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