Pinspire Me Friday – Vol. 40

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Need a reason to run? Here are 15!

Source: Cosmopolitan

Source: Cosmopolitan

My personal favorite reasons on this list include #5, #6, #8 and #15.

For me, running solo has taught me to push myself. I remember going out for my first long run alone. It was a 14-miler. I was worried I wouldn’t mentally be able to do it. It was beautiful that day, I decided to be positive going into it, I mapped out a new course around town to change things up, and I had a great playlist. It went really well as I recall.

Since then, solo long runs haven’t been so scary. When I went to do my 20-miler in April in preparation for Gettysburg, While I had company for the first 6 miles, I was on my own for the rest. I also couldn’t rely on music because it wouldn’t be allowed during the race. Again, I mapped out a new course to keep things fresh, had hydration with me and just focused on getting it done. I don’t know if 20 miles ever felt so good.

I enjoy running, even on the hard days, because let’s be honest it’s not always easy. Some how though it does seem to make me feel better, stronger, more ready to face other challenges.

Running also gives me an opportunity to spend time outside. I work inside at a desk for a nice portion of the day. A run guarantees me some time outside and often some much needed Vitamin D. Sometimes it’s only a short run, but those long runs on the weekends that last a couple hours more than make up for it.

Finally, it really does give me goals to work toward. I remember thinking I’d never do a half marathon and how big a deal it felt to run my first 10-miler. Then I said I wouldn’t run a marathon. But after running a few half marathons, I wanted another challenge and decided running a marathon was it. Since accomplishing both of those, I’ve set my goals toward improving my PRs. It’s also given me goals outside of running like becoming stronger and making sure I’m fueling my body as best I can to perform to the best of my ability.

So these are just 15 reasons to run and there are probably an infinite amount more. Think about it. What gets you out the door?

Why do you run?

Pinspire Me Friday – Vol. 39

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How many of you sit at a desk all day? I do for the most part. Some days I can really feel the toll it’s taking on my body. I mean, how many articles have you seen out there about how bad sitting is for us? Too many to count. Honestly, it scares me a little.

With that said, I’m striving to incorporate more movement into my days at the office. Don’t get me wrong, I try to work out 5-6 days a week between strength training, circuit training and running. But when you’re sitting for 3-4 hour stretches it doesn’t often seem like it’s enough to combat those hours.

The past two days I’ve done some quick body weight workouts in my office. It’s enough to get my blood flowing and my heart rate up a bit, while not leaving me a sweaty mess. Some of the exercises included lunges, skinny squats, incline pushups using my desk, tricep dips, side planks, and calf raises. All were outfit permitting. Obviously some things wouldn’t be appropriate or physically possible in certain types of clothing!

When I was trying to decide what to do today, I came across an older pin and thought I’d give it a shot.

Source: vamp: Fitness Revamped

Source: vamp: Fitness Revamped

I might spread the rounds out throughout the work day since I’m also planning a trip to circuit training over lunch and a run this evening.

How do you get more movement into your day?

#RaceRecap: ArtsFest 10-Miler

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The 40th Annual Sue Crowe Memorial Arts Festival races were once again a big hit among runners and walkers both locally and from out of town. More than 500 people participated across the three races on Sunday morning, the last day of the 49th annual Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts, also know as ArtsFest.

I can’t remember how many times I’ve run one of these races. I think I’ve normally opted for the 10k in the past partly because it’s a good course and just challenging enough in combination with the usual heat that July brings to the area. This year I decided to give the 10-miler a try.

To give you some background, the race originally started as only a 10-miler. They then added the 5k and 10k later and eventually discontinued the 10-miler. It was added again a few years ago. I personally had said I wouldn’t do it since it’s normally so hot and humid. But I thought I should do it at least once.

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So on Sunday morning, off I went. I’m on the far left in the yellow shorts.

It proved to be a cooler and less humid morning than normal, making running conditions quite pleasant for the first 4 miles.

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The races start separately, but all from the same spot. The 10-miler starts at 8:15, the 10k at 8:30 and the 5k at 8:45. The 10-miler makes an initial loop around the Bryce Jordan Center before rejoining the 10k course.  I started out with fellow running friends Bill and John, but by the time we finished the first loop of the BJC I let them drift ahead. We were joined by the top 10k runners at about mile 2. I rejoined John around mile 3 and hung with him for much of the race.Screen Shot 2015-07-13 at 8.28.23 AM

 

As you can see the course has several climbs. The most significant climb comes between mile 7 and 8 when the course follows the bike path along the campus golf course. That hill slows just about everyone. From there it’s mainly downhill or flat to the finish line.

I finished in 1:25:26, which was within a minute of the last 10-miler I ran a few months back. Since I haven’t been doing many longer runs and it got warm for the latter half of the course, I was plenty pleased with my time.

One thing I forgot to mention was that Ki’netik has led a 5k training program leading up to this race for the last several years. They offer a discounted race fee since we register as a group and a shirt if you want one.

After finishing, I hung around to see all the Ki’netik runners finish as well as one of local running celebrities. Maybe you’ve seen him in a recent article from Runner’s World! He’s a 95-year-old former professor who took up running years ago to improve his health. He’s still going and is the oldest member of the Old Men of the Mountain running group here. His son and grandson also run and it was fun to see the elder two cross the finish line together. I even got to hold a finisher ribbon for them to break as they crossed.

If you’re ever in the area for ArtsFest, consider participating in the races. They’re well run, inexpensive and give you a nice tour of campus.

Did you race over the weekend? Tell me how it went!

#RaceRecap: Firecracker 4k

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I hope you all had a wonderful Independence Day weekend! How did you celebrate? I had a pretty low-key few days myself, but they did include a race and of course some fireworks.

For only the second time I signed up to run the Firecracker 4k, the race that kicks of the Central Pennsylvania 4th Fest event. I’m not sure why I’ve now only done it two times considering I haven’t left town for the holiday in quite a few years. The last time I ran it was 2012 and that was a rough one. Due to excessive campus construction the entire course was set up around the commuter parking lots at the football stadium. It was brutal as it was the usual 85 degrees, sunny and humid, and the parking lots have zero shade.

This year, the course was nice. It was a quick loop around campus with a long downhill early, a short uphill near the middle of the course, and a long flat straightaway to the finish.

2015 Firecracker 4k Course with start and finish between Beaver Stadium and the Bryce Jordan Center.

2015 Firecracker 4k Course with start and finish between Beaver Stadium and the Bryce Jordan Center.

Despite a very rainy morning, it quit in time for the race but started again soon after. It was actually nice to have the cooler temperature for the run. My friend Lauren, who was up visiting family for the weekend, made the race part of her long run. She ran 7 miles to the race, ran the race and ran 7 miles back home. She’s a rockstar, but boy was she drenched after that. We stopped for a picture at the new sculpture on campus before she went on her way.

Can't wait until installation is complete!

Can’t wait until installation is complete!

Despite the rainy weather, the race had a great turnout. I definitely recommend it if you’re ever up for the fireworks and festival here.

The rain eventually cleared up in the early evening. I went out to check on our garden and am excited to see things coming along.  So far we’ve already eaten one cucumber and have two more ready to be picked. The other veggies are well on their way.

Can't wait til the tomatoes start to change color!

Can’t wait til the tomatoes start to change color!

For the fireworks we’re really lucky in that we can just watch from the backyard. I pulled my car around to the back of the house to use the radio. The fireworks here are set to music and a local radio station carries the show. It was a great mix of popular favorites and classic patriotic songs.

On Sunday I hit up a cycle class with Lauren before she and her husband hit the road. I hadn’t been to cycle since earlier this year so it was a buttkicker, but a great workout. After I washed my car since it was going to be sunny this week, but of course I woke up to a rain shower. Well, at least it was clean for about 18 hours.

I have another race coming up this weekend, the ArtsFest 10-miler. While I wouldn’t mind some sunshine for once, a cooler temperature would be welcome since a lot of the course lacks shade. Look for a recap next week!

What did you do over the holiday weekend? Tell me something good!

#FridayFive: 4th of July!

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Once again I’m taking part in the Friday Five linkup hosted by You Signed Up for What?, Mar on the Run, and Eat Pray Run, DC. You can join in on the fun too. Visit one of their blogs for the rules, write your blog and post your link!

Let me start off by saying, Happy Independence Day!!

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Many of you probably have today off. Because Independence Day is on the weekend, we don’t get Friday or Monday off. We are allocated a “compensatory holiday” that we can use later. So when I go to use a vacation day next, I’ll get to save it and log it as a compensatory holiday instead. If Independence Day was today or another weekday, we’d have the day off.

You’re probably wondering why I keep saying “Independence Day” rather than “4th of July.” Well as someone pointed out to me this morning, tomorrow is more than just a date. It’s a part of our country’s history and should be remembered as such. Just like Memorial Day, it’s important to remember the holiday is about more than fireworks, cookouts and swimming in the pool or whatever other activities you associate the holiday with but really have little to do with it. Take some time to re-familiarize yourself with our country’s history, the good and bad, and understand the true meaning behind Independence Day. Consider how far we’ve come and how far we still can and need to go.

But anyway, I digress.

So what am I up to this weekend?

1. Studying for the NASM exam.

My test date is coming up. I’m getting nervous. It’s just a ton of information. I am really enjoying learning it though. I’m hoping to spend the rest of the month reviewing so I’ll be as confident as possible when I head to take the exam.

2. Running the Firecracker 4k as part of the Central Pennsylvania 4th Fest.

This will be the second time I’ve run this race, but not because I haven’t been in town. I just always had other things to do that morning. The first time I ran it, the course was brutal. Due to an insane amount of campus construction and road closures, the entire course ran around the big commuter parking lots at the stadium. Seriously, 2.5 miles of parking lot running on a hot July day.

There aren’t many road closures, if any, this year. The course takes you on a nice trip through campus, which means there will be some shade. It’ll also help the participants spread out a bit more since the race does attract a big crowd. It’s not supposed to be nearly as hot as past years so that’s always a bonus.

My friend, Lauren, is coming to run it too. She’s in town visiting her in-laws and has a long run planned for tomorrow morning. She’ll be running 7 miles to the race, running the race and then running 7 miles back home. She’s one of the people that keeps me motivated. She’s accomplished so much!

3. Getting in a few other workouts, including cycle and strength training.

I’m hoping after the race to head over to Anytime Fitness to get in most, if not all, of my strength training routine. I’ve discovered from my studying that the workout the trainer gave me is a horizontally loaded workout. This means I do all sets of a particular exercise before moving on to the next exercise.

In addition, Lauren and I are hitting up a cycle class at a local studio on Sunday morning. She thought this would be better than dragging all her gear up from Virginia. Since we live so far apart, it’ll be nice to get in two workouts together in one weekend.

4. Making these fun dipped pretzels for a get-together tomorrow.

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I made these at Christmas using Christmas sprinkles. They were a Pinterest find and a big hit with everyone I gave them to. I decided to do them again for this holiday weekend. We’re going over to a friend’s for a cookout before coming back home to watch the fireworks. Hopefully everyone enjoys them and how festive they will hopefully look.

5. Watching the amazing Central Pennsylvania 4th Fest fireworks show that’s set to music all from the backyard.

We have a great fireworks display here. It’s an all-volunteer event and each year they do a great job designing the show and pulling it off. The display is set to music and even if you’re not sitting near the site, but are watching from your yard or some other location with a view you can hear the music thanks to one of the local radio stations. The display is also the finale to a great day and festival with music, food and family fun.

What are your plans for Independence Day weekend?

Recipe: Fresh Corn & Potato Chowder

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We were a bit bored on Sunday so we decided to try a new recipe. On Friday I had gotten the most recent Simple & Delicious magazine. I took a look through and found a recipe for Fresh Corn & Potato Chowder. I love corn chowder so off we went to the store for the ingredients.

We made some minor edits to the recipe and it turned out quite yummy. Those tips are below the recipe. I didn’t get any good pictures so I had to steal one from the website.

corn chowder

PC: Taste of Home

Ingredients
1 tbsp. butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 lb red potatoes (about 3 medium), cubed
1.5 cups fresh or frozen corn
3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1.25 cups half-and-half cream, divided
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 tbsp. minced fresh parsley

Directions
1. In a large saucepan, heat butter over medium-high heat. Add onion; cook and stir 2-4 minutes or until tender.
2. Add potatoes, corn, chicken broth, 1 cup cream, green onions, salt and pepper.
3. Bring to a boil.
4. Reduce heat; summer, covered, 12-15 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
5. Meanwhile in a small bowl, mix flour and remaining cream until smooth.
6. Stir into soup and return to a boil stirring constantly for an additional 1-2 minutes or until slightly thickened.
7. Stir in parsley.

Tips
We added ended up adding bacon to the finished soup as a topping. However, early on while cooking the onion we were simultaneously cooking the bacon. Gabe added the bacon grease to the onions and then seared the potatoes in the pan the bacon was in before we added it to the pot of soup. It added to the depth of flavor in the soup.

Another tip the magazine suggested was to let the spent cobs simmer in the pot. Pull them out before serving.

If you try it, let me know how it goes!

#RaceRecap: Crack O’ Dawn 5k

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It was another fun time at the 12th Annual Crack O’ Dawn 5k on Saturday. For the first time in the four years I have participated, it was actually a comfortable temperature. Thanks to a cold front and a huge mass of rain, the temperature was only 60 degrees. It was chilly compared to past years when it’s been 85 with 100% humidity and full sun.

I met my friend Michel at the race and also ran into my friend Amber. She has recently caught the running bug herself. There were about 50 participants in this year’s race, probably due to the rainy conditions. It was a pretty steady rain with a bit of wind. Thankfully the weather didn’t take a turn for the worse until later in the day.

The course remained the same as previous years with two nice long hill climbs. This year they didn’t feel nearly as taxing as they have in the past, which I chalk up to my strength training. I spent the first half of the race trailing this 10 year old girl who runs in the local youth track program. She will be running in the state meet. The second half of the race she took off. She was quite the runner!

I finished in 24:13 for 5th overall female and 2nd overall in the 20-29 age group. It was my best time on the course, but not a new PR. I was surprised at my time, especially since they didn’t have the big clock up at the finish due to the weather. I’ve also been battling a cold and I didn’t feel too great Saturday at all.

As usual the pancake breakfast was nice and the local Boalsburg merchants contributed a lot of great giveaways for participants. Amber and I ended up with two tickets to the summer show for VanDance, the local dance company the race benefits. We’re going to see the show this weekend. I’m hoping it’s good!

Did you race this weekend? How’d it go?