Mango-Macadamia Granola Bars

So it’s no secret that since I’ve started eating “healthy” – or whatever – I’ve become a breakfast eater.

My breakfast game was at its all time peak during my couple of months of unemployment late last year when I got to make breakfast at home every morning. Toast, eggs, cheese and salsa, yessssss #allthethings

HOWEVER, that’s unfortunately not the norm. I usually eat Greek yogurt and a little somethin’ somethin’ on the side. What that somethin’ somethin’ entails changes from week to week… I have made skinny muffins. I’ve made protein muffins. I love muesli…and I even made muesli bars.

For this week’s What I Ate Wednesday, I’m sharing what I’ve been eating for breakfast lately:

The past few weeks, I’ve been eating homemade granola bars!

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You’ll notice that, unlike my other breakfast muffins and bars, there is no “skinny” or “protein” in the title of this recipe.

That’s not to say they aren’t healthy! Made primarily of oats, uncooked quinoa, and flaxseed, they’re leaps and bounds better than any processed bar you’ll find in the supermarket. Plus they have a LOT less added sugar (only 3 tbsp of honey for the entire batch!).

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But they’ve also got a fair amount of nut butter…and chocolate.

The point of these granola bars isn’t that they’re low cal, or fat free. It’s that they are full of nutrient dense foods that are good for you, and some healthy fats that make them DELICIOUS.

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Plus, mango + macadamia nuts + coconut = tropical summer vacation. Am I right?

Mango-Macadamia Granola Bars
adapted from Cooking Light’s Cranberry-Pistachio Energy Bars
makes 9 bars

1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1/4 cup quinoa, uncooked
1/4 cup dried mango, chopped
1/3 cup chopped macadamia nuts
1/3 cup unsweetened coconut, shredded or flaked
1/4 cup flaxseed meal (or just grind up flaxseed!)
1 oz chocolate (chips or chunks)
1/4 cup almond butter or peanut butter
3 tbsp honey
1/2 tbsp coconut oil

Note: This is an extremely flexible recipe. I’ve also made it with pepitas and dried cranberries. Use whatever kind of dried fruit, nuts, nut butter, or oil you want!

Preheat oven to 350* F. Arrange oats and uncooked quinoa on a baking sheet and bake until slightly toasted and starting to brown, about 8 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

Meanwhile, combine mango, macadamia nuts, coconut, chocolate and flaxseed meal. Once cooled, add oats and quinoa.

In a stovepot, mix nut butter, honey, and coconut oil. Heat to a boil, whisking constantly. Boil for 1 minute and add to oat/nut/coconut mixture. Add to a greased 8×8 inch pan and bake at 350*F for 12 minutes, or until starting to brown.

Let cool before cutting into 9 squares. Eat at room temperature or cooled…the squares will keep for 1 week in the fridge!

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What is your breakfast go-to?

Weekend in Photos

Another beautiful California spring weekend is in the books! I’d say it was worth it to brave those 1-2 weeks of rainy weather last month, because we’re definitely making up for it now with more than a week of 80+ degree temps, and more on the horizon!

I got to enjoy the weather a bit, but mostly kept to myself and finally knocked a few things off that To-Do list I didn’t tackle last week 😉 So get ready for a weekend recap full of awesomeness…. (this is one of those times where I need a sarcasm font!)

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See what I mean? On Friday night, I stayed in to do some spring organizing – I cleared out my closet and dresser in an attempt to create some more space.

Then, I started re-watching last season of Mad Men to brush up before the season premiere while bookmarking recipes in my last couple of issues of Cooking Light!

At age 25, I already have the Friday night routine of a middle-aged spinster -_- Oh boy…

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As is the norm, I went for a long run on Saturday morning. I learned from last week’s mistake and made sure I was out there by 9am to avoid overheating! I powered through and went for 9 miles, thanks to the Spark I ordered from Becky (which was delish!) and also thanks to the fact that I knew I’d be eating my body weight in baseball food later in the day 😉 If that’s not motivation, I don’t know what is!

I finally tested out my new top from Fabletics… the material was perfect for running on a hot day- super breathable and comfortable!

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Afterward, I did a small amount of grocery shopping — I’ve been overspending a bit on food so far this month, so I only bought the [super healthy!] essentials: greek yogurt, spinach, fruit, and beans………. and then I saw wine and mang-o-ritas on sale. Well, I tried… 😛

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After seeing how many clothes I got rid of on Friday night (and pinning like crazy to my Fashion board), I was inspired to go shopping for some spring clothes. I had a few Macy’s coupons, and ended up scoring everything above (5 tanks, a sports bra, green jeans & pink shorts) for just under $100!

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Later, a group of us rode over to West Sacramento, where we had some pre-baseball game grub at Broderick. It was 80 degrees and sunny at 4:30 when we rode over… However, when we finished our food and hopped on our bikes to ride to Raley Field for the Rivercats game, the sun had started to set and the wind was blowing. I was FREEZING in my tank top and shorts that had seemed like such a good idea earlier.

I made it until about the 3rd or 4th inning before I had to suck it up and buy the cheapest XXXL shirt I could find at the Rivercats store. I looked extremely cool. Guess that’s what I get for not planning ahead!

P.S. You may recognize this locale as the location of the starting and finish line of my half marathon! It was fun being back 🙂

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We intended to practice frisbee on Sunday morning, but plans fell through so I decided to be productive instead!

I recently took on more responsibility at work and I’m anticipating less time to go home and eat lunch, so for the first time in months, I did some food preppin’!

I made PB/oat/quinoa energy bars (and put them in a muffin tin), boiled a pot of quinoa, chopped up veggies for salads, and tried my hand at cold brewing some coffee. Operation: don’t eat out for lunch is definitely underway this week!

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The evening’s activities consisted of dodgeball, followed by a trip to my parents house to watch the Mad Men premiere and do laundry. Apparently, productivity was the name of the game this weekend!

Have a great week!

Do you have a baseball team in your area? (Ours is the Triple A team for the Oakland A’s and they’re super fun to watch!)

Which chores do you save for the weekend?

Personalized Workout Outfits from Fabletics

Happy Friday everyone!!

I have some awesome goodies to share with you all today, but I need to start off with a completely unrelated story.

So as I was finishing up work yesterday, I was feeling focused and productive and made myself a little To-Do list for when I got home. It’s nice having Thursday nights free now that I’m taking a break from dodgeball! The list included “write blog post”, “clean room”, “prep lunch”, “look into plane tickets for BLEND“, “re-arrange Pinterest boards”, etc etc.

Anyway, it was a beautiful Spring day (the recorded high was 84 degrees!) and I was wearing a new brightly colored dress and blazer, walking home, listening to music on my headphones and feeling like a pretty fortunate SOB.

Wanting to keep that good feeling going, I arrived home, promptly poured myself a glass of Sauvignon Blanc, then went to turn on my computer to bump some more feel good tunes…ONLY TO SEE A GIANT COCKROACH SCURRY ACROSS THE FLOOR UNDER THE COUCH.

In the two years we’ve been living in our apartment, Hanna and I have come across a handful (maybe 5?) of these guys, and it never gets easier having to deal with them!

Hanna arrived home about 10 minutes later to find me standing – petrified – on a chair in the living room and we tag teamed the crap out of killing the guy. Special shout out to RAID and a large heavy pot.

ANYWAY, it goes without saying I decided to pour myself an extra glass of wine and push aside the To-Do list till another night! However, I did manage to re-organize all of my Pinterest boards and start writing this blog post…. #priorities

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Now, on to the subject at hand: workout clothes!

Does anyone else pretty much live in workout clothes? My days pretty much go like this: 1) sleep in workout clothes. 2) wake up and run…in workout clothes. 3) go to work in business casual. 4) come home and IMMEDIATELY change back into workout/lounge clothes.

It’s a tough, yet extremely comfortable, life I lead! 😉

A few weeks ago, I shared with you all that I was eagerly awaiting the arrival of my first Fabletics outfit. When you sign up for a VIP membership, you get your first outfit for only $25.99! Holla!

Spoiler alert: I loved my first outfit! However, sista is on a budget, and can’t drop $50 on a new outfit every month.

Thus the beauty of the Fabletics VIP program: even though you get an e-mail each month with a list of outfits, you can opt out and not have to pay a dime! All it takes is one click. So I opted out for March and got another outfit in April. Let me show you what I’ve scored!

OUTFIT 1: Bridge

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IMG_4582Bridge came with the Norwalk TankMoro Shorts, and a Headband

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I love these shorts. They’re basically like leggings (which I live in during the colder months), but more appropriate for warm weather! The material is soft and breathable, and there’s a hidden pocket in the waistline. I was slightly worried about the quality when I noticed some unraveling strings, but they have definitely held up through quite a few washes and workouts.

The top is a lot like one I got from Target last year (kinda like this), except BETTER because it has an adjustable drawstring at the bottom. I never have to adjust this shirt while I’m running!

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I tested out the shirt the next day – I had to color coordinate! The bra part of the shirt provides support, but the rest of it is nice and airy. Perfect!

I actually wore the shorts and headband for my half marathon:

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Don’t worry, that face is not me reacting to a wedgie! They actually don’t ride up too much while running. They do, but it’s not at a level that feels uncomfortable. I only adjusted them a few times during the race, mostly for vanity reasons (shorts riding up on your inner thigh = sausage legs. not a good look!) and I knew the cameras were watching! 😉

Total price (separately) –: $69.85

Total VIP price (separately) — $55.85

Total VIP price (as an outfit) (first time buyer) — $29.99! (and FREE shipping)

OUTFIT 2: Lateral

I bought my next outfit exactly as pictured on the site. I splurged a little because I realized I didn’t have any waterproof clothing for running in the rain, so I decided on an outfit that came with a windbreaker. I figured if it was something I needed anyway, I might as well get it affordably priced through Fabletics!

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IMG_5387Lateral came with the Oula TankSuki Shorts, and the Yalu Jacket

I’m still on the fence about the tank – the material is extremely soft and thin, but it’s also pretty staticky and it’s stretchy and oversized. However, I haven’t worked out in it yet, and I think it will be perfect for running on hot days!

IMG_5392The shorts are very similar to the other ones, except they’re technically bike shorts and are a bit longer. I’m cool with this. Both legs have that semi inconspicuous pocket!

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The jacket is very lightweight and looks super cool… It has tons of pockets with zippers, plus a hood and thumbholes!! (2 of my favorite things!)

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Total price (separately) –: $99.85

Total VIP price (separately) — $79.85

Total VIP price (as an outfit) — $69.95! (free shipping)

This was probably a little more than I would have liked to pay, but as you can see, the VIP membership gets you a pretty good discount. Plus, for what you get it’s a steal! A windbreaker plus a good quality tank top and shorts?

Overall, I am happy with the Fabletics service and will definitely be sticking with it! I think it’s really worth it if you are (like me) someone who has lots of workout clothes! Plus, you can get your first outfit for only $25.99 and see if you like it. What’s there to lose?

Click here to check out Fabletics!

 

(Note: I wasn’t compensated to write this post. I’m just a girl who likes workout clothes! All opinions are my own!)

 

Do you live in workout attire too?

Ever tried any online subscription services? What’s your favorite?

I’m going going back back to… Utah?

Just a quick note to drop in and announce that…

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I’m officially returning to Blend Retreat this year!

Thanks to a nice little tax refund from Uncle Sam, I can justify the cost of lodging & airfare (the cheap CHEAP price of $115 is MORE than reasonable for everything included in the weekend) to Park City.

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Can’t wait to return to the Hyatt Escala where we had such a blast last year!

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I met so many lovely ladies last year who all remain dear friends (and dedicated blog readers SLASH blogs that I still stalk read) today.

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Click here to read about last year’s SWAG

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Click here to read about last year’s FOOD

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And click here to read about last year’s HIKE!

I can’t wait! If you have any questions about the retreat (it’s open to everyone, not just bloggers!), don’t hesitate to shoot me a comment or e-mail me!

Hope you’re all having a great week!

Are you coming to Blend Retreat?

Spring Weekend in Photos

Spring has frickin’ sprung, people!

In true Sacramento fashion, we went from 2 straight weeks of rain and chilly winter-like weather…to pretty much SUMMER overnight.

You won’t hear (m)any complaints from me, because I’m a sun-lover through and through. I had a nice mix of relaxation and exertion this weekend, and lots of it was spent outside. Perfection!

On Friday evening, I decided to grab a glass of wine (thus ending my 5-day alcohol “cleanse” lol) with colleagues at a wine bar right by our office. I can’t think of a more perfect way to cap off a tiring week: with a nice glass of Sangiovese and hilarious conversation!

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I headed home soon after to have dinner and wind down from the week. It was still breezy and a little chilly at this point, so I spent the evening in fuzzy slippers doing things aroudn the house.. My brother FaceTimed me later on in the evening and I played him a few ditties on my keyboard. “Hold on Andrew, don’t hang up yet! I have the sheet music to Let it Go too!!!”  — his annoyed face says it all 😛

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After a few weeks of frequenting the giant Sunday Farmers Market, I revisited my favorite (smaller, more close by) Midtown Farmers Market on Saturday morning. I bought some gorgeous rainbow chard, carrots, and beets, and then splurged on a mason jar of kombucha. The kombucha stand that originally got me hooked on the delicious rotten tea drink was selling re-purposed mason jars from Discarded Designs…I couldn’t resist.

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I hurried home and stashed the ‘buch in the fridge for later, because I had a long run planned! I very quickly regretted having waited until 11:30am to start my 8.5 mile run, because it was H-O-T. It only reached about 70 degrees on Saturday, but I was feeling it by the end. Check out the before and (sweaty) after! It was a beautiful day on the river as you can see, so I can’t really complain too much!

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I lounged around for the rest of the day. I painted my nails and needed something to “watch” AKA listen to in the background, so I threw on RENT. Classic! After a quick grocery trip, I caught a Lyft over to my friend Fresh’s house where we played games and celebrated Yvette’s birthday a few days early! We played King’s Cup, Mad Gab, and Taboo…such good times!

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To cancel out all the lounging I did on Saturday (minus the 8.5 mile run 😛 ) I had a seriously active day on Sunday. I corralled a few friends together to join up with other XOSO players and play Ultimate Frisbee for the cameras- we were on Good Day Sacramento! You can check out video #1 and video #2 online.

As soon as we finished, I saw a text from Chris saying he saw me on TV dropping the frisbee. D’OH! Of course of all the moments they could have captured…

Next up, we went to Pour House for brunch. No mimosas for me (shocker, I know) but I did taste Stone Brewing’s EnjoyBy 4/20 IPA. They come out with a new “Enjoy By” every few months and I’ve loved all the ones I’ve tasted!

Next on the schedule was another Ultimate Frisbee session with my team. CJ, Matt and I were pooped from playing earlier, so we were a pretty sad sight scrimmaging against Mikhail, Landai and Chris. Plus the temps had risen to almost 80 degrees by the afternoon!

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We cooled off afterward on the patio at Beach Hut Deli while I killed some time before my dodgeball game.

We won our game 7-2 (the usual!) and I was POOPED by the end of it. My Fitbit said I only logged 12,000 steps, which seems low… Regardless, it was an action-packed day! And the best part was…no sunburns! Woo hoo! #palepersonproblems

Have a fantastic week!

How’s the weather in your neck of the woods?

Team sports- love em or hate em? What’s your favorite?

A Little of This, A Little of That…

Happy Friday!

Unlike recent weeks, I wasn’t SUPER OMG DESPERATE for this week to be over. It’s been a relatively quiet week at work (busy for sure, but not OMG-wanna-rip-my-hair-out stressful) and I have kept it similarly quiet at home — I’ve been laying low and been in bed by 10:30 every night!

I decided on Monday to give myself a little detox, so I’ve not only abstained from alcohol for the past 5 days, but I’ve also limited my handfuls of cashews at work, and spoonfuls of Nutella at home 😉

In addition to the detox and walking/biking to work every day, I ran twice (3 miles on Tues & 5 miles on Thurs) and did strength building exercises twice (on Weds and this morning):

Wednesday’s workout has been my tried & true upper body workout for almost a year now. It was pretty much the only strength training I did (1x per week) while training for my half…It gets in some good upper body work, but the better benefit may be the core strengthening that comes from all those planks! If I have time, I also finish up with V-ups and regular ol’ crunches for good measure.

 

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Because I’m not doing Thursday dodgeball this season, I enjoyed an early bedtime last night and a rare 6:30am Friday morning wake up call! I’ve been doing the above workout for so long that I decided to look for a new GPP Fitness workout to switch things up. I did 2 rounds of Cross Sectional, and I did the V-ups, Stab Situps and high windmills from t-AB-ata. My legs are burrrrning from Cross Sectional!

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ANYWAY, I digress. This totally wasn’t meant to be a Fitness post! I just wanted to pop in and share a few things I’ve enjoyed this week, and even a fun HANDWRITTEN quiz that I yanked from Christina at Hungry Meets Healthy. Enjoy!

 

75 Thoughts Every Runner Has While Out For A Run

LOVE. IT. My favorite is the thoughts that go through your head when you jump over puddles. Also, all the thoughts that go on in the last mile of your run.

 

AdvoCare Spark

My Blend-turned-Real-life friend Becky has been pumping up Advocare products for the past few months…I texted her yesterday that I ran out of my beloved pre-workout supplement (fitmixer Clean Energy) and she happened to have just gotten a bunch of variety packs of Spark, AdvoCare’s energy drink mix. I ordered some and can’t wait to try it! I’m not big on supplements, but I do like using a pre-workout drink before my long runs. I’ll be sure to report back on how I like it! If you’re interested, be sure to visit Becky’s blog or click one of the above links to be taken to her store!

 

The 10 Most Important Things We Learned from How I Met Your Mother

As you all probably know, How I Met Your Mother ended this week. Sadface. While I can’t say I’ve watched since the start of the show, I did start watching from the beginning about 4-5 years ago and have been hooked ever since. I love the writing, I love how they’ve kept us guessing about the Mother, and I lovelovelove the characters. I definitely cried multiple times during the series finale, and I have mixed feelings about how it ended, but I largely agree with this article about what went down. {spoiler alert in the article, obviously!}

 

And last but not least… you know those handwritten quizzes they have celebs fill out in Cosmo? Welp, I found one for bloggers! If you’re interested in filling it out, you can print out the blank template here. Enjoy!

SBIZHUBC28014040412060Before you say anything about liking my handwriting, please take note that I toootally spent 5x longer than usual writing out every single word to make sure it was legible. HA.

Have a great weekend!

What do you do to treat your body when you need to detox?

Are/were you a HIMYM fan?

If We Were Having Coffee…

Hello, my little long-lost blog… it’s been a while!

After being blown away by all of your support about my half marathon, then getting my act together and posting my first recipe in months…..I went radio silent.

I’m not one to post religiously regardless of whether I actually have anything interesting to say; I like to go for quality over quantity, you know?

Sometimes, a girl is just busy. Said busy-ness can take shape in the form of working late, or running around to different meetings every other night…And sometimes after a long day at work, being ‘too busy to blog’ just means I need to veg out while watching How I Met Your Mother and Parks & Rec for 4 hours.

Let’s catch up, shall we? Let’s go on a virtual coffee date.

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If We Were Having Coffee…

…I would tell you about the afterglow of my half marathon.

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Even weeks later, I’m still trying to hold on to the feeling of accomplishment and elation that I had after the race. This is the best solo picture I got from the race photographers- can you tell I was approaching mile 13 and desperate to finish? Ha! I was super impressed that there’s even video of me finishing – I come in on the right side of the screen around :20 then cross the finish line and pretty much bounce right back off screen.

…I would tell you how excited I am for spring & summer.

Although I got really lucky that I trained for my race from December-March in mild conditions with barely any rain, I am more than ready for some spring weather! During race weekend and the weekend after, we had beautiful 75 degree days, but it’s been rainy and cold ever since.

I’ve been pretty lucky with my seasonal allergies this year (knock on wood)…Sacramento is NOTORIOUS for being terrible in the allergy department. Hopefully my luck holds up, because I’m making the switch from indoor Dodgeball to outdoor Ultimate Frisbee next month and I can’t wait to run around outside!

…I would admit to you that I totally went over budget last month.

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Just like in February, I was really close to breaking even during March. However, my monthly budget is actually $300-$400 less than I make each month, so ideally I should be saving that much. I spent a little bit more this month than last…Regardless, I am still $1,000 less than the levels I was spending in November-January.

Hosting Tyler during race weekend definitely meant dining out more often than usual. Plus, I have been really busy at work, which means that some days I don’t have time to go home for lunch. ALSOOO, the rainy weather has made taking Lyft a much more desirable option than walking or biking in the rain lately. Good thing it’s affordable! (especially if you sign up using my code 😉 )

I’m hoping that cutting out one night of dodgeball from my weekly routine, as well as drinking less and avoiding more than one Chai Latte splurge per week will keep me on the straight and narrow budget-wise!

…I would ask you which race I should run next!
rainy 9 miler / sunny 8.5 miler!

rainy 9 miler / sunny 8.5 miler!

I have been keeping up with the same running routine as usual- I run 3-4 miles on Tues/Thurs, and I don’t know if I will ever give up my Saturday morning long runs! I ran 8.5 miles last weekend, and 9 rainy miles this past weekend.

I want to run another half marathon in the fall, and the top contenders at the moment are all in October: the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in SF, and two possible Rock n’ Roll Half Marathons – in San Jose and Los Angeles. HMMM!

The only downside of doing a race in October is the fact that I’ll be training in the Sacramento heat in August and September. Typically, we get a good dozen or so 100+ degree days during the summers here…training in that heat would definitely present a challenge!

…I would probably talk your ear off about boys.

I’m not gonna lie – I talk about boys a lot. (Just ask Carly and Becky!) But for the sake of my own privacy, and that of any guys I date, the most personal details you’ll get on this little bloggy blog are about my black toenails from running or how much I pay for rent each month. 😉

Anyway, I had a realization last week: I have been single for 9 MONTHS now. For the first year+ that I had this blog, I was in a serious relationship. My ex was a big factor in why I started blogging, and a lot of my early posts involved meals I made for us.

I’m proud to say that I’ve achieved a lot of personal growth in the last 9 months. However, like any single girl in her mid 20’s, I often have frustrations about guys and dating…

Why do they ALL send mixed signals? Why is every guy on Tinder revolting? That text was totally flirtatious, right?! I mean, he used a winky face and everything. Is there a real Ted Mosby out there, and if so, why haven’t I found him yet?

IMPORTANT QUESTIONS, people.

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So that’s a little of what’s been running through my mind lately.

If we were having coffee, what would be on your mind?

Shamrock’n Half Marathon Recap

Well, my first half marathon has come and gone!

I have felt such a wide range of emotions throughout the past 3 months, in particular these last couple of weeks, and it’s kind of hard to put it all into words.

But here’s my attempt!

Pre-Race

As I said on Monday, I drank bottomless mimosas the day before my race………..don’t act surprised.

As much as I wish I could blame someone else for convincing me, or peer pressure, I just really love brunch and I really love mimosas. I definitely paced myself and alternated with water and food, but it was still probably not what all the fitness experts would recommend!

One piece of advice I read repeatedly was to not try anything new the day before/of your race. I’m pretty sure I had at least 1 drink the night before 80% of my Saturday morning training runs these past ~14 weeks. Sometimes you just need to unwind on Friday night! This may have been one fact I used to rationalize our brunch fun the day before. 😉

Another reason why I not only forgive myself for letting loose the day before, but also am kind of glad I am, is because I was seriously psyching myself out the week leading up to the race. Every night from Sunday til Friday, I had interrupted nights of sleep with crazy anxiety-induced dreams. Some were unrelated to the race (for example, about my personal life or work), some were race-related. I was getting serious pre-race jitters…I think the fact that I wanted to show Tyler a good time during his visit was a good thing, because it distracted me from the fact that all of my hard work and training for 3+ months was coming to a head on Sunday morning. If we hadn’t gone out with my friends, I would have been way too focused on the race and, knowing me, I would have been a mess the night before/morning of the race.

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We ended up going to sleep around 11 the night before with a 6:45 wake up call. I woke up at 6am and couldn’t get back to sleep, so I just laid in bed and thought about how excited I was haha. Once our alarms went off, I jumped out of bed, yelled at Tyler to wake up, and started getting ready. We had toast and peanut butter and a banana, I took some of my fitmixer Clean Energy, and around 7:15, Chris arrived and we were on our way!

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pre-race essentials

I forgot that a ton of streets would be blocked off for the race, but we luckily got on the road before the first wave shot off, and were able to get waved across 13th Street even though it was barricaded. We found parking close to Raley Field and as we walked out of the car and I sighed, “PHEW THAT WASN’T AS STRESSFUL AS I THOUGHT IT WOULD BE”, the boys looked at me like I was crazy for expecting parking at 7:30am on a Sunday morning to be stressful. Apparently I was a little on edge!

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do i look nervous? BECAUSE I WAS.

The Race

About 7,000 people ran in the (10th annual!) Shamrock’n Half Marathon, and we were in Wave 2 of 4, scheduled for 8am. After the gun shot off, we didn’t actually cross the starting line for almost 10 minutes. Everyone was basically bottle necking into the starting line.

Chris and Tyler don’t like to know how far they’ve gone, whereas I am pretty anal about knowing exactly how far I’ve gone and how fast I’m going. So when MapMyRun told me how fast we were going, I kept the distance to myself but let the guys know occasionally what our pace was. I made sure that we stayed slow for the first 3-4 miles because I did not want to go out too fast.

The entire race was packed. I felt like we were passing people up the entire time. This ended up being a good thing, as passing people up requires you to speed up a bit. Also, Chris, Tyler & I totally worked as an awesome team. We didn’t even have to say anything- one of us would make a move to pass up whoever was in front of us, and the other 2 would just silently follow.

 

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picture from a training run- this is the narrow path all 7,000 of us had to fit through!

The first 5 miles were all flat through Downtown, we were running around 9:15 min/mile, and I felt comfortable the whole time. We hit the bike trail in the middle of mile 5 and I hit my stride- that’s where I trained every week! We picked up our pace, but I was still feeling good.

Around mile 8, Chris got in a zone and darted ahead. I knew that a big hill was coming up and that we wouldn’t be able to catch up with him on/after that hill, so Tyler and I took some of my PROBAR energy chews (AKA LIFESAVERS!) and sprinted to catch up. That mile was my second fastest mile. (My fastest mile was Mile 13…but we’ll get to that later 😉 ) We got over the hill and, according to MapMyRun, stayed around 9 minute miles or faster the rest of the race.

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JACKIE’S TRAIN usually greeted me around mile 7 or 8 of my training runs… i didn’t reach her until mile 11 on race day.

After that, mile 10 was rough. It was on a section of the course with the most hills. From 11 on, I didn’t know how I was going to finish. I knew I was going to…but I was pretty sure I would need a wheelchair for at least 2 weeks after. I was lucky to have no side cramps, no knee pain, no nothing. But starting around 10 or 11, my feet/toes were killing me and my legs felt like jelly.

There were 5 water/electrolyte stations, and I stopped at the last 3…One of the times I just took whatever liquid they gave me and dumped it over my head. Little did I know, it was electrolytes. Gatorade is so totally the new preferred hair gel of all the cool girls…

Our plan all along was to run together for the majority of the race, but it was every man for himself once we reached the last mile. Knowing that both of my partners were fit dudes upwards of 6 feet tall, I figured my chances of keeping up with them in a full on sprint was slim to none…which made me nervous for Mile 12 to arrive, because I knew we’d be splitting…

I started feeling terrible around mile 11. After having been the smiling face who sang out loud (and even did a little jumping leap to Frozen’s ‘Let It Go’ at one point) through most of the race, I had become silent and started taking really deep breaths. I think it was apparent that I was feeling it. Mile 11.5 ish was the point where I felt like I could cry of exhaustion and pain.

Chris (who had already run two 13 milers on the dreadmill) turned to me and told me a few things that I won’t forget: “This is what you trained for!”; “That’s 12! You’ve already ran 12 before, what’s one more?”; and “Finish strong!”

About 30 seconds later, he darted ahead lol…however, his words definitely helped. Also, the fact that he was wearing a bright blue shirt in a sea of green made him easy to chase spot! 😉 About half a mile from the finish line on the Tower Bridge, I saw my dad with his camera and my mom cheering and I couldn’t help but smile and give my mom a huge high five. If Chris got me through 12-12.5, my mom’s super charged high five definitely got me through 12.5-13.1. According to MapMyRun, I ran mile 13 in 8:14. DAMN! No wonder I felt like crap!

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my dad snapped this pic right as i picked up the pace to give my mom a GIANT high five

The finish line was on the 3rd baseline of Raley Field, and I was so excited to finish that I was leaping over orange cones on the side of the dirt path so I could pass people up. I finished, found Chris, grabbed my medal, and turned around to hug Tyler as he finished. WE DID IT!

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Post-Race

Whoever planned this run had a seriously sick sense of humor. We knew we’d finish on the baseball field, but we didn’t realize this meant we were going to have to CLIMB UP THE STAIRS to get to the food/beer/results stations. It took us a while (maybe because I made the boys pose for the above selfie….) but we got there eventually.

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We saw my parents and took some pictures, then found Yvette and Lisa who had come to cheer me on. Then we hightailed it to the concession stands to get our free snack bags that consisted of KIND bars, bananas, goldfish crackers, and Oreos. Everything tasted like the best thing I had ever eaten.

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After checking out our official times and rejoicing in the fact that we all finished under 2 hours (!!!), we were going to check out the Massage Envy station, but realized we weren’t the only ones with that idea, and headed for beer instead.

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Everyone told me what a great sense of accomplishment I would feel after my first half marathon. I knew it was going to be awesome, but nothing could have prepared me for the wide range of emotions I felt all day  Sunday. I have a feeling it will rank up there as a day I will definitely never forget.

I felt pretty weak the hours after the race, probably because I was subsisting on bananas and KIND bars, but once I soaked my legs in Chris’s freezing cold pool and got some food in me at our barbecue, it was smooth sailing from there.

I have [not surprisingly] been super sore the past 2 days. Lower back, hips, quads, shins, calves…all of the muscles!!! I walked to and from work on Monday to loosen everything up, and I’ve been doin alright ever since. I’m going to go for a quick 3-4 mile run this morning and I am excited to pound the pavement again.

After a rough year or two that has been defined by injury, health problems, a bad break up, and losing my job…it feels incredible to know that I really can accomplish anything I put my mind to.

Thanks for sticking with me and supporting me through this journey, dear readers! With how well my first half marathon went, I don’t know how another one could go any better…but if there’s any chance that finishing another will lead to me feeling like I did after this one, then sign. me. UP.

 

St Patrick’s Day Weekend in Photos

So when I typed in the title of this post I thought that it sounded a little familiar… Turns out I did this same post exactly one year ago with the same title.

One difference? In that post, in my description of my Saturday morning run, I boasted that “I was running at a really slow pace (9:57/mi), so I decided to go for extra distance and broke 3 miles! For the first time since before Thanksgiving! :-D”

I ran a FEWWWW more than 3 miles this weekend…

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13.1 to be exact…

And I averaged 8:59/mile!!

I am definitely planning on posting a complete recap of the race itself, but it wasn’t the only great thing that happened this weekend! I had a serious case of the Sunday blues last night, and if Mondays weren’t my busiest day of the workweek, I totally would have taken today off to ice my legs/cry myself back to sleep because the best weekend ever had to come to an end.

It all started on Friday evening – My brother spontaneously texted me and asked if I wanted to check out our family friend’s food truck with him. They were parking at Bike Dog, a local brewery I’ve been wanting to check out anyway!

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The food truck, Slightly Skewed, has some awesome skewers. I got bulgogi beef and brussels sprouts, and split an order of smashed fried potatoes with my brother (they’re smothered with sriracha and an tangy cilantro sauce). Our longtime neighbor Ben came too and got pork belly…omg.

I also tried a half pint each of their Pale Ale and IPA. I decided to buy a half growler of the IPA to share with Tyler once he arrived!

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Tyler arrived from SoCal around 9:30 and I took him out to meet up with my friends, enjoy some beers, and see a couple of my regular Sacramento spots. It was nice to catch up since I hadn’t seen him since 4th of July when we both visited our former housemate in San Francisco.

The next morning, Chris picked us up to head to Old Sacramento for a surprise birthday brunch! My friend Danny surprised his girlfriend (our friend) Courtney. She had no idea that 20 of her friends were waiting for her at Rio City Cafe in matching TEAM COURTNEY shirts!

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I got the brisket hash and it seriously hit the spot. I was on the fence about whether I’d indulge in bottomless mimosas the day before our race, but my love of the orange juice & champagne drink got the best of me and I caved. Slow and steady was the name of the game 😉

It was an absolutely gorgeous 75 degree day. We were seated outside with a view of the river, the Old Sacramento St Patty’s Day  Courtney’s Birthday Parade came through, and we all just laughed and enjoyed ourselves all afternoon!

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Tyler and I walked the mile and a half back to my apartment (umm, maybe an even worse choice than bottomless mimosas the day before our race) to hydrate and take it easy before meeting up with more friends who were on a St Patty’s day pub crawl.

We didn’t partake in many more drinks, and split off from the group to get burritos (last minute carb loading!) and rest up. We had an opportunity for a quick reunion with our college friend Lindsey who was stopping through town, so I took them to LowBrau and we all drank ice water and caught up 😛

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We were home by 10pm with a 6:45 wake up call, so after pinning our bibs, it was off to bed!

I woke up at 6am and was too excited to go back to sleep, so as soon as I heard Tyler’s alarm go off in the other room I sprang out of bed and yelled “IT’S RACE DAY!”…I’m sure he was pleased.

After some toast, peanut butter, and bananas, Chris picked us up and we headed to Raley Field. I don’t know how the guys were feeling, but if they were nervous they weren’t showing it! I was bouncing off the walls with excitement and nerves…and also because I was freezing.

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13.1 miles later…we made it!

I’ll save the nitty gritty details for another post, but suffice it to say the race went extremely well. We stayed together most of the race, then broke off at mile 13, but we all finished within 1 minute of each other. Chris led the pack at around 1:57:08 and I followed at 1:57:37, with Tyler at 1:58:10 (major props toooo ChronoTrack).

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That being said, miles 11-13 were hard. Like, insanely hard. I knew I would finish, but I was so exhausted (probably because we were averaging <9 min/mile!) and I was convinced I would never regain feeling in my legs. Two things got me through that last mile: 1) motivating words of encouragement from Chris, and 2) a high five from my mom with about a half mile left. Even though 95% of my training runs were solo, I seriously don’t know how I would have done this without the boys. We were in it together!

After our finish line beers, KIND bars, and bananas, we went home to shower and recover. Luckily, Chris’s apartment complex has an [unheated] pool, which we lounged by while sticking our feet in. It was like an ice bath, and it was probably the best recovery tool I used all day!!

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The next best recovery tool: an end of season dodgeball/St Patty’s day barbecue! A few guys on my team asked me (the team captain) to organize it, and it was the perfect way to cap off my half marathon day. We drank straw-ber-itas, ate lots of meat (PROTEIN!) and veggie kabobs, played ladder golf & cornhole, and Yvette even brought a pinata!

I seriously couldn’t have imagined a more perfect day, and more perfect weekend.

I hope you all had a great weekend! Congrats to everyone else who completed the Shamrock’n!

For half marathoners- what was the highlight of your first half marathon?

What is your favorite drinking holiday? St Patty’s actually ranks pretty high on my list!

Fitness Friday — FINAL Half Marathon Training Update!

It’s here you guys…my race is THIS WEEKEND.

holy shit

CUE MAJOR FREAK OUT

After 14+ weeks of training, buckets of energy supplements and protein powder, hours of knee brace wearing, and many many early mornings…my half marathon is here!

To see why I chose to sign up for a half marathon, click here… and also be sure to check out training updates #1 and #2 and #3!

On Wednesday during my lunch break, I went to pick up my race packet (I knew they’d be slammed later in the week so I went as early as possible), as well as Tyler’s and Chris’s…

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forgot to customize my bib…. #fail

As I picked up our shirts, bibs, shamrock tattoos, and all.the.safety.pins, it really started to hit me. I’m running a HALF MARATHON this weekend.

I’m not going to lie to you guys- I’m really really nervous. I have had crazy dreams every night this week, which I’m convinced are anxiety-fueled.

But as I’ve talked to more friends who have run half marathons, my nerves have been calmed little by little. I know that I’m ready for this. I’ve been training diligently since December, and I’m on track to hit my pace goal. Here’s where I was last time I checked in:

Half marathon progress 2014-02-11

And here is my completed training plan!

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It was so weird only running 2 miles yesterday, you guys. I really wanted to go 3, but I convinced myself to stop at 2 because I knew I would be walking to work and that I had dodgeball later in the evening. Tapering is important!

Thoughts on my Last Weeks:

aches & pains

I’m happy to report that my knee pain has been minimal these last couple of weeks. It gives me a bit of grief from time to time on my shorter runs — probably because I’m running faster and on pavement — but otherwise it’s all good in the hooood. There were a couple of times where I was a little sore on Friday/Saturday or Mon/Tues from dodgeball on Sunday or Thursday evenings, but that’s nothing a little stretching can’t help!

This week, I ran a super speedy 5K (26:57, a new PR!) on Tuesday, skipped my Wednesday weight work out in favor of 45 more minutes of sleep and 8 Minute Abs, and a quick 2 miles yesterday. I’m hoping the extra rest will be a good thing come Sunday morning!

I’m thinking about taking Tyler on a bike ride tomorrow so he can see the course (it’s on a bike trail), but I’ve been reading that vigorous activity is to be avoided the day before the race. Any insight??

lifestyle changes

cleaneats

I have been consciously trying to put only good things into my body for the past 2 weeks, and I think I’ve done a good job. I ate lunch out again (see bottom left) at a new vegetarian restaurant in town, but chose a grilled cheese with garlic & swiss chard and a side of beans. Protein! Fiber! It could have been worse 😉

There may have been a couple of orders of fries in there (and more than a couple of spoonfuls of Nutella…), but hey, I’m not super woman! Nor do I claim to be. I feel much stronger and healthier knowing that I’m not restricting myself. Plus, lately I’ve been rationalizing any extra food I consume during the day as HALF MARATHON FUEL.

As much as it pains me to not celebrate St Patrick’s day this weekend (my Irish grandma would be ashamed), especially with Tyler coming to town to visit and run the race…Abstention (or at least moderation) is the name of the game today and tomorrow.

I did indulge in some drinks last night after dodgeball because it was the last night of the season and I’m taking next season off- but I am so glad I did, because I had a great time with my friends as always! And I was home in bed before midnight 🙂

Plus, how could you say no to hanging out at the bar with that adorable minion face?!

race day

We are in Wave #2 starting at 8am on Sunday. Not too early, which is nice! The high temp for the day is going to be 80 degrees (yippee!) but I’m anticipating it will be high 40’s-low 50’s when we run. Regardless, I’m probably going to run in shorts and a tank top because sista gets sweaty!

I think the race is going to be extremely fun, with 13 live bands playing all over the course. So much for that running playlist I made, right? The reason I signed up for a half was in large part due to how much fun I had doing the Run to Feed the Hungry on Thanksgiving- it was an extremely popular race with tons of onlookers, participants, people cheering, live music, mimosa stations… I’m expecting this race to be a lot like that 10K. There are 4 waves worth of runners, so it’s going to be a packed course!

Here are some things I’m going to try and remember for race day:

  • Don’t start too fast– this was a problem for me in my 1st 10K because I wanted to pass everyone up
  • Use the aid stations– I’ll also have some PROBAR energy chews, but dehydration is no joke
  • Focus on finishing, not the time– Though my goal is 2:00:00, I know that the real accomplishment is just finishing. I’m also going to have to try not to push myself too hard to race the boys I’m running with, haha.

Since I didn’t customize my bib, I’m also planning on writing things on my body…Possibly some kind of mantra on my hand, maybe my name on my arm/shoulder. We’ll see how I feel on race morning 🙂

Wish me luck!!!

For those in Sacramento wanting to watch the race, there’s a great page on the Shamrock’n website listing all the best places to spectate. Hope to see you there!

Any last minute advice?

Do you have any good (succinct) workout/running mantras that inspire you?