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Rewarding Oneself

12 May

When I train for a race, I tend to bribe reward myself along the way (for example: a new running outfit, ice cream, new heels).

As for the big reward after the race, I’ve promised myself a tattoo after each of the last five races, though I’ve only actually cashed in on my reward once:

My hibiscus tattoo

I got my hibiscus after I ran my first two half marathons. It was supposed to be my reward after running the first one, but I jumped right into training for my second one and didn’t have the healing time needed when you get ink done. (By the way, I got the hibiscus done at Ascension by Hoffa and absolutely love it. I hope to have him do my next piece!)

It’s tough to get ink done in the midst of training for your next race and I’ve been training for one race or another for the last three years. Since I still owe myself the big piece I was going to get on my shoulder after my first marathon (mainly because I jumped right into training for another marathon) this marathon’s reward was much simpler and all calorie-based:

Monday: Bistro Burger topped with BBQ sauce and served with sweet potato fries from Miller’s Ale House

Tuesday: Chocolate Cookie Crumble Frappuccino *with* the Whipped Cream!

Yup, a BBQ burger and a frozen coffee beverage with whipped cream got me through 26.2 miles. Both were absolutely amazing. What can I say? Sometimes, I’m easy to please. 🙂

As for the shoulder tattoo, I keep going back and forth on whether or not to miss beach season (sun and water are tattoo healing no-no’s).

Do you reward yourself after races? How?

Will Run For Cupcakes

4 Apr

Yesterday’s 6.6 mile morning run featured a yummy treat at the end:  yummy cupcakes from one of my group mates!

Yummy lemon cupcake

The day before our running group received the following email from Lauren:

 I made 24 lemon cupcakes last night (lemon cupcake w/lemon cream frosting). 20 of which have not yet been eaten by me as of this moment but will be if I leave them in my house. A hypothesis I am trying not to test. Would anyone be interested in such a thing first thing in the morning? Perhaps a post-6 miler treat? They will be in my car tomorrow morning 😉

Immediately the replies started coming:

“We have been known to eat such delicious treats following a run.” – Sue

“That’s the whole reason we run!!!” – Rachelle

“Is this a trick question? I believe I am available to assist with this… ” – Beth

“I have never been known to turn down a cupcake…” – Me

I see shirts…’We never met a cupcake we didn’t like.'” – Sue

The replies continued and I couldn’t help but smile and be thankful.

Surely you can see why I absolutely love these ladies. Three times a week we get together and run. We are women (and our token one man) of all different ages, sizes and income brackets. We fare from all over our country (and some from abroad) and can’t seem to agree on our favorite breakfast joint. But for all the differences, we share our love for laughter… and most certainly our love for cupcakes.

As for loving running, that’s only on the good days. I’m pretty sure it’s the laughter and cupcakes that gets us out of bed in the morning.

Here’s to the ladies of Sue and Emily’s 5:00 pace group… the fairest ladies of them all!

Now off to yoga!

I Heart Doritos (Part Deux)

2 Apr

A little over a month ago, Jill from JoggingJeans.com notified me of some great news: Taco Bell was introducing a taco served within a giant Doritos shell! I was happier than a pig in mud. I even blogged about how excited I was here.

This news was enough to make me end my forever long Taco Bell hiatus. I counted down the days until I would get to try such amazingness. However, when March 8th came and the Dorito Taco was introduced, I encountered a major problem: getting someone to go to Taco Bell with me.

No one would go. Not Donnie. Not my friends. Not my co-workers. Not even my Mom! I know what you’re thinking: Why didn’t she just go by herself? The answer to that is easy… I consider eating Taco Bell by yourself to be much like drinking by yourself. If you find yourself doing it alone, then you have a problem.

So for the last month, I’ve been talking about this taco and begging those around me to go try it with me. And for a month, those around me have shut me done, crushing my little heart to broken pieces… much like the crumbs you’d find at the bottom of a Doritos bag.

But finally today a miracle… my co-workers agreed to go to Taco Bell! They realized that this would be the only way to shut me up. When they agreed, I proudly proclaimed, “This is going to be the best day ever!”

At Taco Bell I ordered two Doritos Taco Supremes. I could hardly contain my excitement as we drove to the park, where we would be dining al fresco. Finally I sat down and unwrapped my first taco:

At first it just tasted like a regular Taco Supreme from Taco Bell. But with each new bite, the Nacho cheesy flavor got stronger and my mouth got happier and happier. Hooray!

Afterwards I licked the nacho cheesiness from my fingers, enjoying the moment as I knew I would not be returning to Taco Bell anytime soon. It was good once, but their meat still makes me nervous… even if they did stop using ‘pink slime‘ in their beef.

Have you tried the Taco Bell Doritos Taco? What did you think? 

I’ll leave you with the video my co-worker shared with me after I started linking my fingers.

My ‘Welcome Back to Normal Life’ Run

27 Mar

Since almost two weeks ago, my life has been total chaos, in the most amazing kind of way. The week leading up to my birthday, I was super busy, but still able to fit in my training runs.

I thought the week after my birthday would ease up, but I ended up being just as busy (or perhaps busier), and by this time too exhausted to keep up my running. Around Wednesday I decided that rather than stress about it, I was going to take the time off and enjoy it. Once I made that decision, it took so much weight off my shoulders!

After an amazing weekend road trip to North Carolina to visit my best friend and her husband and their beautiful new baby girl (which I will write about later), I had a little trouble getting out of bed this morning. But my body was craving a run so I dragged myself out of bed, threw on some running clothes and was out the door by 4:45 AM.

This morning was a short run, full of great conversation and lots of laughter. We spent a good portion of our run  discussing a book that a friend recommended I read: Bringing Up Bebe. Before you jump to crazy conclusions, NO… I AM NOT EXPECTING and neither is the friend who recommended it. It’s a fascinating look at the differences in American and French culture and definitely worth picking up.

Afterwards we continued our laughter over Starbucks coffee and our chicken sausage breakfast wraps (which are delish by the way). As I drove away this morning smiling, I realized how much I’ve missed the ladies the last couple of weeks.

Here are this mornings stats:

  • Distance: 4.12 miles
  • Time: 49:21.03
  • Avg Pace: 11:58/mile

Are you reading any good books? Let me know. I’ll be ready for a new one soon! 🙂

Here’s a pic of the double rainbow we caught on our drive to North Carolina. This was in North Georgia, near the North Carolina border. I saw this and squealed and yelled “WHAT DOES IT MEAN? WHAT DOES IT MEEEAAANNN??”

If you don’t know what YouTube video I’m referencing, then you must watch this video now.

My Food Obsession: Strawberries

6 Mar

Strawberries… Mmmmmmm…

I’m a big fan of strawberries and purchase these year round, but I certainly tend to increase my intake when they are in peak season. With my local grocery store having strawberries on sale, I’ve been buying strawberries in bulk.  This means I have to find ways to consume them before they go bad.

Lucky for me, only a few strawberries have been wasted this season. Here are my favorite ways to consume them:

Smoothie

Being a runner in the almost-always hot and humid Orlando, there’s nothing more that I enjoy post-run than a cold, delicious smoothie… and a cold shower. In fact, I’m in enjoying one right now! A smoothie that is (I’ve already taken my post-run shower).

Here’s what’s in today’s smoothie:

  • fresh strawberries
  • half a banana
  • blueberries
  • vanilla yogurt
  • honey
  • vanilla soy milk
  • oatmeal

I have heard that adding spinach or kale to smoothies are great added sources of calcium and vitamin C, and I’m toying with the idea. I’ve been told you can’t taste this odd addition, especially in any smoothie that includes bananas. However,  I think I’m having the hardest time saying goodbye to my pretty pink smoothie and welcoming a green smoothie.

Salad

One of my favorite salads is super easy to make:

  • spinach or spring mix salad
  • goat cheese
  • sliced fresh strawberries
  • sliced almonds
  • grilled chicken breast (or if you’re in a hurry, buy a rotisserie chicken from the store and add pieces of chicken to your salad)
  • raspberry vinaigrette

For Donnie’s salad he skipped the cheese so I added garbanzo beans instead.

Fruit Salad

Sunday we made our all-time favorite fruit salad, including mango, strawberries, kiwi and blueberries. Mmm…

Yogurt Parfait

Donkey: Have you ever met a person, you say, “Let’s get some parfait,” they say, “Hell no, I don’t like no parfait”? Parfaits are delicious! — Shrek

Just layer granola, yogurt, strawberries (and other berries) and go! Best paired with half of a Whole Foods bran muffin. 🙂

Pancakes

Topping my pancakes with whipped cream and fresh strawberries might be one of my favorite ways to consume strawberries, but definitely the least enjoyed. This is a rare, but delicious treat for me. Hmmm… my birthday is coming up…

Party Snack

I recently went to a bridal shower where one of the hostesses served finger sandwiches made with Nutella and strawberry slices. For a week after I was eating wheat bagels with Nutella and strawberries for breakfast. Raise your pinky while eating and I promise you’ll feel like such a lady while eating them.

And of course, you can always just wash a strawberry and pop it in your mouth. Mmmm…

How do you eat your strawberries?

I Heart Doritos

28 Feb

In a recent post, I admitted my love for slipping Doritos into my food.

Here are some of my favorite uses for my beloved Doritos:

  • Doritos make a delicious salad topper. Must use ranch or bleu cheese dressing.
  • Out of cheese? That’s okay, just slip some Doritos into your sandwich. Wait, you already have cheese on your sandwich? That’s okay, add Doritos anyways!
  • Want to spice up that cheap 99-cent frozen dinner chicken alfredo? Just add Doritos!

I think you get the point.

I like the good old original nacho cheese flavored. Sure, the ranch and pizza flavored ones are yummy too, but why try to mess with cheesy tortilla perfection?

As I got older I cleaned up my diet I started to top my salads with (gasp) veggies and stopped purchasing those cheap pasta frozen dinners. And subs are fewer and further between these days. And I purposely avoid the chip aisle at the grocery store. It’s really quite sad.

In reading of my love for Doritos, Jill from JoggingJeans.com shared the most fantastic news with me:

Naturally, I had to Google what this was about. Lo and behold, it’s true! On March 8, 2012 Taco Bell is introducing a taco served within a giant Dorito shell! I haven’t had Taco Bell in over a year,  but I think I might have to break the hiatus for this special occasion. Thanks, Jill, for the best news ever (I’m easy to please). I cannot wait to try this cheesy, deliciously bad for me treat!

With that, I leave you with my most favorite commercial. Having two pugs and a boyfriend that is forever teasing them might have made me biased.

What Day is Today?

21 Feb

Since I had off from work yesterday in honor of President’s Day, I will likely spend the remainder of today thinking it’s Monday.

My alarm went off this morning at 4:15 sharp, and I begrudgingly rolled out of bed. There were only two reasons I was going to run this morning:

  1. I did not want a repeat of last week’s episode where I accidentally left one of my running partners stranded to run by herself.
  2. The tiramisu I ate yesterday.

It was either said tiramisu or the two days of running hills back to back this weekend that made it feel like I was running on tree trunks this morning. Regardless of the cause, this morning’s six miler was run slooooowly and carefully (we run on brick roads). Here are our stats from the run:

  • Distance: 5.99 miles
  • Time: 1:16:04
  • Avg Pace: 12:42/mile
  • 5:1 intervals

Afterwards I came home and did my slacker minimalist strength workout. My goal previously had been to do the workout twice a week, which I’ve done successfully the last two weeks. For these next two weeks my goal is to do the workout three times a week. After that I’ll switch up the plan.

I’ll leave you with photos of my Monday Funday meal yesterday, so you too can see why I dragged myself out of bed this morning.

Donnie and I spent our Monday afternoon in Winter Park. First, we had lunch at Bosphorous Turkish Cuisine on Park Avenue. I had the  Doner Kebap served over a bed of jasmine rice with pickled beets, onions and carrots. It was incredible. And it was enough for two, so I shall be enjoying my leftovers for lunch today. Donnie ordered the Lamb Sis Kebab, also served over jasmine rice with pickeled beets, onions and carrots. His was also incredible. But he ate it all in one sitting, so no leftovers for him!

Here’s a pic of my plate:

Afterwards we walked down to Sweet Traditions French Bakery & Cafe (also on Park Ave.) and enjoyed a nice afternoon caffeine fix and sugar rush. Donnie had some espresso, while I opted for a latte with cinnamon sprinkled on top and we split a slice of tiramisu. They make it with angel food cake instead of lady fingers, but I didn’t mind the swap… it was delicious:

Afterwards we did a little window shopping in a lame attempt to walk off our lunch. Needless to say, we had salad for dinner. 🙂

Do you ever run because of tiramisu (or similarly delicious desserts)?

Forgetting Fourteen

6 Feb

This weekend was one full of celebrations (Donnie’s birthday, Super Bowl, it being such a beautiful weekend, etc… ), but before I could start celebrating, I had to run fourteen miles.

First, we did a four-mile route: two out and two back. My times are slightly off because I didn’t stop my watch immediately after the route.

  • Distance: 4.12 miles
  • Time: 58:11.24
  • Pace: 14:07/mile

We picked up the late starters and ran our (almost) 10-mile route.

  • Distance: 9.91 miles
  • Time: 2:16.53
  • Pace: 13:48/mile

My long runs are with intervals (run five, walk one). For a good while we managed to maintain an average pace of 11:22 miles during the runs, which is faster then we’ve been running.

I’m not sure if it was our pushing the pace, or a combo of the running hills Thursday then the pace and longer distance on Saturday, but I was super sore several hours later. I think it would’ve been a good day for an ice bath, but I typically don’t need one for anything less than 16 miles so the thought hadn’t even occurred to me. I guess my body forgot what running fourteen miles was like.

Saturday night we celebrated Donnie’s birthday with the most yummy dinner at KRES Chophouse and sans ice bath I found it uncomfortable to sit still for so long, especially in a dress. I must’ve looked odd constantly shifting my body to try to get comfy. But the white chocolate bread pudding at the end made me forget all my pains. Ha! Everything we had was incredible: Steak Tartare, Filet Mignon served Oscar style (topped with asparagus, crab cakes and béarnaise sauce), Mushroom Risotto and of course, that bread pudding! And as always, the service was amazing.

Sunday was spent with friends laughing, eating, drinking and playing bocci ball, and watching football. For dessert I served a dessert inspired from one we had at Jam Rum Bar & Bistro in Puerto Rico last year: coconut ice cream topped with mango, blue berries and strawberries and served with cinnamon pita chips. When we went to the store earlier that day we couldn’t find coconut ice cream so I bought some Blue Bell Vanilla Bean ice cream, let it melt a bit, then mixed it with coconut cream in the blender and put it back in the freezer to harden again. It was delish!

What did you do this weekend? 

One Final Long Run

2 Jan

Saturday morning I started my New Year’s Eve with one final long run for 2011. Our schedule suggested 8 to 10 miles.

Before long runs I typically get the baked chicken platter with a salad and black beans and rice from Black Bean Deli in Winter Park. I’ve found this to be the perfect pre-run meal.

However, Friday night I might have fun its competition at Antonio’s in Winter Park.

D and I each started with the soup of the day, which was a potato soup with sausage and spinach. The soup was hearty and absolutely delicious. Honestly, I would’ve stopped there if I wasn’t running the next day! For my entree I had the Pollo all’Aglio e Rosmarino.  The chicken was perfectly cooked. Even the white meat was moist, which is really hard to come across. The best way I could describe the meal was that it was clean. All of the flavors were subtle and simple, and the entree as a whole was delicious.

Here’s a pic of my meal:

I only ate half my meal. We skipped dessert because we were stuffed, but by the time I got home I wanted a little something sweet. Seeing as it was International Bacon Day, I thought it would be fitting if I finally tried this:

I knew that bacon made everything taste better… but even chocolate?? It was surprisingly delicious!

Saturday morning I was up early. Earlier during the week I slept through not one, but TWO runs and couldn’t sleep because I was so nervous I would sleep through my alarm yet again.

We did something different for our last long run: laps around Lake Baldwin. Each lap is approximately 2.4 miles. One of my running ladies and I were running the longest: we ran approximately 9.5 miles, then stopped to get coffee on our final lap.

When we got back to where our cars were, the rest of our group was waiting for us so we could start the Most Awful Christmas/Hanukkah Gift I Got and Want to Get Rid of White Elephant Gift Exchange.

Those gifts look pretty, right?

Here’s what was amongst them:

  • A 1lb. gummy bear
  • A travel-size can of shaving cream and a razor blade
  • A tacky Christmas mug and a ‘Welcome’ frog statue
  • A bag of coconut candy and a March birthday plaque
  • Christmas shot glasses and a flask

I didn’t think the last one was so bad. Neither was the shaving cream and razor blade. That’s what I took home and will definitely use it.

My last run before the marathon went well and helped me end a bad running week (missing two runs in a row) on a positive note.

I can’t believe that I’ll be running my first marathon on less than a week!

Any words of advice?

Applewood Chicken Sausage with Spicy Goat Cheese Grits

17 Nov

Last night I had some applewood chicken sausage in the refrigerator that needed to be used up. After giving it some thought on what side dish to make, I decided I would serve the sausages with grits and asparagus.

I did some research on Allrecipes.com for recipes with grits, and found this basic recipe for garlic grits. This was more for a baked grits dish, but I figured I could work from it. I remembered that I had some goat cheese I wanted to use up at home so I decided I would use this type of cheese. Also, I left out the milk and egg (since I wasn’t baking it) and added some cayenne pepper for an extra kick.

When I went to the Publix on Shine, they had no asparagus, so I went without because I was in a hurry to meet an old friend. But I did snatch up some diced peppers (green, yellow and red) to toss in with the sausage.

Here’s how I ultimately made dinner:

Ingredients for Grits:

  • 1 quart water
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup quick-cooking grits
  • 1/4 cup butter (I used Brummel & Brown vegetable oil spread)
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)
  • 1/4 cup goat cheese (or to taste)
  • 2 slices of crispy bacon

Directions for Grits:

  1. Bring water to a boil in a large saucepan with garlic and salt. Stir in grits, reduce heat to low, and cook until thick, about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in cheese and butter until melted.
  3. Crumble bacon on grits and serve.

As for the applewood chicken sausage, I heated them up on a skillet with the diced peppers. I added garlic powder as seasoning.

This took me less than 20 minutes to prepare and was absolutely delish! Next time I will definitely add some baked asparagus to round out the dish.

I started the grits first then heated up the sausage with the peppers while the grits thickened

Quick, yummy and easy. Just like I like my dinners!

Donnie ate his without the goat cheese because he’s cutting down on the dairy intake. He loved his grits and tried mine and liked them with the goat cheese as well! I’ll definitely be making this dish again soon!