Thursday, March 29, 2012

It's April...Almost

From now until the end of the semester, I'm going to be running around like a lunatic screaming "It's April...leave me alone...Unless you can help me with homework." Not really, but maybe. Aprils and Novembers are the hardest months of graduate school, but I'll talk more about grad school whoas later in the post. First, I want to talk about my run yesterday and my breakfast this morning (before we get into the grad school talk).

Yesterday's run went from bad to good, which made me happy that I stuck with it.

Mile 1 was a reminder of the speed work I did on Monday. And it was a reminder that I need to stretch no matter how much I feel like I'm dying. At the end of mile 1, I thought about turning around and heading back to the car. It was hot, and my calves felt like pieces of lead. And then I could hear my mom in my head saying "If you're going to run a half-marathon you have to keep your base run. And you can't quit after one mile."  So I pushed on.

Mile 2 was better, and mile 3 was ever better than the second one. The heat was still ridiculous. But I somehow made it to my car.
Here are my stats:
Distance: 3 miles
Time: 34:14
Best Pace: 9:34
Average Pace: 11:25 (pretty proud of that)
Calories: 356

Pretty sure I ate all of those calories back plus some when I got home. The main culprit was this piece of beauty and deliciousness.

My mom's homemade pecan pie. Gooey gooey goodness. I swoon.

This morning I got up and made myself a pretty little breakfast. (Sidenote: I've got to get better about eating after I wake up....I can't keep waiting for hours to have breakfast. It's going to be a very difficult, yet necessary, lifestyle change.)

Fried egg sandwich with extra thin sliced cheddar cheese on a whole wheat bagel thin, two cuties and coffee...always must have the coffee.

Speaking of the coffee, I'm about to pour cup number 3, and this is due to my unsettledness stemming from this week's grad school assignment. Now I won't bore you with all the details, but I just wish the direction of the assignment was clear.

I could do one of these two things:
  1. Answer all the questions in an essay format like the handout says...and be faced with redoing the assignment after a different time on a larger scale (i.e. full literature review...yes it will be as awful as it sounds).
  2. Disregard said handout and write the actual literature review and research questions for my upcoming final paper (yes, it also sounds equally awful).
I've been mulling this decision around in my brain all morning. And the main reason I'm stressing hardcore is because it's due tomorrow at midnight. While it can be done in the time period and I feel confident in my skills to write under pressure, I just don't want to set off on the wrong path, which will lead me to a redo or a bad grade.

Grad school peeps, weigh in on this dilemma. I've e-mailed the teacher and my classmates, and I have class tonight. Lord, I feel my professor because I'm about to blow him up with questions.

So until I decide what to do about my grad school dilemma, I am debating on making these cookies. Here is the recipe.

(And by that I mean I'll probably bake while mulling over said problem. Baked goods fixes everything.)

What do you know? Anything interesting going on?

What is your go-to stress reliever?
Mine are baking, cooking and eating.....go figure. :)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Spring Has Sprung

Flowers make me very happy.

There are not many things that could be as pretty as flowers blooming in the spring. But enough about that.

  • School is completely and totally kicking my booty. It's just one thing after another after another. It's all very whoa-to-me right now. Pray for my sanity.
  • I ate Taziki's last night for dinner. I have a huge love for Greek food. And the hummus at Taziki's is top-notch. I've been trying to get my mom in there for a long time (hint, hint Mom). Everything is so fresh and tasty. Go. There. Today.
  • The co-workers and I have been picnicking outside for lunch, and it has been a real mid-day treat. See above bullet and eat outside today. 
  • I'm running a nice three miles today. Yoga tomorrow maybe...if class doesn't interfere. Or maybe another run tomorrow.
  • I packed a ridiculous lunch today. Included in today's feast: leftover hummus, pita chips and roasted potatoes from Taziki's, a salad with carrot, zucchini, cucumber, chia seeds and roasted red pepper dressing, a bag of fresh raspberries and blueberries, a small wedge of Laughing Cow light Swiss cheese and sesame seed crackers.
  • I'm cooking dinner for the boyfriend for the first time this weekend. Ideas on what I should make?
  • I've got to drink more water. Gotta stay one step ahead of this crazy March heat. Or I should say crazy summer heat.
I'm off work tomorrow so I will try to post something about any festivities that may happen today. 

Tell me something good.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Need for Speed

Morning Everyone! I hope you had a fantastic weekend.

Well I started my week off right. And I can't wait to tell you all about it. But before I do that I need to tell you about my long run last Thursday.

I didn't want to do it, but I did it. The first two and a half miles were awful because I just didn't want to be out there. Once the endorphins kicked in, I was golden, and then I got a side stitch under my right rib cage the last half mile. It. Was. So. Painful. Someone please tell me what's in there causing me so much pain.

Here my stats from last week's long run:
Time: 59:55
Distance: 5.0 miles
Best Pace: 9:53
Average Pace: 11:59
Calories: 584

Yesterday, I set out to do my first outdoor speed work. I've done speed work on a treadmill, but never outside. Lord, was tough.
I laced up my new shoes, and took off for the park. Got to the park...and left my running watch at home. Had to go back. I can't run without that thing.

Here's what I did: I did a nice, easy jog for the first half mile. Then, for every fourth of a mile (that would be one lap around a track), I increased my pace 1-1.5 minutes faster than my normal pace. Then, I would slow down to my normal pace for a fourth of a mile. And I alternated this fast and slow jog for 2 miles. Then I jogged another half mile to cool down. So if my math is correct, that is 3 miles.

Now, let me say this. Speed work outside is not a joke. It's the hardest thing I've ever made myself do. I would think I had sped up, but in reality I was keeping the same pace. It's amazing how your mind can play such tricks.
I set out to do 3 miles, but in the end the heat and speed wore me out.

Here are my stats:
Time: 27:41
Distance: 2.5 miles
Best Pace: 9:12
Average Pace: 11:05
Calories: 294

I'm pretty sure my body burned more calories after I was finished because I was starving. Starving.
I went over to Logan's house, and we made a pretty ridiculous dinner. Grilled pork chops, grilled veggie kabobs with summer squash, zucchini, baby portobello mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, orange bell peppers, grilled pineapple, garlic bread and pecan pie.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Something to Tide You Over

  • The Boyfriend fell asleep while we were talking on the phone last night. One minute we were talking, the next he was out. Clearly we were having a scintillating conversation. It's actually pretty funny when I think about
  • My guest post for Arkansas Women Bloggers' Foodie Friday comes out Friday. So exciting. I can't wait for everyone to have access to the Blueberry Banana Oatmeal Bake.
  • I'm running 5 miles with my mom tomorrow. Pretty excited about getting to spend the day with her. There has been talk of a sushi lunch date, which sounds like the best idea ever. 
  • This is just a reminder of what the roommate does sometimes. Let's all never forget this.  
  • Still reading the Arkansas Politics and Government book....Still pretty close to the beginning. Yikes.
  • Mad Men is the greatest show ever invented. I love the 60s. Yes, I'm a nerd. 
  • I read yesterday that the Little Rock National Airport was renamed the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport. I mean dang, I know Arkansas is proud and all, but did we really need to rename the airport? I'm sure I will never not call it the Little Rock National Airport. 
  • I've. Got. To. Register. To. Vote.
  • I'm going to a hot yoga class tonight. I'm pretty much thrilled about it. It's amazing how many poses you can do that you never thought you'd be able to do. It's the only time I ever feel a tad bit flexible.
  • I'm going to make these stuffed mushrooms for dinner tonight. You should, too. 
What are you plans this weekend? (Yes, I know it's only Wednesday...but it's my Friday.)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Climbing Hills

Happy Tuesday Everyone! I hope you're having a fantastic morning. It looks like rain here in the Capital City, but I'm ok with that. I kind of love rainy days. And I'm in the mood for one today. 

So I have two totally different things to talk about today. So let's start with the more exciting of the two. 

I will be guest blogging for Arkansas Women Bloggers' Foodie Friday post this week. So if you are interested in a recipe for Blueberry Banana Oatmeal Bake, I suggest you head over there for my guest post on Friday.

This will be the first time I've written a guest post, and I'm pretty excited to share my recipe and blog with other Arkansans, as well as everybody else. Don't worry. I'll be sure to remind you on Friday to check out my recipe. It would be a perfect Saturday breakfast. 

Now on to the next....

I did hill work yesterday for the first time in a long time. I made a date with the Big Dam Bridge, and I can say that it is still very much a sweaty, hilly mess of a run. 
Here are my stats:
Distance: 1.67 miles
Time: 19:18
Best Pace: 9:44
Average Pace: 11:31
Calories: 193

Now here's the deal: I took a lighter run yesterday to give my body time to rest after the 4.5 miles I did on Saturday. Since I hadn't done a hill workout in a while, I thought I would just do the bridge one time to see how I'd feel. 

It felt wonderful outside yesterday. Windy, overcast. Perfect 79 degrees. But I can definitely tell I've been slacking on the hill work. Some of my muscles are pretty tender, but that's ok. I'm hoping to work some of that out at yoga tonight. 

On the running agenda this week:
Speedwork --- maybe tomorrow night. I need to be doing more and more of that to prepare for St. Jude. Eekk!

5 miles --- My mom informed me that she may come to the Big City to do a nice 5 mile jaunt with me on Thursday....if not I'll probably run 5 miles on Friday morning before the sun tries to kill everyone with its crazy rays. 

What's new with you?

Monday, March 19, 2012

A Big Deal

As I'm sure you can see, some things look different here on the ole blog. I told you as part of my New Year's resolutions that I would be redesigning the blog. And this is where it's going. Sleek and simple. I'm not sure if I'm sold on the new header...but it will do for now. Enough of the housekeeping, on the guts of this post.

I've got some big news. I ran my first 5K without stopping on Saturday morning. Ran the entire 3.1 miles in 32 minutes and 46 seconds. And let me just say that that time is under the 33-minute mark I set I don't know how long ago.

HOORAY!!!!! I'm so excited about it. And so was my momma.
We all had a good race. I placed 5th in my age division, just one spot away from getting a medal. Next time, I'll be there.
Kerri, me, Mom and Lisa
Kerri got 2nd in her age division, Mom got 4th and Lisa got 1st. It was a good day, minus the heat.

After the race was over, I had to get some water. It was so hot. But once we cooled down a bit, Mom, Lisa and I took off for another mile and a half.
All in all, I'd say it was a pretty good run on pretty good day.

Here are my stats:
Distance: 4.5 miles
Time: 50:01
Best Pace: 8:43
Average Pace: 11:07
Calories: 539

I also need to mention that I got some new running swag at the Nike Store the other day.
Two pairs of shorts and one of my most favorite tank tops. Hooray for pay day. Someone needs to inform Nike and Brooks that I am officially unofficially a running model of all their products. I mean seriously...I already wear it all the time...Let me be a spokesperson. I love Nike. I love Brooks running shoes.

10K training is going ok. This week I have a 5-miler to put in the books. I'm thinking I will do that on Wednesday. Today I'm going to do some hill work...not my favorite thing. But I'm ready to get out there. We've had some beautiful weather here lately, and I'm loving being outside all the time.

How was your weekend?

Did you run? 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Middle of March

Dudes, can you even believe it's the middle of March? What the crap have we been doing?

Let me fill you in on a few things.

  • Breakfast this morning looked like this:
Whole wheat meets fruit and peanut bar. Absolutely delicious. The first time I had a Larabar I didn't know what to expect. It looked nothing like I thought it would, but it was so good. Naturally good. Not full of artificial sweeteners and crap that's bad for you. Just fruit and nuts. Peanut Butter Cookie is my favorite, but Key Lime Pie comes in a close second. 

  • Still sickly. Coughing less, but not better yet. My head hurt so bad last night that I could feel my pulse on the left side of the bridge of my nose. It. Was. Awful. The worst headache I've had in a long time. 
  • I'm running a 5K on Saturday morning. And I'm pretty excited about it. 
  • My friend Logan (you remember Logan from the summer running stuff, right?) ran 4 miles yesterday without stopping. 4 miles in 43 minutes at a 10:50-ish pace. What a bad ass she is. 
  • I've had my nose stuck in a Arkansas Politics and Government book since Tuesday. Clearly I'm the most interesting person to talk to right now. 
  • I haven't watched TV at night for the past three days...See the above point as to why that is.
  • My outfit today is reminiscent of the early 1960s. Makes me feel like I could be part of the cast of Mad Men. 
Now it's your turn to tell me something. Give me your best shot. Ready. Go. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Disadvantages of Being a Girl

Y'all. I'm really stressed out. And there is not much I can do to elevate said stress. I just have to deal.

In a desperate attempt to work out some of my stress and frustrations, I took to the yoga studio for deep breathing and balancing activities.
 While I did leave yoga feeling more in tune with myself, I didn't work out any of my stressors. Just my luck, I guess.

Since this blog is a representation of myself, sort of a snapshot in time of where I am, I'm going to vent a little bit. And NOT ramble. I just feel like some things need to be said sometimes that we women would usually not say. So here it goes....

It sucks being a girl sometimes. And I usually am proud of my girly ways. But we ladies have a tendency to try to do everything for everyone. And we like to please everyone...therefore making it difficult to please ourselves.

I like everyone to be happy. I like harmony. I like peace. But sometimes all those things I like have hiccups and make me feel insane.

Case in point: I go to school. I do homework. I write. I cook. I clean. I wash clothes. I work. I run. I go to yoga. I'm a friend. I'm a roommate. I'm a girlfriend. I'm a daughter.

I am or do all of those things on a daily basis. And I've been feeling like I'm having a hard time balancing.

It's like I'm walking the tightrope every single day. Just a slip and I will come crashing down.

Now I realize I said I am or do all those things, but being a girl (or I should say being me) I want to do all of those things and be excellent at them. It's my innate ability to want to please people. I can't help it. I'm blue.

The point of this whole post is that I'm only one person. And I write this not to convince you of that fact, but to convince myself. I'm slapping myself in the face, if you will.

I can do it all to some extent, but then something has to give. And I'm not going to give up any of those things I am or do. I guess I just needed to share with you how hard I am on myself.

My name is Ashten....And I'm a perfectionist, people-pleaser and try-to-do-everything-all-the-time-person by nature. It's nice to meet you.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Ups and Downs of Running

My relationship with running serves dual purposes: To relieve stress and to keep me in shape. Or at least I thought so, but then I went to New Orleans and watched a big race. I came back fired up and ready to run my heart out.

But as we all know, I've been a little under the weather. I went back to the doctor last Thursday for a second opinion. I just couldn't believe I had allergies, and I was much sicker than I was before I went to the doctor and started taking medicine.

My new doctor provided a much more insightful diagnosis: a viral infection that brought on bronchitis. And all the medicine I was taking for my "allergies" had suppressed my immune system from healing itself. Awesome.

But because I was coming off the New Orleans race high, I wanted to run. So I set out Friday afternoon for a 4-miler. But unbeknownst to me, it would not happen. My ole bronchitis infected lungs were not having it.
 My stats for Friday's awful run:
Distance: 3 miles
Time: 43:18
Best Pace: 9:26
Average Pace: 14:27
Calories: 305

This was the first run EVER since I started this whole thing last April that I couldn't finish a run I set out to finish. It was absolutely awful. The air was colder than it has been, and it felt like I had shards of glass cutting my lungs every time I took a breath. Not ideal when you try to run 4 miles.

I left the park feeling very defeated and upset. I didn't cry, but I was frustrated. All I could think about was how I have three weeks left to prepare myself for another 10K. And that being sick was not helping me with anything. Pity party central, I tell you.

So what did I do: I took the entire weekend off. I went to yoga Saturday morning. But I didn't run. Not until yesterday afternoon.

Logan wanted to go for a short jog. A nice little two miler. So I told her that would be a good idea so I could test out my lungs since I'd been on medicine for four days. So I ran two miles with her and the roommate. And then I took a short water break because it was super duper hot outside.

Then I set out for two more miles since I didn't feel like dying.
My stats for Monday's run:
Time: 49:12
Distance: 4 miles
Best Pace: 9:35
Average Pace: 12:18
Calories: 432

Notice that Friday's run was much the same as Monday's run with the exception of a whole mile added into the mix. I wanted to call everyone I know and tell them I still got it. As in I can still run distances over 3 miles. It was the best feeling, not the best run I've ever had, but it was the best feeling to just complete 4 miles.

Capital City Classic, here I come. 6.2 miles I'm coming for you yet again.

Since you good people let me rant about running, I have something to give you in return: A new recipe I invented.

Veggie Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms
What you will need:
1 carrot
1/2 onion
1/2 red bell pepper
A handful of spinach
4 portobello mushrooms
Parmesan cheese, as a topping
Olive oil
Salt, pepper and garlic powder

Heat up some olive oil in a pan. Chop up the onion, bell pepper, carrot and mushroom stems into like-sized pieces. Throw into the hot pan. Saute until soft about 10 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder.

While the veggie stuffing cooks, wipe off the mushroom caps with a damp paper towel. (Never wash a mushroom. They soak up too much water and don't taste as good.) Use a spoon to scrape out the gills. Place gill side up on a baking pan lined with aluminum foil. Top with a little salt, pepper and olive oil.

Once the veggies are soft, top the mushrooms with the veggie mixture. Sprinkle the tops with as much Parmesan cheese as you like. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 20 - 25 minutes, depending on the size of the mushrooms.

The mushrooms get soft. The veggies become a bit roasted. And the cheese is just a nice toasty addition to a splendid variety of tastes. I had two mushrooms and wanted two more. They were super tasty. But don't limit yourself to the ingredients I listed. You can use whatever you have in the refrigerator. That's the beauty of it.

Now go forth, run and make this recipe.

How was your weekend?

What cool things did you see, eat, smell, etc.?  

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The End of New Orleans

Since yesterday's post was so heinously long, I'm going to try to keep my rambling in check this morning.

So let's talk about Mother's Restaurant.
Let's talk about the grilled Cajun shrimp plate with red beans and rice, turnip greens and a big slice of pecan pie. Hold that thought....I'm having a moment remembering how wonderful that meal was. 

Mother's is a down-home cooking place, where the food is hot and the help is sassy. They are known for the baked ham, which made an appearance in my turnip greens. Oye. I swoon over turnip greens. 

New Orleans folks know how to cook. They know how to use spices. They know just the right amount of everything to use to make the food taste just right. Go. Eat. There. Now. 

After lunch, we made our way down to the French Market District.
This is home of Cafe Du Monde and the French Market farmers' market, as well as other little shops and eateries. 

I could easily see myself living in the French Market District. It has a cool vibe. Big city, but down-to-earth. I love how everything you could ever need is within walking distance. If you ever go to New Orleans, definitely try to find a hotel in the French Market District, or at least venture out that way. 

But now that the trip is over, it's back to reality for this ole girl. I'm still a little sickly, even after going to the doctor last Thursday. But I'm settling into my usual routine yet again. 

While at work on Tuesday, I talked one of my co-workers into running a 5K with me in May. So yesterday we took off on a little jog. And she did a great job. 
Distance: 3.00 miles
Time: 41:17
Best Pace: 9:37
Average Pace: 13:46
Calories: 292

It was a combination of walking and running. And I think she kind of felt like a bad ass once the run was over. 

In other news, I'm hitting 10K training pretty hard this weekend. I have to get in a 4 mile run. HAVE TO. I'm hoping everything will just work out like it did with the Duck Race. I'd love to have another run like that, but I don't know how it will be since I've been sick for a month. We shall see. 

What's new with you?

Got big plans this weekend?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

New Orleans: Race Expo and Race Day

The race expo was one of the coolest thing I've even been to because I've never seen so much running gear in one place. Brooks sponsored the race, and they had a lot of cool gear there for everyone to purchase. I scored some pretty awesome finds at the expo. See...
Official New Orleans Rock n Roll Marathon swag.

The back of the shirt

Brooks Adrenaline 12 running shoes

For my car

I love this tech shirt.
I could have went crazy in that place buying awesome running clothes. I'm most excited about the shoes. I know you remember I got shoes for my birthday, but they are not going to work out. Every time I've ran in them I've had some kind of sharp pain my ankles and knees. Not what should happen when you get new shoes.

So I went back to what I know, Brooks Adrenaline. You remember when I got my first pair, right?

Now on to the race. My mom and Lisa got their stuff ready the night before. Time chips tagged to their shoes.

We got up at 4:30 A.M. so they could get ready and eat breakfast. I didn't go down to the starting line with them, but my mom took her phone to take some pictures for me.
Kerri, Mom, Gayla and Lisa at the starting line

The line leading up to the starting line
I made it to the finish line at 8:30 A.M., and there were people already finishing the half. People ran a half marathon in under an hour and a half.

It's so inspiring to see so many people running. So many people run for different reasons. I felt like I could conquer the world...or at least run a half marathon.

When my mom and Lisa ran by me at mile 13, I got all teary-eyed watching my mom finish a half marathon. She is such a role model, and I love her so much. I was so proud of her finishing her second half marathon and cutting five minutes off her original time. She finished in 2 hours and 23 minutes.

The group was super happy to have finished the race. And their medals were so pretty. Very New Orleans.

Coming off the race high, I officially signed up for the Capital City Classic 10K in April.
And I'm going to tell you a secret. I'm going to sign up for St. Jude's half marathon in December. My mom and I are going to run it together, and I'm so excited about it.

All the entry fees go to St. Jude's Hospital, and  parents and patients line the race course near the hospital to thank the race participants for running the race and giving to the hospital. For more information about the St. Jude's marathon and half marathon, check this out.

What do you think about running a big race? Would you ever do it?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

New Orleans: Take One

Good Morning Friends! I'm back from the Big Easy. And let me tell you. It was a good time. The city was beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.
The view from our hotel room was incredible. Staying on the top floor has its perks.

After checking in, we took off exploring. The city was alive and hoppin' as we walked through the downtown area.

We ate dinner at Draco's, a nice little seafood restaurant found at the bottom of the Hilton.
 The shrimp and grits were to die for. I don't think they could have tasted any better. The best flavors ever combined. I will have to try to recreate it, but I don't think it's possible. New Orleans has some of the best food I've ever had.
The group and I made our way out to get a drink on Bourbon Street. New Orleans has an open container law that allows people to carry adult beverages around the entire city. It was really cool, but I felt a little strange carrying my beer around out on the street.

I don't think anyone can ever be properly prepared for Bourbon Street. The smell alone is enough to make you not want to go back. But I had to have the experience.

We got home kind of late that night, and I was really tired from having been in the car for 8 hours. I don't know what it is about riding in a car that can make one so tired. It doesn't make sense.

Day One in New Orleans was a complete success. The food was outrageously good, and the entertainment was definitely exciting.
I have so much more to tell you. I have to break it into two (maybe three) posts, in order to do it justice. (P.S. that big green chair was $3,000 and there was one on every floor. And I tried to figure out a way to get it inside my car when we left...needless to say, it didn't work.)

Get ready for the New Orleans Rock n' Roll Marathon Expo and race recap tomorrow, as well as what we did on Saturday before the race expo. It's gonna be good so stick around.

How was your weekend?

What genre of food are you loving right now?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Off for an Adventure

Good Morning Friends! Happy Thursday!

I started my day off on the right foot by having a healthy breakfast.
Peach Chobani Greek yogurt and a large serving of grapes. Mmmmmmm. I love.

Well my bags are packed, and I'm ready to head to the homeland. But before I can be on my merry way to New Orleans, I have to visit the doctor to get rid of this horrid cough.

When I called to make the appointment, the lady asked why I was coming in to see the doctor. I said, "I have a cough." She said, "That's it..." I said, "Well I've had the cough for three weeks." She said, "Ok...any other symptoms, ma'am?" I said, "No, not really."

That whole conversation is exactly what I knew would happen. I've been telling everyone who told me to go to the doctor that they are not going to be impressed with a cough and the fact that nothing else is wrong with me. And now my original thoughts were confirmed. But that's neither here nor there.

I promise next week's posts will be a lot more interesting since I'm going somewhere I've never been before, and I want to document the experience with blog posts and photos.

New Orleans, I hope you're ready cause I'm headed your way in 23 hours. That reminds me. I better make sure my Dave Matthews Band CDs are in the car so I can sing all the way down to the bayou.