Whoa it’s 2016 already?

Creeeeekk….What’s that? Oh the sound of this blog slowly being pulled open again after nearly 8 months. That’s right I’m BAACKK. The past 8 months have been some of the busiest of my life and for my sanity I had to put the blog on the back burner for a while.  I can happily say in the last 8 months I’ve graduated nursing school, begun the process of moving to New York City, and most importantly spent more time running than ever before.

This past summer I ran more trail miles than I ever thought I would before, and one of my favorite days was spent alone running up and down Mount Adams in northern New Hampshire. Besides escaping to the mountains I also ran my first Fell Race, which if you haven’t heard of this style of racing you need to check it out! I would love to see more of these in the United States. I also got my butt handed to me at the Wapack Trail Race. I thought it would be smart to run 18 miles of trails, in 85 degree heat, having only a long run of 10 road miles under my belt….let’s just say I bonked hard and it if wasn’t for the help of two dudes named Bob I would have probably gone home in an ambulance from dehydration/heat stroke. As summer turned to fall I backed off from racing and just tried to put in some consistent miles between finishing my last semester of school. I figured spending less time blogging, and more time running was a good trade off.

Right now most of my time is spent hunting for my first nursing job. I was going to write how excited I was to announce my plans to run the Vermont City Marathon this spring, however last week I finished a run with a familiar nagging pain in my foot. I am assuming it’s another stress fracture but haven’t been able to get an appointment with my doctor because he’s on vacation. Until then I’m wearing the boot that I had from the last stress fracture I had (on my other foot last time). It’s a real bummer but I’m trying not to get too bent out of shape over it because obviously I was pushing too hard and need to back off for a bit. In the meantime I think I might join the local YMCA and try doing some pool running/swimming to keep my fitness up in a low impact way. Some good news is that I’ve got a new product review and giveaway of the SLS3 dual pocket running belt coming up this week. Stay tuned to hear my thoughts about their new product, and for your chance to win one of your own.

P.S.  Here’s some pictures I was able to scrounge together from the past 8 months, that’s all for now!

Post Fells Race

Post Fells Race

Top of Mt. Adams

Top of Mt. Adams

My first DNF from this fall

My first DNF from this fall

Half Marathon the day after the Fell Race

Half Marathon the day after the Fell Race

After the 1st climb up Bretton Woods Ski Resort

After the 1st climb up Bretton Woods Ski Resort

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Greta Grahams, Homemade Dog Treats

This is my first guest post! It is brought to you by my girlfriend KB since she takes the lead on baking in our house and is the best dog mom I know. When not baking, KB can be found working towards social justice, reading, doing yoga, wrapped in fleece, hiking, drinking citizen’s cider, buying more scarves, and snuggling me/GretaSo here’s my first guest post:

Our rescue Bernese Mountain Dog Greta (#InstaGreta for her internet followers) has had chronic ear infections for the last year or so. After treatment and ruling out other causes, we came to the conclusion that she may have food allergies. For dogs, this usually means a sensitivity to either poultry or grains. She is currently eating a “unique protein” food (Taste of the Wild’s Pacific Stream Salmon) and meat & grain-free treats. Of course, these restrictions mean the treats are only found in more speciality pet stores and run $6-10 a box. So I figured I should make my own!

This is a recipe of my own creation adapted from other blogs and websites. Making homemade treats is easy and I feel better knowing exactly what’s in Greta’s diet, especially with so many pet food recalls these days. You can and should play around with different ingredients and flours and adapt it to your own pup’s diet and taste.

For example, we have some powdered peanut butter in the pantry that neither Ben nor I are very fond of. I threw in a ½ cup of that in this recipe because Greta is a sucker for everything peanut butter. Just make sure to stay away from ingredients like grapeseed oil and nutmeg which are both harmful to pups.IMG_20150322_092436

Ingredients

  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (without spices, not pumpkin pie mix) OR 1 large sweet potato, cooked and mashed OR a little of both!
  • ½ cup oil, I used canola oil but sunflower oil or coconut oil is even better
  • 2 cups chickpea flour (Bob’s Red Mill is only about $3 for 1 lb or you can blend dry chickpeas in the food processor.)
  • ½ cup Brown Rice Flour for rolling out dough and to keep the rolling pin from sticking
  • Optional: ½ teaspoon cinnamon and turmeric-  both are great for your pup’s digestion and are anti-inflammatory. That’s especially helpful if your dog has chronic ear infections like Greta.

 

IMG_20150322_094809Method

  1. In a big bowl or stand mixer, combine the pumpkin/sweet potato and oil.
  2. Add the chickpea flour, ½ cup at a time until a dough forms
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees  and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  4. Sprinkle brown rice flour on your surface. I found rice flour to be more elastic and better for non-sticking than the chickpea flour. You could make the whole recipe with brown rice flour. But I found chickpea flour to be cheaper and more nutritious.
  5. Form the dough into a ball and roll out the dough with a rolling pin until it is about ¼ inch thick. The dough may be sticky, so use more flour as needed.
  6. Use a cookie cutter to cut out treats and place on baking sheets.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until the edges are browned. Then turn off the oven and leave the grahams to dry out in the oven for about 40 additional minutes.
  8. Let cool and enjoy!

IMG_20150322_114510_552(makes about 2 dozen)

anxiously waiting for a warm treat

anxiously waiting for a warm treat

 

Wednesday Giveaway Link-Up

As many of you know I enter a LOT of contests via twitter, instagram, and through others blogs. Believe it or not I’ve won a lot of cool stuff this year! One of the ways I’ve found a lot of these contests is through blog link-ups, specifically from Running with SD Mom’s Wednesday giveaway link up. This week I’m linking MY GIVEAWAY to her post as well. So if you’re looking for a great way to get your giveaway out there or want to win some cool stuff check it out!link up logo

I think I fell off the wagon?

After last weekends long run I feel like I fell off the wagon. I can safely say it was my worst run ever. I thought the dehydration fiasco was bad, but this was a different kind of bad, a worse kind of bad. Don’t worry I’ll get to that.

As I already admitted during my last brief post I’ve been a bad blogger as of lately. I think I was in denial but last weeks run has lead me to also see I’ve been a bad eater, and even a bad runner the last few weeks. Without my weekly meal post to keep me accountable I haven’t been eating too great. I’ve reached for more convenience foods, and because last week was my birthday I ended up eating out quite a few meals for “celebrations”.

On top of bad eating habits I also haven’t run as much because after my November Project workout a few weeks ago I had a sore achilles. I attribute this to my lungs cashing a check my body couldn’t cash. I had the cardio to run a stadium PR which got me a picture with Phoebe the PR Pig; however my joints/muscles/tendons weren’t used to so many stairs and my left achilles paid the price. This made me miss my long run two weeks ago, plus half a week of training. It doesn’t sound like much, but trying to bounce back this week I’ve felt a difference.

Phoebe the PR-PIG

Phoebe the PR-PIG

These two lapses caught up to me Saturday during my long run. It was the most miserable 18 miles of my life. I had GI issues, muscle cramps, fatigue, and I swear I touched “The Wall”. I’ve never been the type to “walk-run” during workouts but I was forced to for about 1.5 miles. I just felt zapped. I couldn’t get leg turnover, my form was awful, and I could feel myself slipping into a survivor shuffle at mile 15. I probably wouldn’t have finished the 18 but my girlfriend Kate was nice enough to ride along on her bike for my last 8 miles so I could have as much Nuun for hydration and samples from my RunnerBox for fuel.  After the run I was totally useless. I had to lay down on my lawn, could barely stand, and slept like a zombie while Kate drove me to the store to get ice for an ice bath.  I’m just happy I finished, but it was a real wake up call for me. It also helped me see how important nutrition is for my running. I know eating out so much last week hurt me a lot. I’ve got to get back on the horse and back on track or else this fall marathon isn’t going to happen.

Has anyone else had a similar experience? Ever fallen off your fitness horse? How did you get back on track?

 

Turning a setback into an opportunity-Yoga

I’ve been saying for MONTHS that I want to start doing yoga. I’ve heard from lots of other runners and fitness friends that it has helped them with flexibility, core strength, and relaxation. I have been putting it off saying I’d start next week, or at the beginning of next month etc. Really though I have been putting it off because I was a little nervous to try it at a real class since I’ve never done that before.

Well this week I found the motivation to get off my butt and try it out! My foot was feeling a little weird after my last two runs so just as a precaution I told myself I wouldn’t run for a week or two. I’m probably just a little over paranoid after my stress fracture, but I don’t wanna push it. I did do a higher milage week last week because I’ve been feeling so well, however I guess I need to reel the miles in and start a little slower than I thought for my marathon training.  Anyways I decided to turn this little setback into a positive opportunity by finally making it to a yoga class, because sitting around the house hasn’t been doing my mental health any good.

This Tuesday I decided to try the Yin Yoga class at Jeca Yoga. The Yin class was described as targeting the connective tissues of the hips, pelvis and lower spine. This sounded like an ideal class for a tense inflexible runner since stretching/strengthening these areas will only help my running endurance and form. I called the studio beforehand to ask a few questions and Jessica the owner and the instructor for that class was super nice and gave me great information. When I showed up she remembered my name and went over the basics with me since I was a newbie. The studio was relaxing in itself with large windows, high ceilings, and lots of natural light. The poses we did were not too challenging and you could modify some of the moves to your experience level. All in all I had a great time. I left feeling relaxed, loose, and honestly instantly felt tension released from both my mind and body. Jessica was a very welcoming and knowledgeable instructor so I signed up immediately for the Wednesday night Yin this week, which my friend John will attend as well. One thing I really liked about the studio is that they offer one weekly class a month that only costs $5! For a budget conscious 20 something like myself this is a great option, especially for beginners. If you’re looking for Yoga in the Manchester, NH area I’d check out Jeca Yoga.

I’m hoping that by going to yoga at least once a week I’ll also be motivated to start practicing a few poses at home. I am already feeling the benefits just the day after which I honestly wasn’t expecting. I was surprised that my core felt a little sore as well when I woke up today. We didn’t do what I would call difficult poses, but I guess just using my body in an unfamiliar way activated muscles I don’t usually use. We all live in a go go go atmosphere and even though running helps me blow off steam it usually doesn’t give me such a purposeful sense of relaxation that I found during yoga. I can’t wait to try different classes and really get some good cross training.

 

Rest days mean more time for cooking

How I picture myself in the kitchen

How I picture myself in the kitchen

Some days the weather is just so perfect I just can’t control the urge to lace up my sneakers and hit the pavement. Today was one of those days, BUT with a potential half marathon coming up this weekend I’m trying to taper it down a bit this week so today is an obligatory rest day. With Mother Nature tempting me from outside I knew I’d have to find another way to distract my mind and body, this is when my inner chef came out.

Lentil Dahl w/ tortilla and plain greek yogurt

Lentil Dahl w/ tortilla and plain greek yogurt

I decided to make the Lentil Dahl tonight and got that quickly simmering on the stove.  Within minutes the entire kitchen smelled of cumin, turmeric, and masala spices.  Once that was simmering down I started deciding what type of granola bars I wanted to make.  I rummaged around the cupboards and found a half empty bag of craisins and a partial bar of Ghirardelli dark chocolate with sea salt.  I prefer to make my own granola bars when I have time.  I just feel better about eating something that has all real ingredients and hasn’t been pre-packaged and sitting on a shelf for however long.  Plus I can control how much sugar and salt goes into it.  Anyways I found this recipe in an Instagram post by Energy Bits.  I just adapted it a little and added some “spice” (see number 6)

 

Granola Bit Bars

Ingredients:

  • 3.5 cups rolled oats
  • 4 egg whites
  • 2 apples
  • cinnamon (a dash)
  • ~3/4 bar of dark chocolate
  • ~1/3 cup of craisins
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. Start by pulsing the oats a few times in the food processor just to break them up a bit, then add them to a large bowl.
  3. Core the apples, with skin and add to food processor and blend up pretty well, then add to the oats.
  4. Add the four egg whites, cinnamon, craisins, chocolate, and agave to the bowl.
  5. Using a wooden spoon combine the ingredients.
  6. Next take a baking sheet and line with parchment paper, then scoop out and press the mixture into the shape of your choice.
  7. Bake at 350°F for about 30 minutes.
  8. When finished just lay them out to cool and then chop them up to desired size.  I usually try to eat them within a week or so just so they taste fresh.  It’s easy to customize them to your liking, the first time I made them I used maple syrup instead of agave, and threw in chopped walnuts.
  9. Within about an hour I had a delicious dinner of Lentil Dahl, and granola bars for a convenient healthy snack that I plan on taking with me this weekend to VT for my race.  This way I won’t be tempted by the many less healthy options available when on the go.
Bit Bars cooling

Bit Bars cooling

What I’m eating this week 5/19/14

Every year my college friends and I make a point to get together and celebrate in the spirit of P-day.  P-day is the name of the spring weekend from our alma mater, and usually involves lots of food, drinks, and sun. Last weekend we celebrated, and while I had a great time I do feel guilty because I know all the unhealthy food and drinks weren’t good for my training [especially with a potential half marathon next weekend]. I’m definitely dedicating myself to sticking to a meal plan this week so I can run my best race next weekend.  That being said here’s the recipes I’m cooking this week:


Most of these are pretty simple which is key this week since I can’t seem to get any quality sleep working a shift starting at 5am.  I’m hoping this lack of sleep isn’t going to lead to an injury cause lately I’ve felt like a the Walking Dead.

An actual image of me every day at work last week, "Hi my name's Benton and I'm here to draw your blood..."

An actual image of me every day at work last week, “Hi my name’s Benton and I’m here to draw your blood…”