Running for Rachel: Who’s Ready for a 5k?!

Alright, it’s been announced, has opened for registration and I am excited…the third annual Running for Rachel will be held on City Island in Harrisburg on Sunday, April 27…You game?

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You’ve heard my story, but, in case you haven’t, Rachel played a role in it that she’ll never know. We went to elementary, Jr. high and high school together. We started as basketball opponents and became teammates as we moved up. She was an amazing athlete with a personality to match it. A few years back she was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. After an inspirational battle during which she showed more courage than most of us could match, she passed away. But, her legacy has changed lives and continues to do so; mine is one of them.

I lost my way. I went down a path that was as far from fitness and health as possible. During the first Running for Rachel, I was sidelined and watched as my friends and even family (DH took 2nd) excelled in Rachel’s memory. That day, my journey to health and running began; I signed up for my first half marathon and have never looked back.

Last year I was able to run in the race. I took 3rd for my age group and was so proud. I was a competitor again; Rachel’s story has a lot to do with that. I look forward to returning this year and registered as soon as I heard it had opened.

The race is a simple, flat, out and back 5k that runs along the beautiful Susquehanna. Because of the turnaround point, there’s an awesome chance to cheer on other runners. The spirit of race day is high and the community support is incredible. Last year the race was big and the competition was great. I expect the same this year!

If you’re ready to be inspired, whether you want to go for a place, train for your first 5k or enjoy a beautiful walk, sign up for Running for Rachel today. You won’t be disappointed and will leave the race changed; I know I did.

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Why ZOOMA’s Opportunity Matters to Me

For those of you who have been following me online for the past month or so, or have seen me in person during that time, you know I’ve been entered in ZOOMA’s Run to Napa contest for a chance for myself and a reader to win a trip to ZOOMA’s Women’s Half Marathon in Napa, CA in June. I appreciate every single vote, especially those who have gone out of their way to vote every day, and wanted to shine a little light on why this matters so much to me.

Here’s the thing. You all know I haven’t been a runner my whole life; in fact, that couldn’t be any further from the truth. I’ve been an athlete, I’ve been a couch potato, I’ve been everything in between…but I’ve never been a runner. Until now. Now, I am a runner, and what I’m doing now has everything to do with what ZOOMA stands for.

When looking for organizations to support, brands to become more involved with and communities to become a part of, ZOOMA stood out to me. The reason why is simple. The mission and core values of the organization are all about inspiring women to live happy, healthy and active lives. BAM. That hit me and stays with me every day, in every single thing I do.

Let’s go back.

From 8 or so years ago up until 2 years ago, I dug myself into a hole. I became inactive and satisfied that that level of inactivity was my life, that my circumstances were beyond my control and that I needed to settle for who I was. It’s ironic because during that time I was dating my now-husband, John, a collegiate distance runner. I’d go out to his races, wonder what would possess people to take part in that level of activity, and would immediately write it off as something I was not meant to do.

before

I lost track of me; of what mattered, of what drove me and of future aspirations. I became a product of my choices and had excuses for every single side effect. “I had a terrible injury, the doctors told me I couldn’t compete at a high level.” “Ya know, weight, it’s a genetic thing…” “I’m just big boned, I’m not meant to be tiny,” you name it, I could combat it. During that time I lost track of self esteem, of my goals, and of the fact that I mattered.

To compound it, I became a mom; those boys are two of the best things that ever happened to me, but they also became part of my excuse…”What kind of mom has time to work out?! Not me! Hahaha.” You get the idea.

But then it happened. As I mention in my own story…an elementary friend of mine lost a long and inspirational battle to a rare form of cancer. In her memory, we held a 5k. My husband competed, but I was in no shape to even walk a 5k, let alone race in front of my high school friends. No way. But, then the day came. As I watched runners of EVERY level cross that finish, I was inspired…something clicked. That was it. I went home and signed up for a half marathon (I never do things part way…I jumped in head first).

My husband and I started training…it was painful, it was hard, but I loved it. Along the way I had some victories…a sprint triathlon:

tri pic

A few 5k’s and so on…but that Half Marathon, the Hershey Half Marathon, was what it was all about. The day came and I’d never been more nervous or excited about anything…I cried at the start and lost it at the finish. No one could take those miles away from me…that race was about me pushing every excuse I’d ever made to the curb and climbing out of the hole I’d put myself into…Running Changed Everything.

Here’s a photo from the day:

During 3

Since then, I’ve come a long way. I’ve started to share my story, because, like ZOOMA, I want to help inspire runners. I’ve been at both ends of the spectrum…from wondering if the wrong things were showing the wrong way in my running clothes or if I was breathing too hard to winning medals…I get it. I try to encourage women to find what drives them, what gives them focus and what allows them to truly live and experience life to the fullest and to go after it with everything they have.

To me, running has done it. ZOOMA’s mission has been a driving factor in my life. Because of this, I’d appreciate the opportunity to Run to Napa and to cheer someone else on as well. This opportunity is like no other.

Thanks to each and every person who has voted so far…daily voting continues until February 24. For those who are just finding out, please take the time to join in; this mission is something I stand behind wholeheartedly. You can vote by clicking on the photo below or by visiting my Facebook page. Let’s run to Napa!

Before After

RunKeeper: New Favorite App

I broke down and got an iPhone. To put it literally though, my old phone broke down, and the iPhone seemed most practical. I’m on the go, need to be connected and am a runner…I heard that the iPhone was top notch in this area…so I went for it.

While I’m not a huge fan of dealing with new technology, I was excited for the increased capabilities during workouts…music without carrying an iPod AND phone? A built in GPS? I quickly began to see this as an opportunity to cut down on unneeded accessories while increasing my workout intensities…sweet!

I started doing research on different GPS apps. I had a Garmin before, so I knew what I liked and what I didn’t. After a few days of searching, I realized the reviews for RunKeeper seemed to align with what I needed. I downloaded it and took it out for an easy 7 miler with John. We both fell in love almost instantly.

During the run, the device sent out pacing updates and total distance alerts every 5 minutes (I have since reset that because I don’t want that during long races, but, for the first time it was pretty great!). The voice was clear and easy to understand without breaking focus. At every point in the run we knew exactly where we were without having to read a small GPS watch face. Score.

Even better? Our run was in a heavily wooded area. The signal was clear and we didn’t run into any problems or delays. Also a plus.

But, the real fun came when we wrapped up. At the close of the run, the data was stored into my digital profile. I could easily view my run overview:

overview

 

Splits:

splits

 

and other information including calories burnt, elevation changes, notes that I saved and more. From there, I had the ability to share on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, or to connect with other friends using the app.

Simple. Clear. Easy to use…RunKeeper is my new favorite running app!

 

Note: This endorsement is on my own, no company communication took place prior to this review. It is unsolicited and solely based on my own opinion!

 

SECOND NOTE: I am entered into ZOOMA’s Run to Napa contest, which depends on your vote! The winning blogger AND a reader (could be you!) will win a trip to Napa for the ZOOMA Women’s Half Marathon in June. Right now, I’m in third place, and would appreciate daily votes through Feb 24! LINK!

San Diego Style Chicken Tacos

As many of you know, we took the boys to San Diego last month. It was amazing…from incredible beach views and runs to seeing the west coast for the first time, we built memories to last a lifetime. We also got a taste of deliciously fresh food to break up the winter routine back home. My favorite? Chicken Tacos from World Famous, a beach side bar and restaurant in Mission Beach.

Since we can’t fly 7 hours for tacos, I decided to mix it up and try them at home. The results? Family favorite! My take on the recipe is below! NOTE: their tacos had cabbage and we were out…but if you want to add some deliciousness, consider going that route!

 

Fajitas 3

San Diego Style Chicken Tacos

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast tenders
  • 1 TB chili powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 TB extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 green peppers (chopped)
  • 1 red onion (chopped)
  • 1 tsp fresh minced garlic
  • 1 TB lime juice
  • 8 white corn tortillas.
  • 1 cup shredded cheese of your choice (for topping)
  • 1 chopped tomato (for topping)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Mix the chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder and cumin in a gallon sized plastic bag. Add the chicken and coat as evenly as possible (don’t stress here, you’ll be shredding it later!).
  • Heat the EVOO over medium high heat.
  • Add the chicken and bake for 2 minutes on each side. Remove from heat.
  • Place the chicken on a baking sheet and place in the oven for 8-10 minutes or until done.
  • In the meantime, add the peppers, onion, garlic and lime juice to the pan in which the chicken was sauteed.
  • Heat the veggies over medium high-heat until browned, approximately 8-10 minutes.
  • Remove the chicken from the oven and shred.
  • Lightly brush the tortillas with EVOO and place in foil in the oven for 4-5 minutes or until warm.
  • Assemble the parts and enjoy!!

NOTE: I am entered into ZOOMA’s Run to Napa contest, which depends on your vote! The winning blogger AND a reader (could be you!) will win a trip to Napa for the ZOOMA Women’s Half Marathon in June. Right now, I’m in third place, and would appreciate daily votes through February 24! LINK!

Egg Drop Soup

New tradition in our home? Meatless Mondays. Hoping to increase this to 3 days a week by the end of February…we will see!

First up? Egg Drop Soup….restaurant style! Enjoy!

Egg Drop Soup

 

Egg Drop Soup – Restaurant Style

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups low sodium vegetable broth *because of the meatless Mondays theme, we used veg. broth…chicken broth works well!*
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 2 TB cornstarch
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks

Directions:

  • Set aside 1/2 cup broth
  • Pour the rest of the broth into a medium saucepan along with the spices…bring to a rapid boil.
  • In another bowl, stir together the 1/2 cup broth and cornstarch until smooth…set aside.
  • In another bowl, whisk together the eggs and yolks until creamy.
  • Drizzle forkfuls of the eggs into the boiling broth, they should cook and get silky right away.
  • After the eggs have been added, pour the cornstarch mixture into the soup gradually while stirring, until desired thickness has been reached.

Enjoy!

Making it Count: Keeping Track

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2013 was a big year for me…a half marathon, lots of 5k’s, a Tough Mudder, 2 10k’s and even a mile sprint. But, it was a lot more than a rep sheet of races and mile-high experiences. In fact, it took a lot of work to get there; when I spout out the big moments, those smaller ones…the ones that matter…get overlooked. It’s the everyday that matters most sometimes.

I was reading over the posts of friends on New Year’s Eve (because that’s what happens when you’re sick and stuck inside for big holidays like that 🙂 ). One stood out, one friend documented the miles he put in to achieve the bigger goals. It’s simple, and to me, means more than a race count.

I’ve decided to do it for myself. For 2014, I’m keeping track of the miles I run, bike, swim and even elliptical, along with a rep sheet of every lift. I want to take the time to appreciate the everyday moments…the ones that make the big victories mean even more.

What will you be doing differently this year?