Run | Laugh | Eat | Repeat

Chickpea Cakes

I. Love. Chickpeas.

I mean, really. I’ll eat them on salads, toasted in the oven, blended into hummus, straight out the can, whatever! (Well, actually I’ve been trying to buy them dry and cook them myself instead of buying them canned these days…it’s cheaper and you don’t have to worry about rinsing off all the added sodium.) They add texture and are so versatile in flavor.

Plus, I’m a huge fan of their nutritional content. One half-cup serving of chickpeas contains 135 calories, 8 grams of protein, and 6 grams of fiber. What more could you want?! They also contain heart-healthy unsaturated fats and plenty of vitamins and minerals, such as vitamins B6, C, A, E, K, and folate. Eat your legumes, y’all.

One time I was at this vegetarian restaurant and I tried a chickpea salad sandwich. Like chicken salad, but chickpea salad. It was SO GOOD. And ever since then I’ve been amazed at all the ways chickpeas can be used. So today, I experimented with them and fried up some chickpea cakes. My philosophy is that you can probably substitute a lot of my ingredients for something else; I just didn’t feel like going to the store and wanted to use whatever I already had in the kitchen. As long as you have chickpeas, breadcrumbs (I used flour), and something to moisten/keep the ingredients together (like an egg, but I used cottage cheese instead), and any spices you want, they should turn out great! I would recommend adding some diced onion and pepper to the blender/food processor too. Experiment according to your taste and have fun with it!

Anyways, here they are!

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They are super tasty on their own; OR, serve them with the dipping sauce/dressing of your choice.

Chickpea Cakes
Yield: 2 servings
Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients
1 cup cooked Chickpeas, rinsed and drained if canned
1/4 cup Low-Fat Cottage Cheese
3 Tbsp All-Purpose Flour or Bread Crumbs
2-3 Tbsp Onion and/or Green Bell Pepper, diced
1/8 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Black Pepper
1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
1/4 tsp Cumin
2 leaves Basil, chopped
1-2 Tbsp Olive Oil

Preparation
1. Combine all ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor/blender. Pulse until ingredients are mashed well (does not have to be pureed; chunks are allowed) and form into four patties. This is easier to do if your hands are a little wet.
2. Heat olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, place cakes in the pan and fry until golden brown, about 4-5 minutes on each side. Serve warm.

Nutrition Information per Serving 
Serving Size: 2 cakes

Calories: 265
Total Fat: 10 g
Saturated Fat: 1.5 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 1.5 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 6.5 g
Trans Fat: 0 g
Cholesterol: 1 mg
Sodium: 270 mg
Potassium: 318 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 34 g
Dietary Fiber: 7 g
Sugars: 6 g
Protein: 13 g

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(Un)Fried Green Tomatoes

Green tomatoes…baked, not fried!

Fun Fact: I recently learned that green tomatoes are simply unripe regular tomatoes. All this time I had thought that they were their own plant. You know, not tomatoes. GREEN tomatoes. Like tomatillos or something. Alright, that’s enough. Here’s how you make them.

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Ingredients

2 Green Tomatoes
1 Large Egg
1/2 cup Parmesan or Provolone Cheese, grated
1/2 cup Bread Crumbs
1/4 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Black Pepper
1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
Vegetable Oil or Cooking Spray

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray/vegetable oil.
Slice tomatoes into 1/4-1/8″ slices. Beat egg in a small bowl. In another bowl, mix cheese, bread crumbs, and spices. Dip tomato slices into egg, then into the breading mixture. Be sure to coat both sides.
Place slices on a baking sheet in a single layer. Spray tops with oil and bake about 30 minutes or until breading is crispy. I recommend flipping tomatoes halfway through. Serve plain, or with a dipping sauce of your choice!

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Healthy Buffalo Chicken Dip

Happy Super Bowl Sunday!

In honor of this holiday, I wanted to come up with a “Healthy” Buffalo Chicken Dip recipe. Because it’s my favorite and it IS party/tailgating food. If you ever show up to a sports event without buffalo chicken dip, leave.

There are a few different recipes out there for “skinny” or “healthy” buffalo chicken dip, and all the ones I’ve looked at are different in small ways. I combined the ingredients that I liked from each of them, made my own version, and there we have it! Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t SUPER healthy. It’s not full of fresh vegetables and fiber and chia seeds. It’s a little bit lower in calories and definitely lower in fat than the original Franks® recipe.

Ingredients

4 ounces (half a package) reduced fat cream cheese, softened
1 cup fat free sour cream (or plain yogurt)
1/2 cup buffalo wing sauce
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
1-2 tablespoons ranch dressing mix
1 tsp white wine vinegar
2 cups shredded chicken, cooked

Directions

Mix the first 6 ingredients together until smooth and then stir in the chicken. You can use canned chicken like the original recipe calls for, but I also like to use rotisserie chicken or braise some chicken in hot sauce and shred that up.

Heat dip in a slow cooker on low for 3-4 hours OR bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees. This recipe makes about 3 cups.

Serve warm with crackers, tortilla chips, celery, or anything else you can think of. Enjoy!

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Nutrition Information

Serving Size: 1/4 cup
Calories 104, Total Fat 4 g, Saturated Fat 1 g, Cholesterol 28 mg, Sodium 520 mg, Total Carbohydrate 3 g, Sugars 2 g, Protein 11 g.

 

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What Is the Season of Giving?

I always hear great stories about people doing random acts of kindness, giving generously, or donating above and beyond to make a difference in someone’s life. I’m always so touched and inspired by them, and so thankful that this world is full of good people. Today while I was going for a long run on the greenway, I had my own chance to make a difference.

I stopped at one of the pavilion restrooms along the way, and the first thing I saw when I walked in was a pair of shoes and someone’s legs laying on ground. I pulled out my phone in total panic thinking someone had passed out or died, getting ready to call 911, but then I saw a little movement and realized it was a homeless woman sleeping. On the floor of a bathroom on the greenway, trying to stay warm.

I tried to be quiet and fast so I didn’t bother her. I was nervous. I don’t know what I was afraid of, but I was a little bit scared that she would wake up and confront me. But as I left and continued to think about her for the rest of my run, I realized I was being an idiot. She was just trying to get some warmth. Plus, how many times have I gone running on that greenway, even getting caught in the dark many more times that I would have liked, and never once been bothered by anyone?

(Side note: I don’t support going running on the greenway in the dark. Every time I accidentally end up 3 miles from my car while it’s getting dark, it makes me nervous and I run with my senses alert and my key in my fist ready to fight back if anyone were to try to attack me. Don’t follow my example and just avoid that situation completely.)

All I could think about for the rest of my run was that that woman in the bathroom is someone’s daughter. Someone’s sister. Someone’s best friend. Maybe even someone’s mom or grandma.

So as soon as I was done, I went and bought some hot chocolate at Thornton’s, scribbled a quick note “it’s too cold today not to have hot chocolate”, and went back to that bathroom. I slipped them and my CLIF bar under the stall and ran away.

But I’m not writing this to brag about my act of kindness. I’m writing this because I was bothered at my own thoughts when I said to myself “It’s Christmas. It’s the season of giving!”

Immediately after I thought that, a little voice in my head said “Would you be doing this if it wasn’t Christmas?”

I like to think that I would. I love to help and bring joy to other people. But at the same time, I would probably have a million excuses why I couldn’t. Such as the fact that I was so hungry on that run that I had to stop several times because I thought I was going to pass out, and I still had plenty of shopping to do before I would get home to eat again. I could have used that CLIF bar. Or the fact that I am an unpaid intern with broken-down-car expenses to pay for every other month. Sometimes I have to figure out how to live on $4 of gas money for a week. I can always use an extra dollar or two. And yet, I pass homeless people asking for help or trying to sell the paper all the time thinking I don’t have anything to give, and then go to Camino that same day and spend that dollar or two (that I “don’t have”) on a margarita.

But it’s Christmas. It’s the Season of Giving.
What IS the Season of Giving?

I don’t have the answer. I don’t have an inspirational speech or a challenge to give everyone, like do three good deeds everyday. It’s just something to think about. Have we confined the act of giving to a season? I don’t know, maybe we haven’t. Maybe it’s just me. Like I said, I do hear of great stories all the time, and it’s not just around this time of year. But in most cases, I would guess that when all the Christmas stories and songs and movies about joy and giving and loving others are gone, it’s a little bit easier to pass a homeless person on the greenway and think “Sorry, I’m really broke and I’m hungry. I wish I could help but I need my CLIF bar.”

Let’s make life the season of giving. In the words of Buddy the Elf, “Treat everyday like Christmas!”

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Coffee: Good Bean or Bad?

Coffee is bad. Coffee is good. Coffee causes high blood pressure. Coffee enhances athletic performance. Are we ever going to be done with The Great Coffee Debate? For years, coffee has been a hot topic in the world of health, nutrition, and beverages.

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But will we ever get a concrete, yes-or-no answer on whether it’s healthy or not?
Well, maybe not.
There are some things we do know based on years of research about our morning cup o’ Joe and its health benefits and risks.

Let’s start with the negative effects. 

When it comes to the risks of coffee, caffeine is usually accused as the culprit. Too much caffeine may increase the risk for osteoporosis, but how much is too much? According to the National Institute of Health, ten cups of coffee is considered an excessive amount. The good news is that consuming a moderate amount (3-4 cups a day) is not considered dangerous for bone health. Consuming coffee in high amounts may slightly increase blood pressure. Ten cups a day or more could also be related to urinary tract infections, bladder cancer, and a higher risk of miscarriage. As a general precaution, pregnant women are recommended to limit coffee to one cup a day or less.

Now let’s move on to the positive.

Scientific evidence shows a negative relationship between moderate coffee consumption and the occurrence of type 2 diabetes—which means drinking 3-4 cups of coffee a day (a moderate amount) may even have a protective effect against the disease. Coffee may contribute to weight loss which can explain why coffee drinkers are less likely to develop type 2 diabetes, as excess fat tissue increases the risk of the disease.

When it comes to athletes and endurance exercise, consuming up to 5 cups of coffee increases endurance. How? Caffeine releases adrenaline into the blood, which helps the body use fat for energy, spares glycogen stores that are needed later in the activity, and delays fatigue.  Coffee can even improve performance in short-term exercises by interfering with the central nervous system’s perception of effort. In other words, it makes an intense workout seem a little bit easier. Although coffee is a diuretic, evidence suggests that it has no significant dehydration effects in athletes. On the other hand, this does not mean to rehydrate with ten cups of coffee instead of water.

Well, what’s the answer? There may never be a “yes or no” answer, but the best bet is finding a happy medium. While coffee may present health problems if you’re drinking close to ten cups a day, 3-4 cups of regular or decaf is considered safe and may even be beneficial to health. So no need to ditch your morning cup o’ Joe—just be sure to avoid filling it up with sugar and whipped cream!

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References
1. Caffeine and Exercise Performance. American College of Sports and Medicine. http://www.acsm.org/docs/current-comments/caffeineandexercise.pdf.
2. Coffee and its Consumption: Benefits and Risks. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. 2011;51:363-373.
3. Healthy Beverage Guidelines. Harvard School of Public Health: The Nutrition Source. http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/healthy-drinks-full-story/#level-2.
4. Position of the American Dietetic Association, Dietitians of Canada, and the American College of Sports Medicine: Nutrition and Athletic Performance. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. http://www.eatright.org/About/Content.aspx?id=8365.
5. Tea and coffee consumption in relation to vitamin D and calcium levels in Saudi adolescents. Nutr J. 2012;11:56.

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What’s So Great About Ragnar Tennessee?

Ragnar Relay Tennessee. 1 team. 2 vans. 12 runners. 196 miles from Chattanooga to Nashville.

What’s so great about Ragnar?

1. The weather and scenery. Could they have picked a better time of year than the end of October to run through the Tennessee countryside? No.

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2. Counting RoadKills. Especially if your van decides to only mark the “positive” kills and ignore the negatives.

3. The creativity and humor of the van paint/decorations. This was one of my personal favorites that we saw along the way:

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4. Living off of CLIF bars, PowerBar gels, Gatorade, and trail mix.

5. Sleeping in curled up positions you never even knew were possible.

6. Getting honked at and cheered for by not only your team, but other passing vans as well. The fun and encouraging spirit of Ragnar is incredible!

7. The transition from first few legs when everyone gets out of the van and celebrates, to the last legs when the runner is on his/her own and the rest of the team stays curled up half asleep in the van.

8. Monteagle Mountain. What a challenge. (I had the pleasure to be runner #7 this year. That is a run I will never forget. I will also never forget the support I received from my team and the tears I shed before this run. “It feels like we’re sending you off to college!”)

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9. And, the feeling of running 5.3 miles up the mountain in less than an hour and having jello legs the rest of the relay.

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10. The jokes, stories, and laughter shared the whole way in the van. No radio necessary.

11. Openly talking about bodily functions. Because that’s what runners do. You can’t go for a long run with a full stomach or bladder. Come on.

12. Running in the middle of the night, in the middle of nowhere. There’s something to be said about running down a lonely country road in Tullahoma, blaring your music to drown out the howling coyotes, with no ability to see anything besides the 10 foot path lit up by your headlamp. That’s when you find out who you really are.

13. Flat ground after those unexpected hills.

14. Changing clothes in a porta-potty using your phone as a flashlight. Ragnar might be the only time I’m perfectly fine with setting my clothes down on the floor of a porta-potty. Anything goes. I even had a few scares where I caught my sports bra just in time before it fell into the abyss of blue water and who knows what.

15. Being so proud of your teammates for crossing Ragnar off of their bucket lists.

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16. The salad bar with iceberg lettuce and stale toppings that wouldn’t be worth the money on a normal occasion, but somehow after running all day it tastes like the best meal of your entire life.

17. The few big exchanges where both vans meet up.

18. Panicking more about what to wear during the run than about the actual run itself.

19. Those two or three precious hours of relaxation (and maybe even sleep) while the other van runs.

20. The complete fatigue during the last leg where it takes everything in you to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

21. This sign.

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22. The Reeves Sain Painkillers. Everyone thinks that their team is the best, but really…my team actually IS the best. I have never met a more supportive, fun, exciting, motivating, loving bunch of people than our 12 runners and 1 amazing driver. I am so blessed to be a part of this group.

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23. Getting back into the warm van after running 6 miles in 28 degree weather.

24. The last-minute scramble of trying to find a headlamp.

25. The pizza and beer at the finish line in Nashville.

26. Sweaty hugs.

27. The Van 2 Vixens.

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28. Not knowing what day it is. Or caring.

29. Wishing so badly to be at the finish line but when you get there, wanting nothing more than to do it all over again.

30. Moments when you can’t decide if you love running or if you never want to put on your running shoes again. The answer is always love.

31. The reminder that hard work and challenging yourself is ALWAYS the path to life’s most wonderful adventures.

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Food, Friends, & Fun: FNCE 2013

I arrived in Houston on Saturday afternoon and left Tuesday afternoon. In the time span of three days, the size of my luggage went from one normal checked bag and extremely light carry-on, to one bursting-at-the-seams checked bag, one 30lb carry-on and a large purse heavy enough it could knock someone out.

How?
I shamelessly admit that my bags were full of food. FULL of it. Food everywhere. Energy bars, granola, dried fruit, peanut butter, chocolate, bean chips, gluten-free seed pretzels, nutrient supplements, organic, natural, healthy, new products galore!

 

I actually won the award for “Most Efficient Packer” among my group of interns. Here is only a portion of the samples I managed to squeeze into my carry-on:
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In case anyone is wondering where all of this tasty goodness came from, I was at the annual Food and Nutrition Conference and Expo (FNCE) this past weekend in Houston. This was my second FNCE and it was a blast! Between all of the great sessions I attended, hours, of walking the expo floor tasting products and collecting samples and handouts, and the cute supermarket/foodbar/restaurant my fellow interns and I found, we had the best weekend ever!

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Here’s what I learned at this year’s FNCE:

1. Houston’s restaurants are closed on the weekends. Or maybe it’s the weekdays – we never really figured it out. All I know is that we spent a good two hours walking around looking for a place to eat dinner together, and ended up here…

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Our internship director wasn’t thrilled.

2. What we DID find was the best place in all of Houston: Phoenicia. If you ever go to Houston, look up Phoenicia and go. You won’t be disappointed. It’s like a mini, local Whole Foods. With a sit-down restaurant on one side and the most delicious gelato!

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PUMPKIN GELATO! WHAT?!

3. The sessions at FNCE are well worth attending. Last year as an undergraduate student, I have to admit I spent all of my time exploring the expo floor, eating, and walking around Philadelphia, where the convention was held. I loved it, but this year I went to the education sessions all day as well, and they were wonderful. There are almost too many topics to choose from! From clinical nutrition issues to food demos and photography, I basically had to do “eenie meenie miney mo” to choose where to go. I favored the ones that were geared towards food blogging and community work. Especially food photography. It was so educational and I felt so inspired that I kept going on and on about it afterwards, saying  “I loved it so much I am going to throw up!” because you know, that’s a normal reaction.

4. It’s perfectly acceptable to take as many free samples as you can get your hands on. I mean, the expo floor is huge. Brands and products everywhere. Try some. Try them all. Take what they give you. I KEPT going back to the Daiya booth (a diary-free, soy-free cheese product) and they welcomed me! Let me tell you, DELICIOUS. Gooey, cheesy, heaven.

5. Dietitians go out of their way to network and meet new people. It’s great. Everyone wants to help each other achieve their dream.

6. The field of dietetics has SO much to offer. I am overwhelmed with dreams and options and career paths!

7. I love to run in new places. Big cities are a pain because of course you have to stop at every intersection, so I wouldn’t run around Houston if I was looking for a 5 mile intense training run. But I WOULD run around Houston if I wanted to explore and have a moment of not knowing where I was going but being perfectly happy enjoying the view. And that’s what I did.

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8. I LOVE each and every one of my fellow NHC interns. I already knew that, but now I really know it. We all have completely different interests, personalities, and priorities, but we somehow click. We understand and appreciate each other. I am so blessed to be going through this year with such strong, kind, and amazing ladies!

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9. Life is always better when you’re learning, laughing, and celebrating everything.

10. Everywhere I travel, I immediately want to live there.

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Nice getting to know you, Texas!

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Mind Over (Half) Marathon

“It’s very hard in the beginning to understand that the whole idea is not to beat the other runners. Eventually you learn that the competition is against the little voice inside you that wants you to quit.” – George Sheehan

If I could have a super-power, it would be to be able to hear what is going on in each runner’s mind during a half marathon. But since I don’t have that ability, all I can do is imagine that everyone’s thoughts are as strange and war-like as mine. For me, each mile has its own personality depending on how I feel on the scale of “enjoying this run in the fall weather” to “my heart is literally going to come out of my chest and I will need emergency assistance soon.” What’s beautiful about a half marathon is that both of those feelings and SO many more are possible in just one run.

Yesterday I ran my third Murfreesboro Half Marathon (The Middle Half) in a row! I have yet to run any other halfs (halves? I don’t even know) besides this one. It’s October, it’s flat, it’s chilly, we get to run through the Square, it’s pretty, I’m familiar with all the roads…I just love it. The Middle Half is honestly one of my favorite days of the year. I couldn’t even sleep the night before; it felt like Christmas Eve. I am obsessed with races in general because I LOVE the camaraderie of so many runners getting together to do what they love, compete with their own personal records, and cheer each other on. It’s great.

AND, this year was so fun for me because my dad and my roommate both joined me and ran their very first half marathons!

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So here is a little history of the halfs in my life so far: 2011 was my first Middle Half, and I ran it with a pulled groin muscle. I really shouldn’t have done it, but after paying for registration and training all summer, I was way too stubborn to sit it out. So with the help of some painkillers and two 800mg Ibuprofens (don’t follow my example), I managed to block out the excruciating hip pain and run it in 2 hours and 10 minutes, although my goal was 2 hours.
After that, I was unable to run for about 5 months. Then, after several other small but frequent leg pains/injuries, I realized it was time to add some strength training and STRETCHING to my workout routine. It has done wonders. So that’s why everybody does it.

Last year, I ran the 2012 Middle Half with a goal of 2 hours again (and no leg injury) and ran it with a time of 1:57! This year, my goal was to get a PR and hopefully run it in 1:55 or less. After getting pressured by some of my running role models to go faster, I decided to shoot for 1:45, and that was stretching it. I’m not a fast runner, and to hit 1:45 you basically have to run 8 minute miles  (which I never do) for all of 13.1 miles. I was so nervous about this time because I really wanted it. I wanted to hurt myself for 1 hour and 45 minutes. I wanted to blow myself away and push my body to do something I never even would have tried if my friends hadn’t have joked “if you take 1:55 that is ridiculous, I want to see nothing over 1:45.”
I read somewhere that running is split into three parts: you have to run with your mind, your personality, and your heart. Nowhere does it say legs. Yes, I think you have to train and practice and work your body up to running long distances, but no matter how ready a person’s body is, 13.1 miles is no walk in the park. It’s long, it’s hard, it’s tiresome, it’s frustrating, it’s joyous, it’s a whole new mind game. Every. Single. Time.

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Mile 1: As soon as I crossed the starting line, I psyched myself out. I found my 1:45 pacer and I sprinted to not only catch up with him, but pass him. I wanted him behind me so that I was SURE to make it. So with the help of my running app, I started the race at a 7:30 pace. And I was struggling immediately, but I tried to get my body in a good zone and my mind to another place. The Outer Banks, Colorado, who knows where. But I was not in Murfreesboro, TN. I was excited, confident, and I was telling myself I could easily run the rest of the race at this pace. It was cold, the sun was coming up, and I was in runner’s paradise.

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Miles 2-4: You know how they call it a “side stitch”? Well, I had a “whole stitch” all over my stomach for this part of the run. Thanks to a pretty good sized breakfast I woke up to eat at 3am, thinking it would give my body plenty of time to digest and fuel myself up.

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Have you ever seen two people happier about waking up at 3am?

All I could think during these miles was “why did you eat such a big breakfast?” I still enjoyed this part, because we run through the old historic streets of Murfreesboro and around the town square, so this is always my favorite part of the run. It just feels like fall, well, probably because it is fall. But it’s the fall-iest part of the run. But still. Why did I have to eat that breakfast? I didn’t think I would ever get rid of the cramps, but I just kept breathing and refused to slow my pace. I listed to Icona Pop’s “I Love It” probably 10 times on repeat, also. I’m not sure why but during a half I always get stuck on one and only one song that will pump me up. All the others seemed like a waste and only “I Love It” could keep me going. Overall, I was hurting but I was happy, thankful for my favorite day and race, and loved everyone in sight.

Miles 5-7: This is where I started to get hostile. Really. I hated everyone in sight. I didn’t want to look at anyone, I didn’t want to smile at the spectators/cheerleaders, I didn’t want to make conversation with any fellow runners, (well I never do–I don’t like to talk and run), I didn’t even want to run next to anyone. I honestly think I caught myself blatantly moving a few feet away anytime another runner came up on my side. I was so absorbed in my labored breathing, my cramped legs, and the sweat dripping into my eyes that I couldn’t even bear to be near another human being. I kept thinking to myself “this is ridiculous.” Before the race, I gave myself a temporary tattoo of a dodo bird. It was Courtney’s, but she borrowed my tank top so I needed a little piece of her too so we were even.

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We found so much humor in this dodo bird that I swore every time I was really struggling I would look at it and find strength. And believe me, I looked at it. A lot.
Mile 6-ish is also where my pacer passed me. Apparently I was slowing down, but I like to think he was speeding up. Who knows.

Miles 8-12: I like to call the second half “The Blackout Period.” I lose my mind during this part. I remember some of my thoughts, but I don’t remember the people, the scenery, anything. This is where “I Love It” and some other fun songs on my playlist became T.I. on repeat. In mile 8, my mindset went from “this is hard” to “this is a war.” I became so competitive within myself and I was having such a hard time keeping my pace up that the only way I could prevent myself from falling to my knees or throwing up was to give myself repetitive pep talks. Mile 8 is where the twists and turns stop and we get to the long, straight roads with no end in sight. The entire time I said to myself over and over “This is where we separate the men from the boys.” Actually, I had fun with it and came up with different variations, including “This is where we separate the warriors from the b****es” and my personal favorite “This is where we separate the dodo birds from the robins.” At least I got some internal laughter out of it. There were so many points that I almost stopped for a quick breather, but the only thing keeping me going was my competitive soul and how badly I wanted to at least get CLOSE to 1;45. By this time, my pacer was pretty far ahead of me.

Mile 13.1: Mile 13. Here we go, Kerstyn. You have just ran 12 miles and you only have 1 to go. Icona Pop was back on repeat and I just needed water. “Sure, maybe I’m still dying, but this is the last mile and people are watching and you better at least make it LOOK like you’re finishing strong.” Even if I did start out too fast and lost steam halfway. All of my work friends were at the Reeves-Sain water table, located about half a mile from the finish. I don’t know if I would have made it if it weren’t for them screaming for me and giving me the last little boost I needed for the remaining few minutes. I felt triumphant, relieved, emotional, you name it. I was almost there. I kept thinking “You can do anything for less than a mile. LESS THAN A MILE.” So I picked my pace back up and pounded it to the finish line, with a chip time of 1:48:56. Hey, it’s not 1:45 but it’s pretty darn close. I don’t care, I love it!

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And 5th place in my age group!

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My Reeves-Sain runner ladies: Lauren, Jess, and Hope

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I am so proud of my dad and Courtney!

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My mom and I pre-race

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A huge thank you to The Middle Half team for another wonderful half marathon!

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Fall Festivities in Middle Tennessee

Happy Almost-October, friends!

I just love October so much. I’ve been waiting for a few weeks now for this Tuesday just so I can post this picture and make it my background on my phone:

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I never truly valued October so much until my family moved to Tennessee (9 years ago, so it’s been a while). Back home in Ohio, September felt like fall. Here, most of the time I’m still sweating and have the A/C on until the very end of the month. It’s just another few weeks of summer, which in my mind ends at the beginning of August when school starts so the heat is just a waste at that point. OCTOBER is when the fall breeze kicks in, the leaves start changing colors, and the bonfires begin.

So as I sit outside and enjoy a spot of coffee on this almost-officially-fall-in-my-mind-although-the-calendar-already-says-it-is morning, I am researching fall festivities in the area. Why not get a list together and share? Who doesn’t love pumpkin patches, corn mazes, and warm apple cider around a bonfire?! If you don’t, I can’t trust you.

What’s going on in the Middle Tennessee area this fall?

October 5-6
Fall Fest at the Hermitage
$5 admission, 10am-5pm Friday and Saturday
Nashville

October 5
Nashville Beer Festival
$35 admission, 1-6pm Saturday
Nashville

October 11-12
Oktoberfest
Free admission, 5pm-9pm Friday and 7am-9pm Saturday
Nashville

October 12
Brewsboro Festival 
$25 admission, 2pm-7pm Saturday
Murfreesboro

October 18-20
Tennessee State Pow Wow
$6 admission, 9am-? Friday-Sunday
Nashville

October 19
Haunted Museum
Free admission, 12pm-4pm Saturday
Nashville

October 19-20
Music and Molasses Arts and Crafts Festival
$5 admission, 9am-4pm Saturday and Sunday
Nashville

October 18-20, 24-27
Ghouls at Grassmere
$15 admission, 5pm-9pm every night
Nashville

October 23-26
Haunted Hayride
$5 admission, dark-9pm
Murfreesboro, Barfield Crescent Park

October 25
Ghost and Lantern Tour
Free admission, 6pm-9pm Friday
Goodlettsville

October 25-26
Hauntings at The Hermitage
$13 admission, 5:30pm-9pm Friday and Saturday
Nashville

October 26
Harvest Days at Cannonsburgh Village
Free admission, 10am-5pm Saturday
Murfreesboro

October 26
Halloween in the Park
3pm-8:30pm Saturday
Smyrna

Pumpkin Farms and Corn Mazes

Scarecrows and Pumpkins at Cheekwood
September 21-October 31
Nashville

Lucky Ladd Farms
$10 admission
Eagleville

Walden Pumpkin Farm
Free admission
Smyrna

Gentry’s Farm
$7 admission
Franklin

Pumpkin Hill
$4 hayrides
Mount Juliet

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Dietetic Internship: Month 1

It’s so hard to believe that I’m already one month into my dietetic internship.
Whatever that even means. I mean, come on…what IS a dietetic internship? It’s like, you graduate college and then move on to this year-or-so-long program which is basically round two of college. Because when we graduate with Bachelor’s degrees in Nutrition/Dietetics they don’t trust us enough to give us jobs right away? And this is only IF you’re lucky enough to match to an internship in the first place.

Alright, I sound very ungrateful right now. In all honestly, I’m talking about it all in the name of fun because I am truly thankful to be part of the amazing program that I’m in. However, I do think the process of becoming an RD is much more uptight, stressful, and regimented than it needs to be. Then again, who am I to say? My thoughts will only matter years down the road if I become president of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics or something. That’s the plan, so stay tuned. I’ll let you know how it goes.

But with all that being said, I’ve had a whirlwind of new experiences so far just in the first month and I’ve enjoyed it so much! My undergraduate teachers always said “Your internship is what you make it” and “Never turn down any opportunities to volunteer or get involved during your internship no matter how busy you already are…you may never get the chance to do something like that again.” I have really taken their bits of advice to heart and have been jumping at every chance to try something new, even if my schedule hasn’t been happy with me.

So what have I been doing so far? My first rotation has been at an NHC facility in town in the foodservice department. Foodservice is not my favorite area of nutrition (actually it’s my LEAST favorite) and I thought I would never survive these four weeks, but all in all I have loved my time there and made some great friends in the Dietary department. Tomorrow is my last day and I’m truly sad to say goodbye. As far as work goes, I’ve done some management-related projects, such as catering a meeting, calculating food costs and expense reports, creating the schedule, and conducting a mock interview. In addition to that…I’ve done a lot of dishes, made a lot of drinks for patients’ trays, rotated a lot of stock, worn lots of hairnets, and rolled a lot of silverware…LOTS AND LOTS of silverware. I am confident that I am now the best silverware-roller in America. Do you get my point?

Aside from being at NHC, I’ve been able to do some volunteering in the community, which I have really loved. I taught a nutrition lesson to a Girl Scout troop and co-manned a healthy snack booth at a kids’ health fair – both great days!

Month 1 in pictures…

Here are the six 2013-2014 NHC interns on our very first day! (I am second from the right in the blue shirt)
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We participated in the Rutherford County Walk to End Alzheimer’s
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My catering project at NHC was a success!
Mediterranean Chicken and Couscous Salad Bar
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Brought hairnets back in style…or something like that…
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Two other interns and I spent hours on a food and labor costing project
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And I made “Your Plate” collages with a Girl Scout troop! So fun!
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There we have it, Month 1 in a nutshell.

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