Friday, May 18, 2012

30 by 30 Update

Tomorrow is the Brooklyn Half Marathon - half number #25.  Should be nice weather and the course ends in Coney Island (so I imagine a Nathan's hot dog for breakfast afterwards).  In the spirit of race #25, wanted to give you an update on the remaining races.  

Looks like both the Wine and Dine and Philadelphia Half are not tentative anymore.  My friend Pam is definitely in for Wine and Dine and my friend Kasey is going to run Philly.  I haven't registered yet, so until I do I am keeping them as tentative.  I plan on registering both by the end of May (before the prices increase).

As for #26, I am currently leaning towards the WildHalf in Wildwood, NJ on August 26th.  If that doesn't work out, I'll need to find another.  Given that I am training for a marathon all summer, it's made it a little harder then I anticipated for find races.  So hopefully this one works out!

25 -Brooklyn Half Marathon (5.19.12)
26 - The WildHalf (8.26.12) - TENTATIVE
27 -Virginia Beach Half Marathon (9.2.12)
28 - Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon (11.10.12) - TENTATIVE
29 - Philadelphia Half Marathon (11.18.12) - TENTATIVE
30 - Disney World Half Marathon (1.12.13)

Full race report on Brooklyn coming next week.

PS - Like my new icon for 30 by 30?  I know it's not a lot, but I am very proud of it :)

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Sometimes simple is better

While I was in New Jersey for the half marathon, I stopped by Carter & Cavero which specializes in fancy olive oil and balsamic vinegars (all imported from Italy).  After sampling (almost) all of them, I finally settled on a Meyer Lemon Olive Oil and Strawberry Balsamic Vinegar.  Coming back from the race on Sunday, feeling inspired by my athletic morning, beautiful weather and new olive oil/balsamic vinegar, I decided to make an easy, yet healthy and seasonal dinner: grilled veggies tossed with meyer lemon olive oil and caprese salad with strawberry balsamic.

I selected my veggies based on what looked good at the grocery store that day.  I ended up with green and yellow zucchini, green and red bell peppers and a sweet onion.  I also picked up an heirloom tomato and some locally made mozzarella for the caprese salad.

After rinsing and cutting all the vegetables, I drizzled them with the meyer lemon olive oil and grinded some course salt on top.  Now, living in an apt in NYC, I don't have access to a grill (which kills me), so everything was done via grill pan.  I made sure to rotate the veggies constantly since the outside of the pan doesn't get as hot as the center.

While the veggies were grilling away, I sliced my tomato and mozzarella and compiled my caprese salad.  I waited to drizzle with the vinegar until the vegetables were done so the salad was soaked in balsamic.

Such a simple meal that was delicious and healthy.  The flavored oil and vinegar really gave everything a different flavor and made the meal.  Can't wait to cook more with my new olive oil and vinegar.

PS - In case you are wondering...  Yes, it made a lot and no, I did not eat it all in one sitting (I had the leftovers for dinner the next day).

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Strawberry Balsamic Chicken

A couple of weeks ago, strawberries were on sale at my grocery store.  And they looked delicious.  So of course I bought some.  Probably some too many.  And while I love eating strawberries sliced and plain, I thought it would be fun to do something different.

My idea was Strawberry Balsamic Chicken.  Steam cooked chicken breast with a balsamic strawberry glaze to be served with some almond rice. first try was a disaster!

I had no idea how much balsamic vinegar I would need to make a glaze and made way to much.  In addition, I wasn't sure how/when to add the sliced strawberries in and did it way to early and they absorbed all the balsamic and looked like little pieces of black death.

The over abundance of sauce drowned my poor little piece of chicken and was way to vinegar-y for me and the strawberries completely tasted like the balsamic. No strawberry flavor at all.  I ended up scraping a lot of it off to eat it.

Not to be deterred, I tried again a couple of nights later.  This time, I used significantly less balsamic vinegar for the glaze and cut it with a splash of lemon juice.  I threw the sliced strawberries on top right as I was serving.  This time it worked!  I thought the lemon juice cut some of the acidic taste of the vinegar down and since the strawberries weren't cooked in the vinegar, they tasted like strawberries!

This just goes to show you, if at first you don't succeed - try again!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Two for Tuesday

Hope everyone had a nice weekend and Mother's Day!

This week's Two for Tuesday is a quick one (and a late one!).

Up first -

Out the door Top Coat.  A friend just recently introduced me to this top coat.  It is awesome!  Not only does it actually dry in less then 5 minutes, it actually works.  It honestly does not chip.  Last time I used it, my polish stayed chip free for 5 days.  Gotta love that.

Second -

Picmonkey for photo editing.  I recently discovered this from another blog I follow (and now of course, I can remember, will update when I do!).  It's a great and easy way to make adjustments to photo's, add text, symbols or borders.  I've been using it the last week or so for my photo's and just love it!

Happy Tuesday!  See you all tomorrow.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Chickpea "Kitchen Sink" Salad

A couple of weeks ago, for lunch, I grabbed a chickpea salad from the cafeteria in my building.  It was delicious and inspired me to re-create it.  It was full of veggies and had a delicious vinegar-y dressing on it.  The dressing reminded me of a dressing from a pasta salad I had made before from my Betty Crocker cookbook.

Utilizing the dressing recipe and my imagination, I came up with what I am calling my chickpea "kitchen sink" salad!  I have since made this recipe a couple more times and every time I use different veggies. The dressing goes with all of them!  So feel free to use whatever vegetables you have on hand or are in season.

Chickpea "Kitchen Sink" Salad
Dressing adapted from Betty Crocker's Cooking Basics cookbook

Garlic Vinaigrette Dressing (see below)
2 cans of 16 oz chickpea (low sodium), drained and rinsed
1 tomato, diced
1 cucumber or green zucchini, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, chunked
1 red bell pepper, chunked

Garlic Vinaigrette Dressing
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup white vinegar
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil

1.  Combine all vinaigrette ingredients together and mix well
2.  Combine chickpeas and all vegetables together in a large bowl
3.  Toss chickpea/vegetables with garlic vinaigrette
4.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (the longer the better!)


PS - I'm off to visit friends and family later today, so not sure if I'll be able to post until Monday.  Enjoy your weekends if I don't post.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

New Jersey Race Recap

This past Sunday was the New Jersey Half Marathon (ok, so technically the race name is Long Branch Half Marathon, but I always call it the NJ Half).  I have done this race once before (4 years ago) and have also done the full before - a whopping 5 years ago!  Crazy.

The weekend did not start out with the best of results.  My friend Pam (and traveling partner) got a stomach virus on Friday.  She was recovering on Saturday but was still unable to eat, so she had to bail on the race.  It has not been her race season.  We still made it town to NJ and got settled into the hotel.  Once we got into the hotel, it was time to head to the race expo.

The race expo was held at the Monmouth Park (yes, the race track), which had the worst accessibility for the thousands of people heading to the expo.  There was little 2 roads into the park.  What should have taken us 5 minutes (according to the GPS) took us almost 45.  Gave us an idea of what race morning would be like.

Once we arrived at the expo, we got our numbers and goodie bags - and of course our race t-shirts.  The race shirt is a nice technical one, with a running graphic on the front and race course on the back.  I like the shirt this year - they have definitely gotten better then the first time I did it (that year it was a l/s technical shirt that even the small is too big for me and I am pretty sure it's not actually technical).  Photo of this years shirt is below:

The rest of the day was spent relaxing and eating pasta with an early bedtime for race morning.

Race Day

The Half started at 6:50am on Sunday morning.  Given the drama getting to the expo, we left earlier then we probably needed too.  There was still a significant amount of traffic, making it a good call.  Pam dropped me off at the start and headed to park at the finish and made her way to the course for cheering.  While waiting for the start, I checked bag (more on that later) and used the bathroom one last time before heading into my corral.

While I don't understand how the corrals and numbers were given out (I had a friend with a higher number, yet in a faster corral), they were very well organized and we were sent off in a wave start which prevented the course from being too crowded.  

The course is different than the past years I've done it (which was a 13.1 mile loop or 2 loops for the marathon).  It was nice to be on a course I didn't know, but overall the course was pretty boring (I'd felt the same about the previous course).  It was running mostly through neighborhoods and town roads and the crowds were pretty limited.  We didn't even get to the beach until after mile 11.

The water stations were pretty well organized which was nice because inland (without the breeze from the ocean) it was pretty warm.  Once we got to the ocean, it was significantly cooler which was nice to finish with.  

My favorite part of this race has to be the run up to the finish line.  The last mile or so is right along the beach so you can see the ocean and hear the waves.  It makes for a beautiful picture and some great imagery as you push through to the end.

The medals are very nice - much nicer then the last time I did this race.  The inside even spins, which I just find fun.  

I was pleased with my time - 2:00:25, a 9:11 pace.  While I have been running up to this race, I have not been doing any speed work and was basically using this as a long run (t-minus 19 weeks and 3 days until Montreal) so I was very happy with a 9:11 pace.

My only real compliant with the race was baggage.  The baggage process was a disaster!  Usually at big races the baggage is organized either by race number or last name.  This one had neither of those.  You just picked a truck (which were color coded) and they gave you a sticker (for you number) and put the same sticker on your bag.  Then (in theory) at the end you found your truck and collected your baggage.  However, upon finishing the race, I went to where the trucks were located and found that all the trucks BUT mine were there.  Of course, no one knew where it was.  I finally managed to find the information tent where I asked where the truck was.  And they had no idea, but said they would look into it.  After some digging, she informed me the truck was stuck in traffic.  This I do not understand.  The rest of the trucks got there, how did this one get lost?  After close to 30 minutes, the truck finally arrived.  And then chaos ensued.  There was no organization in the bags (or if there was it had been messed up) and only 1 person trying to find/hand out hundreds of backs to cold, annoyed runners.  Eventually, everyone just started climbing into the truck to find their bags.  Took forever and was super annoying.  

Well, that's my race recap.  Outside of the baggage disaster, I thought it was good race and I was please with my finishing time.

Up next - #25!  Brooklyn Half Marathon on 5.19.12.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Two for Tuesday

Happy Tuesday everyone!  This is a short week for me at work as I'm going to visit some friends and family for a long weekend, so today is really my Thursday, which is throwing me all off!  Anyway, here are some things for your Tuesday -

Up first...
haute as hello
Essie Haute as Hello nail polish.  I just purchased this awesome pink shade for summer.  It is such a fun color!  One of the things I love about it, is that it is different shades in different colors.  In normal (i.e. not bright lighting), it is a beautiful pink sorbet color.  In bright/fluorescent light, it has a neon tint to it.  Not sure if it is meant to be color changing, but it is.

And then...

The "Make It Count" video.  I know I've already blogged about my love of this video (see here) but I can. not. stop. watching. it. so I think it deserves a second mention.  If you haven't seen it yet - watch it now!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Make It Count

Have you seen this video?

I think it's been floating around for a while, but I only recently learned of it.  It is freaking awesome.  This is basically what I want to do for the rest of my life.  How can I get someone to sponsor me to travel around the world?  Any takers out there?

There are a whole bunch of quotes throughout the video and they are all so inspirational.  I've compiled them below:

  • Life is either daring adventure or nothing at all - Helen Keller
  • Buy the ticket.  Take the ride. - Hunter S. Thompson
  • You only live once but if you do it right once is enough - Mae West
  • Above all, try something - Franklin D. Roosevelt
  • I never worry about the future, it comes soon enough - Albert Einstein
  • One who makes no mistakes makes nothing at all - Giacomo Casanova
  • Do one thing everyday that scares you - Eleanor Roosevelt
  • In the end it's not the years in your life but the life in your years - Abraham Lincoln
  • If I'd have followed all the rules I'd never have gotten anywhere - Marilyn Monroe
  • Action expresses priorities - Gandhi

I am having trouble deciding which quote I like best (maybe I'll just rotate through them based on the day), but I have decided the theme of the video is my new motto.  Make it count.  What a great way to live each day.

Which is your favorite quote?

Friday, May 4, 2012

Another reason why Syracuse is awesome

I recently came across this video (it was being shared like crazy on Facebook) and it just reminded me how much I love my alma mater.  I love that they changed the words to be about SU, that the girls are wearing the football uniforms and that Otto is featured prominently.  I love anything with Otto!

Watching this video makes me totally nostalgic for campus (although not the Syracuse winters).  Hard to believe I graduated 7 years ago this month.  It feels like just yesterday and a lifetime ago all at the same time.  I'm not sure how that is possible but it's true.

Spring in Syracuse was always one of my favorite times of year.  The feeling of the long cold winter finally being lifted, the crispness of spring in the air and most importantly, fishbowls at happy hour on Fridays.  You could get fishbowls at any happy hour year round, but for me, I only liked to drink them in the Spring.  We'd all gather our fishbowls at a table and play a drinking card game.  At like 4 o'clock in the afternoon.  Ahh, college.

One of the other things I remember about spring in Syracuse is how your body adjusts to the cold winters there.  It would hit like 45-50 degrees and everyone would be in flip flops and tank tops.  No jackets required.  It was 56 in NYC when I left my apartment this morning and I actually thought it was chilly (I was already wearing a jacket).  Or maybe I'm just getting old.  Let's go with the body adjusts to the weather theory since I don't like the getting old part!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

In a Sunburned Country

In a Sunburned Country

After my Booky Wook, which was more depressing then funny, I was in the mood for something a little more lighthearted.  I'd heard only good things about Bill Bryson books and decided to make In a Sunburned Country my first from him.  It's a travel memoir about Australia.  I've always loved Australia and it is on my bucket list of places to visit, so I was excited to read this book.

Right off the bat, I knew I had made the right choice with this book.  Within the first 20 or so pages, I had actually laughed out loud.  On the subway.  In public.  Bryson manages to weave his personal adventures (or misadventures in some cases) with some historical background on Australia without getting too dry or dull (or sounding like a history book).  I found his writing style enjoyable and highly relate-able.  He travels throughout the entire country - it's major cities,  it's landmarks and throughout the Outback/empty interior.  While I kinda wish he hadn't focused so much on the animals/species native to Australia that could kill me, that was my only problem with the book (and only because sometimes ignorance is bliss).

This book has definitely only increased my desire to visit Australia and I will be adding more books of Bryson's to me 'to-read' list.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Two for Tuesday

Happy May everyone!  I don't know about you but I can not believe May is here already.  This year seems to be flying by.  How is it the older I get the quicker time goes by?  Anyway, back to today's Two for Tuesday.

First up...
Green Tea Blueberry Slim Life™ - green-tea-blueberry-slim-life
Yogi Tea.  I've long been a tea drinker (I always drink tea when I first get up vs coffee), but only recently got into Yogi Tea.  It is more expensive then what I usually drink (Twinnings) but so yummy.  When I find it on sale, I stock up on it.  They have a ton of flavors and claim to have health benefits (I say claim not because I don't believe them, but because I haven't researched it enough to know).  They have teas for detox, cold/flu, dieting, energy - the list goes on.  My current favorite is the Green Tea Blueberry Slim Life (pictures above).  No idea if it actually suppresses appetite, but it is delicious!

and second...

I was lucky enough to get to go to Jazz Fest in New Orleans this weekend.  This was my first time going to Jazz Fest (but not my first time in NOLA).  It was awesome.  The weather was perfect (if not a little warm) - low 80's and sunny, barely a cloud in the sky.  The food was amazing as always (Jazz Fest has whole rows of gourmet food stands).  If you are going, definitely get a soft shelled crab po'boy.  Unbelievably good.  And we saw some great music.  The 2 big acts while we were there were the Beach Boys and Tom Petty.  I really enjoyed both.  If you've never been, it is definitely something you should strive to do once in your lifetime.