Tag Archives: Disney Half Marathon

I Ran a Race!

Yes, you read that title correctly. After not pinning on a bib for over 7 months (the beer mile doesn’t count) I got to race not once, but twice two weekends ago! If you’re wondering why it’s been so long since I last raced, you can catch up on my string of injuries here and here. To say 2015 was a lackluster running year would be quite the understatement. But there’s no point in dwelling on the past, and I’m oh so very excited to finally write about running again.

I’ve been running somewhat consistently since early November and things have been going really well. I’ve kept my weekly mileage relatively low (I’m talking 20 mpw) and I’ve kept up with my strength training love, Refine Method. I haven’t done any speed work or tempo miles (yet), but I’m finally starting to feel like my old runner self, and it’s great! That being said, I went down to good ‘ole Orlando for the Walt Disney World 10k and Half Marathon two weeks ago with the confidence I’d be able to finish the races, but there wouldn’t be any PRs. It’s worth noting that this is the FIRST Disney race weekend I attended without an injury! And I’ve attended SIX runDisney race weekends prior to this one starting in 2011!

Finally!

Finally!

I’ll start with the 10k, since that was the race that happened first. And it started like any other runDisney race – early! The race started at 5:30am, so this meant a 3:30am wake-up call, and 4am bus ride. Since we were staying at the Beach Club resort, we had a short(er) bus ride over to the starting area in the Epcot parking lot. We arrived at the start with plenty of time to check a bag (it was drizzling on and off so we wanted to make sure we each had a dry top to put on after the race), visit the always lovely port-o-potties, and get lined up in the A corral. Going into the race, my intention was to push the pace a little, but not truly race it. So when I lined up in the corral I didn’t think much of being pretty far back. After the usual runDisney fanfare of fireworks, we were off!

The first mile or so of the race was pretty crowded. Like I said, I started relatively far back in that first corral, so I spent a lot of time trying to find open road. Thankfully after that first mile it thinned out quite a bit, and the rest of the race was much more comfortable. My first mile was around a 7:50, which was good enough for me. The next three miles, however, we were all on empty service roads, and I dropped the pace to 7:15. I didn’t feel like I was killing myself, and each time I looked down at my watch I was floored by the pace… I really didn’t think I had that speed in me after all that time off. Remembering that I still had a half marathon to run the next day and that I really wasn’t in shape, I pulled back just a bit. The rain also started to pick up as we entered the parks, so things got slippery. I ran the last two miles between 7:20 and 7:30, and crossed the finish line (soaked) in 45:51. Turns out, that’s a slight PR! I’ve only run three other 10k’s before, and the last one being in 2013, so the PR was due for an upgrade. While I know I can go much faster when I’m in shape, I’m happy that the pace of this 10k was the same pace as my current half marathon PR from 2014. It was a huge confidence booster after such a rough 2015!

Thrilled to have finished a race. Not thrilled to be soaking wet.

Thrilled to have finished a race. Not thrilled to be soaking wet.

With a little déjà vu on Saturday, I found myself back at the start for the half marathon. My plan for this race was different – I just wanted to finish! My longest run in months up to that point had been 10 miles, and after Friday’s performance I knew an “accidental PR” wasn’t in the cards for me again… which was fine! I started a few corrals back with my pal Ellen who was doing the Dopey Challenge, and we spent the first 7 or so miles together, chatting and enjoying the characters on the course and running in the dark… we even stopped for a picture in front of Cinderella’s Castle! Since Ellen was doing the Dopey Challenge, we kept our pace around 9:30’s, which was fine by me. Somewhere between mile 6 and 7, though, we got separated. Since it was still dark and the roadway was relatively narrow, I knew I should just soldier on rather than try to find her. This is where I decided to also pick up my pace. I figured I only had 5ish miles left and kept it relatively conservative for the first half, so why not. I should also mention it was SO incredibly humid that I was just as wet by this point as I had been the day before from the rain.

By mile 10 I realized that if I kept my pace, I would likely be able to squeeze in just under 2 hours. This became my new goal. I kept trucking, had a nice little conversation with a random guy who asked me how I was doing as I ran past him, and after what felt like an eternity (remember, I hadn’t run more than 10 miles in over 8 months at this point) we were in Epcot making our final loops and turns to the finish. I crossed the line in 1:59:38, achieving my mid-race goal of sub-2 hours. I was thrilled to have my race weekend over, and I was ready to cheer for the marathon the next day!

Perks of staying at a hotel on the race course... perfect spot to spectate!

Perks of staying at a hotel on the race course… perfect spot to spectate!

This race weekend was just what I needed to remind myself that even though 2015 was a sucky year for my running, not all was lost. I just need to continue to be smart as I add on mileage, and focus more on the training than the racing. Naturally with this positive turn of events in my running comes the frigid temperatures of winter in the northeast that we’ve been missing… but good thing I have lots of layers! So here’s to putting in the work this winter in hopes of finally getting myself back to racing shape for the summer and fall!

1 Comment

Filed under Running

What’s Next?

Thanks again for all the congratulations on the Chicago Marathon – it was so much fun and is definitely a race I hope to do again in the future!

You may remember that after registering for the Chicago Marathon, I also put my name into the New York City Marathon lottery, figuring I wouldn’t get accepted. Well, of course with that mentality I made the cut, and was all ready to run NYC on November 4th. As I was going through the motions of my “training” for Chicago, I started to question whether or not I could really run NYC a mere 4 weeks later. For me, it was more than just if I could physically do it – a big part of it was mental, too.

I realized that NYC had a deferral option, which a lot of races do not offer. After looking into it more, I knew I could run Chicago, assess how I felt, and still have some cushion time to decide whether or not I’d toe the line (well, bridge) on November 4th. By the time training had finished for Chicago, I knew there was a very small chance I was going to be running New York; I was just mentally tired and wanted to have my weekends back. I wanted to be able to go for a run because I wanted to – not because I had to. So, I went and ran Chicago, had an amazing time, and was surprisingly not very sore considering my lack of efficient training. All signs were pointing to me being able to successfully complete the marathon. But for the first time in a long time, I sat down and thought to myself: “is this really the best idea right now?”

After a few days of contemplation and seriously battling the all too familiar runner’s high, I decided to defer my entry to the NYC 2012 Marathon to next year. The real nail in the coffin so to speak was my start time – 11:30am! That means I’d be hanging out for a solid 4.5 hours before starting to run… for likely another 4.5 hours. Thinking about that just made me tired, and I realized it just wouldn’t make sense for me mentally and physically to put myself through another 26.2 just 4 weeks later, with less than solid training behind me.

So now that I’m out for NYC, what does that mean? Well, I’m still doing the Goofy Challenge in Disney the second week in January – that’s right, 13.1 miles on Saturday and 26.2 on Sunday! From now until then I’ll be running some shorter local races, and enjoying cross training. Of course I need to ramp up training again within the next two weeks or so to make sure I can tackle the 39.3, but that race is done more for “fun” so I’m not concerned with time, just mileage. I’m thinking about maybe running a marathon in the Spring/early Summer, but have no definite plans yet. I’m going to just enjoy running, and if I feel like I’m ready for another marathon in the future, I’ll address it then – no more of this signing up for races months and months and months in advance!

And before I forget, here’s a video of me finishing Chicago – I’m in the blue shirt with the 4:25 pace bib on my back doing what I thought at the time was “blowing by people in the final meters,” but was really a light jog, ha! Thanks to the hubs for rushing over to the stands to catch me!

What are your fall/winter racing plans?

2 Comments

Filed under Running

Disney’s Goofy Challenge!

When my husband and I ran the Disney half marathon last year, we became aware of the Goofy Challenge, and it’s popularity. We thought that maybe 2012 would be our year to complete it, since we were planning to run a marathon in late 2011. What is the Goofy Challenge, you may ask? Well, the Marathon weekend consists of a 5k on Friday (run mostly by families and young children), a half marathon Saturday, and a full marathon Sunday. The Goofy Challenge requires you to run the half on Saturday and the full on Sunday – you must fully complete both in order to receive the coveted Goofy Challenge medal.

Without really thinking about the strain the race would put on our bodies, coupled with an actual trip to Disney World where we planned on visiting each of the parks, we eagerly signed up for the event over the summer. We all know how our training cycles went for the marathon, so we felt less than prepared for the event. Secretly we hoped that the training and completion of the Philly Marathon a mere month and a half prior was still around, and would somehow propel us to the finish line.

Race Day 1 (Half Marathon) started just as it did last year, at about 2:45a. We awoke quietly (my sister was staying with us and we didn’t want to wake her), ate what little food we had with us (Larabar, half a bagel, and some fruit), and were on the bus to the start at Epcot by 3:20a. We arrived to the finish area, and began our trek to the start, about a 20 minute walk away. While it was by no means cold, it was chilly. Thankfully we brought mylar blankets from a previous race in an attempt to stay somewhat warm. Once we got to our corral (I was placed in C and my husband dropped back from A to run with me), we took a seat to save our legs.

The race itself was uneventful, since we had run it before. The only minor event was when I got shoved in the tunnel right by the Contemporary Resort by a middle-aged man. Usually runners are a decent bunch, especially in the happiest place on earth, but this guy was not. Both my husband and I yelled out to him and he just shrugged his shoulders and kept going. He’s lucky I didn’t face-plant. We were constantly checking our pace and having to tell one another to slow down – we wanted to run Saturday’s race as controlled as possible in hopes of saving some of our legs for Sunday. I did wind up having to take a bathroom break at around mile 8, which was the first time I’ve ever had to stop during a race. You can thank a well-timed Crohns flare-up for that fun. Thankfully I was quick, and we were back off for the final leg, finishing in 2:15. It certainly wasn’t anything to write home about, but we were confident we ran slowly enough to finish on Sunday without any major issues.

Since our trip wasn’t very long, we went to Animal Kingdom AND Magic Kingdom after the race on Saturday. While most people were probably relaxing and soaking their feet, we were using and abusing ours. I definitely paid for it on Sunday.

Race Day 2 (Marathon) started just like the day before. This time, though, I was exhausted and really wanted to just stay in bed. I definitely didn’t eat enough before the race – I think it might have been me being tired, not paying attention, and thinking that I wasn’t going to exert myself in the race, so I didn’t need it. I don’t care if you’re sprinting, jogging, or even walking 26.2 miles, you need proper fuel. I learned this around mile 18.

The first half was uneventful as the course went through Epcot and Magic Kingdom, where we had been the day before. I did have to stop for a bathroom break around mile 3, and I had a feeling that wouldn’t be my only stop. By the time we were halfway, the sun was out and it was STRONG. Most of the second half of the race was spent running directly into the sun. Since I’m not someone that runs with a hat/visor or sunglasses in races unless it’s 100+ degrees in the summer, I ran most of the second half squinty-eyed. This is where things went downhill.

Gettin’ my squint on

From about mile 14 to 21 I wanted to quit. It was mostly on back roads and boring – plus the temperature was creeping up. As I mentioned earlier, I definitely didn’t eat enough, and that played a major role. I gained a little momentum when we were in Animal Kingdom thanks to all the shade, but as soon as we were back out on the service roads, it was back to Negative Nancy. If my husband hadn’t been next to me making me take a Gu here and there and telling me we were doing great, I probably would have cried. I was just so exhausted and my feet were starting to really hurt. At about mile 19 I felt a huge pop on my right foot, and realized the gigantic blister that had been forming since Saturday morning burst. It was unlike anything I had ever felt before. There was a moment of panic where I thought I’d have to stop and wouldn’t be able to run on it, but after a few minutes the pain seemed to go away, and I was able to run normally again.

After another bathroom break at about mile 21, I somehow caught a second wind. I don’t know if it was standing there moving from side to side in the shade that gave me the break I needed, or if it was knowing I only had about 4 miles left, but I decided to just go. After running about 10:30’s the whole race (and my two super awesome bathroom breaks), we picked it up and ran the last 4 miles ranging between 8:30 and 9:15’s. We were picking off people left and right that had passed us miles ago in what we like to refer to as our “dark moments,” and we both felt GOOD. A smaller blister popped at around mile 24, but I had no intentions of letting it slow me down. We flew through Hollywood Studios, through the Boardwalk Hotel, and the next thing we knew, we were making our final lap through the World Showcase in Epcot for the finish. We crossed the finish line hand in hand, at 4;58.

So happy to be done!

If you had told me even two years ago that I would complete a HALF marathon, I would have said no way. After I ran my first half marathon, I wasn’t sure if I ever wanted to do it again, let alone double it. Then somehow I ran a marathon. And then a mere month and a half later I decided to run a half marathon and a marathon in the same weekend. They were far from “good” performances, but this past weekend was just about finishing, and keeping it as enjoyable as possible (both during the race and after). I wanted to be able to say I did it, and I did! Next up is just enjoying running and keeping the solid base I have going. No grand plans for big races as of yet, but I’m sure I’ll get antsy and sign up for something soon.

Phineas and Ferb!

11 Comments

Filed under Running

Halfway Happiness

For those of you that remember, back in October I started my own little Happiness Project, outlining the next four months. I guess you could say it was like doing my resolutions early, and differently. I’m not a big resolution person, because it’s usually a way for me to set myself up for failure. I find myself with grandiose ideas and plans in my head, but usually too lazy to actually carry them out. Creativity seeps from my pores – I just need someone else to carry out the projects for me.

Anyway, December was the month of running. I wanted to run as much as I could, regardless of the distance  in preparation for the Goofy Challenge next weekend. I realized that there was little I could do to prepare myself for running 39.3 miles in 2 days, but I figured running as frequently as possible would help give me a confidence boost. I log all my mileage over at DailyMile, and am happy to report that I ran 4 times a week every week in December as promised, except for the week of Christmas. BUT, I ran 5 times the week before – so that evens out, right? Without doing any super long runs (longest was 16 miles), I was able to log my heaviest mileage month in awhile. I’ve steadily been going up since October, and hope to keep it that way.

Yes, I opened presents post sweaty run. These sweet socks will totally keep me running through the winter!

My plan is to keep my mileage relatively even throughout January, and then try to pick things up a bit come February for an April half marathon. My husband has his eyes set on a full marathon in early June, but I’m not looking for another marathon until next fall. Hopefully, though, I can keep my  mileage respectable and run closer 4 hours instead of 4:30 next marathon. But we’ll see – I just need to keep myself injury free.

January has started, and that means it’s a new goal – going vegetarian. My husband giggled at me on New Year’s Day when I moaned that I wanted pudding, but wasn’t allowed to eat it because of the gelatin. I quickly ran to the pudding asile of the grocery store to discover that instant mousse is an acceptable treat. I plan on attempting to satiate my pudding craving with some mousse in the near future. It might seem odd for someone that loves burgers so much to try out a vegetarian lifestyle, and especially just for one month. Eating less meat is something that has been on my mind for awhile, and I figured this little project would be the perfect opportunity to give it a shot for a month. Who knows if I’ll continue it after January or not, but I will have at least given it a try.

(source)

I already have a ton of vegetarian and vegan cookbooks in my possession, and have already made so many delicious things from Oh She Glows, Post Punk Kitchen, Daily Garnish, and other veggie friendly blogs. If anyone has any other great resources for recipes (especially things to eat for lunch) that would be great! I’m looking forward to a month full of veggies, beans, and grains. To be honest, that’s most of my dishes these days anyway, but forcing myself not to cop-out and have something easier (usually involving meat) should be interesting. Since I’m the cooker of the household, I am still going to prepare any meat related dish my husband wants – I’ll just leave the meat out for myself. But, since I am in charge in the kitchen, he doesn’t eat much meat anyway. It should be an interesting month!

So I’m halfway there – I baked my way through November and ran my way through December. January will be meat free, and then February will hopefully be the month of yoga. Who knows what will be next, but I’m enjoying these little monthly goals.

1 Comment

Filed under Food Blogging, Home Cooking, Running, Vegetarian/Vegan

I Ran Disney

For as long as I can remember, running always intrigued me. Somehow, though, I wound up a swimmer throughout high school and college. Being a part of a sport that allowed me to work individually while also contributing to a team was just what I needed as someone who is internally extremely competitive. While I could have continued swimming in a Master’s program, and haven’t yet ruled that out, I decided to take up running after college. I’ve been running now for about a year and a half, and just completed my second half marathon.

The idea of running a half and/or full marathon seemed to be more of a dream than a reality. When I started running, my focus was just to run a 5k. My first race wound up being a 4 miler, and even though I struggled, I was hooked. Running is a funny sport, at least for me, in that I feel like I always need to be one-uping myself. This means increasing the milage I race. I ran my first half marathon in April, and it was awesome. I had stumbled upon the Disney Marathon before I had even started running, and it was always a goal of mine in the back of my mind.

When my fiancé and I planned a trip to Disney with a group of friends for the very same weekend of the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, I just knew we had to sign up. It wasn’t really possible for us to run a full marathon yet, so we opted for the half. Training started out well, and as we all know, I had some serious injuries that put me on the back burner. First it was my ankles and Achilles, and then it moved on to my shins. Come race day, though, those pains were gone. Instead, I was left with serious pain on the top of my left foot, and in my left knee. These pains I think were just due to overcompensation for all of the other injuries my left leg was sustaining. I’m still having some trouble walking pain-free because of my foot, but hopefully the next three weeks off will help!

The half marathon race was on Saturday, so we headed down on Wednesday to enjoy a few days in the park beforehand. In retrospect, if I ran the race again, I’d prefer to head down later, and only spend one day in the parks, as I think all the walking contributed to the pain I felt during the race. However, being that I had so many injuries during the race cycle, I planned to just run this race to finish. Of course my competitive side tried it’s hardest to keep me going as fast as I could, but the second half of the race was just a little too painful, and my logical and rational side took over (good thing).

Wrapping up all my injuries

The race started early – at 5:30a. My fiancé was in corral A, while I was in corral B. The race had 27,000 registrants, with just over 23,000 that actually crossed the finish line. We had a wakeup call of 2:45a, and we were out the door by about 3:15a to catch the bus to the start line from our resort. Once we got there, we wandered around a bit, had a few Gu Chomps and a last few swigs of water, while also taking a bathroom break. From there, we shed our clothes, checked our bag, and headed to a big group of people, waiting to be allowed to make their way to the start.

Once we got to the corrals, fiancé and I said our goodbyes, and I anxiously stood in corral B. Before the race, they announced that a group over in Iraq would also be joining us, as one of the soldiers who ran the race last year was deployed, but his wife was there in Orlando to run with us. Of course, pulling on my heart strings, I had to wipe the tears away as they were able to get a satellite connection and they gave their pre-race good lucks. After that, there was a brief hello from Al Roker (who I saw when I passed by!) and other members of the Today show, that were also running. My fiancé’s corral started just after the wheelchair start with fireworks and all. About 10 minutes later, it was my turn!

I started slow, realizing the potential for pain was high, and I wanted to try and hold it off for as long as possible. Because of my lackluster training and the fact that my feet were sore just from galavanting through the parks, I kept a steady pace just under 9 minute mile almost the whole way. By about mile 6, though, the pain started. First it was my foot, then it was my knee. I managed to keep shuffling along, with the pace of each mile going up and down, sometimes still under 9 sometimes well over. Even though I was in pain, the miles still flew by. The second half of the race had some serious hills. The worst was somewhere between mile 10 and 12, where it was not only up hill, but also on an on/off ramp loop. With knee and foot pain, not being on a level surface was torture. As I saw people running by with knee straps, I was envious, thinking how nice it would feel to have some serious pressure on my left knee. Aerobically I was doing just fine, and could have pushed myself a bit more, but knew that wasn’t possible with the pain. So, I tried my best to distract myself with the surroundings, reading the different signs, checking out the spectators, and just overall enjoying the experience.

Running through Tomorrowland in Magic Kingdom

Despite the pain, once we got back to Epcot, I knew it was go time. We took a loop past Spaceship Earth and to the Christmas Tree (they left the decorations up), and back out to the parking lot where I asked my tired and sore legs to push it one last time. Somehow, despite my lack of training and injuries, I managed to finish in 2:03:45, a mere minute and a half slower than my first half last April. I couldn’t be happier! I can only imagine what my race would have been like if those pains weren’t there, and even more so if I had been able to train properly. I’m really looking forward to April’s race, as I will hopefully have a successful training cycle. I’m definitely hoping to break 2 hours, maybe even 1:55!

After I crossed the finish line I got my Donald Duck medal, grabbed some water, was handed a mylar blanket, and tried to hobble around to keep my legs from tightening up. I called my fiancé, who had finished in a blazing 1:33:05! We reconnected and had our picture snapped before catching a bus back to Port Orleans, where our friends were anxiously awaiting our return. We didn’t skip a beat, hopped in the shower, guzzled some more water, and headed to Epcot for the day. After a full day in the park, we had a celebratory dinner at San Angel Inn in Mexico – yum!

Fiancé and I with our Donald medals!

On Sunday, we had the opportunity to cheer on some of the full marathoners as we headed to Animal Kingdom to start our day. We first passed them while on the bus, and I tried my best to send mental cheers. From there, I was happy to see them both in and outside the park, so we all stopped to cheer them on, and my fiancé took some pictures. The craziest part, was that there were people running the full marathon that were shouting out congratulations to us for finishing the half (we were wearing our medals)! I love how friendly and congratulatory/cheerful runners are. I really couldn’t believe there were people only at about mile 18 of their full marathon saying “congrats!” and “great job!” to us – they were the ones deserving the cheering! For the rest of the trip, we were constantly passing people with their full marathon Mickey medals, and others with their Goofy challenge medals (meaning they ran both the half AND full). It was then that both my fiancé and I realized we can, and will, run a full marathon. The hardest part will be finding a race to run. Since we’re getting married in September, it might be hard to train for something only a few weeks after the wedding and honeymoon. But, we’ll see! If anyone has any recommendations for decent marathons for first timers in the general Northeast (I’d say maybe no more than a 3 hour drive from Central NJ), I’d love to hear it!

So for now, I’m going to let my little legs (that are growing, thanks to the milage!) rest for a few weeks, and then get back at it – slow and steady of course. But I can now say I finally ran Disney. Maybe in a year or two I’ll run the full marathon… maybe even go Goofy!

10 Comments

Filed under Running, Travel

I’m Back!

Have no fear – I haven’t abandoned you! I just returned home from a wonderful week in Orlando, Florida where my time was spent eating, playing, and running in Walt Disney World! Since we had a great dining plan, I have plenty to write about in terms of our awesome meals, and of course a fun race re-cap for the RunDisney Half Marathon.

Unfortunately since we got home late Wednesday night and I didn’t have time to blog while away, I’m a bit backed up in terms of all of the posts I want to do. So, sit tight, and I promise they’ll be coming in the next few days.

But here’s just a preview of the types of things I had the pleasure of eating…

The Kitchen Sink from Beaches and Cream

Leave a Comment

Filed under Food Blogging

Lackluster Cooking

The week between Christmas and New Years is always packed with as many outings and visits with friends as possible; dinners and drinks here, shopping trips there, and just time spent with those you care about. This oftentimes requires you to either cook for the masses, or spend little to no time in the kitchen. For me, it was the latter.

This year, our company observed the Christmas holiday the following Monday, giving us off when most of our business partners were hard at work. It worked out perfectly, though, since there was a huge snow storm that Sunday, leaving everyone trapped in their homes anyway. Leaving my fiancé at home to use up the last bit of his 2010 vacation days, I trudged to work on Tuesday and Wednesday, less than enthusiastic. The end of the year can be a crazy time in time and attendance and payroll, so that coupled with the holidays causes a serious time crunch. On Thursday, however, I took the day off to go wedding dress shopping! My mom, sister, and I headed to Priscilla of Boston in Short Hills to check things out. You can check out my pre-shopping trip video here. The dresses were pretty, but I wasn’t overly impressed with anything. It was a fun trip, but I didn’t say yes to the dress.

Friday (New Year’s Eve) was a day of relaxation and baking – I whipped up some pink champagne mini cupcakes, inspired by both Boozy Baker and Booze Cakes (two awesome books I got for Christmas!) to bring to our friend’s NYE party. After anxiously watching my fiancé light off fireworks from across the street and devouring lots of yummy appetizers, it was 2011! The new year started off with a 9 mile run, followed by a trip to Sonic to refuel (they have veggie burgers now!).

My mom, sister, and I reconvened on Sunday for another dress trip – this time to David’s Bridal. I had high hopes, hearing stories from many girls who found their dream dresses at David’s after searching high and low. While I didn’t have an overwhelmingly emotional experience (I’m not that kind of girl), I did find my dress! And while I can’t show you the dress I purchased, I can show you the dress I didn’t pick. And believe me when I tell you, my dress choices were all over the place. You name the style, I probably tried it on.

One of the favorite dresses I didn't choose...

My last day off ended today, Monday, as my company again observed New Year’s Day the following Monday (win!). While it’s sad to see the holiday season come to an end, I’m heading in to work tomorrow for only one day. Why? Because I’m heading to Disney World bright and early Wednesday morning for a week of fun, and to run the Walt Disney World Half Marathon! I’m really excited to be heading back just under a year from the last time I was there, where I got engaged! I’ve been going to Disney World since I was 5, almost yearly, and get giddy like a child every time. Even though I’m a little injured (though getting better), the race is just going to be about the experience – I can wait until April to knock out a PR.

So, needless to say my cooking has been almost non-existant this week, aside from making Belgian waffles with chocolate chips and coconut flakes one morning, breakfast burritos a few other mornings, and a super simple stir fry for dinner one night. Tonight’s menu is a giant salad and some fish sticks – classy, I know. But somewhat fitting – a child-like meal before heading to the most wonderful (and childish) place on earth!

1 Comment

Filed under Baking, Food Blogging, Home Cooking, Running, Travel, Wedding

2010

Yup, I’m doing it too.

So, how was my 2010, you may ask? Not too shabby! In terms of food related things, I won my first cookbook giveaway, had a bunch of giveaways of my own, and got to try a whole bunch of new recipes, and even created a few myself!

Aside from food, I also took a trip to Disney World in January of 2010, where I got engaged inside Cinderella’s Castle! We started planning our wedding right away, picked our venue, and were able to bring both of our families there for brunch.

I started running more seriously, and even completed my first half marathon (oh yeah, and my second is only 6 days away!).

In the Spring, I decided it was time to go back to school, and started my first semester as a graduate student in May 2010. I’ve got two semesters down and three semesters to go. I promise I’ll even eventually divulge what it is I’m back in school for – but that’s neither here nor there!

Needless to say my 2010 has been quite busy. There have been lots of ups and downs, but I probably wouldn’t have changed much, if anything. Sure, there are things in my life that could have been made easier, but in the grand scheme of things, a little running injury here, failed baking attempt there, lack of time due to school and work, etc. really isn’t so bad.

So what’s on the radar for 2011? Definitely more cooking, baking, and eating – that’s for sure! There will also be  lots of running, so that way maybe in the Spring/Summer of 2011, I’ll maybe just maybe be ready for a full marathon. The first half of the year is also going to be heavily dedicated to all things wedding related, since I’m getting married in September! We’ve got the big things out of the way (like venue, photography, DJ, etc.) but need to tie up the lose ends for other things (flowers, transportation, hotel, etc.). And of course, there will be more work, and more school.

I’m not one to make resolutions just because I find myself less likely to complete specific concrete tasks, instead of general ideas and notions. This means trying my best to cook new and exciting things at least twice a week, while still rotating in old favorites. It means doing my very best to keep my running mileage high, while staying injury free – something I’ve had a very hard time with the second half of 2010. It also means making sure I just enjoy life – friends, family, and all those things I love to do, while balancing it out with those grown up important things that are typically on the less exciting side of life.

I’m looking forward to 2011!

Leave a Comment

Filed under Home Cooking, Recipe, Running, Travel, Wedding

Mexican Stuffed Peppers

This past weekend was filled with homework and Christmas decorating. Since I’ve managed to hurt myself again (hello shin splints), I haven’t run since last Sunday’s Turkey Trot. This sideline is only partially welcomed because it’s the end of the semester so I have a few projects that I’m trying to finish up. Other than that, though, I’ve been eager to get back out and run since I just got a new pair of running tights, compression socks, AND a rolling stick! I’m hoping at some point later this week I can get back out there, since the Disney Half Marathon is only a month away.

As I mentioned, Saturday was full of homework and Christmas decorations. Since we go grocery shopping on Sundays, food was scarce, and it left me hungry. Thankfully I was able to make up for it on Sunday.

We started the day at our favorite breakfast spot, Le Peep, where I ordered my typical breakfast burrito. This thing is massive, as it’s stuffed with beans, cheese, salsa, onions, peppers, eggs, and your choice of meat (I went no-meat). It’s then topped with more cheese and chili (no chili for me!) and served along side their famous “peasant potatoes” which are unbelievably delicious home fries. We then headed over to the grocery store to stock up for the week, and I got back to my homework. The fiancé took some time to do a little window shopping for where we want to go on our honeymoon, and we have no idea. All we know is that we want to go somewhere warm and tropical-like, and we don’t have the intention of doing much aside from laying around pool/beachside and eating delicious food. So, if anyone has any suggestions I would gladly welcome them! But keep in mind, we’re getting married in September, and that unfortunately is hurricane season for most of the Caribbean.

For dinner, I decided to make Mexican Stuffed Peppers. Growing up we had stuffed peppers with ground beef, rice, tomato sauce, and sauteed onions frequently. Since I’ve tried to commit myself to really not eating meat, I opted for a vegetarian friendly version, with a Mexican twist, of course. I was inspired by Abby’s Don’t Unstuff These Peppers and decided to make my own! And let me tell you – they were delicious. The perfect amount of spice (for me), the semi-crunch of the cooked green peppers, and everything else I love about Mexican and Southwestern styled food (onions, black beans, corn, etc.). They’re also surprisingly filling. I had it with my usual side salad and was pleasantly satisfied. I wound up making four, so the fiancé and I had ourselves a pretty sweet lunch lined up for Monday, too!

Mexican Stuffed Peppers
– Serves 4 –

Ingredients:
4 medium sized green peppers
1 small yellow onion
1 cup white rice
3/4 can of black beans (of a 14 oz can)
1 4.5 oz can of sweet corn
1/2 cup chunky salsa
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp Adobo
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp cumin

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Cook rice according to package instructions.
3. Wash green peppers, leaving them a little damp (the moisture will help them get soft when they bake)
4. Dice onion and sauté in a heated pan with the 2 Tbsp of oil until translucent (about 5 minutes). Add spices and sauté for an additional 3-5 minutes
5. Add black beans and corn to onion mixture, followed by rice once it’s completely cooked, and cook for about 5 minutes
6. While the mixture is cooking, slice the tops of the green peppers, and remove the seeds and core
7. Once the bean, corn, and rice mixture is warm all over, mix in salsa, making sure to coat everything
8. Using a spoon, transfer the mixture into each pepper filling to the top
9. Place the peppers in a sprayed casserole dish, and bake for 25-30 minutes until peppers are soft and filling is heated through

1 Comment

Filed under Home Cooking, Recipe, Running, Vegetarian/Vegan

Spicy Quinoa Salad

Promising myself two legitimate dinners in the kitchen this week, I went for a Spicy Quinoa Salad and paired it with just some chicken breast we had hanging out in the freezer. I’m trying to use as much of any perishable items I can, which is why I decided to pair this with just some plain ole chicken.

I actually had a hard time spotting Quinoa at the grocery store on Sunday. I found Bob’s Red Mill right away in the organic section, but it was $8! I know, I know, that’s not much. But for a grain I’d never had before and wasn’t sure what else I’d be using it with, I just couldn’t plunk that down. We also try to stay under $75 a week, and I knew we wouldn’t if I grabbed it. I headed over to the rice and pasta aisle, and spent a solid 5 minutes staring at all the different rice trying to find it. Turns out I had my back to where it was, and after almost giving up, I found a nice box for $3.50! Sure, it wasn’t whole wheat or organic, but sometimes you just have to cut corners.

If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know I struggle with cutting onions. Over the summer I had the great idea of using my swimming goggles to help combat the tears, and it works. I thought it was about time I shared a little treat with my readers. So here’s a picture of me from my Macbook in the kitchen (I bring it with me to read off recipes), post run and gleefully holding a red onion and a knife while sporting my goggles. Laugh away!

The recipe was super easy, and quick, which in these final packing days has been much appreciated. Trying to finish up packing and cleaning, doing homework, and trying to finally get back to running has jam-packed my week. I was able to tackle 2 miles on Monday night, and another 3 Tuesday. It’s definitely on it’s way to recovery, and feels a lot better than it did when I tried to start running last time. I’m really hoping I can be smart about this one. At this point, I’m not concerned about PRing the Disney Half Marathon, rather I just want to be able to finish the 13.1 pain-free. I’ll set my sights on a PR for the Rutgers Unite Half Marathon in April.

This was my last “real” dinner in this kitchen. In retrospect, I’ve really come into my own here. I started off making burritos and stir-fry, and really blossomed to making intricate desserts, scrumptious dinners, and just having a lot of fun. I’ve also given my fiancé plenty of opportunity to work on his camera skills (thanks babe)! Aside from making my work BFF/bridesmaid a sweet birthday treat on Thursday night which I’ll be sure to post about, next week’s food blogs will be from a new kitchen. How exciting!

I didn’t have any good pictures for the recipe, so head over to Serious Eats for a picture, which is where I got this glorious recipe!

Spicy Quinoa Salad
– Serves 4-6 –

Ingredients:
1 cup quinoa
Kosher salt
2 cups diced cucumber (about 2 medium)
2 cups finely diced tomatoes (about 2 medium)
1 to 2 jalapeño or serrano peppers (to taste), seeded if desired and finely chopped
1/2 cup chopped cilantro, plus several sprigs for garnish
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small red onion, finely minced (optional)
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
1 avocado, sliced, for garnish

Directions:
1. In a large bowl, cover the quinoa with cold water and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Drain in a strainer and rinse until the water runs clear, then transfer to a medium saucepan. Cover with 3 cups water and bring to a boil. Add salt to taste (1 teaspoon or so), reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 15 minutes until the grain becomes slightly translucent. Drain off excess water, cover the pot with a dish towel, replace the lid, and allow to sit for 10 minutes.
2. In the meantime, combine the cucumber, tomato, cilantro, and olive oil in a large bowl with a pinch of salt. In a separate bowl, combine the onion, lime juice, and vinegar. Allow to sit while the quinoa finishes cooking.
3. Combine the vegetables and toss to coat, then stir in the quinoa. Season to taste with salt, oil, and/or more lime juic, and serve immediately with sliced avocado.

1 Comment

Filed under Recipe, Running, Vegetarian/Vegan