Your path is not linear

Your path is not linear and it is NOT meant to be!

I’m not sure about all of you, but I wholeheartedly believe everything happens for a reason. And sometimes that reason happens right away and other times it could be a very long time before it makes sense. No one knows what is best for you, BUT YOU! Not everyone will approve of your choices or your path, but you are not here to please them, you are here to be TRUE TO YOURSELF. 🙂

So, where am I going with this?! Well, I have a story to tell about my own path and it is certainly not linear!

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My senior year of college (nearly 4 years ago 😱) and most of college for that matter, I remember feeling really anxious about what I wanted to do as my career. I knew that whatever I was going to do I wanted to use science to help people. As a freshmen in college, I chose biology as my major and thought it would help me reach my a goal of becoming a neurologist. I had that goal since I was 12 when my grandmother died of brain cancer. I quickly learned that medical school was not for me. I would not have taken kindly to the high pressure situation of brain surgery or any surgery for that matter. My love of science persisted, though. I played around with other ideas including a physician assistant, physical therapist, and science teacher.

Then, junior year of college I moved off campus to a house with a kitchen and that changed everything for me. I was now responsible for ensuring that I had nutritious meals and snacks to fuel my workouts as a college runner. Some students become really  unmotivated to cook once they move off campus and live off take-out and ramen, but not me!  I have been passionate about eating healthy as long as I can remember. I used to annoy my dad in high school with my requests at the grocery store for things like natural peanut butter, wheat germ, Clif Bars, and giant canisters of oatmeal. I loved eating healthy food and found out I loved making it even more in college! I really enjoyed cooking new dishes in my off campus kitchen and making healthy snacks for after cross country practice as a welcome study break.

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(My junior year snack staples: no bake peanut butter energy bites and peanut butter granola)

Then, my senior year of college we moved to an apartment closer to campus and I decided to go vegetarian. I can share my full vegetarian story at a later date if there is interest. I welcomed the new cooking challenge and had a lot of fun making food and snacks. I made smoothies and homemade energy/protein bites almost every day. I even tried tofu for the first time my senior year. I loved it! It was also nice because one of my good friends/teammates, who is also vegetarian, lived next door to me. Some nights we cooked dinner together after practice. My favorite dishes we made together were black bean burgers and black bean tofu tacos (which should not surprise any of you :P)!

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(Homemade black bean burgers with my teammate)

I even got my now-husband hooked on black bean burgers then before he went vegetarian! 🙂 Despite my crazy busy schedule, I spent my spare moments cooking or reading about health, fitness, and nutrition. I was becoming really passionate about vegetarianism and nutrition! But I was also becoming really stressed out because it was my senior year and I was still not sure what I was going to do with my life.

My now-husband and I talked about both of us pursuing Master of Education degrees to become science teachers. I really liked that idea at the time. So, in late fall we went to take the subject area exam (biology for me and chemistry for him) to gain admission to a program. I really thought I had it all figured out! But over winter break I could not shake the thoughts of “are you sure you want to teach?” and “wouldn’t it be awesome to work with food/nutrition/health instead?” And on Christmas day my senior year I remember searching for ideas of how to make a job out of nutrition and wellness. I had an epiphany! I could become a registered dietitian!  And to share my love of black beans with all 😉

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(Black beans, corn, brown, rice, and salsa. A staple meal to this day. :P)

But then panic ensued…So many of the programs I looked into were past the deadline or within a few weeks of the deadline. If I wanted a Master’s degree in nutrition I needed the GRE and it takes weeks to report the GRE score to schools. So if I wanted to pursue nutrition that year, I had to pick a second bachelor’s degree program instead of a master’s program. Plus, some programs included the internships and some did not. It was an overwhelming amount of information.😱

I also learned I was two pre-requisites shy for all programs and scrambled to figure out ways to take the classes, which were not offered at my college. I somehow finished the application, got letters of recommendation, and figured out how to take the pre-reqs before the fall in time for the deadline. In April of my senior year, I found out I got into a program! We also found out my now-husband got into a Master of Education program. We graduated from college and moved in July 2014. Fun fact: I actually made this blog in June right before we moved. Life was good! 🙂

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(Undergraduate graduation in spring 2014 with my now-husband)

I finished up my last pre-requisite class and then began the nutrition program in late summer. My now-husband started his classes too. Things were going well for the most part. But, then the doubt started creeping in…”why didn’t you stick with teaching?”, “it’s dumb to get a second bachelor’s degree”, “you should have taken a gap year after undergrad to figure out a better plan”, etc. I went from feeling sure and confident to doubting everything I was doing. I told my now husband how I was feeling and he said that maybe I should teach instead. He reminded me that I’m a decent public speaker, passionate about science, and he thought I’d be good at it. Plus, I already had all the pre-requisite classes taken care of because it’s what I was going to do originally. I agreed with him and applied. I got in the same program as him.

I finished out a semester of nutrition courses and then began my teaching journey in January 2015. I still kept this blog as a place to write about food and running, but stopping posting as frequently. By July 2015 I stopped posting here altogether. I tried to put my heart and soul into teaching, but I continued to read about nutrition in my spare time. I missed the nutrition program I switched out of, but kept it to myself. I even read The China Study during my commute to and from teaching observations. I did a good job in graduate school and student teaching. I won an award for most promising science educator. I liked teaching enough! I just knew all along I liked nutrition more. My now-husband and I graduated in June 2016 and we both tried to find teaching jobs.

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(Master’s graduation in June 2016)

My now husband got a teaching job right away! I did not land one, so I started subbing. Subbing was not a steady enough paycheck, so I was lucky when my old boss (from my law firm job in graduate school) asked me back to work.  In that time frame, I also got engaged. Things were crazy with working full time at the firm and wedding planning, but I still could not shake that feeling of doubt. Doubt about why I went into teaching, especially because I struggled to get a job, and doubt about where I was headed. I knew that I still had a passion for nutrition.

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(Our wedding in July 2017)

A few months after my wedding, I secretly started researching how I could go back to school for registered dietitian programs, but I did not know if it was feasible. Around that time I also started this blog back up again. I was feeling stuck in so many ways in my life. 😦 I figured the ship for becoming a dietitian had sailed, but I also was not sure I wanted to teach or stick at the firm. Soon enough, I got a new science related job in late 2017. Then, an opportunity to temporarily teach for just under four months presented itself to me. After asking many different people for advice, I took the temporary teaching job, even though I had just started a new job two months prior. I told myself I needed to give teaching a shot because it is what I studied. I secretly decided that if it’s not for me then I would find a way to make my passions a career. Because at the end of the day you are the best version of yourself if you work a job that you are passionate about. You do your best work this way too! 🙂

Overall, it was a tough temporary teaching job, but I think I did a decent job! Less than a month into the teaching job, I started working on applications to registered dietitian programs, but did not finish them. Around two months in, I talked to my mom and my husband about wanting to go back to my original path and they were both wildly supportive. I decided to finish the applications and play the waiting game. I wanted to go to a school that would not completely uproot my husband’s life if possible.

THE GOOD NEWS: I recently found out I got into a nutrition program! I’m so excited for my new journey and I cannot wait to become an RDN! 🙂

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I learned so much about myself and my long term goals during this journey.  I am almost 26 years old, so I can say it took me a long time to figure it out. I did not do everything in a logical manner. If I could do everything over again I would have taken a gap year after undergrad to research nutrition programs more, complete pre-requisites, and apply to the most logical program. BUT I can’t go back in time, I can only move on. I would not trade these twists and turns in my journey for anything! My path was not linear and it taught me important lessons.

There is relief in the destination, but also so much beauty in the journey. And if you have reached your destination it is time to start a new journey 😉

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So please, join me on my new path to becoming a registered dietitian! There’s bound to be bumps in the road, but ultimately I am excited to become what I’m meant to be! I’m also excited to continue to share my my love of plant-based food, running, fitness, recipes, and eventually my nutrition expertise here!

Have you changed careers before or want to? If so, what was your experience? If not, what is holding back?

Plants are cool #1: “Squacos” recipe

Good afternoon! 🙂 As promised many, many months ago, I am finally sharing my butternut squash taco recipe, AKA “squacos”!🌮 I am sharing this as a part of my new recipe series called “plants are cool”. Because duh, plants are amazing! And because we should all be eating a lot more of them! I’m here to show you that cooking with plants can be cheap, easy, versatile, and fun! I know I am biased because I am plant based…but please be open minded, maybe try a few plant recipes this month, and who, knows?! Maybe you too will agree that plants are cool! 😉

Of course, today’s recipe has black beans, because I have not been living up to my namesake!😱 This is a very basic recipe that lends itself to dressing up with different toppings and serving options, because that is half the fun with taco recipes! So, without further ado let’s make some “squacos”! 😋

“Squacos”

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Yield: 2-3 servings

Ingredients

1 bag of frozen butternut squash or 1 whole butternut squash

Grapeseed or Avocado Oil (for sautéing) 

1 cup rice or grains of your choice (I used 365 by Whole Foods Organic Super Grains, but other options I’ve used include brown rice, jasmine rice, and quinoa)

1 can of black beans drained and rinsed

Cumin (we never measure :P, but I’d put at least a teaspoon or two)

Cinnamon

Iodized salt (to taste)

Optional: avocado, tomato, cilantro, shredded lettuce, red pepper flakes, salsa, pico de gallo, guacamole, cheese (regular or non-dairy), and/or sour cream (if you aren’t vegan)

1. Measure and rinse your grain of choice in a mesh sieve.

2. After rinsing, prepare your grain of choice according to the package directions.

3. Chop the butternut squash if you aren’t using frozen.

4. Add the Grapeseed or Avocado oil to a sauté pan and add the chopped fresh or the chopped frozen butternut squash.

5. Sauté the butternut squash on medium high for about 5 minutes or until warmed.

6. Add the cinnamon and cumin to the butternut squash and make sure everything gets thoroughly mixed.

7. Add the drained and rinsed black beans to the butternut squash mixture.

8. Check the grains and if they are cooked, turn off of the stove top and fluff them.

9. Sauté the black bean and butternut squash mixture for another couple of minutes.

10. Serve on tortillas or make a taco bowl. Be sure to add in any of the fun extras listed above! The optional mix-ins add flavor and depth if you eat these on a weekly basis like my husband and I do! My personal favorite is making a taco bowl with salsa and other veggies and then using tortilla chips as scoops. 🙂

If you make “squacos”, I’d love to see your creations! E-mail me or share on social media ( InstagramFacebook, or Twitter), but make sure to tag me! I’d be happy to feature your version of “squacos” on my social media channels!

Running into 2018: goals and dreams for the new year: spring check-in

Hello friends! Happy Easter (if you celebrate)! I hope you all had a fun and relaxing Sunday. Mine was busy because of work, but now I’m happy for some time to relax. 🙂

For those of you who don’t know, my temporary teaching job ended last week, so I acted quickly and snagged two part time jobs. Both of the jobs are at places I adore and are perfect for this somewhat “limbo” phase of my life. I’m still figuring out what my next steps are, but I have a really good idea what they will be and will share when the time is right…

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In the meantime, I thought the 1st day of April was the perfect time to check-in with my 2018 goals. This is mainly a way to hold myself accountable, so feel free to skip this post if this sort of thing bores you 😛 If not, I appreciate your support by reading and commenting! I’d love to know if you set goals for 2018 and have accomplished some of them, so feel free to share with me too!

Black Bean Queen’s fifteen 2018 goals check-in #1:

1. A minimum of 5 minutes of stretching/foam rolling after EVERY RUN

9 times out of 10 I have accomplished this goal since January! So that feels good. 🙂 Just knowing that I shared this goal publicly with all of you made me think twice when I wanted to slack on stretching and rolling 🙂 Plus I am recovering from my runs well so far…but we shall see once I start ramping up the miles 😱

2. Strength training a minimum of 2x/ week (particularly glute/hip exercises)

Not doing well with this goal…I’m at once a week when it’s a good week. When I was teaching I barely had enough time to fit in my runs, let alone my strength workouts, but this isn’t optional for me or I will get hurt. 😦 Strength training at least twice week, focusing on hip strength, is my top goal moving forward. 

3. Yoga 1x/ week (a class or YouTube video)

Also not doing great with this goal for the same reason as #2…BUT now that I am done teaching and working two PT jobs that do not require outside work (i.e. lesson planning, grading, etc) I will be able to better fit in the “extras” that enhance running training. Yoga will be my second top goal moving forward. However, I have done yoga twice in the last week for what it’s worth.🤷🏼‍♀️

4. Finish my first marathon in October (my ultimate goal is 3:30 or faster so I can Boston Qualify)

Not accomplished yet 😉

5. PR in the 5k and the half marathon by increasing my mileage (SLOWLY) and adding in more track/speed workouts (5k goal is sub 18 minutes & half marathon goal is 1:25)

Same as above. I’ve only done one 5k in 2018 and no half marathons yet. My first half marathon is the Illinois half marathon in less than a month!

6. Run my first 10k race

Same as above. My first 10k will be on June 3rd at Run for the Zoo

7. Run a trail race of any distance

Not accomplished yet 😉

8. Hire a coach in the spring/summer to help me with Chicago marathon training

Accomplished sooner than expected. A few weeks ago, I won two months of coaching with Heather Szuba of McKirdy Trained and it could not have come at a better time! I’m at a new phase in my life where I can prioritize my training a bit better than when I was teaching. I can already tell this is going to be huge for my running and so far I love working with Heather. I can’t wait to see where working with her takes me! 🙂 

10. Join a running group or racing team

Not accomplished yet 😉 Since one of my new jobs is at a running store, I think it is time for me to finally do more group runs or join a team. Stay tuned…😜

11. Read 24 books (2 books/month)

Not accomplished yet 😉 Sadly, I’ve only read one book in 2018 so far 😦 On the bright side I am an extremely fast reader, so I am confident I can still accomplish this goal!

12. Connect with more liked minded people by growing Black Bean Queen to 1,000 subscribers. I also want to grow my social media presence on Instagram and Twitter to at least 1,000 followers and my Facebook and Pinterest to at least 500 followers.

Partly accomplished! 🙂 Last I checked this blog has over 1,060 subscribers, so it has grown a bit in the last few months. My Instagram is also over 1,000 followers, but I am not at my Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest goals yet. I’m concerned less about actual numbers and more about connecting to even more awesome runners, fitness enthusiasts, plant based eaters, etc. 

13. Be kinder to and less critical of myself by reflecting on the positives in my life at least 1x/week

Working on this! One of the best things I did to help me with this goal was buy 52 Lists for Happiness by Moorea Seal. I love starting a new week with one of the lists. Thanks to Connie of Constantly for the recommendation! 🙂

14. Take my vitamin everyday

I was really good about this in January and February, but fell off the wagon during March. It’s a new week and month, so time to be better about taking my vitamin again! 😛 

15. Cook a new vegetarian/vegan recipe with my husband 1x/month

Working on this goal! We got in a bit of a rut cooking the same old favorites the last few months..BUT we just bought the Run Fast, Eat Slow cookbook and I flagged some of the vegetarian/vegan recipes to make over the next few weeks. Plus, I still need to make a bunch of the recipes from Oh She Glows Everyday, which we bought a year ago. So ideas are not the problem 😛 One way that has helped us in the past has been by turning it into a date night to make a new recipe. I highly recommend this tactic for any couples out there who keep making the same things or go out to eat for many meals. 

Are YOU accomplishing your 2018 goals, running related or not? I’d love for you to share, so we can support each other! 🙂

Illinois half marathon training weeks 1 & 2

Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Illinois Half Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

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I can’t believe I’ve made it through the first two weeks of Illinois half marathon training! It has been tough to balance training with my (relatively) new teaching job…Things are going well training wise, though, and I really hope it stays that way! I’m nervous because of my injury history, but I am optimistic, especially after I wrapped up week 2 yesterday! So without further ado, let’s take a look at my last two weeks of training! 🙌🏻

Week 1: Monday February 5th -Sunday February 11th

-Monday February 5th: REST

-Tuesday February 6th:  3 miles @ 7:42 on the treadmill followed by strength work

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-Wednesday February 7th: REST/XT

-Thursday February 8th: REST

-Friday February 9th: Unexpected day off work (snow day) resulted in a fun, but snowy/slippery 5 miles @ 7:59 pace

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-Saturday February 10th: 4 miles @ 7:31 pace

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-Sunday February 11th: REST

WEEKLY TOTAL: 14 miles

Week 2: Monday February 12th -Sunday February 18th:

-Monday February 12th: 3 miles after school at 7:18 pace followed by stretching

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-Tuesday February 13th: REST

-Wednesday February 14th: 3 miles @ 7:07 pace. I ran by feel, but ended up with a run that was almost at tempo pace…

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-Thursday February 15th: Late and dark 4 miler at 7:49 pace. This run didn’t feel great…

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-Friday February 16th: REST

-Saturday February 17th: 1 mile w/u, 3 miles @ goal half marathon pace (6:49, 6:54, 6:48), and 3 mile c/d

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-Sunday February 18th: 5 mile recovery run @ 7:39 pace followed by yoga

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WEEKLY TOTAL:  21 miles 

Tonight’s question: What races are you training for this spring? Will any of you be joining me at the Illinois half marathon? They also have a 5k, 10k, full marathon, and marathon relay! So there’s a race for everyone!🤗 Use the code “2018bibravebonus” code for $10.00 off your entry if you want to join me!😉

Top 5 reasons why you should run the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8k

Disclaimer: I’m promoting the Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle 8k as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!

I’ve lived in Chicago for 4 years now and this is the first year I’m running the Shamrock Shuffle 8k!😱 If it weren’t for all injuries over the last few years, I would have run it sooner because it’s a really awesome race! Don’t be like me-run it this year too! Need more convincing?! Check out my top 5 reasons why you should run the Shamrock Shuffle 8k below. And if you read the whole thing I’ll even give you a discount code!😜

Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Run the Shamrock Shuffle 8k

1. You can’t beat the amazing city views on the race course! 😍 I may be biased because I live in Chicago, but dang the views are gorgeous! You get to run through scenic downtown Chicago where you get the best of both worlds: city AND lake views! And if you’re not up for the full 8k, the 2 mile walk course still boasts some stellar views! 😊

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2. Beer! 🍻 Need I say more? You get one free Michelob ULTRA beer at the finish line (if you are of age of course)! There is live music, great city/lake views for that post race insta 📸, and then you can head over to the post race party. This year the post race party is at the Scout Waterhouse & Kitchen (1301 S. Wabash Ave.). If you bring your race bib to  the Scout between 2 pm and 1 am they will give you another free Michelob ULTRA!

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3. The race is such a big deal that NBC 5 Chicago covers it! So, if you’ve ever wanted to be on TV, now might be your chance 😉 The cooler your outfit, the better your chance of being featured on TV (ok I made this up…but dressing up is part of the fun 😝)!

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4. The race is competitive. There’s even an elite corral! So you just may be able to admire one of your favorite runners from afar!  Each year over 30,000 runners run the Shamrock Shuffle! So, regardless of your pace,  there is bound to be someone to race against and push you toward an ever elusive PR! And if you are extra competitive you can form a team and race in the team competition division. Plus, the finisher’s medal is pretty if I do say so myself!🥇

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5. You just might PR! An 8k is a unique race distance (4.97 miles) that you may have not done before. And anytime you run a new race it’s a PR, right?

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BONUS REASON: I’ll be there! I’m running it for the first time and you know you’ve always wanted to meet the Black Bean Queen in real life 😉😜

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Have you run the Shamrock Shuffle before?! If so, what’s your favorite part of the race? If not, are you joining me at the race this year?! If use the code “SHUFFLE” at the following link: http://haku.ly/dd2567 you can save $10 on your race entry!

 

Running into 2018: goals and dreams for the new year

Happy New Year friends!🎉 I hope you all had an amazing night…whether that involved drinking and dancing until dawn or snuggling up on the couch with loved ones and wine or a warm beverage.🥂 I fell into the latter category, but no complaints there! 😛

2017 was definitely a rough year for me, but it had some awesome moments too, especially my wedding!💍I reflected briefly on my run yesterday, so I am not going to reflect here. Rather, I want to leave 2017 behind and run straight into 2018 with a fresh perspective and clean slate.

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Who’s with me?!🙋🏼

I strongly believe that you should set goals year round and not wait until a holiday to start working toward them…BUT, with that being said, New Year’s Day is a perfect time to sit down, write out your new or ongoing goals, and come up with an action plan for accomplishing them!

So where to begin?!

Well, people do not meet their goals without a system of accountability or a way to track their progress toward their goals. Another reason that people do not meet their goals is because they make ones that are TOO ambitious for the given time frame. Although, I do not think that is necessarily a bad thing to set SOME lofty goals. I think it’s good to dream big, but to also have some smaller more attainable goals. 🙂 I have a good mix of both for 2018 and some of them have been a goals of mine for a while, as indicated on my goals page!

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To hold myself accountable this year, I am going to do a minimum of 4 check-ins on the blog. I will check-in during the spring (March), summer (June), fall (October), and winter (December) and more times if needed. Some of the goals below are specific to certain events in my life (i.e. my first marathon in October), so I will only check in with them when it makes sense. So, without further ado, here are my 2018 goals! 🤗

Black Bean Queen’s fifteen 2018 goals💃

1. A minimum of 5 minutes of stretching/foam rolling after EVERY RUN

2. Strength training a minimum of 2x/ week (particularly glute/hip exercises)

3. Yoga 1x/ week (a class or YouTube video)

4. Finish my first marathon in October (my ultimate goal is 3:30 or faster so I can Boston Qualify)

5. PR in the 5k and the half marathon by increasing my mileage (SLOWLY) and adding in more track/speed workouts (5k goal is sub 18 minutes & half marathon goal is 1:25)

6. Run my first 10k race

7. Run a trail race of any distance

8. Hire a coach in the spring/summer to help me with Chicago marathon training

10. Join a running group or racing team

11. Read 24 books (2 books/month)

12. Connect with more liked minded people by growing Black Bean Queen to 1,000 subscribers. I also want to grow my social media presence on Instagram and Twitter to at least 1,000 followers and my Facebook and Pinterest to at least 500 followers.

13. Be kinder to and less critical of myself by reflecting on the positives in my life at least 1x/week

14. Take my vitamin everyday

15. Cook a new vegetarian/vegan recipe with my husband 1x/month

What are YOUR top 2018 goals, running related or not? I’d love for you to share, so we can support each other! 🙂

 

 

F^3 training weeks 1 & 2 (12/11-12/24/17): my return to running after injury

Hello friends! It’s been far too long since I’ve had a running/training update…but until Saturday December 16th this gal was confined to cross training and rest due to  left IT band injury. :/

The good news is all my rest/cross training/strength work paid off and I’m back at it! 🙂 My comeback race will be the F^3 5K on 01/20/2018! I’m sad that I’m not running the half marathon like I planned, but that would not be a smart training move…Sudden mileage increases and laziness toward strength work is what got me injured in the first place.  I’m just happy to be running again! I have all year to reach my time goals- this 5k is just to get back out there! Although, at some point this year I’d like to run a sub 18 5k…not sure how realistic that is.🤔

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So, without further ado let’s recap my last two weeks of training/ my return to running. I won’t lie- it’s not very exciting 😂 My return to running involves cross training, strength work, and only a few days of running per week. Each pain free mile and increase in my strength and balance is a step in the right direction, so I’ll take it!💪🏻

Week 1: Monday December 11th-Sunday December 17th:

-Monday December 11th: REST DAY

-Tuesday December 12th: 20 min on the stair stepper, lower body weights, foam rolling, & resistance band exercises

-Wednesday December 13th: 30 minutes of yoga & foam rolling

-Thursday December 14th: REST DAY

-Friday December 15th: 20 minutes stationary bike, resistance band exercises, upper body exercises, and core

-Saturday December 16th: 1st run back in nearly 6 weeks! 2.2 miles at 7:30 pace followed by lower body strength exercises & foam rolling

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-Sunday December 17th: REST DAY

Week 2: Monday, December 18th- Sunday December 25th:

-Monday December 18th: 2nd run back was 2 dark miles at 7:24 pace followed by stretching and foam rolling

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-Tuesday December 19th: 40 minute upper body, core, & IT band strength routine

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-Wednesday December 20th: 3 miles at 7:15 pace followed by 15 minutes of yoga and foam rolling

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-Thursday December 21st: Lower body strength routine similar to Tuesday’s workout

-Friday December 22nd: REST DAY. Went to zoo lights and out for pizza/beers with my husband to celebrate the end of final exams with his students (he gave a little over 100 final exams Monday-Thursday, so was A LOT of grading due today ).

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-Saturday December 23rd: REST DAY, but did some stretching & foam rolling

-Sunday December 24th: Christmas Eve fun run of 3 miles at 7:47 pace with my husband and the running club in our hometown. We kept the pace easy because it was icy and it started to snow toward the end of the run.

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Today’s question: Are any of you running any races this winter? If so, are they in a warm or cold destination? ALSO, if you aren’t running any winter races and are interested in the F^3 5k or half marathon in Chicago, check out my race discounts page! Plus, then you can join me at Chicago’s coolest winter race! See what I did there?! 😂

I’m an Ambassador?!

Guess what?! I’m a 2018 BibRave Pro! What the what?!😱 I’m still in disbelief that someone besides my mom, sister, and husband think I’m cool enough to promote running! Cue the the tears of joy… 😛 So, what exactly is a BibRave Pro and what is Bibrave?!

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I’m glad you asked! Until this fall, I was wondering the same thing… I kept seeing people using the #BibRavePro and #bibchat on my Instagram for their training runs and races while decked out in orange Bibrave gear and assumed it was a running clothing brand or something…but then I did some research and saw it was a website dedicated to race reviews. I also reached out to one of my favorite running bloggers who is a second year BibRave Pro: Connie at Constantly and asked her what it was all about. She highly recommended the Bibrave website, told me about the product review and free race opportunities AND encouraged me to apply to be a BibRavePro! I am still shocked I was chosen! 🙂

Bibrave reminds of the website Rate My Teachers , but that might be the teacher in me making the comparison. 👩🏼‍🏫🤓 On Bibrave, you rate the races you’ve run based on a variety of factors such as course scenery, aid stations, difficulty, and swag. It is similar to the concept of Rate My Teachers where you look at reviews to decide if you want to switch to a different teacher for next semester or write an awesome review for a good one (which, P.S.,  is much appreciated coming from a fellow teacher :P). On Bibrave, you might look at reviews when deciding if you want to shell out the big bucks for a new race or you might write a review to share your experiences during a race, either positive or negative to help out fellow runners. It is a really cool concept!

I cannot wait to have all of you join me in 2018 to review races (from 5k and beyond), products, and to form an awesome running community of  runners all over the United States and world! 🙂 Please follow along on my BibRavePro journey here, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter! Also, check out my discounts page for some race and product discounts. 🙂 Finally, please let me know if you have any questions about this blog or about being a BibRavePro- I’d be happy to help out!

Where I’ve been and why I’m not running the half marathon tomorrow

As I sit here munching on some dry cereal before yoga class, I feel a flood of emotions feelings that I cannot pinpoint…but I will do my best to try:

Uncertainty. Hope. Sadness. Frustration. Anger. Jealously. Happiness. Exhaustion. Fear. Ambition.

These last 6 weeks since I updated the blog have been a surprise and an adventure to say this least. I’ll take this quick minute to give a shameless plug for my Instagram (@blackbeanqueen), which I update much more often than here, so some of you may know a little more about what’s been going on. So, check there if you want more frequent running updates and random pictures of my food (like the one below) 😉

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(Santa Fe Scramble: tofu, black bean cakes, salsa and hash browns from Tweet)

Anyway, before I dive into why I’m not running the half marathon, I’d like to give a dual life update and recap of the last several (subpar) weeks of training.  So in addition to my wedding in July, i underwent another major life change in October: I got a new job! I was pretty happy with my old job and wasn’t actively looking for new positions, but when an awesome biotechnology company found me it was too great an opportunity to pass up. I’ve been working there for about a month now. 🙂

It was a bit of struggle with my old job and now with my new job, to figure out training since the hours (at least initially) are not very regular and I have a pretty long commute. Regardless, I did the best I could and tried all kinds of methods to fit in training: morning runs in the dark, super late runs after work in the dark (sometimes with my husband), treadmill runs, and doing most of my runs on the weekend (I do not recommend), but it was still a struggle when my hours were not regular. On the days I had to report to work at 8 am, a morning run was not feasible as I woke up at 5 am as it was just to run before 9 am start days.  I couldn’t draw myself out of bed at 4 am when I was going to bed at 11 pm-midnight, could you? Then, on the flip side if I don’t leave work by 5:45 pm I don’t even get home until 7 pm and that is really late and dark to run. I did it anyway many times, but it was not ideal from a safety standpoint and did not help me go to bed at an early hour. So, why am I sharing all of this? Does anyone care? haha, maybe not! The point is we are all human and life can be hard and get in the way, especially during a transition phase (i.e. starting a new job).

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(starting the work day with an early run: above & ending the work day with a night run: below)IMG_4294

In the last six weeks I’ve taken way too many rest days. I’ve stayed at work for long hours that making fitting in a  run tough. I  have not made sleep or training a priority and quite frankly did not put in the training needed to run a half marathon successfully tomorrow. Plus, sitting at a desk all day makes my muscles really tight and I was not counteracting that by doing yoga or increasing my time spent stretching after a run. Furthermore, I was not setting my myself for success by running low mileage all week and then doing a long run that is more than 50% of my weekly mileage or running a local 5k over the weekend. I will admit that the 5k was pretty fun, though! My husband and I won our races randomly. 😛

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(long run before my first day at the new job)

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(fun long run and relay race with Becca of the Rabbit Food Runner and the November project)

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(5K that my husband and I won)

I made a lot of training mistakes leading up to this half marathon and I should have known better because I ran in college (and trained smart then) and I’ve had some injuries in the past. I am paying for it now with some left knee/IT band pain. Nothing too serious and not a full blown injury, but I am taking it seriously and not running tomorrow.  As of this week, I have upped my cross training and started doing hot yoga. I am also starting to find my groove with the new job and figuring out how running/training fit into the equation. I actually talked with my supervisors about changing my hours to 8 am-4 pm/5pm,  which puts me on a similar schedule to my husband and it allows me to attend evening yoga classes, evening group runs, and decreases my commute time. They seem open to the idea and it will do wonders for my husband and I in terms of establishing a routine. I went in at 8 am multiple times this week and I loved it, but I’m also a morning person. 🙂

Right now, I am going to put all my energy into developing my strength and preventing injury (through yoga, more strength sessions at the gym, and cross training) and then slowly build my mileage again. My husband is going to help coach me and hold me accountable.  I am scared and excited about what my future  of running will bring. As for this weekend, it is going to be hard and I am a little sad (since I’m not running), but I will be in Madison, WI to watch the half-marathon and cheer for my husband and friend! Well, I’m about ready to head to yoga class and then my husband and I are going to pack up and head to the race expo. It should be a fun weekend!

I’ve been wanting to do more running related posts on the blog (product reviews, race reviews, training recaps, etc.) for a while. So, I’m going for it! 🙂 I plan on writing my first ever race recap for the Madison Marathon/half marathon with a special guest: my husband (who is actually running)! Be on the look out for it in the near future! 🙂 Are any of you racing this weekend? If so comment below. 

 

 

Half Marathon Training Week #3: Monday August 28th- Sunday September 3rd.

Good evening friends! I hope you all had a great, long Labor Day weekend full of food, family, and friends! I can’t believe how fast this weekend flew by. 😱

My husband and I stayed busy the whole weekend, so that’s why it went quickly! On Saturday, his high school students had a cross country meet, Saturday night we went out for dinner, Sunday we drove to Wisconsin to visit my sister-in-law, and today we drove back, cleaned, and got groceries. I fit in as many runs as I could this week and weekend, but it could have been better. I’m still working on getting more sleep. :/ I’m pledging to make week #4 better for sleep and training!

Sometimes, though, all you need is an extra rest day, vegetarian treats, an impromptu road trip, wine, and some sangria to recharge after a rough week. 😉 Life isn’t all about following your training plan to a “T” and eating healthy- life is about balance! This weekend I decided to indulge a bit and go with the flow and it was 100% worth it! 🙂

Monday August 28th: REST DAY.

Tuesday August 29th: Started the morning with this delicious breakfast before work. It is old fashioned oats topped with berries, cinnamon, and Nature’s Path Organic Sunrise Crunchy Vanilla Cereal.

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Then after work, I ran 2 miles at 6:53 pace. I got home from work late and ran at night, so that’s why this run was short. I followed my run with some light stretching.

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Wednesday August 30th: REST DAY

Thursday August 31st: Ran 4.3 miles after work at 7:38 pace as the sun was setting. It was extremely windy, but it felt good to get out there. The beautiful city and lake views were an added bonus!

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Friday September 1st: REST DAY. This was an unplanned rest day, but was very wiped out from my lack of sleep over the entire week. My husband encouraged me to take the extra rest day. Plus, I knew I was getting up at 6 am on Saturday for the cross country meet. I learned this week that I do not function well on 5-6 hours of sleep per night. 😂 I have no idea how I functioned on so little sleep most of college! This girl does best on 7 or more hours of sleep. 😛

Saturday September 2nd: 4-5 miles throughout the day/in between high school cross country races. It was so fun to be on the other side of a cross country meet. I definitely felt nostalgic for high school and college cross country meets on Saturday. I can’t wait to help out at more meets and see my husband’s team grow this season! 🙂

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The meet was pretty long and we did not get home until almost 4 pm. :/ My husband and I were wiped out, so we got some chai lattes and rested. It was nice! Then we went out for salad, veggie pizza, and red wine at Calo Ristorante. That is the classic combo if you know my husband and I! We love going out for pizza- I’d saying we go out for pizza once a month! It is Chicago, after all, and there are so many tasty options. Maybe one day I’ll list and review all the pizza places we’ve been to! Today is not the day for that, though. 😛

Sunday September 3rd: REST/CROSS TRAIN DAY. My husband and I traveled to Wisconsin to visit my sister- in-law. She took us to an awesome taco place- BelAir Cantina Madison. My sister-in-law and I got the roasted veggie and kale tacos. I also got white peach sangria! 😛 My husband got the veggurito bowl and a margarita.

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I highly recommend BelAir if you ever find yourself in Wisconsin (they have locations in Milwaukee and Madison). It is an excellent option for vegan/vegetarian tacos! 

That’s it for my half-marathon training week #3 recap. I hope you all have a good night! 🙂

What was your favorite thing you did over the weekend/ Labor Day (if you live in the United States)?! My favorite part of the weekend was eating those roasted veggie and kale tacos (pictured above).