• About Allison

    I am a 26-year-old married Michigan gal living in Sarasota, Florida. This blog is a chronicle of my journey toward a healthier lifestyle! I started running in January 2009 and began to change my eating habits in May 2009. Now, I am dedicated to training smart and eating right. Join me as I seek to balance running and eating healthy, local foods with my crazy work life and hilarious home life.

    Contact me: allisonisactive@gmail.com

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The Good Life

I know some people think that teachers have the easy life because of the summers off.  I’ll give it to you straight: we work hard all school year (the myth of leaving work at 3:00 is SO not true!) and use the summers to catch up on work, but we do enjoy the freedom and flexibility of our schedule!

I love summer because I get the time to do things I want to do.  So far this week, I have gotten my car fixed and tuned up, been to the library and read a few books, worked on organizing our recipe and menu binders, done my ESOL class homework, and cleaned around the house.

Oh yeah, and I’ve gotten in some workouts!

Siesta Key Beach Run

Tuesday, I joined some teacher friends from work and their families at the Siesta Key Beach Run.  These are fun runs sponsored by a local group, the Manasota Track Club.  The weekly Tuesday night events include a one-mile kids’ run and a run for adults that is usual 3-4 miles with some kind of theme.  The beach runs are extremely well attended by locals and visitors alike.

Running on beautiful Siesta Key Beach sounds great, right?


Well, you have to remember that this is summer in Florida on the beach at 7:00 P.M.  It was sunny, 90 degrees, humid, and windy – plus, I’ve never run on a beach before!  I’m not going to lie: I struggled and my friend Michelle pulled me through with a lot of walk breaks.  It took us 44 minutes, which is MUCH slower than my usual 3 miles; taking into account the sand and the weather, I was proud of my performance!  I will definitely be back at Siesta Key Beach Runs the rest of the summer!  (I’ll bring the camera next time…)

Yoga at the Gym

I wanted to do another yoga workout since I felt so good this Saturday and then I traveled again.  I was thinking of popping in my DVD or finding a studio in my neighborhood where I could pay for a drop-in class, and then I remembered my gym offers yoga!

I showed up to the 6:30 class on Wednesday night, and there were about 10 other people there.  The class moved at a medium pace through several series of poses, some easy and some more challenging.  It was not as challenging as Saturday’s class in Bowling Green, but I was looking for a relaxing stretch.  I think this class will become part of my cross training routine.

Charlevoix Half Marathon

I am running the Charlevoix Half Marathon with my friend Michelle on June 26 – this is just nine days from now!  Since I have just started marathon training, I’m not running double digits yet.  My longest runs since my half marathons in March have been two 8-milers and the Aflac IronGirl Clearwater 15k in April.

I have been running regularly, eating healthy, and doing a lot of cross training, though.  I’m going to trust my experience and the fact that even though I haven’t been “training” for a half marathon, I have stayed active, to get me through the race.

I’m headed off to be productive with my day, which is actually going to include going into school!

Can You Be Healthy When Traveling for Business?

I’m sorry it’s been ten days since I posted!  I was traveling for work last week to the lovely city of Bowling Green, Kentucky where I was conducting a three-day training for their middle school teachers.  I had so much fun in Bowling Green, more than one might expect on a business trip, because of their southern hospitality.  The teachers took me to some great restaurants (and a cupcake shop!), and I found some totally wonderful local businesses.  I can’t wait to go back, which I will probably be doing since I am consulting with them throughout the year.

While most of my exercise while traveling involved walking around airports, I did get in two good workouts on Saturday, my last day in BG.  By Friday, traveling was taking its toll and I needed a good stretch, so I found yogaLOFT and headed to a vinyasa flow class on Saturday morning.  It was the perfect combination of relaxation and stretching with a fairly vigorous workout – I was definitely sweating!  I will be back at yogaLOFT when I’m in BG again!

On Saturday I also went on a 2-mile hike at Lost River Cave – I wanted to go on a Cave Tour, but there were no spots available, so I never actually went into the cave.  :(  When I’m next in Kentucky, I want to either do this cave tour or build in time to drive to Mammoth Cave National Park, about 45 minute from Bowling Green.

My Overall Tips for Healthy Business Travel

  1. Pack or shop for snacks.  When I first got to Kentucky, I went to Target and picked up apples, granola bars, and pita chips.  I brought fruit and granola bars to snack on during training, and ate the pita chips while vegging in my hotel room in the evenings.  (Twilight was totally on Showtime the first night I was there!)
  2. Check out local food options.  Try using Local Harvest to find restaurants serving local foods where you are traveling, or farmer’s markets where you can grab snacks.  If nobody serves local foods, start looking for locally owned restaurants with healthy fare.  Two great finds on my trip were Greener Groundz, a coffee shop and cafe in downtown BG that had fair trade coffee and tea along with vegan baked goods, and Spencer’s Coffeehouse.
  3. Research local recreation.  Local tourism and chamber of commerce websites can help you find gyms and yoga studios, while parks and recreation departments can point the way to bike paths and hiking trails.  I had a rental car in Kentucky, so I could go pretty much anywhere, and with internet in my hotel room, great recreation options were easy to find.  A quick search for “yoga bowling green” led me to a variety of options, and although I didn’t go running, the Kentucky Greenways website helped me find some good routes.
  4. If you are a runner, find the local running club’s website.  Before I left, I checked out the Bowling Green Road Runners Club website along with Fleet Feet Nashville to get information about running in the area.  These groups can help you find safe places to run, and most groups welcome visitors to weekly fun runs.  Just ask!
  5. Ask the locals about healthy options for food and recreation.  I hinted to my awesome group of sixth grade teachers that I was a pretty healthy eater, so they took me to local cafes for lunch that served healthy fare.  I ate plenty of soups, baked potatoes, and salads, which was perfect healthy traveling food.  And, they were the ones who suggested Lost River Cave for my Saturday hike!  If you don’t have internet access on your trip, this is the best way to get tips.
  6. If all else fails, get up a half hour early and use the hotel gym!  I didn’t use my hotel gym at all since I was exhausted from training, but most have at least a treadmill for walking or running.  No gym?  Pack a swimsuit and paddle around the pool!

Now I’m home with nothing on the schedule until we leave for Michigan next Wednesday.  I’m looking forward to getting in running, swimming, or yoga every day until then.  I am already enjoying being home during the day to whip up healthy lunches: today I ate whole wheat spaghetti with tomato cream sauce and a big bowl of parmesan roasted broccoli (best recipe I’ve tried in a while!).

What are your tips for healthy business travel?

School’s Out!

Guess what?  Friday was the last day of school for me!  WA-HOO!  I kept the kids pretty busy until the end, taking tests, setting summer reading goals, and writing reflections of the school year.  Friday we had the middle school helping to move their classrooms upstairs to our second floor, which we will occupy next year, and cleaning the classrooms we are vacating.  It was a learning experience, though: we had kids doing everything from inventorying furniture to building tables (using a drill – with supervision, of course) to doing touch-up paint jobs on the walls.  And I only sustained a few cuts and bruises.  😉

I still essentially have another week of work: I will be at school Monday, and Tuesday I fly to Bowling Green, Kentucky for my first consultant gig.

I managed to get in two formal workouts this week:  swimming on Tuesday and running today (Saturday.)

Swim Stats

I did a quick 800 meter form workout Tuesday after work:

  • Warm up:  1×25, 1×50, 1×75
  • Drill:  3×25 right arm, 3×25 pull, 3×25 left arm, 3×25 kick, 3×25 catch up
  • Swim:  3×50 easy, focusing on technique
  • Cool down:  2×50, 1×25

Run Stats

It’s summer in Florida, folks!  My Fleet Feet Sarasota running group met at 5:45 A.M. or our 8-mile run, and it was already 80 degrees outside.  We ran a slow 8 miles doing our usual run 2/walk 1 intervals but taking about 4 water and stretch breaks.  The whole workout took about 2 hours.

Another reason I love Fleet Feet:  back at the store, Pat had towels soaking in a bowl of ice water so we could cool down.  That was the best feeling ever!  I poured water over my face, neck, and arms before I stretched.  It was like jumping in a chilly swimming pool!

This weekend is devoted to getting ready for my consulting trip and doing homework for my online ESOL class.  Lots of work, but we’re trying to find some time to celebrate the end of a successful school year as well!  My plans for the summer would ideally involve spending two months on the couch with good books; I’m sure I’ll do plenty of that, but also on the schedule are a three-week Michigan trip with two races, my school’s national forum in July, and Mike’s family reunion.

What’s on your summer schedule?

Good-bye, Sickness! Hello, Swimming!

I have been sick this past week – sore throat on Sunday and Monday, so much so that I stayed home from work on Monday, and then the illness migrated to my sinuses for the remainder of the week.  Lovely!  This meant that I didn’t walk, I didn’t run, I didn’t swim – I didn’t do anything.  Thursday, I actually felt like a walk, so I asked myself: will I feel better or worse after a walk?  The answer honestly was that I thought with the heat/humidity and my stuffy head, I would feel worse.  Therefore, I just stayed home.

Sammy’s Run was a bit of a challenge with a head cold.  I forgot to bring a tissue pack!  However, Pat from Fleet Feet came to my rescue and gave me her handkerchiefThis is why I love Fleet Feet!  (I need to remember to wash and return it, along with one of their towels that I borrowed for a stretch two weeks ago.  I am not on the ball lately.)

Today, although I still have a runny nose, I feel better and in fact felt well enough to swim this morning!  I put on my swim suit as soon as I got out of bed and wore it while making breakfast and reading the paper.  (If I’m already in it, then there’s no excuse NOT to swim!)

I shuffled the card for an 800 meter endurance workout to the front of my Ziploc bag.

Swim Stats

  • Warm up:  1×25, 1×50, 1×75
  • Drill: 2×25 pull, 2×25 kick
  • Ladder: 25, 50, 75, 100, 75, 50, 25
  • Cool down:  1×75, 1×50, 1×25
  • I wasn’t ready to be done, so I kicked another 4×25, and then did 50 breaststroke and 50 backstroke

I kind of hate swimming front crawl (freestyle) but I do it anyway for my workouts.  I used to be a pretty mean breaststroker and backstroker, so it was fun to do a bit of each at the end.

My swim was an even 1000 meters.  I can already feel my endurance improving: swimming 50 straight was a bit of a struggle on day one, and now I can do 100 straight (admittedly it’s still a struggle.)  I’m grateful that I swam so much as a kid because now, as a runner, I can easily get back into swimming for good cross training.  I think a lot of runners shy away from swimming for training simply because they don’t think they can swim.

I need to stop blogging now because I’m really just procrastinating what I should be doing, which is homework for my Methods of Teaching ESOL class.  We have a BBQ housewarming party for some friends this evening, too.  Have a wonderful long weekend, everyone!

Mike’s First Race

My husband used to be quite the running superstar when he was a kid!  His parents took him to lots of local races, and he even won the under-12 age group once at a race in Grand Haven, Michigan.

He picked up running again this spring, and when I asked him if he wanted to do Sammy’s Run, a local 5k that my running group was doing, he said sure!

Race morning was a little different than usual with two of us getting ready to run, but in the confusion of realizing we hadn’t taken the laundry out of the washer (which contained most of our running stuff), coordinating rides with Whitney and Sue, and both trying to get food and water into us, we eventually made it out the door.

Sammy’s Run benefits both the Oak Park School, a specials needs school in Sarasota, and Phelan-McDermid Syndrome Foundation.  It was Memorial Day-themed, with red, white, and blue event shirts.  We tried to get into the spirit by wearing red and blue:


Cheerleaders-turned-runners always have to wear hair ribbons!

GEDC3046 GEDC3047 GEDC3048 

The problem with both of us running is the lack of a photographer!  We left the camera in the car, but snapped one picture before the run:


Whitney and Sue picked up their packets at the race, and we almost missed the start!  We made it, though, and as the three of us jogged ahead, Mike immediately picked up his pace.  We saw him just before the turnaround, and he was looking good!

The three of us ladies stuck to our 2/1 intervals and chatted about the end of the school year and our Memorial Day plans.  We kept up with 12:30 miles pretty much the whole time and finished just as the clock said 38:00.  No D-tags or Chips were used, so I have no idea what our “official” time was.  It was just a fun run!

Mike finished in 27:00, which I think is an excellent time but he wants to improve.  He said he held back until the turnaround because he didn’t want to go out too fast.  When he realized he was halfway through, he kicked it up a notch.  He says that when he finished, he felt like he hadn’t given it his all and could have gone out faster.

Oh well – there will be more races for him, I’m sure!

Morning Run/Swim at the Gym

Last night, I should have gone for a run, but I was entirely too worn out from my day at school.  So I made plans to do something I have never done before: go to the gym before work!

I made a mental list of what to pack, put my bag together, and set out my running clothes.  I packed in the bag my swimming stuff and everything I needed to shower and get ready for work.

My alarm went off at 5:40 and I was ready to go since I’d also made a lunch the day before.  I was in the car by 5:50 and at the gym by about 6:00.  I spent 20 minutes doing run 2/walk 1 intervals on the treadmill, then changed and jumped into the pool.

Swim workout:

  • Warm up:  4×25
  • Drill:  2×25 kick, 2×25 pull
  • Ladder:  25, 50, 50, 25
  • Cool down:  2×25
  • Total:  400 meters

Getting ready for work at the gym was no big deal since I have long hair that I usually wear in a ponytail.  I was on my way to work by about 7:20, stopped at Starbucks, and made it here in time to laminate some things!


I sent my dad a Facebook message asking him to hunt down and send to me some pictures from myswim team days.  I know they’re around somewhere, but he couldn’t find any actual swim team pictures to send.  He did, however, find some pictures that illustrate my longstanding love of water!

I’m sure the one on the left is in my yard in a kiddie pool, but the one on the right is from swimming lessons.  I think my mom had me in swim lessons before I was walking!  We used to go to the beaches on Lake Michigan a lot when I was a kid, and later we had a membership to a community pool in the sumemrs.

My family calls the second one my “Baywatch” picture since I look like I’m rescuing someone.  In reality, this was the summer before 9th grade and I am boogie boarding at a beach on Cape Cod – about two years before my lifeguarding career began.  🙂

Now I’m waiting to see if a morning run/swim workout makes me energized or just tired – right now, I can tell you that it just makes me hungry!

Going Swimmingly

Although I think I did an excellent job training for my first and second half marathons, I could have done more cross training.  In fact, I did very little training outside of walking and running: I rode my bike around the neighborhood and and popped in a yoga DVD now and then, but that’s it.

I know that in order to be fit and prepared for a full marathon, I’m going to have to commit to more cross training.  I’ve read everywhere that swimming is a great form of cross training for runners because:

  • It’s an aerobic workout that gets your heart rate up
  • It doesn’t put stress on your joints like running or walking
  • It works many major muscle groups

Back in the day, I was a pretty serious swimmer.  I joined my local age group swim team when I was in 3rd grade and swam on my middle school swim team, too.  I got burned out in 8th grade after swimming on two swim teams for a few years and made the decision not to swim in high school.  However, I was a lifeguard all through high school and college and used to swim and play water polo with my friends for fun.

It’s been years since I swam for fitness, but I still know all the basics of swimming and lap pool etiquette.  I ventured to Sports Authority on Saturday and picked up a racing suit (my sister stole all mine for high school water polo), some good goggles, and a swim cap.

This morning, I Googled “beginner swim workouts” and found a website with some 400 and 800 meter workouts.  I copied them onto index cards and sealed into a Ziploc bag, an old trick from my swimming days.  :)  (Except our coaches would laminate them, which I could do later because I own a laminator.)

I was surprised by how easily I got into the groove of swimming again: everything from getting my swim cap and goggles adjusted to jumping into the workout kind of felt normal and routine, like meeting an old friend.

I left my nifty cards in the car (nice move, Allison) but tried to remember somewhat of what was on them.  Here’s my workout:

  • 2×25 warm up
  • 1×25 right arm
  • 1×25 left arm
  • 2×25 kick
  • 2×25 pull
  • Ladder: 25, 50, 50, 25
  • 1×25 kick
  • 50 sprint
  • 1×25 pull
  • 2×25 cool down

I’m going to stick with 500 meter workouts for next two weeks, and then bump up to 800 meter.  The workout took me about 20 minutes, including some stretching in the pool afterwards.  Then it was into the shower, packing my bag, and heading to Publix and the library.

I did pretty well at packing my pool bag, too, which made me happy.  The two things I wish I had remembered were deodorant and Q-tips (I get major water in my ears!)  Here are the things I had packed:

  • Lock for my locker
  • Swimsuit, towel, goggles, swim cap, and watch
  • Water bottle
  • Shampoo, conditioner, soap, and face wash in a Ziploc bag
  • Hair brush and hair tie
  • Flip flops for the shower (which I also wore home)
  • Clean underoos, shorts, and a t-shirt

I suppose if this had been a morning workout, I would have packed make up, too, for work.  In the evening, I don’t care.  :)  Also, I was planning to bike to the library afterwards, so I’d be outside sweating again anyway!

I’m off to help with dinner – Mike is on grill duty with the burgers, but I’m in charge of the broccoli.

Does anyone else swim for cross training?  Any links to good swim workouts?