Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Caprese Pasta

Last weekend, I had a tough long run on my schedule for Saturday morning - 18 miles, including a goal marathon pace finish.

One way to ensure a successful run is to eat a quality dinner the night before. My usual go-to meal the night before a long run or race is plain pasta but that didn't really sound too appetizing. Fortunately, I remembered I had a few tomatoes from my parents garden sitting in my kitchen. I began thinking of ways to use them and voila - Caprese Pasta was born! Mega simple to prepare and all the flavors of summer. Who says pre-run fuel can't be tasty, too? :)

Caprese Pasta

4 oz dry pasta (I used penne rigate)
2 Tbsp olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
4 medium roma tomatoes, diced
1-2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar 
8-10 small bocconcini (fresh mozzarella)
Basil, chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste

Cook pasta in a saucepan until al dente. Set aside.

Heat olive oil in a large straight side skillet. Add garlic and tomatoes and cook for 1-2 minutes over medium heat before adding balsamic vinegar. Cook for another 3-4 minutes then add pasta. Remove from heat and mix until combined.

Divide pasta between two bowls. Top with bocconcini and basil. Salt and pepper to taste.

Tell me: What summer produce do you most look forward to and what's your favorite way to prepare it?

- ST

Friday, August 22, 2014

Bird Camp Recap Part 2

The Bird Camp adventure continues!

To find out what happened during days 1 and 2, read Bird Camp Recap Part 1.

Day 3
The day started with breakfast burritos in the main conference center. After eating, pretty much everyone boarded buses to head to Smith Rock to run and hike the hilly trails. This is when I had to do my own thing for awhile. I knew I wouldn't be able to run on the trails - seriously, most uncoordinated person alive - but still needed to get some miles in for the day. So I opted to do a road run around the resort by myself.

At first it was kind of lonely and a bit boring as I ran a loop around the resort but then got a bit braver and ventured over to the river trail. From there I ended up on the main highway and took that about a quarter of a mile until I came across a turn into the Deschutes National Forest. 

I followed the road for awhile until I noticed a flat pine-needle covered trail. I know I wasn't supposed to run on the trails during this trip but I really couldn't resist. And this one was basically like running on a road - flat without many things to trip on. I didn't know where I was going and ended up at the river. It was so beautiful with the morning sun above that I had to stop for a few minutes to take it all in.

I tried going back the same way I came but got a bit lost. Also, I kept hearing what sounded like a waterfall so I got a little off track trying to find the source. Sadly I did not find the it but I did find my way back to the resort :)

 Looking for the waterfall!

In the afternoon, there was a yoga session and after my roommates and I went to the pool area for a bit. It felt so wonderful to sit outside and bask in the sun. I felt a tad out of place in my Ralph Lauren swimsuit especially after noticing pretty much everyone was wearing the Oiselle Rizzo Swimsuit. It was so cute and super flattering on everyone - definitely made me wish I had one, too!

After swimming it was time for core work and drills. Lesko led us through the core work - The Dirty Dozen - and Lauren Fleshman and Kate Grace led us through the drills. I think we all worked up a good sweat!

In the evening, we previewed Oiselle's fall line as well as learned more about how items are made. I loved getting this insight and found the design process fascinating. We also learned more about The Flock, Oiselle's newest addition to the family. For those of you who wanted to get in on The Flock in July but weren't able to before membership sold out, there should be more spots opening up in August!

Photo by Kelly Burns Gallagher

After dinner (burgers!) there was an elite running panel featuring Lauren, Kate, Stephanie Howe and Kara Goucher (via Skype). This was one of my favorite evenings at camp. These ladies all had great advice for everything from training and nutrition to getting past an injury and battling through the rough spots during a race. These ladies are all at the top of the sport in their distances and are such great role models!

Because no camp would be complete without a campfire session, we made s'mores that night. Or at least tried to make them. The fire was courtesy of small tealights. Naturally I stuck my marshmallow too far into the flame and it caught on fire. Oops!

Day 4
Shockingly, the things I was most excited about on Saturday were not running related :) Of course, we still managed to get in a few morning miles! Today, there were some other campers that also wanted to hit the road so I ran with them for an 8 mile out and back course. It was pretty easy running and my legs felt fantastic. As I ran the last mile, I made sure to take in the scenery knowing this was the last run in Bend - at least until the next Bird Camp ;)

During our free time that afternoon - which I should add is the ONLY time we wore non-running clothing - we had a few choices - intertubing, SUPing, Brew Fest or shopping. Sheila and I both opted for the shopping. We had a bit of a slow start though. Our first stop was a tea shop. Somehow it ended up taking 30 minutes to get our drinks. Way too long for two impatient ladies. By the time we got out of there, we beelined it to a pastry shop we had passed by on the way to the tea place. This was a bit of a low point for me - scarfing down a coconut shortbread cookie while ordering a chocolate tart. Sweet tooth at its worst! But the pastries were well worth it and just what we needed to regroup before shopping.

While shopping, we ran into Ayesha, Kim and Portia. Kim loves shopping like me - we had too much fun looking in the little boutiques. And it seems birds are mega trendy in Bend - I spotted several necklaces, bracelets, earrings, wall decorations, etc. with birds on them. So cute!

Eventually we were shopped out and decided to get a drink. We ended up at The Dogwood Cocktail Cabin, which is an adorable spot with the most delicious alcoholic concoctions. Some had beet juice, others had butternut squash. The one I ordered was a mix of rum, port and fig. Being the lightweight that I am, there was no way I could finish this mega strong drink so passed it around the table for others to try. Sharing is caring, right? :)

Happy hour with my fellow birdies!

The Portuguese

Dinner was at an outdoor park space called Crows Feet Common. It was here that we had the hands-down tastiest food yet: street tacos complete with tons of guacamole and donuts for dessert all washed down with chilled prosecco. Yum!

Photo by Sheila

Sheila and I finally worked up the nerve to ask Lauren to take a pic with us - we felt like such stalkers! - and also took a pic with Sally and team manager Kristin!

With the super speedy Lauren Fleshman!

With my newest girl crush, Sally Bergesen!

With the best team manager, Kristin Metcalf!

After dinner, things really got going with ... a dance party! We eventually took things next door to a small bar/club and things got a bit crazy - especially when Beyonce's Run the World (Girls) song came on. Ha, it was like the runner girl's anthem and everyone was going nuts. I took a few rest breaks with Sheila (she couldn't dance because her legs were sore from the morning's run) but eventually she was convinced to come out on the dance floor. It was a super fun, sweaty good time - the perfect way to spend our last night at Bird Camp.

With my roommates before things got too crazy ;)

Day 5
Oh parting is such sweet sorrow. I think everyone was sad to say goodbye during breakfast. And I'm terrible with goodbyes. I actually didn't see my roommates at breakfast - they went for one last run - so I was kind of bummed about that. I was also not very excited about the long day of travel ahead of us. First up was cramming all of the overstuffed suitcases into Becky's trunk. On the way back, we had an extra person joining our roadtrip - Emilia from Run For Your Life - so it was an super packed car! 

 Years of playing Tetris finally paid off! Photo by Ayesha

More goodbyes were said when we arrived at PDX then Sheila and I headed to our gate. On the way, we ran into my roommate Nicole so I got to say goodbye after all. Such a sweetie and I love her blog - definitely check it out!

Final words
I'm so grateful I was able to experience something as wonderful as Bird Camp. I loved Bend - it was so laid back and beautiful and running in a place so unlike Wisconsin was fantastic. I learned so much through all the workshops and I can't wait to apply all the new knowledge to my training. This was really just the thing I needed to stay motivated to train hard during these last few weeks before Lakefront Marathon

I can't say enough about all the wonderful people I met while at camp. Some of these ladies I've followed on Twitter or through their blogs for quite awhile (Danielle, Sarah, Alicia and so many more!) so it was so great to finally meet in person.  Everyone was as I imagined - warm, welcoming, intelligent and so inspiring!

And finally, a huge thank you to Oiselle for organizing and hosting the camp. Sally, Lesko, Kristin, JJ, Katie, Lauren, Kate, Little Wing and everyone else on the team made this the best time. I'm already looking forward to next year's Bird Camp!

My questions for you:
  • Have you attended running camp? If so, what was your experience?
  • If you haven't attended running camp, what things would you look for in one?

- ST

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Bird Camp Recap Part 1

One time at Bird Camp ...

The five-days of awesomeness that was Bird Camp is going to be difficult to recap. Mainly because every moment was so much fun and I could really go on and on about how great it was - running, running drills, running workshops, meeting all the running friends - it was every run nerd's dream come true.

For those of you not familiar with Bird Camp, it was a 5-day running camp in Bend, OR hosted by Oiselle for its Haute Volee and Volee team members.

Day 1
The adventure began in the middle of the night in MKE. My alarm went off at 2:30am to get ready and finish packing and Sheila picked me up at 4:15am to head to the airport.

Photo by Sheila

Although we planned on sleeping on the plane, we chatted the entire flight to Denver. At the Denver airport, we found a fellow bird, Lisa from Early Morning Run. From there, we flew to Portland!

A few months before the trip, Sheila and I connected with Becky and Ayesha from Musing Footfalls to road trip from Portland to Bend. This was such a good idea. It took us about 4 hours to get from Portland to Bend - we took a few stops along the way - and got to know each other during the ride. It was pretty much an instant connection and I ended up spending a lot of time with these girls throughout camp.

Coffee stop in Portland - Photo by Ayesha

We arrived at the Seventh Mountain Resort in Bend, just in time for dinner. Now, one thing we had discussed in length during the car ride was the food. I think we were all a little nervous about what we were going to be fed during the next few days. Would it be all health food? Would we be put on a diet? Well, it turns out we had nothing to worry about. The first night's dinner included caprese salad, pasta with shrimp, baked chicken, salad, dinner rolls, etc. plus tiramisu for dessert!

After a welcome from Sally (Oiselle founder and CEO), we broke into small groups for an icebreaker activity. And then, it was off to our condos to meet our roommates for the next few days. I really lucked out with my roommates. The condo we got was pretty big and had three bathrooms (very important for a group of runners!). I had already met Cindi at a Oiselle Ladies Night event at Performance Running Outfitters. My other roommates were Nicole from Fitness Fatale and Amy from Hank Orange. These ladies were so sweet and I knew instantly we were going to get along fine.

Pre-run roommate selfie! Photo by Amy

As tired as I was after traveling all day, I had a very hard time falling asleep. Too much excitement about finally being at camp and wondering what the next few days would bring ...

Day 2
The day started with breakfast in our condo followed by a quick group meditation and activation drills led by Lauren Fleshman and the Little Wing training group. I am not always the best about doing these types of exercises before a workout or race so it was a nice reminder that I need to be better about incorporating these types of exercises into my training. After the little workout, a few people went for a short run but I opted to skip it since we had a race that evening!

The rest of the morning featured running-related workshops: physical therapy/movement with Jay Dicharry and running nutrition with Western States winner Stephanie Howe. Being the run nerd that I am, I was totally geeking out over these discussions. Lots of great info from both Jay and Stephanie. I especially liked Stephanie's talk and her emphasis on being healthy and balancing your food intake with energy needs. And she made it seem really simple - load up your plate with veggies, topped with healthy grains, lean protein and a bit of healthy fat. She also mentioned that it is okay to eat processed foods at times. For example, cereal or bread. Sometimes these items are fortified with additional vitamins and minerals that your body needs.

After lunch we had a bit of free time, so Sheila, Ayesha and I took a little hike around the river trails surrounding the resort. It's such a pretty area! It was a good opportunity to check out the area since the Saturday morning run route was on the same trail. Since I have zero experience with trail running - and am also one of the most uncoordinated runners around - Coach Matt had suggested I stick to the roads during the trip to avoid any injuries. After seeing the river trail, I knew I would most likely have to do a road run.  


Soon enough, it was time for the race! Everyone wore the new singlets Oiselle gave us in our welcome packets and it was so cool seeing the sea of blue around the start area as everyone warmed up then lined up. 

My goal for this race was to have fun without any time goals. The start was pretty crowded so my first mile was pretty slow as I kept getting stuck behind people and did a lot of weaving. After that things opened up a bit and I just ran and enjoyed the scenery the best I could. Until about halfway through the race when a wasp landed on my hand and stung me multiple times. Ouch!! I've never had that happen during a race and was kind of in shock for a bit. It hurt like crazy but motivated me to pick up the pace a bit to get to the finish line (read: beer) a bit faster. 

Photo by Kelly Burns Gallagher

Post-race reward!

After the race, we had dinner at a place called Cafe Yumm. I loved trying this place since Becky had told me such wonderful things about the food during a Twitter convo awhile back. The dinner consisted of different layered rice and bean type casseroles, all topped with Yumm sauce. The funny thing about it was the fro-yo sized cups they set out for us to fill with food. Sheila and I took one look at them and decided we were probably going to eat seconds that night! 

Everyone was pretty beat after the race. The next morning was an early one with the first of the two longer morning runs on the schedule. I knew I would end up skipping the group run the next day since I'd heard it was a super hilly, technical trail but was excited to hit the roads and do some exploring on my own ... 

Tell me: Do you trail run? If so, do you have any tips for a trail running newbie?

More of the Bird Camp recap to come!

- ST

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Off to Bird Camp!

This week, there's not much to say except ... I'm off to Bird Camp in  Bend, Oregon! 

With Sheila, Becky and Ayesha - we're road tripping from Portland to Bend!

I'm super excited to meet 100 or so of my fellow Oiselle teammates and to bond over running, running and more running. This will be excellent :)

Happy running and talk to you all soon!

- ST

Friday, August 8, 2014

Try It: Y-Beach Camp

You could stay in bed on a Saturday or Sunday morning. Or, you could come to Y-Beach Camp and get in sweaty, leg-crushing, core-fatiguing, arm-wrecking workout. And yes, this is a good thing ;)

During several runs this summer, I've passed by the Y group and each time I've been a bit jealous. The workouts looked so hard, yet completely fun. For example, one time I saw the group doing exercises using the playground area in Back Bay Park. I was mega tempted to abandon my run and jump in the workout!

I finally got my chance to try out a recent Y-Beach Camp class and it more than lived up to my expectations! The one I tried was held in the area around Wolf Peach (a Milwaukee restaurant). For those of you familiar with the area, you know there are a ton of stairs and a monster grassy hill - really a mountain - in that area. So you can probably guess what the workout featured. Running, stairs, hill climbs, repeat. Oh, and sets of about every type of pushup imaginable in between. Gulp. 

This is where I should add that just because it's called Y-Beach Camp, it doesn't mean it's limited to the Lakefront beaches. This class goes all over the city. Some weeks you'll find the group at Bradford Beach. Other times at Lake Park. Sometimes the class even hits the Marquette track. Anything to challenge the group and get a good workout in. 


Also, every weekend has a theme. For example, recent themes were The Hills Have Eyes and Adult Recess. Adult Recess?? Sign me up!

Anyhow, the workout I tried kicked my butt. Being a runner, I consider myself in decent shape but all the running in the world couldn't have prepared me for that grass mountain or all the pushups. But this is why I love these types of classes - they are the perfect complement to running and are the best for working muscles that don't get worked during running. 

Although the class is intense, it's still great for all fitness abilities. The instructors are happy to offer modifications if needed. Note: this is different than wanted. Lonnie is quite fond of saying you can take the modification if you need it but not if you are just trying to slack off and be lazy! 

You're in luck if you live in the Milwaukee area! Y-Beach Camp is held every Saturday and Sunday through September. There's still time to slim those thighs, get that six pack and tone your arms. And this is THE place to do it! For more information, contact the Downtown YMCA.

Join the conversation: What exercise do you both love and hate?

I would have to say pushups!

- ST

*All pics from the Downtown YMCA Group Exercise Fitnatics Facebook Page

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Cutting A Run Short + This Week's Training Plan

Do you ever wake up feeling as though a run might not go too well? That's how I felt when I rolled out of bed on Saturday morning. My right hamstring was super tight and that darn blister from earlier in the week had stuck around. But I told myself I to change my attitude and remember all the runs that didn't start out that great but turned out awesome.

The plan was to run 10 miles at easy pace and then pick it up to goal marathon pace for the last 6 miles. My hamstring loosened up within the first few miles and the blister was only whispering to me. Things were going pretty well! Until about mile 8 when things fell apart.

My knee started tightening up. It wasn't too bad at first and I was able to pick it up to goal marathon pace at mile 10. But from there it just got worse. It got so bad that I had to call the workout at mile 14 and stopped for a few minutes to massage the area and stretch. I still had two miles back to my apt so did a walk/jog. Walk for a few minutes, then attempt to run. Make it a quarter mile or so. Then hobble for a bit. Repeat. Repeat.

I told Coach Matt about the problem right away and we think it may be related to the blister issue I had earlier in the week. He recommended taking 48 hours off from running so I had to skip my Sunday miles. But I think it was the smart thing to do. After a weekend of taking it easy, icing and using my new Roll Recovery, everything seems to be doing better.

Hurts like crazy but feels so good after!

So here's hoping this week is better! Here's the plan:

Monday: 6 mile run + Strides; Strength Training
Tuesday: 10 mile workout
Wednesday: 6 mile run; Absolution + Strength Training
Thursday: 7 mile runch; Y-Blitz + Y-Kettle Bell
Friday: Rest Day
Saturday: 20 mile run
Sunday: 5 mile run

Total: 54 miles

My questions for you:
  • Have you ever had to cut a run short? If so, how did you get home? Walk? Jog? Call for a ride?
  • What workout are you most looking forward to this week?

I'm most excited for tonight's workout and Saturday's long run!

- ST

Friday, August 1, 2014

Race for the Bacon Recap

Yesterday morning I had a bit of a scare - a giant blister had formed on the bottom of one of my feet making it painful to even walk. But there was no way I was going to miss that evening's race. I love Race for the Bacon - it's one of my favorite MKE races!

My friend Chris is the race director/Boss Hog and he puts on a fine event. A great course, fantastic volunteers and best of all, a post-race Bacon Bash that includes several bacon treats - sandwiches, chips, potato salad, cookies, etc. Yum!

It's also the best race to see run friends. Within minutes of arriving at the race, I ran into two Bills, Mary, Megan and James & Co. When I hopped into the race packet pickup line, I met Daily Mile friend Steve and then realized my friend Jeff was right in front of me. Volunteering at the packet pickup table was Richard. Apparently everyone loves bacon ;)

Seeing so many familiar faces made the wait for the race fly by and for once I didn't have any pre-race nerves. I was excited to do the race and crossed my fingers that my foot would behave.

I lined up a few rows back from the front, which seemed about right for this race. Of course, right before the race started, who should I run into but Ruth and Mary - two very speedy ladies. They lined up behind me but I knew they'd pass me within the first quarter mile. And sure enough - soon after the race started they flew past!

So, based on my blister situation, I decided to alter my stride a bit and use a slower version of my sprint stride because it didn't irritate my foot as much. Since I was running the race as a workout, I wasn't too concerned with forcing a particular pace. A good effort was my main goal.

Photo by Bill Flaws - Running in the USA

My modified stride lasted about halfway through the race until one of my toes cramped and I had no choice but to go back to my normal run stride. Ouch. This is when it started to hurt. First my blistered foot hurt. Then I felt like I was overheating. Then I suddenly felt like my breathing was too labored. And I was slowing down. No good at all.

Finally we hit a shady portion and I realized I was actually fine minus the foot issue. The last mile ticked by and soon enough it was time to kick it in - and this was especially fun since I had plenty left in the tank!

After the race, I chatted with Ruth and Mary a bit and then found James. Sadly he is moving to Michigan today so this may be the last Bacon Race we do together. Unless he can be talked into a trip back to WI next summer ;)

We'll miss you James!

Then it was time to run back on the course to find Mom! Ran into new friend Nick on the way. He is amazingly speedy and won the race!

Mom looked great - she was smiling and up for chatting as we ran to the finish line. And after crossing, it was time for the Bacon Bash!! Seriously, the best motivation while running is the bacon treats at the end. All races should provide such a delicious spread!

Bacon everything! Sandwich, potato salad, fruit salad, chips and a cookie!

Although it wasn't a great race for me, it was such a fun evening! Running, friends, delicious food, a gorgeous night - I'm not sure it gets better than that :)

My questions for you:
  • Have you ever run a theme race? If so, what was the theme and how did you like the race?
  • Do you like bacon? What's your favorite way to eat it?

Hope you all have a fabulous weekend!

- ST