Tuesday, December 30, 2014

What 2014 Meant For Me

I have missed writing my blog.

It seems that this year my creativity was used up by writing the intro of the newsletter where I work, since it's focused on running, it's a perfect fit for me.  It's hard to believe I've had this blog for six years, but it has served me well.  I started it as a way to find direction while being home with my kids, and morphed into something to keep me on track as a runner and food lover. I made friends with fellow bloggers who I "spoke" with on a daily basis, and counted as true friends.  Then it seemed my blog filled it's purpose as I went about my days, I felt like I didn't have much to say.  In the past there were times when my blog was a forum for sharing my frustrations.   As I read about others who are truly suffering for different reasons, I felt weird complaining about my seemingly mundane issues.

Although I am generally a happy person, I feel like a part of me is missing.  I no longer run the way I used to, running used to be an almost daily occurrence, one that made me feel like I could take on anything.  After I ran the NYC Marathon and my father in law had a debilitating stroke, I still ran, but it was less frequent.  I was very sad, and supporting my husband and family through this time.  I started to put on weight but I still ran, swam, walked, biked, and did races.

Fast forward to today. In 2014 I didn't race much at all, mostly because I work at a running store and it's hard to get a day off for a race.  I can't believe it, but I only ran the Boilermaker, and for the first time in years, didn't run a single Half Marathon, or Marathon for that matter! Then in September I fell and broke my ankle, breaking it for a third time.  After the bone healed, it was determined that I have pretty bad Achilles tendinitis and have started PT.  It's feeling so much better, but I can't tell you how much I want to go for one last run before the New Year!  So back to the bike I go.

This year I have had some lovely highs, and some bumps in the road.  I learned who my true friends are, and who are not. My family supported me but like all families, I got frustrated a couple of times.  I love the area I live in, but realize that there is always going to be something in my house that needs fixing. I'm lucky to have my children, husband, family and friends.

I'm looking at 2015 with optimism.  I have decided to not make resolutions, although I do resolve to focus on being a better person, physically and mentally.  I have decided to look at what makes me happy:

Now I will look forward to 2015, wishing for peace, love, health and happiness, Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

What Made Your Dog Great in 2014? Photo Contest and The Purina Pro Plan Incredible Dog Challenge Sweepstakes!

Frank spent 2014 doing some of his favorite things.


Riding in the car:

Relaxing in the yard:

Dressing up for Halloween:

We feed Frank Purina One Smartblend for Large Dogs, but he's going to give Purina Pro Plan a try.

Each variety targets your dog's exact needs; Sport promotes strength and endurance, Focus offers specialized nutrition for unique needs, Savor has outstanding taste for everyday excellence, while Select is formulated for skin and digestive health.

Purina Pro Plan is currently holding their Incredible Dog Challenge Sweepstakes, where you can win the grand prize:
  • 2 round-trip plane tickets to Huntington Beach, CA for the Incredible Dog Challenge® Western Regionals
  • A 3-day, 2-night hotel stay
  • Ground transportation and spending money
  • Plus a $500 PetSmart® gift card
You can click HERE to enter, there is no purchase necessary!

In the meantime, I'm sharing a giveaway for my fellow dog owners, three winners will receive a Purina Pro Plan coupons valued at $17.99, each (that means a free bag of Purina Pro Plan for each winner).

So what did your dog do in 2014 that made them great?  To enter the giveaway, use the hashtag #GreatDog2014  and share the photo on Twitter (tag me @MollySBaker) or Instagram (tag @sleeperbake262).  I will choose three winners on Tuesday December 23, 2014.

Good Luck!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

A Healthy Holiday Season

Yes, it's that time of year again. A time of lights and snow, cold and crowds, friends and food. All the extra excitement and activities added to an already busy schedule, make me want to grab a blanket, head to my couch and sip eggnog in a Marty Moose glass.


A side effect of all of this celebrating is the dreaded holiday weight gain, but it doesn't have to be a disaster. There are ways to enjoy this time while still being good to yourself, and staying physically sane through the month of December.

Track your activity by wearing a pedometer, especially while you shop. Turn it on after you park your car, then start counting your steps as soon as your feet hit the parking lot. You'll be surprised at how many miles you can cover trekking from one side of the mall to the other. Check it from time to time, when you're close to ticking off another mile, speed walk away from the food court and get it done. Don't forget, hauling around those heavy shopping bags helps to tone the biceps!


I'm particularly sad this year because my next-door neighbors have moved away. In past years, in exchange for their gift of potato latkes, I would send over a plate of Christmas cookies. Over the next few weeks, the treats and special dishes will be coming out in full force. When faced with a buffet, I take a look at all the offerings, focus on a special dish that I don't have very often, then take a pass on the usual fare. I can have mashed potatoes anytime, but green bean casserole comes around just once in a while. At dessert time, I snag a bite of my husband's pie, or a nibble from my son's cookie. Yes, I'm still eating a treat, but it's a sliver, not a slice.

Lastly, like every other activity on the calendar, schedule time to work out. Write down that you're going for a run, and then check it off the list when it's complete. Take advantage of outdoor activities that you can do with family or friends, such as ice skating, skiing, bundling up for a woodsy hike or a walk around the neighborhood and enjoying all of the festive decor.

Move when you can, relax when you get a chance, and just enjoy this time. That way you can welcome 2015 on the best note possible.

Monday, November 10, 2014

What Makes You Move?

The other day my sister sent me a link that led to a short film called "The Runners" which takes place in Victoria Park, London.  Using a bike with a cart attached for the cameraman, the directors interviewed groups of runners through the changing seasons.   


It's a moving video, as the runners shared bits about themselves, it made me think of the different reasons we run. I decided to ask my fellow employees about what gets them moving, and this is what they said:
From Marcia: "I am always thinking about what motivates me to run. Some of the things are socializing with my friends, and never regretting my run once it is complete (a great coach told me that). The thing that really motivates me are my daughters. I think it is so important that they see that I make time for myself and exercise and push myself toward a physical goal. I want to lead by example and show them that it is always important to do something you love. It is even more rewarding when you work very hard to achieve that goal."
Bill shares that: "Running has truly changed my life. Not only has it improved my health, but I've met hundreds of people through running. I have also run in so many beautiful places such as Lake Placid, N.Y., Central Park, New Orleans, Ottawa, the Napa Valley, Costa Rica and San Francisco, just to name a few. There is no better way to see a city then to run it." 
Fred says: "My biggest motivator is the camaraderie that is created when we train and race with a group of people who have all trained so hard together to accomplish a goal or finish a race. We become part of something that is bigger than just our own goal when other peoples' accomplishments become more important than our own."


Liz's motivation is: "Knowing my running partner is waiting there for me early in the morning. It's easy to cancel when it's too cold or we're too tired. But those miles before the sun has come up is the time we solve each others' problems, share our good news and support each other. For me, knowing I need to meet my RP (running partner) is what makes me get those feet out from beneath the covers and into my running shoes."

Mary shares that: "My niece is my motivation and my hero in all things. Last year she was diagnosed with cancer shortly before her second birthday and although she has a pretty clean bill of health now, it was a tough road at times. Watching her strength gave me so much perspective on life and every time I think I 'can't' I think of her and somehow what seemed impossible suddenly gets a lot easier."

From Naomi:  "The quote that gets me is 'One day I will not be able to do this anymore, today is not that day.' "

Monday, October 27, 2014



I don't think there is a person out there who doesn't like fall. The humidity is gone, the air is crisp, the sky is blue and the colors are vibrant; perfect weather for outdoor activities. My family took advantage of a nice day last weekend by hiking in the Adirondacks, climbing a new trail that rewarded us with a view of Sis and Bub Lakes and the changing leaves. We weren't too far from the trail head when I said what a great hike it was, then immediately tripped over a root, wiped out, and broke my ankle.

I'm rather clumsy and have broken this ankle twice previously; my friends have created my very own hashtag #MollysFall. I know how to deal with this injury; so luckily I was fitted for a walking boot instead of a hard cast. It could have been worse, but I'm not thrilled by the fact that I can't walk the dog, ride a bike, or run for two long months.

Frank isn't happy either; he's not a fan of the boot. 

I can't run, but I can think about my favorite places to run. First up is Limekiln Lake in Inlet. The elevations along Route 28 in the Adirondacks from Inlet to Old Forge are great for hill training; it's nice to go through town and be a part of the activity. But I really enjoy a four mile trek in a nearby campground that offers hills, plus beautiful views of the lake. 

My second favorite is right outside my front door. My neighborhood offers paved trails that lead me through woodsy areas, along a golf course, past small lakes and playgrounds. There is always someone else running or walking, even in the winter!


Beaver Lake in Baldwinsville offers trails of various lengths, the 3 mile lake loop is scenic, and it's easy to make a run longer just by adding more trails. Plus they have restrooms!


Finally, I have to give a shout out to my treadmill. Depending on my mood or weather, I can run long or short, fast or slow, hilly or flat. Having a television or music helps to pass the time but only so much. Along with physical training a treadmill run really helps with your mental training. 


See you out there.....in two short months!!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Early Mornings

I'm not a morning person and I prefer to ease into my day after staying up late the night before. My internal clock is set to go to bed at night around 11:30 or midnight, after watching a few more minutes of a movie or reading one last chapter of a good book. I'm also prone to insomnia and there have been plenty of mornings where I listened to the birds chirping outside, not because of an early alarm clock, but because I never went to sleep the night before.  

However, there are times when I happily wake up early for fun reasons, such as a race. I don't have a problem because my excitement propels me out of bed. Aside from my dog Frank, I have the downstairs to myself as I gather my gear, drink my coffee, listen to the quiet and watch the sun rise. 

One of my other favorite places to be in the early morning is the Regional Market on Saturdays. I really enjoy the energetic atmosphere. Everyone is supporting our local farmers and vendors with loaded up reusable shopping bags full of healthy fruits and vegetables. Some days my family goes with a grocery list, other times we wander along the rows just to see what is available. My kids are allowed to bring a couple of dollars each to buy Pokemon cards or gaudy blue nail polish.  


My brother-in-law has a produce stand and sometimes I'll help him out, which calls for a 6 a.m. wake up, and is a whole different experience. Most shoppers who come along are focused, some are chatty, such as the gentleman who explained to me how to make ketchup, and some are picky. On a recent cold rainy Saturday everyone seemed to be making chili or soup, and the onions and carrots sold out rather quickly.  

My husband and kids did the shopping on their own that day, and I came home to a kitchen counter heaped with the last of the peaches and silver queen corn of the season, zucchini, heirloom tomatoes, cauliflower, ash ripened goat cheese and something called a Kohlrabi, which is a cross between a turnip and cabbage. 


Before we even started to eat all that bounty, I felt healthier just by looking at it!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Prepping for the Disney Parks

Running a race takes planning and preparation. You choose the location, time of year, budget for the registration fee, then train for it. Kind of like a trip to Disney World. 

We made a second pilgramage to The Happiest Place On Earth in February.  


I prepared for our recent trip to the theme park as I would for a half marathon: starting with our feet. I made sure each member of the family had on their Brooks, Asics, New Balance or Nike sneakers. Since "cotton is rotten," we paired them with a synthetic weave sock to keep our feet cool and dry. Instead of my Garmin, we took turns wearing a pedometer to track our steps each day. Nutrition was very important; at any sign of fatigue or crabbiness, I had water and granola bars ready for consumption. My sister's bunion started to give her trouble, so I handed over a blister bandage. 
During longer races, I tend to watch the feet of the runners around me, to see what shoes they wear or how they run. On longer waits for rides such as Space Mountain, I caught myself doing the same thing. I would point out that one person wore a particular shoe because they were stable on their feet, another because the person probably overpronated. My husband did roll his eyes from time to time, so when I noticed that one woman's shoe was too big for her, and she would probably end up with blisters, I kept the thought to myself.
 We even dealt with injury when my husband broke his toe on the ottoman in our room. But he soldiered through the pain for one last 9 hour day at the parks.
 At the end of the trip, we logged just over 100,000 steps. I decided to reward myself not with a medal, but with a pair of retro Mickey Mouse socks.


 And they're not even cotton.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Find Your Spark!

Well well well, what do we have here? A blog post????
Six months ago I started working at a fantastic place......a running store! My co-workers are athletes, I help people find just the right shoe for their feet, work on securing race sponsorships, and write for our newsletter.  
I'd like to post regularly here again, but I thought I would start by sharing some of the pieces that I've written for the store.  So I'll start with the story of how I found my running spark.......

Every once in a while, due to my footwear, someone will ask me if I'm a runner. Last week it was when I was in the dentist chair getting a cleaning - a time when it's particularly hard to answer due to the suction thing stuck under your tongue. I most often hear the runner question while I'm fitting someone for new shoes, which was the case yesterday. As I helped a woman who had recovered from foot surgery, she asked "Do you run? I can't run, I could never run. I would like to run, but I can't run." My answer? "You'd like to run; you've got new shoes, so you must think you can run."  

There are so many reasons why it's hard to try something new, but when you find that motivation, you never know what can come of it. I used to be a gym rat, when the number of calories burned was my focus. I wasn't on a journey to a goal. That is, until after I had my children.  

I had a different sense of motivation after they were born, partly because I wanted to be a good example. However, I also felt a sense of empowerment (making it through 36 hours of labor will do that to you I guess.) I thought, "What else can I do?" So when my daughter was six months old, I started to train for the Boilermaker 15k. That went well, so I figured "Why not try a half marathon?" Which turned into a marathon, then the Iron Girl. Before I knew it I had gear, clothing and accessories for every season and every activity.  

Since I started, I haven't stopped.
 If you can find your spark, light it up, and keep it burning. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Review Time: Reds All Natural Burrito's


When I eat lunch, I'm usually starving after a full morning of various activities. Half the time I eat leftovers, and if I'm at work, it's a turkey sandwich. Which gets boring after a while, and when it's freezing cold out (hello polar vortex) a hot lunch is comforting.

I recently had a chance to try "clean" burritos by Red's All Natural. What makes them clean?  Their products are 100% natural, preservative free, non-GMO, made with antibiotic and hormone free meat, and rBGH-free cheese.

Mike and I love Mexican food, but it's not the healthiest choice, and when I think of frozen burritos I'm reminded of the kind they used to sell at the convenience store in my college town. They get hard in the microwave and are pretty much the worst thing you can eat. So we were happy to give Red's a try.

They have several varietes, including chicken, steak, bean and cheese, even BBQ, in 11 oz burritos, and a
5 oz snack size. There is also a line of Quesadilla's, made with buffalo chicken, pulled pork, and steak.

The first one I tried was bean and rice, which I had for lunch on a No Meat Monday.  You can microwave them, but since I had time I put it in the oven, which I made the tortilla crispy. 

As you can see, the beans were whole, and not mushy, with a nice mix of corn, onion, tomato, cheese and brown rice.  I usually put a side of salsa on mexican food, but I didn't need it here. 

Mike had the chicken, then steak burritos for lunch two different days while he was at work. He didn't take a picture, but he said it was quality meat, not like the mystery meat you usually find in frozen products.

Next up was the Buffalo Chicken Quesadillas. 

Once again the quesadillas were filled with real, quality ingredients. This time I added some salsa for dipping, and paired it with a salad to complete my lunch.  

The verdict? I shy away from frozen convenience foods, but I'll keep a supply of Red's in our freezer for when we need a quick lunch that is actually good for you, and tastes great too!

You can find Red's in most major grocery chains, including Target.

*Note: I was sent samples of Red's products for the purpose of this review. The opinions of the product are my own.