Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Back to the Grind

Happy Hump Day! I am very happy that the weekend is only 2 days away! The husband and I haven't really worked out our weekend plans yet.  The weather is supposed to be yucky (cold and rainy), but that sounds like perfect curl-up-on-the-couch weather to me!

Let's recap yesterday's eats:

Breakfast included two bran muffins from Grandma Carol:

These babies are so delicious.  I heated them in the microwave, spread a little almond butter all over, and drizzled on maple syrup.  Amazing!

Lunch was quite pathetic.  I really need to make a more conscious effort to pack a lunch the night before.

Yup, that was it!

I was determined to make it out for a nice, easy run after work.  I was actually really excited to get my legs moving again, which is more than I can say for finishing my first half marathon.  I definitely used that race as an excuse to do nothing but laze around.  I only ran maybe 3 times in the 6 weeks following that race!  Yikes!

Luckily, I had a really nice run.  I intended to make it a slow and easy pace, which used to mean 10 minute-mile pace.  I feel like I have made huge gains in the last couple months, because the 10:00 pace felt way too slow!  I started with 9:50 and then bumped it up to 9:41.  I finished 4 miles in 38:30 and felt great!  I did not feel exhausted, and my legs felt so good.  Hooray!

For dinner, I found a quick, 20-minute recipe for Blackened Cumin-Cayenne Tilapia in the September issue of Cooking Light.  I had all the ingredients already, so it was a perfect, fast meal.  I also baked some sweet potato wedges, because that's how I roll.

The sweet potato looks really burnt, but it didn't taste that way (promise!).  My big "mistake" was going a bit heavy-handed with the seasoning mixture.  The recipe clearly states "sprinkle" the mix over the fish.  I thought, "I have all this mix, I might as well use it!" and poured it on.  Wow.  I could SMELL the hotness from the plate in front of me.  The hubby and I both took a bite and our eyes nearly watered!  It was a really good recipe, but next time I won't coat the fish in cayenne pepper.  :)

This morning I had another bowl of oatmeal in the microwave.

The almond butter sank to the bottom!

Lunch was a ham, pepper jack cheese, spinach, and mustard wrap with an apple.

For some reason, a beer sounded real good after work today.

Ah yes...the Silver Bullet!  Ha!

Off to finish making dinner!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Recovery Mode

Rest days are awesome!!

I still have a little residual soreness from the race on Saturday, but overall I am feeling pretty good. Maybe even good enough to go for a nice, easy run tomorrow?! *Fingers crossed!*

Today went by pretty fast for a Monday! However, the weather definitely took a turn into fall-like territory. The high today did not reach much higher than 50 degrees, and it progressively got more and more rainy. The low tonight is supposed to dip into the 30s!!

As I was driving through the cold and rain, I was thinking about how difficult it is going to be for me to get outside and run this winter! I really want to get out of the house and off the treadmill at least once a week throughout the winter, but it's going to be hard. I definitely need to invest in some quality, warm layers!

Do any of you have any tips for running in cold weather?

I think I have perfected the oatmeal in the microwave! Today's oatmeal was so good! I am really loving the almond butter that I purchased on Friday.

It was so good, I didn't even think to take a picture until I was scraping my bowl clean. By the way, this is a bowl that I painted at a local paint-your-own-pottery shop a few years ago.

My lunch is unpictured. I'm still a little nervous about revealing my weird picture-taking side to my co-workers. I ordered a delicious chicken border bowl from Border Grill. Chicken, pico de gallo, black beans, rice, and border salsa.....yummmm!

I got home from work and tinkered around for a while. All of a sudden, I realized it was almost 7 o'clock and the husband would be home from work and I had no clue what to have for dinner! Our kitchen is also getting pretty bare.

Luckily, I picked up a package of gnocchi at Target to try.

I warmed up some marinara sauce, and voila! Dinner in 10 minutes or less!

You know, sometimes it's really nice to have quick dinners like this, but I am really missing cooking from actual recipes. The hubster and I are planning on grocery shopping tomorrow night, so I really should do some meal planning before we go!

For a snack, I was craving more almond butter. I had tried almond butter a few years ago and really didn't like it. I don't know if I had expected it to taste more like peanut butter or if it was just a bad brand, but this is rocking my socks off!

I know everyone is raving about honey crisp apples--and they are good--but they don't hold a candle to my Pink Ladies! :)

I also had a tall, cold glass of chocolate milk.

I am off to give my IT bands a little love with the foam roll! Have a great night!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Lake Superior Shore Run Half Marathon Race Recap

Any doubts that I had about being able to finish my first trail half marathon have definitely flown from my mind.

I woke up like a kid at Christmas 15 minutes before my alarm at 7:00.  I was too excited to try going back to sleep, so I immediately woke up and started to fuel!

Breakfast of champions:

I quickly showered and dressed in my race gear.  The husband and I left for the race site at 9 and we picked up his parents on the way.  In the car, I munched on a banana.

Of course, as soon as I got to the site I had to pee.  I found my parents and my grandma while I made a bee-line to the bathrooms.  The line was really long, so my mom and grandma held my place in the potty line while I picked up my timing chip at a nearby tent.  I waited in line for close to 20 minutes!

It was a close call, but I made it in the bathroom and to the starting line with about 2 minutes to spare!

I barely had a moment to take a deep breath before the race went off with a bang!

There was no pacer, so I decided to start in the middle of the pack.  After maybe the 2nd mile, I found myself all alone!  I knew there were people behind me, even though I couldn't see them, and every so often I caught a glimpse of other runners up ahead through the trees, but otherwise I was flying solo.  It was actually pretty peaceful.

I had heard there was a rocky area on the course and was told most people had to walk through it because it was so steep and uneven.  At around mile 4, I hit a rocky, steep climb, but it was a short walk, and the course wound slowly downhill right after that.  I was so proud I had made it past the tough part!

The next 4 miles flew by!  I felt strong and swift.  My breathing was even and relaxed, and I managed to catch up and pass quite a few people.  I found myself dreaming about actually crossing the finish line with a new PR!

Remember when I said I made it past the tough part, earlier??  HA!  

Around mile 8, the trail started to get more narrow and became full of roots and rocks, forcing me to slow down and watch my footing.  Soon, I came up to a small climb of big rocks, similar to what I had climbed earlier.  I attempted to jog through the rocks, but tripped pretty hard a couple times.  I decided it was in my best interest to just walk up the rocks, even though my momentum would be lost.

I reached the top of that cliff only to meet another.  And another.  And another.  And another after that.  I was climbing that rocky ridge for around 15 minutes!!  Any previous thoughts I had about breaking my PR were smashed, but I was mainly frustrated at how quickly my momentum had been crushed.  I just wanted to run again!

When I reached the top of the ridge, I stopped for a second to take in the view.  It was a pretty spectacular site, even though it was a bitch to climb!

After I caught my breath, I headed down down down on another root-filled trail.  I passed an aid station and one of the volunteers said, "Only a couple miles left!" so I knew I was close.  However, I could feel myself getting more sluggish.

After what felt like ages with no end in sight, I slowed down to take a drink,turned a corner, and saw my step-dad sitting on the side of the trail waiting for me!  As soon as I saw him, I knew that the finish line was close, so I picked up my pace again.

I'm coming!

Any second now...

The last 100 yards or so was through pretty deep sand.  It was difficult to sprint through, but I tried my darndest to get to that finish line!

My grandma was waiting for me with a big hug!

I felt exhilarated to have finished my first trail race in one piece!

I managed to get a little dirty along the way.

But I was a very happy camper!

My official chip time was 2:18:52!

Although it was almost 7 minutes longer than my last half, I am very happy with the time.  I had to climb a mountain and walk for 15 minutes!!

This experience has given me even more drive to run more and more races!!  You might even expect another race announcement soon!

Sadly, there were no finishing medals today.  We stuck around to hear the winners and door prizes announced and then went home to clean up.  I scarfed down a chocolate chip Clif bar and a banana with almond butter as soon as I got out of the shower.

I was exhausted, and it didn't take long for me to get horizontal on the couch.  I ended up napping for an hour and a half!!!

I felt so refreshed after my nap!  The hubby and I got ready to go out to dinner with both sets of parents at Lagniappe.

We started with an appetizer of hush puppies.

I ordered a cajun creole penne pasta that came with veggies, chicken, and andouille sausage.

This plate was HUGE!  I don't think I could even finish half of it.  

I also had a side of red beans and rice.

Everything was delicious, but I took a lot home for leftovers.  I was very surprised that I wasn't a terribly hungry beast after all that running!

After dinner, we met a group of my co-workers out for some drinks.  It was a late night, but pretty low-key.  I don't know how I managed to stay up past 1 am!  Must have been the nap! :)

I am currently at my parent's house letting my mom cook me dinner and watching football.  Green Bay dominated today, which is also great news for my fantasy team.

I'm feeling a bit sore today; mostly my ankles, left hip, and upper back.  I'm looking forward to a couple nice rest days, and then we'll see where I go from there!

P.S.  I apologize for the weird formatting of this post.  I tried to figure out what was going on, but I give up for now!  :)

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Night Before

Thank you so much for your responses to my last post! They are all excellent ideas, and I'm sure I will be using all of them!

I am getting all settled for the big day tomorrow!! I can't believe I will be running 13.1 miles in about 12 hours from now!

This morning I had a very hard time getting out of bed, but I was so excited to make pumpkin pie oatmeal again! If you have not tried this combo yet, seriously do it soon!

I used pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, and about a quarter cup of canned pumpkin. It is heavenly!

The husband and I had an appointment at lunchtime, so we stopped for a quick lunch together at Taco Bell (his choice, haha). I am obviously not that concerned with what I eat the day before a race. I probably should think about this more seriously in the future.

Keith's parents came to visit for the weekend, so after work we went to the Casa for some PASTA! Pasta is one pre-race tradition that I like to stick to.

I ordered fettuccine with tomato sauce and grilled chicken. Carbs + protein = YUM! The Casa is famous for their super buttery garlic bread, but I thought ahead and ordered it "light". Not as delicious, but also not as upsetting on my tummy! I think it was a smart move!

Before dinner, I was so excited to pick up my race packet! We made a swing by Sports Rack to get the goods. are the goods:
My number, pins, and wipes.

Yes, wipes.

At least I got a pretty nice tech shirt!

Needless to say, I am HIGHLY underwhelmed with these race goods. Maybe I was spoiled at my last race (which was also my first), where I was loaded with coupons and samples. I am disappointed that there are no time chips, and I'm totally bummed that there isn't a map of the actual race course. Everyone keeps asking me where the race runs, but all I have is a brief summary (Start at Little Presque Isle, pass Harlow Lake, climb 300', stretch along Lake Superior...etc.). I feel like I want more info as a first-time runner of this race! Maybe I just like to be super organized about these things?

End rant! :)

I have gotten all of my race attire ready for the morning!

Ugh, I have to apologize for all these pictures looking like CRAP. I am very excited to wear my running skirt! I'm also bringing my long-sleeved Under Armour top because the forecast is calling for cool and rainy.

After work, I made a couple pit stops to pick up some race essentials:

I am going to have a real breakfast in the morning, and then about 45 minutes before the race, eat a naner. Bananas digest pretty easily in my tummy. I also bought another packet of GU Chomps for during the race, and a Clif bar for after (I also have no clue if there is a "post-race party" or any food at all at the end). Hey! How did that almond butter sneak in there? ;)

My hydration pack is also ready to go with my half water/half Gatorade combo. This may be TMI, but it kind of smells. I wish I realized this before tonight, because I would have washed it! Oh well!!

Love the phrase on the Gatorade bottle:

Pretty good race/life mantra, no?

Last night I was finally able to update my iPod and I made a playlist for tomorrow that I am super excited about!!

I have quite a mix of music on here. I like to throw in a few mellow songs on my longer runs, too.

What are some of your favorite songs to run or workout to?

I've included most of my favorites on this list. This post has taken much longer to put together than I had anticipated. I need to be well-rested for tomorrow, so I am off to bed!

Have a great night!!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Running/Race Mantras

Yesterday during my run, I was thinking about how it would be nice to have a mantra for my race this weekend. I used to occasionally use the mantra, "Finish Strong," at the end of some of my runs, but I haven't used this phrase in a long time, and I'm not sure it will get me through 13.1 miles of trails, rocks, and hills.

Do you have any running or race day mantras? Are there any phrases that help get you through a particular workout? How about a phrase that just helps you get through life and tough days, in general??

I would appreciate any of your thoughts on this topic!

Onto the eats:

Yesterday for lunch, I heated up some of the leftover kabobs in a pita.

It was great, but I was still hungry, so I made a bowl of cereal (honey sunshine and multi grain flakes).

After work, I went to the gym to complete my final hill workout before my race on Saturday! I ran 4 miles with 6 hill intervals and finished in 39:03. I am planning one more short, easy run tomorrow, with a rest day on Friday. I am so excited, but SO nervous!

I took a quick shower and had to get ready quickly to attend Bible study. I ate my dinner in the car, which included a sammie on flax and fiber bread with ham, pepperjack cheese, and dijon mustard.

As well as leftover peppers and hummus.

One of the best parts of Bible study are the treats after we finish the lesson and start socializing. My grandma made apple slices. Cooked apples are my least favorite of any cooked fruit. I still thought I'd give the dessert a try, in the event that I might change my mind. Eh...I'd rather have chocolate cake, but at least there was vanilla ice cream! :)

I don't know where this aversion to cooked fruit came from, but I have been informed many times that it is standing in the way of me enjoying many desserts, as well as things like apple cinnamon oatmeal.

Speaking of oatmeal (what a great segue), this morning I heated up oatmeal in the microwave, this time using a very large mug.

Gotta love my standby of brown sugar, cinnamon, and peanut butter.

I especially love my Winnie the Pooh mug! I LOVE Pooh!

Lunch today was a repeat sammie, and for dinner I threw together some spinach and cheese tortellini with marinara sauce. Not the most fancy meal, but it was quick and easy!

I have fully caught up on my Project Runway episodes, and I am definitely ready for bed! The end of the week is quickly approaching. I cannot believe I am running another half marathon in less than 3 days!!

Please remember to comment with your personal running/life mantras! I can't wait to read some of your ideas!!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Who's the Best??

That's what I ask the husband every time I make a successful dinner. He needs to learn to be a little more enthusiastic when he says, "You are!" though.

Anyhoo. I got home a little after 4, which was so wonderful!

I had a quick snack of a slice of Brownberry Flax and Fiber bread (which is REALLY delicious!) smeared with Dark Chocolate Dreams peanut butter.

I gobbled this up with a mug of jasmine green tea while reading for Bible study tomorrow and then catching up on some Project Runway episodes.

At around 6, I started getting dinner ready. I've been wanting to make kabobs for a while, so I took the opportunity today to do so!

I cubed chicken and then tossed it with some EVOO, Tony's Creole seasoning, and a bit of minced garlic. For the veggies, I used red, yellow, and green peppers, as well as onions.

Look how pretty!

Keith cooked them on the grill (why don't I know how to use a gas grill?!), and they turned out great! I cooked up some brown rice and made a dipping sauce with equal parts salsa and lite sour cream.

My plate:
x2 or 3 more kabobs. I get so excited when I try a new meal and it turns out to be a success!

Dessert was a li'l amaretto Mackinac Island fudge ice cream.

Ahhh...I am pleasantly stuffed and content. I just wish I had a few more hours to veg out before bedtime, but it's already quarter after 9 and I actually have to be to work early tomorrow morning.

Have a great night!

Lunch at Home

Hi everyone! I was lucky enough to get some time to run home for lunch today, so I can actually update my blog! Whoo!

This morning's brekkie was an attempt at oats in an empty jar of peanut butter.

These were pretty darn good, except I think my jar was a little too empty to begin with, because I didn't get as much peanut butter as I would normally like. I will keep this in mind for next time!

For lunch, I reheated some leftover chicken lo mien.

Delicious, but not quite filling enough.

I am currently digging into this mix of vanilla yogurt, blueberries, Puffins, and Kashi Honey Sunshine.

I'm still kind of hungry. Maybe this is overlapping hunger from yesterday's long run?

I'm back off to work soon. Hopefully the afternoon flies by as fast as the morning did! I'm excited to take my "Rest Day" seriously and veg out on the couch all evening.