Monday Miles: July 14-20

Hello everyone! If you’re reading this, that means you’ve survived another Monday :). Always good, right? I had a fantastic weekend but was so not ready for the week to start! I’m also pretty slammed with a conference at the beginning of the week and lots of meetings to round out the back half of the week so I’m going to make this post short and sweet.

Last week’s training has left me feeling a little frustrated. Here’s why:

Monday - Bike commute for 6.75 miles.

Tuesday - I had a progression run on the calendar that was supposed to be 50 min with the first 15 min as warm up and then building effort every 5 min to get to goal race pace by the end. I ended up trying to squeeze this in before work since we had a tour coming through over lunch, which left me short on time after running late. That meant I did 10 min warm up and attempted to build effort for another ~15 min. The first 5 min was slower than the warm up (oops) and then the last two ended up being faster than goal race pace. So that wasn’t exactly what I was aiming for. Overall, I covered 2.98 miles in 26:36. And then I wrapped up the day with 6.9 miles of bike commuting.

Wednesday - The day started with 5.55 miles of bike commuting, and then I jumped on the bike trainer once I got home. I did 10 min of warm up, 10 x 1 min one leg drills (the worst) followed by 10 x 1 min spin ups with 2 min of recovery in between. After 5 min at steady effort, I did 5 min in a low gear to focus on pedaling/stroke form to bring the workout to 1 hour. After the bike, I did 20 min of core work and 10 min of stretching.

Thursday - Once again I covered 6.9 miles bike commuting. After coming home from work I was supposed to head to the track for a workout (3 x 800 m at threshold, 400 m easy, 400 m at 90% effort), but it was overcast and starting to get dark. The neighborhood the track is in isn’t exactly the kind of neighborhood I want to be in after it gets dark, so I decided to skip the workout and try to go after work on Friday.

Friday - Another day with 6.9 miles of bike commuting. Unfortunately, I ended up being at work later on Friday than Thursday, and decided to give up on the track workout for the week. C’est la vie.

Saturday - Well, it turns out it was a good thing I skipped the track because my legs barely had a long run in them on Saturday as it was. I’m wondering if I need to skip bike commuting the day before a long run because this was honestly struggle city. I was leading the group run for Athleta and miserably was trying to keep pace. I felt like I was working so much harder than my pace indicates, and while I’m proud of myself for finishing, I was not exactly happy with my performance. Total run was 8 miles in 1:18:43.

Sunday - After enjoying myself maybe a little too much on Saturday night, I headed out for a brick workout on Sunday that I was convinced was going to be miserable. I wasn’t that far off, either. I started with 45 min of running, and Matt and I headed down to Lake Merritt so we could at least enjoy some awesome views while slogging through the misery. For those of you familiar with The Blerch, Matt and I agreed that instead of having to defeat The Blerch, we actually were The Blerch during this run. So rough. I started slower than 11 min miles and was glad I sped up to 10 min miles – yeah, that’s no where near my goal pacing so that’s a little scary. I ended up covering 4.2 miles before coming in to switch shoes and grab my bike. At that point, we then headed out for Matt’s first bike workout since breaking his finger! We took The Red Dragon and Scarlet out on the Bay Bridge Trail. The ride went better than the run, though I wasn’t really keen on the head wind heading up the bridge. (However, flying back down was pretty fun :).) We ended up covering 13.9 miles in 1:08:09.

So why do I say I’m frustrated? A few months ago I feel like I could have easily dominated these workouts without feeling like death the entire time. I guess I feel like I’ve been getting weaker, not stronger. Matt pointed out that I’ve been racing hard recently, and while my body might still prefer some recovery time, I have another half marathon in less than 3 weeks, which means I don’t have time to take it easy if I want to be ready. I see his point. But that doesn’t make it any easier to battle through this frustration right now. I’ve been trying to drop some extra weight I’ve been carrying for the last few months with the hopes that it would make running a little easier, but I don’t know that that will make up the entire difference. I have decided that I’ll be racing less next year. I need to focus on taking more time for recovery. Running is becoming a mental battle that I’m having a hard time winning – the thought of ever running a marathon again seems impossible and I’d be lying if I said even the half marathon distance wasn’t intimidating right now – and I need to find a way to reenergize myself. I’ve emailed my coach about all of this, so I’m hoping we can find a way to help me get through this season feeling strong and then rethink my approach to next season.

Your Turn: How do you approach getting through periods of burn out and mental exhaustion? How much recovery time do you allow yourself after a hard race? How many races do you usually run each year?

Coconut Banana Split Cupcakes

When Shokomonk sent me a batch of their summer flavors, I was immediately intrigued by the White Chocolate Banana Split bar. In craving a little taste of the Caribbean lately (does summer make anyone else crave Rum Punch or is that just me?), I decided the best – and cheapest – way to satisfy that craving was to create a cupcake with a bit of a tropical twist. Hence, the Coconut Banana Split Cupcake.

While some people (such as Matt) didn’t think the idea sounded that great from the outset, I knew I could come up with the perfect combination to win over the skeptics. And the verdict? Despite Matt not being the biggest fan of coconut, he was more than happy to munch on these cupcakes last week :).

Shokomonk white chocolate banana split

Shokomonk white chocolate coconut

shokomonk banana split cupcakes

coconut banana split cupcakes

Coconut Banana Split Cupcakes

Banana Split Cupcake

Ingredients

3 cups cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, cut into pieces
1/2 cup oil (I prefer safflower oil)
2 cups sugar
4 egg whites, slightly beaten
1 1/2 cups milk
2 tsp vanilla
4 bars Shokomonk White Chocolate Banana Split, chopped into fairly small pieces

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. In a medium bowl, sift the flour and mix with the baking powder and salt. (I’d recommend using a colander instead of a flour sifter with that much flour.)
  3. In a larger bowl, use a hand mixer to beat the butter and oil on medium speed. Gradually beat in the sugar, and slowly beat in the egg whites.
  4. To add the dry ingredients to the butter-sugar-egg mixture, alternate mixing in some of the dry ingredients with some of the milk. Add some of the dry mixture and beat on low speed until combined, then add milk and do the same. Repeat until you’ve completely incorporated the dry mixture and milk but be careful not to over mix.
  5. Add the vanilla and chocolate.
  6. Grease or line wells of a cupcake tin and pour the batter in. Bake for 16-22 minutes, using the toothpick test (you want just a few crumbs to stick to the toothpick when you pull it out). Cool completely before frosting.

 

Coconut Frosting

Ingredients 

2 sticks softened butter
8 oz cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup powdered sugar
pinch of salt
2 bars Shokomonk White Chocolate Coconut, chopped
2 tsp vanilla extract

Directions

  1. Use a hand mixer to beat the softened buffer and cream cheese until smooth.
  2. Mix in the powdered sugar and a pinch of salt.
  3. Use a double broiler or a glass bowl over a pot of boiling water to melt the chocolate, while stirring constantly. Beat the white chocolate and vanilla into the frosting until fluffy.
  4. Use a pastry bag to pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes.
  5. Enjoy :).

Shokomonk Coconut Banana Split Cupcakes

 

Your Turn: What flavor combination puts you in a tropical state of mind? Have you tried either of these Shokomonk bars? What’s your favorite cupcake combination?

Thursday Things

Hello everyone! I just wanted to drop in for a quick edition of Thursday Things. Without further ado:

1. I’m excited to announce I’m joining Team EleVen By Venus as a Brand Ambassador!

eleven by venus

Have you checked the EleVen By Venus line? I absolutely love the clothes and am so excited to join their team. I love their desire to help women push beyond their limits to accomplish goals that once seemed out of reach and to go beyond a ten to become an eleven. That message resonates with my personal philosophy and beliefs, and I couldn’t be more excited to join their Team.

Plus, there’s a benefit for you! Use the Team11AmandaW on any purchase and receive 10% off all full-priced items!

2. This Saturday I’ll be leading a group training run from Athleta on Bay Street in Emeryville! Are you up for an 8 mile run around the Marina this weekend? Come join me on Saturday morning at 9:30 am and we can get our weekend long runs in together! Let me know if you have any questions and I hope to see you all there.

3. This week I started my second year in my job! I can’t believe how quickly this year has flown by, and how much has happened in that time. When I started my job, I was terrified – while I don’t talk much about work on here, I have admitted in the past to struggling with impostor syndrome. Coming out of graduate school, I made the decision to only stay in science if I could work on one specific topic, and it just so happened that a preeminent lab in San Francisco was hiring a postdoc to study that exact topic when I sent in my application. Despite being excited to be able to do research on an issue that is rapidly becoming a huge public health problem, and getting to be at the epicenter of some incredible work, I thought there was no way I was smart enough or capable of actually being successful. For a long time I allowed my fear to consume me and hold me back. But that has really started to change over the last 6 or 7 months, and a lot of that comes from the support and encouragement I receive from all of you. This week I started my second year as a postdoc. One of my coworkers asked me if I feel any wiser starting this year, and the answer is yes. I’m not terrified anymore. I’m excited. I’m learning to believe in myself and trust the training I have already received as a scientist. But more importantly, I’m learning to become a better scientist, and I can’t even begin to tell you how much I have grown over the past year. When I came home from work on July 15, 2013, I was so relieved to have made it through Day 1, but terrified to go back. When I came home from work on July 15, 2014, I was excited about my work, and more importantly, really excited about my future.

Your Turn: What’s going on in your life this week?

Monday Miles: July 7-13

The past week has been all about preparing my body for building back up in preparation for the Water to Wine Half Marathon. With 1 month to go until race day, it’s important to build back up in mileage rather quickly. However, my body has really been struggling to overcome fatigue lately, so I’ve been working with my coach to make sure my legs and body are ready for this next build. With that, I spent the week starting to take on additional mileage without pushing things too hard. Here’s how it all broke down:

Monday - The week starting with 6.9 miles of bike commuting plus an additional 30 min on the bike trainer when I got home from work.

Tuesday - I had a 50 min tempo run on tap, although I didn’t realize it was tempo until I just now double-checked the calendar. I held a pretty steady pace, but I ended up being a little on the slow side for the pacing. I went out over my lunch hour to run up and down the Eastern edge of the city and enjoyed some stunning views. I also “enjoyed” a lot of sun and ended up with a sunburn at the end of the run. You’d think that with all of the color I’ve picked up since living in California that wouldn’t be an issue anymore, but I even got a sunburn when standing outside for a little bit while Pepper was getting groomed so I guess I should work on remembering sunscreen still. The run itself was a little tough – my legs felt pretty heavy – but I still managed to cover 5.44 miles for a 9:11 pace. I also wrapped up the day with 6.9 miles of bike commuting.

SF Bay

Such a shame to have such a beautiful view while running, right?

Wednesday - I started off with 6.9 miles of bike commuting. After getting home, I headed out to the track for my workout. Matt came back to running for the first time since his accident for my first track workout at our new place! We ran 1 mile of warm up to the track together. Matt did a lot of stretching while I did a 2400 at threshold (ouch!) and finished up with 2 x 200 m at 90% with 200 m jog. We then did a cool down mile back home for a total of 3.91 miles in 35:21. (The track we live by now is a little short so I need to figure out the right pacing for laps; in trying to adjust, I think I overcompensated and ran too fast this week).

Thursday - Bike commute for 6.9 miles.

Friday - Total rest day!

Saturday - Weekend long run: I headed out for 6 miles around Lake Merritt on a beautiful morning. I absolutely LOVED getting to run this loop and am so thankful we live so close now. I finished the run in 57:06. My legs were thankful for the rest day going into this run. It was a little difficult to keep my body and my mind strong for the whole run, but overall I’m pretty happy with how it went.

Sunday - This was the big workout for the weekend! I had a brick on tap that started with 45 min on the bike trainer. I of course took advantage of the Happy Potter marathon going on to distract me from sitting in my living room. The bike went well and after finishing, I switched into my Mizuno’s and headed out for 45 min of running. I ran up Grand, which was fun to explore the area a little more, and covered 4.89 miles. My pacing ended up being faster than Saturday’s long run, which was pretty cool.

And with that, I’m getting ready for my training to ramp up even more. Four weeks until race day…time to put in the last push and bigger distances!

Your Turn: What’s your favorite view on your typical running routes?

Wine Tasting in Napa

After a hot morning of racing the ZOOMA Napa Valley Half Marathon, it seemed like the best way to celebrate our accomplishments was with some lunch from In-N-Out and plenty of wine tasting! How else do you celebrate a big accomplishment when you’re in Northern California???

Since we had Pepper with us for the weekend, it was important that we find wineries to check out that were dog-friendly. The first stop on our list was Clos Du Val. The prices here were some of the most reasonable we saw all weekend (Napa is notoriously over-priced compared to Sonoma), and their Sauvignon Blanc was quite good. We had brought some cheese, baguette, and salami to enjoy, and set up a little picnic for our group at the outdoor tables.

clos du val

clos du val

We opted to stay outside and enjoy our wine there even though it was incredibly hot out. However, if you’re looking for places where you can bring your dog, Clos Du Val’s tasting room is also dog-friendly so you can take your little pup inside if you’d like.

It was getting close to 5 pm when we finished, which is a very common closing time for tasting rooms in Napa, so we made a quick dash to the next winery down the street to get in a second tasting.

We were able to get to Chimney Rock very quickly and decided to share two wine flights (their prices were quite outrageous). I thought the wines were alright, but I certainly wouldn’t have paid $80 for a bottle. The woman doing our tasting was very friendly and since it was 5 pm, she gave us a list of wineries that were open until 6 pm with a recommendation for the next winery we should check out (and where to grab some dinner). The grounds were quite gorgeous, but I probably wouldn’t ever go back.

chimney rock

For our last tasting of the day, we headed down the street (all of these wineries were located on the Silverado Trail) to Van Der Heyden Vineyards. All of the wines at Van Der Heyden are late harvest, which means they have a high sugar content making them all sweeter than you would typically expect from that grape. The tasting was $10/person, which is SUPER inexpensive for Napa, and the wines were some of my favorite. I find that a lot of wineries in Napa are pretentious and over-priced, but Van Der Heyden was 100% the kind of winery I enjoy. You do need to “make a reservation” when visiting, but if you don’t make one ahead of time, you can sign the reservation book when you arrive. I’m guessing that has something to do with the way their liquor license is set up, but I’m not entirely sure. Out of all of the places we visited, this is the one I would recommend first! Unfortunately, I didn’t actually snap any photos while we were there.

Sunday morning we headed out for a few more tastings before heading back to the city. Upon a recommendation from a friend of mine that lives in Napa, we headed to Mumm Napa, which makes sparkling wines. We each ordered a flight of three champagnes, but as our server would come and talk to us about what we liked about the different champagnes, he kept bringing us other ones to try. Despite paying for the 3 drinks, we ended up having more like 5 or 6; definitely a good value! And the patio was beautiful for sitting out and enjoying the morning.

mumm napa

After taking a break for lunch (which will be another post because it was FANTASTIC), we headed to Rutherford Hill to enjoy a tasting. By that time, it was 100 °F and I was more than happy to go inside and have a tasting. It would have been nice to get a bottle and sit outside, but I couldn’t handle the thought of sitting outside in the heat much longer since we’d sat out on a patio for lunch. Instead we did a tasting with perhaps the most condescending woman I’ve ever met. When we picked one of the cheaper tastings (their prices were out of control expensive), she was rather snooty. While we were there, my friend from Napa joined us for the tasting, so while we spent time catching up and got behind everyone else, she was evidently annoyed with us for this. Even though I enjoyed some of the wines, I would not have purchased any out of principle. It was pretty ridiculous. However, their grounds were gorgeous and Pepper enjoyed playing on them for a little bit.

rutherford hill

After our final tasting, we headed into the city to cap off the weekend with some fantastic views from Twin Peaks. If you haven’t gone up on a clear day, you’re missing out on some incredible views of the city.

SF

sf

I must give photo credit for most of these photos to my father-in-law, Neil. They’re pretty stunning!

Your Turn: Do you have favorite wineries in Napa? Have you visited any of these?