Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving in Review and Finals Week

This week has been strange to say the least.

Stranger still is the fact that it is currently 2:00 AM and I am in a large room by myself not writing my research paper that was technically due today. Thank God for soft-deadlines.

While Thanksgiving offer a much needed break before finals week, in itself the holiday can be somewhat stressful. I spent Tuesday through Friday with my immediate and extended family in North Carolina.

Spending the holidays out of town can make running somewhat difficult. I managed to squeeze in one 3ish mile run on Wednesday, but the rest of the week was jam-packed with family activities and eating. Too much eating. It seems like the times I need to run the most (stressed out and over-fed) I have the least opportunities to get out on the road.

But aside from my petty complaints, my Thanksgiving was nice. I enjoyed seeing my family and being able to contribute some to our Thanksgiving meal!

A couple days before we journeyed across the mountains, I called my mom to tell her that I was going to bake some sort of dessert this Thanksgiving. No ifs, ands, or buts. After perusing a couple different recipes I finally decided upon Joy the Baker's Pumpkin Cream Pie.

It was delicious. I didn't adjust the recipe at all. Picture? Yesh.

Maybe not so pretty, but really incredible.

My apologies for a very short post (though still very sweet, see pie above), but as it is finals week I may be incognito for a while. However, I can promise that once the break begins, there will be posting galore. And more coherent posting at that.

For now, I beg adieu.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Cocoa Pumpkin Overnight Oats

So after my first attempt at overnight oats was a soupy disaster, I vowed that I would try again. This time, I based my recipe very loosely off of a recipe from Kath Eats Real Food.

This woman is the queen of oats. Seriously, an entire page of her blog is dedicated to oatmeal. I have a friend crush. Creepy? Maybe...

Anyway, these overnight oats were certainly more successful. They were creamy, chocolatey, and very very rich. That being said, I'm still not a huge fan of overnight oats. I simply prefer hot food in the morning.  But if sweet velvety oatmeal is your thing than this recipe is for you.

Please excuse the shoddy phone pictures. I managed to procure a temporary camera yesterday, and hopefully I will have a camera of my own in the next month or so (hint hint Santa).

First some oats. And cinnamon. I love me some cinnamon.

Hey look! Its pumpkin! Adding some Autumn flair to these oats.

And cocoa powder. Antioxidants? Yes, please.

After all of this magic has taken place add some agave nectar and almond milk and voilà:
You have Overnight Oats.

Unfortunately, I accidentally deleted the picture I took of the final product, but they were pretty. I pinky swear.

Cocoa Pumpkin Overnight Oats:

1/3 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup pumpkin puree
1/3 cup almond milk (unsweetened)
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tbs. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tbs. agave nectar (or to taste)

First, combine all the ingredients in a cereal-type bowl. Next, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. ENJOY!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Buddy's Race Recap

Each November, thousands of runners and walkers congregate in World's Fair Park in Knoxville to participate in the Buddy's Race Against Cancer. This year was my fourth time racing Buddy's and I'd have to say it was probably one of my favorite races to date.

The event began with touring the multiple booths set up in the park and taking pictures with my teammates. This year I ran with a group from my most recent job at a locally owned café/deli/market. It was really great to see all of my former coworkers and run the race with them!

As we had a few walkers in our group, we decided to begin a fair distance behind the start line. This made for an interesting few minutes of walking and jogging after the gun went off. In fact, it took me almost 3 minutes to cross the start line. The next 1/2 mile or so was spent trying to dodge the numerous walkers in my path. While this may have slowed me down, it definitely added some variety to the run.

Once I had passed the majority of the walkers I was in race mode.

I had not realized how much I miss racing. To be honest, my runs had not been great in the couple weeks leading up to Buddy's. I feel like I may have tried to increase my mileage too quickly in the previous months, and as a result most of my runs just felt crappy. I had basically cut down to running 3 days a week, and any mileage exceeding 3.5 miles was painful.

During the race itself I felt fantastic! I had so much fun racing, and overall I was pleased with my time.

However, my favorite part of the day was seeing so many people out and running for a really great cause. Everyone knows someone who has battled cancer; it is a disease that affects everyone in our society. I found it incredibly inspiring to see so many survivors participating in the race, and I can't wait to run it again next year.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Running: A Love Affair

If you haven't figured out by the name of my blog or from About Me section, I love to run.

Growing up, I tried out numerous sports from gymnastics to softball, with some noncompetitive soccer thrown in for good measure. After some trial and error (and error and error) I found my niches in swimming and dance, mainly because these activities require minimal hand-eye coordination.

I really didn't discover running until I joined the cross-country team my freshman year of high school. Shortly after that I quit dancing (in a studio, everywhere else I still dance).

Dancing: All day, Every day. 
Swimming I was never too passionate about, though I did meet some incredible people through my summer-league team over the years, but running was different from any other sport I had ever attempted.

I loved the way my legs burned through a tough workout. I enjoyed pushing myself and seeing what I was capable of. Though I have very little natural talent (I blame short legs and utter lack of coordination), I found that by working hard I could run pretty fast, by my standards at least.

This year is my first year of running without a team and a coach planning my workouts. What does that mean exactly? Well, so far it means that I have done very little speed work. In fact, I haven't been near a track in over a year. It also means that I can go out on the trails far more often.

Overall, running on my own has resulted in a more zen approach to the sport. More often than not, I don't time my runs, and I'm learning to focus on how my body feels during a run rather than the miles I'm logging. That being said, I'm still sure that I take at least one or two rest days a week, and that I do other activities such as swimming, rock climbing, or Zumba.

I still love racing, and I just completed my first 5-K of 2011 this past Sunday. I'm planning on running another 5-K on December 10th, and shortly thereafter, begin training for my first half-marathon which will take place on April 1st.

But for the present, I'm just gonna focus on enjoying my relaxed running.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Morning Run and Unsuccessful Overnight Oats

When I went to bed at 1:00 am last night I had no intention of waking up early and going for a run. I love sleeping and I turn into a cranky crazy monster if I get less than 8 hours. Seriously, it is ridiculous.

So when I woke up this morning at 7:30 I didn't even consider getting up, until I realized that one of my eyes was crusted shut. Ick. After a mad dash out of bed, and a quick examination of my eye (and forcing my roommate to examine my eye), I'm pretty sure it's not pink-eye, which is fabulous because contracting pink-eye is my greatest irrational fear. Still, it seems that I have some sort of eye infection.

After all of this nonsense I was wide awake and forced to choose between:
  1. Going for a quick run
  2. Taking a trip to the student health center
Being the responsible adult I am, I went for a run. To be fair, we've been having unseasonably warm weather here, and the forecast for the later parts of the day predicted HEAVY rain. 

Fueled by one mustached mug of coffee I was off into the misty humid morning. 3.5 miles later I was back in my dorm room, and after a quick shower I was ready to refuel with some overnight oats I had prepared. 

Now, oatmeal is probably one of my favorite foods ever. Like in the whole world. 

There is just something about the heartiness of oats and the endless flavor combinations that motivates me to jump out of bed in the morning in time to microwave some breakfast. But last night, after acquiring a brand new box of rolled oats, I decided that I would mix up my morning meal by making overnight oats instead of the standard hot fare.

They didn't really turn out as I had expected... I think I my liquid/oat ratio was off; the oats didn't absorb all of the milk. Also, I regret choosing apples as they were much crunchier than I would have liked in my oatmeal. One triumph of my attempt was the discovery of the magical flavor of chai tea in oats. It was amazing. Until I decided to microwave the whole mess and thus return to my old standby. After I heated the oatmeal, the chai flavor all but disappeared.

I'm not too worried though. Round two of overnight oats will be coming soon.

In case you're curious, here is my failed recipe for overnight oats.


1/3 cup rolled oats
>2/3 cups skim milk
1 small apple thinly sliced and mirowaved until soft
a splash of strong chai tea (I used Stash black and green chai)
a couple teaspoons of chia seeds
dash of cinnamon
7 raw almonds


1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl, and leave covered in the refrigerator overnight.
2. Unwrap oats, and take a few tentative bites. Realize that the overnight oats were a failure and heat in the microwave for 2-3 minutes.
3. Enjoy!