Zucchini Breakfast Muffins

This is part of a Friday series where I share easy recipes that keep us full throughout the week. Check out previous posts here

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You guys. I have been on the quest for a really good jumbo muffin recipe for a long time, and I think I might have found it. These are just the right amount of fluffy, slightly sweet without making me feel like I’m eating cake for breakfast, and super easy to grab in the morning!

I adapted the recipe from this cool “recipe builder“. Basically you enter information about the flavours you want to incorporate, and the site makes you a recipe. Unfortunately, they don’t have zucchini as an option, but I really love it in muffins so I figured it out.

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Ingredients

Directions

Preheat oven to 400F. Grease a muffin tin, including the top – this is so key for helping you release large muffins! Line with muffin cups.

Combine flour, protein, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, hemp hearts in a bowl. Gently whisk to combine.

In a separate small bowl, combine eggs, sugar, yogurt, zucchini, bananas, and almond milk. Whisk lightly.

Make a small well in the centre of the dry ingredients bowl. Pour the wet ingredients into the well, and use a spatula to fold the batter together. It will be thick – you should just barely be able to incorporate the flour.

Use an ice cream scooper to fill each well with batter – the more full, the bigger the domes of your muffins will be.

Bake for 20-25 minutes. The muffins should be golden when you take them out.

Makes 10-12 muffins.

**Note: you can easily make these vegan! Just substitute flax eggs for the actual eggs, and applesauce for the yogurt (just reduce to about 1/3 cup applesauce). 

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I Caved

For the longest time, I insisted that I wasn’t going to run a marathon. I wanted to run a “fast” half before I attempted the full. I wasn’t sure my (previously stress fractured legs) would handle the volume. I sort of just didn’t want to run further than 30km ;).

After racing Seawheeze a few weeks ago, I started to see the problem with this logic. Even though on race day, sub-1:35 felt “fast”, I suddenly had changed my definition of fast. In my head, I was already thinking I needed to whittle the time down to 1:32, 1:30, and even something in the 1:20’s before I could call myself “fast”.

Mileage-wise, I started to realize that a lot of people run marathons on a lot less volume than I do currently. Do I think that’s a good idea? No. Do I think you can run a fast, healthy marathon that way? Not really. But I do think that if for whatever reason, I got injured and had to back off the mileage a little, I could still finish the race.

So, on Monday I signed up for the California International Marathon (CIM). It’s in Sacramento, California on December 4th. It’s been a while since I’ve raced a distance that’s “uncharted territory” for me, so I’m excited to get there.

I’m not sure yet what I’m going to do about training – if you have advice I’d love to hear it. Right now I’m running about 75km/week, including a long run in the mid- to high-20’s (km). I want to keep the fitness I built up to Seawheeze, but I almost feel like I should give myself a bit of a break and then re-build into CIM? Or I could just keep this base and slowly but steadily ramp up the distance while working harder on pace.

Either way, stay tuned! I’ll post more training details when I figure them out. Keep a look out for another post next week where I’ll explain fuelling during a marathon – I gave a talk at the local Running Room this week and I’ll share the take-homes here.

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Jan brought home champagne to celebrate – which made the next day’s track workout… challenging.

Thoughts? Back off and re-build or build slowly with more speed work? Anyone else racing CIM?

Nike Robson Run

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Saturday morning we were invited to join the Nike Run ambassadors at the brand new Nike store on Robson.

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The morning started with a fun meet up at the Nike store where we got to shop, hang out with friends, and even meet Nike athlete Sheila Reed, a middle distance runner whose 1500m PB is 4:02 (!).
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little do they know I would have run a lot farther for waffles…

We all headed out for a fun 5k run around downtown Vancouver, then came back to the store for waffles, fruit, and fresh pressed juice.

IMG_7344To top it off, Nike gifted us with exclusive t-shirts and a 25$ gift card to use at the store – I totally have my eye on a speedy new pair of shorts or singlet!

What would you get?

Thanks, Nike and Sheila, for a great morning!

All photos by the Nike team (except the obvious last one, taken by a reluctant Belgian ;)

Recent Eats

A couple of weeks ago, I realized that we were eating the same meals over and over again, and probably relying just a little too much on quick options and convenience foods. Luckily, living in Vancouver means there’s a lot of healthy fast food options around, but man, it can get expensive. 

I decided to make an effort to prep more at the beginning of the week, so we’d always have easy options on hand at home. Of course, the post-long-run-whole-foods-latte-and-muffin game is still strong.

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll share some of the lunch, dinner, breakfast and snack options we munch on! This is a quick, packable lunch that was a hit this week.

Spiralized Zucchini Mediterranean Bowl

Serves 3. Prep time 30 mins.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brussels sprouts
  • 1 package frozen shrimp (peeled, de-veined and tails removed)
  • 1 small can chick peas
  • 2-3 heaping cups spiralized zucchini (about 1 large zucchini)
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2+2 tbsp olive oil (divided), plus more for dressing
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • sea salt
  • black pepper
  • garlic powder

Directions

Prep the brussels sprouts: Preheat oven to 425 deg. Slice sprouts in half, and drizzle with 2 tbsp olive oil. Season with black pepper and a tiny bit of garlic powder. Roast in oven for 20-25 minutes, or until crispy.

Prep the shrimp: Sauté the shrimp with 2 tbsp olive oil in a pan over medium heat, until shrimp are golden-pink.

While shrimp and sprouts are cooking, prep the rest of the ingredients. In a large salad bowl, combine rinsed chick peas with spiralized zucchini (I use this awesome tiny spiralizer!). Add olives, cherry tomatoes, and feta cheese. Once cooled, add the sautéed shrimp and brussels sprouts.

Season to taste with sea salt and black pepper, and toss with a little more olive oil. When adding salt, remember that the parmesan and feta will have already added some salty flavours!

Tip: if you’re making this the night before, like I did for a packed lunch, save the dressing step until the morning. It helps keep everything from getting too soggy. If you’re looking for something a little heartier, it would be great to substitute whole wheat spaghetti for the zucchini!

If you’re looking to make this dish vegetarian, it would also be great with tofu instead of shrimp, or bulked up with extra chick peas and lentils!

Have a great weekend!

Lululemon Seawheeze Half Marathon Race Recap

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Post race – definitely needed a little help to stand up

This is a continuation of my Seawheeze race weekend post, where I talked about my lead up to the race, plus the Seawheeze expo.

I woke up at 5 am on Saturday (who are we kidding? I also woke up at 2, 3, and 4). I had planned to eat a banana, but the only thing I could handle was a blueberry toaster waffle (my long-time nervous-tummy cure). I watched a bit of Olympics for inspiration, then got dressed and ready for the race.

I wore my lulu free to be bra, water bound singlet (old but I love it), speed shorts, and speed socks. I also put on my trusty Saucony Zealot ISO’s (the only shoe I’ve worn post-fractures). On my right wrist I had my Garmin Vivofit2, and on my left, my Garmin Fenix 2 (not pictured).

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EXTRA nervous am selfie

Ok. So I don’t get nervous about many things, but multiple choice exams and goal RACES drive me bananas. We left the house around 6.30 and I jogged for a bit and met up with Jan for the walk to the start area. The atmosphere, in hindsight, was really great – there were tons of volunteers, balloons, music and people everywhere. I lined up at the front of the first corral (basically everyone under 1:45) and waited for the race to go off.

Soon enough – BOOM! There were fireworks and cheering and off we went. For the first few k I just went out and tried to run by feel, like everyone had suggested. One thing that struck me at the start line was how warm it was by 7 am – I’m almost never comfortable wearing just a singlet and I was totally fine, temperature-wise.

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The course winds through downtown, onto the Dunsmuir viaduct, into east Van, then onto the False Creek seawall. From there it’s an out-and-back up and over the Burrard bridge and down Cornwall, back over the bridge to continue on the seawall around Stanley Park to the finish line. Strava data HERE.

I saw lots of people cheering for me, including Martina and Greg in Olympic Village, Julie on the seawall and Pacific, Dimitri at Cornwall and Burrard, Yasuyo on Cornwall (thanks for volunteering!), and Jan in a bunch of places (start line, Pacific, Burrard bridge, finish).

This was the first race that I have huge gaps in my memory. It took me the first 10k to finally settle down and feel ok, so I was really thinking about my breathing and checking in with myself. I honestly don’t remember a few parts of the course.

There were AWESOME cheering stations (ride cycle club was set up on the Viaduct, and Clearly lenses had a big station on the bridge), which definitely helped. The out and back was tough (looking at the GPS data, it’s probably because I was running under 4:20 per km/6:55 per mi). Around 11k, I saw Jan on the bridge and knew that I needed to get rid of the singlet and this was my one chance. So… yup after all the photo taking and sherpa-ing he already did, he ended up getting my VERY sweaty singlet tossed to him as well.

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The first mile is fast because the GPS is off downtown – I’m pretty sure this is a tiny negative split!

Finally, FINALLY when the course hit Pacific there was shade and I was starting to feel better. The Stanley Park seawall was lonely cheering-wise (and the race had spread out) but I have run it so many times that I was comfortable.

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Trying to smile at Jan with less than 500m to go

After the park we came out on the Coal Harbour seawall, right where Jan and I live. I rounded the final corner and saw the finish line and the clock, which said something like 1:34:40. I was very done, but I though HELL NO I did not run this hard to go over 1:35 and so I picked up the pace and crossed the line RIGHT at 1:35.

Luckily, I’d also started a tiny bit back, and so my official time was 1:34:58. I ran the whole thing by feel and didn’t look at my watch once. This is a big (almost 5 minute) PB and I’m so, so happy with it. Based on how good I felt after the race and over the next few days, I know I had more gas in the tank.

Other details: there were several aid stations, and I took a sip of water at 5 or so. I didn’t eat anything, but I was carrying a Gu (flavour: Espresso love, obvi). I did NOT barf at the finish line (another huge win).

After the race, I got a giant medal and a COLD TOWEL (this is genius people). As I continued down the finish chute, I was also handed a cold water bottle, which I immediately poured down the back of my neck, a lulu finisher’s hat, vega samples, saje recovery massage oils, Nuun, and KIND bars. I picked up a brunch package, which was a vegetarian breakfast sandwich, sour cherry tart, and extra cold grapes. I wasn’t hungry for any of that right away, so I saved it and sipped on a vanilla Vega smoothie and more water instead.

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Here are the splits – pretty even GAP, except for miles 8, 12, and 13. Seawheeze is not a super competitive race (their focus is making running fun) – the female winner (the very fast Kate) ran 1:21, and I came in as 95th overall and 40th female.

I didn’t get a chance to check out the Sunset festival because a) I was tired and b) I had to go to the hospital for call. I hear it was awesome, though!

So – a great day and a shiny new PB in the books! Couldn’t ask for more :)

AND – thanks to the lovely Jessica, there’s a little bit of a Seawheeze link up happening! PR’s everywhereeeee

Angela (So much deliciousness on her blog)

Christina (training for an ultra!!)

Kaella (behind the new-to-me blog Kaella On the Run.. can’t wait to read more!)

Lululemon Seawheeze Half Marathon

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This past weekend I ran the lululemon seawheeze half marathon! Omg what a great race. Everything about the execution of the whole event (and it was an event) was so well done. I’m going to break this up into 2 posts – a “pre-race” post (this one) and a standard race recap, to keep things from getting too long!

I’ll back up to last Fall to start – I had just started seeing Jan, and mentioned to him that I was hoping to sign up for Seawheeze. The race sells out super fast every year, so I was thinking I would have to figure out a way to get to a computer at work. Jan was planning to register as well and offered to sign me up. By the time he’d completed my registration, the race was sold out.

So I had a lot of advance notice about the race, but it was way in the back of my mind. A few months after registering, I received a package in the mail – race shorts! Instead of finisher’s shirts, lulu sends all their runners shorts. Since I’m totally crazy, I didn’t put them on – it’s bad luck to wear the shirt before the race is over!! Spoiler alert though – I’ve now worn the shorts and love them (they’re Lulu speed shorts, which is mostly what I wear anyways). My favourite things are the comfy lining and the zip pocket at the back.

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So the shorts went into my drawer and the race stayed at the back of my mind.. I ran the Rock n Roll half in October (1:41), and then the First Half in February (1:39). The First Half PB was definitely a surprise to me. Through the winter and spring I mostly ran shorter, faster runs during the week and long, slow runs on the weekend. I considered using a training plan, but the chaos of a resident’s schedule seemed to make it more stressful than it was worth.

Somewhere along the way, I started thinking about a goal time for this race. I thought for a while about aiming for 1:35, mostly feeling like it would be ambitious. Sometime in early July, I started saying it out loud, and all of my usual running buddies were more than happy to tell me to go for it. The other piece of advice they gave me, which I LOVED, was don’t look at your watch – run by feel.

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Race weekend came up fast. On Friday afternoon, Jan and I wandered over to the Convention Centre in downtown Vancouver to get my race package. It included my bib, a bike bottle, sunglasses, and a pack of Nuun tabs (not pictured) all packed in a Seawheeze duffel bag.

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The expo featured Nuun, KIND bars, Vega protein, Saje wellness products, and JJ bean coffee. It was fun to wander around in the sunshine!

From Jan's Insta
From Jan’s Insta

Friday evening, I did a little shakeout run (like 15 mins), and got a manicure and massage. The idea was to be as relaxed as possible because ohhh boy was I nervous. We walked over to Denman to get some pasta for dinner. We went to Nook first, but the hostess would barely give us the time of day! (and we go all the time). Lame. Instead, we ended up having a SUPER yummy meal (+1 glass of prosecco for those nerves ;) at Tavola. Win.

We walked home and I went to bed around 10.30, knowing I’d have an early start the next morning.

Check out part 2 here!

Race Report: The Summer Sprint Trail Race

Hi friends! Who else has Olympic coverage in the background at all times? It’s so much fun (and totally inspiring) to watch these athletes. While Belgium was winning gold on Saturday morning, Jan and I (and our friends Danielle and Alyson) headed to the trails for a fun race. 2016-08-06 MEC North Van 10k 004

MEC puts on a great race series that’s SUPER CHEAP –> the number one thing I care about when doing tune up races. There are no medals or t-shirts, but you get an awesome race environment, really well-marked course, chip timing, and delicious post-race food. What more do you need?! This race was only $15.

2016-08-06 MEC North Van 10k 011We piled into Alyson’s truck, lovingly named Gretchen, Saturday morning. Justttt before getting onto the Lion’s Gate Bridge, we realized Alyson’s phone was missing. We pulled over to the side of the road and ended up finding the (brand new) phone on top of the truck!! So lucky it didn’t fall off (and we didn’t get on the bridge).

2016-08-06 MEC North Van 10k 005We arrived at the base of the Sea to Sky trail, near Lynn Creek, to get our bibs and line up. There was pre-race yoga led by Jeff from Excel with Grace.

Soon it was time to go – Danielle and I placed ourselves in the middle of the second wave (I can practically hear Jan’s voice in my head telling me to start farther up). We headed off onto the trail, which bottlenecked early due to a short segment of single-track.

There’s something good for my racing about chasing people, and I started to pass groups of people in the first two k, before settling into my rhythm. I was running everything I possibly could, only power hiking very technical uphills and a few sets of stairs.

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The course was 10.5km with 300m of elevation:

At ~10.1 km, I came around a corner to the final stretch and saw Jan taking photos on the side of the trail. My eyes are closed in almost every one of them :)

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I finished in 1:01:23, good for 4th girl overall. I was off of third place by 1:41… I don’t think I could have made that up by starting further ahead, but who knows? Next time I’ll put myself in the first wave :).