Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles

Greetings Friends! Did everyone have a fabulous Christmas? It's always nice to have a few days to spend extra time with family and friends. It's a perfect time to recharge and reconnect after the hustle and bustle leading up to the holidays.

Anyhow, a few days off meant I finally got to do some baking. Several months ago, my good friend Alysha, from She's on the Run, brought some Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles to my apartment for a get together. They were so delicious, I immediately added them to my list of must-make desserts. 

Although Christmas is over and past, these treats would be perfect for a New Year's Eve or Day gathering or really any occasion. 

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Truffles
(adapted from Paula Deen and She's on the Run)

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (I used Ghiradelli)
1 bag white chocolate chips
Half and Half

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add vanilla, then gradually mix in flour and condensed milk. Stir in semisweet chocolate chips. Shape dough into 1-inch balls and place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Chill for 2 hours in the refrigerator. 

Melt white chocolate chips and add half and half as needed to thin the mixture. Using a toothpick or fork, dip the chocolate chip cookie balls into the white chocolate coating, then place back on the cookie sheet. Return dipped truffles to the refrigerator for at least an hour to allow the coating to harden. 

Note: Finished truffles are best stored in the refrigerator. 

Did anyone else make any treats over the holiday break? Or, what's on your must-make desserts list?

- ST

Thursday, December 20, 2012

My 2012 Run Recap

A few weeks ago, I realized I forgot to do a post about my two year running anniversary. So, what's there to say about year two? Let's just say it was exciting and challenging, with a few surprises along the way. 

At the start of 2012, I set a few goals for myself. These goals included:
  • Run a sub-22 minute 5k race
  • Run a sub-1:43 half marathon race
  • Complete a marathon race
  • Race a new shorter distance (ex. mile, 4 mile, 8k or 10k)
  • Increase weekly mileage to 50-60 miles

I fell short on both the 5k and half marathon goals and I have to say, the 5k one especially kills me - I'm only four seconds away! As for the half marathon goal, it just wasn't my year for racing this distance. Two of my races were greatly affected by heat and humidity, another effort was done in by a case of a nasty side stitch and my last attempt ended in a DNF after I got injured around mile 10.

These two goals will go on my list for 2013, but instead of dwelling on how I didn't accomplish everything I wanted, I'm going to instead focus on everything I gained this year:

New running friends! In 2011, I was a runner conquering the roads on my own. This year, I learned how to run with others, connected with more experienced runners who I can turn to with all of my running questions, and also made some new friends who love running as much as I do. Our conversations tend to revolve around running, racing and eating. To a non-runner, that's probably not very exciting, but to a runnerd like myself, it's heaven :)

At Riviera Maya with Laura, Melissa, Alice and Sheila

Joining the Oiselle Running Team. My excitement about this one still hasn't worn off! I am thrilled to represent such an amazing brand and can't wait to wear my new apparel and racing gear at every 2013 race. 

Seeing Mom finish TWO half marathons. My mom is amazing - she is 62 years old and just started running a little more than a year ago. This year, she completed two half marathons. It amazes me how fit she is - more fit than a lot of 20 and 30 somethings that I know! 

There goes Mom - happy even during a half marathon :)
Confidence that I can run higher mileage. Much to my surprise, my body felt great running 50-60 miles per week. I felt extremely strong during those weeks and had some of my best training runs. The trick to running more miles was increasing mileage conservatively and keeping most of the miles at easy pace. In 2013, I'm going to up my mileage to 60-70 miles per week using the same principles.  

You have to earn every second. Gone are the days getting a new 5k PR that's minutes faster than the last. Now it's about shaving off seconds at a time. During my first year of running, it was easy to make progress by leaps and bounds. Year two meant struggling and hitting a few plateaus. It made me work harder - I like to think I spent the year laying the groundwork for a successful third year of running!

Finishing in 22:03 at my last 5k race

Accomplishing more than I ever thought possible. Finishing my first marathon, running a 22-mile long run, winning my Age Group - these are all things that once seemed out of reach. But I've learned you can't ever count yourself out - in fact, you're the only person that needs to believe in you to achieve your goals. Aim high and achieve more :)

How did 2012 treat you? Did you accomplish your goals or are you still working to reach them? What was your greatest achievement this year?

Wishing you a fabulous holiday season :)

- ST

Friday, December 14, 2012

Bulu Box Review

I just adore receiving packages in the mail :) My most recent one was a Bulu Box - a vitamin, supplement and general health monthly subscription sample box. 

Plenty of goodies in this box

Recently, it seems like there have been a lot of similar sample boxes (Love with Food, Birchbox, etc.) and I think they are a great idea because it allows you to try products you might not otherwise buy.

The Bulu Box was the size of a hardcover bestseller so I didn't know what to expect as I opened it. For a smaller package, there were a lot of goodies inside. According to the company's website, each box contains 4-5 premium samples from top brands. These samples include products for men and women, including vitamins, weight loss, protein, energy, natural remedies and more.

My box contained the following:

  • FRS Healthy Energy Chews
  • Almased, a metabolism booster
  • Reserveage CocoaWell True Energy with AdaptoStress3, fatigue and stress fighting capsules
  • drinkwel, a cocktail lover's multivitamin
  • Immuno-Viva Defend+ Energy, cold and cough prevention
  • Crystal Essence Mineral Deodorant

The only one of these items that I'm familiar with is the FRS Chews, which are pretty tasty and great before a workout. I'm excited to try the other items and see what they are like. I gave the drinkwel vitamins to my friend, Lisa, a musician who definitely loves cocktails :)

I'd definitely recommend Bulu Box, particularly if you're into health, fitness and/or vitamins and supplements. At only $10/month, it's a pretty good value! 

On a side note, I was given the opportunity to receive a free Bulu Box through my Sweat Pink Ambassador role. Sweat Pink is run through Fit Approach, a community focused on fitness and health. It's about women working hard to achieve their goals and believing that assertiveness, strength and ambition are the ultimate feminine qualities. To learn more about Fit Approach and Sweat Pink, visit the website!

Share time! Have you ever tried any of the "sample boxes" such as Bulu Box, Birch Box, Love with Food, Lollihop (when it existed)? If so, what did you think? Are there any you would recommend?

I'm always up for trying something new :)

- ST

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

I'm Running for Oiselle!

 You may have recently noticed a new badge along the right side of my blog. 

About a month ago, I was checking out new running apparel on the Oiselle (pronounced wa-zell) website and stumbled upon a section featuring the brand's running team athletes. There was a map that showed where the athletes are located around the country, and I noticed there wasn't anyone listed for Wisconsin. On a whim, I decided to email the contact listed and find out more about the criteria for joining the team. 

The team manager, Kristin, emailed me back with an application and more details about what Oiselle looks for in potential team members. After reviewing everything, I felt it would be a perfect match. I've been a fan of the brand for awhile - the gear is functional, yet stylish and feminine - and the more I learned, the more passionate I felt about it. The company is named for a French word for bird and, as taken from the website, "it alludes to that feeling of weightlessness that most runners know and love. That sense of flight – when the legs go fast and the heart goes free." Love that.

I also love that the brand was started after the founder, Sally Bergesen, had a lot of difficulty finding shorts that fit properly. I've had a similar struggle since I began running, but Oiselle shorts fit just right!

I submitted the application materials and after that, it was time to sit back and wait for a decision. I'm not the most patient person, so I was definitely on pins and needles while I waited to hear back. Earlier this week, I got the email I've been waiting for:

Subject: Welcome to Oiselle Racing Team!!!!

Eeek! I was so excited! I am thrilled to represent such a fantastic brand in both training and racing throughout 2013. In fact, I can't wait to wear the Oiselle singlet at a race and show off how proud I am to be a member of the team.

If you are not yet familiar with this awesome brand, I highly recommend checking out the website. Here are a few of my current favorites that are featured in the Shop area:

Even during the winter months, I often run in shorts!

Stay cozy during your winter runs

My plan for every 5k

Love that these have thumbholes

Because every runner needs a little race bling

These are too fun to resist!

After you've checked out the website, tell me what items are your favorites! Also, anyone else run for a team? Or, does anyone have any other exciting news they must get off their chests? :)

Tell me everything and more!

- ST

Monday, December 3, 2012

Milwaukee Santa 5k Race Recap

Want to improve speed in a small amount of time? My suggestion is to do a series of short races. I've done just that by racing five times in a the past 30 days. The result? A new 5k PR and ending up just seconds away from my goal time. 

Last Saturday's race, the Milwaukee Santa 5k, was great. The weather was perfect, I know the course quite well and it was a smaller race so there weren't tons of people to dodge throughout the race. It all added up to a new PR and a 3rd place AG award!

A new medal for my collection!

Here are my race stats:

Time: 22:03
Average Pace: 7:07
Overall Place: 28/697
Gender Place: 11/488

Age Group Place: 3/80

Since the race start was close to my apartment, I ran over and used it as my warmup. I met up with my incredibly fast friend Sheila just minutes before the start. We lined up and then took off! 

Sheila pulled ahead right away. I knew I wouldn't be able to catch her, so made it my goal to just keep her within my sights throughout the race. There was a ton of goose poop along the first mile, so along with trying to maintain pace, I was trying to dodge the droppings! 

Notice the ground - total obstacle course!

About half way through the course, I hit the Mason Street hill. I knew it was coming, but that didn't make it any easier to climb! I know I lost a bit of time here, so it's time to start doing more hillwork again. 

The last mile of the race, I was just trying to hang on the best I could. I kept telling myself, "I breathe in strength. I breathe out weakness." I also reminded myself it was time to pay the price! With the finish line in sight, I sped up until I crossed the line. As usual, I felt like collapsing in the grass, but I saw Sheila right away (she finished 2nd in our age group!) and also the ground was covered with goose droppings. Ew. 

While I was thrilled with the PR and age group award, I am a tad disappointed to have missed my goal time by a mere four seconds. Looking back at the race, I can identify where I probably could have shaved off that time - I was sloppy on two turns, didn't push as hard as I should have up the hill and started my kick into the finish a tad too late. 

This leaves one more race in 2012 to get my goal time and join the "21 club" as Sheila put it. If it doesn't happen this year, I look forward to chasing it down next year :)

Up next I have back-to-back 5k races: Run Into the New Year (Dec. 31) and the Polar Bear Dash (Jan. 1). Anyone else running these events? OR, anyone have any tips for running back-to-back races? 

I want a great time at both events!

- ST

Friday, November 30, 2012

Vegetarian Thai Peanut Soup

Earlier this week, my good friends Lisa and Melissa came over for dinner. I decided to make a vegetarian soup since both girls aren't really that into eating meat. The chilly temps also made it perfect for eating a bowl of something warm and satisfying.

I got this recipe from my friend Debbie. Over time, I've modified it a bit to fit what I like, but the original version can be found on her blog, Le Food Snob

This soup is super easy to make and perfect for a weeknight dinner! 

Perfectly paired with Naan bread!

Vegetarian Thai Peanut Soup

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
4 cloves garlic, finely diced
2 red bell peppers, diced
1 bag of broccoli florets
1 cup corn
10 Tbsp crunchy peanut butter
8 cups vegetable stock or broth
1 tsp cayenne pepper (I didn't actually measure - I just added to taste)
1 Tbsp cilantro
1 1/2 cups thread rice noodles
1/4 cup half and half
Salt to taste
Chopped peanuts for garnish

Heat olive oil in a large pot and add onion, carrots, celery and garlic. Cook until soft, then add peppers, broccoli, corn, peanut butter, vegetable stock, cayenne pepper and cilantro. Bring to a boil, then add noodles and half and half. Simmer for 20 minutes. 

Serve topped with chopped peanuts. 


- ST

Monday, November 26, 2012

A Tale of Two Races

Greetings friends! So, I've been a tad concerned these past few weeks that I wouldn't be able to get back my 5k speed until sometime early next year. I've been running fewer miles, not doing workouts and to be honest, things have felt less than stellar lately. 

However, this weekend's races proved I can still run fast (for me anyways!) and I'm even wondering if I can still chase down my 2012 5k goal time of 21:XX. Here's how this weekend's races went:

Drumstick Dash
This was a much bigger race than I anticipated. Turns out, there were around 2,500 people! It was an unusually warm day for late November so I'm sure that played a part. Regardless, it was great to see so many people doing something active before indulging in a Thanksgiving feast :)

I'm the girl wearing the white compression socks :)

For some reason, I decided it would be a good idea to line up toward the middle of the pack at the start line. This turned out to be a really bad decision. I wanted to avoid getting sucked out at a too fast pace, but ended up doing a lot of dodging and weaving around slower runners. Although my pace was on track for a new PR, I ended up running 3.26 instead of 3.1, which definitely hurt my time.

Time: 23:01
Average Pace: 7:25

Overall Place: 106/2,501

Gender Place: 20/1,512
Age Group Place: 3/236

I did the math after the race, and realized had I just run the tangents, I would have hit my 2012 5k goal time of 21:XX. Ugh!! So frustrating, but it only makes me more motivated to race harder in these upcoming weeks. 

The Elf Run 5k Race
This was the second race in the Winter Run Series and I really wanted to run faster than I did at the first race and hopefully move up in the overall series standings. It ended up being a new PR by just a few seconds and I placed one spot higher than at the last race. Good enough for me!

It was a chilly morning and my feet were like ice cubes at the start of the race. I was forced to wear my running tights, which I can't stand because they always slide down on my hips. I decided to wear a pair of shorts on top for this race to help keep my tights up and it worked - but I ended up feeling really weighed down and bulky. There has to be a better solution . . . 

At the start of the race, wearing a pink headwarmer

Anyhow, there's not a whole lot to say about the race. It was an out and back course with a few small hills. It wasn't the most scenic course, but it did seem pretty fast! 

Time: 22:09
Average Pace: 7:08

Overall Place: 131/645

Age Group Place: 8/64

I've noticed the women in my age group are a lot faster this year. I'm getting my tail kicked at every race, so I really need to up my game if I'm to even place in the top 5 this year. 

Anyhow, that's the racing scoop from this past weekend!  

How was your holiday weekend? Did anyone else participate in a Turkey Trot or other race over the weekend? Also, what type of running tights do you wear? 

I'm beginning to think I better get used to wearing shorts all winter!

- ST

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

My Grocery Cart

Lately, I've read several great articles and posts about what some of my favorite elite runners eat on a regular basis. I love seeing how what I eat stacks up and also get new ideas for items to add to my diet. 

Although my diet is by no means perfect, I decided to focus this post on the foods I eat the most - the ones you'll most likely find in my grocery cart if we ever shop together. 

Let's fill the cart!
Here are the items I buy most:
  • Bagels
  • Whole grain bread
  • Fresh vegetables (cucumber, grape tomatoes, baby carrots, bell peppers, snap peas, spinach)
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Bananas
  • Peanut butter
  • Kefir, plain
  • Eggs
  • Pistachios
  • Deli meat
  • Brown rice pasta
  • Roasted red pepper and tomato soup
  • Pepperidge Farm baked cracker chips
  • Cereal bars (I like Trader Joe's Peanut Butter bars)
  • Frozen Kefir, plain (like ice cream)
  • M&Ms

Now that I've shared some of my favorites, I want to know: If we went grocery shopping together, what would you put in your cart?

I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving holiday!

- ST

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Oatmeal Butterscotch Bars

Put a plate of butterscotch anything in front of me and it's bound to disappear - fast! 

I recently re-discovered a pile of old cooking magazines shoved under my bed and decided to take a quick look before adding them to the recycling pile. While doing so, I came across a recipe for Oatmeal Raisin Bars. I like raisins okay, but decided these bars would be much better with butterscotch instead. 

Looks like I'll need to run a few extra miles this week!

These were gone in no time, so all I can say is, make this recipe stat!

Oatmeal Butterscotch Bars
*Slightly modified from Everyday Food's Oatmeal Raisin Bars

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted - plus more to grease your pan
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup flour
2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup butterscotch chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8x8 inch pan and line with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, mix together butter, sugars, egg, vanilla, salt and cinnamon until smooth. Add flour, oats and butterscotch and stir until just combined. 

Add batter to the prepared pan and bake 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs attached.

What's the most recent recipe you've tried? Was it a hit or a miss?

- ST

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

W2W 5k Race Recap

Last winter I participated in the Great Lakes Multisport Winter Run Series and had a blast. Committing to a series of 5k races kept me motivated to train throughout winter and it was also fun knowing that the points I earned for each race were going toward a potential overall series award. Much to my delight, I ended up placing 2nd in my Age Group for the series.

This year's series kicked off last weekend with the Welcome 2 Winter race in Oconomowoc. After taking about a month off from running and not re-introducing speedwork into my training yet, I knew I had to set realistic goals for the race. I decided to aim for a sub-23 minute time and top 10 age group finish, which would at least earn me a few points toward the series.

I'm happy to say that I achieved both goals! Here's how the race shook out:

Time: 22:56
Average Pace: 7:23
Overall Place: 113/577
Age Group Place: 9/64

At the start of the race, I lined up next to a girl in my age group who I recognized from last year's series. She is one I beat in every race, except the last one when I got a side stitch. I figured she would run about the same pace as me so I would have someone to stick next to during the race.

She ended up running a bit ahead of me shortly after the race started but I kept her within my sights and passed her within two miles. I was definitely feeling the pace at this point but used my new mantra from Olympian Amy Hastings "I breathe in strength. I breathe out weakness." to get me through the remaining distance. My finishing kick was pretty pathetic as I barely had anything left at the end of the race!

It wasn't a PR, but I feel good about this race. I know I raced the best I could and it gives me an honest assessment of where my fitness is right now. I know by increasing my weekly mileage and adding speedwork back into training, I'll be able to get faster throughout the rest of the series and (fingers crossed) get my 21:XX goal time.

This week's training falls in the 30-35 mile range with one speedwork session:

Monday: 6 miles easy pace (including 6 short pick-ups) + 45 minutes strength training
Tuesday: 8 miles speedwork (including 8x400m)
Wednesday: Yoga class
Thursday: 10 miles easy pace
Friday: 4 miles easy pace 
Saturday: 4 miles easy pace
Sunday: Rest Day

Well, that's about it on the running front. On a more random note, I found out on Monday that I won my friend Alysha's Pasta Shoppe Giveaway through her blog, She's On the Run. Quite an exciting way to start the week! I'm sure the extra carbs will come in handy as I start adding more miles and quality workouts to my training so many thanks to Alysha!

To wrap things up: What's the most exciting thing you've ever won through a giveaway or contest? Also, what's the latest and greatest regarding your winter training?

Wishing you all the best Wednesday :)

- ST

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Turkey Trot Prediction Run Recap

I can now cross another item off my 2012 list of goals - trying a new race distance.

Last Sunday, I did the Badgerland Strider's Turkey Trot Prediction Run. Unlike most races, where awards are determined by who runs the fastest, this one awards the people who most accurately predict their finishing time. There was both a two mile and 15k option and no timing devices were allowed.

I opted for the two mile race. Back when I registered, I felt pretty optimistic and predicted a finishing time of 14:07. I thought it would be no problem given it's only a two miler and my 5k pace is not far off that.

However, when race week arrived I had a hard time thinking of it as an actual race. After taking time off, my fitness level isn't quite where it needs to be and my heart just wasn't in it. I decided to treat this one as a fun run instead.

Normally, I stay in the night before a race so I can eat properly and rest up. But since I wasn't taking the Turkey Trot very seriously, when my friend Leigh offered me tickets to the Milwaukee Public Museum's Buccaneer Bash, I decided to take her up on the offer!

Partying with pirates!

Spending lots of time on my feet, indulging in party treats and conversing with men dressed as pirates is not my usual way to prepare for a race, but it sure was fun. The Real Pirates exhibit is pretty awesome and I definitely recommend checking it out. 

Anyhow, I digress. I got to the race about 30 minutes before the start. I planned on doing a warm-up mile, but the line for the porta potty was so long that I barely made it to the start line in time.

Within the first few minutes, I could tell I wasn't going to be able to get my legs moving fast enough to get anywhere near my predicted time. I was having trouble focusing on building speed and maintaining pace so I just told myself to run and see what happens.

I finished somewhere in the 15:XX range. I can't remember my actual time and it's not posted online. At any rate, it was a slow time for me and as expected, pretty far off my predicted time! After the race, I could tell I hadn't run as fast as I could have because I recovered within about 5 seconds and then started running back on the course to find my mom so I could run her in.

This ended up being Mom's race - she finished within 10 seconds of her predicted time and won a turkey! 

Way to go, Mom!

So even though my race was a bit of a bomb, it was still a great weekend. Definitely made me think about how I want to prepare for my other three November races - the next of which is on Sunday. This week, I'm focusing on good nutrition, getting enough sleep and mentally preparing myself for running fast. It's the first race of the Winter Run Series and I want to earn enough points to set myself up as an Age Group contender for a series award. 

This leads me to ask: How do you prepare the week leading up to a race? Do you do anything special the night before? Anyone else participating in a Turkey Trot this year? 

I'll be at the Drumstick Dash if you want to race :)

- ST

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Back At It, Slow and Steady

You've probably noticed that the past few weeks I haven't posted my training or workouts. That's because I took some time off from running after Lakefront Marathon. It felt great to get some much-needed rest and allow my hamstring time to heal. Even without an injury, I think it's a good idea to take a break after any big race to allow yourself time to physically and mentally recover so you're ready to put 100 percent into the next round of training. 

This is how Eddie and I spent much of the past few weeks

Anyhow, the next round of training for me started last week with a few easy pace runs and three strength training sessions. The running part was about as good as I could expect after taking two weeks off. Strength training was another story. I did 45 minutes each of lower body, upper body and core and each session left me pretty sore. I also realized I'm not as strong as I was six months ago - these days lifting the 10 pound dumbbells is tough!

During the second half of my training for Lakefront, I slacked on strength training to squeeze in extra miles. This was not smart. I strongly (ha!) believe weaker muscles is what led to my hamstring injury and possibly even all the side stitches I experienced during summer and fall racing. Needless to say, I won't skimp on strength training again!

This week, I'm again doing low mileage coupled with strength training. In the next few weeks I hope to increase mileage for now 25-30 mpw will have to do!

Monday: 4 miles @ easy pace; 45 minutes strength training
Tuesday: 8 miles @ easy pace
Wednesday: 4 miles @ easy pace; 45 minutes strength training
Thursday: 3 mile fun run with PRO Shorewood
Friday: 6 miles @ easy pace
Saturday: Rest Day
Sunday: Striders Turkey Trot Prediction 2 mile Race

To help me stay motivated during the next few months, I recently purchased an Erica Sara Designs Say It Do It bracelet

The bracelet is designed to be worn as a daily reminder of your goal(s) and should only be removed when you achieve them. More on goals to come in a future post, but for the time being, I can tell you that my bracelet is engraved with the mantra I use most, pay the price.

That's everything new on the running front! How has your training been going these past few weeks? Have you set any winter workout goals for yourself?

Tell me everything and anything :)

- ST

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Running Reads

It's a sign of a true Run Nerd - Setting aside 50 Shades of Grey to read . . . Hansons Marathon Method. 

Reading about running is one of my favorite ways to stay motivated. I have a subscription to both Runner's World and Running Times and I'll admit, I get a little too excited when I find these magazines in my mailbox. I also routinely stalk running websites and blogs for information and have read several running books, which I tend to devour the same way most people read bestsellers. 

In case you're looking for a good running book or two, here's a list of ones I've read:

  • Kara Goucher's Running for Women (Kara Goucher)
  • Performance Nutrition for Runners (Matt Fitzgerald)
  • The Competitive Runner's Handbook (Bob Glover)
  • Racing Weight (Matt Fitzgerald)
  • Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide (Hal Higdon)
  • What I Talk About When I Talk About Running (Haruki Murakami)
  • Running for the Hansons (Sage Canaday)
  • The Lola Papers (Amy Marxkors)
  • Hansons Marathon Method (Luke Humphrey with Keith and Kevin Hanson)

Some are better than others (LOVED The Lola Papers) but I've learned at least a few things from each one. And after all, the broader your perspective and knowledge, the more you'll able to do with your running. At least that's what I tell myself to justify my ever-growing running book library :)

I'm taking suggestions: What running-related books/magazines/websites/blogs do you recommend?

Looking forward to checking out your favorites!

- ST

Thursday, October 18, 2012

My Winter Race Schedule

I've been on a bit of a running/training break since Lakefront Marathon, which has given me plenty of time to plan my winter racing schedule. 

Since Wisconsin winter weather can be a bit unpredictable, I like sticking with shorter races. After all, anyone can put up with cold/snow/winds/rain/ice for 3.1 miles! It's also no secret that I love racing 5ks. It's a chance to put all that speedwork to the test and see if you have what it takes. 

Winter running = Jackets, tights and gloves!

As a bonus, racing during the winter months can help you stay motivated to train and also allows you to indulge in a few extra treats around the holidays, guilt free!

Here's my race calendar for the upcoming months:

*Part of the GLM Winter Run Series

Let's talk: Who else is racing this winter? What races are you doing? If you're not racing, will you keep running during the winter months?

Also, anyone know where I can buy cheap, knit gloves? I like to start a race wearing them but tend to throw them off midway through, which means I need to stockpile these gloves now :)

- ST

Monday, October 15, 2012

Pumpkin Coconut Muffins

Taking some time off from training has meant extra time to catch up on other things. Over the weekend, I used my extra time to do some cooking and baking. I made an old favorite, Black Bean Enchilada Lasagna, as well as a new recipe I've had on my list for about a year. 

I found this recipe for Pumpkin Coconut Muffins in Runner's World. I love pretty much anything pumpkin in the fall and coconut is a favorite of mine, year round. I had a feeling these would be a new favorite and I was right! 

Perfect for breakfast!

Pumpkin Coconut Muffins
*Recipe from Runner's World
Makes 12 muffins

2 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and add liners to a muffin tin. 

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and ginger. In a separate bowl, whisk together butter, oil, pumpkin, egg and buttermilk. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Mix in coconut. 

Fill muffin cups and bake 20-25 minutes. 

Tell me about your weekend - Anyone else do any cooking or baking?

Happy Monday!

- ST

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Lakefront Marathon Race Recap

I'm proud to say that I can now call myself a marathoner :)

This past weekend was a whirlwind of activity and emotions. I could hardly believe the big weekend had finally arrived. It started Friday night with a special reception for Olympian Nick Symmonds, who was a featured guest at this year's race. I went to the event with a few of my running friends and after we went out for frozen yogurt. Yum and yum!

Sheila, I hope you don't mind I borrowed this FB pic :)

The next morning I went to check out the expo and pick up my race packet. The expo was buzzing with excited runners and there were plenty of booths to visit, all featuring running shoes, clothes, gear, nutrition, etc. But my main excitement was seeing Mr. Symmonds again and getting my picture taken with him. I'm such a run nerd :)

My morning swoon moment

The morning of the race, I fueled as planned with one unfrosted PopTart and a small banana. My mom drove me to the race start and on the way there I could feel the pre-race nerves kicking in. As we drove along the freeway to Grafton High School, I couldn't believe I would have to run the distance we were driving in just a short while. 

As much as I trained and practiced this summer and fall, nothing quite prepared me for the feeling I got as I stood at the start line waiting for the gun to go off. I started to tear up a bit as I thought about the race to come, the training that went into it and also a bit of fear that I my hamstring injury might not let me complete the distance. I knew a DNF was a possibility but I tried to push the thought out of my mind and focus on the race ahead.

Because I lined up a tad late, I ended up starting with the 4:40 pace group. It was a very slow first mile for me because I had to stop twice. Once to fix my iPod (this is why I don't race with music) and once to fix my compression tights. But for once I didn't care - I knew I wasn't racing for a particular time so I figured a slow start was fine!

I was able to up the pace after the first mile. My legs felt fine so I decided to go with it for awhile and soon found myself passing the 9:10 pace group and trying to catch the 9:05 pace group. But a twinge in my hamstring made me realize that even though I wanted to run faster, I needed to slow down or risk not being able to finish the race. 

The first half went by in a blink of an eye and soon after that, I was running the Lake Drive portion of the course - an area I'm quite familiar with as I've run it countless times during the past two years. With each passing mile, I felt more relieved knowing that if my hamstring injury should flare up, I could likely walk the remaining distance to the finish. 

In the zone, around mile 17.5

By the time mile 20 rolled around, I was both tired and sore. My quads and calves were aching and I stopped for a few stretch and walk breaks. However, stopping for these breaks was actually more painful than just keeping at it and shuffling forward at a slow pace. I couldn't figure out why I was so sore when I'd run this far before without as much pain. I realized later it felt a lot different because I had been on my feet longer (slower pace than during my training runs) and I wasn't wearing my compression socks. Since I was wearing tights I thought I wouldn't need my socks but I ended up turning my tights into capris early in the race, which meant I didn't have any calf support.

I was so relieved when I saw the 25 mile marker and gathered my remaining energy stores to pick up the pace through the finish line. I crossed at 4:21:28 and was so happy to have made it through the race!

Kicking it in at sub-8 minute pace!

My mother, brothers and niece were waiting for me at the finish line. After receiving my finisher's medal and getting wrapped in a space blanket, they helped me start the walk back to my apartment - a little less than a mile away although it seemed a lot further that day! 

After the race with my brothers Andy and Joe

It's definitely a race I'll always remember. Overall, a fantastic day and . . . call me crazy, but I'm already excited to start planning my next marathon. The Wisconsin Marathon in May, perhaps? 

My new favorite medal :)

In the meantime, I'm taking two weeks off from running and then will begin training for my upcoming winter 5ks and marathon relay race. I adore short, speedy races so I consider this one of the best times of the year!

On that note, did anyone else run Lakefront Marathon over the weekend? Also, what do you do during breaks from training?

I'm looking forward to catching up with friends and sleeping in!

- ST

Friday, October 5, 2012

My Lakefront Marathon Playlist

Normally during races, my iPod stays home. I'm making an exception for Lakefront Marathon. 

Since I'm not "racing," I decided what better time than now to create a completely random playlist? It includes 26 songs - each will play on repeat for one mile. Nothing too fast until the end considering I have to keep my pace slow throughout! And sorry Mom, Another One Bites the Dust did not make the cut :)
  1. Eyes Open - Taylor Swift
  2. Home - Phillip Phillips
  3. The Cave - Mumford & Sons
  4. Wide Awake - Katy Perry
  5. Madness - Muse
  6. Some Nights - Fun
  7. All These Things That I Have Done - The Killers
  8. Little Talks - Of Monsters and Men
  9. Pumped Up Kicks - Foster the People
  10. Good Time - Owl City & Carly Rae Jepsen
  11. Don't Stop Believin' - Journey
  12. Hurts So Good - John Mellencamp
  13. It's My Life - Bon Jovi
  14. American Girl - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
  15. Love the Way You Lie - Eminem
  16. The Fighter - Gym Class Heroes
  17. What Doesn't Kill You (Stronger) - Kelly Clarkson
  18. Indestructible - Robyn
  19. Die Young - Ke$ha
  20. Blackout - Breathe Carolina
  21. In the End - Linkin Park
  22. You're Gonna Go Far, Kid - The Offspring
  23. Ni**as in Paris - Kanye West & Jay Z
  24. Titanium - David Guetta & Sia
  25. We Run the Night - Havana Brown
  26. Starships - Nicki Minaj
Let's discuss: What's on your running/race playlist and how do you pick which songs make the cut? I didn't put a ton of thought into this list and just picked songs I listened to while running over the summer/fall. 

- ST

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Lakefront Marathon is 3 Days Away!

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about that saying that goes something like "Just because something isn't what you imagined, it doesn't mean that it's wrong."

I'm trying to remember this as I get ready for Lakefront Marathon on Sunday.

Up until a week and a half ago, the plan for the race was to average 9:00 min/mile for the first 20 miles, then pick up the pace over the final 10k for a sub-4:00 finishing time. I was confident I could execute this plan without a problem and even took it a bit for granted. After all, I told myself I had 60-mile weeks, speedwork sessions, four 20-mile runs and a 22-mile run under my belt!

But that type of overconfidence led to a hamstring injury at the Alpine Races Half Marathon. I took an entire week off from running and spent my time rehabbing the area the best I could. It involved a lot of icing, foam rolling, using The Stick, stretching and massaging. This week I've been able to run a few slow, easy pace miles so it seems the worst of the injury is in the past.

 The Grid and I are now besties :)

That being said, the old marathon race plan is out of the question at this point. I got a green light from a physical therapist to participate in the race as long as I follow a revised plan that includes a very conservative 10:00 min/mile pace and walking any steep downhills. I will also take a quick stretch break every few miles and walk as needed. For additional support, I'll wear compression tights and warm my muscles up using a heat pad prior to the race start.

This is a completely different race than I imagined during my summer and fall training runs. I'm still not sure I'll be able to finish the race, but at this point I'm just happy to get to the start line. 

From my coworker, James :)

I've always said that I'm willing to do what it takes to do this marathon. I certainly didn't think it would mean running a lot slower and walking - but life is about adjusting to change and I'm going to make the best of it. My time goal is out the window so instead of focusing on pace, I'll focus on how right it feels to run at all. It's something I won't ever take for granted again. 

Share time: What was your first marathon experience like? Also, has anyone else ever started a race while recovering from an injury?

Just three days til the big day!

- ST