Brooklyn Marathon

I finished my first marathon last Sunday! The Brooklyn Marathon. 26.2 miles in just under 5 hours. And guess what: I wasn’t the last person to finish! Never thought I’d run a marathon. I’ve loved running ever since college. But back then, I didn’t have the time or desire to train. That all changed once I participated in my first half marathon this April. I thought to myself: if I can do 13.1, what’s stopping me from 26.2? After all, it’s always been a bucket list item of mine. My aunt has also inspired me. She took up marathon running a few years ago, and has probably participated 10+ races ever since. Pretty incredible!

Brooklyn Marathon

My dad flew out for the weekend to cheer me on. I was so excited to have him here for my first race! We arrived to Prospect Park about 30 minutes prior to the start at 8:30 a.m. The park was absolutely beautiful! All of the leaves were still bright and colorful. Some very stunning scenery to be surrounded by all day! The weather was fine for running, but definitely on the chilly side. 40’s and COLD! I felt bad for some of the spectators. My dad took a break from watching at one point to go to a nearby McDonald’s and warm up. Lol!

Brooklyn Marathon

The course consisted of 6 long loops around Prospect Park. This involved running up a hill each and every time. Have to admit: that was pretty dang hard! My legs were already feeling sore about halfway through. But I just kept going.

Brooklyn Marathon

Thankfully there were water stations every few miles or so. I also took two or three breaks to eat GU chomps and GU gels.

Brooklyn Marathon

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I never realized why runners are given those weird silvery plastic blankets after a race. Well, now I know. Once I stopped running, by body temperature rapidly cooled down. I was freezing! It was nice to have the blanket as another layer to trap in my body heat.

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Check out the medal they gave us. Love that it shows a picture of Brooklyn. I’ll have to find a special place to display this! Now that I’ve finished the race, I’m already thinking about signing up for another. I want to beat my time! But as for now, I’ll be resting up and taking it easy for a few weeks. I’m also looking forward to doing more workout classes again — especially yoga!

Brooklyn Marathon

 

Wisconsin VIsit + Badger Homecoming

Fall is HERE! I traveled to Wisconsin (Milwaukee/Madison) two weekends ago and was overjoyed by the amazing fall foliage and awesome weather. Between UW-Madison’s Homecoming (my alma mater), baking all things pumpkin, watching scary movies and visiting family, it was good to be home.

Wisconsin fall collage 11-2-2014

The weather was *so* nice out on Friday — my mom and I even enjoyed a cup of coffee outside. For Wisconsin in LATE October, that is a rarity!


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The first night I arrived home, we whipped up some crockpot overnight pumpkin oats. Pumpkin venture #1 of the weekend. The entire kitchen smelled like pumpkin pie the next morning! It was like eating dessert for breakfast.

Pumpkin Crock Pot Oats

I went a little crazy on the fall foliage pictures. Sorry I’m not sorry! ;-)

Fall in Wisconsin

Fall in Wisconsin

Fall Leaves

Fall in Wisconsin

Fall Leaves

I couldn’t abandon my marathon training over the weekend. Reality check: it’s only two weeks away! So I worked in a long run on Friday. This was the LONGEST run of my entire training plan: 20 miles! I found a flat trail near my parents’ house and got started early in the morning. It wasn’t as hard as I anticipated, but I was freaking EXHAUSTED afterwardI (I slept pretty poorly the night before, flying in so late.) Completing the 20 definitely felt like a huge accomplishment. It’s crazy to think of where I was a year ago today. I could probably only run 3-4 miles, tops! I’m thrilled and pleasantly surprised by how far I’ve come. It all started with one simple goal!

Fall Run

Fall in Wisconsin

As soon as I got back from my run, I knew I needed a quick snack. My mom had apples and peanut butter waiting for me. :-D

Apples and Peanut Butter

Let me tell you… this peanut butter has become my new FAVORITE! It’s Trader Joe’s Crunchy Salted Peanut Butter with Flax and Chia Seeds. Super chunky and crunchy. I add it to oatmeal, spread it on bagel thins or use it as a dip for apples. (I also find myself sneaking spoonfuls straight out of the jar ;-) .)

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On Saturday, I drove up to Madison with my college friend Beth. We met up with my parents, brother and a bunch of friends. It was so much fun seeing everyone again! I see my family fairly often, but I only get to see my college friends a few times a year. We had a blast catching up!

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Now… back to more baking adventures! My mom and I whipped up our favorite pumpkin bread recipe on Sunday. As much as I love banana bread, nothing beats a warm slice of pumpkin bread in the fall! SO good.

Pumpkin Bread

This happened, too. Affy Tapples! :-D

Affy Tapple Caramel Apple

Sunday morning, I made pumpkin pancakes from a recipe I found on Dashing Dish. I’d been dying to try them! They did not disappoint. Perfect breakfast on the last day of my trip!

Healthy Pumpkin Pancakes

Healthy Pumpkin Pancakes

Only a few weeks, and I’ll be back again already for Thanksgiving. I’m SO looking forward to baking, cooking and catching up with friends and family. Definitely not looking forward to the anticipated temperature change, though. My winter coat will be out by then!

 

Halloween Cookies from William Greenberg

Happy Halloween! Something about this holiday makes me feel like a kid again. Am I alone here? Maybe it’s the candy. Actually, it’s definitely the candy. Candy corn, chocolate bars and all things sugar — I just can’t resist! :-P In my opinion, you’re never too old to treat yourself. So I was obviously excited to pick up some special Halloween treats for work on Friday. William Greenberg sells the cutest cookies — including black and orange (instead of black and white), cut-out pumpkins and ghosts. I stopped in on my break to survey the options!

William Greenberg Halloween Cookies

I ended up with a boxful of various treats — black and orange cookies and a few Halloween-themed cut-outs as well. They were a big hit. I think my favorite was the black and orange cookie, but they were all AMAZING, and a modest size. Not too big, not too small. I’d highly recommend popping in if you’re craving a sweet cookie. There’s something nostalgic about the place. I’ll definitely be back!

Healthy Pumpkin Pancakes

Pumpkins for breakfast?! Oooooooo, yes — you read that right! Going with the trend of all-things-pumpkin, I decided to whip up a batch of PANCAKES last weekend. I found the recipe via Pinterest (where else?!) from blogger Dashing Dish. Read on for more pumpkin amazingness…

Pumpkin Pancakes

Pumpkin Pancakes

I topped them with walnuts, mini chocolate chips and pure maple syrup (not pictured). This was, no doubt, one of the BEST pumpkin recipes I’ve ever made. Ever. Besides maybe pumpkin bread.

Pumpkin Pancakes

Here’s the recipe — modified slightly from Dashing Dish‘s original.

Healthy Pumpkin Pancakes

  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin (I used Libby’s)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp water
  • 3-5 packets of stevia
  • Optional toppings: pure maple syrup, mini chocolate chips, walnuts

*Yield: 6 regular-sized pancakes

How-to:

  1. Place all ingredients in a blender and combine until smooth. (Try to get rid of as many chunks as you can.)
  2. Heat a nonstick pan (I also used cooking spray) on medium heat. Scoop batter onto pan (whatever size desired). Flip once the edges start to firm up and cook on the opposite side.
  3. Optional: top with pure maple syrup, mini chocolate chips, walnuts or whatever your heart desires. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Pancakes

More pumpkin recipes:

8 Amazing Pumpkin Products

It’s the most pumpkin-filled time of the year! Now that we’re (already!) well into October, I thought I’d share some of my favorite pumpkin things from the season. From cereal to tortilla chips, check out the list below. And let me know what your favorites are!

Pumpkin collage 10-29-2014

1. Trader Joe’s Pumpkin O’s: a brand NEW product from TJ’s this season, and it’s a winner! Think: pumpkin bread meets Cheerios. What’s not to love? I use them in trail mix with almonds and peanuts, or simply with milk for breakfast!

Trader Joe's Pumpkin O's

2. Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Butter: one of my all-time favorite pumpkin products. If you haven’t discovered the glory of pumpkin butter, you’re missing out. Many of my friends seem baffled by it. Don’t knock it ’til you try it! I assure you, pumpkin butter tastes delicious in oatmeal, and even homemade pumpkin spice lattes!

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Butter

3. Dunkin’ Donuts Pumpkin Spice Ground Coffee: in my opinion, this is one of the best-tasting pumpkin coffees out there. I use a traditional coffeemaker, so the grounds work out just perfect for me. For Keurig folks, I’m sure the K-Cup version is delicious, too. The coffee exhibits *just* enough pumpkin flavor, without being overbearing. It’s quite tasty, and much more healthy than a pumpkin spice latte!

Dunkin' Donuts Pumpkin Spice Coffee

4. Brach’s Mellowcreme Pumpkinsokay, so they aren’t really pumpkin flavored, but they do look like pumpkins. These are a game-changer in the candy corn department.

Mellowcreme Pumpkins Candy

5. Bath & Bodyworks Pumpkin Pecan Waffles Candleprepare to be smell-mazed! If you could wrap the best parts of fall all into one candle, this would be it. It’s only a seasonal item, so I recommend stocking up before they roll out all the Christmas stuff!

Pumpkin Pecan Waffles Candle

6. Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Spice Granola: yet another TJ’s pumpkin favorite. This tastes great in yogurt, on top of oatmeal, by the handful… the list goes on. The best part: tart cranberries sprinkled throughout.

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Spice Granola

7. Simply Nature Pumpkin Tortilla Chips (from Aldi): now THESE were the pleasantest of surprises! My mom whipped out a bag of these when I came home for the weekend, and I have to admit I was VERY skeptical. Pumpkin tortilla chips?! I thought that was maaaaaybe taking the whole pumpkin thing a little too far. Quite the contrary! They’re quite delicious, and so flavorful, you’ll want to eat them without salsa or dip.

Pumpkin Tortilla Chips

8. Roasted Pumpkin Seeds (my favorite brands are the Nice! pumpkin seeds sold at Duane Reade and the Trader Joe’s version): I LOVE, LOVE pumpkin seeds just about any time of year. They’re salty, crunchy and add just the right amount of substance to homemade trail mixes. Bonus points: they’re healthy, too!

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

 

**Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links which may generate a revenue for my site when a purchase is made.**

NYCWFF + Weekend Adventures

Lately I’m starting to realize that my weekends revolve around food. (Also, running.)  I don’t hate it. Haha. This weekend was no different! My friend Anna had a few extra tickets to the Jets + Chefs NYCWFF event on Saturday, and she didn’t have to ask me twice! A day of food festivities? Yes, please.

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Marcus Samuelsson was posing for photo opps when we first walked in. I recognized him right away from Chopped! Pretty exciting. He was super nice!

IMG_6264 NYCWFF Jets + Chefs

The food was all “tailgate” themed — plenty of BBQ, burgers and the like, along with some super delicious dessert plates. I sampled SOOO many things. I honestly lost track. But I did take pics of all the desserts I tried. First off, one of my favorites: these yummy chocolate cake pops at the Celebrity Cruises table. They were just like old-school push pops I remember having as a kid! But WAY better.


NYCWFF Chocolate Cake Pops And then there was THIS goodness from Catch. My favorite dish from the entire event: bourbon banana bread pudding with Guinness ice cream! Just look at that presentation! Warm, caramelized bananas, decadent pastry and refreshing ice cream. I was skeptical about the Guinness ice cream. But its slight bitterness complemented the bread pudding perfectly.

Catch NYC Bourbon Banana Bread Pudding Next up: rum balls from Sysco. There were two varieties: one rolled in coconut, and the other coated in toasted nuts. I opted for the coconut! 

NYCWFF Rum Balls This was very, very rich and fudgy — as a chocolate lover, I definitely enjoyed it. But it was a bit much to stomach after all the other desserts I had enjoyed!

NYCWFF Rum Balls

Luckily, I did get in a workout that morning! I ran 14 miles (per my marathon training plan) through Hudson River Park and Riverside Park. The leaves are *just* starting to change colors! It made for some great scenery.

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As for Sunday, it was time for eat-a-thon part two! I told you, this weekend was ALL about food. My friends and I ate brunch at Sotto 13. All the plates were served tapas-style, and you got a certain number of dishes based on the size of your group. We had 5 people, which equated to two pizzas, two brunch small plates and two sides. Needless to say, we didn’t leave hungry! I highly recommend this place for groups. There’s plenty of seating, and the food portions are spot-on. Everything was delicious. My favorites: margherita pizza and the frittata.

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Now I’m just spending the rest of the afternoon relaxing before my short-ish week. I’m headed back home to Wisconsin on Thursday. It’s UW Homecoming weekend. Can’t wait to reunite with my family and college friends!