Sunday, June 30, 2013

Ollie's Picks - Blog Posts You Don't Want To Miss

I want to take this opportunity to share some of my favorite blog posts of the week. If you are like me, you waste spend a considerable amount of time online reading blogs. I often read things that are really great, that really deserve to be shared. Of course, like any good blogger, I do my due diligence and click that share button on Twitter or repin on Pinterest (Hint: an easy effective way to support your favorite blog is to pin images from their site.) This week I wanted to take it a step further and highlight my favorite posts of the week.

How I Learned to Stop Slacking and Love the Gym via Broke in Columbia. OK, I love her from her Refashionista blog, so I was thrilled to read a fitness related post from her on her other blog, Broke in Columbia. She is so funny. 

Top 10 Reason Not to Ask a Runner How Their Long Run Went via Deb Runs. This made me laugh. It is funny 'cause it's true.

How to Do What You Love For a Living Instead of Something That Sucks via Chris McCombs. Do not click this link if you are sensitive to strong language. An inspiring message for those of us who don't mind a bit of grit.

Independence Day. Everyday. via Kelly Olexa. Our Fitfluential leader reminds us to be our best selves.

How Not to Get Scammed by Food Labels via Nerd Fitness. I am not a nerd per se (OK, yes I am) but I relate to so much on this blog. This is a smart post about food labels and organic foods.

Learn to Do a Pull-Up (Yes, Even You Can Do It) via Thirty-One10. Really? Even me? You're very convincing.  I almost believe you.

That Time I Made a Video via Tri-ing to Be Athletic. She makes me laugh so hard.

A Single Post Results in Change via The Pavement Runner. So inspiring! Just proves that one idea, one person, can make a big difference (and end up in Runner's World! Wow!). Don't be afraid to take a chance. Pavement runner proves a single person can make a big difference.

Top 10 Myths About Yoga via Mind Body Green. Yoga is for everyone. I love this post.

Cinnamon Chocolate Swirl Brownies (High Protein) via I Heart Wellness. Um, YUM!

Did you enter my Giveaway yet? Aquaphor is hosting a giveaway! Enter to win Aquaphor product, a Camelbak water bottle, and a $50 Visa gift card. Please enter and share!

What do you think? Do you like these posts? What are your favorite blog posts of this week?

Like this post? Please consider sharing.

Keep Running,


Ways to (legally) stalk me:

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Follow me on Twitter @GeaLenders
Let's track each others workouts on Dailymile
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Sunday, June 23, 2013

Meal Planning for the Disorganized

I am really good at meal planning. I am just not so good at the execution. I always have great intentions, well thought-out meal plans, and a fridge full of food, but I don't always follow-through. Dinner is my toughest challenge. I look for things that are quick, easy, and healthy after a long day at work.

Since I started participating in Bountiful Baskets, a fruit and vegetable co-op, I have been trying to be more diligent about using all the food I receive. After all, $15 is a great bargain for fruits and vegetables but if I end up throwing a lot of it away, it can be a waste of money.

Because of Bountiful Baskets, my fridge is always overflowing with fruits and veggies. I look at it as a good problem to have, but sometimes I wonder how we will use all this stuff. It is just me and hubby eating meals around here. If I get five tomatoes or three cucumbers in my basket one week, I try to get creative on how I can use them all.

One of the things I like about Bountiful Baskets, is that you pay online in advance and you don't know what you are going to get until you pick up your basket. It forces me to get creative with my cooking and look for new ideas.

I once again wonder, what the heck did I ever do before Pinterest? I know. I know. There was always the internet (OK, not always), but Pinterest presents the recipes in a way that allows me to stumble upon new ideas.

I also like to volunteer at Bountiful Baskets on Saturday Morning. I genuinely think it is fun and it is less than an hour commitment of my time. It is a mini workout with all that lifting, carrying, and squatting. It is non-profit and strictly volunteer run so if it wasn't for volunteers, Bountiful Baskets couldn't function and wouldn't exist. It is my small contribution to make sure this will continue to be available to me. As an added bonus, if there are leftovers after the baskets are filled, the volunteers usually can take an extra item or two. Win. If you are interested in learning more about Bountiful Baskets, I wrote a post about them here.

The truck is here! The truck is here!

My friend told me about a free grocery list/meal planner template over on You can download the meal planning template that I used here. I am pretty boring consistent when it comes to breakfast and lunch (i.e. I eat the exact same thing everyday), so I use the meal planner for dinner planning only. I like the grocery list on the side separated out by category. It makes shopping easier.

Here is my attempt this week at meal planning. The Sunday recipe is what I start with for the week.

Here are some of the recipes I pinned from Pinterest for my meal planning:

Lemon Chicken & Squash Bake
The Best Salmon Ever (according to Pinterest)
Loaded Cauliflower and Chicken Casserole
Spinach and Turkey Stuffed Mushrooms (OK, this is my recipe.)

Do you meal plan? 

Like this post? Please consider sharing.

Keep Running,


Ways to (legally) stalk me:

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photo credit: 27147 via photopin cc

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Runners are Friends You Haven't Met Yet

I am an introvert. I don't think this is bad or something I need to work on. It is just who I am. I have a tendency to keep to myself. I am not very social, but I love my close friends like they are family. I'm usually not too interested in making new friends, or small talk with strangers. Although, I'll admit that sometimes people surprise me. When I make new friends it is always an instant connection. I either click with people or I don't. I'm not generally interested in socializing outside my close circle of friends, simply because the small talk makes me uncomfortable.

It is probably why I have a blog. I like to express myself in writing. Socializing online is easy. I sometimes can't believe the support I receive from lovely people online that I've never met. If you are reading this and you think I mean you, I probably do. My online friends are so supportive of the things I do here. 

Probably because of my introvert personality, I never enjoyed team sports. I played softball as a child and hated it. I played tennis in high school and I think I excelled there because it is more of an individual sport. I liked playing singles. Running has always been the perfect sport for me. I didn't need a team. It was something I could do alone. It was something that I enjoyed doing alone.

Who wears loafers to play tennis? The 1990 version of me, apparently.
Joining a running group was the last thing I was interested in doing. That would require me to talk to strangers for long periods of time. When you are out there on the trails with a running group, there is nowhere to duck away, nowhere to escape, you are trapped in small talk hell. No, thank you.

I've always trained alone for my half marathons. But then I tried training for a full marathon on my own and it just didn't work out. There is something about mile 16 that I really started to dread. The runs were just so long and boring. I needed someone to talk to. I need a cheerleader and a support system. I needed someone to encourage me to keep going when my mind said no way. I decided that if I was ever going to be able to run a full marathon, maybe I needed to suck up this social thing and give a running group a try.

So for the last two Saturdays I have been running with a training group at Fort Worth Running Company. We are just beginning our training so the runs are still short distances. As our pace group ran together, the coach would talk through running techniques, or tips on clothing and energy fuel, but the conversation amongst the other runners was pretty quiet. Then the strangest thing happened. I found I was the one who was reaching out and initiating conversations with my fellow runners. This is not like me (at all). But there is something natural and easy about talking to other runners. We all have this love in common, we all have this same goal of running a marathon, and this pull to the pavement. I realized almost instantly that all my social fears were unfounded.  I should have known. Runners you don't know aren't strangers. Runners are just friends you haven't met yet.

Like this post? Please consider sharing.

Keep Running,


Ways to (legally) stalk me:

"LIKE" the Running with Ollie Blog page on Facebook
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 photo credit: mikebaird via photopin cc

Friday, June 14, 2013

Father's Day Gift Ideas for a Runner Dad

I know that you know this really cool Dad who runs. He probably would be pretty cool even if he didn't run, but a running Dad just takes the cake. Maybe he is your Dad, maybe he is your kid's Dad, or maybe he is just an awesome Dad that you love, who deserves some recognition on this day. It's (almost) Father's Day and you want to show him how much you love him, how much you appreciate his positive fitness influence in your life, and you want to do it more creatively than just buying him a tie with running shoes on it.

GPS Watch:

If you want to break out the big bucks, any running Dad would sure love to have a GPS watch so that he can geek out over the numbers. Everyone knows that Dads love gadgets.

Medal Hanger Display:

Maybe leave the World's Greatest Dad tie and t-shirt in the store and get him a World's Greatest Dad custom medal hanger instead? Let Dad show off his racing accomplishments in style. You could customize it with his name or his favorite mantra. He will proudly display his race medals for years to come.


Even Dad needs somewhere to keep his phone, identification, and keys on a run. Since you don't want to embarass yourself by having a Dad who runs around in some version of a fanny pack, how about getting him a sleek manly Flipbelt?  Everything fits inside the tubular belt and it is held securely against the body. Dad will think you are brilliant!

Lock Laces:

Nothing is more annoying than having your shoelaces come untied mid run. Make Dad's running life just a little bit easier with Lock Laces, the shoe laces that don't come untied...ever.

Road ID:

Nothing shows Dad you care more than letting him know you are concerned about his safety. Road ID makes wristbands, shoe tags, and other types that are engraved with his name, address, and emergency contact in case something goes wrong out there on the road. Sometimes it is the little things that can make a big difference.

6 Pack of Beer:

Let's be realistic. Dad likes to run, but he also likes his beer.  It is called a balanced lifestyle. Give the man what he wants.

Run Together:

Not all gifts have to cost money. Sometimes all Dad wants is some quality time with his favorite kid (It's OK, I won't tell your siblings). Maybe run a race together or maybe just a few miles in the neighborhood for free. Running builds bonds. You may be older than this now, but I can bet this is still how he sees you.

Disclosure: I was not compensated in any way by any of the brands mentioned in this post. I have done previous reviews on some of these products. None of the links provided are affiliate links, which means I don't benefit if you click on the link or make a purchase. I am just providing for your convenience. But if Budweiser wants to send me some free product because I mentioned them in a post, I am open to that. :)

Like this post? please consider sharing.

Keep Running,


Ways to (legally) stalk me:

"LIKE" the Running with Ollie Blog page on Facebook
Follow me on Twitter @GeaLenders
Let's track each others workouts on Dailymile
See what I am up to on Pinterest
Add me to your circles on Google +
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photo credit: Nukamari via photopin cc
photo credit: Chris_J via photopin cc
photo credit: San Diego Shooter via photopin cc

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Throwback Thursday: How NOT to Train for a Half Marathon

Hi folks! Welcome to the latest installment of Throwback Thursday. This is a post I do once a month when I run out of things to say where I share an older post from the early days of this blog that you might have missed the first time around.

In honor of Throwback Thursday, I also share a throwback picture, so that you can laugh at with me about how ridiculously big my hair was in the 90's.

My deepest apologies to my old friend (with whom I have long lost touch. Are you out there Amy?). At least she doesn't look near as ridiculous as me. Don't you just love my all-denim outfit, giant hair scrunchy, and ruffled high-waist jean shorts? The worst part is that I can't even blame it on the 80's, as this is closer to 1994. And why are we taking pictures in a clothing store? It was Chess King. I worked there. Apparently this was an appropriate work outfit in 1994. It was the olden days, things were different back then.

Now that you have had your laughs at my expense, lets move on to the post.

Last year in November I ran the San Antonio Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon. I ran it pretty much untrained, sick, and on little sleep. It wasn't my fastest half marathon (d'uh), but I survived it. In this post, I talk about all the things I did wrong, so you can read about how NOT to train for a half marathon.

I hope you will click over and read about How NOT to train for a half marathon and let me know what you think in the comments!

Like this post? please consider sharing.

Keep Running,


Ways to (legally) stalk me:

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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

My Runner's Ego Will Not Choose My Pace Group!

The runner's ego is a powerful thing. It gets us in all kinds of trouble. In the end it usually gets us injured.

Let me give you a bit of background. I have been running for about 10 years. I was always a 10 minute per mile runner until about a year and a half ago when I started lifting weights. Almost immediately my speed increased, and I worked my way up until an 8:30 pace was just above comfortable. I could run a 5K at just over an 8 minute pace and a half marathon at a 9 minute pace. It certainly isn't considered super fast, but it was fast for me. Why am I telling you this? Because I just signed up to run with an 11 minute pace training group and my ego made me explain to you first that I used to be faster.

About six months ago, something really weird started happening. I am still not sure exactly what it is, but I think I developed a type of exercise-induced asthma. I started to cough when I would run. I am fine at first, but within a mile or two, my throat fills up with phlegm and I am left standing on the side of the road hacking it up. It all goes away as soon as I stop running. It put a huge damper on my running and I ended up frustrated and side-lined.

But what am I going to do? Never run again? Of course not. I had to figure out how to manage this. I started using an inhaler. I've been running again, easing back into it. There is some loss of fitness from the time off. I found if I don't push my pace at all, run really slow, and even take walk breaks, I don't cough at all. Some days are good, I feel great and I don't cough, and some days are...well, the opposite of that.

So what does an all-or-nothing personality type do when she hasn't been running regularly for six months? She signs up for full marathon training at Fort Worth Running Company!

Marathon Training at Fort Worth Running Company
I decided it was the best way to jump back into it and get motivated to run again. I hardly ran at all for months, now I'm committing to a full marathon. I am excited and nervous. Excited about training with running coaches and a group for those long runs. I'm nervous about committing to 26.2 miles. I'm really nervous that my coughing episodes are going to hold me back.

Then came the ego. On my first day of marathon training I had to choose a pace group. I couldn't help but think, "Aw man, why am I starting over? If I was doing this six months ago, I'd be in the 9 minute pace group." (Sigh). I knew what I had to do. I chose the 11 minute pace group because I already know that running slower keeps me from coughing. There are no scheduled walk breaks here, so I had to choose a pace that I knew I could maintain and not cough. I felt bad about having to choose the 11 minute group, but I don't know why I would feel bad about that, except for my own ego.

I know better. It is not like anyone is judging me on my pace. No one else cares. It is not something I wear with shame like the Scarlet Letter. There is no shame in any pace. It is what it is. There is no good pace or bad pace. It is your pace, your level, your ability. If you run a 7 minute mile or a 13 minute mile, there will likely be someone faster and someone slower. I had to get over myself and be honest about my current abilities. Running slow trumps not running at all. Every. Single. Time.
I didn't sign up for this training to prove to everyone what a great marathon runner I already am. I signed up to train to be a marathon runner. It is a six month process. Where I start is not nearly as important as where I end up. We all have to start somewhere, whether it is starting-over or starting for the first time.

I could have listened to my ego and chosen the 10 minute group, struggled needlessly, and risked injury, but why? Does anyone around me give a crap care at all what pace I run? No, of course not. Who am I trying to impress? I think just my ego.

The ducks don't care how fast I run (and neither does anyone else).

Does anyone out there have exercise-induced asthma (or coughing)? Does your runner's ego ever get in the way?

Will you follow along with me as I begin my full marathon training?

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Bountiful Baskets: My Basket Runneth Over

While I was visiting a friend last weekend, she showed me her Bountiful Baskets grub and I was jealous intrigued! What? Large amounts of fruits and vegetables for a low cost? What could be better than that?

Bountiful Baskets is a food co-op, which means that a community pulls their money together to contribute to fruit and vegetable purchases. It is a not-for-profit and strictly volunteer run. The money you contribute goes directly to the purchase of the food. They say on the site that $15 buys you about $50 worth of fruits and vegetables at retail. As part of the co-operative they ask that you volunteer your time preparing the baskets for a couple of hours on Saturday mornings once out of every seven baskets you order.

Last week on Monday, as soon the co-op offers were available online, I made my contribution for $15 for the 50% fruit, 50% vegetable basket. They also offer an all organic basket for $10 more and they have plenty of add ons.

Early Saturday morning, I went to the pick-up location with my contribution confirmation (say that 5 times fast) and walked away with a butt basket load of fruits and veggies.

At the pick-up location. Baskets ready for pick up.
My baskets: 50% fruit 50% vegetable (and my shoe).
I transferred them into my own laundry basket to carry home. Man, that thing was heavy!

I think that I love that you don't know what you are going to get in your basket until you pick it up. If gives you the opportunity to experience new foods and try things you might not traditionally buy. But don't worry, there were plenty of traditional foods too. In my basket I received the following items, but it will change each week (that is the best part).

black plums
red peppers
green chili peppers (these things are huge!)
fennel (yeah, I had to Google it too)
sweet potatoes

My basket runneth over

The basket was so heavy, I could barely carry it back to my car. I am not exaggerating, but maybe I am just weak. I honestly think in the future I will split a basket with a neighbor since there is so much food, I am not sure Hubby and I can eat it all before it spoils.

My next challenge is to do some meal planning so I can come up with some recipes to get good use out of all this food. What did I ever do without Pinterest?

In the end I paid:
$15 for a conventional basket.
$3 first time basket fee (this is used to buy a basket to sort food at the location. It stays there for your future orders).
$1.50 credit card fee.

Total first time cost: $19.50. Next time it will only be $16.50 since I already paid the first time basket fee. I feel like this is an incredible bargain for all these fruits and vegetables!

Tips for Bountiful Baskets:

  1. Check out the New Participant information on the website.
  2. Sign up early, baskets can sell out quickly in your county.
  3. Bring your contribution confirmation to the site (and practice saying it).
  4. Bring a basket or reusable bags (and your strong muscles) to carry home your vegetables from the co-op site.
  5. Consider volunteering. Co-ops only can function and survive with active volunteers. 
I live in Texas but Bountiful Baskets are available in many other states. What do you think? Do you co-op?

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Happy National Running Day: Why Do You Run?

Happy National Running Day! How do you celebrate national running day? Well, that's easy! You run! But running is just one way to celebrate. Check out the 10 ways to celebrate National Running Day.

Declare your passion:

When I am running, I really feel like ME. Even if it is hard, even if it sucks, even if I have exercise-induced coughing fits (yeah, that happens now). When I hit the pavement I become me. And when I neglect running for too long, there is something missing and I feel like I lose a part of myself. 

Running exercises my body, but it is the only time I get all day to relax my mind.

I run for me.

You can head over to to claim your own badge and tell your friends and family your reason for running on June 5th.  Here is my badge.

Why do you run? How are you celebrating National Running Day? Put in your miles to celebrate and let me know on Twitter #runningday @Gealenders, on Facebook, or in the comments!

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Awaken Your Inner Muddy Kid: Pretty Muddy Dallas 2013 Race Recap

I was provided a free entry into the Pretty Muddy mud run and obstacle course in Dallas, TX in exchange for blog posts about the event. All opinions are my own and I am under no obligation to give them a positive review. If I hated it, I'd tell you.

Do you remember when you were a kid and you played in the mud for fun? Remember when you would get as muddy as humanly possible and Mom would freak out because you tracked mud through the kitchen on your way to a Capri Sun in the fridge? When did mud stop being fun? (Hint: it didn't.) What happened to that muddy kid? A job? Responsibilities? Adulthood? Your own kids to yell at for tracking mud through the kitchen? I miss that muddy kid. But I don't have to anymore.

It may not be socially acceptable to roll around in your backyard after a good rain, but there is a way to awaken your inner muddy kid (without totally freaking out the neighbors)!

This weekend I ran the Pretty Muddy all women mud run 5K and obstacle course at Skyline Ranch in Dallas. I recruited a couple of (not-so-at-first) willing friends. My best friend doesn't run and doesn't like mud, but she loves me, so she reluctantly agreed when I pestered her for months asked her to do this with me. My other friend likes to run but said that getting dirty freaks her out. I promised them this would be a blast. I was sure they would like it. There is no way that one doesn't have fun going full speed down an inflatable slide into a mud pit. Right? These runs are all about friendships and fun. I had my friends and Pretty Muddy was promising the fun. Let's do this!

Not Pretty Muddy Yet
Once we arrived at Skyline Ranch, retrieved our bibs, and checked our gear, we were ready to get muddy through the obstacle course. (Well, I was. I think they were still nervous.) While waiting at the start line we made a new friend who found me there from my blog. (I love when that happens.) I was thrilled, the more the merrier in these kinds of runs!

"The Original Mud Slide"
"So Over It"
And she said she didn't like to get dirty!
"Wood You Rather"
"Social Networking"
"Over and Out"
"A Leg Up"
The obstacles were really fun and never too challenging, they seemed like they would be appropriate for any fitness level, and you always had the option of detouring around any obstacle. When was the last time you crawled on your hands and knees through the mud, the last time you scaled a wall, or climbed up rope ladder 20 feet in the sky?  I even skinned my knee.  This is the stuff kids are made of.  The running portions of the course were relaxed and laid-back through the wooded park area, there were plenty of walkers between the obstacles, and I never pushed my pace like I would have in a traditional 5K.

After a 5K of running, walking, crawling, climbing, wading, and sliding, we came out on the other side wearing mud and smiles.

Now we are Pretty Muddy
Mud Pants
And you can't go to a ranch in Texas without seeing horses.
The Dallas Pretty Muddy was sponsored by Old Navy to promote their active wear line, so I was very excited to receive an awesome tote bag, an Old Navy tee, and Old Navy flip flops after I finished the run. When you include the Pretty Muddy shirt and the free beer at the end (plus free skin exfoliation, duh), I walked away feeling like the runners got a lot for their money. The Dallas race also benefited Susan G. Komen, Dallas County, and for all the mud runs combined Pretty Muddy gives away 250 free entries for breast cancer survivors. You are not just getting muddy for yourself, you are getting muddy to help others.

Pretty Muddy and Old Navy Swag!
I highly recommend you check out the site to see if a Pretty Muddy mud run and obstacle course is coming to a city near you. It is such a fun, rewarding experience. And my friends who don't run and don't like getting dirty? They had the time of their lives!

If you want to experience the Pretty Muddy in my shoes in one minute or less, check out the video I recorded on my GoPro video camera strapped to my chest. Special thanks to Hubbies band, the Dangits, for allowing me to use their music on my video. (Shhh, don't tell the other band members.)


Top 10 Pretty Muddy Mud Run Tips:

1. Don't wear cotton. Cotton absorbs water and mud and will weigh you down.
2. Bring a change of clothes for after the race.
3. Bring flip flops for after the race.
4. Leave electronics at home and leave your phone at gear check.
5. Buy a water proof disposable camera to take with you through the obstacle course if you want pictures.
6. Bring cash for parking.
7. Bring several towels and wet wipes.
8. Bring trash bags to line your car seats on the way home.
9. Consider donating your muddy shoes to the charity after the race.
10. Bring a lot of friends, don't be afraid to wear a costume, and just have fun!


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