Thursday, April 28, 2011 are addicted to ice cream

Does this sound like you?  I LOVE ice cream and I usually don't have it in my house ever because I will eat the entire container like it is one serving...seriously!  This goes for pretty much all sweets so if I can find a healthier way to enjoy my favorites I'm all for it.  Enter...bananas...if you don't like bananas stop reading here and go somewhere else.

(Please pardon the stock photos in this post.  My camera is broken right now and I'm really bitter about it.  The waiter at dinner this weekend flung it across the room before taking a picture of our group and just handed it back to me like nothing happened.)

You'll need a food processor for this job, I'm not sure a blender could do the work.

Banana soft serve is just what the title implies, bananas.  When you bring home that large bunch of bananas you know you won't be able to eat before they turn black take 2 or 3 of them, peel them, cut them into chunks and freeze them.  When that ice cream craving hits you do the following:

Banana Soft Serve
Serves 1

1 frozen banana
Splash of whatever milk you have on hand
Topping of your choosing - I add sunflower seed butter for some extra creaminess and protein

1. In a food processor combine everything and whirl away!  Make sure you have a semi-decent food processor so it can get the job done without shorting out on you and breaking like my teeny tiny one did last night...oops!
2. Enjoy, it's that easy.  It shouldn't take long for the bananas to get creamy and resemble frozen yogurt. 

Of course this doesn't completely replace the Ben and Jerry's Half Baked ice cream with fudge and cookie dough chunks but it helps with the cravings until you can't resist any longer.

If you think I'm totally weird and crazy with this idea google "banana soft serve" and you'll see all the other crazies out there...even Biggest Loser is on board.

QUESTION: Do you have any healthy shortcuts for your favorite sweets? 

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Accidental 11.5 Miler

Oops...Kath, Kelly and I accidentally ran 11.5 miles this morning when we mapped, prepared, and planned for a 10 miler.  Unfortunately, some re-routes were necessary adding 1.5 miles to the total.  This was our last long run before the Kirkland Half Marathon in two weeks and although the run was hard, it was hot out, and my legs were exhausted from boot camp this week...I somehow pulled through pretty well and gave me the confidence I needed to know I can run 13.1 miles again.

The stats:

11.56 miles covered
10:07/mile pace

We ran on a majority of the Kirkland Half Marathon course and it prepared me for where the hills are, how steep, and how long they are so I know when to conserve energy during the race.

So...I discovered this pretty cool feature of that includes a 3D Google Earth flyover over of the map you run.  WARNING: Dizziness is likely as sometimes the flying gets a little intense!  Enjoy!

(If you are reading this in Google Reader you will have to click out to see the flyover)

NAP TIME for me now

QUESTION: Have you ever gotten lost on a run? This will mark run #2 where I got lost, although, I did know where I was the whole time I just didn't know the shortest route back to my starting point. Ask any of my friends, I have an amazing sense of direction and can usually find my way back to anywhere I've been once before.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

I feel the need, the need for speed!

Okay, I’m nowhere near that fast of a runner but I AM getting faster and the only person I’m competing with is myself…not Kara Goucher who ran the Boston Marathon in 2:24:52, a personal record for her, and then said it was “not my day, but that’s okay”. 

Interval runs have definitely helped push my running to a new, faster level.  I used to be a 10:00/mile runner in every run I went out to complete, whether it was 3 miles or 13.1.  After training for a couple of half marathons I needed a challenge and of course it’s all about beating yourself so I now compete with myself at every race in an attempt to run a personal record (PR).  What are my PR’s you ask?  

10K: I LOVE this distance.  Long enough to feel like you’ve worked out hard but short enough to push yourself a little faster and not feel dead for the rest of the day.  PR was at the 2011 Mercer Island 10K, 57:36

Half Marathon: To date I have run 6 half’s (or I can remember at least 6).  My current PR is from my latest half back in November, 2010 in Monterey at the Big Sur Half Marathon race.  2:06.  After that run all I could think about was running a sub 2-hour half…I know…I’m starting to get crazy.
Big Sur Half Marathon morning
There have been a handful of 5K's but I never kept track of my times for those and they were more fun runs that ended in a beer garden :)

Back to intervals.  Last night Kath and I ran an interval workout at a track by her casa.  Her sister/our personal running trainer gave us the following to complete with my actual minute per mile breakdowns for the FAST parts.

.75 mile warmup
.125 slow
.5 fast  - 8:32/mile average pace.  I discussed with Kath during this speedy burst that we would have to run this pace for an ENTIRE marathon to quality for Boston, that is a scary thought, but sort of an ultimate running dream of mine
.125 slow
.5 fast - 8:36
.125 slow
.125 fast - 8:04
.125 slow
.125 fast - 8:10
.125 slow
.125 fast - 8:02
.125 slow
.125 fast - 7:45
.125 slow
.75 cooldown

All slow miles were run at about a 10:00 / mile pace.  I felt good and strong and since I was changing speed all the time I didn't get bored.  

Watching and reading all the hype for the Boston marathon has got me even more excited for Chicago and this week we even booked our hotel for the event.  So registration is done, hotel booked...this is already the MOST expensive running race I'll ever run but I have a feeling when I cross the finish line it will all be worth it!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Adventures in Black Bean Burger Making

I have been meaning to try homemade black bean burgers for over a year now.  I finally had one at a restaurant over a year ago and thought it was delicious and filling and thought how easy it would be to make.  After searching the web for various techniques I decided to loosely follow the Whole Foods method.  Evidently, Whole Foods also heard I was making these and posted a blog about everything you can make with black beans...including brownies...hmm, not sure what I think about that.

I didn't do a cost per burger analysis, but I'm pretty sure these babies are the cheapest burger you could EVER make.  A can of black beans is usually under $1.00 and the rest of the ingredients are usually staples everyone has in their pantry. 

I must say I was pleasantly surprised with myself.  These are SUPER easy and pretty delicious.  I'm fairly certain I would almost double all the spices next time but you can add whatever flavors you want with the toppings alone.  Here is my version:

YUMMM....mine was topped with whole grain mustard, avocado and cheddar cheese!

Lar's Black Bean Burger Experiment

1 16oz can of black beans, rinsed and patted dry
1 egg
1/2 onion, chopped
1 cup bread crumbs -- I had panko on hand so I used those
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
salt, pepper, and hot sauce to taste -- I'm a wimp when it comes to spicy things so I added about 5 drops

1-2 tablespoons oil for frying -- I used sunflower oil because I'm obsessed with all things sunflower (seeds, oil, butter)
Bun of your choice -- I used a toasted english muffin
Toppings of your choice -- I used whole grain mustard, avocado, and cheddar cheese

1. Mash black beans with a fork until most of the beans are mashed
2. Add remainder of burger ingredients into bowl and mix well (get your hands in there and mix it good!)
3. Form into 4-6 patties depending on the size you want...I made 4!
4. Heat oil in frying pan over medium heat
5. Add patties to oil and fry for 5 minutes on each side
6. are done.  Add your toppings to the bun or go bunless and serve on a bed of lettuce, whatever you fancy!

There are probably 1000 different variations you could make to black bean burgers with spices you add, toppings, bun types, etc...experiment and let me know you what you come up with.

fork mashed black beans

patties ready for flying

golden brown on one side

piled high with avocado and cheese!
In running news, I've been taking it a little easy after a tough interval workout last week that left me with a pulled calf.  After limping around for a couple days I tested the calf out on a short run and felt much better.  Kath and I have our longest run before the Kirkland half scheduled for this Saturday (10 miles!) so I'm going to try and pack a couple shorter runs plus an interval workout in this week before the long one.

Good luck to all the Boston marathon runners out there, especially Erin (EY's sister in law)...I'll be rooting for you from my desk at work tomorrow!

QUESTION: Are there any recipes you have been thinking about making for a while but haven't?  I can check black bean burgers off my list.  Crab cakes and lamb are two other things I've been dying to try, maybe they will debut on the blog soon.

Monday, April 11, 2011

I can smell a sub 2-hour half marathon!

I can’t tell you why, but I’ve always had this vision, dream, goal in my head that running a half marathon in less than 2 hours would be an amazing accomplishment. And considering my first half was run in 2 hours, 25 minutes I think it would be.  Of course that was over 3 years ago and I’m definitely in better shape and becoming a faster runner as the years go by.  So, how fast would I have to run to get a sub 2 hour time you ask? About a 9:05 average minute per mile…to me…that is FAST!  

However, on Saturday I ran 8 miles and was pleasantly surprised at how fast I did it in and wasn’t insanely tired afterward.  Here are the boring but since I have a Garmin that tracks my every move I might as well share them details:

Mile 1 - 9:20
Mile 2 - 9:15
Mile 3 - 9:20
Mile 4 - 9:29
Mile 5 - 8:59
Mile 6 - 9:30
Mile 7 - 9:08
Mile 8 - 9:01

I think I need to learn to run a little more consistently.  Maybe start out a bit slower and ramp up to the 9:00 range and try to stay there.

It felt good to push myself a little to see what I can do and seeing the time at the end of the run makes me believe I just might be able to run that sub 2.  Of course, I have no plans of doing that in my upcoming Kirkland half marathon but I will make it a goal for the Seattle Rock and Roll half in June.  It is a course I know (this will be my third year running it), it is a relatively flat course…all that combined with awesome crowd participation makes me run faster!

In other weekend news a member of my running group, Team Flying V, got married this weekend!  EY is the inspiration behind Kath, Stace and I running the Chicago Marathon and on Saturday she married the love of her life, Tommy, in the most beautiful wedding venue I’ve ever seen at the Arctic Club in downtown Seattle.  Beautiful bride, great friends, yummy food, and free wine made the evening unforgettable.

The MOST gorgeous wedding venue ever!

Team Flying V in formation!

On Sunday I took a much needed rest day and re-hydrated (from my run of course…not the multiple glasses of wine consumed the night before) with Gatorade and coconut water.   I’m not sure why it has taken me this long to discover coconut water, but it is delicious, low cal and provides much needed hydration quickly!

QUESTION: Do you have a go-to hydration drink of choice?  I usually drink Gatorade, but coconut water is becoming a new fave plus I love the taste of Vitamin Water Revive!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

April Showers Better Bring May Flowers!!

Living in Seattle I KNOW I'm supposed to get used to the rain, the cold, the wind, blah blah blah!  And most of the time I don't complain about the weather but since we were screwed out of a decent summer last year I feel like Seattle has been in a constant Fall/Winter phase for over a's officially time to be Spring and Summer around here!  Okay, my rant is over and now let's focus on the good things April will bring:

1. Lindsey and Tommy are getting married, this weekend in fact!  I know the wedding will be TONS of fun because the couple is freakin adorable and all my good friends will be there.  They are off to Costa Rica for their honeymoon and I'm super jealous since I miss that country so much after visiting over 5 years ago.
Oh the memories from Costa Rica, including watching a sloth take about 30 minutes to come down this tree and of course I had to pose with it.  Don't look too closely at my legs and the 100+ mosquito bites!
2. Training for the Kirkland Half Marathon. I stupidly decided to map the course online to analyze the hill situation and now I'm a little worried.  I'm not planning on trying to PR for this course, just use it as a long fun training run of sorts.
At least the end is downhill??
 3. Starting to volunteer with Girls on the Run.  I signed up to be a buddy for a girl during a 5K and we will have our first practice 5K at the end of the month before the real one in May.  I've been looking for an organization to volunteer for and why not use my love for running for good! Hopefully they don't put me with a girl that runs faster then me because then I'll be the one needing motivation.

4. Easter is on April 24! And we all know what that means...besides the whole Jesus is risen thing...I get to eat sweets again.  I haven't quite decided what my first treat will be but I'm confident it will be one of these two items, who am I kidding, it will be both of these items:
I'll take this along with a beach and some real sunshine!

I LOVE chocolate chip cookies and if I make a batch at home I guarantee I will eat them all within 24 hours.

QUESTION: What do you most look forward to with the arrival of Spring? I would say sunshine for me but since Seattle doesn't know it's Spring yet I'll go with it being lighter until later in the evening!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Like Christmas morning!

Adidas Supernova Glide 2
The other day as I was casually going about my normal workday, responding to emails, chatting with my co-worker about how hard it is getting to not have sweets for lent, etc., etc….a package was delivered!  

Getting a new pair of running shoes is like Christmas morning, okay, I’m exaggerating a little but I do probably get overly excited.  If you would have told me 3 or 4 years ago that I would search the internet to find the best price on my very particular running shoes and browse the sale racks of running clothes at every clothing store I entered I would have said “keep dreamin!”  
Stacey never misses a photo op!

So today I will be saying goodbye to my old pair of Adidas Supernova Glide shoes and hello to my brand spanking new blue ones.  My red Adidas have got me through some good races including two 10k’s that I ran in under an hour. I’m sure after one run in this rainy Seattle weather they will look like my old shoes in no time!

Advice on Running Shoes

Disclaimer: I’m NO expert on anything running or shoe related but this is just MY experience.
  1. Go to a running store and get fitted for shoes.  I went to Road Runner Sports the first time and they analyzed my gait and found out where I put pressure on my feet to determine I need a neutral shoe.  Then you just try some on, run on a treadmill, and pick the best for you!  
  2. Go ahead and splurge on that first pair at the expensive running store and once you know what works for you, you can search Nordstrom Rack, and beyond for that next pair (I got my latest pair of last years model for $65 bucks…sweet deal!). 
  3. Buy good socks!  I know it may scare you to buy socks that cost $8 or more a pair but believe me they make a difference when distance running.  I run in the Road Runner brand socks (and pretty much all their clothing for that matter) and they have never failed me.

So, when do you replace your running shoes?  There is tons of advice and rules on this subject that say 300-400 miles per pair or 6 months or whatever…but who actually tracks how many miles they run in a shoe, I’m not that serious!  I usually wait until my toes or feet start aching in my current shoe and immediately place an order for new ones, but like I said I’m no expert, so do what works for you. 

Hope everyone is having a great weekend.  I just got back from a delicious dinner at Kath's house and some NCAA Final Four watching.  I'm rooting for UCONN in the final!  Kath made an amazing cooking light recipe, Gnocchi with Shrimp, Asparagus and Pesto...super easy and super delicious.  Tomorrow I'm off to run a 6 miler in my new shoes with Stacey (the human friend, not the K9).
Bye bye shoes...we've had some good times!
QUESTION: Do you find yourself planning your weekends around getting a long run in?  Sometimes I feel like the planning that goes into preparing for a long run and making sure you actually  have some fun with friends on the weekend is slightly stressful.