Wednesday, October 31, 2012

October Foodie Pen Pals

This month I tried the Foodie Pen Pal program. A couple of months ago, I stumbled across the program that Lindsay at the Lean Green Bean hosts. I thought it was a fun idea, but I was in the middle of moving and other life craziness so I didn't have the time. Now that I am settled, I figured I would give it a try.

Sarah at Yummo Eats was my pen pal. She is originally from New Zealand, but currently lives in Colorado. Sarah was super sweet, and she even sent me a cookie recipe I had been searching for. I still need to make them, but at least I have the recipe now.

My box was absolutely amazing. When my husband saw it, he commented that she must know us well. I gave her some general guidelines, mostly about things I don't like, but I think she somehow took a peak into our pantry before putting together the package. It was filled with peanut butter cups, dark chocolate, granola, and nut butters.

All of the things she included were good and I loved that they were all from companies close to her location in Colorado. I didn't realize that there were so many great companies there. The Nude Food bar was my least favorite, but for a raw, vegan, soy free and dairy free bar, it could have been worse. It actually worked well as a post run, pre-church snack to split with my husband.

My favorite item in the box was Sarah's homemade pumpkin spice almond butter. It was really delicious. She is starting a small online company called squirrel butters where she sells a variety of homemade nut butters. 

  First I would like to offer Sarah a huge thank you. I really appreciate everything you sent. I am super happy I participated in the foodie pen pals program this month and I am excited to see what next month holds.

If you are interested in the program, here is the scoop:

-On the 5th of every month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
-You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal
-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!
-You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)
-Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you are to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month. 
-Foodie Penplas is open to US & Canadian residents.  Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. We've determined things might get too slow and backed up if we're trying to send foods through customs across the border from US to Canada and vice versa. 

You can also check out Lindsay's blog for more details.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Run Nona 5k Recap

Today I did something that I haven't done in years....a 5k. I realized a couple of months ago that I have done a number of races since I really started running regularly, but I haven't done a 5k. There are a number of reasons for this, one of which is that my short training runs are more than 3.1 miles, so it seemed a little silly to run a race that is shorter than a short training run. That said, I wanted to have a 5k time to use for training and comparison, so I put it on my to do list.

It was perfect timing when my husband asked if I wanted to do the Run Nona 5k. He works in Lake Nona and several of his coworkers had signed up. The race was inexpensive and you got a tech shirt, so I was in. I am a sucker for a decent race shirt.

I picked up our race packets at Track Shack earlier this week. I do enjoy getting race packets there, because it is always really quick and the staff is friendly. It is also close enough to work that I can get them on my lunch break.

Far View of the Start

This morning we left the house about 7 a.m. and got to Lake Nona around 7:30 a.m. Since it was a pretty small race, there was no traffic and we were able to get in and parked easily. We hit the bathrooms and then headed to the start to take a look at all the costumes. 

At 8 a.m. the horn sounded and we were off. It is still a little strange for me when there is no lead up to the start. I think I ran too many large long-distance events and have a slightly warped perspective. Often, there is a person with a microphone getting the crowd excited.

UCF College of Medicine
The race was an out and back that started in front of the UCF College of Medicine, ran past the VA hospital under construction, into one of the neighborhoods being developed in the area and then back. While there are a number of large companies in Lake Nona, the area is still very much in development. At one point we had cows on one side of us and a field on the other. I think that was part of why this race get people to Lake Nona.

The run felt good this morning. It was just a little chilly, but that was the wind more than the actual temperature. My final time was 39:09. A faster pace than either of the other races I have done recently. I also felt like I could go another couple of miles.

Running a 5k was fun. It is not my favorite distance, but something I may have to do again soonish. What is your favorite race distance?

P.S. Sorry fo the terrible pictures. I just had my cell phone and I need a new phone with a better camera.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Return of the Oatmeal

I have a strange love of oatmeal. I know there are a lot of people who are not fans of the stuff, but I really enjoy the chewy, heartiness of it. You add in the fact that oatmeal contains a ton of good for you things in it and it is a win-win food. All that said, the last thing I want to eat after a hot, humid, 5:30 a.m. run in Florida is a hot bowl of oatmeal.

This problem lead me on a quest to find a creative, yet still nutritious way to have my oatmeal. I wanted something that picked up on the satisfying chewiness of the oats without adding a lot of sugar or fat. After searching on the interwebs, I found two interesting options that seemed like what I was looking for.

I started with these pumpkin oatmeal cups from Green Lite Bites. I pretty much followed the recipe, but added cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and allspice instead of the pumpkin pie spice. I tend to go a bit heavy on the spices, because in my house there is no such thing as too much cinnamon. These were delicious and super easy to make. I love all things pumpkin and these are a great mix of oats and pumpkin.

Then I made these baked oatmeal snack bars from Kath Eats Real Food. I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk instead of the regular milk because it was in the house. I also upped the cinnamon (surprise, surprise). I used cranberries, golden raisins and sunflower seeds in mine. These were also very good. The fruit gave them some sweetness, but was not overpowering.

Overall, both recipes were good. I like the oatmeal cups because it makes them really portable. This also makes it easier for me to have my oatmeal in the car on the way to work, which happens more often than it should.

I know oatmeal is a strange food to love. What are some of your unique food favorites?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

U Can Finish 5 Miler

As a UCF Alumni, I have a soft spot for just about anything UCF, so when I saw this race on the TrackShack website, it was a must do. It was a bonus that the race was close to home and easy to get too. My husband and I met while we were both working for UCF, so he was more than willing to run this race with me.

U Can Finish...really...even at UCF
I got up about 6 a.m. and after a mini bagel with peanut butter, we were on our way. It was nice not having to fight traffic or mass transportation to make it to the race.

At 7:30 the gun sounded and we were off, it was a bit crowded for the first half-mile or so, but after that things spread out. The course took you around the stadium, then wound through campus. You also got to run past my favorite part of campus, the fountain, twice! The only thing missing was Knightro.

Since I am still building my endurance back, we used 2min/1min run walk intervals. This is the shortest race I have done in a long time and the 5 miles flew by. My final finish time was just under 66 minutes. Not winning any land speed records, but it felt really good. It was nice to have a race like that.

For this race we decided to go VIP. The combination of beer, nice restrooms and a donation to the UCF Alumni foundation made it an easy decision. After the race we grabbed our beers and some food from the VIP area. The beer was good, the food was nothing special but it was all worth it for these superfly glasses.

I think I am going to wear these every run!

The race was really well managed and organized. Packet pick up was super easy. After the Twilight Zone 10 Miler a couple of weeks ago, it was nice to have an easy race with less ciaos and some space on the course.

In addition to a great race at a fun location, the weather this morning was beautiful. Fall has finally come to central Florida and I am loving it. This race is a must do again next year. What are some of your must do races?

Monday, October 1, 2012

Race Recap - Tower of Terror 10 Miler

My husband and I are pretty big fans of Run Disney races, so when they announced a new race last fall, we knew we wanted to do it. As soon as registration opened last February, we paid our money and officially put the race on our calendar.

There have been a lot of ups and downs getting here, but I am very happy to say that Saturday night, we finished the Inaugural Tower of Terror 10 Miler. It wasn't my best race or my fastest, but I finished.

Feeling Festive with My New
Headband and Lights

After work on Friday, the husband and I headed to the race expo at the ESPN Wide World of Sports. The expo was smaller and far less crazy that previous Disney race expos. While it wasn't that big, I was super excited to see Sparkly Soul was there. I have wanted one of these headbands for a while, but never got around to actually ordering it, so this made it easy. Like a bad blogger, I forgot to bring my camera to the expo. I took a few photos on my phone, but they are terrible, so I will spare you those.

Saturday, I got up early and took care of the boring chores that always have to get done on the weekend (grocery shopping, laundry,etc.). I then headed back to bed at about 2:30 p.m. to try and get in a decent nap before the race. Since I am often in bed before 10 p.m. when the race was scheduled to start, I was a little nervous about how I was going to make it to the finish.

On the Bus and Awake

After napping and getting ready, we headed down to Disney and made it to the Wide World of Sports at about 7:30 p.m. Then it was on a bus to Disney's Hollywood Studios where the race started. I have to say that the bus ride to the start was not so bad, but I would have loved to walk to my car when the race was over.

We checked our bags and hung our with some much faster friends until about 9 p.m. Then it was time to hit the porta-potties and get into our corrals. At about 9:30 p.m., they began to walk us down to the starting area. At 10 p.m., with a burst of fireworks, the first corral was off. We were released about 5 minutes later, with more fireworks. I think that all races should start with fireworks.

The Start of the First Wave
I love Fireworks
After starting at Hollywood Studios, the course snaked its way through Disney property over to the Wide World of Sports Complex. There we got to do about a mile of off road running followed by a trek through the sports fields, a run around the stadium and then out the main part of the complex. Then we headed back to Hollywood Studios with about the last mile and a half in the park, before making the final turn and finishing behind the Tower of Terror.

As a whole, the course was alright, but not spectacular. There were a lot of places where it was really narrow, and there did not seem to be as much entertainment along the route as I have seen at other Disney races. Also, while we weren't expecting it,  my husband summed it up best when he said, "it is kind of let down not running though a castle." That being said, the course was well supported with lots of water stops and volunteers.

This was the first race I have run in a really long time without a time goal, which was good, because between the humid weather and the packed course, I would have probably been disappointed. At about mile 7, I was ready to be done and go to bed. I still haven't looked at my official race time, but my watch said we finished in about 2:25.

I Was Too Tired to Stop
for a Better Picture
The worst part of the race was actually after you finished. They were good about handing you water, powerade and snacks close to the finish, but since you were backstage there was no good place to stop. You also had to walk from behind the Fantasmic! Stadium all the way over to Indiana Jones and down the stairs of the stadium to get your bag. It seemed much further than it really was and at that point, all I really wanted was dry clothes and to sit down.

We ended up changing, but not staying for the party. I was beat and didn't feel great. I think that part of it was that I was dehydrated and hungry. I still am not sure how you fuel for a night race, but what I did this time didn't work that well.

I have to say that the Tower of Terror 10 Miler was fun, but not my favorite race. It was a unique experience and I am really happy I got to participate in the inaugural race. That said, I don't know how many night races I see in my future.

Have you ever run a night race? Any tips for staying awake or eating for the race?