Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Best Chilly Morning Breakfast EVER

I don't know about you, but when October hits, I become OBSESSED with pumpkins.

Pumpkin spice lattes?


Pumpkin bread, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin pancakes?


The trouble with this is that all of the above are really pretty loaded with sugar. And that plus the fact that it's easy to just throw on the yoga pants and oversized sweatshirt (it's cold, right?) makes it oh-so-tempting to succumb to the waistline-wrecking ball that is pumpkin flavored pastry or caffeinated goodness.

But stay strong, brothers and sisters!

I have found something that is just as tasty and is not nearly as full of sugar as all my favorite pumpkin goodies. AND, it's awesome after an early morning (or late evening if your schedule is as crazy as mine!) crisp fall tempo run.

(Disclaimer: I rarely bake, because I hate measuring things. But I love to cook, because food is art. You just keep throwing things together until you get what works best for you. That's my kind of recipe! So I do a little-of-this-and-a-little-of-that, but for the sake of a recipe here I've given my best estimates at measurements. Just try it out until you find the right pinch of everything for you!)

Pumpkin Cranberry Oatmeal

You will need:

1/2 C Quaker Oats
1 C water or skim milk
a pinch of salt, if you so desire
1/4 C or so of canned pumpkin (you can always add more!)
a healthy spoonful of brown sugar (more or less depending on your taste...and how concerned you are about sugar! I usually do about 1 TBSP or so)
a few pinches of pumpkin pie spice (maybe 1/2 teaspoon?)
a handful of sweetened dried cranberries (or any dried fruit, really!)

optional: add some chopped pecans or walnuts to really make it a hearty meal and add some healthy fats!

It's really easy, and takes just a few minutes! Simply prepare the oatmeal, using water or milk (and salt if you desire) in the microwave according to the directions. Then, add a glob of pumpkin puree, a spoon of brown sugar, the pumpkin pie spice, and your cranberries. Mix it all up, and enjoy your healthy pumpkin creation.

Now you can save your extra calories for something even better!


Enjoy, and happy fall running!

Sunday, October 23, 2011


No really.


Are you serious?

Yesterday, I am pretty sure I just beat my previous 5K PR by a second or two.

This is insane on many levels.

1) I am pretty much the least in 5K shape of my life. Or so I thought.

2) I am running MAYBE 15 miles a week.

3) I am not very good at 5Ks anyway.

This time that I set back in 2002 (I think--it's been so long I can't even remember!) which I believe was somewhere around 23:48 or so (again--so long I gave up really trying since I don't do these much anymore) and haven't been able to beat ever since....

I just busted it out yesterday.

According to my watch, 23:47. We'll see what the final times were (UPDATE--They have me at 23:46! Yippeeeeee): this wasn't a chip race, and I was back a bit (now I'm regretting that! DOH!).

To top it off, I even snuck into 3rd in my age group--which means you know it was a small 5K field! Ha ha!

Anyway, I should back up. So this race was literally in my front yard. It didn't run through it but came close, so the Mom and I signed up. Mom had to head out of town due to a last minute family emergency (it hasn't been the greatest 2 weeks in TST land, unfortunately) so it was just me, myself and I. My plan was twofold:

1. Run as hard as I possibly can.

2. Try not to hurl.

I had absolutely NO expectations about this race. I even told my buddy Shannon how NOT in 5K shape I was. I lined up kind of near the front but still pretty much in the middle of the pack. If I could average just under 8--like 7:59 or so--I'd call it a victory, given my lack of mileage. The good thing is that although I don't have many miles, Coach Emily has been giving me some good intensity and I've been doing some hard fartlek stuff. But I had a HORRIBLE run on Monday night. Awful awful awful. I could barely hold low-8s for my TWO MINUTE PUSHES. Ugh. So I really didn't expect much.

The first mile I was going hard, but comfortably hard. I kept looking at the Garmin in a bit of disbelief because it didn't feel that fast. Made it to the first mile marker in 7:23.

The second mile, things got a bit harder and I was laboring more, but the wheels weren't coming off as I expected them to. I tried to follow a few people in front of me who had a good pace and just zone out on them. The second mile was around 7:43 or so. Slower for sure, but given my lack of miles, I knew that would probably happen.

But I still felt pretty good.

It was about here that I realized that if I could hold it together, I might PR. I felt good, and it was hard but not too terribly hard.

Was this really going to happen today? TODAY? Nine years of trying to do this and I don't give a crap and it happens NOW?!

Around 2.5, I was regretting my decision to have coffee. That works really well in my short races for me, but started to make me froth at the mouth and feel nauseas. I let out a fabulous, classy, loogie-spit to the right and put on my big girl panties. It was here that I looked at my watch and knew it would be close. I was slowing down and it was starting to hurt, but I didn't want to get that far and blow up in the last half mile!

Mile 3 was 7:57. Uh oh. Time to turn on the gas!

My last .1 was an average pace of 6:36, which means I had entirely too much gas left in the tank. And when I crossed the line, it said 23:47. And I about freaking laughed, except I was doubled over and wheezing from my lovely allergy-induced asthma. So I just smiled instead.

23:47. And I would say this was the LEAST prepared I'd ever been for a 5K, or really any race.


Okay, so what did I do differently than I haven't done in the past? How did I actually pull this off?

1. Hats off to Coach Emily for working with my insane schedule and giving me just the right amount of intensity. I definitely respond much better to low-volume, high-intensity training. This further solidifies that. My best marathon time came on my lowest mileage, and now this?! Geez.

2. I had ZERO expectations. NONE. Therefore, my head was not my worst enemy as it usually is. I just ran as hard as I could, period, the end. No drama. No ridiculous obsessing. No nerves, even. Just run hard, try not to puke, run harder, done.

3. I have been more consistent with strength training. I worked really hard to get my core back after Bean and it's still a work in progress of course, but it's a big focus. I've also worked on large muscles like glutes, hammies, and quads, and kept up with my upper-body stuff. Maybe that helped me not die? I dunno.

Now, what did I learn?

1. This is clearly not even CLOSE to what I am capable of. If I were to have some decent mileage along with intensity, I should be able to do much better than this. Of course now, I'm wondering.

2. This 5K PR bar was set very low.
Me, Anne, and Laura after the race
Okay, so I'm thinking there's really no reason I can't drop down into the low-23s and maybe even get into the high 22s. Yes, that's a dare. You hear me, head? THAT'S A REASONABLE DARE. If I can pull this out of my bum, then I should be able to do better. There's no reason why I can't.
Shannon snapped this one of me getting my medal!
So, I have two more 5Ks on the books that I was doing "just for fun" between now and January 1st. And they will still be for fun. But they might just be a little dare to myself, too. TST, the 5K underachiever, is going to try and drop that bar a bit lower where I know it should be.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Are you there, blog? It's me, TST.

I do believe that's the longest I've gone without a post since turning this thing on in November, 2005.

So on that note, hi!

So school is in full-swing and that means I am, too. Lots going on, not much time to talk about it. Just a quick post to say I'm alive and well, and enjoying this fall weather. Stepping back a bit the past month or so to just work out for the sake of working out...for health, to burn off some steam, and to relax a bit. There is nothing that I am training for at the moment, and it's pretty awesome. I have a few things on my radar, but overall, I am back to the land of the solo workouts squeezed in whenever I can. I've decided the early morning isn't working out so well for me for a multitude of reasons, and switched to late at night and mid-afternoon on the weekends during Bean's nap. So far, it's been a nice switch and I'm enjoying it.

My workouts are lonely. But right now? Lonely is nice. I'm surrounded by people all day and talk ALL DAY and it's nice to be alone, with silence, just for a bit. Me and my bike. The sound of my feet on the sidewalk. The sound of me not swimming at all.

(Well, actually, that last one blows. But I'm working on getting some pool time going soon.)

Days are so busy I barely have time for lunch, because I just won't bring much home. I am really trying to leave work at work, which, of course, in our culture is growing increasingly difficult. So I work my booty off pretty much straight from 7:15am until 4, and then it's time for pushing Bug on the swing, saying new words with Bean (her new fave? "down!"), loving my crock pot in a mildly obsessive manner, and chasing around a newly-minted 4 year old and a tiny little girl who is almost 20 months old and cracks me UP.

I'll be back, I promise. But I'm in survival mode. Survival-solo mode, but it's all good.

Enjoy the fall weather, wherever you may be!