Friday, March 28, 2014

Favorite Vacation & Meal of the Week

Happy end of Spring Break! That is, if that means anything in your world. I ended up taking yesterday and today off work, which has been nice. Living in a college town means things are much quieter during breaks, although that's not saying much because Eugene is not much of a metropolis. But it does mean driving anywhere takes about 5 minutes less.

We're not necessarily having beautiful spring weather right now, but I know the sun will be back. Ahem, I arrived home after a 3 mile run this morning completely drenched (made the shower and breakfast that much more enjoyable).

Homemade granola, recipe via Feb. 2014 Yoga Journal

Meanwhile, I'm dreaming of Mexico...

But really, who needs a sunny destination to enjoy a margarita?

For whatever reason, I noticed my Puerto Vallarta post from 2012 has been getting a lot of clicks lately. I'm going to chalk it up to the fact that folks were doing some last minute spring break planning. 

The bit of sun we had and now the rain showers have me thinking of that Mexico trip and wondering when we can book our next beach vacation to enjoy 80+ degree temperatures daily. I'm thinking 2015 will be the year.

I know Europe is an AMAZING trip to look forward to, but very different from a 'lay on the beach and just soak up the rays' type of vacation.

What was your favorite vacation and why?

Favorite meal of the week: Greek quiche inspired by the internet

Ingredients: premade crust, sauteed onion, cremini mushrooms, spinach, plum tomatoes, kalamata olives, feta, local organic eggs, milk, salt, pepper and paprika

And finally, here's a round up of last week's workouts:

Monday - Finals day! Did a quick and sweaty 15 min Nike Training Club workout that required no weights. Got home early from my last exam and headed out for a 3.25 mile celebratory run.

Tuesday - Typically my easy/rest day. Did a 15 min yoga & core workout in the a.m. + 2 mile walk in the sun at lunch

Wednesday - 4.65 morning miles @ 8:23 pace (felt like pushing the pace so I did)

Thursday - 40 min a.m. yogaglo flow + "The predator" workout on the bike path (Running out 3 min, rest, back 3 min, out 2 min, rest, back 2 min, out 1 min, rest, back 1 min & repeat!) The fast people end up running further out and therefore catching others on the way back. 5.6 miles in total.

Friday - Typically also a bit lighter workout day for me. 25 min am strength workout, including tabatas and cardio blasts + 2.5 mile walk with Sarah at lunch.

Saturday - AKA epic exhaustion powered by 75 min power yoga + 14.5 tough miles + 7 miles of bike commuting with the manfriend = 9 hours of sleep that night

Sunday - long sunny walk with the manfriend and Jonah Bell (~1 hr) + 6 miles of bike commuting

Grand total of 28 miles run

Without school these past two weeks, it has been really nice to have a little more time to run, cross train and just walk! But alas, Monday kicks off Spring term.

What are your plans for the weekend? And your favorite meal of the week?

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Sun Struck + Europe

Whew! Saturday's long run of 14.5 miles after yoga really did me in. I think it was the combination of being sunny and warmer (and my legs already being a little sore prior) that really got to me. Clearly, getting back into this whole long run thing is going to take a while. 

My jaunt around Eugene took me through city streets, up hills, along a few gentle trails and along the river path. 

This look is called "tired."

Afterward, I made a quick stop at Trader Joe's for some groceries before heading home for fuel and a much needed nap. I don't know about you, but I used to resist naps like none other, until I realized how beneficial a short nap can be for my recovery and sanity. After 30 minutes, I felt much better. 

With temps reaching the 60s this weekend, the manfriend and I got out on not one but TWO bike dates! We found a few fun excuses to ride downtown and enjoy beer (Go Ducks!, close game) and pastries + coffee (just because). 

The earnings of the manfriend cashing in his change box on the dresser. 

*In all seriousness, I thought the manfriend might get $10 from all his change, so I was pretty floored when he came out of the grocery store with $50! Perhaps I should start saving my change for something I really want...

We also managed to book our Europe trip this weekend! You may recall that we have been planning to go to Europe for our honeymoon/1 year anniversary. I have been nervous to book the trip and honestly, just thinking about the logistics makes me nervous, but the good thing is we can plan as little or as much as we want in those three weeks. 

We are flying into London, then heading to Barcelona a few days later and making a loop around Europe before we fly out of Paris. It was a little tricky figuring it all out because we are also trying to fit in seeing the Tour de France for a day or so, but I think we can make it work. 

Other cities/countries we're thinking about are: Rome, Florence, Cinque Terre or Positano, Switzerland, Prague, Germany. I went to Europe in 2009 with my good friend Annie so there are a lot of places I'd love to see again, but also want to make sure this trip is unique.  

Thoughts? Advice?

For dinner tonight we made Yumm bowls. The local chain Cafe Yumm makes this tasty sauce and a variety of healthy bowls that we like to replicate at home. 

Ingredients: spinach, brown rice, kidney & pinto beans, mushroom, onion, red pepper, avocado, plain yogurt, cheese, salsa and yumm sauce

Not only is this dish simple and delicious, it's also nutritious and easy to adapt with whatever beans, grain or veggies you have on hand. 

What is your favorite food right now? Mine has been either avocado or frozen berries (can't seem to live without them). 

Interesting Reads: 
3 Reasons Why Women Should LiftPeanut Butter Runner

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Long Run: Back at it

Well, I'm happy to say that winter term is finally over! I studied pretty hard for my finals, so it makes these next two weeks of no school that much sweeter. I'm looking forward to having my evenings free and getting out to see the sun a bit after work. 

I thought it would be fun to talk a little bit about getting back to the long run because it's been a while since I've needed to run long (early fall). Plus, school has put a cramp in my long run style. 

But because I signed up for two races in April, something has to be done about it. So long run, I will...

Wore green on my long run Sunday to celebrate St. Patty's Day early

For a few weeks in January, I was doing well with heading out for 6-8 miles on the Ridgeline before or after yoga. And then things got busy and I was only able to fit in shorter, flat miles in.

The first of my two April races is Peterson Ridge Rumble, a fairly mild, but trip hazard (read: plenty of rocks and roots) 20 mile race in Sisters, OR, which I also ran in 2011. It was the first "long" trail race and it didn't go so well: I overdressed, tripped and fell a few times and generally didn't love it. I'm determined to make 2014 much better.

So, as of three weeks ago, I began ramping up my weekend long runs. First, it was a hilly 10 mile "Boston simulator" road run, then last weekend I headed out for 12 miles of rainy, muddy trail and this weekend I set out for another 12ish miles, but this time a few more miles of hilly trail. 

The more blur, the better (#artsyfartsy)

During this run, I was testing out a new pair of trail shoes that I bought recently. It was a nice change to not run in bulky trail shoes. *Shoe review below

On Hiking
It should be noted that when I'm running the Ridgeline especially, but any hilly trail, there is hiking involved. While training for my first 50K, the best piece advice I got was about the hills: "Don't run up a hill that you would walk near the end of your race." What this means to me is don't kill yourself trying to run a hill when it's much more efficient to hike it. 

From experience, I've also learned that sure, I can run up a steep section of the course, but all it does is jack my heart rate up and make me have to walk a little bit later. So instead of wasting a lot of energy on a short hill, I hike it. 

When I reached the peak of Spencer's Butte on Sunday, I was greeted with sunshine as I fueled. 

Fuel Factor
The last few weeks I've had a Gu halfway through my run, but on this run I tried a honey stinger waffle that Santa put in my stocking. It was quite tasty, but a little crumbly. 

I liked that the calorie content was a little more than a Gu (160 vs 100), but it reminded me that I also like having real food like Larabars or Picky Bars for longer runs. 

How I Felt
Not gonna lie, getting back into long running isn't easy. My body tells me to stop, but my heart and head are willing, so I keep on trucking. 

After this run, I was pretty zapped. I drove home and made a green smoothie and chips, salsa and cheese slices. It's likely I hadn't eaten enough because I was hungry the whole afternoon and had little energy to study. I clearly have forgot how much these long runs take out of me. Naps + plenty of food and water are always required.

From here, I plan to continue bumping up my long runs and hopefully hitting ~18 miles for my longest run a few weeks prior to race day. I'm pulling together a group of local runners to join me on the McKenzie River Trail in a few weeks to head out for a long run, which I'm really looking forward to. I miss that trail and it can get boring running long solo week after week. 

My goal for Peterson Ridge is to run strong and enjoy myself. And then I'll turn my sites to the half marathon a few weeks after. Luckily, it has some rolling hills so I think I'll be set. 

Mini Shoe Review
I wanted to try something a little less bulky and ended up walking away from our local running store with a pair of Nike Zoom Terra Kigers, a minimal drop trail shoe that has a wider forefoot than most Nikes I've tried. So far, I like their traction and light weight and didn't seem to have any soreness related to the new kicks. I'm not a fan of their price tag, but they should last me quite a while.

What fitness or life goal are you working on right now? Did you do anything to celebrate St. Patty's Day? 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Week in Review

Hellooo and happy pancake Friday* to you!

*Back in the day (as in before I was running myself ragged going to school and work), pancake Friday was a thing in our house. I often liked surprising the manfriend with a freshly made stack of pancakes for breakfast to kick off the weekend. Now it's more of a weekend only thing.

This week has left me feeling pretty exhausted every day. I'm not sure if I'm not getting enough sleep, or my body is just reacting to the combination of everything I'm throwing at it.

Alas, the theme of the week for me has been getting outside as much as possible while the sun is shining. Frankly, if laptops worked better in the sun, I'd like to figure out how to make an outdoor lounge chair or desk a reality. Ha, wouldn't everyone?

I found myself escaping to run for 20 minutes before class the other night just so I could soak up some Vitamin D and get a little workout in.

Last night, rather than a traditional track workout with our speed group, our coach encouraged us to join the local track club for their first 5K of the year.

If you're a member, these 5Ks are free, which is awesome. Otherwise, they're $5, so either way it's pretty much a win. I renewed my membership again last night, so more free 5Ks are in my future.

I warmed up for a mile and then it was time to GO! I held back a little the first mile, making sure I could hold my pace and then just tried to keep up with a few other runners from my group that are about my speed. I finished in 22:27, which isn't a PR, but is pretty good for me.

A look back at last week's workouts:

Monday - 20 min am tabata strength/cardio routine + foam rolling

Tuesday - 5 miles Tap 'n Growler run with S & D, ran first mile as a warm up so I could sort of keep up with the fasties. Gotta do what you can!

Wednesday - 40 min sweat dripping Fit Tuesday workout thanks to the Fitnessista + am foam rolling. If you want a kick butt strength circuit, I highly recommend this one!

Thursday - Track workout: (missed the warm up), 400m, 800m, 1200m, 1600m, 1200m, 800m, 400m, 1.5 mile cool down. I hopped in for the meat of the workout (which was painful). This one was a little different starting short and fast and gradually tapering off to 10K pace for the mile and then speeding up again as we moved back down the ladder. 

Friday - 3 easy morning miles + foam rolling. Took the day off to study. Hopped into a noon yoga flow, which was challenging and stretchy at the same time. Peak pose was eight-angle pose, which was fun.

Saturday - power yoga class. Told myself I didn't need to do anything else and plus, I had plenty of studying to do. 

Sunday - 12 miles of rainy, muddy trail run solo. Made me want to recruit others for these long journeys once in a while as they can get a little dreary on your own. After errands and more studying, Lindsey taught yoga class and we worked on arm balances, which I really want to improve on. 

And finally, a little Fashion Friday.

There's nothing earth shattering or fabulous about this outfit, but this color combo has surprised me every time I wear it. Orange and aqua. Boom.

What's up this weekend? Well, both of my finals are on Monday, which is pretty pooey, so I'll be studying, but you can guarantee I'll still be squeezing in yoga and a run or two. The weather forecast for Saturday says a high of 66, so I may be searching for a study spot outdoors.

Do you have any fun weekly rituals for yourself or spouse that you like to do? 

Monday, March 10, 2014

What I'm Loving Lately

These are always fun posts to write and read, so let's start the week on that note, okay? Here are a few things I've been loving recently.

Live Fashionable Scarf - I just got my Live Fashionable scarf in the mail on Friday and wore it Saturday to a BBQ at my parents for my little brother who just returned from Antarctica (and then a little hiking adventure with my dad around New Zealand and Australia). I then wore it again Sunday to do errands and study. Scarves not only make me feel cozy, but are an easy way to add a little color to your outfit.

What I love about Live Fashionable is that they have a seriously good mission behind their business. These scarves are made by women in Africa to give these women opportunities and some security. More information can be found on their website.

I also bought their scarves as one of the gifts for my bridesmaids along with a pair of Erin McDermott earrings that the girls wore for the wedding.

Leftovers that keep on giving - Last week I ate tasty leftovers for lunch and dinner almost every day. The lasagna and kale white bean soup I made the weekend prior were like gifts that keep on giving and made a hectic schedule just a bit easier on me.

Foamy cappuccinos (with a heavy dose of cinnamon) - In the last six months or so, this has become my go to drink when I'm at my favorite coffee shop studying. It is also just the thing I was craving after a rainy, muddy 12 mile trail run yesterday.

Moments of sun - Other than a few wacky bouts of snow, we've had a pretty mellow winter. That being said, I've been really craving warmth and sunshine lately. I keep trying to figure out how to escape to someplace sunny for a weekend. So when the sun showed up last Friday and brought us 65 degree temps, I was nothing but happy.

Week goals accomplished:
Because I told you guys I would foam roll and stretch, I almost lived up to my promise. I foam rolled 3x (Mon/Wed/Fri) and stretched after all but one run. In addition, I fit in three yoga classes and one at home flow. Three cheers for happy hamstrings!

How are you surviving this whole time change? Monday is feeling particularly rough for me.  There is just something about waking up in the dark that isn't as easy (or pleasant) as waking up with the sunrise. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Sometimes in life

For any other "type A's" out there, you might understand what I'm saying. And hopefully, if you're one of those other types that balances all us A's out, you'll appreciate this too.

As someone who prefers plans and order, I struggle with doing things on the fly or not according to the plan. But there are moments when I realize that just chilling the heck out are good for me too. So that's where this is coming from, in case you're wondering.

Sometimes in life... you just need to eat one more cookie at 10:00 p.m. before going to bed.

Sometimes in life... you need to be flexible and just do the damn social thing.

Sometimes in life... you need to go running with friends even if you had yoga class on your "schedule."

Sometimes in life... you need to drink the beer even if it means an extra 300-400 calories for the day.

Sometimes in life... you need to laugh when the dog shakes her wet self on you.

Sometimes in life... you need to find empathy for the person you would normally criticize inside.

Sometimes in life... you need to walk rather than run the hill.

Sometimes in life... you just need to cut yourself some slack.



What's your "Sometimes in life..." declaration?

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Variety = Good

Hello hamstrings, quads, shoulders and triceps. This is code for saying I almost forgot what it felt like to train like an endurance athlete (and yes, I'm perfectly fine with that). You need a little variation in life. 

Anyway, this weekend I joined some friends for a long run also referred to as the Boston Simulator for its rolling hills near the end. While I opted to do 11 miles with my friend Katy who runs a similar pace, others did anywhere from 10 to 28 miles to fit their various training goals.

It was a rainy, laid back, chatty and hilly run in the country. While my butt and hamstrings hated it from mile 2 on, my soul loved every minute. 

Rat's nest brought to you by Oregon rain

That being said, I was surprised at how okay this long distance runner was with not having run a double digit run in... Months?! I was just happy I could hang in there for 11 miles. Now, I've got to continue working on the long distances (and hills) for a few upcoming races in April.

Ultimately, it's a good thing. I'm sure my body welcomed the break and mentally, I didn't mind not living and breathing by my mileage. 

I'm still strong from a lot of yoga, circuit workouts and shorter runs, but man I need to get back into the stretching and foam rolling habit! My legs are begging for mercy.

Loving my new Oiselle lesley running tights

Our paces for the run were:
8:17, 8:04, 8:17, 8:33, 8:13, 8:35, 9:11 (hill rolling fun begins), 9:29, 8:26, 8:44, 8:57* 
*I think my watch was lying here because when I stopped it, my current pace was a 7:48, so I think/hope the satellite connection was wonky.

Considering I hadn't run long and my hamstrings were extremely tight, my pace was pretty strong. Now I just need to work on stretching things out before my next long run. 

In the Kitchen
This weekend has also been new and fresh in terms of meals. I made not one, but two meals from scratch! First, I made a veggie and meat lasagna with an apple walnut green salad for dinner with my mom and the manfriend on Saturday. It was really good and we have leftovers for this coming week, which I love. 

Today I wanted to test out Emily's white bean and kale veggie soup. While I may never make any recipe that I pin to Pinterest, I often go back to my feedly reader and try out other bloggers' recipes that sound tasty. 

For this recipe I had most of the ingredients, but forgot to pick up vegetable broth. I got by with a little turkey broth and just added some other spices and water. I also opted not to buy parsnips and used a few sweet potatoes instead, because that's what Trader Joe's had yesterday when I went shopping.

Would you like some soup with your kale?

 Don't worry, it cooks down...

And then you get to the fun part of blending it all up and making a mess of your kitchen and yourself. I don't have an immersion blender so I just use a hand mixer and make a big ole mess. Sounds fun, eh?

Put on an apron before blending. And if you don't, don't say I didn't warn you.

I also shredded a little fresh Parmesan in there because we had some on hand. Plus, everything tastes better with cheese. To thin things out a bit, I added a bit of plain almond milk at the end.

The manfriend hasn't tried this yet, but I'll let you know what he thinks after dinner tonight. Edited to add: this soup is manfriend approved!

I rarely use kale, but I this is a nice way to incorporate it along with a few other veggies and beans. Nutritionally, I'd say this soup definitely packs a punch

Running Gear
In other news, I've ran my last pair of Brooks Adrenalines into the ground trying to make them last for just a biiit longer. I'm thinking about trying out the Merrell Ascend Glove Trail shoes. It's always tough to branch out and try a new shoe, but I'd love to find a new, somewhat lighter shoe for the trails. Currently, I'm using two older pairs of Montrails for trail runs, which are pretty bulky and have definitely seen a lot of mileage. We'll see...

What was your best meal this weekend (made or purchased)? 

Fitness goal for this week: foam roll 4x for at least 5 minutes and stretch for a few minutes immediately after each run. Here's to hoping that I'll actually do it because I'm telling you I will. ;)