Team Chances Brunch

26.2 jack-o-lantern. Genius.

Saturday morning the team met bright and early at Coach Susan’s house for our last “long” run and a big team brunch/meeting/information overload. When we arrived, I was totally blown away at how decked out her house was!

26.2 jack-o-lantern. Genius.

Shortly after we arrived, we headed out for a quick 40 minute run, then returned to sit down for the big informational meeting while many of the Believe Train Become runners slaved away cooking our breakfast. They’re the best. :) It was still chilly out, so a lot of us huddled in close and gathered around the fire.

Michelle and I love bright shoes. LOOK HOW BRIGHT WE ARE! Okay, she is so much brighter, but mine have so many colors! I love running shoes ;)

Susan started off explaining many of the normal feelings of taper–sluggish, irritable, feeling fat. As she mentioned each one, it was like everyone around me just kept turning to look at me because not 5 minutes before we started, I had been complaining about pretty much every single one. Then Jason just had to be a really awesome friend and make sure to call attention to me and my…issues. Anyway, it was nice to hear it was all normal, and despite the fact that I feel like I’ve gained 9 MILLION lbs the last two weeks, people keep telling me I look smaller, so clearly I have no idea what I’m talking about. Shocking, right? Anyway, one big moment came when Susan surprised us all with these bracelets:

A couple of weeks ago, one of my teammates suffered a major heart attack on one of his long runs. I’ve actually wanted to write about it for a while, but I didn’t want to put him out there on display. Anyway, he is doing FANTASTIC, but clearly cannot run NYC, so Susan got each of us TIMstrong bracelets. She also told us that the reason he IS okay is because he is a runner–because he has taken such great care of his body and is so strong. That is where I really got emotional. I started to think about where my life was heading a few years ago, and how I probably would have ended up dying at a young age from obesity complications if I hadn’t made a change. Sounds dramatic, but I was on a steady weight gain spree with no end in sight, and I am just so glad to be in a place where I am taking care of my body, and more importantly, I am so glad that Tim’s lifestyle saved his life.

As Susan made her way through the overwhelming amount of information, she got to talking about something that really spoke to me: The Voice. We all have it, and it’s always our biggest enemy. Runner or not, we’ve all experienced that negative self talk that tells us we’re not good enough, tells us to give up, and pushes us down. She told us the story of when she was running the olympic trials and she was on the 2nd loop of the 4 loop course. Her voice started, and she was certain she couldn’t do it. She knew up ahead there was a trash can, and legit made a deal with herself that she would run until she got there, then hide behind it. Totally logical. As she got closer, she realized that if she hid behind it now, eventually she would have to come out, and then what? So she didn’t stop. She ran past the trash can, and finished 30th out of the entire country. Then she said

“Most of us quit just before we reach our potential.”

I’m pretty sure I’ve always eventually broken down and listened to the voice, and that I have yet to see what I’m fully capable of. This quote really spoke to me, and I hope I can use it to carry me through the last 10k of the marathon, and any time in life when the going gets tough. I feel so lucky to have such a motivating and inspirational coach!! I know I’ve said it a million times, but every day I feel MORE grateful!

After the information session, we broke for breakfast and then took some team photos.

Then I insisted we all play the camera game…

Well, maybe only like 3 people participated, but I’m pretty sure Susan and Tracie nailed it. Check out their faces!

Your welcome Susan, Tracie and everyone else who played along ;)

I chatted a bit more with some of my teammates, and grabbed my marathon packet (it’s filled with SO MUCH AWESOMENESS!!!).

Jaime, Jason & Me. No double chin. Good photography, Bill.

It was a perfect morning, and a great way to end the training cycle. BIG thank you to Susan and BTB for hosting us! 5 days and counting!

Reasons To Be Grateful


As my first marathon draws closer (ummm, somehow it became marathon week–YIKES!!), I am finding myself even more emotional than usual. If you know me, you know it’s hard to get more emotional than my natural everyday state, but I promise you it has happened. Yesterday, I spent 15 minutes crying in the car because I felt so proud of what I’ve done. Not just the marathon, but every big goal I’ve set out to conquer, I feel like I have achieved. Not many people can say that, and I have a lot to be proud of.

With this pride comes so much gratitude. I’ve not achieved these things on my own, and beyond that, this experience and trip to New York City gives me so many reasons to be grateful. I’m totally overwhelmed by all of it, but I wanted to try to put some of it into words, so that when all I can think about is how badly my legs hurt, I will have a mental picture of why I’m lucky, why I should suck it up and run faster. 😉

  • I’m grateful I can run. Not everyone can. I see people every day who are physically less fortunate than me, and it breaks my heart that not everyone can experience the same joy, release, and freedom that I find in running. I could have a disability, or worse, I could not care enough about myself to make the choice to try. I’m grateful for the ability to run: mentally and physically.
  • I’m grateful for Susan LokenWhen I tell people about Susan, they either know exactly who she is, or are quickly impressed when I spew off her list of accomplishments that I’ve memorized through all my internet stalking. She has given me everything: my plan, tough love, an ear to listen, and most importantly, the belief that I can do this. The other day she told me that I’ve come a long way and shown a lot of improvement. She probably doesn’t know how much that meant to me, or how much I needed to hear it, but it made my month. I couldn’t have done this without her.
  • I’m grateful for my team. I’ve made so many great friendships through this process, and they have shown me tremendous support, love, and encouragement. There really is nothing like training with a team. I would highly suggest it for anyone training for their first marathon. I LOVE these guys!
  • I’m grateful for my parents. They are flying to New York to see me cross the finish line. My dad can’t afford it, but he insists on going to be there for me. My mom hates to fly, but her ticket is booked. Talk about support–flying across the country to watch your kid run a marathon. Yes, I’m still a kid. They are the best.
  • I’m grateful for my friends who are coming out to support me. Some of them live in New York, some of them live here, some of them live in the surrounding areas, but many of them are making special arrangements to be there for to share this moment with me. I will probably have my first marathon lined with some of my very favorites cheering my name. I don’t know what they heck I’ve done to deserve that, but I’ll take it!
  • I’m especially grateful I get to spend time with this friend. Mac is one of my best friends in the entire world. He lives across the country, and I see him more often than some of my friends that live in Arizona. Our friendship was just kind of meant to be, and so we make it work, and find ways to see each other. He is a life-long friend, and has been an undying source of support through this whole process. I cannot freaking wait to celebrate with him!!!
  • I’m grateful for the world’s most supportive husband. The other day we had an argument, and then “surprised” each other with coffee (at the same time), then he showed me he loved me by turning on every single light in the entire house because we always playfully bicker about the lights (I turn on all the lights, never turn them off, then he turns them all off). He is perfect, and I absolutely could not have done this without him.
  • I’m grateful for YOU PEOPLE. With the support of many of you, I have almost reached my goal of raising $5,000. So many people showed incredible generosity, and I am beyond grateful. I know those donations will be put to good use, and I cannot wait until I can attend an event to see kids reaping the benefits of our efforts!
  • I’m just grateful to be. To be alive. To be healthy. To be where I am today. I am beyond lucky. I wish everyone out there could feel a little bit of what it’s like to feel like you have it all. Just for a second. It feels amazing.
  • Oh, and I’m grateful for MARATHON TOES!!! Had to include that 😉
So tell me, what are you grateful for?

Skinnified Sunday: Apple Cinnamon Crumb Muffins

Skinnified Apple Cinnamon Crumb Muffins via Ari's Menu

A couple of weeks ago after one of our Monday runs, we got back to Nicole put the most amazing muffin in my hands to send me off with. It was drool worthy, and let’s just say it didn’t even last my 3 mile drive home.


Good friends end runs with muffins. Just sayin’. Actually, I’m a little bit surprised that spending so much time with an other food blogger hasn’t caused both of us to gain 100 lbs. That girl is always giving me delicious things to try like these.

These were actually fairly healthy already, so it didn’t take much tweaking, but ya know what I learned? There is no substitute for butter in a crumb topping. Well, I’ve seen some people use coconut oil, but there is no “low fat” option. UNLESS YOU KNOW THE SECRET?!?!?! I tried light whipped butter–no dice. I tried pumpkin puree and ended up with a goopy mess, so I finally sucked it up and told myself that using 3 tbs for 1.5 dozen muffins was not the end of the world. So there. I used real butter. I actually couldn’t believe I had any in my house, but I dug in the back of the fridge, and there it was in all it’s butter glory.

Just call me Paula Dean, I guess. 😉

I was super happy that my muffins came out just as delicious as the original, and they were definitely my tean’s favorite. Chunks of apple in the middle with a crumbly cinnamon streusel top? You just can’t go wrong there!

Ya know, in case you wanted to be ALL UP IN THIS MUFFIN’S BUSINESS.


Original recipe via Foodie Misadventures

My Swaps:

  • White whole wheat flour for all purpose (+fiber, + protein)
  • Less sugar
  • Reduced fat buttermilk for regular (-fat, -calories)
  • Apple sauce for canola oil (-fat, -calories)
  • Liquid egg substitute for real egg (-fat, calories, -cholesterol)
  • 1/2 streusel topping (-fat, -calories, -sugar) <—I made the all of it at first, but there was SO MUCH that I only ended up using about half
Skinnified Apple Cinnamon Crumb Muffins
yield 1 1/2 dozen

  • 1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • dash salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground all-spice
  • 1 cup reduced fat buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup apple sauce
  • 1/4 cup egg substitute
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 large apples, peeled and diced (I used gala, but honey crisp would be AMAZING)
For the cinnamon crumb topping:
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 3 tbs white whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tbs butter, melted
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line 2 muffin tins with 18 paper liners. Spray lightly with nonstick spray. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, brown sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and all-spice. In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, applesauce, egg substitute, and vanilla extract. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and mix with a wooden spoon or spatula until just combined. Do not over mix. Gently fold in the apples until just combined.
  3. To make the crumb topping, in a small bowl, combine brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and melted butter. Mix with a spoon (or your fingers…) until crumbly.
  4. Fill the prepared muffin pans 3/4 full with batter. Evenly sprinkle each muffin with crumb topping. Bake for 20 minutes, or until muffins are golden and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Let stand for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Serve immediately or store in an air tight container.


Cinnamon Swirl Pumpkin Muffins

Cinnamon Swirl Pumpkin Muffins via Ari's Menu

Ultra-soft whole grain pumpkin muffins filled with a sweet and spicy cinnamon sugar swirl.

The weekend before last, most of my team was completing their longest training run bright and early Saturday morning. Even though I had already completed my 20 miler the day before, I wanted to go cheer on my friends, and Susan had ordered some muffins for the team to celebrate all of the hard work we’ve put in over the last 4 months.

Obviously I had to bring something pumpkin, and these were a huge hit! Of course, I had to taste one before sending them off, so I shared one with my pumpkin hating husband who loved them just as much as I did! I don’t know know if it was the pumpkin, or the perfect amount of baking time, or what, but the texture of these muffins was absolute perfection!

They are so light and fluffy and the cinnamon swirl really spices them up perfectly!

And GUESS WHAT!!! This was the first time I took all my own pictures without my fancy camera husband around to even help me get my settings and everything adjusted. 100% me (and, you know, the fancy camera helps a little 😉 ). I feel like I know absolutely nothing about photography, so I was thrilled at how these came out!! I’m really excited to learn be learning more, and getting a little more self sufficient on the photography end, since it is such a big part of the blog.

Anyway, back to the muffins! They would be the perfect treat to wake up to on Thanksgiving morning for a quick and easy breakfast while you prepare for family and the big day. Cut them in half, slather them with pumpkin butter because there really is no such thing as too much pumpkin! Trust me.

These babies will definitely be a fall (well, pretty much year round since I’m an all season pumpkin lover) staple in my house!

Cinnamon Swirl Pumpkin Muffins

Yield: 1 dozen

Serving Size: 1 muffin

Cinnamon Swirl Pumpkin Muffins


  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tablespoon milled flax seed
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • dash salt
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup egg substitute
  • 1 cup reduced fat buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line 12 muffin tins, then spray lightly with nonstick spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, flax seed, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, beat 1/2 cup sugar and pumpkin puree, vanilla extract and egg substitute until well-combined.
  4. Alternate adding dry ingredients/buttermilk to wet ingredients (flour mixture, buttermilk, flour, buttermilk, flour).
  5. Fill muffin tins 1/3. In a small bowl, whisk remaining 2 tbsp sugar with cinnamon. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar evenly over the top of the batter. Top with remaining batter.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes, until toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean. Let stand for 2-3 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.


Ultra-soft whole grain pumpkin muffins filled with a sweet and spicy cinnamon sugar swirl.

Coconut Mocha Brownies


There was a time in my life where I didn’t love chocolate.

I mean, I liked it okay, but I always preferred vanilla based desserts. Now? Let’s just say I’m an equal opportunity dessert eater. 😉

My friend Jason, however, has always been a chocolate fiend. He always chooses the chocolate desserts, and it was only through tasting his amazing drink at Dutch Bro’s that I found the perfect post long run coffee drink (Cocomo–basically an iced latte made with chocolate milk + coconut syrup. I get sugar free coconut to make this drink so healthy 😉 ).

When Jason’s birthday came around (back in June…), I knew immediately that I had to make something chocolate, and after several post run coffee dates, I was super inspired to make something based off a coffee drink. Espresso makes chocolate sound even chocolatier, and these brownies are ohhhhh so chocolatey. Like, must have a glass of milk chocolatey.

I honestly don’t even know how I did it. I don’t know how I made the gooeyest brownie I’ve ever tasted without using any butter or oil, and I don’t know how or why they tasted so freaking good, but I just know they didn’t taste the slightest bit healthy. I mean, they really aren’t, but they tasted like they had ALL of the bad stuff, rather than compromising somewhere in the middle.

The flavors just all complement each other perfectly, and the melty chocolate chips in the center with the rich chocolate cream cheese frosting are just to die for. They are definitely a little indulgent, but worth the treat, in my opinion.


Coconut Mocha Brownies

yield 32 brownies

For the brownies:

  • 1 1/3 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 tbs espresso powder
  • dash salt
  • 11 ounces dark chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup nonfat vanilla yogurt
  • 1 1/4 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1 cup egg substitute
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp coconut extract
  • 1 cup shredded unsweetened reduced fat coconut
  • 2/3 cup dark chocolate chips
For the frosting:
  • 12 oz reduced fat cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbs unsweetened cocoa powder (dutch process or special dark are best)
  • 2 tsp espresso powder
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 1/4 oz dark chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp coconut extract
  • extra shredded coconut for topping (optional)
  1.  Preheat the oven to 350. Grease a 9×13 pan, then line with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, espresso powder and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, beat together yogurt, chocolate, and sugar, eggs, and extracts until combined. Fold in the flour mixture, followed by coconut and chocolate chips. Do not overmix.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 30-40 min, rotating the pan halfway through, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out mostly clean. Let the brownies cool completely, then use parchment paper to lift them out of the pan.
  5. To make frosting, beat cream cheese in a large bowl on medium speed until smooth. Add extracts. Add in powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time, beating on low speed, followed by cocoa powder. Increase to medium speed and add melted chocolate. Beat until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl often.
  6. Frost completely cooled brownies, then serve immediately or store in an air tight container in the refrigerator.



NYC Marathon Training Week 18

Week 1 of taper, check. You know, I read about how everyone hates taper, but this week was kinda nice. I enjoyed a slightly shorter Monday run, still pushed myself at the track, and loved being done with my long run at 7:15 Saturday morning! It was also really great to end a long run and not be totally exhausted. 10 miles felt short, and nice. I could get used to this taper thing! 😉 Here’s how it went down:

Monday: 6 mile run. The schedule said “3 miles easy, 3 miles at marathon pace”. WHAT IS MARATHON PACE?!?!?! HOW DO I CHOOSE???? LIFE IS SO HARD!!!! Soooo, I ran 3 miles slow, and 3 miles less slow, ending up with a 10:11 average pace. I was not feeling this run. I had canceled on Nicole so that I could sleep in later, then I had to keep making deals with myself like “Maybe I’ll just run 3 miles….” to get myself out and going, but finally I turned on some relaxing music (because I’m a freak and sometimes I want mellow music while I’m running), and just gave my mind some time to do it’s thing. The run ended up being really good, and a nice reminder that even when I realllllly don’t want to, it’s almost always better to just get out there.

Tuesday: 11 mile bike. Easy ride to coffee with Steve.

Wednesday: Track. Ao about this marathon goal pace. I guess I’ve figured it out? Coach Loken sent me my projected finish time, and it scared the crap out of me. My head immediate filled with “I can’ts” and doubt. I’ve since talked it through with anyone who will listen including my super smart coach (you know the person I actually should talk to about it), and figured out what a realistic goal is mentally for me, and I’m keeping her projected finish time as a dream goal, but trying to run my marathon goal pace miles at that pace. I’m not going to talk about what any of these goals are because when I write my recap about how I ran my first marathon, I want to write it with joy and pride no matter what my finish time is, and if I tell you what I want it to be, and that doesn’t happen, I will feel like a disappointment. Anyway, back to the track. We warmed up, had a mile at marathon goal pace, then 4 x 400s, then an other mile at goal pace, then a cool down. I hit my goal pace miles and they felt easy! It was AWESOME! I also pushed really hard on my 400s running them @ 7:05, 6:57, 6:58, 6:42. The whole workout felt awesome! I completed 5.17 miles in 50 minutes. After track, a couple of people from my team came up to me and told me how much faster I’d gotten!! This is the second time this has happened recently, and it made me feel so awesome!!

Thursday: 3 mile run. Nice and easy recovery run with my speedy friend Ashley. She was practically walking. 😉

Friday: 17.3 mile bike. The usual Friday am bike ride/breakfast/coffee with Nicole.

Saturday: 10 mile run. I came, I ran, I got chased by wild dogs, I ran the second half fast to keep up with my friends, I was done by 7:15 and averaged a 9:57 pace. Ask me about the wild dogs sometime. It’s a really funny story that includes some pretty big embarrassment, but I don’t mind embarrassing myself.

Sunday: Rest. Necessary.

Fundraising update: As you know, I’ve been running with Team Chances to raise money for Chances for Children. I committed to raising $5000, and I’M GETTING SO CLOSE!!! I’ve now raised $4,110 and have just $890 to go thanks to so much support from everyone in my life! Please consider helping me to reach my goal by making a donation or placing an order! Remember that all donations/orders are tax deductible and in the state of Arizona, you can receive a full tax credit ($200 individual, or $400 family) for donations. Thanks to all of you for all the support!! I truly believe I can meet this goal by November 4th!

Pumpkin Filled Oatmeal Sandwich Cookies

Pumpkin Filled Oatmeal Sandwich Cookies via Ari's Menu

In case you’re wondering if I’m running out of things I want to make that include pumpkin…

The answer is no. Not even a little bit. In fact, the list has gotten so long. Longer than my To-Do List, and you can figure out for yourself which list I’m actually gaining more ground on…

I just wanna bake cookies all day long. Can that be my life? Except, then none of my pants would fit. No matter how much healthier my cookies may be than your average dessert, a cookie is a cookie, and if you eat a dozen a day (don’t judge me), then…well, we all know how that ends. Moral of the story? Bake cookies all day long, then bribe the love of everyone you know by feeding them delicious healthy desserts. That’s how I win friends in life. That, and rapping Gangsta’s Paradise at parties. Or maybe that was how I lose friends? I forget…

So as you can see, my tools for friendship are bribery and embarrassing myself. They seem to work pretty well. I attract awesome humans. I’m guessing it has more to do with the cookies. These cookies were, um, ridiculous. I used my favorite oatmeal cookie recipe + some pumpkin pie spice, then mixed together some canned pumpkin, cream cheese, brown sugar and a little flour for thickening, and I had a dangerous dessert on my hands. I loved the way the thick oatmeal cookies held up to the creamy filling. The filling was tricky. Pumpkin leads to a slightly runny cream cheese frosting, but I noticed that this girl used flour when she made almost the exact same thing, so I tried that and it solved all of the problems in the entire world. Or at least my very critical, life-or-death frosting problem. Thanks Sally, you’re my pumpkin frosting hero! 😉

These would be perfect for a more bite sized Thanksgiving dessert (I made some big ones too, but I ended up loving the minis the best!), or for any fall party, or really…just because. Who doesn’t love a cream filled sandwich cookies? It’s one of life’s happy things. 😉


Pumpkin Filled Oatmeal Sandwich Cookies

For the cookies:

  • 1 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • dash salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 7 1/2 tbs apple butter
  • 1 1/2 tbs coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1/4 cup egg substitute
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup rolled oats

For the filling:

  • 8 oz reduced fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup white whole wheat flour


  1. Preheat oven to 350. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together apple butter, coconut oil, sugar, egg substitute and vanilla until combined. Slowly beat in dry ingredients, then fold in oats.
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and drop cookies onto the sheet using a small cookie scoop.
  4. Bake for 12 minutes until golden. Let stand on cookie sheet for 3-5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  5. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth. Beat in remaining filling ingredients. Spread filling over 1/2 of the cookies, then top with an other cookie.

The Grind


Early last week, I started asked my facebook friends where I should go to dinner after my 20 miler. I mean, clearly food is the most important thing after you run! I wanted to be prepared. 😉 I got a lot of great suggestions, but ultimately my friend Nicole won with her suggestion of The Grind. The menu looked awesome and all of the food is coal fired. Not to mention the drink list looked amazing.

Nicole’s drink: The Moscow Mule

My Blackberry Sidecar. Probably my favorite thing I tasted all night. After one, they ran out of blackberry and I was sooooo sad!

For dinner all of us except for Lance ordered the turkey burger. Nicole and I added goat cheese to ours which was an excellent choice. I would add goat cheese to pretty much anything though.

The burger was seasoned well, but it was a fattier turkey than I would have preferred. Maybe I’m in the minority, but I like my turkey burgers to be practically white, and at least 90% lean. A lot of restaurants in Phoenix offer some really lean turkey burgers, but this one was definitely a little greasy for my taste. It still tasted good, but not sure it’s something I would order again. Nicole and I also split an order of the half and half fries which were half herb fries and half sweet potato fries.

Honestly, they were pretty disappointing. The herb fries just tasted like regular old french fries, and the sweet potato fries were fine, but not exciting. Not like the sweet potato fries at Fez! They didn’t taste bad, just kinda boring. However, you know what was NOT boring? Umm this AMAZING dessert.

Hot, fresh donuts with a salted butterscotch dipping sauce. I diiiiieeee.


Seriously, the drinks and dessert alone were worth the entire experience. Steve’s veggies that we didn’t photograph were also perfectly seasoned and delicious, so maybe I just need to try and order something else for my main course? Either that, or just go for cocktails and dessert, because those are the most important things anyway. 😉 Nicole posed with me to remind the world that I ran 20 miles. Good friends take silly pictures with you in public for you to post on your blog.

20 (.5)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That face is so cute, right? Maybe the next cycle of ANTM will be for old people, and I can pursue my amazing modeling skills.

What are your favorite restaurants and your favorite things about them??



The Grind on Urbanspoon

NYC Marathon Training Week 17

17 weeks of hard work down. 3 weeks of taper to go. I had a lot of thoughts about the training cycle as a whole this week. I was feeling tired physically and mentally. Last week was a step back week, but even though our long run was only 10 miles, running it at race pace made it challenging, and I did not go into this week feeling rested, but I started to realize that maybe that’s the point? If I can run peak week on tired legs, then I can certainly run the marathon on fresh legs, right? I’m guessing that’s why the plans work, but really, what do I know? Basically nothing.

I went to bed last Sunday night thinking about how I had to kill it this week, and make every run perfect because THIS IS IT!! Then I woke up Monday morning totally lacking in motivation. In fact, the only thing that got me to get out of bed for my work outs was knowing that this is the most important week, and after this it will all get easier. Here’s a look at how this week’s training went down.

Monday: 8 mile run. It was a good thing I had plans to run with Nicole, because otherwise it just would not have happened. Something has to be really wrong in order for me to cancel on a friend, but it is so easy to hit the snooze button and roll over when it’s just me. I was NOT feeling it this morning. My legs felt tired from Saturday’s time trial and I was quiet, grumpy, and not a whole lot of fun, but Nicole stayed really positive and pushed me through until the end. I was happy when it was over, but it took me until the moment I was finished to be happy I did it. Ran the first 4 easy, then the next 4 @ 9:46, 9:36, 9:22, 8:30.

Tuesday: Spin. I finally went back to spin! It was a great class, but I just mentally wasn’t 100% in it. I gave it a solid effort and had a good time, but I was just more at like a 90%.

Wednesday: Track–6 x 800. Partner 800s!! YAY!! Stacey and I finally got to complete them together. The way it works is partner #1 (me) runs a lap solo, then partner #2 joins for lap 2. While partner #2 runs their 2nd lap, partner #1 gets a short break. I did a mile-ish warm up over to the track, then completed my 800s @ 8:01, 8:00, 7:42, 7:38, 7:34, 7:22. I was dyyyyying on the last one, but it felt awesome! I did a short cool down jog back and ended up completing 4.4 miles in 37:31 for an average pace of 8:31 including the warm up and cool down! I was stoked!! As soon as I got home, I checked out my paces from the time we did this same work out just one month before: 8:07, 8:08, 8:02, 8:00, 7:58, 7:57. I was so ecstatic to be able to see my improvement!! MAYBE I WON’T BE A SLOW RUNNER FOREVER!!!!

Thursday: Rest. Lots of carbs and compression socks all day long.

Friday: 20.5 mile run. Check it.

Saturday: 15ish mile bike. I literally felt like I had been run over by a truck, but Susan had asked me to bring muffins for the team, so I figured while I was there, I should cheer my friends on. I got my tired legs onto my bike and rode around the canal for almost an hour and a half. It was great to be able to to be there for my friends while they finished the toughest part of the journey as well!

Sunday: Rest. You couldn’t pay me enough to work out today. Rest days are awesome.

Sooooo… we taper. Everyone says taper makes you crazy, but I’m sososo excited. My legs are beat. My brain is duuuunnnn. My social life is pathetic. Well, that one probably won’t change. 😉 I’m sure after a week or so I will start feeling a little nutty about not running, but for now I can’t wait to tone it way down and give myself a break. My goal is to spend the extra time I would have been running, and focus that energy/time on taking care of myself. Lots of stretching and foam rolling. No skipping PT sessions. Good nutritious food and….no more alcohol (wahhhhh) until after the race. I mean, I’m not a big drinker anyway, and I haven’t been drinking during training except to celebrate long runs, and they’re all over, so there’s really nothing to celebrate until Nov 4. I mean, there’s real life things, but I will celebrate those just fine without. I want to go into the race feeling my very best. Oh and I need to make SLEEP a priority. This 5-6 hours a night business is not cutting it for me.

What do you do differently during taper? How do you prepare for a big race to make sure you go in feeling your best? GIVE ME YOUR AWESOME MARATHON ADVICE!!!!!

Twenty Point Five

There’s something you should know about me. I’m the type of person that goes through life with something to prove. Not to you, but to me. This is a trait that’s always made me ambitious, and sometimes made me successful. It’s also sometimes lead to total melt downs, but I think our biggest strengths are often our biggest weakness. Anyway, this entire journey to running a marathon has kind of been about that–having something to prove to myself. I know that my journey never ends, and really this is only the beginning of my path to becoming a runner, but it feels like this picture perfect ending to my weight loss story. That is why even when Coach Loken (I never know if you’re supposed to use the first name or the last name when you talk about your coach–thoughts?) said to run for 3 hours, I knew I had to hit 20 miles, and then I knew I had to run just a little  further. To prove to myself that I can keep going once I reach 20 on November 4th.

This had all the beginnings of a perfect run. I spent the day before hydrating the crap out of myself, eating carbs, psyching myself up, and I planned out the perfect 20 mile route that would lead my two friends and me to breakfast at La Grande Orange where we would toast mimosas, meet up with Steve and have an amazing breakfast to celebrate. I raced home from rehearsal to be in bed by 9:30, and although I laid in bed having trouble sleeping, I woke up ready to go.

At 4:10 my alarm went off, and I noticed that I had multiple text messages, so I went to check them to find out both of my friends were having extenuating circumstances and had both canceled. I freaked the F out. I started crying immediately (dramatic much?) and telling Steve there was no way I could do this, and my training would be ruined. Just be glad you didn’t marry me, okay? I continued to cry and freak out the entire time I spent getting ready, but eventually put on my big girl pants ruffly skirt and made my way to the kitchen to make breakfast.

I kept telling myself how everything happens for a reason. I knew deep down that I needed to do a long training run solo (I’ve run almost every single training run with friends), but I just didn’t want to, and I especially didn’t want to do it this time. I knew I could go wait, start realllllly early on Saturday, and then finish with the team, but I had carb loaded, I had mentally prepared, I had announced it to the world. I needed to follow through. I asked Steve to ride his bike along side for a portion of it (okay, I kinda cheated on the solo part, but 20 miles is a LONG way!), and finally got my butt out the door just after 5am.

I ran a nice 2.5 mile loop around my hood, then headed out for a longer loop. It was GORGEOUS out–absolutely perfect running weather, and I started feeling strong. I had been able to adjust my mind set before leaving to being excited to conquer this on my own, and I knew it was best for me. Mind set is 95% of the battle. I had woken up with a horrible one, but I turned it around. I was proud of myself.

The initial miles just kind of ticked by. I didn’t turn on my music. I just enjoyed being outside. Who am I, right??? I started off at a nice slow, relaxed pace. I felt myself wanting to speed up, but I know what type of pacing works for me, so I kept checking in with myself and reminding myself that if I wanted to feel strong later, I needed to stick with what works.

Mile 1–11:16
Mile 2–11:22
Mile 3–11:08
Mile 4–11:07
Mile 5–10:59
Mile 6–10:54

I took the same route that I took almost a year ago when I did my first 10 solo. It was all kinds of nostalgic. I realized I was running all around where Kara and I used to run when we were training for PF Chang’s. Then I missed the crap out of her, and was pissed at her for moving to Seattle and abandoning me in my time of marathon training need. I passed by Bosa Donuts.

Eating all of these will give me the same result as running my 20 miler right???

I started mentally playing through all of my PF Chang’s training, and how far I’ve come as a runner since then.

I started to feel excited, and I started to pick up the pace a bit. I also found that by not taking the canal, I surprisingly had less stops. It felt like I was able to catch every green light, and just go. It’s so easy to take a break when you have to push a button before you go, haha.

Mile 7–10:29
Mile 8–10:19
Mile 9–10:10
Mile 10–10:11
Mile 11–9:52
Mile 12–9:55

Just after mile 12, I ended up back home, refilled my water, grabbed more fuel and my awesome husband, and we were off again. Somehow I thought running to Dutch Bros and back would give me 8 more miles. Apparently after 12 miles, my math abilities get a little fuzzy… We went the long way through the neighborhood and down towards the canal.

Mile 13–9:56
Mile 14–9:46
Mile 15–9:38

This is where shit got real. It was getting hard, and I was getting scared about finishing. Over the next few miles, my feet and ankles progressively started to get more and more tender and irritated. Every step felt like I was pounding on the pavement, and it was like the hundreds of miles of marathon training were all weighing on my 2 little feet right in that moment. Every time I had to stop to wait for the crosswalk, getting started again seemed impossible. I was mentally doing okay (with Steve giving me tons of support!!), but physically, I was HURTING.

Mile 16–9:45
Mile 17–9:46
Mile 18–9:47.

Once we realized that getting to Dutch Bros would more like 12 miles round trip than 8 (see what I mean about that math…), the new plan became for Steve to turn around at mile 18 to get the car, and for me to do an extra loop to meet back together at Dutch Bros. I tried something different and ate a kind bar here because I was feeling just depleted even though I had fueled at 5, 10 and 14.5. Turns out that was not a good idea. It felt so heavy in my stomach and made me feel sick, but lesson learned. I won’t do that in the race. The next 2 miles felt like an eternity. I tried to decide if I really wanted to go over 20, but since I had committed to the idea of doing just a little bit more earlier in the run, I knew for my brain, I needed to follow through.

Mile 19–9:44

As I was about half way through mile 20, this song came on and I proceeded to cry, Loudly. I should have been embarrassed, but I was too happy and proud.

Mile 20–9:26

I took a breath after mile 20. I stopped for a minute and let everything sink in, and then I ran my little heart out to Dutch Bros and all around the parking lot until my garmin looked like this

Last .5–9:12

20.5 miles, 3:30:03, 10:14 average pace.

And then I thought “Hey, I just trained for a marathon. Cool.” It’s pretty amazing what our bodies are capable of, and all of the sudden 20 miles doesn’t feel impossible. It just feels Fing hard, but that’s okay. I like a challenge. :)




Sunday evening I went out with some of my awesome teammates to celebrate all of our training, and making it all the way to peak week! Well, we didn’t say exactly what it was that we were celebrating other than actually getting to hang out with each other, but those sound like awesome reasons to celebrate to me 😉

Jason, Wanda, Jaime, Tara, Lisa, Stacey, Moi. And after this lovely evening, I will be throwing out that shirt and NEVER wearing it again.

When we were trying to decide what to do/where to go, we all agreed that some awesome healthy food…and of course some wine. 😉 Jaime and Tara eat gluten free, so I suggested Nourish. I first tried Nourish a couple of months ago with Nicole and Emily, and LOVED it! They have a menu filled with healthy options to fit every diet–gluten free, vegan, raw, paleo, you name it!

As soon as I mentioned their air fried sweet potatoes, my friends were all on board!


They have a special air frier that bakes the sweet potatoes at a very high temperature without the potatoes ever touching oil or butter! They do place some oil in the oven, and have a fan that they say infuses the “fries” with the flavor of the oil. They are perfectly crisp on the outside, while soft on the inside–so much better than the kind I make at home! It is kind of magical. The table split a bottle of pinot grigio and an order of the sweet potato fries to start.

I ordered the southwestern rice bowl which was ridiculously good! I don’t know how they get their brown rice to be so soft!!

We ended up spending over 2 hours chatting and talking about, well, running! :)

Jaime & Tara

Stacey & Jason

Lisa & my shiny red face

“Ari take a cute picture of me for my blog! And then out me for asking on the internet!” I believe I was successful on both accounts.

Training buddddddies!

What a fantastic night!! I’m so glad we all had the chance to hang out and do something fun with real clothes on, and eat food that isn’t gu!! Also, I haven’t stopped craving the delicious food from Nourish since we left, so I think an other trip very soon is in order!


Cranberry Apple Chicken Salad


I have this skill. I’d be happy to share it with you if you ever need help with this, but I am the master at over scheduling myself. Want to fit the MOST amount of things in one day with only time for rushed travel in between? I’m your gal.

In the month of September, I started racking up quite the food bill with my Subway/Chipotle/Einstein’s stops. I also started racking up quite the…um, waistline. I was sitting a good 4 lbs above my normal weight, which isn’t a huge deal (don’t judge that I notice these things!), but my body has a set weight for the time being where it feels happy and healthy, and all of the quick food stops were not helping me maintain it.

Regardless of how healthy the places/items are that I choose, nothing ever feels as great as when I make my own meals. Not to mention those many bags of sun chips that I can get with my Subway sandwich full of empty calorie deliciousness….

Anyway, suffice it to say, I wasn’t feeling great, and I knew it was time to get back on track. Something that works really well for me with my constantly on the go lifestyle, is to prep a lot of a food I like that I can bring for lunch/dinner for the rest of the week. I pick a day when I have some extra time, and puy it all together, then it usually lasts me a good week.

That might sound boring, but if I make something I really love, I am usually excited to eat it until about the point I start to run out. Usually by the last time I am ready to move on to some new food, but it is SO helpful to always have a delicious healthy meal sitting in my fridge that I can grab and take with me whenever I need to.

This chicken salad is packed with protein! It has the perfect combinations of flavors and textures–sweet and salty, soft and crunchy. It’s been a go to of mine for the last year, and is still one of my favorites!


Cranberry Apple Chicken Salad

yield 6-8 servings

  • 2/3 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tbs dijon mustard
  • pinch freshly ground pepper
  • 1-2 tbs finely minced rosemary
  • meat from 1 rotisserie chicken, skin removed
  • 2/3 cup chopped celery
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 large gala apple, chopped
  • 1 tbs slivered almonds


  1. In a small bowl, whisk together yogurt, mustard, pepper and rosemary. Set aside.
  2. Place remaining ingredients in a large bowl, and lightly toss. Stir in dressing until well combined.
  3. Eat immediately, or store in refrigerator for up to 7 days.

**Note: To eat the chicken salad, you are not limited to sandwiches! Usually I crumble some brown rice cakes on mine or eat it with whole grain crackers. If taking it to go, package bread products separately until ready to eat.