Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Mental Baggage

Last night I came home just feeling spent and pretty down. Life ebbs and flows with happiness, sadness, anticipation, fear, worry, etc. and some days we just can't shake the stuff that's really good at sapping our energy.

Sunrise on top of  Spencer's Butte: not energy sapping (emotionally anyway)

Heck, I was so flustered, I couldn't remember what some of the poses were during yoga {revolved triangle... what??}. You know your brain is being overloaded when some of the basic things you know like the back of your hand just don't comprehend.

I came home and whipped up an old comfort food from childhood, pizza on bread. You simply pile on some marinara, veggies and grated cheese on to a few pieces of bread and broil for a few minutes. Comfort food in no time.

Then the manfriend suggested I take a bath and read something for fun (non chemistry). So I took the ipad, a cup of tea and a Runner's World with me and an hour later I had nearly forgot all my worries.

Because pretty pictures make me happy

My point is, that sometimes you just have to give in and take a time out. So here's to letting go of our mental baggage and focusing on bigger and better things.

What was one of your favorite childhood comfort foods or meals? 

Yoga fun: Tuesday night's peak pose was Flying Pigeon (eka pada galavasana), which also helped me get out of my head for a bit. It's interesting how something that takes more concentration and focus forces out the crap you just don't need (i.e. unnecessary stress and worry).

Monday, May 26, 2014

Not 21 and the Best Cobb Salad

Happy Memorial Day to those of you in the states. It sure is nice to have an extra day off! It's hard to even imagine all of those who fight for our country every day as their job. Not only is it a personal sacrifice, but a sacrifice their entire family makes. 

Friday I had a chem test, so all my thoughts were focused on that last week. I had a lot of studying and homework to do to catch up. It seems that after a test, I let myself relax for almost a week and just relax about the studying and then all of a sudden wham, another test!

Somehow, I still managed to get several workouts in.

Monday - 6 mile run with the group

Tuesday - power yoga

Wednesday - 35 min strength training at home: PB Fingers pinned circuit 

Thursday - 20 min a.m. shoulder strengthener yoga, 2 mile run HARD post work

Friday - Somehow my legs were sore from Thursday's two mile run. Guess it was the FAST running and some leftover lactic acid. After a 3.5 hour chem test + a few errands, I ventured out on a muggy 6 mile run with a few miles in the low 8:00 per mile pace! Followed by 25 min Tone it Up strength videos.

Memorial Day luminaries at Domaine Meriwether winery Friday night. Pretty cool to read all the personal messages on the bags. 

Saturday - 30 min gardening {it's crazy how much of an upper body workout digging up soil can be} + a bit of cross training/dancing in Portland for my brother's 21er

Sunday - 10 mile bike commute with the manfriend to and from Trader Joe's for groceries

And now, I'm trying to get motivated to take my booty on a long run. That's what I get for waiting until today to run long. 10 miles or bust...

This weekend we got to celebrate my little brother Max's 21st birthday with my other brother and his wife and a few others in Portland.

Max and gf Hannah

It was fun to get some family time and enjoy the city {I heart Portland} and try to hang with a 21er.

Our first stop was Hopworks Urban Brewery for a good lunch and a little beer. I'm in love with their black bean burger.

Then a little park napping for the weary...

And finally, dinner and drinks!

The highlight of our night was the few hours we spent at Kells, an authentic feeling Irish pub. We snagged a table right next to the stage with a great view of the Irish band as Kells Pipe & Drum band that plays every 2nd and 4th Saturday of the month.

The whole gang

Bros and beards

I could have stayed here all night, but we decided to move on to a few other places, ending the night with a little karaoke.

Singing along to Frozen's 'Let it Go' 

Luckily, it was a pretty low key night, but still reminded me that attempting to drink, staying out late and feel fresh as a daisy the next day is not something I excel at. It's cool though because I prefer enjoying a beverage and a full night's sleep.

Best Meal this Week

This cobb salad inspired by Iowa Girl Eats. Monday night, I made sure we had all the fixins for this salad, including asparagus, avocado and center cut bacon. Yuuuum. This would be perfect for a Memorial Day meal!

What are you up to today?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Training from now until Europe

I've been thinking a little bit about what I want my (loose) training plan to be for the next 5 weeks (yikes!) before we head to Europe for three weeks.

Annie and I on a bike tour in Paris circa 2009

I know that the manfriend and I will be active in Europe, but we'll also be on the go and there won't be much time to do a ton of running while we're traveling. I hope to get in a few gorgeous runs, but nothing I'm going to plan out.

 Oh you know, just a picturesque little setting in the Swiss Alps

Because of this break in my running routine, I want to be working hard and feel fit before we head off on our adventure {during which I'll eat gelato every day}. My rough idea is that each weekend I'd like to get in a longish run (10-15 miles) that include some hills and trail so that it's not a total shock to the system when I need to jump right back on the trails at the end of July.

With the MRTR 50K in the beginning of September, I will really only have about 7 weeks to get back into the swing of things AND build up some serious mileage. Suffice it to say, I probably won't be PRing this year (my third time running this course), so I'll just shoot for surviving and finishing with a smile on my face.

And now for some McKenzie River Trail pics...

So pretty, right?

On Sunday morning, I reunited with one of my favorite trails in Eugene that happens to land in the middle of a nice 10 mile loop from where I park, which includes a few miles of flat roads, a few miles of hill and trail, a decent through a local golf course and then a few final flat miles back to the car.

The trail I love just happens to have some short, but steep inclines that make a great place to work on your hamstring strength and turnover. I even doubled back a few times to tackle the same hill twice. Call me crazy! In all, I did about 6-7 x 60-90 second hill intervals, which I could feel immediately. Sorry hamstrings, but it had to be done. 

In addition to some longer, hilly miles, I also want to spend some time on my bike just for fun because I didn't get on my bike nearly enough last year with all the wedding planning madness.

And finally, I want to boost up my strength training with some extra challenging HIIT workouts. By now, you know my love for Gina's workouts, so I'll be going back to some of those and probably pull out a few of my Best Body Bootcamp workouts as well. Bring on the sweat fests! 

As you can tell, this is going to lead to some serious variety, which I'm totally fine with. Variety is a good thing.

Arm strength & handstand challenge
I'm still working on my arm and shoulder strength, but not as much as I was the first two weeks of the month. I have done about four yoga classes both online and in studio that have focused on building shoulder strength and opening up that area.

Now I could also use to find a fluffy piece of grass to try some totally unassisted handstands on. I've learned how to sort of cartwheel out of a handstand if I go too far, but I still have this feeling that I'm going to land smack on my back, which I'd like to avoid.

How is your week treating you? Are you still going strong with your May goals? 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

On a Roll...

Monday night, I was literally "on a roll" as I hopped on my road bike and the open roads for the first time in months. Sure, I've been logging some miles on the trainer indoors, but that's nothing compared to hills, wind and all the gorgeous views out on the road. 

Via Instagram

The manfriend was kind enough to offer to ride with me at my speed, which is easily recovery pace for him. But I have to admit, it was fun to ride with someone else and got me excited about being on the bike again!

Excuse the overly excited face. And no, you shouldn't do this at home.

Those 23 miles on the McKenzie River loop got me so excited that I'm going to bust out my bike this evening for a short little ride because a little consistency might make me feel like less of a sloth on the bike. We'll see...

I also wanted to share with you guys the Greek salad I made for our Mother's Day BBQ on Sunday. This salad lacks lettuce, but has more than enough veggies and flavor to make up for it. 

Easy Peasy Greek Salad

Ingredients: cucumber, plum tomatoes, red bell pepper, green bell pepper, red onion, kalamata olive, Athenos tomato basil feta, salt, pepper, olive oil and vinegar {to taste}.

This literally is a chop and serve type of salad. And the nice part is, you can leave out an ingredient or two you might not have or dislike, and it likely won't ruin the flavor. But for goodness sake, please do not remove the kalamata olives or feta!

I chilled mine for 30 min or so before leaving the house, but it isn't necessary. This salad is great for warmer days as it's really refreshing.

---> During the summer, I also like making a big batch of this mixed in with rotini noodles and chilling for on-the-go dinners when the house is just too hot to cook in.

On the not so easy side, I also whipped up these lemon blueberry bars from my friend Jessica's blog. Jessica and I went to high school and played volleyball for several years together and now she lives in Kentucky with her husband, baking and cooking up a storm. 

My dad wolfed his piece(s) down, so I guess he liked it. Lemon + blueberry = two flavors that should stick together. 

After dinner, my family all went outside to partake in my youngest brother's slack line. I'd never tried one before, but it was a lot of fun and a great ab workout.

I'm trying to remind myself to get a photo of Pete and I together occasionally. Too often, I just stay behind the camera and we forget to snag a picture of us.

And I still can't get over their new puppy, Niko. He was just adorable running around the yard, making us all laugh. 

What are you doing to mix up your routine this week?

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Scones, oh Scones I love thee.

Scones really might be my favorite kind of pastry. I'm sort of a pastry connoisseur, but I try to keep the enjoyment of them to a minimum because well, they're not usually the most healthy. BUT, you gotta have a little fun in life.

A few weekends ago I had finished a 3 mile run + yoga and was doing chores around the house and had a hankering to do a little baking. It was the day before the Peterson Ridge 20 miler, so carb loading was an added plus.

I opened feedly and what do you know, Averie Cooks had just posted a berry scone recipe and I happened to have all the ingredients!

Luckily, I almost always have a bag of frozen berries on hand {because I'm obsessed}, so I pulled the berries, butter and all the other goodness out and got to work.

To note: for scones, the berries and butter are best when kept cold until ready for use. That way, your berries stay in tact when you mix them in and the butter makes for lighter {go figure}, flakier scones.

*I did a little internet research and it sounds like cold butter basically melts inside your pastry in the oven, opening up pockets of space in the scone, therefore making it flakier. Interesting!

Very Berry Carb Loading Scones

2 cups all purpose flour (I like Bob's Red Mill or King Arthur)
1/2 cup white sugar (or slightly less)
1 Tbsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 cup of unsalted butter (keep it in the fridge until needed)
1 large egg
1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup frozen mixed berries
turbinado/raw sugar for sprinkling
The recipe also called for lemon zest and a glaze, but I think these are perfect without all of that. I also went slightly less on the butter and sugar because that's how I roll. 

1. Preheat your oven to 400F. Get out your silpat baking mat and cookie sheet, or add parchment paper if you don't have a baking mat.

2. Mix all dry ingredients together in a large bowl. {I subbed in 1/4 cup of rolled oats for a 1/4 cup of the total flour to health these up a bit.}

3. Grab your stick of butter (or slightly less in my case), and use a fork or pastry cutter to work in the butter until it is in small chunks throughout the flour mixture. You may need to use your hands to get the butter a bit smaller, but once the chunks are about pea size, you're good to go.

4. In a smaller bowl, mix the egg, vanilla and greek yogurt together until smooth.

5. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry, being careful not to overmix as it will make for tough scones. I had to add a splash of almond milk here because my dough did not have enough moisture.

6. Fold in your berries, being careful not to smash them too much.

7. Flour a clean dry surface or a separate cookie sheet to roll out your dough. Carefully roll out the dough to a 8-inch round circle. Then use a knife to cut your scones into 8 even wedges.

8. Transfer the scones to your baking sheet with the silpat mat or parchment paper. Carefully separate the wedges so there are about 2 inches between each scone as they'll grow while baking.

9. Finally, sprinkle a little turbinado sugar on top of each scone and bake for 15-18 minutes, or until light brown. Let cool for a few minutes before eating or transferring to a baking rack.

10. Best when eaten warm, but may be stored in an airtight container for a few days or saved in the freezer.

These scones are sweet enough on their own and perfect with your morning coffee or tea, or as a treat after a hard workout.

Warning: your dog may also want to be in close proximity to your scones 

And just for fun, a few things I'm loving this week

1. My parents just got a new puppy after their dog passed away last summer. They brought this little husky over to our house last night to play with Jonah. I think they're naming him Niko...

How can you not love a cuddly face like that? 

It's so fun to watch puppies prance around and just stare at things in curiosity. He was intent on watching Jonah run around the yard and on a few occasions sort of tumbled off our deck, unsure of how to hop down. 

2. Friend email chains that keep going and going

My high school girlfriends and I seem to start up a new email string every few months when we want to get caught up with each other's lives. It's fun to hear about what everyone is up to and be reminded of how lucky we are that we've maintained our friendships so well for so long and across hundreds or thousands of miles. 

What's on tap for your weekend? Doing anything fun for Mother's Day?

Also of Possible Interest...
The last time I wrote about scones on blog, it looks like they were blueberry lemon zest. Clearly, I have a thing for berries.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

A Road Trip to Southern Oregon

Friday night after work, the manfriend and I headed a few hours south to the city of Medford, OR. It was a nice night for a drive and I love how the terrain changes from fairly flat to a clear valley with rolling green hills on either side of the freeway as you get closer to Southern Oregon. It almost feels like a different state.

Not a great perspective of the big green hills, but trust me, they exist.

One of the reasons I love road trips is that it not only gets you out of your element, but it reminds you how pretty your state or country is. It's amazing how different the scenery can change, especially in Oregon within a matter of two hours from Eugene.

To the east: higher elevation, snow covered mountains, lava rock
To the west: ocean beaches, wind, cooler temps
To the south: valley with rolling hills, wineries, cattle farms and warmth
To the north: variety, city living, Mt. Hood

After rolling into Medford, we checked into our motel and headed downtown for some beer at the 4 Daughters Pub. It's always fun to go out in a different city. Plus, we got to see the end of the Blazers vs. Pistons game where the Blazers pulled out a win with .9 seconds to go!

Our trip south was all because the manfriend had planned to ride bikes with a friend who manages Medford Cycle Sport. We were up early to greet the sun and headed to the nearby Starbucks for some much needed coffee.

Shortly after, the manfriend pulled on his spandex and rode off to bike shop for the group ride. I had checked out the yoga studios in town and quickly determined I wanted to visit Rasa Yoga Center because of its good ratings and beautiful website. I signed up online for a $12 drop in class for their Saturday morning flow.

When I walked into the second floor studio, I was impressed with the beautiful space. Wood floors, views of the tree tops, a clean space with props-a-plenty. While Eugene has several yoga studios, most of them are not exactly serene or new feeling.

The 90 min class turned out to be just what I was looking for. The teacher, Lindsey, did a good job of walking around the room, demonstrating, adjusting and sitting on the ledge watching us.

We did several rounds of a challenging flow sequence and then she had us work on going from seated twist into scissored leg side crow, which was challenging on one side and somewhat doable on the other. She ended the class with a seven minute savasana and walked around the room with a little incense.

Not gonna lie, I walked out of that yoga studio feeling pretty content.

I had a few more hours to kill so I ended up calling my cousin and stopping by his house to see him and their two young girls for a bit.

They are 1 and 2 and the two year old was quite comical. After hanging out for a bit, I headed downtown Medford to do a little chem studying. Limestone Coffee Co. was pretty cool inside and served a tasty Americano.

Finally, I got a text from the manfriend that he had survived a hilly 70 mile bike ride and could I please come get him in Ashland (a 20 min drive from Medford). I picked him up and we grabbed some eats at the grocery store before making the ~3 hour trek back home.

Rest stop stretchin' is necessary

Tired, but happy, we still had Saturday evening and all of Sunday to spend in Eugene. It was a short and sweet trip, but definitely worth it!

*If you're visiting Southern Oregon, be sure to visit their wineries. Our favorite is RoxyAnn, but I've also heard good things about Abacela.

In the last year or so, I've really been jonesing to do some big road trips. Places I've been dreaming about include: Yellowstone, Joshua Tree, Zion, Moab, Grand Canyon and well, anywhere in Colorado.

What's on your list of places you want to road trip to? I'm sure I need to add more to my list!

Of possible interest...
Our road trip through the Redwood Forest

Monday, May 5, 2014

Walking Works

I have wanted to write about this topic for oh, months now, but I'm just finally getting around to it.

If you're a Real Simple subscriber, you may have come across the article 'Walking Works' in the February 2014 issue.

When I saw this, I was honestly relieved. Finally, a magazine giving readers advice on a fitness routine that isn't likely to send sheer terror in the minds of the average Jack or Jill (like the words burpee, skaters or kettlebells might).

I whole heartedly believe that you should do what you enjoy and what works best for your body. And the truth is, as big as CrossFit, marathoning, Zumba, yoga, and you name it have become, they're not for everyone.

Bench break on Pre's Trail during a post work walk

Something as simple as walking works as an effective form of exercise, can be done anywhere and it doesn't require anything more than a pair of tennis shoes.

The article names a few great reasons to walk more...

  • It strengthens memory
  • It protects you from heart disease
  • It lifts your spirits
  • It lowers the rate of weight gain
  • It staves off dips in energy

Also interesting to note that the whole 10,000 steps per day thing is sort of arbitrary and came from a study in 1960 that tracked walkers, which determined the average man who walked about 10,000 steps burned 300 calories. 

They did say however, that steps are still a better way to monitor walking than minutes because you may stop to tie a shoe, wait for a traffic light or what not whereas steps are essentially tracking distance.

My favorite ways to incorporate walking into my routine are:
  • A short morning dog walk (usually ~15 min)
  • Walking to cool down for a few minutes at the end of a run
  • Choosing a location to walk that has a beautiful view and sunshine
  • Meeting friends or family members to walk and catch up (double win)
  • Walking/hiking up a hill to regulate my heart rate

What I really enjoyed about the Real Simple article that it takes a step away from the idea that we need to pick the most challenging or hardcore workout, but instead toward something easier on the joints, yet still beneficial to the heart and has an impact on overall health.

After all, I worry that too often if someone feels defeated from the first step, they'll never get off the couch.

And if we're aiming for a healthier population, getting off the couch and onto the roads or trails is a huge step. So thank you, Real Simple for keepin' it real.

How do you incorporate walking into your fitness routine?

Also of possible interest...
Monica of Run Eat Repeat recently posted a Vlog about taking walk breaks during your runs

Thursday, May 1, 2014

May Goals

Whoop, there it is! Hooray, Friday!

The manfriend and I are busting out of town to Southern Oregon for a short and sweet overnight so he can do some cycling with a friend. Meanwhile, I'm going to check out a new yoga studio and maybe log some miles.

I love checking out new yoga studios when I visit a city because while we have lots of yoga in Eugene,  there is room for improvement. I think my favorite studio is Groove Yoga in Bend where the flow is challenging, but not ridiculous, the staff are friendly and the music is always bumpin'. 

May Goals
I really want to get better at handstands, arm balances and inversions, which all require a lot of shoulder strength, core work, balance and trust. Over the last year or so, I've definitely made some major strides in this realm as I become more trusting of myself and my abilities. 

But during the month of May, with the help of some of my Instagram inspirers, I'm going to really work on my shoulder strength and make it a point to get upside down more often!

Yogaglo has some great shoulder strengthening sessions that I'll be utilizing. 

Speed Work
Last night we did one hell of a workout. Thursdays are speed night and coach Ian instructed us to meet at Hendrick's Park for hills to take advantage of the shade on an 80 something degree night. 

I walked there feeling sluggish and 90 min later I was wiped. 

The workout: 10 min warm up, drills, 25 min of steady hill loops (~.3 mile each), 6 x 100m sprints up the hill, 10 min cool down + another 10 min jog back to my car. This whole running in the heat thing is going to take some adjusting...

On that note, I'm so relieved it's shorts {and neon} season again!

Fashion Friday
I'll be the first to admit, this is a little casual for the office. But let's be honest, when it's 86 degrees out, I don't have much motivation to don full slacks and heels. And the dress I wanted to wear needed ironing.

On top of that, working on a University campus, the second you step outside you see kids throwing frisbees and girls laying in their bikinis. Soak it up kids, the real world awaits. ;)

Top: Ann Taylor, cardigan: Target, pants: Old Navy, sandals: Franco Sarto 

What's your favorite thing to do in a new city? Do you have any goals set for yourself for this month?