Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Fall Race Schedule... and that time I ran 400m's in the pouring down rain

It's that time again... time to start (seriously) training. With an actual training plan, not the go-out-and-run-whatever-you-want training plan. Fall racing season is just around the corner, and I'm looking forward to some PR's.

I've got a few summer 5k's left, and then some longer races in the fall. I decided NOT to run a full marathon this fall, and focus on speed in the half-marathon. I really want to break 1:30 for the half distance, which is definitely possible. (My PR is 1:30:14.) 

Here's my schedule. (So far.)

  • July 28 - SIDS Prevention 5km
  • August 4 - Square Fair 5km
  • September 15 - Pumpkin Fest 10km
  • October 6 - Hands for Haiti Half-marathon
  • October 7 - Octoberfest 10km
  • October 21 - Columbus Half Marathon (GOAL RACE - sub 1:30)
  • November 9-10 - RAGNAR Relay Tennessee

After consulting my BFF Jack Daniels, I designed a 13-week training plan that takes me through the Columbus Half on October 21. It's a bit more aggressive than any plan that I've done recently, and I'm excited to challenge myself and switch it up with new interval workouts. My mileage will top out at 55-60 miles a week.

Here's a quick view of what I've got on tap. I'm not fancy, so I don't know how to make nifty tables in Blogger. So you get a screen shot of my Excel document. :) If anyone would like to actually see a copy of the schedule, shoot me a comment or an email.

Since it's week #1, yesterday I had my first speed workout of the new plan. 400m's at R (repetition) pace. Which is freaking fast. I was supposed to run 10 x 400m @ 83 sec (5:32-pace!) with 400m jog recovery.

The weather was a little tricky yesterday - super humid when I woke up at 7am. I decided to wait it out a bit, and by 9am the humidity had dropped significantly. The clouds were looming, but it looked like I might just encounter a sprinkle or two. I laced up my shoes and headed out.

I intended to jog 1.5 miles to the nearest track (which is a cinder track), and run my 400m's there. However, about 10 minutes into the warm-up, the skies opened, and it started to pour. Change of plans - I decided to run back home and get my hat so I could actually see without rain pelting my eyeballs.

By then time I made it home, I'd already run 2+ miles, so I decided to run my 400m's on the road near my house where I know the 0.25 miles. (Plus, running in the pouring rain on a cinder track didn't sound too appealing anymore.)

I made it through the first few okay - 83, 83, 83, 85.

And then it went downhill. It was really pouring by now. Rep #5 was rough... the rain had got into my eyes and both my contacts went completely out of focus. I felt like I was blindly running through the streets, splashing in every puddle I came across. Seriously, I'm sure I was quite the sight.

Lovely me, soaking wet, after the run. Can't you see I'm thrilled?
I ended up completing four more intervals - 87, 84, 84, 87, finishing up with eight total intervals. Not quite the ten intervals the plan called for, but good enough for the conditions. 

Yesterday was definitely more about effort & mental persistence than anything else. Would it have been easier to switch up the workout and hit the treadmill? Sure. But pushing through the pouring rain, fuzzy contacts, and water-logged shoes made me feel like a million bucks. (Not really... but the more I train in not-perfect conditions, the more I appreciate when the weather is decent.) So even though I didn't hit my splits, I still consider the workout a success. And hopefully next week, the same workout will be a breeze!

This morning, I hit up the hills with my running group, keeping it at a recovery pace. It was a beautiful morning for a run... we finally had temps in the 60s. I'm hoping to get out for a second run this afternoon to help me hit my mileage for the week. Happy Wednesday!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Strawberry Balsamic Bacon Pizza

Yes, that's right. Strawberries + balsamic + bacon on pizza? Don't knock it until you try it.

I have prepared this pizza no less than 5 times this summer, with full intentions of photographing it and blogging about it. Every time, we would be about halfway through the pizza when I would remembered "Gah! I was gonna take pictures! Oh well, it's too delicious... next time!"

I don't know where the self-control came from, but this week I managed to get a few pictures before devouring our new favorite pie.

What makes this pizza so delish? All the different flavors - the tangy sauce, sweet strawberries, salty bacon, fresh cilantro. It's seriously phenomenal. 

The sauce starts with some reduced balsamic vinegar. Cook it over medium heat until it is reduced by half, and becomes thick and almost syrupy.

Just poured into the pan...

Reduced & ready to go!
Then, mix it up with some strawberry jam and a bit of sriracha chili sauce. A little bit of sweet with a little bit of heat. That's what makes it so good.

Then the sauce goes onto the crust.

Now time for the fun stuff! First we've got chicken.

Then some sliced onion. 

Then the CHEESE. Just simple mozzarella. (Just make sure you shred it yourself. Or recruit your Business Man to shred it for you. It tastes so much better.)

Then the strawberries! Dice 'em up real small.

And the bacon. Make sure it's thick-cut, crisp bacon. Why is bacon so good?

After a quick trip in the oven, all you gotta do is sprinkle it with a bit of fresh cilantro, and you are ready to dig in.

This is the pizza of the summer for us. We have homemade pizza for dinner about once a week, and this has been the flavor choice at least twice a month since May. Even if you're skeptical about strawberries on a pizza, give it a try.

I've been slicing my pizzas into strips lately... not only is it more fun to eat, but you can eat more without feeling like you're eating more. Just one more little sliver. (Except when you do that 5 times, it probably counteracts itself. Get what I'm sayin'?!)


Strawberry Balsamic Bacon Pizza
Servings/Yield: One 12-inch pizza

  • For the sauce
    • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
    • ½ cup strawberry jam
    • 1 teaspoon sriracha chili sauce
  • For pizza
    • 1 ball pizza dough
    • 1 cup shredded cooked chicken
    • ½ cup thinly sliced yellow onion
    • 4-oz shredded mozzarella cheese
    • ½ cup diced strawberries
    • 4 slices thick-cut bacon, diced and cooked until crisp
    • 2-3 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro

Heat the balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan over medium heat until simmering. Simmer 5 minutes, or until reduced in half and the vinegar is thick & syrupy. Combine reduced vinegar with strawberry jam and sriracha chili sauce.

Prepare pizza dough/crust, however your recipe indicates. (I use a pizza stone preheated in the oven for 30 minutes at 500*F.) Spread the sauce mixture onto your pizza crust. Top with chicken, onion, mozzarella cheese, strawberries, and bacon.

Bake the pizza 7-10 minutes at 500*F, until the cheese is melted and the crust is golden. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro before serving.

Source: From Annie's Eats

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Day in the Life... [of a teacher during summer break!]

I've been seeing some "Day in the Life" posts float around the interwebs and thought it'd be fun to partake. Here's how I spent my summer Tuesday.

6am - Alarm goes off so I can run early to 'beat the heat.' But... since I'm not meeting anyone to run, I immediately roll over and go back to sleep.

7:30am - I wake up for real, and make my way downstairs. I cook a gourmet breakfast for my Business Man (a bowl of microwaved instant oatmeal, so gourmet) and make myself a mug of iced coffee. Yum. After getting my own breakfast, I plop myself on the couch to watch the Today show.

9am - After spending an hour and a half in front of the TV and 'blogging', I decide I should do something productive. So I attempt to get started on some lesson planning and how to implement the common core standards for next year. Gross.

10:15am - Enough of that school stuff. I decide I should go to the gym and get my run on with Kathie Lee & Hoda. (Even though it's not that hot out.) Today was Tempo Tuesday and I ran 6.2 miles at 6:35 avg pace. The plan was to only run a 6-mile tempo, but I realized I was close to a 10km PR... so I ran 6.2 and finished in 40:49, a 4 second PR. But can I really count that? Hmmmm...

Rockin' out my new neon pink sports bra from Target, love it

12:30pm - After corework, stretching, and showering, I come home for lunch. My Business Man comes home for lunch a lot during the summer (to see me, or at least that's what I tell myself), so I get to see him for a few minutes, which is fun. Except he usually is a speed-eater and is back out the door in 10 minutes or less.

1:30pm - I head to the pool for an afternoon of fun in the sun. It was 84*F today, perfect laying out weather. I spent some time consulting the experts to craft a training plan for the fall, and then moved onto my book. Currently reading Mercy by Jodi Picoult.

Jack Daniels... the king of booze distance running

4pm - I leave the pool and head to the grocery store for parchment paper. (The one thing I forgot when I went to the store Sunday. Grrr.) But I forgot the store was having a HUGE 4-hour sale from 3pm-7pm, and ended up waiting in line to check out for a long time. No big deal, I don't have anywhere to be. Plus then I get to browse through all the magazines.

4:30pm - I arrive home and prepare pizza dough so it can rise before dinner. I also spend some time doing the dishes that have been accumulating all day, and I throw a load of laundry in. 

6:30pm - Not sure what happened since 4:30pm (probably sucked into the vortex of Pinterest or food blogs), but realize I better actually make the pizza so we can eat dinner. My Business Man arrives home around this time, too, so I get to ask him five bajillion questions about his day.

Recipe soon, I promise

8pm - I help my Business Man water the flowers. And by help, I mean sit outside and watch while he waters the flowers. And chat with the neighbors. Tonight, I was introduced to the little neighbor girl's pet grasshopper, Bruce. She was planning on taking him to bed with her. How sweet.

9pm - I come inside and plant myself on the couch with a bowl of ice cream. Or a cupcake. There are no cupcakes in the house tonight though, so ice cream it is. Since today's Tuesday, we watch Cupcake Wars. Funny, I start my day on the couch and end my day on the couch. 

10pm - I mosey up to bed so I can attempt to make it to the hill workout in the park at 5:30 tomorrow morning.  


Yes, I have it easy in the summer. And I absolutely love it. Granted, this was a really laid-back day. Usually I have more errands to run or a few cupcake/baked goods orders to fill. (And I like those days even better because I get to spend a portion of my day baking!) 

I wouldn't trade these summer days for anything. (Except maybe my own bakery. Hmmmm...)

Wedding Mania

The last 8 days have been busy

2 out-of-town weddings + 2 rehearsals  + 2 rehearsal dinners + mid-week 4th of July party = exhausted Sara. Yesterday I took a day to completely recoop and I feel much better. Nothing an afternoon by the pool can't cure!

So... rewind to our first wedding weekend. My Business Man's college roommate got married up on a beautiful lake in Michigan.

It was so much fun to reunite and spend some time with his friends from college, who have become my friends as well. Love our friends' weekends! 

Love these 'ribbon dancers' we used for the send-off!

The wedding was gorgeous - the bride's attention to detail was insane! The place settings, the favors, the cake. 

Beautiful tables

Loved the linens
They had homemade strawberry jam for favors. Isn't this display the cutest? (I may have snagged 4 jars...)

My Business Man & I even got to take a little boat ride during the cocktail hour. First (and last?) boat ride of the summer!

Soakin' up the sun

The cake! And groom's cake.
We danced like maniacs for hours, it seemed. I woke up so sore the next day. Who knew that flailing your arms around like an idiot for 3 hours would make your back sore? 

With the newlyweds!

Mmmm... vanilla raspberry.

And wedding #2... my cousin's wedding! He and I grew up together, and attended rival high schools. We actually both studied math ed in college and he's a math teacher as well. It was so much fun to have the chance to be a part of his & his wife's big day! (They asked me to play piano for the ceremony.)

I don't have as many pics from this one, perhaps due to the fact that I was little busy during the wedding. :) 

Despite the hot temps, they had a sweet ceremony in a quaint little church in the countryside. I hear the music was pretty fantastic, too.

The reception rocked! A photobooth, cupcakes, and an ice cream sundae bar. Unreal... how did they know that ice cream is my favorite dessert?!

Toppings galore!
Loaded up with Reese's & hot fudge. Yum!

The cake was gorgeous as well... I love the square layers.

And the groom's cake. My cousin's played football his whole life and now he coaches at the school he teaches at.

What a great weekend spent catching up with family & friends.

Now we're back in the Bean Town for a more low key week. I'm hoping to get my fall race schedule planned out, and create a training plan of some sort! I've been going kind of crazy without a plan these last few weeks. 

My other goal - get to the pool every day. I know, life's rough. ;)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Freedom 5km and Celebrating the 4th!

Yesterday was the 4th of July. You were probably aware of that, due to the numerous photo uploads of fireworks on facebook, instagram, and other social media platforms. You probably were also aware that it was HOT. (At least in the Midwest.)

We had a great day. It started out with a run, some baking happened during the middle, and we finished off by celebrating with friends.

Starting with the run... it wasn't just any run - it was the Freedom 5km! This was my 'A' race of the summer, so I was hoping to PR and run sub-18:50. But... did I mention it was hot yesterday? As in, 85*F and full sun at the 9am start? Yea. Great for racing.

The start

Anyway, I set out to run my best despite the heat. My plan was to run 6:00 miles for as long as I could. I warmed up with a 2-mile jog, some plyos & striders, and then we were ready to go!

The first mile was not too bad, just got into the groove. 5:50 split. [Side note: that might be my fastest first mile, ever.] 

The second mile started to hurt a bit more, but I still ran a 5:58 split. Way under goal-pace, so I was excited.

Then the third mile. Ohhhhhh, the third mile. At this point we were on the Riverwalk trail and just had to make it back to the park. Which seriously seemed forever away. (Funny how you can run that 1-mile stretch any other day of the week and it flies by, but in the middle of a race, it drags on for eternity.) 

My body was rebelling against the heat at this point, and it felt like it took all my energy to just put one foot in front of the other. Combined with a few roly poly hills, this mile was miserable. I ended up running a 6:28 last mile. Yikes, talk about positive splitting! Not my ideal race strategy at all.

Struggling to the finish

I finished the race in 18:55... so close to my PR! I'll admit it, I was a bit upset that I was so close. Just 5 seconds! However, after talking to several of my running buddies after the race, I realized that it was really hot & humid. Everyone I talked to was majorly affected by the heat, most people by like 30-60 seconds. This was still only my second time to break 19:00 so I am happy about that! I need to find another 5km yet this summer (hopefully with some cooler temps) so I can attempt another PR.

I ended up 2nd female overall, and 25th out of 1100+ participants. (First place girl ran 17:50... she's a beast. She also ran for Ohio State. :-P) Funny thing is, my running buddy Amy and I went for a long cool-down and totally missed the awards ceremony. Usually, it takes forever to get the awards organized, so we figured we had plenty of time. Whoops!

After the race, I hightailed it home so we could prep for our 4th of July party. We had an open house and invited pretty much everyone we know in the Bean Town. We live just a block and a half from the park, where all the fireworks and festivities are, so it's a blast!

Of course, since I have the best job in the summer (aka no job), I spent some time on some Pinterest crafts so our house would be festive. 

Pinwheel garland

Festive wreath


I also made beef burgers and turkey burgers. My Business Man did a great job grilling them.


And then the dessert. (What's a party without dessert?) I had a few cupcake orders so I whipped a few extra for the party. I was quite excited to use my Christmas gift cupcake stand for the first time!

Soft Sugar Cookies & Buckeye Cookies. (Ohhh Buckeye Cookies, my favorite in the whole world.)

The cupcakes! Confetti, Lemon, Red Velvet, and my newest flavor -  Vanilla Blueberry with Blueberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream. Yum!

All in all - running, cupcakes, friends... what more could a girl ask for?

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