Monthly Archives: January 2014

Spaghetti Squash Pasta

I think the reason I’ve postponed another blog post for so long is because I couldn’t really top my first marathon recap. I wanted to relive the experience as long as possible! But now, the lactic acid is almost drained from my legs and I cut the tracking tag off of my training shoes for today’s easy run. Time to move on… ;)

Last night’s dinner was purposefully extra healthy because of my lack of exercise all week. Post-marathon, I gave myself 7 full exercise-free days to let my body recover. (Though that did mean turning down frozen yogurt on girl’s night out and bypassing the chocolate section at this week’s Sprouts spree in order to compensate for the lack of energy-expenditure.) Today though, I reintroduced my legs to jogging with a 5 miler on some trails and sidewalks. I am ready to get back to my fitness routine! Now that my marathon is over, what is my next goal? I’m giving myself a week or two to figure that one out….

In the meantime, I’ve cleaned up my fridge with about 15 pounds of fresh produce. I’ve got Acorn squash to Zucchini and everything in between. My dinners are usually a medley of vegetables, like this amazing spaghetti squash pasta. Trust me, you don’t even miss the carbs.

Spaghetti Squash Pasta (stronglikemycoffee.com)

Nope those aren’t noodles!

After you slice the squash open, it’s the easiest thing in the world. Wash it and use a really good knife because cutting into the dense raw squash is slightly frightening…

Spaghetti Squash (stronglikemycoffee.com)Scoop out the seeds and guts like a pumpkin. I line a baking sheet with foil, lightly spray with olive oil cooking spray and some seasoning. Lay the squash halves on the tray, face down and bake at 375 for about 50 minutes. They will be super soft when they are done!

For the sauce, I sauteed my own blend of chopped zucchini (green & yellow because the more color the better!), tomato, orange bell pepper, garlic and spinach. Plus we added some pre-cooked shrimp for a little protein. After it all cooked down for about 8 minutes, I added it to some marinara sauce that had been simmering the whole time.

Spaghetti Squash Sauce (stronglikemycoffee.com)The fun part! Once the squash is removed from the oven, use 2 forks to pull apart the insides into its little “spaghetti” strands. Who ever thought that shaping vegetables to look like a more substantial dish would actually be so filling.

Hah I just couldn’t resist….. ;)

Talk about squash on squash on squash. Here’s the nutritional facts!

Spaghetti Squash has 10 grams of carbs per 1 cup, compared to regular pasta’s 50 grams per cup. It’s also naturally fat-free, low-sugar and largely composed of water. (Hydrating!)

Happy Sunday :)

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My First Marathon

I know I promised a race recap yesterday but I was just too busy & tired to put my experience into words and pictures. Now that I’ve had a full 10 hours of sleep and a family celebration let’s get to it…

Quick Facts:

  • Marathon: Rock n’ Roll Arizona Marathon in Phoenix
  • Shoes: Saucony
  • Hair: French braids
  • Fuel of Choice: Gu packs (Espresso Love and Peanut Butter flavors)
  • Goal Time: sub-4 hours
  • Finish Time: 3 hours 27 minutes 14 seconds
  • Pace: 7 minutes 54 seconds per mile
  • Place: 251st out of 2878 (40th female out of 1238)
  • Pre-race breakfast: plain oatmeal, banana & coffee
  • Post-race meal: Cold Stone Love It create-your-own ice cream –> cheesecake ice cream with graham cracker, Crunch bar & hot fudge. Guilty? Not one bit.

The start line was broken up into waves so that 3000 people weren’t jammed across the 20-ft. start line at the same time. I was put in Corral #1 based on my estimated finish time, so I got to start immediately at 7:50am. Obviously the most important strategy in a 26.2 mile race is pace yourself. And based on my goal time of sub-4 hours, I knew I should be in the ballpark of 8 minutes per mile.

However….. adrenaline + excitement + competitiveness = 6:47 first mile. Oooops.

Marathon start line (stronglikemycoffee.com)

By the 10k mark I was at 45 minutes, still 5 minutes faster than my goal pace. I felt so stinkin’ good though that I just went with it. The first half, the first 13.1 miles, were nearly effortless because of the amount of runners I had around me, the crowds, the mile-marker bands and music and just my sheer excitement to be there!

Did I hit an infamous “wall”?

Absolutely, and a lot earlier than I anticipated. I took my first Gu pack at mile 6, and right away my stomach didn’t like the sudden intake of sugar. I took another around mile 12, and my stomach was really not happy. After mile 16 I struggled mentally, I think realizing that I had 10 miles to go was a bit overwhelming. That was a mental wall. The PHYSICAL wall came around mile 20 when my legs felt sore and heavy. Like I had done 400 squats. My quads and calves were on fire!

Things that got me through:

Slowing down was an option. Stopping at the water station for a sip and a splash was an option. Not finishing the marathon was NOT AN OPTION. Finishing in over 4 hours was NOT AN OPTION. I had a deadline and people at the finish line waiting for me! Mile 24 was a continuous gradual uphill and my legs hurt so bad that I literally just started counting my footsteps to distract myself and force my legs to keep moving. Luckily after the uphill, there was the reward of downhill and some water.

Once I passed mile 25 I knew that I was going to finish in under 3 hours 30 minutes. Thinking about that helped me push through all of the pain and make it to the finish line. There were crowds of people on both sides leading to the grand finish but I had my eyes peeled for my parents and Kerri. I spotted them a few meters from the mat and we all waved at each other :) Ooooh I just got chills.

Marathon family at the finish (stronglikemycoffee.com)I also happen to have the coolest parents who made a whole vacation out of the weekend. We stayed a couple nights in Phoenix, went out to some fun restaurants with my friends Chelsea and Kerri and definitely celebrated afterwards. The best moment was seeing them in the crowd at the finish line waving & cheering. That is the BEST way to finish a race! I owe them the biggest THANK YOU xoxoxo

Marathon friends at the finish (stronglikemycoffee.com)

After the marathon was over, the sponsors bombarded us with water bottles, chocolate milk, Gatorade, protein bars, pretzels, fruit. I met up with my parents and friends to bask in my runner’s high (and sweat-soaked clothes haha). I am so grateful to have amazing friends and family that were able to be there with me as I completed one of my biggest personal challenges of my life! It was an unforgettable feeling :)

There is only one post-race meal that I am interested in. You earn a MEDAL, you earn an ICE CREAM:

Marathon ice cream (stronglikemycoffee.com)

Three spoons because I share! ;)

Overall Race Impression: I couldn’t have asked for better weather. We started in 48 degrees, it was sunny but never hot. The course was relatively flat, all asphalt city streets so it was fast! I had no injuries, aches or pains aside from the inevitable soreness that comes with continual cardio activity for over 3 hours. The event was super organized with timers at every mile, plenty of water/Gatorade/Gu stations and nice sets for all 26 bands along the way. Best marathon experience I could have asked for!

marathon finish line (stronglikemycoffee.com)

The best part came from knowing that I exceeded my own expectations. Running a marathon has been a huge goal of mine for a very long time. As I began training, I didn’t want to just finish…. I wanted to finish in under 4 hours. So cutting over half an hour off of my goal time is a pretty successful race outcome for me :) It made all of the training, all of the time committment and sacrifices, quitting my collegiate cross country team and training by myself, totally worth it. I don’t regret anything! I wouldn’t have changed any of my training or pre-race prep. I’m every bit as satisfied and accomplished as I thought I would be and there is no better feeling!marathon finish (stronglikemycoffee.com)

My Day

And the last song in my marathon training playlist installment:

Today is my day! Twenty-six point two. :)

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