Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Save the River 10K Race Recap

My Grandma lives in the small town of Clayton, NY (population 2,000), which is situated along the beautiful St. Lawrence River in New York's 1000 Islands. (yes - home of the salad dressing!)

Each year, the town hosts the "Save the River 5K/10K Race".  Since the start line was 1 block from my Grandma's house, I decided this would be the perfect chance to pay her a visit!  For an added bonus, my parents were visiting at the same time so they followed me on their bikes and took lots of pictures!

The race began and ended at Frink Park along the river.

We lined up a few minutes before the 9:00 start time.  The weather was a beautiful, sunny 70 degrees!

The 10K course was a double loop of the 5K course.  It ran down the town's main street, past the Antique Boat Museum, through the town a little, and then - my favorite part - across the causeway here to tiny Washington Island and back.  There was a beautiful breeze here, and just great views of the river! Plus they had water stations at the entrance and exit to the island.

Here the race is running down the street my Grandma lives on!  It went past her house, as well as my aunt's house!  The lady in the blue in the picture is my Grandma, who volunteered at the race.  It was a family affair!

I'm currently chasing the under an hour 10K, and I came so close!  It was still a PR - by about 40 seconds, so I'm happy!  I ran under 10 minute miles for an hour! 

This race was one of the best I've run - especially when you consider Clayton is a teeny tiny town.  There were 503 runners (that's 1/4 of the town's population!).  We got great swag (a Camelbak water bottle, high quality drawstring bag, and organic cotton tshirt) and the course was well marked and FLAT.  The volunteers were so great, they had people at every single intersection and they had written encouraging words on the roads even!  

If you're looking for a great race and weekend getaway - definitely check this one out in 2014!  Clayton is in the process of building a beautiful resort hotel right next to the start line, too!  

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Transformation Tuesday

Last night was the first training session for this year's Men's Health Urbanathlon!  It's the perfect time to do a little reflecting and share some transformation pictures and goals.

Let's start with this picture:
WHAT???  Is that really me?

I was up at my grandma's on the St. Lawrence River (more on this coming up tomorrow!) in both shots.  The one on the left was 2011, the one on the right was Saturday.  I had an image of the picture on the left in my head, but when my dad actually sent it to me I just could not believe that was really me.  I've always felt like the girl on the right - and now I look like her too! ;-)

Then we have this:
 Urbanathlon Training Day 1 - 2012 vs 2013

I started this year's Urbanathlon training about 40 pounds lighter. I'm really happy with that!  

But the best part for me was the fitness tests we did yesterday.  We did a bar hang (think "how long can I hold myself in pull-up position), 1 mile run, and 30 seconds of push ups.

I did a 3 second bar hang.  Which sounds fairly pathetic - but, last year I literally could not even bend my arms, so this is an improvement!! 

I did 28 push ups - on my toes! 

I ran an 8:35 mile!!!!!  Last year, my mile was over 12 minutes and I thought I was going to die the entire time.  This year, I kept up with the girls who I view as "the real runners" in the group (hey Angie and Nicole!).  Last year I remember thinking how neat it would be to someday run like them.  I'm still not as fit as they are, but I'm a heck of a lot closer than I was last year!  

Just for fun, we took this picture post-training to send to one of our friends who is doing her training Friday.  These ladies are the best!  They are encouraging, keep me laughing, challenge me to do better, and are just darn fun to be around.  I can't wait to see what we all accomplish this year!!

Oh, and I'm not the only "transformation" in my family.  My mom is pretty awesome too!!


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Hydration Option Reviews


Hydration is one of the most important things when it comes to running and working out in the summer. Runners and athletes spend a lot of time talking about hydration - types of bottles, belts, drinks, powders, tablets, and all kinds of things liquid related!

During most of my "career" (aka - year) as a runner, it was NOT summer so I was totally content hydrating with plain old water.  I've (luckily) never struggled to drink plenty of water, so hydration wasn't an issue.

Summer, however, is completely different.  I seriously crave Gatorade!!!  Specifically, grape Gatorade. But the amount of artificial junk - mostly in the form of food dyes - in Gatorade makes me steer clear of it. 

In the interest of keeping myself hydrated AND satisfying the sports drink craving, I've been on a quest to find the perfect hydration alternative all summer!  I thought I'd share my thoughts and opinions with you, since some of you are probably doing the same hunt!

  • Coconut Water aka "Nature's Hydration" - Coconut water offers a great alternative to traditional sports drinks.  It's high in potassium, which is an essential electrolyte.  It is low in calories (40-50 calories per cup) and doesn't contain anything artificial.  Coconut water does not, however, provide the sports drink flavor I am looking for.  I love it and I think it's great hydration, but it just wasn't hitting the spot. Also, it's not as convenient as the other options I've tried.
  • Propel Zero Powder (by Gatorade) - When it comes to flavor, these little beauties are exactly what I'm looking for.  I like fact that it comes in individual "sticks" of powder that mix easily into plain water. The problem with Propel is that it contains Sucralose (Splenda) and that's an artificial sweetener I don't use.  (you can read more about why I choose not to use sucralose here!)
  • Nuun Hydration - As you can see by the picture, I've tried several flavors of this stuff!  I've enjoyed all of them so far (except Watermelon)!   Nuun comes in tablets that remind me of Alka-Seltzer tablets.  You drop them into water and they fizz and dissolve, leaving you with a tasty beverage.  I like Nuun because it isn't overly sweet and doesn't taste fake.  The convenience factor of the tablets is awesome too!  Nuun is sweetened with sorbitol (a sugar alcohol) and acesulfame potassium (an artificial sweetener).  It contains no artificial colors or dyes.  I like Nuun a lot, but the presence of artificial sweetener (one that hasn't undergone a lot of testing) makes me hesitant to use it as my go-to hydration tool.
  • Vega Sport Electrolyte Hydrator - This comes in a packet similar to the Propel. (it's the far left one in the picture) They come in 2 flavors: Lemon-lime and Pomegranate-Berry.  It contains no artificial sweeteners, colors, or other additives. It's sweetened with Stevia. It tastes great and has the convenience of the individual packets.  The downside is that it does take a little longer to dissolve than the Propel sticks - which is normal with Stevia.
So - what was my winner?  NUUN. While the Vega Sport really has everything I'm looking for, I just love the convenience of NUUN!

Also - see that "fancy" plastic blue water bottle in the picture?  That's my super high-tech hydration bottle.  It cost about $3 at my local grocery store.  It's not fancy, but it has a handle type center and it works for me!

(P.S. Nobody gave me their products for free - though I wish they had - I bought all of these with my own cash just to try!)

Monday, July 22, 2013

Squash Fries

This time of year zucchini and yellow squash are plentiful, cheap, and delicious. I eat at least one entire squash a day - they're low in calories, too! 

My go-to method for cooking veggies in the summer is to cut them in chunks, toss with EVOO and garlic salt, and grill them on a skewer.  However, I've seen various versions of "zucchini fries" on Pinterest and wanted to give them a try.

If you Google, there are a bunch of different recipes out there, but this is the method I used!

Baked Squash Fries
1 medium-large squash of choice
1/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs
2 tbsp nutritional yeast (read about it here) or Parmesan cheese
Seasoning of choice (I like garlic salt, Italian seasoning, and pepper)
1 egg - beaten
1.  Slice up your zucchini/squash into spears.  Toss a tablespoon or so of salt on top and let it sit in a colander for about an hour.  This will help draw the moisture out of the squash. Once they've "sweated" it out - rinse them really well to help get rid of the salt.  Pat them dry.
2. While your squash are sweatin' it out, line a cookie sheet with foil (this isn't necessary but sure makes clean up easier), put a cooling rack on the sheet and spray it with cooking spray.

3. You need one container for the egg mixture and one container for the breading mixture.  There are 2 schools of thought with this: I chose the method of covering the slices with egg and then shaking them in the bag.  You could also do the double dip method - first dip into egg, then dip into crumbs a slice or 2 at a time.

Egg bath!

Shake shake shake!

4.  Line the breaded beauties up on an oven rack and bake at 425 for 20-25 minutes until they're golden brown.

5.  Eat those bad boys up! And yes - I ate ALL of those.  A squash is about 50 calories, the breadcrumb mixture is around 75 calories, and I had about half of the egg left so that's around 35 calories - this makes the whole shebang around 160 calories! 


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Weekly Recap


Phew - it's been a hot week here in PA!  Let me just say - I hate running in the hot weather.  I'd rather have my cold gear on and be running through snow! 

I've been downing water with NUUN in it like crazy!  Have you tried this stuff?  What's your favorite flavor?  I've tried Watermelon (didn't love) and Strawberry Lemonade (totally enjoying).  

Hot weather also caused me to make LOTS of cold brew coffee.  The carafe on the left contains French Vanilla Decaf.  I was loving my iced coffee and kept drinking a 2nd cup around 4pm - and then tossing and turning all night.  It only took a few nights of this to get smart and make some decaf!

It's also SWEET CORN time!!! I might be partial - but Pennsylvania definitely has the best sweet corn.  Being a single gal, I don't love dragging out a giant pot of water for one ear of corn.  Last year I learned about the easiest little trick.  Simply cut off the end of the corn, microwave it for a few minutes in the husk, and then squeeze the ear out.  It cooks perfectly, all the silks are gone, and it's easy to make just one ear!

So there's some randomness from the week...and here's what I did for workouts!
Sunday: 2 mile trail run (1st trail run ever!)
Monday: CrossFit with co-workers (5x3 bench press, 1/2 Barbara, 2000m rowing relay)
Tuesday:  3 mile easy run, CrossFit workout again (more body weight exercises, rowing, and tabata planks)
Wednesday: 5x400m at the track (4 warm-up laps, 5 laps fast w/ rest between, 2 cool down laps)
Thursday: 3 mile treadmill run, strength program at the gym
Friday: Rest Day, sweet Rest Day!
Saturday: 3 mile half-marathon pace run, strength program at the gym

(Most of my workouts this week were powered by EnergyBits and I definitely noticed a difference!!)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

You Should Be #PoweredByBits - I am!

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Last week I shared with you about my experience with ENERGYbits®.  I was so excited to finally find an easy, non gel, sugar free way to fuel my runs and training!  Now, I'm even more excited because I'm an ENERGYbits®  Brand Ambassador - so I get to share more about this great stuff with you.  Who knew algae was so awesome?!

ENERGYbits® high concentration of protein provides a steady stream of energy that prevents fatigue and their high concentration of antioxidants and Omega 3 reduce inflammation and muscle soreness.

ENERGYbits® have just one ingredient, organically grown spirulina algae. Not only has spirulina algae been a favorite of Olympic athletes for decades, it is the most environmentally sustainable food in the world and has been endorsed by the United Nations, World Bank and NASA since the early 1970’s.

I’m not aware of anything that offers your body and the environment the blend of benefits you get from ENERGYbits® so I am excited to be working with them.  

I hope you’ll try them soon and when you do, use my promotional code GETBUSYLIVING to get a 30% DISCOUNT!  You can only purchase them online at so when you check out, just enter discount code GETBUSYLIVING into the coupon box and your discount will immediately show up on screen. The discount works on all products.

The company explained why ENERGYbits® have become so popular with runners and athletes:

When a handful of ENERGYbits® are swallowed 10 -15 minutes prior to a workout or run, they provide a steady flow of energy, eliminate fatigue and speed recovery, all naturally and all without digestive distress.  The reason is simple. ENERGYbits® do not contain any caffeine, sugar or chemicals yet they have the highest concentration of protein in the world (64%), all in amino acid form which are absorbed instantly to provide a steady flow of glucose. ENERGYbits® also contain 40 vitamins/minerals, natural nitric oxide to open blood vessels, antioxidants to fight free radicals, Omega 3 to reduce inflammation, iron to prevent fatigue and electrolytes to prevent dehydration. All this from just one ingredient –organic spirulina and all for just one calorie per tab.  

For more information or to buy yours, please visit:

Twitter: @energybits and #poweredbybits

Also, if you read my previous review, you may remember my cost breakdown.  Yes - at first glance, Bits seem expensive.  $115 a bag?!  I know!  But - with my discount code (GetBusyLiving) - you get 30% off!  That makes a bag $80.50 - or $2.40 a serving...which is comparable to the cost of any gel, bar, drink, or chew out there.  

Try them today! I'm powered by bits - are you? 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Shoe House 5 Miler Recap

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Saturday morning my pal Dawn and I ran in a local race called The Shoe House 5 Miler.  This race is a series, with one race taking place each month during the summer.  Dawn and I had the ZOOMA race on the day of the 1st race, and we're doing the Dirty Girl Mud Run on the day of the 3rd - so this was the only one we could do!

I've been struggling with running in the heat and humidity this summer, so I was just hoping for a time of 55 minutes - around 11:00 miles - for this race.  They moved the race to start at 7:00am because of the heat so I set my alarm for bright and early! (and with the catchy go-to song of the summer!!)

We lucked out weather wise.  It was REALLY humid - but it was in the low 70s and cloudy so it didn't feel overwhelmingly hot!  The course is an out-and-back that started at a local technical college, ran through some neighborhoods and Pennsylvania scenery, and looped back at the Shoe House.  It was mostly flat.

And yes - there really is a house shaped like a shoe.  It's called the Haines Shoe House. It was originally built buy a shoe salesman as an advertisement.  There's a living room, kitchen, 3 bedrooms, and 2 bathrooms in the shoe.  The current owners live in the house and operate an ice cream shop.  You can take a video tour of the Shoe House here!

When my RunKeeper alerted me that I'd hit mile 3, and my average pace was still under 10:00 per mile, I realized I could not only beat my 55 minute goal, but I could beat my "real" goal - which was under 50 minutes.  I had tweeted earlier to someone that I'd go for under 50:00 if the weather wasn't so hot and humid. 

Time goal: smashed.  My official race time was 50:05, but my RunKeeper had the course at a little over 5 miles (which is typical since the GPS takes into account every step I take and isn't just a straight shot). So I snapped a screenshot of my time at 5 miles! I was thrilled!

After the race, we stuck around to watch the awards and Dawn won 3rd in her age group!!  Last year when we began training for the Urbanathlon, Dawn claimed she "didn't know how to run".  Well, Dawn, I'd say you sure have figured it out! :-)

(Dawn getting her medal!)

If this sounds like a fun race to you (and it is!) - there's one more in the series on August 10th!  You can find out more info here!

Friday, July 12, 2013

It's a hill...get over it.

Yesterday I was doing my scheduled Thursday training run - 3miles.  Since there are some hills on the Baltimore Half course, I'm trying to do one run a week on hills.  Yesterday was that lucky day!

At about mile 2.25, I was heading towards the last steep hill on my run.  It's hot, I'm tired, and as I'm approaching the bottom of the hill my brain was saying "You can just walk quickly up the hill.  This is your 4th run in the past 5 days, don't push it."  But I didn't stop and walk - I switched the voice in my head and just said "You're not walking. Just put it in a lower gear and keep on running." - and I did.

When I got to the top of the hill, I had this burst of energy. I felt strong and proud of myself for making the hard choice.

As much as runners, myself included, claim to hate hills - secretly...I kind of love them.  Downhills hurt my knees.  Downhills are easy, they don't require a lot of effort and you can just coast.  But the uphills?  Those are a challenge.  Those require WORK. 

The uphills are what make you stronger.

It reminds me of a blog post I wrote back in 2010 when Isaac was on hospice (read it hear), about how much of Jesus I was seeing in that trial.  The hard times, or the uphills in life, are where you have to rely on God the most.  The challenges are where we get the unique chance to really glimpse God's work. They are the places where your strength and your faith are not just tested, but where it are improved. 

When you choose to charge up the hills, you get stronger - in life, and in running.  

Don't let the hills stop you - use them to make you stronger.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

World's Best Cup of Coffee

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Remember this scene in "Elf"? 
"You did it!  World's best cup of coffee!!"

Well, allow me to introduce you to what is REALLY the "World's Best Cup of Coffee"....

Have you cold brewed coffee before?  I have been doing it all summer and I'm in love!

Why cold brew?
- Cold brewed coffee is 67% less acidic than hot brewed coffee because the heat releases more chemicals than the cold brewing does.
- Cold brewed coffee, because it is less acidic, allows you to taste the more subtle flavors in your coffee rather than the bitterness often tasted in hot brews.
- Cold brewing is EASY.

This is my little cold brew set up.

1 quart sized mason jar
1 mesh strainer
1 coffee filter
1 large bowl
something to store the cold coffee in
coffee (get organic - here's why)

  1. Add 1 cup of coffee to 3 cups of water. 
  2. Shake, shake, shake (dance around while shaking if you'd like - it doesn't help the flavor but it's fun)
  3. Let the jar sit overnight or for 10-12 hours.
  4. Shake the jar again.
  5. Place your coffee filter in the mesh strainer, which then rests on top of a bowl.
  6. Pour the coffee mixture into the strainer and allow it to drain into the bowl.

What you have left is not just coffee - it's coffee concentrate.  This liquid is stronger than regular coffee, which makes it perfect for iced coffee! I mix 6 oz coffee concentrate with 2 oz of water and 2 oz of milk. It's awesome!  

One batch of concentrate gives me about 4 cups of coffee. I usually do 2 batches at a time though.  You could probably make larger batches too, just stick with the 1:3 ratio!

Store the coffee concentrate in the fridge!  You can also heat it up and drink it like a regular cup of hot coffee - it tastes so much better than heat brewed!

I first read about cold brewing at The Yummy Life - check out her post for more details!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Two Easy Summer Recipes


I know zucchini is plentiful and cheap around these parts right now - so these zucchini boats are perfect!  You can make zucchini boats with any filling you want, but this is just what I used!

1 medium or large zucchini
1-2 cloves garlic - minced
1/4 medium onion (or more if you like onion!) - chopped
1 large portabello mushroom cap- chopped
1/2-1 medium tomato (depending on how much you like) - chopped
6 Trader Joe's meatless meatballs - or you could use ground meat - these are just easy!
mozzerella cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 375.
2. Slice zucchini in half the long way and scoop out the seeds.  (set them aside)
3. Spray the zucchini (or brush lightly) with oil.  Sprinkle with garlic salt. Place the zucchini upside down on a baking sheet (greased or covered with foil) and bake 15 minutes until slightly tender.
4. Meanwhile, squeeze the excess moisture out of your zucchini by wringing it out in a towel (similar to what you do with frozen spinach)
5. In a pan, saute the onion and garlic.  Add the mushroom, tomato, and zucchini "guts".
6.  Heat the meatballs according to package directions.  Chop up into pieces.
7.  Add the meatballs to the veggies and saute until it's all soft and heated.
8.  When the zucchini is done, flip it over and fill the boats with the veggie/meatball mixture.
9.  Top with mozzarella cheese and bake 15-20 minutes until the zucchini is tender.



I made this when I was craving a slurpee on one of the 90+ degree days we had last week!!

1 cup chopped watermelon
1 cup frozen strawberries
generous squeeze of lime juice
sparkling water

1. Put the fruit and lime juice in a blender.
2. Add sparkling water (the amount will vary depending on your fruit) and blend until slushy.

Drink up!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Running is Awesome


I've casually mentioned the Baltimore Half Marathon a few times, but consider this my "official" announcement - I'm running the Baltimore Half Marathon!  The Baltimore Running Festival features a Kid Fun Run, 5K, Half Marathon, Full Marathon, and Marathon Relay on October 12. 

I know several people running both the full and the half marathon, but I don't have anyone I'm officially training with this time.  That will be different - I'll definitely miss my weekend long runs with Barb and Laura!!  

The race also comes just 2 weeks before the Men's Health Urbanathlon, which I did as a relay last year but I'm doing all 10 miles solo this year.  Sound crazy?  It is.  But I'm excited!!!

I kicked off my training for Baltimore last week and it's been one year since I started running, it's the perfect time for this link up!

Coffee & Macarons

Since I'm running a half, which is 13.1 miles - I'm contributing...
13.1 Reasons Running is Awesome
13) The running community is amazing.  Check out the hashtag #runchat on Twitter and you'll see what I mean.  It is seriously the most supportive, encouraging, fun group of people!
12) Running doesn't have to be fancy.  I mean, it CAN be - but it doesn't have to be.  You need sneakers and gym clothes to get started.

11) Running is a great way to make new friends.  Some of my best friendships have developed over runs and running events during the past year.  The other day, I walked away from my phone for an hour and came back to FIFTY EIGHT text messages from these gals!

10) You can wear sparkly skirts and tutus - and it's okay, and often even encouraged.  

9) Running is a solo sport.  I've never been an athlete, not even close.  I ran a record 17 minute mile in high school.  Okay, I didn't actually run any of that.  I like that running doesn't require me to be part of a team - that if I mess up on a run, I'm not letting anyone else down.  

8) But - running doesn't HAVE to be a solo sport.  As much as I love the solo aspect of it, I also enjoy meeting friends for runs and challenging myself to run with people who are faster than me.

7) It's an excuse to buy new clothes and wear shirts with funny sayings on them.  I don't normally wear clothes with sayings on them, unless I'm running.  This "Will run for cupcakes" is a fave - and Dawn is sporting "This isn't sweat, it's liquid awesome" - haha!!

6) Running is the best stress relief I've ever experienced.  I've run through bad moods, bad days, stressful situations, tears, and struggles.  It's made be not just stronger physically, but mentally.

5) Running teaches you how to fuel your body.  Remember that time I tried to run on a stomach of junk food?  Ugh.  Since I started running, I've done a lot of reading and researching about how to best fuel my body.

4) My legs are strong!  For the first time in my life, I don't hate my calves!

3) Runners celebrate other runners.  At races, I've never been there to see the 1st place person come through, but I've often been there to see the last runner come through - and they are always run in to cheers and claps from their fellow runners.  No judgement - just encouragement.

2) It gives you the chance to get outside - and I've run in heat, humidity, rain, snow, wind, and cold. 

1) Running shows you what you're capable of.  I can't tell you the times I said "I hate running" - but that's just because I'd never worked at it.  Now, I know I can.  I tell myself  "You've run 13.1 flippin miles before - you CAN do this!" in so many situations!!
.1) Just because - RUNNING IS FUN!!!