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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Carbo-Loading

And so it begins! I conquered my last set of intervals yesterday and am now in full rest mode. I had a nice swim this morning and this evening took it easy, doing some stretching and icing. I also had lasagna! The BF and I met at home over lunch and whipped up a couple pans of his homemade lasagna. He has a great recipe that he loves from him mom. We were conveniently making a to-go meal for his co-worker who’s wife recently had a baby and then also a pan for my own enjoyment.

If you know his mother at all, this recipe is fairly healthy. Lean meat, cottage cheese, spinach, mozzarella cheese and I whipped up some homemade sauce to replace store-bought sauce. It came together pretty quickly, we stored the pans in the fridge, and we were back from lunch just a few minutes late.

On the way home I made a special stop at the Market Street Market in downtown Charlottesville. They have the best baguettes in town! They are baked fresh daily and the BF swears they ship the dough down special from NYC. I thought it would be a nice treat for the two of us.

After I got home, I added the last layer of the lasagna and topped it with some cheese – a nice layer of mozzarella and fresh grated parmesan. I popped it in the oven for about 45 minutes, until it was bubbling and the cheese was just browned. I sealed up the second pan, without baking it, and the BF will deliver it to his co-worker tomorrow.

The finished product was awesome and we made some nice garlic bread and salad on the side, our normal staples. We have tons of leftovers, so this may also now be my pre-race meal.

I love racing when it allows me to indulge like this!

I love racing when it allows me to indulge like this!

I’m off to Richmond tomorrow after work to pick-up my race packet and check out the course. A cold front is moving in so my clothing strategy will begin tomorrow as well. Saturday will be here before I know it. Finish out the week strong, y’all!


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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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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!


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Saturday in the Kitchen!

Today was a Saturday, I was in Madison, and I had no obligations. Woo-hoo! This was my first in Madison since July 4th weekend and I made the most of it! Madison has been saddled with muggy and humid weather for the past couple days but I still seized the day and woke up early for a run around Madison with my favorite running partner. Once we were finished with our quick six, it looked like we’d showered outside! Whew. I dried off and hit the farmers’ market. Madison’s Farmers’ Market is expansive and lush with farm fresh fruits and veggies, breads and cheese, crafts, the list goes on and on! I found lots of goodies there today – corn, cantaloupe, peppers, zucchini, grape tomatoes, carrots, basil, cheese, fresh cinnamon rolls, my mouth is drooling just thinking about everything! 

My haul!

My haul!

Pro tip – I cleaned, sliced and diced all necessary fruits and veggies once I got back from the market to make it easier to eat throughout the week. 

After a nap, I returned to the kitchen to prep dinner. My landlords and friends recently experienced a pretty serious health scare, so another friend and I offered to cook them dinner this evening. Cooking for the house meant finding a low-sodium recipe. We turned to this Fettuccine Alfredo we found on an RD’s blog. It actually turned out awesome! It was obviously not as rich as the indulgence Fettuccine Alfredo usually is, but the base sauce plus a sprinkling of parmesan cheese and cracked black pepper was delicious with the whole wheat linguine. We added a spinach salad to the side that rounded out the meal nicely. 

Prior to the meal I whipped up a tasty bruschetta appetizer with the fresh tomatoes and basil from the farmers’ market along with some fresh mozzarella and Tuscan Pane bread from Trader Joe’s. It was soooo good! Had I not been prepping a meal for a group, I may have just eaten the bruschetta for my entire meal! 

Summertime staple!

Summertime staple!

All in all it was an adventurous and exciting day, full of some much needed time in the kitchen. Everything turned out delicious, I may add in an extra run tomorrow just to overindulge in the leftovers! Happy weekend, everyone!