Friday, April 29, 2016

Cinco de Mayo Menu Idea + A Recipe for Frijoles Borrachos

Cinco de Mayo is coming up fast - it's less than one week away! So let's start today's post with a little history lesson: 

Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexican army's victory over France at the Battle de Puebla in 1862. While only considered a minor holiday in Mexico, it has evolved into a bigger celebration of Mexican culture in the United States. Most of us consider it a day to go out and sip a margarita, indulge in tacos and listen to mariachi music! In some larger cities there may also be parades and cultural events.

I plan on celebrating the holiday with a Mexican food feast! Here are a few ideas for things to serve at your own Cinco de Mayo celebration:

Pink Grapefruit Margaritas
Guacamole, Pico de Gallo, Tortilla Chips
Tex-Mex Stuffed Mini Peppers
Chipotle Chicken Tinga Tacos 
Roasted Tomatillo Enchiladas
Frijoles Borrachos (recipe below)
Mexican Grilled Corn
Tres Leches Cake
I definitely recommend trying this recipe for Frijoles Borrachos. These beans are so good because they soak up all the delicious flavors from the bacon, beer and spices. Give them a try!

Frijoles Borrachos
Recipe from Gimme Some Oven

4 slices uncooked bacon, diced
1 small white onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, stemmed, seeded and diced
4 15oz cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
12oz beer (I used Tyranena Rocky's Revenge)
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cumin
1 Tbsp lime juice
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Cook the diced bacon in a large pot over medium heat. When cooked through, set aside. Reserve 1 Tbsp of the bacon grease in the pot and add the onion, garlic and jalapeno. Cook 3-5 minutes or until vegetables are soft.

Add the beans, beer, brown sugar, oregano, chili powder, salt and cumin. Continue cooking until the beans begin to simmer, then reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered for 15-20 minutes. 

When ready to serve, stir in the bacon and lime juice, then top with the fresh cilantro.

Tell me: How will you celebrate Cinco de Mayo this year? 

- ST

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Adrenaline 5k Race Recap

After what felt like an endless string of injuries and unfortunate events, it seems my luck is changing. I was finally able to race again over the weekend! 

It's been months since my last race, so Coach Matt and I have been referring to last weekend's Adrenaline 5k as a rust buster. And it turns out there was an awful lot of rust to work through. 

It started with deciding what to wear and bring the night before. The what-to-wear part wasn't too hard - I knew I wanted to wear my Performance Running Outfitters singlet. Since temps in the upper 40s were in the forecast, wearing shorts was a no brainer. But packing my bag was a bit trickier. I kept forgetting things like armwarmers and knit gloves. I ended up packing a few too many items but I guess it's better to have everything versus forgetting something important. 

I woke up around 4am - about an hour before my alarm - to the sound of Eddie getting ready to throw up. I looked around my bedroom to see where he was and spotted him leaning over my pile of running shoes! Noooo!!!!! I jumped out of bed and sprinted over to grab him and move him to the hall. I got there just in time and the shoes were saved. Eddie was okay - he just ate a bunch of dry food too fast and then got sick. Silly kitty. But I was wide awake after that incident and couldn't fall back asleep. So up at 4am it was!

Since I got up so early I felt a bit like a zombie as I got ready and during the drive to West Bend where the race was held. Mom was also racing - also her first one for 2016 - and she was driving so at least I got to rest a little in the car. 

Being tired meant I didn't have the energy to get super nervous like I sometimes do before races. Also knowing that I wasn't running this one for a time or to attempt a PR made it pretty low stress. I knew I just had to run and that was it!

The race was quite small and when it was time to line up, I ended up at the front. I knew my goal was not to hammer this one so I made sure I started at a conservative pace. There was one woman a bit ahead of me but I made no attempt to catch her. I stuck with running my own race. 

I could feel the race effort by the halfway point but wasn't as tired as I usually am at this point during 5ks. There was a guy a bit in front of me so I focused on passing him and then running a bit faster during the second half of the race. Check and check! I actually did feel stronger during the second half of the race, so that was a positive. And the course was so pretty! It was along the Eisenbahn trail, which was new to me, and went around a scenic lake/pond area. There were a bunch of chubby robins and little brown birds in the trees watching the runners go by so I also got a kick out of that.

I wasn't impressed with my time or pace but I also wasn't too surprised given this was a rust buster race. I believe my current fitness is faster than this time so my May races should be interesting. Now that I've hopefully shaken off some of the rust that's been accumulating these past several months, the next few races should go a bit better. 

Mom ended up running a really good race! She is coming off a stress fracture and has healed well. With a bit of training, I predict she might run faster this year than she did last year!

After the race we had a little feast at Cempazuchi, my favorite Mexican restaurant. Guac and Pork Tostadas. Seriously delish!

Anyhow, tell me about your weekend! Did you race? If so, how did it go? If not, how did you stay active?

- ST

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Dare I Say It's Race Week?

Given my recent streak of bad luck when it comes to races, I was a bit hesitant to even write a post mentioning race week. But the gorgeous weather these past few days has me feeling so optimistic that things are taking a turn for the better. A new season is here and that means a fresh start!

As of now, it looks like I will finally get to race my rust buster on Sunday. I'm going to treat it exactly as I was going to treat the First Call 5k - run it hard and see how things pan out. I can't wait ;)

The plan from Coach Matt leading up to the race is this:

Monday: 6 glue miles w/strides + Y-Blitz
Tuesday: 7 mile workout, including 1200 & 400 intervals
Wednesday: 4 recovery miles + Y-Fuse + Y-Core
Thursday: 6 glue miles
Friday: Rest Day
Saturday: 4 glue miles w/strides
Sunday: Adrenaline 5k Race! + WU and CD miles

Total: 36-37 miles

Have you ever found that training more leads to craving healthier food? Last week I couldn't get enough veggies and fruits. I bought so much produce at the beginning of the week I thought I would have loads extra at the end of the week. But lo and behold it was gone by Friday. I'm so loving a giant salad for dinner these days!

A sample day this week includes:

Breakfast: Chocolate Chip Cookie Oatmeal (1/3 cup oats + 2/3 cup unsweetened almond milk + 1 Tbsp coconut flakes + 1 Tbsp dark chocolate chips)
Snack: Greek yogurt + raw veggies
Lunch: Chicken Enchiladas
Snack: 3 cups popcorn
Dinner: Falafel Salad (2 cups spinach + 1 falafel veggie burger + 1/3 cup cooked farro + diced cucumber + diced yellow squash + diced tomatoes + 2 Tbsp hummus) + Sliced strawberries

As has become the norm for wrapping up these training/nutrition update posts, here are a few things that made this past week great:

Cuddles with Eddie - My little boy is adjusting to his new meds and is back to his usual happy self. He's not shy about demanding all the pets and cuddles and I'm more than happy to give them to him! 

More pets, more cuddles!

Brunch at Blue's Egg - Every time I brunch here I'm reminded how wonderful it is. My omelette was sooo good and the hash browns were perfectly crisp.

Shopping at Divine Consign - This was my first time shopping this bi-annual event. My friend Alysha raves about the incredible items she's found throughout the years so I decided I had to check it out. Although I tend to get overwhelmed at these types of things (I can't even stand shopping at department stores because there is too much to look at!) I forced myself to take my time and look around. It was so worth it and I ended up getting some great stuff! A gorgeous Tory Burch jacket, brand-new Nine West sandals, a new JCrew dress and a half dozen like-new skirts and jeans were among the things that came home with me. 

My new Tory Burch jacket will look great paired with dark denim.

That's all I have for today. Let's turn the focus to you:
  • What's your strategy for your first race of the season - play it safe or take no prisoners? 
  • What are your favorite salad add-ins?
  • What's one (or two or three!) things that made last week great for you?

- ST

Friday, April 15, 2016

Eddie's Banana Butterscotch Bread

Before I adopted Eddie, he was a stray kitty eating whatever he could get his little paws on. My parents compost in their backyard garden and Eddie would hoard banana peels like they were treasure. On occasion, I even caught him munching on one under a pine tree. 

Today, Eddie is no longer interested in bananas but I always think of him when I eat one. So I decided to name my recent creation in honor of him. I know he would approve of the sweet combination of bananas and butterscotch!

Eddie's Banana Butterscotch Bread
Slightly modified from Martha Stewart's Best Banana Bread

1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup mashed very ripe bananas
1/2 cup plain, non-fat Greek yogurt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup butterscotch chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a loaf pan and set aside.

Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time and mix until combined. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add to the butter mixture and mix until just combined before adding the bananas, sour cream and vanilla extract. Mix until combined then remove the beaters and stir in the butterscotch chips.

Add batter to the prepared loaf pan and bake 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool 5-10 minutes before removing the bread from the loaf pan and allowing to cool completely on a wire rack.

Of course, you may just want to slice yourself a piece while the bread is still warm. It's divine :)

Tell me: What's your favorite banana recipe?

- ST

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

A New Race Plan + Style Lately

Well ... so much for racing over the weekend. I ended up having to take Eddie to the kitty hospital on Saturday evening and he wasn't released until Sunday afternoon. It was another episode of having fluid in his lungs although this time it wasn't nearly as critical as last year. The vet said I caught the fluid very early on so there wasn't much built up and he didn't need to be on a respirator, IV or put in an oxygen tank again. He seems to be recovering pretty well (there have been a few happy dances, purrs and even a few love nips!) and has a follow up appointment this morning. Fingers crossed it's all good news. 

The sweetest baby!


Anyhow, since I had to skip last weekend's race, I added another race to my April schedule. Both Coach Matt and I agree that it's critical that I get in a rust buster before the real racing begins in May since I haven't raced since the beginning of December last year. So I'm now planning on doing the Adrenaline 5k in a week and a half. 

As disappointed as I am to still not have raced in 2016, I'm telling myself to focus on the positive - this way I get a few extra weeks to train so will hopefully be a tad stronger and faster than I would have been last weekend. This week's training includes:

Monday: 5 glue miles w/strides 
Tuesday: 9 mile workout, inc. 1600, 1200, 800, 400
Wednesday: 5-6 recovery miles + Y-Fuse + Y-Core
Thursday: 4 glue miles w/strides  + PT + Y-Blitz?

Friday: Rest Day
Saturday: 10-11 mile run
Sunday: 5 recovery miles

Total: 38-40 miles

Hopefully last week was the last of running in the snow!

My back has been feeling really good so I think I'm ready to do a bit more. I'm for sure planning on Y-Fuse this week and may also do Y-Blitz if things feel okay come Thursday. I've missed doing really tough workouts so I'm excited to dig into the work again - even though I'll be pretty slow for the first few classes back!

As for nutrition this week, here's a sample day:

Breakfast: 2 eggs scrambled + 2 Tbsp salsa + 1 mini power scone
Snack: Greek yogurt + raw veggies
Lunch: Cheeseburger Casserole + banana
Snack: Picky Bar
Dinner: Baked tilapia + spinach salad 
Dessert: 1/2 cup Halo Top vanilla + blackberries

Have you tried Halo Top ice cream? I recently bought a pint at Whole Foods and it is sooo good! It's low calorie (only 60 per serving!), low-sugar and high protein. A perfect treat, especially when topped with fresh fruit!

So that's the latest in training. To wrap things up, I'll switch gears a bit and talk style. Does anyone else have a terrible time finding clothes for work? I super dislike shopping for non-running apparel, aka civilian clothes. But I forced myself to do a bit last week and found a few things I really like:

At least spring and summer are on the way, which means more dresses and sandals - the easiest way to get dressed in the morning :) 

My questions for you:
  • Have you ever experienced a pet emergency? 
  • How is your training going? Anyone else still waiting for their first race in 2016?
  • What's on your menu this week?
  • Where do you find work clothes?

Happy Hump Day!

- ST

Thursday, April 7, 2016

White Chicken Chili

I heart chili. I could eat it every day, no matter the season, and since there are so many ways to prepare it I could never get bored or sick of this simple, one-dish meal. 

I usually make a more traditional chili with ground beef and beans plus the addition of pumpkin and dark chocolate for a little added flavor. But the other day I had some extra chicken breast on hand so decided to try a recipe for White Chicken Chili that I've had bookmarked for some time. 

It was sooo good! Rich, creamy, with a tiny bit of a kick from the green chilies. It's pure comfort food and perfect for a relaxed evening at home. 

White Chicken Chili
Serves 4-6
Recipe from Eat, Live, Run

1-2 Tbsp olive oil
1lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed
1 medium onion, small diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed
2 4oz cans diced green chilies
14.5oz reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4-1/2 tsp ground cayenne pepper
1/2 cup half & half (I used fat free)
8oz sour cream (I used reduced fat)
1 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (my recipe addition!)

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the cubed chicken breast, chopped onion and minced garlic and saute until the chicken is cooked through and the onion is translucent. 

Add the beans, diced chilies, chicken broth, salt, cumin, oregano and cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. 

Turn off the heat and stir in the half & half, sour cream and Monterey Jack cheese. Serve with additional shredded cheese, sour cream, avocado, chopped cilantro and/or tortilla chips!

Tell me: What is your all-time favorite chili recipe?

- ST

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Getting Ready for a Rust Buster!

Let's start with the week's most exciting news: After four months of not making it to a single start line, I finally get to race again!!! I'm doing this Sunday's First Call 5k - a super fitting race name since it will be my first race of the year, first race back since getting injured and first time wearing my gorgeous PRO Team singlet. 

This one will be a rust buster and I'm fully expecting it to hurt throughout and to end up with a slower time than I'm used to running. But even though I'm far from peak fitness, I'm excited to see what I can do at the race and am so grateful to even have the opportunity to race again after what seemed like never-ending back issues. 

Two runs last week let me know I'm ready to test myself at a race again:

8 miles, inc. 400, 400, 800, 1.5 miles, 800, 400, 400. This workout felt great with no injury related issues. I could tell my endurance/strength has taken a bit of a hit during the 1.5 mile segment but was happy with my times since I know it can only get better from here! Interval times were: 1:39, 1:40, 3:30, 10:50, 3:23, 1:37, 1:35.  

8 mile run, inc. 45-second pickups at the top of each mile. Another great eight for the week! I felt a bit stronger during this one and even included a bit of hill running. Splits were: 8:54, 7:56, 7:59, 8:22, 7:56, 8:15, 8:09, 7:58. 

Coach Matt originally gave me a race pace goal of 7:05-7:10 per mile. Even though that is slower than my usual 5k pace, it still made me nervous since I feel pretty unfit right now. So we adjusted to a pace that I'm sure I can maintain for the race. Coach Matt explained going with a pace that feels good and isn't at all scary leaves a lot more room for positive result. So if I can run at least the first half of the race within that pace, I can potentially pick things up during the second half!

Since I don't have my usual fitness for this race, I'm paying a little extra attention this week to the little things like getting enough sleep and eating well. And of course getting in my usual running! Here's this week's training plan:

Monday: 5 glue miles w/strides + YC3
Tuesday: 6 mile workout, inc. 3 x 1200
Wednesday: 4 recovery miles + Y-Core
Thursday: 4 glue miles
Friday: Rest Day
Saturday: 3 mile shakeout run w/strides
Sunday: First Call 5k Race!!!

And a sample day of food:

Breakfast: 2 Eggs Scrambled + 1/2 Avocado + Sliced Strawberries
Snack: Greek yogurt + Raw Veggies
Lunch: Chicken Farro Bowl (Chicken Breast, Farro, Broccoli, Water Chestnuts) + Banana
Snack: Picky Bar
Dinner: Veggie Chili Con Carne (Ground Beef, Beans, Squash, Sweet Potato, Carrots, Corn) + Blackberries

And with that, I'll wrap up this long Tuesday post! My questions for you:

  • What was your best workout last week?
  • What race goals do you set when you haven't raced in awhile? 
  • What's on your training/nutrition plan this week?

I hope you have a wonderful week!

- ST