How Not to Prepare for a Half Marathon

Number 1

Spend Wednesday night out drinking for your brother’s birthday, and stay up way too late waking up totally dehydrated and in desperate need of caffeine!

 

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Number 2

Inhale massive amounts of processed sugars and carbs!

 

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Number 3

Continue to drink from the world’s largest bottle of prosecco.

 

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Number 4

Schedule your last 3 mile run for Thanksgiving day, which is nearly impossible to accomplish due to Numbers 1-3.

 

Number 5

Spend the day before your race (aka Black Friday) on your feet shopping and waiting in hour long lines for really cute clothes!

 

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Number 6

Spend 48 straight hours talking non stop so that you have a scratchy throat and hoarse voice.

 

Number 7

The night before the race, fill up on sweet potato pie by the forkful.

 

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Number 8

Then proceed onto a random-thrown-together dinner of leftovers including sleep-inducing turkey.

 

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I would encourage you not to follow my lead with the worst race prep ever (goodbye PR), but feel free to borrow my prerace positive attitude knowing that I had an awesome 3 days (and got some really good Black Friday deals) and that no matter what happens tomorrow, I am so happy and thankful to be running 13.1 miles.  Until then, I will be rehydrating and sipping tea with my legs up thinking warm thoughts before I wake up to the coldest day since last winter!  Brrr!

 

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Thanksgiving in Pictures

Oh, Happy Day after Thanksgiving!

Are you recovering from your food coma? Or resting up after a chaotic morning of shopping?

All of the above is a possible answer!  In love

 

No matter, how you feel today, I hope that you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday surrounded by family and friends engaged in conversation and grateful for this special day together.  I spent Wednesday downtown with my brother and along with his girlfriend, we started our Thanksgiving day with a much needed coffee from Starbucks before making our way to my parents house for brunch.  We spent the rest of the day there hanging out, eating, laughing, napping, drinking, baking, and just being together.

 

It was the perfect way to spend the holiday!

 

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I am grateful for all of the love and joy in my life and forever thankful to my friends and family!

Fudge Bites

It is no secret that I have been having tons of fun with my food processor making energy bars and chocolately treats.  I had some leftover dates in the fridge, so I was excited to try out some new RAW recipes.  I started off simple making Chocolate Covered Katie’s famous Fudge Babies, but instead of cocoa powder, I subbed in this tasty superfood.

 

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I also used a walnut/cashew mix for the nuts.

 

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Wow, these guys made quite a mess in my kitchen.

 

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But it was totally worth it.  I must admit, I wasn’t sure if this dough would come together.  I checked it out after a few minutes in the food processor, and it was still really crumbly.  I considered adding in some agave, but instead scraped the sides down and turned the processor back on.  A few minutes later, I had what I was looking for.  A thick, rich, sticky dough.

 

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That I could roll into dessert bites.

 

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You’ll notice that these balls are super shiny.  I’m not sure what happened there.  It may be because I kept them in the food processor too long.

 

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But not to worry, I don’t think it impacted their taste.  I placed the balls immediately in the freezer, and I look forward to snacking on them throughout the week. 

 

 

Even after this recipe, I had a few dates left.  I was feeling adventurous and thinking about the amazing Gingersnap Larabar I had last weekend when I spotted this recipe on Katie’s site.  I know that I am not creative enough to make these adorable little gingerbread people, but I can roll a mean energy bite.  I decided to throw in a little pumpkin too.

 

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Sadly, things just didn’t blend together like I would have hoped, but with all of the incredible spices, it tasted sooo good.  I tried adding a few sticky additions to help pull this into a dough, but no such luck.  I couldn’t abandon it completely.  Not because I don’t like failure (it happens quite a bit in the kitchen) but because it tasted like the kind of bar you want to be eating.  I was about to dig out a pan when I spotted this adorable pumpkin.

 

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With nothing to lose, I threw the mixture into the fridge.  Who knows? I could end up with the perfect pumpkin shaped power bar!

 

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No such luck!  Just a pile of good tasting mush!

 

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I’ll keep working on this recipe and get back to you!  Feel free to link me any other fun energy bite recipes too!

I also wanted to follow up after this morning’s Home Workout.  I had so much energy all day and was seriously in the best mood. I think this was a good lesson about how 15 minutes of exercise in the morning is worth getting up a few minutes early.  And, my pecs are definitely sore from the burpees and pushups.  Hooray!  Speaking of hooray, I have just a few hours left of work before Thanksgiving.  Can you tell that I am psyched?!  Hip, hip hooray!

 

 

 

Fudge Babies

From Chocolate Covered Katie

 

1 c walnuts (120 grams)

1 and 1/3 cups pitted dates (220 grams)

1 tsp vanilla extract

optional: 1/8 plus 1/16 tsp salt

3-4 tablespoons cocoa powder (I used 3 T Cacao)

 

Blend all the ingredients, using a food processor.  Be patient and wait for everything to start sticking together.  Roll into little balls. (Use plastic wrap if you wish, or smush it all together in a plastic bag so it’ll stay together better.) Or, if you want true brownies, shape the dough into bars!  You can also use this as a pie crust.

Burpee, Squat, Push, and Sit

I stayed up a little later than usual last night trying to cheer the Bear’s (complete with their backup quarterback) onto a comeback victory against the 49ers.  No such luck for the Bear’s!  It’s a sad turn of events after an impressive start to the season.  Oh, to be a Chicago fan : )  Moving on from football and forward to Thanksgiving…Hooray!  I should warn you ahead of time that my posts may be a little spotty this week.  I am spending some time in the city and at the P’s and have no idea if there will be any time between bites of food to blog.

 

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My schedule has changed a bit allowing me to go in later to work on Tuesday mornings.  Typically, I have been getting in my shorter runs, but I ran 5 miles yesterday and the only run left before Saturday’s half marathon is a Thanksgiving 3 miler.  I’m not so sure when that’s going to happen, but we shall see!  I wasn’t going to run this morning and it’s too chilly to bike and I don’t currently have a gym membership and there are no early Tuesday morning yoga classes, which left me in need of a home workout.  I am not a good home exerciser.  I never have been!  I have piles and piles of workouts pulled out of magazines in hopes of one day being that girl who will bust into lunges during a commercial, but they end up covered in dust before eventually being recycled.

 

I know that I REALLY need to do more strength training, so I had high hopes when I discovered this easy at home workout on Jess’s Blonde Ponytail blog last night.  It looked doable, challenging, and it wasn’t going to take up space on my counter for months at a time collecting dust.  Plus, there was no equipment needed, and I had the TV to keep me entertained.  It’s been a long time since I’ve had enough time in the morning before work to watch the Today show.

 

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The workout goes as follows:

Burpees

Squats

Pushups

Situps

 

Starting with 10 reps and then counting down…

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Jess has a great graphic on her site as well as the proper form for a burpee!

 

After 15 minutes, I was dripping in sweat.

 

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But I still had my plank challenge left to do and this one was for 3:45.  Yikes!  I know I say it every time, but this one really was the absolute hardest.  With one minute 20 seconds to go, I really wanted to throw in the towel. But I held in there and I did it!  It was a quick and challenging morning workout that totally got me energized for my day ahead.

 

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Breakfast was leftover Pumpkin Cream Pie Oat Bran heated up with a sliced banana and some almond milk.

Delish!  It was really filling, and I caught the Thanks & Giving portion of the Today show just as I was finishing my breakfast.

 

I’d love to sit and play all day (that’s what the BOY will doing although he is supposed to be studying), but I am off to work!  Just 1 1/2 days until my 5 day Turkey Day break!

 

 

Do you exercise at home without equipment?

Please, please, please, send me some ideas!

Pumpkin and Cream + Thanks and Giving

Good Monday Morning!

Today is a little off because the BOY is home all day. What does this mean?  Well, most importantly, it means that I can’t watch Grey’s Anatomy this morning before my run because the second I tried to put it on, he started to whine a bit.  Yikes!  He better get used to it because starting next semester he is off on Mondays, and after 4 years of not working on Mondays, I kind of have my routine down.

 

First up…tea!  I bought this seasonal tea when I picked up boxes and boxes of Candy Cane Green tea from Trader Joe’s.

 

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I brewed up my first cup this morning.  Let me just tell you that it smells wonderful and tastes just as good!  It is a really flavorful tea (although this may be because I made mine extra strong)!

 

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Then it’s on to breakfast.  As soon as the weather cooled off, I started craving this Pumpkin Cream Pie Oat Bran from Peas and Thank You.

 

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I made this last winter and absolutely loved it!  So my mouth was watering before I even started cooking.  This oat bran is spicy, creamy, and super filling!

 

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I followed the recipe as written, but I add my sweetener as a topping at the end instead of in the beginning.  This morning, I used maple syrup.

 

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In between cooking, I darted back and froth to the television where I was watching the Today show.  I’ve been living back in the Chicago area for almost 4 years, yet I still love to check out the Thanks and Giving kick off.

 

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I even record the show all week just to watch Marlo’s short segment each day!

 

Thanks and Giving 2007

                                        Source

The hospital holds a special place in my heart, and I think the message of being THANKFUL for all of the joy in your life and helping others is so important, especially this time of year.  It also gets me geared up for the holiday season ahead!  One of the things that I am thankful for is my ability to run.  I’ve mentioned this before on the blog, but there was a 6 month period where running was contraindicated for a medicine that I needed to take.  The children of St. Jude kept me inspired throughout this time, and my first race back (and current PR) was the St. Jude Half Marathon in 2008.  It was an emotional run, and I had tears in my eyes as I crossed the finish line.

 

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On days when I am not-so-motivated to get in a workout, I think about this time in my life, put one foot in front of the other, and remember how lucky I am that I RUN.  This is what pushed me out the door on this grey morning while the BOY tried to convince me to stay in.  I must admit after that comforting bowl of oats, the idea did cross my mind. 

 

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My legs are a bit fatigued after Saturday’s 8 miler and yesterday’s 90 minute Hot Yoga class, so I made it a watchless run.  With all of my recent training, I have been thinking a lot about mile times and pace, and today I wanted to run just to run.  It was a beautiful morning to be outdoors, which a nice woman walking her dog and I discussed on the path.  Even without my watch (or maybe because of), my 5 miles sped by quickly and I returned home in the best mood with plenty of ideas on how the BOY and I should spend our day.

 

How do you give back around the holidays?

 

I just read about Rebecca’s Mission A Toy For Every Pup

Her post is really sweet (she has the cutest dog) and you can easily donate while you are doing your online holiday shopping with this Amazon Wishlist!  Check it out!

 

You can find this hearty fall breakfast recipe HERE!

I ate half this morning and I am planning on reheating the other half with some almond milk for breakfast tomorrow.

 

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Meal Planning {Again}

Saturday after my run, I dragged the BOY to the grocery store before lunch.  The main reason was I needed to pick up my allergy prescriptions, but I also wanted some input on this mini week’s meals.

 

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Our thought pattern went something like this…

 

Saturday Night: Chicken Parm

 

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Sunday Night: Chili (most likely a similar recipe to this one)

With leftovers for week day lunches

 

Monday Day: Root Vegetable Tagine

For lunches and to freeze

 

Monday Night: Dinner at the RAM with my family

My aunt is coming in town for Thanksgiving…Hooray!

 

Tuesday Night: Pork Tenderloin (super easy for one of my busier work days)

 

Wednesday Night: Dinner downtown for my brother’s birthday

 

Thursday: Thanksgiving Shenanigans*

 

*I have fondly named this Thanksgiving since it is going to be a few full days of food, drink, and family.  My mom is working on the meal plan.  I am in charge of sweet potato pie, and I picked up a new red wine to have with dinner.  And let’s not forgot all of these cookies…I can’t wait for the holiday and of course a 5 day weekend!

 

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Are you already thinking about you Thanksgiving menu?

 

 

Because I’m sure you’d like more out of this post then just my meals for the week, here by request, is the ‘recipe’ for Butternut Squash Fries

 

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Start by cutting a butternut squash into evenly sized sticks.  As always with butternut, this is harder than you’d think.  Try pealing the squash first to make it easier to cut.

 

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Place on baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil and sea salt, rolling the squash around so that they are all fully covered.

 

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One of the reasons that this batch turned out so delectable is that I used fresh olive oil that the BOY’s parents brought us from Italy. 

 

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It’s amazing what a quality olive oil can do!

 

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Roast the fries turning once or twice until the edges start to crisp.

 

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Feel free to sample as you go.  I always do!

 

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You can serve these fries in your favorite dips, but I thought they were so amazing that I devoured them plain with a big bowl of hearty soup.

 

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Butternut Squash Fries

 

Ingredients

1 butternut squash cut into sticks

2 tsp olive oil

Sea salt to taste

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with foil and non stick spray.

Place sliced squash onto baking sheet.  Drizzle with oil and sea salt coating everything evenly.

Place in oven for ~45 minutes, turning at least one time.

Serve warm.  Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge and reheat in the microwave.

Enjoy!

 

Note: Try adding in sweet potatoes or parsnips for some variety!

If you don’t like chopping up squash, Whole Foods, Costco, and Trader Joe’s all have precut squash!

Kitchen Sink Peanut Butter Cookies (3 Ways)

Remember my homemade peanut butter?

 

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I’d be surprised if you were able to forget about it!  I sure haven’t and as promised, I am delivering the third recipe installment of my Peanut Butter Month series.  Ok, that makes this sound way more serious and planned out than it is (and I sincerely apologize if you are allergic to peanuts), but the game plan is to share 4 new peanut butter recipes this month.  Here goes Number 3…

 

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Since I’ve already made brownies and bars, it seemed fitting that this next recipe be for soft, chewy, and loaded peanut butter cookies.  Last night, I was dipping some leftover pretzels into the jar for a taste.  The salty contrast of the pretzel with the sweet peanut butter was divine, and I knew there should be pretzels in my cookies.  Not too long after that I found inspiration on Mercedes Blog.  Her cookies are based on a Rachael Ray recipe that I’ve actually made before.  It combines the deliciousness of peanut butter cookies with some of your sweet and salty favorites.

 

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How could you go wrong?  I used my homemade peanut butter to create the peanut butter dough.

 

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Then stirred in chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, and chopped honey roasted peanuts.  Basically a whole bunch of things from my pantry. Hence the title of this post…

 

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The game plan was to roll the cookies in the pretzels…

 

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Which was sticky business because my cookie scooper is busted.

 

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Total bummer, I know, but I still got some pretty rounded balls with a half scooper/half hand rolling approach.

 

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After about 20 cookies, I ran out of pretzels.  I did a pretty good job of stretching out what I had, but I knew it wasn’t going to be enough.  I didn’t have a backup plan and still had plenty of dough leftover, so I chopped up the rest of my peanuts and rolled the dough balls in them.

 

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Until I ran out of peanuts.  By the time I got to the bottom of my bowl, the dough was a little thinner and had less of the chocolate chips.  I rolled this last dozen or so in sugar like a typical peanut butter cookie.

 

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All varieties baked for about 12 minutes, give or take the time it took me to get organized and lick the bowl, spatula, and spoon completely clean. 

 

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These cookies turned out beautifully!  The first 2 kinds (pretzel and peanut) were soft and chewy with gooey chocolate chips on the inside and a salty finish.

 

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The sugar coated cookies spread WAY out but are crisp and delish!

 

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One cookie recipe = Three incredible results

 

#1 Topped with Pretzels

 

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#2 Rolled in Honey Roasted Peanuts

 

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#3 Crunchy and Sugar Coated

 

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Either way, you can’t go wrong. So pick your favorite OR just make them all!

 

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I now have dozens of cookies to share with my family and friends for the holiday this week.  And historically, my PB cookies have stored well in the freezer.  The only sad news of the evening…

 

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We are all out of peanut butter!

 

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To round off the celebration, the last peanut butter recipe will be here next week.  That’s the prefect amount of time for me to find help devouring my pile of cookies and come up with something new to make…Any suggestions?

 

What is your favorite peanut butter cookie recipe?

Share your links!

 

 

Double Chip Peanut Butter Cookies (3 ways)

Recipe from Satisfy My Sweet Tooth

 

Ingredients

1 1/2 cup flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 sticks (12 Tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/4 cups sugar

1 cup creamy peanut butter (I suggest honey roasted)

2 eggs, at room temperature

1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

1/2 cup white chocolate chips

1/2 cup chopped honey roasted peanuts

 

Toppings (choose one or all):

1 cup crushed pretzels, 1 cup chopped honey roasted peanuts, and 3/4 cups sugar for rolling

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°.

In a large bowl, combine butter, sugar and peanut butter and beat with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs and mix until combined. Add flour and baking soda and mix until combined. Mix in chocolate chips, white chocolate chips, and peanuts.

Place remaining crushed pretzels, peanuts, and sugar in a small separate bowls. Using a medium-sized ice cream scoop, drop balls of dough into crushed pretzels (or other toppings) and roll lightly to coat. Then place onto cookie sheet.

Bake 12 minutes. Cool on racks.

Store in airtight container or freezer in freezer safe ziploc bag.