Workouts, Vegan Eats, & Christmas (and Blendtec)!

Yes, I’m jamming it all into one post. To keep the wordiness down, the Christmas recap will be mostly pictures. But, first, a couple announcements and my training recap.

A Blendtec Kind of Holiday

So much exciting stuff going on. First off, if you remember my what I want for Christmas post, I mentioned at the top of my list needing/wanting a new blender. Well, Santa skipped that one, but Fitfluential did not! I actually won a Blendtec Designer 725! Yes, I did! I haven’t received it yet, but here’s the proof:

WinnerYep, that’s me!

Small town, BIG RACE

As you know, Alan and I are training for the SLO Marathon on April 26. Our training program officially starts with the new year, so it’s time to get race plans in place. We’d love to have you join us, so remember that the prices will be going up December 31. You can still save $10 with the code WOODAMB, so hurry up and sign up!

SLO Marathon

As for my own training, I think the term “holiday training” pretty much sums it up. Yes, I ran, a little. Yes, I did practice yoga, twice, once at home, once at the studio. But, all things considered, I’m okay with that. Here are my workouts from last week:

Monday: Since it was looking to be a busy day, I did an at-home yoga class with Yoga 30 (taught by my friend April of Yoga Central) early in the morning, followed by a three mile run (because that’s all I had left).

Yoga 30
Tuesday: Rest
Wednesday: Alan and I planned to run in Huntington Beach while visiting the family, but I ended up with a migraine, so that didn’t happen. Put a damper on the whole day.
Thursday: Christmas day Alan and I took a little three mile trail run. After being sick the day before it felt good just to be out and running.

Christmas Run
Friday: Rest
Saturday: In keeping with the holiday run thing, we ran about 5.5 miles on the trails.

Trail Run
Sunday: Run with the dogs day. Okay, that didn’t happen. Here’s why:

Weather

The poor dogs didn’t even get a walk. I did make it to a 90 minute yoga class though.

So, not a whole lot accomplished, but with holidays, shopping, family, travel, not to mention migraines, I’m okay with my training. Back on track in the coming week, though. I’m not quite where I wanted to be by the end of December since official training starts next week, but it is what it is. I’m also thinking about joining the January yoga challenge that Yoga Central is doing this month. That should help me stay on yoga-track (there are prizes!).

Vegan Eats

Of course all of my eats are vegan, but we did get a couple chances to get out to eat. For our second visit to the Tap In Room at Whole Foods, we tried the Artisanal Vegan Cheese plate, and, Oh My God! It was good. It was actually served by the “Cheese Man,” who explained each cheese. We also had the Jackfruit Crab Cakes again, and they were good too. We couldn’t finish it all, so we took home the leftover cheese and I had it for lunch the next day. It was even better, probably because I didn’t have the gustatory distraction of the spicy sauce on the jackfruit cakes. I was happy to find out that they sell it in the store (I’d never even visited the cheese section), and I can’t wait to pick some up.

Whole Foods

Whole Foods 2We also had a chance to introduce some friends to Native Food. I tried a new menu item, the Crispy Chicken and Avocado Club, forgoing my favorites, either the Bistro Steak Sandwich or the Greek Gyro Bowl. It was okay, but I’ll return to my faves on my next visit. Our friends enjoyed their meal too, which always makes me happy. I love when non-vegans learn how delicious cruelty-free can be!

Native FoodsAnd Finally…Christmas

Alan and I actually had three Christmas celebrations, one with each side of the family, then our own on Christmas morning. But, as promised, I won’t get too wordy. Just a lot of pictures (and maybe a little explanation here and there).

MinervaWe took the same friends for their first visit to Minerva Street, the desert’s version of Candy Cane Lane. Even though the youngest “child” was 18, they all loved it! So did I!

DebbieOur very nice neighbors brought us a huge gift basket. Obviously they don’t know us very well (yet), but it was a great bring-along to our family Christmas.

Gift BasketOur first Christmas, in Huntington Beach with Alan’s son and his family. The grandsons scored!

Watkins

Watkins 2

ElvisWe traveled home on Christmas Eve. My migraine finally cleared enough so that I could at least decorate the tree. We didn’t actually put any presents under it though, what with our little terror, er, terrier, Johnny B. Goode, being such a chewer. At least he didn’t eat the tree. Maybe because it was blessed by Elvis.

Alan_LilyJust because Santa didn’t bring a blender doesn’t mean I didn’t get exactly what I wanted. Now I’ll have to have some fancy adventures on the run that are GoPro-worthy.

Go Pro

NathanMy son Nathan and my beautiful daughter-in-law Sarah. I’d even say she was glowing…

ChristmasMy youngest son David and his girlfriend Melissa. Awake and smiling here but both were recovering a bit from a Christmas Eve celebration the night before.

DavidMy niece Brynne, who was there with her boyfriend Eric and his son Zach.

Brynne

SarahThere was some fancy underwear.

SamuelI guess Samuel doesn’t quite know what to do with his yet.

Samuel 2I distinctly heard Samuel, son of Paleo parents, say “yum” after he took a bite of the vegan turkey roast. He looks pretty handsome in his new robe, doesn’t he?

So that was my week. Got it done in less than 1,000 words. How was your holiday?

Just a Few Things…

Just a few things that are on my mind this week before Christmas.

First off, have you entered to win the $100 giveaway yet?  Learn about all the Bakken Invitation honorees and how they survived life threatening conditions and now use their second lives to give back. You can win a $100 Visa gift card so that you can help out your community too. Read the post for details.

Bakken

On Saturday it will be 11 years since my little sister died from cancer at the age of 43. The pain has dulled, but I always like to take some time to remember Susan on December 20. If I could, I’d tell her that her daughter is doing well now. I’ll be seeing Brynne in a few days, and I know that she’s happy, involved with a nice man, and finally working at a job that she really likes. Take a few moments today to give your sister a call, especially if you haven’t spoken for a while. I’m going to call my baby sister Lisa.

Christensen Girls

I got some new shoes the other day! Amazon had such a good deal that I couldn’t resist buying a second pair of my favorite running shoes, Mizuno Wave Rider 18. Here’s my review if you missed it. Now I’m pretty well fixed for my SLO Marathon training.

Wave Rider 18

Speaking of shoes, I trade out my shoes, using different models for different kinds of workouts. The Wave Riders will be perfect for my medium and longer distance runs, while my slightly older but still usable Wave Rider 17 will be perfect for any off-road running that I do (I don’t like to get my new shoes dirty for at least a few weeks!). The trails I run on are hard-packed and pretty even for the most part, so I don’t really need special trail shoes. For faster runs, like my tempo or interval workouts, I have a pair of Asics Gel Electro 33 (review here), that I can’t wait to use. I haven’t been doing any speed work, so I haven’t been wearing them.

Electro33

I have all my Christmas shopping done! That is really rare for me. I do have a couple gift cards to pick up, but other than that I’m done, done, done! I got my sister and brother-in-law’s gifts sent off on Tuesday, plus I have most of my wrapping done (just need to decorate the presents). I’m usually a lazy package decorator, but sitting at work today I watched one of my co-workers creating a bow, and she made it look so easy and look so good that I was inspired to buy some wide ribbon to try it myself. I also bought a bag of bows, though, just in case.

Bows

I did a lot of shopping online this year. I always threaten to do so, but I usually procrastinate so long that there isn’t any shipping time left. As much as I hate getting marketing emails, some of them really inspired me to get going early. In addition to the Amazon deal (30% off!), Asics had some amazing 12 days of Christmas specials. I also did a lot of my at-home shopping at Kohls. The day I went, everything was 25% off! And this was on a quiet Monday evening, so I avoided any crazy Black Friday kind of experience.

Stay tuned on Monday for a special Tofu post! Seriously. To go along with Meatless Monday I want to talk about tofu, and how it doesn’t have to be bland or boring, and how easy it is to prepare delicously. I received some coupons for Nasoya tofu, so I’ve been working on a few things to share with you.

Tofu

I received the nicest package from Prana! Remember I wrote about how I felt inspired by their clothing to return to yoga? Well, I guess they liked it and sent me this package which included two beautiful scarves, a purse, a couple caps, a top, a belt, Coola sunscreen and post-sun lotion, and two headbands. I. Love. It! Thanks Prana!

Prana1Have a wonderful weekend! Have you finished your holiday shopping yet? Do you alternate running shoes?  What’s your favorite tofu recipe? Now, go call your sister (or brother, parent, or any loved one you haven’t spoken to in a while).

Disconnected. And it feels so good!

Well, it’s been a while, old friends! A week and a day to be exact. I didn’t plan it, but I ended up disconnecting for the holidays. With the exception of a few Instagram pics of my silly dogs, I avoided most social media, and most importantly, I didn’t write a word. I didn’t even take very many pictures (gasp!). Instead I spent lots of time with family, helped my husband put on a Turkey Trot race, cooked a lot, ate a lot more, ran a little, and had an amazing, wonderful holiday.

Here, with the few photographs that I took, plus a few that I stole borrowed from my family and friends, is a recap of the last week. And, many of the things that I am thankful for.

With the weather cooling down (though it was in the 80s on Thanksgiving Day), we had some cloud cover and even a little rain. That made for some beautiful sunrises. Did you ever notice that the most beautiful part of the sunrise happens when you don’t have a camera handy?

Sunrise

Johnny

As I said, I didn’t take many pictures, but sometimes I just have to share my dogs’ antics, no matter how disconnected I am. There is Johnny above, showing it all off during his nap, Penny below, who is soooo tired, and Goldie on the bottom, sitting in a food bowl. Silly dogs!

Penny

Goldie

 

On Thanksgiving Day, Alan and I put on the 16th Annual Turkey Trot, this year held in Old Town La Quinta. I say we, but he does all the work. I just help out and handle registration on race day. We had about 500 people, and in spite of a little course confusion (don’t ask!), everyone had a good time. And it gave us an idea for a different kind of race, a Scramble, where you run three courses, all the same distance, in different directions, and the first one across the line is a winner (that may give you an idea of how the Turkey Trot went!).

race

Pace Car

My son David and his girlfriend Melissa did the race for the first time. They also helped at registration.

David

Alan, posing with our daughter-in-law Lisa, and our twin grandsons Dane and Cash, before the race.

Family

Look at that intense look on Cash’s face. You can tell he wants to win.

Cash3And he’s leading the race! Not really, but he did really well.

Cash2This was posted on Facebook by someone that I don’t even know (she posted it on the race page).  Cash is pretty much leading the race at that point!

Race Start

Brothers!

Dane_Cash

Grandpa and the boys.

Dane

I look important, don’t I? I’m checking the results to see how Cash did.

Debbie

And he finished first in his age group!

Cash4

Proud mama Lisa and her boys after the race.

Lisa

One of our local newswomen, Gloria Rodriguez, announced the awards ceremony.

Gloria

Alan is always at home behind the mic. In addition to our own races, he announces quite a few in Southern California, including the Malibu Marathon and the LA Triathlon series.

Alan

By 10:00 we were done with the race and headed home (nice to host a race in your home town, just five minutes from our front door). Even though we weren’t hosting Thanksgiving dinner, I did have some cooking to do..vegan versions of stuffing, sweet potatoes, plus I roasted a Gardein Holiday Roast, to bring with us to dinner at Lisa’s and Alan’s son John’s place in Palm Desert. Believe it or not, I didn’t take a single picture of either family or food. Instead, we just enjoyed the holiday together.

We were exhausted though. Alan wakes up at 2:30 on race morning, and I sleep in to about 4:00. I think we managed about an hour nap each, so by 8:00 we were sagging. Still, we had a great time.

Our second Thanksgiving meal was held at my son Nathan’s new home. It was also a celebration of Samuel’s second birthday, so in addition to Nathan and his wife Sarah, David and Melissa were there, along with my niece Brynne, her boyfriend Eric, and his son Zach. This time Nathan made vegan versions of most of the side dishes (hurray for my Paleo son!), so I just brought along the leftover Holiday Roast. I also got back on the picture taking wagon (or fell off..or something).

Grandpa: First, let’s take a selfie!

Grandpa

Hurray for the Chargers!

McClean

Sarah and Nathan are loving their new home. They’ve just been in it a month, and are finally getting things where they want them.

Nathan

Uncle David giving Samuel a flight…

Uncle David

…and spending some time coloring.

David_Samuel

A boy and his dog. That’s Chloe, who just turned a year old. Nice that they’ll grow up together.

Samuel

My vegan dinner. Even my niece made her green bean casserole dairy free.

Dinner

 

Samuel2

Singing to the birthday boy!

Birthday

Samuel_Nathan

I managed to get a little training in, though between work, holidays, traveling, etc., I didn’t get my greatest effort. I did three runs, including a six miler on Saturday, my longest in a while, did one Pilates workout, and no yoga at all. But, December is the beginning of marathon training (for the SLO Marathon in April), so I started the month off with a five mile run and a yoga class on Monday.

Well, it felt so good to be disconnected, but it’s great to be back. How was your holiday? Did you get to disconnect a little? Spend some time with family and friends? Do you realize that Christmas is only three weeks away? And Hanukkah starts in less than two weeks? Yikes!

 

 

Things to remember:

SLO Marathon 1024x379 Starting with a Bang...

Join me in San Luis Obispo on April 26, 2015, for the SLO Marathon. Save $10 on registration for either the full or half marathon with the code: WOODAMB. Register soon for the best savings and I’ll see you in April!

Yoga Central Starting with a Bang...

My favorite yoga studio, Yoga Central is going global! You can sign up here, and read this post for details on signing up for online classes at Yoga Central.

Trottin’ to La Quinta. Plus My Birthday! And My Dad

 

Old Town La Quinta Turkey Trot

Those of you who know me (either in person or through my blog), know that every year my husband and I put on a 5k race on Thanksgiving morning. We’ve been doing it for 15 years! It’s called the Turkey Trot, and for 12 of those years it took place in Palm Desert, on El Paseo (kind of the Rodeo Drive of the desert). Then we moved to Palm Springs for a year. Finally, last year we came home to La Quinta, and made it a trail race in our beautiful cove area.

Delray_turkey_trot_logo 2

Now, I say “we,” but it is really my husband’s project. He does almost everything related to planning a race, from dealing with the city council, to planning the route, to raising sponsorships, to ordering porta-potties. I get the registration set up on Active.com, make the flyers, find the volunteers, then, on race day oversee registration. Years ago, when we were much smaller, I even handled the finish line timing, but now we hire someone to do that (thank goodness!).

I’m excited to announce that in this, our 16th year of putting on the race, we will be moving to the streets of La Quinta! Even better, we will be starting and finishing right in the center of Old Town La Quinta, our quaint shopping and dining center in our city.

Old Town LogoSo, if you are going to be in or near La Quinta over the Thanksgiving Holiday (November 27-30), we’d love to have you participate! The course will be flat and fast, the crowd fun and family oriented (we always have a free race for the little kids), and you’ll be done long before the turkey (or in my case tofurky) is ready. In fact, I almost always work at the race, then go home and prepare Thanksgiving dinner for my family.

You can register by clicking this link, the logo above, or if you want to wait until later, there is a link on the side bar. I’d love to see you out there!

My Birthday

So, Sunday was my birthday. Since I got to pick our activities for the day, we went to visit my son, daughter-in-law, and, of course, Samuel! I can’t think of a better way to celebrate.

SamuelIt was also exciting that they had just moved into their new house! They had it built in a new development (which is much closer to the desert, hurray!), and just got the keys last week and moved on Friday! So the house was still full of boxes, the walls are bare, but they are so happy to be into their first home.

house 2

houseYes, that is my birthday wine in the foreground.

So we got to play with Samuel.

Samuel 2

And with the granddogs (Chloe will also be celebrating her first birthday in a couple days. Can you tell which dog is the puppy?

Granddogs

Sarah

They took us to lunch at the Earth Bistro, a cute place in Temecula that has vegan options for us and gluten free options for them. A win-win!

Earth Bistro

Samuel 3All in all, just about the best way I can think of to spend my birthday.

My Dad

My dad and I shared the same birthday, so I always like to take some time to think about him on “our” day. He would have been 88!

Dad

How was your weekend? Any fun events or family time? Want to come to La Quinta to run a 5k with me? Did you guess which dog was the puppy?

I Don’t Feel Like Writing. The Weekend in Pictures

After a long, busy weekend, it is hard to settle down and write. Though once I get started I usually start rambling. In any case, busy weekend. Cross country meet, grandson time. All good stuff.

One reminder! This is the last day to enter the Armour39 Performance Monitor giveaway! Seriously, this is one cool heart rate monitor and training system. It will actually rate you based on how hard you’re working! Who doesn’t want your phone telling you “work harder!”

Armour39

Now back at it. Here’s the weekend in pictures.

Weekend

I didn’t get a lot of time to run with all that was going on, but I was out on the trails on Friday. It was a beautiful day, but I’m still waiting for that moment when I walk out the door, pause, and say, “ooh, it’s a little chilly this morning.”

29 Palms 2

The girls requested this pose, not sure why. It’s okay with me, I prefer to show them from the back or from a distance. They ran so well at our invitational on Saturday! They came in second overall! Among the teams that they beat were two from our own league who were also at the meet.

29 Palms

As I said, I don’t usually post close ups but this is such a beautiful picture. Look at her form! She’s literally flying! In only her second three mile race ever, she finished 19th and helped our team finish second. Side note: She is a sprinter, a good one, who hopes to break the school record in the 100.

29 Palms 3

Okay, another exception to my rule. Where my young lady looks graceful, this young man looks, well, painful. Still, he ran well. We do enjoy giving him a hard time about his form and facial expressions.

Weekend 2

I allowed myself to be talked into participating in the teams’ Secret Sisters exchange and this is what I received. Raw, vegan brownies! They are delicious and the young lady who gave them to me was so proud that she had made them herself. (sneaking away for a moment to get another one out of the fridge)

Weekend3

The expression is more from exhaustion than my glass of wine, but I did want to show off the shirt that one of the parents gave to our girls team.

Weekend 4On Sunday we got to see Samuel. And his parents of course. The first of many grandson selfies.

Weekend 13The kids (ha! my 37 year old son may not call himself a kid but I do) are building a new home near Temecula. It is so much closer than before so I am really excited. They are having a great time following the process, customizing their choices, and overseeing the construction. About five more weeks until it is ready and they move in!

Weekend 8I love their open concept kitchen/living area (can you tell I watch all the real estate shows on HGTV?). The door on the right will be their walk-in pantry and the door will have a glass panel.

Weekend 7This will be Sarah’s room, where she can have her sewing and crafts, and still look out onto the living area.

Weekend 9The “en suite.” Is that how it is spelled? I usually just hear it on television. Right now, the tub is in the bedroom.

Weekend12 Big open living/dining area.

Weekend 5He’s a handful!

Weekend 6

Weekend 10I can look at a gazillion of these pictures, but I realize that not everyone is related, so I condensed most of them into this collage. The back yard, playing with grandpa, and climbing hills.

Weekend 11

The chose the upgraded solar panels, so when they are installed, they will take up that open space on the roof. It will save them a lot of money over time.Weekend 14

The Temecula area is really growing, but they overlook a flood plain (or something like that), so they will always have this view.

Weekend 16

It was too early for lunch, so we stopped at Starbucks. Briefly, because this young man needs to run free, not be stuck on dad’s lap.

Weekend 15

More selfies because Samuel knows how to make the camera work, so I probably have about 100 of similar shots.

Weekend 17Nice park near where the kids will be moving. A small lake, jogging path, and playgrounds.

Instagram of the day. Samuel actually sliding down that slide! Follow me!

How was your weekend? Any events, races, or fun family time? I’d love to hear about it!

There But For the Grace of God

I’m not telling this story to brag, or to say how kind Alan and I are. I don’t want any praise or kudos for just acting as another human being should. No, I’m telling this story because it really made me appreciate how lucky I am.

Alan and I stopped at the grocery store this afternoon to pick up a few things for dinner. As we were walking out to our car, we noticed a woman, carrying a couple grocery bags, walking a little aimlessly through the parking lot. Her balance was bad, and she obviously couldn’t find her car. Frankly, by just watching her walk, we suspected she might be drunk. Very drunk.

Finally, Alan walked over to her and asked if she was alright. She said yes, but she couldn’t find her car. He asked if we could help, but she said no and started walking toward another part of the parking lot. Now, this was about 5:00 on a Saturday evening in August in the desert. There weren’t a lot of cars to choose from. We asked what kind of car and she said a Mercedes.

She walked wobbily away from us, so we got into our car and started out of the parking lot. I scanned the lot, but couldn’t see a Mercedes. As we passed the woman, she slowly sat down on the ground. Alan turned around, stopped, then finally noticed the Mercedes parked close to where she had been originally looking. I got out of the car, and we offered to drive her (it wasn’t that far away, but she was looking pretty bad). She said that she was fine and started toward her car again.

About halfway there, she again sank to the ground. This time we both got out of the car. Alan helped her up, and asked her again if she felt she was okay to drive. She said that she was fine. She was an attorney and a nurse, but she had received some bad news and was a little upset.

Alan said that since she was an attorney, she would know the consequences of getting a DUI. That seemed to sink in. We offered to drive her home and she agreed.

As I was driving her to her home just a few miles away, she started talking, somewhat confusedly, saying that as an attorney she worked with driving under the influence cases, that (referring to how we were helping her) she was usually the one that did this. She broke down a little and said that she had some really bad news, a bad diagnosis, but, because she was always the helper and the strong one, she didn’t expect that anyone would help her. She didn’t think that her kids could take the news.

I just listened and tried to tell her that hopefully, some of her friends could step up and listen, and help out if necessary. That maybe it was their turn to help her. She didn’t seem to think there was much hope of that, even though she said that she had friends.

I just felt so helpless, telling this lonely woman, who was probably around my age, that surely someone would step up and support her, she just had to ask. By the time I got to her house, she told me it was colon cancer. She said that she’d just got the diagnosis. I tried to offer some hope, that there were probably treatment options, but she repeated that she was a nurse, she worked in a hospital, like that meant she knew where she was heading.

I ended up giving her my card, and told her that if she needed someone to talk to she could call me. I have her card too, so we’ll check in on her tomorrow. She was very grateful that we helped her out. While I appreciate that, I am thankful that, when I think what could have happened with a woman who was not only distraught, but probably self medicating with drugs or alcohol, that we may have prevented an accident from happening.

As I got back in the car with Alan, I felt so sad for her. That after giving so much that she should be afraid to ask when she needs support. That she doesn’t think her children could handle the news. That she is really alone in the world, facing the most devastating news in her life. And I am so grateful, that, in spite of a few challenges in my life that seem so minor by comparison, not just that I have my health, but if I ever need to ask anyone for help, I don’t have to be afraid that there will be no one to be there for me to lean on.

Always remember that there, but for the grace of God, go I. Go we. And the awesomeness of being in the right place at the right time. A little reflection for this Sunday morning.

 

Comments closed today. Just some food for thought.