a balanced plate with room for dessert

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Minneapolis Marathon 2014 Race Recap & National Running Day!

Happy National Running Day! I hope you all celebrate by lacing up your shoes and getting out there for a run – whether it’s for 3 minutes, 3 miles, or 3 hours! I’ll be putting in my first miles after this past Sunday’s race and I can’t wait to get back out there. Sunday’s race – the Minneapolis Marathon. Ah, so much drama.

Long story short – the Minneapolis Marathon got cancelled, but Adam’s Birthday Marathon went on as planned.

The whole story: A group of seven of us traveled to Minneapolis on Saturday for the race. Three runners (Adam, the birthday boy, and I planned on running the full, Ash the half) and four amazing cheerleaders. As soon as we crossed the state line, the rain started. It wasn’t bad and we hoped that the rain that was predicted for race day was just coming in early. The race expo was a bit unorganized and not very helpful at all. I was surprised to find out that they did not have any course maps available at the expo and the gal at the booth told us instead to just look at it online. Sure, that might have worked… had their PDF been readable. You could see the general outline of the course, but the street names were indiscernible. I mean, how the heck is something like this supposed to be useful to people who aren’t familiar with the area?

image from

During the time at the expo, the light rain developed into a down pour and it just got worse from there. (Side note – the views from our 14th floor hotel room were amazing!) The Team Ortho (TO) / Minneapolis Marathon race staff sent out an email late Saturday night reminding us to hydrate (a little late, but thanks) and to keep an eye out on their Facebook page for updates at 4:00 AM, 5:00 AM, 5:30 AM, and 6:00 AM.

We dutifully woke up at 4:30 to eat and prep for the 6:30 race start. When we got up, the weather did not look promising – heavy storms with lightning galore. I obsessively started checking the race’s Facebook page for the promised updates that were to be posted at 4:00, 5:00, 5:30 and 6:00. There was no 4:00 or 5:00 update. At 5:26, they finally posted an update saying that the start time had been postponed an hour to 7:30 AM. At 5:29, they posted again saying the next update would be at 7:00 AM. Ok, so no other updates until 7:00 AM. I guess I could deal.

We waited around the hotel until 6:30 before dragging ourselves out into the rain to the race start line. Runners were huddled under any shelter they could find. The rain finally let up a little and the runners made their way up to the start. 7:00 AM came and went with no update from the marathon organizers. No one seemed to have any idea what was going on. 7:15 AM and still no updates. Everyone figured the race would start, as scheduled, at 7:30 AM. Then, 7:30 AM passed and the race didn’t start. People started checking Facebook – no updates on there, either. Race staff was nowhere to be found. 7:40 AM. Nothing. 7:50 AM runners start walking back to their cars and the word spreads that the race has been cancelled. (For what it’s worth, a Facebook update was finally posted at around 8:00 AM). I found Adam and Ash and we decided we were going to run it anyway. We had spent months training and we were already there. I decided to run the half with Ash instead of attempting the full and the birthday boy set off, determined to finish the full.

As we and a couple hundred (?) other rogue runners went around the barricaded start line, race staff told us that we were running at our own risk. We blew past them. It wasn’t raining. The weather apps showed no storm headed this way. Heat, humidity, and an unfamiliar city were our only challenges. A few miles later, a staff member was on the route, screaming at us to remove our bibs or the police would take action. What the heck? Ash and I dutifully flipped our bibs over and continued on. As we ran, we watched the race staff pull mile markers, cones, and tightly wrap up the water stations in plastic wrap so that runners couldn’t get to it. When we finally reaches the finish line (or what was supposed to be the finish line), we found a volunteer handing out medals.

Minneapolis Marathon 2014 |

mile markers at the Minneapolis Marathon

Wait. I thought the race was cancelled. Why were they handing out medals? I grabbed one, started stretching, and took in my surroundings. I saw many confused, lost race participants. Some were wondering where to pick up their gear check bags. Others were wondering how they were going to get back to the start (since the shuttles had been called off). The TO staff and volunteers had no answers. They busied themselves with packing everything up and seemed to care very little about answering any questions that the race participants had.

Mike, Ash, and I met up with three others in our group to cheer on the birthday boy marathoner. A group of us ended up running the last 3.5 miles with him. When we finally made it to the finish, the lot was deserted – no sign that there was a race planned for that day.

Minneapolis Marathon 2014 (cancelled but we ran anyway) |


I want to make it clear that I 100% understand why the race was called off. The race organizers thought that there was going to be another severe storm with lightning passing through and didn’t want to risk the lives of the runners or volunteers. What I do not understand is why the race cancellation wasn’t announced and why the updates weren’t posted to Facebook as promised. The disorganization and lack of communication of Team Ortho and their Minneapolis Marathon were dismal. Tuesday afternoon, TO and MM slightly redeemed themselves by sending out an apology and discount codes for other races they put on, including the 2015 Minneapolis Marathon. Will I run another one of their races? I’m undecided. The course (or what I think was the course) was absolutely beautiful and I would love to run it again, but this experience as a whole was so disappointing.

Now, I’m off to find another marathon to run this year. In Wisconsin. ❤

Minneapolis Marathon 2014 (aka Adam’s Birthday Marathon)


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SNAP Challenge: Day 3

Today’s prompt: “How has eating on a limited budget impacted your mood? Your concentration? How has that impacted your interaction with family and coworkers?”

I’m not as happy and motivated as I normally am. My concentration is a mess. I’m constantly thinking about food – whether we will have enough, when I can eat next, why the hell is my stomach always grumbling?!, what I will do if we run out of food. It’s definitely affecting my productivity at work.  I can’t say my interactions with family and coworkers has really changed. The biggest change between Mike and me is that I am constantly asking him if he’s doing ok, if he’s hungry, if I can get him anything. I’m worried about him and obviously don’t want him to be hungry. I feel bad for making him go through this when he’s trying to study for his exams.

My energy levels are l-o-w. I went for a 7 mile run after work today and it… sucked. I don’t know how else to put it. My legs felt like lead the entire time. My stomach ached. I didn’t have gum to chew. At the end, my body felt like it had just done a 20 mile run, not a 7 mile run.

Here’s what we ate today:

  • Breakfast: toast with peanut butter (Mike) and savory oatmeal with fried egg (me)
  • Snack: red grapes
  • Lunch: three bean turkey chili with elbow macaroni
  • Pre-run snack: 1/2 banana each and a couple raisins
  • Dinner: pepper chicken with white rice
  • Snack: spoonful of peanut butter (Mike)
  • Snack: peanut butter banana oatmeal raisin cookies

The best thing I had today were the grapes. They were so sweet and juicy and I had to stop myself from shoving fistfuls into my mouth. I brought about a cup of grapes to work and rationed them throughout the morning. Every time I finished a project or approved a contract, I got to eat a grape. Oh, and the iced tea with lemon juice I had with dinner? So good. I’m usually a plain water kinda gal, but I really needed something else to drink!

I’m not gonna lie – dinner was pretty fabulous, too. During my run I went past a couple Chinese restaurants (and a few bars… and a few chocolate shops…) and it all smelled so good. Like it was taunting me. Jerks. I was sweaty, tired, and worst of all – hungry. I wanted to cave in and get takeout for dinner, but that obviously wasn’t an option. Thankfully, this pepper chicken hit the spot! Mental note: do not run down streets lined with restaurants/chocolate shops/bars/bakeries any more this week.

takeout fakeout pepper chicken |

Takeout Fakeout – Pepper Chicken

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/4 inch strips
1 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, divided
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon corn starch
1 teaspoon canola oil
2 small onions, halved and thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 chile peppers, thinly sliced, optional
2 bell peppers, thinly sliced
8 ounces mushrooms, quartered
3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon white pepper

steamed white rice, for serving

  1. Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon of the black pepper and the salt over the sliced chicken. Dust chicken with cornstarch until well coated.
  2. Heat canola oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, Add chicken and cook until browned and cooked through, about 3 – 5 minutes. Move to a bowl and keep warm.
  3. In the skillet, add in onions, garlic and chile peppers (if using). Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft, about 3 minutes. Add in bell peppers and mushrooms. Stir in soy sauce, white pepper, and remaining 1 teaspoon black pepper until well combined. Cook for 3 minutes or until bell peppers are tender-crisp. Stir in cooked chicken and toss to coat with sauce.
  4. Serve hot with steamed rice.


Race Recap // Chicken Sausage with Peppers and Easy Spinach Pasta Salad

This post two-for-one deal. It’s a running and recipe post all rolled into one! Let me start the race recap with my Saturday. In my last post I talked about my nervousness and how I planned on dealing with it. So, what did I do all weekend?

Well, like I had said before, Mike and I went to the Cellcom Race Expo and picked up my race packet. We bought a running hat (for him) and some more running capris (for me) there. We then headed over to Hinterland for some beer & food. It was so good. We decided to sit in the lounge and I’m so glad we did. The space is really neat – we snagged a corner booth that had a nice view of the downtown area. The service and food were amazing. We’re already planning on next trip back – I’m sad they are a 40 minute trip away, but it’s definitely worth it.

hinterland beer, goat cheese curds, smoked chicken pizza

We drank: Cherry Wheat (Crisp, cool and refreshing. Brewed using tart Door County cherries from Seaquist Orchards) and Bourbon Barrel Dopplebock (Dark amber color. Full-bodied. Pronounced notes of caramel and oak with a smooth bourbony finish. Aged 10.5 months). Both were delish.

We ate: Caprine supreme goat cheese curds with kimchee ketchup and Nueske’s smoked chicken pizza (maple bock barbecue, mango, chives, goat cheese). The cheese curds were different than any cheese curd I’ve had before – they were light and fluffy and the kimchee ketchup was awesome. The pizza was, of course, delish as well. I loved the addition of the mango.

Saturday, we wasted the day away at home and ran some errands. I felt sick with anticipation almost all day. I was refreshing the weather on my iPad every hour (definitely wasn’t helping). I ended up throwing together dinner early at around 5:00 so we could eat early and get to bed by 9:00.

Some people have certain foods they need to stay away from before race day. I’ve found that I can eat almost anything, but it’s best if I stay away from fiber and copious amounts of grease. I ended up making a dish with chicken sausage and bell peppers with a pasta salad side. I loved that this meal was filling, easy, and my stomach handled it perfectly.

healthy chicken sausage with peppers |

Chicken Sausage & Peppers 

1 teaspoon canola oil
1 large onion, chopped
12 ounces fully cooked chicken sausage*, cut into 1 1/2 – 2″ pieces
2 bell peppers, sliced
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  1. Heat oil in a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add in onions and cook for 3 – 4 minutes or until they start to soften.
  2. Add in sausage and bell peppers and cook until sausage is heated through, 3 – 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

*I used Johnsonville’s Chicken Sausage – Chipotle Montery Jack in my dish. I’ve had this type before and love it so I used it again instead of trying something new.

healthy chicken sausage & peppers with easy spinach pasta salad |

Easy Spinach Pasta Salad

12 ounces farfalle or other small pasta
1 teaspoon garlic olive oil or plain olive oil*
3 cups baby spinach
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
3 roma tomatoes, thinly sliced
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions in a large pot of boiling salted water. Drain and immediately toss with garlic olive oil. Toss warm cooked pasta with spinach, onion, tomato and Parmesan. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

*I used a garlic evoo from a local store, The Olive Cellar. Love the place and will never buy olive oil (or balsamic) from any other place.

After eating a fair amount of this, Mike and I turned in for the night. He tried to calm my nerves by playing the Fun Run episode from The Office. It worked 🙂

Now, that brings us to Sunday: race day. Mike and I rolled out of bed at around 4:00 that morning and I nervously ate a banana and some Quaker Oatmeal Squares. I chugged a little water and then we were off to Green Bay. We weather was beautiful at first. Here’s a picture of me – all happy that it was race day and ready to conquer Cellcom once again.

cellcom half 2013 - before

I got about 2 miles in before I realized just how hot and humid it was. Last year was hotter, but this year was much more humid. I do not handle humidity or heat very well. Put the two together and well… I’m a goner. Let’s just say that there aren’t many pictures I want to post of my grossness mid-run. I will, however, share with you the pics Mike snapped during my last mile in Lambeau Field!

cellcom half - lambeau field

I may look happy and full of energy in the above photos, but miles 2 – 12 were killer. I was dragging and just mentally d-o-n-e with it all. After I crossed the finish line and found Mike, I loaded up on brats and beer. I got my picture taken with a complete stranger (??) and then changed into dry clothes before heading back out to Lambeau and cheering on the marathoners and snapping a few more pics.

cellcom half 2013 - finish

I wish I could say that everything was perfect. That I hit my goal time. That I PRed. But none of that is true. I debated sharing my time with the world because I was embarrassed at first. Then, I realized that all runners have good days and bad days. I just happened to have a bad day. And even though my time was 2:27 and I finished nearly 15 minutes after my goal time, I still did better than the person I was just 2 1/2 years ago. I used to be someone who couldn’t run for 20 seconds straight and struggled through Day 1 of Couch to 5k for a solid week.

I don’t run to be first. I run to finish.


Pre-Race Jitters

It’s that time again… half marathon time. I ran my first half marathon almost exactly a year ago at the Cellcom Half. I still remember how horrible it was. It was hot. Way too hot. I am still, to this day, thankful for all the residents who had their sprinklers out, to all the volunteers who had endless cups of water and Gatorade, and to myself for wearing a water belt.

I’m hoping this year will be cooler. The forecast for Sunday went from sunny to thunderstorms and it’s currently at partly cloudy with a high of 76°F. I have my fingers and toes crossed that it stays that way.

My second half (Honky Tonk Half) was no better. I ran it too soon after my first full and ended up with a stress fracture in my right foot. I am so thankful that my sister was willing to push all of her hard training aside and walk by my side for the last 6 miles. The best part of not being able to run? We were able to get awesome pictures like this:

becca & jenni halfPhoto taken by: TRC Photo

Note the lack of sweat and the smiles on our faces. Now compare that to my typical race photo where I look like this (in the pink tank):

jenni half

(It just so happens that this photo was taken during Cellcom last year. SO HOT!)

So, here goes half #3. I’m still not quite sure why I get so worked up before a race.  I go through this before every.single.race regardless of the distance. I get angry at myself for not training hard enough, not running fast enough, for having such a sensitive stomach, and for getting injured so frequently. It’s almost like my body is telling me “STOP RUNNING”, but I refuse to. I’m 100% certain that running is the only reason I’m still (somewhat) sane.

I’m mentally preparing myself this time by picking up my race packet tonight, and then going out for dinner and drinks at Hinterland. Saturday I’ll relax with some yoga, gardening, laying out my clothes, and making sure my watch and iPod are fully charged.

I’m trying to keep in mind that I’ve logged my miles by running dutifully 3 or 4 days a week. This year I actually cross trained with yoga 2 – 3 days a week, biking, and weights. My training calendar has the proof that I am ready. Now I just need to make myself believe it.

So, here goes nothing!

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Weekend Recap

Ok, so this will also include a brief month recap. Since my last update, I have graduated from my dietetic internship, finished my kitchen cabinets, planted a garden that will soon be full of delicious veggies, and just genuinely enjoyed life.

Oh yeah, I also ran my first half marathon on Sunday at the Cellcom Green Bay Half Marathon.

If you had told me two years ago I would some day be able to run 13.1 miles, I would have laughed at you. But, I can now proudly say that I have trained my butt off and endured the most difficult race I’ve been in yet. I saw Mike and our friend, Jon, at mile 11 or so and they asked me  how I was doing. My answer was a thumbs down and a mumbled “this sucks” before I continued to trudge on.

Surprisingly, it wasn’t the distance that did me in. It was the unexpected heat and humidity. It was 69°F at the start and HUMID. It was 85°F when I finished about 2 hours and 18 minutes later. I was bummed – I had trained for running it in 2:05 and I had successfully ran 12.5 miles at that pace during my training. I guess it was better that I run smart (and slow). The race itself was a bit scary – there were runners literally falling over around me. I ran past runners passed out in front yards with medical staff attending to them. I constantly heard ambulances. They ended up closing the course (marathon and half marathon) about 20 minutes after I had finished.

I am so thankful for the wonderful volunteers that did their best to keep everyone hydrated and I’m so grateful for the homeowners that graciously put out sprinklers for us to run through. I’m glad that I have already signed up for the Fox Cities Marathon at the end of September. Had I not already shelled out the money to do that, I probably would have never signed up for it after this one. That said, I tried to muster up enough energy to go out for my first marathon training run yesterday (a short 3 miles) but I just couldn’t do it. Every single inch of my body ached. Every inch still aches.

I guess for now I will just lay here on the couch and ice myself and look at pictures from the race on Sunday 🙂 Look below for some not-so-attractive shots of yours truly.

Me, Ashley, and Nick before the race. Please note our bib numbers 🙂

Let’s play Where’s Waldo… (hint: pink tank and purple shorts)

I don’t think I will ever look good while running. I think this was around mile 11.5 or 12?

Race to the finish!

Mike, Jon (great spectators)
Me, Ashley, Nick (tired runners)

Note: I am the only one not cool enough for sunglasses.

I think I’ll give this race another attempt next year. It is close to home, it was well-organized, there was great crowd support, and I l-o-v-e the football-shaped medals. Too bad they couldn’t control the weather!


Warming Up with Chinese Noodle Soup

Before I went to bed on Friday I checked the weather for Saturday at 8 am. 4°F and an inch or so of fresh snow on the ground. I had an 8 mile run scheduled and I couldn’t decide which was worse: running for 8 miles in the unbearable cold or 8  miles on the dreadmill.

I woke up Saturday at 6:45 and checked the weather as I ate my pre-run Greek yogurt. Currently -6°F and 1°F at 8:00 am. I grumped around the house until 7:30 when I decided to just suck it up and at least try. Worst case scenario? I run the shortest loop with the running group (4 miles) and run the other 4 at the Y.

I quickly searched the world wide web for guidance on what to wear. I normally peek at the Runner’s World What to Wear Running App, but that never seems to work out for me. And guess what? There aren’t a whole lot of people out there talking about running in the cold. Some blogs talked about running in the “cold” where cold = 30°F. Pfft! To me, that’s nice running weather.

So, what did I end up wearing and how did it work?

There ya go. For my top, I wore my Under Armour ColdGear Mock as a base layer. I added my Zoot 1/2 Zip on top of that and ended with my super thin Hot Chocolate 15k jacket to block the wind. I decked out my bottom half with Reebok Cold Weather Compression Tights and some DryMax Socks. I wore a neck gaiter and a performance fleece hat and headband. I slipped on YakTrax Pro over my shoes and stuffed my hands into my Nike Thermal Fleece Gloves and put a pair of Wooly Mitts on top.

Basically, I looked ridiculous. It turns out that I dressed pretty darn well for the weather. I was cold at first, but warmed up after about 2 miles. I kept slipping the Wooly Mitts on and off. I think the only part of me that was a little too cold were my thighs. My shins were pretty well covered between the higher socks and my tights, but the tights alone were not enough for my legs! Maybe next time I’ll try compression shorts under the tights.

I’m proud to say that I made it the entire 8 miles in the cold. I might even dare to say that I was enjoying the cold by the end. Moral of the story? Get outside and just run; you will end up loving it 🙂

The best bet after a nice, cold run? A warm bowl of soup and a long, hot shower. Sick of the soup you’ve been slurping down? Try this Chinese Noodle Soup!

Noodle soup, or as my family calls it – noup. Inspired by a Kung Fu Panda viewing with my lovely family last Christmas.

Every bite of this put the biggest, goofiest smile on my face. It’s so hard to get us all together  now that we’re growing up. It’s little things like this that bring joy into my life (and my stomach). It’s just a bonus that this is soup-er (har har) easy to throw together!

I entered this into  fellow blogger Branny Boils Over‘s Souper Bowl, Round 2 fundraiser. For every entry she receives, she will donate $1.00 to the ASPCA. As a dog owner (and lover) I couldn’t resist.

Chinese Noodle Soup
serves 6 

8 ounces dried Chinese noodles
1 pound lean ground turkey
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon hot chile sauce, such as Sriracha
1 bunch green onions, sliced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced ginger root
6 cups chicken broth
4 cups thinly sliced bok choy
5 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 cucumber, cut into matchsticks, for garnish

  1. Cook noodles according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add ground turkey, scallions, garlic and ginger. Cook, stirring frequently, breaking up the turkey. Cook until turkey is no longer pink. Transfer to a plate.
  3. Add broth, bok choy, soy sauce, vinegar, 1 tablespoon sesame oil and chile sauce to pot. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until bok choy is tender.
  4. Return turkey to pot and stir to combine.
  5. To serve, place noodles in bowl and top with broth. Garnish with cucumber and serve.


Shrimp Fra Diavolo

This was a week of “firsts” for me.

  • I tried boxing for the first time. Loved it! What a great stress reliever. I thought I was in shape since I work out 6 days a week between running, biking, strength, and Pilates, but I was not prepared for the oh-man-kill-me-now feeling I got during the boxing workout with Mike. Bring on the pain!
  • I did my first speedwork run. I ditched the half marathon training schedule I painstakingly wrote for myself and decided to try the FIRST program instead. I re-wrote my runs and incorporated my data from the McMillan Running Calculator to give me a training plan that spells out my training paces.
  • I drove in snow for the first time this winter. Ok, maybe it wasn’t the first time, but the other snowfalls didn’t count because they didn’t even stick for longer than a day. What’s up with that, WI?
  • I watched my first episode of Dance Moms: Season 2. I love bad TV.
  • My last “first”? I participated in my first recipe swap! Read on for more info about it…

Usually the participants just gets another blogger’s recipe, but they shook it up a little this week: we each got a blog and had the freedom to make whatever we wanted from that blog! I got Fried Ice and Donut Holes and she has so many great recipes to choose from!! I spent over an hour looking at her blog before finally deciding on the dish I wanted to try. The luck recipe? Shrimp fra diavolo! It’s been on my “must cook” list for a while and I figured this was the perfect time to try it.

The dish turned out pretty darn good. Mike loved it; I think it could have been a little (ok, a lot) spicier. But hey, I’m weird and I love major heat in my food. Next time I’ll be crankin’ up the spiciness by adding a few more sprinkles of red pepper flakes to my portion!

Shrimp Fra Diavolo
recipe slightly modified from Fried Ice and Donut Holes

1 pound whole wheat pasta
1 pound large, uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup dry white wine
1-28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
2 teaspoons red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
Fresh basil, for garnish
Grated Parmesan cheese, for garnish

  1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, heat olive on in a large skillet over medium heat.
  3. Season shrimp with  salt and pepper. Add to skillet and saute for 1 minute. Turn shrimp and saute the other side until shrimp are cooked through and no longer translucent. Transfer shrimp to a separate plate.
  4. Add onions to pan and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute for an additional minute. Add wine to pan to deglaze and allow to simmer for 1 minute.
  5. Add tomatoes, red pepper, and oregano. Reduce heat to medium-low and let sauce simmer for 10 – 15 minutes, until reduced to your desired consistency.
  6. Return shrimp to sauce and stir to coat.
  7. Toss cooked pasta with sauce and shrimp. Garnish with basil and Parmesan cheese, if desired.


Fueling the Run with Cranberry Orange Bread

Born to run? Not me. Picked last in gym class? Spent afternoons after school in math club? That’s more like it. So, why did I choose running as my sport? To be quite honest, it’s because it is one of the few sports that don’t involve an object flying at your face. Yeah, I lack hand-eye coordination. Big time.

I was scarred for life when I played soccer in elementary school. Tennis lessons in middle school? Horrifying. To this day, I stay away from soccer, volleyball, tennis, kickball and any other sport that involves a fast-flying ball.

I started to run my junior year in college to prepare for a family vacation to the Boundary Waters. I decided to use the ever so popular Couch to 5K program as my training guide. I’m not going to lie, doing day 1 of week 1 was almost too much for me and I wanted to quit halfway through.  But, I pushed through it. Two days later, I pushed through another workout. Rinse and repeat until I could (gasp!) run for 30 minutes straight. Boundary Waters went off without a hitch. Unfortunately, having nothing to work towards after the trip, I stopped running.

I didn’t start running again until my younger sister talked me into running a 15K with her. I have no idea how she convinced me, but it turns out that my promise would change my life.  I spent that winter painfully, slooooowly running (a more accurate word would probably be shuffling) that winter, gradually working my way up to 1 mile, then 2, 3… when I finally hit 5 miles, I felt like I had conquered the world.

I trained as hard as I could and in November of 2011, I ran my very first race at the age of 24. Completing the 15k was probably one of the most proudest moments of my life. I had done what I thought was impossible: I was a runner. I ran a 5 mile Turkey Trot a few weeks later and knew I was hooked.

My sister (R) and me after the Hot Chocolate 15K in Chicago

Mike and me after the 5 mile Turkey Trot

I am now looking forward to another 15K in February and then a half marathon in May. I may not be fast, graceful, or have an athlete’s body, but I am a runner.

The best part? Running fueled a new interest in nutrition. I had a degree in dietetics, but never knew what I wanted to do with it until I started running. I realized how I felt after I ate certain foods. I found out my perfect pre-run (Greek yogurt and a small banana) and post-run (most recently cranberry orange bread) foods. Running urged me to continue my schooling, and that’s where I am now – working through a dietetic internship with a new passion for nutrition!

If you made it through this long-winded post (quite possibly my longest ever), I am amazed. As a thank you, I will offer you the recipe to my new favorite post-workout food – cranberry orange bread!

I have made the bread two ways now – one as written on and the other with the changes published below. I prefer the recipe below – it’s a bit denser and not-so-sweet. Adding in whole wheat flour and reducing the amount of butter and sugar are an added health benefit, too!

Cranberry Orange Bread

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large orange, zested (about 1 heaping tablespoon)
1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
3/4 cup orange juice

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9×5 loaf pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and orange zest. Stir in cranberries and walnuts. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream together butter, applesauce, and sugar until smooth. Beat in egg and orange juice. Stir in flour mixture, mixing until just moistened.
  4. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan and bake for 55 – 65 minutes, or until bread is golden brown and springs back when lightly touched. Let stand 15 minutes and then turn out onto cooling rack to cool completely.

Recipe adapted from