Oysterfest ~ Friends, Hills and Fun!

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Last year, Oysterfest was one of our favorite races. It was far more challenging than we had realized going into it, but we ran with friends and attended the festival when we were done. Who doesn’t like live music, seafood and a beer with friends after a difficult race?

I had remembered last year was chilly pre-race and thought a lot about clothing options. I went with capris, t-shirt and light weight sweatshirt. My husband had a hat on the counter and I thought to grab my own (best idea of the day).

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We enjoyed a pretty sunrise on our drive down Cape (which is actually north) to Wellfleet. We drove the course before picking up our numbers and there were those hills as we had remembered. Somehow, they had grown to mountains in my memory. Driving them, they didn’t seem as scary.

We picked up our numbers and met up with our friends. As we bounced around to stay warm and did a little yoga pose for fun (and stretching) we chatted about last year’s race. We were excited that my husband had his watch on this year and we would know what the elevation is.

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There are three hills in this out and back race (so you climb and descend 6). The race began at 7 feet above sea level. The first hill is 61, the second 55 and the third 57. No wonder my quads were crying for mercy ;)

I ran the first part of the race with my running buddy. She keeps me working hard to keep up and I always feel pretty good. It was running with her that I had my best time in August. I sent her ahead near mile 2 as I knew I needed energy for that last hill.

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I felt pretty good going into the race. My running has been funky this month with travel, but I’ve still put in some decent runs. Hills are difficult to find on the Cape and it’s hard to be ready for them. I remembered feeling strong on them last year and was hoping for the same success.

It seemed I was ready to give in and walk just as we reached the top of each hill. No matter how big the hill was, the top came at exactly the right moment. I was able to keep trucking and enjoy the down hill that much more.

As I ran and warmed up, I took my hat off. I watched people peel off layers expertly. I kept going with my long sleeves which I was thankful for at the finish. The cold wind took care of that heat as soon as I stopped moving.

Luckily, we all brought a fresh change of clothes and pulled a Clark Kent in our cars before walking up to the festival. Sadly, I have an old iPhone (new one has been ordered) that doesn’t hold its charge and I didn’t get any pictures from the festival.

In the end, I finished the race in exactly 33 minutes, shaving just over 3 minutes off last year’s time! If I’m honest, I was hoping for 4, but am happy with 3. It’s been fun to re-run a few races and have something to compare it to.

What’s your favorite post race activity? What fall festival is your favorite?

500 miles and counting!

500 milesAs I approached 500 miles from when I began tracking mileage in April 2013, I looked back at a few posts. The one that struck me was my one year recap and how surprised I was to hit 246 miles. That was in March and here I am at 500 miles with the same surprise.

I began to wonder why I was so shocked. Did I really think I would quit? Was I expecting to be one and done? Honestly, I’m not sure.

It’s not my personality to only go half-way. I’m always in it to win it and maybe that’s it. I knew I wouldn’t be winning any races and thought I would throw in the towel.

I am here to say I have survived not winning. I have survived and embraced cheering others on. I have survived being, literally, in the middle of the pack.

Somewhere along the way, I began to love it. The feeling of accomplishment, camaraderie, and fun. As each mile passes, I feel stronger and more comfortable calling myself a runner. I’ve even missed it when I was away – who knew that could happen.runner

I have loved each goal I’ve worked for and right now, I like just doing it. I enjoy my time on the treadmill (you read that correctly) and truly love running outside with my friends. It is a time to relax, reflect and laugh.

If you had ever told me I would talk and laugh while running I would have had you committed. Yet, here I am on the other side. Somewhere along the way, it became a lifestyle and a part of me.

As I write this, I wonder if I will feel the same at 1,000 miles or some other huge milestone. All I can say, is I can’t wait to find out because at some point in the future I will hit 1,000 and more miles.

I can’t believe everything this adventure has brought so far and I can’t wait to see where it goes!!

Have you surprised yourself by sticking with something after reaching your initial goal? Do you track your progress? What’s your favorite fitness/healthy living accomplishment to date?

Maintaining my stride

With the boys back in school, I’ve been back to running outside with my friend. Our first run was a TOUGH one! It was the first day of school and the hottest day of the summer, yet we made it through!

Frankly, it could only get better from there. We knew we had to jump right in and create our routine. We logged five 4 mile runs in the month of September. The last week, we ran early in the week and snuck in an extra one on the Friday as I was going away the following week

I thought it would be fun to check in monthly on our outdoor runs and of course mileage ;)

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I’m hoping to have more consistency in my monthly totals. I seem to run a lot one month and then drop the next. My focus isn’t so much about a number, but staying even. Life and weather happens, but I think it can be done with a little effort!

Are you consistent in your training or does it vary monthly? What’s your favorite fall activity?

Kayla is Simply Healthy!!

I am so excited to introduce you to Kayla!  I first “met” Kayla through twitter when I began blogging.  Since then, we have shared exercises, stories and cheered each other on in our running adventures.  I love seeing what she’s up to and right now, it’s training for the NYC marathon and she’s running for a great charity!!  Here she is..

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What was your aha moment (when you decided to exercise and lead a healthier lifestyle)?

I have always been active, playing soccer since I was a tot and running track since 6th grade. I continued on through college and played both soccer and ran track at the University of North Dakota. After college, I transitioned from being a hurdler + soccer player to taking on “longer” running and ran my first 5k and 10k. I also took up yoga and pilates, I loved how they made me feel lean and strong in a different way than the heavy lifting I was required to do in college. 

Did you go all in or build over time?

A little of both! I definitely enjoyed the fact that I didn’t have a schedule to follow or practices to be at, so I built slowly over time because I knew I wanted to create a life long passion.

Do you prefer exercising alone or in a group?

Both! I love running the trails alone, road running is way more fun with friends and I enjoy group exercises classes (Zumba, pilates, yoga) to mix things up!

What’s your go-to form of exercise?

Trail running!

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What’s your favorite time to workout?

Lunch time….I’m big on the #runch concept…6 miles for lunch is the most refreshing and rejuvenating way to spend my lunch hour, a quick shower and I am pumped to be back at my desk working.

Does music motivate you?

It does….it releases my inner hip side, too. It is the only time I listen to pop!

What’s your must-have song?

Right now, I am huge on Lissie or Trampled by Turtles. 

How many nights a week do you cook dinner? 4-5

Do you meal prep or make it as you go? 

Both…totally a mix depending on what we have going on during the week! If we are busy, I prep ahead of time, but my girls (ages 5 and 3) both love to help in the kitchen and it is a great way to bond after their days at preschool + daycare.

What’s your favorite recipe? We love making curry!

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment to date?

My two amazing little girls! But after that, I’d have to say running the 2014 Los Angeles Marathon for Every Mother Counts to raise awareness for maternal health in the United States and around the world. The race day itself was 95 degrees warmer than my “warmest” long run in Northern Minnesota, I was dizzy, hyperventilating and walking for a good chunk of miles towards the end. But I finished, with the biggest smile on my face and knowing that I was running for moms around the globe carried me through what was the toughest run I have ever endured. 

What is your current goal? 

I’m running the New York City Marathon on November 2 for Every Mother Counts! I am working to raise awareness and funds for this incredible organization and their projects around the globe. I would love to run a certain time, but most of all, I want to run happy and healthy and experience this bucket list race to the fullest while running in my Every Mother Counts singlet. I am going into this race knowing I am lucky to have experienced two healthy pregnancies and deliveries. But it isn’t because I live in the United States. In fact, the United States ranks 60th (behind even some developing nations) in terms of maternal health. This ranking puts the United States on par with Afghanistan and Central African countries.

Today, 800 women will die giving birth. That’s one woman every two minutes. This happens every single day. Approximately 287,000 women die each year as a result of pregnancy and/or childbirth.

You know what?

90% of these deaths are preventable. With access to skilled birth attendants (midwifes, doctors), technology (ultrasound machines), medication and transportation, 800 more women would become mothers today.

We have the tools and the know-how to save these mothers, daughters, sisters, wives, teachers, doctors, caregivers and community leaders—if we make it a priority.

Every Mother Counts is a non-profit organization dedicated to making pregnancy and childbirth safe for every mother. We inform, engage, and mobilize new audiences to take actions and raise funds that support maternal health programs around the world. 100% of the funds raised by Every Mother Counts go directly to the programs and initiatives they support around the globe.

This year, to support maternal and child health around the world, I challenge you to take action. Stand up and support the women who are pregnant and giving birth here in the United States and around the globe.

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I am running to make sure that other moms don’t have to. Many moms to be have to walk for hours, even a day to reach medical care during their pregnancies. I am taking on the New York City Marathon for Every Mother Counts. You can support my 26.2 miles by donating, every dollar raised goes directly to the work of Every Mother Counts. I am proud to run to raise awareness of maternal health in the United States and the globe. I ran the Los Angeles Marathon for Team Every Mother Counts in March and was honored and humbled to carry mothers around the world in my heart throughout the race.

Thank you Kayla for sharing your story and your passion for Every Mother Counts!  I can’t wait to hear about your NYC experience :)

Want to share your own Simply Healthy experience or suggest a friend or family member?  Email me at SimplyModernDance@gmail.com 

Please ask Kayla any questions or support her in the comments!!

Running to heels ~ Mighty Meehan 5k

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I have always heard good things about this race and wanted to check it out last year, but we had committed to a different race. We hadn’t run a race in a month and were looking for one to check out.

I saw the signs for this race and realized we could squeeze it in before attending a family wedding. It seemed like the perfect morning activity. The weather was beautiful and we were greeted by this sight…

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My husband had looked up previous years and we knew the field was generally around 1,000 entrants. By far the largest field we have run with!

The start was great and a little too fast for me. I wound up with a nasty stitch in my side and had to walk around the one mile marker. Thankfully, I had this to look at as I was beyond frustrated!

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It wound up being a blessing. I was behind the people I couldn’t keep up with and now I was with a pack that I could maintain the pace. Unlike the race in August, I was feeling like a failure and had to really push myself mentally. I wanted to walk again, yet not because I was so exhausted I had to. I was tired, yes, but not walking tired.

I kept the pep-talk going. I can do this, keep going, one foot in front of the other, don’t go past a certain pace – guess what?!?! I did it and I finished strong. It certainly wasn’t my best race, but I had some gas left to push hard through the finish and even passed people coming in.

We scooted home post race and got ready for the wedding. It was a wonderful time had by all :)

Post race and dancing in heels, my legs were a little sore – a happy, proud sore!!

Have you run before a family event? What’s the largest field you’ve run with? How did you find exercise this weekend?

Heavy legs and feeling blah = a PR!

I’m not sure how this happened! It was gray, cool and extremely humid as the race approached. The boys were excited and running in the kids’ race. My husband and I were definitely going through the motions.

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We met up with our friend and we all admitted to having heavy legs and questioning the outcome. It didn’t seem to be a day for a PR. The course had a bunch of small hills, but thankfully some fun water views along the way.

It wasn’t a chip race, which means the further back you are at the start, you are that much later on the clock. My husband snuck towards the front while my friend and I were further back.

As race time approached, a local police officer began singing the national anthem. The microphone wasn’t really working and all of the runners sang the national anthem with the police officer. It was an amazing moment.

Then we were off. All of a sudden, my heavy legs were feeling pretty strong. The beginning of the course is pretty windy so it was easy to set short-term goals. Keep this pace to the next road, get to the top of the hill, get to the bottom of the hill, etc.

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My goal pace was a 10:00 mile – I was chugging along at 9:30!! I even maintained 9:18 for the second mile. Who knew?!? My friend ran with me for most of the race, but I let her go ahead at 2.5 miles as I had to slow down a little. Somehow, I didn’t slow down too much and finished strong with a time of 30:51! My husband also PRed at 22:40 :)

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As a slower runner, I have become accustomed to being passed by many people. In this race, I was actually passing other runners and not to have them pass me again. I’m not sure where it came from, but I definitely felt strong through the entire race.

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Maybe it was not being that into it in the beginning, I just wanted to get it done. I have definitely been training hard with my friends, but it’s been on the track. No hills there ;). I was really curious to see how our training would translate.

So far, pretty well :) The true test will be this week. We are running a 3 mile race on Thurs. It’s definitely the fastest turn around we’ve had. I’m hopeful for a good time and to have fun! The boys will be running the kids’ race the same day as they complete their running class.

Have you run your best race on heavy legs? What’s your favorite strategy while running? How was your weekend?

Simply Kid Chefs: Grilled salmon with oregano oil, avocado tzatziki sauce and grilled lemons

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This week, our youngest took over the kitchen and stuck with his favorite, seafood! He was excited to try the grill and knew immediately that he wanted to make a salmon dish.

I suggested one of my favorite salmon recipes from Bobby Flay that I had found in the Food & Wine Best of the Best cookbook. I had never tried the avocado tzatziki sauce, but we have tons of oregano in the garden and love grilled lemons.  The chef was on-board and we decided to give it a go :)

After a great morning at the beach, we went off to the store and found a new seafood guy. For a treat, we picked up stuffed quahogs for an appetizer and the chef selected broccoli on the grill for a side.

The chef did most of the work in the kitchen. I cut open the avocados and chopped the Serrano chile, while he put everything in the food processor. He also cut the oregano from the garden and prepared the salmon. I chopped the broccoli, but he seasoned it and helped out it on the grill.

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My husband handled most of the grilling, but explained everything as he was doing it. The chef was able to help turn the broccoli, but the grill was pretty hot and a little smoky near the fish.

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The meal was a huge success! We will definitely be making the avocado tzatziki again :) The entire meal was easy to prepare and didn’t take long at all. Can’t beat a quick and delicious meal!!

Here is Bobby Flay’s recipe originally from Grill It, but I found it in Food and Wine’s Best of the Best

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What’s your favorite way to grill salmon? How is your summer going? Does your routine change in the summer?