Hardrock 100 Ultra-Marathon

Two weeks ago I flew through Phoenix, AZ to Durango, CO on a Thursday afternoon. I’d never been to either airport before and I wasn’t even really sure where in the great state of Colorado I was landing. But when I stepped off the second plane, I was instantly surrounded by the gorgeous San Juan Mountains and I knew it was going to be an amazing weekend. My sister-in-law (Meggan), her father (Richard), and my two adorable nieces (Rachel and Ava) picked me up and drove us back to Silverton, CO. This would be our headquarters for the next four days.

Rachel and Ava waiting for the race to start!

Rachel and Ava waiting for the race to start!

Maybe I should pause to explain why the five of us, my brother (Jason), our cousin (Glen), and family friends (Eric, Randy, and Lori) were all converging on this small town in the mountains of Colorado. My brother ran the The Bear 100 last year as his first attempt to complete 100 miles of running in a single event. He was successful and I was present to help Meggan “crew” for his race. As a result of that finish, he earned one ticket in a lottery for entry into the Hardrock 100 this year. In the ultra-running world, Hardrock is an elite event and one that many experienced runners shy away from due to the extreme course topography. You can read about the exact odds on Jason’s blog, but suffice it to say that his name should not have been pulled last December.

Ava and I on the shuttle to the first aid station.

Ava and I on the shuttle to the first aid station.

But it was. Along with 151 other mildly insane runners who would toe the starting line with him in July 2015. And so, he started to train for the 33,992 feet of climb and 33,992 feet of descent that he would encounter along the course. Couple those drastic elevation changes with the fact that the LOWEST point on the course was at 7,680 ft above sea level while the peak was at 14,048 ft above sea level. Yes, you just read all of those statistics correctly. Yes, it helps that Brother’s family currently lives in Boulder, CO where he has fairly easy access to mountains. Yes, he ran A LOT in the months leading up to this race.

Cunningham Gulch aid station

Cunningham Gulch aid station

So where do I come into this whole equation? Well after crewing last year, I offered my organizational services again. Last year I was the second in command at aid stations, taking commands from Meggan and letting her do most of the communicating. This year, I was told that Meggan was going to primarily be wife/mom while I was going to be in charge of Jason. Oh goodness. I won’t lie, I was a bit nervous! I knew that Jason had much more experience and confidence going into this race than The Bear last year. I knew that I had more of a grasp on what was happening and what my role would be throughout the race. But I also knew that ultra-running, especially in the wild mountains of Colorado, is unpredictable and that I would be responsible for making sure Jason was safe and had everything he needed. Luckily, Jason spent the week leading up to the race in Silverton exploring the course and laying out his drop-bags for each of the aid stations his crew could access.

My crew-mates: Meggan, Ava, Glen, Rachel, and Richard.

My crew-mates: Meggan, Ava, Glen, Rachel, and Richard.

Thursday night, I shared a quiet room with Jason while the rest of the family slept upstairs. We wanted to ensure that J got good sleep and would wake rested for his 40 hours (or so) of running. At 5:30am we walked the few blocks to the high school gymnasium where he checked in and we waited for the start. At 6am the runners were off and the crew headed back to the hotel to eat breakfast and gather our gear. Our first aid station was Cunningham Gulch, which was 8.2 miles into the race. We had fun playing with the girls while waiting to see J come down the mountain and cross the creek. He was here only a short time to refuel and then he was off heading back up the other side of the mountain. We wouldn’t see him again until mile 42.1 at Grouse Gulch, sometime around 7pm that night.

Jason coming down into Grouse Gulch.

Jason coming down into Grouse Gulch.

While Brother was running up and over several mountains (no big deal), I went for a run of my own in town. My four-mile run felt short and difficult as I struggled to breathe at just over 7,000 ft above sea level. It rained off and on during the day and the adults all took turns entertaining the girls between meals and packing. In the early evening, I drove the girls and Richard up to Grouse Gulch to hook up with Eric, Meggan and Glen. They had gone up earlier to cheer on earlier runners and to make sure Eric was there and ready to go. He would be pacing J for miles 42-82, through the night and across the most technical terrain. They run together weekly in Boulder and Eric has completed Hardrock before, as well as a number of other 100-mile races.

Meggan and I chilling with Santa at Ouray aid station.

Meggan and I chilling with Santa at Ouray aid station.

We had specific instructions to make sure Jason ate a lot at Grouse Gulch and were also in charge of replacing SPOT tracker batteries, filling water bottles, restocking his pack with gels, swamping out sunglasses and short-sleeves for rain jackets and long-pants, adding in warm hats and headlamps, etc. I felt a little overwhelmed at some of these aid stations because it was my job to keep J focused on changing his socks, eating his quesadilla, and telling me if he needed more or less layers. All while Glen was videotaping and getting hot foods, Meggan was saying hello and accessing the condition of Jason’s body, Eric was asking about the course, Rachel was trying to show J her good luck drawings, and Ava just wanted to hug her Daddy.

Looking up the mountain for J while waiting at Chapman aid station.

Looking up the mountain for J while waiting at Chapman aid station.

Writing it all out makes it sound more chaotic than it really was, but there was certainly a lot happening at these stops! Once Jason and Eric headed off into the night, we had about 1.5 hours worth of driving to get to Ouray where we had a second hotel room for the night. Glen, Meggan and I dropped off Richard and the girls to sleep while we waiting to see J through the Christmas-themed aid station. He left around 1:30am with Eric after a fairly long stop (20 minutes) to change clothes and eat some real food. We headed back to the hotel to rest for a few hours and awoke to find that J and E had had a great night. They were already over their next mountain and were working their way down to Telluride, our next aid station. The only slight issue with that was that they had five miles to run and we had an hour to drive. Whoops? So Glen and I quickly showered and jumped in our car to “race” the SPOT dots to Telluride while Richard and Meggan got the girls up and joined us when they could.

Goofing off with my older niece, Rachel.

Goofing off with my older niece, Rachel.

This divide-and-conquer strategy paid off because Glen and I walked into the aid station to get set up a mere ten minutes before the boys arrived! At this point, they were 72.8 miles into the race but had made it through the night. Jason looked good, in spite of a slight complaint about his knees on the downhills. They had come through rain, snow, and a fairly chilly night but had not had any major mishaps, which was great news! Off they went while Glen and I drove to meet Meggan’s car for breakfast. The next section of driving was more off-road and exciting, and we had to park 0.25 miles from the aid station and walk in. The girls enjoyed the adventure and were fairly good with lunch at Chapman aid station. I took a turn entertaining Rachel here, so we explored the log bridge over the creek, used binoculars to scan the mountain-side for J, and played “sack-of-potato” countless times. It was fun to interact with my nieces throughout this race and they continue to amaze me with how quickly they grow up!

Jason coming through Chapman aid station... almost done!

Jason coming through Chapman aid station… almost done!

Chapman aid station was mile 82.2, and the last time we would see Jason before the finish that night. Eric finished his pacing duties and Randy picked up for the last sections of the trail. I continued to try to manage Jason’s needs but had to get a little creative here since we did not have all of his extra clothing and food options from the car. Fortunately, we did have Eric’s race bag so he lent Jason the rain pants he needed. Then the crew (and a tired Eric) hiked back out and drove just over two hours back around to Silverton. We opted not to take the 4WD-only option over the mountain pass, but instead retraced our steps through Telluride and Ouray. Back in town we unpacked, had dinner, and then went to the high school to wait Jason. He had been right in the middle of his timing goals up until Chapman, so we expected to see him between 8-10pm.

Rachel and Ava waiting for Daddy at the finish line.

Rachel and Ava waiting for Daddy at the finish line.

Their friend, Kari, who was also at The Bear 100 finished about an hour before Jason so we got to see her kiss the Hardrock. Then we spent the rest of the time playing with Rachel and Ava, who were quite tired at this point but excited to see their Daddy. We got the radio from Glen that Jason had crossed the river along the road and was heading in with only two miles to go! By this point it was dark again but J still had over an hour to accomplish his original goal of finishing in under 40 hours. We were all excited to see him finish, but cheered on several more runners while we waited. Finally, we made out the outline of three runners without headlamps (Eric, Jason, and Randy) and Rachel ran out to greet them. The whole family jogged the last hundred yards or so with Jason and then watched as he kissed the Hardrock at 9:22pm on Saturday night. This was 39 hours and 22 minutes after he started, which is almost exactly what he predicted! After resting for quite some time in the gym, we headed back to the hotel and put the girls to bed. Then J and I actually went back to the medical tent to confirm that his slight wheezing and coughs were “normal”. They assured us he would be fine after he got some sleep, so we did just that! Runner, pacers, and crew were all tired but happy and had no problem sleeping through the night. I even shared a room with the little girls and had no problem falling (or staying) asleep.

The infamous Hardrock that stands on the finish line.

The infamous Hardrock that stands on the finish line.

Sunday morning we went to the race breakfast and award ceremony and heard some of the incredible stories from the race. Like the runner who choked on a piece of watermelon in the first half of the race, but was rescued by an aid station medic who performed the heimlich maneuver. Or the runner from Boulder who had a tough race, but managed to sprint to the finish at kiss the rock with literally one second to spare. His official time was 47:59:59! All of the finishers, 123 officially, earned their respective awards and everyone ate well in that gymnasium.

The dream team: Eric, Randy, and Jason.

The dream team: Eric, Randy, and Jason.

Unfortunately, I had to hit the road back to Durango airport immediately after the award ceremony so I said my good-byes and hopped in the car with some other friends who were going my way. Shortly after checking in, my flight to Phoenix was canceled and after a lot of phone calls and waiting in line, I finally got rebooked to Denver much later Sunday night. Then I spent the night in whatever hotel US Airways put me up in, where I logged a nine mile run on the treadmill at 11pm before crashing into my king-sized bed. Monday morning I went back to the airport for my connection home, which left with no issues. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of Jason’s race weekend and while I don’t think I was as helpful or prepared as I could’ve been, I do hope that I pulled my weight on the team. It was great to see Jason/Meggan and the rest of their family and friends, as well as explore a new part of Colorado!

100 Days of Difference – Day 14

If you missed my post two weeks ago explaining my summer project, check it out here before you continue reading this post.

Now that you’ve done that, you should know that today (June 7th) is National Cancer Survivors Day. So if you know anyone that has beaten any of the numerous varieties of cancer that currently plague our world, take a minute before continuing to reach out and let them know you’re glad they won! Life after a cancer diagnosis and even after a remission or “all-clear” declaration is never the same as it was pre-cancer. I feel so thankful for each of my family and friends that doesn’t have to fight anymore, at least not right now. And as silly as most “holidays” are these days, I support this one because it recognizes those among us that have been to hell and back.

But this special day also brings up the question of what can I/we do for those still in the trenches, fighting for survivor status? The answer for me was in this #100daysofdifference challenge. I can RAISE MONEY for an amazing organization, Hope for Young Adults with Cancer, that helps 18-40 year olds across the nation that have been diagnosed with cancer. No donation is too big or too small and my goal is to raise at least $1,000 this summer, which would be enough to fully pay for a scholarship for one deserving cancer warrior. These scholarships allow recipients the opportunity to not only pay for their treatments, but also to continue living throughout their often long and difficult cancer journey. Check out my donation page on Crowdrise or contact me about other ways to donate financially.

As someone who has worked with charities for a long time, I am fully aware that not everyone is comfortable or able to give money. That’s 100% fine with me! You can share my blog link or my Crowdrise page and help me spread the word. I appreciate any efforts, no matter how big or small.

I also created an Amazon wish list this week to give potential donors even more ways to help support young adults with cancer. So one of my #100daysofdifference goals is to put together 100 “cancer care kits” to take to the North County Oncology Medical Clinic. The idea behind this is that chemotherapy and radiation and blood transfusion are all long, scary processes that cancer patients have to endure. While I can’t change that, I can provide bags of goodies to help entertain or increase the comfort level of patients. The medical center plans to give our bags to new patients during their first day of treatment, just to welcome them to the cancer family and let them know that there are people who care, even during this difficult time.

The way the Amazon wish list works, is kind of like a wedding or baby registry. You click the link I just gave you, decide which items you are willing to purchase, check out, and then they will be shipped directly to my house. I will collect items all summer and hope to distribute the 100 finished bags the last week of August. For those of you that live in San Diego and see me on a regular basis, please feel free to pick up any of the listed items on your own and give them to me when we see each other. Also, if anyone wishes to donate other items I am happy to accept those as well, just send me a message!

Thank you, thank you, thank you for supporting me in the huge summer project. I literally cannot do it without each and every one of you that reads this blog and please know that I appreciate every donation, every encouraging comment, and every spreading of the word. Below is a chart of my progress so far, I’m getting there!!

Screen Shot 2015-06-06 at 9.27.26 PM

Tinkerbell Half Marathon 2015

I should start by saying that this was my eighth half marathon since I started running long distances in 2011. I should also comment that I went to Disney World once, when I was five, and my favorite ride was It’s a Small World. I’ve lived 1.5 hours from Disneyland for almost three years now and have never been. I’m not anti-Disney, but I’m also not a fanatic. The average pace for my previous seven half marathons has been right at two hours, but I ran the La Jolla Half two weeks ago in 2:07. The past six months have been extremely busy for me so training has not been a priority. So knowing all of that, how did I find myself standing on the streets of Anaheim at 5:30am Sunday morning? It’s simple… my friends asked me to do it 😉

DSCN0504

Ready for my eighth half marathon!

I say that jokingly because back in August… July? September? Sometime in 2014. My friend from high school, Claire, mentioned that she was running the Disney Princess Half at Disney World in February. Not only that, but she was considering doing a “Coast-to-Coast Challenge” and her husband would feel better if she had someone to run or at least travel with her to Disneyland in May, 2015. I’m always down for having running/race buddies, so naturally I said yes! We convinced two other high school friends living in California to join us as well and the cast was complete. Fast forward through moving away from San Diego, through traveling to Argentina, through moving into North Carolina, and finally through moving BACK to San Diego and finally race weekend was upon us. Here’s the basics of our weekend… there was a lot going on, so try to keep up!

DSCN0442

Picking up my bib at the expo

Claire – She arrived from Philly on Wednesday night, ran the Neverland 5k Friday, then completed the Pixie Dust Challenge by completing both the Tink 10K on Saturday and the Tinkerbell Half Marathon on Sunday. She’s a mother of two adorable boys and only started running distance races six months ago. Tink was her third of four half marathons in a month. Crazy, right?! As previously mentioned, Claire was the one that got us all involved and her love for everything runDisney was very apparent as she cleaned out the merchandise tent;) But her enthusiasm was contagious all weekend!

Karen – I arrived from North County, San Diego on Thursday night, got up early and supported the others in their running of the Tink 10k on Saturday and then raced the Tinkerbell Half on Sunday. In spite of not being in conditioned shape, I really wanted to RACE and see what happened. I tend to get complacent during events and I knew stopping and starting (even for Disney character pictures) would kill my legs, which were still recovering from my last race. My “I’ll be happy” goal was to beat 2:07 and my “I’ll be ecstatic” goal  was to break two hours. I also agree to wings and tutus… but only if the other girls picked them out for me.

Kelly – She arrived on Friday night from San Diego, sported her fairy wings and tutu like a champ while completing the Pixie Dust Challenge as well. She also ran La Jolla two weeks ago and is in great shape from aerial yoga and TRX training. Sadly, this was our last race together for a while because at the end of the month she’s moving back to the East Coast where we all grew up. Kelly served as our massage therapist for the weekend and (thankfully) offered to compress, stretch, and de-knot our tired muscles.

Jenny – She arrived later Friday night from Santa Monica from a Flash Mob with her Dancing Classrooms students. She has been battling tendonitis and leg pain for almost two months, but completed all 19.3 miles of the Pixie Dust Challenge with a smile. With the possible exception of Claire, Jenny was the most excited about everything Disney and rocked her custom-made Mickey and Minnie TOMS in between races. She took running guru Jeff Galloway’s advice to alternate running and walking to get her through only her second half marathon ever!

DSCN0489

Jenny (in Minnie ears), Claire (in orange), and Kelly (in blue) finishing the Tink 10K!

Now that you know all about the girls, let’s talk about the actual race and how it went for me. I tried a new strategy this race, just to see what happened. I typically start conservatively and then pick up the pace the last few miles as I gain confidence in my ability to finish. I know I should be past that now, especially after finishing the SF Marathon last July, but it’s still hard for me to really think of myself as a runner. I also tend to “trust my training” but I didn’t really train so much for this race. Before La Jolla I only got up to 6.68 miles and then two weeks ago I had that race as a “training run” for Tinkerbell. So I wanted to go out with 9:00 miles to begin and try to hold those through the park, which we excited around mile six. Then I figured even if I slowed to my usual pace around 9:30/mile, I would still beat 2:07. La Jolla runs up and over Torrey Pines, which is a considerable hill, and I knew Anaheim would be a much flatter setting which should help my legs survive.

DSCN0495

I was happy to be a proud spectator on Saturday… congrats girls!

From the time Tinkerbell said “Go!”, I felt only okay. I thoroughly enjoyed running through the different neighborhoods of Disneyland, even if I didn’t stop for character photos. Once I break stride in a race, it’s all over. But I spent most of this first hour checking out the scenery, the rides, and the cast members along the course. I was so distracted by my surroundings that I surprised myself by coming through the 10k marker in 55:13, which was 8:54/mile pace! However, I knew that this was when the real race would begin for me. My muscles weren’t used to long distances, I didn’t have cool stuff to look at on the streets of Anaheim, and the people on the sidelines were going to thin out. I ate the first half of my Shot Blocks and reminded myself that I was almost halfway through and that if I needed to slow down, I could.

IMG_1855

Kelly, Jenny, Claire and I before the half marathon 🙂

Miles seven to nine felt SLOW to me. The sun came out, we went through the “quiet please” neighborhood, and my legs were starting to hurt. But each time I passed a mile marker and heard my MapMyRun update my pace, I was still maintaining fairly well! At the 15k (9.3 mile) point, my time was 1:23 which was 8:59 pace. This was when my mind switched gears. I did the math and felt confident for the first time during the race that I would actually beat my 2:07 goal. But now was the question of whether or not I could pull out a sub-2:00 performance. I was definitely not convinced. But I am also fiercely competitive with myself and knew I had to try. So I ate the second half of Shot Blocks around mile ten and kept on plugging. My right hip flexor and the top bones in my right foot were starting to hurt but I tried to focus on not altering my stride for fear of causing pain elsewhere. Luckily, I was trailing two very nice ladies who were in the same running group but didn’t really know each other, so I could eavesdrop on them while distracting myself. I also told myself that if they could hold this pace while talking normally, I could do it while staying silent.

DSCN0481

Daisy and Minnie cheering on the Tink 10k finishers!

Mile twelve saw the second time through an underpass, which served as the only real hill on the course. I love hills and really took advantage of the chance to alter my stride for a short time. My mile split that mile was 8:20… oops? Mile thirteen I was pretty spent. I did appreciate the bands, color guards, dance teams, and cheerleaders that lined the second half of this course and never as much as that last mile. I knew from the mile marker clocks that I had eleven minutes to run the last 1.1 miles and I knew I would do it… but I also knew that I would not be running a PR. This hadn’t even really crossed my mind until that point, as it’s a 1:57:09, and I was totally fine with that. I tried to really enjoy the last straight-away of the race and even remembered to cross over and hi-five Mickey Mouse just before the finish line. My official time was 1:58:55, my fourth fastest half marathon time to date, and I was super pleased. After the race I did get ice from the medical tent and made several trips to the port-o-john’s while waiting for my fellow fairies. Seems like my stomach needs the long training runs more than my legs do, lol.

IMG_1829

Map of the course, according to MapMyRun

I was able to track the other girls the rest of the way in and watched them finish, which was just as fun as crossing the line myself! Overall, I really enjoyed the weekend with these lovely ladies and I was happy with my performance, especially given my training. The race was very well supported from what I saw, with tons of course marshals, spectators, aid stations, and entertainment. While I’m not sure I would sign up for the whole Disney experience on my own, it was nice to have a race where I could start in the first corral and not even have elite runners in front of me. The medal we got with the spinning Tinkerbell was pretty great too! Of course it goes without saying that my favorite part was spending 3+ days hanging out with old friends while being active and achieving our goals. I’m so proud of them and the rest of the women (and few men) that raced this past weekend. Now it’s time for a few weeks of active rest for me before my summer race season kicks off!

IMG_1860

Claire, Kelly, myself and Jenny at the finish… WE DID IT!!

La Jolla Half Marathon 2015

I will be the first to admit that I was not at all prepared for this race. I decided to run about a month ago since I had been training for my Tinkerbell Half Marathon anyway. This race is the second of the triple crown series of half marathons in San Diego, which I completed in 2013. Carlsbad in the January race, then La Jolla in April, and America’s Finest City in August. So I’ve run the course before and I knew what to expect… lots and lots of hills! The run starts in the Del Mar racetrack and follows the coast up and over the hills of Torrey Pines before ending in La Jolla Cove. It’s brutal. But it’s also beautiful!

IMG_1661

Sunday morning, Sean and I drove down to La Jolla to stash our car by the finish before hopping on the shuttle with Kelly. My goal here was to NOT rip my contact while getting off the bus (click the La Jolla link above to read that story). I was successful and we spent the hour or so before the start stretching, staying warm, and discussing our race strategies. Even though Sean and I had done many of our training runs together, we concluded that to avoid injury it would probably be best if we ran our own races and started in our own corrals. I was wave three and he was wave four. Kelly decided to jump up to wave four with Sean to get started earlier. Our friends Vanessa and Dahlia found us in the parking lot and were both in wave three with me (pre-race photo below).

IMG_1658

Starting off, my plan was to run comfortably and stay at whatever pace felt fairly easy. This ended up being about 9:30 pace, which was right at what I expected. I didn’t want to push too hard for the first five miles because of the big hill into Torrey Pines around mile six. It was perfect weather for the race and the sun came out just as we started, which made it a little warmer but also quite pleasant. The wind coming off the ocean wasn’t too strong, so I felt good turning up the hill (see first photo). Historically, I run hills well and I wasn’t expecting Sunday to be any different. I drove my arms and passed a TON of people of this section of the course. The photo below is a screenshot of an official photo so excuse the watermarks, but look past me at the rest of the runners and you’ll see what I mean. I got up without much problem and my legs were still feeling strong(ish).

Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 12.30.07 PM

The next three miles are my least favorite because they are rolling hills through the top of Torrey Pines. It’s when I knew my legs would start to tire from lack of training and when I couldn’t see the finish line yet. I was expecting Sean to pass me at some point during this stretch so that gave me something to think about. He did end up passing me just before mile ten and our huge downhill. That gave me a bit of a boost because he said his shin and legs were feeling good as he passed me (he’s on the right in the photo below). I won’t lie, it was a bit humbling for me to be passed but I knew he was the more prepared runner between us. I was also really excited because I knew time-wise he was on pace to run a PR and possibly even break two hours!

IMG_1663

After the big downhill, the top of my right foot started to tighten up and my left knee was a bit wonky. Both of these were things I expected with the lack of hill and distance training I’d put in. I was enjoying the race though and got to take in the scenery around me while I ran. Nothing was too painful to continue so I kept on cruising. The part of the course that winds through La Jolla Village was kind of annoying due to construction and the sun was starting to feel hotter. But I knew there was just one more section of hills before the downhill turn to the finish line. I did a quick assessment and confirmed that I couldn’t go any faster, so I just enjoyed the run as much as I could. I tried to encourage the runners around me who were starting to really struggle and who were less familiar with the course. Ultimately, I made it to the finish line without too much difficulty!

IMG_1662

My official time was 2:07:03, which was about seven minutes slower than when I ran this course in 2013. But I felt VERY happy with those results given my preparation. Sean finished in an impressive 2:00:25, but was a bit frustrated at being so close to that two-hour barrier. He shaved about five minutes off his time from Carlsbad, which is a much easier course, so I was proud of him! Kelly, Vanessa, and Dahlia all finished within fifteen minutes of us, so we were able to meet up at the finish line. It was really fun seeing people I knew all day, either on the course or at the start and finish lines. I love the little group of runners I’ve come to know here and I think most of us are planning to run AFC in August as well. My goal for that race is to properly train and make a push to break the two-hour barrier again, if not PR. I’m quite confident that Sean will and you know I can’t be left behind!

IMG_1693

IMG_1677

Some Recent Kitchen Experiments

I know I’m not the only person who logs into Pinterest when they are bored and tags a dozen delicious-looking dishes and then signs out. But this past week I was bound and determined to try out some of those recipes! Check out the links and my feedback below:

1. Cinnamon Protein Waffles

Ingredients
  • Serves 2 – makes 4 waffles
  • 1/4 cup oat flour/ground oats
  • 1 scoop vanilla or unflavored whey protein
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
    1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •  1 tablespoon sweetener
  • 1 banana
  • 2 egg whites

Instructions

1. Put ingredients in a bowl and mix with a hand blender or put all the ingredients in a food processor to mix. This is important or else you won’t get a nice thin batter, mix until you get a smooth batter.

2. Pour a 1/4 of the mix into each of your waffle moulds, cook for approx. 5-6 minutes.
3. Serve with your favorite toppings.
Per serving (2 waffles) 173 calories | 2.3g fat | 0.2g sat fat | 23.9g carbs | 15.4g protein.

I’ve been looking for ways to cut down on carbs and increase protein in my life. But I LOVE carbs. All of them. So I thought this recipe might be a way to up my protein while satisfying my carb craving… and my breakfast craving. I was ultimately underwhelmed though 😦 The first issue was that I thought the recipe looked too small for two people to share, so I doubled it. Well, that made a LOT of waffles. Too many. The cinnamon and banana flavors smelled amazing and while the waffles were cooking, they made our mouths water. But when we went to eat them, they were just a bit dry and a little too dense for me. I will say that we had them for dinner one night with sausage and they were just as good the next morning with eggs and turkey in sandwich form. I can definitely play with the batter proportions for next time, but I might just scrap this recipe and look for another one.Do any of you have any suggestions?!

IMG_1583

2. Simple Turkey Burgers

1 lb. ground turkey meat (prefer thigh meat)
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley, minced (or whatever fresh herbs you like)
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
cheese (optional)

Mix ingredients together and form 4-6 patties. Grill on medium heat for 7 minutes a side. 2 minutes before burgers are done, place a slice of cheese (optional) on each patty. Serve hot.

In addition to breakfast and carbs, I also enjoy Greek-style cooking and ground turkey. Frozen turkey burgers from the store lack a bit of flavor, in my opinion. So I wanted to try to make my own patties and it helped that my mom just gave me a Tupperware container made specifically for pressing and freezing homemade patties! This recipe ended up making seven patties for me from the 1.08 pounds of ground turkey. So that patties are a great size as far as portion-control goes. I used my George Foreman to grill them, since my oven has been out of commission. One turkey patty on an English muffin, topped with cucumbers, spinach, and tzatziki sauce, was the PERFECT dinner. I am so sorry I didn’t take a picture of the whole ensemble but I’ll try to remember to update the blog the next time we have them. I thought the spices gave the burgers enough character to hold their own and it was super easy to make. The best part? Having five extra patties to put in the freezer for another meal. I highly recommend checking out this recipe for quick and yummy burgers!

IMG_1586

3. Zucchini Carrot Oatmeal Muffins

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs + 1 large egg white
  • 3/4 cup oil
  • 1 cup grated zucchini
  • 1 cup grated carrot
  • 3/4 cup raisins

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl and set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs and oil. Stir in grated zucchini and carrots. Add to dry ingredients and stir until combined.
  3. Fill muffin cups about 3/4 full and bake for approx. 20 minutes. They are done when a knife inserted comes out clean, and tops spring back when lightly touched.

 

My love of carbs and Greek-influenced foods drove my decision to make the first two dishes I shared tonight. But my DISLIKE of things is what drove my choice to make these muffins. Now, I do like muffins and I’ll eat zucchini. But I actively do not like carrots. Cooked or uncooked. Dunked in hummus or stir-fried with broccoli and cauliflower. None of it. They just aren’t my thing. I also don’t prefer oatmeal. It’s grainy and borders the “hot liquid” category that I avoid like the plague. But, I am trying to sneak more veggies into my meals and swap out white flours for brown or whole wheat flours. I will say that once I got started on this recipe tonight, I realized that there was still a LOT of sugar and a mixture of flours. Baby steps, right?

Anyway, I made this recipe exactly as written and it was DELICIOUS! I got 18 muffins out of the batter, so I’ll have some to freeze and keep for later. I haven’t had dinner yet but I couldn’t wait to try the muffins so I snuck a hot one off the pan. Everyone knows that’s when they are the best anyway 😉 I could actively taste the oats and carrots, but didn’t mind them! There were also raisins in the batter, which I considered leaving out, but decided to keep everything as prescribed the first attempt. They were moist and flavorful and yummy! I can’t wait to have another one as a side to my chicken dinner tonight.

IMG_1584

Living Life in Leucadia

It has been SO long since I last posted about settling into California, oops? I’m excited to get back to posts about crazy adventures on the “Best Coast”. Jury is still out there, but for right now I’m leaning West. Anyway, so I told you that I bought a new car (SUV) and it’s still amazing. I have not picked out a name yet, but I’m sure that will come. For now, I’m just excited that I’ve driven over 1,000 miles so the engine is broken in and I can use cruise control. Work at Halstrom is going well, my hours are continuing to build and for right now it looks like I’ll be teaching a lot of AP World History and Algebra II, both of which are fine by me! I’m getting to know the new staff members and students and everyone seems really nice so far, so that’s great!

IMG_1365

After a lot of searching that really began back in North Carolina, I finally found an apartment and have moved in. I wanted to be in the Encinitas area again, since living this close to the beach is amazing and I like to walk to restaurants and stores when I can. My top priorities were two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a dishwasher, and parking of some sort… and obviously proximity to the Pacific Ocean. Several places fell through or changed at the last-minute or I was the second applicant and it was starting to look like April 1st was my new move-in goal. But then I found a posting 23 minutes after it went live that looked great! I called the property manager, went over the next morning at 9am, applied on the spot, and signed the lease the next day. It was a bit crazy but it was the first place I’d seen with everything I wanted. And it was the cheapest place I’d looked at too! It’s a two-story “townhouse-style apartment” with the bedrooms and bathrooms upstairs and the living, dining, and kitchen downstairs. There’s a great under-the-stairs closet for all of my athletic and camping equipment and I have an assigned parking space. There are only ten units in the complex and we have an adorable courtyard with a make-shift fire pit, ping-pong table, and outdoor shower. I’m still getting to know my neighbors but they seem really chill without being obnoxious. Yay!

IMG_1189

Enough about the business side of life, now onto the fun side of things. I can’t believe that I haven’t even been back a month because (in true Karen fashion) I’ve hit the ground running! I’ve already taken a weekend trip to La Quinta in the desert with an incredible group of new and old friends (pictured above). Less than 24 hours after landing, kickball started back up for the season and I have a fantastic team this time around! We may not be at the top of the leader board, but I’d argue that we have the most fun. In addition to playing together on Sundays, a bunch of us have fallen into trivia on Tuesday nights. We won the first week, which got us hooked, and were third this week. Our prize for winning was a bar tab and we got an Easter basket of candy this week for third (even better!). Last night nine of us stayed out after midnight to see Furious 7 on opening night. For those of you on the fence, it’s 100% worth going to see. The Paul Walker tribute at the end was a bit drawn out for me, but the movie itself was just what you expect, lots of fast cars and hot girls with some street fighting mixed in.

IMG_1257

I’ve also spent a good bit of time reconnecting with my core group of girls out here. I hit up a Dan + Shay concert downtown one night (pictured below), I hiked Cowles Mountain in Mission Valley one day (picture at top of post), I went on a training run along the coast, and I celebrated the first birthday of a very special little girl another night. It’s so good to be back with my support network and catch up on what’s been going on in their lives the last four months. Don’t get me wrong, I love my guys and I miss my East Coast people… but my girlfriends here are pretty incredible. We are starting our book club back up too, so I look forward to reading some new novels and having crazy discussions once a month going forward.

IMG_1286

I also like to check in on my fitness/nutrition in these type of posts too. I have been struggling with workouts these last few weeks because I dropped a DVD player on my toe, which prohibited me from wearing shoes for a while. I also cracked a big toe while jumping on a trampoline with my favorite fifth graders. And my left upper-calf/knee are giving me some struggles. But I’ve registered for the La Jolla Half Marathon on April 26th in addition to the Tinkerbell Half in LA on May 10th, so we shall see. I am just excited to get back into racing and finish these two events with my friends that are running with me. Time won’t be so much of a factor this time around, but I do plan to have both of my contacts in for LJ 😉 Oh! And I ran the Wellness 5k with Sean a few weekends ago. It was a smaller race, which was nice for a change. Sean ran his personal best 5k time and I won my age group, so we were both pleased with that! Immediately after the race, SK donated platelets and two days later I donated whole blood. It makes my heart happy to think about the lives we helped to save with those donations and I encourage all of you to sign up to donate blood this month, if you can!

IMG_1338

I’ve gotten some new Beachbody DVD’s to mix things up and they seem to be keeping me interested for now, but I’m craving getting back on the bike and in the pool. My road bike is being put back together on Monday and I need to figure out my plan for pool access so I can start triathlon training. Nutrition right now is taking a back burner just with the chaos of life. I’m re-adjusting to packing lunches and getting workouts/smoothies done before work, but it takes time and I’m trying to set realistic goals for myself. Finally, I have gotten actively involved in Girls on the Run again this season. My teaching schedule doesn’t allow me to coach, but I am a shoe fairy and am on the 5k planning committee. As a shoe fairy, I size girls on our scholarship teams for brand new shoes and then get to deliver them the following week. It’s like Christmas in April for these girls! If anyone in SD wants to help me cheer on our amazing girls at the 5k on May 17th, let me know! I’m in charge of coordinating the cheer stations, so any/all help that morning would be amazing… you get to dress up and be as crazy as you want… just saying.

Alright, that’s all for now but I promise not to wait another three weeks to post and happy Easter!!

Final Feedback on February Fasts

I made it! And what’s funny is that I didn’t even realize it until this morning (March 2nd). I think that’s a good thing though, right? Since I obviously wasn’t counting the minutes until the clock turned from February 28th to March 1st. This challenge turned out to be a lot easier than I anticipated overall. Again, I was basically hanging out at home in North Carolina with no friends which helped, but I was also doing a lot of running around town when it’s easy to give in to fast food and sugary treats for energy. Here’s my original post to remind you of my February fasting goals and my mid-month update to show my progress a few weeks ago.

So where am I going with each of these items? Let’s see!

Fizzy drinks – I am going to try my absolute best to keep these out of my diet. Between the sugar and caffeine, they do a number on me now that I’m not as used to them. That doesn’t mean I won’t have a good mixed drink here or there, but I want to set the standard to be less than one a week from here on out. We shall see!

French fries – Only the very best, most delicious fries will be had. Especially if they are sweet potato fries. And especially on special occasions. I want to continue to avoid fries as my “go to” side item in restaurants. The reality is that I can steal one or two from a neighbor and be good to go with fruit or a salad instead.

“Fourth meal” – I anticipate this to become a problem again… especially once I start work. Namely because I will go back to eating breakfast earlier in the day and lunch earlier, so I will want dinner earlier. I’m going to try to avoid this by scheduling a healthy snack in the afternoon to help push dinner back later. Most of my Cali friends wait until 7 or 8 to eat anyway, so this will allow me to wait for them without getting “hangry”. And if I’m eating dinner that late, then there isn’t much time for a “fourth meal” after that!

Frozen treats – Again, I just don’t need them and I don’t want to stock them in my house. I’m sure I’ll make a trip or two to the local froyo store, but I want to limit frozen treats to once or twice a month. I can pick other ways to get a bit of sweet at the end of the day. And if I do go, I am going to really try to stick to fruit bowls instead of chocolate bowls. What the heck does that mean? Basically that when I go to put toppings on my delicious frozen yogurt, I’m going to put fruits instead of candy. Not a huge difference, but a difference nonetheless.

Fast food – The reality is that I will need to eat out while on the road in the future, but I plan to avoid going to fast food in San Diego County. There is no reason to, especially when such great stores as Whole Foods and Jamba Juice exist. The food tastes better and is way better for me. Again, we shall see how that works out 🙂

Those of you curious about my health/fitness results will be interested to hear that while maintaining a similar weight to the middle of the month, I have lost another 2.5 inches off of my body! This is thanks in large part to my half marathon training picking back up and my Piyo workouts continuing to kick my butt. I’m excited to keep them up while adding in kickball and long, therapeutic walks with my girlfriends back in SD.

Thanks for reading about my health and nutrition progress and let me know what you’re trying to do to change your eating habits!

Previous Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: