Eighteen

And just like that, my second longest training run is complete. It’s so bizarre. My second longest training is 8.2 miles short of the marathon??? WHO CAME UP WITH THIS CRAP??? It definitely makes me nervous, but I’m sure people much smarter than me came up with “this crap” so I’m going to try to keep my doubts to a minimum ;)

Yesterday morning my alarm went off at the wonderful hour of 3:50am. I actually woke up surprisingly chipper. I had woken up an hour earlier thinking it was time to be up, and when I realized I had an extra hour to sleep I got so ridiculously happy that I think by the time I did have to wake up I was like “I’ve got this!!!” I got ready, got my pre run breakfast ready (uggghhh why is it always so hard to eat before a long run???) and was out the door to meet Stacey at Kiwanis Park for some extra miles before the rest of the team got there. We ran 3 loops of the lake totaling just over 2 and a half miles, and then we were right on time to meet the team and hear some words of encouragement from Coach Susan before heading off for the rest.

Our first few miles were ssssllllloooowwwww. Like the slow that leaves me questioning if I’m actually running or just walking with hutzpah. But ya know what? That seems to be what works for me. It leaves me with energy to push it at the end, and it makes me a super awesome negative splitter, so I’ll take it.

Mile 1–11:40
Mile 2–11:40 (weird)
Mile 3–11:16
Mile 4–11:29

Around that time Tim caught up to us and ran with us for the next couple of miles. It was nice because no matter how much you love the person you’re used to running with, it’s always nice to have someone new around to chat with. It seems to make the time go by faster. It was great to talk to Tim–he told us about some of his previous marathons and his fancy sub 4 hour PR (jealous). He also told us about when he did two marathons about 2 months apart and said it actually went pretty well which was good to hear since I am planning on doing the same thing. Around this time my body started to get warmed up and we started making our way into less turtle-like splits.

Mile 5–10:58
Mile 6–10:45
Mile 7–10:50

These miles were pretty uneventful. We kept trucking along down the same canal path we’ve run a million times, stopped a couple of times to fill our water bottles, and fueled after mile 5. I brought along black cherry shot blocks which I’ve had before and really liked, but this time they seemed so hard to chew! I was not a fan, and was really wishing I’d brought my watermelon gu chomps instead. I’m glad I figured it out then though and not on race day! The next few miles were more of the same…

Mile 8–10:41
Mile 9–10:35
Mile 10–10:18

We turned around just before mile 10 (which I discovered later was too early–lame), and that’s when I felt myself starting to get in the game. We fueled again at mile 10. More obnoxious chewing of less than desirably textured shot blocks. We also ran into Tara and Jamie several times over these few miles. They were killing it with getting in a PDR of over 15 miles! Anyway, I started to feel myself getting into the zone.

Mile 11–9:58
Mile 12–9:57

For some reason mile 12 is where it always starts to feel challenging. I know I can keep going, but it starts to feel like more work at this point. It was also starting to feel HOT. I decided to turn on my music for some extra motivation. I’ve actually been running a lot without music lately. And I am the girl that brought headphones to my first track session, so that is a BIG change. I’ve noticed it really is so much more helpful when I don’t have it on mindlessly at all times, but only turn it on when I start to feel like I need it. Then I actually listen to it, and it pumps me up! I actually had a blast the next few miles singing loudly on the canal with Stacey who seemed surprisingly not embarrassed by me as I sang Call Me Maybe at the top of my lungs to other runners and cyclists passing by. They seemed entertained by me too. I like to think acting a fool is more entertaining than annoying to the rest of the world ;)

Mile 13–9:50

And here’s where I messed up my stupid splits by accidentally hitting the lap button in the middle of mile 14. Lame.

Mile 13-13.26–9:40
Mile 14.26–9:44
Mile 14.26-15 (I fixed it and set it back up on even miles)–9:44

This is where I started to feel really tired during my last long run. I remember miles 15-17 seeming impossible, but today I felt STRONG. Yes, it was starting to feel harder and harder, but I knew I still had the energy to make it happen, and I felt so incredibly happy. I kept repeating the things that Susan tells us about running form in my head, and I repeated a lot of mantras, and had many the emotional moment about how far I’ve come (for a change). I continued singing along really loudly to my bad music that only I like.

Mile 16–9:53
Mile 17–9:44

The last half a mile was the hardest. I was ready to be done, and I was hot and tired, but I just kept pushing.

Mile 18–9:19

18 miles, 3:08:19, 10:27 average pace.

I still don’t know how I did it, but I did it. And at the end, instead of wanting to die, I felt only happy. The long runs have always been my favorite (no matter how much I really do love the track). There is nothing like tackling a new distance, and pushing so far beyond the point where you want to stop. Every week in this training, I continue to surprise myself. I always get nervous that I won’t be able to do it, and that I will never live up to my previous good runs, and that some day I will just finally realize that I can’t do it, but I continue to go above and beyond my own expectations, and it is an amazing feeling.

People ask me why I want to run a marathon. I ask you: why would you ever want to stop yourself from fulfilling your capabilities? That doesn’t mean everyone has to run a marathon, but it is a theory we can all apply to our lives as a whole. Why stop yourself? Why not push to your limits? I think we’d all be amazed at what we can do.

What’s something you’ve done recently that surprised you?? Share your happiness!!!!

 

Skinnified Sunday: Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes

Every day is a pumpkin day in the blog world this time of year. Luckily (for me, maybe not for you), I am obsessed with pumpkin. I buy canned pumpkin year round, and eat it almost every day. Weird? Well, yes….I am, but pumpkin is one of my favorite flavors, plus it has tons of health benefits and is a great substitute for oil in baked goods!

I confess, I’ve already started adding pumpkin to my coffee drinks, and cheating on my beloved Dutch Bros with Starbucks because I know *exactly* how I like my flavor pumps at Starbucks and I prefer their pumpkin syrup…

You know what, though? These cupcakes are, like, 5 billion times better than either version. That’s an exact number based on factual evidence. Like surveys, and stuff. Things that people with grown up jobs do to test things. If it were me, they would each do an audition, which I guess they kinda did. The cupcakes get the lead fair and square.

The pumpkin makes them perfectly fluffy and soft, while also adding the perfect fall flavor. And don’t even get me started on my serious love for ground cloves. Ummm, best spice ever maybe??? I love me some cumin, but lately I cannot get enough of the cloves. In my yogurt, in my cupcakes, straight out of the little shaker…

Combine that with cinnamon and nutmeg, and you’ve got a match made in heaven. Brushing the coffee on after they’ve been cooked makes a huge difference. It keeps them soft, and brings out a bold coffee flavor that usually gets lost during baking. You can also control your coffee intensity. I sit there and brush those things over and over and OVER because I have a mild ridiculous wallet blowing obsession with my little caffeinated friend, but if you feel less in love with coffee, you can use less. Just never, ever tell me about it. I can’t handle it.

This is actually not the first go around for these bad boys. They first made their appearance on the blog about a year ago, and they looked a little like this.

Womp womp.

Oh the things you learn in a year. I’m still not an excellent cupcake froster, not like this girl, but I’ve certainly learned a thing or two.

The original recipe for these muffins (which includes all the smart brushing with the coffee, and all that goodness) comes from one of my very favorite recipe blogs Annie’s Eats.

Original recipe

My Swaps:

  • Half the recipe (-temptation)
  • White whole wheat flour for all purpose flour (+fiber, +protein)
  • Apple sauce for oil (-fat, -calories)
  • Egg substitute (ie: egg beaters, liquid egg whites, flax egg, or corn starch egg) for whole eggs (-fat, -calories, -cholesterol)
  • Lighter cream cheese frosting for whipped cream (-fat, -calories)
  • Caramel sauce (-fat, -calories, -sugar)

Skinnified Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes

yield 1 dozen

  • 1 1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 1/2 tbs espresso powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • dash nutmeg
  • pinch ground cloves
  • dash salt
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup raw turbinado sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 cup egg substitute
  • 1/4 cup strong coffee or espresso for brushing

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350. In a medium bowl, combine flour, espresso powder, baking soda, baking powder, and spices. Set aside.
  2. In a mixer if you have one (if not you can use a hand mixer or your muscles!) combine pumpkin, sugars, and applesauce. Add egg substitute, followed by dry ingredients. Mix until just incorporated.
  3. Fill lined muffin tin 3/4 full with batter and bake for 20-25 minutes, until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  4. Pierce each cupcake 2-3 times with a fork, then brush with coffee. Wait 2-3 minutes, then brush again.
  5. Cool completely on wire racks and then top with Honey Cream Cheese Frosting.

 

Honey Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 8oz package reducated fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. In an large bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Beat in honey and vanilla. Top cupcakes, or store in the refrigerator.

 

One Year of Running

A year ago today, I took my Garmin on it’s first spin. I’d done 2-3 runs outside before that using my phone to track my distance/pace, but found the tracking to be really inconsistent, and quickly ordered a Garmin, hoping it would help me with my goal of completing a 5K. So, I took it out for a spin. I ran 2 miles at about an 11 min pace with multiple stops to “stretch” and I felt like I was going to die. One of my favorite things about my Garmin is that I can look back and see that this was my first logged “official” training run.

Since that day, I have completed 13 races including 4 half marathons, and in exactly 39 days (omgomgomgomg commence FREAK OUT because that is soooclose) I will cross the finish line of my dream marathon. It seems almost unreal, like I have never had a life without running, and like I just started yesterday, all at the same time. I do know that I can’t imagine my life without running. It has given me happiness, crazy runner’s high endorphins, friendships, and a crap ton of pain and frustration, but most of all, it has given me freedom. I am beyond grateful that I developed this passion, and for the journey that has just begun.

Let’s take a little stroll down memory lane to celebrate, shall we? ;) Here’s some of my favorite running moments from the last year:

  • Completing my first race.

    Those 3.1 miles seemed so long. I’ll never forget the first moment I discovered what it felt like to cross the finish line. Ummm, addicting.
  • My first “speedy” run with Kara followed by our first trip to Bosa Donuts!

    It was our first training run at a sub 10 pace. We were OMG-SO-EXCITED, and it was the first time I caught the “I WANT TO BE FASTER” bug. Also, donuts are awesome.
  • My first double digit run.

    It was the first long run (other than when 4 miles was my long run) that I did solo. It was Thanksgiving day, and I had so much to be Thankful for. I finished strong, shed a few tears, then hosted one of my favorite holiday for many of my favorite people.
  • My first half marathon

    I love this girl sosososo much!!! I could never have gotten where I am in my running journey without her to carry my through our training. Kara, I really really miss you. I don’t think you understand how weird it is to do this without you! MOVE BACK TO ARIZONA!!!!

    Training for PF Chang’s was one of my favorite experiences of my life, and as it gets to be that same time of year again, and I am training for an other huge goal, it’s really nice to step back and look at the beginning of my journey such a short time ago. I crossed the finish line with tears in my eyes, took out my phone and it was ringing. My best friend said “Where are you?” “I’m at the finish line. I did it.” Then I cried more, and wore my medal around for about a week.

  • My favorite half marathon. 

    Look at my speedy friend Lisa juuuuusssst up ahead of me. She is a machine and somehow dragged me along to a 9 minute PR!!

     The stars aligned. I had the perfect race on the perfect day with the perfect friend. I loved 2 hours 4 minutes and 59 seconds of it.

  • My first track work outGUESS WHAT!!! The track is awesome. It’s become my new favorite.
  • An amazing, probably best run of my life time trial with Tali and Camille. This was the first run in oh so long that I got out of my head, trusted in how my body felt, and just ran. I had amazing company that kept me going, and I ran faster than I have in any long run, or long race for that matter. A perfect day in Portland to wrap up a summer of marathon training with people not actually training for a marathon :)
  • The first new distance of marathon trainingNew distances are the only thing I love more than track. I have 2 left to tackle before the marathon, and unless I die, they will also be in my list of favorites. This was a particularly awesome run with Nicole and Stacey that was exhausting, but incredibly rewarding, and a big step in the direction of 26.2.

What’s your favorite running memory?

Gingery Beef & Broccoli

I know I’ve already said it, but my best friend Bethany got a new job, and at the company she’s been wanting to work with for a very long time. I’m so happy for her! She works her butt off, and she deserves every bit of it! Of course I show my love by shoving food down people’s throats cooking for people, so along with some super delicious non dairy ice cream, I also made her this delicious dinner.

 

Sometimes cooking for other people, especially for a special occasion, makes me so nervous! You never know if people will like it, and even if you love it, that doesn’t mean they will, and if you’re trying a new recipe, what if it just turns out horrible??? Sometimes, it’s hard to be inside my brain. I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re not used to crazy ;)

 

Do you ever wonder what it’s like to be inside someone else’s brain?? I would LOVE it, just for a day. I always try to understand the thought processes that make other people act/say/feel certain ways. Sometimes, I do not understand people at all.

For instance, the people who feel like their facebook wall is the place for them to post all the rude things they think about other people’s political parties. What exactly are they hoping to accomplish? Even if I agree with them, I still find it SO annoying. I’d like to get inside their head and understand what they believe they’re gaining by this. Also, people who don’t like chocolate. I’d like to understand that too.

Anyway, back to being inside my head which probably looks like an episode of horders. Cooking for people is one of my favorite things, and all of my favorite things make me nervous–acting, singing, dancing, teaching (first days–eeeeek!), races, interacting with other people and trying to resemble some form of social grace…

 

Luckily, this dinner was a huge hit! I doubled the recipe, and still had not a single bite of left overs. That’s how you know. People can say they like things, but unless they go back for seconds and lick their plate, sometimes it’s hard to be certain. It’s just a little spicy, and totally packed with flavor with the ginger, coconut, and flavorful meat and veggies. I hardly ever cook beef, but this cut was pretty lean, and I trimmed the excess fat. I was surprised with how much I liked it because I almost always prefer chicken. I also loved how all of the veggies bulked it up to be super filling without being heavy.

I used this recipe from Paleo Plan that I found via Carrots ‘n’ Cake almost exactly. I added a bit more veggies, halved the oil, then added a little sriracha for some spice. It was one of my favorite things I’ve made in a long time, and I would highly recommend it! Click over to Paleo Plan for the full recipe!

Cheuvront

Friday night I went out with some of my favorite AZ Blogger ladies to Cheuvront for restaurant week.

Arizona restaurant week is one of my very favorite things! When I was growing up, we didn’t have a huge restaurant scene, but ever since I moved back after college, it seems like new, indie restaurants are popping up like crazy! Or maybe I’m just finally starting to get into the scene? Either way, there are lots of amazing options for people who love food in this city, and I (obviously) really, really love food. Each restaurant has a special restaurant week menu with a set price and a few options for each course–you can choose to order off this menu, or stick to the regular menu.

This was my first time at Cheuvront, but I was super excited as soon as I looked at the menu. I had a really tough time making up my mind because everything looked amazing, but the one thing that was easy to decide was the first course. Goat cheese is one of those items I always immediately scan a menu for, and then I usually choose what I order by which options come with it. Obviously, I started with the goat cheese salad.

It was delicious! Fresh greens, the perfect amount of slightly sweet champagne vinaigrette, and of course the star of the plate–the fried goat cheese! For the second course, everything looked good and I had a hard time deciding, but ultimately went with the half roasted chicken because it came with cranberry apple stuffing.

That stuffing!!! I just kept digging underneath the chicken to try to get more of it out. It was probably my favorite thing I ate all night. The chicken was great too–perfectly cooked and tender. I asked the waiter what his favorite dessert option was and he pointed me towards the chocolate bouchon which is a small, lava-like chocolate cake that was served with dulce de leche ice cream.

Okay, maybe this was my favorite thing I ate all night. The chocolate bouchon had a slightly crisp outside, but the entire inside was gooey, like a half baked brownie, and it paired perfectly with the ice cream which was aaaaaamazing.

I absolutely loved Cheuvront, and will definitely be returning! It was also so great to spend time with some of my favorite ladies, and meet a couple of new ones!

Remy, Emily, me, Megan, Robin, Nicole & Jenn

Thanks for an awesome evening ladies!! Can’t wait to do it again soon!