Sunday, December 29, 2013

Banana Black Bean Brownies

Typically when you hear the word "brownies", you don't immediately think of the word "healthy". However, I have recently found a way to make gluten free, vegan, oil free, and yes, HEALTHY brownies! These brownies were delicious, rich, and gooey, and they made my kitchen smell like heaven! Plus, they were super easy to make.

3 very ripe bananas (mostly brown, the more ripe the better)
2 cups of cooked black beans
1/3 cup agave nectar
1 cup brown rice flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
2 TBSP ground flax seeds
1 TBSP baking powder

Set the oven to 375 degrees. Mash together bananas and black beans, then add in agave. I just let my kitchen aid mixer do the work for me, but you can also use a fork to mash them together or a hand held blender. In a separate bowl mix together all dry ingredients, then add to banana mixture and stir until everything is combined. Line a small square 8x8 inch baking pan with foil, then spread in brownie batter. Bake for 35 minutes, and then let cool for another 30. Grab the edges of the foil to easily remove the brownies from the pan, then cut, serve and enjoy!

This recipe makes 9 brownies.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Long Runs on the Treadmill

Whether it's the iced over roads, the three feet of snow that fell overnight, or the below zero temps, you're now stuck with a long run and no place to do it. Training for a spring marathon certainly poses new challenges, and sometimes there's nothing you can do but pound out the miles on the treadmill. Luckily, I've been there before, and I can honestly say it's not too terrible if you approach it right. Here are some of my tips for going long on the treadmill!

1. Find some form of entertainment- When I'm running outdoors, I can run for hours with nothing but my GPS watch and my thoughts. The treadmill however is a little different. If you are going to be running for hours in one place, you are going to need some distractions. I used my two and a half hours to watch Christmas movies, but music, an audio book, or anything distracting will work. Just make sure you pick something you know will be able to distract you for the amount of time you will be running.

2. Use the treadmill to your advantage- One of the few benefits to using a treadmill is that you don't have to worry about carrying all of your fuel on you. I took advantage of the extra space by starting with two full water bottles. One filled with regular water, and another filled with an electrolyte solution. Normally I wouldn't be able to do this with my hydration backpack, so having a shelf to put everything on was actually pretty nice.

3. Change it up- Running on a treadmill isn't as good of a workout as running outside since the belt moves for you. Fortunately you can change it up throughout to help stimulate outdoor running. I changed the incline and the speed a little every quarter of a mile to keeps things from getting too boring. You can also use this as a way to challenge yourself throughout your run since you can add more incline and crank up the speed the last few miles to hit marathon goal pace.

4. Expect to break up your run- Unfortunately, most treadmills don't allow you to run for 2+ hours. Most treadmills I have run on automatically transition to "cool down" after an hour, meaning you might have to re-start the treadmill 2, 3, or even 4 times in order to get all of your miles in. Instead of allowing yourself to fall out of your "groove", use this time to take a quick stretch break or fill up your water bottle. I personally hate having to stop for any reason during a long run (or any run for that matter) but I try to look at the breaks in between as a chance to re-collect myself instead of letting it become a nuisance.

I broke up my run 14 mile run into three chunks. (Luckily it was just 14 and not 20!)

First Set

Second Set

Third Set

5. Embrace the strange looks and stares- If you're logging some serious mileage on a treadmill, be ready to be known as the "crazy treadmill runner" at your local gym. Most people don't run the full hour, let alone start it again and again to further punish themselves. Just learn to embrace the title, because let's face it, you earned it!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

New Years Goals

It seems like now is the time to hop on the bandwagon and establish my goals for the new year. I don't really want to say "resolutions", because I don't feel I have much to resolve. I feel like I'm finally on a path that I'm truly happy about and proud of, as I should be. I have accomplished and grown so much in the last year. Looking back, 2013 has been a really life changing year.

1. I Changed my major and decided to become a registered dietitian.
2. I Ran my first 10k
3. I Ran my first half marathon
4. I Ran my first MARATHON (yes, all three happened in the same year!)
5. I switched to a whole foods plant based diet

If you would have told me at this time last year that I would have accomplished all of these things, I probably would have look at you like you were on some kind of drugs. It's absolutely amazing to me what you can accomplish in a year. So, that being said, I would like to lay out some new goals to work towards and strive for in 2014. Some may be more realistic than others, but there's no satisfaction in accomplishing goals that are easy. So, here we go:

Goal 1- To run a sub 2 hour half. This one shouldn't be too difficult, seeing as I was injured during my first half... not to mention it was a trail run. Plus, I signed up for a new years day half marathon, so this should be easily met before the year even gets going.

Goal 2- To run a sub 4:00 marathon. Now, this one is going to be more of a reach for me considering I finished my last marathon in 4:54:04. That's nearly a full hour to shave off! However, I plan on running one in the spring and one in the fall. I hope to run a sub 4:30 for the spring marathon, and a sub 4:00 for the fall. I know this is a stretch, but I need a few goals to strive for. Plus, I was injured for my last marathon, and feel as long as I can avoid injury, these should be fairly reasonable goals.

Goal 3- To log 2014 miles in 2014. Now, before you go crazy, let me explain. I will be counting ALL miles logged, not just miles ran. Meaning that my cross training miles from the elliptical/bike each week will also count towards this goal. I'm going to finish this year with about 1,200 miles logged, but I didn't start tracking my mileage until about March. Plus, I have built my mileage up from around 15 miles a week to about 35 miles a week. Considering I eventually get up to my goal (50 miles a week) this is actually a pretty reasonable goal.

Well, I think that's all of them. Long term goals will be completing an ultra and eventually qualifying for a Boston marathon. However, neither of those seem like thing I need to be striving for in the coming year. I can't wait to see what 2014 brings, and am excited for another year to to push my limits and reach new heights!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Easy vegan "cheese" sauce

This recipe is really simple and delicious! The best part is, it's made with all natural ingredients. I've never purchased packaged vegan cheese or butter products because I never really felt they were all that healthy. This recipe however just mainly uses unsweetened almond milk, tahini, and nutritional yeast as it's base. Plus, you can make one serving size just for yourself, or you can make a larger batch for a group of people! I used it to top off my broccoli stuffed baked potato, and it did not disappoint!

1 serving- about 1/4 cup of sauce

3 TBSP unsweetened almond milk
1 TBSP tahini
1 TBSP nutritional yeast
salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder to taste

Just mix together in a small bowl and microwave for about 30 seconds or until warm. Then drizzle over your favorite foods for a little extra flavor and enjoy!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Edamame Stir Fry

Today I was feeling a little creative, so I figured I would clean out my freezer a little bit and attempt to create a new recipe. I always seem to stock pile multiple bags of frozen vegetables in my freezer, so stir fry seemed like a pretty logical route.

1 Bag frozen mixed stir fry vegetables(about 3 cups)
2 Cups shelled edamame
2 Cups frozen broccoli
2 Cups whole grain pasta (I used gluten free corn pasta)
4 TBSP Braggs liquid aminos
2 TBSP Red wine vinegar
1 tsp Garlic powder
1 tsp Onion powder
2 TBSP Nutritional yeast
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 TBSP sesame seeds


Start by boiling pasta noodles in a small boiler pan. In a stir fry pan on med-high, combine vegetables, edamame, liquid aminos, and red wine vinegar. Continue to stir and mix vegetables until the are evenly cooked to a light brown, then remove from heat. Drain pasta and mix into stir fry pan. Add in seasoning and then serve. Sprinkle with sesame seeds for garnish, then enjoy!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Cranberry Oat Breakfast Cookies

I'm using the term "cookies" very loosely here, because these really don't taste like cookies at all. They are, however, a healthy and easy breakfast option you can make the night before and eat on the go. They only take about 5 minutes to make, and you don't even need to heat up your oven!

1 Small very ripe banana
2 TBSP vegan protein powder
3 TBSP Chia Seeds
1/2 Cup oats
small handful of fresh raw cranberries
1-2 tsp cinnamon

*1 tsp of stevia or sugar to sweeten- optional

Simply mash the banana up in a bowl until it is in a liquid-like state. Then mix in protein powder, chia seeds, oats, cranberries, and what ever other ingredients you want to add for flavor. Then just use your hands to mold the mixture into small balls, and press out on a small glass or ceramic plate (if the mixture seems gooey or they start to fall apart, slowly add more oats until they stick together better). Microwave for about 3-4 minutes until the cookies can be picked up off the plate without falling apart. (Be careful not to cook too long, or they will turn into rocks!)

Then just let cool for a minute or two and enjoy! I will note that the cookies aren't very sweet to begin with since I don't typically use any kind of sugar when baking, so with the tart cranberries they might seem bitter to some. This doesn't bother me since I'm not accustomed to eating very much sugar, but If you would prefer for them to be sweeter, you could always add stevia or whatever sugar you like to sweeten them up (I added in this option above).

I have experimented with this recipe and made it a variety of different ways. You can also use raisins, cocoa nibs, nuts, or any kind of dried fruit instead of the cranberries if they are too tart. I always like to add about a teaspoon or two of cinnamon to mine, but you can also add cocoa powder, vanilla, or any other spices you like!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Veterans Day 11K

About a week ago I got a text from my Dad asking me if I wanted to do a veterans day memorial run with him. He said it was for a good cause, and that he would pay for my race entry fee if I wanted to do it... how could I even say no!? A free race plus the chance to run with my Father? Um, yes please!

So, after pulling myself out of bed this morning at 5:00, gulping down a gluten-free English muffin, and gathering my GPS watch and Ipod, I headed out into the cold to meet up with my family. We stood around for about 45 minutes before we lined up for the race, and I took my place next to my Father. The next thing we knew we were off! My dad quickly darted around a bunch of people, eager to make his way to the open space at the front of the pack. I followed, and met up with him around mile 2. I ran with him for about a mile, and then he took his exit for the 5K while I ventured out for another loop along the 11K path.

Miles 3-6 were really nice. I talked with a few other runners that worked with my Dad, and slowly kept increasing my pace. I was right on track to finish with my goal time, and I could tell I still had a lot of energy left in the tank, so I decided to let loose for the last mile. This was when things started to go wrong. When I came to a fork in the road, I asked one of the volunteers which way I was supposed to go. He told me right, so I headed right and ran until another runner stopped me and told me I was going the wrong way. Confused, I turned around and headed back in the other direction. I was frustrated about the mix up in directions, but I just tried to focus on keeping my pace.

I was feeling good again until I came to another fork in the road. This time there was no one there, and I still had no clue which way to go. For fear of running the wrong way yet again, I stopped and waited for another runner behind me to catch up and tell me which way we need to go. He wasn't completely sure either, but I followed him anyhow not wanting to waste any more time. Finally, we made it to the finish line. My time was 1:01:02. I was so frustrated. I was only a minute and 2 seconds short of my goal, and I knew that I would have made my time had the course been better marked.

Despite a slightly crummy ending, the race went pretty well. I got to catch up with my parents, and naturally acquired a new PR since it was my first 11K.

My father and I before the race

Here's to another race bib to pin on the wall, and a new PR to break!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Importance of Rest and Recovery

Like most runners I know, I find it hard to take time off. Whether it's due to an injury, illness, or recovering after a race; taking time off to rest can be hard. After all, as runners we are always trying to better ourselves. We want to increase our mileage, run faster, and improve our times. We want to get stronger and fitter every week. So, wouldn't it make sense to push our limits and bodies constantly, getting in as many workouts and miles as we can? Absolutely not.

As a running addict, I have been forced to learn the hard way time and time again that rest is just as important to fitness gains and improvement as running more miles or adding in more speed work. The thing a lot of us over-ambitious runners seem to neglect is the importance of rest. Sure, it's great to push ourselves sometimes and increase our workload, but we also have to remember that our bodies need time to recover and adapt so we can actually benefit from our efforts. There are a few different ways that runner overdo it:


I found a quote on that really sunk it, "We train to race, not race to train". This is absolutely right. Time and time again I read more and more evidence proving that constantly pushing your body without adequate rest will only run you into the ground, and more than likely lead to injury and fatigue. None of your workouts should ever cause you to push yourself as much as you do when you are racing. Racing is the only time you should give 100%. Sure, you should include a hard workout once a week, such as a fartlek run, but these runs should still never be executed with as much effort as an actual race.

Along with too many hard-effort workouts, many runners increase their mileage too quickly and don't include cutback weeks. One of the main rules on running is not to increase your mileage more than 10% each week. Increasing your weekly mileage more than that is just asking for trouble. I made the foolish mistake once of increasing my mileage by a little over 20% from one week to another, and ended up with a nasty case of runners knee by the end of the week that caused me to have to take two weeks off. Not giving your body time to adapt to more miles will only lead to injury, so always be sure to follow the 10% rule when it comes to mileage. That being said, this doesn't mean for the next 6 months straight you should increase you mileage by 10% each week. Your body needs breaks and cutback weeks that allow your muscles to fully heal and become stronger. A good rule of thumb is to include a cutback week once every three weeks. A good example of this would be a week with 20 miles, followed by a week of 22 miles, followed by a week of 16 miles. Then, after your cutback week of 16, you could start back at 22, and build, then cutback again. By slowly increasing your mileage and including time for rest, you will reduce your changes for injury and increase your fitness gains.


Another common issue with overuse is racing. Some runners want to run a race nearly every weekend. However, since racing causes you to really push your body, it's recommended that racing is done sparingly. Plus, the longer distance you are racing, the more time you should take between races. For example, it might be okay to run 3 5K's in one month, but you should never run more than 3-4 marathons a year. While we all enjoy racing and trying to reach new PR's, not taking a break from constantly racing is not only hard on your body, but is hard on you mentally as well. Races take a lot of planning, time, preparation, travel, money, etc. Constantly trying to schedule your life around races is going to drain you mentally and physically. This could possibly lead to feeling burnt out, and could turn something you used to love doing into a stressful chore. Part of the fun of racing is that it's an occasional experience. If you do them all of the time, they start to lose their magic.

Another issue with racing is not allowing your body time to heal afterwards, and the longer the race, the more time you need off. Experts say that it takes your body about a month to fully recover from running a marathon. Now, does that mean you shouldn't run for an entire month? Of course not. However, taking the first 7-10 days after the race off to let your body bounce back is recommended. For most runners this many seem silly, especially if your muscles don't feel very sore afterwards. However, running 26.2 miles is very hard on the body, and it takes a toll on a lot more than you think. After a marathon, the immune system is compromised, muscles are torn, and cells are damaged. (Yes, that's right, the cells in your body are damaged!) So even if you have the energy to run a 10K the following week, you still shouldn't. Many professional and Olympic marathoners take up to two whole weeks off after a race to fully recover before easing back into running. Taking some time off isn't going to cause you to lose all of your fitness or set you back a bunch. Taking a whole week off on running will only cause the average runner to lose 3% of their overall VO2 max, which can easily be gained back in a week or two of regular running.


Lastly, when it comes to injury, most runners are pretty stubborn. I know, I'm one of them. When an injury happens during training, it can be difficult to allow yourself to take time off and fall behind. I have foolishly ran through injuries before in order to keep training, only to end up making it worse and eventually taking even more time off. It's always better to opt to take a day or two off of training than to try and keep running on it, eventually forcing you to take weeks off. I've learned that it's always better to be safe than end up making matters worse. listen to your body, and know when to say when.

Running can,(and should)be a lifelong activity. As long as you approach it the right way, it will do more good for your body than bad. As long as you let your body rest, heal, and adapt accordingly, you can build a strong base for running throughout you lifetime. So next time you overdo it, or are forced to take some time off, don't look at it as getting behind on your fitness, or falling behind on your training; think of it as helping your body build a stronger athletic base that will benefit you in the future!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Prairie Fire Marathon 2013

Well, it's all over. My first marathon, done and over. If you would have asked me while I was running it, I would have said that I couldn't wait for it to be over. However, now that it's all said and done, it's kind of depressing. Sure I plan on running many, many more marathons, but after all of the training, anticipation, carbo-loading, tapering, money, and time I put in, I just can't believe it's all over.

It was an amazing experience, and while I didn't finish with the time I would have liked to, I still finished. So, without further adieu, here is my highly detailed and illustrated race recap.

My alarm goes off at 4:45, and for the first time I'm actually excited to hear my alarm. I hop out of bed and waste no time getting ready. To my surprise, I managed to get about 5 hours of sleep that night. Not sure how, but 5 hours has never seemed like such a great night's sleep. First things first, I grab a huge hunk of my homemade banana bread, which I eat before every long run (yes, I'm one of those kinds of people... once I find a system that works, I never change it). I wash it down with my vega pre-workout energizer, and then start getting ready. I foam roll, tape me knee, and dress according to weather forecast for the next 6 hours. Lastly, I check to make sure I have everything: Ipod, Garmin, hydration backpack, gels, phone, race bib, coconut water, snacks for after the race, and my camera. I head out the door around 6:30, into the cold 45 degree air. I arrive and get parked around 6:45. Only 45 more minutes.

The first thing I do when I get there is head to the port-o-johns. Once I get closer, I'm glad I got there early, because there's about a 10 minute wait. After that, I meet up with my parents around 7:10 and head over to the corral. Luckily, I was able to wear my warm fleece and gloves until right before the start since I could just hand them over the gate to my mom.

My mom and I before the race start (you can see where I get my good looks from)

The clock starts working it's way down to 5 minutes, so I get my ipod set up and rip myself from the warm comfort of my jacket. The national anthem is sung, and before I know it we are off!

Miles 1-3 Everything is surreal and I am so distracted by so many things it's like I'm not even running. We pass through downtown Wichita and I just enjoy the scenery and the energy. I am behind the 4:15 pacer, but I don't try to keep up with her as she pulls further away. After mile 3 I can't see her anymore, but I'm not planning on chasing her.

Miles 4-5 Starting to become a little more aware of the fact that I'm running. Still no sign of the 4:30 pacer though, so I feel good. I take my first gel at mile 5, and gulp down some electrolytes

Miles 6-8 Really settling into my pace now and feeling really good. The 4:30 pacer catches up to me, and I make sure I stick with him or stay in front, trying not to let him get away. I get a side stitch around mile 7 that lasts for about 10 minutes. I just breathe deeply and keep going. After it passes I feel even tougher for fighting through it and holding my pace.

Miles 9-13 Still feeling really good. My heart rate and breathing increase, and for the first time in the race I have to start pushing myself a little bit to keep up with the pacer. I take my second gel at mile 10, which instantly makes my legs feel better, so I speed up a bit taking the opportunity to get ahead while I feel good.

Around mile 11. You can see the pacer on the corner right next to me in the green vest.

Miles 14-19 This was when it started getting hard. I was struggling to keep up with the pacer, who seemed to just keep getting faster and faster (looking back at my splits, he did increase the pace about 10 seconds per mile). I kept pushing myself though, telling myself to just focus on making it to the 20 mile mark and keep up with them.

Miles 20-22 My legs are killing me and I finally can't keep up with the pacer. Plus, my hydration backpack ran out of water at mile 19.5, and I'm so thirsty. I give in and let myself slowly fall back, still running, but going slower as they fade away. I remind myself that I can still make 4:30, if I keep running and really push it the last two miles.

Miles 23-26 My plan doesn't work, as I find it harder and harder to keep a good pace. My legs feel like bags full of jello. It's almost like I'm not running on them at all. I know my legs are running, but I feel extremely slow. I keep pushing, trying to pick up the pace. My heart rate and breathing are fine, but I'm so frustrated that my legs just can't go any faster. My finishing time keeps getting larger and larger as I chug along like the little engine that could. I move my goal to 4:37, then to 4:45. Finally, I decide I just want to finish under 5 hours.

26.2- I use everything I have left. It still feels like I'm hardly moving, but for the first time in miles I'm not thinking about how much my legs hurt, just focusing on the finish line and trying to get there as soon as I can. Finally I cross the mat, and I can't help but smile. The lady gives me my finishers medal, and I head over to the food area. My father greets me as I quickly stuff my face with the first banana I can get my hands on and takes a video of me doing it (I'm sure it's a really charming video)

Right after the race

All in all, I ended up with 4:54:04. Not bad for a first marathon. Sure, I was aiming for sub 4:30, but all in all I'm just glad I made it across that finish line. Plus, I'm only 20 years old. I saw runners qualify for Boston today in their 50's! I still have decades to race and run a sub 4:30 marathon. Not to mention time to run a sub 4:00 marathon, or a 3:45 marathon. Who really knows? One thing is for sure though, there will be plenty more marathons in my future.

Finishers swag

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Gluten Free Cornbread Muffins

These gluten free vegan cornbread muffins were awesome! They were really easy to make, didn't require too many ingredients, and had a really great moist texture. This is a recipe I will have to add to my list of favorites, as I know I will be making them with my pumpkin chili in the fall.

I made these to go along with my lentil stew, and they did not disappoint!

-1 cup buckwheat flour
-1 cup corn meal
-1 TBSP baking powder
-2 TBSP flax seeds
-1 tsp salt
-1 cup unsweetened almond milk
-1/4 cup applesauce
-1/4 cup organic agave nectar

Preheat over to 400 degrees. Combine all dry ingredients and mix well, then add in wet ingredients. Bake for 15 minutes, then let cool and enjoy!

This recipe made me 12 muffins.

Vegetable Lentil Stew

I love making things in my crock pot. It gives me a chance to get rid of excess food I have sitting around, makes enough food for 8 or so meals at once, and is extremely easy. Using my crock pot allows me to get creative, and try new combinations of foods I haven't tried.

Technically, this recipe isn't really a "recipe". I mean, sure you can follow it, but let's be honest... stews and soups aren't really a science. I tend to just kind of throw anything I have in my kitchen that I think will go together into a pot, and to this day it has yet to let me down. So, while you can certainly follow the recipe I used, feel free to just kind of use it as a base and make your own version.

-4 cups vegetable broth
-1/2 cup brown rice
-1/2 cup quinoa
-1/2 cup green lentils
-1 small bag broccoli and cauliflower florets
-1 cup diced carrots
-1 large potato diced
-two cups of chopped kale
-1/2 cup nutritional yeast
-any seasonings you want to add

I just threw all of this into my crock pot and turned it on high for about 5 hours. That's all you need to do! I also made some cornbread muffins to go along with this stew.

Monday, September 23, 2013

My Top 25 Favorite Running Quotes

I love running, plain and simple. Running has made me a stronger, more confident, more motivated version of myself. It has helped me realize how much of my life I have spent underestimating myself, and that I really can accomplish amazing things I once never thought I could. In short, running has changed my life. It's taught me so much about myself, and has given me a new outlook on life. That being said, I think every runner can admit that some days it's just hard to get out the door, or to overcome those voices during a long run to just throw in the towel early and quit. Fortunately, I have an emergency stash of my favorite running quotes I have accumulated to go through when I lack motivation or forget why I choose to run in the first place.

It's truly amazing what just a few motivational words can do to your attitude and your mindset about something. This is why I felt it would be a good idea to share some of my favorite running quotes, in hopes that they could motivate others as well. Some are heart-felt and inspirational, and others are just kind of a nice kick in the pants!

So, here they are:

1) Ask yourself: "Can I give more?" The answer is usually yes. - Paul Tergat

2) Sweat cleanses form the inside, it comes for a place a shower will never reach. - George Sheehan

3) Never underestimate the power that one good workout will have on your mind, keeping the dream alive is half the battle. - Kara Goucher

4) The human body is capable of amazing physical deeds. If we could just free ourselves from out perceived limitations and tap into out eternal fire, the possibilities are endless. - Dean Karnazes

5) It's important to remember that each footstrike carries you forward, not backward. And every time you put on your running shoes you are different in some way than you were the day before. - John Bingham

6) Just move your legs. Because if you don't think you were born to run, you're not only denying history; you're denying who you are. - Dr. Dennis Bramble

7) Some of the worlds greatest feats were accomplished by people not smart enough to know they were impossible. - Doug Larson

8) Running is a big questions mark that's there each and every day. It asks you, "Are you going to be a wimp, or are you going to be strong today?" - Peter Maher

9) Running isn't about how far you go but how far you've come. - Bart Yasso

10) There is no such thing as bad weather, just soft people. - Bill Bowerman

11) I am building a fire, and everyday i train, I add more fuel. At just the right moment, I light the match. - Mia Hamm

12) The best way to become a mentally tough runner is to believe you are a mentally tough runner. - Ryan Hall

13) The first person you have to inspire everyday is yourself. Running will do that. - Marc Parent

14) That's the thing about running: your greatest runs are rarely measured by racing success. They are the moments in time when runnin gallows you to see how wonderful your life is. -Kara Goucher

15) Running is not, as it so often seems, about what you did in your last race or how many miles you ran last week. It is, in a much more important way, about community, about appreciating all the miles run by others too. - Richard O'Brien

16) Running requires endurance, character, pride, physical strength, and mental toughness. Running is a test, not a game. A test of faith, belief, will, and trust in one's self. So hardcore that it needs a category all to itself to define the pain. Running is more than a sport; it's a lifestyle. - Jessica Probst

17) Remember the feeling you get from a good run is far better than the feeling you get from sitting around wishing you were running. - Sarah Condor

18) Running should be a lifelong activity. Approach it patiently and intelligently, and it will reward you for a long, long time. - Michael Sargent

19) We run, not because we think it is doing us good, but because we enjoy it and cannot help ourselves. The more restricted our society and work become, the more the more necessary it will be to find some outlet for this craving for freedom. No one can say, "you must not run faster than this, or jump higher than that." The human spirit is indomitable. - Sir Roger Bannister

20) To keep from decaying, to be a winner, the athlete must accept pain - not only accept it, but look for it, live with it, and learn not to fear it. - Dr. George Sheehan

21) Running unites us and brings us together because, in the words of the great Bill Rogers, "We sweat the same. We struggle the same." Running is a simple, primitive act, and therein lays its power. for it is one of the few commonalities left between us as a human race. Toeing the starting line of a marathon, regardless of the language you speak, the God you worship or the color of your skin, we all stand as equal. Perhaps the world would be a better place if more people ran. - Dean Karnazes

22) Believe you can run farther or faster. Believe that you're young enough, old enough, strong enough, and so on to accomplish everything you want to do. Don't let worn out beliefs stop you from moving beyond yourself. - John Bingham

23) There are a million reasons why you can't. Focus on the few reasons why you can. - Kara Goucher

24) I want to get more comfortable being uncomfortable. I want to get more confident in being uncertain. i don't want to shrink back just because something isn't easy. i want to push back, and make more room in the area between I can't and I can. Maybe that spot is called I will. - Kristin Armstrong

25) I run because long after my footprints fade away, maybe I will have inspired just a few to reject the easy path, hit the trails, put one foot in front of the other, and come to the same conclusion I did: I run because it always takes me where I want to go. - Dean Karnazes

If you somehow are still in front of the computer at this point, I hope these quotes have at least given you some inspiration and something to think about and hold on to for future reference! Cheers, and happy running!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Long Run Playlist

Let's face it, as nice as it is going out for a quiet peaceful morning jog, sometimes we just need music to power through our workouts. I tend to do all of my short runs (anything under 5 miles) without my ipod, because I think it's good to listen to yourself regularly. Running without music forces us to find other ways to "tune out", or in some cases it helps us focus and work on problems we might have not noticed otherwise. It's easier to forget you are running when you can tune out your heavy breathing and pounding footsteps, and much easier to distract yourself.

This is why I only use my ipod for long runs. Since I am now regularly running about 20 miles each weekend, I really rely on my ipod to help me through my long runs and to keep me motivated. That being said, you can't just listen to ANY type of music when you are running! You need songs that are inspirational and motivating to you. Songs that are going to pump you up and keep you going when you're 15 miles in and still have 5 more to go.

So, I figured I would share some of songs I enjoy listening to during my long runs.

ACDC - Back in Black

ACDC- You Shook me all Night Long

Avicci- Wake Me Up


Beastie Boys- No Sleep Til Brooklyn

Bruce Springsteen- Born to Run

Cake- The Distance

David Guetta- Play Hard

Daft Punk- Get Lucky

Elvis Presley- A Little Less Conversation

Eminem- Berzerk

Falco- Rock me Amadeus

Fall Out Boy- My Songs Know what you Did in the Dark

Flux Pavilion- I Can't Stop

Fun- Carry on

Green Day- Holiday

Guns N' Roses- Sweet Child O'Mine

Guns N' Roses- Welcome to the Jungle

Imagine Dragons- On Top of the World

Imagine Dragons- Radioactive

Katy Perry- Roar

The Killers- All These Things that I've Done

Macklemore- Can't Hold Us

Michael Jackson- Beat it

Muse- Madness

Lostprophets- Rooftops

Quiet Riot- Come on Feel the Noise

Ram Jam- Black Betty

Robin Thicke- Blurred Lines

Safe and Sound- Capital Cities

Selena Gomez- Come and Get it

The Script- Hall of Fame

Three Days Grace- Animal I Have Become

Three Days Grace- Riot

Toto- Africa

Young the Giant- Cough Syrup

Well, there you have it. Feel free to share any of your favorite running songs!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Vegan BBQ Wings!

Let's face it, when someone first makes the decision to go vegan, they typically expect most of their meals to consist of salads, bean burgers, pastas, and soy based "meat dishes". However, this healthy vegan twist on a dish that's no where near vegan or healthy is a nice way for animal lovers and health advocates everywhere to change things up!

I found this recipe on a site called gluten free vegan girl, which is a healthy vegan blog ran by a wonderful and talented young lady. All of her stuff is awesome, vegan, and healthy... plus gluten free! I have a link to her blog listed under my blog roll, I highly recommend you go by and check out all of her recipes, because they are awesome!

Okay, so anyhow, on to this awesome recipe!

You will need:

1 Large head of cauliflower
1 Cup total of flour (I used half cornmeal half brown rice flour)
1 Cup any non-dairy milk
1 TBSP Garlic powder
1 TBSP Onion powder
About 2 cups Vegan BBQ Sauce (recipe to follow)

First, you are going to want to preheat your over to 450 degrees. Then you will want to wash and cut your cauliflower into smaller pieces. I typically cut most of the stem part off and only use the cauliflower heads because that's the part I like, but you can use whatever parts you want. In a large mixing bowl you will want to combine the flour, milk, garlic and onion powders until you get a well mixed batter.

Then, just pour in the cauliflower and carefully mix until every piece is evenly coated. Place coated cauliflower on a baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes. While the cauliflower is baking, you can start on making your BBQ sauce.

BBQ Sauce ingredients
1/2 Cup non-dairy milk
1/2 Cup dates
1/2 Cup yellow mustard
3 TBSP Braggs liquid Aminos
1/2 Cup canned tomato paste

Place dates, milk, and liquid aminos in a blender and blend until dates are completely blended (this might take a little time and work). Pour mixture into a small bowl, then stir in tomato paste and mustard until it becomes thick and evenly mixed. Once your wings are done baking (the batter will be crispy on the outside), remove them from the oven and let cool for a few minutes. Then just use a spatula to move them back into a large bowl, and coat them with the BBQ sauce.

Move the wings back to the baking pan, and bake another 20 minutes or until the outsides become slightly crispy. Let them cool on the pan for a little while (although it will be hard because they smell amazing!) Then transfer to your plate and enjoy!

This recipe makes about 2-3 servings, but I devoured the entire delicious batch within about an hour because they were so wonderful! I hope everyone else enjoys this recipe as much as I did!


Sunday, August 18, 2013

The truth about carbohydrates, and why you should eat more.

By now we have all probably heard someone we know talking about how they don't eat a lot of carbohydrates anymore because "Carbs make you fat!" As someone working towards a degree as a registered dietitian, this drives me crazy! Carbohydrates should be the bulk of our diet, accounting for over half of our daily total calories. Carbohydrates supply our bodies with fiber, essential vitamins and minerals, healthy proteins, antioxidants, and disease fighting phytochemicals. So why is it that everyone is hating on carbohydrates?

With the Atkins diet currently being one of the most popular diets in the country, it seems like almost everybody blames carbohydrates for unwanted weight gain. Many people have been turning to extremely low carbohydrate diets to lose weight, and while low carbohydrate diets are usually effective for weight loss if followed correctly, they certainly aren't healthy.

It is recommended that about 60 percent of our daily calories come from carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are our bodies first choice and main source of energy. People who follow low carbohydrate diets are setting themselves up to constantly feel tired and fatigued. Along with a lack of energy, people who follow low carbohydrate diets are more than likely missing out on a lot of essential vitamins and nutrients that our bodies get from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Fiber is also something that people who follow a low carbohydrate diet are probably not getting enough of, and all of these nutrients are important for overall digestive health and proper immune function.

Not only are low carbohydrate diets usually low in essential nutrients that come from most fruits, vegetables, and grains, but they are also way too high in fat and protein in order to compensate for the lack of calories coming from carbohydrates. Eating too much fat and protein and not enough carbs can cause serious health issues such as heart disease, and ketosis. Ketosis is a state that your body goes into when it doesn't have enough carbohydrates to burn for energy and starts converting fat that is stored in your body into glucose to be used for energy instead. While this does help people lose weight, it is not healthy for your body, and can cause a variety of serious health problems. Ketosis is basically your body going into shock from lack of energy from carbohydrates, and results in people feeling fuller with less food, and their metabolism slowing down in order to compensate for the deficit, which can result in long term effects on a persons metabolism and body.

Problems caused by low carbohydrate diets-

Kidney Failure- Due to the extremely high amount of protein being consumed, the kidneys are constantly forced to do too much work and become easily strained. Along with the kidneys, other organs can fail too as a result of an altered metabolic state and ketones constantly being released in the body.

High cholesterol- High protein diets (especially those high in red meats and dairy products) causes an unsafe rise in cholesterol levels.

Osteoporosis and kidney stones- High protein diets have been shown to cause people to excrete large amounts of calcium through their urine, increasing a persons chance for developing kidney stones or osteoporosis.

Cancer- The lack of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains causes an increased risk for cancer since these foods contain the best cancer fighting nutrients.

So, what percentages are recommended for overall healthy? Well, about 60 percent of your overall calories should come from carbohydrates, about 15 percent from protein, and about 25 percent from fat. This type of diet is recommended by the for overall health, wellness, and disease prevention.

For weight loss and overall wellness, the quality of carbohydrates, fat, and protein should also be just as important as the percentages you are getting. Part of the reason carbohydrates have been given such a bad rap is because the majority of the carbohydrates that the average American consumes are refined and indeed unhealthy. There is a huge difference between the carbohydrates from an apple and the carbohydrates from chocolate cake. Instead of cutting back on carbs, people just need to use good judgement to pick the right ones instead of treating them like they are all equally bad.

Whole Grains!

People who are dieting tend to avoid breads more than anything else, however, whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, and oats are great sources of carbohydrates. These grains will supply your body with healthy unrefined carbohydrates that will stabilize blood sugar levels, give your body the energy it needs to do daily tasks, and help keep you full without supplying too many calories or too much fat. In countries where whole grains are the main dietary staple, rates of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity are a lot lower than in America. The key with grains and breads is to avoid heavily processed and refined grains, such as white breads and white rice. Contrary to popular belief, breads and grains are extremely healthy, and is is recommended that we get 6-11 servings of whole grains a day.

Fruits and veggies!

Everyone knows that vegetables are healthy, but many people avoid fruit because they are convinced that sugar is bad. While too much sugar is not a good thing for anyone, the natural sugar found in fruits is the healthiest sugar you can possibly eat. Fruits and vegetables supply the highest percentage of vitamins and minerals per calorie. Dark leafy greens are especially important in a healthy diet, and provide a lot of cancer fighting nutrients. A colorful diet that consists of a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables is one of the healthiest diets you can follow. The average American should be getting at least 5 servings of vegetables a day, and at least 3 servings of fruit.

Low carbohydrate diets have been proven useful to help people lose weight, but overall are hard on our bodies, and can be very dangerous if followed long term. I would personally recommend a diet high is complex carbohydrates, and rich in fruits and vegetables to promote healthy weight loss instead of cutting carbohydrates down to an unhealthy percentage that will more than likely leave you feel tired and irritable. Consuming whole foods, and limiting your intake of fat to 25-20% along with regular exercise is the best way to reach a healthy lean weight.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Gluten Free Runners Banana Bread

This banana bread is so awesome. It's made with the healthiest possible ingredients, and is perfect to eat before a long run. I and used brown rice flour to make it gluten free, but you could still use wheat flour. This banana bread is thick, rich, moist, and naturally sweetened just a bit. This bread doesn't last long at all in my house, and a warm batch fresh out of the oven is usually gone within about 30 minutes.

2 Flax eggs (2 Tablespoons ground flax seeds, and 6 Tablespoons water)
3 Large, very ripe bananas
1/2 Cup unsweetened applesauce
1/3 Cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1/2 Cup dates
1/4 Cup agave nectar
4 Cups brown rice flour
2 Tablespoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons cinnamon


Preheat over to 350 degrees.

Combine flax seeds and water in small bowl and set aside. Combine almond milk and dates in a food processor or blender (use the smallest container you can) and blend until dates are completely blended and the mixture is light brown and smooth. Pour your date paste mixture into a large mixing bowl, then add in bananas and applesauce and blend. I threw all of this into my kitchen aid mixer and let it do the work for me. You could also use a hand mixer to blend everything together. Once everything is blended, add in the flax eggs and blend completely.

In a separate bowl combine all dry ingredients and mix together. Once mixed, slowly spoon dry ingredients into wet ingredients bowl and mix completely until everything is in one bowl and the dough is ready. I used two standard sized bread pans to bake all of my bread. You can fill them up fairly high because the bread doesn't rise very much, but I would still suggest leaving a little room at the top of the pan.

Note: For a sweeter bread you can also add a Tablespoon of Stevia.

Bake bread for 35-45 minutes, let cool, and enjoy!

Pumpkin Crock Pot Chili

This recipe if perfect in the fall, although I will make whenever I feel like throwing a bunch of stuff into a crock pot for an easy warm meal later that evening. I also like this recipe because it's a nice change of pace from typical chili recipes, and the sweet and saltiness go together so well to balance each other out. Plus with the brown rice, beans, and different vegetables, you are getting a complete protein meal along with vitamin A from the pumpkin, carrots, or sweet potatoes, and lycopene from the fresh tomatoes!


4 large tomatoes chopped finely
2 cups chopped carrots or sweet potatoes
1 large finely diced onion
1 cup of brown rice
2 cans of cooked pinto beans
1 can of cooked black beans
1 can of 100% pumpkin puree
1 Tablespoon garlic powder
1/2 Tablespoon cumin powder
1 Tablespoon chili powder
2 Tablespoons cinnamon powder
salt, pepper, and nutritional yeast to taste

Throw everything into a slow cooker and set heat to high for 8-10 hours, then enjoy at the end of a long day! You can really change this recipe up however you want. I almost never make the exact same thing twice. I usually just combine things from my kitchen until I end up with something I like.

Crispy Tempeh Salad

I love tempeh! It has a nice solid texture, so it wont fall apart on you like tofu or sietan will. Plus, tempeh is loaded with protein, and has a less fat when compared to tofu. You can do practically anything with tempeh, from making temeph bacon, to tempeh sandwiches, to just straight up seasoning and grilling it. Like tofu it's practically flavorless, so you can really make it taste like whatever you want. One of my personal favorite ways to enjoy tempeh, is by pan frying it, and enjoying it over fresh greens!

All you need is:

A package of tempeh
1 Tablespoon Tahini (a sesame seed butter)
2 Tablespoons water
Fresh lettuce
Your favorite salad dressing (I usually use Annie's Organic salad dressings)

Once you manage to get the tempeh out of the package(and believe me, this can be pretty tricky. They seal it in air tight!)Cut it up into small cubes, and toss it in a frying pan set to medium heat. in a small container, mix tahini and water, then pour mixture over tempeh. (The tahini is what will give your tempeh it's flavor and crispiness.) Mix and fry tahini until it is lightly browned. Then serve over a bed of fresh lettuce, and top with your favorite dressing (I also chose to add hemp seeds to my salad) and wala, a protein packed salad!

Easy Tomato Penne Pasta

All you need is:

-Half a box of whole wheat penne pasta boiled
-One package of firm fortified tofu
-3 large crowns of fresh broccoli
-A small can of tomato paste and seasonings OR vegan pasta sauce

Start off by boiling penne pasta in a large pan. Then drain and cut tofu into small cubes and fry in a pan over medium. While pasta and tofu are cooking, chop up and wash fresh broccoli crowns. Throw broccoli in on top of cooked boiling noodles, and cover with the lid for about 5 minutes to steam the broccoli. When tofu is lightly browned and slightly crispy on the outside, remove from heat and set aside. If you are making your pasta sauce, just mix the can of tomato paste with water, garlic powder, onion powder, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and any other desired spices until you reach the consistency and flavor desired. Now just drain the broccoli and pasta, and separate if desired. Otherwise, mix all ingredients together in one large bowl or pan and enjoy.

You could also top this penne off with some shredded vegan mozzarella cheese, or sprinkle on some nutritional yeast flakes for a little extra cheesy flavor.

Chocolate Banana Coconut Muffins

I tried to come up with a recipe that was simple, quick, and nutritious. Coconut oil is full of healthy fats that increase good cholesterol, can help restore normal thyroid function, and help our bodies build resistance to bacteria, parasites, and fungi. Coconut oil also helps the liver break down healthy fats to use for energy, which is why coconut oil is perfect for runners to consume before a race because it helps their body burn fat for energy instead of mainly depleting their glycogen stores in their muscles. Natural unprocessed cocoa powder is full of natural antioxidants, and, well... bananas have always been amazing.

-1 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
-1/2 Teaspoon baking powder
-2 Tablespoons 100% Cocoa Powder
-1/2 Cup Unsweetened Almond Milk
-2 Mashed Bananas
-1 Tablespoon Coconut Oil
-1/2 Tablespoon Stevia/or two packets (optional)
-1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
-Pinch of salt

(Makes 6 muffins)

Mix together dry ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside. Then in a small bowl mash bananas until pureed. add milk, oil, and the rest of the ingredients into bowl and blend. Then add wet mixture to dry mixture and mix until completely blended. Spray muffin pan, divide batter, and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

I made this recipe very basic so that you can add/change whatever you would like. You could always add nuts, vegan chocolate chips, shreds of coconut... whatever. I really enjoyed these muffins, they have a nice dense texture like banana bread, and a subtle hint of coconut and chocolate.

Side Note: Make sure to refrigerate muffins in a sealed container after they cool, otherwise they wont keep because of the bananas.

Tofu Spinach Pizza

This recipe takes a little more time, but is TOTALLY worth it. I made this after a long run, and ate more than half of the whole pizza... it was so good! I know that a lot of stores now sell vegan cheese and vegan pepperoni, but I"m not really a fan of fake animal products that have artificial flavorings and dyes. Trying to make something that's not an animal product look and taste like it is just doesn't make sense to me. I would much rather just be creative and do something new... and thus, this recipe was born.

Pizza crust- I made my own pizza crust because I couldn't find any pre-made crusts that were whole wheat. (I am very picky about all of my bread being whole grain, none of that processed bleached refined junk!)

Pizza Crust Recipe-
-2 1/2 Cups 100% whole wheat flour
-3 teaspoons baking powder
-1 teaspoon salt
-1 Tablespoon oil (I used extra virgin olive oil)
-3/4 to 1 cup water (add water as needed)

-1/2 small can of 100% hunts tomato paste and equal parts water
-1 Tablespoon onion powder
-1 Tablespoon garlic powder
-1 Tablespoon Italian seasoning
dash of salt and pepper

-1 block of firm tofu, scrambled and lightly browned in a skillet (I use fortified tofu because it has essential b vitamins, especially b12)
-2 cups chopped spinach
-2 Tablespoon diced garlic (I mixed this in with the tofu when I scrambled it)
salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and Italian seasoning to taste

Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, and then enjoy some delicious pizza!

Black Bean Burritos

I love these! They are so easy to make, and perfect to eat for dinner the night before a run. Just mix a can of rinsed black beans, a half of cup of corn, a diced tomato, and a diced onion in a skillet and cook on low until the beans are done and the corn is thawed(I used frozen corn). Sprinkle with Mexican/taco seasoning and any other spices you want to use. Put mixture on a whole wheat tortilla and add lettuce, avocado, salsa, etc. and there you go, delicious vegan burritos!

Easy Vegan Pancakes

What better way to start a Saturday morning than with some delicious pancakes... and what goes better with pancakes that fresh blueberries? These pancakes were really easy to make, and they came out super fluffy and delicious! All you need is a few ingredients and about 10 minutes! Plus, you can really change this recipe to make any kind of pancakes you want!

1/2 Cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt to taste
1 tsp of stevia
1/2 Cup vanilla Unsweetened Almond Milk (or any non-dairy milk)

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and mix together, then add in milk and your batter is done! For the topping, all I did was take about a cup of blueberries and mash them up with a fork until they made a nice fruit compote topping for the pancakes, and that's it! (I also added chi seeds on top of my blueberry topping for a little extra Omega 3)

Cheesy Vegan Quinoa and Potato Dinner

Quinoa is a super grain! It is packed with protein, gluten free, and is a good source of complex carbohydrates. I like to fill up on quinoa the night before a long run, and this recipe is perfect for easy delicious carbo-loading. Plus, the nutritional yeast provides a delicious cheesy flavor along with essential vitamins and minerals.

1 Cup Organic Quinoa
2 Cups Water
4 Cups of Diced Summer Squash
1 Large White Onion Diced
1-2 Medium Sized White Potatoes Diced
1 TBSP Garlic Powder
1/2 Cup Nutritional Yeast
Salt and Pepper to Taste

Combine water and quinoa in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Then turn sown heat, cover, and let simmer for 15 minutes. Throw diced squash, potatoes, and onion all into a skillet and cook until onions are caramelized and squash is slightly browned. Add salt, pepper, garlic, and any other seasonings you would like to add to the potatoes and squash. Remove lid from boiler pan and add the grilled vegetables to the quinoa. Add nutritional yeast and mix completely... then enjoy!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Marshall Laws

I love reading inspiring books about amazing runners and their incredible journeys. I was first intrigued by a book called Born to Run, which talked about the Tarahumara tribe, also know as the running people. Then I wanted more, so I purchased Scott Jurek 's book Eat and Run. His book discussed his whole life story, from his childhood of constantly doing work, to competitive skiing, to the beginning of his running career, and his transition from the standard American diet to becoming a healthy vegan. His book inspired me to become vegan for my running, and my health. Reading his book was life changing for me.

Now, I am am currently working my way through a book called Running on Empty, which is an amazing story about a man named Marshall Ulrich, who at 57 years old ran 3,063 miles across America in only 52 days. This man is amazing, and has taught me that running is without a doubt 95% mental. His journey and story are so inspiring, and I would recommend his book to any runner who loves reading amazing stories about how people overcome great life challenges.

In one of the chapters of his book, Marshall list the Ten Commandments of Running, or as some like to call them, "Marshall Laws". I found them to be very helpful, and figured I would share them.

The Marshall Laws

1. Expect a journey and a battle
2. Focus on the present and set intermediate goals
3. Don't dwell on the negative
4. Transcend the physical
5. Accept your fate
6. Have confidence that you will sucede
7. Know that there will be an end
8. suffering is okay
9. Be kind to yourself
10. Quitting is not an option

I have adopted a lot of these rules in my last few months of running, and try to read these often to keep them in my mind. I feel that it takes time to mentally train yourself as a runner to be tough. Toughness doesn't just come naturally to everyone. And although it comes easier to some more than others, anyone can build up enough mental toughness to finish a marathon if they want to.

One of the things I read in Running on Empty that I found to be the most interesting, is that Marshall was scientifically tested, and his pain thresh hold and physical abilities weren't any greater then most people's... he actually was rated as physically average. What does however make his stand out, is his ability to distract himself mentally, and his ability to control his thoughts. Scientists measured his brain waves, and concluded that he scored off the charts for his imagination. Marshall admits in his book that often times on long runs, he becomes completely distracted with his thoughts about anything and everything, and running just becomes a natural motion while his mind drifts off somewhere else. I have experienced this before, but only for a few minutes or so, and it really is incredible. When you get so wrapped up in your thoughts that you go somewhere else for a while, and by the time you come back you realize you have just ran almost another half of a mile without even realizing it or thinking about it.

I suppose that is the key to running, not only being able to focus on positive things, or other things and let your mind drift, but to have mental toughness as well. On almost every run I have done, whether it be 3 miles or 12, ideas of slowing down, walking, and even quitting have entered my mind. However, whenever these ideas pop up, i never really consider them, I just kind of think about what it would be like if I did actually throw in the towel and go home... then I keep on running.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Race Photos

I'm still not sure who exactly this older gentleman is crossing the finish line with me, but let me just say that I am glad I finished next to him.

I just love this one and the smiles on our faces!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

First Half Marathon!

Well, let me start out by saying that I did not finish in the time I wanted to. I was aiming for under 2 hours, but given all of the obstacles that I had to face during the course of the race, I can honestly say that I am not the least bit disappointed!

(Before the race with my wonderful Mom)

First off, let me begin by saying that the race wasn't even technically a "half marathon". My gps watch actually ended up at 13.78 miles at the finish line. This really threw me off, especially because the 13 mile marker sign was right at the 13 mile mark. After seeing that sign and assuming I only had .1 miles left, I gunned it like most people would do planning to use up that last bit of energy I was saving for a strong finish. However, the race seemed to just keep going and going and going after that. It's weird really. I managed to run 13 miles, but the last .78 was really what killed me. I am pretty good at pacing myself and listening to my body, so when my brain thought I only had .1 miles of running left, it not only allowed, but motivated me to basically sprint. Bad idea. Had I known I still had over a half a mile left, it would have continued to pace me properly, but unfortunately it wasn't given the proper information.

(Mental prep before the race)

Another thing I wasn't ready for at all were the hills, and the terrain. I certainly chose a very tough course for my very first half. Being someone who typically trains on sidewalks and roads, this was a pretty big challenge (especially for someone who is used to running in flat old Kansas). The whole course was weaved throughout a state lake. There was a lot of running up and down hills, running on rocks that varied in every size imaginable, ducking under trees, running on not only uneven terrain, but muddy terrain that was woven on a very narrow and steep path. There were also a few nasty hills, one really, really nasty one in particular that gained 58 feet of elevation, which no one including myself was able to run up. Plus, there were boards and small bridges put up to cross, and a lot of time you had to completely stop and wait for the people in front of you to get across before you could do so yourself. Needless to say, this race forced me to overcome many challenges that I hadn't trained for.

Lastly, and most unfortunately, I somehow managed to get a nasty side stitch, which started somewhere towards the end of mile 5, and didn't go away until a decent ways into mile 7. I ran for a bit pushing through the pain, but it got to the point where it was too bad and I had to walk. I was of course extremely frustrated, because having to walk almost a mile in the middle of the race totally killed my time, but I was trying to remember some of the advice that I had read in one of my running books which was "Accept the things you cannot change and adapt accordingly." this was hard for me, knowing I now would not finish under my goal time. It was also hard because I am a huge control freak, and I can't stand it when things don't work out my way, but that's just life.

(Right after finishing the race)

All in all, when I crossed that finish line, nothing else mattered. It didn't matter that I hadn't finished in the time I wanted to, or that the race ended up going almost three quarters of a mile longer than I expected. It didn't matter that I had to stop and walk a few times for hills or a side cramp, or that sometimes I had to slow my pace because I was stuck behind someone running slower than I would have preferred. What really mattered, and what always should matter was that I finished. Regardless of what place I finished, or what time I got, I FINISHED A HALF MARATHON... and a little more. Once again, running has taught me so much. I can say for sure that I am not the same person I was before I started that race. It completely changed me. It helped me to realize that while breaking PR's, and placing, and wanting to strive for goals are great, there is so much more to running than that. On that trail I saw all different kinds of people. Old people, young people, tall people, short people, injured people, smiling people, people who looked like they wanted to die right then and there, people running marathons, half marathons, 10k's, 5k'5... the list goes on and on. The one things we all had in common thought was that we made it. We overcame every obstacle in our way. We trained and stuck with it, we signed up for a race we knew would challenge us, we woke up way earlier most mornings than we probably wanted to, we fought through the pain, and told all of the voices in our heads that said we could quit that we wouldn't. We made it to the starting line, we gave it all we could, we encouraged and supported each other, and in our own time, one by one made it to the finish line... and to me, there is no greater reward.

I have said this before, and will say it a million more times before my life is done. The running community is full of amazing, loving, compassionate, and supportive people. Races aren't about beating other people, they are about coming together with others who share the same passion, and cheering each other on. Running is a competition between you and yourself, and as long as you are always giving it your best, you can't ever lose a race.

Storm The Damn Trail Half Marathon- 13.78 miles 2 hours, 22 minutes and (I kid you not) 22 seconds

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Race Photos

I had to pay like 8 bucks a piece for these professional race photos, but I just couldn't help myself... they looked too epic to pass up.

I like how my face looks in all of these. I look super serious and focused, but really I was having a good time, I was just tired.