Thursday, September 29, 2011

Overnight Oats: Healthy and Quick

Chocolate for breakfast?

Yes, please.

Did I mention it's healthy and super quick to make? Bonus points.

Good morning my beautiful Chocolate Overnight Oats breakfast!


I'm a big fan of oatmeal in the morning for all the above reasons. It's quick, healthy, delicious, and you can add new things to it all the time (ie. bananas, peanut butter, strawberries, blue berries).

I randomly stumbled upon a post by Oh She Glows that described the nutritional difference between four types of oatmeal - Instant Oats, Quick-cooking Oats, Rolled Oats, and Steel-cut Oats.

Here's a review from her blog:

Instant Oats have been cooked, dried and rolled and are the most processed way to eat oats. Instant oats are very thin and need only hot liquid to soften. They are ready in about 60 seconds. While they are the most convenient (although some might argue that overnight oats are the most convenient!), they often have a lot of added salt, sugar, and other strange ingredients.

Quick-cooking oats are simply rolled oats that have been cut into smaller pieces. They cook in about 3-4 minutes.

Rolled oats are also known as Old-Fashioned Oats. They have been steamed, pressed with a roller, and dried. Cooking time is between 5-10 minutes. These are the oats that I use in my oatmeal recipes and in some baking recipes.

Steel-cut oats are also known as pinhead oats (pinhead…ha), coarse-cut oats, Irish oats, or Scotch oats. They are oat groats (the inner portion of the oat kernel) that have been cut into 2-3 pieces rather than being steamed and rolled. Steel-cut oats are coarse in texture and remain chewy even after cooking and re-heating. They generally take about 20-25 minutes to cook, although there is a quick-cook overnight method too.

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So what kind of oatmeal have I been eating for the past year or so? Instant oats.


I loved that darn variety pack (especially the banana bread flavor)! But just like my love for Brixx pizza was ruined by finding out that pizzas are over 1200 calories, my love for this oatmeal is out the window too.

However, I don't have time to make oatmeal in the morning, especially after a morning workout. I need something quick and satisfying.

Here's where overnight oats come into play.

All you have to do is scoop some Old Fashioned Oats and milk into a bowl the night before, cover it up with some plastic wrap, and in the morning you're breakfast is ready!

This morning, I tried Julie's Chocolaty Overnight Oats recipe.



Chocolaty Overnight Oats recipe


Ingredients

1/2 c. old fashioned oatmeal
1/2 c. almond milk (regular milk will also work)
1 heaping spoonful dark chocolate cocoa powder
1 tbsp. chia seeds
1 packet or 1 tsp. sweetener (such as Stevia, Splenda or sugar), optional
½ banana, sliced

Directions


Combine oatmeal, sweetener, and milk in a container, cover, and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, stir up oatmeal mixture. Top with frozen banana slices, stir, and enjoy! Note: You may stir in more milk in the morning until your desired consistency is achieved.

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I didn't have any chia seeds, so no need to include them if you don't already have them :) Also, I went a little too heavy on the "heaping spoonful" of cocoa powder. I love chocolate, but I think this morning fixed any chocolate cravings I'll have for a month. I think next time I'll go lighter on the cocoa and add some peanut butter.

Here are a few more yummy looking oatmeal recipes I can't wait to make!

Chocolate Peanut Butter by Kath Eats Real Food


Cinnamon Peanut Butter Swirl Steel-Cut Oatmeal by Oh She Glows


Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Glazed Steel-Cut Oatmeal by Oh She Glows

Apple Pie Overnight Oats by Clean Eating Chelsey


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Want to read more about oatmeal? Check out these interesting oatmeal articles:

10 Fun Ways to Cook with Oatmeal
How to Make Overnight Oats and Oatmeal Ideas
Make Ahead Steel-cut Oatmeal Recipes

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Question

Do you like oatmeal for breakfast?! Do you try new recipes with it??

Homemade Pizza

Raise your hand if you love pizza!

(Insert me raising my hand.)

However, my love for pizza has been on hold since my favorite place to go for it is Brixx. About 2 months ago I found out that their pizzas have on average 1200 calories. Considering I can eat a whole pizza in one sitting plus more, I went cold turkey on Brixx.

I was sad. But not 1200 calories sad.

Thank goodness there's still hope for me - homemade pizzas!


Yum..yum...and more yum!!

I was super excited about this creation because I had all the ingredients on hand except for the pizza crust.

Typically I would buy a whole wheat pizza crust, but since Justin was joining me, I decided to compromise on the pizza crust. He's a healthy eater, but I sometimes take it to the extreme, which leaves him groaning for a steak or burger...whoops :)

Here's a rough sketch of my recipe since homemade pizzas are really just all about adding what you love and omitting what you don't like.

Homemade Mushroom and Onion Pizza

Ingredients

4 garlic cloves minced
1 medium yellow onion (chunky slices)
mushrooms
cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup chicken (I used leftover rotisserie chicken)
1/2 cup marinara sauce
grated mozzarella cheese
seasonings (oregano, Italian, basil, whatever you like!)
1 pizza pie crust (preferably whole wheat)

Directions


- Saute garlic and onions on medium heat for about 4 minutes.
- Add mushrooms and cherry tomatoes for an additional 4 minutes.
- Reduce heat to low and continue to saute for a few more minutes.
- Smother pizza crust with as much marinara sauce as you want.
- Cover the sauce with the garlic, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes and chicken.
- Sprinkle as much mozzarella cheese and seasonings on top as you want!
- Insert pizza into pre-heated oven of 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until cheese is melted and the crust is golden brown (read your pizza crusts' directions in case they're different!)
- Final step: Open wide and say "Ah!"

Modifications for next time

I recommend adding black olives and some fresh basil to this for an extra taste of heaven!

You can definitely add more chicken if you want or less onions...it's your pizza...so just go with it! I stacked so many veggies on mine that they kept falling off with every bite :)

I guess I'm not the only one who has pizza on their mind because today I ran across quite a few articles randomly that talked about making homemade pizzas.

Runner's World has some great ideas for making pizzas at home plus some recommendations for healthy frozen pizzas.

Here's a quote from the article that gives you all the more reason to chow down on a piece of pizza:

"Marinara sauce is rich in lycopene, a cancer-fighting antioxidant. One study found eating a red-sauce pizza every week can lower your risk for certain cancers."

Shape also posted a delicious article on 5 Healthy Pizzas to Make at Home. The Grilled Caramelized-Onion Pizza with Rosemary, Olives and Prosciutto recipe is calling my name! And it only has 162 per slice....sweet! Or should I say yum??

Workout Update

I've been a sweat machine this week! I've already been to two 6am workouts. After tomorrow's 6am spin class, I will have worked out 6 hours since Monday. Sounds like a lot, but I'm not even sore...yet. I guess I'm just really loving my group classes at the gym :)

Question

Have you ever made a homemade pizza?? What's your favorite kind of pizza?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Fun Facts Friday

This week has flown by!

I've kept myself super busy and exhausted myself to the point where I contemplated going to bed at 8:30pm last night, but stuck it out to 9:30pm so I wasn't too lame :)

Here's some fun facts about my week since there's too much to say to make it all one post:

1. I made a new go-to lunch! The amazing turkey wrap!

This thing is deli material. I must admit, I'm a little impressed with my upgrades to what used to be a boring turkey sandwich (even though I still love my turkey pesto sandwich).


While perusing the bread aisle on Monday, I came across FlatOut Flatbread - multigrain with flax. It only has 100 calories, 8 grams of fiber, and 17 carbs! You can also use it as a pizza crust .... #winning. If you're a carb lover like me, you'll devour this.

I smothered the middle part with about 3 TBSP of garlic hummus, topped with low sodium turkey, onion, avocado, tomato, and spinach. Wrap it up and say "YUM!"

2. I did yoga for the first time this month on Wednesday.


Ouch! I thought yoga was supposed to be relaxing and easy stretching, but oh no, of course I go to the one that's made me sore for two days. I even had to take a rest day yesterday because I could barely walk!

Remember my goal to do yoga at least twice this month? Well even though I was cursing myself during the class and saying I was never coming back, looks like I will be coming back next week since I'm a sucker for completing goals :)

I do kind of like the challenge. It's a workout that I really don't understand. I feel like cycling, running, and bodypump are all hard, but I understand them. I'm still trying to figure out yoga...hmmmm....

3. I've set my alarm 3 days in a row to wake up early and workout and didn't do any of them.

#Losing. Maybe I need to revisit my tips for working out in the morning. I truly believe just waking up, turning on the lights, and walking out the door is the best strategy, but I blame lack of sleep this week on my poor excuse for not working out in the morning. Goal - next week, go to bed by 10:30pm. No excuses.

4. I had an amazing 5 mile run on Tuesday.



It really didn't feel that great at first, but once my legs warmed up I was loving every step and every hill.

5. I have a few recipes I can't wait to make this weekend!

I've been on a banana bread baking spree these past few weekends and decided to try making my mom's recipe this weekend and maybe an apple pie too!



Gotta love it when she scans it from the book and sends it to you :) Thanks mom!

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I absolutely can't wait to sleep, sleep, sleep, and more sleep this weekend!! I need it!

Question

What are your weekend plans?? Anybody else love to bake on the weekends? Any fall recipes for me to try??

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Interval Workout of Death

I think I almost broke the treadmill tonight.

That thing has shaking all over the place. I don't think it's meant to go to an incline of 15, I doubt I'm meant to be climbing an incline of 15 for that matter.

I was a huffing and puffing machine during my 30 minute interval workout. I was that awkward girl who makes noises every so once in a while out of pity for herself.

If you're in need of a 30 minute workout that will most certainly make the most of your time, please write or print out the below workout and hop on the treadmill!


Sorry that chart is so tiny! Check out Julie's post at Peanut Butter Fingers for a larger version since that is where it's from :)

She said it was the hardest workout she's ever done on a treadmill, so naturally, I wanted to do it.

When I looked at the speed and noticed I would be walking and jogging up hill, I had my doubts. I know walking up hill is no joke, but this was seriously no joke.

Note: Don't hold on to the handle bars when it starts to get steep! That's cheating :)

What I loved most about this workout is how I felt like I might really die. My heart was pounding, I was losing my breath, and I really just wanted to omit those last two intervals! But I didn't, and I told myself, "You can do it!"

What I love even more than feeling like I'm going to die is realizing that you survived, and then you feel like you can do it all over again. Crazy, huh?

Question

Do you ever feel like you can't go on but once you do, you feel like you want to do it all over again?

No, maybe it's just me??

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

BodyRock + Booty Call

Holy moley.

I'm obsessed with BodyRock!

Granted I haven't done any of the workouts yet, but I can't stop watching the at home workouts!

I found this gem of a website through The Fitnessista's Focus On: BodyRock post today.

It's basically free at home workouts, but their mainly high intensity interval training (HIIT), which leads to maximum fat burned in a short amount of time. These are the workouts that produce results. Please just look at Zuzana's bod...


I love athletic bodies.

Ok now check out this awesome workout that I can't wait to do - hopefully tomorrow!



Talk about intense.

Ugh, I'm now obsessed.

Now I'll just have you let you know how obsessed I am with it after I actually do it :)

What I really love about what I've seen so far is that Zuzana offers several at home workouts that tone your whole body, incorporate cardio, and you can do them in as little as four minutes and still be about to die. Yikes!

Lunch

I was so excited about my super cool turkey sandwich today! I added a little something, something to make it extra special - pesto.

Pesto + avocado + turkey sandwich = something to look forward to.


I tried low sodium turkey for the first time today since it's healthier, and it seemed a little bit more dry and less flavorful, but the pesto made up for it :)

Mid-Afternoon Snack

Can you say peanut butter cookie??


I got this tasty idea from Carrots 'n' Cake. It's the perfect recipe because it only calls for three ingredients and takes 2 minutes to make. It doesn't get better than that!

Peanut Butter Cookie

Ingredients


- 2 tbsp peanut butter
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 2 tbsp liquid egg whites

Directions


- Combine ingredients in a microwave-safe bowl and mix well.
- Scrape batter off the sides of the bowl and flatten into a cookie shape.
- Cook in microwave for 90 seconds.
- Allow to cool and enjoy!

Workout

I did a double today! Three mile run in the morning plus an evening workout consisting of an Abs Sculpting class plus Body Pump. Phew - I am whooped.

I was only planning on doing the strength training today, but as I was lying in bed last night, I came across this video:



I'm almost embarrassed that I was motivated by a video called "Booty Call", but hey, it worked!

These are the Tone It Up girls who also have great at home workouts and meal plans. They have a Booty Call once a week, and this week's challenge was to wake up 30 minutes before you normally do and break a sweat. It could be dancing, cycling, walking, running, whatever you wanted! I thought to myself, "Hey, I can wake up 30 minutes earlier and break a sweat!" I guess I'm a sucker for challenges :)

This actually ended up being the best decision I made all day. I woke up at 6am and hit the pavement for the perfect 3 mile run in 63 degree weather. Heaven. I honestly don't think I've had a run that nice since last spring. I was so at peace with myself and my thoughts. It was truly therapeutic.

Question

Have you heard of BodyRock or Tone It Up? Have you done any of their workouts?! What's your favorite lunch go-to?

I've done one of Tone It Up's HIIT workouts on the treadmill, which I loved and was only 18 minutes! #Winning

Monday, September 12, 2011

Going Back to Class

...but not the academic kind.

Me? Back to school? Ha.

I do toy with that idea, but in all seriousness, I just don't think I have the motivation for it.

I'm talking about going back to the cool classes - group exercise class!

I love it so much. I love my solo runs, and doing my own various forms of exercise independently, but honestly, it gets a little boring.

I guess I really enjoy classes so much because I feel energized when surrounded by a group of people who are like me. We may all be in there for different reasons, but we're there, and we're pushing our limits to be healthy, active individuals.

Today I did Body Pump followed by 30 minute intervals on the elliptical! Boy I am beat! My body pump instructor was so outgoing and brought so much energy to the workout! It was the first time I broke a real sweat in that class. I was feeling a little lazy about the elliptical afterward, but I sucked it up and did the 30 minutes I originally planned for in the beginning.

I think this is the beneficial part of writing out my workout goals at the beginning of the week because I feel so much more accountable to them. I really just wanted to do a chill 20 minutes, but in the end, I'm happy I pushed my limits.

Last week was pretty much a rest week after the half-marathon, but I still managed to fit in a couple quality workouts:

Last Week's Workout Recap
Monday: Rest
Tuesday: Rest
Wednesday: Body Pump + 20 minute elliptical
Thursday: 30 minute intervals on elliptical
Friday: Rest
Saturday: Rest
Sunday: 4 miles (8:54 pace)

Ok...so maybe I took quite a few rest days, but this week I'm back with vengeance! I must note that Sunday's run felt amazing. It was the first one since the half marathon and my legs felt completely rejuvenated - almost bouncy. I ran my favorite route, which is on campus. This is hands down the best place to run because I'm constantly motivated by all the other runners and active people on campus. From bikers to older people walking, everyone is moving! I love it.

Question

How do you plan your workouts? Do you just wing it or do you write out your goals at the beginning of the week? What are your favorite group classes?!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Impromptu Date Night

Only two short years ago, Franklin Street meant going out at 11pm, bar hopping from Top-O to La Rez to Goodfellows to East End to late night food.

Lots of great memories and lots of late nights!

Fast forward two years, and I've learned that Franklin Street is divided into two - the West end and the East end.

Before, it was all one big blur, but after last night, I'm beginning to see it much more clearly.

You see, the East part of Franklin street is "home" to bar after bar after bar...late night spot after late night spot. The typical crowd of people on the East side consists of undergrads, graduate students and people who just love to party. Oh trust me, I was one of them. But last night, I wasn't, I was a part of the West end.

What is the West end? It's a variety of well-reviewed restaurants that offer unique regional cuisines, but include fresh local ingredients. I really love the emphasis that each venue places on incorporating the finest local ingredients into their dishes. I am especially mesmerized by each restaurant's unique ambiance. From Turkish cuisine to regional American cuisine, the West end of Franklin Street has endless options to offer and explore.

I honestly don't know how I'll ever be able to leave this area. I love how much culture and variety the Triangle has to offer. It's an endless game of scavenger hunting for me!

I'm particularly looking forward to trying The Lantern. I've heard numerous positive reviews about this restaurant. It's one of America's Top 50 Restaurants by Gourmet, but I must admit I'm even more enchanted by the prestige of the chef, Andrea Reusing. She's well-renowned in the area, and even internationally since she was named one of "15 Green Chefs" on Grist's international list.

I'm thinking this would be a great Two Year Anniversary spot :)

Other great restaurants on West Franklin are:
Talullas - Turkish cuisine
Elaine's on Franklin - regional American cuisine
411 West - Italian cuisine
J. Betski's - Central and Eastern Europe cuisine
Lime & Basil - Vietnamese cuisine (more casual)

Just reading that makes reminds me of Christmas (weird I know). I want to try them all!

But the real reason for this post was to talk about my impromptu date night on the West side of Franklin Street last night!

I was exhausted after working all day and really just wanted to go to bed at 6pm. As Justin and I discussed casual places to get a quick bite, Justin mentioned Indian food, and for some reason a mini surge of excitement and energy perked me up! The funny part is that I don't even think I've really tried Indian food before last night. But I really wanted it and had a craving for some curry!

We knew there was an Indian restaurant on West Franklin Street, but not quite sure where exactly. After we parked our car, we started walking and noticed a beautifully lit up brick courtyard with several rod iron tables accompanied by people sipping on wine, chatting and enjoying dinner.


As we walked up to the venue, we noticed it was the Indian restaurant we were looking for - Vimala's Curryblossom Cafe.


You could feel the love this restaurant has for its customers and community as soon as you walk in the door. The colorful chalk board menu begins with "Welcome Beloved Community!" You could see the food being prepared right behind the ordering counter, and usually the cooks and staff look stressed, sweaty and hustling in an attempt to keep up, but this staff seemed peaceful, happy and they were actually smiling. You could tell they not only love their job, but love what the restaurant stands for - love, warmth, and hospitality.

About the Vimala's Curryblossom Cafe


We believe we grow our community by engaging intentionally in the farm to fork process and living our vision of creative resiliency.

We seek to bring our community together with love, warmth and hospitality over delicious, healthy food. We prioritize worker, environmental, and social justice; accessibility through affordability; and sustainability at every level. We pay a living wage.


The Menu

Typically, Vimala's has a standard menu with a variety of small plates and entrees, but I guess on Friday nights they reduce the menu to only one item. There was a line going out the door so Justin and I figured it must be good!

Last night's chosen entree was Onam Sadya served on a banana leaf. The menu broke the meal down into a list of about eight items that make up the Onam Sadya, which meant basically nothing to Justin and I since we're not well versed in Indian cuisine. All I knew was that it was a vegetarian dish.


We ended up keeping the menu with us as we ate and began to pick out what each item was off the menu after we tasted it, which made it pretty fun to be learning while enjoying new food.

The menu also gave you an option to have your plate vegan. I've noticed quite a few restaurants are doing this now, and even though I'm not vegan, I love the thoughtfulness of restaurants who do think to accommodate vegetarians, vegans and those who eat a gluten-free diet.

Price

This meal was $16 per person. So much for being on a budget last night ha. Granted a $32 meal is reasonable, it's just not as reasonable when you're trying not to spend money. Darnit, maybe next weekend!

The regular menu seemed to be reasonably priced as well. Smaller dishes are about $6-8 and entrees are in the $14 range.

Atmosphere


Very peaceful! This is probably because Justin and I sat outside next to the fountain, but overall the twinkling lights strung above the courtyard set a soothing ambiance to the evening.

However, the inside dining room is a little smaller and sensitive to conversations. Originally we were sitting inside because there weren't any tables outside, and a table of girls were getting too loud, which was a little disruptive to our conversation. But we were happy campers once we moved outside :)

I enjoyed our dinner, conversation, and time together so much, I didn't want it to end! So we didn't let it :)

Next stop - West End Wine Bar.


Source

It was the perfect place to top off the night!


I was in the mood for a nice red wine and the bartender recommended the Montevina Merlot. Perfect.

And there you have it - a perfectly beautiful and mature night on the same street where I would have been immature only half a mile east two years ago :)

Question

Do you like trying new foods and restaurants? Or do you prefer to stick with restaurants and food that you already know?

I used to order the safest thing on the menu and tended to rotate between two or three restaurants. Now, I use Yelp to help me discover new places and get excited to try new foods!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Sweaty Elliptical Love

I was so tired today.

I have got to start going to bed before 11pm!

However, there's nothing like a workout to wake you up at 7pm.

Today's workout was supposed to be a cycling class at 5:30pm, but work kept me late and it was up to me to find a workout to do by myself since I missed all the group classes.

Insert Fitnessista's Boredom Buster 30 minute elliptical workout.


I really loved this workout! I usually despise the elliptical and get so bored. But this kept me engaged the whole time and it did fly by! Next time I'm going to do a 45 to 60 minute one.

Fitnessista and Peanut Butter Fingers both have great workout pages on their blogs. They have great options for a range of workouts (running, elliptical, strength training, etc.) for whatever time frame you have in mind (30 min, 45 min, etc.).

It's workouts like these that make me happy that I'm not on a training schedule. As much as I loved training for my first and second half marathons, I love doing a variety of exercises as opposed to focusing on just one.

Music

Tonight I jammed to Pandora's station "Down" by Jay Sean. This is such a fun one! I highly recommend it.

Question

What are your favorite workouts? Any favorite group classes? Any cardio machines (ie. elliptical, stair climber, bike) that you enjoy the most?

I really dread the treadmill. I did it a few times this past summer, but after a couple times I get too bored and my calves tighten. Maybe I should try an interval run like the above elliptical one to add some excitement.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

VA Beach Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon Recap

Eight weeks of training finally came to an end this past weekend!

I started out strong with training in July, but August involved almost a week off for vacation and less than stellar runs on my end. I knew what my goal was - finish in less than 2 hours, but wasn't sure if my lackluster training could meet the bar.

As our alarm went off at 5am, the thought of getting out of bed did not appeal to me. What is wrong with me? I should have been excited!

Once I did roll out of bed, the anticipation set in, I munched on my oh-so-delicious peanut butter Clif Bar, and Justin and I hit the road to the starting line.


Check out the hat!


I was so excited to wear it :)

I must note that the previous night, we "carbo loaded" and unfortunately toed the starting line with big bellies. Justin thought he could make it to the porta potty and back 5 minutes before it started, but it was too late, no bathroom for us for another 13.1 miles. Granted there were porta potties along the way, but who wants to stop at those when you have a time to beat?!

So instead we stayed in our corral and found a spot next to the 2 hour pacer group. I thought this was a good idea at the time, but eventually disliked the feeling that I "had" to run with them. I enjoy just running. I love being in my own head. When I'm focusing on other people, I get mentally drained and lose my "running groove."

Anywho, we ran with the pacer group for the first 8 miles. First mile was right on schedule - 9:10. The second was at 8:50. Ugh, I felt good, but I didn't want to be regretting it later. None the less, I chose to stick with the group.

Around mile 7, I began to feel the symptoms of cramps thus my pace suffered. I started looking for a porta potty...oh please let there be a porta potty was all I could think. At mile 8, I was a very unhappy runner, but caught site of a porta potty and told Justin to just keep going! He was feeling good, and I knew he could run faster without me. As I turned off the course, I could have sworn he kept running.

I was in and out in 2 minutes (TMI?) and off I went. Little did I know that Justin did stop and wait for me, but I didn't know or see him! He said he waited for about four minutes until he saw a guy get in the same porta potty I used and then realized I left without him!

After the pit-stop, I began to feel like it was actually a race. Before I was running to stay with my pacer group, now I was running because I loved how I felt and for the first time that day, really wanted to not loose sight of a sub-2:00 half marathon.

Between miles 8 and 10, I felt strong. I was running hard and felt completely in sync with my body. Around mile 10 I saw Justin about 40 feet in front of me. "Wow, am I really running that fast? Did I actually catch up with him?" were the thoughts racing through my mind. Then I thought, "Oh no, I hope he's ok. Why is he way back here??"

At mile 10, I was at 1:32:56. Justin was at 1:33:06. Notice - I was ahead of him! Clearly this is because I accidentally left him, but this shows that he passed me between mile 10 and 11, which is when I saw him 40 feet in front of me.

I began to pick up my pace in hopes of running next to him to the finish line. I closed in about 20 feet to him and then we hit the 11 mile marker. I knew he was about to take off for the finish line so I didn't even bother wasting what little energy I had left just to say "hi!".

So on I went, in tune with my pace, and racing my heart out for the finish line.

I wanted a sub-2:00 hour half marathon more than ever at this point.

Mile 12 included the second hill of the race, which wasn't that bad compared to how tired my legs were from the past 12 miles.

From there I rounded the corner to the beach where the final band was playing the song "Summer of '69" and I felt like I was floating on air.

It was a straight shot along the beach to the finish line!

I picked up the pace to give it my all...


...and concluded with a time of 1:59:55!

Yes, I accomplished my goal by 5 seconds!

Hey, this also included a porta potty stop, so it could have been less ;)

Hooray for a PR! Hooray for my second half marathon! Hooray for being able to run! Hooray for being able to accomplish my goals! Hooray for being a happy girl whose in love with life!

I found Justin after I crossed the finish line and we headed to the beach for our celebratory beers.


Such an invigorating race.

The spectators were fantastic. The themed groups cheering us on all along the way were so fun. The bands at every mile rocked. I definitely recommend running the Rock 'n' Roll marathon series.

Final Stats

Pace 9:09
5k 28:14
10k 56:39
10 miles 1:32:56
Chip Time 1:59:55

This run has left me on a high all week. I want to run so bad now, but I'm waiting until this weekend to give my legs time to recover. I learned this the hard way after my first half marathon when I tried to run 5 miles only two days after it. Better to be safe than sorry!

Question


What's your favorite race? Haven't raced before? What's your favorite achievement? What do you do when you need to rest, but still want to work out?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Labor Day Weekend: Virginia Beach

I love three day weekends!! But don't we all?

This past one in particular felt longer since Justin and I fit so much into it.

Friday night was a cozy old-couple night followed by a productive Saturday morning. We hit the road and cruised for four hours to Virginia Beach! We drove straight to the Rock 'n' Roll expo and basically ate lunch with all the free protein bars and juice samples.


We also got a kick out of some of the gear...




I thought the above hat was too cute! I actually ended up buying it (only $5!) and wore it during the race ;)

That night Justin was reflecting on his lack of training for this half marathon and was pretty much determined to actually train, and train hard, for another half marathon perhaps in November. At the sound of the alarm at 5am on Sunday morning, the first thing he said was, "I'm NOT doing this again." I found this so funny and couldn't have agreed more in the moment. I thought, "Whyyyyyyyyyy am I doing this?" I honestly don't know if I would have woken up to it if Justin didn't start getting ready. Clearly - I value my sleep :)

But it was oh so worth it! Because we ran a sub-2:00 hour half marathon (race recap to come)!


My Garmin stopped working around mile 8 so all I knew was that I needed to keep running and start running harder. It actually felt like a race those last 5 miles. Since my Garmin decided to pull at fast one on me during the race, I didn't know until a couple hours after the race that I accomplished my goal. Hurray!

The post-race festivities occurred all along the beach, and Justin definitely enjoyed his two complementary beers afterward! While I loved munching on all the free bananas and snacks :)

We eventually headed back to the hotel for a little nap. After snoozing for not even a couple hours, we felt like the race was yesterday...not just two hours ago.

Next up...Virgina Beach...but actually this time we went to the beach. At this time we learned that Virginia Beach is pretty much the Myrtle Beach of Virginia - crowded and noisy. But it was definitely nice to lay out our blankets on our 10 foot space of real estate and soak up a few of summer's last rays.


As we relaxed, Justin was already thinking ahead to dinner and browsed through Yelp's recommendations on local restaurants. He came across Tautog's Restaurant. Oh my goodness - I love you Yelp for bringing this to our attention. We would have walked right by this coastal cottage not even knowing it was the most popular local restaurant in town if it wasn't for you.

According to the recommendations on Yelp, everyone was extremely happy with their meals and raved about their fresh fish dishes. They also talked about how it was always so packed and that you needed to make reservations in advance. Again, thank you Yelp.

If it wasn't for Yelp, we wouldn't have known this place existed, nor would we have known that 50+ people line up outside the restaurant before it opens at 5:30pm just to get a seat because the reservations are already full.

The meals weren't pricey, it's listed as being moderately priced ($11-$30 per person), but it's the local feel and creative fish dishes that make this restaurant so enjoyable.




Our night wasn't over yet, we then strolled the boardwalk, sipped on some draft beers (I tried a blueberry one...delish!), and then plopped out our blanket for the Brett Michaels' headliner concert on the beach!






Another perfect weekend. :)

Question

What were your Labor Day weekend highlights? Go anywhere cool or just relax? Have you ever used Yelp to help you find a place in an unfamiliar area? Did you find the reviews helpful?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Hello September!

I can't believe September is here.

I feel like I don't even remember August. It's a blur of 100 degree days and miserably hot runs. I guess I'm kind of glad it's over. This was one hot summer! The seasons in North Carolina seem to last just long enough to make me eager for the next one...except winter...ugh.

On a happier note, September is a great month. It brings back lots of warm-fuzzy memories.

Like...Carolina football games.


Gotta love a yummy tailgate.



Spiffy cornhole sets definitely add a little fun.


Plus a nap during third and fourth quarter never hurts because you have to rest up for Franklin Street afterward. These always hit the spot after a successful tailgate!


In all honesty, I really don't even watch the football games, in case you can't tell by the above photo. I really just like the social event of good times with good people :) But I do love my Tar Heels to death so the thought of anything Carolina related gets me way too excited!

So that's what I'm most excited about...well other than my Rock 'n' Roll half marathon this weekend! Perfect way to spend Labor Day and kick off the month.

September Goals


Like I said, I'm really excited to run my 2nd half marathon this weekend, but I'm even more excited about setting up some non-running goals for September and take some time off running.

Here's my 5 goals for September.

1) Strength train at least two times a week.
I really want to shoot for three times a week, but two is my minimum. I really like the Body Pump class at my gym and am looking forward to strengthening my weakest areas...lunges and triceps.

2) Incorporate spinning into my cardio routine at least once a week.
I think I'll probably do this twice a week. I really love this class and would like to become stronger in it.

3) Try at least one new recipe a week that doesn't incorporate meat.
I feel like I really just don't know what to do with vegetables. I'll look up vegetarian recipes, and they look heavenly, but when I'm cooking dinner and thinking of a side vegetables, a can of green beans or boiled asparagus usually come to mind. I'm looking forward to becoming more creative and widening my veggie palate. Maybe I'll do this on Mondays and make it a theme, Meatless Monday, like this past week.

4) Go to yoga at least twice this month.
I'm not really much of a yogi. I prefer to spend my workout time sweating and pushing my limits. However, yoga does both of those, but in a more subtle way. I also love how my mind feels clear and my body feels at peace when the class is over.

5) Read a new book and finish it by the end of the month.
This should be pretty easy with all the time I have on my hands :)

Question

What are you looking forward to most this September? What are your top 3 goals for the month?!