Saturday, August 29, 2015

On the Run: The Crim 2015

I've been hearing people talk about The Crim for years, long before I considered myself a "real runner."  The stories always went that it's challenging, hilly, lots of fun, and a must-do race for any Michigan runner.  It's in Flint, which is about an hour and twenty minute drive for us.  That always seemed farther than I wanted to go for a 10-mile race.  It's at the end of August and almost always HOT.  I'm usually thinking how glad I am not to be out racing that day!

This year I decided to see what all the excitement is about.  Was it really worth driving to Flint?

Uh yeah.  Totally worth it.

Brian and I needed to get on the road at 5am so I had to adjust my pre-race routine a bit.  Instead of getting up an hour before leaving I only gave myself 30 minutes so I could get a little more sleep.  This was plenty of time to get ready.  (What on earth do I usually do with an hour's time?!)  I never have coffee before a race but with the drive ahead I made a small cup for the road.  I took my pre-race snacks with me to eat closer to race time.  

The drive was easy and honestly didn't seem as long as I'd anticipated.  No traffic at that time of day!  We made one stop in Holly at a gas station/McDonald's for the bathroom.  (Thank you coffee!  wink wink!)  

We parked in one of the U of M lots about half a mile from the start.  (It's across the street from a Rally's so we Googled that for directions.  We joked about driving all the way to Flint for Rally's!)  It's a great spot to park because it's close to all the race stuff, plus easy in and out.  

First we hurried over to packet pickup.  We ran into a few members of Be Bold Crew at the start line.  I was getting more excited!  I got my stuff and took it back to the car.  Brian and I split up here because I had to get my warm-up done and he wanted to run as many miles as he could before I was finished with the race.

I was done warming up around 7:30.  Time for the port-a-potties!  I started to panic because I knew I was cutting it close and the lines were long (race start was 8:00).  BUT I remembered a friend telling me about the portas on the left not getting used.  I wasn't sure what she was talking about until I saw.  (If you've been there you probably know.  If not just remember about the portas on the far left.)  So instead of 30 people in line I moved over and there were 3.  Nice and quick!  I was able to get my run drills in and be at the start line by 7:40.

Because the race is so big there are corrals.  I was in A but made sure to be at the back.  I didn't want to get run over!  Coach Terra was racing so we waited together.  It was so great to be there with her!  We hugged each other good luck and then it was time.  We were off!

At first it was really crowded and congested.  Everybody was bunched up and it was slow going.  I took a hard elbow to the shoulder.  (That guy meant business!)  At the first turn I was able to make my move and break away from the crowd.  FREEDOM!  The first part of the race is through the UM-Flint campus, which is bigger than I expected.  I was surprised and excited to see Brian waiting for me!

Because I wasn't sure what to expect with this course, I set my goal at 6:50/mile.  I knew there were hills starting at mile 5.  I ended up pulling a Boston and ran the miles up until that point faster than planned just in case the hills slowed me down.  They didn't.  Miles 4-6 were all exactly the same pace and I got faster from there.  I love hills!  It felt so good to take them on again in a race.  Even after the big hills in mile 5 there were rolling hills throughout the rest of the course.  I credit the crowd support as well as the other racers to help push me to run faster.  My last few races have been small and a bigger race makes a difference.

When I got back into the downtown area I was starting to get tired.  The last mile felt long.  I turned the final corner and suddenly Doug Kurtis was in front of me.  He had to have been in front of me for a long time but I hadn't seen him.  I focused on chasing him to the finish line.  I didn't catch him but we did finish in the exact same time!

After the race I saw so many runner friends, many of whom I hadn't seen in a long time.  This race definitely draws people from all over!  Then I caught up with my Crew.  They all did an awesome job.  I'm proud to run with them!

I'm really proud of myself for this race.  For my time and pace, sure.  But mostly because this was the first race since my injury that I truly felt confident.  I felt like the old Amanda out there on the course.  The Amanda that used to race boldly and fearlessly.  My injury robbed me of that confidence and it's taken me 6 months to regain trust in myself.  But I went cautiously during my recovery period for a reason.  And now I'm ready.  I think I just needed the right race at the right time.  Talking to Coach Terra right before the race helped, too.

Swapping race stories with Coach Terra

After the race I ran another 4 miles to finish out my long run for the day.  It was a good way to loosen up my legs before the car ride home.  For the rest of the day I felt like I was walking on air!  I was so excited and happy.  I haven't been this happy after a race in a long time.  Did I place in my age group?  No.  Did I win anything?  No.  Am I back to my fastest?  Not yet.  

But with a happy hamstring and newfound confidence, I'm on my way.


6:45 min/mile
Water Fountain / tUnE-yArDs
Kiss with a Fist / Florence + the Machine
  Random Name Generator / Wilco
 Strangers / Langhorne Slim & the Law
Dear Rosemary / Foo Fighters
Supermassive Black Hole / Muse 
Bulletproof / La Roux
Crushcrushcrush / Paramore
Believer/ American Authors
Discipline / Nine Inch Nails
One Engine / The Decemberists
Swell Content / Speedy Ortiz
Digital Witness / St. Vincent
Violent Shiver / Benjamin Booker
Everybody Talks / Neon Trees
Anklebiters / Paramore
Runaway Baby / Bruno Mars
Man / Neko Case
Youth Without Youth / Metric 
Deceptacon / Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas
Cadillac, Cadillac / Train

Oh and when I said this race draws runners from all over, I wasn't kidding.  The winner of the women's race was Caroline Rotich, who also won this year's Boston Marathon.  So yeah, Crim is big.

I'm so glad I finally ran Crim this year and am already excited for next year's race!

Photo credit: Brian Wolski

Friday, August 14, 2015

Oatmeal Cookie Balls (No Bake)

I used to eat PB2 Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls for a snack but got a little burnt out on them after a while.  On a recent visit to Trader Joe's I picked up a jar of cashew butter and have been figuring out the best thing to do with it.  Then I decided it was time to make balls again. I love these even more than the PB2 Balls!  The cashew butter is neutral so it's perfect for mimicking that cookie dough flavor. 

I had to experiment a bit to get the right consistency but last night they were finally ready.  The flavor and texture is like an oatmeal cookie but they come together in just a few minutes - with no baking!  Plus you only need a few ingredients, most of which you probably already have in your cupboards.  If you don't have cashew butter you could substitute a different nut butter but the flavor won't be quite the same.  For a nut-free option, try SunButter.

Oatmeal Cookie Balls (No-Bake)


6 tbsp old fashioned oats
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground ginger
2 tbsp cashew butter
1/2 tbsp agave nectar
1 & 1/2 tbsp. almond milk (I use unsweetened vanilla)
1 tsp vanilla
Handful raisins


1. Combine oats, cinnamon, and ginger in a small bowl.  Add cashew butter, agave, almond milk, and vanilla.  Stir with a fork until everything is combined.  Mixture will be a bit crumbly and just sticky enough.  Add raisins.

2. Using a small spoon or melon baller, scoop the mixture into your hand and roll into 4 evenly sized balls.  Squish well so that everything holds together.  Place in a bowl and freeze for 30 minutes before eating (if not eating immediately store in refrigerator).

Makes 4 balls.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Corktown Dining: Bobcat Bonnie's

So many new restaurants have opened up in Detroit that it's hard to keep track of them all.  Brian and I have a short list that we want to try - eventually.  When I found out about Bobcat Bonnie's, however, I knew I had to go there ASAP.  What's so special about Bobcat Bonnie's?  It's a new gastropub in Corktown with 8 vegan and 6 vegetarian items on the menu.  Wahoo!  The article I read says that for every meaty menu item there will be a veg equivalent but the current menu doesn't show that.  Next time I'm in I will have to ask.  I was just so excited to see as many veg options as there were that I didn't even think about that!

It's located on Michigan Avenue, a block from the site of old Tiger Stadium.  It used to be Oblivion's Cafe.  I had never been to Oblivion's but from what I read, it sounds like the owners did a lot of work to get Bobcat Bonnie's updated and ready.  There is a lot of exposed brick, which is in really nice shape.  They painted the rest of the walls with black, grey, and pops of yellow.  There are tables for four, benches, and a few high long communal tables with stools.  The big windows let in a lot of light so it's nice and bright.  In the back are some longer tables and a few arcade games.  There's also a good sized bar area.

Brian and I went on Monday night, the first day it opened.  We sat at one of the long tables by the windows, looking out at Michigan Avenue.  I didn't take us long to decide what to order.  We went with the Mushroom Ceviche for an appetizer.  I've never had anything like it.  It was amazing!  I almost can't even describe the flavor combination.  It was lemony and bright.  The mushrooms and radishes were so fresh.  And the house made tortilla chips were some of the best I've ever had.  I highly recommend it.

Mushroom Ceviche

I'm a huge chickpea lover so I couldn't say no to the Chickpea Salad Sandwich.  It's mashed chickpeas with mustard, cumin, coriander, and dill served on a ciabatta roll.  Delicious.  For $3 you can add either soup or salad.  Brian and I each added the kale salad.  Oh man you have to try the kale salad!  It's a good size salad for $3!  (It's also on the menu for $8.50 as an entree size, which I might have to order sometime.  It's seriously SO good!)  

Chickpea Salad Sandwich

Kale Salad

Then there were the fries.  YUM.  The menu didn't have a V or VN next to them (very unlike me to order because of cross-contamination in deep-fryers) but I figured I would go out on a limb.  Next time I'll ask to be sure.  (Maaaybe - wink wink.)  They were flavorful and not greasy.  In fact, that's how everything was - a lot of flavor without too much oil, sauce, or dressing.  Brian had a burger and his plate was clean afterwards (no grease left behind).  

While we were eating we talked to both partners.  They were making the rounds, checking in on the diners to make sure everyone was happy and enjoying their meals.  Both of them told us that some of the vegetarian items can be made vegan (such changing veggie burger toppings or leaving the creme fraiche off the soup).  What's great is that they know what vegan means and they can educate their staff about how to give their diners a great meal.  

I'm really excited to have Bobcat Bonnie's in the neighborhood and look forward to making it one of our regular places! 

Bobcat Bonnie's
1800 Michigan Avenue
Detroit, MI 48216

Sunday, August 9, 2015

On the Run: Allen Park 10K 2015

I didn't think I would be able to race the Allen Park 10K this year but last week my schedule opened up and I was able to add it my calendar.  It was my third time doing this event, having raced it previously in 2011 and 2013.  Last year I must have skipped due to my hamstring.

This event is about as perfect for me as it gets.  Race time is 9:00 so although it's in August and can be a little hot, it allows me to sleep in.  I only have a 10 minute drive.  My parents live a few blocks from the start line so I can park at their house.  And because they live in the city, they come out to see me race.  (Really the best part!)  The 10K is a double loop so that allows them to see me twice.  

This race is put on by the Downriver Runners.  They do a great job.  The course is lined with fabulous volunteers, ensuring nobody makes a wrong turn and no traffic gets in the way.  It's also an accurate course, which I fully appreciated after my last two 10Ks!  It's a small race but draws a competitive field.  Oh, and it's a cheap race!  I think it was $25. That was race entry plus a hat and water bottle.  

I went into the race tired, adjusting from a week of new paces and increased mileage.  I've been struggling physically and mentally with tempo work during training runs and was looking forward to the race environment to give me a push.  I have a confidence in a race that isn't there in training.  I was excited to just relax and do my thing.  

The weather turned out to be perfect - 70's, cloudy, and a slight drizzle.  I slept in, parked at my parents' house, hung out with them for a bit, and then ran my warm-up mile.  I arrived at the race during the National Anthem (about 10 minutes to start).  At the start line I talked to some old friends and made new friends (I love small races).  When the race started, I decided to stay as close as I could to my friend Rob (a fitness and nutrition coach) who I knew would be keeping a good pace.  He was a great rabbit and helped me maintain about a 6:50 pace for the first 4 miles.  Then he sped up ("the faster I run the sooner I'm done method" he said).  At that point I learned I was 3rd female.  That was all the motivation I needed.  Although I was pretty certain I wasn't going to catch 2nd place I was damn sure going to try!  I was able to narrow the gap significantly and chick one dude in the final half mile.  I crossed the finish line strong, proud to know I had given it my all.  

For the first time since my injury I ran a smart race.  I started out at the top end of my tempo zone and worked down from there.  I wanted to run a 6:45 pace and that's exactly what I did.  I ran with my legs and my heart.  I ran happy.  My parents were there cheering me on.  Brian was there.  I think this picture that Brian captured shows it all.

Photo Credit: Brian Wolski

I'm also pleased to say that this was a post-injury PR and a course PR.  Still working my way back towards my 10K PR but that will take some time.  I placed 1st in my age group, 3rd woman, and 10th overall.  I won another pint glass to add to my collection!  And I got to hang out and celebrate after with other fabulous RUNdetroit Flight Club ladies who also placed in their age groups!

Photo Credit: Brian Wolski

6:44 min/mile
10th Floor Ghost Girl / Cibo Matto
The Wolf / Mumford & Sons
  Random Name Generator / Wilco
  Dead Brains / Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas
The Innocent / Mayer Hawthorne 
The Walker / Fitz & The Tantrums 
Shake it Off / Taylor Swift 
Runaway Baby / Bruno Mars 
I Love It / Icona Pop
Dancing Shoes / Arctic Monkeys
50 Ways to Say Goodbye / Train
 Deceptacon / Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas
Love Runs Out / OneRepublic

I wore my new racing flats for the first time: Saucony Type A6.  I usually wear the Fastwich 6, which are a stability flat but I wanted to try a neutral shoe.  These shoes are fantastic!  Super light and comfortable.  LOVE LOVE LOVE!  

Photo Credit: Brian Wolski

Saturday is long run day so after the race I ran 9 more miles through Allen Park.  I lived there for about 12 years so it's my second home town.  It was nice to explore the city on foot again, revisiting some of the areas I used to walk around (because I was NOT a runner when I was growing up).  I covered some good ground, got a little lost, and eventually found my way back to my parents' house again.  By the time all my running was done for the day - race, warm-up/cool-down, and extra miles - I'd logged 17 miles for the day.  My longest run since my marathon in October!  The hamstring was feeling it in the last mile but after a day of rest and foam rolling, I should be feeling better.

Maybe this race was the confident boost I needed.  Bring on another week!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Rock CF Photo Shoot

Photo Credit: John Martin

Two weeks ago my friend Emily from Rock CF texted me a picture of a performance tank top with the Rock CF logo on it.  They have sweet gear but a performance tank is a first.  I immediately started to text her back to say I wanted one.  Then I got another text from her asking if I would model one for a photo shoot!  I was beyond excited!!  

I picked up my tank top and shorts on Friday.  The company Emily went with is UR Sportswear (pronounces "You Are"), a U.S. company designed by women, for women. The goal is for women to feel confident in their workout clothing.  I think it's pretty cool.  Emily is such a strong and confident woman so choosing UR Sportwear to produce the Rock CF Elite Performance line is the perfect choice.  

On Saturday, Brian and I met Emily, intern Kate, my friend Lindsay, and photographer John at the Dequindre Cut for the shoot.  We had so much fun!  Most of the time we were either running toward or away from John.  Usually together, sometimes individually.  A couple of times he wanted jazz hands, just for fun.  One time he even ran along with us taking photos.  There was a lot of smiling.  So much smiling!  Emily helped out by holding the big white screen and providing comic relief.  Here are some of the behind-the scenes shots.

Photo Credit: Brian Wolski

Photo Credit: Brian Wolski

Photo Credit: Brian Wolski

Photo Credit: Brian Wolski

Photo credit: Emily Schaller

This tank is incredibly comfortable.  I wore a small and the fit was a bit loose, which I actually like.  I love that they are a bit longer, too.  And they are super cute!  I get so many compliments when I wear Rock CF gear so I'm happy to finally have a performance tank top for hot weather.  The lightning bolt on the back is a sweet touch.  And when you purchase Rock CF gear you help support the fight against cystic fibrosis.  

Each tank comes with a Rock CF guitar pick.  Rock on!

Ladies, order your Rock CF Elite Performance Miles tank in Mint or Indigo today!