Friday, December 15, 2017

Year of Running 2017

This year has easily been the best year of my life (so far...). This summer, I married the love of my life and he graduated with his PhD just last week!

Despite work and wedding planning, I still managed to get in a fair bit of running this year (681 miles as of December 15). Here is a recap:

Best race experience
The Seattle Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon was easily my best race experience. It was summer, so the weather was perfect! The course was right along the water most of the way. It was my first time running the race, and I really loved the newness of the route.

Best run
On our honeymoon, Craig and I did a 5K trail run on our own in Leavenworth. It was a beautiful location, we were super excited about being newly married, and I loved getting to spend that time with him.

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The Wenatchee River, post-run

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A cool bridge we ran across

Best new piece of running gear
 New shoes are the best! I’ve been wearing the Brooks Glycerins for a few years now (since the 11th model was released). The Glycerin 14’s were new to me this year, and I love them!

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Most inspirational runner
The first runner that comes to mind is Shalane Flanagan. Her recent finish at the NYC marathon was without-out-a-doubt inspiring.

Favorite picture from a race run this year
At the finish of the Title 9 5K. Though my pace wasn’t particularly fast, I still finished 2nd for my age group!

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Race experience you would repeat in a heartbeat
Probably the Title 9 5K. Logistically, it was easy and fun to race in Spokane because it is close to where I live. It was a small race, so there wasn’t a crowd (which I prefer). Also, the course is right near Gonzaga where I went to school, so the course was super familiar.

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Happy to be in Spokane

If you could sum up your year in a couple of words what would they be?
“Consistant” and "strong." I ran at least 50 miles each month. I didn’t need to take any breaks due to injury because I kept the mileage pretty steady. I worked on increasing my core strength and as a result I am ending this year stronger and faster!

Linking this post up with Courtney at EatPrayLoveDC, host of the Year of Running link up.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

November Running Recap

83.4 miles
15 hours, 30 minutes, 43 seconds
2,747 feet of elevation gain
Average pace of of 11:10 min/mile

  • My longest run was 9 miles. I am beginning to feel prepared for next month's half marathon.
  • I have remained consistent with strength training. I have been dreading core workouts more this month, but I have still managed to get in at least 2 per week. I feel like my posture is improving!
  • Running at a 10 min/ mile pace is beginning to feel effortless.
  • The weather has been nice without (much) snow! It was actually around 50 degrees on Thanksgiving. This has made running outside pretty easy and enjoyable. 

My fastest 5K of the month

Week-by-week summary:

Week 1:

Thursday- 4 miles
Saturday- 4 miles
Sunday- 8 miles

Week 2:

Tuesday- 6 miles
Thursday- 4 miles
Saturday- 5K
Sunday- 8 miles

Week 3:

Tuesday- 6 miles
Thursday- 4 miles
Sunday- 5K race pace

Week 4:

Monday- 7 miles
Wednesday- 5K
Saturday- 5K
Sunday- 9 miles

Week 5:

Tuesday- 7 miles
Thursday- 3.5 miles

Long-run-selfie. Yea, I love running too much.


December goals:

  • I am running the Yukon Do It Half Marathon on Dec. 31, and I am hoping to PR, which means running it faster than 2 hours and 12 minutesBased on how training is going so far, my real goal is to finish in 2 hours and 10 minutes.

  • December is going to be a very busy month, so I may be less motivated to run. At the very least I want to run 4 times per week, with 1 long run per week. 

  • I also would like to run a 10K in under an hour for one one of my training runs. 

The end. 

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Dairy-free Thanksgiving for Two

Craig and I originally planned to be home for Thanksgiving, but between Craig finishing up his Ph.D. and flying out for interviews, we figured it was best to stay put.

With a dairy-allergy, I am not a huge fan of Thanksgiving foods in general, so missing the meal was not a big deal to me. I was sad, though, that we didn’t get to visit family.

I initially considered eating-out or just ignore the holiday, but that seemed a little depressing, especially since it would be our first Thanksgiving married.

The biggest challenge when planning the meal was making sure there wouldn't be so much food that we would end up with a lot of waste. We decided to just keep it simple, and focused on making our favorite foods. My favorite Thanksgiving dish is sweet potato casserole and Craig's is mashed potatoes, so I based the meal around those foods. 

I found dairy-free mashed potatoes and sweet potato casserole recipes online. The mashed potato recipe was pretty basic. Craig liked it! I thought the sweet potato casserole tasted amazing. Success!

Our mini-Thanksgiving meal

For the main course, we had a small, pre-baked ham that we bought at a local co-op. Basically, I just put it in the oven for 40 minutes, and it was done. Super easy! It weighed 2 lbs and ended up being the perfect size for a couple days of left overs.  

For dessert, I wanted to have apple crisp. I couldn’t find a recipe online that I liked so I wrote my own using coconut oil instead of butter. I'll include the recipe at the bottom of this post.

Post-run Craig on the WSU track

The day (and weekend) turned out to be pretty fun! We did some Black Friday shopping and eating in Spokane on Friday, and we went for a run together on Saturday. It was nice to get to spend so much time with Craig since he has been working and traveling a bunch lately.

After such a fun holiday, it was definitely difficult to go back to work on Monday!

Dairy-free Apple Crisp


Topping ingredients:

1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted

 Apple filling ingredients:

medium apples, peeled and thinly sliced
3 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
2 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon lemon juice
3 tablespoon water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

For the topping:

1.     In a medium size bowl combine the topping ingredients with a fork until it resembles small crumbs. Refrigerate while you prepare the apple filling.

For the apple filling: 

1.     Peel and slice apples.
2.     In a small bowl, combine coconut oil and flour until well blended. Add lemon juice, water and vanilla and stir well. Stir in brown sugar, cinnamon. 
3.     Pour oil mixture over apples and toss to coat. Pour apple mixture into an 8x8-inch baking dish and spread into an even layer. 
4.     Sprinkle crumb topping evenly over the apples.
5.     Bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown and top is set. 
6.     Remove from oven and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Exciting Life Updates

     The past few days have been crazy exciting! On Thursday, Craig passed his Ph.D. defense. This a huge deal. It basically means he is finished with school! He turned in his completed dissertation last Friday, so as long as it gets accepted (which it most definitely will) he will be Dr. Craig!

     What's just as exciting: He is currently at a job interview. The company flew him down and is paying for all expenses. From what we can tell, it could be an amazing opportunity!

Saying our goodbyes at the airport (at 4:00 AM)

     I can't even begin to express how proud I am of him. He had two days in between finishing grad school and flying out for an interview. He is probably blowing that company away with his intelligence/charm/skills as I type this.
   I am really excited to hear about his experiences when he gets back. We are both a bit sleep deprived (him probably more so than me even), so I am really looking forward to having a relaxing thanksgiving break together starting tomorrow afternoon.


   Since I knew I probably wouldn't hear from him all day, I went for a long run to try to distract myself. It was definitely not the best day to run. Weather forecast: rain, strong wind with a temp in the high 30s. Oh well...

Wet, cold, windy.
   I chose a challenging loop around town. I figured I probably have few runs left in Pullman, so I should probably pick a more interesting route that I will miss when I am gone.
   I ended up running near two of my old apartment building, so it was basically a trip down memory lane. 
   Mile 4 was dreadful. It was up hill, against the wind. 
   Mile 7 was also dreadful. Again uphill, against the wind. 

The good news: students are gone for Thanksgiving Break! 
   But I survived! I walked a half mile home to cool down, and now I am basically just unwinding, drinking hot tea, waiting to hear from Craig!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Eight Mile PR Attempt

Now that I am about 2 months into race training, I am gaining confidence during my runs. I am pushing myself to run faster and further. This weekend, I ran a fast (for me) 5K and 8-miler. 

     Yesterday, I met my friend Melissa at the trail head at 9 AM on Saturday. It was a chilly day, but the sun was out. I had a 3-mile tempo run on the schedule. I ended up running a 5K in about 29 minutes. It was fun to get out and run with a friend! 

Happy with my sub-30 5K time

We went to coffee afterwards. I had an almond milk mocha, and we split a cinnamon scone. It was nice!

Yesterday’s tempo run inspired me to try and run a bit faster for today's 8-mile run. Normally I don’t push myself very hard during long runs.

I’ve read that it’s important to run about 80% of runs at an easy pace and 20% at a hard pace. I have trouble with distinguishing what is “easy,” and I think I can put additional effort into my runs more frequently.

This morning, I had the goal of running my fastest 8-mile run ever. 

The course I ran is a there-and-back, with more uphill on the way out and more downhill on the way back. So, in order to make my goal, I wanted to keep the first 4 miles under a 11 min/ mile pace.

It was pretty easy to maintain this pace the first 2 miles. Unfortunately around mile 3 there was a pretty strong head wind that continued through mile 4. It was pretty rough, but I still managed to keep it around 10:30 min/mile for the first half of the run.

I turned around and was relieved of the wind! However, I immediately smelt a bunch of smoke. My best guess was that a farmer was doing a controlled burn somewhere. The smell was super strong, made it difficult to breath and made me feel sick. I pushed on hoping that there would be less smoke the further away I got. 

By mile 7 the smoke was gone. I turned off the music I was listening to and enjoyed the last couple miles knowing that I’d easily finish fast enough to make this my 8 mile personal record (PR).

The last two miles were in 9:55 and 9:40! I finished in 1:22:49 (average pace of 10:19 min/mile). Success! It was fun to tackle a goal!

I know I can go faster (especially if the weather would cooperate), but this was just a training run. Now I am getting more excited to see how fast I can finish next months’ half marathon!

Officially my fastest 8-mile run! 
Sweaty but happy after making the PR

Monday, November 6, 2017

First Snow Run(s)

It snowed over the weekend! It was a bit of a surprise; We don’t normally get snow before Thanksgiving.

On Saturday, Craig and I slept in a little, then I made homemade waffles, which were delicious! 

It started snowing that morning, but the snow wasn't sticking. 

That afternoon, Craig and I went for a run together. We parked at the bear research facility and did a 4-mile loop. It was definitely snowing by then! There was a football game ending, and unfortunately I ran by the stadium just as people were leaving. This meant that I ended up having to zig zag by a bunch of people for the last 2 miles or so.

My pace was slow (11:49 min per mile). It was fun though! We both felt great after.

Sunday was Daylight Savings. My cat, oblivious to the time change, expected to be fed at her normal time (7 AM), so she decided to keep sitting on me until I got out of bed. As it was actually 6 AM, this meant I was up a bit early for the weekend.

It ended up working out well, though, because this meant I was able to catch the start of the New York City Marathon! Right after watching the men’s start, I headed out the door for my own run.

Heading out for a snow run! 

There was maybe 2 inches of snow on the ground, but the trail was mostly cleared. It was nice because there was basically no one else out yet. There were very few cars, and I only saw 2 other runners the entire time I ran. 

Not too much snow, and the trail was kept pretty much clear.

It was beautiful out! I really enjoyed it. My pace was intentionally slow so that I wouldn’t slip. The run felt pretty easy, overall, I did feel tired around mile 7 which was uphill.

This was my longest run since the summer! And surprisingly my third fastest 8-miler.

By the time I got home, the elite women were just about to cross the finish line at New York. Craig was working on his interview presentation but took a time out to watch with me.

We watched Shalane Flanagan finish in first place! It was easily one of the most inspiring athletic accomplishments I have ever watched live.

Photo credit: NY Daily News

In the last mile, she was roughly a minute ahead of Mary Keitany in second place, so she clearly was going to win. She still had such power with every stride. The emotion on her face as she crossed the finish line was so raw, too, conveying such joy, pride and passion. 

It’s been 40 years since an American has won the New York City Marathon. For those interested, here is an article about it. 

The rest of the day I watched the snow fall (while staying warm indoors), caught up on chores and watched Stranger Things with Craig after dinner.

For dinner we had Shrimp Linguini, which is one of our favorite recipes. It just-so-happens to be from “Run Fast. Eat Slow,” the cookbook  co-written by Shalane Flanagan! ;)

A household favorite: Shrimp Linguini from "Run Fast. Eat Slow."