Niki's Back on Track

{November 3, 2012}   10K Pumpkin Run – CHECK!

Well, I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to complete Sycamore’s Pumpkin Run (a 6.2 mile race) on Sunday, October 28th, but I did!  I ran with my friend Katrina.  We would often chant, “Just keep running, running, running.  Just keep running, running, running.”  Dory from Finding Nemo was our inspiration, and we did not give up!

Our families were there cheering us on at the finish line.  I can’t convey the importance of their support, and the support of all the people along the route clanging cow bells, cheering, playing music (Rocky’s theme), and holding up signs to encourage every participant.  We pulled energy and strength from each as we slowly and surely pounded out the steps.  The sun was shining, and we were as high as the clouds when we reached our final goal for the season.

Our Goals:

  • Do not vomit.
  • Do not finish last.
  • Run the whole time.

I realize these are the same goals as my first 5K, but given that it was twice the distance I thought it was appropriate. 🙂

Our stats:

Katrina Luetkebuenger    1,214th place out of 1,526                         1:07:25 total time         Pace 10:51 minutes/mile
Nichole Woodruff                1,215th place out of 1,526                       1:07:25 total time         Pace 10:51 minutes/mile

Our pace greatly surprised us!  We did much better than we thought.  Katrina and I run well together because she slows me down, but I push her a little bit as well.  Thank you for all of your support.  I’m not sure of my next goal.  I will keep you updated!

I think we are holding each other up!


Couch to 5K program at the YMCA

Program Goal: Go from sitting on the “couch” (or in front of the computer in my case) to running 3.1 miles (5 kilometers).

The Miles That Matter race through the YMCA serves as a fundraiser for the LiveStrong program.  The LiveStrong program at the Kishwaukee YMCA offers FREE services to cancer survivors.  Click Here if you would like more information.

It felt really good to connect faces to the reason behind my run.  My training and ultimately my 5K race directly contributed to increasing my personal health and the health of these survivors!

LiveStrong Members

As many of you know, I spent all day in class on Saturday.  After leaving Judson in Elgin, I drove straight to the DeKalb Y and literally had to run to the start line to make the start at 5 p.m.  It was a cold, blustery day.  I was not particularly motivated, but seeing the above smiles made all the difference in the world!

The Starting Line: I’m straight ahead in the red hat!

My goals for this race:

  • Finish the race.
  • Try to keep an 11 minute/mile pace.
  • Keep my time close to the Brookfield ZooRunRun time of 33:22 minutes total.

I found a fellow Couch to 5K trainee during the race, and we paced each other.  There were a lot more uphill stretches to this course, so I wasn’t sure how I would fair.

I’m proud to say that I finished 45th of 98 runners and 9th out of the 18 in the Female 30 – 39 age group.

I surprised myself by completing the race in 31:20 minutes!!!  I shaved 2 minutes off my time in a matter of 2 weeks.  I was amazed.

My running partner and I are both teachers trying to be good role models for our students!

My Running Buddy, Mary

My family was there at the finish line to congratulate me.  My husband, two daughters, and my sister-in-law .

My hubby, Toby

So, what now?  Well, I still have plenty of stress to relieve by exercising.  Let’s take a look at the list:

  • iPad pilot
  • Lucky Lottery Winner being evaluated this year with the new Teacher Appraisal System
  • Journal Article Revisions
  • Plan for each week at school
  • Clean my house
  • Try to be a mother and wife to my family
  • MLIT homework

Is it time for a 10K?  The Sycamore Pumpkin Run is Sunday.  Hhhhhmmm……

{September 25, 2012}   Brookfield ZooRunRun Goal- CHECK!

I decided to try to run a 5K before the offical 9 week training period was completed.  I really wanted to help conservation and participate in the Brookfield ZooRunRun 5K this year.  I was nervous since I only ran continuously for a little more than 2 miles recently.  This was a big jump in my training, but I wanted to try.

My goals:

  1. Not to be last
  2. Run the whole time
  3. Not vomit

We were up at 5:30 a.m. in order to get ready, drive to Brookfield from Sycamore, park, and pick up my registration packet, get in line, and start the run at 8:30 a.m.  On our way into the zoo, Isabel, my 8 year-old daughter, said, “I want to take a picture with you and your gold medal at the end mama.”  I had to burst her Olympic view bubble of me and remind her this was my first 5K race!  🙂

I met and surpassed my goals!!  I’m so excited and proud of myself!

There were 3,000 registered runners.  There were 233 female runners between the ages of 35-39 (My old lady age group!).  I placed 116th out of these 233 runners.  🙂

I ran the whole 5K in 33:22 minutes which works out to be a 10:38 per mile pace.  I was OVERJOYED!  I wasn’t hurting like I thought I would, and I felt the runner’s high.  We did it!  Katrina inspired me to run again, and I’m so happy she could be my running partner during this race.  We pace each other and keep each other motivated!

Katrina and I finished strong at the ZooRunRun!!

After the run, our families of two supportive hubbies, two 8 year-old girls, a 5 year-old girl, and a 4 year-old girl walked through the zoo and enjoyed the beautiful, sunny day.  It was a tiring experience for us all.

You’d have thought Olivia ran the 5K!

I have another 5K, the Miles That Matter race for the YMCA Livestrong, coming up at 5 p.m. on Saturday, October 6th in DeKalb, IL.  This is right after a long day in class, but I hope to beat my time.  My next goal is under 33 minutes.  Anyone want to join me?  We can run together.  Group runs are motivating!

Wish me luck!

{September 25, 2012}   Stressed OUT!!!

Okay everyone, I’ve been EXTREMELY stressed out lately!  (I’m sure most of my readers are as well.)  This depicts me perfectly the last week or two.

Exercise helps!  I am one who has been known for saying, “I don’t have time to exercise because I’m just too busy!”  I have been so tired I haven’t felt like it too.  This happened to me a couple of weeks ago.  I skipped a couple of workouts, and I’m certainly feeling the effects of the stress on my body.

I started to train on my regular schedule again.  I’m feeling better!  Less stress, and more Zen!

Moral of the story…. Exercise even if you think you can’t!

{September 1, 2012}   The Fruit Smootie!


I ran the 3K, AND I ran the whole time!!  No walking!

My friend Katrina and I right before the race.

Well, I have been training fairly regularly until this week.  😦  Due to Curriculum Night and class this Saturday, I’m missing 2 training sessions!  UGH!  To compensate, I decided to use a gift card to buy ZUMBA for the Wii!  I was getting bored with Just Dance, so I decided it was best I had more options rather than abandon my workouts.  Instead of running yesterday, I completed 20 minutes of home ZUMBA!!!  My legs  hurt all the way up to my tush!  (Have to remember to stretch better next time!)

Wish me luck that I will get up and ZUMBA before class tomorrow!  I’m not good at running by myself, so at least this will keep me moving.

My next goal is the Brookfield ZooRunRun on Sunday, September 23rd.  It is a 5K and proceeds go to the Conservation Fund.  What a great cause!


I have made good choices and poor choices, but I’m still conscious of it.  Ann blows me away with her will power!  I have trouble resisting fast food.  With such a crazy busy time, driving thrus are too easy.  😦

One change I’m trying to make is to curb my sweet tooth after workouts.  I always want to pig out, and I definitely crave something sweet!  I decided to try making fruit smoothies.  It is like I’m tricking myself into thinking it is a sweet shake when REALLY it is packed with great nutrients instead!!!  I don’t like yogurt, so the Almond Milk ingredient was appealing to me.



So far, so good!  I have really enjoyed the smoothies.  Pomegranate Pow is one of my favorites.  I’m trying to mix up the fruits to try new combinations.  Please let me know of any other fruity combos you would recommend!


{August 22, 2012}   Corn Classic 3K

First, after my very first day with students in my classroom, I made it to my 5K training session yesterday!  I’m very proud of myself because I did not want to go!!  However, I conducted some positive self talk and was able to get my bootie in gear.  I have a workout partner, but I find I tend to be held more accountable since I am running with an entire group.  They will notice if I’m gone, and my workout partner is too forgiving of my absences!

IT band stretching:  I recently learned from my chiropractor and various wellness experts at the YMCA that as a runner, I should be stretching out my IT band.  This tendon runs along the side of the leg.  A foam roll can be used to properly stretch.  Be prepared because it HURTS, but of course, in a good way!  For my visual friends, watch this You Tube Video to learn how to stretch this tendon.


I’m planning on getting some race practice by participating in this Saturday’s Corn Classic! It is a 10K run or a 3K walk/run.  This will give me an idea of the race atmosphere, so I can better prepare for my 5K goals!

A 3K is 1.76 miles.  I have been covering this distance in my training sessions, so I should be able to handle it.  Wish me luck!

{August 14, 2012}   Couch to 5K Training Begins…

What a nice week with my girlies!  We went out for a bike ride several times this week.  Granted, we didn’t go far, but since Olivia rides such a tiny bike, she has to pedal about 3 times for every one of my rotations.  We are looking into a trailer bar to attach to her bike, so we can go further.

On one of our errand running expeditions, we decided to head to JCPenney.  I had a $20 gift card that was burning a whole in my wallet.

A side note for all my friends with kids… 

JCPenney is having a special for the month of August.    All kids’ haircuts are FREE!  Kindergarten through 6th grade students can receive a free haircut.We took advantage and both my girls are ready for the school year with a fresh doo!

Another great deal is Barnes and Noble’s Summer Reading Program.  When kids read 8 books, they can redeem their log for a FREE book!  The girls and I took advantage of both of these deals this week.

Back to the workout…

While there, I discovered a great sale on women’s workout clothes.  Normally, I don’t like shopping for clothes, but this deal was too great to pass up!  Tops were as low as $5 and bottoms were as low as $7.  I was geared up and ready for zumba!  I felt motivated.

Then, the worst thing that could have happened did; I discovered the zumba class was cancelled.  Normally, this is my cue to abandon working out and find some excuse to do the one million other items on my to-do list.  However, I was strangely motivated to wear my new workout attire, so I decided to run in order to better prepare for the training program the next day.

I was so proud of myself!  I ran 3/4 of a mile following the Couch to 5 K (C25K) model on my smartphone with the C25K app.  The model starts by building one’s endurance.  Each week requires 3 workouts.  One runs for 60 seconds, then walks for 90 seconds.  This cycle continues 8 times.

Thursday, I ran with the C25K group.

Friday, I rode bikes with my girls again.

Saturday, I ran with the C25K group in the morning, then I went swimming with my girls at a birthday party.  WOW, I was tired and sore!

Sunday, we went for a bike ride again.

This morning I danced for 8 minutes with Just Dance 2!

I feel I’m on a roll, so hopefully I will not lose steam when school starts.  I’m planning on running a few 5Ks.  Brookfield Zoo has a ZooRunRun on Sunday, September 23rd.  Join me if you want!

Wish me luck!

{August 3, 2012}   Zumba! Zumba! Zumba!

I am very proud of myself!  I went to Zumba last night!  I had so much fun.  It was great to start exercising again.

Anyone can Zumba.  If you don’t know much about it, check out the video I posted.

Zumba is a Latin-inspired dance/aerobic program.  You can gt DVDs to use in the privacy of your own home or go join a class at any YMCA or other fitiness center.  Most will offer these classes.

{July 22, 2012}   A Hiatus…

Well, there has been a short hiatus in recording any intake of food or (lack of) exercise since the last post.  It has been a rough week or so.

First, we went out of town to visit my husband’s family in Wisconsin.  Visiting always makes it difficult to make healthy food choices or exercise.

I was prepared to get back on track Monday, but our cat Mage was very sick.  He was 16 years old and had been struggling with kidney failure.  The vet recommended we put him to sleep because we could no longer do anything to help him recover.  It was a very hard and emotional day.  This week has been extremely difficult for me because I have had him since he was a kitten.  So, needless to say, I have not been eating well or exercising.

Now, I’m going to try to get back on track AGAIN!

I did check out SparkPeople as was recommended.  I like it, but it will keep me more accountable than I originally expected!  😉  I am posting a screen shot of a day’s calories, fat, carbs, etc. from SparkPeople.  I was EXTREMELY surprised by how many calories it equaled despite the fact that I avoided so many “unhealthy” choices.



{July 13, 2012}   July 12th, 2012

Well, the day started out pretty good. Then, I went to zumba!! It was great & inspiring! However, I proceeded to eat 2 slices of cheese pizza, 1 cup of cookie dough, and caramel chocolate made by Brazilian foreign exchange students. I guess you could say I was caught up in the moment. 😦
By the way, my friend is housing 2 Braziian exchange students who are here to volunteer as camp counselors at the local YMCA. It has been fun to show them around and introduce them to American culture! Unfortunately, that seems to be centered around food!


Here is the Honey Mustard Pretzel Dip recipe so many of you have been asking for:

1 cup mayonnaise

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup yellow mustard

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

1/4 tsp. onion powder

Mix all ingredients together and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.  Stir before serving.  Enjoy!

et cetera