bake.sweat.create.

Adventures in the kitchen, in fitness and with glitter!


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Race Recap!

Well I suppose it’s time to check in after my big race in Richmond. It has been nearly two weeks and I my blogging seems to have gone into hibernation like my running has post-race.

I finished! I loved finishing the last .4 miles on a downhill. I loved being done. All in all it was not my best race, but I am proud to have committed to a race so soon after I moved half-way across the country and put myself through a rigorous training plan. I am going to take a few months off from training for a specific race and try to get back to enjoying my morning run, concentrating on scenery and not training plans. My first run post-race I took a spill (bloody palms and elbow) which only cemented this decision for me. I did get a boss medal for finishing!

Sweet fall motif.

Sweet fall motif.

I will race again and so have been replaying it in my head, the training, the race itself and my preparation and have come to a few realizations. First, my mid-week, mid-distance runs need to be faster. During my training for the 2013 IMG NYC Marathon I was training with someone who challenged me on each and every run. We ran at or around an 8-minute mile pace. At first I could only go 4 miles, but as the weeks went by I extended that distance to nearly 8 miles in the meat of my training. These days I am not reaching that pace. Granted Charlottesville’s elevation and elevation-change by run is much different, but I need to challenge myself more on my weekly runs. The weekly interval training was awesome for my base though – highly recommended. Two, I need to take care of my body. I had been feeling rundown in the last several weeks. I passed it off for hard training. Instead, I had blood drawn last week I found out I had dangerously low iron levels and a vitamin-D deficiency. I’m on supplements now and trying to regain some strength and energy. And third, I once did these races for fun and I think my competitive college days are creeping in and instead of enjoyment it has migrated towards obligation. Time to get back to having fun on the pavement.

Since the race I have taken a few casual runs while on Thanksgiving vacation – around the BF’s parents house in No. Va. and across the Brooklyn Bridge while in NYC after Thanksgiving. That’s what I’m talking about, good, scenic running! I hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving holiday. Thanks for your support leading into this race!

Now I’ve been cooking and started up with the crafts as the holidays are approaching! Can’t wait to share some of my other activities with y’all soon!

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Race Week!

We are less than five days away from the American Family Fitness Half-Marathon in Richmond. The countdown is real and so are my nerves! I know I have trained well and am prepared, so I am focusing on my food in-take for the next four days as my final preparation.

I really needed to use some beets that have been in my kitchen for over two weeks, and a ripe spaghetti squash. I found an easy Roasted Beet and Garlic Pasta recipe and decided to adapted it to what I had at home. I made the beet pesto by boiling the beets on the stove for about 45 minutes. Then ground them in the food processor with the walnuts, garlic, sun dried tomatoes and EVOO. I was skeptical of the taste but it turned out really nice. I would add more than the recommended 2 tablespoons of sun dried tomatoes for a bit more balance of flavor.

Then instead of serving it over pasta, I roasted the spaghetti squash, scooped it out of the shell and mixed in the pesto. Spaghetti squash was a great substitute. We sprinkled some freshly grated parmesan cheese over the top too, it was delicious! We rounded out the meal with a fresh baguette we got a Trader Joe’s. I warmed up in the oven with a bit of butter and minced garlic. I love a good, fresh baguette!

I have my last set of intervals in the morning, 3x800m at 3:33 pace. The BF has been sick for the last several days so I may be on my own in the morning. Wish me luck!

More recipes to come this week – we are cooking lasagna for our friends with a new baby and I will be carbo-loading a couple days this week for the race too. Have a great week!


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Home Stretch

I’ve reached the home-stretch in my fall training! I’m 10 days away from the Anthem Richmond Half-Marathon and today was my last hard interval workout. Daylight savings came in clutch this morning and the sun was up as we did 4x1600m on the track. I’ve been coercing the BF into running my weekly track workouts with me. It really hasn’t taken too much coercing, he ran track in HS, so goes back to his roots on the track, but it still can be early for him. My goal pace for the 1600m was 7:27. We hit 7:16, 7:28, 7:25 and 7:19. I felt great for most of the workout but was definitely tired by the end. I am coming off a 12 mile run on Saturday so I feel good about my training level and taper plan leading into next Saturday.

Over the next 10 days I am going to try to concentrate even more on what I am consuming. Eating a plentiful amount of fruits, vegetables and lean protein and (try to) avoid too many sugars. I have been intrigued by stuffed peppers for months now, but also avoiding them. Today after work I decided to dive in after finding this Rachel Ray recipe for Lamb, Feta and Couscous Stuffed Peppers and recognizing I had the makings of this recipe at home. Now before you get too excited, I didn’t use lamb. We had chicken in the refrigerator that needed to be cooked. I have also been trying to find a creative way to repurpose leftover couscous and this fit the bill. Any recipe with feta gets my attention too! Another note, I subbed the zucchini for fresh carrots I had leftover from the soup. So not quite everything in the recipe from my fridge, but I think the substitutions I made were a delicious twist. The stuffing mixture came together quickly in a frying pan, cooking and shredding the chicken and softening the onions and carrots. I tossed it all with the tomato sauce, couscous and feta and once the orange pepper was softened in the oven I stuffed each half of the pepper and roasted it again.

The recipe came together in about 35 minutes.

The recipe came together in about 35 minutes.

I realized a silly part of what intimidated me about stuffed peppers was how to eat them once they come out of the oven. Easy trick – a knife. Not even a trick, just common sense! We paired it with a nice spinach salad, with more feta of course. My latest salad dressing obsession in Brianna’s Real French Vinaigrette. It’s sugar free which is a huge plus for a salad dressing!

Full & clean plate!

Full & clean plate!

This recipe made lots of leftovers, so I am looking forward to packing some easy lunches for the rest of the week. Happy eating!


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Juice Cleanse

My eating habits have evolved (or maybe devolved) over the last few months. Being out of my own apartment and living with friends, then moving back to Charlottesville and adjusting to eating with someone else regularly, has sent my diet off the rails a little bit. Not that I have minded, I have been indulging in delicious foods but my body was starting to mind. I have been contemplating the juice cleanse for a couple months now, just waiting for the right juice regimen and the right timing. I finally pulled the trigger last week and purchased a Groupon for Juice in the Raw’s Whenever Cleanse. It was delivered to my door and I started it on Monday. Each day consists of six juices, two green, two fruity, one beet and a coconut at night.

A few of my daily selections.

A few of my daily selections.

I liked Juice in the Raw because it offered a fair amount to drink during the day and allowed one raw vegetable during each of the three days as well. I knew I would miss being able to chew! Each bottle does have a fair bit of sugar, but it is natural sugar.

I am absolutely spoiled because the BF agreed to participate with me. I mentioned that it was going to be tough to do the juice when he was eating real food, and he showed his adventurous side and offered to join in. We are now two days into the three day cleanse and feeling pretty good. I have managed a couple of moderate workouts during the last two days and haven’t felt overwhelmingly hungry or nauseous. I have felt lighter and actually been a bit more productive at work. One day to go tomorrow! We are both looking forward to eating real meals again, especially an anniversary dinner on Thursday, but are motivated to make an effort to get back to eating a bit healthier. Wish us luck!


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Embracing A Fall Weekend!

Last weekend was a bye week for the Virginia Cavaliers football team. As they happen the BF’s employer, it was good news for him because it meant he had the weekend off! After I got in a good 10-mile run with an old friend on Saturday morning, we enjoyed the pleasure of watching college football on a Saturday afternoon and he didn’t have to worry about his work, or agonize over the play of the Hoos.

On Sunday we planned to take advantage of our relaxing weekend and go for a hike in the Shenandoah National Park. The park boasts beautiful fall colors this time of year and plenty of hiking trails to explore all year round. We decided on the Jones River/ Doyles Falls trail, it was a 6.5 mile loop, which was a max for me after 10 miles the day before, and a good mix of up and down hill. Unfortunately the weather didn’t exactly cooperate. We drove up to the park in a cloud of fog and saw threatening dark clouds through occasional breaks in the fog. We bundled up in our fleeces as we set out on the trail, determined to do our hike. We were lucky to have a nice canopy of trees for most of the hike, so we didn’t end up too soaked as the rain came down for over half the hike. But we still had fun and the colors did not disappoint!

SNPHike_Trail

Our trail through the woods and welcome canopy from the rain!

One of the three waterfalls we saw on the trail.

One of the three waterfalls
we saw on the trail.

After the hike, we needed to warm up! I was chilled to the bone by the end so we fired up the crockpot when we got home and made some Turkey Chili. The combination of three different types of beans appealed to me and we used three fresh jalapeños we had from the farmers’ market last week.  I did add the corn but used a combination of crushed tomatoes and unseasoned diced tomatoes in place of the tomato sauce to add a different texture to the chili. I cooked up the turkey, onion and spices in a skillet and added that mixture to the beans, corn, etc…, in the crockpot then about four hours later, we were ready to eat. It was the perfect meal for a rain, chilly fall evening and filled the house with a nice, spicy scent.

Hearty, delicious and healthy!

Hearty, delicious and healthy!

I also whipped a little cornbread as a side, which was awesome. I had been in search of a quick, yet delicious recipe and came across this cornbread recipe on Pinterest last week. Definitely another repeat recipe for my recipe box.

Just a bit sweet, not too dense and so delicious!

Just a bit sweet, not too dense and so delicious!

We wrapped up the evening catching a little Sunday night football on TV before heading to bed early to get a good night’s rest for the week. We needed it, we’re off to Canada at the end of the week!

 


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Catching Up!

I have been on the move! I left my job and moved from Madison, WI back to Charlottesville, VA and took on a new career and new opportunity. It has been quite the whirlwind month but I am finally getting settled into the new job, my old apartment and settling into a workout and cooking routine.

I signed up for a new half-marathon in November, The Anthem Richmond Marathon. I signed up for just the half and broke out a 10-week training program to get ready for it. I’ve been familiarizing myself with some of my old routes around Charlottesville and adapting to running hills again! During my last couple weeks in Madison and my first nearly two weeks in Charlottesville, my workout routine dropped off significantly. With packing and logistics and being between gym memberships took me out of the pool for nearly a month, it has been nice to get back into a routine with work and workouts the last couple weeks.

It has also been amazing to be back in my own kitchen! I have been experimenting with recipes and have enjoyed cooking for two again.

Sweet Potato Corn Cakes

Sweet Potato Corn Cakes

Homemade Pesto Pasta with Greens

Homemade Pesto Pasta with Greens

Southwest Salad with Creamy Cilantro

Southwest Salad with Creamy Cilantro

Ok, so I didn't bake this but I did have a birthday and this ice cream cake was delicious!

Ok, so I didn’t bake this but I did have a birthday and this ice cream cake was delicious!

All recipes will come soon as I get back into the groove of living, working and posting in my new environment. Thanks for being patient! I’m looking for new recipes, would love to hear from you!


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New Running Shoes!

A great day for a runner is the run they take to break in new shoes, or rather the run after they break in new shoes. Today was my first day in a pair of new kicks! I was a loyalist to the Nike Pegasus line for several iterations (25-27) then moved to Asics Gel Cumulus for my first marathon and my latest half-marathon. Earlier this month while in Portland, I was lucky enough to visit the Nike Employee Store. Besides being in heaven, I was looking to pick-up some practical goods. A new pair of running shoes was high on my priority list, as my last pair needed to be cycled out over two months ago! I went back to my old standbys and picked up a pair of Pegasus’ – they are up to 31! And they are bright pink!

Side view!

Side view of the new kicks!

 I have been in a rut lately on my runs so I was hoping a fresh pair of shoes would invigorate me some. I tested them out with a 5.5 mile trek near Lake Mendota this morning. I started off slow and then decided to try and descend my miles. It worked for the first four, and my fourth mile was pretty fast, so I wasn’t able to descend from there but my last 1.5 miles were still at a good pace. I think it was decent fresh start for my shoes and a good omen for my running. My toes didn’t get numb, the shoes had good cushion for my feet and legs and the laces stayed tied! All in all, I am looking forward to run number two in the Pegasus!

Got socks to match too!

Got matching socks too!