Thursday, September 27, 2012

Apple and Bacon Protein Pancakes & Some Scenes from Minnesota

Protein pancakes are a staple in my diet. I make a pretty standard version a few times a week after the gym, but once in a while, I get the urge to change things up. These pancakes from Chocolate & Carrots caught my eye, so I decided to incorporate the flavor combination in a protein version.

apple and bacon pancakes

Apple and Bacon Protein Pancakes

1/2 an apple, chopped
1 tsp Ideal Brown Sweetener (or other sweetener of choice)
1 tbsp water
1 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup old fashioned oats
1/3 cup 2% cottage cheese
1/4 cup liquid egg whites
1/4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
Truvia, to taste (I used three packets)
splash of butter extract, optional
2 slices turkey bacon, cooked and crumbled

In a microwave safe bowl, combine the chopped apple, Ideal Brown Sweetener, water, and 1 tsp cinnamon. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave on for two minutes or until apples are softened. Set apples aside.

In a bowl, combine oats, cottage cheese, egg whites, baking powder, cinnamon, Truvia, and butter extract. Using an immersion blender, blend until smooth. Stir in apples and bacon bits.

Coat a large frying pan with cooking spray and heat over medium low heat.  Spoon about 1/4 cup batter per pancake into the pan. Flip when the pancake tops are covered with bubbles and the edges look cooked. Cook until the pancakes are golden brown and cooked through.

apple and bacon pancakes 2

Calories: 316
Fat: 5g
Carbohydrates: 47g
Protein: 21g
Calculated on

I ate mine with some maple syrup, but I can also imagine that they would be delicious topped with peanut butter. These were a nice change from my usual protein pancakes. I have really been loving sweet and salty combinations lately, and the apples and cinnamon were perfect for fall.

apple and bacon pancakes 3

Speaking of fall, we are currently on vacation in Minnesota visiting family and enjoying some gorgeous autumn weather. Hardcore training has been replaced by sleeping in and long, leisurely walks. Yesterday we went to Westwood Hills Nature Center in St. Louis Park and wandered around for a couple of hours. It was beautiful and so peaceful to be surrounded by nature.


We saw six deer, including these two who were kind enough to pose for a picture.
This little box turtle was just hanging out in the sun.


It’s been an awesome vacation so far, and we still have so many fun activities planned before we go home!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Where's the Pause Button?

I'm glad today is almost over because it's one day closer to Friday, but I wish I could add about another hour or two.  I got up this morning and met up with Tamara and Fred to do sprints on the bike around Davis Island.  I have an 8 mile run to get to, but I'm finding it harder to get motivated to do that than it was to get up this morning.  A new job opened up that I am going to apply for so I need to refresh my resume tonight as well as pack for Augusta.  There's less than 5 hours left in the day and there's still so much to do... 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Women Run the Cities 10 Mile Race

Race season has finally begun for me! I ran the Women Run the Cities 10 Mile race in Minneapolis, MN on Sunday, and it was awesome.
Packet Pick Up: Packet pick up was available at a local sports store a couple days prior to the race as well as on race morning. I normally like to pick up my packet prior to race day, but since I didn’t arrive in MN until Saturday afternoon, I had to wait until race morning. Luckily this wasn’t a huge race (2700 total participants in the 1 Mile, 5k, and 10 mile race combined) and the volunteers were very organized and efficient, so I had my bib and shirt within 5 minutes of arriving to the race site.
Course: The course was out & back along the Mississippi River with a short jaunt across the river into St. Paul. We were running through a very pretty neighborhood with some great old houses to look at (I love to “shop” for my next house when I’m running in a new place), and the views when we were crossing the river were stunning. My one complaint about the course was that the 5k runners merged with the 10 mile runners with about a mile and a half remaining in the race, which meant that I spent the last 10 minutes or so of the race trying to navigate through a crowd of 5k runners who weren’t running at my pace. I heard from my friend and sister who ran the 5k that their race started about 18 minutes later than scheduled, so I’m not sure if that had something to do with the congestion.
Aid Stations: There were six aid stations along the course. Gu gels were available at two of them. The aid stations had plenty of volunteers, so there weren’t any slow downs waiting to get water. It would have been nice to have had Gatorade available at a couple of the stops.
Post-Race Goodies: Free Starbucks….need I say more? I was really impressed with the food and drink selections at the end of the race. They had your typical bottled water, bread/bagels, and bananas, but they also had bags of Old Dutch potato chips, mini Pearson Salted Nut Rolls (yum!), bags of BoomChickaPop Popcorn (produced here in MN and so, so good), and full size bottles of Muscle Milk and Muscle Milk Light protein shakes. I LOVE that they had Muscle Milk there. I understand why post race food options are usually so carb-heavy, but I always feel like the need that some of us have for protein is over looked, so I was thrilled to see the Muscle Milk tent.
Swag: The shirts for the 10 mile race were long sleeve, half zip technical shirts – I was really happy to see such nice shirts for a 10 mile race. The medals were also high quality, fun, and bright – the design was perfectly suited to a women’s race.

Results: This was my first 10 mile race, so I was guaranteed a PR. I wanted to use this race to gauge where my speed and conditioning were in relation to the end of marathon training in May. I anticipated that I would be a bit slower because I haven’t been as focused on running this summer, but I was going to leave it all on the course because I knew I had a week of vacation and taking it easy coming up before I officially kick off marathon training in October. I was pleasantly surprised when I ended up finishing in 1:15:14 (7:32 pace), which put me at 36 of 1129 finishers. According to a calculator of equivalent race times based on the Jack Daniels Running Formula, I am still right where I was in May. I guess training with future IronWoman Maria all summer has paid off. :)
Overall, I would highly recommend this race to any women in the Minneapolis area, and if I ever happen to be in town for it again, I will definitely participate. I especially enjoyed it because my sister Miranda and my best friend since second grade ran the 5k. Both Miranda and Jolene are relatively new to running, and it was so exciting for me to see them finish strong and to be able to share the sport that I love so much with two amazing women who have been constant sources of support and encouragement for me my whole life. I wish we would have gotten a picture together, but we were all a little focused on getting out of the cold and getting food into our bellies after the race. Next time, I guess….and I know there will be a next time since Jolene is already signed up for the 10k in Fargo next May!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Weekly Recap – Competitive Week #10

Competitive Week # 10 went well.  I skipped one running session, a swim session, and a strength training session.  I skipped running because I could feel my knees starting to get a little tweaked from all the running from the previous week.  I skipped a swim because you know how much I love to swim.  I just wanted the extra sleep Smile.  And, I skipped the strength training because I knew I would be doing a lot of crawling and pulling myself up and over things during the Highlander III Adventure Mud Run. 

But, here’s the recap with the Garmin links:

Tuesday: swim, bike

Wednesday: tempo run, long swim

Thursday: Davis Island bike

Friday: off

Saturday: Highlander III – recap in yesterday’s post and can also be found on the Recap page

Sunday (65% of full distance trial run): swim, bike, brick run

Sunday was a planned trial run of doing close to 3/4 of the full distance triathlon.  For the swim, I put on my wetsuit and swam around the little pool that I have at my place.  It’s really important to get used to wearing a wetsuit before the race.  When I get into the water, I want to make sure that I’m focusing on my breathing because I want to be steady as opposed to I can’t breathe at all.  I’m swimming tomorrow at LA Fitness and will be doing about 20 minutes in my suit.  I don’t want to ruin it with the chlorine…  I made sure to plan out my nutrition as if it were race day as well.  I’ll summarize that below.  The bike was 70 miles (well, 67 and change), and the run was exactly 16 miles.  I stopped 5 times.  The second stop was a about 5 minutes longer than it should have been because I got stopped and was chit-chatting with someone.  The very last stop I didn’t even stop my watch because I wanted it to be a quick stop-and-go.  All I did was re-fill my water bottle with cold water and went.  I was very happy with my overall finish on this trial run.  So, on to nutrition:

Breakfast (about an hour before swimming):

  • 1 cup of peanut butter cheerios and 8 oz of So Delicious Unsweetened Almond Milk with Protein – 170 calories
  • After swimming – 2 Powerbar Oatmeal Raisin Energy bites, 1/2 bonk breaker – 205 calories
  • On the bike – 2 scoops of infinit (200 calories) with 3 squirts of MiO Energy, 1 Clif bar toffee crunch (240 calories), 1/2 Honey Stinger (80 calories) – total calories – 520
    • Execution: Sip Infinit mix every 10 minutes.  Every hour on the hour eat instead of drinking Infinit.  Wait 20 minutes after eating before continuing to drink Infinit.  Hour 1 – 1/2 Clif bar, Hour 2 – 1/2 Clif bar, Hour 3 – 1/2 Honey Stinger.  Sip water along the way.
  • Transition from bike to run – 1 Clif Shot Espresso – 100 calories, 100 mg of caffeine
  • On the run – 4 gels and water 
    • Execution:  I was going to have a gel every 3 to 3.5 miles.  But, I was still full from the 1/2 Honey Stinger and Clif Shot.  So, I took the first gel, a Clif shot Strawberry flavor, at mile 5.  This was also my first stop. 
    • Stop 2, mile 9.5, Roctane Blueberry Pomegranate
    • Stop 4, mile 12.5, 2nd Surge Double Espresso – 100 mg of caffeine + 3 g of protein

Amazingly I only had to pee once and that was during my transition from the bike to the run.  I spent 7 minutes dropping my bike off, using the bathroom and getting my run gear on. 

On an even better note.  I didn’t have any stomach issues after the run.  Normally I have to run to the bathroom immediately after I eat something.  But, felt fine the whole day.  After the run, I took a bath and kept my legs up for a little while to let the blood flow back the other way.  When I got out, I put on my compression pants and calf compression sleeves.  I rewarded myself with a turkey burger from Green Iguana and two Guinness’  Smile.  I felt pretty good today and I am ready to get this week over with to get to the real stuff on Sunday (Augusta HIM) and then focus all my attention on one last century ride and then the highly anticipated tapering period.

Good night!   

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Race Recap - Highlander III 6-mile Adventure Run 9/22/2012

Race season has officially started! YAY! Saturday I did the Highlander III 6-mile Adventure Run put on by Rock On Adventures.  It was a very well put together race.  This is my recount.  I can’t guarantee that the obstacles are in the right order, but I will try to list them as accurately in the correct order as possible and hopefully will remember all of them:   
  1. Run through tires
  2. Run through, over or under criss-crossed ropes
  3. Climb over a 4 foot wall
  4. Run for a little while
  5. Run through mud
  6. Walk over a sand pit on tree
  7. Climb over an 8 or 9 foot wall
  8. Carry a sand bag on your shoulder while you walk through mud that’s like the scene from the Never Ending Story where Atreyu and his horse, Artax, get stuck
  9. Climb over a slanted wall.  The first ledge that you can actually grab onto is about 6.5 ft.  So, if your legs aren’t too tired, then you can attempt to run and jump.  Otherwise, you have to have someone help you up, like me.  Thankfully my boyfriend was there to push me by butt
  10. Climb over a tree
  11. Swim over two barrels in the water
  12. Run for a little while
  13. Swim under two barrels in the water
  14. Next obstacle you could choose from either a pull up bar with another bar on top that you have to get over or picking up a tire and putting it over an 7 or 8 ft pool and then lifting it back off.  The pull up bar was out of commission.  So, we were forced to do the tire over the pole.  I am way too short for this one.  I could barely lift the tire over my head, let alone lift it another 3 feet to get it to go over the pole.  I had to have someone help me on this one too  
  15. Run some more
  16. Run through some more criss-crossed rope
  17. Crawl through tires suspended between trees
  18. Jump into a watery mud pit and climb out with a rope
  19. Walk through some more mud carrying a sand bag.  This mud was not nearly as bad as the first one. 
  20. Crawl through mud under barbed wire
  21. Walk through more watery mud
  22. Crawl through mud under barbed wire again
  23. Run for a little while
  24. Climb up a rope and touch the top
  25. Climb over fallen trees
  26. Carry a tire and walk around a circle
  27. Run for a little bit
  28. Carry a sand bag and walk around a circle
  29. Walk over another pit on trees
  30. Jump about 15 ft into water
  31. Run for a little bit
  32. Cross water walking on a line and hanging on to a rope above you
  33. Climb over a wall of sand – there were actually about one of these for every obstacle a little after the half-way point.  Instead of mud, it was climbing over a wall of sand.  Although, there were still a couple of more mud obstacles near the end, but not nearly as many as in the beginning
  34. Hop in a potato bag and go about 20 ft
  35. Cross slippery monkey bars
  36. Swing like Tarzan into muddy water
  37. Zip line
  38. Climb a wall with a rope and/or use little steps to help you up
  39. Walk through an ice pit about three feet wide.  This was actually kind of refreshing because it was closer to the end of the race when it was getting hot.  So, it cooled my legs off. 
  40. Climb a wall of tires
  41. Carry someone on a stretcher (one or two people carry the person on the stretcher) or use blocks with ropes under your feet and walk around a circle
  42. Slide about 15 ft into water
  43. Crawl through some more mud
  44. Run up and over some more sand hills
I think I got everything.  I may have missed a couple of mud pits, but I definitely listed all the different kinds – walk through knee-deep to chest-deep, jump into and climb out of, and crawl through on hands and knees under barbed wire.  Some mud pits were really thick and tried to each your legs, others were watery but had just enough gross clump stuff to make you want to hurry up and get out before you threw up.  It’s quite a few obstacles all packed into 6 miles.    I mentioned earlier that I really like races that give out unconventional awards.  Rock on Adventures has this down.  Overall male and female winners get a huge 6 or 7 ft Viking sword.  Age group winners get a beer stein.  Better placing gets a bigger stein.  I finished in 1:29 and placed 3rd in 20 – 29 age group.  Finisher medal on the left, a/g award on the right: Highlander III _2 Not sure if you can see the scratches on my leg.  Here’s a better shot: Highlander III _1 It was another take home Smile
Summary:  This race is pretty awesome.  I will definitely do it again.  It’s kind of like Tough Mudder but less commercialized.  You can actually have your friends and family come out and support you for free!  What a concept, right? 
  • They have local food trucks out so you can get your choice of grub after for pretty cheap.  I had some coconut gelato, sausage corn dog, and a Portuguese  Piri-piri (spicy) grilled chicken sandwich.  This sandwich was delicious! 
  • Their shirts are really comfy and they are cool enough to wear out when you just want to wear something relaxed and comfy. 

Highlander III _3Highlander III _4
  • They have a LOT of obstacles all packed into 6 miles. 
  • There aren’t any electric wire that aren’t going to shock you so that other people can laugh
  • There isn’t any fire to run through where you have to breathe in smoke and/or possible catch fire
  • The ice pit was cold but you weren’t in it long enough to lose feeling in any of your body parts
  • The awards are SUPER COOL!
  • Water stops (with cold water) every about 1.5 miles.  And, the way the course was set up you passed the same water stop twice in less than .5 miles
  • The waves were far enough apart with roughly 50 people per wave making it easy to get through the obstacles without having to wait long.  I never had to wait longer than a minute, if at all, for any of the obstacles
  • They really care about safety in this race.  Tree stumps in the woods were spray painted so you could see them, you didn’t have to complete any obstacle that you weren’t comfortable doing any water that you had to jump in was deep enough, if the water was shallow they warned you and with the wall of tires, they instructed everyone to go between the tires at the top instead of going over the top railing of the wall
  • The water to rinse off at the end was good once the knobs were removed and the water was coming out faster.  Could maybe use one more station like this or make sure that the water can flow freely from all sides. 
  • Chipped timing.   
  • I really did not enjoy needing help for the first slanted wall climb.  It was impossible to get up without help unless you have springs in your feet or are really tall.  I don’t know why I was, and still a little am, so insistent on completing the course without any help.  There were teams signed up and that’s fine if they want to have obstacles specific to team work.  But, I signed up as an individual racer and I wanted to finish it that way.
  • So, for the same reason as above, I did not like the obstacle where you have to pick up the tire and put it over a pole and then take it off.  There was an alterative, but it was not being allowed to be used.  Probably for safety reasons.  Which is fine.  Some guy was nice enough to help me with this one.  Daniel didn’t realize that I needed help and was working on getting his own tire on and off the pole. 
  • This is more of a wish list item.  But, there was a lot of crawling through mud and a lot of times the mud splashes up in your face.  This isn’t a huge deal except when it gets in your eyes and you don’t have a single clean inch on you anywhere to clean the mud out with.  So, it would be nice to have someone with a little wash cloth or a tub of water to clean your hands and face
  • The walk-around for missing an obstacle wasn’t always a long enough route to make up for missing the obstacle  

Friday, September 21, 2012

Take Two, BOSTON!!

This is my road to Boston 2012.  I did the West Palm Marathon on 12/5/10 as my first marathon ever.  I finished with a time of 3:50:01.  I was so stunned about completing my first marathon and was on such a high that I wanted to sign up for another one in the next couple of months before it started to get too hot in March.  Otherwise I would have to wait too long for another one.  I found the Melbourne Beaches & Music Marathon which took place on 2/5/11.  I finished with a time of 3:39:10.  A huge, unexpected improvement from my first one.  The biggest difference was the weather.  It was around 78 and sunny for the West Palm race and about 60 with overcast and a light mist for literally the entire morning of the Melbourne marathon.  At this point, I honestly didn't even know what Boston was.  I knew it was a marathon race, but I didn't understand the significance of it.  I just thought it was another huge race like New York or Chicago.  Someone mentioned that I may had qualified for Boston and so I went online and found out that I did indeed qualify.  But, but :50.  I didn't think this was good enough since they were going to take the fastest runners first starting that year.  What was I to do next?  Look for other marathons to get in before Boston registration opened of course.  I found the Santa Rosa Marathon in CA which I HIGHLY recommend.  It's a small race, but flat and in Santa Rosa where it's always between 50 and 70 degrees, even at the end of August when it's held.  I also found the Via of Leigh Valley Marathon in Allenton, PA.  This race is held in the beginning of September.  It was a good race, but a little hilly and warmer than I like.   

I trained hard to get a better time for Boston.  And, at the awesome Santa Rosa race I pulled off a time of 3:29:54.  Since this race is around a bunch of CA wineries, age group winners get a bottle of red wine for the prize.  I love races that give out unconventional awards.  That was my journey to Boston 2012. 

Unfortunately, Boston weather was very uncooperative this year and decided to be hotter on race day than the Florida weather that I had been training in.  It was an amazing weekend and I was very grateful to get to be involved in the experience at least once.  But, it's a little upsetting when you can't enjoy such an awesome race to its fullest because you're concentrating so much on hydrating and doing a body check and looking for the next water stop instead of enjoying the scenery and the complete strangers out there cheering you on.  Although, it was kind of fun running through the fire hydrant water.  How often are you ever going to get to do that?  I know I've never done it before. 

I wanted a redo.  Bad.  I qualified for Boston 2013 at the Disney Marathon 2012 with a time of 3:30:42.  This was fortunate because I did the Miami Marathon 3 weeks later and had the worst marathon I've ever had and was not anywhere near the realm of qualifying.  At exactly 10:00 AM on the Monday of the 2nd week of registration I logged onto and put in my applicaiton.  I have been checking the updates every day since.  B.A.A. was nice enough to post this update shortly after the 5:00 PM registration cut-off time for the second week of registration:

"BOSTON – The Boston Athletic Association (B.A.A.) announced today that registration for the 2013 Boston Marathon® will continue on Monday, September 24 at 10:00 a.m. ET for runners who have met the qualifying standards necessary for the submission of their application. Following an initial two-week, rolling admission registration period, which began on September 10 and concluded on Friday, September 21 at 5:00 p.m. ET, the B.A.A. will accept applications until the maximum field size is reached."

What the above statement from Boston means is that anyone who qualified, registered within the first two weeks, and their times can be verified, are accepted.  This means I'm in!  I get my redo.   

Sarah, being as awesome as she is, was able to register on the third day that registration was open.  I was so happy when she said she got her confirmation back.  And, if I hadn't gotten in, I would still would have been just as happy for her.  I know that she would have had an amazing experience and an enormous, giddy smile like the one she got after finishing her first marathon and when she sees dolphins on our runs down Bayshore.  But, I'm even more happy that I get to enjoy the race with her as well.  This is more of a selfish reason.  This year, my friends and family were happy for me.  Most of them are not runners.  So, they were happy for me because they knew it made me happy.  Now I get to enjoy the race with someone who is as excited about it as I am.  It's like going to an amusement park.  It can be fun by youself.  But, it's even better when someone is with you that enjoys it as much as you do.           

Cheese! And Wine!

For once, superwoman Maria wasn’t training for her IronMan last night, so we decided to hit up a Cheese Class and Tasting at Whole Foods. We were served samples of five different cheeses paired with wines meant to highlight the different flavors of the cheeses. As we sampled, the cheese expert gave us the background on the production of the cheese and explained what flavor notes we should be picking out.

wine and cheese

We started with Brillat Savarin, a decadent triple creme Brie. Like most Brie cheeses, it was rich and buttery; we were also told to take note of a hint of mushroom in the cheese. It was paired with pepper jelly and an Extra Dry Prosecco from Cantine Pirovano. I liked the overall combination of flavors in this selection. The creaminess of the Brie mellowed the bite of the pepper jelly, and the prosecco was light and fruity, but I wasn’t a huge fan of the Brie on its own. It was a little earthy for me.

The second selection was a 5 Year Gouda from the Netherlands. The cheese is sourced from small scale dairy farms which typically only have 30 – 100 cows. The Gouda was sweeter than most I have tried in the past, and it was very easy to pick out the butterscotch flavor we were told to expect. It was paired with a really nice Port whose name I unfortunately don’t remember. It seems that someone else was also a fan because the empty bottle disappeared after the class before I had a chance to look at it. An interesting tidbit I learned during the discussion on this cheese – Gouda is actually pronounced “Gowda."  Who knew?

The third cheese was a Tarentaise out of Vermont. It is an organic Alpine-style cheese made with raw milk from Jersey cows and produced in specially imported copper vats. It was served with a raw Marcona almond and a Block No. 45 Pinot Noir. The cheese had a slightly nutty flavor and a little bit of a bite. The wine was just okay; I don't have anything good or bad to say about it. This trio was probably the most unremarkable of the tasting courses.

Cheese #4 was Gabietou, a semi-soft cheese made with a blend of raw cow and sheep’s milk. It comes from a mountainous region in southwestern France, and the animals used in the production of the cheese are moved up and down the mountains, allowing them to ingest a variety of flora and fauna. It was served with a 2009 Aletta Garnacha. This was probably my least favorite combination of the night. Both the cheese and the wine had earthy notes, and I am starting to realize that I am not a huge fan of that characteristic in my food.

The final selection was a revelation for me. When I saw that it was a blue cheese, I was slightly disappointed because I am not a fan of blue cheeses. It only got worse when the expert told us to expect a cheese that would “sit heavy on the tongue”. The cheese was a Persille du Malzieu from France. It was served with a piece of dark chocolate and this light, fruity, refreshing Riesling, which just might be my new favorite wine.


The cheese on its own was creamy and spicy and was definitely blue, but unlike some I have had before where the pungent flavor is completely overwhelming, this one also had a sweetness that seemed to mellow the tang and sharpness. And paired with the dark chocolate, it was pretty amazing.

This was my first time attending one of the free classes at Whole Foods, and now I can’t wait to check out some of their other events. While I love eating cheese, I am by no means educated on the topic, so I felt like I learned a lot, and I sampled cheeses that I never would have otherwise tried. The Cheese Class & Tasting is held the third Thursday of every month at the Whole Foods in Tampa, and I will definitely be going back next month.

To top off an already awesome night, we ran into Target, where I finally found this gum.

Nicole Wilkins had posted a picture of this on her Facebook page months ago, and I have been looking everywhere for it since then because the Dessert Delights are my absolute favorite. The verdict? It's probably the second best flavor, right behind Apple Pie.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Morning Glory

There's a saying that things/events usually happen in sets of 3.  Sometimes they're good things, sometimes they're bad.  This morning they were good. 

1) I saved a little tree frog.  It was sooo cute.  Pretty much looked just like this:

I almost stepped on it walking through the gym.  I was able to pick it up and take it outside. 

2) I had a good tempo run:

10 min w/u on elliptical
5 min w/u jog @ 7.0 (8:34 min/mi)
6 miles @ 8.2 (7:18 min/mi)
10 min c/d jog @ 7.0 (8:34 min/mi)
5 min walk @ 3.5
Total time - 1:05
Total distance - 7.90 miles (not including the elliptical)

3) Sarah sent me some links to easy recipes with quinoa.  I have never had quinoa before and I had no idea how to use it, but heard a lot of good things about it.  So, I made Hot Banana Breakfast Quinoa from using the instructions from here -  I am happy to say that 1) it was easy.  Less than 8 minutes including the 3 minutes to heat everything up in the microwave.  And, 2) it was yummy.  I need to add some more sweetener to it, but it was still tasty without it.  I am very excited about this because I was getting sick of my low carb wrap with veggie cream cheese and egg beaters for breakfast.  It was either that or a protein shake from the gym on the mornings that I swam.  Thanks Sarah for sending me the links!

(Mis)Adventures in Training - Dragonflies and Frogs

I recently posted about running over a squirrel on during a bike ride.  That was quite an event for me.  I’ve managed to miss them with my car thousands of times, but apparently I’m not quick enough to miss them on my bike when they run out in front of me. 
This past weekend I guess nature decided that I should have tried harder to miss the squirrel and my good deed of saving the baby turtle wasn’t enough to make up for it.  At about mile 50 of this past weekend’s bike ride, I got hit in the right eye by a dragonfly.  I wish I would have had sunglasses on.  But, I started before the sun came up and didn’t even think about bringing them.  Lesson learned I guess.  It hurt so bad and I wasn't even going that fast because I was slowing down to take a slight turn.  It felt like someone threw a hackey sack at me. 

On a better note.  I saved a baby tree frog this morning in the gym.  I almost stepped on it.  It had some dust fuzz on his butt so I couldn’t tell what it was at first until it started hopping.  I managed to pick it up and take it outside to a little patch of grass.  Surprisingly it was a lot easier to catch than a lizard.  Man those things are slick. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Carrot Cake Protein Muffins with Almond Flour & Wheat Bran

I’m always on the lookout for healthy, grab-and-go snacks. My alarm goes off by 5:30 AM 5 - 6 days a week, so saving even 5 or 10 minutes in the morning by having breakfast prepared is definitely a plus. I lean towards sweet over savory when it comes to pre-workout fuel, and Jamie Eason has quite a few easy and yummy protein bar recipes on that I have enjoyed in the past. Her Carrot Cake Protein bars are some of my favorites, but since my kitchen is currently stocked with 14 different types of flour and I love to experiment, I decided to switch up the recipe a bit. My changes included swapping out some of the oat flour for almond flour & wheat bran, increasing the cinnamon, adding cardamom and vanilla extract, and replacing the water with a non-dairy buttermilk substitution.

carrot cake 1

Carrot Cake Protein Muffins with Almond Flour & Wheat Bran

Adapted from this recipe
Makes 12 muffins

1/2 cup oat flour
1/4 cup almond flour
1/4 cup wheat bran
2 scoops vanilla whey protein (I used Dymatize Iso 100)
1 tbsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
1/3 cup Ideal Brown Sweetener
1 1/2 tsp Splenda Nectresse

3/4 cup liquid egg whites
2 4 oz. jars or packs of baby carrots
1 1/2 tsp lemon juice + enough unsweetened vanilla almond milk to make 1/2 cup
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare silicone muffin cups or use the foil muffin cups with the paper insert removed.
Whisk together all dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the wet ingredients. Add the wet ingredients to the bowl with the flour mixture. Stir only until all the flour has been incorporated; you don't want to overmix the batter or the muffins will be tough. The batter will be quite runny.
Spoon the batter into the 12 prepared muffin cups. Bake in the preheated oven for 13 – 16 (it took 16 minutes in my oven) minutes until a toothpick inserted in a muffin comes out mostly dry.  Let cool on wire racks. Once they are completely cool, they should be stored in the refrigerator.

Nutrition Information per muffin
Calories: 66
Fat: 1.6g
Carbohydrates: 5.9g
Protein: 7.1g
Calculated on

carrot cake protein muffin 2

I was a big fan of how these turned out. The almond flour added some healthy fat and kept the muffins moist, and the bold spices were reminiscent of fall. I’ve especially enjoyed them paired with some Laughing Cow Cinnamon Cream Cheese Spread.

Speaking of fall, despite the fact that we are still experiencing temperatures well into the 80s here in Florida, I am very much in an autumn-like mood and decided dinner last night needed to be some form of comfort food. I made Pioneer Woman’s Perfect Pot Roast; it lived up to its name and actually was darn near perfect. My only change next time will be to add more veggies because those carrots and onions were absolutely delicious after cooking with the roast all afternoon!

Monday, September 17, 2012

102-mile Bike Ride Nutrition Review

Saturday night Daniel and I went to The Rack. I knew they had sushi so I agreed to go. I ended up eating 6 sushi rolls, edamame, 2 hot wings, and a few cheesy nachos with chicken. I know hot wings and cheesy nachos are not a good idea. I'm a sucker for finger foods and I love spicy foods. I was only going to have one hot wing to try them, but they were so good I had another. Thankfully the sushi came out so I could munch on something else. I also drank about 3 glasses of water.

This is what I had Sunday:

4:30 AM - 2 cups of Multigrain Cheerios with 1 cup of Silk Pure Almond Unsweetened Vanilla almond milk. I normally eat the Peanut Butter Cheerios, but I was was trying to be a little healthier and go with the less sugary stuff. What can I say? I've gone peanut butter and I'm not going back!

6:00 AM - just before taking off on the bike - 2 Powerbar Oatmeal Raisin Bites. These things are so good. I know you can easily make them yourself, but I am not a baker. I probably need as much training cooking and baking as I do for the Ironman triathlon. I can do, it just takes me forever.

6:00 AM – 11:30 AM (during the ride) – I tried to take a sip of my Infinit concoction (16 oz. of gatorade, 2 scoops of Infinit nutrition powder, and 1 scoop of BSN Amino-X) every 30 min.  I also took a sip of water every mile.  I went through 84 oz of water in the 5 hrs and 15 min I was on my bike.   

  • :45 into the ride I had half a Bonk Breaker Almond Butter & Honey
  • 1:30 I ate the other half
  • 2:15 into the ride I ate a whole Honey Stinger Waffle Strawberry
  • 3:00 I ate half of a Bonk Breaker Peanut Butter & Jelly
  • 3:45 ate the other half
  • 4:30 ate a Honey Stinger Waffle Vanilla

I didn’t have any stomach issues with any of the above.  A major plus.  I did have a little bit of an issue with the Almond Butter & Honey Bonk Breaker.  It was too dry to get down easily.  The PB & J Bonk Breaker was awesome.  It tasted delicious and was moist enough to swallow easily but not too gooey to where it stuck to my everything in my mouth.  The Honey Stinger Waffles were the same.  Those were even easier to get down because there wasn’t as much to chew.  The only thing that had any caffeine in it was the Infinit mix.  I don’t know how much caffeine is in the two scoops because it doesn’t say anywhere on the packaging.  I’m assuming it can’t be that much.  I was exhausted at the end of the ride.  I was full, but exhausted.  I bought some MiO energy to add to the mix for the next ride.  This has caffeine in it and will add flavor to the mix so I don’t have to use Gatorade and chance having issues with too much sugar.  I think this will be a win.  I’ll confirm or deny this next week.  I didn’t run after the ride so I couldn’t test the full effects of everything. 

Overall:  I think I took in enough calories (in – 1013; burned – 1,582), but not enough caffeine.  This is the first ride over 20 miles that I have not taken a gel and this is also the first ride that I’ve taken in more than 100 calories every hour.  I felt more tired after this ride than I have any of the others, except for the 100 miler out at hilly San Antonio.  Saturday’s workout was a 13 mile run, .75 mile swim, 20 mile bike, and ended with another 7 mile run.  I know that this had something to do with me being tired as well.  But, the tired I felt was more like I needed to take a nap immediately, like a just-ate-Thanksgiving-dinner need to take a nap feeling.  I didn’t even want to run 2 miles after the bike (when I had originally planned for 8) because I all I could think about was going home and sleeping.  In fact, I only made it about 3/4 of the way home before I started dozing off.  So, next time, I think I’m going to try and take in the same or about 100 less calories, definitely no more, and add the MiO and a couple of gels.       

10 Running Questions Answered

I saw this post with 10 running questions over on Food & Fun on the Run last week and thought it was a lot of fun to read her answers, so I decided to follow suit and post my own version.
  1. Best Run Ever: The Fargo Marathon, hands down.  I was running in my home state, the weather was perfect, crowd support was amazing, and I somehow managed to qualify for Boston with a time that was faster than I thought I would ever be able to run.  The best part, however, was being able to share the experience with my parents, my sister Miranda, and three of my lifelong girlfriends.  The fact that all of these people whom I love were willing to travel from out of town to watch me run a marathon, which is not exactly the most spectator friendly sport, meant the world to me and made that moment so much more special.
  2. 3 Words That Describe Your Running:  Therapeutic. I saw this post on Facebook the other day, and it really resonated with me. I can’t even begin to count how many frustrations, disappointments, and conflicts I have left behind on the pavement.304632_10151405418867388_1018952397_nSweaty. I sweat…..a whole lot. But, as I learned on one of my Ragnar relays, “It’s not sweat, it’s liquid awesome!”  Gratitude-filled. Not sure if that counts as only one word or not, but I’m running (ha!) with it anyway. Running has helped me transform my body, it has given me an outlet for my stress, and it has connected me with people I never otherwise would have met and become friends with. Running has truly been a gift in my life, and I try to remind myself of that every time I run.
  3. Go-To Running Outfit:  I generally just grab any clean pair of shorts and a tank top from my giant pile of workout clothes, but my Brooks PureConnects, my Spibelt, my Garmin, my iPod, and my water bottle are never left behind.
  4. Quirky Habit When Running:  I do a lot of math while I’m running – How much can I slow down and still meet my goal pace?  If I was running a half marathon at this pace, what would be my finish time?  It’s 7:25 right now, I have 8 miles to go, I’m running at an 8:10 pace…..what time will I be eating breakfast??
  5. Morning, Midday, or Evening:  Morning, all the way. I love starting my day with a workout, I know exactly what works for me nutrition-wise, and watching the sun rise over the bay never gets old.
  6. I Won’t Run Outside When…’s too hot, humid, and sunny. I wilt in the heat, and I hate it. I will gladly wake up at 4:30 AM to get my run in before the heat gets unbearable. 
  7. Worst Injury and How You Got Over It: I had a small tear in my left meniscus about two and a half years ago. Luckily, it didn’t require surgery, so I got a cortisone shot, took 8 weeks off completely from running, and went to physical therapy. It was a long 8 weeks, but I was fortunate enough to have trainers who customized a workout plan that allowed me to maintain my cardiovascular endurance and force me to obey the doctor’s orders so that I didn’t injure myself further.
  8. I Felt Like the Most Badass Mother Runner When I was running my second leg of the Florida Keys Ragnar in 2011.  It was about 9 miles in the dark on a canal trail. Runners had very specific instructions to stay away from the water and not discard anything that would attract the wildlife (wildlife = gators). One of my teammates was engaged to a Ragnar staff member who had texted her pictures of the alligators sunning themselves on the trail earlier in the day, so I knew that the warnings were serious. It was easily the scariest run of my life, but I felt invincible when it was over.ragnar
  9. My Next Race Is next Sunday!! I’m running the Women Run the Cities 10 Miler in Minneapolis, MN, and I was able to convince one of my sisters and two of my girlfriends to run the 5k. I’m so excited to share the race experience with them!
  10. Running Goals for 2013: I’ve still got a 10 miler, a 15k, a half marathon, and a full marathon in 2012 to focus on. My main goal for 2013 is to train properly to allow me to truly enjoy running the Boston Marathon. While I hope that there will be many more Boston experiences in my future, there’s no guarantee that I will make it back again, so I want to soak up every second of the race in 2013.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Weekly Recap (Competitive Week #9)

This week was tough.  I had to wake up before 5 AM three days this week.  The good news is that I just completed my biggest training week of the 36-week Ironman training plan.  5 Weeks to go to race day!  


Monday – strength training (Mark Allen’s 12 best strength exercises – Phase 3, week 2, Day 1):

3 sets (10, 8, 6 reps) of the following:

  • pull-ups – Yes, I did make 10 pull-ups in a row!  This is a first for me.  Breaking new ground is always motivational
  • leg extensions – 60 lbs
  • leg curls – 55 lbs

2 sets – 12 to 15 reps for each (2 count lift, 4 count lower).  Each of these will be 12 reps unless otherwise noted:

  • bench press – 50 lbs using assisted machine
  • squats – 50 lbs
  • lateral dumbbell raises – (2) 10 lbs
  • calf raises – 50 lbs – 15 reps
  • backward lunges – (2) 15 lbs.  Set 1 – 12 reps, set 2 – 15 reps
  • bicep curls – (2) 20 lbs
  • tri extensions machine with rope.  Set 1 – 9 reps @ 40 lbs, 3 reps @ 37.5 lbs; Set 2 – 12 @ 37.5
  • leg press – seated machine.  145 lbs

added workouts:

  • hip abductors – 95 lbs – 15 reps
  • hip adductors – 100 lbs – 15 reps
  • abs.  Jack knives w/ medicine ball – 15 reps; Crazy Willy’s (this is a name that I made up for an ab workout that I learned from another trainer years ago) – 15 crunches each position. 
    • There are four positions, no rest between switching positions.  You can do however many you want for each position, but if you’ve never done them before, I would start at 8 or 10 crunches in each position.
    • Position 1 - Lying on your back, lift feet and bend knees at a 90 degree angle.  Put your hands behind your head and crunch up. 
    • Position 2 – Lift feet straight up.  Put your hands behind your head and crunch up. 
    • Position 3 – Bend knees to 90 degrees again.  Crunch up to touch ankles
    • Position 4 – Lift feet straight up again.  Crunch up to touch toes or come as close as possible to your toes 

Tuesday – swim, my attempted bike ride   

Wednesday (day 1 of waking up before 5 AM.  Wake up time – 4:00) – Davis Island bike speed work, treadmill tempo run

Thursday – treadmill speed run, strength training (Phase 3, Week 2, Day 2):

3 sets (10, 8, 6 reps) of the following:

  • bench press – bar + 15 lbs each side
  • squats using assisted machine – set 1: 90 lbs, set 2: 100 lbs, set 3: 110 lbs
  • bicep curls – (2) 20 lbs
  • tricep extensions with rope – 37.5 lbs
  • leg press – set 1: 145 lbs, set 2: 150 lbs, set 3: 155  lbs

2 sets – 12 to 15 reps for each (2 count lift, 4 count lower). Each of these will be 12 reps unless otherwise noted:

  • lat pull down – set 1: 85 lbs (12 reps), set 2: 70 lbs (15 lbs)
  • leg extensions – 55 lbs
  • leg curls – 55 lbs
  • lateral dumbbell raises – (2) 10 lbs
  • calf raises (using assisted machine) – 70 lbs (35 lbs each side) – 15 reps
  • dumbbell pullover – (1) 30 lbs - 15 reps
  • backward lunges – (2) 15 lbs – 15 lunges each side

added workouts:

  • back extension (single leg) – (1) 25 lbs – 8 reps each leg
  • planks – 60 seconds each side and regular

Friday – swim

Saturday - This is when the fun starts! (day 2 of waking up before 5 AM. Wake up time – 4:30) – 13 mile run, .75 o/w swim, 20 mile bike, 7 mile run 

Sunday - (day 3 of waking up before 5 AM. Wake up time – 4:30) – Solo century bike ride

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Sweet Tooth Saturday – Chocolate Revel Bars

bars and oats

Sweet Tooth Saturday went retro this weekend!  Is it just me, or did everyone’s mom have some version of this cookbook when they were growing up?

image source
I don’t know how old my mom’s copy was, but I know that by the time I started cooking, many pages of hers were crinkled and stained from use.  My amma (grandma in Icelandic) gave me my own copy when I was a teenager, and while it’s no longer my go-to cookbook, I still refer to it for ideas when I’m in the mood for something that is easy to prepare but tastes great.  When I was paging through it last weekend, I came across the recipe for Chocolate Revel bars.  These might be my favorite bar cookie ever.  When our college cafeteria made them, I turned into a bit of a food hoarder and would wrap as many as I possibly could sneak out in my back in napkins to eat later…..healthy living wasn’t really a focus of mine back then, clearly.  I had forgotten all about these ridiculously delicious treats until I saw the recipe, but it took all of two seconds for me decide they HAD to be made once I remembered them.  I made a few modifications to the original recipe, the most important being cutting the oat mixture in half and leaving the chocolate filling ingredients as written. There can never be too much chocolate, right??

revel bars 2

Chocolate Revel Bars
Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

1 1/2 cups quick cooking oats
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk, divided
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup milk chocolate chips
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt

1.  Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking pan.
2.  In a large bowl, beat together 1/2 cup butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Mix in egg,  1/2 cup of sweetened condensed milk, and 1 teaspoon of vanilla. In another bowl, combine oats, flour, baking soda, and 1/2 of teaspoon salt; stir into butter mixture.
3.  Pat 2/3 of the oat mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Refrigerate for one to two hours.
4.  In a medium saucepan, heat remaining sweetened condensed milk, chocolate chips, 2 tablespoons butter, and 1/2 teaspoon salt over low heat, stirring until smooth or mostly smooth. Do not heat for too long; if the chocolate mixture is heated for too long, it will seize up and become very difficult to spread.  It’s better to remove from heat with a few small bits of chocolate left unmelted than it is to overheat. Stir in 1 teaspoon of vanilla.  Set aside and allow the chocolate to cool until the oat mixture is ready to be removed from the refrigerator.
5.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 
6.  Remove the oat mixture from the fridge, and spread the chocolate mixture evenly over the top.  Crumble the remaining oat mixture over the top; some of the chocolate layer should still be visible.
7.  Bake for 25 minutes or until the top is lightly browned; the chocolate mixture will still look moist. Let cool on a wire rack, then cut into bars.

These bars are so easy to make; the hardest part is the waiting.  Cesar was pretty thrilled with them as well. He may have slipped into a mild depression when he realized he only had two left.  Luckily for him, every week includes a Saturday, so there will be something new to lift him out of his funk before too long.

Now that I’ve taken care of that business, here’s a silly video to brighten your Saturday.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Surviving Tuesday & Focus on Race Day Nutrition

I survived Tuesday.  The rest of the day was kind of up and down.  I was able to pick up my bike from Kona Multisport that afternoon.  While I was at the store, I was also able to pick up a 10 visit guest pass to the YMCA down the street so I could use their pool.  I was going to bike after work, but my bike was so clean and shiny I didn't want to get it dirty in the still somewhat flooded Flatwoods Park.  I decided to get in my swim instead since I've pretty much made all my bike training sessions and skipped a lot of the swimming.  The swim turned out good.  Here's what the plan called for:

w/u - 300 swim, 200 kick, 300 pull
main set - 30 X 50 w/ 10 sec rest as follows:
#1 - 10: gradually descend from 75% to 85%
#11 - 18: 25 kick - 25 sprint --- I did these with the swim fins.  Doing the sprints were scary and fun.  I was swimming way faster than I ever have before and I almost wasn't coming up for air in time.  I thought this might be something that I should keep in mind for Augusta 70.3 and the Beach2Battleship because both are going to be wetsuit races and the swim is with the current. 
#19 - 30: race pace.  I didn't rest between these.  I just went.  I did these remaining 12 - 50's in 9:34.  This is between :46 and :47 every 50m.  I normally come in around :48 to :50 every 50m when I do 8 + at a time.  Improvements in swimming for me come in 1 and 2 seconds decreases in time per 50m.  I can honestly say it's taken me over 6 months to get to this point, starting at :51 to :53.  The best part was I didn't feel like I was going to die at the end.  I was definitely pushing myself.  But, I made sure to hold back a little so that I could finish all 12 without slowing down.  This made my Tuesday better  :). 
c/d - 400 pull.  I used the hand paddles with these and took it easy.

I was supposed to bike for 1:30 after.  I made it to Davis Island and was able to get in 5 miles before it got too dark.  I didn't have any of my lights with me because I took them off for the tune-up and brought them inside ... instead of leaving them in my car which probably would have been more practical. 

The two big races that I have coming up are Augusta 70.3 Ironman and Beach2Battleship Iron Distance tri.  I'm not too worried about Augusta because I've done a half iron distance tri before and was able to make it through on gels and water alone.  I do not think that nutrition will be that easy for the B2B tri.  I have been thinking real hard for the last week about what solid foods I can tolerate.  I will only be eating solid food on the bike as I intend to rely solely on  gels and whatever is available on the B2B course for the run.  I tried a PB & J sandwich last weekend.  It settled in my stomach fine, but it was hard to swallow since my mouth was dry.  I've had this problem before in a race.  I ate a couple of Powerbar Oatmeal and Raisin Energy bites at the beginning of the bike and since my mouth was so dry from the salt water, I drank almost all my water about 10 miles into the bike, with 14 left to go.  No bueno.   

Here are some things that I'm going to try:
  • Infinit Nutrition.  This is an energy/endurance powder that you can customize.  One of the guy's that I ride with mentioned that this is what he uses.  I decided to get some because I could add caffeine to it.  This will help replace not taking gels with caffeine and I can rely on the Infinit for caffeine and a few calories, whatever food I decide to go with for the bulk of the calories that I will need, and water.  I bought some and tried some the other day to see how it tasted.  I wanted the flavor to be medium-strong fruit punch.  It tasted more like watered down lemon water.  Ugh.  Thankfully I have some BSN Amino-x watermelon flavor recovery mix that can be used before, during and after a workout and can be added to any beverage that tastes awesome.  It's got a little bit of a fiz to it, but I like that.  I'm going to mix the two and see how it works out.  Results to come after Saturday's training session.  Here is the nutrition facts for the Infinit mix I customized (serving size is 2 scoops):
    • Calories - 196
    • Fat - 0
    • Sodium - 338mg
    • Potassium - 98 mg
    • Carbs - 46g
    • Protein - 3g
    • Caffeine  -- Doesn't say.  I'm a little annoyed that it doesn't tell me how much caffeine is in it. 
  • Bonk Breaker bars.  I had never heard of these until about a week ago.  It turns out that this is now what will be on the course for Ironman races.  After reading more information about them I decided to get a few.  From a lot of the reviews it sounds like they are moist and will be easy to get down.  There was an issue with my order, so I don't think I'll have a review ready for them until after next weekend's training session.  Unless by some miracle I am able to find them in a store Saturday.   I don't understand why they are not stocked everywhere that carries any kind of endurance race nutrition stuff.
  • Honey Stinger Waffles.  Read some race recaps from other people that mentioned eating these.  I also have a few friends that like to eat these during races.  I have tried them myself (only before a race, not during a race or even during training) and they are tasty and gooey, soft but not sticky like Chomps.  Same deal as with the Bonk Breaker bars.  I will have a review up hopefully this weekend but more likely next weekend.   

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Elliptical Intervals & The Beyond 300 Workout

Today at the gym I decided I wanted to do whatever I felt like instead of sticking to the schedule I had set for myself this weekend. Running is always my first choice for cardio, but since I didn't want to do my intervals, and I’ve been making a conscious effort to not run too many “junk” miles, I chose to spend a little bit of time on the elliptical.  I tend to get really bored just pedaling along steadily, so I came up with a plan to pass the time.

Elliptical Intervals
In addition to breaking up the monotony, I like incorporating forward and backwards motion because it works both my quads and my hamstrings, and completing the last five minutes without holding on increases the engagement of my core. My legs were definitely burning on the last few minutes of high resistance! 

After hopping off the elliptical, I decided to tackle a The Beyond 300 Workout I found while I was perusing old issues of Muscle and Fitness Hers.  The workout, which I followed exactly, is this:

beyond 300

The workout, which was designed by Julie Lohre, is supposed to be timed and completed with as little rest as possible.  In the magazine, she says that her record is 22:39.  I had a blast with this!  It went by quickly (it took me 29:31), my heart rate remained elevated, and I felt like I got a great full body workout.  I highly recommend giving it a shot if you are looking for something fast and fun to do in the gym.

The rest of the day will probably be spent trying not to eat all of this deliciousness at once (the recipe made four loaves twice this size):

I whipped up this Cranberry Pumpkin Spice Loaf from Ingredients of a Fit Chick last night, and it is so, so, SO good.  If you like pumpkin, you need to make this ASAP!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Rolling With the Punches

Most, if not all, workout enthusiasts would agree with the saying “I’ve never regretted a workout, but I’ve regretted missing a workout”.  I don’t know about you, but unless my body is telling me to take a break, I get so bent out of shape if I miss a workout.  Yesterday I missed a spin class but was able to make up for it a little by getting in my strength training.  This morning I got up at 5 AM to go for a swim.  Let me tell you how much I LOOOVE waking up at 5 AM and swimming (sarcasm).  I made it to the gym around 5:30, walked inside and the pool is closed!  I couldn’t even go to the other gym by work because that one is closed too.  I don’t know what is going on with the pools, but they’re all murky.  The girl at the counter said they are waiting on a new pump and didn’t know when the pool would re-open.  FANTASTIC!  It was too late to make the spin class at any of the gyms.  I went back home and went into the bathroom and there was a not-so-nice surprise on the bathroom rug from my dog, Suggs.  It was gross and stinky.  After cleaning it up and throwing the rug in the washer, I was able to fall back asleep for about 30 minutes.  I couldn’t even sleep longer because I needed to wash my hair.  This is when using the trick of not washing my hair the night before backfires on me L.  Needless to say I’m not a very happy camper at this point and it’s only 7AM.  I’ve calmed myself down about missing the spin and swim sessions.  Now I’m anxiously awaiting the phone call to let me know that my bike tune-up is all done and I can come get my bike.  If I’m not able to get it today, then I will miss tomorrow morning’s weekly speed work at Davis Island.  Or I will have to re-arrange my schedule again and maybe do it Thursday morning.  I can’t wait for this week to be over.  Until then I’m just going to roll with the punches and hope nothing else derails my training for this week. 

How do you feel when you miss a workout?  How do you deal?                    

Motivational Music and Meatballs

Well, today was supposed to be my triumphant return to the Shortcut to Size program, but it turns out that I hit my snooze button one (or maybe five) too many times, so I modified my plans and got my tempo run for this week out of the way. Today’s run called for 3 miles at a 7:27 pace, 3 minute rest, 2 miles at a 7:24 pace, 2 minute rest, and finally 1 mile at a 7:24 pace. I didn’t think the run would be that much of a challenge, but my body wasn’t entirely in agreement with my brain on that point. I was really struggling during the last half mile of my 2 miles, but then this song came on my iPod.
This is the song that was playing when I finished the Fargo Marathon. Every time I hear it, I am transported back to the moment when I entered the Fargo Dome and saw the finish line come into view, and I knew that I was only seconds away from running a Boston qualifying time. And just like that, I had the energy to push through and finish the workout strong. I’m always amazed by power that certain songs have to invoke such vivid memories and to transform my attitude.

Time to talk about balls! Meatballs, that is. On one of my many stops at the grocery store last week, I noticed some thick, lean, beautiful pork chops on sale, and I felt the distinct need to buy a couple of pounds. I stuffed the first pound with prosciutto and manchego cheese, so when it came time to use the second pound, I was in the mood for something completely different and not necessarily in chop form. Inspiration struck when I looked out at my deck and saw my out of control basil plant. I decided to go with an Asian version of meatballs, and this is what I came up with.
Basil Ginger Pork Meatballs

Basil Ginger Pork Meatballs

Makes 4 Servings

1/4 cup Panko
2 tablespoons finely chopped green onion
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons peeled and grated fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound lean ground pork (I ground up some boneless pork chops in my food processor; I have a hard time finding lean ground pork in the grocery store)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons Sweet Garlic Chili Sauce

1. Place a jelly-roll pan lined with a silicone mat (foil works too) in the oven. Preheat the oven to 450°.
2. Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl. Stir gently just until blended; don’t overmix, or the meatballs could become tough. Cover and chill 30 minutes. Divide the pork mixture into 20 equal portions. Shape each portion into a meatball. Arrange the meatballs in a single layer on the preheated pan. Bake at 450° for 20 minutes or until done.

Nutrition Information per 5 meatballs
Calories: 188
Fat: 6.3g
Carbohydrates: 85.9g
Protein: 23.6g
Calculated on

Meatballs Two
I loved these so much that I ate them for lunch three days in a row with some coleslaw mix that I sautéed in garlic and sesame oil and sprinkled with chopped cashews. I normally brown meatballs prior to baking them; I didn’t this time, and I wish I would have or at the very least flipped them halfway through the baking time. The bottoms of the meatballs had a nice brown and crispy crust that I preferred to the top of the meatballs.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Potato Crusted Mini Quiches

Quiches 3
Last week, the monthly newsletter from Clean Eating Magazine showed up in my email, and it included this recipe for Potato-Crusted Salmon & Goat Cheese Quiches. I loved the idea of a grab and go quiche with a potato crust in place of the traditional fat-laden pastry crust but wasn't entirely sold on the rest of the recipe. The original recipe called for yellow potatoes, but since I had a sweet potato that needed to get used, I threw that in the crust mixture as well. Not being a huge fan of salmon or goat cheese, I totally re-worked the egg mixture, opting instead for caramelized onions, roasted zucchini and peppers, and some fat free cheese.  The end result was fantastic – veggie packed and flavorful with just a bit of heat from the jalapeno in the cheese.  Each quiche has less than 75 calories to boot!
Quiches 2

Potato Crusted Mini Quiches

Adapted from Clean Eating Magazine
Makes 14 Quiches

10 oz yellow potatoes, grated
8 oz sweet potatoes, grated
4 large eggs, plus 1/2 cup egg whites
1 tbsp whole-wheat pastry flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/8 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp basil infused olive oil
1 cup thinly sliced onions
1 cup diced bell peppers
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup shredded zucchini
2 oz Lifetime Fat Free Mild Mexican Cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 425ºF. Arrange silicone muffin liners on a large rimmed baking sheet.
In a large bowl, combine potatoes, 1 whole egg, flour, salt and pepper. Line the muffin cups with the mixture; the potato crust should be about 1/4-inch thick on all sides. Bake for approximately 25 minutes, until browned around the edges. Remove from oven and let cool, about 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350ºF.
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add the onions and let them cook until slightly brown...this should take about 10 minutes. Add the peppers and garlic and cook for another 5 minutes. Add the shredded zucchini and cook until softened. Set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together 3 eggs and 1/2 cup of egg whites. Add the Greek yogurt and whisk until incorporated. Add the veggie mixture as well as the cheese and stir. Spoon the mixture into the prepared potato crusts.
Bake at 350 degrees until set. This took 27 minutes in my oven. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a knife along the edge of the muffin cups before removing from the silicone molds.

Nutrition Information per Quiche
Fat: 1.8g
Carbohydrates: 8.3g
Protein: 5.5g
Calculated on
Quiches 1
After having eaten most of the quiches, I had a flash of brilliance and whipped up some Adobo Cottage Cheese Sauce to amp up the spice and add a little more protein to my post workout meal. I can see myself making these again and again; the recipe is completely customizable based on what kind of veggies, meats, cheeses, etc I have on hand, and the convenience of being able to grab a couple as I head out the door is a huge plus.

As is usually the case in my kitchen, the cooking process was closely monitored by my in-house quality control staff.  Rest assured that nothing escapes Phoebe’s watchful eye!
quality control

Sunday, September 9, 2012

(Mis)Adventures of Training

Living in Florida is great for training.  You can train pretty much all year long.  There are a few hiccups in the summer time because it rains a lot in the afternoon, though.  There are multiple parks, trails, and roads that are somewhat biker friendly (unfortunately, Florida ranks among the lowest of all states for biker friendliness) all within a 30 mile radius of me and most of them are closer to 20 miles or less.  If you go here to the Metropolitan Planning Organization website, under Transportation Topics –> Trails it’ll show maps of the current, in progress, and planned trails and connections.  I can’t wait for them all to be done.  Pinellas County is home to the 37 mile Pinellas Trail.  There are current plans and some progress to add an East-West connection to the 20.6 mile Progress Energy Trail.  In Hillsborough County, there are the 41.3 mile Suncoast Trail and the 8 mile Upper Tampa Bay Trail.  I have been waiting years for them to connect these two trails.  It has officially been in the works for 5 years and has finally been put in the budget for 2013 to add a 4.35 mile extension to connect the two trails.  It was put on hold because developers did not want the trail to go through their development.  So, the county had to revise the plan and go around the development.  Very annoying…  Anywho,, you can read about this exciting news here.  Also,  here are maps and directions for the Upper Tampa Bay Trail and Suncoast Trail
Another trail that I frequent (not this year because it’s been flooded most of the summer) is Flatwoods Park.  This park is really nice because there are two entrances.  There is a 7 mile loop and off road trails for bikers and runners.  One entrance is about .5 miles to the 7 mile loop and the other entrance is 2 miles from the loop.  What’s great about this trail is there are no cars.  There are, however, wild life.  No big deal, except for if you’re on foot and you see a snake or get chased by an angry stinging thing (note: don’t wear any kind of scented anything if you’re planning on running here).  I’m sure it’s hilarious for someone watching you flap your arms and slap at your legs trying to get the thing away from you.  Being the person under attack is NOT funny.  Those are off-set by the occasional siting of deer, turtles, and turkeys.   
On the Suncoast a couple of weeks ago, at about mile 85 of 100, my fellow-bikers and I saw a mama bobcat and 4 of her babies running across the trail.  It was great.  You’ll see a lot of cows from the trail as well.  This weekend’s bike ride on Suncoast was definitely my craziest.  There were three of us and I was currently in the back, drafting, recovering from my 3-mile pull.  I swear this squirrel came out of thin air.  It ran into the guy’s back tire that was in front of me.  I was too close to him to react.  All I could do was scream.  More like a squeak.  Then… I ran over the squirrel.  It rolled with my front tire and got caught between the bike and the tire, bounced off onto the ground, then leaped into the grass.  I had no idea what to do.  I think it was ok because it jumped into the grass.  I’m sure it’s ribs are going to be bruised or something though.  I did get to make up for this by saving a baby turtle though.  While on my brick run, I saw a little baby turtle about the size of my hand.  I didn’t want it to get run over by the bikers or have the bikers have to swerve, so I picked up the turtle and moved it over to the grass… I hoped I moved it to the side it wanted to go.
Trails and parks are great.  Even with the few (mis)adventures that you might have if they happen to be up against or nestled within woods or wetlands.  They’re great for exercise and they’re great for the environment.  They provide homes for wild life and they provide a place for us to exercise.  If you have a chance to sign a petition or vote for a trail or park to be created or extended, please do it.   
Do you have any (mis)adventures while training?