Friday, May 30, 2014

Fitness Fridays: Being Okay with a Bad Race

Race Day.

I woke up so excited on my third day in Vermont (this past Sunday), it was finally race day!

I typically run on an empty stomach early in the morning, so I woke up super early in the hopes that I could eat some breakfast and metabolize the bulk of it before the race started.

The KeyBank Vermont City Marathon and Relay had what I would call a late start time. 8:00am may sound early, but when you figure that most of the runners were running marathons, it really should have started at 7. Which also would have been better for my stomach!

But I didn’t plan the race. So I tried for an early breakfast – which would later come back and bite me in the booty.

I dressed for the race:

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and called my running coaches:

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Who were both still in bed – lazy bums!

I stretched. Drank water. And peed like a million times. I listened to music to pump me up. My knee felt great – I was SO ready for this race!

I met the rest of the Cabot Fit Team down in the lobby for pictures and last minute advice.

With the start time approaching, I made my way down to the start line to find my corral.

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I put myself in the 9:00 minute mile, knowing that I could slow down if my knee started feeling wonky and still keep my overall goal within reach.

The corral quickly started to fill up:

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This was a big race!

Before I knew it the gun went off and it was time to run! One of our Cabot Fit Teammates had warned us all about the beginning. You could very easily get swept up with the crowd, and I’m now kicking myself for not sticking right with the pacer.

Because that’s exactly what happened. I was carried along with the folks around me, and by the half mile mark I glanced at my watch and I was running a 8:15 pace. WOAH Marlow! SLOW DOWN!

I panicked a tiny bit, knowing that I most likely would lose steam. My training pace is right around 9:50. Just before the first mile mark, I felt a stab in my right side. It quickly spread across my front abdominal muscles. I had a stich that would last for my entire leg of the race! Darn that breakfast!!

I gripped my side. I shoved my fist down and over the cramp to try to loosen it up. I put more weight on my left foot. I raised my arms. I cradled my stomach. I took deep breaths. I tried to ignore it. I took 20 second walking breaks. I slowed my pace down to 10:30.

Nothing worked.

As you can tell from this race photo:

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I was miserable.

Around the 2.5 mile mark I went to a dark place. I wasn’t even close to my goal time and I was in serious pain. My leg of the race was only a 5k – I couldn’t believe this was happening to me. I felt defeated, and worse, I felt like I was letting my team down.

And then I passed two sisters, one in her teens and one around 7 years old, who had been run/walking the entire race. They were laughing with each other during their walk break. They weren’t focused on times or paces – they were just having fun.

So I gave myself a pep talk. I said, “Self, you are IN Vermont, A truly beautiful place. And only by the grace of God did you even become a runner. Stop feeling sorry for yourself. Enjoy the scenery. Smile at your fellow runners. Get over it.”

And I did. I slowed my pace again, and thought about the incredible fresh air. I sent little prayers up to my teammates running the marathon, praying that I had taken ALL the bad running mojo into my side stich. I high-fived kids on the sidelines. I enjoyed the course.

BUT I was so excited when I saw my teammate waiting for my pass-off. Katie smiled, took the blue bracelet that we had to hand off at each pass:

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and started her leg. I was finished.

38 minutes and 10 seconds. Definitely not even CLOSE to my 5K PR. In fact, my first race of the season was a full 10 minutes LESS. But you know what, it wasn’t my worst.

And at the end of the day. I still ran 3.3 miles.

5 years ago, I couldn’t even run around the block!

So while my racing brain views the Vermont race as a let down, my heart and soul knows that it was a triumph.

I could have walked that whole darn thing and I still would have been a winner. I have to look at the whole picture. I didn’t give up. I didn’t quit and sit on the sidelines. I have come so far in my journey to become a healthier person.

That’s what the Cabot Fit Team is about. It’s not about being the best. It’s about trying. It’s about putting fitness as a priority in your life, and finding the balance. It’s about doing your best.

After I finished the race, I was able to cheer on my teammates throughout the race course. We spent time at Mile 15 and Mile 26. I have never had so much fun!

Cheering and Volunteering at races is just as fun as running to me. I LOVE it! And when I saw our teammates rounding the corner at Mile 26, I was right there with them!

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That’s the other thing that I LOVE about the Cabot Fit TEAM. We all cheered each other on, and helped build each other up. Strong women rooting for each other – It’s amazing.

The sweetest moment at Mile 26 was watching a mother running the marathon stop, lift her 4 year old daughter up and over the barricade. Then, holding hands, the two ran towards the Finish Line.

Yeah, y’all know I teared up!

So while my leg wasn’t the best, I ended the day feeling so PROUD of our entire team. We did it! We ran the race. But even more, we all do IT every single day. We live incredibly busy lives with kids, family, pets, jobs, and we still find time for exercise. We are everyday athletes.

Want to read more about the race? Read more race recaps from my teammates:

Katie from Healthy Seasonal Recipes

Kelly from Kelly the Culinarian

Carolyn from All Day I Dream About Food

As my other teammates write their recaps, I’ll post them for you guys.

On Monday, we’ll talk about this epic glutening:

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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Day Two and the Best Gluten Free Moment

My second day in Vermont started WAY too early. My body clock was completely out of whack, so when I woke up at 4:45 feeling bright-eyed and bushy tailed, I decided to take advantage of the extra time.

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What’s better than coffee in the morning? Coffee enjoyed on Lake Champlain in Vermont! What a gorgeous way to start the day.

After my walk, I returned to the hotel starving. Luckily I had planned ahead:

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with my purchases from the day before! I don’t typically eat cereal at home, so I was excited to devour those Whole O’s. #cerealmonster

Shortly after breakfast, we hopped in the van:

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and headed to Percy Farm.

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Percy Farm is located just outside of Burlington in Stowe, Vermont. The drive alone was breathtaking. I just couldn’t get enough of those rolling hills!

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Paul Percy and his wife Lee own two farms, and he was kind enough to show us around his milking facility and introduce us to his dairy cows.

Interesting fact:

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Dairy Cows are snugglers. I was amazed by how close the cows huddled together. Turns out when you’re full of milk, you like to keep your sisters close.

Also, baby cows are the cutest.

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But you knew that already.

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They’re also super sleepy, which makes them even cuter.

Mr. Percy was so gracious, and I definitely learned even more about all the effort that goes in to making Cabot Cheese. The milk is constantly tested for quality and antibiotics, and if either isn’t up to snuff, the entire batch of milk is dumped and the farmer receives nothing. So when the package says Hormone Free, you can trust that. It’s in everyone’s best interest to uphold the Cabot standards.

After the farm, we made a pit stop at the Von Trapp Family Lodge to snap a picture:

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and dodge the rain.

On our way back to Burlington, we stopped for lunch and I’ll admit, I was skeptical.

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Unplanned restaurant stops are a little uncomfortable for me, so when we arrived at The Apple Core, I totally expected a salad with no dressing. I started scanning the menu for salads,

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And then there it was, in the bottom corner of the board:

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What?!?! That is what I call a Gluten Free Person’s Best Moment. That moment when you’ve entirely surrendered to eating a salad with no dressing and then you see a Gluten Free Bread option.

I literally squealed and clapped my hands. The sweet cashier looked at me like I was a little bit crazy, but also like she had seen this reaction before.

I proudly ordered a Turkey Club on the Gluten Free Flat Bread. Did I want it heated? Sure!

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I also ordered extra Cabot Cheddar, which was clearly a great idea!

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Oh yeah. It was good. Well done Apple Core. Well done.

After lunch, it was back in to the van to make a final pitstop at the Cabot Annex Store.

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The Annex is basically Cabot Cheese Heaven. They sell every. single. item. that Cabot produces. Including a $26 two pound block of “Old School” Cabot Cheese Cheddar aged for 5 years and oh so good. Yeah, y’all know I bought it. I wasn’t sure how I would get it back home, but you just don’t turn down 5 year old cheddar!

Duh! I LOVE cheese!

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and cows!

Such a fun-filled day for the Cabot Fit Team, and as the day started to wind down, the race started to fill our conversations.

We enjoyed a Pasta Dinner Supper that night, that was also a Fundraiser for The Ronald McDonald House:

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Cabot is all about giving back to the community and volunteerism, so I was excited about the dinner. They even had gluten free options!

We spent the dinner talking about the course with locals, and planning the switch offs for the relay. The race was fast approaching, so we called it a night early, and headed back to the hotel for a good night’s sleep.

Tomorrow: Race Day!

Disclaimer: Cabot Cheese paid for my travel to and from Vermont, as part of the Cabot Fit Team. However, I was not compensated for my opinions of Cabot Cheese and my absolute LOVE of Cabot is genuine….and OFFICIALLY an obsession.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Day One and Traveling Gluten Free

Traveling gluten free hasn’t always been easy. In fact, it still isn’t easy but I definitely feel like I’ve learned a lot from past mistakes.

Since I was traveling to Vermont to essentially perform – run a race – I knew it was going to be extra important to stay fueled properly.

So in the midst of my luggage:

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I made sure to pack some easy food items:

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8 pouches of Almond Butter that are small enough to make it through security. Once I was able to carry on an entire jar of almond butter; another time I had to throw the entire jar away. I’m not really sure what the TSA rule is on nut butters, so now I just pack single-serve packets. I bought these at Whole Foods, but I’ve also seen them at Harrris Teeter and Target.

I also packed a few food bars:

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I am obsessed with these Beard Brothers bars. I picked this up at my favorite running store, Bull City Running.

My first flight this past Friday was at 7am, which meant I was up at 4 to shower and get ready. I was hesitant about security since it was Memorial Day Weekend, so I wanted to give myself extra time. I HATE feeling rushed and anxious about missing my flight, so for me, it’s always best to just arrive earlier than most.

When I arrived at the airport at 5:45, I hadn’t even had coffee yet. But I thought I might sleep on the plane, so I held out. When I reached my connection in Philly, I ate the above food bar and had my first coffee of the day.

In Philly I met up with my first Cabot Fit Team member, Deanna of Teaspoon of Spice. We had a lovely time gabbing about food (seriously I LOVE food bloggers!) and before I knew it we had arrived in Vermont!

Deanna and I were greeted by two more lovely Cabot folks:

From left to right: Kelly, Me, Regan, and Deanna

We had a quick lunch, which honestly wasn’t even interesting enough to photograph. I had a burger – NO BUN – with no fries or salad. Literally just a patty of meat on the plate.

Do you ever walk in to a restaurant and just know that you can’t trust them to make gluten free food? That was the feeling I had with this place, so I stuck to the easiest possible option and warned the waitress that I had a severe allergy to wheat. No bread could touch my food.

That typically works, and I had no reactions after eating my burger. Yippee!

After lunch, Kelly and I made a bee-line for the closest health food store. She and I both knew that the weekend was going to be go-go-go, and we needed to stay on top of eating well.

I bought more almond butter, bananas, gluten free cereal for breakfast, unsweetened vanilla almond milk, and 2 1/2 gallons of water:

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Essentials.

I considered buying ALL of the Cabot Whipped Crème I could fit into my purse….

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but decided to hold off. Don’t get me wrong, I could have polished off three of these babies in no time, but I knew we were heading to an event that afternoon and I didn’t want to risk a sugar headache.

Plus it was hard to justify the cream as  “fuel”.Winking smile

After the grocery run, I settled in to my hotel for an hour or so and then headed down to meet the rest of the Cabot Fit Team….and of course, the VAN!

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100% – I would TOTALLY drive this van everyday. I mean, how cute is all that plaid?! We were all so excited to see the van, and being Instagram fanatics, had to take a million pictures of it. Seeing the van was almost an event in itself – it should have been on the itinerary:

4pm. See Cabot Van, Squeal in Excitement, Take tons of pictures, Eat Cheese

After the van excitement, we headed to Lake Champlain Chocolates South End Kitchen, a classroom and cafe attached to Lake Champlain Chocolates. As soon as I walked up to the table I got excited:

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there was CHEESE everywhere!

Craig Gile, a Cabot Cheese Grader, walked us through the aging process and taste profiles of my FAVORITE cheeses.

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We tasted a few new Legacy Collection cheeses, which I had been lucky enough to find earlier this month at my local Harris Teeter. My favorite:

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The White Oak Cheddar, Y’all know I snagged this bar and tucked it in my purse! I LOVE this cheese! I’ve bought a few bars since the first time I tasted it – it’s SO creamy.

Craig also talked about the stringent guidelines used for each batch of milk before the cheese was made. It was really interesting to learn all about my favorite cheese. And we talked about how the blocks become lactose free in the cheese making process AND how they are all gluten free!

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In fact, when I first fell in love with Cabot years ago, it was initially because it was a co-op. Having worked at a co-op, I love the business model. Everyone working together and sharing in the profits, no one getting more than their share. And obviously I fell in love with the taste. But since going gluten free, it’s been SO NICE to know that I can eat Cabot Cheese without any worries. The ingredients are simple, stated, and gluten free.

After eating ALL the cheeses, we enjoyed a light supper at the South End Kitchen. The sweet gal that took my order was super knowledgeable about gluten free, and explained everything that went into the roasted chicken.

Fact: I RARELY eat chicken in restaurants due to marinades. You never know what’s in a marinade!

But, she went through every detail with me, so I felt confident in my food choice:

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Maple rubbed chicken breast, mixed greens, red onion, shaved fennel, carrot, radish, and rosemary walnuts. Dressed with Citizen Cider Vinaigrette.

OMG that dressing! Those walnuts! I literally ate every. single. bite. It was so tasty!

And I thought about that salad the rest of the trip – In fact, I’m dreaming about it right now.

As I’m sure you can imagine, by the time we finished supper, all the bloggers were POOPED! It had been such an exciting day, and it was just Day 1!

Tomorrow, join me for Day Two and a moment that I call every Gluten Free Person’s BEST moment.

Disclaimer: Cabot Cheese paid for my travel to and from Vermont, as part of the Cabot Fit Team. However, I was not compensated for my opinions of Cabot Cheese and my absolute LOVE of Cabot is genuine….and bordering on an obsession.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Where Do I Even Begin

Man oh man. What a weekend.

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I spent half of the day yesterday traveling home from Vermont, and the other half sleeping off such an amazing weekend.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how to share all of the incredible experiences from my Cabot Fit Team Trip, and I have to admit - I’m having a hard time.

How do you even begin to recap SO MUCH food, fitness, friendship, and fun?! I mean, I could write an entire series on the cuteness of baby cows and the length of their eyelashes alone!

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So I’ve decided to go day by day. That way I won’t miss a detail, and you guys won’t be overloaded with pictures of cheese.

But before I start the recap, I wanted to first introduce you to a group of amazing women: The 2014 Cabot Fit Team.

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Getting to know the Cabot Fit Team Bloggers was definitely one of the highlights of my trip. It’s not often that I find a group of gals who actually want to chat about the best photo editing software, pinterest, facebook algorithms, and making homemade kombucha.

There’s just something kind of amazing about bloggers,  about women who take the time to share their passions, their successes,  and their failures with the world. It takes a very special kind of person to be so vulnerable and honest, and I definitely left this past weekend feeling inspired.

So meet me back here tomorrow for the Day 1 recap, and my tips for eating gluten free while travelling!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Vermont or Bust!

Welp, that 4am wake up call wasn’t all that great….

but who cares! This Southern gal is on her way to Vermont!

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I mean, I booked my own flight – so really I asked for it. But I prefer to be SUPER sleepy (or delirious) when I fly, so the earlier the better.

I can’t wait to spend the weekend with my Cabot Fit Team buddies and explore Burlington, Vermont! It’s my first time in Vermont – fingers crossed there isn’t too much rain.

And if you’re crossing your fingers, go ahead and keep them crossed for me on Sunday morning! That’s when I’ll be running the KeyBank City Marathon Relay Race, and I hope the hills don’t whoop me. I really tried to up my Hill Training y’all, but hills in Durham are pretty tame.

I’ll be posting on Facebook and Instagram all weekend long, and I hope you’ll join me there!

And if you know any gluten free goodies I need to try while in Burlington, share below!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Three-Ingredient Cheesy Chicken Ranch Burgers

Summer is by far my favorite season for food.

I LOVE pretty much ALL summer produce. Strawberries, Tomatoes, Yellow Squash, Okra, Corn, Basil….I could go on and on.

But I also LOVE grilling! Now yes, you can grill all year – BUT there is something about grilling in the summer! Freshly mowed grass, cool lemonade, Sun-kissed skin from the pool, and assorted meats on the grill = Summer.

And this recipe is so good, you’ll definitely be making it ALL summer!

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Cheesy Chicken Ranch Burgers

Literally THREE ingredients:

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1 lb. ground chicken – 1 1/2 cups Shredded Cabot Cheese – 1 packet Ranch Seasoning

Place all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well with your hands, distributing the cheese and seasoning throughout. Pat the chicken out into patties. You should be able to get 4 good-sized patties from the pound of chicken. (Keeping in mind that the patties will shrink when grilled)

I used Cabot Extra Sharp for the cheese and Spice Hunter Organic Ranch Dip Mix for the seasoning. You could also use Hidden Valley Ranch Seasoning, which is now gluten free, but be sure to find the gluten free label on the packet. (And the Hidden Valley Ranch does contain MSG, so just be aware if you try to avoid that)

Grill the burgers over medium flame, about 5-8 minutes each side. You’ll know it’s time to flip when the bottom has nice grill marks and about half the pink has turned white. When you’re flipping, use a metal spatula and go in with force. The cheese on the outside can stick to the grill, so a forceful flip will help you scrape through the cheese without your burger falling apart.

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Serve however you would like!

Last night Parrish and I topped ours with fresh avocado and ketchup – we were out of tomatoes. You could add onion, lettuce, mayo….the choice is yours!

These burgers are SO CHEESY:

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Oh yeah. So good.

And they’re so easy to make!

Since we were using the grill, I whipped up a batch of grilled potato wedges too:

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Again, super easy to make.

Yukon gold potatoes sliced in to wedges, drizzled with olive oil, and tossed to coat with salt and pepper.

Cook over a low flame, and add these to the grill a good 15 minutes before the chicken. These will need about 25-30 minutes to cook through – turn them frequently with tongs as to not burn the sides.

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I love the flavor of grilled potatoes. Smoky, Crispy, Crunchy, and Creamy on the inside. So good.

And….now I’m hungry! Have a great Tuesday!