Category Archives: running

All the fall things

I’ve been meaning to write this post for several weeks now but the truth is I’ve been too busy taking 1,000 photos of trees with changing leaves to get around to it.

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That’s what fall will do to you after a few years away.

It’s science.

And judging from the physiological reaction I had the first time I smelled a bonfire this season, consider me well-conditioned.

I realize that not everyone shares my love for crunchy leaves under their feet and nearly every iteration baked goods containing pumpkin you can squeeze into a few short months, so I thought I’d share a few of ways you too can fall in love with fall this season.

1.Check out a local fall festival. We were fortunate to get into town just in time for the 30th annual St. Charles Oktoberfest, complete with commemorative beer steins, traditional dancers and some of the best latkes I’ve ever tasted.

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2. Go for a brisk fall run. Or in my case, train for half of a half marathon while living in Florida, get one magical long run in where it was 60 degrees and then try not to melt on race day when temps reached the mid-80s. (coming soon: a fall running tour of the katy trail)

katy_arch3. Get into the Halloween spirit. (coming soon: oreo mummy recap. Pumpkin muffin recipe can be found here.) oreo_pumpkin

4. Buy a pumpkin. Or two. Or Seven.

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5. Make a big batch of chili. And eat it as you begrudgingly delete all of the leaf and tree photos on your phone. (solid vegetarian chili recipe here.)

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Bonus points if you have a dog that just so happens to perfectly match all things fall and loves the weather so much he happily sits on the front porch to feed your fall habit.

finn_fall

Happy fall y’all!

Race Recap: Sarasota Music Half Marathon

It’s been a while since I did a race recap for you guys. Probably because it’s been a while since I’ve run a race. If you care to read back as to why I took a little hiatus from running you can do so here. Now it wasn’t entirely because I briefly crippled myself as a result of my own stubbornness, but that may have had a little something to do with it.

The truth is I was really excited to be able to run year-round when we moved to Florida until I quickly realized that you really can’t do anything outside in Florida from the months of May-October. Let’s just say I have a new respect for air conditioning professionals and if I could I would purchase stock in cinder blocks and tile.

After boredom set in with my gym routine, I signed up for the inaugural Sarasota Music Half Marathon in February and was excited to have something to focus on after the holiday season. And then I realized that this race would require me to train THROUGH the holiday season. And then I realized that people who live in Florida don’t hibernate over the holidays. Instead, they rock their spandex and swimsuits right on through those holidays and into the New Year. As a Midwesterner I was thoroughly offended by this concept.

But I sheepishly got outside and ran with the rest of the spandex-clad Floridians, feeling every sugar cookie and piece of fudge along the way. And I will say, if you want to avoid the New Year’s resolutioners, just come down to Florida where no one takes any time off.

It’s pretty amazing how much more enjoyable races are when you run them healthy. I was a little nervous because I got hit with the plague a few weeks ago and really didn’t get my long training runs in, but when you combine perfect running weather, palm trees, gulf breezes, girl scout cookies and a solid brunch, it’s hard to find anything to complain about.

So here’s my mile by mile recap.

IMG_9271.JPGMile 0

Highs-giggling at runners with ear warmers and gloves to protect them from the frigid 55 degree with a high of 78 weather we were in for, watching the sun rise over the start shadowed only by palm trees and walking to the front of the starting line because apparently no one wanted to start by the 5:00 mile marker.

Lows-so only providing 20 Porta Potties for 2,000 runners may have been a little aggressive but no harm done.

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Mile 1

Highs-The Ringling Bridge. Literally. I was nervous about running a race with elevation but the marching band at the top of the Ringling Bridge helped to distract me from the crazy first-timers who were pacing at 6:30 1 mile in.

Lows-dead rat on the running path and no one in front of me raising a hand.

IMG_9289.JPGMile 5

Highs-This view. And knowing I didn’t have to climb that stupid beautiful bridge again for the rest of the race.

Lows-none. Feeling alive at five.

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Miles 7-9

Highs-Getting sprinkled with holy water (do you genuflect during a race?), exploring the bayfront and seeing a part of Sarasota I’d never traveled by foot before.

Lows-fewer spectators and forcing myself to run past the bloody mary bar because I was still feeling good with my pace.

IMG_9273.JPGMile 10

Highs-Girl Scout Cookie Station. Enough said.

Lows-Winding through a very pretty, albeit very twisted Selby Garden path on legs that only wanted to go in a straight line.

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Miles 11-13.1

Highs-Feeling familiar IT band pain and realizing I only had two miles to go.

Lows-Feeling familiar IT band pain and realizing I still had two miles to go. And not realizing how much more excited the lady in front of me was in the chute.

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IMG_9276.JPGPost Race

Highs-Best post-race party I’ve experienced in 10 or so races. Beer. Bagels. Bands and the Sarasota Bay. Doesn’t get much better.

IMG_9280.JPGIMG_9281.JPGLows-none.

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Remind me to tell you about our decision to finalize our wedding registry that afternoon and then stop by the greek festival on the way home instead of taking a nap or stretching like a normal human. Greek food makes everything better.

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Power of 30: September Challenges

I’m an idea person. The one you may or may not want to have at a brainstorming session because I’m going to use the crap out of my right-brain in order to come up with creative and innovative ways to solve the problem. And I know what you’re thinking. This girl must suck at math. But I’ll have you know I can handle the number game just fine thanks to forcible encouragement from my parents to complete advanced math classes just for the fun of it. (mom and dad- this is me backing into a thank you for making me take AP Calculus when I wanted to take another P.E. class) Plus, I read something this week that said us right-brained folks are going to rule the world or something along those lines so we have that going for us.

Anywho, bottom line is I am an idea person. And in being one, I tend to come up with new things before I let the other things I came up with have time to grow legs. I’m also an extreme creature of habit. And while these two traits may seem counterintuitive, it’s the combination of fresh ideas and the ever-prevalent Catholic guilt I associate with things I’ve already committed to that usually keeps me going.

Bet you’re wondering how this plays into my Power of 30 goals, right? Well I told myself as long as I was doing these challenges, I would continue to update you regarding the month prior in the first week of the next month. Confused yet? Let’s revisit September’s goals:

  • 30 miles in 30 days
  • 3:00 minute plank

power of thirty challenge, turning 30, 30 challenges, yoga, crow pose,

I have to laugh at myself a little considering last September I was gearing up for the Chicago Marathon and averaging 30 miles a week and this September I was lucky if I could get 3 consecutive miles in on the treadmill because it was too hot to run outside. That’s just the way life goes. When we first moved, the locals kept telling me to wait for October to get some great running weather so I’ve rescheduled this challenge for this month and I am already off to a better start. I guess that’s the perk of making up your own challenge. You get to try it again next month without any recourse.

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I did manage to reach a 3 minute plank last month. I’m not sure how much plank work if any you’ve done in your life but building yourself up to a 3 minute one without rest is harder than it sounds. It may seem silly to compare the concept of holding up your body with your forearms and toes to a metaphor for life but it is just that. You can’t just up and do it. If you can you either have 1) a very high pain tolerance or 2) an awesomely strong core. For the rest of us, it takes small incremental increases to build up to a larger goal. It takes more than just ab muscles. It takes mental and physical strength. It takes practice. And when built upon, second by second, you can reach that goal that may have seemed too lofty just a few weeks before.

And then you can collapse onto the floor in a giant heap of sweat and wonder how long it will take you to plank for 5 minutes.

Until next time.

 

 

 

Tabbouleh Salad and Sangria

Before I share with you a super easy salad recipe that goes great with blazing hot weather, I want to give you a quick rundown of some observations from the weekend.

Bridge runs are for the birds

On Saturday mornings, we like to take Finn down to a park along Sarasota Bay where he can play with other pups, swim and run around for the 15 minutes it takes him to be completely exhausted and ready for a nap.

🎶down by the bay🎶

A post shared by Sarah Zalewski (@slmurphy) on

If I’m not rolling solo, Matt and I like to take turns going up to the Ringling Bridge and running it for a quick and ridiculously exhausting workout. I thought the humidity and heat would be the toughest part about running in Florida but bridge running in hot and humid temps might just be my worst nightmare. So if you’re looking for a quick workout, go find a long bridge and run across it.

Not all movie theaters have two entrances.

Matt and I went to see Tammy this weekend and after arriving at the show during the previews we were faced with the dilemma of choosing which side of the theater to enter and find a seat. We hesitated briefly and both decided left would be the way to go. As Matt so eloquently pointed out, “All of America goes right.” So we opened the door to the left and walked into a utility closet. We laughed. Harder than we did for most of the movie so go ahead and save your $10 and wait until it comes out on DVD.

Ice Deli should exist in every city that I live. 

Need I say more?

Summer is meant for cold salads.

After making and eating Matt’s birthday cake all week, I’ve been sort of lazy on the cooking front. Loads of butter will do that to a girl. And whenever I’m feeling lazy as a cook I make a big batch of quinoa or other grain salad and eat it for every meal until it’s gone. You should, too.

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Tabbouleh (bulgur) salad

  •  3 Cups cooked bulgur (I use the 10-minute bulgur from Trader Joe’s)
  • 1/3 C tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/3 C cucumber, chopped
  • 1/4 C red onion, chopped
  • 1/4 C celery, chopped
  • 2-3 TBL crumbled feta
  • Cilantro, chopped
  • Parsley, chopped
  • fresh lemon juice
  • salt/pepper

Cook bulgur according to package directions. Let cool.

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Chop vegetables. Add to bulgur once it is cool. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.

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Eat it straight from the bowl, put it on a bed of spinach with a little balsamic vinegar or serve it with a piece of fish for a complete meal.

And while we’re on the lazy front, I was messing around this evening and tested out a two ingredient sangria recipe for you. It was pretty tough. It took me about 30 seconds to pull a bottle of merlot out of the fridge and consider what would happen if I poured some San Pellegrino Limonata into it. By golly it worked. Chop up some apples and you have an individual serving of a decent sangria on your hands.

two ingredient sangria recipe, pellegrino limonata, wine, cocktails, drinks, summer, sangria,

 

Two recipes so easy you’ll have no excuse to cook this week.

Running in a humid climate

Hey remember when I used to run outside?

I don’t.

OK so I do remember it, but I also remember it being much more enjoyable. I was back in Illinois a few weeks ago and got a chance to run on the trail near my parents house. The weather was perfect. I could actually breathe. And for the first time in a long time I remembered how much I love to run outside.

To be honest, I can probably count on both hands the times I’ve run outside since we moved to Florida. If it’s not the heat it’s the humidity. And the humidity is usually preceded or followed by a pop-up thunderstorm that comes out of nowhere. We’re talking nowhere folks. This morning as Finn and I attempted to go out for our morning walk the sun was shining. The sun was shining, the skies were blue and it started pouring.

But yesterday morning there was a break in the heat so I headed out for a run as the sun was coming up, knowing that as soon as it did I’d probably pass out on the side of the road. I got four miles in and was pretty happy with it. And along the way I thought about the various mental and physical adjustments you have to make when you run in a new climate.

Don’t try to be a hero.

Who cares if you limped ran through 26.31 miles last October. When it comes to running, weather can be a huge factor. One that makes every training session unique. I’ve had days where I felt energy like never before, only to bonk 2 miles in. And I’ve had days where it took everything in my to agree to 1 mile only to breeze through 4. There are so many factors that come into play when you are running outside you can’t possibly meet your expectations every time. As the most covered song by bloggers and 5 year-old girls alike says, “Let it Go.”

You can walk if you want to. 

I say this even though it still kills me to actually do it. I’m as competitive as they come so even on runs by myself I try to justify reasons I can’t stop to catch my breath or stretch my legs. Human bodies are pretty special, but even they take a little time to acclimatize to changes in weather and environment. If your body is telling you to slow down, (and we’re talking really telling you not just whispering from 500 yards behind you telling you) stop and walk for goodness sake. The reality is that you still have to make it home don’t you? Slow down and recover. No one’s chasing you. And if they are don’t stop. Don’t slow down. Kick it in a little more why don’t ya?

Wear a heart rate monitor.

Remember what I just said about slowing down when you feel like you need to? Well wearing a heart rate monitor can help you make that decision more accurately. Running may seem like a fairly physical feat, but if you’ve ever been out on a run solo and find your motivation lacking, you’ll quickly realize how mental the feat really is. Wearing a heart rate monitor well allow you to match the way you think you feel to how hard you are actually working. Seeing those numbers gets you out of your head and helps you have a more efficient workout.

Bring water.

Oh just bring it. Even if you’re too proud to. I used to play by the rule that if it wasn’t over 6 miles, I didn’t need water. And while that’s sort of true, (you should be hydrated enough to exercise for 45 minutes without water) when your running in high heat and humidity I think you should throw that rule into the ocean. Heat and humidity can prevent your body from releasing heat as efficiently so by the time you realize you are dehydrated it could be too late. If you don’t like carrying water with you, plan an out-and-back route where you can leave it halfway. It’s only cumbersome for the first few minutes but if you don’t have it, everyone you pass will look like a giant jug of Gatorade or the Kool-Aid Man and you’ll seriously consider tackling them.

Mix it up. 

So you’re not going to get the mileage you thought you were because of the weather conditions. Mix it up. Do a set of walking lunges. Throw in some body weight squats, high knees or butt kicks. Alternate sprinting and walking as you make your way back. Yes, people may look at you funny, but it’s likely that they are really just picturing you as the Kool-Aid Man because they are just as thirsty as you are.

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Summer resolutions

I know resolutions are typically written for the New Year, but the first weekend of summer seems just as good as any, no? I mean this way at least you don’t have to worry about crazy gym crowds, indulgent foods and lots of holiday parties. OK so maybe you do but those hot dogs and ice cream trips are totally worth it.

I must admit the only reason I realized yesterday was the summer solstice is that my girlfriend had a birthday and I saw it written in fine print on the calendar. As far as I’m concerned summer started the day we arrived in Florida. I mean what else do you call 90 degree days, crazy humidity and endless amounts of sun?

siesta key beach, siesta key, florida

Matt left for a work trip today so I’m flying solo for the first time in a new city where I know few more than the dog park ladies and my favorite cashier at Target. Oh come on. Don’t judge me. You know you have one too.

Now don’t feel too sorry for me. I’ve got a lot planned for this solo adventure. Besides, I consider myself an independent woman, but even Queen Bey had a few Charlie’s Angels to bounce, bounce, bounce some ideas off of every once in a while.

Enough Destiny’s Child references in that paragraph for ya?

Never.

So in no particular order, here are my summer resolutions:

  1. Listen to summer songs on repeat. This will serve as a friendly reminder just how awful our most recent winter really was. Bare feet on the dashboard? Don’t think I don’t remember Polar Vortex numbers 1, 2 and 3 Mr. Chesney.
    chicago polar vortex snowstorm, greater swiss mountain dog, cold weather
  2. Continue to each incessant amounts of World Cup soccer. I can’t help myself. Neither can Finn.
    greater swiss mountain dog, swissy, finn, dog, puppy, world cup 2014, soccer,
  3. Sign up for an art class. I’ve always said natural talent is hard to ignore, but there’s always time to work on your craft.

    art class, resolutions, pottery, child

    for $9.99 and you too could have your own bluebird “candy dish”

  4. Find another new spot for Finn and I to walk sans alligators. We spotted our first alligator in the pond behind our house last week. Let’s just say I don’t plan on scheduling a play date for Finn and Gary anytime soon. This week we visited the home of the 2017 World Rowing Championships and I think we found our new spot for long walks/runs.
    greater swiss mountain dog puppy, finn, swissy, florida,

    gator free and happy as can be mom!

    5. Build a new list of local spots to try when my dinner date returns. We went to the Lucky Pelican on Friday and I finally found a place I could get on board with. Comfortable atmosphere, $.99 raw bar and lots of locals. We’ll definitely be taking family in friends back when they are in town. 
    lucky pelican bistro, sarasota, lakewood ranch restaurants, local gems, seafood restaurants,
    Bonus: Start trying to love running in the heat again.
    My running partner thrives in humid climates. I do not. So the last few times we’ve set out for a run in the middle of the day, I mentally shut down before we even began. My body hates running in the heat, but like those poor guys in the Arena da Amazonia, I have no choice but to acclimate myself eventually.

IBelieveThatWeWillWin???

Workout Wednesday: Work out like a dog

Before I got Finn, I had two choices. 1) get a dog who could I could take on runs with me but who may be miserable and hyper throughout the day while I’m at work or 2) get a dog who could nap with me. I chose the latter and ever since Finn has certainly lived up to his side of the deal.

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In the time since Finn came into my life, I have trained for 3 half marathons, a full marathon and several other races. And while he doesn’t go on long runs with me, he’s a heck of a warm-up or cool-down partner. In fact, he’d be great for one of those 3-day fundraising walks if anyone needs a team member. He’ll even carry your stuff if you reward him with carrots. Kid loves himself some carrots.

What was I talking about again? Oh right, working out with your pet.

When the folks at DogVacay.com* reached out to me about my exercise routine, my first thought was

Nah. Not me. You guys probably want someone who can actually do a workout with their dog not someone who works out their dog then works out herself or vice versa.

But then they shared a pretty cool infographic with me and I realized one of my go-to workouts already incorporates a lot of the things that my pup does on a daily basis. That and I just really love a good infographic.

get fit like fido infographic, dogvacay.com, working out with your pet, workouts, fitness, exercises with your dog

The circuit above is a great opportunity to change up your routine, which is just what I was looking for a few weeks ago when I was at home for a quick visit. In fact, I wish I had seen this before I called up my trainer and asked him for a “quick workout” that day. If I had I may still have been able to breathe afterwards.

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To get started grab a treadmill or a very hot Florida afternoon and complete the following:

  • 3 minute warm up jog (5.5 mph at a 1% incline)
  • 1 mile at a comfortable pace (6.2-6.5 mph at a 1% incline)
  • 30 second sprint intervals for 8 minutes total (20 seconds at 7.7+ and 2% incline, 10 second rest**)
    **you may just have to hop off the treadmill and let it keep running because these go pretty fast

You should complete roughly 3 miles or more depending on your pace.

Immediately following that circuit, grab a mat and complete the following, alternating leg and arm exercises as you go and trying to rest as little as possible.

  • Body weight squats (see infographic for proper form)-20x
  • Pull-ups-20x
  • Walking lunges-20 on each leg (40 total)
  • Push-ups-20x
  • Fire hydrants-10 each leg (20 total and yes you will look and feel silly)
  • Back Extensions-20x
  • Donkey kicks-10 each leg (same position as fire hydrants only you will kick leg up and back)
  • Planks-1 minute

Do this circuit three times, four if you’re crazy. Then throw in a down dog for recovery sake and call it a day.

greater swiss mountain dog, swissy, finn, dog, puppy, get fit like fido, workouts with your pet

* I was in no way compensated for this post but that’s not stopping me from telling you if you have pets and are looking for a qualified person to watch them while you are away rather then boarding them, be sure to check out DogVacay.com.

Have a great workout!