Tag 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! 🙂

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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.

heyrunnergirl
(Image Source)

What races do you have coming up?

Crystal City Twilighter 5k Race Recap

On Saturday night I ran the Crystal City Twilighter 5k in Arlington, VA. It was my first “real” 5k, meaning it was a timed event. It was also the first time I ran a race where there weren’t packets of color being thrown at me! 🙂

I left my apartment just before 7 to meet my friend Meggan and her boyfriend at her apartment. Meggan lives close enough to a metro station to walk and we knew that taking the metro to Crystal City would definitely be the most convenient and stress-free way of getting to the race! 🙂

After meeting up with Meggan and her boyfriend, and petting Meggan’s adorable dog, Carrie – we headed out to the metro. Around 5 o’clock that evening it had absolutely poured rain outside, so it was a nice cool temperature. I was thinking that it was perfect weather for running, as long as the predicted showers held off long enough for us to race. Spoiler alert: that didn’t happen.

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Me at the start of the race, before the rain. No pictures were taken after this point due to fear of iPhone-destruction

It was nice to have the opportunity to walk to the metro to stretch out our legs, and it was a short ride to Crystal City. When we arrived, we had just enough time to hit the porta potties, and chat for a while in the starting corral before the race started. Earlier in the evening, I had sent out a tweet hoping that the rain would hold off long enough for us to run our race – but alas, it was not to be.

Just as the starting clock clicked over to 8:30 the first light drops began to fall. Within a few minutes of leaving the starting gate, those light drops had turned into a torrential downpour. As Meggan put it: “at least I feel more badass running it like this!” Fortunately, the weather was relatively warm so the rain wasn’t freezing – but it did soak me through and through within a few short minutes. At this point, I was just hoping my waterproof iPhone arm band was as waterproof as it claimed.

The rain stopped around 3/4s of a mile into the race but it had already done the damage of soaking my clothes. I’m so glad I have such short hair so at least that wasn’t a problem! Thanks to my friend Meggan, I kept up a pretty solid pace for the first mile and a quarter (ish) of the race but then a painful stitch in my side did me in and I had to walk for a bit. I rarely get stitches in my side when I run, so I was surprised when I got this one – and it persisted for the remainder of the race. I ended up running/walking in intervals for the last 2ish miles and finished with a time of 37:35 (15 seconds slower than my goal pace – sort of depressing). This further confirms my suspicion that in order to improve my runs I need to focus on increasing my cardio stamina. I’ve started to do this by incorporated more non-running cardio in my weekly workouts and I’m definitely going to continue focusing on that. Also, I’m still working on getting over my mysterious summer cold so I don’t think my lung capacity is quite back to normal. All things considered, I think I should be happy that I came very close to achieving my goal.

Since this was my first official race, I also have to say that I am so in love with the race atmosphere and culture. The feeling you get from people cheering you on from the sidelines is amazing. The atmosphere is so positive and supportive – you hear echoes of “you can do this” everywhere you go. There really is nothing like it. The positivity of the crowds at the finish line lifted me up and helped me to sprint the last .2 miles of the race with a big smile on my face. My first “real” race is officially in the books and it definitely won’t be my last.

I hope everyone’s week is off to a good start! I’m looking forward to cycling class tonight, and Body Pump tomorrow night with my favorite instructor who’s been on vacation for the past two weeks! Below are some health-related articles that I thought you all would find interesting.

Articles That May Interest You:

1. Do You Think You Run Slow? Why Being “Slow” Doesn’t Matter (Runners Connect)
2. Is Food Addiction Real? (Women’s Health Blog)
3. 25 Things That Are Keeping You From Losing Weight (Popsugar Fitness)
4. Surprising Reasons to Give Up Sugar (Rodale News)

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?

Announcing My First Half Marathon!

A decision-making perfect storm hit my life this week. As a result of it, I did something that may be a little crazy, a little rash, or it may turn out to be one of the best decisions of my life.

I signed up to run my first half marathon.

I say “first” with the optimistic hope that I’m going to live through it to one day run another.

Let me back up to what led to this decision.

I’ve thought about running a half marathon at various points throughout my life. When I wrote about my first real day running three short months ago, I mentioned that at several points throughout my life I have had the intention, however brief, of becoming a runner. The habit never quite stuck. Probably because I was so bad at it. I was under the impression that all those people I saw out running in the morning, the people I saw crossing finish lines, the runners I saw in the Olympics – that it was easy for them. That some people just ran, and it felt good and they loved it – and I wasn’t one of those people so I should just give up. What I’ve come to realize it that it isn’t just hard for me – it’s hard for everyone. I’m not the only one negotiating my way through each mile with pleas of “just make it to that light post, and then you can walk…now make it to that stoplight…just 30 more seconds…” Knowing there’s a possibility that all those perfect runners I admire are fighting for it too gives me hope. After all, if it was easy – everyone would do it, right?

While going through old computer files, I found a half marathon training plan I had downloaded in 2008. That file was living, breathing, electronic proof that I had wanted to do this for a while, and I had given up because it felt impossible.

Then I stumbled across an article on Health (I really have to thank Tina at Carrots’N’Cake because I was reading her article about obstacle course running when I stumbled upon the link). The article was about the Disney Princess Half-Marathon. Now, I already knew about the Run Disney series and I’ve been talking to anyone who will listen about signing up for one at some point. But I kept telling myself I wouldn’t be ready by October (for the Tower of Terror 10 miler), or by November (for the Wine and Dine Half Marathon) or by February (for the Princess Half Marathon). But reading this article recapping the race won me over. Before reading it, I had seen this particular race on the schedule and never considered participating. I’m not a “princess-y” sort of girl – preferring Super Mario and Ninja Turtles throughout my youth. But I actually teared up (this happens to me more than I care to admit) at the thought of a predominantly-female race, run in the most magical place on earth, cheered on by your favorite characters. It sounded like such a positive, supportive atmosphere that I just knew I had to sign up. Plus, Orlando holds a special place in my heart as I’ve traveled there multiple times throughout my life thanks to my Uncle working for Disney. It just felt right – so I pulled the trigger.

So approximately seven months from now I’ll be running my first half marathon. I may be running, walking, crawling, or crying my way across that finish line but I know one thing – I’ll finally be crossing it.