Sunday, May 19, 2019

Workout Recap - Week 20

Sunday, May 12th – 8 mile trail run with the hubby

Monday, May 13th – 90 minutes on the stationary bike, Stretched & Foam Rolled

Tuesday, May 14th – 4 mile run, Stretched & Foam Rolled

Wednesday, May 15th – 8 mile run, Stretched & Foam Rolled

Realized after I took it that I had the screen on the time and
not my run stats... oops!

Thursday, May 16th – 6 mile run, Stretched & Foam Rolled

Friday, May 17th  Rest Day, Stretched & Foam Rolled

Did a 3 mile walk while catching up on my podcasts

Saturday, May 18th – 10 mile run, Stretched & Foam Rolled

This was a cut-back week for me so I only got in 36 miles, but my body appreciated the lower mileage now that I am back running 5 days a week. I'm happy to report that my hamstring seems to be back to 100%, although my upper back has been angry with me lately - but I believe that is my fibromyalgia and not running related (and will be hitting up my chiropractor on Monday to see if she can help me out a bit). Excited to get into the thick of my next round of ultra training!

How were your workouts this past week?

Friday, May 17, 2019

Friday Favorites

I can't believe it! This weekend we don't have anything planned! It's a Christmas miracle! I doubt we will just be laying at home for the entire time, but it does feel nice to not have places to go or things to do filling our schedule like we've had for the past six or so weeks. Anyway, enough about the weekend, it's time to recap some of the things I'm loving lately.

Charity Miles Feature

I was contacted by Charity Miles a while back to see if they could do a little feature on me for their blog. I was honored to be included and of course signed on for the "interview". The post went live a couple days ago and I wanted to share it in case you haven't had a chance to give it a read. PS If you aren't using Charity Miles yet, you need to be! Honestly, you can get money donated to the charity of your choice on your behalf for something you are doing already (walking, biking, running, hiking, etc) and it costs you nothing! It's a win-win, so download the app already!


Brooks Ambassador Post

And while we are on the subject of blog features, I've gotta share this Brooks blog post. There are 29 of us on the Brooks Ambassador team this year and as a way to introduce us to the world we did a little interview with all of us. Meet the team and get to know the Run Happy Ambassadors HERE.


Giving Back to Girls on the Run

If you were "following" me last year, you may remember that I participated in the Lexus LaceUp race series. I'm not currently registered for any of the races this year, but I am still on their email list and get updates occasionally. One of the recent emails I received mentioned that for the next two weeks,  they will be donating $5 from every LaceUp Orange County and Riverside Reindeer Run registration to Girls on the Run Orange County and Girls on the Run Riverside. If you are thinking about running either of these races, why not register now and have part of your registration fee go to the girls?! You can read my race recap from the Orange County race HERE and the Riverside run HERE.


Run It Forward Challenge

Brooks recently released a challenge on Strava, asking folks to run as many miles as they can between May 15th and June 5th (which is Global Running Day). If you hit 21 miles, you earn a nifty Strava badge, but that's not all. Every 10,000 miles collectively run (up to 2 million miles), Brooks will donate gear to a high school runner in need via their Booster Club program. You know I love to give back whenever possible, and this is a FREE TO YOU way to help out some kids in need - so let's run it forward! All you need to do is "join" the Strava Challenge and track your workouts - EASY PEASY!


Nathan Handhelds

If I am running over 3 miles, I tend to have a handheld of water with me (I usually only switch to a hydration vest if there isn't somewhere for me to refill my handheld - like on the trails - or if I need the storage for things like fuel or additional layers of clothes) - and the only handhelds I use are from Nathan. My two go-to handhelds are the SpeedDraw Plus Insulated Flask and the Speedmax Plus Flask. Anywho, they recently released new colorways and graphics, so I figured it was time to spread the word. PS If you use the code VIBRANT you can score free shipping on the handhelds (and for a limited time, if you spend more than $75 you get a free Hipster waist belt with your order). {FYI - I am not an ambassador for this brand [although I'd definitely be open to it, hint hint, Nathan ;)], nor do I get anything from mentioning them, I just wanted to share the discount code I saw in my email, along with the news of the new snazzy color options.}


PS I happen to know the "model" in this Nathan video so I thought I'd share it as well ;) YAY Andrea!

What are you loving lately?

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Walt Wednesday

Some people do a "Wordless Wednesday" post, where they simply share a photo or image, but I thought I'd make a little series out of my Wednesdays. And since I love alliteration so much, why not go with Walt Wednesdays (obviously everyone can use a little break from the seriousness, scariness and sassiness of life - and what better way to help put a smile on your face than with a cute wiener dog picture, am I right?!)... So, without further ado...


When life gets overwhelming, how do you de-stress?

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

My Fall Plans

I realize we are still weeks away from the official start of summer (yes, I had to look it up... and apparently there is both an astrological start {June 21st} and a meteorological start {June 1st} - thanks Farmers Almanac), but I'm already thinking about the fall. Don't worry, I'm not looking towards autumn because I'm wishing the days away or anything like that (although, truth be told, this May Gray is getting real old, real quick and I may secretly be wishing for summer sunshine to come sooner than later), but because I'm planning my fall race schedule and need to make decisions in the near future.

Yep, in case you were wondering, I write out my training plan with pencil and paper and hang it on the fridge. 

If you are a runner, you may be thinking about your fall plans already as well. You see, most training plans for longer distances (say a half marathon or marathon) range anywhere from 12 to 20 weeks long. That means, if you are planning to race in September, October, November, then you normally have to start getting ready by May, June, July.


Well, here is where I am (literally) running into my dilemma. I'm not sure WHAT I want to tackle this fall. Originally, at the beginning of the year, I had made some goals for 2019 and two of them were specific time goals for my half and full marathon races. (You can check out my 19 Goals for 2019 HERE if you don't remember them.) The first half of the year was focused on ultra training, which means speed and time goals flew out the window. If I want to attempt to hit the time goals I set for myself, then my fall races are where I would need to do it. But the problem is, I don't know if that's necessarily what I want to do anymore. You see, I have really been enjoying the longer distances and taking the pressure off of myself by removing time goals. On the other hand, I love seeing what my body is capable of when I give it my all and push past barriers I once thought were unbreakable. So I'm stuck between choosing trail running or PR attempting.


Currently I have some races on the calendar for the summer and have scoped out some ideas for fall races. I think I have narrowed down my options of different races depending on whether I am sticking with the trails or trying to tackle PRs.

Remaining 2019 Races:

June 1: Fremont Canyon 28.8K
June 2: Rock 'N' Roll San Diego Half Marathon
June 29: Black Mountain 50K
July 27-28: San Francisco Ultra
August 3: Balboa Park 8-Miler
September 8: Hike Mt. Whitney
     *September 21: Dances With Dirt 50K/ 50M (Haven't registered, still deciding distance)
     *October 20: Ventura Marathon (Haven't registered, still deciding)
     *November 9: REVEL Big Bear (Haven't registered, still deciding)
     *November 9: Griffith Park Trail 30K (Haven't registered, still deciding)
November 17: Rock 'N' Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon

My thought is, if I were to stick with the trails, then I'd run Dances With Dirt as a 50-Miler in September and then the 30K in Griffith Park at the beginning of November. If I wanted to attempt PRs in the half and full distances, I'd run Dances With Dirt as a 50K and then shoot for the Ventura Marathon as my marathon PR attempt and REVEL Big Bear as my half marathon PR attempt. {There are always other races, these are just the ones I have checked out.} I've chatted with a running coach friend, throwing around both options and she thinks either is doable... it just depends on what I want to do...


I honestly have been enjoying the trails and longer distances, but in the back of my mind I'm not sure if I'm leaning that way because I'm nervous about putting in the work and then not hitting my time goals. If my heart isn't in the PRs, then I'm totally okay with not going after them, but if it's because I'm worried about the challenge, then I don't think that's a good enough reason not to run after them with everything I've got. Technically, if I'm able to run a half marathon PR of a sub-1:34, I could hit the time-standard qualifying window for the New York City Marathon and hopefully secure a spot for 2020 (that is, if they don't adjust the standards for next year's race). Other than that, the PRs are strictly personal (meaning I wouldn't be using them to get me into another race or better my starting placement in a corral anywhere). So now it's up to me to decide if the personal satisfaction of a faster personal best is worth the time and effort it'll take to chase down.


It'd be so much easier if I could just put up a poll and whatever "the people" decided I did, but I know that if my heart wasn't in whatever way you all voted that it'd lead to a lackluster training cycle with less than amazing results...


Let's be real, I thought writing this blog post would be a little more insightful and I would conclude by knowing what to do and which races to register for, but I am just as confused as I was to start. Maybe it's time to flip a coin... #RunnerProbs


Are there any other races I should consider for my fall schedule?

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Workout Recap - Week 19

Sunday, May 5th – 5.5 mile run with the hubby, Stretched & Foam Rolled

Monday, May 6th – 4 mile run

Tuesday, May 7th – 6 mile run, Stretched & Foam Rolled

Wednesday, May 8th – 8.08 mile run, Stretched & Foam Rolled

Thursday, May 9th – 20 mile run, Stretched & Foam Rolled

Friday, May 10th   10 mile run, Stretched & Foam Rolled

Saturday, May 11th – Rest Day, Stretched & Foam Rolled

I changed around my runs because the hubby and I were supposed to be camping this weekend with friends, but the weather changed our plans (boo to April showers bring more May showers {and thunderstorms}). Moving my runs up made for no mid-week rest days, which led to some super tired legs, but I got all the miles done. Here's to another week.

How were your workouts this past week?

Friday, May 10, 2019

Friday Favorites

Originally we were planning on heading out of town today for another camping adventure, but the weather looks less than stellar for tent camping (the icon for today, tomorrow and Sunday is the cloud with the lightning bolt where we would be heading), so it seems like we may be hanging local - which is okay with me since I've been going, going, going recently. With that said, let's get this list of some of my recent finds up so I can go for my run and get in a little maxin' and relaxin'.

Rumpl National Park Blankets

I've heard great things about Rumpl blankets, but the price tag keeps me from placing an order... But now that they have National Park themed blankets I may have to bite the bullet and order one (or at least put one on my birthday list)... I think my favorites are Joshua Tree, Yosemite and Grand Canyon (a little because we've been to those parks and a little because of the designs). Each blanket in the National Parks series helps support the National Park Foundation, working to keep public lands pristine for future generations. {PS The Original Puffy and Fleece Puffy are vegan, the Down is not.}

Heartwarming Running Articles

I've come across a few happy and heartwarming articles in the running world this past week that I have to share. One is about how a runner ran a half marathon and pet TWO HUNDRED dogs in the process... not only because he loves the pups, but also because he was raising money to send foster kids to summer camp! Also, there was an article about a NINETY NINE YEAR OLD still running and leading a team named "The Old Men of the Mountain" in a 50-mile relay team! Holy guacamole - I don't even know if I will be still breathing at that age, let alone running! And we can't forget about the two badass ladies who were the final two runners to cross the finish line at the Pittsburg Marathon hand-in-hand.

Daddy-O's Creations

My dad retired last year, but that doesn't mean he is just sitting around. In fact, he has projects galore! He's on the board for the local Habitat for Humanity and a few months back started looking on Pinterest for ideas of what to do with the surplus of headboards and flooring the Restore had on hand. He found you could turn them into benches and he's been on a roll! (He then gives them back to the Restore to sell and so patrons can see the ideas and hopefully buy some of the supplies as well.) He also has been making chairs, benches and ladders out of fallen wood. He's pretty awesome - as are his creations! (PS His birthday was Wednesday so today is a perfect time to share some of his masterpieces!)

These are just some of his recent benches he's put together! Aren't they awesome?!

He surprised a friend with a deer for Christmas, made a chair for their front porch out of birch branches, put together a
bird feeder from a lamp base, stain-glass globe and glass doorknob and made a birch ladder for flower pots to hang from.

Parks Project x Nomadix Multi-Use Towels

Okay, so I know I already mentioned a National Parks themed towel in this post, but Parks Project also has these rad ones that are made from RECYCLED WATER BOTTLES that I also have to share! It’s a top of the line yoga towel, it’s your beach towel, it’s your pool towel, and it’s a pack towel when you go camping or travel. They've designed this product to be versatile without sacrificing performance, so you can own less and do more. The two Yosemite towels (one with a moon and one without) and the Joshua Tree one are my top picks! They are the perfect size (30"x72.5"), super absorbent, quick drying, slip resistant, ultra soft, durable, lightweight and pack down small (3.5"x7"). #DearSanta

Recyclable Shoes

Let me start by reminding you that I am a Brooks ambassador. With that said, the hubby works for Adidas (as a designed for their Golf division). He told me about these new running shoes that Adidas has been working on and I'm stoked! I don't know that I would actually wear them (mostly because I love my Brooks Ghost and Levitate shoes), but the idea of what they are doing - making shoes that are completely recyclable which you can return back to them when you are finished and they will grind them up and use them in future shoes - could be a MAJOR game-changer! Less limit plastic waste!

What are you loving lately?

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Mozzarella Cheese Alternatives

If you know the hubby, you know he loves pizza! Honestly, he could probably eat it seven days a week and never tire of it. Recently he started making his own dough (once he saw how easy it was and how full of junk and preservatives pre-made doughs can be). He loves doing it (not to mention eating the finished product) and he's getting pretty good at it!


Around this same time I've been doing my best to limit the amount of dairy in my diet (I've been a vegetarian since January 1, 2005, but am attempting to eat more vegan options recently - and, I'll be honest, cheese has been the hardest thing to remove). With that said, I picked up a couple different mozzarella cheese alternatives to try on the hubby's homemade pizza dough. I thought I would do a quick side-by-side comparison of the two brands I've tried thus far. {FYI - The almond option I bought is not vegan since it contains casein, which is a milk protein. If you were to adhere to a strictly vegan diet this would not be a possibility for you, but because I haven't cut dairy out completely I wanted to try it as an alternative.} PS The only reason I went with these two brands is because our local grocery store carries them. There are definitely more choices available, some of which I hope to try soon, but that's how I decided on these first two.

Daiya Dairy-Free Shredded Mozzarella Cheese vs 

Lisanatti Foods Shredded Almond Mozzarella Cheese

First up, the ingredients. Like I mentioned, the Lisanatti cheese does contain a milk protein, so is not considered vegan, but has an almond base. The Daiya cheese is completely plant-based, as well as being soy, gluten, nut and lactose free.

Daiya ingredient list

Lisanatti ingredient list

Next, the nutritional facts. They seem to be pretty comparable, but the Lisanatti cheese does have less saturated fat (0g vs Daiya's 2.5g), less carbs (3g vs Daiya's 8g), more protein (6g vs Daiya's 0g) and more calcium (20% vs Daiya's 10%). 

A picture of the nutritional label from Daiya is on the left and Lisanatti is on the right.

Most important, the taste. I did a taste test of the cheeses on their own, as well as obviously on my pizza. My first impressions of the Daiya Dairy-Free Shredded Mozzarella Cheese was that it was a little waxy (which makes sense since many of the ingredients are different oils), but the taste itself was good. I wouldn't say it tastes exactly like standard cow mozzarella, but it had a cheese-like flavor. As far as the Lisanatti Foods Shredded Almond Mozzarella Cheese goes, I thought it nutty (which makes sense since it's made from nuts - duh!) Again, I wouldn't say it tastes perfectly like standard cow mozzarella, but I think that due to the texture being a little more like cow mozzarella it seemed more spot on than the other (then again, it has dairy in it, so that also makes sense). {PS I also had the hubby try both cheeses on their own and he thought the Daiya had more of a consistency of a hard cheese [think Parmesan] and the Lisanatti was spot on for texture with cow's mozzarella, but thought the taste was great with both [which, let's be real, he was not expecting].}

Not sure if you can tell from my crappy picture, but the Daiya is on the left (a little
more waxy look, maybe a little more processed feel) and the Lisanatti is on the right.

Daiya's mini pizza is in the back left and the Lisanatti's mini pizza is in the front right. 

Once they were cooked on my pizzas, I thought that the waxy consistency of the Daiya's went away and it actually seemed a little creamier to me than the Lisanatti. The flavor was yummy on both of them. I would be interested to see had I not known these were mozzarella alternatives if I would have thought they were any different. I might have been able to pick out the almond based cheese because it was a little nuttier tasting that a cow mozzarella, but still delicious. (FYI - The hubby's homemade dough contains whole wheat flour, yeast, water, olive oil, salt and some herbs. Super easy but still delicious. I wouldn't say the crust is overly flavorful, so I was still able to taste the cheeses on each of the pizzas.)

The mini pies are ready to eat - YUM! The Lisanatti pizza is on the left and the Daiya pizza is on the right.

Along with flavor, I think the melt-ability and texture (especially if you are using them on a pizza) are also super important. As I'm sure you could see in the previous picture, both of the cheeses melted perfectly in the oven (we cook them at 530* for about 10 minutes). The Lisanatti pizza was in the back of the oven while the Daiya was in the front, which probably accounts for some of the browning of the Lisanatti cheese. The Daiya cheese had a little more "stretch" to it (you know, when you take a bite and pull the pizza away and some of the cheese stretches from the pizza to your mouth), which made it feel a little more like cow mozzarella to me. I thought the Daiya cheese seemed little creamier than the Lisanatti cheese once it was melted (it actually felt like it could have gotten stuck on my teeth a bit it was so gooey). I think originally I was worried that not only would the taste be off, but they wouldn't melt properly and the texture would be off as well. Thankfully I felt as though both mozzarella alternatives hit the nail on the head in all of the important departments.


I realize that vegan cheese has come a long way in recent years, but I was always a little nervous to try them (because, let's be real, I may have a slight addiction to cow cheese). I'm happy to report that I can definitely see myself making the swap with little to no issues (although eating out may be a little more challenging, especially at our favorite Mexican restaurant, but I'm taking it one step at a time). I think if I was planning on adding these cheese alternatives to something that wasn't going to be cooked, I would prefer the Lisanatti cheese due to the non-waxy feel, but if I was planning on cooking/ baking/ microwaving/ melting the cheese, I would be absolutely fine with either (and probably would even prefer the Daiya cheese, not just because it's completely plant-based but also because of the texture once warm).


Have you tried any vegan cheeses before?

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

A Weekend in Joshua Tree

This past weekend the hubby, pup and I went to Joshua Tree with some friends. I tried to unplug from social media (only logging on a couple times to post a couple pictures to my Instagram feed so my parents knew we were still alive ;)) and just enjoy the surroundings, the moment, the people. With that said, I have a ton of pictures and videos I thought I'd share. Before going to Joshua Tree (we've been a couple times now because the hubby loves the rock climbing there) I always thought it'd be boring, barren and blah, but I promise you, the desert is pretty fantastic (and it is definitely growing on me!)!

Our friends had already planned their trip and when we were hanging out a couple weeks ago asked if we wanted to tag along. We are always down to camp so since all of the bedrooms in the AirBnB were already claimed, we threw the tent in the car and decided to make it a bit of a "glamping" adventure (seeing as we were able to use the kitchen for cooking, the bathrooms to handle our business, the pool/ hot tub for relaxing, etc). A little camping, a little modern comforts.

Backyard camping!

Not a rough place to "camp"

No one really had any specific plans of what they wanted to see or do, but since the pups were able to stay in the house, we wanted to make sure we hit up some of the trails. (FYI - Dogs are not allowed on the trails in Joshua Tree, which means that in the past we've had to forgo some of the hiking because we had Walt in-tow.) We did some research and decided we wanted to see Skull Rock and the Keys View, as well as hike to Barker Dam and Wall Street Mill.

I'd hike that...

The last time we were in Joshua Tree I remember we stopped by Skull Rock because it was literally just off the road. Well, this time we thought we'd follow the trail signs (there were arrows pointing you on a trail, but the signs didn't say WHAT they were directing you to) and took a MAJOR detour. Instead of the 300 feet from the street, we probably wandered around the desert for an hour looking for a rock with two "eyes". But, hey, it's all about the journey, not just the destination (especially because the rock was a bit underwhelming after all of the climbing, scurrying, hiking and searching we did).

Kevin and I along our "300 foot hike" - HA! More like a mile plus!

There it is... Skull Rock... Eh....

Temperatures were still manageable (the high was 92* on Saturday, but in the summer it's easily in the triple digits within the first few hours after the sun rises), but even still we tried to keep our hiking on the shorter side to make sure we weren't burning ourselves out or running out of water while on the trails. The hike to Barker Dam was about 2 miles round trip and we saw plenty of nature along the way. One of the guys with us is actually a nature nut (okay, that isn't his official title, but he works for the wildlife preserves in Santa Cruz and is super knowledgeable when it comes to the animal world and plant life) so it was awesome to have him there, pointing out specific creatures (and geeking out over our finds).

Not much of a dam or much water there, but it was still cool to see.

The rock formations in the desert are so cool!

Did you know the Joshua Tree only grows in the Mojave Desert?! Something about that specific elevation.

Some of the trees were super big!

Ryan and Kevin! Buddies!

These are the views from Keys View (looking down into the Coachella Valley).

Around this time it was getting a little toasty and our energy was starting to ween, so we figured it was a perfect time to head back to the house to enjoy some of the amenities (like the pool and kitchen), as well as let the pups out to go potty. The crew didn't realize it when booking the AirBnB, but it was right outside the Twentynine Palms entrance to Joshua Tree which made it super convenient (especially because the main entrance can get pretty busy on the weekends).

Walt wanted to get out of the sun so decided my lap was the place to check out...

A different kind of pool.

After some maxin' and relaxin', it was time to head back into the park. We thought the Wall Street Mill trail sounded promising and I would say it was one of my favorites of the day. Along the trail there were some jalopy cars, dilapidated structures, history of a gun fight and tons of trees, rocks and wildlife to see. The gold mill at the end was pretty cool too (it was used back in the 40s), even if you can't go in it. In total it was a little over 3 miles, but that's due to all of our detours to see other things along the route (I think it was supposed to be a little under 2.5 miles if you stayed true to the course).

I think we came across 3 or 4 old, rusty cars and trucks on this hike.

Checking out the scenery.

There were no signs, so we don't know what this building was originally, but it was still cool to explore.

The old gold mine.

My dad would call this picture "artsy", I just liked the extra dimension of the barbed wire in front of the mine and rocks.

PS Originally we thought heading out early, before the heat of the day would be the best time to explore, but we quickly realized that the late afternoon was pretty magical. We came back to the park, after our lounging at the pool, probably around 4:30pm and it was perfect. The weather was much more manageable, the lighting was much better for photos and the creatures seemed to be out and about. Obviously both times have their pros, but we all liked the afternoon best.

So grateful these guys invited the hubby and I to tag along on their trip.

We were hoping to be done with the Wall Street Mill hike about 30 minutes before sunset so we could drive to a nearby campground to get some awesome views, but with our detours and delays along the way we didn't finish soon enough. Even still, we were treated with some pretty spectacular sights of the desert at dusk.

The desert glow is oh so purrrrty!

The desert was blooming from all of the recent rain we've gotten.

Joshua Trees are pretty cool no matter the time of day, but their silhouettes at sunset are pretty spectacular! 

Sometimes sunsets aren't super exciting when the sky is clear, but the different colors on the horizon are still beautiful!

Goodnight Mr. Sunshine!

Eventually it was time to get back in the car and head to the house so we could make dinner and relax in the hot tub. (#RealTalk: Hot tubs gross me out. I don't like the thought of sitting in everyone's sweat so if I do get in one I can't stay for very long before I start thinking about it and get weirded out. With that said, I sat on the side and put my feet in ;))

Sunday morning the hubby was planning on doing some rock climbing/ bouldering in the park but by the time we got up, packed and ready to go, and he did some "research" on where he wanted to climb it seemed to be a little too late (meaning too warm), but we still drove through the park and enjoyed the views. We decided we'd head home instead of climb which meant we'd still have the afternoon to take care of some "adulting" and get ready for the upcoming week.

It wouldn't be a road trip without getting stuck in SoCal traffic and having the boys sleep through it all...

If you know me, you probably know that I do not enjoy spending money. With that said, buying our annual parks pass is one purchase that I never second guess. It is $80 {there are discounts for military, seniors, disabled, and 4th graders} and gets you entrance into the National Parks for a year (for entrance into Joshua Tree you would spend $30 {which allows you access for 7 days}, but that means if you plan to go to a National Park more than twice (or more than two separate Parks) you cover the cost of it - and even if you don't, the parks need our funding now more than ever!).

<3 National Parks are for lovers! <3 

It may have been a quick trip, but the memories made will last a lifetime! Now it's time to plan our next great adventure!

What is your favorite National Park?