Who else likes the site of a nicely browned, almost black banana?  While I prefer bananas on the greener side (though not as green as I used to...), I often buy a bunch of banana, forget that I have them, and they soon become too brown for me to eat plain.  It may seem thus that I personally don't like the site of black bananas, but in reality, nothing could be farther from the truth.  You see, that part about "forgetting" I have them?  Well, that's kind of on purpose... Why?  Well, browned/black bananas equal banana oatmeal, banana pancakes, or more importantly, banana bread.  

So when I saw some lonely, way-past-eating-plain bananas sitting lonely on my counter, I knew just how to remedy the situation.  Now I also had about three-fourths of a zucchini in a fridge that was also looking for some attention.  So I dumped them in a pot and threw it in the oven and out popped some of the best banana zucchini bread that I've ever made.

Now to be fair, I've never made banana zucchini bread before (I know, I know, I'm sure it's something that everyone else has made loads of times :P ) so that last statement is a bit misleading.  But if there weren't tiny specks of green, you would think that your were eating plain 'ole banana bread.  And then you might agree that it was some of the best banana bread you had ever had.  At least that was my experience, and I hope it is yours as well!
Banana Zucchini Bread
Makes 4 small loaves or 1 large loaf

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup spelt flour (you could probably sub for a gluten-free flour)
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (if you want to really be able to taste it, add more)
  • 2 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 cup shredded zucchine (about 3/4 of a medium sized zucchini)
  • 1/4 cup agave (could probably sub maple syrup or honey)
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon liquid stevia (adjust to taste)
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted and cooled
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup almond milk

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.*
  2. Combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon in a large mixing bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, thoroughly mix the remaining ingredients.
  4. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry until well combined, but don't over mix.
  5. Scoop the batter into a greased loaf pan or four mini loaf pans.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes, turning half ways through.**  Test with a toothpick.  Allow the bread to cool in the pan for a few minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack.  (The bread is pretty moist so you may want to store it in the fridge if you won't be eating all of it right away.)

*My loaf pan is dark which is supposed to bake at a lower temperature.  If you are using a lighter pan (such as the silver ones), I would try setting the oven to 375.
**This time was for my four mini loaves.  If you are making one big loaf, it will probably take closer to an hour.
This was one of my first attempts to bake with coconut flour, but it turned out perfectly!  I couldn't be happier with the result.  So if you're skeptical of it, maybe give it a try!

I also wanted to give a quick update on my foot... I went to the doctor yesterday, and while I don't have a fracture, it's close.  My bones weren't recovering quick enough from my runs (apparently the break down and build up just like muscles) which is what caused my issue.  It sounded like it had finally healed, but I got back into training too intensely too quickly and messed it up again.  He said it would probably be mid February before I can run again, and even then, it will only be for 2-3 minutes every three days until I can work up to running more.  So that half marathon in two weeks?  Ya, that isn't going to happen.  Learning that was really hard for me, but I know that it is more important that I get my body healed and healthy.  In the intern, I'm going to work on running in the pool, which I'm actually quite excited about!  So anyway, that's that.  The good thing is that is sounds like I will heal and be able to run again, but it is going to take time.


Have a great weekend, my friends!


Question:

Have you ever baked with coconut flour?
 
 
Happy first day of 2014 everyone!!  You may have noticed that I didn't write the infamous New Year's resolution post, and that is because, to be honest, I'm pretty happy with my life, and there's not a lot I'm looking to change.  However, one thing that I do want to work on is not stressing myself out so much about school.  If you've been reading my blog for a while, you'll know that that was my goal for this past semester.  Yeah, that didn't exactly go as planned... but it's a new year so no use dwelling on the past!  Here's to a stress free (or at least less stress) 2014!

Did everyone have a good New Year's Eve?  I rang in the new year with some awesome chocolate and a 5k!  So without further ado, let's jump into WIAW!
The last day of my 2013 started with an apple and green tea (just like most any other morning), and was followed by waffles!  I've had a couple of waffle failures lately (you guys know about the worst one), so I went with my go-to waffle recipe.  I always make them with spelt flour and an egg white, and they never dissapoint.  Plus, I figured they were good carbs to load up on for my 5k!
Obviously they didn't hold together completely, but they still tasted amazing!

Mid-morning I snacked on some kale chips, and then at lunch time I dug into this plate:
Once again, I was going for carbs, and a sweet potato seemed like a good choice!  (But then again, when is a sweet potato NOT a good choice?!)  I covered it in loads of peanut flour paste and cinnamon and had it along with Kashi hummus crisps (addicted) and roasted brussels sprouts.

After lunch, it was chocolate time!  My mom and I make homemade truffles every year, and let me tell you what, they are the best truffles on the planet.  And no, I'm not exaggerating one bit. ;)  I would say they aren't the slightest bit healthy as the only two ingredients are chocolate and heavy cream, but we all know that chocolate, with all those antioxidants, is practically a health food.  Or if you don't buy that, will you at least buy that these little gems are good for the soul?
So we made them (and of course, had to taste test them), and then my dad dipped licorice.  We ended up with quite a bit of melted chocolate left over, so we went a liiiiittle crazy.  I dipped and ate a pistachio, macadamia nut, almond, spicy chipotle peanut (so good!), blueberry, and raspberry.  Just look at that gorgeous chocolate-covered raspberry!!  I dipped it so that it ended up filled with chocolate.  Move over strawberries, there's a new berry in town.
Picture
By the way, that is my mom's beautiful hand not mine. :)
We also dipped, and have yet to try, lemon ginger chews, oreo cookies, peppermint stick, orange segments, and lime segments.  And we made some pistachio clusters and spicy chipotle peanut clusters.  I would show you a picture of the pistachio clusters I made, but you might be eating, and they're not exactly appetizing (they kind of look like a bird had an accident in the house... and we'll leave it at that).

About half an hour before we headed to the race, I had my pre-run snack of a piece of toast with peanut butter and banana.
The 5k was in the dark which was a new and rather fun experience!
It was on a college campus so luckily they had rented a classroom for registration.
There were around 400 participants in the 5k, which seemed like quite a bit to me considering there were about that many in the half marathon that I did in September.  When I first signed up, I was worried that it would be cold, but being dressed in my warm running clothes, it was the perfect running temperature!
Picture
The start line!
To be honest, this race was tough for me.  Really tough.  Overall, I'm fairly out of shape because my foot hasn't allowed to be run a lot.  I took the three days before the race completely off from running in the hopes that it would be fine for this run, but it started hurting not too long after the start.  I probably should have stopped, but when I'm in that running atmosphere,  I can't give it any less than my all.  That is honestly one of the things that I love about running, but this time it worked against me.  I kept up a steady pace through out the course, but my foot was hurting, and I felt like I was going to throw up.  Still, I picked up the pace and sprinted for about the last tenth of a mile and passed everyone that was between me and the finish.  I have to say that that felt good!  Until I stopped running, almost threw up, and couldn't really walk.

My official time was 25:46 (which I was pretty proud of considering everything!), and I got second in my age group.
Today, my foot hurts.  A lot.  And I'm just praying that I didn't mess it up for good.  Looking back, perhaps I should have just walked it, but that is much easier said than done!  Even though I've never considered myself a very competitive person, that changes a bit when I enter the racing environment.  But let's move on to brighter topics... such as food!

We had planned to go to Panera afterwards (one of my favorite restaurants ever!), but it had closed early for New Year's Eve.  I was so sad!  We ended up going to a Thai restaurant instead and took the food to go.  I ordered some kind of a shrimp salad that sounded like it had a lot of interesting goodies in it, but it was awful!  It was basically a pile of rice noodles with a few shrimps.  The shrimp wasn't seasoned at all, and the rice noodles tasted like they had beed doused in nothing but fish sauce.  Especially after that run, it wasn't the slightest bit appetizing.  Instead, I took out the shrimp and dipped them in hot sauce.
Obviously that was no where near enough food to fill me up so I also had a bowl of peas and a wrap consisting of a flat-out wrap filled with hummus, provolone, avocado, lettuce, and tomato.  Much better!
Before turning in, I tried some of my dad's chocolate covered licorice, and even though I'm not a big fan of licorice, these were really good!
I guess another New Years resolution is to get my foot completely healed.  I have a half marathon in 18 days, but I'm going to look into switching to the early start and walking it.  It just isn't worth putting my foot through even more pain.  Hopefully I will get to see the doctor soon, and maybe they will take some x-rays.  The first doctor that I went to told me it was probably plantar fasciitis, but I'm not fully convinced it is.  I kind of hope it is though because I think that would be easier to heal than a fracture or something.  I just hope that someday it will no longer be an issue and that I can just run without worrying about it!

I hope you all had a wonderful and safe evening last night and that 2014 brings you joy and good times!  I am so thankful to have your continued love and support. <3


Questions:

Have you ever dipped truffles, fruit, etc.?  What is the strangest thing you've had that was covered in chocolate?

Did you have a good New Year's Eve?
 
 
You might be tired of seeing Christmas recaps around the blog world, but I'm going to put you through one more.  Sorry I'm not sorry.  Don't worry though, there will be lots (lots) of pictures!  Let's start with Christmas Eve, the night when my family and I have our special Christmas dinner.  Each year, we have the same amazing dinner, and it is one of my favorite parts of Christmas.  Each member of my family contributes something to the dinner.  My mom makes her outstanding scalloped potatoes:
My mom and I make the bread rolls together (I think I could live on them alone):
I make Maple Glazed Veggies (big surprise that I make the vegetable dish):
And my dad makes the lamb, which of course I don't eat, but he also makes an incredible rosemary sauce that I bathe my chickpeas in.  Here's the entire spread:
And my plate filled with the goodies:
You may be wondering what my brother contributes to the meal.  Well, he's not exactly into cooking, but he always contributes well to the whole eating part.  Except for when it comes to the veggies... it doesn't matter how I cook them, he won't touch them!  Ah well, with me and my unconditional love for veggies, I guess we balance each other out. ;)

Oh and dessert!  We mustn't forget dessert!!  Here my mom shines again with her chocolate cream pie:
You have not lived until you've had a slice of that heaven.

After dinner, we drove around and looked at Christmas lights like we do every year.  Overall, it was pretty disappointing!  People just didn't decorate all that much this year.  But we did find a couple of houses with people that went all out.  I always wish we could stumble across a street like the one from Christmas with the Kranks.  Who knows what I'm talking about, and how awesome would that be?!

Upon returning home, we read our Christmas books (the Polar Express, The Night Before Christmas, etc.), and then I was off to bed!  I had to get to sleep so that Santa would come. ;)

Christmas morning, I came down to this:
Side note:  Isn't our tree cute?!  We usually get really tall trees that we have to cut the top off of because they scrape the ceiling, but this year we couldn't find one (which might be a good thing because once it was so tall that it fell over in the middle of the night!).  So this one is about the same height as me.  It definitely made decorating easier - we didn't have to use a latter!

Since I was the only one up and I knew that it would be a while until breakfast,  I snacked on an apple and then had a Christmas cookie.  A special Christmas cookie because it was shaped like Piglet.  Does anyone else love Piglet??  When I was little, I called him Pigget (and still sometimes do...).  I've always thought that he is just too cute!! 
I then cleaned the kitchen for my mom, and several hours later, we opened presents!  I was so happy that everyone liked the gifts that I gave them.  It just makes my day to be able to put a smile on my family's faces.  

My parents travelled all over the world this past semester while I was at school, so they brought me back gifts from Vermont, Peru, Denmark, and Italy.  It made everything so special!  And my brother got me a Garmin!!
I was so excited that I took it on it's maiden voyage Christmas day!
I took it slow and easy for the sake of my foot.  I'm absolutely in love with this thing!!  And I love all the detailed information that you get when you upload it to Garmin Connect.  I'm now even more excited to go running!!

Going back in time a bit (just step inside my time machine), my dad made French toast for breakfast after we opened gifts!  For mine, he used Dave's killer bread, which turned out fantastic!  I topped part of it with chocolate pb2, which I loved, but I actually preferred the French toast plain - you can really taste the buttery flavor!  Of course, I had another piece. :)
And that's a [gift] wrap!  Sorry, I guess that was a failed attempt at some humor.  Anyway, I wanted to end with a few pictures of my pups!  These pictures just plain make me laugh.  They're like those pictures that are taken that you're not ready for, and you feel like you look like you're in the worst state possible.  In other words, I don't think this is really what my dogs actually look like.  I think they're adorable pictures anyway though... the angle just makes them goofy!
The best part about this Christmas (well, any Christmas really, but I've noticed it even more since I started college) was being able to spend time with my family - including the fury friends.  Christmas might be over, but I still have several weeks with my family before heading back to school, and I plan on cherishing every minute of it!

So now I want to know - how was your Christmas, if you celebrate?  Did you get to spend time with your family?
 
 
...the children were nestled all snug in their beds while visions of chocolate peppermint donuts danced in their heads.  Wait, that's not how the poem goes?  I guess the children they were talking about doesn't include me.  Though the poem describes the night before Christmas not the night before the night before Christmas.  Perhaps tonight my head will be filled with sugar plums, though these donuts are more likely to make an appearance.

It's Christmas Eve, and I couldn't be more in the Christmas spirit!  My mom and I will soon be making bread rolls and chocolate pie, I'll be wrapping gifts (please tell me I'm not the only one who hasn't done this yet!), and I will watch Frosty and Rudolph because no one is ever to old for that.  Or I just haven't grown up yet, which is just as likely.  

But anyway, back to the donuts.  These donuts:
Do I really need to say anything more?  Probably not, but I'm going to anyway.  Chocolate peppermint donuts topped with two different peppermint icings and then sprinkled wit crushed candy cane... do these not sound like the perfect holiday breakfast?  Not to mention that the donuts themselves have around 15 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber.  Not bad for donuts.  It gives you the perfect excuse to eat an extra cookie or two.  At least that's going to be my excuse.
Chocolate Peppermint Donuts
Serves 1

Ingredients (for the donuts):
  • 1/4 cup spelt flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 3 tablespoon liquid egg whites or 1 egg white
  • 1/8 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • stevia extract to taste (I use liquid stevia)
  • 1/4 of a candy cane, crushed


Ingredients (for the icing):
Either:
  • 4 teaspoons coconut butter
  • 1 teaspoon agave
  • 8 drops peppermint extract
Or:
  • 4 teaspoons vanilla protein powder
  • 3 teaspoons almond milk (or other milk of choice)
  • Stevia or agave if the powder isn't sweetened
  • 8 drops peppermint extract

OR you can do half of each and frost the two donuts with different icings!

Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a donut pan (I use coconut oil).
  2. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa powder, and chocolate chips.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the yogurt, egg white, extract, and stevia.
  4. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and fold together until combined, but don't over-mix.  Allow the batter to sit for a few minutes.
  5. Spoon the batter into the donut pan and bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes.  Test with a toothpick!
  6. For the icing: melt the coconut butter for 30 seconds in the microwave and then stir in the agave and extract OR stir together the protein powder, almond milk, and extract.  Frost the donuts with the icing and sprinkle with the crushed candy cane.
And now, the moment you have all been waiting for... time for the great green glob reveal!!!  Last time, I left you all with this picture and asked you to guess what it was.
I loved reading all your guesses!  Here is what you guys came up with:

  • a quinoa dish
  • kale chips/baked kale
  • veggie chips
  • kale/broccoli dish

However the actual identity isssss (drum roll).... waffles!!  You see, I made an attempt to make green monster waffles by blending spinach into the batter.   The problem was that there was too much moisture from the spinach, and when I opened the waffle iron, this met my eyes:
Because I don't see any point in letting good ingredients go to waste, I scraped the waffle iron clean (which was a workout end of itself), and ended up with the pile of green twigs that you see above.  The whole experience ended with a good laugh when my mom came down the stairs, spotted the bright green glob, and started roaring with laughter.  When my mom lives three years longer from all the laughing that ensued that morning, you can thank me.  And of course, this will not be my last green monster waffle attempt.  This is not a failure, only a minor set back.  Okay, okay, it was a complete failure, but I won't let that stop me!


And now I want to wish you all a MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!  I hope your night is filled with visions of chocolate peppermint donuts and your morning is filled with loved ones and good food.  I am so thankful to have met such wonderful people through blogging!  <3

Questions:

What are your Christmas plans?

What was your last cooking failure?
 
 
Happy Sunday everyone!  Who's ready for Christmas?!  I know that I'm just enjoying spending time with my friends and family!  My Grandparents are currently visiting, and we always have such a good time together so I'm really enjoying it!

Now last post I did before my hiatus, I'd recently completed a half marathon, so you may be wondering where my running has taken me since.  Well to be honest, it hasn't really taken me anywhere.  I guess that is a bit of a lie - let me back up.  On October 26, I ran my first 10k.  It was definitely a success in my book!  I had an official time of 49:52 and got first in my age group.  Oh and I got the coolest medal ever.  Yes, EVER.
Oh and the bones glow in the dark.  Try to contain you jealousy.

So anyway, the moment I stopped running after crossing the finish line, something happened in my feet, and I literally couldn't walk.  I stumbled forward, and after a few minutes, I found myself limping on.  I scheduled an appointment with the doctor on campus for the beginning of the next week, and she said it was either a foot fracture or planter fascitis.  Either way, she ordered me to stay off my feet for at least two weeks.  I've never been very good at following doctor's orders, but I didn't want to mess up my feet for life and never be able to run again.  So I put my running shoes aside and gave running a break.  

My left foot healed right away, but even after two weeks, my right foot really hadn't improved.  So I gave it some more time.  After a month, it had improved quite a bit, so I decided to see if it was fully healed by doing a trial run.  I thought that it was better, but the next day, I realized I had made it worse again by running on it.  So, back to the drawing board.  I didn't run on it again until about a week and a half ago, but I'm happy to report that it is finally healed.  Unfortunately, I had my wisdom teeth removed about a week ago so I've only been able to run once since, but now that I'm almost fully healed, I'm getting back to the roads.

I'm going to have to be careful, of course, that I don't get back into it too quickly and hurt my foot again.  Especially since I have another half marathon in about a month.  Yep, a half marathon when I, essentially, haven't run for the past two months.  I am so out of shape (even the 2.5 miles I did a week and a half ago were a challenge - though I did do about six miles last Friday and they felt amazing), but I'm not one to back out of something once I've committed.  Even if it means crawling across the finish line, I'm going to do it and I'm going to finish.


And now, I'm curious...  What do you think this is a picture of?
Believe or not, it is food - I made it, and I ate it.  Though It didn't turn exactly how I had planned... I'll reveal its identity in my next post!  

In case I don't get a chance to post again before Wednesday, I hope you all have a truly wonderful Christmas and get to spend it with people you love!!


Questions:  


Have you ever experienced a set-back in running or other kind of fitness activity?



I'd really love to hear your  guesses about the green blob above!

 
 
Well, hello there.  How has everyone been over the past, er, several months?  As much as I wanted to keep up the blog over last semester, college got too busy...  How does that happen?!  Oh well, I am finally home for the holidays which means that school has been completely wiped from my mind.  I wish that that also meant that I've been cooking up a storm, but since I had my wisdom teeth taken out last Friday, I've had to stick to stick to soft foods for the most part.  Thankfully, donuts fit the bill, so they were my breakfast of choice both yesterday morning and this morning.  In honor of WIAW, I thought I'd share the recipe!  Now I've shared it before, but it was quite some time ago, and is there really such a thing as too many donut recipes?  I didn't think so.
Now the star of the show here is the frosting.  I could eat it all day, everyday and be one happy lady.  Okay, okay, I'd need a few other things thrown in there to really be happy (e.g. chocolate, gotta have chocolate obviously), but you know what I mean.  The light and airy subtly flavored donut base is perfect.  It isn't at all selfish and lets the icing do the talking.  Oh dear, I'm making food talk and letting it have personalities...  I better just give you the recipe before things get too out of hand!
Peanut Butter Coconut Maple Frosted Donuts
Serves 1

Ingredients (donuts):
  • 1/4 cup spelt flour (I've also had good results with brown rice flour!)
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 egg white (or just under 1/4 cup liquid egg whites)
  • 3.5 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon extract of choice (I've had good results with almond, maple, and hazelnut extract)
  • Stevia, to taste (I use liquid stevia)

Ingredients (frosting):
  • 2 teaspoons coconut butter
  • 2 teaspoons peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon pure maple syrup

Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and nutmeg.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg white, yogurt, extract, and stevia.
  4. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry, and allow it to sit undisturbed for a minute or two.
  5. Pour the batter into a greased donut pan (I use coconut oil to grease).
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for 13-15 minutes.  Test with a toothpick!
  7. For the frosting, melt the coconut butter and peanut butter together in the microwave for about 30 seconds.  Stir in the maple syrup.
  8. Remove the donuts from the pan, frost, and devour!  

Now since it's only a week to Christmas, my next baking adventures will be cookies - butter-laden, sugar filled cookies.  No healthifying when it comes to Christmas cookies!  Christmas comes but once a year, and we've got to live it up, am I right?!  I'll be sure to share the goodies with you, and I also plan to do a running update post and Quest Bar review in the near future. Fasten your seat-belts, this blog is going for a ride!

I hope all you lovely people are doing well and are preparing for a wonderful holiday!


Question:  What is your favorite Christmas cookie?
 
 
Thank you all so much for your wonderful words on my last post!!  I really appreciate you guys taking time out of your day to congratulate me!

Now I promised a recap, and so here it is!  Enjoy!

One thing I have decided, 3:30 is way to early to get up.  Especially if you were so excited the night before that you could hardly sleep and then realize that you finally were asleep when the blazing alarm takes away your dreams and shoves reality in you face.  And then when you see the e-mail that says that despite the rain and wind the marathon is still on, you wonder why on earth you are no longer tucked away in your comfy little bed sound asleep.  And then it finally hits you - you have trained three months for this morning so you better get moving or you just might miss it!  So by 4:30, I had finished my typical pre-run breakfast (bread+banana+peanut butter), and my brother and I were off!  (Yes, he took me at 4:30 in the morning.  Do I not have the best brother ever?!)

Once we arrived at the finish line (where the packet pickup was), and once I had gotten my packet (not a good sign when you're soaked before you even get to the start line...), we ventured to the start about 20 minutes away.  It was kind of sketch getting there because it was foggy/rainy/windy and we were surrounded by forest, but there were no souls in sight.  But we did eventually find it with plenty of time to spare.  My stomach felt a little wonky which worried me, but after a quick trip to the restroom (taking advantage of the fact that there was no line), I felt fine and ready to run!  That was, until I made my way to the start line and found that I was literally shaking and my teeth were chattering.  Again that question of why did I get out of bed?! creeped in.  But it also made me more excited to run because I just wanted to get moving so I could get warm!  Since it was rainy, I wore my rain jacket.  I though I might get hot, but I stayed comfortable the whole way!  
Picture
My number! Loved the "I can do this"!
Picture
Ready to take it on.
Picture
Waiting by the start line!
Since it was raining quite a bit, I made the decision to not bring my phone with me, aka no music and no way to know my pace.  I admit that this make me a bit nervous.  Two hours seemed like a long time with no music, and I wasn't sure how I was going to know what my pace was - I had an idea in my head of a good pace to keep to ensure that I was able to finish and not burn out too quickly.  But in the end, I think not having my phone was a blessing in disguise.  No music allowed me to focus on the beautiful scenery, and not knowing my pace forced me to listen to my body and let it tell me my comfortable pace (which ended up being much lower than I would have expected!).

We were set out in waves, and I hung back until the fourth or fifth wave (there were probably about 20 waves total, but that included the walkers). The first two miles were the quickest two miles I think I've ever run.  Except for a big uphill at first, it was pretty much all a good downhill on the road.  The only trouble was that it was slippery so I couldn't fly down like I wanted too.  After about 1.5 miles on the road, we were one the trail and weaving around curves through the most gorgeous forest - ferns, moss covered trees, little streams.  It was picturesque to the max!  Even once I hit mile 4 (where I took my second round of Clif shot blocks, the first being about five minutes before I started), I still felt very fresh and couldn't believe how quickly this whole experience was going.  Was I really almost a third of the way done?!  

I didn't have anything to drink at the first aid station, but at the second one, I was thirsty.  I took what they gave me only to realize that it had a pink tint, but it was too late - down the hatch it went.  After one gulp, I threw the rest out.  Had I known it was the electrolyte drink, I would have avoided because I read about how if you're not used to a specific brand, it can upset your stomach if you try it for the first time while on a long run/race.  But thankfully, it didn't seem to have an effect.  It did cause me to avoid the next couple water stations though!  However, I did manage some water at the last two stations.

Mile five and six didn't fly by, but they were steady.  Around mile six, we crossed a really long board-walk like bridge, and I would run the whole thing again simply to go over that bridge once more!  It was almost like running over a tropical forest.  

About half way through the half marathon, the trail turned from gradual downhill curves to being straight and flat.  After this point, every mile got increasingly longer.  We were no longer running through the forest, but first across a wide field and then along side the road.  Luckily, thanks to the thick foliage, I couldn't actually see the road, but the trail didn't hold my attention like it did in the forest.  (Though I did get distracted by the apples and blackberries growing on the sides of the trail and several times considered stopping for a re-fueling snack...).  

At about mile 8 (where I had my final round of shot blocks), my body still felt okay, but it had begun to turn into a mind game.    I fought pretty much the rest of the way to the finish line.  At about mile 11, I could feel it in my entire body.  Now, I was battling my mind and body, but I was determined to win.  I knew that I could do it, I just had to convince myself continually that that was the case.

We made it into town pretty soon after mile 11, and that gave me hope that I was almost there.  It also changed up the scenery which was nice!  My body wanted to slow, but I wouldn't let it.  People driving by in cars would roll down their windows to cheer which was so nice and really did help me to keep my motivation.  I remember being in sort of a trance at this point where I was just running at the same speed as if I was a robot and not really going anywhere but like the scenery was being pulled by around me.  But I could have sworn the miles were getting longer!  At one point I thought that they had neglected to put up the 12 mile marker so that it would seem like more of a relief when you finished (or something like that), so it was a bit depressing when I found that was not the case, and the 12 mile marker gleamed before me.  One part of me said, "oh you only have one more mile!" wile the other part said, "you still have one more mile?!"  And let me tell you what, that last mile was the longest. of. my. life.  

There were so many turns around corners that it was like the course was teasing me.  And the officials/volunteers kept saying that we were almost there making me feel like it was around the next corner but nope!  I remember thinking, "come on, where is it?!  I just want to be done!"  Finally, I saw the park, but of course, I had to make a lap around the park first haha.  When I finally turned the final corner and was only about a tenth of a mile from the finish line, I saw that the time was just over one hour and fifty minutes.  "I'm going to finish in under two hours!" flashed through my mind (that was going to be my goal for my next half if I did one!).  And then, I ran.  I mean ran, as in sprinted.  I was going to finish this strong.  And in the process, I managed to pass several other runners!  Nothing felt better than crossing that finish line.  It was over, I had done it.  
After literally stumbling once I tried walking, I was handed my medal and found my brother (who was in fact standing right in front of me, I just felt a bit delirious at first haha).  We headed to the tent to get out of the rain and wind, and they had rows of subway sandwiches, bananas, oranges, and a bunch of Sunripe fruit strips.  I had a piece of orange as it sounded refreshing and later had half of a veggie sandwich that they had portioned in the bags (plus an extra one and a bunch of bananas and fruit strips to take back to the dorm) even though I really wasn't very hungry yet - I just figured I should eat something after running that far!  It took a while (read: a LONG time) to get official results as the computers weren't working, but once we finally got them (they actually ended up changing - the time they first gave me was about 3.5 minutes higher than my official time) we headed off.  My official time, in case you didn't see it last week, was 1:51:35, I placed first in my age group, and placed 24/260 females which I was pretty excited about!  

We sopped at Whole Foods because by this time I was starving, and I got exactly what I wanted - pizza!!!  And let me tell you what, it never tasted so good.
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Side of broccoli and strawberries.
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Re-hydrated with a carrot, apple, cucumber juice.
I know that this is already a monster long post, but I want to take a minute to reflect on this whole experience.  First off, it was one of the best and most rewarding experiences of my life.  That might sound cheesy, but it is entirely true.  At the beginning of the summer, I could barely run 2 miles without feeling like I was going to die, yet in the following three months, I took on the challenge to do something that at one time seemed impossible, and I conquered it.  I've worked hard for grades in school, but I don' think I have ever worked as hard as I did for the ability to cross that finish line.  Further, this experience has really added a new kind of appreciation for my body.  I put it through so much over the past few months, so much intense training, and on the day of the half marathon, it carried me through with a time I didn't know was possible.  I continually feel proud of it for what it did, and I haven't ceased to marvel at the things our bodies can do.  So if you don't think you can do, you just might surprise yourself.

And finally, it's time for a bit of recognition.  First, I have to thank my parents.  They have shown me so much love and support throughout this whole experience, and although they couldn't personally be at my half marathon, I know they were cheering me on from a far.  I'm so lucky to have parents who support me in everything I do.  I don't know what I would do without them.  Second, I've got to recognize my brother because any fellow who drives his sister to a half marathon in the rain at 4:30 in the morning deserves to be recognized.  Having him there meant so much to me!  Third, I have to thank Brittany, once again, for showing me that this experience was not a fantasy but could be reality.  I probably would not have had this experience without her.  And finally, I would like to thank each and everyone of YOU!!  You have offered me so much advice and encouragement throughout this experience, and it meant so much to know that you guys were there for me.  Thank you so much for allowing me to share this experience with you.  Love you guys!

Well, that was a long one, but I hope you enjoyed the recap of one of the most incredible experiences of my life!  I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend and a good week to come!

P.S.  I've almost finished week one of training for my second half marathon.  Yep, it's happening again.  I think I'm addicted.
 
 
I'll be writing a more in-depth post on a future date, but for now, I just wanted to let you know that it's official - I'm a half marathoner!!!
Official time: 1:51:35
First for females ages 15-19!
 
 
First off, I greatly appreciate all your heartfelt comments on my last post when I ranted a bit about my stress levels.  It really helped to read through your suggestions and personal experiences with stress, so thank you!!

But today, I have something on my mind, and it's not stress - it's pure excitement!!!
Yep, my half marathon is only a week away!  I'm literally about to bubble over with excitement (is it wierd that I'm referencing oatmeal to convey my excitement?).  As you might know or have guessed, the last week (or sometimes longer) of training before a marathon/half marathon is extra special.  So I thought I would share my plan of action for the next seven days, including my fueling plan during the half marathon.

In terms of running, I'm planning on doing my final long run tomorrow (the actual distance I go will depend on how I'm feeling, but I'm thinking 10 or 11 miles).  I definitely will try very hard not to push myself too much on this run so I don't ware myself out.  That's the last thing I want!  Monday will be off from running as always, and then Tuesday: 4 miles, Wednesday: 3 miles, and Thursday: 2 miles.  All of these runs will hopefully be light, slower runs - again, just to keep me in shape and not tire me out.  I have my core body class Monday and Wednesday, but I've already talked to my instructor, and I'm going to be extra careful to not push myself when we do our legs portion of the workout. (Side note: I'm super sore from our intense leg workout this past Wednesday, and I'm kind of loving it.  Maybe I could get into strength workouts if I was able to always do them with other people?!  Funny, I though I was an introvert exerciser. :P)

Now the food aspect of next week is where this bad boy starts to get interesting.  First, starting today, I am embarking on a week long caffeine fast.  The reason for this is that it is supposed to enhance the effect of caffeine come race day.  Now I'm not a coffee drinker, so this isn't a huge deal for me, but I will be avoiding chocolate which, I'm not going to lie, is kind of going to suck.  Oh the things I put myself through for the sake of running... Seriously, it is going to be the hardest part of training.  Ten mile runs?  No big deal.  No chocolate?  What am I doing with my life?!

The second big change is that beginning tomorrow after my long run, I will attempt a five day fat load.  I say attempt because it is recommended that you do a three day fat loading trial run earlier in your training to see if your body can handle it, but I never got around to doing that.  I know, I know, shame on me!  So I'll be easing myself into it and see how it goes.  I'm supposed to get 65% of my calories from fat so maybe I'll start with about 50% and see how it goes, or even just be conscious of eating extra amounts of fat.  It's just an experiment after all!  Supposedly, fat loading increases the body's use of fat as fuel and decreases its reliance on carbs.  That way the day of carb loading before the race has more effect because your body won't immediately use the carbs, will save more for the next day, and won't deplete you glycerin stores as quickly during the actual run.  Or something to that effect.  Foods recommended for the fat load that I will be consuming are Greek yogurt, avocados, nuts, and cheese.  Obviously my diet will include other things as well, but these are foods with a large number of their calories coming from fat.  The most exciting part was that I had to go to the grocery store to get some avocados and yogurt - I was reunited with my love once more.  And obviously couldn't stick to just the avocados and yogurt...
Bananas (the were only 19 cents each so I had to stock up!), carrots, avocados, cucumber, coconut oil spray, all-purpose seasoning, olives (another food that gets a lot of its calories from fat), egg whites, Greek Yogurt (I tub of full fat and a tub of 2% as well as some flavored ones for after the fat load), eggplant hummus, tomato and basil hummus, whole grain bread, and dried cranberries.

The day before the half marathon is going to be all about the carbs.  It is recommended to have 10g per kg of body weight so I will need to consume over 500g of carbs.  I'm going to lie, I don't think this will be easy. With the fat load, I'm not too worried if I can't reach the full 65%, but I know that carbs really do enhance running performance from personal experience, so I'm really going to try to get in as much as I can.  I already get a fair amount of carbs on a day-to-day basis, and I have no fear of them, but I don't think I ever come close to that much!  I'm thinking of supplementing a couple meal with orange juice and having bananas as snacks in addition to carb heavy meals.  Any tips on how to get extra carbs would be appreciated!

My pre-run dinner, however, I know exactly what it's going to be.  It's the same meal that I've had before my previous two long runs, and so far it's given me lots of energy and settled well.  Here's the name of the game:
White rice + corn + chickpeas + soy sauce (because I've also read positive things about sodium loading), broccoli, and an orange or orange juice depending on what's available.

There are a few reasons for this meal.  Most importantly, high carbs.  It is also recommended to have low fiber and protein in pre-run meals, but I find that I need both of those for my food to settle properly.  The other is that due to being at the mercy of the cafeteria, I need to be sure that I have a meal I know they will have every night so that I can be confident in my food choice pre-race night.  Best to stick to the tried and true!

Breakfast will be another tried and true classic - bread with peanut butter and a banana.  Again, pre-run meals are suggested to be low in fiber and protein, but this breakfast has a great record of sitting well in my stomach and fueling me through runs.  If it ain't broken, don't fix it.

During the race, I will be fueling with these:
These were recommended to me by Brittany, and I love them!  They're soooo tasty, and I do notice a little difference when I use them.  I will be starting the half with half a pack and then having another half pack every four miles (except for possibly at mile 12 since I'll almost be finished).  At leas that's my plan.  I'm willing to deviate if necessary!  But it worked well in my simulator run.  Supposedly you need at least 30g of carbs per hour to get any effect from them so this will give me at least 36g per hour (if I don't do anything at mile 12).  I mostly just wanted to make sure I did them at an even mile number because there will only be water stations every two miles.

Now, let's talk about times.  Honestly, I have now time "goal."  My only goal is to finish it, which I really don't think will be a problems as my longer runs have gone pretty well.  That being said, I think I can finish in 2:15.  Again if it takes me two and a half hours, so be it!  But I think the 2:15 is reasonable.

Note: the information about the food aspects of the final week come from Matt Fitzgerald's The New Rules of Marathon and Half-Marathon Nutrition.


If you have actually managed to stick with me through this, congrats!  I think that was the longest post I have every written!  But writing it has made even more excited.  I still can't get over the notion that in a week, I will be a half marathoner!  At the same time, I'm also a bit sad that it's almost ever... but then I can start training for another one. ;-)

Thank you all for your love and support through this experience!  It truly means the world to me. <3
 
 
Hello everyone!  I just wanted to check in with you all!  I hope you are all doing wonderful.  Overall, I'm doing pretty good, though to be perfectly honest, I am stressing out about school already.  The first bit is always so rough because you don't know what to expect from tests and other assignments, how the teachers grade, etc.  I really want to believe that everything will be okay not let it get to me, but that is so hard for me to do, and I'm kind of failing at it.  I think I'm doing a fairly descent job with squeezing some fun things in there though!  Take for example labor day weekend.  Instead of spending the entire time studying, I actually had some fun with my friends!  I felt a little guilty about not studying, but I was trying my best to embrace the extra day off, and you know what?  It all worked out - I had fun and I got all of my studying done, with time to spare.  It can be done.

So what exactly did I do?  I think a little weekend recap is in order!  Saturday began with a bit of homework, but after a couple hours, I forwent that in favor of paying my horse a visit.  As I was heading bach, my friend texted me asking if I wanted to go to the coast.  Even though I wanted to say yes right away, it did take some time for me to realize that I could go and not do homework the rest of the day.  Luckily my parents helped me see that I could, and in the end, I just couldn't turn down the thought of such a great time!  So I had a quick lunch, and my three friends and I were off!  We hit terrible traffic on the way, but we eventually caught some awesome views:
Even though it was gorgeously sunny at our school, the coast had a mind of its own with all that fog!  There were several sightseeing areas that we wanted to stop at, but it was so foggy that we couldn't even see the water. In all of the areas but one...
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I thought this bridge looked like it was out of some fantasy movie!
We also found this adorable little souvenir shop!
We drove along the coast for a ways, stopped at a Fred Meyer because a couple of my friends desperately needed a few things, and then we turned to the most important topic: dinner.  We all decided that we wanted pizza so we turned to our phones because what else was there to do? ;-)  We found one that sounded good, but it was on the way back to school so we hopped in the car and headed out, our mouths watering in anticipation of the pizza we were now craving.  I tracked the path on the GPS on my phone, and as we neared, we began to get excited.  Then we were met with: CLOSED.  What?!?  All of that excitement for nothing???  Our hearts sank.  We were too set on pizza to take defeat though.  So back to the phones it was.  Of  course, there were more pizza places, so I routed us to another one.  But our eyes mate the same tragic sight as we neared.  Darn-it, we wanted our pizza!!!

Not sure what to do, we just kept driving trying to decide if we should head back to school and find something there.  Obviously we weren't meant to have pizza.  But then, like magic, it appeared: a pizza shack that was open!  "Look!" I shouted as I pointed to the magnificent site.  We veered to the left and were soon in the parking lot.  It was quite cold inside as the doors were kept open, and we had to clear our own table to get one (that place was packed),  but it was all worth it.  I mean, just look at that gorgeous pie!!  (Mine was obviously the veggie side.)
With happy tummies, we headed back to school, and our adventure came to an end.  And the best part about the day?  I didn't feel anxious like I have in the past when I pass up studying for something fun.  I was able to just relax and enjoy the time spent with my friends!

The majority of Sunday was devoted to studying, but I took a bit of time off on Monday to hang out with my brother for a bit and also satisfy my intense froyo craving.
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Peach/tart swirl, strawberry, peanut butter cup, and toasted coconut topped with blueberries, strawberries, chocolate chunks, chocolate sprinkles, and a few mini peanut butter cups!
I went with my roommate, and since I just met her this year (I was going to room with a friend from last year, but through the whole room change thing, we weren't able to stay in the same room) so it was great to chat and get to know her better!  And guess what?  She's a chocolate lover too! (Obviously we were discussing the important things in life.)  I think we're going to get along juuuuust fine. ;-)

I wish I had three day weekends every week so that I could just repeat above every week!  At least it happened once and hopefully will happen again!


What did you do for Labor Day weekend?
Any tips on handling stress?

Well, I'm off to go conquer a ten mile run!  See you all next time!!!