New Years & Race Recap

I talked in previous posts about how excited I was to get into a half-marathon on New Year’s Eve. At first, I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to run because it was full, but luckily a few spots open and I was at the top of the waitlist!

The race was local, just one town over from my hometown. It’s called the New Year’s Double was fairly small by some standards, with about 600 total finishers for the 1/2 and full marathon. I think there were about 200 for the 5k.

What is really unique about this race, though, is that they offer all the same distances on New Year’s Day as well! I guess a lot of people do races back to back! Personally, I could not imagine running such a distance 2 days in a row! Unless one was a 5k…

I was really anxious in the couple of days leading up to the race because the forecast was rain rain rain. While I have run in the rain before, I have never done so for a race.

There was a great Facebook page for the event and tons of people were having similar fears. Fortunately, a bunch of well-seasoned runners gave some excellent advice for race day!

In addition to the rain, it was pretty cold. I ended up wearing the following:

  • Running tights
  • Thick socks
  • Long-sleeved DriFit shirt
  • Rain Jacket
  • Ball cap
  • Ponytail hat
  • Waterproof gloves
The one pic my dad was able to take on the course...it was COLD!

The one pic my dad was able to take on the course…it was COLD!

It sounds like a lot, but it worked! In retrospect, I wish I hadn’t worn the raincoat. I was HOT 2 miles in. It was a last minute decision to wear it, and I put it on knowing I’d regret it. Lesson learned: trust your instincts. 

The half-marathon course was 2 loops. I actually found out during my last half that I really like this concept, because half the time you don’t know what to expect, and the other half, you do!

The course was really nice and kind of different from what I was expecting. It was pretty much all through a big park and neighborhoods. I don’t think I’ve ever run a race that wasn’t on roads!

I talked with someone for a few miles, which definitely helped the time fly by. I don’t feel like I ever hit a wall during the race! 

I wasn’t really shooting for a certain time, just ideally around 1:55. I ended up finishing in 1:54:31, which I was totally happy with. However, I did wear my Garmin, it showed the course as being 13.5 miles?? 

Apparently, this was the case for a lot of people, because Later on the race director posted a really interesting link about how courses are measured, so I am convinced that I really did run 13.1 miles

I actually didn’t find this out until later in the day, because I pretty much left right after the race for the sake of dry feet, but I placed 2nd in my age group!!! Like I said, it was a small race…but still pretty exciting :-)

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What a perfect way to end 2012. After some recovering in my new socks  and otherwise relaxing, I packed up my belongings because I had to fly out New Year’s Day.

LOVE

LOVE

I was able to have some fun with friends to celebrate the New Year, though! We just went to a local pub, nothing fancy, no big crowds, just fun with good friends :-) 

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Silliness ensued...

Silliness ensued…

 

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Yeah, tequila shots may have been involved at some point ;-)

And that concludes tonight’s recap!

What did you do for New Year’s? Any new resolutions?

Overdue Christmas Post

So, it’s been a while!

To be honest, I didn’t really feel much like posting while I was home. And the past few days I’ve been back have been insanely busy. Oh well, better late than never, right?!

Christmas

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I had a really enjoyable Christmas morning at home with my immediate family and my grandparents, who came to stay with us for a week. I was so happy they were able to come – they hadn’t been to our house for the holidays since I was little!

G-ma & I

G-ma & I

Stockings are totally my favorite part of the gift-opening festivities. I was so excited to play Santa this year for everyone…with the help of a big Target shopping spree ;-)

Stuffed and left by the chimney with care

Stuffed and left by the chimney with care

Amazingly, we had a White Christmas in Texas! We typically get about one snow “storm” per year, but it was such a coincidence that it happened on December 25th this year. It was beautiful. The only downside was that I couldn’t go see my mom for a couple of days because the roads were too icy (Texans don’t know how to deal with that stuff!). However, in some ways it was really nice to be forced to truly relax and do nothing.

Crazaaay

Crazaaay

Anyway, back to the day’s recap…after a relaxing Christmas morning, we got ready for our guests (mainly my step-mom’s family) and main meal. Here are the recipes I contributed to the day’s feast…I sort of forgot to take pictures before we dug in!

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Top: Basic Roasted Brussel Sprouts, left: Cranberry Orange Lentil Loaf, right: Sweet Potato Grits

Full spread

Full spread

I was shocked almost all of the lentil loaf got eaten! Most of my step-mom’s family members are more traditional meat and potato eaters, but I guess it looked appetizing?! Everyone said it was good :-)

Personally, I really liked the grits! We ended up having a lot left over, so I ate them throughout the week with some eggs on top – delish.

For dessert, I made this Carrot Cake 

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I have no idea why, but it didn’t rise…like at all. It still tasted great, though! I used Tofutti Cream Cheese to make the frosting, but accidentally added a bit too much almond milk so it was bit too runny.

My step-sister and I also made a LOT of Christmas cookies. We have started a great tradition of staying up late and decorating them together on Christmas Eve :-)

x3 = a LOT of decorating

x3 = a LOT of decorating

I have used this recipe (gluten free!) the past couple of years, they turned out a little crisper than I would have liked this time around, but I think that’s just a personal preference. No one could tell they were GF!

Finally, I went the homemade route for some of my gifts this year, and was very pleased with how they came out! I followed the directions here exactly, doubling the recipe to make a total of 8 jars.

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Ok, well I think that’s enough recapping for now… New Years’ and half-marathon recaps coming soon!

Christmas Survey!

Merry Christmas!! 

Forgive the large gap in postings, I have been at home since Friday and have been busy with lots of shopping and cooking/baking, and more importantly just spending time with my family.

I feel very grateful to have been able to come home and spend so much time here.

I will do a better recap of my Christmas (with recipes!) soon, but for now here’s a fun survey I’ve been seeing around the blog world :-)

1. Favorite Christmas Album/CD/Song? 

I always like Mariah Carey – All I Want for Christmas, and N*SYNC – Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, however I don’t really have any ultimate favorites. This year I discovered Christmas on Pandora, which I’ve listened to my past few long runs – love!

2. Run on Christmas morning or take the day off?

This was the first year I ran. Usually I take the day off, but with my race coming up I wanted to keep up with my normal running schedule. I’m glad I did it – it was one of those runs where I just felt FANTASTIC afterward.

3. What do you usually eat on Christmas morning? 

Hmm, it really varies! Someone in the family always cooks the traditional menu items (mashed potatoes, turkey, stuffing, etc), but I like to make my own variations and/or extra vegetarian items. This year I contributed a lentil loaf, sweet potato grits, and roasted brussel sprouts.

4. Favorite holiday or Christmas tradition? 

I love going to pick out the tree and decorate with my family while Christmas music plays in the background. I also love making Christmas cookies from scratch – rolling the dough, dying the icing, etc. When I was young, we had a tradition that everyone would choose one gift from under the tree to open on Christmas Eve, but I’m not really sure why it hasn’t been happening the past few years :-(

5. Real tree, fake tree or no tree? 

Real! We had a fake for years, but one year decided to go real and haven’t turned back. Can’t beat that smell!

6. Christmas pajamas… yay or nay?

YAY! I have been wearing the same pair for 5 years… :-)

7. Where do you spend the holidays? 

All over! Christmas morning is at my dad’s, then later in the day I usually go to one of my aunt’s houses where my mom’s side of the family is.

8. Food that you always have during the holiday season? Favorite Christmas food/treat?

Aforementioned Christmas cookies, for sure.

9. Open presents all at once or take turns? 

Christmas morning = take turns. One person passes out gifts then we all go around in a circle one at a time. Stockings (best part!) are last, and kind of a free-for-all; everyone just pulls everything out at once. When exchanging with extended family, it’s usually an all at once kind of thing.

10. Favorite Christmas(ish) movie? 

Elf all the way! However, this year was my first year (!) really watching A Christmas Story all the way through, and I have to say I was a fan.

Hope you all have had a wonderful Christmas (or any other holiday you celebrate!!)

Bye Bye, Hair!

Happy weekend! Another long week on my end.

I can see the end in sight, though! One more week then I’m headed back to Texas for the holidays. Icantwait!

However, I am actually looking forward to the rest of my time here. Tomorrow I am going to a family Christmas party! I also have lots of baking on the agenda for this week, as I am planning to make a few treats for my co-workers and friends. A good hunk of my morning was spent deliberating which recipes I wanted to use, and creating lists for the ingredients I’ll need (I’ll do a post with the creations later this week!)

I’m also looking forward to catching up with a couple friends mid-week, and a holiday shopping trip we have planned with the students on Wednesday.

One other bit of random exciting news: I got into the race I mentioned in my previous post - I will be ending the year in style with a half-marathon on New Year’s Eve morning!

Ok, so onto the title of my post! So, last night I did something I never thought I would do – I chopped off nearly 10 inches of my hair!!!

I was talking with my friends a few weeks ago about how annoying my hair has been lately; I was tired of having to braid it all the time to work out and sick of it being tangly all of the time. I was in desparte need of a trim (it had been over a year, I know, I’m terrible).

Anyway, my friend started talking about how she was thinking of donating hers. I had never even considered doing the same with mine, but as soon as she said it I really didn’t need any convincing! We decided sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas we’d do it together.

Everyone I told about my plan asked me if we were going to donate to Locks for Love, but we’d both actually heard it’s a bit of a sketchy organization – that they charge people for their wigs and don’t even necessarily use the hair sent.

After some research of our own through the American Cancer Society website, we decided that Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths program was best for us. They are partnered with ACS, the minimum is only 8 inches, and they provide very clear directions about the process. 

Here are the before and after photos! 

Before 

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After: 

hairdonationafter12/14/12

hairdonationafter12/14/12(2)

hairdonationafter12/14/12(3)

So happy with how it turned out! It feels so much better. And I’m hoping at work I will be mistaken for a middle schooler a little less frequently ;-)

I’m off to whip something up for tomorrow’s party. I am thinking these will be first?? Peppermint = always a winner! 

Enjoy the rest of your weekend, folks!

Like a Scene from a Movie & Recent Recipes

Lately Saturdays have not been the greatest conditions for running! Last week snowing, this week raining. It’s a little annoying. But also kind of makes you feel like a bad ass, so there’s the upside.

I ran about 10 miles today, and stopped halfway to take a Gu. I was on the side of the sidewalk for a few minutes, and just about ready to start running again, when a car sped by and DRENCHED me. Like a scene from a movie.

I had been standing there for a while and it’s a busy road (along the Charles River) so I don’t know how it didn’t happen sooner. I was totally shocked and annoyed, and just as I was recollecting myself, it happened again! Needless to say, I then took off in a SPRINT. Definitely fastest mile of the run.

Unfortunately, I was literally the furthest away from my apartment as possible because I was just doing an out-and-back, so I had to go about 5 miles with drenched socks and gloves. I hopped in a steamy hot shower as soon as I got home and the numbness was gone within 10 minutes, but boy was I miserable for a bit there.

In other running news…I was planning to run this race  on New Year’s Eve while I am at home (thus the reasons for the long runs – loosely training, haha). Anyway, I went to sign up a couple of weeks ago and it was full!! So bummed. I am on a wait list (#5), but I have no idea what the likelihood of me actually getting in is. Fingers crossed!

Moving on, I have some recipes to share with you!

First up: Almond Flour GF Chocolate Mint Cookies

These were delicious!! I followed the recipe exactly, with the exception of using coconut oil instead of butter.  Next time would add some mint extract to the batter vs just the coating, as they were a little more coconutty than minty. Also, I must find an easier way to dip things in melted chocolate – it was so thick and hard to work with! Maybe next time I’ll add some oil to the chocolate?

Ingredient Set-Up

Ingredient Set-Up

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Next, an Italian Tomato Soup! I followed this recipe but didn’t add the water because there was so much liquid already.  It was VERY tomatoey, but I liked it. I added several extra shakes of Italian Seasoning at the end. The leftovers were better than the night of, I think because the flavors got to meld a little more.

This was my first time to cook with fennel! Because the first step is to saute it, I tried it on its own first. It was GROSS! Like black licorice!! However, I enjoyed its flavor in the soup once everything was together.

italianwhitebeansoupfennel11/29/12

Finally, Tempeh  Curry with Sweet Potatoes and Green Beans from Whole Foods. I really liked the sound of this recipe based on its ingredients, however I realized after I bought all the ingredients that its reviews were less than stellar.

I decided to stick with it, but made a few changes, which I’ve noted here. The directions are the same, just click the link above to view!

  • 1 cup long-grain brown rice   1/2 c. quinoa, cooked according to package directions
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 (8 ounces) package tempeh
  • 1 1/2 cup low-sodium vegetable broth  1c. vegetable broth
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger  1 tbsp ground ginger 
  • 1 tablespoon ground curry powder  added to taste, probably 2 tbsp?
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin added to taste, probably 2 tbsp?
  • 1 (13.5 ounces) can light coconut milk
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
  • 1/2 pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, divided  6 dorot cubes (~2tbsp) USE LESS if you don’t like cilantro – this was VERY strong
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt + A LOT more
  • 2 tbsp tamari (or soy sauce)

tempehcurrywsweetpotatoandgreenbeans12/7/12

As with the soup, the leftovers were definitely better! Leftovers round 2 is calling my name now.

Enjoy, and have a great weekend! 

Running while Snowing

Happy Monday!!

Hope you all had a great weekend. Mine was perfectly relaxing, which was just how I wanted it to be!

On Saturday, I had a running “first”.

It’s a little crazy that I’ve lived in New England for the past 4 years and it was my first time to do this, but I actually got up the courage(?) to run in the snow.

It actually wasn’t my intention, but accuweather sort of blew it.

You see, when I woke up Saturday morning (side note: no alarm for the first time in weeks – felt AMAZING) I checked the hour-by-hour forecast on my phone.

I knew it was supposed to snow, but it appeared that from the hours of 10am-12pm I would be in the clear. Perfect! I took my time foam rolling beforehand and getting ready, only to discover it was coming down hard as I was about to walk out the door.

Instead of waiting it out, I decided to put on a few extra layers and just go for it.

snowrun12/1/12

Here’s what I ended up wearing…

  • Nike Long-Sleeved Dri-Fit Turtleneck
  • Columbia rain jacket
  • Under Armour tights
  • Nike Windbreaker Pants (mine are old, so I don’t think this is the exact type I have, but similar)
  • Spi Belt (to hold keys and phone/headphones - see note below!)
  • Waterproof gloves

    <Side note: I really want a hat like this. Simplest idea, but so genius.>

So, how was it? Not bad at all! The snow actually made for very enjoyable scenery. :-)

The whole snow in my face thing was a little annoying at first, but I got over it pretty quickly.

I was actually pretty hot with all those layers about 2 miles in…but I think it was better than being all wet? I’m not sure.

From what the news has been telling us, I might have some time to experiment with my snow running attire this season (we had very little snow last year).

Note about spi belt:

First of all, let me just say how much I love my spi belt. I’ve had it for about 2 1/2 years and it is the BEST for carrying things on runs…phone, keys, money, energy gels…it really expands to fit a LOT and it doesn’t bounce around at all!!

Anyway, I pretty much never listen to music while running, except for on long runs. This is partly for entertainment, and partly because I feel safer having some mode of communication available when I’m out running for an extended period of time.

This was my first time I put my phone in the spi belt and then left a little opening for my headphones.

Why have I never done this before?! It was so much easier than holding my phone. I think I liked it better too because it was less tempting to constantly change the song ;-)

Rest of Thanksgiving & Believe 2012 5k Recap

This past week was a busy one!

I didn’t get back to my apartment until almost 1 am on Monday, and the week was literally non-stop between school, babysitting, and my internship. I just finally unpacked yesterday…oops.

Anyway, I mentioned I had a few more exciting things to share from my trip home…so I am doing that now.

First was that I got to go to an Eli Young Band concert (country music, for all you non-country folks) with some friends. You may know this currently popular song

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The concert was a lot of fun! It was at Billy Bob’s in Fort Worth, which I had never been to. It’s a really big place and very unique in that there are lots of things to do (i.e games, dance, watch people ride bulls, etc.). The band is actually from a town really close to my hometown, and I saw them years ago when they weren’t quite so big yet…much bigger crowd than the last time I saw them! 

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It’s funny going “out” when I’m home now, because I obviously wasn’t old enough to do so when I actually lived there…places are so different from what I’m used to in Boston. After the concert we went to another bar for a little bit that was soooo honky-tonk. I don’t even have words to describe it, except to say that I have never seen anything like it. Amusing to watch, but definitely did not fit in there!

We didn’t get home from the concert until almost 3 a.m (!!!) and I was unsure about whether I’d run in the 5k I had intended to the next morning. I really wanted to do the race because I have the past 3 years and wanted to continue the tradition, but purposely didn’t register in advance because I didn’t know how my plans would unfold. Plus, it’s a pretty small race so I knew I’d have the option of day-of registration.

I decided to set an alarm and see how I felt when it went off in 4.5 hours. I definitely wanted/could have used more sleep, but when the alarm went off and I could not fall back asleep after 20 minutes, I decided to just go for it. I literally got ready and was out the door with my dad (who generously drove me to the race) in 10 minutes.

The race was supposed to begin at 8:30, and we got there at 8:20. Thanks to the fastest/most efficient registration process ever (all computerized), I was set to go within 3 minutes of being there!

Clothing-wise, I was a little unprepared for the temperature that morning. I think it was around 35 degrees, which was definitely unexpected given the rest of the time I was home the temperatures were at least in the 60s. Fortunately, I had an old long-sleeved tee at home and coincidentally had ordered some new gloves to be delivered at home, so I was able to wear those and feel comfortable in the cold.

Despite my lack of sleep and unpreparedness, I finished with a time of 24:23, which totally shocked me. I didn’t have my Garmin with me so I had no idea what my pace was like, and I definitely felt sluggish. 

believe5k11/24/12

I was just happy that I got up and did the race! It’s always a fun one. Lots of little children dressed up running with their parents, and it starts/ends in the adorable downtown area of my hometown. Plus, my dad gets to come with me, which is usually not the case with me being so far away! :-) 

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We left pretty quickly after the race because I was in desperate need of a nap before jetting off to my next event (a Christmas show with my mom and aunt), but I later found out that I placed 2nd in my age group!! I never would have expected this because my age group is typically is so large and I am in no way an elite runner, but still pretty cool!

Until next time everyone, have a great weekend!