bobby's best thing he's ever ate + training tip #1

So, if you don't know me well, you may not know that, although a vegetarian, I am a HUGE foodie, along with the Hubs. There is always at least one Food Network show we are DVR-ing every night. Last night, we just so happened to record probably one of my favorite FN shows, Best Thing I Ever Ate. On this show, they interview different Food Network chefs, along with food writers, editors, and executive chefs about the best things they've ever eaten of a certain theme and where to find that particular item/meal. Last night's theme just so happened to be Sweet Tooth. As they scrolled through the opening credits, the very first image they showed was a Ted Drewes concrete! And who's best thing they ever ate was it? The one and only Bobby Flay (or as the Hubs and I like to call him, Flobby Bay)! OK, I must admit, I have a little crush on Bobby (along with Alton Brown), so this took the excitement to a whole new level. They also have never had anything on this show in St. Louis, so it being something I have actually eaten in the past week... I was floored! So, read about our trip and GO if you are in the St. Louis area. If a big-name chef like Bobby Flay claims it as the best sweet tooth item he's ever ate, you gotta try it! Again, to quote Ted himself, "It really is good guys... and gals!"

Training Tip #1: Listen to Your Body
I am now officially 2 weeks in to training for the Chicago Marathon (10.10.10) and albeit a little hot + humid at times, training has been going pretty smoothly... until my long run this past Sunday. I was scheduled to run 9 miles, which is still pretty short for marathon training. However, I had been sick with a pretty nasty cold/sinus infection I lovingly received from the Hubs (thanks babe). I was starting to feel much better, but it reared its ugly head again Saturday night. I took some Ibuprofen to ease my aching sinuses and prayed to feel better in the morning.

Needless to say, I slept horribly... my nose was running like a faucet and I woke up continuously coughing all night. My alarm went off at 7 AM, and I decided that I've ran through feeling crappy like this before, so I should be fine... or at least get by. I fueled up on half a banana with some peanut butter (again, the obsession), some Alkaseltzer, and some more Ibuprofen.

It wasn't too bad of a start, a little warm outside, but I felt OK. I decided to view the run like 3 5K's (OK, that sounds WAY longer now than it did then) to break it up a bit, and planned on walking 1 minute for every mile I ran. As I got into mile 2, I started to feel nauseous, my stomach not settling well from the seltzer or the heat. I kept going, still keeping a pretty good pace. As I got into mile 6, my legs were rubber. I know I wasn't getting in the oxygen I needed to keep my muscles going. I decided to start walking... I just couldn't handle it any more. I walked most of miles 6 + 7 and ran the last mile in - slowly - and still finished with a 9:00/mile average pace, which I could still break 4 hours with.

This brings me to my point. You have to listen to your body. Although I listened enough to know it was time to walk, I probably shouldn't have been out there at all. I had been miserable the night before and didn't get a good night's sleep. My sinuses killed and I had difficulty breathing since my nose was all snotty. Although the rule of thumb is above the shoulders you can still run, but below the shoulders, take the day off, I have realized that just listening to how I feel physically is a good indication of whether I should run or not.

With the injuries I've dealt with training for marathons in the past, I know listening to my body will be key to my success at this training. I had to cancel training for my first marathon in 2007 because of an IT band injury that hurt to the point where I could hardly walk. And even training for Go! St. Louis in 2008, I dealt with neuromas in my feet due to hammertoes that caused me to take off training for 2 weeks. This is not going to happen this time. I know better and I want to treat my body with the respect it deserves. Distance running is grueling and tough on the body... it needs a break every once in awhile. Listen to it... your body knows best.


The Hubs and I had a voucher for free Cardinals tickets to use up this month, so instead of just attending the ball game, we decided to make it a full day of things to do in St. Louis. We decided to call this "The St. Louis Trifecta". (OK, so we did 4 things, but 3 main ones.)

First on our Tour de St. Louis was a stop at the Anheuser-Busch Brewery in downtown St. Louis. Surprisingly, neither of us had ever been on the brewery tour. We had talked about going for a long time, and this was the perfect day to do it. Or so we thought. Figuring it was a brewery tour, we thought we would be inside the entire tour. As we walked up to the door, we noticed the sign reading "outside walking tour". Of course, as soon as our tour was supposed to begin, the heavens opened loose in true St. Louis summer severe storm fashion, delaying our tour about 30 minutes. However, once we got started on the tour, we didn't have a drop of rain the rest of the day! The tour was pretty cool. We got to see the AB Clydesdales and Dalmatian, the brewing factory, and learned a lot about brewing and AB history. After the tour, we got to sample some AB beers. And these weren't just little beer samples you get after a 5K run... no, these were BIG samples. Each person (over 21 of course) was allowed 2 samples and unlimited pretzel twists. Mmm... beer and pretzels. My grandpa would've loved this (miss you)! I sampled a Bud Light Lime and a Michelob Ultra Dragonfruit Peach. OK, so I am by no means a beer drinker. Give me the choice between wine and beer and I will choose wine EVERY time. But, the Ultra was pretty darn good. Great on a hot summer day. The Hubs decided on a Stella Armois and the new Beach Bum Blonde Ale. I think he enjoyed his, but he secretly liked my Ultra better. After we filled up on beer and pretzels, we headed just across the street for more pretzels! This time of the soft variety. We picked up our Gus's pretzels, and headed across town for the next stop to chow down. TED DREWES!

Ted Drewes' is a landmark in St. Louis. In fact, it happens to be located on historic Route 66. As far as I know, this was the first frozen custard stand in the St. Louis area, opening originally in 1931 and then opening the now historic location in 1941. In all honestly, I really have been to Ted Drewes' but a handful of times, so it is always a treat to go. This makes the menu a whole new experience compared to going to Fritz's (where I know the menu like that back of my hand). After a few minutes of studying, I decided on the All Shook Up in concrete form. This involved vanilla custard mixed with bananas and Reese's peanut butter cups. OK, so it sounds weird, but if you have read my Fritz's post, you will understand that banana and PB is my favorite combination! And I must say, as Ted himself would say, "It really is good guys... and gals!" The combo totally worked for me. And in true concrete form, they turned my dessert upside down before handing it to me through the window, showing me just how thick and mixed it is. The Hubs decided on the Terramizzou. No, not Tiramisou... we're from Missouri... it's pronounced Terramizzou (Go Tigers!) so it obviously should be spelled that way! He chose to get his in sundae form and it involved vanilla custard (unlike Fritz's, this is their only custard flavor) with pistachios and hot fudge. No, that is not caramel in the pic... it is hot fudge. And he claims was also delicious! If you are in St. Louis visiting, you MUST go to Ted Drewes'. It is a classic and a favorite of any St. Louisan, no matter what part of town they live in or where they went to high school.

Last stop, Cardinals game! So, our seats were all the way at the top, but we got to the stadium early enough to watch the Mariners' batting practice. It is on the Hubs bucket list to catch a foul ball or homerun, even if it is during batting practice and handed to him by a player. Of course, this didn't happen today, but we got to "meet" one of the Mariners' bullpen coaches, who had quite the resume after we looked him up when we got home. The game was great! Pujols hit a homerun and the Cards won! And it didn't rain until we were in the car on the way home! It was a fabulous day!


first stop: home of the turtle

Our first stop on the Frozen Custard Tour of course had to be Fritz's Frozen Custard. Tonight, we visited the Fritz's in O'Fallon, just out of convenience (it's less than a mile from our house). But, the Fritz's in St. Peters holds a much closer place in my heart.

Nine years ago, I started my first job on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in June. It just so happened that I would meet my soulmate that day. The (then future) hubs was my manager/trainer my first day on the job. OK, so it was sort of love-at-first-sight, but we were both dating other people at the time. Summer came and went, we started hanging out more and a few short months later, we were an item! The rest is pretty much self-explanatory, since we ended up getting married 3 years ago. Thus, Fritz's will always be a favorite, no matter what other frozen custard stands come along.

We lucked out tonight... not only did the weather clear up for the evening, we were able to use some gift certificates the Hubs received from his track runners (thanks kiddos!) and we had a filled-up punch card for a free mini one-topping concrete. Score! On top of all that, the Flavor of the Day was one of my absolute favorites -- yellow cake batter. Think, birthday cake in ice cream form. We have tried several combinations with this, but I think tonight was one of my favorites. I decided to get a mini concrete, their smallest,
out of the cake batter custard with Oreos mixed in. (So, this was probably the least healthy thing I could've mixed in, but everything in moderation, right?) AH-mazing! I will definitely be getting this one again! (Although, the last combo I got there was chocolate cake batter custard with peanut butter and banana mixed in... and again, AH-mazing!)

Hubs decided to get Heath bar mixed in his mini cake batter concrete. I took a small bite as he took some pictures for me... for once, I thought mine was better! (He is much better at pairing flavors together, but I think I am better when it comes to desserts.)

We both enjoyed these (really, we didn't talk as we ate because we were so enthralled in our treats) on a wet bench. But, who cares... it was still delicious and totally worth the wet butt! And great fuel for my first "long" run tomorrow morning!

[Just a note... these are purely our opinions. We are not getting paid for our opinions or frozen custard stops.]


official first day

Today was my official first day of Chicago Marathon Training. OK, technically, Mondays are "no-running" days, so I guess my official start might not be until tomorrow... but that's beside the point. It is Day 1... the Kick-Off. For the next 18 weeks (4 months!) I will be racking up the miles to run Chicago. Although it is my second marathon, I am still nervous beyond belief. My last marathon was over 2 years ago, and it was one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life. (FYI, the hardest thing I've ever done was climb 4 14,000-ft mountains in one day, last summer.)

First of all, I trained through the winter -- BIG mistake! I remember running 15 miles in 15 degree weather... by. my. self. Torture. I actually went and bought new running clothes to keep me warm... and my gatorade froze during my run, making it even harder to stay hydrate. Oh, and another training run, 16 miles I believe, I had to do after a huge snow storm... I did 8 2-mile loops in my neighborhood because the sidewalks weren't clear on the busy street I normally run on. Again, torture.

So, problem 1: solved... training in the summer. Guaranteed, St. Louis isn't exactly known for its cool summers. If it's not the heat, it's the humidity. My plan is to do my long runs early before it gets too deathly hot... but, in all honesty, I would rather run in 90 degrees than in 9 degrees.

The other major things I dealt with were proper fueling/hydration and injuries. Looking back on my past marathon training + nutrition log, I ate crap. And lots of it. For instance, going to the gas station on my way to work after my 20-miler to buy 3 soft pretzel sticks. Not exactly what you call nutritious (OK, so it could've been way worse). And, jelly beans on the run (frozen, of course) were not exactly appetizing to say the least.

Lately, I have been reading the book Thrive and Thrive Fitness by Brendan Brazier, a vegan Ironman triathlete. Being a vegetarian leaves me a lot of healthy but low calorie foods. In these books, he gives recipes for healthy meals, along with how and when to fuel before, during, and after training runs. Some of his recipes call for some unusual ingredients, but I get the gist of it and plan on following some of his advice along the way. I also plan on figuring out what works and what doesn't straight from the start... so wearing my Camelback for my 8 mile WILL be happening this weekend, although I normally don't hydrate during runs unless I'm running over 10 miles. But, again, St. Louis heat...

And that leaves the injuries. My feet suck (thanks, Mom). I ended up with not 1, but 2 neuromas in my left foot, thanks to marathon training and my lovely hammer toes (again, thanks, Mom). Painful. I guess I'm lucky it wasn't worse, but in all honesty, it took me out of training right towards the end for 2 weeks. I haven't had many problems with them since, but I'm just recovering from Hamstring Origin Tendinitis and have been struggling with Plantar Fasciitis for a year now. Both are under control, but my chiropractor is on stand-by just in case something flares up.

Also, I'm still learning what my body can handle. Most marathoners log 40-50 miles per week... the most I've done per week is about 35, and pretty sure I ended up injured. But, would I go, I go all out. Being an exercise scientist (I use that term loosely), I understand the importance of rest. But, to me, that usually means don' t run, but doing anything else is OK. This is what caused the hamstring issues. So, I've mapped out my plan and it includes less mileage (still under 40 miles per week) along with the all important rest day.

The Plan
My running program comes from Hal Higdon's Novice 2 program. It has decent mileage and a good build up. I don't have the base mileage I would like coming into the program, due to the ham injury, but I think the mileage is low enough that I should be OK. My biggest issue with this program is that I will only be running 4 days per week. I am used to running 5 days per week and I am nervous that I will go CRAZY only running 4. But, the Intermediate 1 program seemed like a bit too much mileage for my body to handle. So, I might throw in a recovery run 1 or 2 days per week... just NOT on my scheduled rest day. Just a really easy 2 mile run... nothing that's going to kill me or my long runs.

I am a huge advocate for weight lifting for runners. It has helped with my running immensely! If you are a runner and not lifting weights, you should be. I really think running specific is great, but I also want my arms to look good in my tank tops this summer. The best program I have found, for me, for general strength and toning is Jillian Michaels' Making the Cut. I started this program in January, following the strengthening program almost perfectly (there is also a section on nutrition that I didn't worry about since it didn't fit my vegetarian diet or the fact that I don't need to lose 10-20 pounds). My arms had never looked better! Then, I got busy and couldn't fit the 45-minute long workouts into my schedule. But, being a (currently unemployed) teacher with LOADS of time in the summer, I figured this would be fabulous to get my arms and abs sculpted again. Her workouts have you strength training 4 days per week, 2 chest days, 2 back days... a little much while training for a marathon. So, I am doing 1 chest day, 1 back day, and then a heavy lifting day 1 day a week to keep my legs nice and strong.

My last component is yoga and core strengthening. Yogadownload.com has been a blessing in podcast form. I have been loving their free 20-minute workouts! I plan to do yoga and core strengthening (from Thrive Fitness) on my scheduled rest day. I figured this is the best thing my body can do, and not overly taxing on it.

But, my biggest thing while training for Chicago is to listen to my body. I can't stress this enough. If I'm sore, I need to take it down a notch. It's OK to skip a workout. Life happens and gets in the way of marathon training (of course, summer running clubs help combat this problem). I am just trying to make it to the start line injury-free this time and hopefully enjoy the running since it is what I love to do.

Here goes nothin'.

(Sidenote: we will hopefully be going out to some frozen custard place this week.... stay tuned as we also begin our Frozen Custard Tour 2010!)