Archive for ‘Fitness’

April 16, 2013

A Running Battle

Earlier, I was eager to settle in with my laptop and give you the rundown of yesterday’s kick-ass race but after today’s tragic event, I don’t really know what to do or say. I’m still speechless with a permanent knot in my throat from an afternoon of choking back tears, haunted by the news that hit a little too close to home. The sense of accomplishment I experienced as I crossed the More/FITNESS Half finish line has been stripped and the strength I felt as my legs seemed to float across the hillier-than-I-remember Central Park has been depleted. I’m stunned, disgusted, sick to my stomach and angry because a selfless act of terror has forever changed the sport’s arguably most iconic event.

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I, like so many fellow athletes, run for that sense of freedom you feel when you reach your “happy pace.” It’s a rhythmic escape from both the good and the bad with a healing power unlike anything else. After the Boston Marathon bombing, that haven has been altered…challenged. The finish line is where our family members band together to cheer us on. It’s where we truly turn on the jets to test our body. It is there where we learn if the blood, sweat and tears we endured in training really paid off before setting goals for the next–a hopeful end to a new beginning. I felt better than ever yesterday, pushing myself to shatter my 2:03:18 Vegas race for a new PR of 1:47:23 but today’s frantic texts to friends and family put everything into perspective. My heart goes out to those in Beantown. I pray for the running community’s strength and perseverance. God knows, it’s one group that doesn’t and won’t give up without a fight.

Sprinkled with Love,
Lauren

January 2, 2013

Hello, 2013. It’s a Pleasure to Meet You.

My birthday, the holidays and ringing in the new year has officially come and gone in the blink of an eye. What a whirlwind the last month or so has been! Ever since Vegas, I’ve been go, go, go. As you can see, blogging has been low on the priority list between all the celebrating, baking, working, ’tis the season shopping and wrapping. Welp, sue me. Let me get you up to speed. The night before my birthday, my nearest and dearest gathered at my apartment for chili, wine and Christmas cookies with tons of laughs in between, just what I wanted. Mike was out of town on business for my actual birthday and I may have had a mid-20 crisis/breakdown (ahem, when I say mid-20, I of course mean 23…), but luckily Emily came to the rescue for a quick sweat sesh and dinner at the new Tommy Bahama restaurant. Hey, it’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to. Our meal was too good, as was the company (Em, her dad, Bob, and Bob’s girlfriend, Dianne). Live music, a tropical setting–I literally felt like I was on vacation–and birthday cake? Perfection. Thanks again! Mike made up for his absence the following day with a perfect-for-me dinner of salmon and roasted veggies over quinoa and a gorgeous bouquet of flowers. I’m. So. Spoiled.

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Soon enough, it was Christmas. I headed back to Connecticut for good food, family and thoughtful gifts (13.1 was a common theme!) with new traditions and a new stove…FYI the holidays are never a good time for a stove malfunction but luckily, ours went on the fritz the day before Christmas Eve. Plenty of time to scramble and get a new one, right? 2012 had its fair share of ups and downs. I was in and out of New York interning, cruised with some of my bests for spring break, graduated from UConn, mourned the loss of two family members, enjoyed a summer of a whole lot of nothing, moved into Manhattan with my boyfriend of 5 years and started my dream career. I ran [my first] two half marathons, tackled a Tough Mudder and ran up the mountain I’ve skied down since I was a tot. I went dairy and gluten-free after suffering from tummy troubles for years. Fellow recent grads can probably relate when I say that this has been a weird limbo chapter of my life but certainly an exciting one. I’ve embraced city living more than I ever had expected although I still all too often find myself retreating to my comfort zone. This year, I need to start living, as I’ve put it. I have an itch to explore, learn and try new things. I have set an ambitious goal of six half marathon races this year, I want to get my spin on (SoulCycle every other week with my old roomie, Allie, why not!?) and have decided my body needs yoga again. Like desperately. Oh, and I have already signed up for another obstacle mud race in the summer. I never thought I’d say that. If 2012 has taught me anything, it is to be grateful for all that I have, appreciate loved ones and be patient, for hard work always pays off in the end. So cheers to 2012 but boy am I glad to start fresh this year. Let’s do it.
What fit goals/resolutions do you have set for 2013?

Sprinkled with Love,
Lauren

December 8, 2012

Vegas (According to Instagram)

The past week or so has been a blur–especially with the time change/travel–and although I got back from my Vegas adventure Monday, I have yet to unpack. My apartment is a mess, I’m behind on all of my favorite shows and haven’t read a single blog, let alone blog myself. So let’s rewind. Last Friday started off er, well…interesting. I guess “an adrenaline rush” would summarize my trip to the airport. My reserved car service never arrived, I went to the wrong airport (how you mix up Newark from LaGuardia, I couldn’t tell you…) and I paid over $200 in cab fare to make up for my blonde moment from hell. I learned my lesson so I guess something good came out of the whole thing but still, I’m not made of money! I considered that my “loss” in Vegas. That’s right, who doesn’t hit the slot machine or play a little black jack in the gambling capital of the world? This girl. It could have been worse. Somehow I made it my flight with time to spare and, after treating myself to a blissful holiday cup of red eye perfection, I boarded my flight. Phew! Four hours and three friends later (25D, 25E and a fellow racer), I landed in Sin City. Watch out, lame soon-to-be 23-year-old coming through! (NOTE: birthday countdown = 9 days. Ew. Let’s not talk about it.) 

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Remember my friend Chelsea? She met me and my parents out there, how freaking awesome is that? The now brunette has been living in Cali since this past summer–tough life, I know–and brought a whole lot of fun to the trip. First item of business? Bury Grandma. No, I’m not joking. My mom carried her on the plane (yes, United Airlines was aware and yes, this is what she wanted…to be laid to rest out there with her late husband) in a lunch box. Burial? Half-marathon? What kind of Vegas trip was this? Not your typical one, that’s for sure. Need another example? Chel and I had fully intended on hitting the Strip like normal people our age a few nights (she even brought me club appropriate ensembles, since clearly my J. Crew wardrobe wouldn’t cut it) but we never made it out past 11:30. We preferred our luxurious Imperial Place hotel room, I mean Palace…ahem, please note the sarcasm. (The first “a” in “Palace” no longer lights up outside of the construction site. Little did my mother know that when she booked it. “But the photos online looked so nice!” Yeah, mom. That’s what the place will look like in a few months.) Anywho, more to come on my second half-marathon and all…I just can’t think straight at the moment. It’s officially the holiday season! Holy craziness.
Have you ever been to Vegas?

Sprinkled with Love,
Lauren

August 7, 2012

Green Monster

I love sneaking veggies into my smoothies, especially after a long run for that extra little oomph I need to recover. Yesterday, after completing the hilly, humid and hot soundRUNNER Sea Leg Shuffle, all I could think about was a green smoothie. In. My. Belly. And fast. The fact that there was basically NO food left after I completed my 10 miles (um, thanks 5k participants for hogging ALL the watermelon) certainly didn’t quench any post-workout fuel need. So once I got home, guess what I did? I made a killer green monster smoothie. It was powerful and just what I needed, despite the fact it was a little scary looking. Full of greens, healthy fats and, of course, protein. 

Ingredients
8 oz. almond milk (or soy, coconut, water, etc.)
1 scoop of protein powder (I’m loving my new Vanilla Garden of Life)
Handful of spinach or other greens
1/2 of an avocado
1/2 of a frozen banana
2 tablespoons of chia
2 tablespoons of hemp hearts
1 teaspoon spirulina (so energizing!)
Stevia, vanilla extract and ice, if necessary

Yes, it was the same color as grass, but it tasted great. I pinky promise. Reminder: I prefer my smoothies on the thicker side and eat them with a spoon! Therefore, add liquid as needed. Who needs frozen yogurt or  ice cream when you can make a smoothie in a bowl? Oh and in case you were wondering, I finished in 1:30:43 (which is 9:05 splits). I’m pretty content with that, considering the grueling weather circumstances. Although it was rough and a mental challenge, physically I felt strong. I’m confident my second half-marathon is in the near future. That makes me really happy.
Do you like green drinks?

Sprinkled with Love,
Lauren

July 30, 2012

Conquer the Mountain!

I completely underestimated my race this weekend in Vermont. When my dad asked me if I had been training for it, I replied, “I can do a 5K in my sleep.” Uhh, well karma can be a “you-know-what” because the Okemo Mountain Challenge was no cake walk. Let’s just say my goal of running the entire thing was completely disregarded half of a mile into the climb to the summit. At times, speed walking with long strides proved to be more efficient than a slow-paced jog. At least that’s what I kept telling myself…

 

Sweat dripped off my nose as I concentrated on the placement of each step, careful to not twist an ankle on the rocky terrain. I kept imagining myself slipping in the grass and somersaulting backward down the narrow, steep trail. My brain kept questioning my abilities, telling me to quit. My legs felt (and still do!) like jello. Whoever named this event was right. It was a challenge.

 Although it was tough, I’m really proud to say I finished in 44:53 minutes, earning third place in my division. After Mandy, Brian and I made it to the top, we waited to cheer on our crazy 10-miler, Adam, to make his way back down (he had to climb a little higher before making his descend to the base).

 

I am still in awe…like who does this? Maybe next year…

My favorite part of the race was obviously taking the chairlift down. Although it was cool, overcast and cloudy (could we have asked for better running conditions?), the sun came out just in time for our scenic ride. The view was breathtaking. Tips up!

 

After the three of us hydrated and made friends with other racers, some whom ironically live in our neighboring Connecticut towns, Adam finished strong. He certainly earned that bbq meal card! And then some. Rain and small thunderstorms came our way the rest of the afternoon, putting a damper on our plans however I think we were all a little relieved to have an afternoon/evening on the couch with the Olympics, a movie and lots of snacks. Sounds like a vacation to me!

So just another race to check off my bucket list. I hope that by next year I’ll forget how challenging it truly was and be up to conquer the mountain again. Maybe go the full ten? We’ll see. In other news, my running pals and I aren’t finished with our summer races just yet. The Guilford Sea Leg Shuffle is this Sunday. See ya there?

Sprinkled with Love,
Lauren

July 25, 2012

Bloob Overload

After filling up my bucket yesterday with bloobs, as I like to call them, I snacked and weaved my way back through the bushes of berries to find my sister. While I watched her intensely (but delicately) pluck the fruit one by one from the branches in an athletic, crouched position, she voiced the exact thought that had been ringing in my head, “There’s something therapeutic about this.”

It was a hot. We were both dripping sweat—yes, literally. But it was a mindless activity in the sunshine with birds singing around us, kids competing for “who can fill their buckets first” and I mean, come on, think about the benefits we walked away with: $21 worth of nutritious berries! The gorgeous Bishop’s Orchards is a hop, skip and a jump away from where I live, yet one of those local places I seem to always forget exists. So quaint and lovely. I’m itching for apples to be in season and also need to get my hands on some of their wine. Like how good does a glass of Apple Raspberry Blush sound right about now? Or Honey Peach Melba?

So now the question is, what the hell do we do with all these berries? I hope to answer that this afternoon. I’m thinking muffins or maybe some kind of bar. This weekend I’ll be participating in the 2nd Annual Okemo Mountain Challenge (just the 5k this time around!) with my crew from the Branford Road Race so I’d love some kind of treat to bring along for our outdoorsy trip. Be on the lookout for the recipe!

After returning home with our large quantities of berries and stuffed (borderline upset) bellies, I talked my crafty little sister into helping me make a cute running top for my race. Thanks to Pinterest and this awesome tutorial, Kru got right to work with a pair of scissors and turned my old, drab Hanes V-Neck into the sporty knotted tank pictured below. The girl is talented.

What is your favorite (and healthy!) blueberry recipe?

Sprinkled with Love,
Lauren

June 27, 2012

Cannellini Bean “White Sauce”

Guess what just happened? Something big. HUGE. Something my dad and I have been talking about for years now. On December 2, I will be participating in the Strip at Night Half Marathon! We officially signed up (and payed the pricy fee…) over breakfast this morning. I cannot be more excited. With the start outside of Mandalay Bay, finish at The Mirage and live bands rocking out alongside the entire course, could there be anything more exciting? Oh yeah, I should also mention people getting hitched mid-race, the plethora of running Elvises on top of the usual strip chaos and the fact that it will be just 14 days before I turn 23. Woah. I’m giddy to have another goal to work toward. And, I mean, come on, Vegas? I feel like a screaming teenybopper watching a Justin Bieber concert. My dad’s commitment, after all he’s recently been through, is so inspiring. Although he doesn’t think he’ll be able to complete the full 13.1 (he’s done this Vegas race twice before), just running the first few miles side-by-side with him will make me happy.   

Moving on. Last night I waited for Amanda to get out of work and headed to the gym so we could complete a quick arm circuit together. She then surprised my family with a wonderful meal of ground turkey stuffed peppers and a chickpea salad. Isn’t that just the sweetest? I hope to snag her recipes to share with you all soon. In the meantime, however, I wanted to give you a peak at my cannellini bean “white sauce.” Amanda and I put together a similar sauce a few weeks back for our cauliflower crust so I wanted to give you the recipe before I post our pizza. It’s a cinch. In a food processor simply pulse together (to your desired consistency) a can of cannellini beans, 1/2 cup fresh basil, 1/2 cup fresh parsley, 2 roasted garlic cloves, a small roasted tomato and a tablespoon of olive oil. Season with a little salt and pepper. DONE. How easy is that? I cooked up a spaghetti squash the other night for dinner, mixed in some of the “white sauce” and topped it with some roasted asparagus, as well as a sprinkle of nooch. It was glorious. I put the leftover sauce in the fridge, which has created a delightful hummus-like veggie dipper. What a pleasant surprise.
Do you have a dream race you’ve been wanting to complete?

Sprinkled with Love,
Lauren

June 19, 2012

Branford Road Race 2012

I like running. I like doing so waterfront. I like the thrill of friendly competition. I like live music. And I like watermelon (endless supply at the finish line? Don’t mind if I do!). That’s why I was stoked to participate again this year in the Branford Road Race. Well, that and the fact that I got a discount on my new Mizunos (third pair of the Wave Precisions in a row!) if I signed up at SoundRunner. Pretty enticing marketing ploy…

I’m proud to announce that this past Sunday, Amanda and I beat our time from last year by a landslide. Hey, 5 miles are nothing to us now after our half-marathon! I ended up finishing 644th (out of the 2117…such a great turnout!) with a time of 41:49. Not too shabby, especially since I was NOT feeling it when I dragged myself out of bed that morning. Coffee and the smiling faces of my fellow runners above got me out of my fitness funk.

Amanda and Adam pushed me through the somewhat hilly course and I was extremely fortunate to have my biggest fans cheering me on at the last stretch. Kudos to my mom for another great, mid-stride action shot and happy father’s day again, Dad!

Let’s just say the tradition will continue on next year. You’ll find me at the same place, same time…with the same amount of watermelon in hand, surrounded by the same love and support.

Sprinkled with Love,
Lauren

June 6, 2012

Yin Yoga

I’ve been a pretty bad blogger, huh? Forgive me! So much has been going on, not to mention I’ve been experiencing a lack of creativity, I guess you could say. Between Mike’s sister, Heidi, getting married this past weekend (gorgeous pictures to come!), hopeful career moves and lots of traveling in between, I’ve had my hands full. That’s why, Monday evening I decided, apprehensively, to take a friend up on a yin yoga class, known for it’s calming stillness and long poses. It was quite different than my typical power vinyasa but just what I needed for my mind, body and soul.

The 90-minute class focused on stretching connective tissues, specifically in our legs. Perfect for a runner like me! I walked away feeling revitalized, relaxed and grounded with the understanding that I need to take a break from the constant go, go, go push everyday life throws my way. I simply had to focus on “the now,” leaving any anxiety, stress or tension at the door. In the transitional period I’m currently trying to embrace, I think that’s all I could ask for. By holding each position for five minutes, I was forced to open deep space inside my body, liberating both strength and movement. As the class’ description reads, I was truly encouraged to move beyond self-limiting tendencies entrained in the mind through physical but subtle body alignments for a more balanced, yin state. I have a feeling this will be the first of many classes to come!
Have you ever practiced yin yoga?

Sprinkled with Love,
Lauren

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April 19, 2012

I Run For ______.

I have always considered myself an athlete but never a “runner.” Runners enjoy long distances, eat energy chews or gels and pay a boatload of money to participate in what many consider hell. After completing my first half-marathon, however, I guess I have earned the title I’ve always held on a pedestal. With 13.1 now under my belt and a few days of rest to allow for my adrenaline levels to balance out, I’ve been mulling over the excitement Sunday offered. I feel so accomplished and learned quite a bit I’d love to share with you. Here are 10 half-marathon tips from a first timer’s point of a view. Enjoy some of the mouthwatering meals I’ve been fueling up on, too! I’m on an edamame hummus, canned salmon and seeds/nuts kick, as you can see…

10. I Run For _____. This was the quote that was plastered to a racer’s back that I ran behind for a good chunk of my race. It stuck with me and gave me goosebumps as I mentally prepared a bullet list of “why’s.” Yes, you set the goal but why are you putting yourself through this? What’s the reason behind the struggle, the pain, the buzzing of that 6 a.m. alarm? Reflecting on what has motivated me to make this commitment not only kept my mind going, it reminded me of the reasoning behind the madness. I haven’t been too vocal on this touchy subject but I currently have two family members battling cancer and undergoing chemotherapy. It’s been hard on my family as a whole, especially already having lost loved ones to this disease, but it has served as a huge wakeup call. I’m in control of my body, my health, my well-being and can help myself for the future. Running and the regimen I followed was a way to dedicate myself to a fit, strong and healthy lifestyle, while serving as an outlet for the stress this crazy last semester has presented. It was a goal that kept me going, fighting and committed to other aspirations, too. So set a “why.” Whatever it may be, let this understanding propel you forward whenever doubt stands in your way.
9. Know your body and listen. Working your way up in mileage is no cake walk so naturally you’re going to be sore and there is potential for injury. If you feel a tweak, continue with caution and don’t be ashamed if you need to take a day or two off. It’s better to be safe rather than sorry! Stretch, ice, stretch some more and take pain relievers, if necessary. Schedule a doctor’s appointment, of course, if the issue continues or worsens.
8. Be ready, even if it seems neurotic. The night before the race I was nervous, excited, scared and uber prepared. Laying out your running ensemble, iPod, bib number, SPIbelt, etc. will save you from any unnecessary stress in the morning. Bring tissues or toilet paper because porter potties will be stripped by the end of the race or maybe sooner!
7. The early bird catches the worm—and scores sweet freebies. I’m a stickler, ok borderline overzealous, when it comes to time. Get to both the expo and race early so you can grab awesome gift bags full of goodies and not have to wait in lines. I mean, you don’t want to tucker yourself out the day before the race standing around or plowing through crowds. The less anxiety, the better.
6. Hydrate. Fuel. Hydrate. Fuel. Hydrate. Fuel. Get it? Got it? Good.
5. Stick to your norm. Don’t try anything fancy or different just because 13.1 is looming in the immediate future. You know how your body reacts to certain foods, caffeine, sleep, etc. so keep it balanced the week or so leading up to the race. With that being said, forget about the energy gels, beans, chews, etc. if you haven’t been using them before. (A special thanks to Sam for lending me this advice! I would have been WORSE in the tummy trouble department if it weren’t for her!)
4. Don’t second guess yourself. You can do this! 13.1 sounds daunting but after all the conditioning, strengthening and time you devoted to this goal, you have to trust your abilities. To make the course less intimidating, break it down into manageable distances and celebrate every mile marker. When I got to 10, for example, the three remaining miles seemed like nothing and totally doable!
3. Pace yourself and don’t think about it. As Amanda put it before the race, “We’re just going for a casual jog in the park. Nothing out of the ordinary. Just a typical long run day.” Over-thinking a race will trigger nerves and God knows what else. The finish line isn’t going anywhere so start slow and work up your pace. There’s always time to take it up a notch! Having a running buddy and a playlist full of inspiring beats also helps with this.
2. Race Shirt Swag. I read somewhere before my race that wearing the race shirt before you complete it has some bad “joo joo.” Earn it before you sport it and wear it with just as much pride as the metal itself! Note to self: have one of my “cheerleaders” hang onto it at the end of the race so I can shed the sweaty top for post-race pictures.
1. Enjoy and celebrate your success. Like I mentioned, I didn’t break the time I wanted. Who cares? It was my first race, I worked my butt off for months and I crossed the finish line. Be proud and know that tomorrow’s another day, with many races in the future.


What do you run for?

Sprinkled with Love,
Lauren