Saturday, December 29, 2012

Silk Nog Baked French Toast

Brian and I have a tradition that every year we make a special breakfast on Christmas morning.  It's always some kind of sweet dish like pancakes, waffles, or French toast paired with a vegan meat - usually Gimme Lean sausage.  We try to come up with a new recipe each year to keep it interesting.  

This year we were down to the wire.  It was the actually Christmas Eve before I finalized my plans.  I knew I wanted to do some kind of French toast and had 3 recipes laid out in front of me but just wasn't sure which one I wanted to use.  In the end I took ideas from all 3 recipes and wrote my own.  I also have a new vegan egg substitute - The Vegg - that I've been wanting to try so I worked that into it, as well.

The result?  THE best baked French toast.  PERIOD.  

Silk Nog Baked French Toast
(printable recipe)


16 slices cinnamon-raisin bread (I used Aunt Millie's and needed more than 1 loaf)
2 cups Silk nog
1 tsp. Vegg blended with 1/4 cup water OR 1/4 cup blended silken tofu
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cinnamon

Maple syrup


1. Spray a 9x11 inch baking dish with non-stick spray.
2. Cut the crusts off the bread.  Make 2 layers of 8 slices each in the pan, making sure all slices are touching.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the nog, Vegg or tofu, nutmeg, and cinnamon.  Pour over the bread, covering evenly.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
 4. In the morning, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Bake uncovered for 30-35 minutes or until the bread is dry to the touch.  Serve with maple syrup.

Makes 4 servings.

What did you enjoy for breakfast on Christmas Day?

Christmas Realization

There is a group of 3 guys that run in my neighborhood and for the past several years I've just so happened to look out my window on Christmas morning as they've been running down my street.  Each time I've marveled aloud to Brian about their dedication and commitment to running both in the wintry conditions and on Christmas day.  And I pretty much thought they were crazy.

About halfway through my Christmas morning run, I realized that I am now one of those runners.  I didn't think twice about getting out there in the snow.  Sure it was slippery but I was more careful that usual.  Yes it was cold but I dressed appropriately and warmed up quickly.  And although it was Christmas it wasn't too busy to fit in a run.  It was quiet and peaceful and relaxing.  Merry Christmas to me!

That's what I did for myself this Christmas.  I hope you were able to take a little time out for yourself, as well.  


Monday, November 5, 2012

Vegan-Friendly Holiday Soaps

Even though it's only November 5th, you can't fight the fact that the holidays are bearing down upon us and will be here before we know it.  Thanksgiving is early this year and I just heard on the radio that it's only 49 days until Christmas!  

If you ask me, it's still too soon.  I'm not ready to think about the holidays!  But when it comes to soap - especially the just-released limited-edition Holiday Collection from Cellar Door Soap Co. - it can never be too early to bring on the holiday cheer.  We're past farmers' market season so I've been worrying for weeks about how I was going to get my hands on the holiday soaps.  (What?  Doesn't everyone lose a little sleep over soap now and again?)  I needn't have worried, however, because it's craft fair season and this Saturday Cellar Door was at not one but two fairs for the big release of the new soaps.  And I made sure I was at one of them.

You may recall my Fall and Halloween soap-buying extravaganza when I bought ten bars of soap at once.  I just couldn't decide!  This time I exercised a little restraint and didn't buy every new soap in the Holiday Collection.  I did, however, buy multiple bars of my favorites so I still left with ten bars.  Plus the two I picked up for Katie.  That doesn't really count as "exercising restraint" now, does it?  ha ha!

Hands down, Christmas Cookies is my absolute favorite.  It smells exactly as you'd think it would smell.  I've been waiting for a vegan sugar cookie soap and was super excited to see this in the Holiday Collection.  I bought two bars but now I'm regretting not buying more.  This one is almost out of stock already!  Chestnuts Roasting is a close second favorite.  It smells like a delicious dessert made with chestnuts, brown sugar, and caramel.  I also bought two bars of this one.  The one hiding in the back is Pumpkin Pie.  Mmmmm...

Santa's Pipe is another one that I bought two bars of.  It reminds me of Once Bitten from the Halloween Collection because of the cherry and vanilla but it also has raspberry and a hint of tobacco.  Not that I'm a fan of tobacco but it really works here.  As for Krampus, it has a fabulous scent of lemon, mint, vanilla, and menthol, but I would have bought it for the name alone.  Krampus is a mythical creature who goes along with St. Nicholas and punishes the bad children, sometimes even taking away those who are especially naughty!  How had I never heard of Krampus before??

I picked out North Pole Forest and Sugared Spruce with Brian in mind.  He loves Christmas trees so I thought he'd like them.  Both of them smell like a walk through the woods!

Here's the full Holiday Collection, including the 3 soaps I did not buy - Bayberry, Frost Bite, and Peppermint Mocha.  If you want to get your hands on some of these, you can order online but you better hurry.  They won't be around for long . . . and don't expect to come shopping in my closet!  (Unless you want a good deal on some Lush soap.  Ha ha!)

What is your favorite holiday scent?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

On the Run: Detroit Free Press 1/2 Marathon 2012

Jaime and me before the race.

Today I ran my 5th half marathon of the year and while I didn't get too geeked about the other 4, there's something about the Free Press race that seems larger than life.  Maybe it's because it's an international race that crosses the Ambassador Bridge into Canada and back through the tunnel.  That's pretty unique.  In addition to the half marathon there are 4 additional races so it's a huge event with something like 24,000 runners.  Plus I had a lot of friends running today so there was that sense of camaraderie that I didn't necessarily have with the other races.  Not to mention all the hype surrounding the race!

And, with this being my last half of the season, I was putting some pressure on myself for one final PR.  I ran the Brooksie Way three weeks ago in 1:33:33 so my goal was 1:33:00.  I finished today in 1:32:37.  Ohhhh yeah! 

I started out with a 1:35 pace group (7:15/mile) because I wasn't sure how I would do with crowds at the beginning and the bridge.  I was the only girl in the group, which I thought was pretty damn cool.  Around mile 6 I decided it was time to pick up the pace so I gradually started to speed up.  By the time I exited the tunnel at mile 8, I'd gone rogue.  I found myself a running buddy who was doing legs 1-2 of the relay but he ended up going all the way to the finish line after the exchange point.  He really helped push me to reach my goal at the end.  A little bit better than my goal, actually!  Wahoo!

Note the personalization on the bib!  Winking smile



Vanilla Chia Pudding (this recipe, minus the cocoa), banana

Everyone I Know / Lightning Love
Don't Stop (Color on the Walls) / Foster the People
Brainwascht / Ben Folds
Youth Without Youth / Metric
  You Called Me / Mayer Hawthorne
Don't Shut 'Em Down / Flogging Molly
1983 / Neon Trees
Dancing Shoes / Arctic Monkeys
Runaway Baby / Bruno Mars
Lucid Dreams / Franz Ferdinand
We Found Love / Rihanna
Hooked / Mayer Hawthorne
Sixteen Saltines / Jack White
Misery / Maroon 5
  Selfish Man / Flogging Molly
Dynamite / Taio Cruz
Lonely Boy / The Black Keys
In the Clouds / Under the Influence of Giants
I'm Shakin' / Jack White
I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor / Arctic Monkeys
Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You) / Kelly Clarkson
  Panic Switch / Silversun Pickups
  Party Rock Anthem /LMFAO
Do It Anyway / Ben Folds Five
Bodysnatchers / Radiohead
Felt / Garbage
 Mercy / Duffy

Finisher medal - 1953 Chevy Corvette

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Sloppy Joes

I always loved Sloppy Joes as a kid.  Sloppy Joes with Hunt's Manwich = deelish!  Even after going vegan and swapping out the meat for TVP, beans, or lentils I still used Manwich.  After all, it's vegan!  Then I started to pay attention to what's in it.  High fructose corn syrup is the second ingredient in Manwich, followed closely by corn syrup, and sugar!  Not exactly the most healthy way to go.  So I started seeking out homemade recipes for Sloppy Joes that would be healthier but still relatively quick and simple.  I've tried a lot over the years.  Some have been better than others.

This recipe was in USA Weekend a few weeks ago.  It called for ground beef but I used TVP instead.  I made mine in the slow cooker but also included directions for the stove top.  It doesn't taste just like Manwich but it's fresh and flavorful and best of all it's full of healthy and good-for-you ingredients. 

Sloppy Joes
(printable recipe)


2 cups TVP (texturized vegetable protein)
2 cups water or low-sodium vegetable broth
1-2 tbsp. olive oil or water
1 medium sweet onion, diced
3 gloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 can (15 oz) pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1.5 cups no-salt-added tomato sauce
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tbsp. molasses
1 tbsp. vegan Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. dry mustard
3/4 tsp. salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Whole-grain hamburger buns



1. Bring the water or broth to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Remove from the heat and stir in the TVP.  Set aside.

2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add olive oil or water.  When the pan is good and hot, add the onion and saute for about 5 minutes.  Then add the garlic, jalapeno, and bell pepper and cook 5 minutes more, stirring occasionally.  Stir in the rest of the ingredients, including the reconstituted TVP, reduce heat to low, and simmer for another 5 minutes.

3. Scoop a portion of the mixture onto each bun and serve.


1. Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add olive oil or water.  When the pan is good and hot, add the onion and garlic and saute for about 5 minutes. Transfer to a 4-quart slow cooker.  

2. Add all remaining ingredients and stir to combine.  Cook on low heat for 4-6 hours - or 10 if you're gone all day like we usually are!

3. Scoop a portion of the mixture onto each bun and serve.

Makes 6 servings. 

Do you have a favorite Sloppy Joe recipe?

Sunday, October 7, 2012

On the Run: Brooksie Way 1/2 Marathon 2012

I think 2012 will be remembered on Vegan Road Runner as "The Year of the PR."  It seems like every race I run I set a new PR!  Last Sunday was no exception when I ran the Brooksie Way Half Marathon in Rochester Hills.  This was the second year I ran the race, the last time being in 2010.  I love this course because of the beautiful scenery along the Clinton River and Paint Creek Trails at this time of year.  I also love it for the hills.  As you can see from the elevation chart below, the second half is a bit more challenging than the first! 

Mile 9
My initial plan was to run with the a pace group, something I've never done before.  I was nervous to do it because the group runs at the same pace for the whole race, whereas I tend to start out slower and pick up the pace as the race goes on.  I wasn't sure I could keep up at the beginning but figured I would at least catch up later on if I lagged behind.  I chose the fastest pace group - 1:40 - but hoped to finish in less time than that.  I ran with the group for the first half mile but was feeling so good that I quickly pulled ahead and never looked back.  

I ended up finishing the race in 1:33:33 - 9 minutes faster than in 2010 and 5 minutes faster than my previous half marathon PR earlier this year!  There are some fast women in my age group, though.  I hoped to place but finished 4th.  The 3rd place finisher was just 30 seconds ahead of me.  Argh, SO close!  Another challenge for next year!



Vanilla Chia Pudding (this recipe, minus the cocoa), banana

Everyone I Know / Lightning Love
Pickin' Up the Pieces / Fitz & the Tantrums
Don't Stop (Color on the Walls) / Foster the People
Smooth Criminal / Alien Ant Farm
Mountain Sound / Of Monsters and Men
  You Called Me / Mayer Hawthorne
Runaway Baby / Bruno Mars
Hurts Like Heaven / Coldplay
Second Chance / Peter Bjorn & John
Under Cover of Darkness / The Strokes
Sixteen Saltines / Jack White
Born This Way / Lady Gaga
This Fire / Franz Ferdinand
Misery / Maroon 5
Telephone / Pomplamoose
  Kick Drum Heart / The Avett Brothers
Hooked / Mayer Hawthorne
Little Lion Man / Mumford and Sons
Kiss with a Fist / Florence & the Machine
I'm Shakin' / Jack White
Felt / Garbage
  One Engine / The Decemberists
  Shut Up and Drive / Rihanna
Supermassive Black Hole / Muse
Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You) / Kelly Clarkson
Blood for Poppies / Garbage
E.T. / Katy Perry

Gorgeous stained-glass finishers' medal

Next race: Detroit Free Press Half Marathon - Sunday, October 21st

Friday, October 5, 2012

3rd Annual No-Beast Feast - and a GIVEAWAY!

The Dearborn Animal Shelter held it's 3rd annual No-Beast Feast on Friday, September 14th.  I love this event because it's a great fundraiser for the shelter, all the food is vegan, and VegMichigan is there to promote the benefits of and answer questions about living a veg lifestyle.  This year the guest speaker was Dr. Kerrie Saunders - a food and fitness consultant who teaches people how to reverse disease through diet and exercise.  I actually met with her a few years ago for a nutrition consultation at her Birmingham office.  I was so pleased to see that she was speaking at the No-Beast Feast this year because she is so down to earth and approachable, not to mention extremely knowledgeable about nutrition and exercise.  And, of course, vegan.

During Kerrie's presentation, it was interesting to see and hear people's reactions to some of her comments.  There were two non-vegetarians sitting with my mom and me that were very open to what she had to say.  If nothing else, they were going to go home with new things to think about and consider.  Then there were some people at a table behind us that were definitely scoffing at some of the comments.  They certainly weren't giving up their cheese for collard greens anytime soon!  Oh well.  Overall, I think most people were receptive and they really couldn't ignore the statistics she gave from her Michigan Firefighter Challenge. I mean, really, the health benefits of a plant-based diet truly speak for themselves!  One new piece of information I came away with was that legumes are the best food to reduce belly fat.  So if you want to know my secret it must be those 3-4 cans of chickpeas I go through a week!  

I spoke with Kerrie for a few minutes after dinner and she remembered meeting with me for my consultation.  I told her how I run circles around some of the guys at Boot Camp and they want to know how I have so much energy.  My response is always, "It's my vegan diet!"  She gets similar reactions from firefighters - until they take on the challenge of a vegan diet, that is.  

Besides meeting Kerrie Saunders, I also had the pleasure of meeting another special person - local artist John Orischak.  He's the creator of Wired Art Works, which is art made from recycled political lawn signs.  You can find his art on Fridays at the Dearborn Farmer's & Artisans Market.  My mom owns two of his pieces and I own one so it was very exciting to be sharing a table with him!  He was super friendly and fun.  I love meeting local celebrities!

Okay, onto the food.  The meal was delicious this year.  I didn't photograph the appetizers because although they tasted good, I'm not sure what they were and they looked kind of weird.  They would have photographed terribly.  I'm guessing they were some sort of faux chicken things.  Usually they have fresh rolls from Bangkok 96 but for some reason they put those out with the desserts.  I think that might have been an oversight.  Either that or it's some new trend that I'm not up on.  I really would have liked to have one for an appetizer!

The soup this year was a thick spicy tomato with black beans and veggies.  Super delish!

Dinner included tons of fruit (which I saved for dessert), salad (which I skipped to save room for other things), quinoa salad, green beans, a broccoli pie, and THE best Mexican lasagna.  I wish I could get the recipe for it to know exactly what was in it but they seemed to be keeping it top secret  It definitely had pumpkin and cumin in it.  There were black beans and it had a sprinkling of Daiya cheese on top.  The broccoli pie was really good but the lasagna was by far my favorite.

For dessert, Chef Genevieve from Bangkok 96 prepared a selection of raw desserts.  There didn't seem to be enough for everyone to take more than one, plus raw desserts are not something I like to eat a lot of, so I just took one small thing.  Nothing was labeled but it tasted like a coconut/cashew/banana tart and there was a juicy ripe blackberry on top.  It was very good.  There were other tarts as well as cheesecakes.  It was all gone in a flash.

The event seemed to be quite a success and very well-attended.  Hopefully this means the animal shelter will have it again next year!

Oh, I almost forgot!  My table won a vegetarian cookbook!  It isn't vegan, however, and doesn't look like one that I would likely go through the trouble to veganize.  SO, I've decided to host my first ever Vegan Road Runner giveaway.  If you would like your own copy of Vegetarian - More than 100 Fresh Flavoursome Recipes, here's how you can win:

1. Comment about this post on the blog.
2. Comment about this post on Facebook.

If you want an additional chance to win, you can do so by "liking" Vegan Road Runner on Facebook.  If you already "like" VRR on Facebook, one comment will get you two entries.  Deadline is noon EST Saturday, October 13th.  I'll put all entries in a hat and pick a winner!  Good luck!

This could be yours!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

On the Run: Run Wild for the Detroit Zoo 5K & 10K - 2012

Last Sunday I did Run Wild for the Detroit Zoo - one of my favorite races of the year.  Actually now that I do both the 5k and 10k I should say it's two of my favorites!  I love it in part because it was the first race I ever ran so I like to see each year how much faster I get.  (In my 5th year running it my finishing time has dropped by 10 minutes - woot woot!)  I also love that it's fast and flat and not too crowded, which gives me a fighting chance at placing in my age group.  And although I sometimes get flack from other vegetarians and vegans for supporting the zoo, I firmly believe they do good work for the animals and treat them with care and respect.  The proceeds from this race benefit the veterinary hospital at the zoo, which I think is a good cause.  So really, what's not to love about this race?

The weather last weekend was absolutely perfect racing weather - sunshine, blue skies, cool temps, and a gentle breeze.  By my standards, Brian and I were a little late getting to the race so I jumped out on the service drive before he pulled into the parking lot and ran to the starting line.  I got there just in time for the singing of the National Anthem and then we were off.  Initially my goal was to use the 5k as a warm-up for the 10k that was to follow.  However, I had a lot of adrenaline going, started out strong, and before I knew it I was at mile 2.  With only another 1.1 miles to go there was really no point in slowing down.  Plus, the faster I ran the more time I would have between races to switch bibs and stand in line for the port-a-potties (I didn't have time to go before the 5k, remember?).  So I just went for it.  And when I crossed the finish line and saw the race clock I was so happy I ran the way I did.  I raised my arms and gave out a loud, "Wahoo!"  I'd never run so fast in all my life.  I'd gone balls to the wall.  (I actually shouted that to Brian when I finished.  Sorry parents.)  And I still had another 6.2 miles to run.  Oh sh*t.


Vanilla Chia Pudding (this recipe, minus the cocoa), banana

Runaway Train / Soul Asylum
Take Me Away / Wild Belle
Michael Praytor, Five Years Later / Ben Folds Five
Mama's Room / Under the Influence of Giants
Your Easy Lovin' Ain't Pleasin' Nothin' / Mayer Hawthorne
Felt / Garbage

After such a glorious 5k I was super pumped about the 10k.  I started out way at the front again and from the get-go I was moving at a pretty good clip.  I wasn't really passing anyone yet but people weren't passing me, either.  After only about a mile, however, my mind started telling my legs they were tired.  I started thinking about how fast I'd just run and how far I had to go.  Even though I badly wanted to place in my age group I started to tell myself it was okay if I didn't.  But both races together are only 9 miles and I easily run 7 and 8 miles a couple days a week.  And this is race day!  Get a hold of yourself, I thought!  haha!  Anyway, I knew it was all in my head so I picked a person who was just a little ahead of me to catch up with, keep pace with for a while, and then eventually move on ahead of him or her to the next person.  I find that's the best way to keep pushing myself to run faster and faster in a race.  Keep running down the next target.  Oh, my strategically planned playlist worked great, too!  I got lots of cheers from volunteers along the course - and even some high fives - so that made it fun and was also highly motivating.  I finished strong again with a one second faster per mile pace than the 5k.  I couldn't believe it!  So just when I thought I couldn't run any faster . . . I did!  Woot woot!



Teardrop Windows / Benjamin Gibbard
Don't Stop (Color on the Walls) / Foster the People
Strange Times / The Black Keys
In the Clouds / Under the Influence of Giants
I Feel Better / Gotye
You Called Me / Mayer Hawthorne
Runaway Baby / Bruno Mars
Mountain Sound / Of Monsters and Men
Dynamite / Taio Cruz
I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor / Arctic Monkeys
Blood for Poppies / Garbage
So Good / B.o.B.
Princess of China / Coldplay & Rihanna
Uprising / Muse

I ended up placing 1st in my age group in the 10k and 2nd in my age group in the 5k - with new PR's to boot!  The medals are identical except that the 1st place is gold on the back and the 2nd place is silver. 

And check it out - I made the Leaderboard for both races!  Smile

Next up: The Brooksie Way 1/2 Marathon - Sunday, September 30th

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Fall & Halloween Soaps from Cellar Door

Last Saturday I ran my fastest 10k ever.  As I mentioned in my post about the race, my initial motivation to run fast was the new Fall and Halloween soaps waiting for me from Cellar Door Soap Co.  Yes, I was pouring on the speed for soap!  (And for a 1st place medal, if possible.  But that would be icing on cake!)

So, without further ado, here they are!  First off, let me tell you about the Fall Collection.  As you can see there are 5 - Apple Jack, Apple Wood, Pumpkin Butter, Lavender Pumpkin and Chai Latte.  Although it's pretty hard to choose a favorite, if I had to pick one I think I'd say the Apple Jack.  It's has a very strong apple scent with a hint of orange and spice to it.  The Apple Wood, on the other hand, is a little more subtle and sweeter.  

My second favorite is probably the Pumpkin Butter, which has both pumpkin and apple scents.  The Lavender Pumpkin surprised me.  I am not a big fan of lavender so I wasn't sure how I would like it but this one is amazing!  Smell it and you'll agree.  I think this will be the first hand soap for us.  Last but certainly not least is the Chai Latte.  I'm sure you've had a chai latte drink so I don't have to describe how this one smells.  Wait a minute - I've never had a chai latte!  So in case you're wondering, this one has cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, ginger, vanilla, and (since it's Fall) pumpkin.  Mmmmm!

Next up is the Halloween Collection, which also has 5 - Once Bitten, Zombie Repellent, Pumpkin Head, Witches Brew, and Wolfsbane.   My favorite BY FAR is Once Bitten.  I'm surprised that I like this as much as I do because it's a cherry-vanilla soap and I am generally not a fan of cherry-scented things.  But oh my is this amazing!  Does the vampire theme make me love it too?  Maybe a little.  

I can't decide if I like Zombie Repellent or Pumpkin Head better.  I think they tie for second favorite.  Pumpkin Head mixes pumpkin and cinnamon so it's spicier than the Fall pumpkin soaps.  I really like this one!  Zombie Repellent has a musky woodsy scent but it's not overwhelmingly spicy.  I would consider it pretty neutral.  Just a great soap with a kick-ass name.  Last up are Witches Brew and Wolfsbane, which I think are both a little more gentlemanly.  Witches Brew has balsam and patchouli and Wolfsbane has anise and herbs, giving it a subtle licorice scent.  Brian will smell very nice.

There you have it - 10 new soaps added to my collection!  (Yes, I bought 10 bars in one day.  No judgment, please.)  I can't wait to use each and every one of them.  If you have a chance, check out Cellar Door Soap Co. and see what Fall and Halloween soaps are left.  They're going fast!

BTW, my niece now calls me "Auntie Soap!"

What is your favorite Fall scent?

Monday, September 3, 2012

On the Run: Run Like the Wind 10k 2012

On Saturday I ran my 3rd Run Like the Wind 10k.  I'm so glad I discovered this race!  It's close to home and parking is easy.  It's on Labor Day weekend when the gym is closed so I don't have to miss Boot Camp.  It's a cheap race to enter and you still get a tee shirt.  Perhaps best of all, though, is it's small, making it easy for me to place first in my age group.  Well, it was easy last year and the year before but this time I had to fight hard to stay reigning champ.  Which is why I'm so proudly showing off my 1st place medal above.  Let me tell you the story.

I didn't intend to set any records when I started out.  Did I want to finish first in my age group?  Yes.  They were giving medals to the top three, however, so even if I was second or third that would be okay.  (But deep down did I really want to be first?  Yes.  Yes I did.)  But if I'm going to be completely honest with you, at this point my biggest motivation to run fast was that we were going to the Plymouth Farmers Market after the race to buy the new Fall and Halloween soaps from Cellar Door Soap Co.  I kept thinking that the faster I ran, the sooner I could get to my soap!  (I need a tee shirt - "Will run for soap!")  So I started out too fast and I knew it but I figured I would slow down later on if I needed to.  I was feeling great, the weather was perfect, and it was only 6 miles total.  So I went with it.

As I neared the turn-around, I started to realized that there were not many girls ahead of me.  In fact, there were 3.  But they looked like they were all in my age group.  Uh oh.  I knew I had to take at least one of them.  So I sped up and pretty quickly was upon one of them.  Then she and I passed up another girl so we were two and three.  My plan was to stay with her until the end, conserving my energy just enough so that I could pass her up at the finish.  I hoped maybe she would even tire out and I could pass her up before the end.  No such luck.  She gave me a real run for my money!  If it wasn't for her there was no way I would have run as fast as I did.  I even have a sub-7:00 mile 4!

Just when I didn't think I could keep pace with her any longer, we rounded the last curve and saw the finish line.  She either sped up or I dropped back - I'm not sure which.  I just know that the distance between us increased a bit for the first time.  Then as we got closer she got a little too complacent with her imminent victory and that's when I made my move.  I put on one final burst of speed and pushed past, finishing ahead of her by ONE SECOND!  (I excitedly asked Brian if it was as thrilling as watching the Olympics but he said no.  Wah-wah.)  She and I high-fived and congratulated each other on a great race.  I know I wouldn't have run so well without her and I'm pretty sure I pushed her, as well.  Oh, so I was the 2nd female and 11th overall.  Wahoo!

After I finished I grabbed my banana (perfectly ripened - another Run Like the Wind plus!) and my 1st place medal.  By the way, last year they gave out magnets so this is an upgrade!  Then I went to get my soap.  10 bars.  Hey, I earned 'em!  (And needed 'em, too!)



Vanilla Chia Pudding (this recipe, minus the cocoa), banana

Out on the Road / Norah Jones
Pickin' Up the Pieces / Fitz & the Tantrums
Call Me Maybe / Carly Rae Jepsen
A Long Time / Mayer Hawthorne
Right Back Where We Started From / Maxine Nightingale
Uprising / Muse
I Don't Feel Like Dancin' / Scissor Sisters
Hooked / Mayer Hawthorne
Hang Loose / Alabama Shakes
Punching in a Dream / The Naked & Famous
Where Have You Been / Rihanna
Everyone I Know / Lightning Love
Good Time / Owl City (Feat. Carly Rae Jepsen)
Over Here, Over There / Dr. Dog

 Next race: Run Wild for the Detroit Zoo 5k and 10k - September 16th

Happy Labor Day!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

On the Run: Merrell Down & Dirty 10K

Ever since doing Tough Mudder at the beginning of the summer I've been itching to do another obstacle/mud run so when I found out about the Merrell Down & Dirty National Mud and Obstacle Series, I signed up right away for the 10K.  (If you haven't heard of it before it may be because this was the first year it's been in Detroit.)  I didn't sign up with anyone but hoped that maybe I could convince a friend to join me in the fun.  If not I'd just go it alone.  Unlike Tough Mudder, none of the obstacles are difficult enough to need a team and with it only being 6.2 miles, I wouldn't get too lonely before it was over.  As it turned out, however, friend and fellow Tough Mudder Andy signed up, so we went on the adventure together.  We took his Subaru, which got us free VIP parking and lots of great Subaru swag - tee shirts, sun screen, and lip balm.  So we had to get a picture with the Subaru.  (Shhh, don't tell my Ford husband!  Although I suspect he may see this post.)

The event was held at Kensington Metropark, which turned out to be a great location.  There was a nice open area for the start, finish, showers, bag check, etc. and the trails were beautiful for the course.  There was also a nice lake for the water obstacle.  And it only took us about 40 minutes to get there so as I said, a great location!

The 10K started at 7:30 and was organized into waves that were 4 minutes apart.  It wasn't too busy of a race but that definitely helped keep the trail and obstacles less crowded.  We started in the first wave that wasn't military and safety personnel (that wave only had a few runners in it) so we were right up at the front.  Andy took off like a shot as I struggled up the first damp grassy hill.  It was at this point that I remembered my plan to do more trail running this summer.  oops.  Because that's all this race was - trail running.  But once I got warmed up I felt great!  I love running on the trails, up and down the hills, through the trees, over sand one moment and grass the next, not knowing what's coming next.  It's such a different sensation than what I'm used to with road running!  

Although I was a little behind at the beginning, I quickly gained speed and momentum and started to pass one person after another during the first 3 miles.  To steal a Scott Jurek term, I "chicked a lot of dudes."  haha!  I noted that many people slowed down a bit after completing an obstacle; I just kept right on going.  They would scale a wall and then stop for a drink.  I would hop down and keep right on running.  It was awesome!  

As I mentioned, all of the obstacles were easy enough to complete without help.  Up to this point they were the Monkey Cross, Cargo Net Climb, Balance Beams, Marine Hurdles, Tires, Ladder Walls, Low Walls, 5' Walls, Sand Bag Carry, and Pushups.  Funny story about the pushups.  I read ahead of time that we were going to have to do 20 of them but when we got to that part the military guy was telling us we had to do 10.  I said, "10 pushups?  I thought it was 20?"  He shrugged and said, "Okay, 20 pushups!"  I know everyone hated me.

I actually caught up with Andy again, I think around mile 5, heading up the steepest hill in the race toward the inflatable slide.  I had been running with another girl who, too, had passed a lot of guys and then the three of us sort of stuck together for a bit - through the Tunnels, the Water Crossing, and the first Mud Pit.  Then Andy and I pulled ahead.  We were almost to the end.  Three obstacles remained - the High Wall, Slippery Mountain, and the final Mud Pit.  High Wall?  Not so high, really, and with hand and footholds it was a cinch.  Slippery Mountain?  Well, they were not kidding about it being slippery!  It was a huge slanted wall coated with shampoo and you had pull yourself up by a rope.  I managed it in one attempt but it was definitely a challenge.  The most difficult obstacle by far!  Poor Andy didn't have such an easy time.  He completed the obstacle but it took him a few more attempts.  Don't ever say he's not a fighter!  

Then there was the final Mud Pit before you ran across the finish line.  I finished in 57:33 and placed 3rd in my age group.  Wahoo!  That's only 2:30 slower than my than my slowest non-obstacle 10K!  I didn't realize that I get a bronze medal but I supposedly have it coming in the mail.  I'll be sure to show you that when I get it.  Andy was just a few minutes behind me.  I was so proud of him!  This was only his second timed race and his first 10K.  He rocked!  (If only it weren't for that damn soap wall!)

After getting properly photographed, we hosed off and changed before heading over to the Burger Bash.  I gotta say that Down & Dirty knows how to do a Burger Bash right!  You ordered ahead of time and could choose either a meat burger, veggie burger, or fruit salad.  Yay for fruit salad!  It was pretty good quality fruit, too.  We just hung out on the grass enjoying our food, listening to the live music, and soaking up the sun. 

Then Andy got a haircut.  (It was for charity.  And he needed a haircut.)

Did I mention that there was a human hamster wheel?  I still regret not going in the it but we'd already been at Kensington for the entire morning so we figured it was time to get going.  And once you get in that thing there's no telling how long you'll stay in it.  Next year I'm definitely going in the human hamster wheel!  Maybe while Andy is getting his hair cut.

This race was so much fun.  I can't wait to do it again next year!

Anyone else get Down & Dirty?

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Farmer's Market Fridays - 8/24/12

All summer long I knew this day would come but there is still no way I could be prepared for it.  How could I be prepared for my last summer Friday?  How could I be ready for the last Friday where I get to wake up and go to yoga, then leisurely stroll over to Starbucks for my coffee and oatmeal (which, BTW, I don't even have to order anymore because my ladies know me so well), and then go hang out at the farmer's market with all my favorite vendors - nay - friends?  There's no way to be ready for that.  No way.

But alas, ready or not, today was that day.  The weather was gorgeous so I really took my time at the market, chatting it up at all my favorite booths - Perkins Pickles, The Granola Tree, and Cellar Door Soap Co.  (In fact, I talked for so long that my mom finally left me at the market and went home!)  

I was most excited about Perkins Pickles because I used up my chow chow a few weeks ago and have been craving it ever since.  Although it was quite tempting to buy more, I limited myself to two jars.  Oh, and look!  It matches my hair!

At The Granola Tree I bought two more jars of Carrot Cake Jam and one of Cranberry Orange Marmalade.  You know how I love to make my Carrot Cake Jam Oatmeal!  I also found that the Cranberry Orange Marmalade, with slivered almonds and dried cranberries, makes a fantastic oatmeal, as well.

Believe it or not, I managed to walk away from Cellar Door without buying any soap.  It wasn't easy but I managed.  It helped that Brandon told me I couldn't buy any.  Repeatedly.  I'm glad he intervened because I need to save my soap money for next weekend when the Fall and Halloween soaps come out.  There are going to be TEN of them!!  And you know that I won't be able to pick and choose so I'll be coming home with TEN new soaps next week.  Brandon has been previewing one new soap each day on Facebook and will continue to do so up until the September 1st release date.  So far we've seen "Witches Brew," "Zombie Repellent," "Chai Latte," and "Apple Wood."  I can't wait to see the rest - and buy them all!  Muhahahahaha!

There was a new vendor this week at the market - Motor City MunchiesThey sell energy bars made with medjool dates, nuts, and hemp or chia seeds.  (Similar to Larabars but local, fresher, and more flavorful.)  In addition to the base ingredients, some also have vanilla, cinnamon, coconut, or cacao nibs.  They are all organic, gluten free, raw, and vegan.  There are 3 flavors - Raw Energy, Raw Vitality, and Raw Indulgence.  I sampled all three.  While all of the bars were delicious, I ended up buying the Raw Indulgence Bar, which has dates, cashews, cacao nibs, coconut, hemp seeds, vanilla, and cinnamon.  (Definitely the most indulgent of the three!)  While the bars are not cheap - $3 each - I wanted to support this new local business and figured it would be a nice treat.

I also finally bought some of Matt's Mix all-purpose seasoning.  Matt has been at the market for years.  I was talking to him last week about different vegetarian/vegan restaurants (his wife is vegan) and it occurred to me that I've never tried his mix!  So today I made sure to buy some.  It's a blend of Kosher salt, garlic, herbs, and spices that he claims is "great on everything!"  And I really don't think he would say it was if it wasn't.  I plan on using it on grilled veggies, kale chips, and popcorn with nutritional yeast.  There are recipes on his website; he specifically recommended I try the Black Bean Roasted Corn and Avocado Salad with Red Quinoa.  Thanks, Matt.  I think I will! 

Oh, and I bought some produce.  I picked up 4 huge red tomatoes and a massive bunch of curly kale.  Gotta make my kale chips - with Matt's Mix, of course!

So, that was my last summer Farmer's Market Friday.  But even though it was MY last day, the market still goes until the end of October.  Although who knows, perhaps I'll manage to sneak off work and get in one more trip before the season is over . . .

Happy weekend everyone!