The countdown is on, running and racing, plus some fantastic food finds

It’s time to get serious…the countdown to the Fargo Half-Marathon is on.

There is a countdown timer on the website and I have to admit, it kind of freaked me out.

32 days. THIRTY-TWO DAYS! How the heck did that happen? I’m not ready. At least I don’t think so. Or maybe I don’t feel as ready as I was for the San Jose Half-Marathon last October. The half that I actually followed a training schedule. This time? Not so much.

Why? Three words. 1. Winter. 2. Snow. 3. Cold.

I know one thing is for sure, I don’t think I will ever sign up for a spring half-marathon again. At least not while I am living in the winters-from-hell state of MinneSNOWta! Seriously, between all the dumb snowstorms and the bitterly cold temperatures, there wasn’t much running/training happening. I did actually run some on the DREADmill at the YMCA, but seriously, I don’t think I ever ran more than three and half miles on it. I. Am. Not. A. Fan. of the dreaded treadmill, hence the DREADmill name!

There was one day where it was snow storming and I was just pissy, so I said, “Screw it!” and went out for a run anyway. I only ran four miles, but it was four miles I didn’t have to do on the treadmill!

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve gotten in a few runs, more than I thought I would and that makes me happy. I did get in a couple of long runs, too. I did an eight-mile and on Sunday, April 6, I did a 10-mile.

I think the temps were actually in the 50′s, which was SO NICE! When I got back, my hubby was sitting on the deck, so I decided to hang with him for a bit. It felt so good just to crash and lay on the deck with my feet up – on the table and straight up in the air! The run felt awesome and I actually shaved off about three minutes from the last time I ran a 10-miler, which was at the Monster Dash in October!

Training will continue as best it can for the next 32 days. I guess, maybe, just maybe, I might be more ready than I think for the upcoming half-marathon. I guess we’ll see how this weekend’s 10-mile race goes.

Speaking of which, if you are a runner who lives in, around or near the Twin Cities area, you really should check out this Saturday’s race – the Fred Kurz 10-mile! According to the race website – click here – “Starting times are handicapped by the “world-renowned” Lanin Guessimetric Method, with the slowest runners starting first and, ideally, all runners finishing at about the same time.” How cool is that? Additionally, the race is easy on the pocketbook – it’s only $15 to enter – or $8 if you are a member of the Minnesota Distance Running Association (MDRA). Seriously, check it out!

WHAT ELSE HAS BEEN HAPPENING?

We’ve had a couple of races since my last posting. And, I have had some awesome food finds. The rest of my post will be done in pictures. Enjoy!

This is from the Get Lucky 7K race in the Twin Cities on March 15.

I finished the 7K in 43:28. I was pumped because I was shooting for around 45 minutes. I was honestly ecstatic about my time!

Al did awesome, as well! Seriously, he kicked some major butt!

This is from the iRock Run in Cold Spring, MN, which benefits the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. It was a nice day, although a little windy. My hubby, Al, finished in 24:45. I finished in 29:33, which is a PR for this year. And my friend, Tonya, finished in 27:28. It was a great race and hopefully, we can do it again next year.

After the race was done, the three of us grabbed some lunch at Mongo’s Grill in St. Cloud and then Al and I had some errands to run. We had a few things to get at the mall and I forgot my extra clothes to change into, so I got to walk around the mall in my running gear, which included these crazy pants, which are SO comfortable and I love them. Yes, even though they are a bit bright! OMG! I have never, EVER in my life received so many strange looks and stares from people. The hubster, who was always dressed in his running gear, which include running tights with a pair of shorts over them and a very bright, neon green shirt, also received LOTS of looks. There were even a few people who glared/gave dirty looks. It was comical. Seriously, I kind of wanted to keep walking around just to watch peoples’ reaction to how we were dressed. It was entertaining, yet kind of pathetic.

FOOD FINDS!

The other day, my husband made chicken burgers (pictured later) and we really wanted some fries to go with them. My husband found these in the grocery store and thought we would give them a whirl. (Yes, I know we could have just made our own, but we didn’t feel like it!). For my Weight Watchers friends out there, these are definitely worth it. You can have 21 fries for only 4 PointsPlus Values. And they are nice-sized fries. Not little ones. They were fantastic and we will definitely have these again.

OMG! These are by far the BEST “healthy puffs” I have ever had. I have tried the baked Cheetos brand and other brands, but I will never buy anything else but these. Seriously, they had the BEST flavor. They actually tasted like real puffs only better. I am not kidding. Best part? You can have 52 of these things for only 4 PointsPlus Values. These will now be a staple in our house. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE them! They are made by Green Giant, check out the link here.

My husband had bought some very lean ground chicken. If I remember right, I think he said it was actually 100 percent fat-free. Anyway, we thought he should try something different with them and make actual burgers. He took the chicken and mixed it with half an egg, a crushed up bag of Weight Watchers Cheddar Twists, a little BBQ sauce, a little liquid smoke, salt, pepper and some Lowry’s seasoning. Each burger was only 3 PointsPlus Values. And the BEST part? They tasted fantastic. They were NOT dry. They were juicy and full of flavor. We will definitely make these again.

I know I have talked about my smoothie pancakes before, but if you haven’t tried them yet, give them a try. I started adding 2 tablespoons of PB2, which is a powdered peanut butter to the mix. It not only adds additional protein, it adds flavor. I use 3/4 cup of the liquid egg whites, mix in one Weight Watchers smoothie packet (you can use any flavor you want) and then the PB2. Beat together and then cook in a pan sprayed with cooking spray until they are done. I don’t time anything, so I can’t tell you long. The pancake is a total of 4 PointsPlus Values – 2 for the smoothie mix, 1 for the 3/4 cup of egg whites and 1 for the PB2. I don’t put anything on mine, but a lot of times, I eat it with a banana. VERY FILLING!

These are necessarily a new food find, but lately, I have been obsessed with blackberries. I am not sure this is even the season for them, but OMG! they have been so good lately. I eat at least one container a day. They are so tasty, juicy, sweet, kind of crunchy. Just YUM!

MISC PICS

I just have to include a pic of my new iPhone 5C case I designed at MyCustomCase.com. I know it is “just a case,” but I am probably the most picky person when it comes to phone cases – just ask my husband! Anyway, I found the website somehow and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my new case. There are literally hundreds of cases to choose from and then you can pick the color and “write” whatever you want on it. Some have just monogrammed letters, others, like mine have words that can run along the bottom or along the side. Seriously, check them out. They have cases for all kinds of phones. It is definitely worth your time!

And lastly, I have to include a picture – or two or three or four – of my son, Brandon, and his absolutely stunningly beautiful girlfriend, Kenzie. They attended her junior prom. Aren’t they both just adorable. I am so happy for them!

As always, remember, you can find me on Facebook here or here and you can also find me on Instagram, here. If you want, you can also send me an email to confessionsofaformerfatgirl at gmail dot com (confessionsofaformerfatgirl@gmail.com).

10-miler, medical tent, misc stuff and LOTS of food!

Last weekend, the hubs and I participated in Team Ortho’s Monster Dash 10-mile run. We ran this race last year as a training run leading up to our first half-marathon. This year, we ran it AFTER our half-marathon. For tons of pictures, take the time to check out the Monster Dash Facebook page…it really gives a good perspective as to how many people participated in this race and what kinds of costumes there were. As you can see, my hubby and I were “real” creative.

For the most part the race went really well. Better than I expected. I felt good the first couple of miles and then I had to pull off to the side and fix my running pants…they weren’t tied tight enough and felt like they were falling down. I really didn’t want to stop and fix them, but I knew if I didn’t, I wouldn’t stop thinking about them. So, I took a few seconds to pull off to the side of the course and tie them tighter, along with adjust my iPhone, which I have clipped to my pants. Side note: I can’t stand having my phone in an armband on my arm, so I found this clip thing that I just clip it to my pants and it works great…at least for me it does. Other people may not like it. Anyway, my pace was “pretty even” for the first six miles, well, except for mile three when I had to stop. You can tell by my splits that I got tired starting at about mile 7-8. I do have to say, though, that for the most part, I felt good. For the most part. Here’s a look at my splits:

As I was nearing mile 9, I started feeling the same way I did toward the end of the half-marathon a couple of weeks ago. WARNING TO ANY MEN READING THIS….you may want to skip the next bit…I talk about female parts!

To all the women reading this, if you have any advice or thoughts, PLEASE SHARE! Okay, so, as I was nearing the end of the race, again, I got this weird feeling, you know, “down below.” The only way I can describe it is this: it completely felt like my uterus was going to fall out. It wasn’t necessarily painful in that it hurt really bad because a muscle was pulled or I was bloated or it was cramping. It was “painful” because it was uncomfortable and it felt like there was a lot of pressure and that something was literally going to fall out of my crotch area! Seriously, it is the weirdest feeling. Regardless of what kind of “pain” it was, it just wasn’t any fun at all. I just wanted to be done. And to not feel like anything was going to fall out of me that shouldn’t be! :-)

OKAY MEN, YOU CAN CONTINUE READING FROM HERE ON OUT!

Again, it was so awesome to have Al waiting there for me at the finish line. As much as I wanted him to be back in our hotel room where it was nice and toasty warm instead of having him stand in the cold in his sweaty running clothes, I am always happy to see him at the finish line. And, it is always awesome to be able to give him a big hug and kiss when I am done. But this time at the finish line, Al wasn’t the only one waiting. So was a medical volunteer. At almost every big race we have participated in, there are medical volunteers at the end to assist those in need.

And apparently, the grimacing look on my face and the peculiar way I was walking, made the medical volunteer think I was one of those “in need” of medical attention. The woman swiftly and assertively led me, along with Al, to the medical tent. I kind of didn’t have a choice. But to honest, I was kind of okay with it…except I was still worried about Al and how cold he must of been. He not only had to wait “forever” for me to finish the race, he now had to wait – in his wet running clothes with the fierce wind blowing on him – while the medical person attended to me. She asked me several questions about where it hurt and so forth and then applied a ice pack to the area, which truly was kind of weird, but oddly felt good. She also checked my pulse and my blood pressure, which were both surprisingly good, despite the fact that I just ran 10 miles. Oh, besides the “pain” I was in, I also felt extremely nauseous and did everything in my power not to yak on the side of the cot I was laying on. I succeeded in not throwing up. Yeah for me…and everyone else around me. So, after just a couple minutes in the medical tent, which I truly DID NOT expect to ever be in, I, along with my near-frozen husband, were on our way. But not without some advice from the awesome medical volunteer, “GO talk to your doctor!”

I will….if it happens again!

Oh, by the way, if you’re curious how I actually did in the race. Well, according to my phone app, LogYourRun Pro, I completed 10.12 miles in 1:48:39…nearly six minutes faster than last year’s race! My app last year showed that I ran 10.13 miles in 1:54:11. NOTE: I have to go by my time because there was a technical glitch with the timing of this year’s race for some runners. I was “lucky” enough to be one of those runners. Shit happens.

Us, after the race, with our awesome medals! Thanks again to Team Ortho for a fantastic race. Team Ortho knows how to do races!

MISC STUFF AND LOTS OF FOOD!

Because I have blathered on and on enough already, I will finish this post in pictures. Hope you enjoy!

The weather has been perfect for this recipe – hearty chicken stew with butternut squash and quinoa.

The recipe, which I heard about from my awesome friend, erin, can be found here, Cookin’ Canuck.

I was so not happy when the flakes starting flying on October 20! I am not a lover of winter at all.

I prefer to run when it looks like this outside!

A new food find that I absolutely LOVE! And, for my Weight Watchers friends out there, it is only 1 PointsPlus Value per 2 tbsp. Or, only 7 PPV’s if you eat the whole container!

Another awesome food find…and this one also has only 1 PPV’s per 2 tbsp. Best part…it tasted so good!

And yet another awesome food find. This one I didn’t find on my own. A friend posted it on Instagram (by the way, you can follow me on Instagram if you would like to!) I typically don’t eat “boxed” meals like this because of the sodium content, but this one just looked so good and it only has 7 PPV’s for the whole thing. AND…….it was DELICIOUS! Worth every single PPV.

On Sunday morning, before taking off for home, Al and I went to this awesome little restaurant for breakfast, Blackbird Cafe. We have eaten there one other time so we knew the food was good. I had the whole grain cakes, which are described as “dense and chewy,” and come with sesame honey butter and real maple syrup. Seriously, the best pancakes I have EVER had. And definitely not your typical pancakes….they have wild rice in them. DELISH! I also had the sweet potato biscuit – well, okay, I had two – that come with honey butter. The. Best. Biscuits. EVER! Don’t ask me the PPV’s on either of these items because I have no idea and I have no care in the world. They are both worth whatever they are.

These photos just don’t do this food any justice, but I tried. If you ever find yourself near the corner of 38th Street and Nicollet Avenue, make a stop at Blackbird.

Pancakes!

Biscuits!

Alright, I know this post is WAY TOO LONG, but I have to share one more picture………

After we finished our brunch at Blackbird, we headed to the Mall of America so we could walk off some of our food. (Secretly, I wanted to go there because of one particular store…CUPCAKE!) As you can see, we found it!

Here’s this week’s recipe!

Yes, I know it is after Thanksgiving, but I am going to share with you the recipe I used for a crustless pumpkin pie that my family enjoyed on Thanksgiving. It was quite tasty; even my mom and dad liked it.

I know I will definitely make it again.

Oh, and on a little side note, if you by chance don’t have any vanilla extract in your cupboards, feel free to use vanilla-flavored vodka. It works.

See, the thing is, I don’t bake. Ever. So that means, I don’t have the necessary baking ingredients on hand. Ever. I even had to borrow a pie plate from my mom because I don’t own one. This was my first time EVER making a pie in my whole life. Anyway, back to the vodka.

When we realized we didn’t have any vanilla extract, my husband suggested I Google substitutes for the flavoring, so I did. People had suggestions for rum, brandy and other alcohol, so I thought what the heck. I remembered that we had a little sample bottle of UV Cake vodka and cake basically tastes like vanilla, so I used it. And….it worked just fine. OK, granted it was just a teaspoon of it!

So, here is the recipe (made with vanilla extract) and a picture for you to enjoy:

15 oz can pumpkin

3/4 cup egg substitute (like Egg Beaters)

12 oz can fat-free evaporated milk

1/2 tsp salt

3 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1 tsp vanilla extract

2/3 cup Splenda

1. Preheat oven to 400ºF.

2. Combine all ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Mix until smooth.

3. Pour into a 9-inch pie plate.

4. Bake at 400ºF for 15 minutes and then bake for another 45 minutes at 325ºF.

5. Pie is done when knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Makes: One 9-inch pie

Serving size: 1/8 of the pie

PointsPlus values per serving: 2

Weight Watchers Crustless Pumpkin Pie

Check out this week’s recipe!

Hello all! I am actually remembering to post my recipe this week.

My husband and I are in love with couscous. It is such a versatile grain and can have just about anything added to it. We think it is more versatile than brown rice or even quinoa. At any rate, we found a new couscous – Israeli couscous, which is bigger than normal couscous and has a slightly different taste.

We found ours at Trader Joe’s in Maple Grove, but I am pretty sure you can find it in other stores as well. Although, it maybe harder to find in smaller towns. The first time we made it, we followed the recipe that was on the back of the box. The next time, we changed it up a bit and added our own twist on it. The recipe I am including is the one from the box with bell peppers added to it. I am including two pictures – one from the first time we made it and one from the second time.

Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Here’s the recipe:

3 tbs margarine

1/4 cup pine nuts

1/2 cup shallots, diced

1 1/2 cups Israeli couscous

1/2 cinnamon stick

1 3/4 cup fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken broth

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

Zest from half a lemon

1 bay leaf

1. Melt 1 tbs of margarine in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add pine nuts and stir until golden brown. Transfer to small bowl.

2. Melt remaining 2 tbs of margarine in the same pan over medium heat. Add shallots and bell peppers and sauté until softened or shallots are golden in color. Add dry couscous, cinnamon stick and bay leaf; stirring often until couscous slightly browns.

3. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until liquid is absorbed and couscous is tender. Remove from heat and stir in lemon zest and pine nuts. Remove bay leaf and cinnamon stick before serving.

Serves: 6

PointsPlus value per serving: 6

Here are the pictures:

The first couscous

The second couscous

 

 

 

This week’s recipe: Al’s chicken tortellini soup

I almost forgot to post my recipe this week. Shame on me!

As many of you know, my husband, Al, loves to cook. This soup is one of his favorites to make this time of year. And let me tell you, it was DELICIOUS! And for me to say this, it means it was pretty darn good. I am not the biggest soup lover, but this one ranked pretty high in my list of Top Ten favorite soups.

Yep, it was that good. Here is the recipe for you to try and hopefully enjoy as much as I did:

Al's chicken tortellini soup

tortellini soup

Click on the above link to see the recipe. If it doesn’t work, send me an email and I can send you the recipe. My email is celbeam@gmail.com.

Enjoy!

And always, remember you can find my blog on Facebook, too. Click here to become a fan of my Confessions of a [former] Fat Girl Facebook page!