Long Run and Kitchen Issues

I haven’t run a race ALL year – first, I had to cancel my plans to run a 10 mile race to go visit my ill grandfather (don’t worry, he’s back to 100%); then, I cancelled my plans to run the same half marathon I ran last June because Kris and I were going to do one of the bike tours instead, but for some reason that I can’t remember right now, we didn’t; then, I was just going to do a short 5K…and then found out we were planning to be out of town AGAIN (to see Kris’s extended family for the 1st time in a year). So now, I’m planning to run a half marathon in October, but obviously I am not in my peak running condition, here. I’m back to using Hal Higdon’s Novice II plan to train (what I used the very first time I ran a half).

Yesterday, I woke up excited to run my 6 miles. I saw the high was going to be in the low 70s and that it was supposed to be sporadically rainy, so I figured the weather would be great (cool and not too humid, and I could probably sneak in the run between rain showers). I must not have been stretching or something, though, because almost the entire time, something in my legs felt tight, and by the time everything went back to normal in terms of tightness, I was just sweaty and miserable. I ran at a 10:00 pace, which is TERRIBLE for 6 miles for me – despite my general slacking on running, I’ve been regularly running 7-9 miles for my long runs with 10:00 being my slowest pace pretty much all summer.

I’m sure it was just an artifact of postponing my Thursday run until Friday night after work, not stretching, and then going out again the next morning for my long run, but I still had one pretty major concern. When I first started out, my right ankle felt really tight. I’ve been having some minor issues with it since I wrecked my bike a few weeks ago (slipped on loose gravel and skinned my knee – the bike and I were well enough to bike 4 miles home), but I can’t decide whether I should go to the doctor or not. When I first wrecked the bike, I think I like smooshed the area (my lower tibia, right above my ankle) or something, because it hurt enough that I decided to take a whole week off running after the wreck. It seemed to get better, though – I had promised Kris I would go to the doctor if it didn’t start to improve after 2-3 days, and every day it did legitimately feel better. It was never swollen, and the only sign of injury was a small bruise that appeared out of nowhere 2 weeks later and only lasted a couple of days.

The issue, though, is that it still hurts if I touch it. It doesn’t hurt to walk or run on it – even yesterday, it didn’t hurt, it just felt like I needed to stretch it out –  and it never hurts badly, but if I poke the affected area, it is still a bit sensitive, even though it’s been nearly a month. It’s one of those things I do have mild concern about but I feel like it would be a giant pain in the ass to take off work, go to the doctor, have them refer me to another doctor, just for them to tell me that there is nothing wrong. Ok, maybe that isn’t the real reason – I have good insurance, and like, a week of sick time, so this is a really lame excuse, this wouldn’t even cost me any money or be that big of an inconvenience. I think I’m mostly afraid if I ask a doctor about it they will think I am silly for even considering there might be a problem. It’s probably something I just need to get over and go ask about (side note: this fear stems from a terrible doctor I had in high school who would dismiss all my medical concerns as fabricated and literally laughed at me on multiple occasions; I haven’t seen this man in like 10 years but it’s still a huge issue for me).

Now on to the kitchen issues. Lately, for some reason, I have been having MAJOR kitchen organization issues. My mom keeps buying me tons of Tupperware, and I myself keep buying new gadgets, and I do not have room for any of this shit in my teeny tiny kitchen with cupboards that have only one shelf. My solution had been to just pretty much leave things laying on the dining room table, but we were having a board game day with some friends yesterday and we weren’t sure whether we were going to their house or they were coming to ours, and I had to clean up this mess because apparently you need a table to play board games on. I ended up throwing things into random cupboards or putting them into the storage area we have on our enclosed back porch…yeah, right beside the lawnmower. Very sanitary. I have no idea how to fix this organization problem, either. There are no more cupboards and all the places I have to keep this stuff (the backporch and the basement) are not very sanitary or good for things like appliances because moisture can get in. I’ve been trying to hold off on buying a standalone pantry or something because we are probably going to move out of this place in like, less than a year, but trying to deal with this yesterday was incredibly frustrating. 

Now, on to a couple of more lighthearted kitchen issues. After my long run yesterday, I came home and decided to make homemade strombolis. Sorry for the lack of stromboli pictures; I was far too hungry to stop and take a picture of them before eating. A few weeks ago, I had bought a new “spice rack” for my kitchen. A key kitchen organization issue was that the area that the spices was in was taken over by other food, and the spices slowly migrated to the top of my microwave, where they were always getting knocked over by the cat (or, more likely, by me because I’m clumsy and the plates are in the cupboard right above the microwave). I decided to buy a small shelf I could hang on the wall over my stove, and found the perfect one at a yard sale for $2! 

Well, I hadn’t had any problems with it until yesterday when I made these strombolis. As far as I knew, the oven in my gas stove vents through the rear right burner. None of the burners are directly below this shelf, and cooking has not seemed to affect the spices, so I didn’t think baking would either. This morning I came down and noticed that the chili powder was falling over in the rack. I picked it up, and saw that it, and several other spices, were completely warped! Upon further examination, my oven has a vent directly below this rack, so when I was baking the strombolis it melted the spices. Luckily, this thing is just hung on a couple of nails and can easily be lifted off while baking, but I can’t believe I melted like half my spices!

The label even fell off!

One final kitchen organization problem. I promise, this really is the last! I also went grocery shopping yesterday (wow, now I am sounding like I was really productive!). I’m not sure if it was the peanut butter recall or what, but the peanut butter I normally buy (which is NOT on the recall) was LESS THAN HALF PRICE. Seriously, it $1.21. Kris encouraged me to be a rational person because we already had some at home, so I only bought two, but I still don’t really have enough room for all this peanut butter. Is there such a thing as too much peanut butter?

Note: this is where I used to keep the spices, if you were wondering why I ran out of room for them.



Couponing and Healthy Eating

A few months ago I posted a grocery list and reflected on whether I was making mindful purchases or not. I’m one of those people who can sometimes cross the line between frugal and cheap (and can sometimes completely contradict myself by buying $22 eyeliners…). This is especially true when it comes to groceries – I will stand around paralyzed by the decision of spending an extra dollar. Kris hates grocery shopping with me and I understand why. Once, when he was at the store with me I stopped in the middle of the aisle and started yelling about how they only had name brand chili powder and it was 50 cents more. Kris calmly responded “well, what do you want me to do about that?” and an old man and his wife walked past and the man said something that implied Kris was catching on to the whole “how to deal with irrational wives in grocery stores” part of marriage rather well. Because of my grocery-spending angst, I try to use coupons. However, I haven’t decided yet whether I am just bad at using coupons, or if using coupons and healthy eating do not go well together.

I remember that my mom used to use coupons all the time as a kid. When I first moved out I was moving around too much to try to get a paper and we didn’t eat very many groceries anyway (mostly fast food). Therefore I didn’t worry about couponing too much. Trying to cut down my grocery budget only came with eating more actual groceries (and, I suppose, caring more about my financial stability). I still don’t get a Sunday paper because frankly, I have no idea how to get one. This means that I get most of my coupons from the internet. I know this is what is keeping me from some savings because a lot of sites like couponmom.com show you how to get items for essentially free by combining specials with paper coupons (i.e. drugstore X is running a 2/$1 sale and in this paper there is a coupon for $1 off 2).  I primarily print coupons from the creatively named coupons.com and the shopathome.com Chrome extension. This gives me a lot of coupons I could theoretically use, but they don’t always work for several reasons: I don’t need the item before the coupon expires; it is for a brand my store doesn’t carry; or the store brand is cheaper anyway. I have also tried using the Ibotta app but it tends to be for incredibly specific products and my normal grocery store (Giant) isn’t on there so I have to figure out if one of their affiliate stores (Stop & Shop) will redeem rewards – I’d otherwise have to drive out of my way to go to Target or Wegman’s to use this program. So from this discussion you can tell that I am incredibly new to using coupons and still quite confused and I might just be doing it poorly.

The other issue is that it is not very easy to use coupons if you are trying to keep a healthy diet. First of all, there are almost never coupons for fresh produce. There are a few – for example, I’ve seen them for the bags of Dole salad, and my store will sometimes print me a “$2 off your produce purchases” coupon, but in general, a diet using a lot of fruits and veggies is not going to benefit much from coupons. Another issue is that even for other less-processed items, coupons tend to be for more processed versions or at least branded, pre-packaged versions. For example, there are not coupons for plain, brown rice; only coupons for those boxes of rice mixes. Another example would be that specific brands of pre-packaged meats will have coupons (rather than the meat packaged in the store). This leaves me with the few processed, pre-packaged things I buy being things that I can coupon.

For proof of how these two issues – me being bad at couponing and coupons being inappropriately matched to healthy eating – let’s discuss how they interacted with my grocery shopping yesterday.

Yesterday, I was able to use only 4 coupons during a huge (for me) shopping trip:

  • 2 for coffee. This was one of those deals that was so good I couldn’t pass it up even though I have plenty of coffee. Coffee at my store was only sale for like $5.75 a bag and I had coupons for $1.50 off the bags. I go through this quickly so it wasn’t a big deal.
  • 1 for pierogies (the wiki link is because I’ve met more than one person who thought these were a fictional food). This was another great deal. Pierogies were 3 for $7 at my store and the coupon was for $1.50 off 3. Score! Notice, however, that these were happy accidents – a good couponer would have known about these amazing deals in advance.
  • 1 for almond milk. I needed almond milk and this coupon made Silk (not my favorite, but better than Giant brand) cheaper than Giant brand.

However, I also had the following coupon issues:

  • I left a coupon for Halo brand clementines at home (one of the elusive produce coupons) because Giant “never” carries that brand. I wound up buying them because they were the cheapest fruit at the store anyway.
  • Giant does not carry “Treasure Cave” brand Feta cheese, apparently.
  • They also don’t carry Gardein vegetarian products.
  • I also forgot to look to see if they had the specific brand of string cheese or sour cream that I had coupons for. Oops. I didn’t really need them anyway.

I think the one exception to this rule might be in terms of toiletries – there are a ton of coupons for things like vitamins and skincare products. Unfortunately for my new-found drive to use a ton of a coupons, but fortunately for my wallet in general, Kris and I go through toiletries very slowly (the perks of not having little ones yet) and have a lot of backstock of things like sunscreen and body wash (well, women’s, I guess I could buy some men’s). Also I can never conveniently find a coupon for the toiletry I need when I need it 😦