Friday, August 29, 2014

Friday five - Fall preview

Wow, it seems crazy that it's already Labor Day weekend! The summer has flown by and this week has flown by too.  It's already time for another Friday Five with the DC Trifecta, Mar, Cynthia and Courtney.  This week's theme is a Fall Preview.

1.  More camping!  We're going to have a weekend away camping with friends.  One of the people joining us is a running buddy so I'm excited to have a run planned along a state park trail while we're camping.

2.  I have a work conference coming up and it's in Sao Paulo.  That's right, Brazil!  I am mostly there for work so I won't have too much time to play tourist but hopefully I'll get to see a little bit of the city.

3.  One of my favorite things about Fall in this area is the Renaissance Festival in Maryland.  We enjoy the opportunity so spend the day outside with friends checking out the fun shows and shops.  Of course, there's always great photo opportunities and food on a stick!

One of the fun shows we saw at last year's Renaissance Festival.

4.  My first Run Disney race, my first 10 miler (my longest race to date), and my first racecation! I am so excited for this.  I'm doing 9 miles this weekend so I should definitely be ready to finish this race but there are still some nerves.

5.  Lastly, we're getting a new kitchen.  We picked out cabinets and counter top last weekend and we're in the process of choosing appliances.  The work will start in a couple weeks and then we won't have a kitchen for a while.  It will be an adventure trying to eat healthy during that time.  If anyone has any tips, I'd love to hear them.  We'll have a microwave and grill but no refrigerator.

I hope everyone else has a wonderful Fall ahead of them!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Weekly review

Sorry the blog has been light on posts last week but the same will probably be true for the next couple weeks too.  Work and personal life are a bit busy at the moment, all with good things. I did get in my workouts this past week but not all quite the way I wanted to.

Monday - rest day

Tuesday - yoga class

Wednesday - this was going to be a track workout but it rained so I just worked out on the elliptical at home.

Thursday - I ran on the treadmill at work and did my speed work from Wednesday. I had a bit of a treadmill problem in the middle so there are two different records. By a bit of a problem, I mean I knocked my phone off the stand onto the moving part of the treadmill and it went fling off the back of the machine.  Thankfully neither the phone or any people were hurt! But I did have to stop the treadmill to retrieve the phone.

Friday - rest day

Saturday - I meant to get up early and do yoga but that didn't happen.  However, we were meeting up with some family in Philadelphia and I got some swimming time in with the kids.  I was racing them in the pool and that was definitely a work out! We also walked to Dave and Busters and back after some fun games for about a total of 2 miles.  I reached my 10,000 step goal for the day and then some with the extra walking.

Sunday - I was supposed to run 9 miles but it didn't happen.  I had left my running shoes in my cousin's room by accident and wasn't able to get them until they awoke.  At that point, I didn't have enough time before check out time to do the full amount.  However I got in 4.5 outside and did some more on the treadmill in the hotel gym once it got too hot for me outside for a total of around 6.5 miles.

We had a great time hanging out in Philadelphia with family.  It was a great mix of family time with the kids and adult time for us to catch up.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Bestowed subscription box

Argh... I've been behind on blogging this week and I apologize.  Just catching up on things from my little staycation last week and preparing for some upcoming trips has made things a bit busy.  This was meant to by a Tasty Tuesday post but instead it's Tasty... Thursday?  Thankfully Lena keeps the Tasty Tuesday link up open all week! There are some great recipes being shared so definitely check it out.

Instead of sharing a recipe this week, I'm sharing my opinion of the Bestowed food subscription box I received.  First, a bit of background on how I got this box.  Stacey shared a post about a new fitness tracking website/app called EveryMove.  It's interesting because as you earn points for being active, you can use them toward deals on various products.  It also syncs with other apps like fitbit, garmin, fitocracy, etc. so that's pretty convenient.  I feel like I'm getting deals with no extra work :)

One of the deals was a discount on a food subscription box called Bestowed.  I've been hearing about various boxes and decided that I might as well give this one a try at the discounted price.  From their website... "Join Bestowed and each month we'll send 7-10 of the best healthy snacks, beverages, and lifestyle items straight to your door. Every product we feature is carefully selected by our team of experts led by nutritionist Heather Bauer."

 Here is what the box looks like when it arrives.  It is $20 per month but if you sign up for three months or 6 months at once, you receive a little bit of a discounted price. The discount I received was 3 months for $36.
I opened it up and it also comes with a pamphlet explaining the items in the box and why they were chosen.

Here are all the goodies that it came with.  In addition to the food samples, there were several coupons such as a free cup of Maia brand yogurt.  And there was a bottle of sun block and a bottle of dishwashing soap, which I though was a bit random.

Back to the food... it was kind of a mixed bag.  I really liked the Peeled Apple Clusters.  They only had three ingredients, apples, apple juice concentrate, and potato starch, all organic.  They tasted healthy, which sounds bad but isn't.  It had a really intense apple taste which was nice.  There were two bags of Funleys Super Crackers and they were pretty good too.  The good greens bar is a raw, vegan and gluten free protein bar that was delicious!  I ate it for breakfast before my weekend run and it was a great source of energy.  The fruit mashup was fine.  But the Halo Seaweed Chips were horrible :( I could only eat one and Mike said the same.  We ended up throwing the rest away.  I didnt try the Orgain's healthy kids shake since Mike drank it but he didn't love that one.  He said it had a sort of gritty texture.

Overall, we liked more things then we didn't.  I'm definitely going to use the coupons to try the Maia yogurt and get more of the Peeled products and Funley's crackers.  I don't think I would have been happy with the value of this box if it had been full price but it's not bad at the discounted price.  It was a nice way to try out healthy snacks from companies that were new to me.  Also, I don't like the lack of flexibility.  I don't see anywhere on the site where you can customize or input any dietary restrictions.  For example, I saw that one of their past boxes had chicken broth which would have been a waste for me.

Have any of you tried a subscription box service in the past?  I'd love to hear what you thought of it.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Weekly review

Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend!  My weekend turned out great and I had a pretty good week for workouts as a whole.

Monday - rest day
Tuesday - yoga class during lunch time.  This felt really great and helped loosen up my muscles.  There was a lot of core work and leg work.  We also worked on crow but I'm still too scared of falling on my face to get my feet off the ground.
Wednesday - rest day.  My knee was still a bit twitchy from last week so I decided to skip the speed work on the track. I just did some light strength training.
Thursday - short run in my neighborhood.

Friday - another short run, this time at a nearby park.

Saturday - DDP yoga with Mike at home.
Sunday - long run on the mall with a friend.  I had a great time running past the smithsonian museums and various monuments while catching up with my friend.  It ended up being a beautiful morning, not too humid, overcast, and it even sprinkled a bit which felt great.  It was mostly flat which also helped.  My friend was only planning on running between 3-4 miles so I did a bit more on my own afterward to make it to 6 miles.  The training plan only called for 6 miles this week since it was supposed to be a recovery week.

We had a lovely staycation this weekend.  The hotel we stayed at was phenomenal and located really conveniently to all of our plans.  The Tori Amos concert was amazing and we ate so much good food! I hope the upcoming week goes just as well :)

Friday, August 15, 2014

Friday Five - my weekend

Hi, guys!  It's time for a Friday Five blog post in order to link up with Cynthia, Courtney, and Mar.  Can I tell you how much I love this link up?  I look forward to reading the other entries every week and there's more than 40 people linking up every week now.

This week there is no set theme and everyone is free to write about whichever five things they want.  I have a full and exciting weekend coming up so I thought I'd take a break from running posts and tell you about what I'm looking forward to this weekend.

1. It's Mike's birthday and we're going out to a fancy dinner and a Tori Amos concert. Our love of Tori Amos was one of the first things we bonded over when we met.

2. Dear friends of ours are getting married later this year and are having their bachelor party this weekend.  I'm exited to celebrate with them, especially given that we won't be able to go to their wedding.

3. We decided to go ahead and get a hotel room downtown for the weekend since we have so much to do down there.  I'm looking forward to having the feeling of being on vacation without the hassle of travel.  Staycations for the win!

4. I can't have a post without mentioning running at least once :) Since we're going to be downtown in a hotel Sunday morning, I'm going to take advantage of it and do my long run down by the mall with a friend.  I'm looking forward to running past some iconic DC monuments while catching up.

We did some of our engagement photos down on the mall.

5. This is going into Monday, but I am really excited because we've finally found a contractor we like and feel comfortable with to help us re-do our kitchen.  We're having our second meeting with him Monday evening and getting into more specific plans.

Our kitchen currently has appliances from the 80s, cabinets from the 60s, and peeling floral wallpaper from who know when.

I hope everyone else has a great weekend to look forward to too!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Glo Run DC

As I mentioned, I did the Glo Run with friends this past Saturday.  We had a phenomenal time, but there were a couple of logistical issues with the race.

The race was at RFK stadium and parking seemed plentiful, but one of the friends I did the race with lives in the area.  So I parked at her place, dropped off my stuff, and we walked over to the stadium for the race.  They had people directing traffic and it was pretty easy to tell where to go.  Packet pick up was available before the race at a running store in Virginia but we choose to just do packet pick up the day of the race.

This was where the first problem arose.  There was a tent which said Check In so we knew to go there to get our bibs.  There were separate lines divided by the first letter of your last name.  You were given your bib and a bag and then told to go to another tent to get your shirt.  When you got to the front of that line, you realized that there were different lines for different size shirts, but that wasn't marked anywhere! Then there was yet another line to pick up glow stuff and finally a fourth line to pick up the light up glasses.  Um... Why couldn't everything just be in the bag so we could stand in just one line?

Photo of the check in tent and lines/crowds

We finally finished up with getting all our stuff, got decked out, and hung out before the race enjoying the DJ and taking some photos.

The race started and we were off.  There were waves but they were just organized first come first serve, not by pace or anything. This was an untimed fun run so that was to be expected.  But I wish that they had said something about walkers staying to one side.  I'm all for walkers participating in events like this and that's how I started out doing fun runs last year,  but at least try to be cognizant of others around you and don't take up the whole width of the course.

The race was just in the parking lot of the stadium and set up with cones.  I felt like once you got past the initial crowd, there was plenty of room in most parts of the course.  And they did a good job of making it interesting.  There was music, glow tunnels, bubbles, weird glowy unicorns, and a whole lot of costumes.  

One of the glow tunnels

An official race photo in a bubble tent

Horrible photo but you can see one of the light up unicorns in the background

But I'm not sure that it was a full 5k. My Garmin only said 2.8 when we finished and my friend's RunKeeper also was less than 3 miles.  So we kept on running around the parking lot a bit after the course was technically done. I think one of my friends might have hated me at the moment but I'm sure she appreciated me later :)

You can see that I also forgot to turn off runkeeper right away so it was probably on an extra three or four minutes after we stopped running.

Overall our time was slow but I think the actual time we spent moving was pretty good.  We stopped for several photos so we were definitely not shooting for any time goals.  After the race, they did provide water, granola bars, and fruit snacks.  Additionally, there were several food trucks available if you wanted to purchase more substantial food.  The trucks had been there at the beginning too but I don't know if starting a 5k with a cheesesteak is the best of ideas.

Overall, I enjoyed the race in spite of the issues with pre-race packet pick up.  They did a great job with entertainment, and isn't that what fun runs are all about?  I have to say that I registered for the race via Groupon so did not pay full price.  At this point, I don't know that I would pay full price for a fun run.  I love that they provide such a wonderful entry into running for people and encourage people to get out there and be more active while having fun, but they are usually priced a bit high.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Tasty Tuesday - Blackberry Ginger Shrub

I hope everyone's week is off to a good start! It's time for Tasty Tuesday with Lean Lena but I don't have any new food to share since I've been so busy.  I've been sticking with simple dinners and tried and true recipes just so I'm more likely to actually eat at home instead of getting take out.  But I do have a fun drink recipe to share :)

You might be asking, what is a shrub, other than a plant in your yard?  Well, I hadn't heard of it before this year either.  Over dinner one evening a friend had mentioned that she was making her own shrubs and told me all about them.  Then I kept seeing articles and recipes for them everywhere!  There was even one in the Washington Post earlier this summer.

Serious Eats has a great description of shrubs.  "In beverage history, the word shrub has carried several meanings. For our purposes, it's enough to say that a shrub is an acidulated beverage made of fruit juice, sugar, and other ingredients. Where things get complicated is that the acid varies by recipe; it can be either fruit juice or vinegar. Additionally, some shrub recipes are prepared using alcohol that steeps with the fruit, acid, and sugar. Finally, hardcore shrubbers make their own vinegar, using fruit juice, sugar, and wild yeasts from the air.  In any case, the sugar, acid, and optional alcohol preserve the fruit juice, and in fact that was one original purpose of the shrub. Prior to the invention of refrigeration, a shrub syrup was a means of preserving fruit long past its picking. Shrubs were popular in Colonial America, mixed with cool water to provide a pick-me-up on hot summer days. A proper shrub has a flavor that's both tart and sweet, so it stimulates the appetite while quenching thirst."

A little bit of syrup goes a long way with some fizzy water!

I know it sounds a bit strange to be drinking vinegar but this seriously has a wonderful, complex flavor that I've been loving.  There are a lot of methods out there to make shrubs so I just picked the one that sounded the easiest and that's a ration of 1:1:1 for fruit, sugar, and vinegar with no cooking required.  The only downside of this method is that it takes a while for it to be ready to drink.  The first shrub I made was just blueberries, sugar, and apple cider vinegar.  It was delicious and I was hooked! 

For this one, the ingredients are 1 cup of blackberries, 1 cup of sugar, about an inch of ginger, and 1 cup of balsamic vinegar. I combined the blackberries and sugar in a mixing bowl and allowed it to macerate for an hour so the liquid from the fruit began to release.  Then I added in the vinegar and grated the ginger into the mix.  I would use more ginger next time though as I can't taste much of it in the final product. I stirred it all together and moved it all to a jar with an air tight lid.  I put it in the refrigerator for a week, giving it a mix every day. At the end of the week, I strained the solids out and put the liquid into a water bottle (for easy pouring).

And that's it!  I've been mixing it with carbonated water for a little homemade soda.  I also think it would be delicious in a cocktail, though I've yet to try that.  I know it sounds like a lot of sugar but it's seriously so concentrated and strong that you only need a little bit in your drink for a lot of flavor.  One batch lasted me for about 15-20 drinks.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Weekly review

I had a good work-out week in that I did all my workouts and put in a good effort, but I'm in some pain today!  I might not have thought this week through that well. Here's the summary.

Monday - rest day
Tuesday - yoga class at the gym
Wednesday - rest day
Thursday - speed work on the treadmill but I forgot my knee brace so that made it a bit tougher.  I could feel the pain in my knee initially but afterward, it was my other quad that hurt.  That leg may have been compensating for my knee.

Friday - My right thigh was super sore still on this day so I just did some light yoga stretches and strength training exercises.
Saturday - ok, here is where my judgment faltered a bit.  I had plans to do the glo run 5k with friends. I decided that I would just take it easy and treat it as my third run for the week, but still go for my long run Sunday morning.  I'll do a full review of the Glo Run later this week but we had a great time!

Sunday - I woke up and my legs felt tired, plus my quads were really tight.  I almost talked myself out of going for the long run with the training run but I'm happy to say that I made it.  It was not too hot but the humidity was above 90% again. I had someone to run with for the first 5 miles, which was great.  It really made the first part of the run go by easier.  We did 2.5 miles out and then 2.5 miles back on the C&O canal tow path, though a different stretch than last week.  We did go past Great Falls so took a photo break.

When we finished five miles, I filled up my water bottle and went out again in the other direction on the path.  The plan was to go 1.5 miles out and 1.5 back for a total of 8 for the morning.  But it was more like 1 and 1 so I got a total of 7.  I was just too tired to do more and a blister was forming on the bottom of my left toe, but I'm happy that I made it 7 and didn't skip out completely.  

My legs are sore so I did do a lot of stretching, foam rolling and icing after the run.  I'm glad that today is a rest day!  The plan this week is yoga on Tuesday, track work on Wednesday, yoga on Thursday, run on Friday, rest on Saturday and a long run on Sunday. I hope you all had a great weekend!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Friday Five - Race Memories

Thank you to Courtney, Mar and Cynthia for the theme of this week's Friday Five link up, Race Memories.  I love this idea!

1. My very first race ever was the Susan G. Komen race for the cure 5k.  It was years ago.  Seriously, I think it might be more than 10 years ago.  I have no photos of it, no idea what my time was, but I remember that it was a really moving event.  There were crowds of people, wonderful energy, and so many people running in honor of or memory of loved ones.  But for some reason, it was a one and done thing for me at that point.

2. The Piece of Cake 5k was the goal race for the MCRRC 5k training group I joined up with in January. The training group was awesome and it was wonderful to run with them.  But the weather for this race was horrible.  It was cold, windy, and rainy and by the time I walked back to the car I could hear my socks squishing in my shoes. But at least I've had the experience of finishing a race in bad weather and I can look back on that for proof I can do it in case I have to do it again.

3. The 80s Run 5k I did in early March with friends was badly organized but we had fun almost in spite of the race.  The best part is my dad was in town and I got to do this one with my dad.  We had a great time and spent the 5k catching up, which we don't always have the opportunity to do.

4.  My first 10k was the Lawyer's Have Heart 10k and this is definitely a great memory because it was my first 10k.  Also, it is one of the few races where I had a time goal for myself and it was awesome to beat that goal.  It's nice to look back on this type of success :)

5.  I volunteered at the Nike Women's Half Marathon in DC earlier this year and that was a wonderful experience.  I was stationed at the water stop right after the finish line and it was amazing to be able to see everyone cross over the finish line and cheer them on.  Volunteering was definitely hard work but so rewarding!

I love all the memories I've been able to create with family and friends since I've started running this year!  I hope everyone is gearing up for a good weekend :)

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Tasty Tuesday - Okra Stew

Yay, I'm actually getting back to cooking this week and therefore have a contribution for Tasty Tuesday with Lean Lena!

This is another dish that doesn't really have a recipe and it was inspired by the fresh produce we picked up from the farmers market this weekend.

As you can see, it's a ton of veggies.  And that means a ton of chopping.  So it wasn't quite as quick as I would want for weekday meals most of the time.  The good news is that it came together very quickly once the chopping was done.

If you're not familiar with cooking with okra, it can be a bit weird because once you cut them open, there is a sliminess to them.  This is why I only like them two ways, deep fried or in stews.  The sliminess is actually an asset in a stew because it dissipates into the liquid and thickens it nicely.

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 small onion
1 small bell pepper
1/2 chili pepper (or to taste)
2 carrots 
2 summer squash
1 pint okra
1 package veggie chorizo (optional)
Three tomatoes
1 can of tomatoes
Salt to taste

I started by heating the oil in a pot while finely dicing the onion, peppers and carrots.  I threw them in the pot to cook while I chopped the squash and okra. I threw those in the pot and let them cook as well.  I chopped the tomatoes while the veggies continued to cook.  Once the onions were translucent and the carrots were softened, I put in the veggie chorizo to brown.

This is a good place to say that the veggie chorizo is optional.  I wanted to do it with just the veggies but Mike wanted something a bit heartier so we picked up the veggie chorizo.  If you just do it with veggies you'll need to add some extra seasoning such as garlic, smoked paprika, coriander, and cumin.

Once the chorizo is browned, throw in the chopped tomatoes and the canned tomatoes. If you have an abundance of fresh tomatoes, you can probably double them and skip the can of tomatoes.  I added some salt and let the whole mixture stew together for 10 minutes.

I had also made some bread in the bread machine over the weekend so we had the stew with some of the homemade bread.  Otherwise, I would have served it over some rice.

The verdict is that this was delicious and you could really taste the freshness of all the veggies.  It was a great way to enjoy the summer produce.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Weekly Review

I had a wonderful weekend and am a little sad that it's over.  I hope you guys all had a great weekend too. My week started out a bit rough so my workouts were concentrated toward the end of the week and I missed a run again.

Monday - rest day

Tuesday - rest day

Wednesday - DDP yoga

Thursday - speed work on the treadmill after work

Friday - strength training

Saturday - Jillian Michaels yoga meltdown.  For some reason, I thought I was ready to move on to workout 2.  It totally kicked my butt and I definitely still feel the workout in my thighs.  In addition to the work out, Mike and I decided to take a walk when we dropped the car off for servicing instead of just sitting in the waiting room.  It was around a mile and half.  Lastly, we went to a wonderful outdoor concert that evening and got in some dancing on the lawn.  It made it difficult to get up for my long run the next morning but it was worth it :)

Sunday - long run with the training group.  My plan was to do 7 today.  I finished and realized I had only done 6.6 according to the Garmin, so I went back out for a half mile cool down jog.  We were on a running path by the C&O canal and it was absolutely beautiful.  The Potomac River was on one side and the canal on the other.  I saw some Canadian geese as well as a flock of some beautiful white birds fishing in the river.  We also saw some buzzards!  The temperature wasn't too high but it felt really humid.  When I came home and looked at the garmin stats, it indicated that it was 97% humidity at the time of the run!

For this week, I have got to be better about getting all three runs in during the week!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Friday Five - new information

Guys, it's been a bit of a tough week just catching up after being out of town last week.  I haven't put up a blog post since Monday :( But I can't skip the Friday Five with Cynthia, Courtney, Mar, and tons of other great bloggers!  You should definitely check it out. And I hope to get back to a normal blogging schedule next week.

This week's theme is "new" so I thought I'd share some new to me tidbits from around the internet this week.

1.  The big news that I kept seeing is that Running is good for you, which I think we all knew!  As little as 5-10 minutes a day may reduce the risk of death from heart disease.  I would have assumed that more is better, but that still needs to be studied.  "Some studies have found a link between running greater distances, such as more than 5 miles (8 km) a day and a decreased risk of heart problems, compared to running less than 2 miles (3.2 km) a day, so more studies are needed to determine if there is an optimum distance for running, the researchers said."

2.  The grand canyon is considering banning runners and other "adventure sports."   "That overcrowding is forcing the park to address some of the problems the runners bring with them.
And many park users think those problems are plentiful. Tales abound of exhausted runners and fastpackers—at some point on the speed continuum, the line between the two blurs—collapsing at the doorstep of Phantom Ranch or vomiting in the campgrounds. In their desperation and delirium, they cut to the front of water lines, clog trails and picnic areas by lying down, and leave things behind them. Rangers and more experienced visitors have to attend to struggling crossers and drive them the long way back around the canyon if they can’t make the return journey. These are not runners deliberately doing anything wrong; these are simply runs gone awry. But in the daily grind of overwhelming volume, these small transgressions become too much for the canyon to endure."

3.  The Better Business Bureau is warning caution about fun runs. They provide the following steps as things that can help protect consumers.
  • Check the organization's Better Business Bureau rating.
  • Contact the venue to make sure the event is scheduled to be held there.
  • Read the fine print, especially about refunds.
  • Pay with a credit card so that you can dispute charges if necessary.
  • If the race says it has a charitable component, check with the charity to make sure it's legitimate and that it has a relationship with the event.
4.  A team of 90+ year old runners have set 3 new records.  Go them! "The team of 90-plus-year-olds is the oldest to run relays, which made them automatic world record holders after they crossed the finish line."

5. I keep hearing about Stand Up Paddle Boarding and want to try it.  There's a place in Georgetown that does it but I'm not sure I'm willing to fall in the Potomac.  Here was a cool article about SUP that came up in one of the travel blogs I read. 

I hope everyone has a great weekend!  I'm looking forward to some relaxation time, the farmer's market, a concert, and some running (of course).