Turkey Trottin’ and Roasted Sweet Potato Salsa

Hi friends! How are you all doing?! I spent my whole vacation on cloud 9 –  I spent 2 straight days with my family, enjoyed the latter half  of my break in Atlanta with Derek’s family.

We had such a wonderful Thanksgiving that began with the Turkey Trot 5K that I mentioned earlier in the week. After waking up in the 6 o’clock hour and enjoying a pre-race cup of coffee, my dad, Derek and I ventured out into the 37 degree Florida weather for our Turkey Trot in Fishhawk, a neighborhood near our home.

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We went back and forth on whether or not we should keep our jackets on while we ran. That’s how I know it’s really cold – when Derek and my dad run in long sleeves. In the end, we all decided to be wimps and run with the layers. The run never seemed to warm me up so I’m sure glad I kept my jacket on.

We ran with my dad for about 1.5 miles , and then all met up at the finish line. I didn’t pay much attention to my Garmin, and instead just enjoyed running with Derek and my dad beside me. We are all usually focused on trying to do well in our age group, so this was a nice change to run together.

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We ran mile 1 in 8:48, mile 2 in 8:07 and the last 1.1 mile in 7:54.

It was such a fun race and the turnout was great –  I’d guess about 2,000+ came out! I love seeing races grow from year to year!

After our run, we made our traditional Starbucks stop, and I realized it was my first Starbucks red cup of the holiday season. I’m pretty sure this is pitiful, since this means I haven’t had Starbucks in about a month. What was I thinking???!!!

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We rounded out the morning by decorating the Christmas tree, watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, preparing my contribution for Thanksgiving dinner, and attempting to take a successful Christmas card photo.

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My family always celebrates Thanksgiving at my Aunt Suzanne and Tio Frankie’s home, and since they have the Thanksgiving meal perfected, I was asked to bring just an appetizer. I knew I wanted it to be something in the spirit of Thanksgiving, but couldn’t think of a dish for the life of me. That’s where Martha Stewart and Real Simple came into play. I found this recipe on their list of easy Thanksgiving appetizers, and it was definitely a hit at the get together (as much of a hit as an appetizer can be – we all know what we were really there for!)

Roasted Sweet Potato Salsa

1.5 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and diced small

1 large red onion, diced

1 ½ tbsp. olive oil

2 tomatoes, diced

2 avocados, diced

3 tbsp chopped cilantro

Lime juice from 1 lime

Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat your oven to 450 . Spray a large baking sheet with cooking spray, and roast diced sweet and onions tossed in olive oil for 20-25 minutes, or until sweet potato is lightly browned. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool completely.

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Once roasted veggies have cooled, add in tomatoes, avocado, onion, cilantro, lime juice, salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Serve with pita chips or toasted baguette.

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I hope you all had as lovely as a Thanksgiving break as I did, and I hope your week is just as great!

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Veggie Packed Chicken Soup Because I’m Freezing Cold

Hi friends! How goes life? I am just cruising along this week, working and counting down the minutes until the holiday season officially begins! I’m so ready to begin Thanksgiving day with a Turkey Trot 5K Race with my dad and Derek. We all decided to run together this Thanksgiving, instead of trying to set PRs. None of us have been training for speed lately (Derek and I have been preparing for our upcoming half marathon), so we thought it would be nice to run together this turkey trot!

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I’m so excited that the weather in Tampa will be chilly this Thanksgiving. Who wants 80+ degree weather during the holidays? Not this girl! As you can see from my picture from last year’s turkey trot, I was sufficiently freezing (don’t let my dad’s outfit fool you – it was in the 40s and that’s cold for us down here!).

Speaking of chilly weather…. As the temperature outside starts to get a little cooler ( in the 60s here in Tampa, and that’s cold for us), I always start to crave soup more than any other time of the year. What warms your heart more than a large bowl of homemade soup? Nothing, that’s what.

Last weekend, I was really longing for some homemade soup, and we had tons of veggies and chicken on hand that I put to use to create this vegetable packed chicken soup! Here’s the recipe, I hope you all enjoy!

Veggie +  Chicken Soup

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 12 ounces chicken tenders, cut into bite-size chunks
  • 2 small zucchini, finely diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning blend
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 28 oz. vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 4 tablespoons orzo (or another tiny pasta)
  • 3  cups packed baby spinach

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Directions

Heat olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Add chicken to pan, and cook until browned, about 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate. In a large pot, add zucchini, onion, oregano, and salt and cook until the vegetables are softened, about 3-5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, vegetable broth, white wine, and orzo, and cook on high heat until the soup begins to boil. Reduce heat to simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 more minutes. Add in spinach and chicken and cook for 2 more minutes.

This soup is the perfect meal for freezing and re-heating on chilly nights or as a special lunch treat at work. I enjoyed the soup 3x this past week and it didn’t grow old once!

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Buon Appetito! And enjoy your Turkey Day-Week 🙂

Finishing Strong

If you enjoy running, either leisurely or competitively, you’ve probably participated in a 5K race at one point in time. The fall season is prime for running races, both long and short, and through the couple 5K races I’ve ran this past month, I’ve found that finishing strong can be difficult. Conveniently enough, I found this article as I was perusing on RunnersWorld this morning, and thought it might be of interest to you all! I hope you enjoy the read, and have a happy day!

Aim to Finish Strong

End workouts and races faster than you start them for a physical and mental boost.

Media: Aim to Finish Strong

It’s a common mistake with a heartbreaking result. The starting gun sounds and you take off–fast. Inevitably, the swift start takes its toll, and you slow down and miss your goal. Oops. A more effective way to nail a time is to run a negative split–that is, starting conservatively so that you run the second half of the race faster than the first. You’ll clock a better time and feel stronger, says Mike McKeeman, assistant coach for the Mammoth Track Club in Mammoth Lakes, California. “It’s the most efficient way to run,” he says. “Instead of burning all your fuel early, you save energy for the end and gain confidence as you stride past everyone in those last few miles.”
The rewards of a fast finish are not restricted to races. Learning how to pace yourself in workouts to finish strong reduces your risk of injury, boosts your fitness, and keeps your enthusiasm high, all of which supports a lifelong running routine, says coach Trent Sanderson, owner of Team Prep USA running program in Crested Butte, Colorado. Here’s how to practice reining it in–before letting it out.

Choose Your Workout Generally, you can use any easy run for a strong-finish session, especially if you’re a recreational runner, by starting slowly and concluding slightly faster. “It puts an exclamation point at the end of a run so you feel good about what you accomplished,” says Blake Boldon, director of coaching for RunnersConnect in Indianapolis. On longer runs, gradually increasing speed builds confidence in your ability to pick up the pace when you’re tired, he says. In interval sessions, starting conservatively is prudent: Go out too fast and you may not be able to complete the workout, says Boulder-based coach Brad Hudson, coauthor of Run Faster from the 5K to the Marathon.

Set the Pace Fitness runners should start at an easy pace, no matter the workout. “You should be able to talk easily,” says Mc­Keeman. Experienced runners should base speed on a recent 5-K pace, says Boldon. As a rough guideline, for a 20-minute fast-finish run, start 30 to 40 seconds per mile slower than 5-K pace; for a 40-minute run, start one minute to 90 seconds per mile slower; and for hour-plus runs, start up to two minutes per mile slower. For intervals, begin 10 to 30 seconds per mile slower than goal race pace.

Turn It Up Running a negative split involves gradually gaining speed–not hitting the halfway point of a workout or race and then gunning it. Break the distance of your session into segments, and aim to run each one slightly faster. Divide a three-miler in half, a six- to nine-miler into three equal portions, and runs over 10 miles into roughly four parts. By the final segment, you should be running slightly faster than goal pace or at a pace where you can speak just a couple words at a time. If doing intervals, start picking up the pace after the first half of repeats until you’re running the final effort 10 to 15 seconds faster per mile than goal pace.

Turn It Up More If you’re targeting a race, practice making the first half of your negative-split runs faster. “Your goal is to decrease the difference between your first and second half by increasing your starting speed until you’re running close to an even pace throughout the race–this will maximize your performance,” says Boldon. “You need to conserve just enough energy up front–not too little, but not too much either–so that you can finish fast and still PR.” Indeed, most competitive runners hit fairly even splits and then kick it into high gear at the very end. Aim for starting five to 10 seconds slower than your goal pace, no matter what distance you’re racing, says McKeeman. “Sure, if you’re 25 seconds off on the first mile of a marathon, it’s not a huge deal,” he says. “You only need to make up one second every mile. However, it’s going to be a lot tougher to find that time in a 10-K.”

Run Better Pace yourself with the “talk test” on a fast-finish run with friends. You should be able to chat easily at the start and not much at all by the end.

Second-Half Speed
Add these workouts to your routine and finish races faster
Fast-finish workout: Out-and-back The details: Head out to a designated point, turn around, and run the return slightly faster. Start with about 20 minutes (10 minutes out, less than 10 minutes back), and gradually work up to 60 minutes, depending on your goal distance.
Fast-finish workout: 400s The details: Do 4 to 8 x 400 meters with a 100-meter recovery jog between each. Run the first 2 to 4 repeats at a comfortable pace (10 to 30 seconds per mile slower than goal pace). Speed up successive repeats so the final 1 to 2 laps are 10 to 15 seconds per mile faster than race pace.
Fast-finish workout: 2000s The details: Do 2 to 4 2000-meter intervals (5 times around a track) at race pace with a 400-meter recovery jog between each. End with 1000 meters (2.5 times around) at slightly faster than goal pace.
Fast-finish workout: Progressive long run The details: Run the first quarter of your total distance easy (goal pace plus 45 to 60 seconds). For each successive quarter, run your goal pace plus 30 seconds, plus 20 seconds, plus 10 seconds. If possible, run the last mile or so at goal pace.

87% of runners admit a too-fast start dashed their race goals at least once, reports a runnersworld.com poll.

Source

What are your favorite races to participate in?

Have you ever done a “color run” or “tough mudder”?

I love all kinds of races for different reasons. Small races are a great confidence booster, as it’s much easier to place with only 50 or so competitors in my age group. But large races are awesome for the “swag bags” and hype surrounding the big event. And it always feels good to participate in a race that supports a good cause.

I’ve never done a “color run” or “tough mudder”, but I’ll try anything once!