Posts Tagged With: Running

First Reaction: Merrell Bare Access Arc 2

My new shoes have arrived!

Merrell Bare Access Arc Running Shoes

These are the Women’s Merrell Bare Access Arc 2 Barefoot Running Shoes in Aqua, or as I affectionately call it, Smurf Blue. These just hit the market this month and are the update to the orignal Bare Access Arc. I like this updated version better than the original. I currently run in the Pace Gloves but was looking for something for longer distances with a tad more cushion. Have done a few miles in these and my initial thoughts are good. I’ll wait to post a full review once I have some more miles on them.

Categories: Running | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Nicolet Bay 5k Race Weekend Recap

Back from my girls weekend in Door County!

Door County Country Chalet

Our charming rental “chalet” in the woods. After dropping off our luggage we went to the Ephraim Town Hall for packet pick-up. The sun was out and there was an excitement in the air (along with lots of bugs). That evening we stayed in and cooked since it was the night before the race. Roasted vegetable lasagna was the star, and a garden salad, spinach cake, garlic bread were the supporting acts. We also had a festive taco dip, fresh fruit, and other little snacks. I made up a batch of cranberry apricot truffles for something sweet. We had so much food that we forgot to take some out of the fridge. While most people like to super hydrate with water the night before a race, I like to have a glass of wine with my dinner to relax. 🙂 Dinner was wonderful and we went to bed early to get a good night of rest.

This was my first race coming back from my ITB injury, and as much as I wanted to run the half marathon with the girls, I played it safe and stuck to the 5k race option. Check out the course:

Nicolet Bay 5k Course Map

The course runs on park roads that hug the two bays. I was so excited!

The race didn’t start until 10:35 so we were able to sleep in, have breakfast and take our time getting ready.

Costco Running Outfit

My race outfit from Costco! Yes, Costco makes decent running clothes and I love them. The pants are Kirkland yoga crop pants for $16.99 and the space-dye racer-back tank was $12.99. There is a rumor that some of Costco’s workout clothes are made in the same place where they make Lululemon. I own a pair of Lululemon capri pants and I can say that I think the Costco ones are just as good if not better quality. The fit and fabric are both perfect and the price is right. I actually bought a pair of these pants last summer and after a few dozen washes they are still great and don’t pill like Lululemon. The amount of money I saved covered the cost of my race entry, my portion of the chalet rental and a few bottles of cherry wine! 😉 Check out these other discussions on Costco’s Kirkland workout clothes here, here and here.

We decided to drive to the race instead of taking the trolley. There were tents set up with clothing and shoe vendors, food, drinks and music playing on the speakers. We had quite a bit of a wait until the start (I had about an hour and a half) so we just chatted and the time flew by.

Get Outdoors Wisconsin

The weather was PERFECT for running. It started out cloudy and cool, a few rain drops, then the sun came out. My friends left to go head to their half marathon start and I decided to walk around Nicolet Bay and take some photos. Pretty soon it was time for me to follow the signs to the starting line.

5k Start

There were lots of people with fun signs like this one:

Race Sign

I did a mile warm-up run 10 minutes before the start and then lined up with about 500 other runners.

Starting Line

I started in the back of the front third of the pack, although I soon realized that I should have started closer to the front. Many people in front of me walked right from the start and I landed on my ankle funny trying to get around them. The first mile flew by and I was really in a good groove. Much of the race is on tree-lined paved roads but every once in awhile you’d see views of the bay.

Door County Green Bay

Could the scenery be any better? The water was so blue and the sun had come out and made everything sparkle.

Around Mile 2

This was around mile 2. The trees were so green and although there were other runners on the course it wasn’t too crowded.

Horseshoe Island

Another view of the water, between miles 2 and 3. That is Horseshoe Island in the background.

Park Road

A typical view of the course, smooth winding roads in the park. Most of the route was flat but there were a few slight hills. I heard the half marathon course had many more hills.

I was in awe of the views, and just the feeling of being alive and healthy enough to run through the park that I started talking aloud sharing my excitement with whomever was next to me. I kept snapping pics like these as I was running and wasn’t taking the race too seriously. I wanted to finish in a decent time but also knew that I haven’t been back running long and my pace hasn’t been the greatest. I saw the finish line and sprinted into the chute and was surprised with my time of 28:20.

7 out of 51 Age Group43 out of 315 Gender104 out of 479 Overall

I’ll take that. Honestly the time didn’t matter, just finishing without feeling any knee pain was my goal. Sometimes people get so hung up on their times that they forget to enjoy the course. I wanted to soak it all in and be “aware” and present in the moment.

I ran down to the food tent for a cookie, banana and water and then headed to the beach to do a little yoga and stretching. I knew I wasn’t getting an age group award but I stuck around to hear most of the runners be called up to the awards table. It was just before noon and I wanted to go back out on the course and cheer and wait for my friends who were doing the half. I walked up to mile 12 which had a perfect view of the bay and I cheered for a half hour straight until my hands felt numb from clapping.

Soon I heard my friends come charging down the course and I ran with them to the finish. It was amazing to see Mandy cross the finish line of her first half marathon! I started to cry a little! There was hugging, laughing, and smiling until our faces hurt.

After heading back to clean up, we went to Husby’s for our free beer and some greasy bar food. The Kentucky Derby came on and that was fun to watch another kind of race. I’ll Have Another won!

Husby's Kentucky Derby

They had a band outside and they played one of my favorite songs – Wilco’s “Heavy Metal Drummer” – so we stayed to listen to a few songs. We tried to stay up late drinking and celebrating, but truth be told we were so exhausted that we turned in early. I needed toothpicks for my eyelids to keep them open!

My friend who organized this weekend gave us Etsy swag bags on our pillows that contained this thoughtful “sole sister” charm.

Sole Sister Charm

Photo by Ilona M.

As someone who loves Etsy and use to sell on there, it made me happy to see that she got everything from there. I like that this charm has a bare foot, too because I’ve been running semi-barefoot (minimalist) lately.

The following morning we went to White Gull Inn for breakfast, picked up wine, stopped for coffee, shopping, etc. and then headed home. There were so many other moments in between that I am leaving out for the sake of keeping this post fairly short.

The race was well organized, had a small town feel (despite a decent number of runners), an amazing course and accurate mile markers (which is rare). It was perfect and I’d do it again! It was a great weekend and I am happy to be back running.

What is your favorite race? Do you ever travel to do races with friends, or do you prefer to keep it local?

Categories: Running, Travels | Tags: , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Starting LiveFit Phase 3

After a morning of watching Yard Crashers and drinking the best coffee ever, we decided to hit the gym before the morning got away from us. I started  Phase 3 of Jamie Eason’s LiveFit 12 Week Trainer today. I am about 2 weeks behind in the program because I repeated a week during Phase 2 and then took a week off for a mental break to clear my head before continuing on. The first day of Phase 3 (Day 57) kicked things off with quads & calves. I love leg days and this was no exception. I did calf presses on the leg press machine for the first time ever. I really liked that compared to seated calf raises or using the smith machine with block. Have you ever done calf raises on the leg press?

I also JUST learned (over two months into the program) that there is a female version of each exercise video! On the LiveFit Trainer daily workout page, each exercise name is a link that opens a pop-up box with the exercise performed by a male.

LiveFit Video 1

From that pop-up box, if you click the name of the exercise again (or click the blue “View Full Details” button), it will open in a new browser tab (or window). Then, if you look closely, there is a small tab that says “Female”. Click on that and most of the videos are performed by Jamie herself.

LiveFit Video Female

I wish that this was the default view when clicking on the links from the LiveFit workout pages because it is a bit annoying to have to click 3 times to get to this.

While watching the male version of the video if sufficient, it is more helpful to watch the female version even though both genders are doing the exact same exercise. I feel that the body of a woman looks different when performing certain exercises, and it helps me know how my form is suppose to be.

I had to modify today’s workout because the plan calls for combining weights with plyometric exercises (like rope jumping) for supersets.

Here is what she says about this:

“You’ll quickly notice that these workouts combine traditional weight moves with plyometric exercises – for example, you follow-up leg presses with jump squats. Combining strength moves with explosive movements allows you to train for hypertrophy (the fancy word for muscle growth) and strength gains at the same time that you increase power – another important quality for fitness enthusiasts and athletes alike.

By hitting both fast- and slow-twitch muscle fibers, these moves also will stoke your fat-burning furnace. Picture the marbling in a steak. Our bodies have intra-muscular fat like that. Plyometric exercises help “squeeze” the fat from those areas.”

My gym doesn’t have a jump rope, nor does it even have the space to really do any of these long jumps and lateral bounds. It is a small gym, that is overcrowded with people and equipment, and is lacking many things that I need. In addition, nobody does supersets or any sort of these moves and I’d definitely draw attention to myself if I got off the leg press and started to jump around. 😦 We are thinking of switching gyms, not just because of this, but for many other reasons. I feel now is the time we have outgrown it and am looking for a place that is more suited to our current fitness needs.

I may give the whole plyometric + strength superset a try next time if it isn’t crowded because I bet it is a fantastic workout.

After the gym, I made Chocolate Protein Shakes to tide us over until lunch. We didn’t have much in the house for lunch because I haven’t made it to the store. Thank goodness I picked up some Costco frozen turkey burgers last week! These burgers can be grilled from frozen, which means no need to preplan and thaw. While I like to make my own turkey burgers, these come in handy for days like today when you have nothing planned and need something quick and easy. They also have a very clean ingredient list: white turkey, kosher salt, rosemary extract and black pepper and run 200 calories per patty.

We had some blackberries and blueberries, as well as Food Should Taste Good Sweet Potato Tortilla Chips. A little salsa and avocado, and we had a fast and healthy lunch.

Costco Frozen Turkey Burgers

That is my turkey burger, sans-bun.

Costco Turkey Burger

Mr. Nine enjoyed his on a bakery bun. He also put his berries in a fancy dish. :-p

After lunch, I pulled some weeds in the garden and did miscellaneous yard work before deciding to try to squeeze in a run. Since I skipped the plyometrics part of my leg workout, I felt the need to do something extra to make up for it. I know my legs will be too sore tomorrow to run so now was the time to get one in before the DOMS set in.

For a change of pace, I headed out to the track.

Running On The Track

Besides some people playing tennis nearby, I had the entire place to myself. It is much to early to even think about incorporating speed work (I just want to be able to run pain-free regardless of pace), so I repeated  1 lap walks, 2 laps running for a total of just over 4 miles. Twice during my run/walk combo I hit the bleachers for some stair work. The bleachers are pretty short, only 29 steps, so I tried to do sets of 10. The result was a total of 580 steps (290 up, 290 down) per set.

Running On Bleachers

It was an overcast day but the sun peeked out for a few fleeting moments here and there.

My track and bleacher work, combined with a solid lifting session at the gym, made today a solid fitness day. Balanced with some therapeutic gardening and a nice dinner and evening with Mr. Nine, it was the perfect laid-back Saturday.

Do you ever go to the track (or other public place) to do bleachers/stairs? Do you watch videos online to learn how or brush up on certain exercises?

Categories: Fitness, Food, Running | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

What I Missed About Running

One foot in front of the other.

Merrell Pace Gloves

Yesterday I headed out for a late evening run. While moving along inhaling the heady fragrance of lilacs, I realized what I missed most about not being able to run the past few months. It wasn’t so much the physical activity. There are other forms of exercise that you can do to keep your heart and body healthy. It wasn’t the thrill of racing, or the camaraderie of group runs (although that is indeed missed). What I missed most was delighting in the simple details that you experience during a run.

Lilac Bush

The smell of lilac.

Gravel Pitted Road

The uneven, pitted streets that collect tiny pools of rain water.

Brick Wall

The texture on the facades of buildings that have been around longer than me.

Lily Of The Valley

Sidewalks lined with lily of the valley.

These are just a few of the things I missed. Don’t even get me started on trail running.

This experience cannot be replicated indoors on a treadmill or elliptical. Sure I could take a walk outdoors and enjoy the sounds, sights and smells but it is different when you are running. Your senses are heightened. Your breathing is deeper and you inhale the smells around you more intensely. You are covering more ground in the same amount of time than you would if you were walking thus experiencing more. And since you are moving at a faster rate, each experience with a sound, smell, sight or feeling is so fleeting. You take it in and hold onto it as long as you can, before exhaling and releasing. Anticipating the next sensory delight which awaits around the corner. You could replicate this to a degree with bicycling, although I feel that some of the sensory elements are removed since you are moving faster. (Although I adore cycling for other reasons which I’ll share someday.) For whatever reason, maybe it is the rhythm that it creates, running is the right speed and method for me to pull enjoyment and inspiration from my surroundings. It is a way to get to know a neighborhood in a more intimate way, or a therapeutic dose of nature. Either way, it is so much more than running.

Inhale. Exhale.

And because no post is complete without a little talk about food, I bring to you “Two Nights of Elana’s Pantry“. Carrot Muffins, Apricot Power Bars… I find myself going back to Elana’s Pantry for more. As good as the muffins and bars are, I needed some savory ideas for dinner and Elana delivers in that department, too. Last night I made her Green Chili Turkey Burgers.

Elana's Pantry Turkey Burger

It’s a simple combination of ground turkey, green chiles, onion, cilantro, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper. While Mr. Nine was grilling these, I went out to the garden and picked some asparagus and prepared it with wilted asparagus drizzled with oil and vinegar. Nothing like super fresh veggies and a good protein! The burgers were moist and full of flavor. We enjoyed these sans-bun to make it gluten-free and didn’t need any toppings! That says a lot for a humble turkey burger. Leftovers were enjoyed for lunch today and reheated fabulously. My only tip would be to layer the formed patties between small sheets of parchment paper on a plate and freeze for about a half hour or until slightly firm. I would have done this if I had the time. The patties were super soft with a high moisture content, and Mr. Nine executed his superb grilling skills to ensure that they stayed in one piece. While he was out there grilling, I had him throw on a few chicken breasts for tonight’s dinner – Mexican Chicken and Rice.

Elana's Pantry Chicken and Rice

Doesn’t that look yum? What is fantastic about this recipe is that the “rice” is really cauliflower! Mr. Nine took a whole head of cauliflower and fed it through the food processor fitted with a grating disc. He only did this because I had a minor kitchen accident with the blade that required bandaging my thumb. 🙂 Elana says to use the “S” blade, but I thought the grating disc did an excellent job and kept all the pieces uniform. The whole dish contains grilled chicken, onion, cauliflower, green chilies, salt, cumin, oregano, chili powder, cilantro and salsa. This recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free and paleo-friendly, but you could take some of her other suggestions and add cheese, or even black beans. This recipe is really versatile. Personally, I left out the celery and cut the oil and salt in half (the original amounts seemed unneccessary). I could envision other veggies like red or orange bell peppers – use your imagination!

Now the question is, did the cauliflower taste like rice? I am not sure you could fool anybody into thinking it was rice, but it wasn’t bad at all. It essentially had the same texture, color and shape of cauliflower and the flavor was somewhat neutral and absorbed the spices and other flavors. I think this could definitely grow on me. I like the idea of having a cruciferous vegetable instead of rice because it is way lower in calories and higher in nutrients. I made a little comparison chart to illustrate this.

Cauliflower Vs Rice Comparison Chart

With the cauliflower, you are getting way more potassium, fiber and vitamin c, and lower carbs and calories. The rice has the advantage on the minerals, but all in all I think the cauliflower is the better option. What do you think?

Tonight’s questions: What would you miss about running if you had to stop? Have you ever made cauli-rice?

Categories: Food, Running | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Gluten Free Bars, Shrooms and The Walk to Run Kickoff

Happy Tuesday! We are moving one step closer to the weekend, life is good!

Because my recent bars baked with Stevia in the Raw (SITR) didn’t work out I decided to look for a recipe that didn’t use ANY added sugars or sugar substitutes. I don’t mind regular Stevia in my morning coffee, in MRM Whey Protein Powder or in the occasional baked goods however I want alternative options that don’t rely on it. I really liked the Gluten-Free Carrot Muffins from Elana’s Pantry because they were only sweetened with dates, so I went back to her site looking for more ideas. I found one with only 5 ingredients, 3 of which are kitchen staples!

Apricot Bars

These bars are made entirely from dried apricots, pecans, eggs, vanilla extract and sea salt. Okay, 6 ingredients if you count the chocolate chips that I added. 🙂 A food processor made prep quick and easy, and using a 8″ x 8″ pan made for effortless 1-dish baking. These bars are moist, flavorful and not too sweet. Mr. Nine liked the flavor, but he thought the texture was weird. I’ll have to disagree and say the texture was fine, a cross between a traditional cookie bar recipe and a Larabar. They hold their shape nicely (if you allow them to cool properly before cutting). The nuts give these bars a little texture and the chocolate chips add tiny bits of sweetness. Use dark chocolate (70% or higher) if you can or leave the chocolate out entirely if you have a strict diet. I love dark chocolate and the small amount (1/2 cup for the whole batch) is very reasonable. These are also gluten-free, dairy-free (if you use chocolate chips from Enjoy Life), and paleo-friendly (if you are okay with dark chocolate). Another bonus? They only take about 5 minutes of hands-on time to make. Throw the food processor container, blade, measuring cup, spoon and spatula in the dishwasher and sit back while they bake in the oven. I will definitely make these again, perhaps experimenting with additions of cinnamon, chia seeds or shredded coconut!

Batch of Apricot Pecan Bars

Excited to have this whole batch to snack on throughout the week. I keep mine in the fridge to prolong their freshness, but I doubt they’ll last more than a few days. I already had one with breakfast and two as a post-workout snack.

Here’s the recipe for Apricot Power Bars if you want to try them yourself!

In other food news, I made these yummy Sausage and Sweet Potato Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms from Pam at Paleo Table. Unlike traditional stuffed mushrooms which are filled with cheese and breadcrumbs, these contain no grain or dairy! Ground Italian sausage adds bulk, while mashed sweet potato adds body.

Sweet Potato and Sausage Stuffed Mushrooms

I used baby portobello mushroom caps that were 3″-4″ in diameter and increased the cooking time until I saw that the mushrooms were beginning to release some water content (about 35 minutes). Instead of mixing the sausage and potato in the food processor, I simply mashed the potatoes in a bowl and then stirred in the almond meal and sausage-onion mixture. Drizzled with balsamic vinegar, these stuffed mushrooms both savory with a hint of sweetness. These also reheat well in the microwave, making them perfect for a grab-and-go work lunch. I’m saving this gluten-free, dairy-free and paleo recipe because it is a definite win.

I’ve been writing a lot about food lately and not very much about running. I’ll explain why in another post but I have been slowly running again. Not very fast, and not very far, but I’m moving in a forward direction.

Speaking of forward directions, our running group hosted a Couch to 5k style running program and the kick-off meeting was last night.

Running Program

Photos by Brian Drendel

We had a huge turnout! It was so refreshing to see so many people from the community come out to take the first steps in training to run a 5k. For many this will be their first 5k. The program lasts 9 weeks with 3 weekly group runs using the walk-run approach. You can spot me above calling out the t-shirt raffle winners. I’m excited to volunteer this year, meet new people and hopefully inspire them to stick with the program and make running a lifelong activity.

Have you ever tried a Couch To 5k or Run to Walk program? Were you successful? Any advice or tips that I can give to these new runners next week?

Categories: Food, Running | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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