Friday, May 30, 2014

Salmon Cakes

Earlier this week, I tried a recipe I've been meaning to make for awhile - Salmon Cakes from the Racing Weight Cookbook.

Healthy? Check.
Easy-to-prepare? Check.
Delicious? Check.

My conclusion? Make this recipe today!

Salmon Cakes
Serves 2
*Recipe from the Racing Weight Cookbook

2 5 oz cans of boneless, skinless pink salmon, drained
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1 Tbsp ginger, minced
2 tsp garlic, minced
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper*
1/4 cup panko crumbs
1 egg
1/2 tsp sesame oil

Combine the salmon, green onions, ginger, garlic, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Add in the panko and egg and mix until well combined. Form the mixture into six cakes. While forming the cakes, squeeze out any excess liquid.

Heat the sesame oil in a large skillet. When hot, add the salmon cakes. Cook for 4-5 minutes per side or until each side is golden brown.

I served these with a simple sauce made with plain Greek yogurt, a bit of lemon juice, salt, pepper and dill.

Share and tell: What recipes have you tried out lately?

- ST

*Black pepper was my own addition and not in the original recipe

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Madison Bun Run 10k Race Recap

Have you ever finished a race when you ran well, but still don't feel 100 percent satisfied with the result? Because that's exactly how I feel about Saturday's Bun Run 10k. I got my PR and finished within the top 5 ... but I am still hungry for more.

Let me explain.

Mom and I got to the race about 45 minutes before the start. For me, this is cutting it too close. I like a full hour or more to properly warm up, get my bearings and then leisurely walk to the start line. There wasn't time for any of that. We had to pick up our bibs and then got in line for the bathroom. At the one portapotty that was at the race. ONE. For about 400 people. Of course, the line took for-ev-er. By the time we made it through that line, it was about 3 minutes til the race start. No time to warm up. No time to get it together mentally.

And before I knew it, we were off. All the anxiety of waiting in line and not getting to warm up definitely played on my first mile and I started the race too fast. More than a half mile in and my pace was still showing as 6:xx, which was not part of the plan. Finally my pace slowed when we hit a gravel/rock-covered portion of the course. It was a bit slippery and didn't really feel that great running over in flats. I could feel every rock through the bottom of my shoes.

I was sooo jealous of the 5k runners around mile 1.5 as they began their turnaround back to the start/finish line area. I was already feeling the race and knew I still had 4.5ish miles to go. At this point, I was running according to my plan so just focused on maintaining. I knew there were five ladies in front of me and I could see three of them in the distance.

Around mile 2, I started reeling in one of the ladies. I pulled up right behind her and drafted for a few seconds before surging ahead to pass. Mentally, I was thinking about some of my training runs that included 20, 30, 60, 90 or 120 second surges. Excellent practice for that very moment!

That excitement got me to the turnaround point around the mile 3 marker. I could see another woman not that far in front of me and decided I would do another surge to get past her. It worked! The only bad part was now there were no women - or even men - around me to help with pacing and no one ahead of me that I could see to help pull me along. I was all alone. And that's when my race started to fall apart.

The heat got to me around mile 4 and I could tell my pace was taking a hit. My legs weren't turning over as well and even my upper body felt tense. Every stride felt like a huge effort. Then around mile 5, I began running into the back of the 5k race and was weaving around groups of walkers. The only relief was a high five from a little girl - who then asked her mom why I was running my underwear! Totes made me chuckle. When at the Bun Run, a girl must race in buns!

I felt like I was clawing my way to the finish during the last 1.2 miles. Everything hurt - not so much in an all-out effort type of way but in a I'm-overheating-I-started-too-fast-and-this-is-way-more-mentally-challenging-than-expected type of way. Finally the finish line was in sight and I was more than happy to up my pace just to finish the darn race!

So incredibly glad to be done!

Right after finishing, a volunteer gave me a bottle of water and I collapsed in the grass. It felt so good to lay down for a bit and drink the cold water. After resting for 10 minutes, I did my cooldown run by running back on the course to find Mom. She was struggling in the heat but not once did she slow or walk. She did great, especially considering she was one of the oldest ladies at the race, if not the oldest!

Mom and I after the race!

Before the race, I had my goal time as 44:xx and I still think in better conditions I could have made it happen. Maybe that's just part of running and racing. It's impossible to feel 100 percent satisfied with a performance because if there's nothing to improve upon, what's the point of training hard and then putting ourselves through challenging races? When looked at that way, I guess it's better to have something to chase and achieve. The hunger is always there!

So that was my main Memorial Day Weekend excitement. My questions for you:
  • Do you think it's possible to feel 100 percent satisfied with a race performance?
  • What did you do to celebrate Memorial Day Weekend?

Wishing you all a great start to the (short) week!

- ST

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Meet Travis!

When you go to the gym every day (sometimes twice a day!) it's a given that you're going to get to know the other regulars. After all, you probably see them more than your family and friends! On that note, I'm excited to feature some of my new friends in a few Q&A posts. First up, Travis Halena!

Travis is one of the first people I met at the Downtown YMCA when I took his lunch-hour Y-Blitz class. I knew I would like his class as soon as I saw an obstacle course set up in the room. I love it when instructors know how to make a tough workout fun!

Years at the YMCA: I have worked in my current role as the Group Exercise Coordinator for just over a year this month. I have been teaching classes at the Y for the last 2 years.

YMCA Classes: I am the lead trainer for all of our Functional Fitness classes, including Y-Blitz, all TRX classes (Core, Cardio Circuit, Fusion and TRX Kettle Bell) and all Y-Kettle Bell classes (Basics, Interval Circuit, GX, Momentum and Core). I also teach Y-Functional Fit Camp, Y-Fuse, Absolution and the best thing in Milwaukee during the summer, Y-Beach Camp!

Best song to get pumped up for a workout:  Besides Y-Fuse music, I would have to say… Kanye West – Power

How did you get into fitness?
I always worked out growing up while playing sports but It wasn’t until I got into college that I became obsessed with fitness as a whole. Lifting weights became my passion and I started to make myself more rounded with everything fitness. I started personal training and the rest is history.

Do you have a fitness philosophy?
I have a lot, but the most relevant two that I always say are “tears get you nothing, sweat gets you results” and “fitness is a marathon not a sprint.” 

Travis leading TRX Fusion at the Downtown YMCA

What is your workout routine?
I change my routine about every two months to include some new focuses so I can be as well rounded as I can. In general, I strength train 3-4 days a week, with a strong focus on the legs and back muscles. I also fit in TRX suspension training, Kettle Bell and bodyweight training 3-4 times a week . These things help me be the best role model that I can for all of my classes and keep me the most functionally fit. For cardio, I take and teach our Y-Fuse classes as well as do hill sprints and Kettle Bell swings. Top it all off with lots of foam rolling and stretching, because If I don’t take care of my body, I’m useless as an instructor!

Which Y class should everyone try?
I think the class with the most bang for your buck are our Y-Kettle Bell classes. Whether you are brand new or extremely fit, this class just fits in so much at once. It’s going to give you a great cardiovascular and muscular endurance workout. At the same time, it’s going to build your total body strength, not just one thing at a time. But the best thing, is the way it works a spot people tend to neglect most: the core. Remember the core is not just your abs; it’s your abs, hips, obliques, glutes, hamstrings and, most importantly, lower back! Kettle bell is going to not only strengthen these areas, but it will work on your flexibility. On average, our participants lose 2-3% body fat in just one month of class if they attend them regularly. 

Want to meet Travis in person? Try out one of his classes at the Downtown YMCA or sign up for Y Beach Camp this summer! 

Tell me: If given the chance, what question would you ask a fitness professional?

Stay tuned - more Y profiles are on the way!

- ST

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Setting Race Goals

Going into a race without a goal is basically going to the start line without a plan. And without a plan, your chances of success are not very good. After all, if you have no idea what you're aiming for and how you plan to achieve it, you're basically running blind. 

And that was exactly how I ran last year's 10k, my first attempt at the distance. I was coming off two injuries - a hamstring strain and a busted up knee (hello faceplant on Lake Drive!) - and didn't want to set the bar too high. So instead, I didn't really set the bar at all. I had a weak time goal in mind but no plan for the race. I happened to get lucky with a decent time and top 10 finish, but I will always wonder if I could have run faster had I gone in with a better plan.  

With Mom after last year's 10k

I recently read the most interesting article about setting race goals. Unfortunately, I can't remember the source - I read way too much about running - but the basic premise was that at every race, runners should set three goals: one that's completely within their control, one that's somewhat within their control, and one that is not really within their control. The reasoning being that runners should first focus on the goal that's completely within their control - and if they are successful with that one, there's a better chance of attaining the second and third goals. 

I really like this approach and will be using it for this weekend's 10k race. My three goals are:

1. Run my best effort at every moment of the race. It goes back to my all-time favorite mantra, Pay the Price. Pay the price during training and throughout the race or pay the price at the end of the race with a bad time/missed goal.

When a race gets tough, ask if you can give a little more. 
The answer is almost always yes!

2. Run a 44:XX time - As long as I can execute on the first goal, I should be able to hit the second goal. At least according to the plan from Coach Matt!

3. Place within the top 5 women - Obviously this goal is pretty dependent on other runners. I could run my very best and still miss this goal depending on who's racing on Saturday and how they end up running. But based on past results, I like my chances ;)

All that's left to do til Saturday are a few easy runs, eating right and getting plenty of sleep. It's time to put that winter and spring training to the test!

I'd like to know ... How do you determine your race goal(s)?

- ST

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Why the Y?

When you spend as much time as I do at the gym, it's necessary to find a place that's comfortable. Is it welcoming and supportive? Does it meet your training and fitness needs? And maybe most important, is it a place that makes you feel good about yourself and your health?

Since discovering the YMCA, my answer to all of those questions is YES! I've been a member at several area gyms but none were quite like the Y. All had great qualities, but none were just what I wanted.

I know in a time when $10/month gyms are all the rage, it's difficult to justify spending $52/month for a gym membership (cost of an individual membership at the Y). BUT ... I have to say, it's worth every penny. Rather than list all the things that could be improved at the bargain gyms (I used to belong to one), I'm instead going to discuss why the Y.

Let's talk about the experience. At the Y, you'll find all the standard equipment, but in my opinion, the indoor tracks brings it up a level. In fact, the Downtown YMCA's track is the second-largest indoor track in Wisconsin. When faced with sub-zero temps and icy conditions last winter, most runners were forced to duke it out on a treadmill day after day. Luckily, I had the track as another option and it saved my running on more than one occasion!

Then there are the classes. Along with the basic Les Mills offerings (one of my previous gyms was big on these classes), there are more challenging options, such as Y-Fuse and Y-Blitz. In fact, any class that has a "Y" in front of it was specially developed by the YMCA. I especially appreciate the Y-Kettle Bell series, which is the perfect complement to my running. Strong hips and core = A stronger runner!

No matter if you're new to fitness or an elite athlete, everyone is welcome at the Y. In the group exercise classes, instructors take time to help the newcomers and if you need that extra push, they're happy to provide that as well. And I love that it's more than focusing on the workout you're doing that day. A big part of the Y's focus is on overall wellness - so staying fit over the long haul.

And on that note, being part of the Y is being dedicated to improving the health of the community. The YMCA is a nonprofit organization and I love that it is focused on making Milwaukee a healthier place. There are programs to help benefit the families and individuals that work and live in the community. And by helping everyone improve their wellness, everyone wins. 

For more information about membership options at the YMCA, visit their website. Pricing options vary for individuals, couples and families.

Join the conversation: What do you look for when choosing a gym?

- ST

Monday, May 12, 2014

T Minus Two Weeks Til The Big Spring Race!

During the dark and chilly days of January, February and March, it seemed the spring racing season would never arrive. But somehow, the season finally got here and now my 10k goal race is less than two weeks away! 

I'm super excited to put my training to the test and see how the race plays out. I've been told the course is flat and fast, which to me equals PR potential! After a successful race in Door County, I know my fitness is there and I'm ready to see what I've got for the 10k distance. The only thing to do now is keep the momentum going while avoiding injury, sickness and overtraining before race day.  

Train smart!

Since May is all about racing, my mileage is down a bit. However, Coach Matt assures me all the intensity is still there. As much as I like running as many miles as possible, I really enjoy these step back weeks because they allow me to take more classes at the Downtown YMCA. This week, I'm super excited to do KB Intervals, Y-Blitz AND KB Basics.  

Here's the full plan:

Monday: 5 miles @easy pace + Y-Kettle Bell Intervals
Tuesday: 8 miles, including ladder workout
Wednesday: 6 miles @recover pace + strength training
Thursday: Y-Blitz + Y-Kettle Bell Basics
Friday: 6 miles @easy pace + Strides
Saturday: 8 miles @easy pace
Sunday: 7 miles @easy pace

Total: 40 miles

My question for you: What workout are you most looking forward to this week?

I hope everyone has a wonderful week! 

- ST

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Drink Up for a Peak Performance + A Giveaway!

The closer it gets to race day, the more important it becomes to recover properly after workouts. With my 10k goal race just a few weeks away, I'm doing everything I can to recover right and that includes drinking low-fat chocolate milk to get the right calories post workout. 

Last year, I suffered a string of injuries - nothing major but each one set me back about a week and over time, this definitely cost me at races. Being unable to train consistently made it really difficult to post the types of times I wanted and knew I was capable of running.  

This year, I've been able to consistently train since the start of the year. I think this will make a huge difference at my 10k race. One thing that has really helped me stay healthy is being strict about nutrition and making sure I drink low-fat chocolate milk after every hard workout. 


I recently read an article about the role nutritional recovery plays in attaining a peak performance. According to the article, the ability to recovery quickly can make or break a race performance. That's because if you don't recovery well, your body stays in a depleted state, tissue damage occurs, immunity is suppressed and risk of injury increases. Runners that recover better are able to perform at a higher level without illness, injury and overtraining. 

Also, it's after a workout that adaptations such as stronger muscles and improved endurance take place. Without proper recovery nutrition, these gains are significantly reduced.

The takeaway? Make sure you consume a snack with a carb-protein mix within 30 minutes after finishing a workout. I recommend low-fat chocolate milk because it goes down easy and in addition to providing a 3:1 carb protein ratio, it also helps replenish key electrolytes like calcium, potassium, sodium and magnesium. 

Only a few hard workout before the Bun Run 10k. You can bet these will all be followed up with a glass of cold chocolate milk :) 

For more information about the benefits of chocolate milk, visit the Win With Chocolate Milk website or the Wisconsin Dairy Facebook Page

So, the part you've been waiting for - who wants to win a Chocolate Milk Swag Bag filled with goodies including a $25 Visa Gift Card? Thanks to the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, one lucky reader will win this awesome prize!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Best of luck!

- ST
post-exercise period that the actual physiological and biochemical changes take place to help us become faster and stronger for the next effort.
the ability to recover quickly and completely often makes the difference between peak performance and poor performance.
the ability to recover quickly and completely often makes the difference between peak performance and poor performance.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Nicolet Bay 5k Race Recap

I'll start this post off by saying . . . I did it! Despite being sick, I still managed to crank out a new 5k PR at the Nicolet Bay 5k - my first of two goal spring races. And while it hurt pretty much the entire race, it was so satisfying to cross the finish line knowing I had bested my previous PR!

The morning of the race was mid 40s, a tad breezy and alternating between sunny and cloudy. There was also scattered rain, but nothing major. Overall, perfect for racing!

I got to the race a little more than an hour before the start and used the time to relax and mentally prepare for the work to come. I waited to do my warmup until 30 minutes before the race start to avoid cooling down before the gun. While I was warming up, I noticed a few ladies who looked like they would be pretty fast - and sure enough - they lined up at the front with me.

During the first mile of the race, I was mainly focused on not going out too fast. As always, the first 0.1-0.2 were a bit faster with everyone rushing out and establishing pace and pace, but I felt like I quickly locked into a good pace that felt hard, but not like a death gallop. Within the first mile, I found myself in 4th place, with the 3rd place lady about 20 feet in front of me.

The course was an out and back - my favorite for races because you get to see exactly who is in front of you and how they look (i.e. do they look like they are tiring?). As we approached the turnaround, I picked up the pace to get on track for a PR. As I passed the two mile mark, the volunteer giving times yelled 13:53! That was super motivating because I knew I was doing okay for pace even though my legs were pretty much on fire at that point.

The last mile was endless. I started to gain on the 3rd place woman only to have her pull away when a volunteer yelled 0.3 to go. I tried so hard to catch her during that last part of the race but she was too quick. However, I think having someone to focus on helped me run solid during the last bit of the race. Every bit of me was so tired and my throat was burning but I kept going, thinking about all the training and workouts that went into this race. I especially thought about my last hard workout and remembered how this exact pace felt - and how I survived that workout and would survive this race!

As I approached the finish line, I could see on the clock that I was going to PR and that was motivation enough to finish strong.

I was so excited that all the work this winter/spring paid off! Hopefully a sign that more fast times and PRs are to come this year. Working with Coach Matt has really helped and I think it's what led to this PR. Putting in the work = Confidence = Meeting Race Goals!

As always, chocolate milk and a cookie post race!

As always, I ran back on the course after the race for my cooldown and ran Mom into the finish line. She did great - I think her fastest time this year - and is feeling good about running this summer/fall. 

Mom and I celebrating at the finish line!

Overall, a fantastic race weekend! I definitely recommend the Nicolet Bay 5k to anyone looking for a spring 5k. In fact, it's already going on my calendar for 2015 :)

My questions for you:
  • What do you think the magic formula is for getting a new PR?
  • What workout gives you the most confidence heading into a race?
  • Random: What is your favorite spring activity?

- ST

Thursday, May 1, 2014

What do you wear to run fast?

After weeks of training to crush my current 5k PR at the Nicolet Bay 5k, race week is finally here ... and I'm sick! Ugh, this couldn't have come at a worse time. But nevertheless, the show must go on. I may be down, but I'm certainly not out ;) It just means I'll need to dress the part until I feel the part. 

To run fast, I wear ...

My Oiselle Team singlet. At a race that counts, I always wear this clothing item. I love running for such a great company and it reminds me to fly fast with every step. 


My speedy girl pants. Short shorts are great. Buns are better. While it's true that an outfit can't make up for a lack of training, a speedy outfit WITH the right training is a great way to feel - and actually run - fast on race day.

Oiselle Competition Brief - aka Speedy Pants

My racing flats. Trainers are fantastic for everyday miles. But when it comes to race day, it's flats all the way. Preferably ones in an obnoxiously bright color. 

Saucony Type A Flats - the best racing shoe ever!

And, if all else fails and the clothes aren't enough to get me to run faster during the race, I'm just going to think about this:

Tell me: What do you wear to run fast?

See you at the finish line!

- ST