6 Easy Vegetarian Dinners for Busy Days

None of these are really recipes worthy of their own post, but I always find it helpful to have some ideas for quick meals.  These are quick if you’re prepared: I’ve included what I have ready in advance, because prepping a bunch of beans, grains, and vegetables on Sunday really does make healthy eating much easier all week long!

tostadas

Throw a few corn tortillas in the toaster oven to crisp up, and while they’re in there, saute half an onion, a clove of garlic, and a few kale leaves in some olive oil.  Stir in the black beans, and grate some pepperjack cheese.

Put the tortillas on a baking sheet with some black bean mixture and top with shredded cheese.  Heat under the broiler until the cheese is melted

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This is my favorite thing to do with vegetable odds and ends.  I fry the tofu in a little oil first, then set it aside while I cook the vegetables (this mix included broccoli stems, kale, and cabbage).  The sauce I added this week included soy sauce, lime juice, and minced garlic.

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I made Moosewood lentil soup, which basically just entails sauteeing some onion, celery, and carrot until soft with a pinch of thyme.  Then I added 2 cups of lentils, a can of drained diced tomatoes, and 6 cups of vegetable broth.  I am definitely planning on trying it in a slow cooker!

While it simmered, I poured 2 cups of boiling water over 1 cup of bulgur and let it stand for 20 minutes, then added the juice of a lemon, a bunch of chopped parsley, and some crumbled feta.

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If you have a big batch of cooked quinoa and some roasted squash in the fridge, this comes together really quickly.  Just toss together quinoa, black beans, and roasted butternut squash cubes, and season with salt.  To make the dressing: stir together 2 tbsp olive oil, 4 tbsp lime juice, and 1/2 tsp (or more to taste) ground cumin.  Toss with salad greens just before serving.

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Rub some chopped kale with olive oil and let stand.  Put some oil in a skillet and add cubes of tofu and some chopped shallot.  Add cubes of roasted sweet potatoes and heath through.  Toss with the kale and add some cooked wheat berries.  Dress with a little balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper.

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This is just like fried rice, but with quinoa instead.  Heat a tablespoon of oil in a skillet, add half an onion, 2 minced garlic cloves, a small head of broccoli (chopped) and a cup or two of shredded cabbage.  Cook for a few minutes, then stir in two cups of quinoa, and a few dashes of vegetarian fish sauce and soy sauce (or Golden Mountain sauce).

It can be kind of tough to put together a healthy dinner after a long day of work, workouts, and errands, but if you take a little time to get food ready on the weekend, there are lots of easy, healthy options!

A new bike PDR!

I never want to not ride my bike with friends.  This Saturday was perfect.

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Page had 60 miles on the schedule and invited Jana and me along.  A route was mapped and we met up bright and early in Pleasanton to hit the road.  I’ve never ridden anywhere down there, and it was beautiful.

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It was partly cloudy and most of the roads were blissfully free of cars.  We saw llamas, sheep, horses, and cows.  We chatted about training and life. It was mostly flat and the miles were flying by.  And then we hit Patterson pass.

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That’s that HUGE hill between 30 and 40 miles.  The worst thing about it is the false summit.  You climb for a couple miles, think you see the top, and then once you round that corner, you’re met with an even steeper hill.  I honestly thought my heart was going to explode and my legs were absolutely dead by the time we made it to the top.

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We stopped for the essentials (pictures and a Vine video, obviously), then flew down the other side and back to Pleasanton.  Page realized we weren’t quite going to hit 60 miles…it would be more like 56.  That’s the farthest I’d ever ridden (as part of the half Ironman I did in 2005) so we tacked on a little loop through downtown and ended up with 57.7, a new personal distance record!

As soon as we finished, we threw on running shoes and did a quick 15 minute run.  A HUGE confidence-building workout with the best company I could ask for!

 

Chabot Half Marathon Race Report

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This race was such a great one.  I ran the 30K last year, but since I have no real interest in running anything longer than 13 right now, I signed up for the half marathon.

At the last minute, I decided to run without a Garmin, and I think it ended up being a great decision.  I pushed myself hard the whole time, without getting caught up in what my pace was or how much more distance I had to cover.

It was an absolutely perfect day for running, and a little bit warmer than last year.  The first couple miles wind around the lake on a paved path.  It always takes me a few miles to warm up, and this race was no exception.  I felt pretty crappy for the first half hour.  Tight legs, upset stomach, head not in the game.

But as soon as we switched to the dirt trail and started climbing, I felt a lot better.  I could see a few women in front of me, but couldn’t tell whether they were running the 30K or the half (they stay together for 6 or 7 miles).  I sort of tried to keep up, but without killing myself.  We reached the first aid station and I skipped it because I felt great and still had plenty of water in my handheld.

This year I was totally prepared for the shooting range, so I didn’t freak out at all when I hear gunshots.  I did try to get through that section as fast as possible, though!

At one point I ended up running near a guy with a dog.  He asked if I knew how much we had left, and I happily told him I had no idea.  I assumed we were probably around the 8 or 9 mile mark, but couldn’t be sure.  A few more ups and downs, and before I knew it, I was approaching the second aid station.  I figured there couldn’t be more than 3 miles to go so again, I just ran through.

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Eventually the trail turned back into asphalt and I thought there would only be a mile or so left, until I saw a sign that said “marina, 2.8 miles.” Damn.

The last 2.8 miles were rolling hills that were sort of crowded with families out for a walk (how DARE they enjoy time outdoors when I paid at least $30 to shuffle my way through a half marathon?!), and I kept passing and getting passed by the guy in the red (who you can see over my shoulder in the picture above).

I was pushing it pretty hard for the last mile, but was shocked when I came around the corner to see the clock read 1:48.  Based on the elevation chart and how little I’ve been running this month, I told Mike I was sure it would take me about 2 hours.

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1:48:22 (8:16 min/mile)
2nd female
8th/71 overall

I cannot wait to sign up for more trail races!

 

Cherry Chocolate Frozen Yogurt

frozen yogurt

This week, it has started to feel like spring, and I’m so happy about it!

Ellie’s been playing outside after we get home from work, and I am finally comfortable enough to turn the heat off in my classroom partway through the morning.  I’m not exactly counting the minutes until the temperatures are over 100, but Spring weather is more than welcome.

My grandparents were visiting last week and Ellie loved it.  She did a fashion show for us with her rain boots and my running shoes.  Love this kid!

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This is a fairly tart frozen yogurt with a hint of sweetness from the chocolate.  You can adjust the amount of agave to make it sweeter if you’d like (and I’m sure the amount you need will depend on the cherries you use).

Cherry Chocolate Frozen Yogurt

Ingredients

  • 1 10-ounce bag frozen cherries
  • 2 cups full-fat plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup agave
  • 4 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped

Instructions

  1. Combine the cherries and agave in a food processor and pulse until smooth.
  2. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the yogurt, mixing until smooth.
  3. Add extra agave if desired.
  4. Transfer to a an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions.
  5. Add the chocolate during the last minute to allow it to disperse evenly.
  6. Transfer to a freezer container for storage.
http://catesworldkitchen.com/2013/02/cherry-chocolate-frozen-yogurt/

Tri Training, Teaching, and Being a Mom

I was hesitant to sign up for the Long Course at Wildflower because I knew it would mean a big chunk of time each week out training.  And it is. I’ll be building to about 12 hours a week over the next two months.  But triathlon training is going really well, and I love it!

Now that I’m following a training program, each week is laid out pretty much the same way: Bike and swim double days on Tuesday and Thursday, runs on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday, and a brick (bike + run) on Saturday.  Mondays are rest days.  That’s made it pretty easy for Mike and me to sit down and make a weekly schedule of who is going to be working out when.

Balancing training with teaching is easier this year than its been before.  Now that I’m in my third year, I have a slightly better sense of what I’m doing, and I hardly ever have to bring work home.  Our department plans as a team, and I work with absolutely AMAZING veteran teachers who make this job (7 classes of 35, 2 grade levels) much easier.

As far as cooking goes, I’ve scaled WAY back on the time I spend prepping dinner.  Instead, we get a ton of stuff ready on Sunday: wash all the fruit and vegetables, bake bread, cook dried grains and beans, and roast cubes of sweet potatoes and squash.  It makes last-minute lunches and dinners possible without having to get takeout or make a mid-week store run.

Also, Mike is truly awesome.  He does SO much around the house and with Ellie, and is completely supportive of my training.  There’s no way I could do this without him.

A couple people have asked how I fit everything in, so here’s a glimpse at my Tuesday/Thursday schedule:

4:45 AM – Alarm goes off and I jump on the trainer for an hour and 15 minutes.  This is when I watch the Bachelor on Hulu.

6:05 AM – Shower and get dressed

6:25 AM – I’m in the kitchen getting breakfast and lunch ready; Mike gets Ellie ready. Hopefully we can sit down for a minute and eat as a family, but it doesn’t always happen

breakfast

7:05 AM – Out the door! I drop Mike off at the BART station, then drop Ellie off at daycare

7:35 AM – Arrive at work.

4:00-5:00 PM (depending on how much I need to do) – Leave work, pick up Ellie, head home

5:00-5:30 PM – Do some sort of food prep: chop vegetables, make salad dressing, etc. Feed Ellie, give her a bath, read books.

6:45 PM – Pick Mike up from the gym (he works out right after work), drop him off at home

7:10 PM – In the pool for about an hour.  Mike puts Ellie to bed

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8:20 PM – Home.  I throw together something super quick for dinner, like a big grain-based salad, and we eat

9:00 PM – BED TIME!

Wednesdays and Fridays, depending on Mike’s plans, I either run early in the morning and then have the whole evening free to hang with Ellie; or I leave school around 3:45 and run for about an hour before picking Ellie up.

On weekends, group rides don’t start until 9 AM, so when I go to those, there’s a significant part of Saturday that Mike and Ellie hang out together.  To keep more family time intact, I sometimes wake up at 5 AM so I can get my training done around the time Ellie is waking up. I’ve always been a morning person, fortunately!

Mike commented the other day that it seems like triathlon training makes me really happy, and it’s totally true.  I’m having a blast working on all three sports, and I am way more excited about my workouts than I was while training for CIM. It’s not always easy to squeeze everything, in, but I feel like it’s all worth it for my sanity, and so Ellie can have a happy, healthy mom.

 

Wheat Berry Salad with Kale and Feta

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If I could have three wishes, I would be super tempted to make Mondays off one of them.  I was lucky enough to have two in a row in January and again in February, and I definitely made the most of them.

Even though it was unusually chilly (we got super spoiled with the awesome weather the last couple weeks), we went to the playground in the morning.

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After lunch and a nap, we met up with the grandparents at the zoo!

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We spent most of the time in the little house with the monitor lizard, but also said hello to some birds, the elephants, and the meerkats.

Dinner was really quick and easy.  I cooked up a whole bunch of wheat berries this weekend, so all I had to do for this was crumble up the feta and slice up some vegetables.  There are a ton of variations on this, and the leftovers are perfect to take for lunch.

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Wheat Berry Salad with Kale and Feta

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cooked wheat berries
  • 4 cups thinly sliced kale
  • 1/4 red onion, very thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
  • 3 ounces crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Place the kale in a large bowl and add the lemon juice and olive oil. Massage them into the kale for a few minutes, then add remaining ingredients.
  2. Adjust seasonings to taste.
  3. Optional: let stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes to allow flavors to develop.
http://catesworldkitchen.com/2013/02/wheat-berry-salad-with-kale-and-feta/

Crumb Cake

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I have been slacking SO much in the running department.  If it weren’t for early morning runs with Aron, I’d probably only run once a week.  I think I’ve just gotten so into cycling and swimming that running has lost some of its appeal.

With a trail half marathon coming up NEXT WEEKEND, I figured I should probably try and do at least one double digit run to get myself ready.  Alyssa mapped a route, I made crumb cake for afterwards, and Mike agreed to hang with Ellie at the beach while we ran through Golden Gate Park and the Presidio.  It was perfect. (FYI, running quickly regains appeal when there are good friends, food, and coffee involved).

coffee

Overall this week of training was pretty perfect.  I jumped into a 12 week plan which seems totally manageable.  There will be a little bit of re-arranging workouts, but I think this is going to help me be strong and ready to go on race day (less than 11 weeks away!)

I’ve now been using Training Peaks for a couple of months and I LOVE it. It’s super straightforward and you can see everything in list form, on a spreadsheet, or as a pie chart, and entering data is really simple.  Nobody is paying me to say any of this, but I’m going to make myself an unofficial Training Peaks ambassador.

pie

Week one: 9 hours and 50 minutes of fun!

I FINALLY did my first brick! (Well, first since 2008).  I ended up doing 2 hours on my trainer so I could finish really early in the morning, and then I headed outside to run for 15 minutes.  I was shocked how good my legs felt.  I am also quite ready for today’s rest day.

This cake is just a nice simple breakfast treat, easy to make with things most people keep on hand all the time.  I halved the recipe and put it in an 8″ square pan, but the recipe as written will make a 13 x 9 pan and feed a decent crowd.

Crumb Cake

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons canola oil
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 sticks butter, melted and cooled

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F (or 325 if using a glass pan) and spray a 13 x 9 pan with nonstick spray
  2. Whisk together 1 1/2 cups flour, the granulated sugar, the baking powder, and the salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, oil, and vanilla. Add to the dry ingredients and stir until smooth.
  4. Spread the batter in the pan and set aside while you make the topping.
  5. Put 2 1/2 cups flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Add the melted butter and stir until it comes together in large crumbs.
  6. Sprinkle the crumbs evenly over the cake batter and bake for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  7. Let cool on a wire rack before cutting into squares to serve.
http://catesworldkitchen.com/2013/02/crumb-cake/

Recipe from Martha Stewart via Baked Bree

 

Wheat-Free Vegan Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

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Saturday was supposed to be a fun ride with two friends, followed by my first brick of this training cycle, followed by a fun day with Mike and Ellie.  Instead, I got sick.  It could have been MUCH worse, but the achiness, upset stomach, and horrible headache kept me in bed most of the day.  So much for my big training weekend.

Fortunately I rebounded a little bit yesterday, at least enough to go to the farmers market and do some yoga.  I forgot how satisfying yoga can be…maybe I should make an effort to do it more than once a month.

I am still nursing myself back to health with the help of this tea, so kindly sent to me by Traditional Medicinals.  I drank a TON of their Mother’s Milk tea while I was breastfeeding, and then completely fell off the tea bandwagon for a few months.  Now that I’m not drinking coffee for the month of February, I really appreciate tea!

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Since it seems like pretty much everyone I know is or has been sick the past couple weeks, you could probably use some of this tea yourself. (The FDA reminds you this product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease).  Just leave a comment, and I’ll pick a random winner on Wednesday at 8 PM PST). Congratulations, Kate, you won!

You know what’s almost as comforting as tea?  COOKIES. These use almond meal instead of refined flour, and coconut butter instead of real butter, and I think they’re pretty fantastic (and so does Ellie, because she’s allowed to sample some of the dough with no risk of salmonella).

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Vegan Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups almond meal
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp ground flax seeds
  • 6 Tbsp almond milk
  • 4 Tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 2/3 cup raisins

Instructions

  1. Mix together the almond meal, old fashioned oats, baking powder, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt.
  2. Stir the ground flax seeds and almond milk together in a small bowl and let stand until thickened, about five minutes.
  3. Stir the coconut oil and flax seed mixture into the dry ingredients, then add the raisins and mix until well-incoporated.
  4. Cover the bowl and chill for at least 45 minutes.
  5. Preheat the oven to 350 F, and line two baking sheets with silicone mats.
  6. Drop dough by rounded tablespoon onto the baking sheets (12 per sheet).
  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes, then let cool on the pans.
  8. Makes 24 small cookies
http://catesworldkitchen.com/2013/02/wheat-free-vegan-oatmeal-raisin-cookies-plus-a-giveaway/

(adapted from The Sprouted Kitchen)

Double Chocolate Cookies

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It’s been way too long since I’ve posted a recipe, so here are some cookies.

Thanks for your great comments on the food budget post.  We ended up going a little crazy at the farmers market this weekend…

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but I have lots of great plans for everything, including this salad and possibly this soup.  Plus my new obsession: breakfast tacos.  I saute some chopped chard in coconut oil, throw it in a corn tortilla, and top with a fried egg and a whole bunch of hot sauce.

Also, we have baby greens coming up!

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Mike planted kale, chard, carrots, and mesclun mix a few weeks ago.  Then we had 16 straight nights well below freezing (which is kind of unusual) and we though the plants might not make it.  But it’s warmed up a little, and now here they are!

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Since she is OBSESSED with being outside right now, I think Ellie’s pretty stoked about it too.

Mike’s co-worker just had a birthday, and I volunteered to bake some chocolate cookies for it.  These are insanely good, even when you make them normal sized instead of giant (as the recipe originally calls for).  I like using chocolate I chop myself because then you get all different sized pieces mixed throughout the cookie – ensuring plenty of chocolate in every bite!


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Double Chocolate Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) cold, unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. coarse salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 12 ounces dark chocolate, chopped

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚ F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter and sugar and beat together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition.
  4. Mix in the cocoa powder and mix on low until blended.
  5. Add the flour, salt and baking powder to the bowl and mix on low speed just until incorporated.
  6. Fold in the chocolate chunks with a spatula, making sure they are evenly distributed.
  7. Use 2-3 tbsp of dough per cookie. Roll into a ball and flatten slightly. Place on the prepared baking sheets, a few inches apart.
  8. Bake for about 12 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheets 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
http://catesworldkitchen.com/2013/02/double-chocolate-cookies/

(barely adapted from Annie’s Eats)

 

On Training

I ran my first marathon severely undertrained.  I was still in college, and I really wanted to call myself a marathoner.  I didn’t, however, want to stop going to the bars on Saturday nights (okay, and several other nights) and I also didn’t particularly enjoy heading out for 2+ hours running by myself (the other people I knew running marathons at that point were MUCH faster than I was).  So I ran 16 miles the weekend before the race, showed up for the 2005 Nike Women’s Marathon, and jog-walked my way to a 4:41 marathon.

I was excited to be able to call myself a marathon finisher, but I knew I could have done much better if I’d actually put in the time and effort to train properly.  I was a year older and wiser for my second marathon, trained a lot smarter, and dropped 27 minutes.  I started running more miles, doing more speedwork, and finally managed to qualify for Boston at my fifth marathon.  It was a lot more satisfying to run a hard race knowing I’d put in the work to get there.

When I signed up for Wildflower, I knew I wanted to try and train hard for it.  We’ve had to make some sacrifices (especially Mike, who ends up hanging out with Ellie a lot when I’m at the pool or on my bike), but I didn’t want to repeat my last 70.3 training regimen, which lasted about two months and definitely did not contain nearly enough mileage. The whole point for that race, just like my first marathon, was to be able to say that I had completed a half Ironman.

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Whereas triathlon training used to be something I had to squeeze in around my social life and school work, now it’s something I prioritize and genuinely enjoy doing.  If I didn’t, I wouldn’t bother signing up for triathlons.  I love the feeling of finishing up 54 miles on the bike with a good friend, nailing my 15th 100 m repeat in the pool, squeezing in a 7 mile run between the time I leave work and when I have to pick up Ellie from daycare, and hopping off my trainer after an hour long sweatfest at 5 AM.   I still have bad workouts, obviously, but the process of training and the routine I’ve gotten into feels amazing.

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the idea of chasing new distances and fast times without thinking about what’s involved or whether you really even want to do it.  I know, for instance, that I’ll probably never have the desire to train for 100 mile trail races even though I think crossing the finish line of one would feel completely awesome.  With the limited amount of time I have, I need to make sure that I’m spending it doing what I love, not just trying to have new finishes to brag about.  At the end of the day, nobody really cares what you’ve run or what your PRs are.  If you’re doing it because it’s something you think you should, you’re wasting your time.

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This morning I took Ellie out in the stroller for a 6 mile run on a path I run all the time.  There was nothing out of the ordinary, and my pace wasn’t anything special, but it’s workouts just like this that remind me how much I love to run.  My legs didn’t feel particularly fresh, but I was so grateful to be able to be out running, listening to Ellie point out dogs and squirrels and enjoy a calm morning outside. In the end, it’s not just about crushing PRs and chasing new distance records, it’s about finding the joy in training.

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