New favorite wine spot…

My day started off pretty average…

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with a Morning Star Breakfast Sausage and a yogurt/cereal/fruit bowl once I got to school.  I wasn’t in the mood to prep food last night, so even the lunch bag was pretty average today:

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Another biscotti cookie for the morning snack and then just some soup and jell-o for lunch.  The good news is I got out of there right after school and got home and squeezed in a nap while the hubbie was out working for a bit this afternoon.  But before I napped, I was starving, so I had some cucumber with tzatziki:

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After the zzz’s I needed some running fuel… and you know how oats and running go together! 

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I just mixed in some cinnamon and sweetener into these and kept it simple  Then I got in a 3.5 mile run.   I still did this one on the treadmill- still trying to take it easy for a bit longer after the half.  But I’m feeling pretty good and have a long run of 10 miles (a bit of a back track for me) scheduled for tomorrow.  I think I can officially say I’m training for a marathon!  We tried to keep dinner on the light side since we had plans to go to a new wine bar tonight:

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Just a salad, some grilled chicken, some grilled zucchini and roma tomatoes, garlic toast, and a new recipe: Stovetop BBQ Lentils.  This was my first taste of lentils and I really enjoyed them (which is good because this recipe made a large batch, so you’ll be seeing lots of these in the coming days).  After dinner, since the hubbie had his first Friday night off in a while, we headed out to a new wine bar I’d heard of about 30 minutes from our house: Aerie’s Wineryin Grafton IL.  We totally fell in love with this place.  We got there around 9 and did a 4-wine taste sampler to determine what we actually wanted to get (and we got to keep the glasses!).  I found another German Reisling that I really enjoyed just like at the Wine Tasting Class, so we bought a bottle of that a proceeded to watch the end of the Cardinal’s game and just generally unwind.  This place was SO laid-back and welcoming!  And they had a FABULOUS outdoor deck that overlooks the Mississippi.  You could only really see lights at night… I can’t imagine how wonderful the view must be during the day!  AND they allow you to bring your own picnic lunch if you’d like!!  We didn’t bring food with us tonight, but it was nice to think of spending a Sunday sipping a bottle of wine and munching on our own snacks.  We also loved how accomedating they were.  They close around 10 p.m., but since we were just getting started on our bottle at that point, they told us that while they were closing down the building, we were welcome to hang outside on the deck as long as we wanted.  We actually ended up being the last people there.  It was SO nice to enjoy the warm weather, with the nice breeze, the nice views, and the nice wine.  I can’t say enough good things about this place!  We LOVED it, and will DEFINITELY be heading back!

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When we got home I was feeling snacky, so I grabbed one of the HungryGirl Funky Monkey Squares from last night…

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and topped it with ice cream of course.  Now I’m about ready to turn in for the evening.  I feel so calm and relaxed after hanging out outside all night, what a great way to end a week!!

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Almond butter makes everything better!

Today was a pretty average day… except for the weather!  It was SO warm outside!  We’re talking 70s people!  Tomorrow it may even hit 80!  I’ll have to make sure I get outside more tomorrow than I did today!  Breakfast was another fantastic yogurt/cereal/fruit mix:dsc02636

The citrus-y kiwi and tart blackberry went great together!  There was also a camera shy Morning Star Breakfast Sausage Link! I knew I had a full day ahead of me as I planned to stay after and get some work done and then swing by the gym before going home, so it was a full lunch bag today:

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The chocolate/almond biscotti was for my morning snack (and the coffee machine was up and running so I got to dip it in some caramel tea… yummy!).  Lunch was a cup of Bear Creek Sante Fe Soup that I pull from the freezer and some Wasa Crackers topped with homemade AB.  I munched on the watermelon after school as I worked and had some refreshing chocolate/strawberry muesli just before heading off to the gym (oats=best. fuel. ever!).  The gym was a nice change of pace.  I brought my Runner’s World Magazine and read that while I was on the elliptical (and I used my heart rate monitor to make sure I stayed in a good range and didn’t take it too easy or hard) for 25 minutes.  Then I read my DietGirl book while I biked for 15 minutes.  It was great because I got to do some reading (something I NEVER have enough time for) and torch some calories at the same time!!  After the gym it was time for dinner and I still had a bit of leftovers to finish up:

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The Spicy Veggies/Tofu in Peanut Sauce leftover from last week bulked up with some steamed veggies and served over pasta.  I also had a salad and a Kahiki Vegetable Egg Roll on the side.  It was delicious!  After dinner, I gave myself a little break and started flipping through my latest cookbook purchase: the new HungryGirl 200 Under 200 Book.  I ran across a recipe for Funky Monkey Squares that I just so happened to have all the ingredients for (particularly a VERY ripe banana that was about past it’s usefulness point… so this was the perfect opportunity to use it up!), so of course I had to try it!

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These turned out pretty well.  I like the banana flavor in the background, but kinda wish there were more chocolate flavor (but when do I NOT wish that?).  1/9 of an 8x8in. pan is only 71 calories.  So that’s a bargain!  I had one as a test and then once I knew it was edible, I made it a part of my official evening snack… but I made it even better:

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I combined it with ice cream on the side and topped it with homemade AB (which… while I was at it I added some AB to the ice cream too!).  SO GOOD!  I’m definitely looking forward to trying more recipes from that book.  If only there were more hours in a day to play in the kitchen!

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Hump day and Half time Hotties Practice!

First and foremost: happy Earth Day everyone!  Looking back over the past year or so I realize that I’ve made some small changes to try and ease up the dent I leave on this rock that were really easy to do… maybe you could try a few out!

  1. Using compact fluorescent bulbs
  2. Using a reusable water bottle instead of a new bottle of H2O for lunch everyday and using a water filter pitcher at home instead of bottled water
  3. Recycling every last bit paper we can (boxes and junk mail included… it’s not just for newspaper anymore!)
  4. Running outside more instead of on the treadmill (though I had to today… sorry Earth!)
  5. Using reusable bags when shopping
  6. Most recently: Joining a CSA Farm so I get more local (and chemical free) produce

None of the changes were particularly difficult or expensive, so try one out if you can!  Alright… now onto the food for the day:

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Breakfast was a couple pieces of toast topped with Sugar Free Strawberry Jelly and Orange Marmalade, a microwaved egg white, and a Morning Star Breakfast Sausage Link.  That filled me up pretty well, so I took my blackberries and strawberries to work with me and munched on the during my first class.  Here’s what was in the lunch bag:

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Morning Snack = Chocolate Almond Biscotti (which I’d planned to have dipped in chocolate caramel tea, but our machine was broken! 😦  )  Lunch = Veggie/Tuna Salad spread on a wrap with a laughing cow cheese wedge, sliced cucumbers with tzatziki, and a Jell-o for dessert.  The little bag of pretzel sticks was there to get me through a couple of afterschool meetings: one boring one, and then my Half Time Hotties Practice!!  I’m SUPER excited about this!  Me and about a dozen other teachers are having some students teach us some of the current dances (i.e. the ‘stanky leg’, the ‘Ricky Bobby’, etc) and we’re going to perform them for the student body during halftime of the student vs. teacher basketball game in a few weeks.  The kids will get a kick out of seeing the grumbly teachers ‘cuttin’ a rug’ and it’s SO fun working with the students to learn the dances!  I’ll try to get picture posted of our performance if possible!  When I got home I discovered that my PB2 samples had finally arrived, and I was excited to try them out, but the flavor combo of chocolate and strawberries was calling my name, so I made an old favorite:

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Chocolate strawberry oats.  YUM!  I spent a little bit of time catching up on blogs and whatnot before doing another cautious, easy run today.  If all goes well and I’m still feeling good tomorrow, Friday I’m going to resume regularly scheduled training runs 4 times a week and get working on that new marathon training schedule!

Dinner was simple, but yummy:

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 Homemade Fish Sticks, a sweet potato, leftover steamed veggies, and salad.  I made the fish sticks using a fresh cod fillet I purchased on Monday and even made my own breadcrumbs for them using toasted WW bread.  SO YUM!  After dinner I munched on a huge orange:

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HEY!  How’d that chocolate sneak onto my plate?  😉  And now I’m getting ready to devour this sundae I put together:

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The toppings are caramel syrup and a crunched up chocolate pizzelle cookie.  Feel free to drool… After I’m done eating I’m going to prep my lunch and snacks for tomorrow.  I’m thinking of going to the gym right after school and hopping on the eliptical with a Runner’s World Magazine or my DietGirl book for a little reading/crosstraining session.  We’ll see if I can motivate myself to pack my gym bag along with everything else tonight!

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Can’t keep me away from running!

Ugh!  How is it not summer yet??  The alarm went off this morning and and heaved myself out of bed onto my feet only to discover that my calves feel much less tight today and my hamstrings feel much more tight.  Nice of my leg muscles to take turns being sore!  The more I moved around the more I loosened up, which was a good thing because I really wanted to do a run today (even though I’m supposed to be taking an easy post-half-marathon week… I’m getting antsy already).  I took breakfast with me to school because I had work to do before the kiddies arrived:dsc02614

Kashi Puffed cereal mixed with Greek yogurt and random freeze dried fruit.  There was also a camera shy Morning Star Breakfast Sausage Link consumed for some more protein!

I knew I’d be staying after school today, so it was a full lunch bag:

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Blackberries for the morning snack.  Lunch was leftover veggie mac ‘n’ cheese from last week, leftover steamed veggies from last night, and Jell-o.  I also brought and apple with some homemade AB to munch on after school.  Once I got home I did some more snacking while I caught up on emails for the day. 

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Just some Weight Watchers string cheese and a cup of key lime yogurt with some corn flakes mixed in.  I was very excited to check my email and see that I’d gotten a reply from the local CSA (community supported agriculture) Farm I’d contacted.  They still have half-shares available for purchase so I think we’re going to sign up.  We’ll go an pick up 8-12 lbs. of produce 13 times (it works out to about every other week) from May-November from a local farm that does not use pesticides or chemicals to grow their crops.  Not only will we be supporting local farmers, but hopefully it’ll be a bargain at $250 for the whole season.  We’ll see how all the math works out in the end, but I thought it’d be fun to try it for a season!  I’ll keep you up to date on how it works out!

Another thing I need to keep you up to date on is the Break the Habit Challenge I’ve been participating in to try and stop biting my nails…. I’m happy to report I haven’t been biting and I’ve been moisturizing my cuticles every night to try and keep myself from having something to pick at.  I actually painted my nails this past weekend because they’re looking so much better after just a week!  I’ll take a picture of them in another week or so to give you a ‘halfway through the challenge’ update!

After I finished with the emails and such I took a nice easy run on the treadmill.  I used my treadmill purposefully so I wouldn’t go too fast (I’m SO bad at pacing myself outside!), and I just did 3 miles.  It felt pretty good.  My legs did feel a little heavy and tired still, but overall it felt nice.  I stretched out REALLY well afterwords and did a little bit of rolling on my new foam roller… just a few leg things.  If I’m still feeling good tomorrow, I may do another nice easy run then… we’ll see!  This whole idea of taking a week or two off for recovery after a race just doesn’t sit well with me.  I’m just going to listen to my body and if it’s feeling OK, I’m going to keep moving on!  I’ve got to set my sights on training for the full marathon in Chicago in October!!  As usual, as soon as I was done with my run it was time to make dinner:

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I pulled a bag of Trader Joe’s Gnocchi alla Sorrentina out of the freezer.  We love that stuff!  The only problem is it says there’s 3 servings in it… but I know the hubbie could polish off the bag on his own easily.  It’s just not enough food for us, so I bulked my bowl up with some more of that Mac N Cheese from the other night and had some roasted zucchini topped with spaghetti sauce on the side along with the usual salad and toast.  After dinner I was in the mood for something sweet…

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Or maybe two something sweets… Cookie Crisp and  Reese’s Buttercup.  MMmmmm…  Now I’m getting ready to consume my old standby:

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before hitting the shower and reading a bit before bed.  Tomorrow I have to stay after school for ‘Half-time Hotties’ Practice.  I’ll tell you more about what that is exactly in tomorrow’s post!

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Lots of shopping…

Sssshhh!!  Don’t tell anyone… I took today off of work!  Boy was I glad I did too because I was in no condition to be on my feet dealing with kids all day.  My legs were SSOOOO stiff this morning from yesterday’s race.  I spent my morning catching up on blogs and creating my shopping list for later in the day.  I also tried out something new for breakfast:

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A chocolate oatmeal pancake (complete with a microwaved egg white and strawberries)!  It wasn’t quite right yet (needs to be a bit sweeter), but it was definitely on the right track and once I try it again and tweak it I’ll post the recipe.  I did a few things around the house and before I knew it, I needed to eat lunch so I could get grocery shopping (I’m not allowed near food stores on an empty stomach 🙂 )

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Lunch was some more of that Veggie/Tuna Salad on bread topped with swiss, some bell peppers/cucumber slices with Tzatziki dip, some spinach chips (just bake spinach in the oven on parchment paper until crispy) with ketchup, and a jell-o.  After my lunch I headed out the door.  I went to Aldi’s for some nice, cheap produce.  Then to Target.  Then to Schnucks for the rest of my grocery needs.  It took me 3 hours!!  Then I came home and still had to unload it all and put everything away!  Shopping was a day long event for me today!  While I put things away, I tried some of my new goodies:

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A Crystal Light Pink Lemonade Popsicle and a Medjool Date stuffed with homemade Almond Butter.  I have to say, I was scared to try these because they looked disgusting, but I’d read so many other people’s blogs who love them, so I did.  I really enjoyed it!  Of course, it sucks that they’re 70 calories a pop (and that’s without the AB)!  After all that work I sat down for about an hour for a little break.  While I caught up on blogs and emails I munched on a few MORE snacks:

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Greek yogurt with cinnamon and some watermelon.  I never did get around to walking today like I wanted to… I’m kinda disappointed about that, but I did try out one of my purchases from Target: A foam roller!  I really liked how it felt on my calves.  I really felt like it was working the knots out of them.  I’m thinking tomorrow I may try a nice, easy run or a walk if I’m feeling up to it.  Dinnertime rolled around in no time… we didn’t really do anything special:

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Spinach salad, grilled chicken, roasted sweet potatoes, steamed veggies (zucchini, squash, asparagus), Green Giant Green Beans with Almond Slivers, and garlic toast.  Now I’m looking forward to an evening of grading (but you know there will be snacks involved!):

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The very last carrot cupcake.  MMmmm… I MUST post this recipe.  A banana with some AB drizzled on top.  And a repeat from the other night: vanilla ice cream with a chocolate pizzelle cookie crunched on top and a chocolate chewie cookie on the side. 

Sorry this has been such a boring post.  I really need to get more focused on work for tomorrow, so I’m being rather short and to the point!  Hopefully I’ll have more time tomorrow!  Goodnight!

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Hungry hungry half-marathoner!

Before I get to all the food goodies for the day (and believe you me, there’s lots of them!) I have big news: I completed my first half marathon this morning!! It was the Go! St. Louis Half Marathon to be exact. I’m still on a bit of a runner’s high even tonight!  A little background on me to help explain why: I started running in Nov. 2007 by following a modified (to make it longer and more gradual) version of the Couch to 5k Program and I couldn’t run for 3 minutes straight back then. Growing up I had always despised ‘The Mile’ in gym class and never thought I could EVER be a runner. I originally decided to take up running as a means to burn calories and shed some weight. The C25K program was awesome and I competed in my first race in April 2008 (the Go! St. Louis 5k) and LOVED it. Now, one year later, I returned to the same event, but this time I competed in the half marathon!!!

So here’s how my race day went.  First of all, let me say, I was SO excited going into this.  I had been training for months, so this was the culmination of lots of hard work!  Also, I only run a couple of events each year, so this was big and I was SO looking forward to another fun race day (particularly because I get so few)! I had set a goal for myself of 2:10:00, which was a pretty lofty goal for me as a 10 min/mile pace is challenging for me to sustain long-term.  Unfortunately, all did not go according to plan as the weather decided it did not care about my plans/hopes/goals. The race itself started out miserable. It had been raining all night and it rained throughout the whole race. So I was soaked from head to toe by the 2nd mile! Here’s a mile by mile breakdown of my thoughts (for those who care):

Mile 1: YAY! I love race days! There are so many people and this is so fun… I don’t even mind the rain that much. Besides, if I stay a bit back from the person in front of me, I can see the puddles ahead and dodge them. This is going to be fine.

Mile 2: My feet are soaked. No need to try and dodge puddles anymore! All these people crapping out already are ticking me off. Get out of my way! Clearly you started off too far up time-corral-wise! Ugh… 1st water station only has gatorade… tummy ache here I come! (Can you tell I was crabby because I was wet?)

Mile 3: Never drinking gatorade… not one sip… ever again. Ever.  If they don’t have H20 at the next station I plan to start running with my mouth open to catch rain water. In other news, I now know why so many people are wearing shorts… my pants are soaked on bottom from the puddles and the weight of the water is pulling them down. I CANNOT run 10 more miles while holding my pants up. What am I going to do? This. sucks.

Mile 4: I hate St. Louis weather. I hate rain. I hate these pants. I hate that I have 9 more miles to go. I hate that the 2:10 pace group leader has suddenly decided to kick it up a notch and is almost to the point of catching up with the next pace group. Is she really on pace? I mean seriously, can I really be THAT far behind already? I’m panicking. My shoes and clothes are so wet that I feel like I just rode a major water ride at Six Flags, I can’t keep my pants up, and now I’m not even going to finish in the time I wanted. This is NOT going well!

Mile 5: Pulling over to roll my pants up and make them into shorts = Best. Idea. EVER! At least my pants are staying up now. Problem #1 solved.  Looks like crazy-2:10 pace lady has slowed down a bit… or I’m catching up somehow (funny how not holding your pants up allows you to focus on running more). Hey! There’s my first fan! My friend Jason! YAY!

Mile 6: Guess who’s IN FRONT OF crazy-2:10 pace lady now? This gal here… that’s who! YAY! Now I can take my scheduled 30 second walk breaks at the mile markers and still keep pace with them. Almost halfway done! Hey, there’s my family! I love having fans! What a boost. Maybe this will work out afterall!

Mile 6.5: WTF? I didn’t eat or drink anything recently… so why do I have the most painful side stitch ever? Ugh. This is not cool.  I’ll slow my breathing a bit and surely it will go away…

Mile 6.6: Seriously going to vomit from pain. I just took an unscheduled 30 second walk break and I’m still trying to slow my breathing to take care of this stitch.

Mile 6.7: OMG this is never going to end. I’m going to have to run the last half of this race doubled over in pain. The 2:10 running group has officially passed me again. Maybe that’s because I’ve had to take 3 freakin’ walk breaks this mile!

Mile 6.8: That’s it! I’m busting out the Clif Z-bar. Maybe my side stitch is hungry and wants some brownie. Brownies always make ME feel better. Please let chocolate please the side stitch demon.

Mile 6.9: I CANNOT take any more walk breaks this mile. This ends now side stitch. I’m running whether you like it or not!

Mile 7: Feeling better. Side stitch is fading. Now I’ve got to catch up with the 2:10 team, but still not push too hard for fear of a return of the side stitch monster! This is a delicate balance I’ve got going here…

Mile 8: Where did that last mile go?? That was quick! Love when that happens! Side stitch problem (AKA Problem #2) – solved.  And I’m almost caught up with the 2:10 group!

Mile 9: I’m back up with the 2:10 group, though, apparently my left foot has forgotten how to run as it keeps knocking into my right ankle. Seriously?  Weirdest, most-random-problem filled race ever!!  I need to eat some more z-bar to keep my energy up. Mmmm…. brownie goodness.

Mile 10: I’m officially ahead of the 2:10 group which is where I need to be in order to be able to continue to take my walk breaks at each mile and keep up with them. Only a 5K left.  My left foot officially knows how to run straight ahead again which is always a good thing!

Mile 11: I *heart* Clif Z-Bars. I’m feeling really good after eating my last part of it. What can I say? Chocolate makes me SO happy! I can totally do these last 2 miles. I am good to go.

Mile 12: Only 1 more mile until the finish. There are so many people lining the street. This is awesome! I love running! And I’m still ahead of the 2:10 group. I am on BEASTMODE! Rain, errant feet, side stitches, and falling pants be damned… I am SO doing this!

Mile 13: There’s my buddy! There’s my family! Look at me go! I am TOTALLY booking it and it feels great!

Finish: I can’t believe I just ran a half marathon! Woo-Hoo! So. Much. Fun!

Now the stats:

I finished in 2:08:45… beating the goal I set for myself by over a minute.

Another cool fact: One year ago when I did the 5K version of this same event I ran it at a 10:20/mile pace. Today my pace was 9:50/mile AND I was running 10 miles further!! AAHHH!! I LOVE that fact!

Here are some pics from the event (I’m the dork with my arms raised and a goofy grin):

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I spent the remainder of the day sitting, then stretching, then puttering around, then stretching some more.  My legs are tired and my right calf is really tight, but I think overall my muscles are OK.  The only major pains I have right now are around my knees (chafing from rolling up my pants rubbed some raw spots) and my right ankle has a wicked bruise (from when my left food decided to beat it up around miles 8 or 9).  On a side note, I’ve been ravenously hungry all afternoon!  Nothing will satisfy me!  As if this post weren’t long enough already, it’s time for the eats portion of our program:

Breakfast was my now favorite bowl of oats:

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z bar

 

 

 

 

 

Choco-nana-berry.  Oh yeah… and I crumbled 1/2 a chocolate-almond biscotti cookie on top too.  And if you read my race report you saw that the Clif Z-bar was consumed during the race.  Post race grub:

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So it’s not the actual banana I had… so what?  I was NOT about to bring my camera out in a monsoon just to snap a pic of a banana that I wolfed down!  I also had several handfuls of not pictured pretzel sticks.  All that held me over for quite a while and I wasn’t really hungry the rest of the morning (probably because I was drinking TONS of fluids to re-hydrate).  Once I got home I had a late lunch:

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Then 2 hours later I was hungry again:

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That’s a typical Greek Yogurt/Fruit/Cereal bowl.  And I couple hours later I was hungry for dinner!

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I had some leftover Spicy Peanut Veggie/Tofu Stir-Fry from earlier in the week over pasta with toast and a salad.  Now the hubbie and I have plans for a movie night.  I think we’ll watch Slumdog Millionaire.  No doubt snacks will be consumed!  Here’s an idea of exactly what…

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It’s been a long, but wonderful day (as most race days are).  I want to say Thank You to my parents and the hubbie for coming out and supporting me… particularly in the the miserable weather.  I’m SO lucky to have you guys cheering me on!  Now I’m off to watch a movie!  Enjoy the evening everyone!

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Ready to run… but there’s rain on the way!

I got to bed rather late last night after bawling my eyes out to Marley and Me.  I didn’t worry about it though, because I had big plans to sleep in.  But that didn’t happen.  I woke up at 7 and couldn’t go back to sleep, so I went ahead and got up and got my day started with some laundry followed a 20 minute Gentle Hatha Yoga session from yogadownload.com.  Then I flipped on the computer and caught up on a few blogs before making breakfast:

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French toast, a microwave egg white, and a big bowl o strawberries.  The spent the next couple of hours doing laundry, gathering and preparing things for tomorrow’s race, painting my nails and toe nails, and showering.  Before I knew it I was hungry for lunch!  I mixed a ton of veggies (bell peppers, cucumbers, onions, pickles, carrots) with a can of tuna and some miracle whip to make a tuna/veggie salad.  The I took a big scoop of it, put it on a piece of bread, topped it with a slice of swiss cheese and put it in the toaster oven until it was melty-delicious!

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I had some steamed broccoli and summer squash on the side and some Jell-o for dessert.  It was a nice, hot lunch.  After lunch, the puppies and I headed out to my parents house.  Then the humans all made a trip to Whole Foods.  I got several things I’ve been wanting to try: some new almond butters, tahini (so I can  make my own hummus!), agave nectar, coconut water, and a bunch of other things you’ll see on the blog in the coming days.  Then, we picked up a couple of Papa Murphy’s DeLites Pizzas for dinner.  We didn’t cook them right away because we were waiting on the hubbie for dinner, but I was starving so I snacked on an orange before we dug in to dinner:

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I had a salad first, then several slices of Hawaiin pizza (pineapples and canadian bacon… YUM!), and a side of broccoli and cauliflower (the last of the veggie tray from Sunday’s Easter feast).  I was stuffed!  Later on I managed to make some room for a couple of new desserts I picked up at Whole Foods:

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Along with the typical vanilla ice cream is a crunched up chocolate pizzelle cookie sprinkled over the top and a low fat chocolate chewie cooke (these are SO good!).  Well, I have to be scooting off to bed.  I have to get up at 5 a.m.  for my first half marathon!  If only the rain will hold off!  It’s not looking so good right now… so keep your fingers crossed for me!

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