Half Marathon Training in Full Swing! Plus my new favorite power snack

I did it! I’m still alive to report that I successfully finished the first long run in my modified, very shortened version, half marathon training schedule. I ran 10 miles in 1:38:10, which comes out to almost a 10/mile even. I was hoping to finish the half marathon in under 2 hours or with a pace of about 9:30/mile, which I’m still not counting out! It’s just going to be an awful lot of work to pick up that kind of time in 4 weeks. I guess it’s just another challenge, right?! If there is one thing I have learned from training for this race, it’s that what you put in your body can make a world of difference. I’ve always eaten pretty healthy, but it was never to any extreme. It was mostly just because I genuinely enjoy fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately, I let myself cheat quite often on my diets and I never really saw the problem with grabbing a soda or candy every once in awhile (ok, ok probably once a week). Well I found another bandwagon and jumped right on! I am now following a “clean eating” diet and loving it! I can’t say that I follow it to an extreme or even all day every day, BUT what was I supposed to do with the food I had already bought before I decided to try this…I couldn’t just throw it out (nice rationalization am I right?). However, on a day when I have a long run, or really just even a run, I make sure to eat the right foods before I head out and it has honestly made big difference for me. I personally have a pretty difficult time getting enough protein in a day. I’m not a big meat eater, I can go without it for weeks and not even realize it, so I’ve had to make a conscience effort to take more in. I have done this in  couple of different ways, but I want to share this totally awesome Power Muffin recipe I found through the Domesticated Academic. I changed a few things up in the recipe to reduce the calorie count a little bit…swimsuit season is right around the corner and all!

Power Muffins:

Recipe makes 6 regular muffins.

no-stick cooking spray
1 cup all-purpose whole wheat flour
1/2 cup Oatmeal – I used quick oats, plain
1/3 cup Stevia
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Salt
6 ounces Nonfat Honey Greek Yogurt – I used a 5.3 oz. container of Fage Total 0% Honey Greek Yogurt (honey comes on the side)
1 Large Egg
1 Tbsp Unsalted Butter
1 Tbsp Applesauce – This is my own modification for fewer calories
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
1/2 cup Fresh Blueberries

  • Heat oven to 350
  • Coat muffin tin with cooking spray
  • Combine flour, stevia, oatmeal, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl
  • Combine yogurt, egg, butter, applesauce and vanilla in a separate bowl
  • Fold yogurt mix into the flour mixture and stir
  • Slowly add blueberries
  • Evenly pour into the muffin tin
  • Bake about 20-25 minutes

I did the math to find out the nutrition count in these muffins but now I can’t find where I put it, I’ll be sure to add that as soon as I figure it out again.
Along with the muffins I usually try to make sure I have a banana some time before I go for a long run as well. Call me superstitious but this combo has made for some serious PR’s.

And now for some pictures of weird things I saw on my 10 mile run 🙂

Just a dog...out on his daily bike ride.

Just a dog…out on his daily bike ride.

Wouldn't you be this excited if you were on a bike ride with your dog!

Wouldn’t you be this excited if you were on a bike ride with your dog!

Watch where you're going!!

Watch where you’re going!!

*Enjoy!

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Training For My First Half Marathon!

Oh boy. I signed up for my first ever half marathon and it is less than 1 month away! I think I probably could have timed that a little better but I really want to get my first one under my belt and I am fully confident that I will be willing and able to finish…and hopefully in good time. The race is called the Dino Half and is located in Vernal, Utah. It’s about a 2.5hr drive from Park City so I plan to head down Friday night. I don’t think waking up at 2:30am and driving 2.5 hours is a good way to start a race day. Anyway, I’m super stoked. It is an all downhill race and you lose about 1,500 feet of elevation in the process. From what I hear you run through some of Utah’s most beautiful canyons and sandstone cliffs. I’ll be the judge of that 😉 Even though I only have a few weeks until the race (May 4) I still decided to follow a traditional 12 week half marathon training plan, I am just starting at Week 8. My first long run is this weekend, so it will be very interesting to see how that goes!

My Modified Half Marathon Training Plan:

Week 8
Monday – Off
Tuesday – 4 Miles
Wednesday – 6 Miles
Thursday – 4 Miles
Friday – Off
Saturday – 4 Miles
Sunday – 10 Miles

Week 9
Monday – Off
Tuesday – 4 Miles
Wednesday – 6 Miles
Thursday – 4 Miles
Friday – Off
Saturday – 3 Miles
Sunday – 11 Miles

Week 10
Monday – Off
Tuesday – 4 Miles
Wednesday – 5 Miles
Thursday – 4 Miles
Friday – Off
Saturday – 4 Miles
Sunday – 12 Miles

Week 11
Monday – Off
Tuesday – 4 Miles
Wednesday – 5 Miles
Thursday – 4 Miles
Friday – Off
Saturday – 3 Miles
Sunday – 6 Miles

RACE WEEK!
Monday – Off
Tuesday – 3 Miles
Wednesday – 5 Miles
Thursday – 2 Miles
Friday – Off
Saturday – 13.1 Miles
Sunday – Recover 🙂

Like I said, so far so good! But we’ll see how I’m feeling Sunday night after my first 10 miler in a LONG time! I think the last time I ran 10 miles was last Fall before Winter came. So in other words, wish me luck!

Fun little tidbit about me, a couple of years ago, back in high school for some reason that I still do not know to this day, I started calling myself SarahTops. So running the dino race and my first medal being of a dinosaur could not be more perfect for me! I think it is part of the reason I am so freaking excited!

Today was a big day of race sign-ups for me. I also signed my boyfriend and I up for the Salt Lake City Color Me Rad run! I’ll blog more about that one later, I’m sure you can already assume how excited he is for that one! hehe 🙂

Road Trip!

Living in the mountains is usually a wonderful thing, but lately I have just had it with the random cold weather and snow storms. So I decided that if Spring wasn’t going to come to me, I was going to it. It took some convincing to get my boyfriend on board, but I finally got him to agree to head South! Southern Utah is full of desert and warm weather, so in the Spring and Fall it is an incredibly beautiful place to visit and get away from the dreary weather up here. It is actually where I am going to be running my first Half Marathon next month, but more on that later. We went on some of the coolest, most incredible hikes I have ever been on. We headed down to St. George, UT early Saturday morning. But not too early because we both assumed the other one set their alarm soo of course, no alarms went off that morning 🙂 Oh well, we eventually hit the road and still made it down in good time. Saturday afternoon we hiked a place called Red Reef Trail right outside St. George. It was by no means a strenuous hike, but it was seriously amazing. It was full of natural pools and waterfalls running through the canyon and people were even swimming in them. It was nice because the further up the canyon you went, the less crowded the pools were. The adventurers that we think we are ended up walking through belly button high water at points that was as cold as spring water if not colder.

Red Reef

Red Reef

The view from lunch

Finally getting that tan I've been waiting for!

Finally getting that tan I’ve been waiting for!

On Sunday we went over to Zion National Park which is also in Southern Utah. This was my first time visiting Zion and it certainly will not be my last! Just driving through the park up to the hike we chose was mesmerizing. We hiked a trail called “Hidden Canyon”. While it is technically classified as a strenuous hike, I think that was only because of the big elevation gain at the beginning. This particular hike wasn’t on any of the Zion maps but we read a pretty detailed description of what we would see, encounter, etc. The description says that you will eventually come to a natural arch and that that’s a pretty good place to turn around. Well, surprise surprise, two people that can’t even figure out how to set an alarm missed the arch and hiked hours and miles passed it. Neither of us could really complain though because the hike we did after we passed the arch was so much fun. And hey, we eventually found the arch on the way back and even got a picture to prove it.

See, we made it eventually!

See, we eventually made it! AND we both did it in our New Balance Minimus Trail shoes!

While we may have hit a few minor hiccups along the way, I wouldn’t have changed a thing! I had one of the most incredible weekends I’ve ever spent in Utah. I would absolutely recommend visiting Southern Utah to anyone who has the chance.

Hidden CanyonHidden Canyon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Enjoy!

Spaghetti Squash Bandwagon

Ohhh yeah. I finally found a new health food trend I can jump on board with, spaghetti squash! I have to admit, I was pretty skeptical of this stuff when I first heard about it, and it obviously took me a little while to finally give in, but boy am I glad I did! My skepticism was mostly because I hadn’t tried any type of squash at all until about a month ago when my boyfriend tricked me into it. Seriously, you serve me anything with as much salt, butter and olive oil as he had on this thing and of course I’m going to think it’s good! Nevertheless, I did it. I figured out where it was at the store, found an easy recipe and cooked it up for dinner. It was seriously delicious, but for my budget the squash was a little expensive. I think mine cost upwards of $8. The recipe I found was called Skinny Spaghetti Squash Alfredo.  It was super easy, super quick and super delicious! Well okay, the actual cooking part is super quick, but I cooked the squash for 1 hour before I cut it open and started cooking the actual meal. But if you are like me and you don’t tend to worry too much, I put mine in the oven and left to go to the store to get the rest of the ingredients while it cooked. My boyfriend was dumbfounded by this, but hey…my house was standing when I got home and the squash only had 15min left to cook! I’d say it was a win for me. The recipe I found said you could either make this into 2 servings (half a squash each) to use as the main course, or cut it into 4’s for side dishes. I went the route of the main course and I don’t think I finished half of my half before I was full. I served it with a side of lemon pepper green beans and a green salad.

Skinny Spaghetti Squash Alfredo:

YIELD: Makes 2 large servings or 4 side dish servings

INGREDIENTS:

1 medium-sized spaghetti squash

1 Tablespoon butter

3 cloves of garlic, finely minced

2 Tablespoons flour

1 1/2 cups milk (I used skim)

1 Tablespoon cream cheese (I used low-fat)

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus 2 Tablespoons extra for topping

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Crushed red pepper flakes and fresh parsley, for garnish if you wish

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Poke a few holes deep into the whole squash with a paring knife. Bake for 60 minutes, remove from the oven and let rest for 10 to 20 minutes before slicing in half with a large serrated knife. I couldn’t decide if I should put it on a baking sheet or not, I opted not to. Scoop out the seedy inside leaving the spaghetti strands. Use a fork to gently scrape the “spaghetti” strands into the center.

For the sauce, melt butter in a small pot over medium-low heat. Once hot, add garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Whisk in flour, cooking for another minute while stirring. Whisk in milk until no lumps remain. Once hot, add cream cheese and stir until smooth. Remove from the heat. Stir in Parmesan, salt and pepper.

Spoon sauce equally into each spaghetti squash half. Gently pull up the spaghetti strands to coat as much as possible with the sauce. Top with extra Parmesan and place under the broiler of your oven for 2-3 minutes, or until golden and bubbly.

Top each half with a pinch of red pepper flakes and fresh chopped parsley, if desired. Eat up!

Skinny Spaghetti Squash Alfredo

One of my favorite parts about this dish (besides it being healthy AND delicious) was the lack of dishes I had to clean afterwards! It was amazing.

I’m heading down to Southern Utah this weekend to do some hiking and find the sunshine. I cannot wait! Wish me luck that I come back with a tan!

 

*Enjoy!

Punxsutawney Phil Is In Trouble

The first day of Spring has finally sprung and here in PC, Utah…it’s snowing. Surprise, surprise. I can’t be too upset though, this past weekend and earlier this week we had incredible weather. That incredible weather made for some pretty awesome trail runs. One of my favorite trails even cleared up enough that I could run the front side of the mountain. The warm weather mixed with my awesome, new, fantastic, wonderful purchase of JT’s new album onto my iPod made for a ton of PR’s beat and a whole lot of miles put on my favorite running shoes, my New Balance Minimus Trail shoes that I love so much. These ones were originally purchased to ease myself into Minimus running. They have a 4″ heel to toe drop rather than a true 0″ drop. I ran quite a bit in zero drop Minimus last Fall and even a little bit indoors this Winter, but I decided it might be best to ease myself into this type of running again with the 4″ drops. That was a good call on my part, my legs were on fire for days after these runs! But it was the good kind of burn, the kind where you just feel your muscles becoming more defined and strengthened with every step. One of my top 10 feelings for sure!

My New Balance shoes at the top of one of my favorite trails. Sunshine come back!

My New Balance shoes at the top of one of my favorite trails. Sunshine come back!

A bridge I ran under when I still liked Phil. Giant icicles and a raging creek, I don't hate it.

A bridge I ran under when I still liked Phil. Giant icicles and a raging creek, I don’t hate it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The good news? It looks like I’m not the only one upset with Phil, the groundhog. This article from The Onion had me laughing for hours, check it out here.

Look at him. He just looks like he's ready to piss me me off.

Look at him. He just looks like he’s ready to piss me me off.

*Enjoy! – – Especially those of you with Spring weather!

A Successful (Healthy) Pinterest Recipe…Whaaaat?!

Seriously…how many recipes out there have started substituting greek yogurt for everything else that tastes good. Just stop it. I’m pretty sure I saw a  recipe for homemade pizza that called for it…come on! The whole world does not enjoy that weird, foul taste of greek yogurt, especially me. This is even more true when I’m looking for a chicken salad recipe. I have a weird love of chicken salad, but despise egg and tuna salad. I finally came across one of these recipes on Pinterest that did not in fact call for greek yogurt, or any gross variation of it. I was one happy girl. It was so simple, so healthy and so cheap! What’s not to love?!

You ready for this? This recipe makes about 1-2 servings, really just depending on how hungry you are.

  • 1/2 Cup chopped chicken – – I actually used a rotisserie turkey from the grocery store
  • 3 Tbsp Fuji apple chopped
  • 3 Tbsp red grapes chopped
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 2 Tbsp almond butter

Mix and wrap in a Romaine lettuce leaf.

Yummm

Yummm

See, I told you it was simple. It is also delicious. Rare combination…I know.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did! It has been a great addition to my lunch rotation for work as well as keeping true to my I want to be able to wear a bikini this summer health kick!

I got this recipe from Skinny Mom, check out here blog here: http://www.skinnymom.com/

*Enjoy!

Spring – – Is That You?!

Finally! I was able to put on my favorite pair of trail running shoes and hit the dusty trail instead of the treadmill! Okay, so it wasn’t so much a dusty trail as a snow covered trail but hey, I was outside, the sun was shining and it was warm. I’ll take it! Before I moved out here I don’t think I would have even considered running on top of half iced/half melting snow, but I’m totally glad I got outside and did it. It was a completely different experience from any other run I’ve been on, which is exactly what I have been looking for. To give you an idea of what it’s like if you’ve never done it, it’s comparable to running on sand. Which yes, I am aware that people do that, but man is it harder than I thought. Not only that, but about half way through you hit the side of the mountain that the sun beats down on every afternoon, which was a day and night difference from the first half of the run – – shin deep mud puddles. All in all, it was a great 6 mile run. Besides the scenery being pretty impossible to beat, my legs were burning so bad halfway through, by the time my mind could focus on anything else I was finished!

Skid Row Run

The beginning of the trail – “Skid Row”

Lost Prospector Trail Run

Finally made it up the 1.5 mile hill

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Enjoy!