I’m back!

I’m back! It’s only in the past month or so that I’ve felt like my running has finally become semi-interesting to talk about. To recap: On April 16, I ran the Boston marathon. It was very hot. I ran about 20 minutes slower than I would have liked. I took a week off of exercise completely and then ran a relay around lake Seneca with Team Vodka Heist. From there….no scheduled training of any kind until July 1. I ran two races in early June, but I wasn’t in training mode yet. Now I am. A few weeks ago I decided it was time to get my act together and bump up the mileage. Here’s how it’s gone down:

July 2-July 8: 31 mi
July 9-July 15: 37 mi
July 16-July 22: 44 miles
July 23-July 29: 37 miles
July 30-August 5: 42 miles

I’m shooting for somewhere between 45-50 miles this week, with this tentative schedule:

Monday: 4 miles

Tuesday: 6.75 miles a.m. (including 4 miles at marathon pace), 5.25 miles p.m.

Wednesday: 7 miles

Thursday: 7 miles (including some track work at E. 6th street)

Friday: 6 miles

Saturday: 14 miles

Sunday: Rest Day or 4-5 easy miles, depending on how I feel

I’ve been having a tough time getting myself to team track workouts and tempo runs and I’d like to be able to blame it on work, but in reality I just haven’t made it a priority. The weather hasn’t been ideal, so drinking margaritas or watching Mad Men in my air conditioned bedroom have been a lot more interesting. I’ve always been pretty good about mileage, but workouts…not so much. Anyway, for the past two weeks I’ve run a race on Saturday morning – a 5k on July 28 and 5-miler on August 4. It was hot, I was slow, and I felt pretty terrible, BUT signing up for a race and paying $$ ensured that I got a tough workout, so it was worth it.

As you may have noticed I’ve been more than a little MIA from this blog and running in general. It’s tough not to feel discouraged when I compare my current fitness with my 2010 workout and race performances (hint: I was running faster two years ago). However, I’m trying to look at the big picture. Two years ago, I worked 10-15 hours less per week, I wasn’t dating anyone, and training for the marathon was probably my number one focus. Things are different now and there are some things that I’m not willing to compromise on. It’s taken me a long time to realize that a race or workout performance is not necessarily a reflection of my self-worth. 90% of how fast I run or how well I race is simply a culmination of how many miles and workouts I’ve completed. Sometimes I’m able to do more, sometimes I’m able to do less.  My training is far from perfect, but that means there’s always something to strive for, and I’m trying. This was basically a drawn out way of saying…I still feel out of shape, but…I’m getting there and I’m going to do the best I can to get to the NYCM starting line on Nov 4 without losing my job, my friends, or my sanity. T-minus 12 weeks! I hope to have a rough draft of my training schedule hammered out and posted on the blog soon. Stay tuned.

Summer 2012 has treated me pretty well so far. I wouldn’t consider myself a particularly uptight or type-A person, but I love to plan things. And what this usually means is…I schedule myself down to the minute. Work events, running, classes at the gym, happy hours with friends, dinners out…sometimes I feel like I don’t give myself enough time to put away my laundry. Or, you know…sleep. Anyway, I’m trying to be better about saying no to things that I don’t 110% want to do. This is really difficult for me because I hate disappointing anyone, but it has to happen. Anyway, it’s no secret that the best plans allow me to multi task. Happy hour is fine, but a run or a pilates class with a friend serves two purposes – exercise AND social time. Win-win. A few weeks ago, I was able to combine friend-time and oft-neglected strength training by participating in a pilates class taught by my friend and Purely Elizabeth ambassador, Dani. Pilates and core work don’t often make their way into my schedule, but I had a really great time at this event. More please!

Also, I didn’t realize how goofy I look in my sunglasses until I saw this photo. That doesn’t mean I’m going to stop wearing them though.

Usually my race photos are pretty terrible (gravity does NO favors to runners…unless maybe you’re an elite), but I actually kind of like the photo that NYRR snapped at this past weekend’s race. I look like I’m running a lot more intensely than 7:20 pace, which let’s be honest felt 10x more difficult than it should have. Someday soon I want to run a race that will actually be worthy of such an intense look. I’m signed up for the Rock ‘n Roll Philly Half Marathon in September, so hopefully I can pull things together by then.


Despite the sauna-like conditions of my top floor apartment, I’ve been trying to cook a bit. Although 9 times out of 10, it’s more assembly than cooking: grilled cheese, salads, scrambled eggs, tomato sandwiches, nothing too fancy. Every once in awhile though, I step up my game.

I had some leftover cream cheese that made its way into these brownies. They were delicious. Make them.

Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies

Ingredients:

For brownie layer:

  • 1 stick butter (I used salted)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon red food coloring
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, chopped
For cream cheese layer:
  • 8 ounces softened cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • splash of vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and spray a 8″x8″ pan with cooking spray.

Brownie layer: In a large microwave safe bowl, melt the butter (about a minute on high). Add the sugar, vanilla, cocoa powder, salt, food coloring, and vinegar to the melted butter, stirring after each addition. Crack the eggs into a small bowl, whisk lightly, and then add to cocoa mixture. Use a wooden spoon to gently fold in the flour until just combined. Stir in the walnuts and reserve about 1/2 cup of the batter for later. Pour the remaining batter in the pan.

Cream cheese layer: Blend together the cream cheese, sugar, egg, and vanilla in a medium bowl.  Dollop cream cheese layer as evenly as you can over the brownie layer and then pour the remaining brownie batter over the cream cheese layer. Use a butter knife to create swirls (make sure the knife goes all the way to the bottom of the pan). Bake the brownies for 30 minutes and then allow to cool completely. I popped my brownies in the freezer for a few minutes to firm them up and make them easier to cut.

Sometimes it’s too hot to cook…so dinner = wine and a cheese plate. As long as there’s fruit, it’s healthy. Right?

Speaking of healthy, baked goods with vegetables are 100% appropriate for breakfast. I mean, this chocolate chip zucchini bread included a giant shredded zucchini, dark chocolate, whole wheat flour, and organic eggs. What more could you want?? It was based on this Brown Eyed Baker recipe although I used whole wheat flour and used 1/4 cup canola oil and 1/4 cup greek yogurt instead of 1/2 cup oil. Usually, I make recipes as-is (mmm, butter), but I’ve found that quick breads hold up very well to healthy substitutions and since I was eating this for breakfast anyway….

And I guess when I said I’ve been cooking…I mostly mean baking. Yesterday I got the sudden urge to bake a pie from scratch. In hindsight, baking a pie at 400 F for over an hour in August may have been a questionable decision. I took it out of the oven pretty late and haven’t tasted it yet, but I have high hopes.

Peach and Tart Cherry Pie

Ingredients:

For crust:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1.5 Tbs sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 stick butter (I used salted), chilled and cut into 1″ pieces
  • 2/3 cup vegetable shortening (Spectrum makes a no trans-fat version)
  • 1/2 cup (or more) ice water
For filling:
  • 5 large peaches, peeled and sliced
  • 2/3 cup dried tart cherries
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 unpacked brown sugar
  • tsp cinnamon
  • milk (or cream) and extra sugar for sprinkling on top

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 F. Combine flour, sugar, and salt for pie crust in a bowl. Use a pastry blender, two forks, or your fingers (my preferred method) to cut in the butter and shortening until pea-size crumbs form. Pour the ice water over the flour mixture and work it in until dough comes together. Divide in to two disks, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Combine peaches, cherries, flour, sugar, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Toss lightly. When dough is ready, roll out two 9″ circles, about 1/2″ thickness. Carefully place one circle on the bottom of pie pie plate and smooth up the sides. Add in peach mixture, mounding slightly in the middle. Carefully add top crust and crimp the edges together. Brush lightly with milk or cream and sprinkle on additional sugar. Cut four slits in the top crust to allow heat to escape. Bake for 45 minutes and then add a foil collar around the crust to prevent over-browning. Bake for another 25-30 minutes, until pie filling bubbles thickly and top crust is golden brown. Cool for at least one hour and top with vanilla ice cream. Yay, summer.

In a final piece of news, I’m participating in the Oikos Frozen Greek Yogurt Decathlon. Through midnight tonight (August 6), head on over and vote for my flavor (Peach Mango) and you’ll receive a $1 off coupon plus the chance to win some other sweet prizes.

Alright, that’s enough for now, but here’s what I promise – from now until NYCM I’m going to blog every Monday. I need to do it to keep me accountable, to figure out what works (and what doesn’t), and also…because I miss rambling on about running and recipes. Sound good?

So tell me….what are you training for? And how are you surviving the summer heat?

  • Yay, a new post! 🙂

    “gravity does NO favors to runners…unless maybe you’re an elite” <– HA, truth! Race photography is so unforgiving and this is exactly why I'll most likely be wearing all black at NYCM.

    That pie sounds amazing. Peaches are my favorite fruit but I've never baked with them because I seem to often have bad luck picking them out. Getting a mealy peach is the worst!

  • runnerskitchen

    +1 on mealy peaches…so terrible. but a ripe peach…so good. that is what keeps me coming back for more!

  • Welcome back! I was just wondering the other day where you’d been.

    As for me… I’m training to not crap out in the summer heat, since this is my first summer running in Texas. Quite a change from Northern CA, for sure. I’ll be doing the Austin Distance Challenge starting in the fall, culminating in my second marathon in February… but for now, I’m just surviving.

  • runningseal

    Yay! good to have you back! Nice seeing you briefly during the race on Saturday. Never try to do a 5 mile race after a marathon. The first mile I thought I was recovered..and then disaster! I am running nyc too (and maybe philly). Run or hangout soon??

  • YOU’RE BACK! oh how i’ve missed you, miss megan. let’s run together on the east side one of these mornings!

  • Glad to see you post!  And the recipes you talked about all look awesome!  Sometimes a break is just what you need to feel re-inspired.  🙂

  • Amanda

    Yay so glad you are back!!  Not really training for anything, maybe ski season?  And I beat the heat by grilling!  Chicken and zucchini kabobs are quickly becoming my favorite.

  • glad to have you back!  that picture is awesome – you look intense!

    i have my first 50K coming up in 2 weeks and after that philly RnR and philly HM!

  • runnerskitchen

    I’m running Philly RnR also! Hopefully we can meet up. 🙂

    And ahhh! A 50K! That’s awesome.

  • Anna

    those cheesecake brownies were the shit! red velvet stuff usually skeeves me out, but those were way too delicious.

    and regarding surviving the summer heat, i am just taking 3 showers/day. yep.

  • Yay, good to see you blogging again. 🙂  That is an awesome picture of you!  I also live on the top floor of my building and since the bf is always cooking, it’s downright steamy in there!  Good for you for cooking up some delicious stuff, despite the heat!

  • That red velvet cheesecake brownie looks so pretty! Welcome back!

  • runnerskitchen

    Thank you! I’m going to try and post more regularly. The plan is to put something up every Monday. 🙂

  • runnerskitchen

    I love cooking, but it’s so tough during the summer. I’m looking forward to using the oven more once it cools down!

  • runnerskitchen

    Ahaha, I like your 3 showers/day plan. I took a cold shower on Sunday night. Glad you liked the brownies! 🙂

  • runnerskitchen

    Ahh, so jealous of the kabobs. I want a grill!

  • runnerskitchen

    Yeah! I’m actually going to be on the E. 6th street track from around 7:15am on Thursday. Want to run 4 x 1k with me? Also, maybe I should not be posting my where-abouts online…

  • runnerskitchen

    I give you major props for running that race on Saturday. It felt terrible and it’s been months since I ran a marathon. I can only imagine how the heat and hills must have felt on recently raced legs. And yes to hanging out soon! I want to hear more about the SF marathon and the Napa trip. 🙂

  • runnerskitchen

    Haha, +1 to surviving. I hear popsicles and ice cream help…

  • welcome back!  the baked goods look delicious, especially that peach and tart cherry pie!  I’m training for several upcoming half marathons and trying to decide if I want to bite the bullet on a December marathon.  still not sure!

  • runnerskitchen

    I tried the pie last night and would give it an A-. Crust was spot-on, but next time I might add more cinnamon to the filling. 🙂

  • Laura Rieckmann

    Yay you’re back! I’m training for a half marathon…it’s been insanely hot this summer so training has been very strategically planned. Long runs on the coolest days of the week and many early morning runs before work to beat the heat! Glad you are blogging again!

  • MealsforMiles

    OMG red velvet brownies! And yay for you being back, I’ve missed you (both virtually and in real life)! This summer heat is ridiculous. I think the only thing that helps me survive is telling myself it’ll make fall runs and races feel that much better, you know? Excited you’re running NYCM again this year 🙂 

  • That’s a great running picture!!  Mine all look like I’m dying, no matter what pace it is.  Luckily (er…not so luckily) I’ve avoided summer heat due to injury, but I’m back now (as are you…at least in blogging), so let’s run (slow!).  I miss you in real life more than I miss you in blogging…so let’s round up Kelly and go.  (Ending at Ample Hills, still on the list.)

  • runnerskitchen

    I like this comment a lot! And I am always up for an ample hills excursion. Destination run from Manhattan? Maybe next weekend?

  • Good to see a blog update! I’m training for the Chicago marathon…in like… 60 days!!! YAH! I am loving the heat!!! I moved from Seattle (aka land of no summer… I’m sorry but that was my experience the last two summers) to Chicago.  And boy, I found summer!!! I thrive when it is 78 degrees and 90% humidity at 5 am! Love it!!!! Happy running.

  • Katie

    I only started reading your blog about 2 months ago and I love it!! In your recent absence I’ve been working my way through your old posts. Anyway SO glad you’re back. All of those recipes look amazing, I don’t know which to try first.

    I’m training for a Tough Mudder in Frederick, MD on Sept 9th. It’s making me realize how much I love running (and hate strength training and upper body workouts ugh). I’d like to run the Philly Rock N Roll or Half. I can’t decide which one!

  • ang

    I’m so glad you’re back!  I’ve missed you!

  • runnerskitchen

    Thank you for reading! 🙂 If you’re trying to decide between RnR Half in September and the Philly Half in November, they’re both great races, but the first one is a little flatter!

  • runnerskitchen

    Thank you! 🙂

  • Glad you’re back, Megan!! AWESOME running picture! I wish I was training for RNR Philly – love that race. Sub-90 for you!
    I am “training” for the NYC Marathon. 🙂
    Thank you for the triple-recipe blog post! I’m gonna have to try that zucchini bread.