Month: July 2018 (page 1 of 2)

Blueberry picking in VT


This weekend was nottttttt my typical weekend and my Type A brain is embracing it.  Or working valiantly to do so. There’s a whole lot of eating and not a whole lot of running involved here. As I said to my aunt, life has to be more important than running, right? Right?

MattHowk was out of town this weekend so Wicket and I were wild and free! Or we went to VT to pick blueberries with my aunt, after I ran on the treadmill at 5:30am on a Saturday before he woke up.  Same thing. This place was so great! I used to pick here as a kid but they have done so much with it, it’s really great to see small business thriving, agriculture in particular, especially in a rural area. It’s soooooooo pretty. It’s up on a mountain, and the berries were GORGEOUS from all the rain and sun we have had (definitely glad I sealed the cork on my Birkenstocks yesterday).

Wicket is not the ideal picking partner.  I’m sure anyone with a nearly 4 year old  boy is totally shocked by that statement.  He was very enthusiastic, though I think the skill he most perfected was  getting himself lost in the bushes then finding myself and my aunt, he calls her Great Carol, by our voices alone. He finally got the hang of it by the time we were leaving, but he FOR SURE ate far more than he picked, and Great Carol and I did most of the filling of his bucket.

What should we make with our haul!? Wicket loves him a muffin, but should I make a pie?! I LOVE pie (fun fact, MattHowk and I had pie and cheesecake at our wedding instead of cake). Great Carol told me to “pre freeze” the blueberries on a sheet pan on parchment paper before putting them in a bag to freeze so that they don’t all stick together. Should I bake them fresh or frozen!?  I DON’T KNOW! Do I have time before Ragnar, or before we eat them all? I DON’T KNOW!

We also picked over her garden which was fun for Wicket!  He stole all her purple tomatoes and is entirely enamored. He insists he doesn’t like green beans. We shall see.

As we were leaving my sister said she had just picked up pizza from my favorite place in the area, so we detoured over to her beautiful house for a pizza lunch and for Wicket to play in the dirt with his cousin. It is NOT like me to be so impulsive and free! We had so much fun!

The next day we went south in NY into the Schoharie Valley to visit another aunt of mine and my grandfather. As I have said before, potluck food is some of my favorite food. I made my same caprese pasta salad (I know, I am so boring) but I made it gluten free for my sweet sister (two days in a row seeing her and her family, so lucky!) Isn’t it funny how when people gather, the biggest consideration after location is the food? Everyone has their own take and it’s so interesting.

What? You don’t drink rose out of jam jars?

All in all, I should have rested this weekend before Ragnar, but instead I had a full weekend of family and food and sun and I feel so lucky that I was able to do this, for myself and for my little guy. Now I am so sleeeepppyyyyyy.

The unplanned rest day

8.5 years ago I was signed up for my first half marathon and I was so so excited, and scared.  Training went great, until two weeks before the race when I found out I had stress fractured my shin. At that point I was out of the race, and didn’t run for about 6 months (MattHowk prohibited me from running until after our wedding, something about not wanting me broken for the biggest day of our lives? Rude). Admittedly, I had been feeling pain in my shin for weeks, but kept running on it because I thought it was normal to be in pain when you are a runner.  And I SO wanted to be a “real” runner.

For the last couple of days, since the weekend I think, I have been feeling a pain in a new weird spot on my leg. I am not shocked by this at all (remember the 4 runs in a 24ish hour period?  Yeah, me too). I AM however, trying VERY hard to take the advice I give other people and not be a dramatic lunatic about it. So I took the dreaded unplanned rest day. I am so Type A, I DESPISE unplanned rest days.  I want to stick to my plan! I want structure! I want to eat extra food because I burned all sorts of calories! RRAAHHHHH! WWHYYYYY MEEEEEE!?!?!?!!? WHY HAS MY BODY BETRAYED ME!?

When your body hurts, like hurts for realz and is not just sore, listen to it or it will get louder.  I am trying to remind myself that my race is next week. The work is done. A few extra days off at this point is not going to mean I am going to die, or my legs are going to fall off on a mountain in VT.  The work is done. I have to believe it’s better to rest a few days than further hurt something that could go either way. Because the work is done. That’s why training plans are so long, right?

Sooooo, why did this happen?  This hasn’t happened to me in a long time. I am trying to use this opportunity to be self aware, especially since I start my next marathon training plan in a month and a half. I think there are some (mostly) internal sources, and an external.

Externally, I am not in love with the Intermediate training plan provided on Ragnar’s website.  I think it increases mileage a bit fast, and carries a heavy midweek volume for a relatively short race distance.  I definitely get the increased need for endurance, but I think it’s a bit disproportionate. I typically use Hal Higdon’s Intermediate 1 training plan for half and full marathons and definitely like that better for me. I am for sure feeling a bit overtrained.  I have been excessively tired, like peak mileage during marathon training tired, and the idea of getting up at my normal time to run has been making me sad. Classic overtraining red flags Jennifer! The increased dark in the morning isn’t helping that, either.

Internally, if we’re really being honest here, I maaayyyyyyy have been a bit lazy this summer.  I have not been foam rolling or stretching as much as I ought to, which for me is every single day. With running early in the morning weekdays then immediately needing to get myself ready for work, and Wicket up and fed and ready for his day, then off to work, then home to make dinner or do whatever else needs to be done, I have been forgetting it more than is my typical practice. That is a dangerous habit to get into.  Strength training has gone right along with it. I usually try to do at least a few key moves every day for my weird spots on my body, but even those have been forgotten more often than not, let alone a heavier kettlebell workout or hitting up the squat rack in the basement. Can I blame it on Summer? We’re off our routine and out and about more.

I have also been doing a terrible job with resting and recovery.  Lately I finish a long run then immediately stand around all day cooking or doing laundry or whatever else needs to be done. Or I walk down to a friends house hunched over helping Wicket steer his tricycle. I have not been sleeping in compression, and have not been prioritizing quality sleep enough. I have also not been doing the very best job with my refueling.

So I took the unplanned rest day and am learning from it.  I will make it to both the start and the finish lines for Ragnar Trail VT. I only need to make it one more week, then I will do an excellent job recovering. I will not lose my mind from a few extra days off now, but I might if I lose 6 months because I was an idiot and didn’t rest when I should have.

Momming and running-stroller edition

When I trained for races before I was a mom, especially my first marathon, I had NO IDEA how good I had it. I could just go out and run whenever, for however long. I could eat whatever I needed to whenever I needed to, and could sleep whenever and for however long I wanted or needed to. Adorable.

Momming, or Dadding ,and running at the same time takes a bit more forethought and planning to work, but it absolutely is possible. I started running with Wicket when he was 6 months old, and likely would have started sooner had it not been winter and had I not been recovering from a c-section. Since then we have trained for 3 or 4 half marathons, one Ragnar,  and one full marathon, and have run a handful of races of varying length together.

If you want to run with the kiddos in the stroller, start them early, and consistently so. Wicket doesn’t remember a time when he wasn’t running with me. We always have the same routine before we go out for a run. We run similar looping routes, so that if we need to bail out (because kids) it’s quick and easy to do. WAY better than being stranded 5 miles from home with a poop accident or a tantrum. When he was smaller, I would time a run for naptime, now I try to do it shortly after he wakes up so that he WON’T fall asleep, unless he is clearly in desperate need of a snooze so that we all manage to survive the day. When that happens, out we go. Regardless of the time.

Give them what they want. He always gets chocolate animal crackers to keep him happy when we run, because he LOVES them.  He also has water, and a pillow, and the kindle fire to play with or watch a move on if he’s interested. He used to use this a lot, but now he mostly looks around or asks questions about the neighborhood and the things we see.

Play to the weather and know your kid. I have minimum and maximum temps and conditions I will run in with him based on his tolerance. If your running stroller (which you REALLY do need, MattHowk and I ran a race this summer and some people were running with regular strollers.  They had to turn around when the road conditions deteriorated because their strollers just weren’t made for what they were asking them to do) doesn’t have a built in weather guard you can easily get them on amazon. They really are vital. I have gotten caught in torrential downpours where he stayed totally dry. He always wears a hat and sunscreen when it’s hot, when it’s cold I often put him in snow pants and a blanket since he’s not working as hard as I am.

Be kind to yourself. You likely won’t hit your normal paces when you are pushing an extra 30+ pounds of kid and equipment. Forgive yourself for making kid related stops. Sometimes we don’t stop at all, sometimes we stop every quarter of a mile. Sometimes we make it the amount of miles my training plan calls for, but sometime we don’t. Don’t avoid those hills, even though it’s so hard with the stroller. It’s great strength training to sneak in.  I have found that stroller running has made me physically stronger, and I am faster now when I am not running with the stroller.

Parents running with their kids in the stroller are total badasses. Most people aren’t out running at all, let alone making it work to include their kids. It’s good for us to get our workout in, and it’s good for our kids to see that it’s a priority in our lives regardless of the potential challenges in our way. It makes me a kinder mom and wife, which I think everyone agrees is a far better alternative to me setting fire to everything we own while screaming about the messes.

Weekend running and eating

My weekend could not have possibly started better.  I got out of work early on Friday, and MattHowk asked me if I wanted to run with him when I got home. Um, YES! I had already run 5 miles before work, and it was 85 degrees, but I figured it’s good Ragnar training.  SO we did another 2.5 miles. When I run, I have prescribed routes. MattHowk does not, he just runs, so it’s kind of fun for me to just follow and not have everything under control. Wicket was happy about the post run popsicle.

I have to say, the IDEA of the split long runs is neat because it makes you feel like it’s lower mileage, but in reality I really like to just bang them out and be done with it. I got up and ran 5 miles at 5am, then I waited around until 9:30 and ran another 4 with Wicket in the stroller. Waiting around is not my ideal for sure. My body does seem to be responding well to them, but I am pretty tired today after 4 runs in about a 28 hour period. Hopefully it’s good preparation for Ragnar! Running through this tunnel on the sidewalk was unanticipated, as were the birds who were PISSED I was in there with them.

Weekend prep cooking was lunch for the week and breakfast burritos for the week to freeze.  I find that for me personally, having all of my meals planned out and ready to go keeps me on track and alleviates a huge amount of stress. Meal prep is a big part of my week.

Delicious grilled quesadillas Saturday with teeny margarita shooters for after the long run.

Fun cooking was banana muffins to use up that bananas that had turned that came home from the friends weekend with us, as well as meatballs and Italian bread! I used the sauce I made a couple of weeks ago to cook the meatballs in. We love slicing the Italian bread then stacking a meatball and a slice of mozzarella and basil on top then putting it under the broiler.  Like a fun meatball slider!

Do you cook more fun things on the weekends because you have more time? Or are you over it after the week? Do you meal prep and cook for the week ahead?

RunDisney, please take all of my money

4 years ago, when Wicket was born, I decided I wanted to run the Disney Marathon in 2019 since I clearly wasn’t going to be able to do it when I had originally hoped to, which was only a few months after he was born. As it has gotten closer, I have been SO ANXIOUS about registering! Both because of the popularity of the weekend and RunDisney in general (the shorter distances have been known to sell out within an hour!) and because of the switch to the new registration system. 

Registration was originally supposed to be April 17.  Right before that they announced that they were changing the registration software, and that more info would be available June 1. Which is when it was announced that regular registration would open July 19. I was pretty annoyed at the time because I wanted to register and get it over with, but in the meantime MattHowk started running (yay!) and decided that he wants to run his first 10K (eek!) so it was a good thing after all! The 10K is on his birthday, so his family decided to also come to Florida and run with us!  More yay!

The last time I registered for a runDisney race I had trouble with my Active account, which is the platform they used to use for their registrations but have moved away from, and almost died of a heart attack right there in my basement.  Now instead of using Active to register (at least on the front end?) you use your My Disney Experience account and go straight through Disney.  Unfortunately, for a major company, Disney notoriously struggles with their websites, so I was even MORE nervous about registering.  They often crash right when something new opens and there is an overload on their sites.

At 11:55 the Register button became available and I got a screen that said “The Wait Is Almost Over”.  YAY! It’s working!

At noon I got a screen that said I was in queue, my wait time was 20 minutes, and not to touch my computer or I would lose my place.  YAY! Still working! Oh great! Look, I thought,  I can choose my races! It was just as easy as I read it was supposed to be to pick races for other people! YAY! I picked two races for myself by manually putting myself in again as “other” for the second race.  YAY! Moving right along! Seems like maybe there wasn’t as much info as I remember having to enter, but that’s ok! The payment page came up! Oh wait, but why is it only charging me for MattHowk’s 10k? I see my other races but they say $0, I guess I’ll hit the button anyway and see what happens?  Oh crap, it froze…

MattHowk and Wicket came to visit me for lunch while I registered, so in a panic we decided I would refresh after nothing was happening.  CRAP! Now I’m out completely! Every time I try to get back into the website it tells me it’s overloaded and to try again later.

 RRAAHHHH! Wicket was excited when he saw the page with Stitch telling me he ate the page, I was less excited. I finally got myself back into queue, now no wait time was posted, and I waited.  When the page finally came back up I had to completely reenter everything, but it seemed to be asking me more information, like tshirt sizes, and when I chose the marathon it asked for proof of time info.  Much better. I hit register and pay and it froze again. I didn’t refresh this time because I didn’t want to risk losing another 30 minutes, so I jut hit the button over and over until it went through. I put in my credit card info and got a confirmation screen.  YAY!  AAAnnnnnddddd breathed a huge sigh of relief.

MattHowk’s stepmother  was registering their family at the same time, as were a couple of coworkers.  MattHowk’s stepmother still wasn’t in yet, and the girls downstairs also hadn’t gotten through the payment page, even though all of them got into the website before I did originally

All in all, that new registration process was a small dumpster fire.  But everyone I knew who was trying got in, and we’re going to Disney!  Biggest YAY! My heart rate was crazy high and I was SO STRESSED.  One coworker said it felt like she was diffusing a bomb, she was so stressed.  I am having a glass of wine while I write this and relive it, and think about my finally waning tension headache (first world problems for sure, I acknowledge this).

I’m not sure this registration software is better? But maybe it will GET better.  They can’t not have anticipated this, though I do understand the load. issue I tend to be optimistic, and am also going through a shit show of a computer system conversion at work so I get it, and am choosing kindness and patience.  I do like that I can check my RunDisney account to check my registrations, and it was very easy to make an addition to my proof of time. The confirmation email was weird, maybe because I registered myself for two races? My confirmation email only shows my 10k and the boys’ races (Wicket is running a kids 100m dash), maybe because of the two race thing.

Good lord, if I have to go through that every time I register for a RunDisney race, because you know this isn’t the last, I am going to have to take the day off work and be home with an adult beverage to get through it.

How I would start running if I had it to do over again

A few friends in the past couple of weeks have indicated interest in my thoughts on starting running.  Well, I did a poor job of it, but I learned a lot and would definitely do some things differently if I had it to do over again.

When I started running, it was partly to keep fitting in my pants, but also because my husband’s family runs.  They were always doing fun events and races together, especially on holidays, and I really wanted to play. So I started running, and knowing what I wanted to be in shape for, kept going even though it was hard and unfun sometimes. Slowly it started to get more and more fun.

I think the most important thing is to determine WHY you want to run.  Because you want to run? Or you want to run a specific race? Or lose weight?  Or impress someone? If you don’t want to run, don’t start running. It’s deceptively challenging and you have to WANT to keep going to get through the toughest times. As much as we love it, running can really suck sometimes.

Sign up for a race.  Having a goal to train for is key,  Otherwise why would anyone get out of bed at 4am to run in the dark (and the surprise POURING RAIN!? Its hard to tell, but I was SOAKED in that above picture)? Or run at lunch on a 90 degree day?  Or willingly run for 3 hours to train on a weekend? The purpose is focusing and, for me at least, is necessary. This guy is up next for me.

Be consistent.  You don’t have to sign up for another race right away, but keep running.  I typically keep running on the same days as I do when I am training to maintain the schedule, I just don’t run as much mileage.  Staying in shape is MUCH easier than starting from scratch each time you start training again, physically and mentally. And it means you can  take advantage of running opportunities that come up unexpectedly!

Go get fitted for the right shoes FOR YOU. Most running stores do free fittings.  Running shoes aren’t cheap, but if I had done this instead of using whatever I already had at home when I first started running I might not have stress fractured my shin and had to take 6 months off.

Foam roll and stretch.  Again, perhaps I wouldn’t have stress fractured my shin if I had done this as well.  Taking care of your muscles is key if you want them to keep working for you. I stretch and foam roll in the evenings before bed, and Wicket usually joins me.  It’s a nice wind down for our day.

For a “simple” sport, there is a lot to it.  Or, there can be. So much more than this, especially if you are going to be running longer distances.  But for getting started, this is some important stuff. Your head and your feet and muscles need to be in the right place.  Once they are, then you get to start playing with the other stuff. If you try to start on all the gear too soon it’s overwhelming, instead of fun and invigorating.

Why do you want to run?

The most wonderful weekend

It was truly the most wonderful weekend away with our houseful of friends. SO much eating and drinking and running and enjoying the company of the absolute best humans.

Friday almost everyone was there. We had the most delicious guacamole and salsa that Julia made, with the most delicious (and dangerous) margaritas that MattHowk made with fresh limes.

Saturday started with the most wonderful long run.  60 degrees and overcast with just a few sprinkles for 12 miles with the best running buddy.  Isn’t it so hard to find the right running partner? There are really only a few out there in the world, and this girl is one of them for sure. It was a challenging and hilly run (and we ran into a herd of chickens in a road! Where were you all night ladies!?) , and we felt like total badasses when we were done.  Also, I wouldn’t hate to end every long run with the entire houseful of people cheering on the porch.

A super fun football game was played by some and spectated by the rest, then a delicious snacky lunch spread. I seize any opportunity to roast some tomatoes with olive oil, balsamic, garlic, and basil. Some goat cheese on top, sliced baguette for serving, and I could pass out dead with joy.

The Party on the Hill was wonderful. It was so great for the kids to be big enough to run and play together, and think they were experiencing extreme freedom.  They have an impressive set up with the grill and tents and tables and tables of food. It’s so fun to see so many variations of pasta salad and potato salad and other sides that each individual falls back on, and all the desserts. It also doesn’t hurt that the view is literally the dreamiest.

We ended the night back at the house with Wicket’s first s’mores.  Truly the most wonderful weekend with friends.

We accidentally ran up a mountain

I had a lovely post written about the nudey burgers I showed the other day, buuutttttt turns out they got left at home.  So that’s a bummer. Oh well, more for us to have for dinner another time.

Our friend Jules and I ran this morning.  We said, “oh hey this road looks pretty” so we took a left off the main road. It looked steep but we thought for sure it couldn’t stay uphill the entire time.  Except it absolutely could. Two miles up, the road ended and we got to decide between right more uphill or left more uphill, so we called it and turned around.  We were treated to a lovely view though. This is what makes me miss living in VT.


I started cramping almost immediately after we got back.  It was definitely good prep for Ragnar! That downhill coming back was no joke.  I far prefer running uphill.

The communal food situation is the absolute best part of spending prolonged time cohabitating with friends.  The pretzel buns and basil aioli came out delicious and were perfect for the regular burgers we ended up having, and also for the eggs I had on them this morning after our run.  I am so excited to see what dinner tonight brings us, and to see the spread at Party on The Hill, the annual party on our friend’s family’s dairy farm that we are in town for.

I always love to see what peoples’ go to potluck contributions are.  I typically make a simple caprese pasta salad. This is a very large party and I’m really looking forward to see what everyone brings! I also LOVE the snack situation that comes along with going on vacation.  I literally told Wicket he could pick whatever snacks he wanted.

What are your go to travel snacks or pot luck contributions.

This is why I carry mace

As runners, we know people are always looking at us funny.  As runners who are women, it’s worse. There are so many looks and comments so often that we block it out.  We follow the steps everyone tells us to in order to be safe, and we get on with the run and our day. After all, nothing has really ever happened.

I have stated before that I often run at 4:45am.  I have rarely felt unsafe, despite how weird our little city can be. One morning this week I started down one of the safest, calmest streets of my run.  I’ve literally only ever seen a fox down there at this time of day.

This time, however, at the bottom of the hill was a group of teenage boys. I crossed to the other side of the street and didn’t make eye contact. Even so, the comments started.  I was asked an innocent question and replied no, then kept going, turning down another road away from them. One told me he was going to run with me (he tried, but couldn’t keep up), another told me he was going to grab me and take me to Syracuse with him, whether I wanted to go or not.  When I didn’t reply, the threats came. And the name calling. I don’t think I was in any true danger in this situation, but it was a sobering reminder of how different things could be. I run with mace, and my finger was on the trigger ready to go if the situation went differently.

I am mindful of my personal safety when I run. In addition to carrying mace, I never run with music, I usually have my very long hair in a bun to make it harder to grab, and I have my phone set up so that MattHowk can track it. If it’s even partially dark for any part of my run I wear a headlamp and a reflective vest. Since running with a friend isn’t an option for me, I choose inhabited family neighborhoods rather than my more desolate routes at this time of day, and I don’t run the same route every day. You can try to prepare, but you can’t plan everything. These kids didn’t even live in that neighborhood.

I am going to be purchasing a small blade, or the Go Guarded ring blade (

I might also upgrade from the mace I carry now to pepper gel with an arm or a wrist strap.

They have small personal alarms you can wear, but I don’t know how helpful that is if no one is awake to hear

MattHowk wants me to get a flashlight with 1000 lumens to temporarily blind if necessary. I’m also considering a self defense class (which I would do here

I absolutely refuse to stop running, and at the times of day that are necessary for my schedule. What else can we do? Stick to our treadmills in our basements where we are safe? No thanks.

Today’s run was uneventful.  I did see that fox though. He’s so lucky I’m not trigger happy, which I told him as I ran by.


Weekend cooking and running is the best

Weekend running and cooking and eating is THE BEST.  My long run was really good this week, but also different from usual.  The heat wave broke, so I got a glorious 50 degrees at 5am. 6 miles in before the boys woke up (no fuel beforehand)  then an oil change (not a euphemism), then another 4 miles at 11am with my kid  in the stroller (we’ll call him Wicket for blog purposes, but I promise he has a really good name in real life).  I’m training for a Ragnar Trail which is in just a few weeks, so we’re at the back to back same day run stage for long runs. Based on our estimated times I’ll be running my last leg around noon, so I’m trying to get some runs in then even though it’s pretty much my least favorite time of day to run.

Weekend cooookinggggggg.  I tried two new recipes Saturday, both of which were hits. I made the Pioneer Woman’s brisket recipe, I’m actually tearing up thinking of the deliciousness, and a classic potato salad recipe I found on Pinterest to go with it.  I have been resisting classic potato salad for…oh…10 years? My husband is always asking for it and I never do it. Finally I did, and I am very popular. It was so delicious and so easy, especially with some of the jus from the brisket over it.  Friends stopped by while I was cooking and I’m so bummed they didn’t stay for dinner, it was that good. Wicket is on a “I hate potatoes” kick even though he loves fries and chips, so I told him it was french fry salad. Yeah, he’s not an idiot so that didn’t work.  He scowled at me, licked it, and yelled, “IT’S POTATOES!” Fine kid, more for me and Dad. He told us he loved the “pulled fork” though, and as any parent of a 3 year old knows, that is the truest of wins.

I also made the Ginger Molasses Granola from the Run Fast Eat Slow cookbook, which is always a massive hit in my house, and a simple marinara that I found on Pinterest to prep for calzones Wednesday night.  

The guy I married prepped his delicious chicken burgers that make me sob with joy when we eat them, we’re also bringing those to our friends weekend. More about those later this week, here they are in their nudey raw uncooked glory.

The granola man…it is so so good.  I can’t even. Wicket LOVES helping me make this one, it’s very small person friendly.  I’m making it for us, and to prep for our long weekend away with friends this weekend. We can’t get enough of it in greek yogurt. If you make this and don’t eat half of it before it makes it off the pan, please tell me how.  That’s some control.

What is your weekend prep cooking?  Do you spend HOURS standing and cooking after your long runs?

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