Posts Tagged by ontherun adventures

You Know You’re a Runner When…

…The only thing that stresses you out about a weekend unplugged is the fact that you can’t keep track of how all your running friends are doing at their marathons across the country. …or watch the Live Stream of the Chicago Marathon.

 

You rate potential future places to live based on how great it would be to run there.

There’s no denying that California’s perfect year-round running weather would be heavenly. But I also couldn’t argue with views like this on every run.

Vermont Hills_1

 

And pick your favorite season based on which one has the best running weather.

Vermont Hills_2

 

You convince yourself that seasonal candy is actually fuel.

candy corn pretzelsWhat – you mean high fructose corn syrup isn’t a good source of energy??

 

You literally chase down the UPS truck after you’ve just missed the final delivery attempt of your Nuun order. In your defense, your stores are getting dangerously low, and you’ve got a marathon to hydrate for.

IMG_0506.JPG

 

All your upcoming vacations revolve around races. Next up on the {ontherun}tour: Washington DC for MCM and New York City (to cheer) for NYCM.

 

And all your recent clothing purchases have been of the dri-fit, wicking variety. You actually can’t remember the last time you bought a new outfit for work.

adidas shorts.jpg

I’m currently eyeing these or something similar for MCM. #teamwatermelon

 

Although your hours of personal time are extremely limited, you deem a long run on a weekday morning to be a perfectly acceptable use for them.

 

And the first day back from a long weekend is made bearable only by the fact that the last 20-mile run of your marathon training cycle went way better than you had ever expected. Maintaining a sub-8 minute/mile pace for 20 miles after a weekend of limited sleep and lots of junk food is not only a huge confidence booster, but also enough to make you walk into work with a huge smile. One that no amount of annoying emails or workplace drama can take away.

 

Now bring on the taper!

 

Spring Spectating Snafus

Spring has finally arrived, which means race season is upon us! Even if you’re not a runner yourself, you can be a part of the excitement by cheering on your favorite runners at your local races. Spectating is a lot of fun, but don’t be fooled – it isn’t all fun and games. You’ve got to get up early, coordinate with your runner(s), and stand outside (sometimes for hours!) waiting for them to come by. So if you’re going to go through all that work, you want to make sure you do the best job possible, right?

St Pat's Finish Line

I’m sure by now you’ve heard all sorts of advice about how to be a great spectator:

  • Tell your runner where you’ll be standing on the course so they know where to find you
  • Cheer and clap loudly (for everyone, not just the one or two people you know who are running)
  • Bring fun signs
  • Shout encouraging things like, “Looking great!” “Awesome job!” or “Go ______!”

But what about any spectating faux pas?? Next time you head to the sidelines, here are a few things you should probably avoid:

St Pat's start

 

1.) Don’t see your runner off by telling her that you’re just going to head out for coffee and a warm breakfast while she’s running. Chances are she won’t take this news well.

DSCN2002.JPG

2.) Don’t wear shoes without socks when you plan to stand outside and cheer on a windy, 40 degree day. They may look cute, but spectating is all about comfort, not fashion. And when a 3 year old comes up to you and asks, “Why are you wearing those shoes??” you know you’ve made a bad choice.

shoes

3.) Don’t forget to actually put your memory card in your camera before you head to the race – that internal memory doesn’t hold many pictures.

4.) Don’t use up what little storage space you have on said camera by taking pictures of the puppies you see on the sidelines.

pup collage.jpg

5.) Don’t get so distracted playing with those puppies that you miss your runner coming by.

St Pat Evan.jpg

6.) After the race, don’t comment on how tired a runner looks, how sluggish they appeared on the course, or how crazy you think their race outfit is.

100_0454.JPG

7.) Don’t suggest going out to lunch after the race and then make the runner pay for it….even if it is a date.

DSCN2010.JPG

8.) And finally, don’t embarrass your runner by taking pictures of them stuffing their face during lunch. They worked hard after all, and they’ve got to replenish those calories!

DSCN2012.JPGSorry Becky... ;)


Regardless of what goes right or wrong, the most important thing is that you’re out there, cheering for your runner. So be a part of this race season and get out there and cheer! Your runner will appreciate it more than you know.

Cupcakes and Juice and Vegans, oh my!

If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, you’ll know that my love for desserts has been well documented. I like to think those treats give me the extra boost I need to get through long training runs. So when I first learned that a vegan bakery and juice bar was opening down the street from my house, you can bet I was beyond excited. A bakery that I could easily walk to?? This could be dangerous…

The Wildflour Vegan Bakery is technically in Pawtucket, right at the point where Hope St becomes East St. But that’s close enough for me. And it’s conveniently located right by Garden Grille, the area’s well-known (and absolutely amazing) vegetarian restaurant.

Wildflour Cafe.png

According to their website:

The purpose of Wildflour is to serve the most delicious, healthful baked goods, fresh juices and living foods in order to have a profound positive impact on the health of our community. We strive to be a resource of information and to expand the experience of healthy living through healthy eating.

Now that’s a mission I can easily get behind! So I did what any smart dessert-lover in my position would do — I called up my co-ontherun-taste-testing expert, to have an official sample.

I’ll admit I had high expectations. I am no amateur dessert eater, after all. And when it comes to cupcakes, I’d like to think of myself as a bit of an expert. So would vegan cupcakes and other baked goods hold up to the best that NYC has to offer?

Becky and I decided to sample two items that came highly recommended: a candy bar cupcake and a pecan roll.

Wildflour_desserts

They both looked and smelled delicious. I also got a freshly pressed Big C juice (which contained pineapple, orange, ginger, and camu camu berry). It seemed like the perfect recovery drink after my cold, wet, 18 miles on Sunday.

Wildflour_Big C

First, I’ll say that I loved the juice. It was refreshing and not overly sweet. The ginger was actually a bit more pungent than I expected, but it was a great compliment to the other flavors. And it gave me the feeling that I was drinking a “health elixir” that would magically heal any ailment I may have had. I’m not typically a big juice person, but I found myself excited to go back and try their other flavors.

As good as the juice was, it was the desserts we were most excited to dig into.

DSCN1691.JPG

The pecan roll was delicious. Cinnamony, nutty, and sweet.

Wildflour_pecan roll DSCN1692.JPG

The candy bar cupcake was also good. A brown sugar cupcake with peanut butter frosting and peanuts on top — what more could you ask for?

Wildflour_candybar cupcake

While neither item disappointed, I will say that both were a little dry. Sadly, butter and eggs appear to make a difference when it comes to cupcakes…at least in this case, anyway. That being said, however, the peanut butter frosting was pretty amazing. Light, fluffy, and not overly sweet. It was the cake part that didn’t quite live up to expectations.

The only other negative was that everything was a little pricey. The juices were around $7 each. Which isn’t outrageously expensive and it’s comparable to other things in the area, but I wouldn’t say it’s the place to go for a quick, low-cost treat. However, everything was freshly made and so I do believe it was worth the money.

All in all, I am excited about going back to try one of the many other selections on the menu. Even if these things weren’t my favorite, Wildflour offers a huge variety of juices, teas, savory dishes, and baked goods. All are vegan, and many are also gluten-free. The atmosphere was clean, crisp, and friendly (we may or may not have closed the place down).

Good thing this place is within walking distance. Something tells me they’re going to be seeing a lot of me.

5 Lessons Learned From My First 5K in 5 Years

(Or Weekend on the Run Part II: The Part in Which We Run off Those Cupcakes. Miss Part 1? Read it here.)

I have a confession to make: for years, I have been avoiding 5Ks like the plague. I’m not completely sure where this aversion came from. I mean, before that, I’d been doing 5Ks since I was 11 or 12 years old. But then college ended, and my competitive days were over. At first I wanted a break from racing altogether. And then I convinced myself that I just wanted to try knew things, train for new distances. I told myself that I wasn’t meant for short, speedier races and I should just stick to the distance thing.

But in all reality, all those excuses were really hiding a fear – fear that I wouldn’t be good enough, fast enough to live up to my own expectations…and the fake expectations I was convinced everyone around me must have. Looking back on it now, it all seems so silly. And I’m happy for Miss Beckontherun for helping me see that.

On Sunday, after a day of coffee guzzling and cupcake eating, I ran the Providence Downtown Jingle 5K – my first 5K in 5 years. To sum it up: I had a blast! Instead of giving you a standard recap, here are 5 lessons I learned along the way.

WeekendontherunThis is how we prepare for a race in the HOTR-household

1.) Fueling before running a 5K is not the same as fueling before a marathon

Yes I know, this sounds like common sense. But it had been so long since I’d prepared for one of these things that I figured my standard pre-race breakfast of a bagel and almond butter plus a small Dunkin’ Donuts iced coffee (yes, I had iced coffee on a 30-degree morning) would be fine.

For me, this ended up being too much food. Even though I ate breakfast two hours before the gun went off, my bagel was still a rock in my stomach at the start. During the last mile, I was overwhelmed by a strong desire to throw up. And I don’t mean the “I’m pushing myself so hard I’m going to lose it” kind of puke. This was a “get this food out of my stomach now” type of response. Clearly running at high speeds for 20 minutes or so requires a different sort (and amount) of fuel than running for 3 – 4 hours at a steady pace. Lesson Learned: keep pre-race breakfasts light!

DSCN1439

2.) Jingle bells shouldn’t be tied to shoe laces

Everyone who ran the Downtown Jingle 5K received a little bracelet with jingle bells on it to wear during the race. 2,000+ people running with bells on provided quite a festive atmosphere. The problem was, the bracelets didn’t really stay put. After re-tying my bracelet for the umpteenth time, I had a flash of brilliance and decided to tie it to my shoe instead. I first thought I’d tie it into my laces, and then decided to tie it down at the bottom of my shoe. As the seconds to the start counted down, I quickly tied a couple knots in the bells and jumped back up, satisfied with my festive-looking sneakers.

Within a mile those dang bells had come loose – but not loose enough to fall off. I ran along the streets of Providence with bells loudly clanging against the ground, all the while terrified they’d get caught under my foot and cause me to trip. I tried everything short of reaching down and untying them – no matter how much I kicked, stomped, and cursed at them, those babies held fast. Until the last half mile, when suddenly the bells finally decided they had enough slamming and laid to rest on the street, safely out of harm’s way. Lesson learned: don’t try to tie a slippery piece of string to the part of your body that is moving the most and absorbing the most impact.

DSCN1441

3.) Tying ankle loops in your shoes does more than support your ankles

In the midst of my frenzied re-tying of my shoes before the start, I accidentally forgot to tie them using my no-fail-never-untie method. With about three quarters of a mile to go, disaster struck – my shoe suddenly came untied. So not only did I have bells flopping all around my foot, but now I also had stray laces to worry about. At this point, I was way too far into the race to think about stopping to tie them. So I ran on, praying I wouldn’t trip over a lace or a rogue bell.

It wasn’t long before I realized that the way I tied my shoes was actually saving me from further disaster. I loop my laces for extra ankle support, but it also shortens the laces and keeps my shoes tight at the top.

tie shoes ankle loops

tie shoes ankle loops front
My shoes stayed nice and tight, firmly gripping my ankles as though they were still tied. And the laces never threatened to get caught under my shoe. Lesson learned: always tie my shoes with the extra loops. The extra support is more helpful than I even realized (for the full, extremely simple method, see this post).

4.) Marathons do not make you slower

For as long as I can remember, my coaches did not want any of their runners to do a marathon while they were still running competitively. The school of thought that I heard time and time again was that marathons make you slower. And it would seem to make sense – your focus during marathon training is on distance, not speed.

So although I really had no idea what to expect going into Sunday’s race, I certainly didn’t have high expectations for myself. I figured years of limited speedwork and a month of limited running after the Cape Cod Marathon (not to mention a day of being on my feet eating sugar!) would probably mean that I’d go no faster than my marathon pace.

But when that gun went off on Sunday, I shifted into another gear – I gear I didn’t even know still existed. My Garmin somehow lost satellite reception seconds before the gun, leaving me with no idea whether it was showing me an accurate pace during that first mile. So I just ran, weaving in and out of the crowd and moving as fast as my legs wanted to take me. It felt great! Besides the rock in my stomach and the clanging bells, I was having a blast. I didn’t worry about pace or pushing myself to the limit. I just ran and enjoyed moving along in a sea of green and red.

DSCN1443

DSCN1446

By the final stretch, I knew my time was going to be faster than expected. I had a lot of energy left (way too much, actually — I couldn’t believe how fast the race went by!) and kicked it into top gear, passing people in the last .1 mile (those who know me know this is not typical – I have never been known for my sprinting abilities). I crossed the finish line just as the seconds on the clock ticked past 21 minutes.

DSCN1464

My official time was 20:47, which put me 70th overall (out of 2098 finishers) and 8th woman (out of 781). I was beyond thrilled! I’ve run faster 5Ks, but never have I felt so great during one from start to finish. Especially after a day of doing everything wrong to prepare. Surprisingly, my marathons had given me strength I never had before. Lesson learned: running marathons can help make you faster, and it certainly doesn’t kill your speed!

DSCN1468

5.) 5Ks are a ton of fun

Somewhere along the way, I let my high standards for myself get in the way of having fun. True, every runner wants to PR. But when the pressure you put on yourself is so great that it takes all enjoyment out of the race, it’s time to take a step back and re-evaluate. It took running a race I was completely untrained and unprepared for (in terms of speed training, not my ability to cover the distance) to help me see that. Lesson learned: Not every race has to be a grueling test of strength and will. Races can also be are festive celebrations of running.

Thank you to all the organizers of the Providence Downtown Jingle 5K. The race was well organized and staffed, the atmosphere was jolly and the course was well marked and closed off. I had a bell blast!

DSCN1471

Weekend on the Run: Part 1

(The Part In Which We Eat Our Weight in Baked Goods)

Today I ran my first 5K since college, and my first road race 5K since high school (in case you were wondering, that was a long time ago ;)). You might think that a little 5K would seem like nothing after running marathons. But the truth is, I was extremely nervous to sign up for this race. More nervous than I was for the marathon I signed up for the same day (more details on that to come). After all, 5Ks are fast! And my running since the Cape Cod Marathon has been pretty minimal. But when my fellow ontherun sister told me she had signed up for the Providence Downtown Jingle Bell 5K, I had to jump on board.

So what’s the best thing to do the day before a race to make sure you’re nice and ready? Rest, hydrate, and eat plenty of healthy carbs. Naturally, I did the opposite.

A little while ago, Becky had also invited me on an impromptu, one day trip to NYC. Since I had never been at Christmas-time to see all the decorations, I jumped at the chance. Armed with nothing more than Google Maps on my iPhone and a few recommendations from Susan, we set out in the early hours of the morning with one simple plan: to eat.

DSCN1386

And we didn’t want to eat just anything. We both knew nothing could fuel our 5K dreams better than cupcakes. More specifically, cupcakes from 3 well-known NYC bakeries: Magnolia, Crumbs, and Buttercup Bake Shop. Now I was no stranger to these amazing cupcakeries, having tried them all on previous trips to the city. But it had been awhile, and we felt that an official taste-test was in order.

Weekendontherun1

Fueled by a late morning Peppermint Mocha, we trekked through the city by foot, following a less-than carefully planned route to these sugar havens. 3 cupcakes, 2 kinds of pizza, and several cute Christmas markets later, we dubbed the day a huge success. Our route, along with a quick review of all the restaurants we tried is all below.

View Larger Map

In order of destination

Crumbs Bake Shop

DSCN1388

DSCN1390

I’ll admit I was already partial to Crumbs before this trip. I knew their huge, rich cupcakes were to die for. I’m happy to say this trip did not disappoint. There was a sea of cupcakes to choose from – each one looking more decadent than the next. We finally settled on a mammoth-sized peanut-butter cup cupcake to sample. This chocolate cupcake had a light, fluffy peanut butter frosting with mini peanut butter and chocolate chips on top.

DSCN1396 Photographed atop the now infamous pizza box

And on the inside, peanut butter filling. Heaven.

While this cupcake was more expensive than the other two (by about a dollar), it was definitely much larger in size. And totally worth it.

DSCN1397 Did you know restaurants don’t like it when you bring in outside food? ;) This photo was quickly snapped before we got scolded by the waitress

Bella Vita Pizzeria

Seeing as our big plans for the day included consuming mass quantities of sugar, we figured it would be a good idea to get some solid food in our bodies. When it came to choosing what to eat for lunch, we went with the obvious choice: pizza!

We happened to be near Bella Vita, so decided to give it a try. We figured we couldn’t go wrong with Neapolitan Old World style brick oven pizza. The long wait outside told us it must be good.

DSCN1393

Our wait ended up being completely worth it. We ordered a pesto & mushroom pizza that was so good, it had non-mushroom eating Becky convinced. ;) So good, that we decided that we had no choice but to cart a box of leftover pizza around the city for 6 hours.

DSCN1395

The pizza had flat crust that was still soft, sauce that was slightly sweet, and fresh-tasting pesto that had just the right amount of basil. I loved how the pesto was actually on top of everything else. And while I do love cheesy pizza, I appreciated the balance of cheese and sauce on this one.

Max Brenner’s

Our next stop on the dessert tour of the city was a chocolate lover’s dream: Max Brenner Chocolate. Becky had seen their chocolate pizza featured on The Food Network’s The Best Thing I Ever Ate. With a proclamation like that, we knew we had to give it a try. Would it stand up to the cupcakes in a taste test?

DSCN1400 Clearly ecstatic at the thought of chocolate overload

The chocolate pizza had a buttery bread crust, with melted milk chocolate “sauce,” white chocolate “cheese,” and was topped with toasted marshmallows. It was quickly determined that we would probably need a cup of coffee to wash all this sugar down.

DSCN1405

DSCN1407

The verdict: messy, sweet, and delicious! I loved the combination of melted chocolate with roasted marshmallows on top of a delicious crust. But to say this slice was sweet is probably an understatement. Even with our coffee to chase it down, the two of us could not get through one slice.

DSCN1409I think she likes it ;)

DSCN1411 See the glassy eyes? Sugar coma is setting in.

DSCN1412

Despite the fact that we couldn’t actually finish the pizza, I’m glad we tried it. And I’d definitely go back. Max Brenner’s had so much more to offer: brownies, cookies, spiced hot chocolate, and the most amazing fondue spread I’ve ever seen. Thank goodness there is one opening in Boston soon!

Magnolia Bakery

Of all the cupcakes that we tried yesterday, I think those from Magnolia are probably the most famous. There are 4 different locations throughout the city. We chose to go to the smallest location because it fit in best with our plan – the one in Grand Central station.

DSCN1418

Despite the small size of the shop, there was still a decent selection to choose from. This time, we decided to go with something a little more classic: a yellow cupcake with chocolate buttercream frosting.

DSCN1416

DSCN1432

These cupcakes are quite a bit smaller than the ones from Crumbs. The buttercream frosting was delicious. Fluffy, buttery, and chocolatey, without overloading on the sugar. The cake was not overly sweet either, which provided a nice balance to the buttercream. However, it lacked the filling and overall moistness that made the Crumbs cupcake so wonderful.

Buttercup Bake Shop

The last stop on our Cupcake Tour of NYC was cute little Buttercup Bake Shop.

DSCN1420

Inside we were greeted with row upon row of cupcakes and delicious looking cakes. I found myself wishing I could sample one of everything.

DSCN1422

DSCN1423

For our last cupcake, we decided to go with the German chocolate cake. The piles of coconut in the frosting alone sold us.

DSCN1429

This cupcake was very similar in taste and texture to the one from Magnolia, which didn’t come as a surprise once we found out that they’re actually founded by the same person.

DSCN1431

Although I could probably have eaten an entire tub of the amazing frosting, I found the actual cupcake to be a bit dry and disappointing. The dryness of the cupcake mixed with the rich frosting did balance each other out, but I like my cake dense and rich…and this just wasn’t.

The Verdict

After a long day of walking, eating, and an awkward photo shoot with our frosting-stained pizza box, the results were in.

DSCN1436

The winning cupcake?! Crumbs, by a landslide! Not only did this win for best cupcake, but we declared it to be the best thing we ate all day. Rich, moist, and not overly sweet, this humungous cupcake was a clear winner. Our only regret was that we didn’t bring home extra (yet managed to take back a few slices of smashed pizza and a dirty box. Go figure…)

After being on our feet for hours, walking over 6 miles, and eating 3 different types of cupcakes (plus drinking 3 cups of coffee and little water throughout the whole day – oops), we both were ready to crash. After all, we had a race to run!

If you’re ever in New York City, I highly recommend trying out Crumbs bakery. Or, if cupcakes aren’t your thing, check out Max Brenner’s. The cool atmosphere and wealth of options means there’s got to be something there for everyone!

*Race recap to follow soon!

Next Page »