Tuesday, September 18, 2018

I keep running for its beauty.

So I missed my long run on Saturday morning. This was partially because I was going to the UK football game that I had to leave at 10:00 AM for and partially because I missed my bedtime attending a gala on Friday night. I set my alarm with good intentions but wasn't willing to sacrifice more sleep and figured I'd just go Sunday morning. When my alarm rang on Sunday morning, I really didn't  feel like going then either. I hit snooze a couple of times and finally realized the miles weren't going to run themselves. I was aiming for 10 miles. I really never run 10 miles or more by myself because I get bored and unmotivated.

Sunday was different though. I went out slow. It was a beautiful morning and although somewhat humid, not terrible and not terribly hot. I decided to go up Gilbert, which really is the best place to get a picturesque view. Upon arriving in Eden Park, I looked towards Newport feeling really accomplished that I had gotten myself that far on just my two feet and nothing else. It almost becomes amazing when you run long distances to see where your body can take you, but you need your mind to help get you there.

Could I have gone faster? Sure. But something was happening on this run that was better than getting my PR. I was enjoying it instead of thinking about all the negatives. It was a tough route, but when I was able to add on the extra mile at the end I did so without thinking twice. This is really unlike me for runs when I am out by myself and it's tough to put my finger on what did it. Yesterday, I ran across this quote on the Runner's World Instagram,

"I keep running for its beauty. You have to love running. Yes, the pain is there, but it's part of the joy. The marathon is like life." -Eliud Kipchoge (He just set the new marathon record BTW)

This spoke to me because this particular run was exactly like this. I saw the beauty and felt the joy. No, I don't think every run will be like this. I KNOW every run won't be like this, but for the moment it made me remember why I am an athlete in this crazy sport of distance running.

Take a moment to appreciate life's beauty. It's so easy to forget all that's out there. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Going Vegan

If you know me, you know that I have always disapproved of a restrictive diet of ANY kind. I've seen many people trying to lose weight by going on so many different fad diets and when people asked me how I lost weight, I always said "eat healthier and move more." I also always let myself eat whatever I wanted in moderation. While I was more strict about what foods I was eating, I was still enjoying foods that I loved. Yes, I still drank wine. Yes, I still ate ice cream. Yes, I still ate buffalo chicken dip and other garbage snacks. I have always felt that completely depriving yourself of things that you like to eat just sends you backwards eventually. So maybe you tried the Atkins diet, but then you had been so starved of carbs that you started eating loaves of bread every day. See where I'm going with this? By the way, carbs are good! I am a fan of a mindset of everything in moderation. That being said, I'm going vegan (eye roll) for the next 3 months.

Let me first start out by blaming my husband because this is entirely his fault. This was something he wanted to do after spending time with Harvey Lewis on the Appalachian Trail. Harvey is a supreme athlete, a freakishly talented endurance athlete in fact, and he happens to be vegan. He swears by a vegan diet. Other vegans we have known have sworn to us that miracles will happen if we go vegan. We have heard about having more energy, having a healthier digestive system, and on and on and on. My husband will say he did not force me to do this and he definitely did not, but please read previous blog posts about him driving me to every race, making signs, dealing with me choosing pizza before long runs on Fridays without him having any say, going home early on Friday nights because I have to go to bed for long runs, ignoring the bank account when funds have been depleted by race fees and running shoes.... and the list goes on. I really wanted to do this to support him and something he wanted to do. Also because I really do like a challenge and this intrigues me because of the mental hardship and self control. Therefore please know this is not a "diet" for me as much as a social experiment. I am not trying to lose weight. If I'm not trying to lose weight, what more might I be trying to get out of this other than supporting my husband and winning a "vegan trophy?"

1. I hope to become more comfortable with plant based eating. I tried to make several meals that were considered vegetarian throughout the week. I think our society has begun to incorporate meat into every meal and snack, which I don't necessarily think is healthy. I would like to eat more plant based meals in my regular life after the vegan project is over.
2. I am interested to see if this improves my athletic performance at all. I am currently skeptical, but with 2 half marathons coming up in October, I'll give it a try.
3. I would like to get better with self control. I have gotten into some bad habits with eating that I'd like to get rid of. While I say everything in moderation, some things were becoming less moderate and more daily indulgences. For example, I was eating candy every day after lunch. I began thinking I had to have this candy every day after lunch. Now I can't eat this candy, and am learning other ways to cure my sweet tooth or to avoid sweets after lunch and get back to eating them more as a treat.

We started on Monday and so far I haven't noticed much of a difference. I had a great run Tuesday and while TJ wanted to claim it was from my new diet, I highly doubt it. I don't really know where this journey will lead, but know that for my whole life, I will still find vegan cheese offensive to cheese culture.  BTW so far I miss my morning egg more than any kind of meat!!!

Some cookbooks we have found helpful:

TJ plans on vlogging our experience as a sort of short documentary series. If he ever ends up editing all the footage he has shot, I'll share a link. Meanwhile, you can hate me for doing this vegan thing. I completely understand.

Saturday, August 25, 2018


As promised a blog post about the upcoming Queen Bee Half Marathon. About a year or two after I started running, my sister also started running. Her name is Lisa. The Queen Bee 4 Miler was her first race and we completed it together last year. She completed the Pig 10K in may, so she is naturally progressing to longer distances as we crazy runners always do. I had to text her repeatedly until she finally agreed to sign up for the Queen Bee Half. There is always a lot of fear associated with doing more mileage than you've ever done before, which is completely understandable. My perspective on things can sometimes get redundant and boring, so I wanted to make sure I showcased what Lisa was feeling about the upcoming race.

Lisa's sister in law, Korie, also completed this race with us. I stole this nice little collage she made. I love all the fun giveaways geared towards women. It's such a fun day to see so much girl power!

What are you most excited about for running your first half marathon?
Lisa: That I am going to be completing something that I never thought I would be able to do.  I was never much of a runner and finishing this race will be such a huge accomplishment for me.

What are you most nervous about?
Lisa: not being able to complete the race in a time I am happy with. And the hill into Eden Park

Many people say it is too difficult to train for races when they have kids. How do you make it work? Lisa has 3 children by the way. 
Lisa: Training with children is difficult.  Luckily though I have a husband who helps a lot with the kids so I can get in some running. I do end up running mostly on a treadmill though and run during nap time or right after work while my husband picks up kids so that I can get in some running before they get home. I already get up at 4am to go to work so training before work isn't an option for me, so I have to run in the afternoons and evenings.  It is difficult to be running on the treadmill training though when I can hear them laughing and having a good time. Or watch them out the window and see them playing and know that I'm  missing those fun times with them. But I hope I am teaching my children that keeping yourself healthy and in shape is important in their life.  

What do you like about running in general?
Lisa: How you feel when you have just finished.  

Any other races or activities you’d like to try
Lisa: Flying Pig Half Marathon this year.  Last year I did the 10k, but this year i want to do the half.

There you have it. By the way, I secretly love Gilbert (the hill she is referring to going up to Eden Park.) There is no other hill in Cincinnati that gives you that sense of accomplishment when you reach the top. It could also have something to do with that view! 
Lisa also has some anxiety about finishing in last place. While, I don't foresee this happening, it's so important that we remind ourselves that no matter the time, we are all going the same distance. I have been trying to get a better handle on that concept for myself as well. 
Any words of encouragement you'd like to share with Lisa as she completed her first half marathon? Congratulations to her for pushing her fears aside and committing!
Queen Bee is close to selling out. Grab your Queens and do it together!

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Grow Flowers

Starting school again has been difficult this year, as I know it probably is for most teachers, parents, and students. We've all gotten used to no schedules. I know I personally had gotten used to daily naps, a wardrobe of workout clothes, lunches out with my husband, and at times being downright lazy. Now that school is back the naps have ceased and I have to make sure to meal plan on Sundays in order to fit dinners and lunches into a full day. I'm also changing positions at my job this year which has come with some adjustments. I don't immediately have students, which has been hard for me because I love building relationships with "my kids" right from the beginning. I'm currently doing a lot of testing so I'm seeing kids for 15-20 minutes at a time. Having taught for 5 years doing pretty much the same job, I had gotten in such a routine of what these first weeks of school look like so this year has been out of the norm. I also have my "back to school sinus infection" and have been feeling under the weather.

This time of the year it's easy to get grumpy. I like many people am tired and running on coffee (oh and nasal spray for me.) I'm working to stay upbeat while I'm falling asleep on my way to workout. I'm trying to dig back out my professional outfits when I haven't seen them in two months and forgot that the shirt I'm wearing had a stain on it. However, I'm lucky enough to get to walk past this bulletin board every day in our school and I get a silent reminder.

When I see this, it sort of puts me in a good mood and changes my perspective (thanks Jacqueline.) I remember how grateful I am to have this job in a building with coworkers who take care of each other, which has already been evidenced. I remember that I'm lucky to have a gym where I can go to work out and a running group that helps to relieve stress. I'm thankful to have a husband that helps me cook healthy meals each night and never complains. 

Once you get in a cycle of negative thinking, it just keeps going. You have to be the person that grows the flowers, because nobody wants a garden full of weeds, or a life of negativity.
I have a friend that posts on Facebook once a week about things she loves. Once she brought up the memory of playing the game of sardines as a kid, which I feel like brought out good memories for everyone, so I thought I'd steal her idea and put it on some of my blog posts. Hers are way more quirky and fun though. :) 
10 things I'm super happy about RIGHT THIS MINUTE 
1. Being a Flying Pig Ambassador- follow me on Instagram my main platform for sharing lauren_ritter_bitter
2. Coffee date with my husband this morning. Anybody else LOVE Coffee Emporium?
3. Friend told me about potential tickets to a UK basketball game this fall. Road Trip!
4. Taco Tuesday w/ avocados
5. My dog didn't throw up when I got home like she did yesterday. Happy to see me?
6. Photos of all the cool places I visited this summer.
7. I didn't hear Post Malone's "Psycho" on the way home.
8. Being barefoot after spending the day in uncomfortable shoes.
9. Up and Vanished podcast, about to listen to the new episode...EEK Are you a fan? 
10. My sister signed up for the Queen Bee-blog to come about that this week!!!! 
Bonus: keyboards for iPads. 

Tell me what you are happy about RIGHT THIS MINUTE! We can help each other grow our gardens. 

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Flying Pig Ambassador Program

I know I haven't posted in quite some time and frankly I've missed it. When I completed The Flying Pig Marathon in the spring I was injured and hadn't had my best day. I don't think I was in the right mindset in general. My husband said he thought it would be good if I got back to blogging because it seemed like something I really enjoyed and that it gave me a way to help other people become inspired or encouraged. Being able to do that makes me feel fulfilled, but not only that, I in turn become inspired and encouraged by other people. I think it's an important piece of my "health journey." I recently learned that I was chosen to be a Flying Pig ambassador and it seemed like a great time to give my blog some love. My husband is a video editor and very concerned with graphics. He says my blog needs a major facelift, so if you are like him, please know that a facelift will come eventually when I am able to research more and better understand the world of design for blogs. If anybody has any tips, feel free to send them my way.

So many people have asked me what the ambassador program will mean for me. I don't feel like it will mean the same thing for every person, but for me it means I will be sharing my journey more and with that I hope to allow people to feel more confident in their abilities to complete things they may have not deemed possible for themselves. I'd love to get more friends and family participating in healthy activities, and especially joining me on Pig weekend. We are very fortunate in Cincinnati to have such a rich running community and culture. The Flying Pig is a weekend where we can all come together, no matter our ability levels. That's part of the reason I love it so much!

Meanwhile on the blog, I'll be sharing stories, recipes I've tried, and workouts or groups I'm leading.

Anybody want to make a commitment to try something new? I'll have some discount codes for all Pig Events. What's on your radar? Anything you'd like to see from me on the blog?

It feels so good to be reenergized!

This is a photo from my time in Northern Maine chasing an inspiring man, Harvey Lewis, on the Appalachian Trail. It was a great adventure. 

Monday, February 12, 2018

Training is Hard, but I am Tough

Saturday was honestly one of my favorite routes that we do. It's hilarious to say this because I wrote a blog post once about wanting to throw up on this exact route. For all you Piggers out there, it's Gilbert Hill up to Eden Park. This route even continued onto Madison road and was oddly like the Pig course. It was 9.5 miles in total, but we actually got the downhill of Gilbert, which you don't get blessed with in the full marathon. It's pretty awesome to look at a route and not dread it, but appreciate that I can do it, and also to be able to appreciate the view from the top. The Eden Park overlook is beautiful at all times, but it's more beautiful when you're not struggling to breathe and telling yourself you just might die. Our program has been revamped this training season and it is not easy. Tuesday was one of the hardest workouts we have ever done in my opinion, but I forced myself to keep going and didn't fall back. It's moments like Tuesday and Saturday (even though difficult) that have shown me how far I've really come. I struggle at times telling myself that I haven't made enough progress or getting disappointed about really not making the scale move, but when I can keep up and when I can feel good, I am reminded that at one time running a mile was nearly impossible. It really is every woman's goal to lose weight. I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to cut another 20 pounds off, but in reality it's important to appreciate daily accomplishments that show you are stronger and can endure more than you could yesterday. We should put as much weight on these accomplishments as we do on the scale going down, if not more.
By the way, my group is awesome!

Anyways, I have made some good recipes lately that I want to share because people seemed to be excited about those.

Shrimp Creole: I posted about this a couple weeks ago, but I had never tried it before. Actually T.J. and I have never even cooked with shrimp before, but this was a good first effort. Let me tell you-it's delicious! T.J. and I both loved it. Why not make it tomorrow for Mardi Gras?!?! It would be perfect. By the way for all you weight watchers, the recipe says it's only 1 smart point (I'm not sure if this is the new system or not) without the rice.

My friend Luke had an Olympics gathering to show off his new home. T.J. and I pitched in by making Korean food. T.J. made Bulgolgi (a thin sliced marinated beef) and I made spicy chicken. This stuff will make your nose RUN, but it is delicious. People have asked me for the recipe. It's from a friend, so I'll type it out. I'd have to ask T.J. for the bulgolgi recipe he used, but there are several online and it's pretty easy. Make this and watch the Olympics for a fun night!

1.5 pounds chicken
4 cloves minced garlic
1 chopped jalepeno
sliced carrots, thin
white mushrooms
1/3 cup Gochujang (it's a paste, you can get it near the other asian sauces at Kroger)
2 T hot pepper flakes
2 T brown sugar
1 T soy sauce
1 T seasame Oil
Stir fry ingredients until chicken is cooked and veggies are soft
After sauce ingredients have been mixed, pour over stir fry and cook for one more minute
Serve over rice

We are going out of town later this week, so I'm trying to make easy recipes that do not require a lot of dishes.

Baked Potato Soup is on the menu tonight. She sneaks in cauliflower as a filler, but do not worry, it still tastes as hearty as other loaded potato soups I have tried.

It's been hard to resist sweets lately and I'm still working on that. Fat Tuesday donuts, candies from valentine's parties, and homemade sugar cookies are some things I've been failing at resisting. Sugar is most definitely an addiction, but I'm working on it.

Enjoy your week!

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Products I'm Really Into Right Now

I had a lot of people tell me that they were excited about me blogging about my recipes, and wanted to see more of that....and more are on the way. I am trying a couple new recipes this week so I want to see how they turn out before I post the recipes. See! This blog is even inspiring me to try some new things, so you might as well to. Anyways, I thought for today I could post just a few products I am currently obsessing over.

I tend to get really into certain brands or products and then I want ALL of them. So here's some of my "flavors of the month."

First up, this is going to be the most "basic bitch" thing you've ever heard, but I have become obsessed with Lululemon. I know! I know! It pains me so. I always thought. You've got to be kidding me. Those things are overrated. Why would you spend that much on leggings? The actual leggings that T.J. bought me for Christmas were made for running and they are awesome. I tend to just wear them 24/7, just ask my friends, but they are super comfy and have a lot of pockets. They don't slide down or ride up. Here's the best part, they will hem your leggings for free (great for shorties like me.) Oh wait, that's actually not the best part, they have a lifetime guarantee! I was concerned about a pair I bought on the sale rack because they had a string hanging from the seam. She said "Oh, just bring them in, we'll reseam them for life." If they have a hole, they will replace them. That's pretty awesome and makes the price a little easier to swallow. Since the pair I got for Christmas, I've bought 2 additional pair. Worth it!
Shop Here!

Next, Goodr sunglasses. These babies are fun and they stay put while you are doing outdoor activities. They are polarized so you can actually see out of them. Plus, they are only $25. I only wish I could be using them more, but it's been so dreary and gets dark so early that I haven't actually run with them yet. Either way, it's very strange for my husband to get jealous of sunglasses that I have that are branded as "running sunglasses" but he wants to order a pair for himself to take to the beach. I might even buy another more neutral pair.
Shop Here!
I got these Aftershokz headphones in October before I ran the Long Beach Half Marathon. I had my eyes on them after doing a demo at a running store. Since I'm an REI member, they send me a  gift card towards the end of the year based on what I've spent. It's actually a good deal if you buy a lot of outdoor gear. This covered over half of them (they were $99, but I've seen them on sale for $75.) I realized I liked them as soon as I put them on. They do not go in your ears, but on the outside and use bone vibration to help you hear the music. This is great for safety as well. I knew I loved them at the Long Beach Half. They stayed in place the entire time and I didn't have to adjust them once. I just used them on my 10 miler and was able to listen to music as I talked with others in my group. The battery life on them is great. The charge even lasts if you haven't touched them in awhile. I couldn't find a photo of me in them, but the link has a great video to show you how they fit.
Shop Here

Finally, someone in our group discovered this running late that's really affordable and they do a good job at not only making you visible, but help to make the pathway visible as well. I bought this because of 2 things. First, I almost hit some people with my car who were out running in the dark in the morning. They were not on the sidewalk and they were wearing no lights or reflective gear. Second, I didn't have a light for a snowy pub run we were doing one night. I got separated between 2 groups. Thankfully, someone had let me borrow their hand light, which made me feel a lot safer. I would have been extremely nervous if I hadn't of had that. Anyways, the only problem with this is that it can be a bit weird looking if you are larger chested like me, but I still use it because it's serving it's purpose to keep me safe, which is more important than a weird looking boob.
Shop Here!

I'm wearing the light here

As far as training goes, it's been going really well. I feel like I have a lot of energy still and my body is carrying me pretty easily right now. I hope this continues. I'm worried about becoming more fatigued and worn down mentally as the season gets more difficult, which is typically what happens to me. My group is great and it's nice to have people who support you and talk to you when you are out there for hours. I'm really looking forward to my runs with them and watching them all succeed.