Thursday, August 28, 2014

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Baking in Chicago: White Cupcakes

First cupcake batch in the new city happened a couple of weeks ago and it felt so good to get back to basics with my baking. I started really baking in Boston and was a part of different baking groups that had baking challenges each week or each month. I was able to really expand my knowledge of baking and go outside of my comfort zone. Being in Chicago takes me back to that time when baking was so new and exciting for me. It's even better now because I have kids and I can really have fun with what I make, like the frosting for these cupcakes that were an orange and green (Go CANES!) swirl. This recipe is probably the best white cake recipe I've tried and I loved how easily it all came together; I spent more time on making the frosting than the cupcakes themselves! I make my frosting from scratch but I never measure it out and it's some combination of butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk. 

Simple White Cake
Source: Scottosman on Allrecipes.com
Yields: 12 cupcakes

1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 egg whites
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line a muffin pan with paper liners.

In a medium bowl, cream together the sugar and butter. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Combine flour and baking powder, add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Finally stir in the milk until batter is smooth.

Pour or spoon batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until cakes spring back to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.

For more on my baking in the new city follow me on Facebook and Instagram @thecookierunner!
Stephanie

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

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Happy Runner: Coconut Protein Pancakes

In seven weeks, I will have hopefully crossed the finish line of the Chicago Marathon. My training has been going well (minus a little IT band achiness a couple of weeks back) and I've gotten up to 18.5 miles but the thought of 26.2 miles still scares me. I'm doing everything I can to physically prepare and, now that I have gotten into a great groove with my commitment and dedication to my training plan, I'm starting to focus more on the nutritional aspect of my training. Really this just means I'm trying to eat a little healthier and working on constantly seeing food as fuel. This is not an easy task when you like to bake as much as I do. It's all about balance though as this recipe for protein pancakes proves: pancakes made with my favorite yogurt combo and topped with my favorite crunchy chocolate Nuttzo butter.  The pancakes were thin and full of flavor and a great alternative to my traditional pancakes that are delicious but rarely make me feel that "food as fuel" mentality. (Note: this recipe is for half the original recipe and was enough for two servings for me).

Coconut Protein Pancakes
Source: Foodfanatic.com
Serves 1 to 2

1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 Chobani Almond Coco Loco flip
1/3 cup vanilla almond milk
1 tablespoon honey
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 Tbsp ground flaxseed
Desired toppings, like fruit or syrup


Add all of the ingredients to a blender. Blend until smooth.

Heat a large skillet or griddle to medium heat. Spray with non-stick spray. Using a cookie scoop, scoop batter onto hot skillet or griddle, placing about 2-inches between pancakes.

Cook for 2-3 minutes until bubbles start to form. Flip, and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes.

Serve with desired toppings.

For more on my eating and training for the Chicago Marathon follow me on Facebook and Instagram @thecookierunner!
Stephanie

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

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A Rose So Sweet Headband Review

I remember how clueless I was when I started running. I actually wore a drawstring bag that carried my keys, phone, and a large water bottle and I would later wonder why my back hurt so much. I've come a long way in the two years that I've been running and, while there is still a lot to learn, I'm happy that what started as a way to do cardio has turned into a life-altering passion. I went from having a few running items to a closet full of them (I currently have five pairs of shoes in rotation) and, as my love for running grew, so did my love for running accessories. 

One of the accessories I love the most are headbands, especially with my hair that does this crazy sunflower thing when I get really sweaty. Headbands help tame the mane and help me feel really feminine, so I was pretty excited when Liz from A Rose So Sweet asked for bloggers to review her headbands. Liz sent me her pink and gold chevron and I immediately tried it on and was impressed with how tight the headband felt. I have a shoebox full of headbands and none of them felt as tight as this one.

The headbands are all lined with velvet and are adjustable. I was still skeptical because I have lost two velvet-lined headbands in the past and have gotten used to wearing headbands with a clip to make sure they stay on my runs, but I was hopeful as I took this headband out for a 7-mile run.
 

I was pleasantly surprised when it stayed on the whole time and did not need any adjusting during my run. Still skeptical, I wore the headband for all my exercising the week I got it and the headband survived some intense yoga workouts, daily runs, and one extremely long 17.50-mile run.
 

To say that I am impressed is an understatement. This is the first headband I've ever worn that I don't have to worry about fixing or adjusting. The key for me was its ability to make it through my long run at my goal pace as I'm already thinking about what I want to wear for the Chicago Marathon. One of the last things I want to think or worry about on that run is whether or not my headband is going to stay put. This may seem silly, but I can still remember the races where I lost my headbands and how distracting that was for me (the headbands were not cheap!). 

A Rose So Sweet headbands are reasonable with the most expensive of headbands costing $9.50. The designs are pretty spectacular as well and I would quite literally love to own them all.

For more on A Rose So Sweet headbands, you can check out Liz's Etsy shop and her Instagram page @arosesosweetdesigns. Because Liz is so nice and I recommend her headbands, you can use COOKIERUNNER15 in her shop for 15% off through September 20th.
A Rose So Sweet provided me with a headband in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions in this post are my own.

For more on my running and training for the Chicago Marathon follow me on Facebook and Instagram @thecookierunner to find out!
Stephanie

Saturday, August 16, 2014

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Miami to Chicago: Arroz Con Leche

 I finally did it. I made a dessert that I grew up eating and it actually tasted just like the dessert my mom used to make. I grew up eating Arroz Con Leche and have great memories of standing by the stove in the kitchen watching the rice cook into a sweet and sticky dessert. The last time I tried to make Arroz Con Leche it took forever and my rice was hard so I gave up on this dessert. Then, shortly after moving to Chicago I went to my aunt's house and she made it and I was inspired to try again. I ended up making this recipe because it was so simply and simple is what I remember my mom doing with few ingredients. The end result was amazing and everyone in the family was singing my praises the day I made this Arroz Con Leche. Making this dessert was a reminder that traditions and culture are not limited to a physical place, but are actually something we can carry with us wherever we go.

Arroz Con Leche
Source: Taste of Home
Serves 4

1-1/2 cups water
1/2 cup uncooked jasmine rice
1 cup sweetened condensed milk
Ground cinnamon, to taste

In a small saucepan, combine the water and rice. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes or until water is absorbed.

Stir in milk. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 10-15 minutes or until thick and creamy, stirring frequently.

Serve warm or cold. Add cinnamon to taste.

For more on my move to Chicago and my baking adventures, follow me on Facebook and Instagram @thecookierunner 
Stephanie

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

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Book Review: Jen Besel's Custom Confections

I was sent a copy of Jen Besel's book, Custom Confections: Delicious Desserts You Can Create and Enjoy, to review and, as usual, I am thankful for any reason to bake. Part of what really had me excited about the book was that it claimed to have recipes that were easy enough for kids. Now that my girls are older, especially Cati at almost 4.5 years old, they are very interested in everything that I do in the kitchen and are constantly asking to help add and mix ingredients. As soon as Cati saw the book she grabbed it, sat down, and started leafing through the pages. Right off the bat, the book's cover is eye-catching and I can't blame Cati for being immediately drawn to it.
The meaning behind the name, Custom Confections comes from Besel's view that everyone can make custom desserts. With this view, Besel has developed recipes with easy-to-find ingredients, short prep time, and shortcuts to creating showstopping desserts. The book is divided into five sections and includes recipes for everything from cakes to cookies to bars to popsicles to frosting. Like a good cookbook (or at least my favorite ones), there s a conversion chart and a list of tools that not only are useful for a fully stocked kitchen, but also for making the recipes in Custom Confections.

Aesthetically, the book is gorgeous to look at with pictures for every single recipe and fun colors and fonts. For the majority of the recipes you can lay the book flat on the counter and have the picture on one side and the recipe on the other. For someone who has baked as much as I have, it's always been a bit of a pet peeve when recipes are pages long and I have to flip back and forth to check the ingredient list and see where it matches up with the directions. Besel gives a one-sentence intro/commentary to every dessert, making you want to try every single dessert.

The only issue I had with the book was that the serving amount wasn't identified or clear. This is an issue for me because I usually cut recipes down so we don't have too many sweets in the house at a given time.

As part of my review I picked five recipes from the book. Recipes were chosen based on what I thought the family would like, tools I had, ease of making, and involvement of kids. The five recipes were Molten Caramel Cake, PB & J Cheesecake Brownies, Stained Glass Cookies, Stuffed Strawberries, and Ooey, Gooey Turtle Cake.

Molten Caramel Cake

Eight ingredients, 10 steps, and about 20-25 minutes from prep to table. Cati was able to help with unwrapping the caramel candies, adding them to the batter, and sprinkling with sea salt. This recipe was, by far, the favorite for everyone in the family. I baked for 12 minutes, but my cakes (4) could have used an extra minute or two in the oven. The leftover cake was put in the fridge and reheated the next day and tasted just as good as it did fresh out of the oven. This dessert is perfect for the chocolate lover and I loved that sea salt was added as caramel-sea salt is one of my favorite combinations. I've made molten cakes before and, while they are one of my favorite desserts, I rarely make them because the recipes I have tried before have been too involved. This recipe solves that problem for me and now molten cakes will be a dessert that I make more frequently.

PB & J Cheesecake Brownies

Nine ingredients, eight steps, and at least 40 minutes from prep to table. Instead of making an 8x8 pan of brownies, I made 12 brownie cups, quartered the cream cheese recipe, and added PB & J to half of the cups so that I could get a good taste of the finished cheesecake (plus, I'm not a fan of peanut butter in desserts). I also added a chocolate drizzle to the cups to make them look even prettier. The cups baked for 25 minutes and neither of the girls helped with the prep work for this dessert. The finished dessert was a hit and it was hard to get the girls to only have one for dessert. The brownie portion is made from a mix, but the cheesecake is made from scratch and, when baked, the cheesecake was smooth and didn't crack when cooled! The only thing I would change about this recipe is heating up the jam before putting it in the cheesecake mixture so that it mixes easier.
 

Stained Glass Cookies

Four ingredients, eight steps, and about 25 minutes from prep to table. This recipe was probably the funnest one for the girls as they got to unwrap the candies, help break them up into small pieces, place them in the hole of the cookie, and decorate their own cookies. They even sat in front of the oven, looking in to watch the candy melt. Once the cookies were out of the oven I was surprised by how hard the candies were! For some reason, I thought the candies would melt and become more pliable, but once cooled, the melted candy became hard again. My mistake with this recipe was thinking I had cookie cutters when I went to buy the ingredients and not actually checking to see if I did so my cookies did not end up with the wide opening I would have wanted. 

Stuffed Strawberries

Five ingredients, eight steps, and about 20 minutes from prep to table. I made half the filling recipe and had enough filling to "stuff" a dozen small- and medium-sized strawberries. The girls helped with this recipe by eating the cut-off tips. The finished product was so beautiful that it was almost a shame to eat. But eat them we did, and I am so happy we did because the strawberries were delicious and I fell in love with the tart-tangy-sweet combination. We ate all the stuffed strawberries in one sitting so I would call this recipe a complete success.
 
Ooey, Gooey Turtle Cake 

Five ingredients, nine steps, 10 minutes prep, and a torturous four hours to table. I made half the recipe and refrigerated the cake to expedite the process. The girls helped with unwrapping the caramel candies and sprinkling the cake with the pecans. I will warn you now, this dessert is completely addictive and incredibly dangerous. This was the simplest of the recipes I tried and, along with the Stuffed Strawberries, one of the recipes that I think best exemplifies Besel's efforts at creating easy-to-make custom desserts.

Custom Confections: Delicious Desserts You Can Create and Enjoy by Jen Besel will be available for purchase September 1st, 2014 for $12.95 USD ($14.95 CAD).

A copy of this book was provided to me by IWPR and the publisher, Capstone Young Readers, free of charge. The views and opinions in this review, however, are my own.

For more on my baking adventures follow me on Facebook and Instagram @thecookierunner
Stephanie

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

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Batiste Dry Shampoo Review

Back when I used to live in Boston a friend recommended this dry shampoo hair product to me, Batiste. This friend swore by it and said it made hair maintenance so much easier as she didn't have to wash and blow dry her hair as often. At that time the dry shampoo came in a plastic bottle with a nose tip and you had to squeeze the bottle to get the powder out. For whatever reason, I could never figure out how to evenly spread the powder in my hair so I gave up on the product and eventually threw the bottle away.

Fast forward to today and I am again trying Batiste, but this time the appearance and delivery are different. Instead of the powder being in a plastic bottle, it is now in a spray bottle. They have also expanded the line to include different scents and dry shampoos that add volume and color to your hair.
 
The dry shampoo that I have been using is their "fruity & cheeky cherry" and I have been loving it. As someone who sweats on a daily basis and likes to keep her hair as low maintenance as possible, this dry shampoo has worked wonders in turning my damp and sweaty hair into dry hair that actually feels and looks healthier than my hair normally does after a wash. Since I started using Batiste I have been able to push back washing my hair from every day/other day to every three days. That may not seem like much, but to someone who doesn't like to spend more than two minutes a day on her hair, it's a big deal. The best part has really been the change from a plastic bottle to a spray bottle because application is quick and easy. The cherry smell is also great and I even got complimented on the smell. 
Sprays on white but disappears after brushing.
The only downside for me is finding it in store and not having to order it online. Either way, this is a product I will continue to use. If I found it years ago in Boston and then again now, I'm sure I won't have any trouble finding it again soon.
Nice hair, happy face.
Note: Batiste Hair sent me a free sample as a Girls Gone Sport Ambassador, but all the opinions in this review are my own.

Curious about how much I sweat? Follow me on Facebook and Instagram @thecookierunner to find out!
Stephanie
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Weighing In on the Chicago Deep Dish Battle

I've been in Chicago for three weeks now (!!!) and I did not waste any time in finding out which deep dish pizza was my favorite. Before moving up here I had heard about Gino's East and Giordano's, but in the past two weeks I had heard a lot about Lou Malnati's. After much negotiation (I'm lying) and hair pulling (I'm really lying), I was able to convince (super lying) Alex to go with me to Giordano's and Lou Malnati's. We had already tried Gino's back in April so the goal in the past two weeks that Alex has been here has been to get to Giordano's and Lou Malnati's and survive a meal there with the girls. I say "survive" because deep dish pizzas can take up to an hour to get to your table and our girls usually max out their good behavior reserves at around the hour mark. The goal was also to try pizzas that were similar so that we could make a semi-fair comparison. So, without further ado, here are my thoughts in order of when I tried each pizza:

Gino's East
This was the first deep dish pizza I tried in the city. My first thought was "What the hell? I need to wait 45-minutes for pizza? There is no way we are ever going to a restaurant to eat deep dish with the girls." It actually wasn't 45-minutes and ordering an appetizer was a must to help us get through the time.  We ordered a small pepperoni deep dish pizza and I was, unfortunately, disappointed. The crust tasted like yeast to me and the pepperoni tasted like salami. I don't know what I was expecting, but it wasn't what I had. (Note: I have since gone back and it was better, but still not my favorite. Their thin crust pizza was better than deep dish).
IMG_3280

Giordano's
Second deep dish pizza I tried in the city and we went all the way with a true meat lover's pizza: bacon, salami, sausage, and pepperoni. Giordano's calls their pizza a "stuffed" pizza and I honestly can't think of a better descriptor. The pizza was loaded with cheese and the meats. The pizza seemed almost upside down with the order of ingredients being crust, meats, cheese, and sauce. I made it through a slice and half of this pizza and had the leftovers for lunch the next day. We waited about 35 minutes for the pizza to come out and, because we went during lunch time during the week, there was no wait for a table. The girls had a thin crust cheese pizza, but our pizza looked and tasted better than their pizza.
IMG_8454

Lou Malnati's 
Last but certainly not least was the sausage and pepperoni pizza we ordered from Lou Malnati's. This pizza was, by far, the freshest and healthiest tasting pizza of all the pizzas. The pepperoni was so good that the girls were eating it and they haven't wanted to eat pepperoni in a very long time (they also devoured their thin crust cheese pizza). There are two things that I really liked about Lou Malnati's that the other two restaurants don't offer: (1) personal-sized pizzas and (2) the ability to order your food while you wait for a table so that your deep dish pizza gets to you soon after you sit down. The only thing neither of us were fans of was the sausage as it was a sausage patty (too breakfast-y) and not sausage chunks like in the Giordano's pizza.

Which was my favorite? It's almost a toss up between Giordano's and Lou Malnati's. If it's just Alex and me (or just me), I would go to Giordano's because the level of cheese is out of this world and makes my heart happy. I also liked the way their pizza tasted the next day the best. If we are going with the girls, I would go to Lou Malnati's because I've never seen them eat pizza they way they did there (the left only three pieces of their small pizza) and because you can order your food while you wait saving time at the table.

There are still other pizza places in the city I want to try, but I'm happy I was able to make it out to these three when I did after hearing so many recommendations for them. If you live in Chicago or have been here before and have been to these restaurants, which was your favorite?

For more on my Chicago adventures, follow me on Facebook and Instagram @thecookierunner 
Stephanie


Friday, July 25, 2014

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Race Recap: Rock 'n' Roll Chicago Half Marathon

Rock 'n' Roll Chicago would be my second Chicago half marathon, but my first half marathon as a newly transplanted resident. What really had me excited about this race, however, was that it was going to be my close friend's first half marathon. I have known this particular friend since college and, to this day, we call ourselves Lilo and Stitch. When I mentioned running this race to my friend, she immediately agreed to run it and then suggested we dress up as Lilo and Stitch. This was going to be my first race dressing up as anything so I was excited. My "costume" shows how far I have come in my journey of self-love and acceptance as I ran 13.1 miles in a red Calavera swim top.

One of my favorite parts about bigger races is expo. Expo is like Disney to a runner with a huge room filled with anything and everything running related and lots of freebies. We spent around three hours at expo and I came home feeling like I won the runner's lottery.

There were jitters the day before the race, but the morning of the race I was surprisingly calm. I usually get anxious before a half marathon, but maybe, I knew that I had to be the calm one to help center and calm my friend.

We started the race in the 17th corral but didn't have to wait long as we started running about 20 minutes after the race started at 6:30am. The first third of the race took us through the parts of the city I was familiar with, the second third of the race took us through a part of the city I had yet to explore, and the third part of the race took us through a part of the city and the lakefront I never thought I would run because of how far south the part of the race was.
With Fireman Rob
Between miles 9 and 10 my friend began to struggle as the mind games and the "you can't do this" and "it hurts too much to move forward" started to kick in. She did what she had to do and kept moving. I kept talking and we took breaks for stretching and fueling. She didn't say much but you could see the determination on her face to fight for her finish. Right before mile 13 she had a sharp pain in her left leg. More stretching and then an all-out sprint to the finish line. Her face at the finish line has to be my favorite part of this race as she looked like she was going to cry in pain and out of happiness at the same time. I felt like I was looking at myself last year after finishing my first half marathon. To go from not thinking you can do it to doing it, is one of the best feelings ever. I was so proud of my friend and honored to be the person that got to run 13.1 miles with her and celebrate her conquering her mental bullies.

The races with the PRs are great, but the ones that touch your heart are my favorites. I was a part of my friend's story, that part where she set out to accomplish something she never thought possible.

What I liked:
  • Great expo and easy packet pickup. 
  • Finishing half #12 and helping my friend finish half #1. 
  • Running through downtown Chicago. 
  • Running through unexplored parts of Chicago.  
  • Nice race shirts. 
  • All the GU (I was that girl picking up unopened GUs from the floor). 
  • Water and Gatorade on the course. 
  • Music festival and free beer. 
  • Nice medal (I like the 5K one better though). 
  • Meeting Instagram friends in person.
  • Perfect start time for the weather. 
  • Free beer!
  • Great crowds in the beginning half and end of the race. 
  • Earning my Remix medal for completing the 5K Saturday and the half Sunday.
  • Project Onward Moving Art Museum.

 What I didn't like:
  • I was expecting more entertainment on the course. 
  • Mile 11-ish entertainment: they had talent but the music was so slow. 
  • My Garmin freaked out during the race and says I finished with 14.5 miles done. 
 
There are a few half marathons I would like to do and, of course, Spartan in September, but for now I am training for Chicago and signing up for things that Alex's schedule allows. 

You can see all my pictures from my Rock 'n' Roll weekend in my Instagram @thecookierunner
Stephanie

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Race Recap: Rock 'n' Roll Chicago 5K

Participating in Rock 'n' Roll Chicago's Saturday, July 19th 5K is proof that I am an impulsive racer. I was signed up to do the half marathon on Sunday, July 20th and I knew about the new 5K on Saturday, but I didn't sign up until the week before the race when I got an email from Rock 'n' Roll saying that Shalane Flanagan would be at the event taking pictures with participants. As soon as I realized that I would have a chance at meeting this inspiring woman, I signed up. It's not every day that you can meet a running phenom with connections to Boston, right?

The race thankfully started at 8:00am, which in Miami would have been dreadful, but in Chicago, with the cooler temperatures, was nice. My Miami friend, who was going to be running the half with me, kindly woke up early and went to the race with me. I told her my goal was to finish in 25 minutes. I had come close to that time in training runs so I was confident that if everything lined up and my body and mind cooperated, I would be able to set a PR on this run.

The race started and, because I was toward the back of the group, I tried to maneuver myself away from the big crowd. I spotted a guy in a blue shirt who looked like he was running at a pace that would help me get my PR and focused on simply keeping him within sight. The first mile flew by as I wove in and around people. The second mile hurt and the third mile hurt even more. Never once did my brain act up and I was so thankful that all that hurt was the burning in my legs. When I finished I couldn't even believe my unofficial time of 24:43 (official time 24:40) because that's a time and pace I never thought possible. All my hard work and dedication are paying off in ways that I can see.

As soon as I finished we walked over the festival area and got in line to meet Shalane Flanagan. The wait was worth it as I turned into a giddy fool when it was my turn to have my picture taken with her. I even gave her two sweaty hugs and I hate sweaty hugs!

What I liked:
  • Expo was great and packet pickup was easy. 
  • Later start time meant I could go through my normal morning routine. 
  • I walked to and from the race. 
  • Ran through a part of the lakefront I hadn't run through before. 
  • The medal is gorgeous. 
  • Meeting Shalane Flanagan. 
  • PR! PR! PR! PR!
  • Boston feels like it could be a reality. 
  • Sufficient water on course. 
What I didn't like:
  • I wish there would have been more of the race on the lakefront trail.  
  • Getting a PR means that I don't even remember what I didn't like! 
Next race recap will be for Rock 'n' Roll Chicago Half Marathon on July 20th.

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Stephanie

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Race Recap: Down 2 Earth 13.1 Trail Run

The fact that I am writing about a race I ran a month ago is sad because that's how long the movers had my stuff. I won't even get into the details over our disastrous move so I'll just focus on the positive: I have my stuff, I love living in Chicago, and I've already raced twice in the two weeks since I moved. Before I get to those Chicago races, I have to tell you about my experience with running a half marathon distance trail run.

They say that before you do your second marathon you need to have gotten over your first marathon. This is exactly how I feel about my first trail half marathon, Down 2 Earth. I've had races that are hard mentally and runs that are hard physically. For me, the trail 13.1 was both. I signed up for the race as a training run and somehow roped my friend into doing the race as well. I have never felt so bad about getting someone to run with me as this course was not easy (trails really are a whole different beast).

The run was four loops in the trails and most of the course was spent running alone (my friend had knee issues and told me to run ahead after the second loop and then later stopped at mile 10). If it weren't for the fact that I was hoping to catch my friend cross the finish line, I don't know how I would have finished. In many ways this race felt like my first half marathon with all the mind games and "you can't do this" that was going on in my head. My friend may have been upset she didn't finish, but just the thought of her (and my guilt over convincing her to sign up) inspired and motivated me to finish.

What got to me the most with the trails was how hard the run was; oftentimes, I felt like I was running a 9-minute mile when in reality I was running a 13-minute mile. Certain miles felt eternal and they certainly looked it because nothing ever really looked familiar. Also, I am so used to running races with big crowds, that running alone in such unfamiliar territory was a little isolating. I missed the "you got this!" being screamed at me from the sidelines. I don't think I would ever want to do another 13.1 distance, but I can definitely see myself signing up for another 10K trail run.

What I liked:
  • For as much as I haven't been able to get over this run, I did like the fact that it challenged me and reminded me that I am strong enough to overcome the bully in my head.
  • Inexpensive entry fee and easy day-of packet pickup.
  • Cool trails. 
  • Having my friend as company for half of the race and then seeing her face at the finish line.
  • This race made me really respect all those runners out there who prefer and excel in the trails.
  • 7:30am start time so we started running in full sunlight, but the trails were so well covered you didn't even feel the heat of the day.
  • General feelings of bad-assery associated with having simply finished.
What I didn't like:
  • I would have liked a more memorable medal. 
  • Sparsely populated course.
  • It was hard as hell (whine, whine). 
Next race recap will be Rock n Roll Chicago 5K from July 19th.

Follow me on Facebook and Instagram @thecookierunner
Stephanie