Friday, October 31, 2014

Friday Favorites: The Whistling Bird

On Wednesday night, Travis and I enjoyed the "Island Hopping Caribbean Rum Dinner" at a local restaurant called The Whistling Bird. I'm still drooling over the food we had, so this counts as a Friday Favorite. It's a Caribbean themed restaurant, which you may think is an odd place to find here in Northern Minnesota.

Trust me, it's definitely out of the ordinary, but if you're ever in my neck of the woods...go there. You will not be sorry! Trav and I really enjoy Latin flavors in our food, and are always willing to try something new. We've been a few times and ordered off their normal menu, which has never disappointed us. So we were all in for this one!

The restaurant is decorated like something straight out of the tropics. Lots of bright colors, island music, and palms. The bar is at the front of the restaurant with some seating as well. They closed the restaurant for this event, and we were one of the first tables to arrive, so I snapped a couple of pictures before everyone else showed up.

I apologize for the crappy iphone photos.

Our menu was a little out of order, I think because the oxtail wasn't done in time. So that got bumped down to #4, moving everything else up a course.

Course 1: Haiti & the Bahamas:

This course featured a turtle soup from the Bahamas, along with Pikliz from Haiti which is a pickled coleslaw. The slaw was probably the only thing I didn't love, just because the pickling was very strong. I was nervous about the turtle, but it was really good! I'd say it's very similar to duck, but maybe a little chewier like alligator. The flavors were outstanding. The drink was called a "New Fashioned", and featured Pyrat XO Reserve rum in orange juice and pineapple juice. It was alright, but I didn't finish mine.

Course 2: Cuba:

Sorry for a picture of half eaten food, but this was so good that I started in on it before I remembered to snap a photo. This was basically a Cuban pot roast. It's a cut of eye of round, stuffed with chorizo sausage with pototo, carrot, and some Kalamata olives on the side. I thought the olives were a strange pairing, but the flavor actually worked well with the dish.

The drink with this course was out of this world, mind boggling good. For real! It's a mix of Cuban Matusalem Grand Reserva rum and Far North Alander rum (made right here in MN!), along with ginger beer and bitters. I loved this drink so much, I finished mine and probably half of Trav's. Whoops!

Course 3: Puerto Rico

Prawn Mofongo. I was definitely surprised to be served the whole prawn, but at this point in the night it didn't really phase me. I just popped those suckers heads and tails off, and dove right in. They were served over a sweet plantain mash. The prawns were in a slightly spicy sauce, so the sweet plantain married well with the spice of the prawns. The drink served was basically a strawberry daiquiri with Caliche Silver rum. Good, but a little on the sweet side.

Course 4: Jamaica - Curried Oxtail

Unfortunately, I don't have a picture of this dish. It was probably the most talked about dish of the night, and I was pretty excited to try it. I was hesitant about the oxtail, which is traditionally served bone-in, and basically looks just like a slice of tail. However, the chef was nice enough to de-bone our oxtail. It's also a cut that has a lot of fat and cartilage, so I think he got rid of what he could.

The oxtail was served in a creamy coconut curry sauce. A little bit of heat, but not too much. It was served with sweet potato and coconut rice, which helped cool down the heat of the curry. Travis thought the oxtail was similar to a fatty rib meat. It definitely had more fat in it that I care for. Not something I would order off a menu, but would absolutely eat it again if offered. It was good!

The drink served with this was a beer cocktail: Red Stripe beer, Appleton Estate 12 Year rum, and lime juice. The lime was a bit strong for both our tastes, but I still managed to drink half of this one!

Course 5: Tobago

Mmmm, yummy coconut flan. Our finale of the evening was this lovely flan served with toasted coconut on top and a raspberry. It was paired with a really strong Jamaican coffee. After all that rum, I think we both needed the coffee! This was so tasty, I would have loved to bring a serving home with me. Or two, or three...

All told, this was a fabulous dinner. We had such a great time! It was really fun to go on a date, try some really new things, and just enjoy some good food. I would definitely do this again!

Have you done a tasting menu similar to this? Do you enjoy Latin food?

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Foodie Pen Pal Review Box #2

When we got home from St. Louis, I was pleasantly surprised to find a box from my Foodie Pen Pal! Not sure what a Foodie Pen Pal is? Check out my first experience here.

Since I kind of had a weird experience with my first box, I decided to give it a go again and see how October turned out.

I was paired with Mary, from Texas. Turns out that Mary is training for a half marathon as well! I was super excited to put a box together for her after finding that out. I filled it with runner friendly things, plus some breakfast-y type things since she said that's her favorite meal.

Here's what I got in return:

1. Maple & Brown Sugar oatmeal to go packs made with flax seed.
2. Quaker Oats Apples & Cinnamon oatmeal.
3. Orville Redenbacker pop-up bowl popcorn
3. Biena Chickpea snacks in honey roasted flavor
4. To go packs of Monarch peanut butter
5. N.O. Explode pre-workout drink mix.

I've tried the chickpea snacks, and those are pretty tasty! I like the packets of peanut butter, those are convenient to throw in my lunch box for a mid-morning snack with my banana. But they're higher in sodium than my usual JIF natural, so I probably won't be switching any time soon. We eat tons of popcorn, so that was gone in no time.

To be honest, I'm not a big fan of oatmeal. I'd rather have a piece of whole wheat toast, if I eat breakfast at all. Also, the to-go packets are nearly 6 months...soooo I probably won't be eating those! I can't find a brand name on them either, to even check out the product to get more or find nutrition info.

I haven't tried the N.O. Explode mix yet. I typically don't go in for all that traditional work out supplement jazz, so this is new for me. I'll probably try it before my long run on Sunday, though.

Overall, I was a little underwhelmed with this box. There wasn't a note describing the items either, so I was really in the dark on the oatmeal. But that's the risk you take, and you get what you get. I'll probably take Nov & Dec off since there's so much going on in those months, but I'm willing to try again come January!

Do you eat breakfast every day? Are you an oatmeal fan? 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Training for Tuesdays: A monthly link up

I've been meaning to join this link up last month, but time got away from me. But I'm linking up now! Training for Tuesdays is a link up! I think participating in this will help keep me accountable over the winter. It's hosted by Tracy Tris and Alyssagoesbang - make sure you check out their blogs!


So now that I'm pretty much done with the race season, I'm officially in my "off" season. I am doing a Gobble Gallop 5k on Thanksgiving morning, but there's nothing else on the calendar until April of 2015. 

So what now?

I keep running. Duh, right? My intent is to keep up my fitness level over the winter, either by running outside if the weather permits or running on my treadmill. 

My goal for a base level this winter includes 4 days of running:

- 4 miles with sprints or fartleks mixed in
- 5 miles easy (half marathon pace or up to 15 sec slower)
- Hills/3 miles
- Long run 8-10 miles, easy easy easy

I know when people see me running outside, through the snow, they kind of think I'm crazy. 

That pretty much sums it up. Wine and running are the two things that keep me sane. I'd much rather be running outside than on the treadmill, so I bundle up and deal with it. To a certain point. We all have our limits, right? Mine is 0 degrees. Anything less than that (windchill included!), and I'm staying inside. 

I found this chart on Pinterest, and find it to be pretty helpful and accurate for what I'm comfortable in. 

I even do the double gloves for under 20 degrees. Well, I wear a pair of gloves with iphone touch fingers pads (very cheap now, you can even find them at Target in the dollar section), with mittens over top. That way if I need to use my phone, I don't have to strip down to just the skin of my hands in 5 degree weather. 

I am contemplating doing the Get Lucky 7K on March 14th, which seems like a lot of fun. There's a half marathon too, but that's a little early in the year for my taste. 

So, as the year winds down, what are you training for? A race, or are you just keeping up a fitness level through the winter like me? Come join the link up and tell us about it! 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Rock'n'Roll St. Louis Half Marathon Review

We just got back from St. Louis earlier this week and are now settling back into routines. I have a lot of laundry to do!

Since most of my family is in St. Louis, choosing to do the Rock'n'Roll St. Louis Half Marathon was kind of a no-brainer. The fact that it was in October was a huge plus too - I love STL in the Fall. The weather is crisp and cool, the colors are beautiful and hang on a little longer than our colors here.

The race started on Market Street downtown, with a great view of the Arch. We decided to stay downtown Friday and Saturday nights so that we didn't have to deal with driving and parking the morning of the event. Probably the best decision I made all weekend! Parking downtown is relatively easy if you know where you're going, but subtracting this headache from the equation just made everything go a lot smoother.

We stayed at the Drury Inn at Union Station. It's actually right across the street from Union Station at 20th Street, and one block south of Market Street. The starting line was at Market Street and Tucker, which is basically 12th Street. It took me less than 10 minutes to walk from my hotel room to my starting corral (#5). Talk about easy!

A shout out to our hotel - it was really great and we'd definitely stay there again. We had a slight drainage issue in the shower/tub, but other than that I was very pleased. They had a manager's reception each night from 5:30 to 7:00 with 3 free drinks for each adult, and tons of free food. The one night we checked it out, they had:

- jumbo brats
- pasta with marinara sauce
- meatballs
- broccoli cheese soup
- nachos
- salad
- celery/carrots & dip
- pretzels
- popcorn (Emily was a huge fan!)

Basically, we could have eaten dinner there for free and had no issues. But it wasn't really the type of food we were hungry for either night. We ate at Landry's Seafood, right across the street from the hotel, on Saturday night. It was probably the best meal we had during the whole trip.

Anyway, back to race day. Since I walked to the starting line, there were no logistics to even consider and it was super easy for me to just get to my corral and wait. It was actually pretty cold that morning, and my legs were cold! Since it was a wave start, I guess I technically started at 7:05ish.

This was definitely the largest race I've done yet, and there were tons of people at the start. I did a lot of weaving in the first 3 miles or so. I didn't love the first mile, because it had quite a few turns as the course went downtown, past the new stadium and Ballpark Village, then back up a few blocks.

After the crowds thinned out a bit, I finally felt like I could get in a groove. I felt like I was running too fast the entire time, but I just decided to run by effort. This course has some decent hills, but they're all a moderate grade. The downhills definitely made up for it!

Rock'n'Roll events are known for their on-course entertainment. There were probably about 5-6 bands along the course, plus lots of cheerleaders/pep squads. I didn't care for the bands too much, but mainly because I listen to my own music. I wouldn't say I disliked that aspect, just could take it or leave it. I loved the cheerleaders though. They were all so cute!

Since the course takes you all through town, there were tons of places for spectators. That was the best part! I felt like there were crowds (even small ones with 10 or so people) just everywhere. We also got to run through the gorgeous neighborhood of Compton Heights. No crowds there, but plenty of spectators on their front porches drinking mimosas - catch my drift?

There were aid stations every mile or so, usually around the 1/2 mile mark, with water and Gatorade. I don't think any had GU, although I thought that was advertised. I carry energy chews with me though, so I wasn't really on the look out for these.  However there was not an aid station in Compton Heights. No water cup trash in their neighborhood, thank you ma'am!

I had stayed out too late on Friday night, and had way too much fun, so Saturday I was not feeling on top of my A game. Coming into the race on Sunday, I was feeling a lot better, but didn't have any high hopes of a great finishing time. I started out a bit fast, but was feeling ok. Around mile 5, my left leg/buttocks/piriformis area started getting achey, but not bad enough to stop. I kept up a pretty decent pace, and even stopped at a water station to grab a cup of water.

The finish line was a little like torture because it was an uphill to Chestnut, where you turned and kept going uphill. Come on, man! But then I saw my family cheering for me, and that gave me the extra energy to push forward! The last .10 or so is downhill, so then it was a race to the finish line!

Running right by my family.

Cool shot of the finish line and the Arch. 

I was thrilled to look down at my watch and see that I had finished in 1:52:50! My official time was 1:52:45! That's a PR for me by more than 3 minutes. How the heck did that happen!?

Super proud of this medal!

I couldn't have done it without my cheer squad, Minnesota and Missouri editions. It was so great having them there at the finish line!

Love this crew, and the cameraman too!

The best part was being able to walk less than a mile back to my hotel room for a shower. Drury Inn also had complimentary water, towels, and snacks for the racers that day. Very cool!

If you live in St. Louis or plan on traveling there for a race, I would definitely recommend RnR. Packet pick up was smooth, the start and finish lines were seamless, and overall the race was just really great. We waited a little bit for results, but after a slight snafu with giving us Colorado's finishing times, they were still up by midnight of race day. Overall, great race!

Have you raced a Rock'n'Roll event? Do you love St. Louis too?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Runners Tell All: Most Memorable Running Moment

Since I'm actually driving back from MO today, I wrote this post in advance. Just being honest.

Today I'm linking up again with The Lady Okie and Sunshine to the Square Inch for our monthly Runners Tell All Blog Link Up. This month we're talking about the most memorable running moments we've had thus far.

This one is kind of hard for me to pin down. I've had some great races, like when this happened:

Second half marathon and first sub-2 hour half
Or maybe my first half marathon

Earning that medal never felt so good!

Or maybe my recent Ragnar experience, and all the craziness that comes along with Ragnar:

But I think what really takes the cake as most memorable was just an average run last summer. It was early, probably 5:45ish, and I was finishing up a 3 or 4 mile run. I remember it was summer because it was still light out then.

I had about 1 more mile until home, and was running down a block on the more residential part of a main drag here in town. I typically stay off this street because it is so busy, but my route takes me on it for exactly one block.

As I turned the corner onto the sidewalk, I saw an elderly man shuffling down the sidewalk, about halfway down the block. He was going pretty slow, so I knew I'd have to run by him before I turned again. Then I took in his appearance.

Scrub pants and shirt. Socks, no shoes. What the heck? What is this guy doing and where did he come from?

Of course, my mind went to the worst. Escaped mental patient maybe? There actually is a small in-patient facility not to far from where we were. Or maybe he was just an escapee from the local nursing home, also not far away.

This was before I started carrying my cell phone with me, so I didn't really feel comfortable stopping to check things out. I managed to sneak by him, and then carried on my way. I do feel guilty for not stopping to see if he needed help, and I still wonder who he was, what he was doing, and where he was going.

The circumstances were so odd that I haven't forgotten about it, although the rest of the run is a total blur.

Do you have any memorable running experiences? Join our link up and tell us about it!

Thursday, October 16, 2014


Today is my 30th Birthday. Today. Thirty.

That sounds weird. I'm not struggling with the implications of getting older, but just the sound of this new word that helps to define me. It sounds strange.

Anyway, it's kind of been a week of celebrating. We had my "big party" on Sunday night with Trav's family where he made me this cake.

Then Tuesday I got a special delivery at work from my Mom & Dad.

30 carnations for my 30th birthday. Aren't they pretty? This way I get to enjoy them all week long, too.

How we're really celebrating is by taking a little road trip to St. Louis. There will be eating, wine, some site seeing, and a half marathon. Oh yea, that's how I'm taking my mind off things. By training for a race.

It will be a short trip, only four days, but it's always good to get back to see my family and visit one of my favorite cities.

The true celebration is the week after we come back. There is a really great Caribbean restaurant up here that Travis and I just love. True, you would not think Caribbean fare fits in well with your typical Iron Range pizza and wing establishments, but this place is pretty popular. We like to save it for special occasions.

They just so happen to be doing an "Island Hopping Rum Dinner" on the 29th. The tasting menu includes:

- Turtle soup (Bahamas) served with Pikliz (Haitian~ tangy, spicy slaw)
- Curried Oxtail (Jamaica)
- Prawn Mofungo (Puerto Rican~ mashed, fried plantain dish with prawns)
- Boliche Cubano (Cuban~stuffed beef roast with chorizo)
- Coconut Flan (Tobago)

Each course comes with a "rum based cocktail from that region to compliment the flavor profile of the dish being served". Rum is pretty much the only hard alcohol I can handle, so I'm pretty excited about this experience. 

I will honestly say that the turtle soup and oxtail dishes make me a little nervous, but I'm willing to be adventurous! 

So, it kind of seems like we will be celebrating my birthday for approximately two weeks. That seems accurate, no? 

Do you do anything special for your birthday? Have you had turtle or oxtail? 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Birthday Dinner...before the birthday?

My 30th birthday is this Thursday. Gulp!

I have to admit, though, that I'm not really sad or scared, or anything really, about turning 30. I'm anticipating a whole new decade filled with new adventures for myself and my family. I'm looking forward to it.

I guess it helps that Travis already turned 30 and didn't implode. So there's that.

Since we're leaving very early Friday morning for St. Louis (so excited I cannot stand it!), we decided to celebrate early. We'll just have a quite dinner at home on my actual birthday, and then it's an early bed time for me!

Travis planned the menu, although I had a little say.

First off, he made these Black Bean Burgers. This is kind of a weirdo thing, but I totally love them. My favorite local restaurant had the best black bean burgers, and I literally mourned when they closed up shop. Side note about the recipe: we did not add the celery. That would be totally yuck.

To accompany the burgers, I made these Honey Roasted Sweet Potatoes. The cinnamon dip is the bomb and keeps forever. This is so, so good. I may have had two servings. Whatever, it's my birthday.

We also had a big salad loaded with sweet peppers, carrots, and tomatoes. That evens things up.

To round out this lovely meal, we had The Best Chocolate Cake Ever with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting from Add a Pinch.

Uhm, no lie. This cake is so good. Normally I do not discriminate when it comes to desserts, but chocolate is my jam. To say the least, I am a huge chocolate fan, so I like my chocolate cake to be decadent and rich and require a glass of milk. This recipe fits all those requirements. It is so good that I want to hole myself up somewhere private and devour this entire cake. Since I have little to no self restraint, one wonders how I do not weigh 500lbs.

The original recipe is a 2 layer cake. Travis makes it for me (bless his heart!) as a bundt cake, so we end up having 1/2 the frosting left over. As I sat there eating the left over frosting with the spatula, I realized this could be dangerous. Our conversation went like this:

A: "What should we do with all this frosting?"
T: "I don't know..." eyeballing me as I eat another spatula full of frosting...
A: Pausing - "Yea, you should probably take this away from me, and throw it away while I have my back turned or I am going to make myself sick."

Then the frosting magically disappeared when I wasn't looking.

We had some slight issues with the frosting, but it came out wonderful. It's very dark because Travis uses dark chocolate cocoa powder. Because he loves me.

Since we're leaving so soon, and I really need to be eating healthy this week prior to race day, I ended up bringing the rest of this cake to work this morning for my coworkers to get fat on enjoy. I kind of want to cry about that, but it's really for the best. I did save one more little piece for myself though.

Now that this entire post has been about cake, I think this is where I will end things.

Oh! Just kidding. I swear this is not becoming a food blog, but I have to share this really good recipe with you, too. 25 Minute Bacon Beer Cheese Soup. I omitted the chicken, but added broccoli and carrot shreds. Trust me, this is a recipe you will want to keep. I'm really impressed with all the good food we've been eating lately. Look at that, I've figured out how to do some real cooking!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Friday Favorites: Black Bean Hummus

Hooray for Friday!

Need I say more? Yes? Ok, well here's a little something that you can make this weekend to eat in front of the TV while you're watching football. If it lasts that long...maybe just make it right before the game.

Courtesy of

Because I am not a fabulous cook, I would not share something with you that I truly did not love. Or really, really like. Honestly, I'm not a huge fan of hummus. I  know it's supposed to be so great, but I can only handle a little here and there.

This black bean hummus - I could eat the entire bowl in one sitting. It is really good with carrots or celery as dippers. I also bought a bag of Wild Harvest Organic Yellow Corn tortilla chips that really rocked. I typically do not make a point to buy organic, but these were on sale. They were super tasty, so they might be my go to tortilla chip now.

Anyway, back to the hummus.

This recipe requires tahini. If you are me and have no clue what tahini is, I will save you some Googling.

- It's a paste made out of sesame seeds.
- It's super dry.
- I believe it is Greek or Mediterranean in origin.
- It can be found in the International foods aisle, or in the organic section if you're at my grocery store.

Unfortunately, my store only carries one brand, which comes in a gigantic jar for $7. This recipe only calls for 1 tablespoon of tahini. So, you're either going to make a ton of hummus, or go crazy on Pinterest finding recipes that use tahini. Which is what I did.

I made this for my book club gals this week. They loved it! I could not stop eating it. I'm amazed that I have a little left over, which I brought to work with me for an afternoon snack.

I will be the first to admit that the hummus does not look appetizing. At all. But it smells really good, and tastes even better. So try it! You'll like it! I promise!

Do you have any good tahini recipes to share? 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Stitch Fix #3 - Help me decide!

Stitch Fix box #3 came in the mail today, and I'm having a hard time deciding! I know where I stand on 4 out of the 5 items I received, so as of right now I haven't actually returned anything. If you're not familiar with this online styling service, let me tell you about it!

Stitch Fix sends you 5 clothing items (or sometimes an accessory) at regular intervals. It can be monthly, bi-monthly, or whatever you decide. You fill out an extensive online style profile, and a stylist hand picks items just for you! The service costs $20, but that is credited to your purchase should you decide to keep something. If not, you're out the $20. But the convenience of trying the clothing on at home is pretty awesome. Also, they provide a postage paid envelope to send the items back that you don't want to keep. Take a peek at my first two Fixes:

41Hawthorn: Colibri Solid Tab Sleeve Blouse - $48
Mavi: Frieda Regular Length Skinny Jean - $118

I really liked the purple color of this shirt, and that you could roll the sleeves up and button them. However, I felt like it was a little too long.  Also,t was very similar to the black top that I got in my last Fix in weight and style. It is a bit thin for this time of year, so I wasn't sure how often I would actually wear it. Returned.

I love the idea of these jeans. Black skinny jeans? Talk about a closet staple that every girl should have! These fit ok, but they were a little loose around my knees and hips. Also, they were doing something funky in the crotch area, and the back pockets were baggy. Maybe my butt isn't big enough for these? At $118, there were too many dislikes over likes for these pants, so they're going back. Returned.

Brixon Ivy: Bixby Clover Print Blouse - $64

This top was...interesting? It was tight in the chest, loose around my stomach and hips, and had big sleeves. It would probably make an ok work outfit if paired with slacks and heels, but I just wasn't feeling it. Returned.

Market and Spruce: Campbell Cross-Front Knit Shirt - $48

 I wasn't really crazy about this shirt to begin with. I mean, every wardrobe needs what I call a "Saturday shirt". You know, something you can throw on with jeans, but still look put together. That's what I would classify this tee as. Comfy material, and grey goes with everything. However, the cross front had an annoying seam that was folded over but not sewn in, so I found myself fixing it a ton in the 5 minutes I was wearing the top. That would be infuriating if I had to deal with it all day long. Also, I think it highlights my widest point (and part of my body that I least like) - my hips and mid section. Returned.

Olive & Oak Palmer Diamond Knit Button-Back Sweater - $68

This is the only item that I'm thinking of keeping. I'm still up in the air about it. The sweater is made out of cozy material, and I like the diamond pattern. It also has a fun detail with the buttons in the back.

Travis says this makes me look like an escaped mental patient. What does he know? Anyway, I'm not 100% sure on the color though. My mom suggested pairing it with the navy scarf that I got in my last fix. What do you think? Keep or return? Undecided.

If I don't keep the sweater, I'm out my $20. Not a horrible amount, but still - money spent! I'm leaning towards keeping it at this point, but could use some opinions.

Also, shameless plug: click here to sign up with my referral link if you want to try Stitch Fix out for yourself!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Long Run Recap

Hello blog friends!

After my post on Thursday about my piriformis injury and physical therapy, I figured I'd give you an update. I'm still doing most of the stretches at least twice a day to keep things limber. Friday morning I had a nice, slow run on my treadmill to keep things easy.

Saturday morning I woke up with some really bizarre pain in my knee. That's a sure sign of growing old, hey? Of course, it immediately put me in freak out mode because really, haven't I had enough issues lately? So Saturday I kept my leg up a lot, took a warm bath during Emily's nap, and used a lot of ibuprofen and Blue Emu Oil. By Saturday evening it was feeling almost 100% and by Sunday morning, the pain was gone.

Have you heard of this stuff? Blue Emu Oil is supposed to be a pain relieving cream that you rub onto affected muscles and body parts. It doesn't smell, and doesn't leave you feeling greasy. I don't specifically know what makes this product work so well, but it really does. It doesn't actually feel like it's doing anything; no tingly feeling or minty smell, but it is really working! Bonus: you can buy it at Walmart, Walgreens, etc.

Anyway, since I woke up Sunday morning pain free, I figured I would just run and see how I felt. My plan was to do 12 miles, so I was hoping I could get all the way through that. It was very windy out all weekend, plus cold. I figured I'd just go slow, try not to worry about my pace, and see how things went.

I ended up doing all 12 miles! I ran a simple out and back route that looks hilly on an elevation map, but really isn't at all. It's along a fairly busy road too, which is a positive right now. A woman in my running group was attacked last weekend on a trail that I sometimes frequent, so I've been on high alert!

Overall, I'm pretty happy with the run. Because I am a clutz, I side stepped off the road right in between mile 5 and 6 somewhere. That foot wasn't feeling too hot around miles 8 and 9 but eventually wore off. My quad muscle started getting tight towards the end, as well as my left glute. But with only short runs on the horizon until race day, I think I can manage to work that out with more stretching. I'm pain free today, which is the important thing! Also, I'm impressed with my time! Average pace of 8:58, which was faster than I had intended! 

Side note: I really hate the new way that Garmin shows splits. Way more information that I need to know. Dear Garmin, if you are reading this, can you please go back to the old way? Thanks!

I completed my weekend by eating enough food to feed an elephant. It was heavenly! 

Did you have a great weekend? Get any good runs in? 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Friday Favorites: Groovebook

Remember when we used to take pictures and get them printed? Remember having physical photo albums that you sat on your lap and went through, giggling at baby photos and funny faces?

I do, and it makes me sad that with camera phones and digital files, some of that is getting lost.

Enter Groovebook. It's this neat little app that lets you print 100 of your phone pictures per month, for $2.99 a month.

I'd heard about it, but thought "I don't take that may pictures with my iphone, so that would be a waste of money." Then the pictures started piling up.

I decided to check it out last month by getting all my old photos off of my phone and printed through them. Let me tell you what - I kind of love it!

Here's my first book, received over the weekend. I didn't have quite 100 photos, so they just repeated some until I got up to 100. That's kind of nice too, so I can share them with hubby or family.

The quality is decent, but my camera on my iphone 4 isn't the greatest. I think this would be way better on Trav's Samsung Galaxy, but I believe the app is only for iphones right now. Don't quote me on that.

In any case, it's making me take more photos so I get closer to 100 this month. That can't be a bad thing, right? Now I just need to figure out what to do with all the photos. Must buy photo albums!

Interested? Well, dear reader, today is your lucky day. Use the code SCOFIELD116 to get your first book free! You can cancel at any time, so if you do it for a month or two and decide it's not for you, then no problem.

Have you heard of Groovebook? Do you still print photos?

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Piriformis Injury and Physical Therapy

Are you familiar with the piriformas muscle? This short little muscle goes from your butt into your hip and aids in hip flexion.

While injuring this muscle is not super common, it happens enough in runners to be aware of it's existence, and some good ways to stretch it out and keep it limber.

The "injury" part is really just that it becomes tight. It is linked to the sciatic nerve, so it could cause some sciatica-like pain as well. For me, it went south and helped to pull a quad muscle in my leg.

My injury came about through several ways, as most injuries do. First, I needed new shoes. I had trained in my old shoes for the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon in June, as well as the Ragnar Relay in August. With the Rock'n'Roll Half Marathon coming up in October, I knew I would need new shoes after Ragnar. Unfortunately, my "style" shoe in my favorite brand was changed this year, and I didn't feel comfortable buying the new one online. I could have gone to the running store to get fitted for new shoes, but timing was never on my side.

So, on September 13th I ran the Tunnel 10K in Duluth. I was clipping along at an 8:30 pace, all on the hard concrete of the highway. My piriformis started bothering me then, but I kind of ignored it. (Typical runner!) It was never painful, just annoying. It came and went, and I even did a long run of 11.5 miles relatively pain free the weekend after. Then last Thursday, while running 6 miles, I felt a pulling and aching feeling in my quad. That week I had managed to find my "old" shoes, new and on clearance, online and ordered them rush-delivery to me.

Thankfully with some rest, my muscles feel relatively normal again. I'm still not 100%, but getting there.

I did go see my doctor about it, as I was concerned about the pain with only 3 weeks left until my half marathon. She referred me to Physical Therapy. I had never been to PT, so I was a little nervous at my first appointment yesterday. Overall it went really well! So well, in fact, that I may not have to go back. We're going to touch base over the phone and kind of access as we go.

The therapist gave me some really good stretches, which I think all runners should take advantage of even if this is not an issue for you. It's always good to stay limber!

This is a great stretch, and feels so good! Although you won't be getting down to the ground quite as much as this computer model person. Here's another good view:

You do want to get down on your elbows, and make sure you relax your head, neck and back. Your foot should be pointing straight behind you. Do this for a count of 10, 2-3 times on each side.

The Clamshell. I was already doing this stretch, and PT said to keep doing it. It's a great way to build strength in the piriformis muscle and IT band.
Another stretch that I don't have a picture of is the one-legged squat. Basically, you will bring your right foot over your left knee, and then squat down on the left foot. You should feel the stretch through your butt and quad of your right leg. Hold for a count of 10, repeat 2-3 times. Repeat on the other side. 

Another muscle that is sometimes affected when you're dealing with the piriformis is the psoas muscle. This muscle runs down the front of your hip into your quad. Here's a good stretch for that muscle:

Old skeleton is showing not only how to do the stretch, but how it works the psoas muscle as well. This is a pretty hard stance to hold, so another good way is to put that back foot on something like your bed. Flex your butt muscle and squat down on the opposite leg, while kind of pushing your butt forward. You can hold on to something like a chair or dresser while doing it this way instead.

So there's all the information I know about the piriformis and psoas muscle. Hopefully these tips can help you stay limber and injury free!

Have you had injuries from running or other sports? How did you overcome them?