Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Reason #18,458 why I love my slow cooker: Better than yo’ momma’s slow cooked banana oats

When I was a kid, my mom used to make the most amazing oatmeal. No one liked eating it but me. I remember all the kids whining .. “Oatmeal? NOOOO!!” But not me.

I’ve made countless bowls of oatmeal but never as good as hers, so today, I asked her how she made them. She said all she did was follow the recipe on the oatmeal box…but I knew there had to be more, so I had to bombard her with questions.


Me: “Mom, there’s no way you just followed the recipe. Did you use milk?”
Mom: “Oh yes I used milk. The recipe called for water so sometimes I used both water and milk, but mostly I used (whole) milk.”
Me: “Ok so what else did you do?”
Mom: “Well, I boiled my milk, and then I would put a cinnamon stick in there for flavor, and then I’d add some salt…and then when everything boiled, I slowly added the oats and stirred everything together…you know, there is a recipe on the box.”
Me: “Yes mom I know there’s a recipe on the box. I know how to make oatmeal. I wanted to know how you made YOUR oatmeal.”
Mom: “OH Oh, ok. So yeah, I’d add the cinnamon stick and the salt, and I’d boil the milk and add in the oats…”
Mom: “I’d let them cook on low for a while. Oh, and then I’d add some butter in at the very end for some extra flavor.”

Light bulb! Then I thought about it…

Me: “But we put butter on top of the oats after you served them to us too.”
Mom: “Mmm Hmmmm.”

I don’t know if it was the butter or what, but like I said, her oats were GOOD. I don’t have the patience to wait all day for my oats to cook. She would cook them for an hour or so. Wanna know how I make my oats 99% of the time? I put a half cup of oats in a microwave safe bowl and bring it to work. Once at work, I take about a cup of water and cut up a banana, and throw the whole hot mess in the microwave for 3 minutes. Stir in PB. Eat.

Until last night.

I thought, maybe – JUST maybe – I can get thick, creamy oats by using my slow cooker!

Better than yo momma’s slow cooked banana oats

  • 1/2 cup Steel cut oats (2 servings)
  • 2.5 cups water
  • Cinnamon sprinkles (about 1 tbsp)
  • 1 banana, mashed
  • Dash of sea salt

Throw in your slow cooker and cook on low overnight. Wake up to a banana cinnamony bliss.


Now I know you’ve made oatmeal before, so you’re probably wondering what the big deal is. It’s just a nice way to spin my childhood memory of my mom’s oatmeal into my crazy hectic and pathetic morning routine. Scoop and go? Yeah, I’ll take that.


Put your oats in a slow cooker and do it up. I promise you won’t regret it!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Discounted yoga? Anyone?

I’ve been wanting to give yoga a fair shot for a very long time. About five years ago, Dennis got me a couple of yoga DVDs for Christmas and I couldn’t have been happier. However, I can’t get into on my own. I get very distracted, feel very frustrated with my lack of knowledge, and end up giving up after about 15 minutes. I TRY. It’s really difficult to get into when you’re a newbie and completely clueless.

My friend Reba took me to a hot yoga class for my 30th birthday last year and it was AWESOME. But it’s so expensive.  I can’t afford $20 per class, especially since I’d like to be able to go at least twice a week. How can I get the wonderfully amazing benefits of yoga without the stress? I mean, isn’t that the whole point?

A little background: My commute round trip is usually around 2 hours. I found a yoga studio that takes volunteer work as payment but with a full time job, 10 hours a week of driving on top of that, and my normal workout routine, I’m not sure I’d be able to find the time.

Any suggestions?

Oh and check out my negative splits from yesterday’s 6 mile run with my running group. (boy did I miss them)

  • Mile 1: 9:19
  • Mile 2: 9:09
  • Mile 3: 9:43 (hills)
  • Mile 4: 9:17
  • Mile 5: 9:39
  • Mile 6: 9:07

Total time: 56:19
I’m starting to feel better again….still have some work to do but I’m getting there.  This guy on the other hand…


What a life.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

My “I’m so glad we broke up before you got the Clap” chocolate chip cookies

So you remember my last post when I mentioned you might get smacked in the face with something a little out of the ordinary? Yeah, this is one of those posts. Beware, it’s a little raunchy, but it’s really not all that bad, so please bear with me.

You can thank Rachel Wilkerson for this one, as I found that I can relate to this week’s Project Tasteless challenge.


I contemplated not using this title since her example title included an STD but seriously, this is exactly how I’ve learned to perfect my baking. Let me back up here.

My boyfriend history is pretty short and boring, but they have all contributed to my love of baking. In a nutshell, it looks a little bit like this:

Puppy Love
First Love
Current Love

I started baking for fun, but after a few ridiculous breakups through four years of on-again, off-again torture with Puppy Love, I learned to turn to baking for comfort. I would bake my face off every time we’d break up, and between these cookies (which I’ve now healthified as I’ve gotten older) and the beer I drank with them, I gained about 30 pounds.

There was something about these cookies that my roommates and I could not get enough of. They were really that good.


About six months after our last and thank GOD our final breakup, (right around the time I got the “I have ‘the clap’ and I wanted to let you know” phone call – don’t worry, I was SOO in the clear) I took a much needed break from making cookies.

A year later, I met First love.

First love was the complete opposite of Puppy Love and our break up had me craving this classic cookie recipe something fierce. We dated for two years and he was the guy that ripped my heart out. Have you ever seriously dated a person your parents can’t stand? My mom HATED him and as much as I hate to say it, she was right. Not that he was a bad guy, he just wasn’t for me. Aaaand we broke up. (shortly after I got the “It’s 5 a.m., I’m wasted, and I can’t find my way home” phone call. Did I mention he was driving? And that he was calling me from 2 hours away asking me what he should do?) <sigh> More cookies please! Oh, with Toffee bits? Even better!


And just when I was “loved” out and ready to enjoy being single, I met Current Love. Current Love and I have seen and experienced some serious shit over the past 6 years. He’s a big part of the reason I started this blog, and luckily for him, he’s also the one that gets to benefit from the baking experience I gained from previous loves. He adores my chocolate chip cookies, and when he requested that I make them this weekend I thought “How perfect.” And my blog post was created.

I’m So Glad we broke up before you got the CLAP chocolate chip cookies – the healtified version
Adapted from Betty Crocker. Makes about 2 dozen cookies


  • 1 cup unbleached white flour
  • 1 cup spelt flour
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 cup butter (NOT unsalted) softened, but not melted
  • 1/4 cup granulated cane sugar (I used unbleached)
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (I used milk chocolate)
  • 1/2 cup Heath toffee bits (the star of these cookies, in my opinion)
  1. Combine dry ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly. Set aside.
  2. In a larger bowl, combine sugars, vanilla and butter.
    *Butter trick-if you don’t have the time to let the butter come to room temperature, simply pop it in the microwave for 1 minute at 50% strength. This will soften it without melting it*
  3. Cream the sugar and butter for about a minute. Add egg and cream some more (maybe another 30 seconds)


4. Fold in chocolate chips and toffee bits

5. Drop by the spoonfuls onto your baking sheet

6. Bake at 350* for 11 minutes.

It’s not rocket science folks, but these cookies are damn good.


Anyone else have a go-to comfort recipe or comfort food to eat? Besides the cookies, I also made a banana nut cake with cream cheese frosting that never lasted more than 2 days in my apt. I still get emails and phone calls from friends requesting this recipe.

Have a great week!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Changing Gears (About me)

Everyday I come across new blogs and give them a shot. Whether it be through someone that comments on my blog or someone else’s blog, I somehow get caught up reading three weeks worth of blog posts on some new site. I’ve learned a lot from reading other people’s blogs, including things NOT to do on my own.

Although I realize my blog is not perfect (hell, look at the format. It’s plain, sometimes my pictures suck, and I definitely don’t post on a daily) I do realize that I enjoy having it. And also, that my purpose has changed A LOT since day one.

When I first started blogging my reasoning was SO much different than it is now. I'm a former journalist and at the time, I had been laid off for a few months. My boyfriend had just had major surgery as a result of his Crohn’s Disease, so to say I was obsessed with food (and health) is an understatement.

I wasn’t only obsessed with food, I was obsessed with everything about it: Where it came from, how it was processed, how much sugar was in it, how it affected our bodies, etc. I was convinced (and on some level still am) that intestinal diseases are environmental and if we change the way we look at food, these scary and deadly diseases will eventually go away.

I found food blogs to be comforting; not only were they eating great, nutritious food but they were active too! Since I’ve always been an athlete, I started seeing that there are others who not only share my love for food, but my love for competition. That, coupled with my extreme boredom and lack of self worth from being laid off, is how this blog was created.

It took me a while to find my voice, and it took me a while to realize that this is NOT a competition. I won’t lie, I struggled with that. I saw people posting their run times and immediately thought I was too slow. I saw people making outrageous food and though my food was too plain…but then I grew up. Plain and simple.

I’ve also learned that even though I have my bad days, I’m comfortable with myself and my body. I FEEL good about myself, who I am and where I am in my life. That’s what matters most. And when I decide to train for my next race, I’ll continue to realize that time isn’t important…getting off my ass and DOING IT is important. (Gosh where was this wisdom a few years months ago?)

So why do I write this blog? Well, I care about health, running and staying active. I also want to continue to find fun recipes to recreate so I can share them with you. However, I don’t want it to be about JUST FOOD or JUST RUNNING. I have a story to tell – whether it be about the amazing pot of chili I made for Sunday football or about the road rage I had on my way to work – and I want to be able to share it with you. Yes my focuses are food, health and my competitive nature, but don’t be surprised to get smacked in the face with something else. It’s just how I roll.

Do I need to follow a consistent format to have a successful blog? Since I don’t have a large readership, I couldn’t answer that. But I do LOVE those of you who read and I appreciate your understanding of me.

Happy Friday!!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Fighting it

I don’t know what’s going on but my appetite has been null these past few days. I’ve been feeling kind of off, so I’ve been trying to take it easy. I hate this time of the year—sick time. It seems as if as soon as school starts, all these gross germs and viruses start being spread around like freaking wild fire and no amount of anti-bacterial wipes and hand-washing can help.


I’m in need of some new germ fighting tricks. Got any?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Cheering on the marathoners

Only a runner would wake up early on a Sunday to go cheer on other runners. I know how much it meant to me to see people on the sides of the roads with signs and bells, and just their enthusiasm overall made me feel better. So I figured since I’m only 15 minutes away from the 23 mile marker, I’d go meet my running group to go cheer on the Marine Corps Marathoners.

Boy was this a sight to see.

I have never seen so many emotions. Blood (seriously guys, suck it up and buy a sports bra!) sweat and tears like you wouldn’t believe. There was one guy who was probably around 23-24 years old who was walking so slowly and was on the verge of tears. I felt so badly for him that I didn’t even know what to say. “Good job?” “Keep pushing?” Yeah, I just let him go, trying not to cry for him myself.

I spent most of my time chatting it up with my running buddies and going nuts on everyone as they ran by.





Yeah, all the cheesy crap, I said it all. I was trying so hard to get them excited and pumped that they were almost there. However, since I’ve never run a marathon, apparently I’m way out of the loop. There were people who obviously put their names on their shirts for a reason right? So here I am yelling people’s names…. “Go Drew!!” “Great job Sally!” and I got nothing. So my inexperience with marathons proved me as the “jackass on the side of the street yelling at me that I want to smack for being so freaking bubbly.”

I was happy to be there though, and I’m glad I experienced it. I might actually have mustered up the confidence to MAYBE start training for next year’s race. (Disclaimer: I’m not saying I WILL. Dennis works for the Marines and he has said that if I did decide to run it, he’d volunteer race day. This might have made me more excited about the idea.)

Running the Army 10 miler last week and being around the runners yesterday got me really pumped for the idea. But it’s a freaking marathon, so I don’t want to get too excited about it.

How do you feel about spectators cheering you on during long races? Do you enjoy them or do you want to punch them for being too perky?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Army 10 miler

This past Sunday was the day that I’ve been complaining about for months. The Army 10 miler. And you know what? I survived!

Luckily this race was about 15 minutes down the road from where we live so Dennis dropped me off right by the Pentagon at 6:30 a.m. I found my running group’s tent, stretched, drank some water, warmed up, and nervously headed toward the start line.

This race was HUGE. Over 30,000 people huge, so naturally I had to fight my way to the start and find a good spot. Because it was a Army race, they were pretty clear that headphones were not allowed. Although I found that people did bring headphones, most didn’t. I have never run that long without headphones (except for the Boilermaker 15K but I ran that with a friend – HI ANN! – so it was different since I had someone to talk to) I really thought not having music would mess with me but honestly, I didn’t mind it. There were so many interesting conversations going on around me that kept me occupied enough.


I felt good all the way through to mile 8. At miles 3 and 7 I had a Gu, and at miles 2, 4, 6, and 8 I made sure to stop and walk through the water stations to be sure I was properly hydrated. I was keeping about a 9:30 pace until mile 8….that’s when it went down hill.

However, I didn’t feel bad. As much as I was worried that I would hit a wall (like I did last week when I ran with my friend Sue) that never happened. Even though I started a run/walk regimen for miles 8 through 10 it was more because my knee was bothering me a little and I just was ready for the race to be over. I was never miserable, and I never once felt like I couldn’t finish.

My time? 1:42:30 with an average of 10:15 min/mile. This is exactly 11 minutes longer than my results of the Cherry Blossom 10 miler but honestly, I’m not mad. I did what I could and I’m happy with my results. I felt great (still do!) at the finish and to be honest, it’s the first race since the Cherry Blossom that I actually finished feeling this way. So it’s all good.

The other positive that came out of this race is that I’m actually feeling  a lot better about running. I stressed out so much over training for this race. I told Dennis at least three times that I was giving up my bib. I came close to tears while running last week’s 8 miler with Sue, this 7.5 mile “split” run, and even wrote about trying to convince myself that with time, I will eventually love to run again.  But I had a great support system – Dennis, my friends, my family, and even you – and I realized that despite how stressed I was during the training, when you’re out there running the race with all those people around you pushing and motivating you to keep going (which they all did!) it’s a completely different feeling. I remembered why I signed up for this race 6 months ago.

As I walked off my jitters while waiting for the sun to come up at the race site, I knew I made the right decision.

Thanks everyone for all of your support and for helping me get through this wall. And thanks, Sue, for my beautiful flowers!!


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Treadmill love?

Most times I would rather poke my eyes out than run on the treadmill but for some reason, I’ve been finding it to be much less intimidating than running outside. I don’t know if it’s because I can have more control of what I’m doing, but I had the best treadmill run after work today. I felt like I could have ran for another three miles, but knowing the Army 10 miler is just around the corner (Sunday!) I kept it short: 3.0 miles in 27 minutes.


Maybe it was because it was one of those treadmills with the fans that blow right on you. Maybe it was because I was watching the NY Yankees vs Texas Rangers game. It could have been because I ate some Fage Honey yogurt as a pre-run snack.


Maybe it was because I had a great day overall, so it would only make sense to end it on such a high note. Either way, sometimes you just gotta give props to the treadmill.

Do you have a love/hate relationship with the treadmill?

Monday, October 18, 2010

If you can’t take the heat….

I like heat but not HEAT. I can eat spicy food that doesn’t burn so much that I can no longer taste my food. If I’m spending too much time drinking water and wiping my forehead, it’s not worth it to me. But this is a kind of heat I can handle.



If you have not tried Sambal, you must. We get it at our local grocery store but you can also get it at any international market. It’s a spicy but sweet chili sauce that adds so much depth and flavor to your dishes. I use it on pizza, steamed veggies, eggs, certain meats, in curry sauces, in chili….SO.GOOD. Try it now.

On a running note, I am sad to report that I am officially on lock down after yesterday’s run. My IT band is SCREAMING at me, and I have no one to blame for myself. Looks like I’ll be spending a lot of time with this bad boy….


Oh foam roller … how I love to hate you.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Got by (with a little help from my friend)

My goal for this week was to get in an 8 miler as my last long run before the Army 10 miler. In the past I’ve given myself more of a rest before a race like this, but I really needed this run. To make it a little more bearable, I asked my friend Sue to run the last 4 miles with me. I figured by breaking it up and having someone with fresh legs to pace me, it would help get me by.

I set out on my own for the first four miles and was feeling good. I kept a decent pace without overdoing it, and although I was getting warm from wearing a jacket, I was surprised at how good I felt. Sue had an idea of how long it would take me to run by, so she was already standing out on the sidewalk in front of our complex waiting for me…which was awesome…but I had to stop and take off my jacket. I was DYING and it was getting warm really quickly. We stopped into her place so I could take it off, use the bathroom, eat a Goo, and then take off. We might have stopped for 5 minutes or so, but that was all it took.

We headed off for the last 4 miles and I swear, my legs were like bricks. It wasn’t long before I lagged behind, and Sue was about 5-10 seconds ahead of me most of the way. I was completely OK with that, since just having her there pushed me.  We got to a hill that I refused to run (I already ran up a long, crappy hill earlier and was NOT feeling this one) so we power walked up. I am completely OK with this, especially since during my first half marathon I refused to walk until I realized I was getting passed by people power walking up every hill.

It was rough but I made it to the 8.0 mile mark in a time of 1:21:07, averaging a pace of 10:08. Again, given the fact that we walked up a pretty good sized hill and I dragged my butt up another .34 mile hill earlier, I’m OK with this time. Thanks SO MUCH Sue for helping me through this! I would have walked a lot more if it wasn’t for you!!!

In other news, keep an eye out  at A Fete for Food for Jess’s recap of her successful finish of the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco today. She did awesome! I met Jess and  Cat last summer at the Blog Summit in Boston. They are both awesome and I love that all three of us have kept in touch. (I’m on the left, Jess is in the middle and Cat is on the right and there’s a random drunk girl in the background) 

me, jess and cat august

Do you have any races coming up?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Wine and chocolate

I know some wine snobs who invite people over solely to taste fancy wines and stinky cheese. I went to one of these parties a few years ago and although I had a great time, I laughed at the pretentiousness of the hostesses … with their idea that the only way you can enjoy a good wine is with a specific cheese or a dish that matches the color of the wine (i.e. white wines to white dishes, red wines to red dishes.)

I personally like red wines better than white so I don’t care if I’m eating chicken or tofu-if I want a glass of red wine, dammit I’m drinking it. And tonight, I paired my favorite match as a celebratory end to a stressful week.


I don’t know about you, but I don’t think there’s a better end to a long week than wine AND chocolate.



What do you like to pair your wine with? Do you prefer red to white? Or how about blush?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Happy run

I’m going to say something I haven’t been able to say in quite some time so prepare yourself.

I had a good run today, and it’s about freaking time.

It may have something to do with the weather (it’s finally not 100 degrees outside. Or 80. Whatever.) It was a perfect running temperature for me-68 and sunny, but with a brisk breeze that wreaked of fall. It made me so happy. And for the first time in MONTHS, I had a mile that was sub 9 minutes, and I averaged about a 9:40 mile pace. Honestly, this is amazing to me since most of my runs have included many 10+ minute mile paces. Even the short ones.

And when I came back from the run and saw that Dennis had made some (store bought) fresh pasta, I was even more happy.


Topped with some Korean style ribeye and spinach


Dennis said he thought I wasn’t eating enough carbs, so he bought this pasta. How thoughtful of him. And after this dinner, I couldn’t thank him enough.


What’s your favorite way to eat pasta?

As much as I love a good homemade traditional pasta sauce, I would much rather not have a tomato based sauce if I don’t have to.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Playing catch-up

Has it really been 2 weeks since I last posted? Is it really the second week of October? Is the Army 10 miler really just 2 weeks away? What the hell have I been doing?

First of all, have you ever heard of The Legwarmers?

I can only do this type of thing once or twice a year, depending on when you asked me. Halloween is usually my answer but this was close enough. Sometimes I get roped into doing things I may otherwise have said no to due to harassment and being put on the spot. In other words, peer pressure. But it wasn’t all that bad …



That’s right…crimped hair, side ponies, legwarmers (of course) and lots of neon colors. Yeah, we’re hot. And if I had more than 10 minutes to prep for this I would have worn something hotter, but I had to settle for whatever no one else was wearing. Sigh.

In other news…I’ve been busting my ass trying to prep for the Army 10 miler. I logged in a 10 mile split last weekend where I ran 5 miles late Saturday night and then another 5 Sunday morning. I read in Runner’s World that splitting your runs this way is a completely legit way of training for longer distances.  I ran another 6 miles today and struggled, but realized I didn’t properly fuel myself last night or this morning. When I got back from the run I told Dennis I was dropping out of the race (yes, again) and he very nicely encouraged me back to reality. It was nice to have the positive push.

Oh, and check out my Easy Mac n Cheese


Served with some zucchini


I was really in the mood form some comfort food, so I threw this together after work one night last week. Click here for the recipe. Mac and cheese is so easy to make, and it really can be a decently healthy meal if you make a few changes. And no, you don’t have to sacrifice taste.  If you need a little protein you can add some chopped chicken or canned tuna (which I did for lunch the next day.)

I have a friend who participated in the Kona Ironman this past weekend … I can’t wait to hear how he did. And here I am complaining about a measly 10 miles…

What’s your favorite go-to comfort meal? 

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Abuela’s black beans

Everybody in my family has gone through it….trying to replicate our mom’s or grandmother’s recipes with no avail. I remember when my sister Monique first got married, she didn’t know how to make beans so she made rice with corn. We made fun of her for years about that. It took some practice but she eventually got the hang of it.

My grandmother’s black beans, however, can only be replicated by my mom – and even hers aren’t as good as my grandmother’s (sorry mom.) Not that they’re not good, they’re just slightly different.

When Dennis and I first started dating my grandmother invited us over for dinner where she made black beans and rice. Dennis immediately fell in love with them, so whenever she needed work done around the house she’d lure him over with her black beans. However, we’ve since moved away from each other – she’s in Phoenix and we’re Northern VA – so if we want them we have to make them ourselves. So for the first time in my 31 years, I attempted Abuela’s black beans. (she is 90 years old, by the way, and still kickin’)



Ok, they weren’t bad….they just weren’t hers.

In a saucepan I sautéed:

  • 1/2 onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 small red pepper
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1T oregano
  • 2 bacon strips
  • salt, pepper to taste

I soaked the beans overnight. The in the morning I put the sautéed veggies, beans, 8 cups of water by suggestion (WAY too much) and 2 more strips of bacon for flavor  (not enough.)

I cooked them on low while I was at work-about 9 hours.


The verdict? Dennis ate about three bites and very politely said, “They’re not…bad….” I ate them though. After all, it was a little piece of home.

It’s hard failing at a recipe that is so close to my heart. Oh well, with time…until then I’ve just have to fly to Phoenix to get them.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Re-thinking it all

After pressing “publish” on yesterday’s post, I spent a lot of time thinking about my wanting to back out of the Army 10 miler. After a long chat with a friend from home, I realized that my problem is not running, it’s the pressure that I’ve let the running put on me. What happened to the days when running made me feel like this?


Ok, well that’s beer in my hand so of course I was feeling good…

So today, I decided to go for a short run with just a watch, and when I ended, I ended. I didn’t pay attention to the time, I didn’t pay attention to the mileage, I just ran. And it was all good until a Marine (he had the haircut and a Marines t-shirt on) blew by me in front of a line of traffic!! I can only imagine what that looked like!

Anyway, I’m feeling better today. Little by little and hopefully I’ll get back to this:


Sunday, September 26, 2010

Football season does not have to equal fat season

I can’t explain to you how much fun having a Fantasy Football team is. I loved watching football before, but now I have something at stake with every game that’s played. There’s no money involved, just bragging rights, but it’s fun to talk smack and beat your opponent every week.

The only downside to football is the food that it’s associated with pizza, wings, and beer. And chips. And just plain old junk. Don’t worry, I didn’t eat any of that. 

How about a  99% fat free turkey burger with 3 bean salad wrapped in lettuce with avocado?



Ok, so I used cheese. It was completely unnecessary but it was kind of an accident (meaning Dennis put it on since  I didn’t tell him not to) 

Army 10 miler update:

I’m contemplating giving up my bib for this race. It’s not that I don’t think I can do it, it’s that I don’t really want to.  I missed a lot of running time this week due to severely annoying allergies, a lot of paperwork that kept me at my desk through lunch, traffic, and 85-90+ degree weather that kept me from running after work. I know, excuses excuses, but honestly I’m OK with it. I made sure to get out and walk at least 3 miles every day, so I feel OK physically.  If I can’t get in a good amount of miles this week, I’ll have to pass.

What about you—is it worth running a race if you’re not excited about it?

The only reason I ever started running races was because I loved doing it. I could never get enough of that feeling of exhilaration, but now all I feel is frustration and anxiety. Why force it?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Split it

I had a 7.5 mile run on my schedule today and the idea of it was stressing me out. Running more than 5 or 6 miles alone can get a little boring, and it’s hard to stay properly fueled and hydrated when you’re out for so long. So I decided to split my run into two 40 minute sections with a stop back at my house to refuel.

I ran 20 minutes out, turned around and came home to fill up the water bottle and eat half a banana with a spoonful of honey.  The first 3 miles were pretty easy and I was keeping a steady pace of just under a 10 minute mile. I was trying to keep it as easy as possible since lately I’ve been struggling with hills and anything over 5 miles.  The fourth mile is where I started to feel the heat-it was in the mid 70s and sunny when I left at 10 a.m., which was a bit warmer than I had expected it to be. Plus, this part of the run back to my house is up a mean hill that has been killing me these past few runs.

The second time around wasn’t any better. The first mile out is mostly uphill and I thought I was going to throw up. But things started getting better as the road flattened itself out and mile 5-6 felt much better. Then I hit about a half mile uphill stretch around mile 6.5 where I started fighting with myself about whether or not I should give up my bib for the Army 10 miler. I finished the last mile and almost cried when I walked back into my house and tried to stretch out my sore back and legs.

Stats: 7.5 miles, 1:17:23

Sometimes I wonder why I put myself through so much torture, but in the end I’m usually glad I did. Especially since I came home to this. Mmmm carrot cake.


I found this recipe at 101 Cookbooks. The author of this blog is a genius.

  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (I used 1 cup spelt flour and 1 cup all-purpose GF flour)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 4 ounces unsalted butter, heated until just melted
  • 1/2 cup dried dates, seeded and finely chopped into a paste
  • 3 ripe bananas (1 1/4 cups), mashed well
  • 1 1/2 cups grated carrots (about 3 medium)
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (2% or lowfat is ok)
  • 2 eggs, lightly whisked
  • 6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons agave nectar or maple syrup (or to taste) – I used the maple syrup


Preheat oven to 350F. Butter a 9x5x3 / 8-cup loaf pan (or 8x8 cake pan) and line it with parchment paper.Sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Stir in the walnuts and set aside. Stir the dates into the melted butter, breaking up the dates a bit.


In a separate bowl combine the bananas and carrots. Stir in the date-butter mixture, breaking up any date clumps as you go. Whisk in the yogurt and the eggs. Add the flour mixture and stir until everything just comes together. Spoon into the prepared pan.


Bake for about 50 - 60 minutes or until a toothpick tests clean in the center of the cake - it'll be less if you are using a standard cake pan. Remove from oven and let cool.

While the cake is baking whip together the cream cheese and agave nectar. Taste. If you like your frosting sweeter adjust to your liking. When the cake has completely cooled frost the top of the cake with an offset spatula.

I didn’t frost my cake with it since after it cooled, I cut it into single servings, wrapped them up in aluminum and threw them in a freezer bag to store. I can’t eat my baked goods fast enough so this keeps me from forcing myself to eat and also from anything going bad.

There are a few things I would do to make this recipe a little more to my liking (such as adding a few more spices) but overall it was the perfect texture and had great flavor. And the fact that it was sweetened only by bananas and dates made it even better.


It was so moist and thick…so good. A great compliment to a long run.

Off to watch my team play Sunday Night Football!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Nope, still don’t like ‘em

I don’t like green smoothies and I keep trying to convince myself that I do. It’s been well over a year since I first tried this blog-crazed drink and I still don’t know why I keep trying them.

So many of you out there seem to like the green smoothies and swear you’ve experienced increased energy levels and great skin from drinking them daily. When I first read about them I thought, “I want to experience those things too!” So I started making green smoothies hoping to feel good…and every time I made them I was sadly disappointed. But for some ungodly reason I keep trying to like them. Hence this morning’s failed concoction.

Last night I stopped at the farmer’s market on my way home from work and found a fresh bunch of spinach that looked oh-so-good so I decided to buy it.


But this morning it started to look a little wilted, so I thought I should use some ASAP. Since I make green tea lattes every morning I thought, why not just throw a little spinach in there? I mean, the matcha tea is pretty earthy tasting already so adding a little spinach to it can’t hurt right?

I took one sip and thought, “Nope, still don’t like it.”

Once I got through the initial thick cloud of spinach, the latte was drinkable, but every couple of sips I’d get a taste of the spinach that would make me gag.  Since I hate wasting food (especially my very expensive matcha tea) I drank it anyway. I love spinach, but something about the consistency when it’s blended is gross to me.

How about you-do you like sneaking greens into your drinks? I’d love to hear your recipes. I like using carrots in smoothies.  And sweet potato too!

Monday, September 13, 2010

A nice day for a drive

One of the cool things about being new to an area is exploring. Even though we’ve actually lived in the DC Metro area for a year, we still have a lot to learn. With traffic being a royal pain in the ass, we tend to spend our weekends running errands since doing them during the week is impossible. And running errands around here on the weekends takes up half of your day (if not more) so needless to say, we don’t really have the chance to do as much fun stuff as we would like. Oh and did I mention that during football season, nothing gets done on Sundays? Yeah…Sundays are for football so aside from a long run and some cooking, we don’t leave the house.

But that’s another story.

Anyway, Saturday morning we got up and decided to go for a drive. It was a gorgeous day, sunny and 75, so getting out early worked in our advantage. We just decided to drive with no place in mind. We ended up driving into Manassas, VA, which has a very bad reputation, but we actually had a great time.

We bumped into a farmer’s market

manassas farmers market

Where we bought some zucchini, tomatoes, a spaghetti squash and some Honey Crisp apples.

honeycrisp 9.11

And we found a mystery veggie.

weird zucchini 1
They labeled it as a zucchini (and it could be!) I just have never seen a zucchini look like this before.

weird zucchini 2
But the best part came after.

We were feeling frisky (not that kind of frisky!) so we stopped at a housing development a few miles north of where Dennis works and randomly toured about 5 model homes. And we fell in love.

The kitchens in these places?! Hello double ovens, islands, counter and cupboard space galore! They were all gorgeous (and quite surprisingly in our price range) so we have done nothing but talk about how badly we want to move in. Like now.

Unfortunately we just signed another year lease on our townhouse, and oh yeah-we  need to keep saving for a down payment! At least we have a goal to look forward to now. And the fact that I’d need to find a new job doesn’t help. The traffic from there would be horrendous and totally not worth it.

Do you own a house? Is it as exciting as I feel like it is? (besides the money-suking part)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Back in training mode

I hate when I fall behind on my blog posts, especially when I actually have stuff to write about! An eye doctor’s appointment after work Tuesday and my fantasy football league draft last night has kept me busy, so I’m going to try to wrap this up in one post as quickly and easily as I can.

I have 6 weeks until the Army 10 miler and have to get my butt in gear.

Since Sunday I have run 13 miles. It started out with an easy 5 mile run Sunday afternoon. It’s pretty hilly around here so my time of 50:26 didn’t piss me off too much.


Tuesday was a quick and speedy workout that really kicked my arse.

The plan: 20 minutes of sprints, 10 minutes strength. What actually happened: 18 minutes of sprints, almost passed out next to the treadmill for 10 minutes.

Minute 0-5 Pace: 6.0
Minute 5-6 Pace 6.5
Minute 6-7 Pace 7.0
Minute 7-8 Pace 7.5
Minute 8-9 Pace 8.0 <---- really freaking hard
Minute 9-10 Pace 8.5 <----- even harder
Minute 10-11 Pace 5.5
Minute 11-12 Pace 6.0
Minute 12-13 Pace 6.5
Minute 13-14 Pace 7.0 <---- starting to feel it much sooner than last time
Minute 14-15 Pace 7.5 <---- starting to see spots
Minute 15-16 Pace 8.0 <---- don’t pass out…DON’T PASS OUT!!
Minute 16-16:30 Pace 8.5 <--Breathe! Breathe!
Minute 16:30-17 Pace 5.0 <---- Phew!
Minute 17-17:30 Pace 8.5 <--- a little more manageable with the break
Minute 17:30-18:30 Pace 5.0 <----- holy hell that was hard
Minutes 18:30-23:50 Pace 3.0 <----- seriously feeling like I’m going to die and surprised I made it this long

I was beat. Sprinting for a minute at a time is hard! That’s why I had to break it down at the end to 30 second intervals but believe me; sprinting at 30 second intervals is still hard.

Wednesday’s workout was an interval mix that have now become one of my favorite workouts.

Nicole’s kick ass interval workout

  • Warm up 5 minutes at 6.0 on the treadmill, and then pick it up for the last 5 minutes (I picked it up each minute by 1 to 6.5)
  • Jump off the treadmill and grab 2 15lb. dumbbells and a balance ball
  • Do 20 reps of butterflies on the balance ball.
  • Jump off the ball and immediately do planks: regular planks for 30 seconds, then side planks (on each side) for 15.
  • Immediately grab 5 pound weights and do lunges, 10 each side.
  • Grab 15 pound weights and do a set of 20 arm presses.
  • Put the weights down and do dips.
  • Jump back on the treadmill and do intervals for 10 minutes: 6.5 for one minute; 7.0 for the next; 7.5 the next; 6.0 for recovery. Then back up again until you reach a mile (around 9 minutes) and jog at 5.5 for a minute of recovery.
  • Back to the weights-do the same as above again. Then back to the treadmill to do the same as the last round.

Total time: around 50 minutes
Miles: 3.26
Strength achieved: arms, legs, abs, back

Thursday: 3 mile tempo run
I tried really hard to keep myself at an uncomfortable “tempo” pace for the entire 3 miles but after the second mile I had to slow down a bit. The tricky part about this run was that I didn’t have my Garmin so I had to go by feel. I know the route like the back of my hand so I knew it was right around a 5K, and I slowed down toward the end (hills) but the weather was perfect (74, sunny and low humidity) so it felt great overall. Then I came in and did some weighted squats, arm curls and planks.

Phew! I’m feeling a little sore but great! I won’t lie, I do have a slight sore throat and my ears are a little clogged, but I’m not sure if it’s just allergies or if I’m actually getting a cold. The ears started bothering me Monday night, the throat this afternoon (after my run.) Hopefully it’s nothing my Allegra prescription can’t handle.

It’s taking all I have to stay up for the first football game of the season (having a fantasy football team makes every game exciting) but I think I’ll be heading to bed VERY soon. Like now.

Are you a sports fan? Do you get really excited for a particular sports season to start?

I am a huge sports fan! Although I’m really excited for football, nothing beats opening day of baseball season for me.