Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Notes from today's long run

Many awesome things happened today.



First, I received a special package in the mail from a giveaway I won at meals & moves... four bags of Nature's Path granola! I am so excited. There is even a chocolatey flavor. I cannot wait for breakfast.





Second, I ran my long run this afternoon. OUTSIDE! The goal was 16-18 miles.


Here are some observations:

  • Getting ready to run, I couldn't find my iPod anywhere. (Don't tell my Business Man. I'm hoping it will turn up somewhere.) So, I decided to take my phone with me and listen to Pandora. Which is pretty much the best thing ever. The only down side is that I had to carry my phone. But then! I realized I had facebook access and email access at my fingertips for the whole run. And camera access. Hmmm......
  • It was 48*F today! And sunny! And so I wore shorts outside and it was so liberating.
  • About 2 miles into the run, I encountered a nice little lady on a scooter. She was driving up behind me (going much faster than me), but then drove right next to me for a good 50 meters or so. Then proceeded to inform me that I was running 6 miles/hour. I kindly thanked her for that nugget of information as she sped off and then thought to myself, "6 mph?! I better be going faster than 6 mph!" Haha... definitely one of the highlights of the run.
And yes, I proceeded to take a picture of nice little lady on the scooter. Good thing I had my phone! Ha!
  • Long runs go by really fast when you convince one of your running friends to join you for the middle 7 miles. Thanks to Amy for making this run super fun!
  • I may have found my new mid-run fuel. I had been eating sports beans, but figured that they were basically candy. So I brought along a stash of Reese's Pieces that I found in my desk at school. Basically the best thing ever. I'm sure that the people driving by watching me pop Reese's Pieces into my mouth while running thought I was a nutcase. 
  • The run was followed by one of my favorite meals - breakfast for dinner. BFD tonight consisted of cheesy scrambled eggs and lemon poppyseed muffins. Let's just say this pan of muffins had no hope between me & my Business Man. (Let's hope there's no drug testing tomorrow at school... :-o)
From Annie's Eats... so good.
  • Oh, and stats for the run - 18.3 miles, 2:25:12, 7:56 average. Feeeeeeeeelin' great! Happy running all!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

IL Marathon, week #7

Highest mileage training week so far, check!


I've been dealing with a bit of foot pain this week (on the side of my foot). It's very strange - it hurts right when I wake up, for the first 2 or so hours of the day. And then the pain completely wears away. By noon I don't feel anything! So I have been running in the afternoons most days. On Saturday I ran in the morning around 9am, and definitely felt pain, but it went away about 20 minutes into the run. 


Other than that, training has been going AWESOME! I actually got in three quality sessions this week - a 9 mile GMP run, my first 20 mile long run, and a 4-mile tempo, with 58 miles total.


Last week, I was lacking motivation, but this week I was on fire and ready to run each and every day. Even today, which was my rest day. (Which is unusual... typically when I rest, I rest. As in sit my bum on the couch all day.) Instead my Business Man & I took a beautiful walk around the neighborhood to enjoy the sunny 40*+ temps.




Weekly Rundown 2.20.2012-2.26.2012
Mon - 9.3 miles @ 7:30 GMP; 12.3 miles total
Tues -6.2 miles easy
Wed - 
20.2 miles LONG (7:56 avg)
Thurs - 4.3 miles easy/recovery
Fri - 4-mile tempo @ 6:45 avg; 8 miles total
Sat - 7.5 miles easy
Sun - Rest
Total - 58.5 miles





Excitements of the week?


First pedicure in over 18 months... gosh it felt so good. 



And... Girl Scout cookies. Guess which box is entirely gone already?





Next week is a pretty typical training week - intervals and a 16-18 mile long run. Wheeee! I'll be out of town next weekend so I will have to do my long run on a weekday... hoping for some beautiful weather! (Either that, or awful weather so we can have snow days, hehe...)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Do you ever panic for no reason?

The day after last week's 15-mile long run, I went for a little bitty shake-out run. We were on the coast of Michigan for a little getaway weekend and planned on spending the day walking outside, shopping, doing the typical tourist thing.

About 1.5 miles into my run, a horrible, awful, no-good, very sharp pain appeared on the outside of my right foot. I hobbled back to the B&B where we stayed, found some ice, and started googling symptoms on my phone. And subsequently freaking out. "Is it a stress fracture? Is the pain in my bone? Is there even a bone on the side of my foot where this hurts? Is it something else? I don't have experience with other injuries, really... what could it be?!?"

Needless to say, walking around that day was painful. I had pain in every step. In the back of my mind, thoughts were racing. "Am I going to have to take time off? Will I have to throw in the towel for my spring marathon? I've got a 20-miler next week! Training has been going so well, why now?!" 

Pretty much full-on panic mode. Though I didn't mention it to my Business Man; I thought he would think I was crazy. (Well, he knows I'm crazy, but I didn't need to confirm it yet once again.)

I decided to take Sunday completely off which put me 4 entire miles under my mileage goal [GASP!] for the week. Upon our return home and some more Google diagnosing, I determined I had tendonitis. So I did what those Google experts told me to do. Iced every few hours, popped ibuprofen to help with inflammation, and elevated my foot. I also stretched my calves frequently because calf tightness can cause pain where I was experiencing it.

By the time Monday came around, the pain had lessened. I headed to the gym to attempt a treadmill run, if it felt okay. If not, I'd do something much more torturous, like the bike or elliptical. 

I hopped on the treadmill and busted out 12 miles, 9.3 of them at 7:30 GMP. Yes, I had a bit of pain, mostly in the first 20 minutes. It then subsided and I had a great run. 

I continued to ice and stretch my calves religiously Monday and Tuesday. And the pain kept decreasing. 

Yesterday I decided to run my 20-miler after school. And it was the best 20-mile run I've had in my entire life. I ran on the treadmill to play it safe, so that if I needed to stop, I wouldn't be stranded several miles from home. 

Stats - 20.2 miles, 2:40:30, 7:56 average

I finished strong, and felt great the entire run. I have finally figured out a fueling pattern that works for me - Gatorade along with sport beans. I am still working on getting more fuel in, but at least I'm feeling much better than I was last year during long runs.

The best part? I have felt pretty much completely normal today. Typically the day after a long run, my legs are shot. Today... a bit tired but nothing crazy. Must mean I'm doing something right!

And the pain in the foot? Almost non-existent. Yea... I can be a bit dramatic sometimes when it comes to running. Lesson learned - NOT ALL INSTANCES OF PAIN WILL RESULT IN A FULL-BLOWN INJURY. If you take care of it early, and do what's necessary, you can avoid serious time off.

Post Flying Pig last spring.


So, my apologies to anyone I sobbed to about my training being over. That was just me freaking out. Bring on the rest of marathon training! 9.5 weeks to go! :-D 

What I can't wait for post IL Marathon this April! :)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Monster Cookie Cupcakes

Yesterday I had the day off school... gotta love celebrating the little holidays. (Yay for our Presidents!)

So I spent the day how all days off should be spent - baking. I have had this cupcake idea in my ahead for quite awhile now, and finally got to test it out!

Introducing... the Monster Cookie Cupcake!


 Monster cookies are one of the best cookies in the entire world - peanut butter, oatmeal, chocolate chips, M&M's. Yum. (Would you believe there are people in this world who have never even heard of a monster cookie? Cough cough, my Business Man.)

These cupcakes start out with an oatmeal-M&M cookie base, then a vanilla cake layer loaded with mini chocolate chips. Then they're frosted with peanut butter buttercream, and topped with a sprinkle of sea salt.

It's like the best combination of chewy cookie, fluffy cake, and lightly whipped peanut butter goodness.

You start with the cookie dough base. (One of the best parts of this recipe? Cookie dough bites and cake batter licks. The best of both worlds.)



Then you press the dough into cupcake liners.



Next, mix up your vanilla cake batter.



The cake batter goes on top of the cookie dough and into the oven!



Man oh man, I was so excited about these cupcakes I pretty much sat and watched them bake. 

After they cool, just frost them with a little a gigantic blob of peanut buttercream, sprinkle with a bit of sea salt, and devour!



These cupcakes have earned a spot in my "Top 3" cupcakes of all times, for sure. We took them to our small group last night, and came home with one measly cupcake! (Which is definitely for the best... we do not need a dozen of these bad boys sitting around!)

Don't you just want to take a bite?



Monday, February 20, 2012

IL Marathon, weeks #5 & #6

I guess this is the new trend, to recap two weeks at once, haha. 


Two weeks ago... was supposed to be a cut-back week. But it wasn't. 




I ran six days for a total of 54 miles, including a 19.2 mile long run and a 6-mile tempo (6:42 avg). I felt super strong this week, which is great.





It was really cold this week... and I ventured outside several times which is rare for me when it's under 15*F. It definitely helps when you have friends to run with!


Weekly Rundown 2.6.2012-2.12.2012
Mon - Rest
Tues - 7.5 miles easy
Wed - 
6-mile tempo run @ 6:42 avg; 8.5 miles total
Thurs - 6.6 miles easy
Fri - 19.2 miles LONG (7:57 avg)
Sat - 4.3 miles recovery
Sun - 8.1 miles easy
Total - 54.2 miles



And then last week... was a cut-back week for sure. I intended to run 45 miles but only squeezed in 41. I had a good 8x800m workout on Thursday and a 15 mile long run on Friday.





After the long run Friday, I felt a little bit of pain on my outer right foot but didn't really think anything of it. About 10 minutes into my easy run Saturday morning, a sharp pain appeared and didn't go away. Needless to say, I cut Saturday's run short and skipped Sunday's run. After some Google diagnosing, I think it might be a slight case of tendinitis... so I've been icing like it's my job and taking some ibuprofen to help with the inflammation. Already it is feeling a lot better (aka I was able to run today)... so hopefully I'll be good to go after a few more days of ice and recovery.


Weekly Rundow 2.13.2012-2.19.2012
Mon - 5.3 miles easy
Tues - 9 miles easy (SNOW DAY!)
Wed - Rest
Thurs - 8x800m w/ 400m jog (avg 3:07); 8.3 miles total 
Fri - 15.3 miles LONG (7:58 avg)
Sat - 3.3 miles easy
Sun - Rest
Total - 41.3 miles


This week is looking like a 50-55 mile week, with a 6-mile tempo and my first 20 mile long run of the training cycle. Fun fun!


Happy running!


PS - Friend me on DailyMile if we're not friends!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Escape to Castle in the Country

This weekend, my Business Man and I had the pleasure of returning to the B&B where we honeymooned for a little bit of rest and relaxation! I had a four-day weekend from school, and February is usually just BLAH, so we planned this trip well before Christmas to have something to look forward to.



We spent the weekend at Castle in the Country in Allegan, Michigan. It's about 30 minutes away from several cutesy towns, the perfect location to get away and relax. We weren't sure if it would be as fun in the wintertime (with not as many activities to do), but we definitely kept busy!


We stayed in the Crowning Suite - which was absolutely gorgeous! We are already plotting and planning on how we could turn our attic into a suite like this someday, skylights and all. Totally do-able, right?


Gotta love a king-size bed.
Doorway to the bathroom suite.


We were treated to delicious, gourmet breakfasts both mornings of our stay. Such a nice change from my usual instant oatmeal. ;-)


Saturday morning - cream cheese stuffed French toast (on homemade bread) with strawberry coulis. And bacon. Some of the best bacon to ever pass my lips.





Sunday morning - savory crepes with eggs & asiago cheese, served with sausage links, potatoes, and tomato jam. The tomato jam was so unique! Sweet, tangy, and delicious. 





We also had apricot-cranberry scones, which are some of my favorite. I actually got my scone recipe from our last visit to Castle in the Country.


After seeing an early movie on Saturday afternoon, we headed up to Holland & Saugatuck to explore the shops.


We didn't do too much damage to our wallets... although there was the cutest little running store right downtown. If I lived in Holland I would be in trouble.


In trouble not only because of the running store but because of the awesome ice cream shop just a block away. We tried their specialty flavor of the month... salted caramel! Caramel ice cream with sea salt caramel swirls and chocolate-coated caramel cups. My Business Man & I shared this, and I'm not gonna lie, I really wish I would have gotten my own. But it's much more romantic to share, right?





We capped off the day with dinner at my favorite restaurant of all time, Salt of the Earth. We dined here twice on our honeymoon, and twice this time around. (Yes we are the crazies who will eat at the same restaurant two nights in a row.)





They have a core menu, but they also have a "Fresh Board" which features a different selection each week based on what's available from local growers and producers. They also bake all their bread in-house... and it is amazing. They have a bacon bread that is just unreal.





I didn't snap too many pictures inside the restaurant, but my favorite item on the menu is the wood-fired pizza. I tried the feta & herb with oven-roasted grape tomatoes, swiss chard, and pickled peppers.  My Business Man had the sea scallops with butternut squash risotto, and a side of fried brussels sprouts (!) with bacon balsamic dressing. We did lots of sharing and everything was delicious.


We couldn't leave without dessert - chocolate cake with peanut butter, honey, dark chocolate, and sea salt. It was just as good as it sounds. 


Now we are back in the Bean Town, and looking back on this post, it seems like all we did the past couple days was eat! I guess that makes for a great weekend. :)


Lucky me, I still have tomorrow off (yay for Presidents' Day!) before going back to school on Tuesday. I'm hoping to have a little fun in the kitchen tomorrow. 


Have a great week!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Sometimes I wonder...

Today I freakishly woke up at 4:30am with no alarm. I had planned on getting up at 5:15am to run, but when I woke up naturally at 4:30am... I decided to roll with and get a start with my day. Instead of an easy run, I now had time for SPEEDWORK!


So off to the gym it was. I had never been to the gym that freakishly early before... good thing it' s 24-hour gym.

That is 5am, not 5pm.
I had mile repeats on the schedule for this week, but after seeing a couple people on Daily Mile with 800m workouts recently, I decided to trade up my 4x1600m w/ 800m jog for 8x800m w/ 400m jog. Basically the same thing, right? Goal pace of 3:10/interval.


Since there is really nothing on TV at 5am, I brought along my phone so I could jam out to some ridiculous pop music with my newest app - Pandora. Too bad my headphones decided to flake out on me after one song... Lady Gaga's Poker Face. (Maybe that's a secret message? Don't listen to Lady Gaga?)


So, then I stared at the wall. And lip-read the 5am "agriculture news program." It was really invigorating.


But the workout went well! I completed all 8 repeats, with splits of 3:07, 3:08, 3:08, 3:08, 3:08, 3:08, 3:06, 3:05. Pretty easy to be consistent on the treadmill, hehe. As long as you don't fly off the back of it. Got in 8.3 miles total.


It was so strange to have a speed workout done before 6am. I even had time to pack a more labor-intensive lunch. (Egg salad... yes I got some weird looks at lunch. But it was so good.)


While I was running so randomly early this morning... I got to thinking, "What are some other really strange things that I do?" And here's what I came up with:

  • I eat instant oatmeal for breakfast every morning. (That's not weird.) What's weird is that I always have to cook it in the microwave for 1:22. But if it goes the whole 1:22, it will overflow. So when there's about 30 seconds left of cook time, I have to stand there and watch it. And stop the microwave when it's about to overflow. And then restart it. And then stop it. And restart it. Until the 1:22 has been used up. Yes, a waste of time. That's 30 seconds of my life that I'm losing everyday to watching oatmeal cook!
  • Every night before bed, I do the usual get-ready-for-bed-routine. Brush teeth, take out contacts, use the bathroom, etc... but after I lay down in bed and am about to fall asleep, I have to get up to pee one more time. Every night! If I even get the thought in my head, I absolutely cannot fall asleep without getting up and going. It's ridiculous.
  • When I get cold (which is often), I wrap a blanket around my waist and go about my activities. Doing laundry, baking, whatever. It's not unusual if you come over in the wintertime and I have an argyle blanket wrapped around me like a towel. My Business Man thought I was crazy at first, but he's gotten used to it. I've been doing this for years.
Oh, and of course please note the beverage.

Now you know some things you probably didn't really want to know about me... but oh well. Such is life. :) Feel free to share your strange quirks as well so I know I'm not alone.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!!! [and Soft Frosted Sugar Cookies]

Happy Valentine's Day all! Hope everyone is having a lovely day... I woke up to a fresh blanket of snow and a 2-hour delay, which has since turned into a SNOW DAY!!!!! (What a way to celebrate!)

On to today's recipe... I have a bit of a confession to make.


Sometimes I can be a baked goods snob. If I am offered something is not homemade, it's likely that I won't even want to try it. Why waste the indulgence on something pre-packaged, full of preservatives, and probably not that good anyway?

But to be honest, whenever I have seen the Lofthouse cookies at potlucks, school, etc... I have such a strong desire to eat one. You know which cookies I'm talking about! The brightly colored soft sugar cookies sold in grocery stores everywhere



So when I found a recipe at Annie's Eats for a homemade version, I knew I had to try it. And I'm so glad I did! These cookies are pretty much fabulous. And without all the preservatives.



I claim to be a chocolate-lover, known to forgo desserts that don't contain chocolate. Not with these! I kept sneaking back for justonemore

They are perfectly soft and almost melt in your mouth. The frosting is the perfect texture - it sets up just slightly so you can stack them if you must. And you can't forget the sprinkles! The crunch of the sprinkle is where it's at.



I can't wait to make these in other fun colors for upcoming holidays!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Minute to Win It... [and Chicken Spinach Gnocchi Soup]

Have you ever watched the TV show Minute to Win It? It's a game show where the contestants have to complete random tasks with household objects in less than 60 seconds. It can be pretty entertaining. It's even more entertaining to play the games yourself.

So, last night we had some friends over for a little Couples' Minute to Win It competition. We played eight of the games from the show, and kept score as we went. What a fun (affordable) date night activity! 



We took it pretty seriously - with team names and all. Complete with coordinating costumes. My Business Man & I called ourselves the "Run-Ballas" and decked out in some of my running gear. I told him since he wore running tights all night that he was obligated to run with me the next morning. Yea... that didn't happen.





Here are a few pics from the games we played...


"Stack Attack" - stack 36 cups into a pyramid, and then re-stack them all into one stack. (Harder than it looks!)
"Breakfast Scramble" - put together a cereal box that has been cut into 16 pieces.


"Noodling Around" - with a spaghetti noodle in your mouth, pick up six penne pasta noodles.
"Paper Dragon" - unwind an entire roll of streamers using just one arm.


"A Bit Dicey" - stack 6 dice on a popsicle stick in your mouth.


My favorite was definitely "Face the Cookie". You had to place a cookie on your forehead and get it into your mouth using only the muscles in your face. And repeat three times in less than a minute! Quite funny to watch.






In between rounds we had a yummy soup supper, and my contribution was a knock-off of Olive Garden's Chicken Spinach Gnocchi Soup. All that we needed were the never-ending breadsticks!



Chicken Spinach Gnocchi Soup is a creamy soup, full of roasted chicken, spinach, garlic, and potato dumplings. Mmm... gnocchi are so good. And the spinach in the recipe definitely makes it healthy, right? (Just forget that there's half & half on the ingredients list...)





It was definitely a hit... no leftovers whatsoever! Which I was a little sad about, to be honest. I love having homemade soup in the fridge. Might just have to make it again! 


Have a great week everyone!


[Click to PRINT]

Chicken Spinach Gnocchi Soup


  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • ½ cup diced celery
  • 2 tbsp. minced garlic
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 2 cups half-and-half
  • 2-3 cups milk
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • thyme, to taste
  • parsley, to taste
  • 2 cups diced cooked chicken (I use rotisserie chicken)
  • 10-oz. box frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 lb. frozen potato gnocchi

Method

Melt butter with olive oil. Saute onions, celery, and garlic over medium heat until onions are translucent. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Add flour; cook about 1-minute to form roux. Stir in half-and-half and milk. Bring to a boil. Stir in chicken broth. Season with thyme and parsley. (I used about 3/4 tsp. of each.) Add chicken and spinach.

Meanwhile, cook gnocchi according to package directions; then stir into soup. Let simmer 15-20 minutes, and add additional seasonings if necessary. Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Notes

**When reheating leftovers, you might need to add a splash of milk.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Red Velvet Cake... Donuts

So this whole Valentine's Day coming up soon is definitely just an excuse for me to bake ridiculous things. Case in point: Red Velvet Cake Donuts.



A few weekends ago, my Business Man and I visited the new Tim Horton's here in the Bean Town for the first time. I'd never set foot in a Tim Horton's before, and was pretty much enamored with all the flavors of donut holes, or "Tim Bits". Instead of just having to settle on one or two donut flavors, I got to pick 10 different flavors for each of the Tim Bits in my 10-pack. (Well, I don't think they had 10 flavors... maybe only 6 but you get the idea.)


They came in such a cute little package too! (Yes, I am a marketer's dream...)
While I went the Tim Bit route, my Business Man went the traditional route - with an old fashioned sour cream donut. And then he went the not-so-traditional route... with a Red Velvet Donut! 



And he said it was absolutely amazing. (I had a bite, and thought it was a bit much for breakfast. But it would make a good dessert!)


So, after school this afternoon, I felt like experimenting a bit in the kitchen. I set out to find a baked red velvet donut recipe. I purchased a donut pan almost an entire year ago and it has been sitting in the cabinet ever since. I figured it was high time to put it to use.


The thing about a baked donut is that you cannot expect it to taste like a traditional fried donut. Nothing can really replace that deep-fried goodness. But these come close! And they're much, much healthier than their fried counterpart.


These Red Velvet Cake Donuts are light & cakey donuts with a hint of cocoa flavor, topped with a simple vanilla glaze. A delicious healthy(ier) breakfast option to make for the ones you love.





Just a note - be careful not to over-bake these, or they will dry out! Also, the dough is pretty thick. You might have to use your hands to help guide it into the donut pan.


[Click to PRINT]

Red Velvet Cake Donuts


  • For the donuts
    •  cups flour
    • 1 tablespoon baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • ¾ cup sugar
    • 1 large egg
    • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
    • 2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, melted
    • ½ tablespoon vanilla extract
    • ½ cup buttermilk
    • 1 tablespoon red food coloring
  • For the glaze
    • 2 cups powdered sugar
    • 2 tablespoons hot water
    • 1 tablespoon milk
    • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Method

Preheat oven to 350*F. Spray donut pan with cooking spray. (Or, you could use muffin tins. You'd just have muffin-shaped donuts.)

In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar and egg. Add butter and melted chocolate; whisk to combine. Whisk in vanilla, red food coloring, and buttermilk. Fold in flour mixture until just combined.

Fill the donut pan with the batter, filling each about 2/3 full. Bake in 350*F oven 11-14 minutes, until donuts spring back when lightly touched. Remove from pan to wire racks to cool.

For glaze, combine all ingredients in bowl until powdered sugar is completely dissolved. Use immediately to glaze the donuts. You can dunk the whole donut in the glaze (messy!) or just dip the top half, flip it over and let it drip down the sides. Your call!

Source: from Taste and Tell

 
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