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Best Damn Race Orlando - Half Marathon Race Recap

No knee pain!!!

Really that’s about the only thing you need to know about this race.

However, I am happy to tell you more because it was indeed a good day and we love the people who put on this race series. Hopefully it continues to grow each year so more people can have fun and feel free to curse when discussing their results, good or bad. Half marathon finish smilesRESULTS
We finished in 1:52 this year.

Avg pace: 8:36
Avg HR: 165

I haven’t run more than 1 mile at that pace since doing the Kinvara Relay in Ireland…in JUNE!! Seriously a normal run lately has looked more like: Avg Pace 9:30, Avg HR 145.

Which is to say for a race where we weren’t ready to PR, I am pretty proud of still pushing and embracing some discomfort to find out exactly what I can do. Now I’m even more pumped to tackle training and find a great race this Spring to attempt a PR. IMG_2447As I said up front, the biggest thing for me was building my confidence back to push the pace without pain. It appears all of the PT exercises for my knee, hips and IT band are doing some good!

QUICKIE RUN DOWN
Outfit: Asics NYC top, Lululemon shorts, McDavid compression socks, Kinvara shoes, Flipbelt, TomTom Cardio Runner watch

Pre-Race: 1/2 muffin, 1 tbsp almond butter
-- Did my normal short walk and dynamic warm up

During race: Water and nursed 1/2 a gel for miles 6-10. I really just didn’t plan well.
The race started at 7:15 am and while I was happy it wasn’t raining, it was HUMID.

Both David and I felt like the first few miles were just hard to get in a groove. I think for me it’s harder to breathe when the air is so thick.

But we had agreed to run together and though I know he could have taken off later in the race, it did me a world of good to have him by my side.

Around 6-8 miles it started to rain and I was soaking it in! That dropped the temperature and kicked the humidity so we both started to perk up and I began to actually think I might be able to hold the 8:30 pace right through to the end.

8daniel8Mile 10 I started my favorite game -- YOU WILL NOT PASS ME.

Yup, this game is what keeps me from going too fast at the start. I start to count who I have passed and if I pass them, I am determined not to slow down so that they can pass me back.

Mile 11-13 David and I both locked in on people in front of us and you could tell we were just focused on reeling them in. It’s so much easier for me to focus on that rather than having any kind of finishing kick and sure enough mile 13 was our fastest of the entire race at 8:07!!.

Post-Race: Not hungry, but got down a green smoothie within an hour
-- Quads were so tight post race I thought I’d be in pain today, but nope. Looks like the compression pants and an afternoon of watching tv shows was a great little recovery.

RACE REVIEW
The course this year seemed drastically different from 2014 Best Damn Race Orlando and I definitely preferred last years course, but let’s back up a bit and go through a little pro/con.Best Damn Race Orlando Start LinePROS
Easy - It starts literally on our doorstep. A race just doesn’t get any easier from a start line perspective. For everyone else, there is plenty of parking within a few blocks since it’s a smaller race.

Beautiful - I LOVE running where we live, it’s pretty

Small - I like that this isn’t an overly crowded race (only 1,000 doing the half)

Medals - I think this is one of the coolest medals. I’m sure that’s biased because I know we will move and this portrays the view I look at all day long.
Best Damn Race medalCONS
Bricks - This is the major drawback to running downtown. Lots of running on bricks, which means watching your feet carefully and I kept slowing down because it was wet and they felt slick.

Turns - Lots and lots of turns and running back and forth. Not so much out and back where you pass each other, just going back and forth the same directions which messes with the mind a bit and of course slows you down each time you turn.

Crowds - If cheering crowds are you thing, you won’t find them here. Some families definitely come out, but there are lots of events here so people are a bit cheered out.

Well really that’s all I have, we genuinely like this race and the one we did as part of the series in Safety Harbor last year.It's not swagger, I'm just sore - a post race mantra

Thanks everyone for the good luck messages and congrats! Even though it was not a PR attempt, I couldn’t let myself totally go easy so this feels like it was the perfect balance of push without pushing too hard.

Did you race this weekend?

Do you have A and B races?

Read more:
Race Day Etiquette
Manage race day nerves

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Healthy Brownie Bites - Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Low Sugar

How big is one brownie?

Feels like a trick question right?! The box mix usually says something like 16 servings, but it lasts approximately two days in our house…with 2 of us and that’s assuming the entire mix gets baked and not eaten straight off the spoon.

Anyone else?

TIME TO LOWER THE SUGAR
Recently, I challenged the ladies of the Clean and Lean group to count their sugar intake, rather than calories. Like myself, many of them don’t overeat, thank you running for calories burned, but had an idea we were taking in too many treats.

The numbers were eye opening for many!
Checkout 7 ways to reduce your sugar intake without going completely insane for tips to lower yours.

USDA recommends no more than 20 grams of added sugars per day.

Which is why I decided it was time to make something on my own that was both LOW SUGAR, dairy free, gluten free and well let’s be honest still tasty enough to satisfy the sweet tooth. 

To transition off some sugary items, I needed a treat at the ready. I decided to go with a mini bite this time around! I figured it if it works for balls, why not for brownies!

Perfect portion control. Healthy brownie bites to satisfy sweet tooth - clean eating recipeAll right my chocolate loving, health seeking, dairy free friends!

Today I give you low sugar Healthy Brownie Bites! Makes roughly 16 depending on how much you pour in the muffin tin {and how much batter you eat}.  Clean Eating Dessert - Healthy Brownie Bites - DairyFree, Gluten Free, Vegan Option

INGREDIENTS

  • ½ cup ground almond meal {or GF flour}
  • 4 tbsp cacao powder
  • 2 tablespoons Vega Choc-a-lot protein powder {or other plant based}
  • Couple drops Vanilla or Mint stevia
  • 1/4 tsp Baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp Baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 1 egg (or egg replacer)
  • ¼ cup Almond Breeze Unsweetened Vanilla Almond MilkEasy two bite brownies - healthy, dairy free, low sugar dessert

DIRECTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray mini muffin tin.
  2. Mix together almond meal, cacao, Vega, baking soda, baking powder and salt
  3. In a separate bowl mix egg, coconut oil,  Almond Breeze Almond Milk, stevia
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix together. If too dry add a little more milk.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared mini muffin tin.
  6. Bake 8 minutes.
  7. Enjoy your tasty little bites.

I adore that I can grab one and feel like I’ve had a treat or if I’m really taking a moment to relax have a couple with a little glass of almond milk and know I’m still keeping my sugar low. And yes I really do just drink this, the vanilla combats any concerns over unsweetened.

Do you make little balls or bite sized treats?

Have you ever counted your daily sugar intake?

Other ways to connect with Amanda
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This post is sponsored by Almond Breeze Almond milk.

You can’t run the same race twice

Wohoa did I just get all Ground Hog Day, Déjà vu (a la Denzel) on you?

Not exactly, but maybe, kinda.

This weekend David and I are gearing up again for the Best Damn Half Marathon in Orlando.
Hey that’s me on the podium- right side!No two races are the sameLast year the stars aligned with solid training, perfect race weather, a great taper and good attitudes, which lead to significant PR’s for us both {4 minutes, whoop}…but this year? This is the year of the half marathon, so I should be ready to kill it again, right?

Not so much.

I’m just fully back from knee and IT Band pain and feeling in no way shape or form ready to truly race. Since I rarely race this of course makes my brain hurt as I want to go out and give it my all with a great result!

But the truth is even if I thought I’d done it all right, you can never really know what will happen.

NEVER THE SAME
Something I read by John Bingham waaayyyy back has always been useful for keeping everything about race day in perspective.

why do runners think that comparisons made between running the same distance on different courses, on different days, has any validity at all?

Someone will tell me, “I ran this race five minutes faster than last year,” as if it’s verifiable proof that they are “better” than they were a year ago. Even worse, I’ll talk to runners who are completely down on themselves because they ran the race slower than last year.

The thing is, you can’t run the same race twice. You can’t possibly recreate the exact circumstances on race day. You can’t have the same weather, the same people around you, the same amount of sleep, food, or sports drink. You just can’t.Enjoy the running journey

Runners like to have quantifiable and verifiable criteria to judge progress.

So the idea that we can’t even count on race to be a measuring stick feels weird…but accurate.

  • your life changes
  • your goals change
  • the weather changes
  • your training partners change
  • running shoes change {seriously why do they?!}

Yet, all those variables combined are what made you the runner you are today and there is something to be said for appreciating that very fact. Rather than bemoaning a slower race time or an off day, it’s time to once again LOVE THE JOURNEY. 

And so we shall practice race this weekend!! <<Seriously read that and how to manage race day nerves if you feel like training goes well but race day bombs frequently.

Can you use the same race to measure progress?? Maybe not says @runtothefinish

Thanks for joining me to Think Out Loud again today! I’d love to hear your thoughts…
Do you place expectations on a race due to past performance?

What’s the best race day lesson you’ve learned?

Other ways to connect with Amanda

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Sweet Potato Veggie Turkey Chili - Slow Cooker Recipe

I think I love you, so what I’m so afraid of? I’m afraid that I’m not sure of what ingredients to use?!

Cooking and I have an on again off again relationship.

I love how fresh, clean, whole food meals make me feel.

I hate spending my entire Sunday in the kitchen or looking at a recipe and realizing that it requires 22 ingredients I don’t have and may never use again.

Which is why I realized once again, it was time to get back to basics again, continuing the theme with Kohl's #MakeYourMove. I don’t need a million appliances or a ton of fancy spices to make food that tastes wonderful and feels good to eat.Kitchen Essentials to easily make healthy mealsKITCHEN BASICS
We don’t need EVERY kitchen tool out there to cook healthy, even if it is fun to dream about the foods that we might make with them. Instead, let’s keep is simple, streamline the kitchen, to save time and just get started with cooking more at home.

Blender: A high quality blender will make every smoothie better. I resisted this for years, but the switch was astounding. I can now toss in kale steam and all, along with other things and get a great smoothie. No need for juicers and food processors, a quality blender can do amazing things. {basic green smoothie recipes to get you started}

George Foreman Grill: Not only is this a fast way to cook burgers and brats, but you can use it for hash browns, panini’s, bacon, and even quesadillas. Don’t buy all those other little appliances that you’ll only use once in a great while.  We aren’t able to have a grill so this is a lifesaver and our new one with removable plates is quite the step up from what I used in college.

Electric kettle: This is the one appliance we use daily, yes daily. I boil up water for tea, David does it for oatmeal, it’s perfect for single serve coffee when my parents visit and generally makes my life easier.

Slow cooker: Toss it in, let it cook while you live your life and then just 1 dish to clean. Not much more to say on this one…except, how about a recipe to get you started!!

Truly I have found the above appliances can do just about everything, which saves us space and money! Rounding out a basic kitchen are a good set of knives, glass bake ware, a meat thermometer, cutting boards and measuring spoons/cups.

SLOW COOKER RECIPE
Sweet Potato Turkey and Vegetable Slow Cooker ChiliSweet Potato and Veggie Turkey Chili
You know I don’t know how to make a dish without packing in the veggies, right?! I could have just made turkey chili, but the opportunity was right there to sneak some veggies in on David and my parents during their visit, so I had to!

Ingredients

  • 28 oz crushed tomatoes
  • 1 package ground turkey (or 1 cup quinoa for vegan)
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 1 green bell pepper diced
  • 1 red bell pepper diced
  • 4 stalks celery chopped
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes cubed
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • garlic
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 3 tbsp chili powder (we ended up adding more for more spice)
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions
1. Sautee ground turkey until fully cooked
2. Dice peppers and onions or buy pre-diced if short on time
3. Cube sweet potatoes
4. Toss all into slow cooker
5. Set to low for 6 hours or high for 3 hours
6. Serve topped with avocado or cheese or with tortilla chips
Healthy Sweet Potato Turkey and Vegetable Slow Cooker ChiliYummmmmmmmy!!! I feel like the slow cooker has suddenly made a resurgence this year, but I remember my mom using it all the time.

Do you have a favorite slow cooker recipe?

What’s your biggest reason for not cooking?

Back to Basics Series
7 habits of highly fit people
Body weight workout 
Best post run stretches
Next: Home workout essentials

Other ways to connect with Kohl’s #MakeYourMove
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kohls
Twitter: http://twitter.com/kohls
Instagram: http://instagram.com/kohls
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/kohls/

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This post is sponsored by FitFluential on behalf of Kohl's.

How Many Calories do Runners Really Need?

Long run = license to eat.

Whether that statement is actually true or not it’s absolutely the mindset I hear more often than not from those who come to me confused about why they managed to gain weight while marathon training.

I think it happens subconsciously. 

Everyone around us is commenting “oh I bet you can eat whatever you want” and we keep hearing how runners need carbs, so why not have a little more of this and that and that and that and…well you get it.

Let’s get a little sciency today!!

Are you getting enough fuel to keep you running strong? Are you over doing it and thus the scale is slowly creeping up despite your training?Understanding BMR, RMR and weight loss - how many calories do you really need and how many are you burning?

Understanding BMR, RMR and Weight loss
Basal Metabolic Rate and Resting Metabolic Rate are the two most common terms that you might hear about when determining how to calculate calories.

There is a slight difference in the two and it’s important to know which you’re using:

BMR: An estimate of calories burned if you truly laid in bed all day. It accounts for only bodily functions (breathing, etc).

RMR: An estimate of calories burned if you laid in bed all day, but also drank water, ate meals and small activity like moving to the bathroom.

The Harris-Benedict equation for BMR:
For men: (13.75 x w) + (5 x h) – (6.76 x a) + 66
For women: (9.56 x w) + (1.85 x h) – (4.68 x a) + 655

The Mifflin equation for RMR:
For men: (10 x w) + (6.25 x h) – (5 x a) + 5
For women: (10 x w) + (6.25 x h) – (5 x a) – 161

Where:
w = weight in kg
h = height in cm
a = age

In most cases, people will take their RMR + calories burned during exercises to determine the total calorie expenditure for the day.

After finding this, the long held wisdom has been that to lose weight you simply need to keep your calories below this threshold. That’s a debate for another day, but is at least a good place to start with any weight loss program.

GETTING ACCURATE NUMBERS
While both calculations can get you close, an in office test will provide more accurate results to help with weight loss. It’s been stated the Harris Benedict formula can over estimate by up to 24% - YIKES that’s a lot of calories.

Since a BMR test requires an overnight stay in a lab, let’s focus on the more accessible RMR test.

How an RMR test is done?
An RMR test has you sit comfortably with a mask that covers your nose and mouth allowing you to breathe normally. Well normally in that your nose is clipped and you must breathe just through your mouth. For most accurate results you need to fast for 12 hours prior to the test and do as little activity as possible.

How an RMR test works?
For 10 minutes, the machine measures how much oxygen you use while at complete rest to calculate the calorie expenditure of your body. 

Where can you do an RMR test?
Lot’s of gyms offer this service as part of the initial package or via a dietitian.

Calculating the calories you need to get to a healthy weightCALORIES BURNED
After getting your RMR results, it’s time to figure out how many calories you are burning through all that running!

While all treadmills come with built in calculators, it’s been reported that these numbers can be up to 30% higher than actual calories burned.SOOOO let’s not even consider that as an option.

Option 1: A heart rate monitor.
This will be one of the most accurate ways to judge calorie burn as it’s truly looking at how hard your body is working based on your age, weight, height and heart rate. I have reviewed a few options like TomTom and Polar.

Option 2: MyFitnessPal
You can simply log your activities in to an online calculator and get a fairly good estimate of calories burned. However long time runners will find the numbers are too high because the longer you do an exercise the more efficient your body becomes and thus…yup less calories burned.

Many runners don’t realize that as they adjust to running farther their body as adjusted too, so they can’t eat as many calories as they used to. BUMMER.

The longer you run, the less you burn! Learn more about how many calories runners need from @runtothefinish

Still with me?! All right the final piece then is:

RMR + activity = total calories burned

Read more on running and weight:
Protein intake and timing for fat loss
Running and weight loss - what to do when it stops working
Learning to eat intuitively 

None of this is to say running doesn’t give us some extra leeway with our food. But if you’re trying to shed a little body fat or wondering why the same meal plan and miles are suddenly leading to pounds these numbers are a great tool.

Ever have an issue with justifying food because of your workout?

Do you know your numbers?

Other ways to connect with Amanda
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