Sunday, October 31, 2010

9-Miler on Halloween - Now That's Scary

Chili for a Chilly Evening 
As I mentioned yesterday, we decided on chili for dinner since it was going to be a chilly evening. Plus, chili and football sort of go hand-in-hand. Oh, and the fridge is rather empty, but we did have what it took to throw together a chili. So I went with a Chipotle Tempeh Chili since the tempeh is gluten-free, and my sister is now on a glute-free diet. 
 
Chipotle Tempeh Chili
Ingredients:
1 package tempeh
To taste for tempeh: liquid smoke, chipotle flakes, salt, pepper, garlic powder
1/2 red onion, diced
2 tbsp minced garlic
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
17-20 oz low-sodium vegetable broth
1.5 cups red beans (1 can, rinsed and drained)
1.5 cups black beans (1 can, rinsed and drained)
1 can no-salt tomatoes

3-4 chipotle peppers in adobe (plus 1-2 tsp adobo sauce), minced
To taste: salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, chipotle flakes
3 oz tomato paste


Directions:
In non-stick skillet, crumble tempeh and saute with liquid smoke and spices. You can add a splash of vegetable broth as well.

In large soup pot, saute onions, peppers, and garlic until soft. Add in remaining ingredients up to tomato paste and let simmer until begins to thicken. Add in paste and tempeh and let continue to simmer until thickens to desired consistency. Add more broth if needed.
 

We topped it off with Daiya Vegan Cheddar. This turned out really well and was perfect for the evening. In fact, there were no leftovers ;-)

9 Miles and Pooped
This morning Sarah headed out around 9:30. I was so sad to see her leave. I had such a great time with her this weekend. So perhaps things really and truly do happen for a reason like Seattle being canceled for us. Though, I will say that it wasn't for the best for our friends sadly. His father passed on Friday.

This morning it was still rather chilly (45 degrees) so I wanted to wait until it warmed up a bit before going for my run. Jason wanted to ride today, but said he'd run a little bit first. So we ran 3.5 miles together before he dropped off to switch to his bike. I kept on and managed my longest run so far - 9 miles.

I won't lie and say it was the best thing ever. It was pleasant out in regards to the temps (75 degrees) but terribly windy. Sometimes it felt like I was just running in place. Around mile 4 is when my sciatica started bothering me, but it later eased up. Around mile 7 the inside of my right knee started to kill me. It's never hurt there before, but feels fine now. So I feel very accomplished. I am very proud of pushing myself and realizing how capable I am. I also managed to maintain an 8.37 average pace, which is what I've been holding for my 8-mile runs. What's even better is that it felt comfortable (relatively speaking of course).

We got home around 1:30 or so and got cleaned up. Jason had an order to pick up from Best Buy, so we decided to splurge and eat out for a super late lunch. We went to a place called Razorback Pizza. I always start with one trip to the salad bar. My plate was overflowing today I will say. While I did eat after the run (half of a Clif Bar right after the run and then some cottage cheese at the house) I still ended up feeling yucky about an hour later. I think I am going to have to have something either during the run or before I get started (other than breakfast). I may not being fueled up enough so that means I've got nothing left after the run. I feel like I must be doing it all wrong or something.

Anyway, late lunch, feeling much better - but super pooped now. I've got my feet propped up and I'm watching a Ghost Hunters marathon. I feel like I'm wasting away a gorgeous day right now, but I'm too tired to worry about it even. I think dinner will likely be a light soup, perhaps pumpkin for Halloween. We don't really celebrate Halloween, so the porch light is already turned off. For now, I'm calling it done for the day.

Do you guys celebrate Halloween? Are you looking forward to handing out treat?

Happy Halloween!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Sister Weekend - Pizza, Hiking, Chili

Friday Recap
Since I was off work Friday I decided to take advantage of the time and the gorgeous day to get my run in at the river trails. It was a cool day here with a steady wind, but so pretty and crisp out. I did wait until about 11:30 trying to let it warm up a bit. I will say I need to work on taking off my running jacked and tying it around my waist and not dislodging my iPod arm band and with a water bottle in hand. I was flailing around let's just say that. Oh, and seriously have issues drinking water when I'm running. I feel like I'm choking or I splash it all over my face. Yesterday I started coughing and spit it all out straight down my shirt. Thankfully, no one was around ;-)

Pizza Friday
My sister got here just before 5 pm and we decided to try The Flying Saucer Draught Emporium. They literally have hundreds of beers available so we figured they'd have to have a gluten-free beer on the menu. And they did. It was also a different brand (Bard's) than the one I had bought for her (Redbridge).

We got home around 7 and Pizza Friday was underway. I made one regular whole-wheat dough for us then a gluten-free for Sarah. I got a few suggestions from my readers, but Jason had picked up a gluten-free Bisquick mix that had a recipe for a pizza dough so we used that. It called for two eggs, but I used the flax egg instead. She did add some seasonings to the mix as well.
Verdict? Really quite tasty. I think I would suggest pre-baking the crust for just a few minutes before adding the toppings. But she was on happy camper to have both beer AND pizza!

Good Day for a Hike
Today we woke up to a chilly  37 degree morning. We decided to get some errands run before trying to get out for a run. Sarah wanted to pick up a few gluten-free items from the Drug Emporium and Whole Foods and Jason wanted to make a stop by the bike shop.

Sarah decided she would rather hike Pinnacle Mountain than go for a run as she was worried she would just be stuck alone because she isn't up to higher mileage yet. So we packed up a quick, easy lunch. She had picked up some rice tortilla wraps, so I made a super quick hummus for wraps to eat at the top of the mountain (on the second trip up). Yep, we hiked up, down, up and down again. It was a gorgeous day for it. While it was really windy (which would have sucked for a run) it was great when you made it to the top of a mountain.

Tonight I am going to make a Chipotle Tempeh Chili for us. It's supposed to get rather cool again. Even better since our heat downstairs went out and the repair guy didn't show up yesterday. So chili will really be ideal. I've not ever make one with tempeh, but tempeh is gluten-free, so we're giving it a shot. I will post the recipe tomorrow and let you know how it turns out. For now, I'm going to log off and spend some more time with my sis and enjoy the fact that she's staying all weekend!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Fun Facts Friday - One Year & Giveaway

Fun Facts Friday - One Year

  • There have been many many many workouts. 
  • There have been more recipes than I can even begin to count.
  • There have been lots of Pizza Fridays.
  • I learned that you can have friends that you have never met in person.
  • I enjoyed a weekend in Branson with Jason, my dad and step-mom.
  • I discovered a passion for running and logged my longest run of 8 miles.
  • I went to the beach (of course).
  • I had my first giveaway (see below). 

Over the course of this year since starting my blog, a lot has happened. It's not all been perfect, life isn't. I faced overtraining syndrome, I have battled some depression, I have also grown and tried so many new things - stepping out of comfort zones in a big way. I have made some amazing friends, found unbelievable inspiration, and learned so much. I definitely feel like I have grown more over this past year, maybe it's been the blogging that has helped me keep track of both progress and even a bit of regression at times.

Giveaway Time - And 15% Discount Code
So, now the part you have really been waiting for - a NuNaturals Giveaway!!!  Four (4) of my fabulous readers one (1) box of  NuStevia Packets, 50 ct. box AND one (1) bottle of NuNaturals Vanilla Stevia Liquid, 2 oz. bottle. (Please note that the contest is only open to U.S. residents - I apologize to my international and Canadian readers.)

How do you enter you ask?
1.  Leave a comment: Tell me at least one special thing you've done over the course of the year (it can be starting a blog, a kick-ass recipe, running a marathon, you name it).

2.  Tweet: Follow me on twitter and tweet about the giveaway for a 2nd entry leaving a separate comment letting me know you did so. (Please be sure to include @hriacobacci as well as a link to this post).
    I will pick the winners by random number generator on Tuesday, November 2nd.

    I am so excited to be able to bring this giveaway to you. I absolutely am in love with NuNaturals products. I used the NuNaturals Vanilla in my oatmeal, in coffee, mixed with yogurt or cottage cheese. I even take packets with me to use in tea rather than using the "other" sweeteners ;-) If you haven't tried them yet, I think you'll be very pleased. In fact, if you don't want to wait to see if you win, I am able to offer my readers a 15% discount through their website: www.nunaturals.com 

    To receive 15% off your total order, just visit their site, and at the checkout page enter this code:  BLG1130. When you order through their website, you also receive FREE SHIPPING to the Continental U.S. on all orders totaling $35.00 and over, after this special discount. This offer is ends November 30, 2010.

    Thursday, October 28, 2010

    Seattle Bound...At a Later Date & White Chili

    Rest Day
    Well, as much as I had hoped and planned on getting in cardio this morning, I had to be honest with myself. It just wasn't going to happen. Period. My body is pooped. I really didn't want to have to take today as a rest knowing how long I would be sitting (7-2 at work then the rest of the time at airports or on a plane). But there was just no way my body was going to cooperate with my OCD mind. I did finally rationalize that I could get in a run tomorrow on the waterfront. I mean I'll take that!

    So last night, after tons of rearranging, we managed to pack everything into two carry-on bags. I have a huge purse to carry other items like the laptop and such and Jason had a bag that he could carry as well.

    Fretting, Planning, Worrying Does Not Equal Control
    I spent most of my morning at working trying really really hard not to think about the pending flight.
    The only problem was having my parent calling me and chatting it up about flying. They both love it. I don't even want to acknowledge it!
    I had a meeting at 11 then another at 1 so I knew that'd definitely keep me occupied. We were supposed to fly out at 3:24 CST and are due to arrive (after a layover in Houston) in Seattle at 7:55 pm PST. When I got back to my desk after the 11 am meeting, Jason had sent me an email to call him and a brief message why. Really bad news. Our friend's father may not make it, and he had to fly out immediately to get to the hospital. So, our trip is postponed.

    Of course they told us we could still fly out and stay at their house and use their vehicles. But it just wouldn't be the same. Everyone was dissappointed of course. It was out of all of our hands really.So now our thoughts are just with our friends and their family.

    So after the cramming in of workouts, fretting about eating dinner tonight (no time at layover, so it would have had to have been after we arrived in Seattle), stressing about packing and flying, no trip. It goes to show that no matter how well you plan or how much worrying you do, some things are simply out of our control. This really needs to be a lesson learned for me.

    Looking on the Bright Side
    I guess the one good thing is that my sister is still planning to come up and stay with us tomorrow evening. It's been a while since she's been over, so I imagine we'll have a good time (we always do). She recently found out she has some serious gallbladder problems and one recommendation was to go gluten-free. So I am thinking of trying to make a gluten-free pizza just for her.

    So any recommendations from my gluten-free friends????

    I did go ahead and choose to be off work tomorrow (I mean, I had it in my head I wouldn't be there after all). I'll have to hit the grocery store now since we wiped out the fridge. I'll probably check out some more gluten-free goodies for my sister too. It's always fun checking out new foods. It's supposed to be a really pretty day, so I may try to go for a run as well.

    Chili for a Chilly Evening
    The temperatures here really dropped off today. I don't think the high hit 70 and we're due for a possible freeze tonight. We're a bit low on food right now but we did have a bell pepper, white onions, and an aneheim pepper. So we decided to try our hand at a Spicy White Chili tonight. I have to say "we" because the white chili was Jason's idea after watching the FoodNetwork the other day.

    Spicy White Chili
    Ingredients:
    1/2 white onion, diced
    1 green bell pepper, diced
    1 anaheim pepper, diced
    2 tbsp minced garlic
    32 oz low-sodium vegetable stock
    2 cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
    To taste: salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, ground corriander
    1 package of vegetarian "chicken" substitute of your choice, diced
    *Slurry: cornstarch + cold water mixed well as a thickener if needed


    Directions:
    In large sauce pot, saute onions, peppers, and garlic until begins to soften. Add in the stock, beans, and spices. Let simmer for about 30 minutes then add in your "chicken" and let continue to cook and thicken.


    *Recommend adding less liquid if you don't want to do a slurry.
     
    This was a really great alternative to the regular red chili. We'll definitely make this one again!

    Commenting
    It's been brought to my attention that some of you are receiving mass amounts of notices of replies from ages ago. My guess is that whatever went wrong with Intense Debate in terms of my replies suddenly not showing up was randomly fixed. So, now my replies are showing up, and everyone is being notified. Gotta love it (or not). So I do apologize. I don't know if there is any way to fix this. Hopefully it is just a one-time thing.

    Wednesday, October 27, 2010

    Group Run Fun, More Running & Lifting

    Group Run Recap
    Well, I must say that I am very happy that we went on the run with the group from Go! Running. The turnout was apparently larger than normal (average 10-15, with about 30 last night) most likely because of the enticing giveaways: free pair of Brooks shoes and a free Nightlife Brooks Jacket. Oh, and we all got 20% off any Brooks Nightlife Apparel - hello new shirts and shorts!

    It was a 4-mile route through a really nice, older neighborhood. Though, many of the old bungalows have been torn down with newer, larger homes erected in their place. But still, it's an old, established neighborhood - with lots of freaking hills. We got started and it was slow and choppy with everyone trying to settle into groups based on pace. Once that worked itself out, it was much better. I swear, 4 miles has never gone so quickly. I really wanted to keep running! If we had known the route, Jason and I would have likely added on 2 miles (or I wanted to anyway).

    Neither of us won the giveaways, but that's ok. I hope we'll be able to join them again next Tuesday.

    Late Dinner
    We didn't get home until close to 7:30, so dinner was a bit after 8 pm, which is very very very late for us. I typically go up to bed to read at 9 pm. It's not ideal to do so on a full tummy. So I did have a hard time getting to sleep. That will be the only downfall of doing that run.

    But, at least I had dinner pretty much ready minus the "fries" on the side. We had the Red Bean & Quinoa Burgers I made on Monday topped with a vegan cheeze (Vegan Rella I believe), BBQ sauce and some leftover Carrot & Cabbage Slaw.


    Red Bean & Quinoa Burgers

    Ingredients:
    1/2 cup cooked red quinoa
    1 can red beans, rinsed and drained
    1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flax + 3 tbsp warm water)
    1 carrot finely grated
    Oatmeal flour (to desired consistency of patties, approximately 1/4 cup)
    To taste: salt, pepper, parsley, garlic powder, dried onions, chili powder, splash of liquid smoke

    Directions:
    In large bowl, smash beans very well. Then combine remaining ingredients. Form into patties (made 4 large patties) and bake on prepared baking sheet at 400 degrees for approximately 45 minutes (or until firm) flipping once.


    Lunchtime Run
    Today turned out to be a gorgeous, near 80-degree day. Though it started out a chilly 46! I couldn't pass up a run at lunch, but totally underestimated the wind status. Wind aside, I had a nice 4-mile run at a pretty good clip. I knew I was pushing myself a bit, but didn't realize until the end: 7:52 pace average. I was pretty happy with that. I still have a very difficult time judging my pace unless Jason is there with his gadgets to tell me. Though, sometimes not knowing can be a good thing. I may have tried to slow down a bit had I realized what my pace really was.

    Do you find that sometimes you do better not knowing how hard you're really pushing? Or do you need to know in order to push harder?

    Happy Hour Sounds Better
    I'll be honest, today was one of those days when I thought a happy hour was so much more preferable to another workout. I really am needing a rest day, but am trying to get my workouts in before Seattle because I don't know what I'll be able to do there. I know, I know, I know. This is silly, stupid, irrational. I also need to finish packing and that's stressing me out a bit. So working out is a great stress reliever and diversion (also procrastination tactic).

    In the end, I was a good girl and hit the weights and resumed packing. Today I did back and chest and light legs as I've not done legs in a while (hanging head).

    TS#1
    Flat bench chest flyes - 3x6
    Pullovers - 3x6
    Squats - 2x16

    TS#2
    Flat bench chest press - 3x8
    Underhand rows - 3x8
    Plie squats - 2x16

    TS#3
    Incline chest flye - 3x10
    Double-arm rows - 3x10
    Deadlifts - 2x10

    TS#4
    Incline chest press - 3x12
    Rear flyes - 3x12
    Rear slide back lunges - 2x12

    Calf raises - 2x30
    Weighted donkey kicks - 2x20

    It turned out to be a better workout than I was anticipating. If for some reason I wake up with crazy energy tomorrow, I'll do an easy cardio, otherwise, I'll let it be my rest day and try not to worry about whether or not I'll get in any workouts while in Seattle.

    Fajitas for Fast Dinner
    Tonight Jason threw together some veggie fajitas for a fast meal. We had some bell peppers of varying colors to use along with squash and seitan. It was all sauteed and seasoned with salt, pepper, cumin, lemon juice, chili powder, and garlic powder. Super simple.

    I opted out of pictures in lieu of getting the post done so I could finish some chores and packing. I don't want the house to be a disaster for my sister. I still have lots of laundry to fold and put away. I also need to figure out how on earth to get my stuff to fit into a carry-on. Seriously not thinking that's going to happen when I look at my piles of clothes. Plus, gotta have room for purchases made there right??

    Happy hump day friends - we're officially on the downhill slide to the weekend!

    Tuesday, October 26, 2010

    Trying Something New on Tuesday

    Weights & Group Run
    This morning it wasn't just gray and icky out, it was dark and raining. Lucky for me, I bought a pair of rainboots two years ago when I first started working at my current job. All it took was one rainy, 3-block walk, and I headed straight to Ebay for some boots. I don't care how silly they may look, I love them!

    So, I donned my rainboots this morning, but by 11 or so, the sun was out and it was slowly warming up. Jason and I are planning on running with a group that gathers at a new, local running store on Tuesday evenings for a 4-mile run. So, I was glad to see the sunshine, but it also meant no running at lunch.

    This of course means that I hit the weights instead. I did shoulders and abs actually. I'm trying to get all my weight workouts done by Thursday as I won't have access to a gym in Seattle.

    Overhead press - 3x6
    Upright rows - 3x8
    Lateral raises - 3x10
    Rear delt press - 3x12
    Front to side raises - 2x10

    I did the abs workout from Cathe's Kick, Punch, and Crunch.

    Dinner will be rather late for us since the run doesn't start until 6 pm. Not sure what we'll even have, possibly scrounge for fast leftovers. If it ends up anything exciting, you know I'll be sure to share.

    I'm trying not to worry about eating late and focusing on getting out and enjoying a run in a new way. I've never run with a group before. In fact, I've only run with Jason with the exception of one short run with my sister. I'll be honest, I'm a bit nervous. I know it's supposed to be a fun run sort of thing though - not trying to go fast. I need to keep that in mind. I'm hoping that maybe we'll meet some new people to go run with perhaps. Also, the store is having a few giveaways too. Wish me luck!! I'll be sure to let you know how the running goes tomorrow.

    Speaking of giveaways - keep your eyes open for my first giveaway coming up this week to celebrate a very special occasion!!

    Monday, October 25, 2010

    Monday - 'Nuff Said

    Roasted Salad With New Dressing 
    Last night we did have a roasted veggie and tofu salad for dinner. But, I made a new dressing that I was really pleased with: Creamy Balsamic Dressing.

    Creamy Balsamic Dressing
    Ingredients:
    1/4 cup cashews* (really it was a handful so maybe a bit more)
    Almond milk (just enough to cover cashews or a bit more for runnier dressing)
    To taste: Balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, parsley, onion powder, splash of OJ

    Directions:
    Puree all ingredients in blender until smooth.

    * Either soak cashews for at least 30 minutes or grind in a coffee grinder if you do not have a high-powered blender.

    I essentially used the same flavor ingredients (minus cashew cream) as a marinade for the tofu, which I bake until firm and crisp separate from the veggies.
    I know that the grilled or roasted veggie salads aren't terribly exciting, but man are they so good! And I'm loving having a creamy dressing option that's vegan.

    Bis/Tris and Step
    This morning started off foggy, dreary, windy. Pretty much blah, especially for a Monday. I was seriously contemplating ditching all workouts. The weather was just really bringing me down. But I mustered up some energy and got biceps and triceps done during lunch. I'm really glad I did. I felt so much better after the workout. I followed the same rep/set pattern as last week only doing as super sets. The workout really flew by actually.

    SS#1 - 3x6
    Dumbbell curls
    Overhead triceps extension

    SS#2
    Hammer curls
    Lying triceps extensions

    SS#3
    Incline curls
    Kickbacks

    SS#4
    Cross-body curls
    Weighted dips

    It was a pretty good workout I must say. On the first set of curls, I did feel a bit weak, but once I got going, it was all good. This gave me a nice energy boost to get me through the rest of a blah Monday.

    After work I opted for Cathe's Imax 3. I was only looking for about 30-40 minutes of cardio tops so I just did 35 minutes of this one. There are a couple of the blasts that I really don't like, so if I'm not doing the entire workout, I'll sort of skip over those and pick and choose as I go. 

    Cleaning Out the Fridge
    After my workout, I started trying to pack for Seattle. I have no idea what to pack. The temps are about 30 degrees cooler and that's hard to imagine. I really really really do not want to break out turtlenecks, sweaters, cardigans. We're going to make every effort to use carry-ons only, but I'm really not sure how to make it work with bulkier clothes. Did I mention I find 70 degrees a bit chilly?
    Suggestions are most welcome for packing efficiently with bulkier clothes. Though I'm probably over-estimating how cool it is going to be.

    While packing, I started thinking about what needed to be used up food-wise. We have some emptying of the fridge to be done since we're about to head out of town. My sister will be coming up part of the time to watch our dogs, so there are some things I can leave, but she can't possibly go through all the produce and such. I had asparagus to use, leftover red quinoa, and half a container of silken tofu.

    I ended up making Red Bean & Quinoa Burgers to eat either tomorrow or Wednesday (leftovers will be frozen). I'll post the the recipe when we have the burgers. For tonight I roasted sweet and russet potatoes with salt, pepper, garlic, parsley, and rosemary along with roasted asparagus finished off with a lemon salt. I used up the tofu by making a Creamy Honey Mustard Sauce to go over Quorn patties.


    Creamy Honey Mustard Sauce
    Ingredients:
    1/2 package firm silken tofu
    Almond milk, to desired consistency
    Approximately 3 tbsp Dijon mustard
    Approximately 3 tbsp honey mustard
    To taste: splash of lemon juice, dried, parsley, dried onions and squeeze of agave nectar (or honey)


    Directions:
    Puree all ingredients in blender until smooth.
     
     
    This sauce was super tasty. Not overpoweringly mustardy like it might sound.

    Sunday, October 24, 2010

    5-Miler to Meet My Goal

    Saturday Follow Up
    Last night Jason let me take the night off in the kitchen. Well, I sort of orchestrated from the sidelines while he did the work. He decided to use some of the Quinoa Veggie Cakes I had leftover in the freeze for "burgers" with spinach, roasted red bell peppers, and Kaas Soy Monterey Jack "cheese."

    To go with the "burgers" he wanted to make a broccoli salad. He likes the creamy sauces I make using the silken tofu, but he's never made one himself. This is where I came in. I just gave him the basics and some seasoning ideas and let him do the rest. So he came up with a Creamy Broccoli and Carrot Salad.

    Creamy Broccoli and Carrot Salad
    Ingredients:
    1 carrot, thinly sliced
    Fresh broccoli florets
    1/2 cup chickpeas
    1/4 cup golden raisins

    1/2 package firm silken tofu
    Almond milk (to desired consistency)
    Juice from 1/2 lemon
    Zest of 1 lemon
    Splash of OJ
    To taste: Salt, pepper, parsley, dill, garlic powder, red pepper, dried onions



    Directions:
    Steam the veggies briefly, you still want them to have a crunch. Drop into ice bath to stop the cooking then drain and let dry before placing in large bowl with chickpeas and raisins.

    In a food processor, combine remaining ingredients. Pour mixture over veggies and refrigerate for approximately one hour.
     
     

    I thought it turned out really well. He did get a little heavy-handed with the almond milk, so the sauce was a little looser than he would have liked. But it didn't take away from the dish at all. I think the next time we'll add in some toasted cashews for a crunch.

    5-Miler to Meet a Goal
    This morning it ended up not being rainy as predicted. It had rained over night, and the skies were overcast, but no rain falling. I decided to head over to the Big Dam Bridge again for a five mile run. I'm seriously trying to take advantage of the decent weather while I can. Also, I had set a goal for myself after talking with a couple of blogger friends about putting together a 7-day, 26.2 mile challenge. I'll get back around to that. Anyway, I started thinking, can I really do that many miles in a week? My max was a about 24.5 last week.

    So this week my plan was 26.2 miles. And...I did it. Though, today's run was not my best. After all of the great runs I've been having, I wasn't really too shocked. I knew it had to be coming right? Also, while the temps were about 10 degrees cooler than yesterday, the humidity was insane, plus it was already wet and damp out. I swear you could be soaked just walking outside not even moving. I started out too fast and had a really hard time pacing myself slower. After so many weeks with lower humidity (finally) I guess I had gotten really used to that. So, not my best run, but definitely not my worst run. It was what it was, and I made it happen. Period. I am proud of that.

    A Challenge 
    Now as for the 7-day, 26.2 challenge...It's something I mentioned to a few blog friends just trying to get an idea of whether or not it might be worth tossing out there. I think it would be an ideal challenge for those of us just starting to get into longer runs, those just starting training for either half or full marathons, or just for anyone waning a challenge really.

    I thought it might be fun to put together a blogger challenge: 7-days, 26.2 miles. You have 7 days (duh) to run 26.2 miles. I know I could not possibly do 26.2 miles in one day. And this challenge in no way is meant to disrespect a true marathon. That is an awesome accomplishment hands down. This challenge is simply meant to help push some of us, challenge us, help us possibly overcome some fears about distance even. So, if you're interested, let me know. I haven't figured out all of the details just yet, so I'm definitely open to ideas, suggestions, thoughts, etc.

    Perhaps Some Laziness
    Jason was a super sweetheart today and went to the grocery store and Target while I was running. He got home as w I was getting cleaned up. There is a new restaurant we've been wanting to try - actual vegan items on the menu even. Well, they only serve brunch today darn it. I'm not a big breakfast food lover, so we headed elsewhere. But, I'm very excited about heading back and trying their regular menu soon. They have a curry dish that can be made vegan as well as a homemade vegan bean patty. What a fantastic concept right????

    We did hit up the Drug Emporium as they are the only place around here that carries PB2. I picked up some for my sis too along with some gluten-free cereal for her to try. She recently found out that her gallbladder isn't functioning properly and may need surgery. It was suggested going on a gluten-free diet as an alternative. So, I'm happy to help her out especially since she'll be watching the pupsters this weekend for us. The Drug Emporium is also lots cheaper than Whole Foods so I stocked up on some more NuNaturals Liquid Vanilla Stevia, flax seeds, some crunchy Clif Bars (that I've never seen) to take with us on our trip for emergency food needs.

    Now that I'm finally back home, I need to get some things done around the house and maybe be a bit lazy and sit with Jason on the couch. We have some movies and some DVR'ed shows we can catch up on. It's starting to look more and more like rain again. So why not just relax right? I think I've earned it - guilt free. Dinner tonight will likely be a roasted veggie salad, or that's what I am planning as of right now. Probably no new recipes though.


    Happy Anniversaries and a Birthday
    • Happy Anniversary to my dad and step-mother.
    • Happy birthday Juli B - wherever you are, you are always in my heart and I miss you dearly. 

    Saturday, October 23, 2010

    8-Miles...DONE

    I must say, I loved reading your Good/Bads. Reminded me of so many more. Love it and I appreciate that you took the time to add to the list.

    On Repeat - Running
    This morning I had the alarm set early. Why? Last night Jason and I contemplated getting up and doing a race. It's called the Mud Run. Obviously, it entails mud at some point. I am not one to get dirty, but thought it might do me good to get out of my comfort zones. But, when I woke up around 5 am, I started thinking. Uh oh. I really didn't think we should spend the money on the entry fees (would have been $50 without shirts) as we're going out of town next weekend. Also, it would likely mean ruining a pair of shoes. I honestly don't have a spare pair of running shoes that are really safe enough to run 3 miles in and I am not ruining my new pair. Also, um, I'm lazy. I dozed back off fitfully, and at 7:10 when the alarm went off, I turned it off and that was that.

    Why even share? I don't really know, just to get it off my chest I suppose. Also, to maybe how how insane I might be. I was too lazy to get up to do a fun run 5K but I ended up running 8 miles. How screwy is that mentality?

    So, 8 miles down. Today I actually said, aloud not just in my head, that I was going to run 7 miles. That was the goal. That was what was going to happen. I remembered my water bottled, I was geared up, ready to go. Jason and I started out heading in a different direction on the river trails so I could figure out the true mileage from last week's solo run (I did 7.5 not 7, woohoo!!!!). Then we headed back the direction we typically start out going.

    I really felt gread cardiovascular wise. Jason did his job by pacing me down so I didn't just burn out. If it had not been for my hammy issues, I really feel like I could have easily cranked out 2 more miles without any problems. I was in it mentally and mostly physically. Jason, however, wasn't. I really felt bad because he's not been feeling great and I felt like I pushed more than I should have. I had said 7, he was in for 7, but once I was at the point of turning around or going on, I knew I wanted (needed) to go on.

    Anyway, it was a really good run for me. I feel really accomplished. I don't know what it is with running recently, but I think I must have gotten my head in it finally. I am not putting up those mental barriers that always prevented me of going farther. I don't doubt myself now, and that's a great feeling. And I almost feel like I'm jinxing myself with these great runs I'm having. I'm waiting for the really really shitty run. Maybe I had enough of those before to sustain me for a while.

    Post-Run Chaos
    After the run, we headed home. Jason was DVRing the Razorback game. I figured we'd just toss together lunch and he'd watch the game. Well, guess what. Electricity out again. Second Saturday in a row. Nine years and never have electricity out for more than 15-20 minutes then two Saturdays in a row out for over four hours. We decided to head downtown to try a new bar/restaurant that had some veggie friendly options and the game on tv.

    Well, they were closed until 4. So now we were working on Plan C and I was getting sick to my stomach needing food in a very bad way (I did have a Pure bar right after the run, but it wasn't sitting well for me at all). The next place we ended up at was a pizza joint (with horrible pizza). Jason ordered a sandwich and I got a salad. Bad service, crappy salad, tired Heather...not fun. Oh, and lightening delays for the game. Seriously, what a day. I finally got to the point where I said I'd take the car home and let Jason stay if he wanted and I'd pick him up later. Long story short, Jason watched the last bit of the game from the car in our driveway. Please note that the car was not running, no driving was taking place.

    Running Recovery  Help

    For my running gurus: Backing up to the me feeling crappy part. I've noticed that after my longer runs (7+) I am not hungry at all. If I don't eat, I of course start to feel ill - dizzy, nauseous, etc. But, if I try to eat, the same issues. I've only done 4 runs over 7 miles now so I'm new to this type of recovery. Any suggestions?

    Dinner????
    As for dinner, not a clue. We're sort of low on some things, but are leaving at the end of next week so a full grocery run won't work. Also, still not filling hungry yet. I am currently sitting on an ice pack trying to relieve some of the pain from my upper ham/low glute area. Is it helping? Not sure, but my ass is frozen.

    Friday, October 22, 2010

    Fun Facts Friday - Running is Like Life and Good/Bad

    Semi-Rest Day
    This morning I woke up about 45 minutes before the alarm clock was set. Rather than try to doze, I got up and got my chest and abs done that I didn't do yesterday. Yes, I know, it was supposed to be a rest day. But I really just wanted to get them done. I'm sort of hoping for a longer run tomorrow and don't want to have weights on the plan as well. Sooooo......semi-rest day.

    Wide-arm pushups - 24
    Pushups with toes on step - 12
    Flat bench flyes - 3x6
    Flat bench DB press - 3x8
    Incline flyes - 3x10
    Incline DB press - 3x12
    Pushups - 12

    I finished up with abs from Cathe's Cardio & Weights. It was kind of nice getting in a workout in the morning for a change. It's been soooo long since I've done morning workouts.

    Running is like Life
    As I mentioned yesterday, I had another great run that left me with some thoughts and perspectives about running and life. It came to me, love how that happens when running, that running is very much like life.
    • There are good runs and bad runs just like good days and bad days.
    • Running and life can be completely unpredictable.
    • Both are best enjoyed when you can get out of your head and just relax and enjoy the moment.
    • Neither should be taken for granted. There are many who are ill or injured and unable to fully enjoy either. And you never know when you might be that person.
    • You never know when it might be your last run or last day, so enjoy it for whatever it is (even if it's a bad one, at least  you have it).
    • There are always going to be bumps in the road. You may get tripped up and stumble or fall flat, it's how you recover that matters.
    • Sometimes slowing down is more important than beating the clock.
    • Both can teach you that you're stronger than you ever thought.
    • Both can also be humbling when you get too sure of yourself.

    Fun Facts Friday - The Good/Bad
    So, now for the fun stuff. Wednesday's run inspired this list of things that are both good and bad at the same time: Good/Bad. While this list came from running, there are so many things that fall into the Good/Bad category. For example: having to go to work can be bad because, well, it's going to work, but it's also good because it means you have a job.

    Sunglasses:
    Bad: When they start to bounce on your nose.
    Good: Because it means it's sunny enough to need them.

    Wind:
    Bad: When it's gusty and you're running into it.
    Good: When it's just the right amount to cool you down.

    Drivers Slowing Down:
    Bad: Because you have to wait longer for them before crossing the street.
    Good: Because they are trying to be cautious.

    Stopping at Intersections:

    Bad: The waiting/down time and getting started up again.
    Good: The waiting/down time when you need a few seconds to recover.

    Hills:
    Bad: Do I really have to even explain why they're bad?
    Good: They make you stronger.

    Sprinklers:
    Bad: When it's cool out and you don't want to get wet.
    Good: When it's hot out and you're in desperate need of a cool down.


    Tiger Balm:
    Bad: You're achy and you need it.
    Good: They make it and it works.

    Ok, you know how this works. It's your turn! Tell me some of your Good/Bads. 

    One quick shout out - I want to congratulate a friend of mine who has recently discovered his inner runner as well. High fives to you! Can't wait to see you out on the river trails.

    Thursday, October 21, 2010

    Running, Resting, Wraps Take II

    Taking Advantage of Weather by Running
    So today I opted for another run at lunch. I was torn between taking today or tomorrow as my rest day. Since I felt fine and the weather is still so nice, I opted for the run. I was planning on a shorter, 3-mile run. But I ended up doing 4.

    It was another really great run, though I will admit to the upper hamstring/low glute issues still flaring up. Butt (teehee, couldn't resist) other than that, it was really pleasant. I don't know if it's my newer approach to running, the weather, or everything just clicking, but I am enjoying running like I never thought I would. It seriously was more of just a means to an end - it was exercise, cardio. It got the job done when I was sick and tired of another step workout. But I have discovered it to be so much more once I took a step back.

    Of course, I thought through much of this today. I was so lost in my thoughts that at one point I looked up and couldn't believe how far along I already was. It used to be that I watched every second tick away. Anyway, I'll share my musings tomorrow along with the fun facts I came up with yesterday.

    Wraps Take II
    I had intended on doing chest and abs after work. But when I got home, I just realized I was done. Period. That was it. So I did myself a favor, listened to my body, and opted for a nice hot shower and PJs. While tomorrow is supposed to be my rest day, I may do chest and abs at lunch depending on how I feel.

    I had planned on making a Thai curry dish for dinner I pulled out the tofu, started cubing it up. Then I realized I was out of curry paste. I swear it's been on the list for ages now. So I had to rethink dinner. Since I had the tofu out already, I decided to do an easy marinade of agave, OJ, balsamic and apple cider vinegars. I had some sundried tomato chipotle hummus leftover (bought for football at friends' house), so I thought I'd do another evening of wraps for dinner.

    For the side, I made an Apple Cranberry Quinoa using red quinoa this time. I typically make this as a wheat berry salad, but I really didn't feel like waiting an hour or so for those to cook. I did end up adding in some OJ and parsley to the original ingredients. This is such a great side dish. I think I would like to try it with roasted butternut squash the next time to add a hint of fall to it.
     
     

    For the wraps, I just filled them with the hummus, spinach, roasted red bell peppers, and the tofu. Super simple. I think I'm learning to like these easier meals. Hope you guys don't end up bored!

    Wednesday, October 20, 2010

    Wrap it Up Wednesday

      (edited with photos)
    What a Run
    Today was a gorgeous day, especially after the dreary day we had yesterday. What does this mean? Um a run at lunch of course. I am absolutely loving being able to run mid-day again. It was just a bit over 70 degrees when I got started with only a slight breeze.

    Today was one of those days when I had to force myself to stop running and get back to work. I was sort of pounding out some frustrations while enjoying the gorgeous day. I really felt like I could have done another 2 miles at least even at the pace I was holding. I ended up doing 4.9 miles in 40:40 for an average 8.18 pace. I am pretty proud of that actually. It definitely makes me feel strong. I guess what I am most proud of is that I wasn't really trying to run for speed today, just trying to enjoy the run. I supposed that sometimes when you just relax and go with it, you end up surprising yourself (and yes, I am surprised with myself).

    I did a lot of reflecting, thinking, looking around during my run today. It really sort of helped me refocus for the day. So, here's what I did during my run today (besides run of course):
    • I came up with some fun facts for Friday.
    • I noticed a stained glass window in a church that I've yet to pay attention to.
    • I noticed quite a bit of construction going on (great news for our neighborhood, means more revitalization).
    • I also noticed lots of dog poop - owners, please carry a baggy with you.
    • I realized that 4 miles no longer seems daunting at all. It wasn't too long ago when I finally felt that way about 2 miles.
    I did have to wrap it up and head back to work sooner that I would have liked. That's the only downfall of running at lunch rather than after work. Speaking of after work, I ended up going for back today. I wasn't sure if I was going to tackle that on or not, but I went for it. I used the same method I talked about yesterday.

    Pullovers - 3x6

    Underhand rows - 3x8

    Double-arm rows - 3x10

    Single-arm horizontal rows - 3x12

    I felt like it was a pretty good workout. I still wish I had a pull up bar option.

    Wrap It Wednesday
    Ok, so there is the mock blackened "chicken" we started picking up from Whole Foods occasionally (ok like twice now). It's really good, and I knew I could do something similar. The last time I picked it up, I studied the ingredient list carefully. I knew I needed seitan, a vegan mayo (or regular if you prefer), blackened spices, and red onions. Not hard right?

    I was out of homemade seitan, but my sis had picked up some for me she spotted on clearance. Love backup plans. I searched around online to find a recipe for blackened seasonings and also for a vegan mayo as I didn't have a store brand. I ended up making a Cashew Mayo, my own Blackened Seasoning Blend, to make my version of a Blackened Seitan Salad. I will say that there were tons of recipes for both the mayo and the seasoning blend. But here are my versions.


    Cashew Mayo
    Ingredients:
    2/3 cup raw cashews*
    Almond milk, just enough to cover cashews (can use soy milk or water)
    1 tsp onion powder
    Juice from 1/2 lemon
    Sea salt to taste


    Directions:
    Place all ingredients in food processor and puree until smooth.

    *Either soak cashews for about an hour or grind them in a coffee grinder to blend easier.

    Blackened Seasoning Blend
    Ingredients:
    3 1/2 tbsp paprika
    1 tbsp of the following: sea salt, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne powder, black pepper, white pepper, thyme, oregano, chili powder

    Directions:
    Mix all spices together. Makes approximately 1/2 cup.

    Blackened Seitan Salad
    Ingredients:
    1 package seitan (or homemade)
    1-2 tbsp blackened seasoning blend
    2 tbsp red onion, minced
    1 recipe cashew mayo

    Directions:
    Combine all ingredients in bowl and refrigerate approximately 1 hour.

    I decided to serve this in a wrap with my Carrot & Cabbage Slaw along with baked sweet potato "fries."
     

    The verdict? Wow - this turned out exactly as I'd hoped, if not better. It was very similar to the one made at Whole Foods, but I know exactly what ingredients were used. I was also very impressed with the cashew mayo and will be making this again without a doubt.

    Tuesday, October 19, 2010

    Taco Salad Bowl Tuesday with Chipotle Crumble Tempeh

    Biceps, Abs & Step
    We had rain in the forecast today, so I wasn't banking on a run. I decided to do weights at lunch and cardio after work. I went with biceps and abs today. I wasn't sure how I wanted to do the biceps in terms or reps today. I stumbled across an article by Tom Venuto that helped solve my dilemma: Five Star Arms.  In this article, he lists out a variety of methods for bicep work, one method mentioned is a 4-rep System by Don Ross. It sounded interesting, different, so I thought I'd give it a shot (or the method anyway).

    You can read the article of course, but the general idea is to pick 4 exercises and change up the number of reps for each. I did 3 sets of each as a single set starting with 6 reps and increasing by 2 reps so that by the 4th exercise, I did 12 reps:

    Dumbbell biceps curls: 3x6

    Hammer curls: 3x8

    Incline curls: 3x10

    Cross-body curls: 3x12

    I really enjoyed this method actually. It was nice to try something different, and I'm already feeling the results. I plan on trying this method for my back workout this week too. I finished up with abs from Cathe's Power Hour.

    After work I opted for Cathe's Step Blast. It's been a while since I've done that one - or any step workout for that matter. I just did 35 minutes of it though. This one is always a fun, sweaty workout.

    Taco (Salad Bowl) Tuesday
    Since I sort of jumped on the leftover bandwagon yesterday, I decided to go with it again tonight. Why not make it easier on myself when I can right? Definitely need to do this more often. A wonderful concept that I apparently have been missing out on.

    I went with the Taco Tuesday theme as I had leftover Black Bean & Tomatoes Barley that needed to be used. I decided to "beef" it up with the addition of Chipotle Crumble Tempeh for a Chipotle Tempeh and Black Bean Barley Taco Salad Bowl. Even if it wasn't straight leftovers, having most of the ingredients ready to go made for a very easy dinner. You can check out my tips on making Taco Bowls. It's beyond easy. And who doesn't like being able to eat their dinner bowls?

    Chipotle Crumble Tempeh
    Ingredients:
    1 package tempeh
    2 chipotle peppers in adobo, diced
    1 tsp adobo sauce
    Vegetable stock (1/4 or slightly more)


    Directions:
    In non-stick skillet, crumble tempeh and saute in small amount of olive oil until begins to brown. Add in the remaining ingredients and allow to simmer and thicken. If using with leftover Black Bean & Tomatoes Barley or something similar, stir in at the end and allow to heat through.
     

    I served this in the taco bowls with lettuce, spinach, and Daiya Vegan Cheddar sprinkled on top. This was the first time I've actually crumbled up the tempeh. I will definitely do this more often

    Monday, October 18, 2010

    Fall Stew & Making It Easier on Monday

    Stew Sunday 
    Well, last night I ended up making a new soup recipe. It started off that I was just going to use some leftover acorn squash combined with some kabocha for a creamy squash soup. The kabocha ended up being bad so I had to move along to plan b. Not exactly sure what to call this creation. We'll go with Indian Inspired Fall Bean and Kale Stew.

    Indian Inspired Fall Bean and Kale Stew
    Ingredients:
    1/2 yellow onion, diced
    1 large carrot, sliced
    1 small to medium sweet potato, diced
    1 tbsp minced garlic
    1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
    1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
    To taste: garam masala, salt, black pepper, white pepper, thyme, ground ginger
    1 container low-sodium vegetable broth
    1/2 large bunch of kale, coarsely chopped
    1/4 cup raw cashews* and enough water to create a cashew cream
    1/2 acorn squash, roasted and cubed**

    Directions:
    In large soup pot, saute onions, carrots, potatoes, and garlic until begin to soften. Add in spice and beans and continue to cook another 5 minutes. Add in broth and let simmer approximately 20 minutes.

    Meanwhile, puree the cashews and water forming a cashew cream the consistency of soy milk or slightly thicker.

    Stir in the cashew cream and kale and cook until kale is wilted then stir in the acorn squash and cook until heated through.

    *If you don't have a high-powered blender, place the cashews in a spice grinder (aka coffee grinder) and grind until powdered. Then you can add into your blender with water and blend to desired consistency.

    **If you don't have one already roasted, cube and add in to the stew at the beginning with the sweet potatoes. Can also replace with butternut or kabocha squash
    .
     
     

    The subtle flavors from the garam masala paired so nicely with the slightly sweet flavors from the sweet potatoes and acorn squash. The kale added a nice texture contrast to the beans as well. This is definitely one to remake.

    More Nice Weather Means More Running (and Weights)
    Sometimes I think I might get too much sleep. I went to bed at 9 and woke up around 4:15 then went back to sleep again. When 6 am rolled around, I still felt that I could have slept another hour at the very least. I seriously think that if I had gotten up when I first woke up, I would have been less tired. I guess I am saying this because morning workouts just seem impossible right now. The darkness is not helping one bit either.

    Anyway, I had planned on doing weights at lunch, but it was just too pretty outside and it's supposed to rain tomorrow, so I opted for a run instead. I will say that it was a bit warmer than I had anticipated (80 degrees with humidity on higher end) and also much windier than I thought before setting out. A light breeze is pleasant, gusting wind in your face is something else. I ended up doing a pretty quick 4-miler. For the most part, it was a great run. The only times I sort of felt like I was starting to struggle was when I was in total sun, no shade in sight, or when running directing into the wind. But overall, not a bad way to spend lunch.

    I was sort of torn on doing legs today since I didn't do them yesterday. But I ended up going with shoulders and triceps. I'll likely try to do legs either tomorrow or maybe Thursday. For today's weights, I went with super sets again. I really like super sets because I feel like I keep moving and it seems to go faster. I went with 3x12 today. It's been a while since I've done higher reps, so I thought I'd change it up a bit.

    SS#1
    Shoulder press
    Overhead triceps extension

    SS#2
    Lateral raise
    Kickbacks

    SS#3
    Rear delt press
    Lying triceps extensions


    Front to side raise 2x12

    The reason I didn't do a 4th super set is because my left elbow was starting to bother me. Sometimes it feels really weak, like it'll just give out. So I didn't push it.

    Made My Monday
    When I got home, I found this fun package waiting for me. A box of Doctor Kracker Apple Crisps including a cute "Pug" card. I won this goody package from Kara @ My Wellnest recently. I've only ever sampled Doctor Kracker...well, crackers at Whole Foods and never tried the Apple Crisps. Of course I broke into these immediately after my workout. One word: YUM. Thanks so much Kara, this was perfect for a Monday!

    Making Monday Easy
    I made an executive decision to make this Monday meal-time easy. That means leftovers. We have too many right now that are about to go to waste otherwise. I am typically not one to choose leftovers...ever. But we have lasagna, chili, stew, hummus, and not telling what else buried in the depths of the fridge (scary). So no new recipe tonight. Tomorrow I have already planned to use one set of leftovers for Taco (Salad Bowl) Tuesday, again trying to make my life easier. What a concept right ;-)

    Sunday, October 17, 2010

    More Running - Hit Hightest Weekly Mileage

    Saturday Recap
    First off, I must say thank you to everyone for your unbelievable support and kind words from yesterday's post. They meant so much to me, truly. And for those who complimented the race pictures, ok, seriously made my day. I had the best personal photographer ever obviously to get decent race pictures. Thank you Jason!

    Well, if anyone is curious, after the race I did end up running 2 miles. I really wanted to just get my legs moving and loosened up post-race. It really felt good actually, as crazy as it may sound. After the short run, we headed to my niece's birthday party. It was as any 6-year old's party is - chaotic. She was a happy camper though, so that's what matters.

    We made it to our friends' house only about 5 minutes after kickoff. It was a close game initially, but in the end, we lost. I won't even get into the seriously bad calls. Not even saying that as a fan, because in the end I really don't care too much, but there were 2 seriously bad calls that even a blind person could tell were wrong.

    Anyway, moving along. We got home around 6:45 and were about to start Chipotle Chili for dinner when the electricity just went out. No storms, no transformer blowing, just no electricity on our block. Hi neighbors across the street with lights! Thankfully we have a gas stove and were able to keep cooking dinner. Oh, and I realized that I may have a small candle addiction. I had enough candles to make it appear that we still had electricity if that tells you anything. Note to self: stop buying in mass quantities at the end of seasons. We played cards while the chili cooked then ate by candlelight. Sort of romantic I suppose.

    What is crazy is that we live in a very old home and neighborhood, yet we almost never have electricity outages. In the 9 years we've been here, this was the longest outage - over 5 hours. The electricity came on sometime around midnight. Not sure what woke me up, but I woke up to some lights that we didn't get turned off.

    More Running
    This morning I was really rather lazy about getting around to anything at all. I spent more time on the couch than I care to admit. I did finally get up and get the area rugs vacuumed and some laundry folded before heading to the river trails. Jason wasn't up for a run. He was wanting to ride his bike instead. But we drove together, he rode and I ran then drove the car home and he rode home. Normally Sundays have been leg day for me. But it was just far too gorgeous out to be stuck inside doing legs.

    I went into my run planning on 5 miles. It was really strange running that path alone. There were some points where I seriously felt sad. I can run my neighborhood alone just fine, but I've always run this path with Jason. So it felt very lonely at points. At my turn around point, I happened to spot my dear hubby. It was perfect timing as I was in want of water (bad runner and forgot my water bottle). He rode beside me for a short bit before heading on again. It was nice and sort of pepped me back up for the rest of the run.

    There were points when I felt great, and points where I was feeling like I wanted to stop. At those times, I tried to refocus and relax and it really helped. In fact, I ended up pushing out an extra 2 miles for a nice 7-miler. I felt very accomplished as this was the longest solo run for me. Next time I will remember my water bottle though especially when the temps are going to be high like today - um 84 degrees in October. Gotta love the south.

    Oh, and this week I've hit the highest mileage for me ever in a week - 24 miles! See, I can do a marathon, it'll just take me 7 days ;-)

    Dinner in Question
    I really just want to enjoy the rest of the day with Jason. I think we're going to veg out on the couch and watch movies for a change. I think I deserve a bit of laziness sans guilt. Dinner tonight will either be a grilled veggie salad or perhaps soup if it cools down enough. If I make any spectacular new recipe, I'll post that tomorrow. But for now, doing myself a favor and posting then logging off for a bit. I hope you all are having a great, relaxing Sunday. I think we all deserve it!

    Saturday, October 16, 2010

    Today I Ran for You - Komen Race for the Cure

    This morning I woke up at 5:30 am, though the alarm was set for 6:30. I decided to stay in bed and at least doze for another hour. I got up and started getting myself ready for the race. Pinning on my bib, putting the chip onto my shoe, breaking the flimsy zip tie. I really didn't want to eat much, so I just had half a banana with some peanut butter and tons more water. Then it was off to the race.

    The Arkansas Komen race is the 3rd largest in the country. It's so hard to believe that Arkansas has one of the largest. There were over 45,000 women registered. This year the runners actually started 10 minutes early to help relieve some of the crazy pushing surge that happens. Usually as I'm crossing the second bridge, I can look over and see a sea of women crossing the first. It's an awesome sight that is so hard to put into words. Very emotional.
    It was about 50 degrees at the start of the race with the sun just coming up. But all the bodies and energy kept me warm. I got off to a speedy start. It's easy to do being caught up in the emotional surge. I hit mile one at 7:15 and maintained that, despite the huge bridge, up to mile 2. I was so excited when I realized I had hit mile 2 at 15:30 (see the thumbs up even).

     
    But that's where I lost it. I felt fine really, but that is the start of the super long incline that just kicks my butt. I slowed my pace so I could make it up the hill. Apparently I slowed too much, once again. I won't know my exact time until tomorrow because I missed the clock as I crossed, but it was somewhere around 24:30. Drats.
     

    I was so pumped thinking I could hit 24 today. Maybe part of it is the cold, the hills, then just psyching myself out. Not sure. I did really just try to enjoy the race for what it meant though. It's such an awesome experience to run a race with that many women - men are not allowed to run this one. So over 45,000 women coming together for one reason is pretty freaking spectacular if you ask me.

    Like I mentioned yesterday, today is a busy one. I think Jason and I are going to go do an easy 2-mile run. I say "think" because he's finishing breakfast as I type this up. He also thinks I've lost my mind wanting to run some more. But we just won't go there ;-)

    Run or no run, we'll get cleaned up then head to my niece's party an hour away. Then we'll come right back and go directly to our friends' house to watch the football game. I probably won't see home again until about 6 pm. I have not a clue what we'll even do for dinner - chili sounds appropriate at the moment, but it's supposed to hit 84 so that may seem less appropriate later. So I thought I'd just do today's post mostly about the race rather than game watching or birthday parties. This race is far more important than anything else I will do today.


    So to all of my readers who have been affected by breast cancer in some way, today I ran for you.

    Friday, October 15, 2010

    Fun Facts Friday - Randomness

    Friday Workouts 
    So, today I was off work. Very excited about that. I didn't really sleep in like I had hoped - only slept another 30 minutes extra perhaps. Oh well, better than nothing I suppose. I pretty much piddled around for a while before doing any workouts, chores, etc. That was a nice change of pace. I think every day should start that way.

    Today I did back. I did tri sets of 3x10.

    TS#1
    Underhand rows
    Pullovers
    Double-arm rows

    TS#2
    Reverse flyes
    Lat band pulldowns
    Low back extensions on ball

    I was really torn between getting outside for a run or doing step aerobics. I really and truly needed to rest the legs though. This is why I really didn't want to take Wednesday as a rest day. I kind of needed today to be my rest day. But, things happen and you roll with it. Rather than getting out for a run, I did Cathe's MMA Boxing. I listened to my body and saved the legs.


    Free Day Means Errands and Chores
    After my workouts, I got cleaned up, ate lunch then headed out for some errands. What's better than Target? Um, a brand new semi-super center Target that's only about 4 miles from my house! I don't know what this Target should be called, it doesn't have a full grocery section, but they do carry some produce, veggies, and such. Anyway, I wandered aimlessly for an hour and a half! I did good and got mostly what was on the list. A bracelet may or may not have ended up in the basket though.

    I found some cute things in the Dollar Section for my nephew and niece. Tomorrow is my niece's 6th birthday party and I had already gotten her some clothes and tennis shoes, but found a few fun little goodies. I also picked up fun stuff for my nephew because I wanted him to have something to. Jason finds this odd - both kids get gifts. The birthday child gets the most of course, but the sibling does get a few goodies. This is how it was for us growing up. Anyone else do that?

    I also hit up Whole Foods and managed to keep that tab under $45. Very proud of that one I must say. I only got a couple of things I shouldn't have. I just wanted to try a Pure bar...is that so wrong?

    So today has been kind of busy for me: workouts, errands, chores. I also need to make up a dip or two for tomorrow. Tomorrow is going to be insanely busy for us. First off, I am running in the Susan G. Komen Arkansas Race for the Cure (which is why I needed today to be a rest day). Then we have to head to my niece's birthday party which is an hour drive. When we get back, we'll actually not head home, but rather head straight over to our friends' house to watch Arkansas vs. Auburn. So, I need to get as much done today as possible.

    Nerves Galore
    I must admit that I am really nervous about the race tomorrow. I put way too much pressure on myself for races to be honest. This is a really tough course. My PR for this course is 24:36, but my true PR is 24:12.

    Why so much slower? First off, there are nearly 45,000 runners/walkers. Thankfully if you mark yourself as running under 27 minutes, you get a special bib and get to start in front. But, there is still sooooo much zigzagging and people dodging that it's hard to even get up to speed for the first half mile, which happens to be up hill. It finally levels off after crossing a bridge. Mile 2 starts straight up a steep bridge. Thankfully, it levels out for the most part until you begin mile 3. This is the toughest part in my opinion because for almost a mile (maybe .75) it is nothing but a long, gradual incline. It's very deceiving, and very tough especially at this point because you're starting to fatigue. So, I'm stressed, nervous, and even have an upset tummy today.

    Do you get super stressed out for races or do you try to enjoy them?

    Fun Facts Friday - Randomness
    Well, I really don't have any sort of theme for today's fun facts. Since I'm super busy, I thought I'd just list out some random facts or thoughts. Sometimes that can be fun too.

    • I am in love with the new Target and may need to have Jason to do the shopping there for the sake of our wallets.
    • I actually enjoy running errands when I don't feel like I have to rush. But I tend to buy more of course.
    • My weekdays off end up being busier than if I were at work.
    • I actually enjoyed an Epsom salt bath today.
    • I drink way less water when I'm not at work, this does not bode well for tomorrow's race.
    • I absolutely cannot believe my niece is 6 years old. When did 6 years pass?
    • Arkansas vs Auburn is the only football game I will ever care to watch.
    • I lived in Auburn for 7 months and worked at a sports bar - we won that year, teehee.
    • I have it in my head that I want to go for a run with Jason after my race tomorrow - Saturdays have been long run days. 
    • For some crazy reason, I really want cheese dip today. 
    So, there you have it. Total random thoughts. Your turn! 

    Thursday, October 14, 2010

    Running, Lifting, Stir Frying

    Perks of Fall - Running at Lunch
    The temperatures really dropped last night. It was 51 degrees when I headed into work this morning. I am so not happy to have to wear sleeved shirts I must add. I will try to find the positives out of cooler weather though. One is being able to run at lunch again without dying of a heat stroke.

    So, that leads me to my first workout of the day - a lunchtime run with Jason. We managed to squeeze in 3.8 miles in 31 minutes. Not too shabby. It was gorgeous out, but the breeze was strong at times. It felt good, but not when we were running into it of course.

    I will say that I am sad about the fall foliage this year. Because the summer was so hot and so dry, the leaves are mostly just dying and falling to the ground. We sometimes have just spectacular colors, but not this year.

    After work, I hit the weights. I was itching to get biceps and abs done. I love working biceps. I decided to go with straight sets of 3x8 trying to increase the weight if possible.

    Alternating biceps curls

    Hammer curls

    Preacher curls (hate hate hate)

    Biceps curls to failure - 20 curls lowered weight approximately 40%

    Hammer curls to failure - 20 curls lowered weight approximately 30%

    I did ab work from Cathe's Cardio and Weights DVD. It's always a good, solid ab workout. Do you ever get sort of itchy to do weights - just feel your muscles begging for it?

    Stir-Fry Thursday
    So, yesterday evening while I was in the kitchen making huge messes (aka new recipes), I also went ahead and baked off some tofu for a quick meal for tonight. I had rice in the freezer along with lots of veggies (both frozen and fresh) so I thought "stir fry." I decided to stick with the honey idea for the tofu making a Sweet Spicy Sesame Marinade.

    Sweet Spicy Sesame Tofu
    Ingredients:
    1 package tofu, pressed, then cubed
    Low-sodium soy sauce (approximately 1/3 cup)
    1 tbsp tahini
    1/3 cup honey or agave (I did a combination and amount is approximate)
    Hefty squirt of sriracha chili sauce
    Splash of rice wine vinegar

    Directions:
    Whisk all ingredients together then add in tofu and toss until coated. Let marinate.

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place tofu on a prepared baking sheet and bake approximately 50-60 minutes until browned and firm flipping at least once. Bake longer if you like crispier.

    This came in hand for this evening. We had an event to go to at the Arts Center, which meant we'd be home a little later than usual. So, dinner needed to be something fast. This definitely fit the bill. For the stir fry part, I used a "California" frozen veggie mix, peas, fresh broccoli, purple cabbage, arame, cashews, and baby corn and of course the tofu.
     
     
    Happy Thursday friends!

    Wednesday, October 13, 2010

    Rest Day Meant Kitchen Time

    Check It Out
    Here's some fun Hump Day news to share with you. The lovely Kris Britton from iheartwellness has started a new networking site for bloggers. It's such a great concept for the blogging community. The site is called Skinny Girl Fat Passion.

    Before the start up, Kris asked me if I would like to do a post for the site to talk about why I blog and perhaps some tips for new bloggers. I was really and truly honored that she thought of me. I would love for you to check out my post "Why I Blog" but also check out the site itself! 

    Much Needed Rest Day

    So, today was an unplanned rest day. My body decided to slightly revolt on me today. My legs are still trying to get used to my increased running I do believe. Also, I have some nice DOMS going on from chest, triceps, and shoulder workouts. I felt tremendously fatigued, which is really not normal for me. I was experiencing an after lunch slump all day. Again, not normal at all. I almost never experience that "gonna fall asleep upright" experience even when running on no sleep. So, rest day. Did that stress me a bit? Yep, only because it threw my "schedule" for a bit of a loop. But I'll deal.

    Rest Day Means Kitchen Time
    Warning: recipe bonanza about to occur.

    I will say that the rest day gave me the opportunity to spend a bit more time in the kitchen on dinner than I normally have time for. Right now the fridge is stocked and there are a few things that need to be used ASAP. I had 1 Japanese eggplant that was headed south and 2 white eggplants that finally grew (and weren't eaten by an animal) from the garden. I was thinking eggplant lasagna, but I needed a vegan filling. I have never tried making a vegan ricotta, so I did a bit of searching online and came up with an Italian Tofu Ricotta to use with my Vegan Spinach Eggplant Lasagna. I also whipped up a fairly quick, and mighty tasty Any Day Spaghetti Sauce. This is not "The Family Recipe" mind you, but it really turned out great and would also work as a pizza sauce if you let it simmer and thicken longer.

    Once I got in the kitchen and started prepping, I quickly had to come up with a plan B as the Japanese eggplant was too far gone. Drats. Luckily, I had 2 large zucchini in the fridge that I could use. So, this recipe ended up being versatile (thank goodness).

    Italian Tofu Ricotta

    Ingredients:
    1 package extra-firm tofu
    1 tbsp garlic, minced
    1 tbsp finely minced red onion
    2 tsp fresh basil, finely chopped
    2 tsp fresh oregano, finely chopped
    1 tsp dried parsley (I was out of fresh)
    To taste: sea salt, cracked black pepper
    Juice of 1/2 a lemon
    Splash red wine vinegar (apple cider vinegar would also work)
    1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
    1/4 cup raw cashews (soaked at least 30 minutes)
    Water to puree cashews (maybe 1/4 cup)

    Directions:
    Drain and rinse cashews then blend with water until smooth (slowly add in water to desired consistency).

    Crumble tofu in large bowl. Add in all ingredients minus the cashew cream. Mix well then stir in the cashew cream. Re-season if needed.


    Any Day Spaghetti Sauce

    Ingredients:
    1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
    1/2 yellow onion, finely diced
    1 tbsp minced garlice
    To taste: salt, pepper, oregano, parsley, basil, red pepper flakes
    3 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
    3 oz tomato paste

    Directions:
    In large sauce pan, saute onion and garlic until soft. Add in reaming ingredients minus paste. Allow to simmer approximately 15 minutes then stir in paste and let simmer and thicken another 15 minutes.
     
    Vegan Spinach Eggplant Lasagna

    Ingredients:
    3 Japanese eggplants, thinly sliced strips (or zucchini)
    1 recipe Any Day Spaghetti Sauce
    1 package frozen spinach, thawed and drained
    1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
    1 recipe for Italian Tofu Ricotta (or recipe of your choice)
    To taste: salt, pepper, basil, oregano, parsley, red pepper flakes
    Daiya Vegan Mozzarella

    Directions:
    Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

    Place eggplant strips on baking sheet and bake until crisp (optional).

    Meanwhile, in medium bowl, slightly smash the cannellini beans then add in the spinach and season.

    Place thin layer of spaghetti sauce in the bottom of a casserole dish. Add one layer of eggplant, top with "ricotta," bean and spinach mixture, then sauce. Repeat at least once more. Top with Daiya Vegan Mozzarella or a vegan parmesan (optional).

    Bake approximately 25 minutes.
     
     
    So, now the verdict. The Italian Tofu Ricotta was good. I do think that pine nuts would have been a better option than the cashew cream perhaps, or maybe a combination of the two. Also, the zucchini was fairly flavor-less. If you do use zucchini, I would suggest adding some seasonings or possibly breading with panko. I liked the added texture from the white beans. I think two cans blended with a smidge of white wine would have been good, or perhaps mixing them with the tofu ricotta. It seemed to be missing a "tang" so perhaps the addition of sundried tomatoes or capers would be good.