Running

My Current Thoughts and Ponderings…Boston Marathon Edition

It’s been exactly one week since I ran the Boston Marathon. Last week I was fighting against a headwind and at least 20 mph wind gusts, rain interspersed with sudden downpours, and a starting temperature of a whopping 40 degrees. For three and a half hours. To say conditions for running 26.2 miles were less than ideal would be an understatement. Of course, today looks like great weather for a run…go figure.

But you know what? I would do it again in a heartbeat. I can’t put it into words, but the Boston Marathon is like no other marathon—no matter what the weather. The spectators cheering you on, the volunteers who are there to help with any and every need you may have, and the 25,000+ runners who are right there experiencing it all with you; it’s just incredible. Plus, I know the 122nd Boston Marathon will go down in history as being one of the worst days for a marathon weather-wise, so getting to say I did that counts for something, right? ;)

I was able to run the Boston Marathon two years ago for the first time and while it’s easy to compare between the two years, I have just as sweet of memories from this year. While two years ago, it was almost too hot (I can’t believe I’m saying that), this year just brought other challenges. If you’re curious, here are my thoughts from two years ago leading up to the Boston Marathon and my thoughts following the race. When I read back through them, all of my sentiments and feelings about the experience still hold true. Only this time, I improved my time and, unlike two years ago, I had another Boston qualifying time…so you know what that means. ;)

There’s so much I could share about our trip to Boston and the race weekend, so to help me touch on the highlights, I’m doing another round of my “Current Thoughts and Ponderings”—Boston Marathon style.

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Grilled Chicken with Blueberry-Lime Salsa

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Does anybody else feel like we were just celebrating Memorial Day weekend and now it’s almost the 4th of July?! How did this happen? Growing up, I loved looking forward to the 4th of July, knowing it was another summer holiday. But then after the 4th, “Back-to-School” items started flooding into the stores again and I had that dreaded sense that summer was going to quickly end.

That’s not necessarily the case anymore, but I still hate to see the summer go by so quickly. Thankfully, we have a lot more fun things planned for the summer! One of those things was this past weekend when I completed my first triathlon of the summer. It was a calm day, albeit hot, so it was the perfect morning to go for a swim, bike around the hilly Wisconsin countryside (and when I say hilly, I mean hilly!), and run a few loops around the town close to where we live.

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I ran this same race two summers ago, so I knew a little bit more of what to expect this time and felt more prepared going into it…although I had somehow forgotten just how hilly that bike course was. ;)

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After the triathlon, it was a lazy day around here, including naps and getting the grill out for another meal on the grill. I wasn’t kidding when I told you we’ve been grilling non-stop around these parts! We had one of our favorite meals last night, Beef Fajitas, but another one that has quickly become our favorite is Grilled Chicken with Blueberry-Lime Salsa, which I’m sharing with you today!

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Currently…

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Hello, hello!! Don’t worry, I’m still here! Sorry for the crickets you’ve been hearing lately from me over here in my corner of the blogging world. Two words: It’s summer! I have no excuse other than the fact that, well, summer is here, the weather has been gorgeous, and I just want to be outside!

For those of you who live in the Midwest, you know that we have to take the nice days while we can get them! I’m still not to the point where I’m willing to take these nice days for granted.

In all honesty, life has just been busy! For some reason, I always think that with summer should come back laid back evenings sitting out on the porch and free weekends to enjoy downtown Madison or long bike rides with my hubby. While we have been able to do all of those things (for which I’m very grateful), I feel like their occurrences are few and far between and our days definitely haven’t slowed down any! Plus, what’s with all this #adulting that gets in the way of these fun activities? Shouldn’t that just kind of come to a halt during the summer, too? If only that were the case…

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That said, it’s still another gorgeous day today, so I’m only popping in to say hello and to tell you that I will be back! I’m still cooking up some delicious meals (I’ll be sharing some of them soon!), Philip isn’t starving, and I’m not abandoning my loyal readers. Unlike the past two summers, though, (how have I been doing this blog for more than two years already?!) this summer I’m freeing myself of the guilt if I happen to not post in a week — or, gasp, even two weeks. And you know what? I’m absolutely loving it.

Since I work full time during the week (and on Saturdays a couple times a month), Sundays are my “blogging day.” While this usually works, it makes it hard/stressful when we have had a busy weekend or the weather is nice and Philip and I are itching to get out for a long bike ride (we’re doing the Door County Century Ride in September, so we need to really kick it into gear. Eek!) or any other activity that sounds fun on a Sunday afternoon. Basically, I’ve decided I have too many hobbies. What a problem to have, right? So this summer, I’m living up my Word of the YearFun — and taking it outside to join the rest of Madison.

Let me fill you in on what’s currently been filling up our time…The month of May, in particular, seemed to go by especially fast (as I feel is always the case for people). Two weekends ago Philip and I took the opportunity to go on a marriage retreat, which was wonderful. The retreat was in Madison, so for a date night, we headed to State Street and ate at Fresco, a rooftop restaurant and lounge that serves excellent, fresh and contemporary fare. If you’re in the area, I’d highly recommend making a reservation and checking it out! The ambiance is great, the food and drink flavorful, and the views are incredible.

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After our meal, we walked along State Street to the University of Wisconsin’s Memorial Union to enjoy an evening on the Terrace with cups of ice cream from Babcock Ice Cream Shop. Everybody else seemed to have the same idea and the 20 minute wait for the ice cream was totally worth it. This is also a must-try if you find yourself in the Madison area!

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Memorial Day weekend was also a great one — my parents were in town! Our house we moved into a year and a half ago, while it has a spacious backyard, had no trees of any kind in it (it used to be a field like almost every other newer development in our area) and the previous owners never bothered to plant any, so we took it upon ourselves to create some shade and privacy…with my parents’ help. :) Parents are the best aren’t they? A week later, the Autumn Blaze Maple and the two pines we planted are still standing and looking green, so we have our hopes up. ;)

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This is my dad. Isn’t he the cutest?

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Red Rover, Red Rover? We’re capturing what our trees look like now…let’s hope we can see a difference in a couple years from now. :)

Besides the planting, we visited Wollersheim Winery and enjoyed the great weather with my parents, met up with friends, and biked to (and through) the UW Arboretum and enjoyed a simple picnic on our extra day off on Monday. And it was all lovely. I wish every weekend was a three day weekend!

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Whew, and that was just the weekend! The weeks and weekends ahead look just as busy and fun and I absolutely can’t wait. I’ll keep checking in, giving you updates on my #yearoffun, and sharing some of our favorite summer recipes! Thanks for reading (I truly appreciate it, whether you loyally read every post or are just stopping by for the first time). What are your summer plans and adventures ahead? I’d love to hear!

A Marathon to Remember

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Welcome to another work week, everyone! It’s the start of our second week back from vacation and I’m happy to say I’m feeling a little more prepared for this Monday than I was last week. Whew, coming back from vacation is tough! 

In all honesty, it felt good to be back to a routine and our normal schedule, back into our own surroundings and comforts of home. Coming from an extremely small town (we’re talking school class size of 60 people, folks), I never thought I’d think of Madison, Wisconsin, as being calm or small. But after a week of being in downtown Boston and D.C., it definitely felt a little closer to home for me. All the people, hustle and bustle, and the activity was fun and exciting (for a week), but it made me that much more appreciative of my five minute commute to work and relatively easy-to-find parking in all areas of the city.

Let’s talk about our trip, shall we? Our first leg of the trip was to Boston so I could run the Boston Marathon (yippee!). What an amazing experience! It’s one I’ll never forget. The day before the race you could literally feel the excitement within the city. People were gathering from all over the world to run this race and it was so much fun to be a part of it all. Everyone I talked to said it’s the best race they’ve ever run and they always want to come back for it if they can. I had to almost pinch myself just to remind myself I was running the Boston Marathon, because in a way, it kind of felt like any other race in a large city. But the overall excitement from the city alone with store fronts and billboards decked out for the race helped me to remember it was so much more than just any race.

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After checking out the large Expo and getting my official Boston Marathon jacket on Sunday, we were able to do some sightseeing with my cousin and his daughter. We logged a total of about 9 miles of walking on Sunday…perhaps not the best choice for the day before a marathon, but it was fun to explore the city and soak it all in. I had good intentions of seeing more sights after the race on Monday, but sitting and relaxing felt a lot more enjoyable post-race than I initially thought. :)

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Monday was finally race day! After seven months of waiting, it was finally here! It was an absolutely gorgeous day. While slightly warmer than I would have liked (the warmest I had trained in was 40 degree weather, so the sunny, 65 degrees felt downright hot), it made for a relatively enjoyable day that brought tons of crowds out for it.

The journey out to Hopkinton, the small town we start in, was a ride that took, what felt like, an eternity. We loaded onto one of the many school buses and since I don’t run with my phone, I had nothing to do but sit and look out the window…and realize I was going to have to run this whole distance back. May I suggest never to drive the course you’re going to be running. Because you then realize just how crazy you are for thinking running 26 miles is a good idea. And just how far that distance actually is.

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The Road to the Boston Marathon

 Depending on when you’re reading this, I’m either anxiously waiting to run the Boston Marathon this morning, currently running the Boston Marathon, or have (hopefully) successfully finished the Boston Marathon. My first time to run Boston. Only my second marathon.

After months of training through the Wisconsin cold, snow, and wind, after mile after mile logged, and after getting sidelined for various injuries multiple times, I can’t believe I’m finally here. The race of all races, the Olympics for runners. It’s an achievement I feel blessed to be able to experience. Words can’t describe the emotions I feel. The support I’ve received from Philip, from family, and from friends has been overwhelming and has encouraged me through this tough battle of getting here.

I qualified for Boston when I ran the Chicago Marathon in October of 2014 – my first marathon. I felt great through all 26.2 miles. I was on an adrenaline high the entire time, flying through each mile. My goal was to qualify for Boston on this race and as I got closer and closer to the finish line, I couldn’t help but smile, knowing that my dream was actually within reach. I crossed the finish line with a time that would qualify me for Boston by over 11 minutes for my age range. Ever since that day, I’ve been looking ahead to this very day — April 18, 2016.

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Southwest Pizza with Lime & Cilantro

Southwest Pizza

Welcome back to the start of another work week after a long, fun-filled weekend! Boy, did it feel good to have an extra day added on to our weekend. Philip and I both agreed that we could get used to having a three-day weekend all the time…if only that was possible.

I couldn’t have asked for a better Memorial Day weekend. The weather was gorgeous on Saturday morning, so Philip and I started off the weekend by heading to the Madison farmers’ market, which surrounds the Capitol square. We picked up some plants and herbs for our garden and had an enjoyable time strolling amongst all the people. So many people!

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My friend, Sarah — who might as well be my sister — came into town on Saturday. We’ve been friends since freshman year of college when we were randomly assigned as roommates (we lived with each other for 4 years and still came out as close of friends as ever). It’s sometimes eery how similar we are…and we love it. :)

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We chatted into the night and woke up bright and early to run the Madison Half Marathon on Sunday. Somehow I convinced her that she should do her first half marathon in Madison and had so much fun sharing the experience with her. There’s nothing quite like completing your first half or full marathon. Thankfully we both outran the rain and were finished by the time the downpour started.

Madison Half Marathon

Monday started out looking gloomy, too, but by the afternoon, it cleared up enough for Philip and me to take our first bike ride of the season together. I’ve fallen in love with Madison during the spring through fall (it hasn’t won me over for it’s winters yet). The wild flowers were blooming and wild life were everywhere along the bike trails.

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To finish out a great weekend, we fired up the grill and had the perfect summer meal — Southwest Pizza. Seriously, yum. I barely have words to describe how tasty this was. So many flavors coming together to create a flavor explosion in your mouth. Philip was pretty much speechless and couldn’t get enough of it — which is always my gage to see if recipes make it to the blog. Based on his reaction, I knew this recipe was one I needed to share with you ASAP, so you could enjoy it as long as possible through the upcoming summer months (and beyond).

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Detox Your Body: How it can fit into a healthy diet

 Whew, what a weekend! I need another weekend just to recover from my weekend. It was a great one though — fun, productive, relaxing, and celebratory! Here’s what we fit into a single weekend:

I ran my first race of the season on Saturday morning. I couldn’t have asked for a better race to start the season off; it was perfect weather, a great course around Lake Monona (one of the two lakes in Madison if you’re unfamiliar with the area), and (most importantly) the food at the end was a full on smorgasbord.

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The rest of Saturday afternoon was spent cleaning out our garage (this is the productive part of the weekend). It was the final “room” that needed to be cleaned out since we moved into our house in December. What a great feeling to have everything finally all cleaned and its place!

A date night of sushi and ice cream (we’re keeping it classy) followed our productive day and the fun just kept on going into Sunday with a wedding for two of our close friends from Madison. Couldn’t be any happier for the couple!

It certainly felt like summer was here — or at least just around the corner — this past weekend! With all this spring cleaning and donation trips to Goodwill going on, it got me thinking about the importance of spring cleaning our bodies, too. Instead of a normal recipe post today, I thought I’d share a little bit about my dietitian thoughts on detoxing…

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26.2 Miles Worth of Thoughts

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What a weekend! As I write this, my legs are elevated with ice packs on them and I’m probably about to go get a snack soon (for about the tenth time today)…does it sound like I just ran a marathon?

Why, yes, you are correct. I completed my first marathon at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon yesterday and what a rush it was! Never have I run a race where there were spectators cheering along the entire course and where runners were surrounding me from start to finish. I guess it’s to be expected when there are 1.7 million spectators (I know!!) and 45 thousand runners. Start out big, I guess. It was also the last race of the season that I was training for — and I’m already thinking about what to do next.

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While I recover and relax (wine in hand), I thought I’d share with you some thoughts of mine…thoughts that I had while running. I don’t listen to music while I run, let alone during a race, so it gives me plenty of time to think. Several people have asked what I think about while I run, so I thought I’d give you a glimpse into my running mind — and, trust me, this is just a small portion of everything going through my head.

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Cherry-Almond Farro Salad

Cherry Almond Farro Salad

Don’t you just love summer? The days are long, the worries are few (or at least I like to pretend that’s true), and short road trips are abundant.

This past weekend began our three-weekend stretch of road trips. As I type this, we’re currently somewhere in the middle of Iowa as we make our one-day trek across the entire state back to Madison.

Although this weekend will have consisted of a total of 16 hours on the road by the end it, it’s been so much fun! The whole reason for the trip was to see this pretty lady and her man get married in Lincoln, Nebraska.

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Kate was a fellow intern, now dietitian, who loves food as much as me—her food selection and cake (oh my gosh, the cake!!) was proof of that. The food was tasty, the party was lively, and the whole wedding itself was stunning. I’m so glad we could help Kate and John celebrate their special day.

Although the trip was essentially all about the wedding, the trip had so many other fun, unexpected perks along the way. Philip and I got to catch up with my parents in Ames, Iowa, on Friday night and Sunday for the perfect halfway pit-stop to and from Nebraska. It’s always fun to be back at my old stomping grounds, even for a short time.

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Kitchen Catastrophes + Triathlon Updates

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I’m alive and feelin’ good! I crossed off another one of my races on my list on Saturday—my first Olympic-sized triathlon…well, my first triathlon of any kind, really. Surprisingly, the only pain I have is the sunburn I have on my shoulders and back from the 5+ hours of being outside on Saturday morning. I almost woke up on Sunday morning in shock that I was in less discomfort and had less soreness than any of the running races I’ve done. I guess next time I need to push myself a little harder. ;)

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