Monday, December 30, 2013

Meal Prep Monday - Gluten Free Cranberry Flax Muffins and Slow Cooker Chicken

Happy Monday! I hope everyone had a great holiday weekend. Mine was pretty full with FOUR family Christmas celebrations and four holiday feasts over three days. Lots of fun but I'm definitely looking forward to getting out of holiday mode once New Years is over.

We have a bunch of leftovers and are going away on an overnight ski trip for New Years, but I wanted to make sure to get a good meal prep in anyways to help counteract the puffy, sluggish feeling I have from all this feasting.


I'm almost out of oatmeal so I took a brief break from my baked oatmeal kick this week and made some muffins. I started with this yummy looking Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins recipe from The Lean Green Bean. But I didn't have any almond meal and didn't feel like making a special Whole Foods trip to find some. And then I picked up a bag of fresh cranberries on a whim. So all in all I ended up with a fairly different recipe, but it still turned out pretty great.

Gluten Free Cranberry Flax Muffins

Calories: 120 | Fat: 8 g | Cholest: 54 mg | Sodium: 93 mg | Carbs: 9 g | Fiber: 3 g | Sugars: 4 g | Protein: 3 g

1/2 cup cooked, mashed sweet potato
2/3 cup mashed very ripe banana (about 1 medium banana)
4 tbsp coconut oil
4 eggs
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 cup flax meal
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup fresh cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix the sweet potato, banana, eggs, oil and maple syrup until there are very few lumps.
Stir in the flax meal, cinnamon and baking soda.
Fold in cranberries
Pour batter into greased muffin tins and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the muffins feel firm and are starting to brown around the edges.
Makes 14 one-muffin servings.

These muffins are dense, moist and rich tasting. The flax meal gives them a nutty flavor and they aren't super sweet, but the tart cranberries give a nice flavor kick. Two of these muffins topped with a little Greek yogurt would make a tasty,nutritious and filling breakfast. If you're looking for more muffin recipes, you can find mine here.


I kept it light and simple so I made my slow cooker shredded chicken again. It's the easiest meal prep protein to make--just dump 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts in the slow cooker, add spices and enough broth to cover the chicken, and cook on low for 6-8 hours. It's also super versatile. Check out my post here for some ideas on how to use it. 


Sticking with the easy theme, I cooked up some quinoa and made my normal oven roasted broccoli and squash. This time I also added carrots for variety.


I only have a couple days left in my Washington Sports Club LivingSocial deal so I'll be doing a few more group classes and then it's back to my normal free home workout routine.

Monday: WSC Dupont Circle UXF Burn at 6:00pm
Tuesday: NYE Night Ski 
Wednesday: Skiing! 
Thursday: WSC Clarendon BodyPump at 6:00pm
Saturday: Run

Friday, December 27, 2013

Friday Favs - New Years Inspiration

Happy last Friday in 2013! Does that freak anyone else out? Can't believe 2013 is almost over!

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So much has happened in the past few weeks and so much is changing that I have no idea at all what 2014 will bring. Definitely terrifying, but also exciting! So for this week's Five Things Friday link-up, here are five of my favorite inspirational quotes to get you started in the new year.

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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

I'm getting ready for another multiple house holiday with a late lunch at my Aunt's and dinner with the bf's family and just wanted to pop by to wish you all a very happy holiday! I hope you have a wonderful day spent with your loved ones and hopefully some delicious food. And remember to eat the darn pie!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Moving Prep - Closet Cleaning Tips

Merry Christmas Eve Eve! We have a LOT of family meals planned with at least 4 celebrations to go to this week, so I didn't meal prep. But I did do some Christmas prepping by wrapping presents and started prepping for my cross-country move by cleaning out my closet. When I was done, I ended up with FOUR bags of clothes for Goodwill!

For anyone else prepping for a big move, or just wanting to make some room for new Christmas presents, here are some closet-cleaning tips to help you decide what to get rid of.

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1. Think about the last time you wore it

I've heard of the two-year and one-year rule, but I tend to follow a little simpler process. Think about the last time you wore the item. Did you have trouble remembering it? Was it difficult to think of more than one example? Unless it's very expensive, still fits, and you'll wear it again (like a suit or tux) put it in the giveaway pile.

2. Try things on

Instead of picturing how you looked in that dress three years ago when you were going through your party-girl phase and had blonde highlights, try it on. Does it still go with your hipster glasses and brown bangs? Pretend you're in a dressing room. Would you buy this dress if you were trying it on new in a store today? If not, into the giveaway pile it goes.

3. Consider quality

It can be hard to get rid of that favorite t-shirt with the unraveling hem, but do yourself a favor and toss anything visibly worn or stained that can't be easily repaired. You deserve better! And even if you can't afford to replace everything right away, you'll be better off with fewer high quality clothes than than a lot of poor quality ones.  

4. Celebrate and let go

If You've followed the above steps and are still having trouble letting go of the dress you haven't worn in two years that is too small and has a rip in the seam, focus on the reasons why you love it so much. If it's because you're remembering how great you felt in it last new year's eve or how much fun you had wearing it at your sister's wedding, take a minute to acknowledge and celebrate all the good times you had in the dress. Then let go so you have room to make new fashion memories. 

5. Ask yourself if you would want to haul it 2,752 miles

Ok, so this was especially relevant for me, but I think it's a good measure of how much you really like a piece of clothing. If it isn't worth packing and unpacking on a move, is it really worth the valuable closet space it's taking up? 

Q: Do you have trouble letting go of things like clothes? Any closet-cleaning tips? 

Sunday, December 22, 2013


Hi All! Hope everyone is having a great weekend and that you're ready for Christmas if you celebrate in (ack!) THREE days! 

If you follow me on social media, you may have noticed that I've been a little MIA lately. I've also been mentioned that I've been busy and stressed a lot on the blog without really giving any reasons why. Well, I am happy to finally be able to share the (totally legit) reason/some big news with the Internets today!

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No, I'm not pregnant (thank goodness). I just accepted a new job at a non profit that works to reduce child malnutrition and mortality worldwide through micronutient supplementation. And that job just happens to be located in sunny Santa Barbara, California, so I'll be moving all the way across the country by the end of January.

This was definitely one of the hardest decisions I've ever made. I moved to New York for college and went all the way to China for grad school, but moving when you don't have the comfort of living in a dorm and built-in friends is a lot more scary. The prospect of leaving the bf and all my family and friends behind and moving to a city where I don't know a single person is terrifying. But I really loved the city and the organization when I visited last week and am super excited to start this new chapter.

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I'm going to do my best to keep the blog updated at a normal pace, but please bear with me if moving my life cross country around the holidays causes any interruptions.

Q: Have you ever moved cross country? Any tips? Know anyone in Santa Barbara? I need some friends there...

Friday, December 20, 2013

Friday Favs - YouTube Fitness Channels

Happy Friday! I can't believe there's only 5 days left until Christmas!! Anyone else freaking out about how fast the year is going by? 

Since I've been trying to squeeze every penny out of my LivingSocial gym membership, I've gotten away from my cheap frugal roots and haven't shared as many free home workout resources as usual. To make up for it, I'm joining the Five Things Friday Link Up with five of my favorite YouTube fitness channels for great FREE! workouts.

1. BeFiT

The BeFiT channel from Lionsgate is new to me. With new workouts every single weekday from famous fitness trainers like Jillian Michaels, and great structured  30-day programs, I'm not sure how I could have missed it for so long!

2. Blogilates 

As I've said before, Cassey Ho of Blogilates fame has some of the best/most painful Pilates videos around (check out my review of her workout calendar here). And even though her workouts are super challenging, Cassey's energy makes working through the burn a little easier.

3. FitnessBlender

FitnessBlender is another resource that I know I've mentioned a lot on the blog, but I couldn't possible leave them off this list. The sheer volume and variety of high-quality workout videos on their YouTube channel (300+!) is amazing and I especially love that they have challenging full-length workout videos in addition to quicker options.

I first found Jessica Smith through her awesome (and free!) 10 pounds down workout series on my cable TV On Demand. I love that she releases new workout videos every week and that there are options for all fitness levels. Her walking exercise series is a great low impact option for beginners or people with injuries.

Karena and Katrina, certified personal trainers and makers of the extremely popular Tone It Up nutrition plan, offer workout videos, healthy eating recipes and regular social challenges on their YouTube channel. Their videos have a fun Cali vibe, are shot amid beautiful scenery, and I love that they have a lot of quick workouts that you can pair to make a full workout or squeeze in when you are pressed for time.

Q: What's your fav YouTube fitness channel? Any other favorite free workout resources?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Workout Wednesday - Treadmill Interval Routines

At 30 degrees, grey and occasionally rainy for the past few days, we've reached typical DC winter weather and the point where it is too crappy for me to run outside. That means either a) not running anymore or b) a return to the dreaded treadmill. 

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Since I don't want to lose the totally legit running cred I've built up by running TWO WHOLE 5Ks, back to the dreaded treadmill it is. Boredom makes running very fast or long on the treadmill hard for me, so I like to keep it interesting with intervals. Plus, interval training is also really good for you! Here's a few of my current favorite treadmill interval routines.

This routine is the ultimate boredom buster. Not only is it an interval routine, but each of the 6 intervals is different! With three difficulty options it's appropriate for different fitness levels, although I found even the intermediate option pretty challenging.

This workout isn't as difficult cardio-wise as the first routine, but the hills kill my leg and butt muscles.

This routine is tough for me because instead of alternating between fast and slow intervals of similar length you are slowly building up speed for 7 minutes before slowing down. But it's great for building endurance and makes me feel like a best to finish. 

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Q: Do you love or hate the treadmill? What's your favorite treadmill interval workout? 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Meal Prep Monday - Vegan Cranberry Baked Oatmeal and Greek Yogurt Chicken

Happy Monday! I had a pretty hectic week and was completely out of groceries for a few days, so I'm really glad to have a full fridge again and meal prep done. It's not a very organized fridge, but it is stocked with mostly healthy food (and beer!).


I unfortunately started making breakfast before I went to the grocery store/realized I was out of both eggs and egg whites. #bloggerfail. But on the plus side, it did force me to come up with a vegan breakfast for the first time, which was actually delicious! #bloggerwin!

Vegan Cranberry Baked Oatmeal

Calories: 233 | Fat: 8 g | Cholest: 0 mg | Sodium: 46 mg | Carbs: 34 g | Fiber: 6 g | Sugars: 15 g | Protein: 6 g

1 1/2 cups oats
2 tbsp chia seeds
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup raisins
1 cup fresh cranberries
1 very ripe banana, mashed
1/4 cup raw pepitas, divided in 2
1/4 cup walnut pieces, divided in 2
1 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
2 tbsp maple syrup

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Mix all ingredients (including only half of the divided ingredients) in a large rectangular microwave and oven safe baking dish.
Microwave on high for 10 minutes.
Mix the rest of the pepitas and walnuts together, then sprinkle over the oatmeal mixture.
Bake for 15 minutes or until mixture is firm. Broil for the last minute so the toppings get crispy. 
Makes 6 servings.

I really liked this recipe and surprisingly didn't miss the eggs, although the texture was definitely less cakey than normal. The tart cranberries were delicious balanced with the sweet raisins and extra maple syrup. Because I didn't have eggs and didn't realize it until after I started making the recipe, this breakfast is a little lower in protein than normal. But this is easily (and tastily) fixed by adding a generous serving of Greek yogurt or your favorite nut butter if you need to keep it vegan.


With all the recent and upcoming holiday parties full of delicious food and drinks, I new I wanted to make a light protein, so I went with The Lean Green Bean's Greek Yogurt Chicken which I've made before and absolutely loved. This time, I left out the avocado (because I forgot to buy one) and it was still really good. The Greek yogurt makes the chicken so moist and all the spices (I also add extra sriracha) keep it from being boring.


Since I was already using my oven for the chicken, I stuck to low maintenance baked sides including roasted cauliflower and broccoli, sweet potatoes, and spaghetti squash.


I'm still trying to squeeze every last penny out of my Washington Sports Club LivingSocial deal so I'll be doing a lot of group classes again this week, including BodyPump! I took my first BodyPump class in over a year last week and it was just as awesome as I remembered. I highly recommend checking it out if you are ever at a gym that offers it :)

Monday: WSC Clarendon Cardio Kickboxing at 6:00pm, Rec league volleyball
Tuesday: WSC Clarendon BodyPump at 6:00pm 
Wednesday: Treadmill run
Thursday: WSC Clarendon BodyPump at 6:00pm
Friday: WSC Gallery Place Zumba at 5:45pm
Saturday: WSC Clarendon UFX Burn at 9:45am
Sunday: Rest

Friday, December 13, 2013


This has been a pretty busy and stressful week with cross country travel, holiday parties, work and some big life decisions. Times like these always make me think about balance--between work and personal life, health and indulgence, working toward future goals and enjoying the moment.

Balance, both literally and figuratively has always been something I've struggled with. I'm terrible at yoga because of my lack of flexibility and tendency to fall over but also because I'm not good at relaxing, getting in touch with my body, finding my center, etc. And not being good at stopping and listening to my heart makes it hard to figure out what's really important to me, which leaves me wanting to do ALL THE THINGS.

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 I've been doing the daily #happyhealthyyogis challenge pose on Instagram and I took my first real life yoga class last week. I've also been setting monthly goals on the blog and am trying to use this blog to reflect more on those goals and life in general. But some days/weeks it is definitely still hard for me and I am trying to cut myself some slack. Hence today's short "musing" post instead of a recipe or review with tons of pics :)

Q: How do you maintain balance?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Workout Wednesday - Hotel Room Workouts

Hi all! Hope everyone in wintery-weather prone climates is surviving. I'm missing it all in sunny California right now, but am waiting to (hopefully) get back to the cold tonight! 

One perk of the warmer weather was being able to run outside sans my usual 50 million layers in beautiful scenery.

But since it's not always super easy to fit in a run with all the other fun stuff to do here (mostly eating), I've also been doing a few hotel room workouts.

This jump-free workout is perfect for getting.a good total body workout without getting a ton of jumping-related noise complaints, especially if you tend to land like an elephant like me :)

My new Elf for Health partner, the amazing Emily of Fit and Free With Emily introduced me to this PopSugar circuit which is also great for travel. All you need is a chair or something else to do step-ups on and you can substitute the squat jumps with squats if you're worried about any downstairs neighbors.

And of course there's always Nike Training Club. I love the Get Focused abs routines for travel because you only need 15 minutes and no equipment to get a great core workout in.

Q: What's your favorite hotel room workout?

Monday, December 9, 2013

December Goals/November Recap

I'm traveling for a couple days and so am not meal prepping today. If you're in need of some meal prep ideas, check out my previous meal prep posts here.

Since we are already one week into December (how the heck did that happen!?) I thought I'd give you an overview of how I did on my November goals and share my December goals.

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November Goals:

Try a new workout/fitness class 
I tried a fun new ropes course at Terrapin Adventures

Run a race 
Finished this one day late, on December first when I ran the Run for the Wounded Warriors 5K aka the race where I got lost in the woods.
Clean out closet 
Move living room furniture
Gah still haven't done this. 
Do a new couples activity/outing 
Organize a girls night/day out 
Organized one but it fell through. Need to see my friends more.

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□ Have lunch with a friend 
□ Phone a friend or family member 
□ Create a new recipe
I think this pumpkin bread baked oatmeal might be my favorite!

□ Write a personal blog post 

Overall I did ok at finishing my November goals, although I must admit there was a lot of rushing to fit things in at the end :) Here are my goals for next month:

December Goals:

Try a new workout/fitness class
Try a new running path
Take clothes from cleaned out closet to Goodwill
Move living room furniture! 
Clean out medicine cabinet/under-sink storage
Have lunch with a friend 
Visit a friend I haven't seen in awhile
Call family/friends to chat
Post on the blog 4-5 times a week
Try a new blog post format

In addition to my December goals, I'm also participating in the last two weeks of Elf for Health. The first two were really fun and I am so happy to have two more weeks of heathy living motivation and support during this busy holiday season!

Q: What are some of your goals? How often do you set them?

Friday, December 6, 2013

Three Things NCAA Volleyball Taught Me

The first rounds of the Women's NCAA Division I Championship started today and I am so excited to fill my DVR with some high quality volleyball matches. The bf is also thrilled to have every single regional final (airing on ESPNU!) recording :)

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All of the excitement surrounding tournament time has made me think back on my NCAA volleyball days. As you may know, I played Division III NCAA Volleyball at Vassar College. (where I still hold the career digs record. holla!) Playing volleyball was one of the best parts of college for me, and being in the gym definitely got me through some tough times. I could go on and on about the student athlete experience but in the interest of saving material for later blogs keeping it brief, here are three things NCAA Volleyball taught me.


Volleyball is the ultimate team sport since you have three touches to get the ball over the net and players can't touch the ball twice in a row. This means that you rely on your teammates to set you up for success (sometimes literally. hah!) and that no individual player can win without strong teammates around them. Playing volleyball at the collegiate level taught me to work together towards a common goal with a diverse team of women. Spending so much time together on and off the court with a large group of women was also a good learning experience and, as a three year captain, I got a lot of practice at conflict resolution. 

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How to Try

While learning to respect your body's limitations is important, I think a lot of young athletes also have to be taught how to exceed expectations and try harder than you thought possible. Learning to go all out and just try--to get to that ball you thought was out of reach, to beat that blocker that's a foot taller than you --is an important part of competition and a valuable life lesson. 

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Dealing with Failure

When playing volleyball, or any sport, mistakes are inevitable. And almost every team, no matter how good, is going to lose sometime. Learning to deal with mistakes and losses was something I struggled with at the beginning of my career, but playing so many matches and being a team leader meant that I had to find a way to move on quickly. It's still something I'm working on today, but my collegiate volleyball days definitely helped.

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And finally, although this isn't really something I learned, NCAA volleyball also gave me the chance to get to know an amazing group of women (some of whom I saw at our alumni game!) who I love and still stay in touch with.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Vegan Holiday Quinoa Recipe

As I mentioned over a week ago, I always like to contribute a healthy side dish to the crazy three-house-marathon that is Thanksgiving for me.  After looking through a bunch of amazing Thanksgiving recipes, I came up with this delicious and fairly nutritious vegan holiday quinoa dish. And, only a week later, I managed to take pictures and write down the recipe to share with you. So, while this recipe is too late to add to your Thanksgiving menu, feel free to make it a part of your Christmas feast or any other special holiday meal you have coming up. That way this post won't seem late, and might even be considered early!   

Holiday Quinoa

Calories: 194 | Fat: 5 g | Cholest: 0 mg | Sodium: 463 mg | Carbs: 33 g | Fiber: 7 g | Sugars: 6 g | Protein: 6 g
1 1/2 cups dry quinoa
1/2 small yellow onion
2 garlic cloves
3 cups vegetable broth
2 cups cubed butternut squash
2 tsp olive oil, divided
1 tsp salt
2 tsp black pepper
1 cup fresh cranberries 
1 tbsp honey
2 tbsp apple juice
1/4 cup pepitas (the light green pumpkin seeds)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Heat 1 tsp of the olive oil in a sauce pot large enough to hold your quinoa and broth. Chop your onion and garlic cloves, then cook them in the oil until the onion starts to become translucent.
Rinse your quinoa and add it to the pot. Cook a couple minutes until dry, stirring occasionally.
Add broth, bring to a boil, and then simmer until liquid is absorbed and quinoa is fluffy (about 20 minutes).

While quinoa is cooking, sprinkle butternut squash with remaining olive oil, salt and pepper and spread on a lightly greased baking sheet.
Bake for about 20 minutes or until the squash is starts to soften and get a little crispy.

While squash and quinoa cook, chop the cranberries and mix with the honey and apple juice. This would probably be a lot easier in a food processor, but doing it by hand is ok if you don't have one or are too lazy to clean yours like me.

After the quinoa and squash are done cooking and the cranberries are prepped, mix them together along with the pepitas in a large mixing bowl and serve.
Makes 8 generous servings.

This recipe is a delicious balance of nutty quinoa, sweet butternut squash, tart cranberries and crunchy pepitas. It's vegan and gluten free, great for your guests with dietary restrictions. The flavors and bright colors make it perfect for a fall or winter holiday meal, and it is fairly easy to make and can be prepped the night before. In fact, it's probably even better that way since it gives the cranberries have a chance to absorb all the honey and apple juice, especially if you don't use a food processor. This also makes A LOT of quinoa, so expect leftovers if you are eating this as part of a large meal. Which, since this dish is so tasty, is a good thing :)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Run for the Wounded Warriors 5K/How I Got Lost in the Woods

As I mentioned (hopefully) tantalizingly in my last post, I ran a 5K on Sunday. It was my second ever 5K and I had big plans for this race. At the end of my first 5K I felt like I had a lot left and was planning to hopefully run this one much faster. But then I got lost in the woods. Yes, really. Glad I checked that off my life list.

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But before we go into that, here's a little more about the race.

The Race

Sunday's race was the Run for Wounded Warriors 5K run by Bishop's Events. The race supported The Wounded Warrior Project, a great organization working to honor and empower wounded service members. The race site was the beautiful Prince William Forest Park in Triangle, VA. It was a small race, with around 60 total runners. It was pretty darn cold, with temperatures around 30 degrees, so I wore a ridiculous amount of clothing.

The course was an up and pack path through the park on what was described as "smooth gravel roads". However, very feet (meters?) of the 5K course were actually smooth gravel roads. Most of the course was more leaves/tree branches/rocks and dirt with a little gravel mixed in. There were also a lot of hills. I should have known it was a tough course seeing as how the posted course record was only 21:35. 

We were conveniently able to pick up our packets the day before and so got to sleep in and arrive at the start line around 8:30 AM. The start went pretty smoothly but wasn't super organized, with a kind of disorganized line-up and lots of information about where to go on the course, which was a little confusing (foreshadowing).

The course was really narrow and rocky at the beginning, and I expended a lot of energy in the beginning trying to get out of the congestion. I finally broke free and was pretty much by myself after the first mile, with only one person in site after the turn. This turned out to be a huge mistake. Not only do I run much faster when I have someone to chase, but with no one in front of me to follow, I didn't know which way to go and made a pretty serious wrong turn.

There were signs and volunteers on most of the forks in the path, but there wasn't a volunteer standing on my side of the trail at the branch where I made my disastrous wrong turn. There was, however, a volunteer standing across the way on the out portion of the trail. I slowed enough to actually ask for directions, and figured that if I interpreted her vague pointing wrong she would say something. 

She did not, and after a few minutes it became obvious that this was not the path I had taken out. Not only was it not the same path, it was also really steep and turned into dirt ledge steps with logs at some point. I kept going, figuring that it had to come out somewhere. But as my MapMyRun audio cues told me 3.1 miles had passed, I began to get worried that I was seriously lost in the woods. I wondered if the bf would get worried and look for me if he got to the finish line and I wasn't there (he was several minutes behind me). I walked a little. 

Then, miraculously, the path I was on opened up and I could see the other racers on the correct path. I felt super sketchy and frustrated re-joining the race but went ahead and ran through the finish line to get my chip time.


My first 3 miles split times were 8:27, 9:16 and 9:14, so I was on track to finish much faster than my first 5K time of 28:59. Oh well. Despite running a little extra distance on a much harder trail than I would have if I didn't get lost, I still finished under 30 minutes and was 19th out of 61 overall and 9th out of women 39 and under. 

Final Thoughts

I was pretty mad at myself for getting lost for a long time after the race (I mean seriously, who does that?!?), but I'm trying to let it go. I am proud of myself for running so much faster than last time on a much much more difficult course. I also wish that I knew more about what the course was like beforehand. I probably would have worn trail shoes, for one. I also turned my ankle at some point and didn't notice until afterwards because of the uneven rocky surface.

So would I run it again? Not sure. I did feel kind of like a beast running on such a tough course. Maybe when it's warmer and there aren't quite so many leaves on the ground. But I do think that running this second race kind of makes me a runner, even if I still don't run very fast or very far.

Q: What's your most embarrassing race experience? Has anyone else out there gotten lost during a race? Anyone? Just me? Ok, cool.