September Faves

Another month is almost gone and summer is also coming to a close in Minnesota! This month’s favorites is coming a week early since next week is devoted to all things Twin Cities Marathon.


Mike introduced to me to the McElroy boys when we first started dating and I’ve fallen in love with most of their podcasts since then! But the podcast I wanted to share this month is Wonderful with Griffin and Rachel McElroy. Every single week, they talk about things they are passionate about, big and small. It’s just a lovely mid-week podcast. I could listen to Griffin and Rachel talk about anything because they are an adorable couple.  

Fall Colors

Even though it’s been hot and humid in Minnesota, fall is coming! My favorite part of fall is the changing leaves. Everywhere you go, the trees are starting to turn and it’s just gorgeous. And it should be peak fall colors for Twin Cities Marathon and that will be make the course even more wonderful as I’m running.

Sweet Potato Noodles

I’ve been doing a lot of spiralized potatoes with my eggs but lately I’ve made the switch to sweet potatoes. I love the slightly sweeter taste (especially if I cook it in coconut oil). Iit also makes a great trade for rice when I want a side dish and I get some more vegetables in for the day.

Iced Coffee

Even though it’s basically fall, I’m falling in love with iced coffee. Since I’ve been bringing my breakfast with me to work when I run at 5 a.m., I’ve been taking iced coffee with me as well. Recently, it’s been pumpkin coffee because #PumpkinEverything but it’s a nice change from hot coffee. Plus, our coffee maker has the feature so I might as well use it!

What are some of your September faves?

Pumpkin Spice Everything!

Fall is almost officially here (even though it doesn’t feel like it that much here in Minnesota) and that means everything pumpkin spice is out. Personally, I love pumpkin spice everything (more than the peppermint everything that will follow). And I love modifying the recipes I make year-round to be pumpkin spice flavored. So here’s some of my favorite ways to enjoy the pumpkin spice flavor in oatmeal, yogurt, mug cakes and pancakes (or waffles)!

Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal

  • 1 cup old-fashioned oatmeal

  • 1 cup milk (or water)

  • ½ cup canned pumpkin (not pie filling)

  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar

  • Pumpkin pie spice to taste

Heat milk to boiling, mix in oatmeal and canned pumpkin. Cook for 5 minutes (you may want to cover since the pumpkin tends to splatter). Mix in brown sugar and pumpkin pie spice, enjoy!

Pumpkin Spice Yogurt

  • ½ cup plain Greek yogurt

  • ¼ cup canned pumpkin (not pie filling)

  • Pumpkin pie spice to taste

Mix ingredients together and enjoy!

Pumpkin Spice Mug Cake

  • 1 whole egg

  • 3 tablespoons flour

  • ¼ cup canned pumpkin (not pie filling)

  • ½ tablespoon brown sugar

  • ~¼ cup milk or water

  • Pumpkin pie spice to taste

Mix ingredients together in mug (I find it works best to beat egg first) and microwave for 1.5-2 minutes (may need to cook longer depending on your microwave). The mug cake is done when it’s no longer soupy in the middle. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Spice Protein Pancakes/Waffles

  • ½ cup Kodiak Cakes® Protein Packed Flapjack & Waffle Mix Buttermilk

  • ¼ cup milk or water

  • ¼ cup canned pumpkin (not pie filling)

  • Pumpkin pie spice to taste

  • Optional: maple syrup for topping

Mix together pancake mix, milk, canned pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice. Cook as you like (either in a pan or waffle maker) and top with maple syrup if you’d like. Enjoy!

What's your opinion on pumpkin spice?

Twin Cities Marathon Training Week Sixteen

Monday, September 11

Finally, a well earned rest day to start out tapering! I was pretty exhausted from Bear Water Run 20 miler still so I was glad I was taking the whole day off from exercising. It also helped that I had a massage after work to look forward to.

That massage was well needed, Valerie worked on just my legs and it felt amazing. I don’t know how I’d be feeling during marathon training if I wasn’t getting massages so they are well worth the cost. And I booked my appointment for my post-marathon massage, 10 a.m. that Monday morning!

Once I got home, I just relaxed while Mike watched football with Vinnie. Luckily, Vinnie shares my enthusiasm for football so I don’t have two crazy football fans in the house. Although, Mike more than makes up for it.

Tuesday, September 12

5 miles ~ 54:59 ~ 10:58 min/mile average pace

I don’t know about the rest of the country but Minnesota is back into summer weather. It is suppose to be hot all this week (in the upper 80s) and the mornings are humid again (like 95% relative humidity). I’m hoping we get back to more fall-like temperatures before the marathon because I’m not going to be a happy camper finishing in upper 80s on Oct 1. At least for now, I can run in the mornings before work since Mike is able to take Vinnie out.

So, back to my first run of tapering. My mile splits were kind of up and down but at least even in how they were up and down. Like I talked about in my post about how I’m pacing during my taper, I’m trying not to look at my watch during my easy runs except for my mile splits. Which is tough because I’m realizing how dependent I am at looking at my watch. But I’m trying to not worry about it and just run easy as my mileage continues to go down.

I did get in some foam rolling before my run and a little bit after work as well. My calves are really tight from last week (I would say from the 20 mile run but I know they were tight before that) so I’m just going to be focusing on getting that foam rolling in. Which is another thing I’ve been having trouble with since I’ve been running before work more often.

Wednesday, September 13

6 miles ~ 1:05:51 ~ 10:56 min/mile average pace

Wednesday Run.jpg

I had to look back at my calendar to see when the last time I ran six miles on a Wednesday was. It was June 28, which was a treadmill run. My last outside six mile Wednesday run was the week before that, on June 21. I was a month into marathon training. It’s a good thing I checked to see when the last time I ran that was because I couldn’t think about what route I was running to get to six miles.

Once again, the theme is mile splits going up and down in pace. I’m mostly in the 10:50-11:10 range which is feeling good but it’s in no way even splits. For this run, my splits were: 10:41, 11:01, 10:51, 11:07, 11:08 and 10:55. Still going out at my fastest pace but it felt good still.
I think that first mile was a little bit funky too because something went wrong with my watch. I was at what would have been about ¼ mile in and noticed my watch wasn’t tracking my mileage. I have no idea what was wrong because I just stopped the run, restarted it and it was fine. I had gotten the beep that I had 100% GPS signal before I started the run too and I haven’t had that happen before. Hopefully, it was a one time thing.

Thursday, September 14

5 miles ~ 55:13 ~ 11:00 min/mile average pace

It was a lot easier getting out for this run than last week’s Thursday run. It probably helps that it was warmer outside. There’s something about going outside when it’s dark and cold that makes me just want to stay inside and have a cup of coffee instead of going for a run. It also helped that I knew it was going to be almost 90° when I got done with work.

Still, it wasn’t an easy run. Sure it was a comfortable temperature but it was humid! Pretty sure I was more sweaty after this run than the 20 miles at Bear Water Run which is pretty crazy. But at least I felt more comfortable about not paying attention to my watch for every second of the run and had more even splits (with the exception of one 10:49 that I don’t remember why I decided to speed up).

I decided to take the time to do some foam rolling after my run instead of skipping it like I have been and it was the best decision I made. I didn’t feel as stiff at work as I did on Tuesday and I didn’t have any cramping. I really need to take the time to do even a little bit of foam rolling after every run.

Friday, September 15

I worked from home with Vinnie on Friday as we were waiting for one of the maintenance guys to fix our toilet (he finally came around 3 p.m. but we have a toilet that flushes!) so Vinnie and I got in some good walks. It also meant that I wasn’t sure when I’d be getting in my workout since I didn’t want Vinnie to be kenneled up with the guy came and then he’s going crazy in his kennel.

I finally got in my cross-training for the week (since I took Monday as my rest day) and it felt pretty good. The only thing that bothered me was I had some knee pain while doing squats. That isn’t normal at all for me, although it was the knee that tends to get twisted easily. I ended up skipping my last two set of squats but none of my other lower body leg movements were bothering it and it hadn’t been hurting on my run the day before. Hopefully, this close to the marathon, it was just some random stiffness working itself out of my leg.

Saturday, September 16

4 miles ~ 41:40 ~ 10:21 min/mile average pace

Saturday Run.jpg

One last pace run for this cycle of marathon training! I got a good night of sleep (thanks to Benadryl and not setting an alarm) and got out for my run at about 8 a.m. Mike was going to come along on his bike but decided to stay at home since Vinnie would be kenneled up in the afternoon while we saw Aladdin.

Now it hasn’t been quite that long since I ran a four mile run (my last one was August 1) but I can’t remember the last time that I ran four miles on a Saturday. It was so strange to do one loop around the lake and then head back home. In some ways, I was grateful it was only four miles because it was so humid still! It had been raining a little bit after I got up but nowhere close enough to break the humidity. But looking into the extended forecast is highs in the 60s for the last week of September!

This pace run felt really great, even though I was drenched in sweat. I had to be careful not to go too fast (and still ended up being a little faster than a 10:30 average pace) but no knee problems which was my main worry after yesterday’s workout! So now it’s just a slid into the marathon with no more pace runs on the calendar.

Sunday, September 17

12 miles ~ 2:09:31 ~ 10:46 min/mile average pace

Fourteen days to the Twin Cities Marathon. The last double digit long run until the marathon. This was a big milestone for me because now I really feel like I’m going into tapering. I’ve been running double digit long runs since July 10 and now the longest mileage I have is eight. All my other runs coming up are five miles or below.

It was a gorgeous morning for a run. The sun was out but it was cool (right around 50°) and it’s once again fall in Minnesota. Well, for the next couple of days and then we go up and down again in temperature. But today was just perfect. Mike headed out on his bike separately from me so that Vinnie wouldn’t be in his kennel for too long this morning (and didn’t have that great of a ride since he discovered his tires were partially deflated about 2 miles into it).

I headed south from St. Thomas University, planning to head to a new to me spot that Mike had biked to a couple of weeks ago (when we had some miscommunication). Most the the run was along the river in St. Paul, which is gorgeous. Especially now that the trees and sumac are starting to turn colors along the path. I finally ended up in Crosby Farm Park, which was an amazing place to run. I got to do a couple of miles running in the woods and it might be my new favorite place to run. So many of my runs have been in the downtown (or neighborhood) areas and it was great to be out in the woods without any buildings around.

On the way back from, right after I mile 10, I tripped over something. It might have just been the air because I’m clumsy like that. But all of a sudden, I was down on all fours. I picked myself up quickly and did check. No blood at all, I had maybe a little bit of a scrape on one knee and my wrists felt a little sore. So, even though I’m clumsy, still no injuries during marathon training!

So now onto week seventeen of training! I'll be up in St. Cloud for a wedding Friday and Saturday which will be fun! Lots of short runs this week (haha, the idea of now eight miles being short is laughable) and it's going to really feel like tapering.

How was your training this week?

Why (as a runner) I'm loving massages

I’ve been getting massages regularly since February and I love it! (Well, getting massages from a massage therapist, Mike has been giving me post-run massages for a while) It’s the biggest chunk of money I’m spending as part of my training and the best way I could spend that money. So, why do I love my massages?

  • It’s helped tight spots that I couldn’t loosen on my own. I went in first because my feet were cramping so much and my calves were really tight (which I found out were connected). Now I rarely get random foot cramps when before it was a nightly occurrence because Valerie is able to get into my muscles in a way I can’t on my own.

  • I’ve learned how to prevent tight spots between sessions. Not only does Valerie work on loosening up tight spots, she lets me know how I can help prevent them. This was really helpful with my tight calves because they wouldn’t have gotten better without me doing extra work on them.

  • I’m feeling less sore after my runs, not surprisingly. With adding in massage and (most of the time) foam rolling after every run, my body is recovering faster and better. Even after my 20 mile runs, I have better range of motion that I would have thought the next day.

  • It’s super relaxing! Right now between marathon training, work and life, I don’t get as much time just to relax and not have to think about anything. So that hour for the massage is amazing. I’m not on my phone, I’m not having to think about anything. I can just lie there, listen to the music and talk with Valerie. I come out feeling so much more relaxed and calm feeling.

Do you get regular massages?

Quick Recipe: Overnight Oats

It’s no surprise that I love oatmeal. One of my first posts on here was about why I love oatmeal. But lately, I’ve been mixing up my oatmeal with overnights oats.

I’ve been doing a lot of 5 a.m. runs during the week lately because they work out better with scheduling and the weather (Minnesota weather is screwy, last week was fall-like and now this week has highs in the 80s). By the time I get home from my run, I have just enough time to jump in the shower, get dressed and head off to work.

Because of this, I’ve been eating breakfast at work. At first, I was bringing oatmeal, milk and protein powder to cook up in the microwave. Which worked ok but was pretty messy. And the oatmeal didn’t seem to be cooked all the way through, it wasn’t as soft as I’d like it.

And then I started looking into overnight oats and decided to give it a try. What’s the worst that could happen? Overnight oats were life changing. Well, maybe not that big of a deal but they have made a huge difference for those early morning runs. I can get it all ready to go the night before (along with the rest of food for my day) and all I need to do at work is heat it up. I don’t know how people can eat cold oatmeal.

Here’s how I've been making my overnight oats:

  1. Mix together 1 cup oats, 1.25 cups almond milk and 1 scoop of protein powder.

  2. Leave in fridge overnight.

  3. Heat up at work for 4 minutes.

  4. Top with peanut butter and chopped strawberries.

  5. Enjoy!

Have you tried overnight oats before?