Muffin Monday and Running Update

Friday morning, I had the most AH MAZE ING massage!  I went somewhere new because I had a gift card, and the masseuse must have had some experience with runners because she was able to work into my IT band and gluts like I’ve never had before.  She also did some wonderful and much needed work to my low back.  I planned the massage to fit in after my 20 miler and with some time before the big race.  I’ve never done that before and it was well worth it!  Although massages are supposed to be relaxing, this one had a few painful moments, and I loved every minute.


Afterwards, I didn’t have time to run Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.





So I rescheduled this weekend’s 12 miler for Monday morning.  Ahh!




Isn’t that a long start to a long day???

I packed up my water belt and hit the road just as the sun was rising.  I had a little difficulty getting my Garmin going.  Can I blame it…it is Monday morning?!  However, it was super frustrating and I ended up starting my run before I loaded the satellites.  Does this happen to anyone else?  Any tips?  It shouldn’t take 10 minutes…right?!




Since my watch wasn’t budging I decided I could stop and get a photo of the smoke coming off of the pond.  I love this view on fall mornings when I drive past on my way to work before the morning’s get too dark, and I never get a picture.




My mom called around mile 6 and talked me through (on speaker phone) the next 3 miles.  I’m not sure of my exact time, but somehow I completed all 12 miles this morning with just a few short minutes left to get ready for work.  And then even more surprising,  survived my work day : )


Total Weekly Mileage

(I counted today’s run even though it’s technically the next week)

27 miles


Countdown to Marathon

13 days!!!


So now that I am on Pinterest, I knew it would be the perfect place to search for something to do with my brown bananas.  I have to say that I like searching Pinterest a little more than the internet when I know specifically what I’m looking for.  I typed in ‘banana muffins’ and came up with hundreds of options.




And now I have a board full of fantastic looking banana muffin recipes.  Including this one for Banana Maple Muffins!




I changed up the spices a bit (because I didn’t have any allspice in the pantry).




The cloves combined with the maple syrup sweetener make this muffin addictingly good!




Perhaps one of the best in town!




Although I may have to bake up some more Pinterest recipes just to confirm this!




Sounds like a fun challenge…huh?!



What is your favorite way to use Pinterest?





Banana Maple Muffins

Adapted from Emma’s Baking Addiction

Yield: 12 muffins



2 cup all-purpose flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 tbsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp cloves

1 cup mashed bananas (from about 2 large bananas)

3 Tbs vegetable oil

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup pure maple syrup

1/2 tsp vanilla extract



Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Line a 12-tin muffin pan with paper liners or spray with baking spray.  Set aside.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices.  In a large bowl, whisk together the mashed bananas, vegetable oil, sugar, maple syrup, and vanilla.  Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and stir just until combined.

Scoop batter into prepared muffin tins, filling each cup about 2/3 of the way.  Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the tops of muffins bounce back when lightly touched and an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

Meal Plan Morning/Crockpot Obsession

I find it interesting because a few different people mentioned to me this week that they usually take one day over the weekend to prep their meals for the week.  I said that I like to do this when I get it pulled together but that some weeks, this is harder than others.  Yesterday, I had the privilege of going wedding dress shopping with my brother’s fiancé and our moms.




I think they brought me for the comic relief : )  After the dress shop, we went out for mojitos and fajitas and then shopped our way through town.  I won’t even tell you about all of the amazing things I found but I was shocked to find my favorite running shoes (which I just paid over $100 for) on sale for only $55 at the local running and tri shop.  Score!  Shopping was followed by too much wine, laughter, and finally bed time.   We woke up late this morning and gathered for some much needed caffeine at the kitchen table.  With a beautiful fall day ahead, everyone pulled out their tablets and got started looking at recipes for the week.  I borrowed my mom’s and with assistance got myself set up on Pinterest, which of course opened my world to even more bloggers and recipes.




As everyone sipped their coffee/tea, we discussed new crockpot recipes and wrote down our grocery lists.  Then there was a little show n’ tell.  My pick for tonight’s recipe was this Slow Cooker Crockpot Honey Garlic Chicken from Just a Taste.




It was definitely a favorite at our table and one of the first things that I pinned.




Since I wrote down the ingredients, but not the details, I accidently bought chicken breasts and chopped them into large chunks.  It turns out, that this recipe is written for chicken on the bone.  It still turned out wonderful, but I cooked it for only 4 hours.




In the past, I’ve had trouble getting my sauces to thicken.  So I liked the extra step of adding the cornstarch to the sauce on the stove.  Dinner was ready a little early (which worked out okay because I had another recipe picked out for lunch this week waiting in line for the crockpot).  When the BOY and I were ready to eat, we reheated the chicken, topped it with seeds and scallions and served it over brown rice.




I’m still new to the Pinterest thing but think that I can start a Luv What You Do board, where hopefully, maybe, one day, you will be able to collect fantastic recipes like this one.




And this recipe is seriously one of the best I’ve made all year!  The BOY agrees!




Yay for group meal planning!  Looking forward to the week ahead!



Meal Plan 9/29/13

Sunday: Slow Cooker Crockpot Honey Garlic Chicken


Monday: Out to Eat


Tuesday: Leftovers


Wednesday: The BOY’s Grill Night


Thursday: TBD


Breakfast: Sweet Potato and Banana Baked Oatmeal

Lunch: Turkey Crockpot Ravioli Casserole



What are you eating for dinner this week?



Slow Cooker Crockpot Honey Garlic Chicken

From Just a Taste



3 large bone-in, skinless chicken breasts (2 1/2 to 3 pounds total)*

1/2 cup honey

1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce

1/4 cup blackberry jam (I used four berry from Door County)

1/4 cup hoisin sauce

2 Tablespoons olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup diced onion

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)

1 Tablespoon cornstarch

Sliced scallions, for garnish

Sesame seeds, for garnish



Arrange the chicken breasts in the slow cooker so that they are not overlapping.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the honey, soy sauce, blackberry jam, hoisin, olive oil, garlic, onion and crushed red pepper flakes, and then pour the sauce over the chicken. Cover the slow cooker and cook the chicken on LOW for 4 to 5 hours until the chicken is fully cooked.

Using tongs, remove the chicken from the slow cooker (reserving the liquids) and place it on a cutting board. Remove the bones then use two forks to shred the chicken into smaller pieces. Place the shredded chicken in a large bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch with 3 tablespoons of cold water to make a slurry.

Transfer the liquids from the slow cooker into a small saucepan set over medium-high heat and whisk in the slurry. Bring the sauce to a boil and cook it until it reduces and has thickened slightly, about 3 minutes. Pour the sauce over the chicken, tossing to combine. Serve the chicken topped with sliced scallions and sesame seeds.


*Note: Will also work with chicken breasts, but just adjust your cooking time accordingly.

So Many Pumpkin Recipes…

Slowly but surely I am making my way through catching up on blogs.  The BOY is making his way through Breaking Bad.  We are very behind!

One theme I noticed in blogland this week…the arrival of Pumpkin!




Although there is no shortage of pumpkin recipes on Luv What You Do, I haven’t busted out the pumpkin yet this fall.  It appears that I am behind on this too because everyone else is sharing some incredible looking recipes.  I can’t wait to catch up!



Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls from Sally’s Baking Addiction


Whole Wheat Pumpkin Spice Muffins from Eat, Live, Run


Browned Butter Pumpkin Blondies from Cookies&Cups


Pumpkin Spice Ginger Walnut Muffins from Daily Garnish


Low Fat Pumpkin Bread from Eat Good 4 Life




Soft Vegan Pumpkin Bread with Brown Sugar Streusel Crust from Averie Cooks


Grain Free Pumpkin Tart from My Whole Food Life


Roasted Garlic and Rosemary Pumpkin Hummus from Pinch of Yum


Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies from Two Peas & Their Pod


Pumpkin Scotchies from The Girl Who Ate Everything


Pumpkin Peanut Butter Dip from A Night Owl






All I can say is…So Little Time!


What are you excited to make this fall?

Trust the Taper

I recently reread Hal Higdon’s chapter or tapering in preparation for these last 3 week of training before the Chicago marathon on October 13th.  I picked up some interesting tips, but before I share those with you, I wanted to fill you in on my week (and why you haven’t heard from me).


Sunday, I took an active recovery from my 20 mile run to walk the mall with my girlfriends.  We had a fantastic lunch at Cheesecake Factory, with plenty of delicious carbs for me before talking and shopping our way through our favorite stores.  I had planned to do a meal plan on Sunday but realized that this was an odd week ahead, so my plan involved mostly premade options (hello veggie burgers) and grilling.  Sunday night, the BOY made some of his famous grilled fajitas for dinner while I finished laundry and other exciting household stuff.




Monday morning, I woke up to run 5 miles in the cold and dark and then realized I didn’t have to work that afternoon and would much rather run later!  Instead I was a TA in a graduate classroom that morning, which I LOVE!  Then took the rest of the afternoon off to spend time with a friend, who is soon moving to Arizona and catch a late night Cubs game with my family.




We had the most beautiful evening…even if the Cubs didn’t win!




I slept Monday night at my parent’s house and got to sleep in after our late night.  Tuesday morning, the first thing on my agenda was a 6 mile run.  Which went great!  Even without pushing and on tired legs times all of the stairs at the Cubs game, I still made decent time.  I spent the rest of the day at work and come home late.




Moving on to Wednesday.  I worked a 12 hour day and was just tired and a bit cranky by the end of it.  Although this was the one day I had ‘planned’ a meal of grilled chicken, the BOY and I decided last minute (as I walked in the door) to use our almost expired Cooper’s Hawk gift card for some dinner and a glass of wine.  When I came home, all I wanted to do was curl up like Cooper.




Thursday came with running decisions…my long run of the weekend is 12 miles but I wasn’t exactly sure where to fit in with all of the other excitement I’ve got going on this weekend!  This morning, I really wanted to take advantage of the gorgeous weather and run, but had no energy for speed.  Despite…I pushed through my fatigue to pull out a solid 4 mile pace run maintaining less than 8:30 minute miles.




I’m still not exactly sure when I will be squeezing in this next long run…tomorrow morning I have a massage booked : )  But I’m sure I’ll get to it eventually!  I had some strong runs this week in perfect fall weather.  Woo Hoo!  This week has been pretty crazy as I’m sure you can tell from this scattered post.  Plus, it’s been tough to blog (and read your wonderful blogs) with Cooper all up on my computer.





So back to the purpose of the this post…the taper!

I’ve been skimming through Hal Higdon’t book Marathon for the past two months.  I found the chapter on tapering to be one of the most interesting. 


Here are a few things that I learned from Hal…

-Marathon training is not the time to lose weight.

-Tapering should begin 3 weeks before race day after your longest (most likely 20 mile) run

-Decrease mileage by ~25% each week.

-Decrease running frequency.

-Even though you are decreasing weekly mileage, you should keep up your pace and intensity to get your body used to the speed.

-Don’t use your free time for other exercise, such as strength training.

-Begin increasing carbs each meal the week before the marathon.

-Don’t try to make up for any lost training during your taper.

-Cut back on calories during your taper.

-Eliminate junk food and empty calories the entire week before your race.

-It is ok to have a beer the night before the race if that’s what you typically do.

-Tour the course if you are able.

-Don’t overeat the night before. Hal says ‘Eat what you usually eat. Drink what you usually drink.’

-Don’t worry too much about sleep the night before the race, but get a good night’s sleep two nights before.


Hal says that he almost does no work for the last 3 days before the marathon with a light jog the day before.


I have been doing a lot of mental preparation this week as I get closer to race day.  I seem to have found a new love of carbs, potatoes in particular and of course worry about my strength as I decrease my miles and frequency.


My last piece of advice…

Trust the Taper!!!



Are you tapering right now?

What tips do you have?

Guess What’s Back???



If your mouth is watering and you’re thinking Candy Corn Oreos, then you are correct!




I am a HUGE fan of this seasonal cookie and used them to make this memorable Candy Corn Oreo Cake Batter Fudge last fall.




This year, I swore off candy corn until Halloween, but that doesn’t include these Oreos.


IMG_2759 IMG_2760


A friend picked me up a bag and after tasting a few and sharing a few more, I knew I wanted to turn them into another creative treat.  After the success of last year’s fudge, I knew there was nothing these Oreo’s couldn’t do.




I decided after searching a friend’s pinterest account for inspiration that I wanted to make an Oreo stuffed sugar cookie.  For time’s sake, I went the easy route with store bought, premade, cookie dough, but of course you can always make your own.




At first, I debated making a double layered stuffed cookie (with sugar cookie on the top and bottom of them Oreo), but then decided that was too much cookie.  I was a little nervous about whether these cookies would turn out and then once I saw how cute they were, I was nervous about how I would get them out of my muffin pan.




But it all turned out fabulously!




And these sweet cookies are a serious crowd favorite!  I know that Oreo is getting more and more creative, so you can do with any kind of Oreo/Cookie combo that suits your palate.





Has anyone else tried Candy Corn Oreos? 

Did you bake with them?



Candy Corn Oreo Stuffed Sugar Cookies

Makes 24 cookies



24 Candy Corn (or your favorite flavor) Oreos

1 package of premade sugar cookie dough



Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray a muffin tray with cooking spray.  Place one square of cookie dough into the bottom of each cup, using your fingers to spread it out.

Push one cookie into each piece of dough.

Bake for 10-11 minutes until edges begin to brown.

Remove from oven and loosen the edges of each cookie with a knife.  Then let cookies cool for ~20 minutes.  Cookies should slide out of the tray easily. 

Store in an airtight container and enjoy within 1-2 days of baking.

Cake Batter Puppy Chow {Revisited}

Remember this little guy?




Well, he turns 1 this weekend (this photo made his invite) and since his Mom is my BFF from this picture, I begged volunteered to help out with birthday treats!  She put in a request for some appetizers, so of course, I made everyone’s favorite Sorority Spinach Dip.  And since she knows I’m a big fan of the puppy chow, she suggested a bowl of that.


IMG_2731 IMG_2735


For a first birthday party, only one kind of puppy chow is appropriate…Cake Batter Puppy Chow.  I actually learned about this recipe at a first birthday party, and it has appeared on the blog before.  Per usual, I had my unwanted kitchen helper : )




Whose nose I was able to keep out of the bowl of chocolate covered Chex.




The secret ingredient to this recipe, is cake mix!




You cover your white chocolate coated cereal in mostly cake mix, with only a little bit of powdered sugar.




For that perfect cake-like taste!




I’ll tell you that it doesn’t have to be a birthday party to dig into this bag of goodness!




Wondering what to do with your leftover cake mix?

Cake Batter Fudge is totally the WAY TO GO!





Cake Batter Puppy Chow

From The Girl Who Ate Everything



6 cups Chex cereal

10 ounces white chocolate chips

1 heaping cup yellow cake mix

1/4 cup powdered sugar




Pour Chex into a big bowl.

Melt white chocolate chips in microwave in 30 second increments until smooth.  Stir well and pour over cereal, using a spatula to distribute evenly.

Immediately sprinkle with sprinkles.  Pour yellow cake mix over cereal.  Use spatula to mix.  Pour powdered sugar over cereal and fold everything together so that all of the pieces are covered.

Add more sprinkles if desired.

Sore in air tight container at room temperature or in the freezer.


*Recipe easily doubles to use up one full box of Chex and cake mix.

Dress Rehearsal

When I decided to follow the intermediate training plan, I was looking forward to attempting two 20 mile runs.

With one already behind me, I am was still nervous about this last long run.  It’s just in my nature and probably how I will always be.  There were a lot of things not lined up for this run, including my new shoes and my lack of chia seeds for breakfast.  I can’t run without chia seeds!  I prepared almost everything last night, so I could be up and out the door early this morning.  It’s a like a marathon dress rehearsal!




Packet pick up was 6:30am and with the parking situation, you had to get there early in order to avoid walking miles to and from your car.  I arrived right at 6:30 and got a pretty decent parking spot.  There was more than enough time to pick up my packet and cute new 20 miler socks, and use the potty twice.  It was a stunning morning with the full moon still hanging in the sky.




In true fashion, I made a friend, who happened to graduate from my high school (a few years after I did) in line for the potties.  We didn’t run together because she is many minutes faster than I.    At 7:30am, I walked over to the start line.  This is the perfect sized supported run, and even before it began, everyone was very friendly and helpful.  I must say I felt a little jealous of all of the running groups there together.




I ended up lined with wave 5, the second 9 min/mile wave.  When we first hit the course, I realized that I didn’t want to begin at 9 minute miles, so I pulled out ahead.  My goal was to maintain miles closer to 8:30 for the first 10 miles and then fall back to 9 minute miles for as long as I could.   Within the first 2 miles, my calves and right peroneals were burning.  I’m guessing this had to do with running in my new shoes.  In my head, I broke the race down into sections.  The first 5 miles flew and my legs started feeling better as I found my stride around 3 1/2 miles.




Mile 10 was back by the Elks, living in the park.  With half the run over, I decided to focus on the last 10 miles.  I told myself it’s an easy out and back and I could do this on tired legs.  My miles definitely slowed over the last half of the race.  I remember that mile 15 was the hardest when I ran the 20 miler two years ago, and I struggled through miles 15-16 in the marathon too.  So I was not surprised when I had to stay focused and push myself through the last 5 miles.  My goal was just to take in water when I could and maintain my pace as close to 9:00 minutes as possible.  As I passed the mile 18 sign, I was able to find enough power to finish the last 2 miles strong.  When I saw the Elks again, I knew the finish was near.  I pushed up the last little hill and sailed down to the finish.  I pushed m pace some, but also kept in mind that in the real race, I’ll have another 6 miles to go.




My Garmin was a little off from the race course, but both times met my expectations.  I had an unspoken goal of wanting to finish in 2:55, which on race day would leave me one hour for the last 6 miles.   My watch buzzed 20 miles at a time of 2:54:17 and crossed the finish at 2:55:30.  My fastest mile was 8:07 and my slowest was 9:31.  My average throughout was 8:42 min/miles with my last mile clocking in at 8:58.  I felt pretty good when I was finished and was happy to stretch, nibble on pretzels, and chat with other runners.  Even though there were tons of people running, I spent most of the time running by myself, which gave me plenty of time to think about the upcoming marathon and life in general.


20 Miles of Thoughts

Thank you Readers!  My new black shoes were AWESOME for today’s run!

I remember how hard the marathon really was.

Today’s outfit will be perfect for race day. I’ve been training in shorts, but hope to wear capri’s for the marathon.

I need a new race belt.  My current one works for tri’s when I don’t have much in it.  Today, it was bouncing everywhere and I had trouble getting my nutrition in and out of it.

Oh!  She’s wearing a cute race belt!

Don’t forget to cut up your Larabar before the marathon like you did today.

My Garmin is great for pacing!

I need a better plan for when I take in nutrition and water.

I should have packed a post run snack.

If things align, I could reach my marathon PR goal.  This is the first run where I felt like this!

Hooray for carbs and tapering!


Hey Marathoners, how did your 20 miler go?

What do you do when your Garmin and course don’t match up?

How do you decide when to eat or drink during a run?



Total Weekly Mileage

37.6 miles


Countdown to Marathon

3 weeks