Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Gluten Free Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins

This post is sponsored by Stonyfield in partnership with King Arthur's Flour, but all opinions are my own.

The days are shorter and darkness now comes upon us before we sit down for dinner. We are deeply entrenched into fall with winter on the horizon.

I love the smell of pumpkin in the fall and the tangy flavor of cranberries. Put the two together and you have a fall/winter combination bursting with energy!

I had a lot of fun making these pumpkin cranberry muffins. I used whole, rich ingredients such as Stonyfield organic whole milk yogurt, gluten free flour from King Arthur, fresh whole cranberries, and pumpkin puree. There are also a lot of great spices to give a pop to these beautiful muffins - pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg, and cinnamon...

Doesn't it make you want to curl up by the fire with a muffin and a steaming mug of hot tea?

Gluten Free Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins (Yields 12-15 muffins)
By: NatRunsFar

2 Cups King Arthur Gluten Free Measure For Measure flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground pumpkin pie spice
1/ 2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter (melted)
2 large egg whites
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 cup Stonyfield Whole Milk Yogurt
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup lowfat milk
1 cup fresh cranberries (chopped)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare a 12 cup muffin pan with butter or cooking spray

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice and salt. In a separate bowl, whisk together the butter, egg whites, and vanilla. Stir in the pumpkin purée and yogurt, mixing until no large lumps remain. Stir in the brown sugar. Alternate between adding the flour mixture and milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, and stirring just until incorporated. (For best results, add the flour mixture in 3 equal parts.) Fold in all but 2 tablespoons of the chopped cranberries.

3. Divide the batter into the prepared muffin cups, and gently press the remaining chopped cranberries into the top of the batter. Bake at 350°F for 21-24 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes before carefully transferring onto a wire rack.

Great for breakfast, holiday brunch or an after workout snack - these muffins are sure to put a smile on your face!

Happiness Is Running Life.


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Jump Rope and Push Up Workout

Maybe it's because we are on the cusp of December, but I feel pumped and ready to end 2016 on a super awesome, rad, killer, kick ass kind of note.

First, I'm excited to share this workout with you! It's easy, you can do it anywhere (home, gym, park, on your front lawn - anywhere you feel comfortable!) and you only need a jump rope.

I know how to run, I am working on running faster, but I also want to be a great athlete - which I know will help me to become a better marathoner.

Whether you want to run faster, get in better shape, or keep calories at bay the entire month of December (and beyond) - this is a great way to do it...


Hard, sturdy surface
Jump rope
Running or cross training shoes

The Workout:

10 rotations of jump rope followed by 
10 push ups

Repeat five times

Note: Start at your level and decide what is comfortable for you.
Check with your doctor before starting any new exercise program.


What are your goals in the last month of the year?

Happiness Is Running Life!


Monday, November 28, 2016

Thanksgiving Turkey Trot 2016 Race Recap

I'll talk about the race in a moment, but first - I hope you guys had a wonderful Thanksgiving!!
We had such a special day together giving thanks and enjoying the day. Cooking, laughing, talking, and relaxing. That is what Thanksgiving is all about, right? I have more pics of our fun adventures on Instagram.

I was excited and a little bit nervous to race for the first time since Boston. It has been seven months since the marathon and a lot has happened since then. My coach told me to run by feel and have fun with zero time expectations. His advice was to start conservatively and then power it home in miles two and three.
I really didn't know what to expect, as I am just getting back into quality workouts and finally feeling free to run without worrying about my foot.

Thanksgiving morning I woke up about 5:30 am and at 6:00 am had a banana with almond butter and water. Very simple and nothing too heavy for this short race. I kept drinking a good amount of water and was hoping to take care of bathroom business (which I did) before we left to drive to the race.

Start time was 8:00 am and the starting line was close to our house with pretty easy logistics. The girls stayed home with my Mom which was totally fine with me, until I realized that the race sets up an amazing, huge bouncy house! We came as a family when I ran the race two years ago and I will bring them with me next year for sure.

Jerold and Josh dropped me off about two miles from the start, so I could run a warm up. The day was amazingly beautiful and I had an easy warm up with a quick 60 second pick up at the end to get my legs ready to go.
It was easy to grab my bib, stretch for a few minutes and then it was go time!

The race starts at our local high school and the first 300 meters or so of the race begins on the track. There was definitely a bit of jostling at the very beginning and then it quickly thinned out and we were running a pretty brisk pace. I knew in my mind that I had to start quickly, but not crazy fast - I hadn't raced a 5k in a long time and the body has to remember how to race 3.1 miles!

First mile 7:06.
The course has some hills that sneak up on you in each mile. About a half mile into the race was a pretty good sized hill that doesn't look so bad, but during a 5k, it was pretty decent. "Just get up the hill and move on" is what I told myself.
I have to say, I was hoping to run sub 7 minute that first mile, but this is where my fitness is right now - the numbers don't lie.

Second mile 6:55
Finally getting a little bit of momentum, and another decent hill makes its appearance in mile two. At this point I was feeling like the course was beating me up a bit. I didn't feel strong, confident and in control...

Third mile 7:15
At this point I was having a few thoughts. 1. I was thinking that I have run miles like this in the middle of a marathon!! 2. I felt grateful to be there in that moment, uninjured.

A woman passed me at some point toward the later part of the race. My first initial thought was: "Someone just passed me. There she goes..." 
This is where the self talk came in. The next thought was: "Come on, Nat - are you really going to let this person pass you without at least fighting for it? Get it together."
Somewhere deep inside I mustered up the energy to pass her back. And I found the will to pass with confidence ----> she didn't pass me back. #win

A quick lesson - even if you aren't feeling super great about your race - don't give up, keep pushing.

Sprinted into the finish (.1 at 6:05 pace)

Unofficial time: 21:43 (7:05 pace) and although I was hoping to run a minute faster, again - the numbers don't lie! This is where I am fitness wise right now :)

I am so happy to get this under my belt and it's a starting point. I'd like to run some more 5ks in the coming months and can't wait to see what I can really do!

I don't know how I finished in the women's field - the results are still pending, so we'll see how it all pans out.

Happy to have these handsome boys there to cheer me on!!!

And a fun little throwback ----> the five of us in 2014 at the same race. I didn't have a coach, I had raced a marathon two and half months before and little did I know, but I had a serious knee issue going on (I can't believe that I didn't feel pain during the race and I would not have run if I knew what the future held). Finish time was 22:18, so I did PR on the course! 

The kiddos were 1, (she was such a peanut!), 4 and 7 then. They were so little!!

Twenty weeks till Boston! I am super pumped about racing marathon number eight, and I'm ready to pour my heart into training. I've said this before, but I think the key for me to have a break though in the marathon is to get stronger. I will be focused on that more than ever before during this training cycle.

I ran a one mile cool down for a total of 6.1 miles for the day and a perfect way to begin Thanksgiving.

There is something magical about running on Thanksgiving Day. Whether I race in a turkey trot or run on my own, I love starting turkey day running strong.

It makes the turkey taste SO much better, doesn't it?

Did you run in a Turkey Trot over Thanksgiving?

Do you like to race 5ks?

Which you do prefer - cake or pie?!

Happiness Is Running Life!


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Just Connect + Fitness Is Easing It's Way Back

Every day I want to blog. 

Every. Single. Day.

Of course, I don't end up blogging everyday and sometimes a week goes by and I have written anything (Anything that I have actually published. There are tons of notes, research, interview prospects, and ramblings in my journal or on scraps of paper that I find while waiting in the carpool line).

Some nights or early in the cold dawn when I have been awakened by my little people, I have the most profound ideas of what I am going to write about. Tips, ideas, inspiration... lately it doesn't seem to steadily make it's way onto the page.

At first I stressed about it (I didn't blog today!) and now eventually I realize that it will work it's way back into something good. Something that I can be proud of and look back later with a sense of satisfaction that I actually pressed the publish button and it was a good decision.

I realize that every blog post doesn't have to be the most profound thing I have ever written. It doesn't have to move mountains - it can just be a way to connect. To share struggles and triumphs, ups and downs. Some posts will be awesome chunks of information of what is making a difference in training and how it can help YOU. Some posts will be just me saying "hey" and here's what I did today, despite the challenges of daily life.

I'm finding my groove with motherhood, training, writing, and the rigors of life. Life is joyful, but it can also be hard. There are days when I am happy that my kids are fed, bathed and sleeping - oh, and they learned something. I am so happy to crawl into bed with a deep sigh (ask Jerold ---> he'll tell you I sigh every time I come to bed) and think, I did it - I helped shape these little people today and I am pretty darn proud of that.


I just wanted to say that I love this space. I love everything that this space has represented these past two years and I can't wait to keep going.
Keep dreaming, sharing, providing information, inspiration and a smile (most of the time).

This quote MOVED me today:

"Don't be ashamed or embarrassed to dream big. You're living your life with hope. It's a powerful thing." 

-Kara Goucher

Right?! This is a definite stick on the mirror and look at it while brushing teeth, quote. As in - everyday. 
That pretty much ties a bow on Monday.

Here what the week of November 14th looked like:

Building a base, getting stronger, staying confident.

Monday November 14: 
5 easy miles. The miles are ticking by easier than a month ago. I feel like I am settling into a groove. 

Tuesday November 15: 
5 easy miles

Wednesday November 16: 
REST. I was scheduled to run a hard workout today and you know what? Life got in the way and I was just plain tired. Decided to move this till Thursday. 
It's called flexibility and not beating yourself up about it.

Thursday November 17: 
2 mile warm up, 4 mile progression run (7:35, 7:18, 7:03, 6:58) 1 mile cooldown. 
Ran this workout on the treadmill. A little progress here! Finally seeing some decent (for me) paces. It's a good starting point and can't wait to see what this looks like in a month, in two months...

Friday November 18: 
5 easy miles

Saturday November 19: 
REST. Let's just call this flip flop week and be happy we got it done, mmmmk?
Decided to rest today and hang out with the fam. By the way, I post every day on Instagram, so you can find daily musings there...

Sunday November 20: 
12 mile long run. Last two miles were 7:55 and 7:45. #boom
Practiced my fueling and I love that I have plenty of time to figure things out for Boston. I need to know how to take in fluid, while running at race pace. Practice, practice, practice. This is also a perfect time to try new product, experiment, see what works, what doesn't.
Today I had water and Fluid Performance drink in my bottle. Fluid has been my go to for the last two years, but I may try others that I am curious about as well.
I was overjoyed to have these loves as pit crew for me!! They love asking questions and seeing what Mommy is up to, so it was a win. Plus they had special time with Jerold playing on the beach (and we had RAIN! Hooray!).
I actually finished the run in pouring rain, which was good. I needed the change and it's nice for the sun to disappear for a while.

34 total miles for the week. 
I'm happy and proud of the effort and progress.

As we embark upon Thanksgiving, I'd love to know:

What are you thankful for?

What goes through your mind at the end of each day?

I am thankful for you guys. Thank you for being here and cheers to the journey ahead.

Happiness Is Running Life.


Sunday, November 13, 2016

Life Lately, Take Care Of Your Feet, and an RX BAR GIVEWAY!!

I think it would be safe to say that I am fired up right now. I feel so motivated, excited and happy about running every day. Watching the NYC Marathon last weekend added more fuel to the fire and it was amazing watching the athletes race + seeing Molly Huddle crush it with her third place, podium finish.

Hard work, works.

I have settled into a manageable five day a week running schedule and I am enjoying it. After running six days a week last winter and spring, this feels almost like a walk in the park. I know we are gearing up for six days a week and I happily look forward to that in order put in the miles for Boston.
I can feel a bit of difference in my body, the miles are becoming (a little) easier and the fitness is making it's way back. Let me pause and say, it's crazy how much running fitness you lose in four months! I had a good speed workout this week and half of the paces dipped into the mid to late six minute range which felt great. 

My foot is thankfully holding up. The key is not to ease up on maintenance and I have been super focused on that. Continuing to do the exercises prescribed by my physical therapist:

1. Stretching my calf every day. I use THIS device and it works really well.

2. Using a towel with bare feet and moving/grabbing it with my toes

3. Leaning against the well and stretching my calf. Also, downward dog is a great stretch for the calf muscles. I love doing that at night before bed.

4. Pulling my toes back and massaging my heel. Also, before I get out of bed every morning, I automatically do this.

5. Wearing THIS at night

6. Using my R8 roller every day!

7. Getting regular massages (I had a massage this weekend and it was very much needed! I already scheduled another one for next week).

8. Rolling my foot every day with THIS and THIS. Yes, I use both! I keep them in the freezer at all times and it feels like heaven when the cold ball rolls over your foot.

9. Using THIS when I can't get to the massage therapist.

10. Not walking around barefoot. We don't wear shoes in our house, but I always have worn some sort of shoe just for home to give me support. Chasing after three kids ---> you need support.
I have upped the game on the shoes though, I have been wearing THESE non stop at home and they feel awesome.

11. Heel raises - 3 sets of 10 (with shoes on!)

I would highly recommend doing these exercises/hacks whether you've ever suffered from plantar fasciitis or not. We put a lot of miles on our feet and need to take care of them.

I feel blessed to have my coach take care of planning the workouts. I trust the process and love that I don't have to think about what I am running every day and whether it's the right workout - am I doing too much or too little. 

32.35 miles for the week of November 7th looked like this...

Monday - 5 miles

Tuesday - 5 miles

Wednesday - 7.35 miles - 2 mile warm up, 15 x 1 minute on (1 minute jog). First 10 at 7:03 pace, last 5 at 6:50, down to 6:44 pace. 1 mile cooldown

Thursday - REST

Friday - 5 miles

Saturday - 10 hilly miles

Sunday - REST (with a heavenly massage)

Check out my GIVEWAY on Instagram!! I am giving TWO lucky readers a box of RX Bars in the flavor of their choice!!! 

Have an awesome start to your week!

Happiness Is Running Life.