Where I’ve Been and Where I’m Going

Wow, it’s been a while.

Six months – almost to the day – to be exact.  I fell off the blogging wagon, for many reasons: school ramped up, I was running a lot more, and my free time usually ended up being used for eating or sleeping.  The life of a college student, right?  Sadly, that meant that Muffins here got put on the backburner, which I truly regret.  I forgot how much I love writing, and I wish I had made more of an effort to fit blogging into my schedule.

So what have I been up to for the last half a year?  Well…a lot.  To name just a few things I did…

– I survived my first semester of Organic Chemistry.

– I explored and discovered new things in D.C.

– I hung out with school friends and friends from home.

– I spent a lot of time with my mom, because she’s awesome.  (Love you, Mom!)

– I released my inner music nerd, and (not-so-secretly) loved it.

– I reconnected with my faith, on a level that I haven’t allowed myself to be on for a long time.

– I spent quiet mornings on the waterfront, just soaking up the beauty of life.

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– I laughed, and cried some too.

– I learned the healing power of long walks, and that yoga is good for the soul.

– I ran…a LOT.  Like, half marathon a lot.

IMG_0416IMG_0361– …I stopped running.

I’ll be writing a lot more about many of these things in the coming weeks, but that is just a quick snapshot of my life since September.  I’ve had a lot of fun, made a lot of memories, and also made some pretty big decisions.  I ran a half marathon and was on top of the world, and more recently, I made the decision to stop running for a while.  I feel like where I am, at this moment in my life, is a critical place for me with so much potential.  Which begs the question…

Where do I go from here?

Long story short, I don’t really know.  My biggest goal is to make more time for myself, and to find the self-confidence and self-love that I seem to have lost somewhere along the way in these past six months.  There may not be a lot of running talk on here for a while, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be a lot of good talk.  (And food.  Always food!)

I hope you guys will stick around and enjoy whatever adventures I get myself into!  And Muffins is officially back; I have lots of exciting things in store – changes, upgrades, you name it – for this little blog over the next few months.

Thanks for reading, everyone. 🙂

Weekly Recap and Happy Saturday!

Hi there, friendly faces!  Hope you are all having a wonderful weekend so far. 🙂

Phew!  Sure has been a busy week around here…getting back into the swing of things at school, increasing my running mileage, and kicking off the club running season (!!!!).  Not to mention lots of fun along the way!

Yesterday evening, we had the inaugural run for the club running season – and it was awesome!  Well, everything except for the heat…we ran at 6 p.m. and it was miserable.  By the time we finished, I looked like this:

Aaaand that is why I like to run in the mornings! 😀

After we got back to campus, I drank ALL the water from the water fountain and then headed over to one of the restaurants on campus to grab a really late dinner.  See, the issue with a 6 p.m. run time is that since I don’t like to eat a meal before I run (and I’m glad I didn’t with that heat yesterday!), by the time I sat down to eat it was already after 8.  But I got a delicious spinach + kale + romaine salad with beets, cucumbers, chickpeas, and grilled chicken. 🙂  I was super excited to see sliced beets on the salad bar – I almost never see them in the dining hall…and they definitely are never that tasty!

Today is my off day and I am heading to the gym in a little bit with a friend to do some easy cardio, just to stretch out my legs, and then we are grabbing breakfast after.  After that, it will be time to start digging myself out of the homework hole and trying to get ahead on readings and classwork for the week!  Wish me luck. 😛

At least I have fun plans for later tonight – MOVIE NIGHT!  My roommate, our next-door neighbor, L, and I are planning to watch this gem:

Classic.  Apparently my roomie AND our next-door neighbor haven't seen it, so obviously it was a must!

Classic. Apparently my roomie AND our next-door neighbor haven’t seen it, so obviously it was a must!

I’m sure there will be lots of laughs (and probably popcorn too!). 🙂

Lastly, to fill you guys in on my running since I didn’t post very much this week, here is a little recap:

Sunday: 4.01 miles (9:02 pace)

…this run was a struggle.  It was hot and I felt really sluggish and slow.

Monday: Cross-training (elliptical + core work + arms)

Tuesday: 5.04 miles (9:08 pace)

…longest run since surgery!!  Woooo!

Wednesday: Cross-training (spin + core work + legs)

Thursday: 4.05 miles (8:59 pace)

…something was weird with my first mile or my watch or maybe it was the fact that I had to stop for bikers on the sidewalk two separate times, because my mile splits were 10:04, 8:35, 8:42, 8:38.  Whatever.  All I know is that this run felt really good!

Friday: 4.46 miles – running club run (8:55 pace)

…my mile splits were kind of all over the board, but that’s what happens when you run with a group and have to stop for stoplights in the city! 😀

Saturday (today): Rest day (super easy spinning)

So that is that!  It was a pretty great week of runs and cross-training and I am really happy with how my ankle feels!  For this coming week, I am only ramping up my mileage a little bit to be extra careful, so I have a week of 4.5, 5.5, 4.5, and 4 miles planned.

I hope that everyone is having a great weekend, and thanks for stopping by! 🙂

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What is your favorite cross-training activity?

Do you work out on your rest days from running?  Only sometimes…and at a ridiculously light intensity to just loosen my muscles up.

Back in the Swing of Things

Ah, school.  Some things change and some…don’t.  One of the joys (ha!) of being a science major is that the work for every class looks something like this:

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You can’t tell me that Organic Chemistry textbook doesn’t look appealing!  You know it is.  I will gladly share! ;D

In other news, I am [still] loving the dorm that I am in, as well as my room, so that is a major plus!  And my roomie is wonderful, which makes me so happy.  Anyone who has had a bad roommate match-up before knows how much stress it adds to an already stressful academic year, so I am glad that I don’t have to worry about that! 🙂

In ankle-/running-related news, I am now *officially* done my PT-prescribed back-to-running program and ready to increase my mileage.  Still taking baby steps here, but I’m planning to focus more on speed and increasing my base so that I can begin to train for longer races.  I have big things planned for this year!

Step one was an interval run yesterday [5 mins easy warm-up + (3 mins ~7:55/mi pace + 7 mins ~8:45/mi pace)x2 + 5 mins easy cool down] and a tempo run today (warm-up + 3.6 miles at 8:30 pace + cool down).

Blurry trail shot - it was such nice weather this morning!

Blurry trail shot – it was such nice weather this morning!

I am keeping my training runs fairly easy right now but once I build up my base mileage, I plan to work on getting my race pace down considerably.  It is definitely challenging to maintain the delicate balance between keeping my ankle strong and healthy and rebuilding my running.  Always a work in progress!

I hope everyone has had a great week and I will leave you with this lovely quote, courtesy of my Yogi teabag. 🙂

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Who is training for a race right now?  What is your favorite type of training run?  I like interval runs and hill repeats (even though they suck!).

Weekend plans?

 

Back to School and New Running Routes

Hey hey hey friends!  How’s life?

After the whirlwind craziness of the last few days – moving back in at school, buying books, catching up with friends, getting to know my new roomie – I finally feel like I’ve settled in and am ready for classes to start.  Is it lame that I’m excited to have schoolwork to do again?  I just like being busy and feeling productive!  Nerd life. 😀

As far as dorm rooms go, I have a pretty sweet one!  In terms of usable space, I would say that my room is about twice as large as my room was last year.  What a nice surprise!

My room (before I unpacked all of my stuff).  And yes, my bed is as high as it looks!

My room (before I unpacked all of my stuff). And yes, my bed is as high as it looks!

My new roommate is a runner too, which is AWESOME.  We just understand each other!  And we get along really well.  I get the feeling it is going to be a fantastic year! 🙂

Speaking of running, I hit the towpath this morning for an easy 3.6 miles.  It was so nice and quiet along the canal; the only thing that I’m not used to is all of the bikers.  But, as usual, I kept my iPod volume really low and kept to the right and didn’t have any problems! 🙂  There was definitely a lot less traffic on the gravel path, but I was concerned about running three to four miles on an unstable surface like that.  Gotta make the best decisions to keep my ankle happy and healthy!

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My view for, well, pretty much my whole run.

Typical blurry running shot.  I promise the Potomac looked a lot prettier than this makes it seem.  You'll just have to trust me on this one. :)

Typical blurry running shot. I promise the Potomac looked a lot prettier than this makes it seem. You’ll just have to trust me on this one. 🙂

I felt like I was in a movie before my run because I had to venture through this creepy, dim, wet, graffiti-ed tunnel to get over to the towpath.

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So that’s this morning’s run for ya!  I’m looking forward to mixing up my running routes and running through the city as well, since I can actually run this school year!  I’m also loving having access to a gym again because it makes cross-training and lifting so much easier.  (Plus, I forgot my free weights, kettlebells, and foam roller at home…oops.)

Classes start tomorrow, so today is going to be mainly hunting down classrooms, picking up textbooks, and squeezing in last-minute time with friends before schoolwork ramps up.  Should be a busy (but fun!) day. 🙂

Happy Tuesday!

Where did you run today?

For all the students/teachers/parents: back-to-school time – love it or hate it?

A Weekend of Runs, Fun, and Good Eats!

The older sister left to go back to college yesterday afternoon, so we spent Friday evening/night as a family…which meant a delicious dinner of gnocchi (zoodles for me!) + sausage + sauce with fresh basil AND a fire and s’mores later.  Perfect summer night!

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Speaking of zoodles and zucchini…

My grandparents have a, uh, THRIVING vegetable garden so operation eat-all-the-zucchini was in full force this weekend.  Zoodles on Friday, zucchini crust pizza for dinner last night, zucchini in eggs this morning…

Zucchini crust + sauce + a little bit of shredded mozzarella + leftover sausage + olives + mushrooms = perfection.

Zucchini crust + sauce + a little bit of shredded mozzarella + leftover sausage + olives + mushrooms = perfection.

…what can I say?  I am happy to eat ALL the zucchini.  You know, just doing my civic duties, eating my veggies, all that jazz.  (Also, they were delicious, so there’s that.)

And we should probably talk about these gorgeous roasted veggies from Thursday night:

Pre-roasting...

Pre-roasting…

...and the finished product!

…and the finished product!

Baby golden potatoes + pixie eggplant + onion + pepper + zucchini (What did I tell you?  ALL the zukes.  In everything.) tossed in olive oil and a little bit of sea salt.  So good!!

While we’re still talking about food, I have discovered that Larabars are fantastic.  Where have you been all my life, Larabar?

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I loved this flavor and I have a Peanut Butter & Jelly one sitting upstairs that will probably be eaten tomorrow.  Oh, and I ordered 16-packs of three different flavors today to take back to school with me.  Needless to say, I was immediately sold!

…And I finally tried out a new breakfast recipe that I have seen floating around on the internet for a while.  I was pretty skeptical about it because it seemed too easy, but I tried it out…BANANA PANCAKES!

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Easiest recipe ever: 1 banana + 2 eggs + pinch of baking powder + cinnamon, vanilla to taste.  You could sweeten them if you wanted to, but I didn’t and don’t think they needed sweetened at all.  Basically, you mush up the banana (I used a fork), whisk in the eggs, baking powder, cinnamon, and vanilla…then cook like normal pancakes!  They have more of a crepe-y texture than normal pancakes but I thought it was nice that they were filling but didn’t sit heavy in my stomach.  A single batch makes four large pancakes, and I topped mine with strawberry jam. 🙂

So much good food this weekend!

…But I promise I do other things besides eating…like running!

My runs this weekend were great.  I felt like I was running slow both days but when I looked at my Garmin, I was surprised to find that I was running much faster than expected.  What a nice surprise!  Friday’s run was 3.55 miles at 8:38/mi pace and today’s run was 3.60 miles at 8:21/mi pace.  I am slowly (and carefully) picking up speed!  I am itching to get back on the track to work on my speed and stride length.  One step at a time!  (And yes, my ankle is still feeling fantastic.  I am so thankful!)

Whew.  Busy weekend!  Hope you guys enjoyed your weekend as much as I enjoyed mine. 🙂

Tell me about your weekend!  What did you do?

Did you run this weekend?  Any races?  Tell me all about it. 🙂

The Bad Runs Make the Good Runs a Thousand Times Better.

Tuesday’s run sucked.  Seriously.  I was so mad about it (ask everyone…I raged).

You see, I was dog- and house-sitting for some family friends from Monday until yesterday, and they live in a gorgeous (albeit a little bit hilly) development that I was looking forward to running in.  However, I didn’t realize that I was going to have job training (it was a seriously last minute thing) Tuesday and Wednesday morning from eight to noon.  Forty-five minutes away from where I was staying.  I was going to need to get out of the house by seven to allow for possible traffic.

Enter: the awful, no-good run from you-know-where.  

I had to hit the pavement at five in order to be able to get in my run, have breakfast (luckily I was smart enough to make my oatmeal the night before and just have to stick it in the microwave), walk and feed the pooches, shower, grab a cup of coffee, and throw a granola bar in my bag for the car ride home after shift (because I knew I would be stahhhving) by seven.

I drove around the development Monday evening so that I could get my bearings before running on Tuesday, since I knew it would be dark at five a.m.  That was a smart idea, but I couldn’t take into account the lack of functioning streetlights on certain streets I had planned to run because that’s not something I could see during daylight hours.  Thus, I ended up running the same several streets the whole time to avoid the dark streets and, because I also didn’t want to run with my iPod so that I could be aware of my surroundings, I was struggling.  Hard.  I ended up deciding to run hill repeats for the last 15 minutes on the SUPERhill on one of the streets (sprint up – about 0.35 miles – and jog back down).  It all sucked.  The whole thing.  There was a lot of stopping and turning around when I hit a really dark area, impromptu direction changes, and confusion.  And HILLS.  At least I kind of turned it into a valuable training opportunity with the hill repeats…?  😛

This is what that crappy run looked like:

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I was running more than a minute slower per mile than my usual pace.  And on top of that, I couldn’t find a good cadence/stride, felt out of breath, and got soaked from the pre-rain humidity.  Some runs just suck!

And that’s okay.  

Because for every sucky run, there are a billion good ones.  Those are the runs that I love – but the awful runs are important too: they make the good runs feel 5364789212521024501 times better, happier, and more fulfilling.

Like today’s run, during which I felt like I was just kicking some serious butt.

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(I am still a good little patient and doing my PT-mandated walking time, which fell during mile 2.  So basically, my actual RUNNING pace was more like 8:35ish per mile.  Yay!)

(I am still a good little patient and do my PT-mandated walking time, which happened during mile 2. So basically, my actual RUNNING pace was more like 8:35ish per mile. Yay!)

I felt like a rock star this morning, but I’m sure I wouldn’t have felt that good about it – because it was pretty much a typical run for me – if Tuesday’s run hadn’t sucked so much.

So thank you, awful, horrible, terrible, SUCKY runs…for making every single other run feel amazing.  

THIS is why I run.

Frederick WDF 5K Race Recap

(Whaaaaat?  A morning post?  I must be going crazy or something… 😀 )

Yesterday’s race was quite the success!  I was focusing simply on finishing (preferably under 28-30 minutes) and planned to take it slower than I normally would in a race.  I was definitely running to compete (because I’m a naturally competitive person and it was going to happen anyway…haha), but I was also running conservatively because I like my shiny new ankle the way it is and didn’t want to overdo it. 😀

I also have a bad habit of riding high on the race adrenaline and coming out strong in the first mile-ish then burning out by the end of the race.  So, yesterday, I took the first mile pretty slow and gradually (then not so gradually!) picked up the pace throughout the race, leaving enough energy to really kick the last ~0.3 at the end.

Holy negative splits, Batman!

Holy negative splits, Batman!

Unfortunately, the race was not chip timed, so I got a little frazzled in finish-chute confusion and pulling the tab off of my bib, so I ended up stopping my Garmin a little late (it read 3.18 miles, 26:55).  I figured that my time was around 26:45ish.

After checking my official time, I found out that I ran a 26:42!!

It was a double-loop course (with a slight variation in the second loop), and (I think) this was around the beginning of lap 2.

It was a double-loop course (with a slight variation in the second loop), and (I think) this was around the beginning of lap 2.

It looks like I'm walking (I'm not).  Long legs + trying not to push my pace too hard = short stride and awkward photo.

It looks like I’m walking (I’m not). Long legs + trying not to push my pace too hard = short stride and awkward photo.

I think I was trying to fly, because those are some serious chicken wings!

I think I was trying to fly, because those are some serious chicken wings!

My mom has been running with me (well, we split up and run different routes in the same park) in the mornings and she also ran yesterday’s 5K!

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So photogenic!! I'm jealous...this is such a great photo. :)

So photogenic!! I’m jealous…this is such a great photo. 🙂

…And my powerhouse momma finished in 34:48!  After I finished, I had just enough time to grab a water, a chocolate milk, and half a banana before I headed back out to the finish line to cheer her on as she came down the last stretch.  And thanks to allergies, I arrived at that race with a voice…then I ran, screamed for my mom at the finish, and talked a LOT after the race…and I left without a voice.  Now I sound like a sixty-year-old man…NOT cute (but so worth it!).

Post-race picture!  (My dad took lots of photos of us...thanks Dad!)

Post-race picture! (My dad took lots of photos of us…thanks Dad!)

Overall, I would say the race was very well organized and lots of fun!  The course marshals were very encouraging and helpful, the water stations seemed to be running smoothly (I didn’t stop for water), and the volunteers were friendly (and there were a lot of them!).  Being a two-loop course with a slight variation in the second loop, the course had the potential to be confusing but was actually very well marked and staffed to prevent any mishaps.

However, as I mentioned briefly above, I wish that the race had used chip timers.  The finishing-chute situation was a little funky and overwhelming, but luckily did not seem to affect the accuracy of finishers’ times.  Additionally, the double-loop course caused a little bit of congestion when the faster runners started to lap the slower runners/walkers.  

There were also raffle prizes (based on bib numbers) – about 25 of them! – which was really cool, and the age group winners’ medals were very nice.  The post-race experience in general was upbeat and fun, even if a little drawn out. 🙂

Out of all of the runners, I placed 43/329, which I would call a win since I am definitely not 100% yet!  I finished the race not feeling very tired or out of breath at all, which was both frustrating and encouraging: I know I could have run faster, but I know it was a good thing that I didn’t, since I am still recovering; however, it did make me happy because I know that as my ankle continues to get stronger, I can push my pace more and hopefully bring my time down considerably!

Overall, both my mom and I enjoyed our experience at the Frederick Women’s Distance Festival 5K.  Schedule permitting, I will definitely run this race again next year…hopefully a lot faster. 🙂

Today, I ran an easy 3.5 miles at 8:53 pace to stretch my legs out and give them a break after yesterday’s race.  I wasn’t sore at all this morning, but I didn’t want to push the pace to give my legs a nice little break.  There are plenty of other days for speedier runs. 🙂


In other news – because this just NEEDS to be talked about – how did I NOT KNOW that mini-bananas are a thing??!!

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I saw them at Wegman’s the other day and it kind of blew my mind.  What a genius idea!  Bananas, snack-size-ified.  Except…who would want to eat a little teeny banana when you could eat a banana the size of yo face? 😀  But I did want to buy them just because they were so adorable!


Did anyone else run a race this weekend?  How did it go?

Tell me three things you did this weekend. 🙂

Has anyone ever tried mini-bananas??  Sorry, I’m just obsessed with those adorable little fruits! 😀