Monday, October 29, 2012

Weekend Hangover

Homecoming Hangover - that's what was going on in our office today. My body and mind is completely exhausting after the few months of prep work and a 14 hr work day on Friday.

The weekend didn't necessarily do me many favors, but personally, I'd rather be exhausted from having too much fun and being outdoors all day long. That's my kind of party.

We headed back to Bend for the Halloween cyclocross race held at Deschutes Brewery (mmm... Black Butte Porter).

With a 6 am wake up call on Saturday to get Pete to his bike race in Bend on time, my body wasn't feeling it. I opted to take Saturday as a "rest" day just walking around a few miles and doing some easy pedaling on my bike.

Butt shots are the best. 

Best decision the manfriend made - bringing my commuter bike with us to Bend! So when he needed the car for hauling his bike or changing into/out of race gear, I had my own transportation.



Sunday's workout involved 6 miles of biking to and from Groove Yoga for an awesome hot yoga class to current pop music. After 90 minutes of stretching, pushing myself in challenging poses and dripping sweat, the muscles were sufficiently satisfied.

I'd love to find a studio to do a family/friend private yoga class the day before our wedding next summer, but I don't think Groove Yoga is quite it. It would likely be a bit too intense for what I'm looking for.

Sunday's race was the infamous costume race and these cyclocrossers are one creative crowd.


Manfriend climbs the hill of death

Male beer maid showing some skin

Mario and Luigi!

Watching the only tandem in the race was hilarious. There was a huge hill the racers had to ride or run up and it was extra entertaining with Mario and Luigi (and their long bike). Falling over/getting up on a bike with two people is more complicated than one. 

In between races, I tried to do some studying in the car or at the motel, but it wasn't easy with my exhaustion level. At this point, it's all about getting through the term and doing as much as I can. 

Quizzes, tests, another midterm... it just keeps coming! 

Tonight I ran a good 8 miles (5 with friend D) before meeting the manfriend at the laundromat (our dryer broke). Dinner tonight was takeout phad thai from one of my favorite Thai joints. I just couldn't deny my Thai craving any longer. 

Anyway, I needed a little distraction from all this Hurricane Sandy talk (and hospital evacuations) on twitter. Thinking of so many of you out there who are being affected by this crazy weather. Hang tight! 

Congrats, Heather for a great marathon and BQ! 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Taco Bowls & Headstands

Happy rainy Wednesday to you! It's been super cold here in Eugene and hard to imagine it's still fall. For example, Monday night I wore long spandex, long sleeve top, gloves and ear warmers on my run. Felt like snow was on the way! Brrr...

I did my run Monday to the tune of NPR broadcasting the presidential debates. Definitely kept my mind hooked for the full 45 minutes. It was one of those "less about the workout and more about just getting in a run" kind of nights. 

I haven't posted any meals in quite a while so I thought I'd give you one of our standard dinners this week. 

We typically do some kind of burrito, taco or bean and rice bowl each week. In addition, pasta, marinara and a good dose of veggies also makes a weekly appearance. 

These meals fit the bill for being satisfying, easy to throw together, healthy and affordable. 

Tuesday's dinner: Taco bowls 


I know what you're thinking - this isn't a bowl. Yup. We were out of bowls. I forgot that the dishwasher was clean so plates it was.

Disclaimer: I consider anything with beans, taco seasoning and a little salsa worthy of the word "taco."

Serves 2

Ingredients:
10 minute brown rice
onion
red bell pepper
Trader Joe's roasted pepper and onion freezer bag
broccoli
sweet potato
black beans
salsa
plain yogurt
cheese (optional)

Roast 1 chopped and lightly olive oil sprayed sweet potato in the oven at 400 for about 20 min.

Boil water and start rice. Meanwhile, begin chopping your veggies. Start sauteing the onion in a little olive oil. Add other veggies in. After a few minutes, add a little taco seasoning. Add 1/2 cup rinsed and drained black beans.

Throw the broccoli in with the rice for a few minutes (easy way to cook it through). Remove the broccoli and put it in the pan with the other veggies. Take your sweet potato out to cool, drain the rice and start assembling your bowl. Mushrooms and zucchini are a few of my other favorite veggies to include in these taco bowls.

We add salsa, plain yogurt and a little cheddar (or whatever we have) to the top. Avocado is also a great topper. And finally, add some chips to dip if you want!

YOGA
Ooh, last night I was doing a little yoga flow at home and decided to try some more forearm headstand. I had the manfriend there for safety, but sure enough, I was able to pop right up without his help (or without toppling over) several times.

Clearly, it's just my mind having a little freak out and not trusting that I can do it. In so many things in life, it really is mind over matter.

I can happily say my chemistry midterm is now out of the way. It's crazy how it actually feels good to study hard and apply the knowledge you've learned. Not quite the same as my undergrad experience...


A few things I've been thankful for during these stressful weeks: the manfriend, pumpkin spice candles at home, yoga, quick meals, Halloween candy (Twix at 10 am? Yes, please.), when I actually understand concepts we're learning about and fitting in workouts.

Thankful thoughts this week? Any good recipes you've tried?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Weekend in Review

Hello and happy Monday! It's time for a little brain dump. Brain dumps on paper, to a good friend or even to your closest blog buddies can be seriously valuable. Get that stuff out so it doesn't take up space and fester! Plus, the things we're holding on to and agonizing over often aren't that big of a deal. 

1. The bunions on the outside of both feet are coming back and hurt like hell. I think that's thanks to shoving my feet in Toms and flats a bit too frequently the past few weeks. It may be time to also head back to my Brooks Adrenalines in wide. The Brooks PureCadence have been good shoes, but don't come in wides.

2. I spent my nose in my chemistry and biology books for several hours this weekend studying for my chemistry midterm, doing homework and catching up on reading. I could spend another 10 hours on studying to actually feel caught up and understand it all.

3. I have a few big work events at the end of the week that I have been putting a lot of time and effort into. While I'm dreading the end of the week because I need more time, I can't wait to have it behind me. Some things, you'll never feel prepared for in life no matter how much time you spend on them.

4. I went on a trail run with friends Saturday morning and just let the universe dictate the pace and distance. 11 miles later, my spirit was refreshed and my butt was sore from all that hill climbing.

Beautiful morning running with Dawnetta

5. I bought a reflective Amphipod xinglet from REI on Sunday. I figured that with my morning runs in the rain/fog, it's probably wise to wear some reflective in addition to carrying pepper spray. I tried it out at 5:30 am on Sunday and both it's comfortable and adjustable. 

Hello, awesome hair. 

6. The manfriend raced cyclocross yesterday in Portland so I tagged along. It was a beautiful fall day and I managed to get some studying in and see my brother and his wife Sabrina as well.

Finished 27th out of 128 in his category

7. We've yet to turn our furnace on. I spent last night studying indoors in my puffy vest and beanie. The manfriend and I are holding out on heat until November... if we can.

8. I watched Grey's Anatomy from last week online and burst out crying during the last scene. Hello, drama. Plane crash, traumatized doctors, amputated doctor, love, loss... me crying my eyes out.

9. Found out I got a B+ on my first biology midterm. Not bad, but would have preferred something starting with an A. ;)

10. I am starting to crave fall dishes. I flipped through the latest Real Simple and now have a hankering for homemade stuffing. Alas, we don't have time for such elaborate dishes. I did finally write out a dinner menu for the week - winning!

How was your weekend? Anything you're looking forward to this week?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

UP...then down

That's how these weeks feel school/life wise. One week (or day for that matter) the reading and homework is manageable and understandable, and the next, every concept seems totally foreign and frustrating to me and the workload is too much for my schedule. And the school tends to seep into my attitude about everything else - work, life, etc.

The UP
I took Monday off to do some much needed wedding planning (i.e. contacting hotels, caterers, bar tenders, etc) and just get things in order in general.

When things are feeling particularly stressful, I find that checking off a list of 'to do's' gets me heading down the right path.

Monday's List:
1. Call two hotels - inquire about room blocks
2. Reach out to two caterers - w/ menu specifics and request for pricing
3. Research bar tending services
4. Email a few people I needed to get back to
5. Pay tuition
6. Get running socks at Tar-get - avoid buying cute clothes
7. Fill out premarital counseling paperwork 
8. Get ahead on hw and reading for chem/biology - womp, womp, no time for this

The down
With my class schedule and a buuuusy time at work, I'm coming to the realization that I simply CANNOT do everything I want.

And it's not just that I can't do it all when I want, I can't do it all. period. Yesterday for example, I had my first midterm in biology and while my other classmates were studying night and day for a few days prior, I was able to put about 4-5 hrs into it.

Luckily, I felt like the test went fairly well, despite not knowing everything. But I had to come to a place of accepting the imperfect to feel okay about my time commitment to studying.

We've also been having fewer 'from scratch' meals, which I knew would happen. I'm still trying to keep the meals balanced with protein and veg, but trying not to hyperventilate when it's not the ideal healthy dinner. ;)

My motto this week has been "you can only do what you can do." Just trying to roll with the punches, which is easier said than done.

The UP
It was exciting to notice how much more prepared I was for yesterday's test than I was in a lot of my tough midterms or finals for my first degree. I'm chalking it up to being older, paying for my own tuition and realizing how much of a gift education is. Oh and not being surrounded by teammates and friends all the time - hello distraction.

The other exciting thing has been that while both chemistry and biology have been pretty challenging for my brain to comprehend, I actually get a lot of the stuff we're learning! I feel smart again and that my friends, is quite a relief.

This week I've also been really crunched for sweat sessions so I've had to make it work. Monday - 3 mile recovery run, Tuesday - 4 mile run at dark, while listening to the debate (and carrying pepper spray), Wednesday - Lifeforce Fitness and this morning an early run.

As challenging as it is, I'd be a student for life if I could. What are your UPs and downs as of late?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Great Pumpkin RUN Recap

It's been just a little while since I've run a 10K - this here blog says Steve's Run in Michigan in July 2009 was my last!

That last 10K was run in 52:04 (my old PR). Yesterday? 46:14 - can you say 'PR' ?!

Could have done with shorts instead. The knickers were a bit warm. 

Loved the rainbow of trees here. Took during my 12 min warm up jog.

I planned to go out strong, but safe (7:45-8 min pace) and then start to push around mile 3 or 4. Well, per the usual of a small race, everyone surged at the beginning, myself included.

As we left the fairgrounds to hit the bike path and rolling country roads, I glanced at my watch to see a 6:54 pace - not exactly easing into it. So I reigned it in and held a steady 7:30s for a bit.

At the halfway point and about 5 rolling hills, I realized I was likely the first female and hoped I could maintain that (a first for me).

I used two guys to really push me and not let them drift ahead. I also used the downhills to hammer it. The last two miles of this race were the fastest I think I've ever raced - sub 7's baby!

As I rounded the corner back to the fairgrounds, I sprinted my little heart out to cross that finish line. I grabbed a slice of Great Harvest bread and water and then headed for a short cool down.



A few funny things I noticed. You know you're running a small race when...
  • The marker for Mile 1 is at 0.5 mile. Not even close, people. 
  • The race announcer said we'd be brain dead after 6 miles so "don't forget to go down the RIGHT chute toward the beer tent" (10K and 5K were happening simultaneously). 
  • Your prizes are SWEET 
  • You win overall fastest female, but then don't win your age group (just odd)

All in all, it was a PERFECT day for running. I'm so happy I made the trek up to Corvallis to race an uncommon (for me) distance and location. The trees were beautiful with their changing leaves and it was fun to see my mom and aunt for a bit.

My mom, aunt and I look very Halloweeny. 
And with my bright red/orange face, I pretty much look like a little pumpkin. ;)

So for winning the fastest female, I got a personal sized, locally made pumpkin with gingerbread crust cheesecake (and a little plaque)! It is to die for. Seriously, I need more of these in my life. --> Thank you, Taylor Street Ovens!

Anyway, at $17, the Homelife Great Pumpkin Run was a affordable, fun, well organized and for a good cause. Homelife supports people with developmental disabilities to live active, productive and independent lives. 

Mile splits: 7:35, 7:36, 7:49 (hills, tired), 7:27, 6:59, 6:55, 6:35 (.28 mi).

P.S. Have you guys visited Athlinks? I just was trying to find my PR for the 10K and found this website. Great aggregate of almost all of the races I'd done. No longer will I have to spend tons of time trying to dig through old race results to find my past times. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Smitten with Fall

A few years ago, I started to become mildly smitten with fall. But by fall 2012, it's a full blown love affair. I'm completely obsessed with everything fall. 

Leaves, don't ever change.

Seen in my neighborhood on a glorious Saturday morning run before yoga.



The afterglow of the perfect run, weather and donning a long sleeve wool top for the first time this season. 


The vineyard (where Lindsey and Sonny will get hitched) and the grape vines. In love with their neat little rows and all their branches and leaves. 


As we don't have many decorations at our house, I've been on the hunt for some fallish festiveness. I finally hit the jackpot at World Market where I found this little glittery pine cone bird, a turkey candle holder and a few other small things for 25% off. I may go back for some placemats and a cute doormat... 


Granted, he may look a little silly looking and I probably could have made him myself, but I think he's cute. He's currently sitting on our coffee table with the pumpkin trees I bought at TJ's last weekend. 


I'd also like to make a wreath like this one. Has anyone else bought some fun decorations or made anything fall?

So, guess what? Not signing up for a race lasted a whole month after McKenzie River! Actually, I'm kind of shocked it took that long.

But the urge to race was calling so I had to make it official - I'm running the Great Pumpkin Run - 10K this Sunday. I haven't raced a 10K in quite a while. Must remember not to surge at mile 2 - still have 4 to go!

I have a personal beef with races in Eugene - they tend to be either 5Ks or half/full marathons. I'm looking forward to running this longer, short race out of town. And I can see a few other races on my horizon!

Any fun plans on your weekend docket? Favorite fall memory as a child?

I have fond memories of spending an entire day with my mom, aunt, and grandma doing art (painting, baking, sewing) in the fall. Everything from artwork with real leaves, drawing and painting a haunted house or just baking some cookies. I also loved raking up piles of leaves with my brothers and dad and then trying to jump in them AKA land hard on the ground when your pile isn't big enough. ;) 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Running Gear Review

I wanted to review two of my latest running related purchases that have proven to be just what I had hoped. Like I've said before, I really enjoy wearing gear that is comfy and makes me feel good.

1. Moving Comfort Rebound Racer

With sports bras, I like to try them on to make sure they actually fit. It's amazing how different the same brand, but another style can fit totally different.

Our REI carries moving comfort so I went there to try on sizes and styles before selecting this one in charcoal heather.




What I like about this bra: high support (the girls aren't going anywhere), adjustable straps, sweat wicking, attractive, fits well.

Downfalls: I can't think of any.

 I don't know about you, but sports bras are one of those things I KNOW I need, but hate to replace. I mean, $56 for a stinking sports bra that no one sees! But, good support is important to me, so I shell out the $$.

2. Lululemon Bright at Night shorts

I was in the market for a pair of plain black running shorts and bought these in Chicago when we visited Pete's family. His brother and wife live just a block or two away from lulu - dangerous!

At first, they felt a bit restrictive, but after a few runs, they felt perfect.



What I love about them: wide waistband, adorable ruffles, two zip pockets w/ reflective tape, perfect length (not too short)

Downfalls: As a distance runner, they could use a zip pocket in the pack to hold gu or heavier items. The zips on the side are great for a key or an empty wrapper, but feel a bit heavy with actual fuel in them.

It's likely I get far too excited about my new running gear, but when you spend so much time in sweat wicking attire, you might as well feel comfy, confident and cool in it! Plus, you don't HAVE to buy a ton of it if you have a few quality pieces. 

Have you made any exciting purchases lately? I think this needs to be the fall I finally buy a pair of riding boots...

P.S. I finally took a rest day yesterday. The body was telling me it was time. I gave in and reminded myself that with rest comes strength. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Balance

Happy Friday! It's probably no surprise to you that working 32 hrs/week, going to class 8 hrs/week, exercising and having a life requires a serious balancing act. By no means do I have it down, but I'm learning.

Things that have been rebalanced the last few weeks include:

1. Shorter runs & less strength training - fitting it in where I can rather than making it the priority

2. Finding time for the manfriend - This one I'm still struggling with because at the end of a long day, I really feel like a good sweat session, but then it's time for dinner and homework, leaving little time to hang out with my favorite guy. I'm thinking we should commit to a monthly "date night" that isn't necessarily just grabbing dinner somewhere, but is extra fun for whatever reason."

3. Getting to the grocery store & meal planning - Feels like I no longer have an extra 30 min here and there to swing by the grocery store to pick up the staples we run out of midweek or little things I want for that night's dinner. Ideally, I'd like the manfriend and I to make a meal plan for the week on the weekends, do the grocery shopping and switch around the meals if we feel like something else one night.

4. Studying - Night time is my only free time. I simply can't meet up with study groups during the day. As the term goes on, I may see if a study group is able to meet on the weekend prior to tests. But so far, reading and studying on my own in the evenings is working.

5. Hydration - When working all day, I was always great about drinking several classes of water throughout the day. But now, my work time is much more condensed and I always tell myself I'll fill up my water bottle when I get to school, but then class is about to start so I go an entire day drinking maybe 16oz in 8 hrs. I'm working on it...

6. Stress - enough said. Working on ways to stay calm rather than let my heart rate/blood pressure rise.  

All I can say is THANK GOODNESS for weekends that naturally bring things back into balance in a really good way. 

Wedding chatter: Last night I picked up a few books from the library that I had on hold. One of them was Miss Manners' Guide to a Surprisingly Dignified Wedding. I find it fascinating to read about different weddings and all the details a couple can focus on (or opt not to) during the planning process.

While I'm only 25 pages in, the book is interesting because it has a lot of little notes similar to Dear Betty inquiries, but focusing on the ins and outs of weddings. For example, couples wanting to elope, a couple feeling conflicted on the tradition of spending a ton of money on a big wedding, a bride wondering if she's wrong for only being able to do something very simple, etc.

Miss Manners focuses more on simplicity and having all your friends/family there > creating a fancy affair. Makes sense for most people on some kind of budget and/or hoping to keep their sanity.

I hope your Friday is off to a good start! Crossing my fingers that 5pm will come quickly.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

September + Pumpkin Loaf

I never really do these overviews of the month, but I thought it would be fun.

The past few weeks, I've learned how much I really do LOVE this time of year. Sure, it's getting colder, but the sun is still making a regular appearance. The crisp air, the change of leaves, the opportunity to bundle up - what's not to love?

September was a fabulous month!

I ran my second 50K and holy whoa did a lot of people read that post! Special shout to Tina for linking it up. I know I love reading about others' epic adventures and hearing so much great feedback reminds me that this running and racing thing really is exciting.

I'm looking forward to doing some shorter, fun races and maybe spectating one or two (heaven for bid)!

Miles run: 147

Hours yoga'd: 4

Days Strength Trained: 9

Rest days: 2 (whoops)

One thing I determined I DIDN'T do enough of this summer was drink beer. You could say the whole running thing got in the way of my summer imbibing.

It's okay, though. The northwest has its share of amazing microbrews so we'll be enjoying them when we can.

And now to the good stuff - Mama Pea's Pumpkin Streusel Loaf!
Saturday I went to the store (after the farm) with one main ingredient in mind: pumpkin. I picked up a huge can of Libby's and headed home.

If there's one food I can't get enough of in the fall/winter, it's baked goods with pumpkin, molasses or ginger inside.

This recipe is great because it's fairly healthy, has good flavor and just enough sweet. 



Beware, you might as well make a double batch because this loaf won't last long.

I'm already thinking this would be a great recipe to make (double batch) and bring to friends who just had their second baby. Or really anyone who needs a little sweetness in their life.

*My alterations to the recipe: 1/2 whole wheat flour, 1/2 oat flour and 1/4 c pure maple syrup subbed for sucanat. 

Next up I want to make one of those recipes I've been pinning. That will be a miracle if it ever happens.

Has anyone actually made a recipe/craft project/etc from something you found on pinterest?

Monday, October 1, 2012

Fresh from the Farm

This weekend was one of those perfect meldings of summer and fall. Cool mornings with sunny afternoons - still shorts weather around here!

Saturday morning I rode my bike and met Lindsey at a new to me yoga class at Willow Tree Yoga. Class was packed so the room was extra warm, but that just helped the stretch factor.


We did a lot of randomly sequenced poses and several things I'd never done before, including this one, which was hard, but I almost sorta got on both sides. 

Loved my mellow ride home and looking at all the cute houses and sunflowers popping up along the way.


After a shower and a green smoothie, it was off to Thistledown Farm for some produce because nothing screams fall like heading out to the farm!


I also found this cute guy hanging around the squash, so I let him push my cart.


I always love the look of the turban squash (never knew what they were called, but just looked it up).


And you can't leave the farm without snagging the best apples in the world - Honeycrisp... and some fresh apple cider donuts.


The haul + a few pumpkins that are sitting on our front step. 


Yesterday, I went on my first double digit run since the 50K and it felt pretty good. The sun was out and I was completely satisfied to be running along the river on a gorgeous morning. The leaves are changing so that's a nice treat too.

Happy to have survived my first week of class. The manfriend has been helping more around the house and even with meals, which I know will help to take some of the stress off my plate as the term picks up.

As much as I really enjoy cooking and meal planning, it's also a stress to know you have to make sure someone else is fed (and has enough to eat) every night of the week. Sure, he'd be fine with mac 'n cheese on a regular basis, but I can't say that I'd be satisfied.

But I won't lie, Trader Joe's or Annie's mac 'n cheese (healthed up with veggies) definitely makes an appearance at our house every few weeks. It works in a pinch and provides that comfort food satisfaction.

Ooh, we also went to see Trouble with the Curve on Friday night (via bike). We hadn't been to a movie in forever, but it was definitely worth the $8.50 per ticket. Love Amy Adams.

Hope your Monday (and October) is off to a good start! Anyone else do anything fall focused this weekend?