morning of a long run (yes, 9 miles is a long run for me).  10 mile run:  Toast with peanut butter and bananas plus a cup of coffee.  This is a breakfast I can count on.
  • Attitude – 9 mile run:  My attitude was fine until my hips and feet started to hurt.  At that point, my head just wasn’t in a good place, I didn’t feel great about the run and I was focused on the wrong things.  10 mile run:  I made sure any chatter going on in my head was positive.  I had some upbeat songs on my playlist, and when things started to hurt I just focused on putting one foot in front of the other.  I reminded myself that this is not rocket science…I am certainly capable of moving my body from Point A to Point B.
  • Post run thoughts – 9 mile run:  “This sucks.  How will I be able to continue for 4 more miles?  I’m sore.  Somebody call me a “wambulance.”  (Any Modern Family fans out there?)  10 mile run:  “This rocks!  I did great!  I feel great!  3 more miles will be a breeze!  I have enough energy to run to my car!”

There were some  big differences between my two runs and I now understand I cannot underestimate the importance of my food, water and attitude choices…especially as race day nears.  I have a feeling that May 19th is going to be a SUPER day!

The Good, the Bad & The Ugly

This picture of my dog, Theron, really sums up my feelings about these past several days…Tired, over it, sore, thankful, productive…all rolled into one.

whippetblahs 

The days have been filled with the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

First, The Good:

  • I ran a 10k race and ended up with my best time ever.   Truth be told, my best time isn’t that impressive but I was pretty darn excited about it.  It was a very chilly day at 35 degrees with brisk, annoying winds.  The best part of the day, besides finishing the run, was getting into my car and blasting the heater!

 post race warmup

  • More good news!  I figured out how to breathe!  Ok, I know how to breathe, but I have learned how to breathe while running.  I’m currently reading “Chi Running” by Danny Dreyer and he reviews some very important information about breathing.  He states, “In running, as in all other types of aerobic exercise, the breath holds the key role of providing oxygen to help fuel active muscles.  If you don’t get enough oxygen to your muscles, they will be starved of the key component needed for burning fuel.  The more efficiently your body can extract oxygen from the air and transfer it to your muscles, the easier your running will feel at any speed.”  I learned that belly breathing is key.  It’s more important to get all of the air OUT of your lungs than it is to get air INTO your lungs.  I found that breathing in sync with my steps works for me… three breaths out, two belly breaths in.   I have been practicing breathing during every run and my thoughts are occupied with the task of counting…1, 2, 3, 1, 2, repeat over and over and over.  It’s mesmerizing and relaxing in a weird way.   Here’s a link to Danny Dreyer’s blog that explains belly breathing (item B – but the whole post is very informative).
  • I’m still running with my running group.  We have been practicing drills, working on cadence, breathing techniques, hill training, speed work, and all that great stuff.  On Saturdays we run on a beautiful paved trail  along the river so it’s just a lovely way to spend the morning.  Longest run so far has been 9 miles…this Saturday will be 10.  The half marathon we are training for takes place May 19th which is right around the corner.  Yikes.

riverview Beautiful vistas!

Now for The Bad:

Last week’s 9 mile run felt horrible.  You know how at the end of the run you say to yourself, “That was AWESOME!  I’m so glad I did that!”  Yeah, I wasn’t saying that.   I was so sore I felt like I was falling apart with every step I took past mile 8.  By mile 9 I kept thinking, “Oh my gosh, I will have to run 4 more miles at the half marathon…crap.  I don’t know how I’m going to do this.”  Then I told myself to shut up and run because I was fortunate and blessed that my body was capable of running.  My thoughts turned to the victims of the Boston Marathon tragedy and remembering that there are people out there who are feeling a greater physical and emotional pain than I will ever feel quickly shushed the negative banter and whining going on in my head.  

And finally, The Ugly:

I am a very, very, very organized person…or at least I like to think I am.  I disdain clutter and if my surroundings are cluttered, my head feels cluttered and if my head feels cluttered, I become a bit of a nut job.  However, if you made a surprise visit to my home you would probably not believe my claims because recently some of the rooms in my house were just plain messy and ugly.

Now I am going to show you a few photos, thanks for not judging.  If you are a true organization freak, you will curse me and call me a liar and say there’s no way someone who disdains clutter would let ANY room in her house get so messy.  Well, I did.  Take a look at the before and after pics of my closet and office:

Closet Collage       Office Collage

My closet got so out of hand, it seemed useless to even bother cleaning it.  It was so cluttered I did not want to go in there but all of my clean underwear and running clothes were in there.   Talk about a conundrum.   I also had the office situation to handle.  I stopped blogging for a bit because I could not stand to set foot in the office.  Both areas were horrendous.  After much sorting, tossing, cleaning and organizing, I was able to turn the closet and the office into happy places once again!

Now that the ugly in my house has been eliminated, my head is clearer.  Maybe with a clearer head I will be a better runner.  Or maybe being a better runner will give me a clearer head? 

Either way, some great lessons were learned: 

  • I’ve got to take the good with the bad with the ugly and figure out how to make it all great
  • Spend less time whining and more time being thankful
  • Relax and breathe!