Post-Collegiate Racing Season: Competitive Athlete Vs. Recreational Runner

Did the Olympics spark that fire for your inner-competitor too? Obviously the highlight for me was the track events. I have so much respect for these world-class athletes, but I also know how much of a sacrifice they make to commit their life to a sport. Running is literally their job.

Now that I’m on the other side of the collegiate-athlete world, I started realizing how differently I look at running/races as a competitive athlete versus as a recreational runner. 

Conference 10k 2013 (stronglikemycoffee.com)

When I signed that scholarship agreement during my senior year of high school, I was committing to represent Northern Arizona University, the Lumberjacks, and Adidas. Training was a mandatory part of every day. Being on an NCAA Division 1 Track team was something I’d worked hard for, and it will always be one of my proudest achievements.

D1 Cross Country Meet Buffalo Park | Stronglikemycoffee.com

When I graduated one year ago, the collegiate running career officially ended as well. Now I have to find the motivation to run myself. Suddenly running is a choice. Do I even want to run anymore? Of course I do. That’s a no-brainer. There’s just no training plan I “have” to follow or any races I must compete in. There’s no one else tied to my performance.

I can’t say I prefer one over the other. I LOVED being a collegiate athlete; it gave me an identity and purpose at my school. It was incredibly rewarding, but stressful at times, and I think 8 years (high school and college) is the perfect amount of time to be a serious competitive athlete.

Gallatin Recreation Area Run (stronglikemycoffee.com)

I’m also learning to LOVE the perks of being a recreational runner. There’s less stress and pressure; there are more options for workouts beyond what’s dictated by a coach. So here’s my comparison of Competitive Athlete vs. Recreational Runner now that I’ve enjoyed my time as both:

Conference Girls Team (stronglikemycoffee.com)

Competitive Athlete: 

  • Collegiate running spoiled me with free race entries, plus free transportation, lodging, food, racing gear and not to mention a dozen pairs of shoes a year. That’s a tough one to say goodbye to after college. (Thankfully I was able to jump right into the Boise Elite running team when I moved to Idaho which has a couple of sponsors and free race entries.)
  • A coach can give you an outside perspective on your weak areas and ways to improve.
  • Your team and coaches hold you accountable for your workouts; skipping a long run is simply not an option.
  • Collegiate races have competitors at or above your level who can help push you through the race to improve your time. The atmosphere, the crowd, and the “official” nature of these types of races also boost adrenaline and help performance.

goofy team pictures

 

After graduation, that all goes away unless you are in the seriously elite 1% who become professional sponsored runners. I’m definitely not in that group :) I said goodbye to my blue and gold uniform but my love of running is still strong and I’ve been enjoying local race events as an individual runner.

Recreational Running:

marathon finish (stronglikemycoffee.com)

  • The stress of pleasing your coach and representing your school is lifted.
  • I actually find enjoyment from my sport again now that I put less pressure on myself.
  • You meet so many people in your community, who are just happy to be there, and it instantly boosts your mood.
  • You can find scenic courses and run through gorgeous scenery rather than a turf oval track.
  • You can win money ;) NCAA rules prohibit any “extra benefits” which include race prizes.
  • You can race with an iPod!!! This one is HUGE for me because I run twice as fast it feels like when a really good beat comes on.

    Processed with VSCOcam with c1 preset

    Just a track workout with 2 of the Rio 2016 Olympians, Shalane Flanagan and Emily Infeld. No big deal.

This weekend, I’ll be racing a local 10k road race. After that, I’ll continue training for an upcoming half-marathon. Transitioning from a student-athlete to a random road race runner isn’t too difficult because both have their perks. Let me know if you have any additions to these lists!

I’ll catch ya later on this week with a new back-to-school breakfast recipe I’m working on too :)

Roasted Vegetable and Chicken Quesadillas

The new country lifestyle’s appeal has not worn off yet…last night I attended my first rodeo! People-watching is one of the best parts (the cow tie-down and roping just looked sad to me), and there were plenty of cowboys to watch. I don’t know what it is about the “western” style but something about a button-down and a good-fitting pair of jeans is so classic.

Idaho country rodeo Stronglikemycoffee.comI talked to one of my best friends from Arizona on the phone while driving to the rodeo and joked how it would be just like the Nicholas Sparks story “The Longest Ride.” It totally was! Well, it was just like the movie if you take out Clint Eastwood’s son, the romance plot line, the North Carolina setting, the southern accents, and the rich guy’s inheritance. Okay basically the only thing it had in common with the movie was the amount of beer. But it was the first time I’ve seen real live bull riding and a few hundred intoxicated rednecks shouting at livestock so it was equally entertaining.

Idaho Rodeo Dog Stronglikemycoffee.com

Idaho rodeo stronglikemycoffee.com

Anyways, a friend and I got together over the weekend and we made a “healthified” quesadilla recipe that I have to share! Quesadillas are always one of my guilty-pleasure cravings, but a bunch of cheese and a tortilla is hardly nutritious. It’s quite a calorie-heavy meal with out any beneficial vitamins or nutrients to offer. By filling up the quesadilla with fresh roasted veggies and lean white-meat chicken, we bring a little more balance and nutrients into the dish and make it a little less guilty :)

Roasted Vegetable and Chicken Quesadillas Recipe Stronglikemycoffee.com Blog

We diced up half of a butternut squash, a red onion, some sweet potato and bell peppers. After tossing them in some olive oil, garlic and pepper, we roasted them on a baking sheet at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Then cut up some baked chicken into bite-sized chunks and rinsed some green chiles too.

Roasted Vegetable and Chicken Quesadilla Recipe Stronglikemycoffee.com

I opted for a whole wheat tortilla. A layer of shredded cheese, some veggies, some chicken, and another layer of cheese before folding in half.

Roasted Veggie and Chicken Quesadilla Recipe Stronglikemycoffee.com

We cooked them in a skillet over medium heat, flipping once. It makes them SO crisp with the nice toast marks :)

Roasted Vegetable Chicken Quesdadillas Recipe Stronglikemycoffee.com

Obviously it’s not quite as quick n’ easy as microwaving some cheese in a tortilla but the little extra prep work is way worth it.

Roasted Vegetable and Chicken Quesdadillas on Stronglikemycoffee.com

I realize that I’m a decade late to the party, but I am currently in the middle of watching the entire Harry Potter series for the first time. One of my new friends here just finished reading the novels and wanted to re-watch the movies. I invited myself to join her because I’ve never made it past movie #4 and I wanted to finally see what all the Harry Potter hype was about! Over the weekend, after the Huckleberry Festival and my morning long run, we knocked out movies #5 and #6. They are getting dark!

Tonight we’re having a back-to-back double feature to finish up the last couple of movies in the series and I made some festive HP-themed treats because my obsession with Pinterest crafts run deep. (This is my third cutesy Pinterest recipe of the summer – 4th of July flag pretzels, watermelon rice crispie treats, and now these owl cupcakes.) I have to share a picture before I sign off for the day because they are just too cute to eat!

Harry Potter Owl Cupcake Stronglikemycoffee.com Blog

Harry Potter Owl Cupcakes on Stronglikemycoffee.com Blog

XOXO Kenz.

 

Huckleberry Festival & 5k

Maybe it’s just me, but when I hear “huckleberry” I think of a charming storybook. Being from Southern California, I’ve never had a huckleberry before and I’ve been dying to find them! Ever since moving to Idaho earlier this summer, I’ve been all about getting out to new places and finding new-to-me adventures to cross off my Idaho Bucket List. The Huckleberry Festival in a small mountain town a couple hours away was by far the most adorable small-town event we’ve been to. I have a feeling it will be an annual summer tradition.

Huckleberry Festival Fruit Cart Stronglikemycoffee.com

Four years ago, my university track team traveled to Bozeman, Montana for the Track & Field Conference Championships. We flew to Spokane, and drove through Northern Idaho through the scenic Pacific Northwest and into Montana. (Little did I know this would be my new home 4 years later!)

After our race, my best friend Kerri and I walked through the tiny downtown in search of some huckleberries which are native to the area. We’d never had them before but it seemed like something we needed to try while in the PNW. The grocery stores failed us though, and the closest thing we got to huckleberries was a huckleberry-flavored chocolate bar. Okay, we weren’t too sad about that ;)

Since moving to Idaho, I’ve had huckleberry wine and huckleberry-flavored coffee, but no fresh berries. We’ve heard that you have to be careful picking them in the mountains though because you are literally competing with the bears for berries!

Huckleberry Festival Garden Stronglikemycoffee.com

My parents and I woke up around 5am on Saturday to drive up into the mountains and be at the 5k race registration by 8am. The entire highway is lined with rivers and streams and farmland, which is even more picturesque during sunrise.

“Welcome to Donnelly. Population: 138”

Huckleberry Festival Wildflowers Stronglikemycoffee.com

We had no idea what to expect from this festival. But every event kept us pleasantly surprised and happy we made the trip!

The 8th annual Huckleberry Trot 5k race began at the community center, on a dirt road marking the course with white arrows. We got our t-shirts, purple flip-flops, and a goodie bag. The mayor of Donnelly kicked off the race, and about a hundred of us ran down the country road. The straight long road had some cows on either side….and that’s about it. It was literally in the middle of nowhere. There were a couple of boys a little younger than me who ran in a clump, and I just kept up with them for the first half. I had no expectations for my race time and I wasn’t really trying to hit a certain pace.

I crossed the finish line in 20:22, winning overall female. My grand prize? A Huckleberry Pie, of course! I was so excited to win the pie from one of the local Donnelly bakeries :) My mom raced the 5k as well and finished 3rd in her age group so we both brought home a medal! My dad said he’ll race it with us next year and we will not let him forget it ;)

We celebrated with post-race iced americano’s at the local bakery and split a huckleberry muffin that had just come out of the oven. The whole town spans one block, and it was festively decorated with purple streamers and huckleberry flavored specials everywhere.

Huckleberry Festival Shops Stronglikemycoffee.com

Huckleberry Festival Bakery Stronglikemycoffee.com

This weekend was another reminder that I am extremely blessed to have found a new home in Idaho.

After years of gushing over movies and TV shows with a small-town setting, quaint and charming, I can finally experience it first-hand. We hung out on Main St. for the parade…..which lasted all of 7 minutes.

Huckleberry Days Parade Stronglikemycoffee.com

Huckleberry Festival Main St Parade Stronglikemycoffee.com

Huckleberry Festival Booths Stronglikemycoffee.com

The day was so beautiful and a popular vacation destination, McCall, wasn’t too far away so we decided to head more north instead of heading back home. Look at how diverse Idaho is – mountains, lake, beachy sand, and a pine tree all in one spot :)

Huckleberry Festival Weekend McCall Idaho Stronglikemycoffee.com

Huckleberry Festival Chicken Salad Lunch Stronglikemycoffee.com

We had lunch on the balcony of a brewery looking out on the lake. I ordered the house salad with grilled chicken and raspberry dressing, which I’m now inspired to recreate at home. It was creamy, not like a regular raspberry vinaigrette. I’m thinking of trying out a greek yogurt raspberry puree type experiment to make my own healthy version of this bright pink dressing…

Huckleberry Festival Huckleberry Milkshakes Stronglikemycoffee.com

Everything in this area is blooming so most of the stores and restaurants have fresh flowers. The colors are so vibrant and beautiful! We were feeling like we were on vacation all day.

We skipped dinner and went straight to dessert that night with my fresh huckleberry pie while watching the Olympics :) I also made an AMAZING new healthy recipe with a friend last night, but I’ll save that for my next post.

XOXO Kenz.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 940 other followers

%d bloggers like this: