Thursday, May 29, 2014

Running on vacation

I had my first run on vacation this past weekend and it went pretty well! I really enjoyed the opportunity to run down the Vegas Strip. 

Here are some things I learned about running while away from home.

1. Do some research in advance - I looked up running routes on the Vegas strip before the trip and found a great write up of a route. I was able to look up the distances on map my run so I could alter the route for the distance I was looking for, 5 miles.  The write up also let me know that there would be pedestrian walkways involving stairs so I knew to be prepared for that. It also let me know that there would be a spot where the pedestrian walkway would drop me off right into a casino so I didn't panic and wonder if I was lost!

The steps were tough but provided great views!  And I'm not going to lie, toward the end I might have taken an escalator or two instead of the stairs.

2.  Keep the run in mind when packing -  Remember to take everything with you or know where you can get what you need.  I knew that I would be running for more than an hour to do 5 miles so I decided to start experimenting with fuel on this run.  I'm trying to stick with natural foods for now so took a pack of raisins and I also took a nuun sample. I also packed my water bottle, arm band, knee brace, running shoes and running clothes as I knew these would be things that would be difficult to acquire on the trip (or not the specific ones I like). I didn't pack sun block since we knew there would be drug stores on the strip where we could easily pick that up.

3. Talk to locals - I did not do this and wish I had. If I had talked to someone at the hotel first, maybe I would have realized which side of the street was shaded in the morning.  I would then have run on the sunny side first when it was cooler and come back on here shaded side so I didn't feel like the sun was baking me the later half of the run. I might have also known that I needed to leave earlier than 7:30am if I wanted to beat the crowds.  There are always people on the strip so it felt safe but it started to get crowded by the second half of my run.  Talking to locals can also help with questions about safety and good places to run.

4. Don't forget the mental game - I was on vacation, running an unfamiliar route, and in a really lax headspace.  All of which is fine, but the run was really hard on the way back and I think a lot of that was in my head.  I could see a hotel on the way back and it looked so far!  I knew my hotel was even further and it just seemed crazy all of a sudden that I had to run all the way back. It definitely made the second half of my run less enjoyable (along with the aforementioned sun and increased crowds).

Why does it look so far!?!

5.  Be flexible enough to change plans as needed - I had planned to do some weight training on the Sunday of our trip but it turned out that the hotel had a cardio room and no weights. Thankfully I happened to see a sign advertising poolside yoga on  Sunday morning and that was a perfect addition to my vacation.  This flexibility could be needed on a run too if any of the advanced information you found is dated or has changed. Definitely try to roll with the punches and it might work out better than you had even planned!

One of the views during yoga.

6. Have fun! This is the most important tip :) I was on vacation and definitely had a lot of things I wanted to do.  I wasn't pushing for any time because I wanted to just have a pleasant time and be able to do the rest of our planned activities during the weekend.  I also knew that with the stairs, crowds, traffic intersections and taking photos, a PR was definitely not a goal.  Here are some of the photos I took along the way.

We had a great time in Vegas in general.  A lot of time was spent by the pool.  We also saw The Blue Man Group and O by Cirque du Soleil.  Both shows were amazing.  We had a special dinner at Picasso at the Bellagio and it ranks up there as one of the best meals I've ever had.  

Potato cakes with carmelized apple slices, a white gazpacho, a stuffed eggplant, ravioli, and an earl grey cheesecake with fruit gelee and a blackberry ice cream.

We went to a club where David Guetta was spinning and I learned that I might be too old for clubbing since we didn't even make it past the starter DJ. And so much walking! All in all, a great weekend trip away.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Weekly review

My weekly review is a day late but today counts as the first day of the week since yesterday was a holiday, right? I had a great week which included a long weekend in Las Vegas!

Monday and Wednesday were rest days.  Tuesday was a run with the running group at our usual spot. As you can see, it isn't the usual heart shaped route. 

 A half marathon training group has also started using the park on Tuesday evenings and it is a large group! They split up into several smaller groups and they went in all different direction so it was hard to avoid them. After a while we just stepped to the side and waited while the groups passed us, which explains the slow time.

Half marathon training group beginning to gather.

Thursday was another run at the same park, this time solo.  And it went much better due to the lack of large groups of runners taking up the whole sidewalk.

Friday morning we left for Vegas.  No specific work outs but a lot of walking! My fitbit indicated that we had way more than 10,000 steps every day while we were in Vegas.  Saturday, I also went for a run in the morning.  It went pretty well and I'll be writing more about it later since it was my first run while on vacation.

Sunday was yoga by the pool at the hotel.  I loved that they offered this for free. The instructor was from a local yoga studio and there were only 4 of us there for the class so it was a nice, small size.  The instructor indicated that she usually taught bikram yoga and the class was a mix of flow yoga and bikram.  It was a great way to start the morning.

The gorgeous view during our yoga practice.

I hope that everyone had a good weekend!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Friday Five - places I'd like to run

It's time for another Friday Five link up with Cynthia, Courtney and Mar. This week's theme is places I'd like to run and boy, do I have a lot of them!  But I'll limit it to five for now :)

1. I love the beach, and I love tropical beaches the best!  I'd love to combine a beach vacation with a race one day. Maybe the Kauai half marathon?

Our last beach vacation was in Belize and it was amazing.

2. I went to Alaska on a family vacation when I was a teenager and it was stunning. I don't know if I've ever seen another place that was so awe inspiringly beautiful. I'd love to go back and combine the trip with a race. I've been reading about the Mayor's Midnight Sun Marathon and it sounds great.

3.  I still have a lot of family in India and it would be great to see them while racing :) I'd also love to see how races are different in Asia.  A race in Mumbai would be ideal.

Dealing with the traffic in India would definitely be a unique challenge!

4. I just read that there was some confirmation that there could be a half marathon at Disneyland Paris next year. I would love to be able to do that one some day.

5. I can't forget that I live near a city that people travel from far to see. And as I saw with the Nike Women's Half Marathon, people come to race here too.  I've done a lot of my running in the suburbs but I definitely plan on doing one of the big DC races next year, either RnR or Nike hopefully.

That's it for me today!  I have a big weekend ahead of me and hopefully lots of fun.  I hope you have the same for your weekend :)

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Liebster Award Q&A #2

Thank you so much to Lauren from the Sister to Sister Running Blog for nominating me for my 2nd Liebster award. If you haven't checked out the blog, you definitely should!  It's a cool collaboration between two sisters and a great read.

If you don't know about the Liebster Award, here's a description:

The Liebster Award is an online award by bloggers for bloggers. It helps to generate attention for new and upcoming bloggers, generally those with 200 followers or less.
The Liebster Award Rules
1.) You must link back to the person who nominated you
2.) You must answer the 10 Liebster questions given to you by the nominee before you.
3.) You must pick 10 bloggers to be nominated for the award (with a small following)
4.) You must create 10 questions for your nominees
5.) You must go to their blogs and notify the nominees

Now, onto the questions!

1. When/what was your first race? My first race was the Susan G. Komen 5k in DC more than 10 years ago.  A friend wanted to do it and asked me to do it with her.  It was a one and done type of thing and I didn't do another race until the Color In Motin 5k last September.

2. What is the coolest swag and or bling you have received at a race? So far my favorite is the tech shirt I got at the Semper Fi 5k earlier this month.  Though I also love the water bottle from volunteering at the Nike Women's Half in DC earlier this year.

3. What is your favorite distance to run? So far, I've only run 5ks but my first 10k is coming up in June so maybe this answer will be changing soon :)

4. What is your favorite quote or phrase to keep you motivated to run? One of the most inspirational books about running I've read is Running Like A Girl by Alexandra Heminsley.  Here's one of my favorite quotes from the book. "Once you have taught yourself that running isn't about breaking boundaries you thought you could never smash, and realized that it is about discovering those boundaries were never there in the first place, you can apply it to anything."  I reviewed the book earlier this year and definitely recommend it to anyone.  It's a great read even if you're not interested in running.

5. If you could run anywhere in the world, where would you pick? I'm not sure of the specific location but it would definitely involve the beach somewhere.

6. What has been your favorite and least favorite race? Why? My least favorite was the Living Social 5k Dance Party last year. It just seemed poorly organized and also didn't have a lot of energy that I would have expected.  My favorite so far was the Semper Fi 5k because of the great energy, the wonderful organization, the good cause, and of course the PR.

7. Do you prefer running alone or in a group? They both have their charm so I like to make sure I have both in a week.

8. How did you come up with the name for your blog? Ha, I'm not even sure! I had a hard time coming up with a name but I knew that I wanted to keep my eye on enjoying my journey into a healthier lifestyle so that the change would be sustainable.

9. Have you participated in any other competitive events besides running races? (Tough Mudder, Triathalon, Etc.) Nope, one step at a time :)

10. What are your goals in terms of running/races for this year? I'm concentrating on increase my distance this year.  I started with a 5k on New Year's Day and am planning of my first half marathon in November.

Starting the year right with a New Year's Day 5k.

Thanks again for the nomination, Lauren!  I had fun answering the questions. I've seen the nominations going around and it seems like most of the blogs I read have been nominated at least once, so I'm not nominating anyone else at this point but I reserve the right to change my mind later :)

I hope everyone's week is going well!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Chipotle scrambled eggs

Last week, we had made chipotle oyster mushroom tacos which were delicious.  But we had a lot of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce left over.  So I scoured the internet for something else to do with those left overs.  I came across this recipe for chipotle scrambled eggs from Macheesmo Meals.  It was amazing!

I'll be honest and admit I don't have photos of the dish in progress.  My wonderful husband made brunch for me while I was at the Semper Fi 5k and it was waiting for me when I got back home. He said he followed the recipe closely and the only change he made was to cut the recipe in half because there was only 2 of us. Here are the ingredients from the original recipe for 4 servings.

  • 8 large eggs
  • 2 Tablespoons sour cream (or crema mexicana)
  • 2-3 chipotle peppers, de-seeded and minced
  • 1-2 Tablespoons adobo sauce from Chipotles
  • 3 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 - 1 1/2 Cups shredded cheese
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
These were super easy to make.  Combine the eggs, sour cream, chipotle peppers and adobo sauce. Whisk together to combine though the sour cream won't be completely blended in. Put into a hot pan with the butter and cook on high heat until the eggs start to firm up.  Turn the heat to low and let the eggs continue to cook.  When they're almost done, add in the cheese and continue cooking until the eggs are done and the cheese is melted.  Salt and pepper to taste.

The sour cream really made these eggs taste indulgent.  And the chipotle peppers didn't make it too spicy but instead gave the eggs a wonderful smoky, savory quality.  I wouldn't say these were exactly low cal, but they were a wonderful post-race treat. They were served with roasted potatoes.  The potatoes were cooked for 20-25 minutes in a 500 degree oven with olive oil, onions, peppers, garlic powder, smoked paprika and salt and pepper.

And a bonus recipe... I still had some chipotle sauce and eggs left.  So I made them into egg salad to use for sandwiches for weekday lunches.  I hard boiled 8 eggs and once peeled and cooled, I combined them with 1/4 cup plain greek yogurt, a couple tablespoons of adobo sauce, diced bell peppers, salt and pepper.  This made 4 servings of egg salad to use for sandwiches.

All in all, the chipotle peppers on adobo sauce were a great find that resulted in three delicious dishes. Have you found any ingredients that surprised you with their versatility and how far they stretched?

Monday, May 19, 2014

Weekly review

The week started out with a little surprise.  I had forgotten that I did a free virtual race as a kick off to the RnR Vegas registration opening up and I got the shirt from them this week.

My week started out slow with the workouts and heavy with the rain. I had a rest day on Monday and Wednesday. I worked out on the elliptical at home because of rain on Tuesday.  I meant to run on the treadmill at work on Thursday but they were all full so more time on the elliptical.

I worked from home on Friday and took an afternoon break to do some Jillian Michaels yoga.  I ran with my running group on Saturday morning and it was a good run. We went with a 7/1 run walk interval. It was early in the morning and it was beautiful weather with temperatures in the 50s.  The only downside is that runkeeper decided to be weird.  You can see the weird tangents in the map below. Mine said 5.6 miles, someone else's said 4.5 miles and the last person's garmin watch said 3.4 miles.  Map my run said it was around 4 miles. That was a little disappointing since I was supposed to 4.5 according to my training plan but hopefully that won't matter too much since I'm supposed to do 5 miles next weekend.

I decided to go for a short run on Sunday too to make up for the ones I missed earlier in the week.  I didn't make it out until the afternoon but the temperatures were not too bad, somewhere in the high 60s, and the path was shaded. It was a beautiful run but I had a hard time breathing and walked more than planned on the last mile.  I think it was because of all the pollen in the air.

I ended the day with some more strength training on Sunday.  So only two runs this past week but two times on the elliptical, one yoga practice and strength training.  I'm pretty happy with that!  The plan for this coming week is to run on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday with strength training on Wednesday and Sunday. Rest days on Monday and Friday.  

I hope that you all had a good weekend!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Friday Five - reasons running works for me

It's time for the Friday Five link up with Mar, Courtney, and Cynthia.

Today's theme is Five Reasons to ....  I've decided to write about five reasons that running works for me.  I've tried to get fit in the past and get involved with being more active but I've always had a hard time keeping the motivation going and it never lasted more than a couple months.  In the past it's mostly been just various things at the gym like the cardio machines and various cardio classes.  It's been different since I started running though.  I'm hopeful that I've found something that will be sustainable for me!

1. Goal oriented motivation. I feel the primary thing that's keeping me motivated with running is the ability to sign up for various races throughout the year and knowing that I have to train to be able to accomplish finishing those races.  I know that the training is not optional  and the fact that I've already paid money for these events makes me determined to do everything in my power to be well trained in order to finish.

2. Easily measured progress.  There was no progress to measure with just using the elliptical or taking step classes at the gym. I love being able to run longer distances, have quicker times, and see all the data from runkeeper.

3. Community! I love that I can run with a group and also have an online community to talk to about running. I love that I have friends that took up running around the same time that I did and that we have another way to socialize now.

Catching up with a friend during the Capital for a Day 5k.

4. Me time.  But I can also go out and run on my own and get some me time out in nature.  I love these solo runs too for the peace they can bring to me.

5. Cost and convenience. I have to say that I used to do yoga at a wonderful studio and I found most of the above there as well. It was easy to measure progress, find both community and me time, and motivate myself through the desire to do more advanced classes.  But I stopped going to the studio because we moved and it was no longer a convenient location. There were also budget concerns with the cost of the classes.  Running can get expensive with the cost of big races, but it doesn't have to be.  There are plenty of local races in this area and most of the races I participate in are very reasonably priced with just 2 big races this year. And even the cost of the big races is comparable to a month of the yoga classes at the studio.

I never thought I would have so many positive things to say about running, but it really does seem to have a great combination of factors that makes it seem like something I can sustain interest in for a long time.  This is even more true because cross training is important to help with the running so I can add in yoga and weight training.  I hope everyone has a great weekend ahead of them!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Semper Fi 5k

I took part in the Semper Fi 5k this past weekend with two friends and we all loved this race. It was the 5th year of the race and the proceeds went to the Semper Fi Fund. I loved that when you registered, it told you how much of the fee went toward the race costs and how much went toward the charity. The Semper Fi Fund works to provide "financial assistance and quality of life solutions to Marines and Sailors, as well as members of the Army, Air Force and Coast Guard who serve in support of Marine forces, when they become injured in post 9-11 combat or training operations, or face life threatening illness or injury."

There was a limited time available for pre-race day packet pick up, only 2pm to 6pm the Friday before the race at a running store in Virginia.  However, there was  an email the day before the race confirming that packet pick up would be available the morning of the race which is what we opted for. The email also said that there would by plenty of free parking, which was definitely true.  We got there around 8am for the 9am race and got great parking right by the start line and registration tent.  Registration was super quick and easy. The race shirt ended up being great and I've already worn it for a run.

We spent the rest of the time before the race catching up, talking race strategy, and enjoying the beautiful scenery.

We knew that this was supposed to be a flat course and we were all looking for a PR. It also wasn't too crowded at less than 500 people.  My strategy was to run until at least the turnaround point (it was an out and back course) and then start my 6/1 run walk intervals. This turned out to be pretty successful for me.  I ran until the water stop (where they also had Gatorade), walked through the water stop and then continued running until the 20 minute point.  I took my first walk break and continued with my intervals.  It was a hot and humid morning but there was a nice breeze off the river which at least helped a little bit.  And according to the official results, I finished in less than 39 minutes!

I was thrilled with my time as my 5k time before this was more than 42 minutes.  I slowed down a bit as the race went on but not too much.

Post-race snacks included bagels, bananas, lara bar samples and water, of course.  After some water and a lara bar I ran a bit more around the park since my 10k training plan called for 4 miles.  My face was super red once I was done!

I met up with my friends and we all had a great race and we all had PRs! It was a well organized race, great volunteers, a wonderful cause, with a flat and scenic course.  We all agreed that we would do this one again.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Tasty Tuesdays - chipotle oyster mushroom tacos

It's Tasty Tuesday and I'm showcasing another recipe from Isa Does It, chipotle oyster mushroom tacos.

I've made these tacos twice and they are amazing! They're also surprisingly easy and have an amazing amount of flavor for very little work.  The chipotle peppers are definitely key to this recipe.  It ended up a bit spicy for Mike so you may want to start with a lower amount of the peppers if you're concerned about the spice levels.  And in the interest of full disclosure, Mike made the tacos the second time and the photos are of the ones he made.  I forgot to take a photo of the first batch (blogger fail).  I took a photo for the ingredients instead of typing them out.

A note on the mushrooms. Oyster mushrooms can be a little expensive. The first time, I used a mix of oyster mushrooms and white mushrooms.  The second time, we just used the white mushrooms.  The recipe was delicious both ways but the oyster mushrooms definitely added an interesting variety and texture.

I started by making the slaw so the ingredients could have time to sit together and let the flavors meld while I made the rest of the tacos. I also added an extra splash of apple cider vinegar as the lime juice alone didn't seem enough flavor for me.

For the filling, I started out be sautéing the onion with a pinch of salt for a couple minutes until translucent. I'm sensitive to fresh garlic so I didn't use it but you would add it at this point if you use it. Then the mushrooms with the rest of the salt get added to the pan. Sauté for an 5 minutes and then add in the tomatoes, chipotles, cilantro, and cumin. I used canned tomatoes the second time and I didn't add the cilantro since my husband hates it.  I just added cilantro leaves to my own tacos at the end. Anyway, the whole thing cooks together for about 5 more minutes. Last, add in the pinto beans and lime juice and let cook for a couple more minutes.

Serve in soft tortillas with some of the slaw and whatever toppings you want.  I put guacamole and cilantro on mine while Mike put sour cream and cheddar on his.

Even Shelby was intrigued by this recipe :)

Monday, May 12, 2014

Weekly review

It's been quite a week! Monday was a rest day and Tuesday was an informal run with the running group. I also used this run as the run for my virtual 5k so I knew I had to run at least 6 laps of the jogging path.  It was a small group and it seemed like most people wanted to walk but I kept up with my run intervals.  One of the other girls thanked me afterward for pushing because she felt like she would have just walked the whole time even though she wanted to run.

Wednesday was strength training and I pushed myself more than I had been in the past.  I started a routine from the New Rules of Lifting for Women.  This is a great book and a lot of what was discussed in the book makes sense.  It did leave me sore on Thursday so that was another rest day. 

Friday was Jillian Michaels yoga from a YouTube video and it kicked my butt again!

Saturday was the Semper Fi 5k.  I'll do a full review later but it was a great race and I had my first 5k under 40 minutes! I was very excited about this.  I was supposed to run 4 miles  according to my 10k training plan so I tacked a bit extra on after the 5k.

There was also a lot of walking later in the day as we went downtown for dinner at Founding Farmers.  I love that they have so many vegetarian dishes. This was an early birthday celebration (my birthday isn't until June) because my gift was supposed to be tickets to the Mos Def concert that evening. Unfortunately, he cancelled at the last minute. The show was going on with the opening acts but we opted for a refund.  We didn't pay to just see the openers, though I'm sure they were good. We ended the evening with a little walk by the Washington Monument and then got back to the metro to head home just as it started raining.
Celebratory drinks, lobster mac & cheese, and cauliflower "steak" with pesto, risotto and brocollini.

Sunday I had a short 2 mile run.  I went back to the park where we have our Tuesday runs since there seem to always be people around there. I'm a bit nervous about running alone due to recent reports about attacks on local running trails :(

It was a good running and working out week but I'm definitely feeling a bit sore.  I'm looking forward to a rest day tomorrow and more stretching/foam rolling. I hope you had a good week too!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Friday Five Fitness Truths

Yay, it's Friday! I have an exciting weekend coming up so I'm especially excited for Friday today.  And of course, it is time for the Friday Five link up with Cynthia, Mar, and Courtney.

The theme for this week is "Fitness Truths." I'm still a pretty new runner (just started last Fall and only started in earnest in January) so I'm going to talk about five truths I've learned as someone new to fitness.  I was never an athletic or even energetic child.  I was always the one who'd rather sit somewhere quietly to read rather than go play outside. This continued into adulthood. And so I was definitely new to trying to lead a fit lifestyle, but here are some things I've learned since last year.

1.  It will be hard to start this journey if you're truly new to fitness.  I don't know why it surprised me, but it was really, really hard to start running.  I could barely get to the end of the block without slowing down, gasping for breath and clutching my side.  Start as slow as you need but still challenge yourself to feel uncomfortable.  It's ok for it to be hard.  It's supposed to be.  And don't give up because...

2. It gets easier. I'm not going to lie.  I've tried to start leading a more active lifestyle in the past.  And I always gave it up.  It was just too hard, too unenjoyable, too uncomfortable.  But something strange happened when I kept at it long enough.  After a couple weeks, running began to feel better.  It began to get easier, though still not easy.  It felt like there was some magic hump that I got over with my base fitness level that allowed me to continue running with much less discomfort and it actually started to be fun.  I began to wonder who I was that I was actually beginning to look forward to going out for a run!?! I still remember the day I turned to Mike and said in awe that I was having more good runs than bad runs. That was a moment that still serves to motivate me because I never want to get to that place where I have to struggle again to reach a base level of fitness.

3. But it's never easy.  Notice I said it got easier, but not easy.  And that I was having more good runs than bad runs but not that I never had bad runs.  Be prepared for the fact that there will probably always be bad runs out there for various reasons.  You didn't sleep well, you didn't eat well, the pollen is high, the cat slept on your face... It will continue to be a challenge but that's a good thing.  One of the things this journey has taught me is that I don't need to be afraid of challenges and that I should even seek them out because I can succeed at overcoming them.  I used to have a bad run and begin to question my goals of running a half marathon and 10 miler in the Fall.  The negative thoughts would begin to seep in and make me question whether I could really do this.  Maybe it just isn't meant for me.  But now, I know that a bad run is just as much a part of this journey as a good run.  And I learn more from the bad runs than the good runs.  They're important to embrace and overcome.

My 4th 5k of the year and the hardest due to the cold, rain, and my hat flying off repeatedly

4. Don't ignore signs that something is wrong. So it will be hard, but if things begin to hurt in unusual ways or seem harder than they should be, don't ignore it.  Research and see if a doctor or physical therapist if needed.  I had a hard time breathing last year and initially I thought it was just because I was out of shape.  And allergies.  But the allergies and breathing difficulty lasted all year round.  And the over the counter allergy medicines were becoming less effective.  I went to the doctor and it turned out I was mildly allergic to my cats! I got some new medicine and started keeping the cats out of my bedroom, and my quality of life improved enormously.  It was definitely something I wish I had looked into earlier.

Plotting my demise?

5.  People will be looking at you, but maybe not in the way you think. I was very self-conscious when I started running outside.  I was also self conscious at the gym.  I was worried people would look at me and know that I didn't know what I was doing.  But you know what, I don't know that anyone had negative thoughts about me.  If so, no one ever said that.  However, I know that people have noticed what I'm doing in a positive way.  You will inspire people in your life.  Co-workers, family and friends will be interested in what you're doing, see the positive changes in your life, and may even want to join you. And the more people interested in leading a healthy lifestyle, the better!

So all of this is to say that if you're trying to begin a healthier lifestyle, don't be scared away by how difficult it may seem in the beginning.  Persevere through that initial hump and you will be rewarded by finding new enjoyment in being active, by being better able to deal with challenges, and by being an inspiration to other people in your life.

I hope everyone has a good weekend! I'm doing the Semper Fi 5k tomorrow morning and then going out for an early birthday dinner and concert. Anything exciting for you this weekend?

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Virtual Races

So I just participated in my first virtual race, Nerd Herd Running's "Revenge of the 5th" 5k.  If you're new to the running community, you maybe wondering what the heck is a virtual race?  I know that was my reaction when I first heard of this concept.

It can vary depending on which virtual race you choose.  But in short, it is an option for a certain distance that you run on your own on a specific day or time period. For example. The one I just did was a 5k that you had to run between May 5th and May 10th. You can run wherever your want, however you want.  Some virtual races will send you a bib in advance and some will also send you a medal afterward. Some will allow you to submit your times and post the times so you can see how you place compared to everyone else who raced. Some are free, and some cost money. The one I did had a charge that goes to benefit the chosen charity, Stupid Cancer.

The Nerd Herd motto is "Ears Up" due to their Disney love and of course, there is a signature move to go with it, seen in my photo above :)

Umm... So what is the point if you're "racing" on your own? Well, it is convenient.  You can do it on your own time, in your own space, even on a treadmill if you want. And it increases your options for races if you live in an area without a lot of real-time races.  You can still compete and compare your time to others who participate as long as you choose a virtual race which publishes the submitted times. I haven't experienced other virtual racing groups but this one (and I'm sure some others) also have an online community where you can "meet" and support each other. This one has shared interests (Disney and nerdom) which helps. And you can help raise money for a good cause. The Nerd Herd virtual race series for this year includes this Star Wars 5k, a Lord of the Rings 10k, and a Hunger Games half marathon.  The proceeds from all three raise money for Stupid Cancer. If you do all three, you get an extra medal for a total of 4.

As with anything else, do your research carefully! I have heard from someone who paid money for a virtual race which ended up being a scam. In addition to scams, you will want to read details to make sure that the virtual race you pick meets your needs, i.e is there a medal, is the cost reasonable to you, where do the proceeds go, are the results published, is there an online community, etc.  In my opinion, it doesn't meet the excitement of a real race but it's a great alternative.  Or it can even be combined with a non-virtual race if you want to get 2 medals for one!

Anyone else have experiences with virtual races, positive or negative?

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Tasty Tuesday Refrigerator Oatmeal

I'm linking up for tasty Tuesday with Fairytales and Fitness and Lean Lena.  I've been a bit bored with my normal oatmeal breakfast recently and I've been using it as an excuse to buy breakfast out a bit too much.  So I decided to shake up my oatmeal a bit this week and go back to refrigerator oatmeal.  I first heard of it from the Yummy Life and have made it several times in the summer.  The temperature may not be at summer levels yet but I'm ready for when it does warm up later this week!

The recipe is simple and no cooking involved.  The key is that you have to make it the night before.  I make mine in Tupperware so that I can take it to work the next morning.  I use 1/4 cup of rolled oats, 1/2 cup of greek yogurt, 1/4 cup of almond milk and 1 1/2 teaspoons of chia seeds.  I mix these ingredients all together and then you can be creative with the seasonings. I used cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla today as well as some honey. 

The Yummy Life has several delicious options listed on the site. The cocoa banana is a favorite, as well as the almond mango. The maple blueberry is also delicious.  I like using frozen fruit, which is what I'm doing this week.  I always have some in my freezer and it's easy to use, especially because I don't like putting the fruit in the night before.  I mix in all the ingredients except the fruit and put it in the refrigerator overnight. The oatmeal softens from being in the mix overnight and can therefore be eaten without needing to be cooked.  The next morning, I just toss in some frozen fruit and take it with me to work. By the time I eat breakfast, the frozen fruit has thawed and the liquid helps flavor the oatmeal even further.

I love this because it's easy to change up the flavor, quick for weekday mornings, and healthy with the oats, chia seeds, greek yogurt, and fruit. I also find it pretty filling and it carries me through lunch.

Do you have any go to breakfasts for weekday mornings?