Category Archives: Running

A Running Crisis & Cheese and Herb Stuffed Chicken

I’m having a little bit of a running crisis lately. I’ve discussed it in detail with a few of my friends and the problem is that mainly – I’m not a big fan of running.

Sure, once a week or every other week I get the urge to go out for a run. But I definitely don’t like it enough to run the 3 times a week (minimum) that would be required for proper training. So here I am, 5 weeks into my training plan that should have gotten me through a 10k in November and then a Half Marathon in February and I just don’t want to do it anymore. Through the first weeks of this training plan, I’ve made excuses to skip more runs than I can count which has resulted in only working out 3, sometimes 4 days a week. In contrast, during the months of July-August I gave myself permission not to run at all and focus on yoga, weight lifting, and cycling and I was working out 5-6 days a week without really even noticing it. Probably because I was participating in activities I truly looked forward to and enjoyed.

This situation has left me in a yo-yo argument with myself of “just don’t run the races – there’s no reason to dedicate yourself to something that you don’t enjoy” to “don’t be a quitter” and back again. I’ve had numerous friends tell me you can do it. But it’s not so much that I think I can’t do it as that I don’t want to. And isn’t it silly to force myself to do something half-heartedly when there are activities I’d gladly dedicate myself whole-heartedly to?

In this spirit, I think I’ve decided to skip the 10k in November, and possibly knock the race in February back to a 10k (if Disney will let me switch). There are circumstances surrounding the February race that make it hard for me to not go at all, so I’m hoping to still participate in some way that weekend.

Now, on a less existential note: a recipe! 🙂

bacon cheese chicken

I came up with this recipe as a way to use up some leftover cream cheese I had in the fridge, as well as some bacon and chicken breasts that I had picked up on sale. Also, lately I’ve had a thing for blending up cheese in my food processor.

Bacon-Wrapped, Cheese & Herb Stuffed Chicken
Serves 4.

    – 4 boneless chicken breasts (or you could use thighs I suppose)
    – ¼ cup cream cheese
    – ¼ cup ricotta cheese (I’m sure you could use all cream cheese, this is just what I had on hand)
    – 1 tablespoon dried herbs of your choice, I used oregano and thyme
    – 4 slices bacon
    – Salt and pepper

Cut a “pocket” into the fat side of each chicken breast. Salt and pepper the chicken and set aside.

Add cheeses and herbs to the food processor and process until smooth.

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Stuff each chicken breast with cheese mixture and wrap in a single bacon slice. Place in an oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat and sear on each side before transferring to a 350 degree oven to cook for 15 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.

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I served the chicken breasts with some steamed veggies on the side – such a quick and easy, delicious dinner! I also suspect that these would freeze well. You can stuff and wrap the chicken breasts, then seal in a freezer bag for future dinners! 🙂

Electric Run 5k Race Recap

This past Saturday I ran the Electric Run 5k race in National Harbor, MD. It was my first 5k since July’s Crystal City Twilighter 5k and I had a great race!

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Heather and I set out for National Harbor a little early (at 5 pm for an 8 pm race) because we knew traffic was going to be terrible. National Harbor is right across the bridge from Alexandria, and there’s really only one road running into this small area so we knew it would get backed up quick. Good thing we left as early as we did, because we still sat in 30-40 minutes of traffic despite being so early for the race.

Once we got into the area and parked, we headed off to check-in and explore the pre-race set up. Thankfully this race had plenty of porta-potties (unlike Run or Dye), but there wasn’t too much else going on. Most people were hanging out be-jeweling themselves with glow bracelets and glow paint purchased from the booths but Heather and I decided to pass on that. Unfortunately a passer-by bumped into me, thereby forcibly applying paint to my arm. I was actually sort of grateful it was paint instead of just a sweaty person bumping into me. Also, (just like at Color Me Rad) we noticed that the first aid booth was completely unattended. Weird.

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We crowded into the starting gate around 8 pm to wait to be released. It seems to be a pattern with these fun runs that they cram everyone into one starting corral and then release a few hundred people at a time. I’m not hugely experienced with races but this just seems to be a slow way to do things. Once again, Heather and I didn’t actually start running until about 8:45 pm.

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Our hugely crowded, and neon, starting corral

Once we got going, it was a great course. It started off with a hill, but that lead to a nice long downhill from about 1/2 mile in just past a mile. It was a great way to shake out my legs and really settle into the run. I felt great throughout the whole run, which I was really grateful for after my de-motivating 2 miler on Wednesday night. It’s amazing the difference a new day can make! Throughout the course there were various sections with bright, neon decorations, lights, and music. I tried to snap a few pictures but since it was dark outside they all turned out not so great.

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Hopefully you get the idea! My one complaint was that there were long(ish) sections of the course that had no lights/music at all so they were sort of dark and lonely in comparison. But I guess there are limits to exactly how much electrical cord you can string throughout three miles. My favorite thing about the course was that it went through such a wide variety of terrain. It started off on the ramp to the highway (shut down of course), then cut down on a crushed stone/shell path by the water, then went through a dirt road area before finally cutting down the main strip of National Harbor. The last part was my favorite part because it was well-lit and had tons of spectators (both on purpose and other unsuspecting people who were just there to have dinner/hit the bars). My favorite part of racing is the positive energy and love you can feel both from the spectators and other runners!

At the end of the course there was a stage with more lights and a DJ so we hung out and enjoyed a beer and the rave-atmosphere before heading to one of our favorite local bars to relax and listen to some live music. It was a great night and a great way to kick off training!

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The after-race party

Of course on the way to the bar we stopped to take “strong woman” photos with a statue we found. It couldn’t be helped.

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Oh, and I have to share a picture of my awesome rainbow of glow bracelets! 🙂 I picked these up for $1 at Michaels before the race – so much better than spending money at the pre-race booths!

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Some Things I’d Like to Share

I hope everyone is having a great week! The weather has been beautiful here in DC, it’s cooling off but it’s still warm and sunny out. Even though I am a summer child, I think I’m ready for fall. Especially with so much race training coming up! Yesterday evening I went for my first official training run – a slow, and short (but solid) two miles around my neighborhood. It felt great to be out there again, although I think I have lost quite a bit of running stamina over the past month which will certainly make this Saturday’s Electric Run 5k a challenge! But I think another 5k is the perfect way to celebrate being back in the running scene.

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Speaking of running, a former manager of mine experienced a terrible tragedy earlier this year – his house burned down and he lost two of his young daughters in the fire. In the wake of this tragedy, they have started a charity to build a playground in their honor. You can check out their Facebook page for Sophie and Madigan’s Playground and tag any posts about your running mileage with the hashtag #runningforsophieandmadigan . Also, they have an Official webpage. Running with those little girls in mind helped me get back out there and on the road.

On a lighter topic, I recently discovered Nature Box. Nature Box is a service that provides monthly healthy snack boxes to it’s members. I discovered the company through their Facebook page and I ordered my first box! It hasn’t come in the mail yet, but I’m pretty excited about the variety of snack options that they ship. And the box is only $19.98! I feel like I would definitely spend more than that at the grocery store so I figured this was worth a try. I’ll report back when my box comes in the mail! Also, since I ordered a box, Nature Box offers a discount to people who I refer! 🙂 My personal link for Nature Box is: http://fbuy.me/ibPE. If you use this link, you get $10 off your first box! 🙂 And I get $10 for referring you. I’m not working with Nature Box, and I didn’t receive anything from the company – I just thought I’d spread the word! 🙂

I was also happy to see my Chai Tea Concentrate recipe featured on Healthy Living Blog’s Recipe Wednesday! Check it out, and click over to the original recipe if you missed it. It’s one of my favorites!

Running Update: The Start of Training

Next week officially starts my training plan for my 10k in November and then my half marathon in February. Although running was the first step I took down this fitness road, I took a break from it for the past month or so. I absolutely fell in love with weight training (i.e. my Body Pump class) and started really dedicating myself to yoga a few times a week – so running just fell by the wayside. I was feeling burnt out to the point where I didn’t want to go for a run, so I didn’t want to push it on myself and grow to hate it. I’m not sure if it was the hot and sticky weather here in DC, or if I just needed a break – but now it’s time to go back.

And I’m ready to go back. I am sad to be giving up my two days a week of yoga and weight lifting but I’m ready to run again. I find myself looking forward to it. I was scared that taking a break would leave me dreading running again, but instead I feel refreshed and ready to take on the open road. I’m sure the cooler fall weather is helping with that too! 🙂

Running and I
(Image Source)

In fact, it turns out that my friend Heather can’t run the Disney Princess Half Marathon with me. She had pre-existing plans that weekend, which makes me sad but I also didn’t sign up for the race intending on running it with anyone else so it’s not completely heartbreaking. Sidenote: if anyone happens to be running this race and wants to meet up there and/or virtual train (or actual train if you’re nearby) I’m totally game! Running is always better with a friend! 🙂

On the other hand, Heather really wants to run a half marathon too, and the idea of training and running one together just sounds too awesome to pass up. So, when the Rock’and’Roll Half Marathon comes to DC on March 15th, 2014 Heather and I are going to run it. It’s soon enough after my half in Florida, that we can basically train together until then. Running two half marathons that close together might not be the best plan on my part, but I figure there’s always a few long runs in the last few weeks before the taper of training plans so it won’t be much different than that. After all, my goal is just to finish and have fun – and I think that’s an attainable goal.

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(Image Source)

What races do you have coming up?

Green Smoothies and Race Readiness!

Last night I tried out the Aqua Fitness class at my gym with my friend Heather. It was actually on the schedule as Aqua Zumba, but they had a last minute substitution to Aqua Fitness. I was kind of thankful for this because the idea of Zumba doesn’t really appeal to me. It was a blast! We did some cardio running around the pool and holding on to the side and kicking – and did some exercises with foam weights that really provide some resistance once you’re in the water! It was a neat way to change it up and get a work-out in. At one point, we did an exercise where we ran across the pool with a partner holding on to a noodle around our waist, to add resistence. (Hopefully that painted a decent mental image) It was a ton of fun – a lot harder than I thought – and Heather was such a great cheerleader!

During my research on training for races, I read time and time again that you need to incorporate non-running cardio into your training. Non-running cardio? That was definitely not a part of my life before and sounded sort of, well, terrible. My solution? Just start taking every fitness class I could fit into my schedule to find something that I love – or even if I hated all of it then I would at least get myself through several weeks of cardio in the “taking classes” process.

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So far the experiment has been a big success. I’m in love with the cycling classes – especially now that I have my new gel bike seat cover! And I’m going to invest in a pair of cycling shoes in the next couple of weeks. Because I enjoy cycling so much, I don’t know if I’ll get around to all the classes. Zumba and step have never really appealed to me, but who knows? Maybe I’ll take them and they’ll end up being favorites too! 🙂

This morning, I whipped up my usual green smoothie for breakfast – but I’ve made some big changes to the recipe this week because of my cold. I’ve been leaving out the yogurt/milk since that always seems to make my throat feel worse. I’m losing a lot of protein due to this, but I figure it’s ok for just this week – and look at the awesome green color!

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Tropical Mango Green Smoothie
Serves one

    – 4 cups spinach, loosely packed (I use the cup measurement on the side of my blender)
    – 1 cup apple juice (or juice of your choice)
    – 1 frozen banana
    – ½ cup frozen mango

Blend together and enjoy!

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This afternoon I drove to Pacers in Arlington to pick up my race packet for the Crystal City Twilighter 5k race tomorrow night in Crystal City. I can’t wait! It’s my first “real” race – meaning it’s timed and there’s not going to be anyone throwing anything at me – at least not officially! 😉

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Included in my packet is a glow stick – which I’m pretty excited about wearing and then fully intend on bringing home to put in my freezer to try to keep some glow in it until the next day. Did anyone else do that as a kid? 🙂 I’ve also heard a rumor that there might be some dogs from a local animal shelter at the finish line to greet the runners. I hope this rumor is true! I can’t pass up petting a dog anywhere I see one, and I’d love to soak up some puppie-lovin’ post race! It’s so sad I can’t have a dog in my apartment.

Keep up with all the happenings as they go down by following me on Twitter and Instagram!

Half Marathon Training Plan

Last night I went to cycling class again – albeit with a new instructor. I wasn’t as big a fan of this instructor’s style, although her microphone was out so I’ll cut her a little slack for that. She put off a really negative energy during the class – making comments about how her music wasn’t loud enough, she was tired of yelling, she couldn’t read her notes, etc. etc. But I guess there’s a different instructor for everyone! 🙂 I’m very grateful that I’ve found instructors in Cycling, Yoga, and Body Pump that I do love and look forward to seeing every week.

After class I made myself a burrito with my homemade refried beans, my lentil taco filling that I had defrosted, cheese, a scoop of Greek yogurt and half an avocado. Yum!

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It wasn’t the prettiest – but it was tasty and exactly what I needed after a hard workout. I’m always starving immediately after I work out – are you?

In other news, I officially finished putting together my half marathon training plan. It’s a rather long plan – 25 weeks. I did that because I also have a 10k that I’m running in November, so that plan starts in September – works up to the November race and then works up again to the Half in February. I loosely based the plan on the beginners 23 week plan by Run Disney. I also Googled beginner half marathon plans and incorporated some of the aspects from those. Basically, I knew I wanted to stick to only three days of running to make room for one day of yoga, one day of Body Pump, and one cross-training day (cycling, swimming, etc). Unfortunately, no matter how hard I tried to make it work, I can’t keep up my twice-a-week Body Pump classes during training. There just aren’t enough days in a week! However, I did decide that Body Pump “sort of” counts as cardio because my heart rate definitely gets up there – so every four weeks or so I’m letting myself use a second Body Pump class as my non-running cardio for the week.

Here’s my training plan, if you’re interested. Please note that I am not certified to make training plans, or even remotely a professional when it comes to fitness. This is just what I put together for myself based on other plans I reviewed. Following this training plan is not guaranteed to help you (or me! Eek!) accomplish anything.

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Phew! That was a lot of detail! Hopefully you found it interesting. 🙂 It’s going to be a long training season but at the end of it I’m going to be able to cross off one of my bucket list items – finishing a half marathon!

Questions of the Day:
Do you find that you get attached to a certain instructor in fitness classes?
Are you training for any races? Did you make up your own training plan or use a pre-made one?

Margherita Pizza & 50 Mile July!

I hope everyone had a great Fourth of July holiday weekend!

I did my best to “unplug” for the weekend and went camping with my parents down on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. We had beautiful, although very hot and humid, weather. We spent most of the weekend relaxing in the campground at the pool, or fishing off the pier but we also ventured out to two of our favorite wineries that happen to be on the Eastern Shore – Chatham and Holly Grove – and into the town of Cape Charles to a wine and cheese shop. Of course, I couldn’t unplug completely so I did Instagram a few photos. Follow me on Instagram if you want to see some of the food and other fun stuff that doesn’t make it to my blog.

Thanks to the insane traffic on Sunday it took me 6 and a half hours to make the 3 and a half hour drive home. My nerves were fried by the time I made it back to DC, but I forced myself to make a quick trip to the grocery store for smoothie making essentials and a few other items. When I finally made it home, all I wanted to do was relax and watch The Walking Dead marathon on AMC – but of course my cable was out. I made do with binge-watching my Game of Thrones DVDs.

When I got to the campground on Thursday, they were hosting a 10 a.m. 2 mile “fun run” which my family participated in. Actually, my parents were in the walker category and my sister ran most of the 2 miles with me before walking the last bit. It was my first two miles of July – which is good because I’m trying a “50 mile July” challenge. I read on Active that challenging yourself to get 50 miles in a month is a good way to establish a solid weekly base mileage. The months of July and August, I’m going to focus on running three times a week, establishing a solid weekly mileage, and getting in one hour per week of non-running cardio (i.e. swimming, elliptical-ing, or cycling). I’ve read that this hour of cross training is important to increase your cardio thresholds, without the wear and tear of running. Currently, the only cardio in my workouts is running so this is going to be a new challenge for me.

For Meatless Monday last night, I whipped up a quick pizza from a store-bought whole wheat crust, some tomato sauce, and sliced mozzarella. I drizzled the pizza crust with olive oil and some pasted garlic, because I can’t cook anything without adding garlic – seriously, I’m an addict.

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Then I topped the crust with sauce and sliced fresh mozzarella and a sprinkle of dried herbs (parsley, oregano, dill). Easy peasy! And delicious!

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It was a quick and easy dinner that my friend Heather and I shared while catching up on our holiday weekends. After a long few months of traveling, I’m looking forward to staying around the DC area for the next two months.

Question of the Day
What is your favorite form of cardio?