Monday, April 28, 2014

Ocean City Half Marathon Recap

This weekend I ran my 4th half marathon in Ocean City, MD! This flat, fast course runs from Assateague Island to Ocean City. This was one of the most fun weekends I've had in a long time - I think my cheeks still hurt from laughing so much!!!

My pal Steph and I packed up my car and headed south on Friday afternoon! We spent the 4 hour drive chatting about life, love, running, marathon training (Steph ran her first marathon in November!), boot camp (where we met), boys (she's one of my many matchmaker playing friends), and most importantly...what kind of food we'd be treating ourselves to!!

One of the fun things about this race was that 4 of the "Fab Five" would be running in it, and also 37 people from Gruver Fitness (the outdoor boot camp I attend). About 18 of us from boot camp did our carb loading on Friday night at an Italian place on the Boardwalk (Davinci's By the Sea). This was the restaurant choice because "they have unlimited salad and it has chickpeas and it is amaaaaazing" (direct quote from Jeremy, our boot camp trainer)

After many, many laughs and some good food - we headed to bed early! The race began at 7:00am on Assateague Island - but to get there, you had to line up at the Inlet in Ocean City and take a shuttle. We wanted some group photos before heading down, and wanted to be sure we'd have time to hit the restrooms and stuff - so that meant a 4:15am wake up call.  OUCH.
It was so cold and windy while we waited, that our friend Johnny resorted to wearing Steph's pink and read heart arm sleeves. Haha!! 

This is the first year this race has run from Assateague to OCMD - it's always been the other way around and then they'd shuttle the finishers back to OC at the end. There are definitely some kinks for them to work out. They had nowhere near enough bathrooms and shuttles. The race ended up starting at 7:30 instead of 7:00. Even with that, I walked out of the bathroom, got in line with the 2:00 pace group and we started within minutes.
Of course we had to take a pre-race selfie in the start corral!

One of the nice things about this course is that it is FLAT. It's the first time I've ever looked at my elevation chart and have had completely flat lines. There's 2 small inclines on the bridges going off and on the islands, but otherwise it is the flattest course I've ever run. 

Since it didn't go through a town really, there wasn't a whole lot of course support, but I wasn't bored. I had the perfect playlist set and I was running with some friends for awhile. There were 2 places where you got to pass other runners, so it was fun to see friends along the way! The water stations were a little understaffed and frustrating, but that happens.

My goal for this half was to finish it in under 2 hours. And I did!!


I am pretty annoyed, however, that my chip time from the race says 2:00:04. My mile splits, my personal watch, and my pace guide all agree with 1:59:45 - so I'm going with it! 

We took lots of post-race pictures, and hung around to enjoy some beverages and pizza after the race!

(We came, we ran, we conquered!)
(Steph and I post-race!)

(3 of the Fab Five! SO SO SO proud of Dawn and Cathy for doing awesome in their first half marathons!!!!!!!!!)

(The Gruver Fitness gang!)

After some time relaxing and showering, it was time to celebrate a great race!! We started with Fractured Prune donuts (Steph got Chocolate Peanut Butter, I got Carnival - vanilla w/ rainbow sprinkles) and ice cream (coconut chocolate chip).


Jeremy, Steph, Mark, and I shared some delicious sushi for dinner.  After that, we met up with our fellow boot campers at the Purple Moose Saloon...and well...those photos will not be blogged. There was dancing and all kinds of fun happening! I felt like a college kid again - it was a blast!

Sunday morning we had more beautiful sunshine and blue skies! The Kite Festival was going on down on the beach, so Steph and I met up with Jeremy and Mark to enjoy the sunshine, grab some lunch, and have fun in the shops on the Boardwalk.

An awesome race, lots of laughter, plenty of sunshine, and great friends - can't think of a better way to spend a weekend!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Friday Five - Jesus


5 Jesus Things.

1. 10 years - this Easter marks 10 years since I sat in a pew at Calvary Bible Church and said "yes" to following God. I never could've imagined the journey He'd take me on in just these 10 years, and I can't wait to see what the future holds! "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:The old has gone, the new is here!" 1 Corinthians 5:17

2.  Good Friday - Though today marks the day that Christ was crucified, we call it GOOD Friday because what He did was so very, very GOOD for us. "But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed." Isaiah 53:5

3. Gratitude - Running has given me so much joy and strength, but nothing compared with the joy and strength I find in Christ. I feel like He has given me this weight loss/running/health journey as a platform to share and inspire others. There have been many days lately that I've just marveled at the fact that He allows me to walk this path and share my journey! (And thanks to you for reading along!!)
"Because the Lord has anointed me
To bring good news to the afflicted;
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to captives
And freedom to prisoners;"
Isaiah 61:1

4.  Hope - The beauty of Good Friday is that Easter comes 3 days later. It's a reminder that no matter what we suffer through, what hard times and difficulties we have - there is joy coming. God doesn't leave us in a bad place with no hope. We have so much hope!!! "Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later." (Romans 8:18)

5. JOY - I remember writing a long time ago about the feeling of "anticipatory joy" - knowing that despite the fact that I was sad at that time, I knew I'd feel that unshakeable JOY and gladness again. This year, my cup is overflowing. There is so much joy in my life! I have the best parents, most supportive and fun friends, an awesome church, a great job, and my life is full. There is no greater JOY than knowing for absolute certain that the place you are in RIGHT NOW is EXACTLY where God wants you to be. "You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever." (Psalm 16:11)

Thank you, Jesus, for JOY. Thank you for laughter and fun and blessings that overflow beyond what we could ask. Thank you for today. Thank you for suffering for my sake, so that I could live in freedom!!! 

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Low Fat Trap

Monday, I talked about "danger" foods. One of the things I started ranting talking about was the real vs. fake food concept. I typed a whole bunch of thoughts and then realized that I had enough to warrant a separate post.

Let's start with looking at the Nutri-Grain bar.  This is an item you might pass by in the grocery store and think it looks healthy.  After all, the box says "made with whole grains"! It also contains "real fruit" and has "no high fructose corn syrup" - so it must be good for you, right?

Sorry to burst your bubble if you have a box of these suckers in your pantry right now but - they are not healthy.

There are more than 20 ingredients in a Nutri-Grain bar. Actually, there are more than 20 ingredients in just the outside "whole grain" part of the bar, not counting the filling! There are 5 different types of sugar in a Nutri-Grain bar (listed as sugar, dextrose, fructose, invert sugar, and corn syrup) along with a host of artificial ingredients and the dreaded food dye - Red 40.

Yesterday, I talked about how easy it is to overeat foods like this.  Well with all that sugar, it's no wonder!! Plus there really isn't anything particularly SATISFYING in this bar. Yes, it's low in calories (120), but that's because there isn't anything that's high in nutrients in this snack.

(Excuse the "practical" typo in this! I didn't create it!)

If something is advertised as "low fat" or "sugar free" - the first thing I do is look at the ingredients. If there's a huge list of ingredients filled with things I can't pronounce - I put it back. 

Low in fat = high in crap!

Let's look at another snack option of the "granola bar" variety - the Uber by Lara Bar. The ingredients are: roasted peanuts, almonds, brown rice syrup, semisweet chocolate chips, dates, honey, pecans, cashews, cocoa powder, sea salt, vanilla extract.

I bet you recognize all of those ingredients, and probably even have some of them in your house! Do you have any mono and diglycerides? How about some red dye 40? Or the super specific "natural and artificial flavors"? I don't even know where to go about getting those things. They don't sell them in the grocery store. They are not food. 

The more I have read and researched - and most importantly, experienced - with dieting, the more I realize it's the KIND of food we eat that is the most important! The Lara Bar is 90 more calories than the Nutri-Grain bar, but my body knows exactly what to do with those calories. 

Don't be scared away from highly nutrient dense, REAL food because it is higher in calories. Those calories are useful! Those calories are things your body understands. Don't fear fat. Fat doesn't make you fat. Sugar does. Chemicals that disrupt our hormones do. Be scared of those things. Add the avocado to your salad, sauté the veggies in a little coconut oil, and for goodness sakes - eat the dang yolk!!!!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Responsible Eating

I recently saw this quote on the Just Eat Real Food Facebook page and thought it was interesting.

My first reaction was "Yes! So true! This is me!!"

I started thinking about the foods that I can't eat responsibly.  These are the foods that I have intentionally stopped keeping around since I started this health journey.

My "Danger" Foods:
- cereal
- granola bars
- candy
- most ice cream
- cookies
- chocolate chips

Um...notice anything there?? Clearly, I have a bit of a sweet tooth. Or...maybe a carb tooth? Is that a thing? It is now.

When I talk "granola bars" - I don't mean Lara Bars (which I LOVE)...I mean anything Quaker/NutriGrain. I could eat a whole box of S'mores Quaker Granola Bars in about 10 minutes.

In terms of ice cream - I can have a pint of high quality, Talenti Sea Salt Caramel Gelato in my fridge for a week or more. A half gallon of Turkey Hill, though? Could be gone in about 2 days.

The thing with these "danger" foods is this - the foods that cause me to go "off the rails" and eat a box of granola bars in one sitting are CRAP. They aren't even really food. They are "food like products".

Sure, I can do some damage with a jar of Blind Spot Squirrelly Tail Nut Butter and a spoon...but I truly couldn't eat a whole jar in one sitting. I couldn't even eat 1/4 of a jar in one sitting. (I know this because I happened to be in the kitchen with a peanut butter craving and a spoon just the other night)

When you eat REAL FOOD - the risk of binge eating goes down dramatically. I can be satisfied with a few spoonfuls of high quality ice cream, but I can eat an entire container of crummy stuff and not feel satisfied. One LaraBar is enough - I've never eaten more than 1 in a sitting and can't imagine ever eating a whole box.

Why? Because they're real food.

Your body wants real food.  Your body knows what to do with real food. It can use the nutrients in real food the way they're supposed to be used. 

Don't get caught in the "low fat" and "sugar free" trap!!! 

 Just eat real food.
Be satisfied.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Friday Five

1. Distance PR - On Saturday morning I ran my farthest distance ever - 14 miles!! I was excited about this run because I felt like it gave me a little preview into marathon training. Although the thought of "I have to run 12.2 more miles" was really, really daunting.

2. Fancy Pants - I've been reading about and looking at the CW-X Stabilyx tights for a few months now and I finally bit the bullet and bought them. So what's so fancy about these pants? From the CW-X website: "The patented CW-X Support Web™ bands together the muscles and ligaments of the lower leg to stabilize the knee and reduce vibration for increased efficiency." Basically, the stripes on the pants mimic KT tape and help support your muscles. I honestly didn't notice a huge difference during my run. They were comfy and felt great, but I wasn't thinking they were worth the $70 I paid for them. Then I woke up the next morning...with ZERO soreness. Not even a twinge! I had run 14 miles at a decent pace and I never would've known it by the way my legs felt the next morning. The more I run, the more I realize that when you're training for distances - it's worth it to spend money on the fancy gear!

3. Ginger - It's been 3 weeks since this orange gal joined my household. It's been a funny 3 weeks as she and Minimum try to figure out how to get along. There's still frequent hissing and growling, but we're making progress! Ginger was very hesitant to leave "her room" at first, but lately she's been coming out all the time and sitting with me on the couch. She's settling in just fine, I'd say!

4. Cadbury Eggs - I saw this on Pinterest and thought it was hilarious!! I totally get this. And also now I would like some Cadbury eggs - those little solid chocolate ones that come in the purple bag.  Mmmm...

5. Restless - This past week, my church finished up a series on the Ten Commandments. The final message wrapped up the series with an awesome heart check. The line that keeps running through my head is: "When your heart is in sync with God's will, you find rest." Sometimes, we're called to do things that just don't make any sense, or that people think are crazy - but we feel this completely unexplainable peace about it. That peace is a sign that you're in line with God's will! (You can check out the message here)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

My Current Dessert Pick

The other night I was having a serious craving for some kind of fruity, baked, cobbler type dessert. (Kim, if you're reading this, I know you're cringing at the thought of baked fruit - but this isn't baked!)

I thought about what I had in my house and ended up coming up with a random and delicious dessert. It satisfied my cobbler craving and was packed full of superfoods. I made it again last night, and decided it was too good not to share!

Superfood Fruity Dessert Bowl
1 small apple
1/2 cup berries (I mixed frozen strawberries, cherries, and blueberries that I nuked for 30 seconds)
1 tsp coconut oil 
1 tbsp nut butter (I used Blind Spot's Butter Pecan)

Chop up the apple. Melt the coconut oil and nut butter together. Toss the fruit with the melted mixture. Top with something crunchy! I used Qi'a cereal (which is just chia seeds, hemp, and buckwheat) and cacao nibs. 

It's super satisfying, full of healthy antioxidants and fats, and kicks the sweet tooth to the curb!

(It doesn't look pretty though)

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Tips + 10 Recipes for Green Smoothies!!

I get asked a lot about my smoothie recipes. I don't have any real "recipes", I tend to just throw stuff into the blender that sounds good.  To give you some ideas though, I thought I'd share some of my favorite smoothie making ingredients and a few combos I love!

As I mentioned on Friday, I'm participating in Peanut Butter Runner's "Green Smoothie April" Challenge!  My first 8 smoothies are pictured above - and a cat photo bomb. Some are a bright, pretty green - some are gross looking. When you mix brown cocoa powder with green spinach, it's not going to be pretty!

Here are my smoothie making faves! Enjoy!!!

My Favorite Ingredients

Smoothie Base
1 cup unsweetened almond or coconut milk
1 large handful of spinach

Sweet Stuff
frozen berries
Medjool dates

Extras (I've linked some of these to either a product I like or to some more info about why they're beneficial!)
protein powder (I like Tera's Plain)
instant coffee
vanilla extract

Smoothie Recipes

The Classic
1 cup milk of choice
1 large handful of spinach
1 banana
1-2 tbsp PB2
Stevia or honey to taste

Chocolate PB
1 cup milk of choice
1 large handful of spinach
1 banana
2 tbsp PB 2
1-2 tbsp cocoa powder
Stevia or honey to taste

PB Date
1 cup milk of choice
1 large handful of spinach
1 Medjool date
1/2 banana
1 tbsp PB2

Green Tea Latte
1 cup milk of choice
1 large handful of spinach
1 scoop matcha powder

Cinnamon Ginger
1 cup milk of choice
1 large handful of spinach
1 banana
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp nut butter
honey to taste

Chocolate Covered Cherries
1 cup milk of choice
1 large handful of spinach
1/2 cup frozen dark cherries
2 tbsp cocoa powder
Stevia to taste

Blueberry Milkshake
1 cup milk of choice
1 large handful of spinach
1 scoop vanilla protein powder (or plain and add 1 tsp vanilla extract)
1 cup frozen blueberries
Stevia (if needed)

No-Crap Frap (haha)
1 cup milk of choice
1 large handful of spinach
1 Starbucks Via packet (or other instant coffee)
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
Stevia to taste

Almond Joy
1 cup milk of choice
1 large handful of spinach
2 tsp melted coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla extract (or 1 scoop vanilla protein powder)
1 tbsp cocoa powder
Stevia to taste

1 cup milk of choice
1 large handful of spinach
2 tsp melted coconut oil
1/2-1 cup frozen mango/pineapple
1 tsp vanilla extract (or 1 scoop vanilla protein powder)
Stevia to taste

I didn't list chia, flax, gelatin, or plain whey in any of the recipes because they don't add any flavor. You can throw these guys into any of the above combos to boost the nutrient content! They will all also help thicken the smoothie.

Also, if I'm using frozen fruit, I don't usually add extra ice - but that's my preference! Frozen banana makes smoothies extra creamy!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Friday Five - This & That

1. This bunny. I find it ironic that in order to burn off the calories in this "Speedy Bunny", I would have to run at least 6 miles. Also ironic is the fact the this 700+ calorie bunny is advertising the "Hershey's Track and Field Games". This is like McDonakd's being the official restaurant of the Olympics. 
2. This outfit. I'm laughing just looking at it. It was pure coincidence.  I wore my wacky paisley leggings with a plain black shirt-dress. Then, a student brought in this wig...and this happened. Too funny!
3. These flowers! FINALLY!!! I think this is the latest my poor daffodils have ever come up. It's so nice to look at these cheery guys every time I go outside...even if it has been raining a lot this week. (at least it's not snow!)

4. This RUN HAPPY gear! I love the Brooks company - and I've been wanting a "run happy" shirt (which is their company motto) for awhile. I happened to be surfing the site last week and spotted some great sales! I got 2 tech tees (the white "run happy" and the pink says "live, love, run"), a "run happy" visor (I almost always run in a hat if it's sunny because I hate the sweat/sunglasses combo), and one of the Brooks ultra lightweight tanks for humid summer runs. The blue tee was FREE! They had a special - spend $75 and get the tee free. $75? No problem.  (I spent $76 for all of this!)
5. This Challenge. Jen @ Peanut Butter Runner is having a "Green Smoothie April" challenge - drink a green smoothie every day for the month of April. Perfect timing here because I haven't been drinking as many of them lately! I've been having them with breakfast so far, and I'll share some of my favorite combos next week!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Running Habits

I saw this survey on another blog and thought I'd share here! If you're a runner and blogger, copy and paste...share on your site...and let me know! I love reading the habits of other runners!

1.  FUEL: Shot Bloks, GU, Energy Chews, Candy or Other?
I've used a variety of fuels in my quest for the perfect fuel! I'm currently experimenting with Sport Beans. I used Shot Bloks to train for DC this year, but I found that by the end of the race the chewy, sweet taste was too much for me. I used a mix of dates and dried apricots to train for Baltimore.  I have liked all of them...except for gels. I have tried a few types and I just can't do the gels. They gross me out.

2.  Race Length: 5K, 10K, 1/2 Marathon, Marathon, Ultra or Other?
My current favorite race length is the 1/2 marathon! I think the training is challenging, but doesn't take up my whole Saturday. I also don't tend to enjoy the first 3 miles of a race, so this length arrows me to get in a rhythm.  We'll see if I change my mind this fall when I tackle the full 26.2!

3.  Workout Bottoms: Skirts, Running Shorts, Capris, Pants, or Other?
Depends on the weather! I wear tights if it is cold. I bought some awesome Athleta Polartec Tights this winter - and they are worth every penny!!! They are fleece lined, super soft, breathable, and yet still kept my legs warm even in really cold temps.  I like running skirts (with shorts under) for hot weather, or shorts. Capri tights are my favorite bottoms overall though!

4.  Sports Drink: Gatorade, Powerade, Cytomax, you stick to water when you run or Other?
NUUN!!!! Gatorade is too sweet overall, and has some questionable food dyes. I love, love, love Nuun. In fact, there are 2 tubes of it in my purse right now and 4 tubes at my house. I love Nuun because it is portable (tablets), doesn't taste overly sweet, and provides me with the electrolytes I need. I'm a sweaty runner, so I'm definitely losing electrolytes when I run.  I wrote a post about hydration this summer - check it out!

5.  Running temperatures: HOT or COLD?
COLD. Absolutely, without a doubt. I despise running in hot weather.  Warmish weather - good. Humidity? BAD. I'd rather run in my cold gear and 10 degrees than in the humidity and heat any day!!!

6.  Running Shoe Brands: Saucony, Mizuno, Nike, Brooks, Asics, or Other?
Brooks. I love them. I'm also a Mizuno fan, but my past several pairs of shoes are Brooks. I just love the company overall. Their slogan is "Run Happy" - what's not to love?! I have some of their tech shirts too, and I love them as well.  Like I said, I am a Mizuno fan as well though. Their shoes don't work as well for me, but I love the company and the way they are active in social media and the running community overall.

7.  Pre-Race Meal: Oatmeal. Bagel, Banana, Eggs, Cereal or Other?     
Banana (or sometimes honey if I don't have a banana - just something for fast acting carbs), sprouted grain toast, nut butter. I can do oatmeal sometimes too, but I mix that with nut butter and banana too!  My favorite nut butters are from Blind Spot!! Their Squirrely Tail is my favorite. (and it's now peanut free!)

8.  Rest Days: 1x per week, 2x per week, never ever ever or Other?
Typically 1x per week, but sometimes more if my body needs it. I try to listen to my body! Sometimes a "rest" day is yoga, or just an EASY run.

9.  Music: Have to have it or go without it?
If I'm by myself, I listen to music - either from my iTunes playlist, or the RockMyRun app. I love podcasts too (Another Mother Runner and Jillian Michaels are my faves for running!).  I'm working on breaking free of the music though. If I'm running with others, I used to always keep one ear bud in, but now I'm going without - and I love it!  

10.  #1 reason for running: stress-relief, endorphins, you love to race, so you can eat all the cupcakes you want, weight-loss, love running for social reasons or other?   
This is a tough one. I do run because I love to eat - haha! But the more I run, the more I realize that I just love running because of the way it makes me feel. I feel stronger, I've learned to push through walls I thought I couldn't get through, I am just happier in my life now that I am a runner.
I love this picture! This is about mile 4 of the Rock N Roll half in March. It's convenient having a best friend who happens to live in DC and is also a photographer! :) 

Now it's your turn! Fellow runners/bloggers - cut and paste away!!
1.  FUEL: Shot Bloks, GU, Energy Chews, Candy or Other?
2.  Race Length: 5K, 10K, 1/2 Marathon, Marathon, Ultra or Other?
3.  Workout Bottoms: Skirts, Running Shorts, Capris, Pants, or Other?
4.  Sports Drink: Gatorade, Powerade, Cytomax, you stick to water when you run or Other?
5.  Running temperatures: HOT or COLD?
6.  Running Shoe Brands: Saucony, Mizuno, Nike, Brooks, Asics, or Other?
7.  Pre-Race Meal: Oatmeal. Bagel, Banana, Eggs, Cereal or Other?     
8.  Rest Days: 1x per week, 2x per week, never ever ever or Other?
9.  Music: Have to have it or go without it?
10.  #1 reason for running: stress-relief, endorphins, you love to race, so you can eat all the cupcakes you want, weight-loss, love running for social reasons or other?