Recovery Week 3: 5/16 – 5/22

Okay, I am super behind – it’s the end of the school year AND we were negotiating a new contract and things got a bit emotional. The weekend was really no break either, since it was my pole competition AND a trail race. Yep. So, I suck as a blogger these days. The contract negotiations actually got settled last night so that’s one less thing to worry about, but really now I just have to make it three weeks until I can breathe again.

Week one of recovery was devoted to zero running, and week two was devoted to incorporating some leisurely miles. I avoided running when I didn’t feel like it, and it was nice. In week 2, I made it my my mission to run but if I just didn’t feel like it, I didn’t do it. Towards the end of the week when everything was insane, I needed some rest and recovery.

I haven’t done any “speed” workouts since before Boston. I think my last speed workout was on 4/7, my final tempo run. Other than that, I raced two marathons but speed workouts? Nope. I miss the structure of the Hanson’s plan, but I don’t start again for a few more weeks. I was getting bored of just running miles, so I decided to add some intervals this week to my Tuesday run. Nothing crazy, not like a track workout or anything – just fartleks, and I didn’t look at the pace of the actual intervals until after the workout.

Monday: Core/Strength/MYRTLs + 5 Miles Easy + Pole Fitness 

I did my core, lower body work, MYRTLs, and NTC’s Alpha Abs. It was a nice day so I headed over to the Saucon Trail after work. I hadn’t run on the trail in a few weeks and it was nice to just run easy and not worry about pace. I spent most of my strength workouts there so I associate that trail with struggle. At pole class, we learned some new stuff – mostly some new combos – and it was really fun. I felt good in general.

Tuesday: Core/Strength/MYRTLs + 8 Miles Easy w/12 x 30 @ “5K” pace + Pole Fitness   

It took me a little over two weeks until I got bored just running, and I actually considered heading to a track. I decided against it. I’m running a 5K on 5/28, so I kind of wanted to pick up the pace a bit and remind my legs what it felt like to go fast. I didn’t really want to do a full blown workout though. It’s not time for that yet.

I headed to Saucon to run the roads and told myself to do pick-ups on my run and just see how things go. I stuck with Tuesday because my body was used to “Track Tuesday”. My goal was to do 6-12 pickups at “5K” pace. If they felt shitty, I planned to do less or just not do them at all. I use “5K” loosely because I know what Hanson’s says my 5K pace should be for my marathon goal (5:47-5:57), but I also know what my last 5K pace actually was (6:03/mile). That was too many numbers for a Tuesday afternoon where I’m not supposed to be training.

I resolved to warm up for two miles and make it my goal to do two pickups each mile for the rest of the run if it felt okay. I hit lap at the beginning and end of each 30 second increment so I could review it later. I was actually pretty happy with the pace for each pick up:

  • 5:56, 6:18, 5:51, 5:51, 5:51, 5:55, 6:04, 5:53, 5:48, 5:58, 5:48, 5:49

Three of them were technically “off pace”, but I was pretty happy with the result. It felt pretty good to pick up the pace but 30 seconds was just long enough that I wasn’t too fatigued or out of breath, but it got my legs moving. I went home and did my lower body, core, MYRTLs, and NTC’s Perfect Alignment workout.

Wednesday:Core/Strength/MYRTLs + 2 Miles Easy + Pole Fitness

Wednesday’s are my “rest” days from running following the Hanson’s schedule, but I’m playing around with the program modifications for round two to try to run seven days per week every other week during training. I want to see how my body feels doing this before I begin training and see if the added miles are worth it. I want to be able to run more volume, but I would rather feel fresh for my Thursday tempo runs. My legs were confused as to why I was running on a Wednesday, and I kept it in my new recovery range for my new marathon goal. It was fine, but it was only two miles so we’ll see. But later in the week, I ended up taking some rest days so I probably could have done a few extra miles. Oh well.  It was a good attempt and it’s still recovery time, so I’m only doing what I feel like doing.

I did my legs, core, MYRTLs and strength work before work, and headed to pole after. The competition is Saturday, and I had a good run through of my routine. I’m so ready for the competition to be over so I can begin working on new things!

Thursday: Core/Strength/MYRTLs + 5 Miles Easy + Pole Fitness  

Core/strength happened before work, and my post run pole class went really well – nothing to report on there. But in between work and pole, I went for a run in the parkway. Three miles into my five miler, a guy was jogging in the opposite direction of me. I usually smile at everyone I pass – especially there, because most days the faces I see there are familiar, regular runners. The guy turned and tried to fall into step with me and this was the conversation that went down:

Random guy: “Hi, what’s your name?”

Me (confused, pulls out one of my earbuds), “um, Allison.” I start to put my earbud back in.

Random guy: “Hi, I’m Ned, so you are jogging today?”

Me (annoyed at this point because I just want to finish my run and don’t have a lot of time before I have to get to pole class): “Yep.” I start to put my earbud back in again and pick up the pace.

Ned (starting to sound winded): “Well, how old are you?”

Me: “Uh, 33.”

Ned: “OHHHHH DAMN, SORRY!”

…and he takes off in the other direction. So apparently, all I need to do to scare people off is tell them my age!

Friday: Rest

We started negotiating our teacher contract and I didn’t get home from work until pretty late. So it was sushi and rest.

Saturday: Pole Competition!

I suppose I should do a separate post on this at some point:) It was REALLLY fun, though! Spoiler: I didn’t win but I did really well!

Sunday: Jacobsburg 10 Mile Trail Race

I didn’t run this as a “race” and I’ll do a post on that soon. I LOVED running the trails at Jacobsburg!

♥ Run: 30 Miles ♥  

How was your week? 

What I’m Working Out to Wednesday

“The Cascade”
Moving Mountains

I realized something. I’ve been doing these music posts for a year now, and I still haven’t shared one of my most favorite bands with you. What?!

This was the first week where I didn’t have a song scheduled. I was out running on Monday, and this came on. It’s one of those that have been on my iPod for an indefinite amount of time and I never skip it. Moving Mountains isn’t a very well known band, but they should be. The only way I can describe them is grand. They are extremely talented musicians, and their music always just has this beautiful build to it. The lead singer has such an interesting voice – sometimes he comes across as very soft and lilting, but other times he actually does a little screaming and it just works.

My brother introduced me to these guys, and their instrumentals are unmatched. Some of their songs are almost 10 minutes long, but those aren’t about the vocals. They are just so damn good. I’ve seen them in concert twice, and actually met them last time. My brother and I are on the ends, the band members in the middle:

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I’m actually considering using this song for my next pole routine, whenever that is. I already have some ideas for moves that would look awesome with this song. If you prefer a “softer” song, check out Sol Solis – it’s one of the prettiest songs I know:) If you prefer something on the heavier side, check out My Life is a Chase Dream. The video for this song, The Cascade, is really pretty and was filmed in Iceland.

Have you ever met any famous bands/musicians?

Hansons: Post Race Thoughts & Round Two!

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I’ve had a few weeks to reflect on using Hansons and this past season as a whole. I thought about what I liked, what worked, what didn’t, and what went wrong. I’ve come up with a few theories and ideas for moving forward. If you want to read my more “heartfelt” and “in the moment” post where I talked about how I benefited from Hansons, it’s here. It was really more of a post about my last tempo run turned sappy. If you would have asked me on that day, Hansons is all about sunshine and rainbows and unicorns and smiles. In reality, it’s certainly all of that, but add blood, sweat, and tears and it’s a lot little more accurate.

At this point, Hansons is an ideal plan for me and my current ability level, especially when following the program modifications. I learned more during this training block than I ever have before, which is more valuable than any PR. I learned so much about running, but also about myself.

What I Liked

I learned that I love following a plan with structure. In the past, I’ve used other training plans, a coach, or created my own plans. I’ve always lacked some sort of structure. I never did the same thing each week for the whole training cycle. This plan is very regimented and very simple: you always have a speed workout, a tempo and a long run (or an easy run depending on the week) each week on very specific days. This made scheduling “life” around training much easier. I never felt like I had to consult my training before I made plans – I knew what each week would bring. I’d try like hell to steer clear of doing “life things” on speed and tempo days. But if something happened and I had something else going on, I knew well in advance that I needed to make other arrangements to accomodate the workout.

I found that prefer running long on Sunday. In the past, I always ran long on Saturdays because it’s what my friends did. I don’t know if it was the way the plan was structured or just how my body felt, but I felt better running long on Sunday. Changing the day of my long run meant running solo or with new friends. I was still able to meet Kathy and Mark for a few miles on Saturday when they were running long, so it was like the best of both worlds.

I liked that as I followed this structured schedule and became dedicated to it, I stopped making decisions that worked better for everyone else. I don’t mean that to sound selfish or harsh. I realized how often in past training cycles I altered the pace or timing of a run to meet up with running friends. That’s fine to do sometimes, but at some point you need to be able to do the work on your own, too.

I like to think following this plan helped me figure out the line between taking myself too seriously, and having fun with my friends. I learned that it’s important to have a healthy balance: you shouldn’t always run solo, but you shouldn’t always run with a group. When you race, most times you race alone so it’s good practice. I know that makes me sound selfish, but I spent two years chasing PRs and something had to change if I wanted to see a change in the time on the clock.

What Worked

This could probably also be filed under “what I liked”, but whatever. I’m going to say it. I liked the speed, strength, and tempo run. It’s simple: they work.

The first ten weeks are devoted to building speed, so the workouts are run at 5K pace. Track workouts – this was nothing new. The progression, however, was new to me. In the past, I always jumped right to 800s or mile repeats and hoped for the best. Usually, I would do 3-4 track workouts in my whole entire training cycle. With Hansons, you start at the very beginning with 400s. Why do 400s in marathon training? Makes zero sense to me, so I never did it before (with the exception of my 2015 fall training cycle). With Hansons, your little 400s in week one turn into mile repeats by week eight. And – bonus – do you know what happened after actually working up to mile repeats? I ran a 5K PR – because I was ready for it.

By the time I got to week 11 and Hanson’s was telling me to switch to strength workouts, I was ready for the change of pace. Between the speed and the strength workouts, the strength workouts were my favorite. The focus was marathon pace minus 10 seconds per mile, and to hold that for just enough time that you were comfortably uncomfortable. The result? I felt unstoppable. The day I did my hardest workout from the strength set – 2×3 miles – I was on top of the world. I felt like I could do anything.

Let it also be known that workouts like “10 miles at marathon pace” still scares the absolute living shit out of me. I’m not saying this was ever easy, but ohmigosh. The feeling you get when you nail a workout like that. By yourself. On a Thursday afternoon in whatever the weather throws at you. YAS. You just know that you are capable of anything when you finish something like that. I’m not sure if you can sense it, but every item I’m listing as what “worked” for me all has something in common – confidence. I felt like I could DO this.

What Didn’t Work

This plan doesn’t address hill training. I made sure to try to choose rolling hills for my terrain for my long runs when possible, but I did use some flat trails for some of them occasionally to accommodate running with a group. I’d originally planned to do my easy days on roads with rolling hills, but as the weeks progressed, I wanted to do my easy runs on flat surfaces because my legs were tired. Sometimes, I was able to stick to the roads and incorporate a variety of terrain but most days I headed somewhere flat.

Most of my next training cycle is going to happen over the summer, when I have more flexibility in my schedule. The days are longer, and I’m not working since I’m a teacher. I’m able to go wherever I need to for my runs, so my goal is to try to stick to the track for my speed work, trails for strength workouts and tempo runs, and roads for my easy days. I’m not going to do hill repeats, but I will run hills. One day per week, I want to start running the hill by my house again – Honeysuckle Road. I’ve talked about that before, but I haven’t done it since the beginning of my fall training cycle. I haven’t done as a regular, weekly workout since 2014. This was an old picture from one of the last times I blogged about it:

honeysuckle

What Went Wrong

I wasn’t sure why I didn’t have it at Boston (other than the heat, I truly didn’t feel amazing) and have spent some time considering what factors to attribute that performance to. I don’t know many people who ran the race they trained for that day, so I could blame it on the heat and move on. I want to learn from this experience, so I need to be honest and consider other factors.

Did I go out too fast? Was it really just the heat? Was it the duration of the Hanson’s taper? Was it the races I incorporated throughout my training? Was I fighting off a cold? I blogged that in the beginning of marathon week, I had a weird spot in my throat that felt sore but it went away by the middle of the week. The morning of the race, I woke up with a headache but just chalked it up to nerves. If the outcome of my race had anything to do with illness, there isn’t much more I could have done. I was diligent about sleeping, taking vitamins and walked around with a Clorox wipe in hand the whole week.

Part of what went wrong was absolutely my pacing. Technically, I trained for a 7:03. If you go back and look at my tempo runs, my average for the tempo miles was always just under seven minute pace. I would bet if I went back and averaged them all out from the entire cycle, they would average out to be 6:57. In Kentucky, when I started at a more appropriate pace, I ran a 6:57 pace for the marathon. I think part of what happened in Boston had to do with my excitement over my training, resulting in me going out just a touch too fast. If the weather had been a bit better and I felt 100% (assuming I just didn’t feel great in general), it’s possible I would have gotten closer to a PR that day. But I didn’t train for sub-3, and all of the stars are going to have to align for that to happen even when I do train for it.

I was talking to Megan on our run this weekend and we discussed all of these factors. She’s brutally honest with me, has broken three hours many times, qualified for the Olympic Trials, and has been a coach. Neither of us think I raced too much during this cycle, but she believes the timing of my final race was my biggest error. While I had a great day at the Kutztown Fool’s Run, she thinks it was too close to Boston. She didn’t think my taper was too short, but did think the final race was a big part of what went wrong in Boston, and I agree.

So putting aside the heat and the possibility that maybe I wasn’t feeling 100%, the timing of my races and my pacing on race day were my biggest issues. Moving forward, the lesson here is to run the pace I trained for from the beginning, and to stop adding tune up races to my schedule about a month out.

Moving Forward

Every weekly update I did throughout my spring training began with my marathon goal and my training paces. I began to consider what I want that to look like for fall. I realize the reality of the races I chose: a hot race in October (Southernmost in Key West) and a hilly one in November (Madison, WI) may not be conducive to running a PR or sub-3. I’m not going to let those factors dictate my goal for the race or scare me away. I will take the conditions of those races into consideration as I train for them – add races this summer to practice racing in the heat, add hills to get ready for hillier courses, etc – but I’m not going to back down. If there’s one thing I learned as I’m conquering this 50 state goal: there’s always going to be weird weather and a hill you didn’t know about if you’re choosing to run in unfamiliar territory. I’m not being cocky and saying I’m not scared of it. I’m acknowledging that there may be some challenges on race day and I’m willing to give it my all anyway.

I’m going to be modifying the schedule the same way I did before to make sure I peak in the 80s again. I’d like to see if I can peak closer to 90, but I’m taking things one day at a time. One mile at a time. The only area I never messed with last time around was the sacred Wednesday rest day. The program modifications chapter does, in fact, state that you can add easy miles on your rest day if you’re trying to run more volume. I don’t want to run 7 days/week for 18 weeks, but I’m considering it for every other week in this round of training. I planning very short distances (2-4 miles) at recovery pace to see how my body responds.

Training for Key West begins the week of June 6th. Here’s a sneak peek of what my weekly workout post will look like…:)

Marathon Goal –  2:57 (that looks really really scary on here)
Marathon Pace/Tempo Runs –  6:45/mile
Recovery Runs – 8:45/mile
Aerobic A/Easy – 7:45/mile
Aerobic B/Easy – 8:25/mile
Long Run: 7:23

I was debating between 2:55 and 3:00 for my goal. Using Hanson’s online pace calculator, the improvement calculator, and the Hanson’s community page on Facebook, I came up with the 2:57. Luke Humphrey himself voiced his opinion and said 2:57 should be what I should aim for. This would be something like a 2.5% improvement in my current marathon time. The improvement calculator explains it like this: “Highly trained athletes should look for improvements in the 2-4% range, while newer runners can often expect slightly higher rates of initial improvements.” I believe 2.5% improvement is a reasonable goal.

I improved my marathon PR by almost five minutes this past spring. Running a 2:57 would be another five minute improvement. However, I hadn’t touched that time since 2014 and had been hovering in the 3:12 range on my best days over the past two years, so it was almost like a 10 minute improvement. I don’t think shaving 10 minutes off of a 3:02 is a wise goal, and five minutes is still extremely aggressive. My expectation is to train at 2:57 pace and hope to come in under three hours. At any rate, it’s certainly going to make it an interesting summer!

Recovery Week 2: 5/9-5/15

Last week, I took some serious down time to kick off recovery. I’m still recovering – running easy paces and short distances. I used my resting heart rate as an indication of when I could start lacing up my sneakers again. After Kentucky, it shot up and stayed at 50 bpm, which is high for me. It stayed that way through last Wednesday, and then started to fall again. By Sunday, it was down to 47 bpm. That’s still slightly higher than normal, but as I began running and the week went on, it continued to drop. It hovered between 44-45, where it normally hangs out. I won’t log it in my future workout posts, but it’s something I focused heavily on this week so I included it.

Honestly, I can sum this week up by saying I ran a few easy miles and went to pole almost daily. I think my cooking conquests were far more interesting than the workouts, so I blogged about that last week. Even though I’m not “training” I still want to talk about running and recovery, so here’s my weekly recap. Try not to fall asleep.

  • Monday: Core/Strength/MYRTLs + 3 Miles Easy + Pole Fitness 

Back at it! I added a few additional challenges to my regular core routine. For the rest of May, I’m going to keep doing planks, bridges, hip drops, and leg raises (my usual daily routine). I added squats, single leg squats, lunges, wall sits, and calf raises. Just for now, while my mileage is reduced to help build some more lower body strength. I did those plus NTC’s Alpha Abs. After work, I headed to Lehigh Parkway for the most glorious three miles ever. It felt so good to run, and my legs felt rested and fresh. It was an absolutely gorgeous day. I wanted to run more, but I stopped remembering my streak of post race calf strains. Headed to pole and we reviewed some moves we learned recently but hadn’t spent much time practicing, which was fun! Resting heart rate: 47 bpm.

  • Tuesday: Core/Strength/MYRTLs + 3 Miles Easy + Pole Fitness   

I did the same core/lower body workouts as Monday, plus NTC’s Perfect Alignment workout. After work, I headed to the Penn Pump trail for another easy three miles. It felt nice to run, and I’m enjoying the shorter distances for now. I headed to pole to practice my competition piece. The competition is on 5/21, so now it’s just a matter of running through it a few times each class to keep it fresh! Resting heart rate: 46 bpm.

  • Wednesday:Core/Strength/MYRTLs + 4 Miles Easy + Pole Fitness

Same core/strength workouts, plus NTC’s Core Stability workout. Ran on the D&L trail after work and felt pretty good. I went to pole to practice my competition piece again. Resting heart rate: 45 bpm.

  • Thursday: Core/Strength/MYRTLs + 5 Miles Easy + Pole Fitness  

Core/strength the same as every other day, plus NTC’s Alpha Abs again. That one’s my favorite. After work, I ran five easy miles around Lehigh Parkway and went to pole to run through my routine a few times. Resting heart rate: 44 bpm. 

  • Friday: Core/Strength/MYRTLs + Pole Fitness 

I was debating whether or not I wanted to run for a fifth day in a row. It was raining after work and I was tired, so I skipped it. I’m not following any sort of plan right now and realized I hadn’t taken any days off of running that week. While part of my plan for fall training is going to be to incorporate running seven days per week, I didn’t think I should jump back into it on my first week back from taking a break. Resting heart rate: 44 bpm.

  • Saturday: 10 Miles + Pole Fitness + Core/Strength/MYRTLs

I told myself I would run no more than 10 miles during this month, and that it would all be easy paced. I stuck to the first part, but Megan asked me to run and the pace thing went out the window. 10 miles, 7:10 pace, and I felt pretty good. I was ready to be done by the end, but for the most part it felt nice. That was encouraging since I hadn’t run much at all since the marathon, and my last tempo run was over a month ago. Muscle memory, I guess? Either way. I was glad to knock off some fast miles, but I knew it meant I should rest on Sunday. Resting heart rate: 44 bpm.

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  • Sunday: Rest

Resting heart rate: 45 bpm. I was headed into Philly to see Cirque du Soleil’s production of Ovo with my mom, so given the faster paced run on Saturday combined with a busy Sunday, I decided to rest. I knew we would be doing a lot of walking in the city anyway, so it wasn’t like I was going to be sitting around all day. It was a good idea.

I’d gotten her the tickets in December for her 60th birthday, and she’d never seen a Cirque show before. I’ve seen Corteo and Quidam, so I knew what to expect. She really had no idea what the show really was, and she REALLY loved it! We left early in the morning, went to brunch in Rittenhouse Square, shopped on Walnut Street and headed to the show. It was a great day. The performance was absolutely incredible! We had front row seats. Of course they randomly picked someone in the audience to go up on stage and guess who they picked? Yep, me. They must have realized that I missed my calling and should have done something like that for a living anyway!

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This guy was doing pole dancing moves! He was incredible:imageimage image image

I really embraced just trying to do whatever I felt like doing each day this week. I really enjoyed running easy miles, and felt pretty good doing it! I wasn’t feeling like running in the rain or getting up at the crack of dawn on Sunday to fit in miles so I didn’t. I’m embracing recovery.

I noticed that even though the lower body exercises I added are pretty low volume and only use body weight at this point, my quads were SORE. I think spending this month and focusing on lower body strength is going to be really beneficial. I need to figure out what days I can incorporate a “leg day” into my Hansons training for the next round. I am hoping to get a post out this week about Hanson’s training in general, and about how I’m planning to use it in my next round of training.

♥ Run: 25 ♥  

How was your week? Have you ever seen Cirque du Soleil?

Foodie Friday: Paleo Perfected Conquests

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I mentioned in my monthly wrap up that I found this gem at the grocery store checkout, and didn’t think twice about purchasing it. Cook’s Illustrated is my absolute favorite resource for all things food related. Their cookbooks are more like textbooks, and the test kitchen chefs try hundreds of versions of each recipe before coming up with their own, perfected version. I enjoy reading about the process and the methods they use to design their recipes.

My goal is to cook every single meal in this magazine in order to continue to develop my paleo cooking skills. I’ve mentioned before that I like to call myself “paleo-ish”. About 90% of my week (when I’m not cheating, like last week!) is paleo, with the other 10% is the “ish”. I can’t get down with subscribing to just one dietary label, for starters. I believe everything is good for you in moderation. I truly love paleo foods, so I don’t have a hard time following the lifestyle. But I still love my pizza, so there’s that. I feel better in general and have lots of energy when I’m on the paleo wagon, and it works for me.

This week, I tried the following recipes:

Garlicky Roasted Shrimp with Anise

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I love anise, my husband doesn’t. It tastes a lot like licorice or fennel, but anise isn’t fennel – anise and fennel come from different plants. In this recipe, you butterfly the shrimp and make a brine. While it’s soaking in the brine, you create a mixture of ghee (clarified butter, but I just use Kerrygold butter since it comes from grass fed cows), extra virgin olive oil, garlic (six cloves, YAS!), anise seeds, red pepper flakes, pepper, and fresh parsley. After draining and patting the shrimp dry, you coat the shrimp with the butter/spice mixture, and broil on a wire rack set over a baking sheet.

It’s a super easy recipe, and has a ton of flavor. I used shrimp that was already peeled and deveined, but they recommend leaving the shell on. I love red pepper and thought that it was a little overpowering, so next time I’d adjust that slightly. I’d also consider serving this over a salad. I was boring and just made some roasted sweet potatoes, and really could have used another veggie on the side. But lazy. My husband loved it and had no idea that the delicious flavor he tasted was, in fact, anise.

Stir-Fried Sesame Pork and Eggplant

imageEveryone always says stir fry is soooo easy, one pot meal, blah blah blah. I do agree that it’s easy, but it makes a freaking mess! There was lots of chopping for this one (which I enjoy) but I was a little hangry when I was cooking so it seemed to take forever. In reality, it probably took me 35 minutes to get this on the table, which is totally fine.

It called for toasted sesame oil, which I thought I had – but I was out and just used plain old sesame oil. This dish was fabulous anyway, so I suspect it would have a richer flavor if I had the correct oil. Toasted sesame oil has such a bold, distinct flavor. Next time I make this, I’ll make sure I’m less hungry and have my pantry stocked with the correct ingredients. I LOVE eggplant but hardly ever make it. As an italian, I often think the only use for eggplant is to make something with lots of cheese, breading, and tomato sauce. This was a delicious use for a fabulous veggie.

Leek and Prosciutto Frittata 

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There’s a breakfast chapter at the end of this magazine, and I’ve been eating pumpkin custard for like the past three months. I was ready to switch it up, and this was perfect. I love leeks and prosciutto, and I love eggs for breakfast. I was concerned that the lack of cheese would make me dislike this, but nope. It was excellent, and really easy to make. It makes six servings, so I was able to put the leftovers in the fridge for a quick breakfast the rest of the week.

Latin-Style Chicken and Cauliflower Rice

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I like all of the ingredients in this dish individually, but normally I’d pass on a recipe that uses them all together. But I want to try all of the recipes, and this looked like a simple, one pot meal. It was easy, but it also required a lot of chopping/prepping. I wasn’t as hangry, so it was fine.

I’ve made cauliflower rice many times before, but this had a little twist – after searing the chicken, cooking the onion, blooming the aromatics (garlic, oregano, smoked paprika, cayenne, tomato paste), cooking the “rice” and finishing the chicken, you add chopped tomatoes and green olives. I LOVE green olives but would never think to mix them in with cauliflower rice on their own. It gets finished off with a sprinkle of fresh cilantro. My husband hates cilantro, and I love it. This recipe was great since you add it at the end, so I just didn’t add any to his. This dish was bursting with flavor, the chicken was cooked perfectly.

These are all recipes I would absolutely make again. I already have my eye on a few dishes for next week that I’d like to try. It’s nice to have a little extra time to cook at night and try new recipes – it’s the perfect way to spend my recovery!

Do you enjoy cooking? Have you tried any new recipes lately? 

Just Move

trail_raceSometimes, the hardest part of running a marathon comes after the race. This is especially true if the race went the way you’d hoped. You’re partially on a high from the experience, but you’re also in this weird place. You need to recover and will likely lose a bit of fitness in the process. It leaves you wondering if you’re ever going to be able to repeat that performance again – let alone top it. If it didn’t go your way, some part of your existence was devoted to marathon training for the past few months, so it’s almost like losing part of your identity.

In the past, this post- marathon phase was a tough pill for me to swallow. Two years ago, when I ran my previous PR, I jumped right back into training. How could I take a break and lose fitness? I was going to run another PR in the fall and run a sub-3 hour marathon. I didn’t have time for rest. My heart and mind were on board, but my body rebelled. The cycle continued over the past two years and I got the same exact result, time and time again. Further from my PR, injured, and frustrated. Finally, in November after my rough day in Indianapolis, I’d had enough. I took a bunch of time off, came back refreshed and finally capable of chipping away at my PR. So this time around, I don’t feel like I’m losing part of my identity at all.

I never truly embraced recovery before, and some may argue that I still don’t. I started running again this past week. I’m still frequenting the pole fitness studio. I’m incorporating easy strength training and got back on the MYRTL train to avoid future injuries. I’d argue that it’s different from what I did over the past training block. It’s active recovery, and it’s all on my own terms.

I’m not beating up my legs Hansons-style, and I’m only doing whatever I feel like doing. But I am doing something. I can’t help it – I’m not one for sitting still. Sure, I can camp out on my couch for days like a boss and set some serious PRs in a Netflix Marathon, but I don’t feel good after doing that. I did a lot of that from November through the beginning of January. When I started training again, I was miserable. I treated my body like shit, therefore I felt like shit when I got back “on the wagon”. This time around, I’m not following any kind of schedule but I am embracing “movement”. I’ve vowed to do something everyday, but it doesn’t matter what it is. I’ve decided that my theme for May is to “just move”. I can decide what that means everyday. No solid plans.

In the midst of active recovery, copious amounts of cooking, and couch time, I also began planning. I don’t think too much about fall races until my spring season has ended, but I have a good idea how I want things to go down. When I began my 50 state conquest, I started with small goals. Make it to double digits – check. Make it halfway – check. My latest conquest is to check off all states east of the Mississippi River. That means I’m looking for marathons in Wisconsin, Mississippi, Georgia and Florida.

I’ve weighed a bunch of options, and I’ve come up with a rough schedule. There are lots of shorter distance races planned as part of my training, but as for the marathons…the Southernmost Marathon in Key West in early October, followed by the Madison Marathon in Wisconsin in November! It’s still in the planning phases and I’ve got to make all of the necessary travel plans – but it’s looking like I’ll hopefully be checking off those two states next. Anyone interested in joining me? I’m traveling with my mom to Key West (we plan to visit some family in Ft. Lauderdale while we are down south) and with my friend/training partner, Kathy, for Wisconsin.somokw-logo-copy

madisonMarathonLogo

In the meantime, I do have a few late spring/early summer races on my schedule. First up is next weekend – but it’s a trail race! It’s the Jacobsburg 10 Miler. I’ve never run it before and I’m excited because I truly enjoy trail racing. I’ve stayed off the more technical trails (like the game preserve that I love dearly) to avoid falling, but now I’m ready to get out there again. I love trail running for building strength, and I run a few low key trail races each year.

I’m going into this race with a “race for fun” mindset. I really just want to get out there and run the trail. A friend asked me to do this race with her and I couldn’t say no. She ran her first race last summer before her wedding and loved it (the Race Street Run, remember that one?). On her honeymoon in Costa Rica, she was white water rafting and a tree fell on the raft (real life) resulting in a fracture in her tibia – which was the easy part of the injury. The blow caused compartment syndrome in her leg and she needed a double fasciotomy (literally sliced her leg open on both sides) to relieve the pressure. She could have lost her leg.

This happened in August, and the entire fall was a very difficult time for her. She started out in a wheelchair, then crutches, then one crutch – until she could walk slowly with no assistance. She returned to the gym in late fall, and began running again this spring. She ran six miles (the furthest she’s ever run – even before the accident) and wanted to do this race. There’s a five mile and ten mile option – she chose the five mile. She asked if I would do the race, so of course I signed up. I always wanted to run at Jacobsburg but don’t know the trails, so figured this would be a good way for me to explore. I’m not the best trail runner and this race is about my friend overcoming a significant injury and moving on. I’m looking forward to the change of pace!

What’s up next for you? Who’s recovering from a race right now?

What I’m Working to Wednesday

“The Sound of Silence”
Disturbed

Hold the recent pop music posts that I’ve been spamming you guys with – how did I miss that Disturbed came out with an album last year? I suppose I’ve been too consumed with listening to music for pole fitness routines that I missed it. I haven’t posted too much “heavy” music here, but I love me a good screaming song. This song, however, is not that. This is a beautiful remake of the popular Simon and Garfunkel hit, and I love it. It’s great to hear Dave Draiman (lead vocals) sing this song. He has a pretty distinct voice and I often think their songs all sound the same because he never changes it up. I like them anyway, and their songs get me pumped to run. While this is a slower one, I can totally see myself rocking out to it on a long run or a tempo run and beasting out some miles.

Any older songs that were remade that you think were done well?