Chocolate Cherry Smoothie

My smoothie game has been wicked strong lately.
But I promise not to bore you with all the reasons why
Make this, and thank me later.

1/2 C almond milk (malk brand)

1/2 C H2O

5 frozen wild cherries 

3 ice cubes

1 C frozen broccoli

1 heaping tbsp PB

2 tsp wild honey 

B L E N D

Note: You don’t need to add honey, or any sweetener for that matter, to smoothies when fruit is added. The fructose in the fruit is sufficient enough! But this honey was local, fresh, and delicious, and you better believe I enjoyed every last drop of it.

This smoothie has all the goods to keep you feelin’ full and fine:
Protein (PB + chia topping)
Fat (PB + Milk)
Fiber (broccoli + cherries)
Carbs (broccoli + cherries)

If you’re using this as a post-workout snack, your body needs carbs AND protein to recover optimally. Don’t fear those carbs, Sandra.

Also- I know people are on this whole “fruit is bad for you” craze, and that is BANANAS. Those aren’t your people. Fruit is SO SO rich in phytochemicals, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that are all GOOD for your body. As Americans, TRUST me when I say that fruit is the least of our problems. Added sugar? shoot, yeah. We could do a better job here…but don’t demonize fruit, I beg you.


Let me know what cha think of this recipe if you give it a shot!

P.S. THIS study talks about how tart cherry helps accelerate muscle recovery after exercise!

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Austin Half Marathon Race Weekend

Man oh man. It felt so damn good to be back in Austin.

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I have been reading “The Alchemist” (I know- I’m late to the party), and it has me lookin’ for good omens. On Friday, our first day in Austin, we ran into the UT baton twirler from when we were students who was TWIRLING OUTDOORS in this very spot. You guys. It was an omen.

I taught baton twirling in college, and I was maybe her biggest fan. Twirlers are a rare breed, and we literally ran into her, and then stopped to talk to her. Made my day. As weird as that sounds, it was an omen. Not sure what it meant, but it was a good sign- promise.

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We happened to be in Austin for two reasons:
1. Hope! She’s a friend that I met on instagram, and she flew to Texas to race.
2. And race we did! Pictured above, we were at the Austin Half Marathon expo on Friday.

Then we ate. That’s actually what we did the majority of the weekend, but I need to give special thanks to:
-True Food Kitchen
-Picnik
-Hank’s
These places were especially kind about my dietary restrictions, and the food was incredible.

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True Food Kitchen was so enthusiastic to help with my food restrictions. ENTHUSIASTIC. They didn’t make me feel like the difficult customer that I hate to be, and they were fantastic. They helped me craft my own menu item to suit my weird dietary needs, and I left feeling great knowing that the food didn’t contain the stuff that my autoimmune disease won’t let me have right now. If there’s something I can learn from this experience it’s BE KIND to the wait staff, and gently explain/advocate for yourself. Be vigilant. But be gentle, and people will bend over backward to help you and your health.

It was breezy and 80something degrees. We walked back across the bridge to the car and called it a night. Austin, ya look good.

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On Saturday, we ate at Picnik for brunch after a warm-up run, and had a very similar experience to True Food Kitchen- everyone was so helpful. Then we took Hope to see some touristy sites, like the Loop 360 Bridge overlook.

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And stayed hydrated via Juiceland. Pictured here: “The Rehydrator”.

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Sunday morning was race day, and it was a cool, crisp 55 degrees at the start on Congress Avenue. The first three miles were gradually uphill, but we were on South Congress, and there was live music. No complaints! All four lanes of the road were open for runners, so even though the start wasn’t in waves, there was plenty of room. I never felt crammed.

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I HIGHLY recommend running Austin without headphones- there was live music EVERYWHERE, and I loved the course. I stayed hydrated via my own sports drink: water, lemon juice, lime juice, and salt. I brought along banana slices with a smidge of peanut butter and rice cake in my spi belt for fuel once I got to mile 9, and it was perfect. I had previously been a tried and true gatorade gels fan, but I recently discovered that I’m sensitive to the dye that’s on the ingredients list (womp womp), so I have been DIYing my fuel instead, with great success.

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I wrote a positive mantra on myself for the race. I NEEDED this around mile 10 through the finish line, because those hills weren’t playin’. I ran this race because I paid for it, and I love to run. I love a good race- I do. But in all honesty, I had no business running. Let me tell you why:
– Shingles! I had the shingles virus, and while it was (almost/mostly) gone, my energy levels were NOT up to par.
-Symptoms. I had to go off my immunosuppressants to try to heal my body quickly from the shingles virus, and my GI situation was very touch and go.
-Training. My training for this race was very lacking.
-Rest should’ve been priority. Shingles + GI + a rough week of tests in grad school calls for ample rest, and 13.1 miles wasn’t ideal.

If you’re strugglin’- solidarity! One foot in front of the other, friend.

Am I glad I did it though? Shoot yeah. Can’t you tell? Honestly- I had the most fun.

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Hope had a really great race though! A new PR for a half!

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And Zack was at the finish AND a cheer station at mile 9.

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Afterward, we all went to Hillside Pharmacie for brunch, and I inhaled my breakfast and coffee so fast. We sat outside and the wind was COLD! But we had the very best time.

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If you’ve never been to Austin, you should definitely visit, but don’t move there. I’m planning on moving back one day, and there’s really not room for all of us to play.
Sorry not sorry.

Highly, highly recommend running the Austin Half Marathon. The more races I run, the harder it is for me to pick a favorite, but this race is up there. It’s not a fast course- very hilly, but the crowd is great, the live music is unbeatable, and there’s no place I’d rather run than under the sun in Austin on a 55 degree Sunday morning.

Keep moving forward!

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Mindful Movement, Trying New Things + An Honest Cyclebar Review

Hi, Friends!

HAPPY FRIDAY! Hope you’ve had/are having a pretty great week. This week has been a quick one, despite long days at work, and I’m so pumped about it because we will be jet setting for Dallas (again) this weekend to celebrate my sister’s 25th year of life!

Something that’s been on my brain lately is “mindful movement” and “try new things”. In my last post I mentioned that I had been taking barre and yoga classes, and I’ve been really enjoying them. I easily feel like I could be hooked for life. Barre and yoga break up the monotony of the work week and give me a challenge to look forward to after work before coming home and crashing. My body seems to be responding well to both yoga and barre (although they’re notably different), and I’m loving feeling stronger in my hips, legs, and abs, even mentally (thanks, yoga. namaste).

About a month ago in light of my “try new things” mantra, I purchased a groupon for Cyclebar classes. I had previously experienced Cyclebar as a charity event rider raising funds for cures to Crohn’s and colitis, and I knew that Cyclebar was a clean, welcoming place. When I happened upon a discount, YASSS GIRL! Sign me up! So here’s my honest, unfiltered review:

My first night at Cyclebar in OKC was a bit of a dud, but that wasn’t Cyclebar’s fault. I was INCREDIBLY symptomatic, but I desperately felt like I needed to move my body. Unfortunately, I was legitimately concerned about the real possibility of crapping all over myself and the bike and causing a scene, so I didn’t push my body very hard at all…but it was so nice to move. Since I have been feeling better after my infusion, I thought I’d redeem another class purchase, and I headed to Cyclebar yesterday evening after my twelve hour shift at the hospital.

First thoughts:
“Is it 80s night? Did I miss the memo about the blue eyeshadow and the leotards? I definitely did.”
The studio is bright and clean, full of fit and friendly faces, and there’s chilled filtered water with a spread of bananas and free glow-sticks welcoming me. I grabbed my size 6.5 black leather complementary cycle shoes, filled my water bottle and headed to the dark “theatre”.
I hopped on my bike and slowly started pedaling. This particular class had a d.j. and I was genuinely offended that he remixed Michael Jackson. Who DOES that? I managed to forgive the d.j. once he played some Sublime and Nirvana, sans remix.
I know what you’re thinking: Sublime and Nirvana aren’t 80s? I know. I know.
I feel old and thoroughly confused about the leotards.

I REALLY enjoyed the instructor. Katie was her name (I think). She gave just the right amount of motivation without sounding like an irate drill-sargeant. I spent entirely too much time wondering how she managed to get her fishtail braid so gosh darn perfect.

I felt like I kept up with the class fairly well, making sure that my resistance on the bike was within the recommended ranges as instructed by Katie. It took me a hot second to realize that I should’ve been aiming for higher RPMs, because I mistook that recommendation for another reading on the monitor and oops…oh well. My quads were burning, my heart was pumping, and I was sweating like a very fat man in a very hot and crowded room.

My sweat towel dropped on the floor, but I can’t reach it. My feet are strapped in, and I can’t get them out.

Mid-class:
BORED SO BORED.  30 minutes in and I AM STILL ON THIS EFFING BIKE.
Epiphany: cycling isn’t for me.  I think in my earlier twenties I thought that I needed intense, push-it-to-the-limit workouts, but I don’t feel like I need that right now, and I get a special kind of anxiety in a dark room with really loud club music while my feet are literally strapped onto a bike that I know I am too clumsy to actually appreciate.
I notice the discomfort concerning my feet being strapped in is crescendoing into full-blown panic, and about that time, my calves and feet begin to slowly, ever so slowly, cramp.

By the end of the class both of my feet and calves are completely cramped- definitely should’ve had more water in the last 24 hours.  I can’t get my feet off of the darn bike because of the shoes being clipped in, so I just decide to leave my shoes in the pedals. Screw it. I un-velcro myself to sweet, sweet freedom, and I hop off the bike to stretch with the class. My shoes are still pedaling along slowly on the bike without me in my periphery.

After we are done stretching, I drop to my knees and physically wrestle with the pedals and the shoes. I know what you’re thinking: it really can’t be that hard to get the shoes unclipped, Stacey. And I agree. It shouldn’t be this hard. CLEARLY I AM DOING SOMETHING WRONG. Brad (not sure if that’s his name) comes over about that time and helps me unclip my rental shoes from the bike pedals, smiling patiently.
“Oh I see! So it’s just like skiing?” I say.
“YES! Exactly- it’s just like skis!” Brad concurs.
But in real life I have only been skiing twice, and I can’t even manage to clip my shoes in and out of skis either. I am such a fraud.

I grab my purse, keys, and RX Bar out of my (really clean) locker and immediately reach for the bananas for some much-needed potassium and magnesium, and I head to my car. I’m thankful that I am experiencing new forms of movement, and I will happily return to Cyclebar in a week or two to fulfill my groupon purchase…but I won’t be committing to a membership (which is quite an investment anyway).
It’s not you, Cyclebar, it’s me. And I am not a cyclist.

Cyclebar is for you if: 
-you like friendly people, and you don’t mind them greeting you
-you aren’t working out alone (this place is a little awkward to come solo. It feels very happy hour-esque)
-you like clean showers, restrooms, lockers, etc.
-you like fun, themed workouts (e.g. 80s night, Madonna Concert Series, etc.)
-you’re cool with instructors yelling at you through a microphone
-you don’t get offended by 90s music at 80s night
-you want a really good cardio workout with fun resistance thrown into the mix
-you like to sweat like a mofo
-you like to track your improvements (stats are emailed to you after each class!)
-bananas

By trying new forms of movement I’ve discovered that while I don’t like spin classes all that much, I’m 100% on team yoga and barre, which have been excellent cross-training for my one true love: running. My runs have been faster, and my hips don’t feel tight for the first time maybe ever. The pain that used to plague my right IT band isn’t there (although to be fair, I’m running short distances currently).  Yoga and barre are both challenging in very different ways, and I love knowing that I’m growing and changing with each class.

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^this morning’s tempo run, 35 degrees and beautiful.

I’m not a person who easily falls into and appreciates routine; I’m all over the place. I run because I can, and because it has always challenged me. Knowing that I have completed a training regimen and raced is such a feeling of accomplishment. But recently I began to feel guilty once I realized that I wasn’t looking forward to my runs, staring back at my calendar with dread instead of excitement over training for new races. I knew this needed to change (because I want to want to run, ya know?), and thankfully, I still VERY MUCH love running. I simply needed newness to break up the monotony. I needed to know that I was capable of being strong in other ways, and thankfully, this has made me a stronger runner, too. Life has been exponentially more flavorful and fun simply by listening to my body, satisfying it with the form of movement that it has been craving, and watching it respond accordingly. I’m thankful to be on the up and up.

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Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to run some errands after chowing down on this very non-instagram worthy picture of my very purposeful and fueling food choice for this morning.

Go have a good weekend 🙂 Keep moving forward.

xo, Stacey

 

 

Questions:
How do you break up the work week or workout monotony? 
Do you appreciate routine, or do you you like to switch it up? 
Do you like bananas? How about pina coladas? Getting caught in the rain?


8 Simple Rules for the Aspiring Marathoner, as Told by a New York City Marathon Finisher

Hi, Friends! Hope y’all are having a wonderful week.

Today’s post is guest-written my friend and fellow UC warrior, Lizzy! She’s a recent first-time marathoner, and in case you were thinking about signing up for 26.2 miles, you get to hear firsthand advice and race recaps from a finisher of the New York City [freakin] Marathon today! So from one friend to another, here’s Lizzy :).

Oh- and if you can’t get enough of her, be sure to check out her blog HERE!

Hello, Internet Friends! My name is Lizzy, and I ran the New York City Marathon on November 5th. What?! It still feels so crazy whenever I say that out loud. I’m comin’ atcha today with my experience, things I learned, and key takeaways for those of you crazy enough to consider doing 26.2.  Hopefully I can give y’all a little bit of a better idea about what to expect when training for a full marathon.  Let’s dive in, shall we?

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1. Why did you decide to run the NYC Marathon? 

One of the biggest responses I faced when telling people I just wanted to do a full marathon (knowing I’m a slower runner) was “Well, why even run a marathon if you’re going to be out on the course for that long?” Fair enough. I’m a slow-poke runner.  But, I actually chose to do the race for a special reason, that had nothing to do with my love for running.  In 2014 I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis. The diagnosis came after almost a year of questions, miserable symptoms, an incorrect Crohn’s Disease diagnosis, and four different doctors and specialists. Stacey shares a similar diagnosis to me, which is how we met originally. Getting diagnosed with a form of Inflammatory Bowel Disease is really tough on a number of levels, but one of the hardest pieces is it’s effects on your physical ability and energy. When you are flaring, you have close to zero energy. It is so, so hard to bring yourself to do anything physically challenging because your body is working so hard to keep itself healthy. I did not choose to run a marathon because I thought it would be a *fun* challenge. I chose to run a marathon to prove to myself that UC will not limit me in every aspect of my life.  This is why I originally started running 3 years ago; to show UC who’s boss.  The NYC Marathon was offered as a race through the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation’s Team Challenge program—where you fundraise for the Foundation and train for a marathon at the same time. I’ve done several half marathons with this organization before and they are a BLAST.  This felt like the perfect way to tackle my first 26.2!  I signed up and immediately hyperventilated.  I felt like I’d bit off way more than I could chew!

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2. What did your training schedule look like, and how long did you train? 

My training officially started in June of this year. I ran three days a week, cross-trained twice a week, did strength training one day a week, and took one solid rest day.  There are so many different training plans to follow, and I felt like three days of running was plenty for me.  My cross training consisted of low-impact activities (I usually flip-flopped between swimming/aqua jogging, the elliptical, and spinning), while my strength training was more focused on full-body movements that built up my core and lower body muscles.  For some context: I was returning to running after an injury I sustained last fall—so I needed the extra days of cross-training to make sure I didn’t re-injure myself. Thank goodness for my physical therapist. 

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3. What was the most difficult part of your training? 

The training itself was really, really tough. I felt like I turned down a lot of opportunities over the summer because I was so focused on my training schedule. Then, to add another layer to the crazy, I auditioned and got a part in a musical that was occurring in mid-November. Add weeknight rehearsals on top of marathon training, and I felt like I hadn’t seen my friends or live-in boyfriend in three months. Ack! The time-suck is easily the worst part of marathon training. You have to mindfully plan your time, and this can be kind of a buzz-kill. Spontaneity wasn’t something I could really afford myself this summer and fall. Training is really a part-time job. 

4. What were you most nervous about? Advice?

The day of the race was next-level. I was so, so nervous.  There was a lot of excitement, too. But mostly nerves. I knew I needed to trust my training, but I was feeling a bit discouraged because of what my time goal was. I wanted to finish around the six-hour mark. Listening to others at the start who’s goals were two hours shorter than mine was tough, I won’t lie to you. It messes with your head a bit and made me wonder if I was really cut out to do this.  But, I was excited to deliver a big “eff you” to Ulcerative Colitis and prove to myself that I could finish.  I’m happy I went in with that attitude, because the race exceeded my expectations. The crowds were so supportive, and it didn’t matter that I was running with the six-hour pacer. There were so many of us in the back of the pack! I wish that I had seen more stories about slower runners before I attempted this—there are a lot of us!  The energy was infectious and for the first 19 miles, it didn’t matter how slow or fast I was. I fed off the New York energy and felt like a total rockstar. Running these larger races can do that to you.  It also helped to see family and friends on the course. I would absolutely recommend bringing a hype squad with you, especially for your first race. 

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My mom and her sign on the course!

5. What was your least favorite part of the marathon? Best part?

I started to have a really tough time right after mile 19. For whatever reason, my hip gave out. I had done all my training runs, I felt healthy going in—it just goes to show that sometimes things don’t go as planned.  I tried to run a little bit, but I ended up having to slow down to a full walk (I had been doing a walk/run interval prior to slowing down) and that was really, really disheartening. It slowed my time down significantly, and put me finishing about 45 minutes after I thought I would. The last 7 miles were the worst for me mentally. After doing so well, having to slow down just as you’re about to hit the wall was not a fun feeling and I’m not going to lie—it was a struggle.  There were many tears and I considered just giving up.  But, all of this emotion was followed by one of my favorite parts of the whole race—at mile 22 a very nice lady in the Bronx offered me a slice of cheese pizza. It was exactly what I needed, and made me smile. I was able to stay positive for rest of the race. 

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6. Mental or physical- which did you rely on the most for this race?

What everyone says about the mental game of the marathon is true. It doesn’t matter how slow or fast you are, the most important thing is believing you can do this.  I bawled when I crossed the finish line. Physically, I was so tired. Mentally, I was spent. It was such a mix of relief/exhaustion/frustration/elation; it took me a while to fully process what I felt after finishing.  I was so glad to have finished, to have done it, to have shown my body that I could do it. No matter how hard it was, I did it.  UC limits me in a lot of ways, but it didn’t keep me from finishing my first marathon. And for that I was grateful.

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Me right after I finished, post-cry sesh!

7. Did you have a finish time goal in mind? If so, did you meet it?

Try to not have a set finish time in mind. Take it from someone who was told this—it is so, so hard to not go into something like this with a time goal. I had one, and I so wish I hadn’t. I think if I had gone in with the ONLY goal of finishing, I wouldn’t have beat myself up so much after I had to start walking at mile 19. I finished an effing marathon, and my concern for those last 7 miles wasn’t finishing—it was finishing quicker. That wasn’t fair to me, my emotional state, or my body at that point in the race. My biggest regret with this race is that I didn’t just try to enjoy the last couple of miles. I was positive, sure, but I was so anxious.  Besides the nice lady offering me pizza, I don’t remember a lot from the last 7 miles. I wish I had.

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THE BLING!

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8. What’s the best advice you can give to someone thinking of running a marathon? 

For those of you who are thinking of doing this, I have three pieces of advice: train well, stay healthy, and for the love of all that is holy, try not to go into your first race with an exact finish time in mind.  Train well so you feel confident going into the race. It’s ok to miss a run every now and then—I missed a long run about a month before my race and had to shorten it because of a bad cold.  This leads to my next piece of advice-STAY HEALTHY. You are not doing your training a favor if you run with the flu. Give your body a break. You know what’s best for you. I’m glad I shortened that longer run with a cold, because I was able to crush my 20-mile training run the following weekend since I wasn’t sick. 

Give yourself lots and lots of grace while training for a marathon. LOTS AND LOTS OF GRACE. This is a massive undertaking. Surround yourself by people who support you and encourage you. Make sure you take your full rest day each week.  When that’s all said and done, ENJOY THE HECK out of the race and wear your medal for as long as physically possible. I’ve carried mine with me the last week because I’m so proud of myself. Wear your finisher’s gear. Own that pride. You just finished a flippin’ marathon! Will I do another one? Heck yes. But for now, a half marathon is still my favorite distance, and I’m going to give myself a break. I want to focus on staying healthy with UC. I also want to treat myself to a big ole’ plate of cheese fries. Priorities.

-Lizzy

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HUGE shoutout to Lizzy, for not only taking the time to write this post, but also for making marathons sound far less intimidating and attainable, even for us mere mortal slow-pokes who just wanna make a difference. You are an actual badass.

And now, I’ll dream of that mile 22 New York style pizza all the live-long day…

 


Workout Wednesday: Summer Solstice Workout!

Happy HUMP DAYYYY!

Today has flown by for it being the longest day of the year- I’m not even sure if I can believe that today had the most daylight.

I follow this instagrammer, NutritionStripped, and in her story today she discussed something interesting that I’ve actually been pondering lately. Workouts don’t have to be a big to-do; they can just be a good part of your day. No special routines are required. Stacey’s version here: No “Slay” water bottles with graphic tee shirts. No fancy notebooks to lug around the gym. Sometimes it’s nice to just move your body without adding stress to it- just move! Whatever kind of movement makes you happy.

I’ve been trying to be more mindful in my own workouts without making them a thing. For instance, a couple days a week I try to run without any gadgets or music in my ears. I love running with goals and looking down to see that I’m staying on pace, but sometimes it’s SO NICE to just move your feet and let your thoughts swirl around without being drowned out by some Kelly Clarkson (the girl makes great running music, y’all). Pure, undisturbed movement. Also, I have NO ROUTINE when I go to the gym- I know- this will make some people absolutely NUTS. But for me it works right now.

However, if you do need some guidance fear not! I have somethin’ for ya 😉

Summer Solstice Workout (that can be done any day of the year)
It’s a doozy, and it’s for the whole body
-1 mile, easy
——————–
-Set a timer, jump rope for 5 minutes (I use this weighted jump rope)
-21 air squats
-21 burpees
-21 high knees
-21 commandos
-21 lunges
-21 push-ups
-jump rope for 5 minutes
*Repeat 6 times
———————
-1 mile, easy

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Recovery smoothie with frozen banana, Vega protein, a few frozen blueberries, and water. That’s it! Oh, and topped with some oats because I didn’t consume enough carbs today.

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And here’s a selfie, because I have blueberry seeds lodged in my teeth and I didn’t even notice. You’re welcome.

-Do you like to have a workout routine when you head to the gym? 
-What’s your favorite way to move? Spin class? Yoga? Weights? Dance parties in the kitchen?


Sister Trip 2017 Recap

Hope you had a lovely weekend 🙂

In an attempt to not completely procrastinate, this blog post is a Sister Trip recap from last weekend: Northern Virginia Wine Country and Washington, D.C.

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Every year since 2015 we take a “Sister Trip”, just the two of us (woo-hoo three trips and counting!). In 2015 we went to Napa Valley, California while I ran the Napa to Sonoma Wine Country Half. Then last year we went to Charleston, South Carolina- our favorite trip to date, Lindsay’s choice. And last week we took this year’s trip, also situated around another Destination Race: Virginia Wine Country Half-Marathon (my choice again-see a theme?). It’s a fun excuse to get together in a fun place since we don’t live near each other any more, and it’s always a good time.

We began our United Flight, Basic Economy level with ONE single personal item (not even a carry-on) due to our limited space of conveniently being assigned the last seats on the plan, so we fit EVERYTHING into a backpack each. We miraculously made it back home with our souvenirs, too.  I honestly have never packed so light in my life…and I’m a little embarrassed by that.

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We picked up our car in the passenger pick-up line that we rented from Turo- it’s an app that allows you to rent cars owned by locals at their own discretion. Such a fun, easy experience! And it was slightly cheaper than renting a car. Then we drove to downtown D.C. and ate crab cakes and fruit at Old Ebbitt Grill at the bar- so good!

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With satisfied appetites and happy hearts we walked to the White House and, to our surprise, we were able to get right up close to the lawn without security barricades. The crowds weren’t bad either!

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Next was the beautiful Jefferson Memorial. I excitedly called Zack to tell him how thrilled I was to see one of my favorite historical quotes engraved in one of the giant walls, “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal…” He was quick to remind me about Jefferson’s owning slaves/having an affair with slave Sally Hemings, which basically served as a grave reminder not to romanticize people…which is hard not to do when you’re standing inside a giant monument erected in their honor. But I digress.

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Next was patriotic popsicles, because we are children. Then we drove off to the race expo in Leesburg to pick up my bib number and race shirt.

Finally, we made it to our AirBnB which was more enchanted than I could’ve dreamed up. Meet our greeters, Brandy and Whiskey:

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And our cozy cabin

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Complete with entertainment

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As an IBD patient, I appreciated this ^.

We ended the night early after carbo-loading at a local Italian restaurant. The next morning was an early one for race day, but I wasn’t tired after sleeping nine hours.

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^Morning view near the starting line at Doukenie Winery. Lindsay dropped me off near here. I loved the views!

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The race was overcast and in the upper-seventies, perfect weather!

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Girl YAS- LOOK at that ponytail action

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Best part of the day.

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^Best part of the day 2.0

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Followed by dinner at Finn Thai and [another] early bedtime.

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The next day we went into D.C. for some quality American tourism…

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…and paid our respects to Texas veterans at the WWII memorial…

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…and visited Honest Abe (worth the walk and climbing the steps and the heat).

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We chewed on lemon Italian Ice as we sat in the grass of the National Lawn listening to peaceful protesters, then headed to find lunch.

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^ Hamilton’s! I LOVED this place. My turkey burger was amazing, and so were Lindsay’s California rolls and shrimp tempura.

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Next we went to the Holocaust Museum, a place I’ve wanted to visit since reading “Night” by Elie Wiesel in junior high school. This place shook me to my core, and I was struck by how subtle, gradual-changing political agendas gave rise to hatred. The world allowed this hatred to perpetuate by its lack of opposition and ever-increasing fear of peoples’ differences in the place of tolerance and compassion. It was so gradual and so real. I will never be the same after this museum. Never stop speaking up for people around you who are persecuted. Support others, because they need you.

We ended the day on a light-hearted note at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, which was really TOO COOL. HOW can they fit so many planes INDOORS?

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That night at our AirBnB we drank local wines and ate snacks on our hosts’ patio of their house until the wee hours of the morning- I felt like we were old friends, and I loved their company.

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And that about wraps up our journey. We had a turbulent flight back to Texas where we promptly stuffed our faces with Mexican food and guac upon our arrival.

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Then Jaxon and I headed back to Oklahoma for another work week- he’s a great little traveler. Honestly, such a FUN weekend, and we can’t wait to return to Norther Virginia- we couldn’t get over how GREEN all the scenery was this time of year. We are so thankful to have experienced Virginia’s Wine Country AND D.C. What a cool little time.

Hope your Monday is better than most!

-Stacey


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Race Recap: Virginia Wine Country Half-Marathon

Happy Global Running Day! I was a little sad there wasn’t a SnapChat filter to celebrate this fun day, but that’s okay.

In honor of Global Running Day, I’m hittin’ you with a little race recap from this past weekend. Lindsay and I go on a “Sister Trip” every year, and this year’s was Northern Virginia and Washington D.C., conveniently planned around the Virginia Wine Country Half-Marathon (my idea)- But more on Sister Trip next post.

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This past Saturday I woke up at 5:30, and I made conscious effort not to think about losing an hour of sleep by waking up in East Coast time. On a very positive note, I had zero symptoms before this race (remission is still bliss). The sun also rose with me, and by the time we were ready to leave the house at 6am the sky was colorful and bright.

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Lindsay dropped me off near the start at Doukenie Winery and headed back home to sleep (really, y’all. The girl loves her sleep and has no shame). I felt weird being alone in the corral to start without knowing anyone, and most of the runners seemed to be locals. I missed running with my Team Challenge people, but I listened to my music and stretched and all was right in the world. The weather was just barely under 60 degrees at the start- just the way I like it. The race kicked off a few minutes after seven (maybe around 7:10?).

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Around mile six I thought of a new strategy, “I think I’ll only run downhill.” We don’t  have hills like Virginia Wine Country where I live…and if I’m being 100% honest…I did zero long runs before this race. Honestly the one of the dumber decisions I’ve made, and I’m lucky I didn’t walk away injured. I know better. Kids, don’t try this at home. 

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The course was beautiful, but miles 6-10ish were all gravel/dirt and rolling hills through a heavily shaded area, which was a challenge for running. I loved the scenery and tried to focus on being present, feeling pain where it hurt, listening to the sound of my feet swinging beneath me, enjoying the view, breathing in the cool wind, being happy, and loving this time walking/running/trotting through Virginia.

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Even though running by myself sounds like a bummer, I appreciated the solitude.  I was exploring new places all by myself, and it was a fun experience.

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There were many horse stables along the route, and I wished I would’ve gotten a picture! “Horse and wine country” didn’t disappoint!

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At one point I rounded a corner and saw this little church. I couldn’t get over how enchanted it looked!

I actually purchased the race photos from this race, for obvious reasons. I’m a morning person, clearly.

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This race had more water stations than any other race I’ve finished. I’m not actually sure if that’s true, but it definitely felt like it. I didn’t run out of my fuel belt gatorade/water mixture until just after mile 12, which is a new record for me.

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At mile 12 I heard someone cheering my name- turns out it was Hope, a fellow Crohnie on the run and instafriend who I never got to officially “meet” but it was so encouraging to know someone was rooting for me to finish! I WAS STRUGGLIN’ (hi I think I’ll train properly for the next one).

Lindsay was at the finish line, texting me warnings about one final hill that separated me from the finish. I carried my empty water bottles like maracas, just waiting for that finish line fiesta.

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When I saw Lindsay I yelled, “Help!” and she ran through the finish with me for the last few strides up and over the hill…because that’s what sisters are for :). What a fun moment!

And then, just like that, it was over and time to celebrate!

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Destination Races always have the COOLEST medals! My medal from Napa is a wine cork opener, and this one had a spot to hold your wine glass- purposeful and humorous, my favorite combination.

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Then we went to the Wine and Music Festival on the grounds of Doukenie Winery. The lines for wine tasting were quite long, and I had already made the grave mistake of purchasing a breakfast burrito in a New England state (no offense intended, but that was not a burrito with jalapeño chorizo, I assure you). So we bought a bottle of wine from a local winery to drink by the pond.

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Bliss .

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My goal of this race was to enjoy it and to finish- and that I did. I didn’t run my nike app, and I didn’t wear a garmin to record my time. I simply trotted along in a new place in a sea of unfamiliar places, and it was truly such fun.

Race days are some of my favorite days, all thanks to memories like these. Races only last a couple of hours, but the memories are enough to satisfy you for a lifetime. There’s something invigorating and addicting knowing that you just tested some physical parameters and succeeded, and if you get to explore new places along the way, all the sweat and sore muscles are well worth the race.

And it’s always fun to defy medial diagnoses and run for cures and awareness while feeling a hight off contagious race day energy. I have experienced nothing more empowering.

Happy running 🙂 wherever you are.



Workout Wednesday + Antioxidant Smoothie

Hi, Friends!

Hope you’re all having a great Wednesday.

Last night’s workout took no time at all but left me feeling accomplished, and here it is:

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I loathe burpees, and today I’m having trouble walking…that’s about all I have to say about yesterday’s workout :). Really good for the legs and REALLY gets the heart rate up.

Antioxidant Smoothie Stuff

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Here’s a great recovery smoothie recipe!

-1/2 C almond milk

-1/2 C yogurt of your choice

-1 tbsp coconut oil

-1/4 C rolled oats

-1 scoop protein of your choice (choose one with glutamine! It’ll  help with muscle recovery. Here’s one of my favorites by Vega).

-handfull of spinach

-3/4 C frozen blueberries

B L E N D & serve

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Enjoy 🙂

We may have our first bout of “severe storms” this week in Oklahoma. How to deal?! Tornados are a thing I have no experience with. Fingers crossed!!! Words of advice welcomed…

-Stacey


5 Tricks to Make Half-Marathon Training a Whole Lot Better

Before my first half marathon, a 5K in college was my max distance race.

And I was slow.

There were participants right behind beside me drinking beer on the course.
Slow.

So if you’re thinking, “I really want to do a half-marathon, but I have only ever ran one mile, and it was the one required for junior high P.E. class.”
Friend, this post is for YOU.

Congrats on registering (or considering registering) for a half-marathon! I love half-marathon weekends, and nothing makes me more excited and motivated than clicking that “register” button.
YOU. WILL. NOT. REGRET. IT.

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Here’s a few tips from my ever-growing bag of tricks that I learned after running my first half-marathon (pictured above at the finish)

1. Shoes. I’ve said this before, but get cha some good running shoes! Go to a running store and let the experts fit you for the shoe that best suits your stride- you won’t regret it. You WILL regret thinking that your shoes fit when actually they don’t and your toenails begin to turn unpleasant colors. Dark blue toenails aren’t cute; They’re scary and your friends will be concerned for your toes of many colors.

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2. Hydration. Note: hydration is NOT all water consumption. Hydration is actually having the proper amount of electrolyte balance to keep your body going. On short runs, I always take water with me. I honestly can’t train myself out of it (maybe I haven’t tried hard enough?). On long runs, I take a mix of blue gatorade with water in a sexy little fuel belt. Figuring out which hydration method works for you is key. Try different methods like coconut water, powerade, gu, energy gels. It’s also important to hydrate the day before, especially on long runs.

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3. Developing a training plan and stick with it. B-E Consistent. For me, this means laying my running clothes across the room next to my alarm clock so I have no excuse to say no.

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4. Cross-train. This is the best way to prevent injury. Add weights, and work on those abs and glutes. A lot of running injuries are caused from weak or tight glutes and abs. Planks are your new best friend. (other ideas for cross-training: CrossFit, yoga, barre, kickboxing, cycling, pilates…basically any movement that’s not running)

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5. Keep going. If you think “when will this enddddd” then keep going. Once you’re out of your funk later and reflecting on your run, you’ll be bummed that you didn’t pick up your feet and keep it up. Your mind will quit LONG before your body will. Don’t let your mind fool you. YOU are the boss. Keep moving.

And on a similar note…

I know I say it all the time, but keep moving forward. Just because you reached your goal (distance, speed, finish line, or whatever) doesn’t mean that you’ve reached the end of your goals. Don’t get complacent! The world needs your energy. <- That sounded incredibly hippy and peace and love, but you get me. Keep on keepin’ on!

HAVE FUN! Just go running. It’s actually supposed to be hard. Love the process.

-Stacey

P.S. ASK QUESTIONS! Runners are generally happy people, and I’m sure someone would be happy to help out if you have any questions. OR if you don’t have a crazy runner friend, ask me!


Why did I start running?

I’ve been wanting to do this post for awhile:

Why did I start running?

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For those of you who don’t know, I was diagnosed with moderate to severe ulcerative colitis in 2012, the year before my college graduation. I had never heard of ulcerative colitis until my diagnosis. I remember thinking, “Thank God- it’s not cancer.” Because after two-three hellacious weeks of losing over 25 pounds and not recognizing what the heck was happening to my body, I was sure that it was something drastic.

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The day before my diagnosis

I ignored people, even some who I loved, pleading with me to take a medical leave of absence; my GPA even increased during this time, probably because: 1. I was quarantined to my house with no social life since I was shitting 30 times a day, and 2. I was determined to prove that my limitations weren’t limiting me.

I remember the doctor explaining “there’s no cure,  but it is treatable,” and thinking “Well, why bother telling me there’s not a cure if it’s treatable?” But I know now that what he meant was, “We’re going to try a lot of different medications, and see how you respond. Over time, they may lose efficacy, and you’re going to have to try new meds. Some of these medications may require lifestyle adjustments, like having to go to the hospital every few weeks for an infusion for the rest of your life. You’ll try dietary adjustments. You may feel anxious and face sleepless nights; you may become a person you don’t recognize; you’ll lose your hair and have weight fluctuations, but you’ll gain the best kind of people for friends. You’ll have a struggling social life, but you’ll adjust. Each and every time, you’ll overcome, and you’ll be stronger for it.”

^That’s what he implied. Honestly, it’s taken me years to figure out that this is a lifelong thing. Sometimes I still don’t get it.

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That year of college was memorable. I recall not knowing if I’d have the energy to make it up the stairs to class. I promised myself that if I had the ability to move again, then I would.

That following May in 2013, my roommate and I completed a sprint triathlon.

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Then I graduated, moved out into the real world, found a job, and got angry.

I started researching. I realized that I wasn’t alone in this unglamorous, poop struggle, and not many people talk about it (not victim-blaming. It’s not a sexy disease). There’s over a million people in America alone with this disease…but there’s no cure. Absurd. I was angry that there weren’t cures. I was angry that I was going to have to deal with rollercoaster flares. I was just…angry.

So I thought, “I think I’ll go for a run.” Because honestly, I’m rarely angry. I remember being angry and upset only a handful times growing up, and I went running, huffing and puffing my way around the neighborhood each time.

But this time was different. I wanted to prove to myself that I was tough, despite my weakness. I wanted to push against my limitations, and I wanted to feel strong. I needed to know that I was not damaged goods, and I wasn’t the diagnosis code on a medical chart, but that I was even more capable than ever before in my life.
My way of dealing was running.

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After my first 13.1 in Sonoma, CA

Around my angry/I want to feel better and make some trouble on behalf of others/time of chronic badassery, I found Team Challenge and trained for a half-marathon while fundraising for cures to ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease- and I channeled my anger into some productivity.

And today I keep running.

If you want me to be real with you, I took a break from October until this month…zero runs, because I physically and mentally couldn’t, because of a nasty flare that has required time, energy, and commitment to dietary adjustments and more meds to shake me outta my funk. I haven’t felt like me…

I’ve spent days in bed until nearly afternoon. I’ll drop Zack off at work, go to bed, and then pick him up after a day asleep, only to go back to sleep. He has been the real slim shady through all of this.

And it’s okay. Struggles are temporary.

Finally, my meds have started working, my dietary adjustments began healing my gut, things started clicking, and the wheels started turning.

Tonight I ran two miles without stopping. Two miles of up and over hills, around neighborhood corners, and hopping over sidewalk cracks, and I feel alive. I can feel my lungs struggling to get their rhythm, and I can feel my legs swinging happily beneath me while my feet pound the pavement, and I’m thankful for my 90’s playlist in my ears and the wind through my hair.
(Shoutout to Mother Nature for allowing me to run with my hair DOWN today- freedom!)

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In short, I run because I can and for me, that is the greatest reason of all. I don’t think about ulcerative colitis. All I think about is making it to the next light pole, around the bend. And suddenly I’m there, and I keep going. I run because I get to keep going, past my limitations and beyond sickness.
Because I can :).

Why do you run?

P.S. When I can get a bit more organized, I’m thinking of making a couch to half-marathon training list with the help of one of my running coach friends.

Sincerely,

A UC patient from the couch to a half-marathon…or two or three