One Goal!

Yes, I stole the slogan from the Blackhawks!

 

(Source)

 

It’s time to check in with August.  Already? I can’t believe it!

This month was exciting, exhausting, emotional and truly just flew by.

 

August Recap

1. Increase distance runs for marathon prep

        -Let’s just say that I have a ways to go here…like 26.2 miles!  I have gotten in a few midrange runs in, but 10 miles max!

2. Complete my first Olympic distance triathlon.

        -Done and Done!  I rocked this race and loved every moment of it.  Read my race recap and check out some pictures!

3. Continue to find time for yoga and meditation.

        -I am failing here (and trust me I could have used it this month).

4. Cook new recipes with seasonal produce.

        -This was a fun goal to accomplish.  Check out CSA dinners HERE and HERE and my fresh fruit salsa HERE.

 

Now on to September…

I have ONE GOAL (hence the title) for this month…TRAIN, TRAIN, and TRAIN!!!  It is time to get serious about the marathon, so from now until October 9th, there will be limited HFCS, alcohol, soda, and processed sugars and maximum time spent pounding the pavement in my running shoes (and of course sleeping and soaking in a hot tub)!  Wish me luck!

On the Road Again

This seemed to be the theme song of our weekend!  After weathering the storm, we awoke to a day of rain and heavy winds, but all appeared well from our windows.

Having not done any activity all weekend, I convinced my brother to head out for a run with me.  It was misting but after hours in the car, it felt refreshing!  We were able to see roaring streams, fallen trees, and flooding as we ran through the nearby neighborhood.  It made me realize how lucky we were to have had so little action by us.  Many of the people we know in NY and NJ lost power and their basements flooded.

When the drizzle outside stopped, it was great to emerge from the house.  The kids were excited to grab scooters, baseballs, and bats.  And it was so nice to get outside and play in the fresh air.  We played some sports and then walked down to the end of the block. 

Around 5:00pm, we decided it was time to venture out.  Most of the highways were closed and we had no idea if we would make it out of town, let alone out of New York.  We studied the map, got some directions, packed back into the car (singing ‘On the Road Again’).  Two turns in, the road was flooded.  We retraced our steps, trying a different route and found an even bigger flood.  We headed for higher grounds and away from the river (Again…thank you Garmin and Google Maps), but found the road blocked with a fallen tree.  There were people all over town walking around and surveying the damage. 

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Finally, we found an almost empty highway headed south and west and crossed our fingers that it wasn’t closed.  It was almost creepy seeing so few cars on the road.  As we headed west, we saw towns along the side of highway flooded and closed roads all the way into Pennsylvania.

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We safely drove through the night landing back in Chicago as the sun was rising.  I immediately headed home, gave a hug and a kiss to the BOY, and crashed in my bed.  This weekend was filled with emotional highs and lows and I was physically and emotionally exhausted.  I emerged around 10:00AM for a day of errands, laundry, and chilling on my couch.  Confession time, I might have also caught an episode of Jersylicious!!! 

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After so many missed runs, I knew I should be out getting in a workout, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I already have a plan to be up and out the door early tomorrow after a good night’s rest in my own bed for a medium distance run.  Instead, I went through the mail pile.  It made me so happy to see the cards from my friends!  Thanks guys!  And of course the hilarious ‘anti-aging’ gift from my secret birthday buddy at work.

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The BOY and I decided to do dinner in tonight to celebrate my birthday.  Since I am exhausted, I was happy to eat at home.  I decided to make the Enchilada recipe that I found in Clean Eating Magazine last year.  I have made them one other time (and I don’t think I shared them on the blog), but this time I was inspired by THIS POST on the Daily Garnish to add some squash to my (not the BOY’s) enchiladas.  My acorn squash from the CSA survived my long weekend away, so I was excited to use it in my enchiladas.

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Can you tell which side is the BOY’s???  He always likes the extra cheese.  While I was preparing dinner, I found this new roll of paper towels that had these cute inspiring messages.  How bright and fun!

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Dinner was served with a fig (my new food of the week), parmesan cheese, and pecan salad with a side of gifts!

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For dessert…one of my favorites!  A cookie jar blizzard from Dairy Queen.

It’s GOOD to be home!

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Unbelievably Delicious Low Fat Enchiladas

Clean Eating Magazine November/December 2010

Serves 5

Ingredients:

  • 5 Medium whole-wheat tortillas (5 to 6 inches each)
  • 1 cup shredded low-fat cheddar cheese
  • Fresh cilantro or parsley, chopped, for garnish, optional

Chicken Mixture:

  • 3 cups shredded or cubed cooked chicken breast
  • 4 oz. green chiles, chopped
  • 1 tsp hot sauce
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chile powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

Sauce:

  • 15 oz. all natural tomato sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 chile powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Instructions:

ONE: Preheat oven to 350 degrees

TWO: Combine all chicken mixture ingredients in a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes. Remove mixture for pan and set aside.

THREE: Combine all sauce ingredients in same nonstick pan used for chicken. Set over medium heat and cook until warm, about 10 minutes.

FOUR: Spread a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of an 8×11 inch casserole dish. Divide chicken mixture evenly among tortillas, fold left and right sides over to close and place, seam-side down, snuggly in casserole dish. Top enchiladas evenly with remaining sauce and sprinkle with cheese. Bake on center rack for 20 minutes. To serve, sprinkle with cilantro or parsley, if desired.

Nutrition Information: Calories: 360, Total Fat: 7g, Sat. Fat: 2g, Carbs: 36 g,
Fiber: 4.5 g, Sugars: 6g, Protein: 37g, Sodium: 561 mg, Cholesterol: 76 mg

When Life Throws You Hurricanes…

 

Friday was my 30th birthday.  I have been looking forward to celebrating this weekend for some time.  Turning 30 is a fun milestone, and I feel lucky to have accomplished all that I have in such a short time and to be surrounded by such wonderful family and friends.  For this weekend, I had planned some relaxation, a little pampering, and sangria with my friends and family.  Unfortunately, the passing of a family member last week quickly changed the weekend plans.  I found out Wednesday morning that my uncle had passed after a courageous battle with cancer.  So Wednesday night, my family packed, hopped in the car, and drove out to NY/NJ for the funeral.  Let me tell you…4 adults is a 5 seater car is always an adventure. 

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The boys did most of the driving/navigating (thank goodness for Garmin) and I did some reading in the backseat.  Although, I mostly slept!

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My mom didn’t want me to feel forgotten around my birthday so she gave me one of my Birthday presents in the car…a Romero Britto Micky Mouse keychain.  You may recognize his artwork from my heart Gavitar.

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We have wonderful friends and family in the NY/NJ area who are always happy to house us when we come to visit, even on short notice.  Although a devastating time, it was comforting to be surrounded by family.  We cried, we laughed, and we told stories sitting around the table enjoying some New York pizza and favorite desserts.  I’m not sure why these black and white cookie are so hard to find in Chicago.  They are my favorite!

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On the morning of my birthday, I was filled with mixed emotions.  It was a difficult day of grieving, but also a time for celebration.  I got to use the special birthday mug for my morning tea and enjoy some New York bagels for breakfast.

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I have sat in a lot of traffic in my day, but never as much as when I am in New York.  And New York city evacuating for a hurricane is a whole different level.  There were people selling water on the bridges as we crept along the highway.  It took us over 3 hours to get back from Long Island that afternoon.  Luckily, we packed some bottles of water for the hot day and found some Gardetto’s in the back to snack on.

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We also had a sing-a-long to the Beatles ‘Hey Jude’ which was a nice release after a tense day.

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My family is so thoughtful that they made time to sing me Happy Birthday with a carvel ice cream cake (and a guitar) that evening.  This brought tears to my eyes!  I have never celebrated a birthday with my family, all five of my cousins, aunts, uncles, and extended family.  A sad time brought us together, but created a special birthday memory for me.

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The next day, the hurricane was rolling closer and more and more people were evacuating.  Not knowing exactly what that would mean for us, we packed up our car again with all of our belongings.  We were in charge of replenishing supplies before heading out to my cousin’s house.  What we didn’t plan for was how crazy crowded the Costco would be or how we would fit all of our provisions in our already full car.

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The day began with a house full of friends and their children, leaving plenty of time for dress up.  I was told that I was too big for a tiara. I believe you are never too old for a tiara.

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Throughout the day, time was spent catching up with family and looking through photo albums old and new, relieving past vacations, weddings, and other family events. The weather was mostly calm until the rain began that evening.  Nobody knew exactly what to expect, so 16 of us (my family, my aunt, 3 cousins, their wives and children) filled the house with inflatable beds, pillows, and blankets.  My brother pointed out that it was the first time all of us were under one roof in years.

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The kids cuddled up with a movie while the adults gathered together on one big couch to watch the storm progress.  We pulled out some drinks and snacks.  We talked about the day and shared fun stories from the past.  After a difficult few days, it was wonderful to hear the room filled with laughter as we celebrated family.  Until finally we were so tired it was time to claim a bed!

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What a memorable way to end the weekend!

The next time life throws you a hurricane…

Surround yourself with the people you love.

Take time to talk, tell stories, laugh, and cry.

Create memories that you will share with generations to come.

And be thankful you’re able to sit back, reflect, and find the joy hidden inside the storm!

Does this Belt Make my Butt look big?

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With a 10 mile run planned for today, I was ready to take my new race belt for a test drive.  I have never used a race belt before and I can’t stand holding something while I run.  I figured as I was increasing my mileage, I would need some water on the trail.  There are no water fountains along the 9 mile forest preserve path, but luckily there are port-a-potties.  You know you’re a true runner when you feel lucky to have port-a-potties : )

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I have been running the forest preserve path by the BOY’s house since before I even moved in, but I have never ran around the whole circular path.  I have run in both directions (usually an out and back) and I have biked around the path plenty of times.  This morning, I set out with my new belt to run around the whole path.  About 10 steps off of the driveway, my belt was bouncing and feeling heavy on my back.  I stopped to make adjustments and the BOY found me struggling with my belt in the middle of the street.  He mentioned that the ice might not have been a good idea because of the weight.  Eventually I figured out how to move the belt further up on my back (hence the lumbar support) and tightened the belt.  It took about 3 miles to get my stride, but by then I forgot all about the belt and used the swooshing sound in the water bottles as background noise.  I was so excited to try my belt that I forgot my to grab my ipod. 

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As the weather got warmer, I was definitely happy to have some water and my new hydration of choice, coconut water.  In an attempt to decrease my processed sugars, I am moving away from Gatorade and G2.  After a few trials, I finally found a coconut water that I like the taste of (the limon is better than the cherry crush).  There are tons of flavors, but unfortunately it is tough to find.  I completed my 10 mile run (the new longest run of the season) in ~90 minutes.  My legs were sore and tired…especially during the last few miles.  After my run, I finished off with a 10 minute cool down  through the neighborhood just in time to kiss the BOY goodbye before his first day of school.  Although I loved my pedicure on Friday, I got my first marathon blister this morning!

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I am thrilled that I am back to my fall schedule with Mondays off!  I love having a day at the beginning of the week to get caught up around the house and of course play in the kitchen.  Summer is so busy and we spend so much time grilling that I don’t do as much baking and cooking. 

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I started by making one of my favorite summer time breads, Zucchini Pineapple Bread.  It is a Cooking Light recipe that I discovered a few summers ago.  I made it so often that summer, that I almost memorized the recipe.  The first step is shredding zucchini.

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I used a mixture of half whole wheat and half white flour today, something I have never tried before.

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I also decreased the amount of sugar by ~1/2 cup in the wet mixture.

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I combined the wet with the dry, stirring just until combined.

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And folded in the crushed pineapple (I probably should have drained it a little more).

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The recipe makes two loaves (the second one is perfect for freezing).  I made one big and two little loaves today.

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It seems like an odd combination, but I promise this bread is AMAZING! You can find the Cooking Light recipe HERE.

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Since I didn’t make it to the Whole Foods today, I was in need of some peanut butter.  I have made a few different almond butter recipes lately, but I have never made peanut butter.  When I saw these recipes posted on Lauren’s blog, I was just waiting for a chance to try them.  I pulled out my food processor and poured myself a glass of wine.

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And sliced up an apple for taste tests.

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I used a bag of roasted and unsalted peanuts from Trader Joe’s.  Within a few minutes, I had a smooth basic peanut butter, no oil needed.  I followed each recipe below to create two tasty peanut butters.

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Cinnamon Raisin Peanut Butter

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White Chocolate Peanut Butter

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There was a lot of cleaning up to do in the kitchen this evening, but it was totally worth it.  This White Chocolate PB is unbelievable!  I can’t wait to try the dark chocolate version and I have been thinking about creating my own mint chocolate chip almond or peanut butter recipe.  Sweet Dreams!

First Day of School

Although the BOY wouldn’t let me cook him breakfast on his first day of law school, he did agree to let me take a picture of him.  This has been a tradition in my family since we were young. We have hundreds of photos of my brother and I beginning kindergarten, high school, college, etc.  In each picture, there are the changing clothes and hairstyles and backpacks filled to the rim with school supplies (initially crayons and markers and eventually large text books).  These pictures share that look of excitement with a hint of nervousness anticipating what the next year will hold. Lucky for you, many of these pictures are in photo albums before the days of digital or this would be quite a long post.

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Growing up, I hated posing for pictures on the driveway and then having my mom follow me to the bus stop with the camera. I’m sure I even made that quite clear a few times. But now looking back, these are fun memories to have and to share. I can visualize many of these pictures when I can’t remember the actual day. Like junior year when I turned 16 on the first day of school and drove the minivan with my mom in the passenger seat. I think I was wearing a red tank top over a white t-shirt and jean shorts.  And somewhere is the picture of my first day of grad school clinicals.  We had just gotten back from a family vacation.  I was exhausted but felt so professional in my pressed khakis and pink button up shirt.

One of my favorite pictures is of my friend Jenny and I (with my brother hanging in the background) on the first day of kindergarten.  I had this bright pink dress and a fuzzy yellow animal on my arm that was apparently a watch. 

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I had a few minutes at my parents yesterday so I went looking for these pictures.  For time’s sake, I snapped photos of these old pictures, so the quality isn’t great, but you get the picture.  This is the first day of kindergarten, which also happened to be my 5th birthday. I can’t believe that it was almost 25 years ago!

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Even more fun is that Jenny and I are still friends all these years later!  I also found these first day of school pictures, which I think are from 1st or 2nd grade…usually you can tell by the hairstyle and I was apparently growing out my bangs.  I know that the bangs made a reappearance at some point again in junior high though.

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I even carried on the tradition when my brother and I traveled to Australia.  After two weeks of fun and traveling together, he was headed off to begin classes.  I took this picture of him on his first day before I headed to the airport for the long flight home.  

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I have always been a huge picture person. I have thousands saved in albums throughout our house (and some stored in my parents basement) along with all the recent digital pictures take up space on my computer.  These pictures capture tons of happy memories, like birthdays and graduations, and exciting times shared with family and friends.  But there is nothing like that picture of the first day of school, whether you are a child starting kindergarten or an almost 30 year old heading off to catch the train for your first day of law school.

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After all of those years of complaints on the drive and at the bus stop, I owe my P’s a big ‘I’m Sorry!’

Thanks for starting a fun tradition that will carry on with generations to come!

Sunday in the City

I woke up this morning feeling sore and sleepy.  I blame these past two days of strength training and hot yoga.  I knew that I needed to get in a run after yesterday’s rain delay even though I wasn’t 100% in the mood.  I ate a pre-run brekkie of a dough boy smoothie and an egg, laced up my shoes, and hit the path.

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I accidently used too much cinnamon in my oats last night, so I added some Chai flavoring in the smoothie and sprinkled some over the top.  It turned out delish!  I headed out for a steady 8 mile run…my longest run of the season.  I was able to maintain ~9 minute miles and finished in just under 71 minutes.  I came home and spent some quality time with my foam roller working out my calves, hamstrings, and of course my ITB.  Then devoured my favorite post-run snack, Greek yogurt, blueberries, cereal, and a drizzle of agave.

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The BOY was off to the library for the second day in a row getting ready for his first day of school tomorrow.  So I headed into the city for some quality time with my family.  We went down to my brother’s condo.  His girlfriend and I share the same birthday.  They are out of town next weekend so we exchanged presents today.  My brother got me this training belt which I will put to good use over the next few weeks.

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His girlfriend got me this adorable picnic basket filled with goodies…a cheese plate and knife and a a fun summer white wine.

Thanks guys!!!  You know me so well!

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I was thinking that this might be another use for my training belt post marathon…at least for my next bar crawl (or perhaps for my 30th birthday celebration next weekend).  The beer on the left is my brother’s homemade Tripel.  It’s REAL good!

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We walked over to Wishbone for lunch/brunch.  This eclectic café puts a southern spin on breakfast.  We all ordered something different and everyone loved their meal. 

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After lunch, we walked around Lakeview admiring the cheeses and wines at the Whole Foods and stopping by the little boutiques along Southport.  I have been craving frozen yogurt and so we looked up a place in the neighborhood.  The boys headed back to the condo and the three of us girls walked about a mile to Forever Yogurt.  I had never heard of this place before, but it is one of those up and coming popular self-serve yogurt places with tons of no-added sugar, probiotic, all natural frozen yogurt flavors that you buy by the ounce. 

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Immediately, I loved the overdone Chicago theme.  We were given little cups to try the flavors.  Check out all of the options on this MENU!

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I was in frozen yogurt heaven and could have spent all day trying the unique variety of flavors.  The original tart was delicious!  It was tangy almost like a Greek frozen yogurt.   We happily filled up our over sized cups.IMG_4376IMG_4378

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I went with an original, red velvet, cake batter combo.  Can you believe all of these toppings?!  They had fresh fruit, candies, cereals, cookies and brownies to choose from.  Sadly, there were no samples here!

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Can you name these childhood cereal favorites?

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We weighed and paid for our yogurt.  It was super refreshing and totally hit the spot.  It’s a good thing I don’t live in the neighborhood or I think they would know me.  We walked home chatting, eating, and window shopping as we enjoyed this beautiful summer day.

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After a lovely day downtown, the P’s and I drove back to the suburbs and I headed home. The BOY and I grilled up some pork chops and fresh veggies from the CSA for dinner. I swear those were the best green (and yellow) beans I’ve ever eaten!  And then we relaxed on the coach with a movie (The Lincoln Lawyer).

 

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Look who also liked my birthday present! I had to hide it before she turned it into her new bed!

We Rudely Interrupt this Run…

For ANOTHER summer rain storm!!!

I had a 10 mile run planned for this morning….my first long run in awhile.  I was feeling nervous and mentioned to the BOY that last week I was a triathlete and this week, I was a (hopeful) marathoner.  He informed me that he used to be a lazy guy on the coach and now he was a law student.  How quickly things change!

I woke up this morning wanting something tasty for breakfast. I was feeling a bit lazy so I made Oatmeal Pancakes and let my food processor do the hard work.

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I substituted unsweetened applesauce for the oil in the recipe and it turned out great.  I wanted to to add some shredded zucchini (to make zucchini bread pancakes), but my zucchini wasn’t looking too fresh. I think this would be a great recipe to add some fruit, nuts, chia seeds, pumpkin or any other healthy pantry staples.

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My breakfast turned out amazing!  I topped my pancakes with applesauce, a drizzle of Agave, and walnuts.  A perfect  long run breakfast!

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I got dressed in my new Lululemon tank (I told you the back was cute), dusted off my ipod, and grabbed a water bottle for my run.

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I was all geared up and ready to go!

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At 9:30, the BOY was heading off to the library and I was heading out for my run.  it was the most productive Saturday morning we’ve had in a long time. He mentioned that the skies looked grey, but I was feeling hard core (training for the marathon and all) and Weather.com didn’t mention rain until noon.  So I headed out to the nearby trail.  I decided to run back and forth along the trail staying close to the house.  A little rain I could handle, but when I saw big streaks of lightening, I headed home.  I made it just in time before the big storms and down pour of rain rudely interrupted my run.

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I waited it out about an hour figuring I could always build on the 2.75 miles I had already run, but the rain was still pouring down.  I thought about writing another I Hate Weather.com Post, but instead changed my shorts, refilled my water bottle and headed out to a Hot Yoga class.  I have been wanting to get to class for awhile and this sounded much more appealing than pounding out the miles on the treadmill.  Plus, with a four day weekend, there would be plenty of time to get in a long run!  With the marathon less than 2 months away, I have some catching up to do this weekend. Luckily, there are some leftover pancakes for tomorrow’s breakfast!