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Half Marathon Recap: Gasparilla

March 2, 2016
I have lived in Tampa, Florida for 16 years now and this is the first time I've run the Publix Gasparilla Distance Classic. Gasparilla is a big deal in Tampa; for about a month straight, there are parades and festivities: a naval parade, a kid's day parade, a night parade, people drinking and dressed like pirates, and then there's the Distance Classic.

When I shared that this was my first Gasparilla I received the same common response: "You've never run Gasparilla before?!" Well shame me no more!

I was a bit nervous for the race. About two weeks before, I went out for a 10-mile training run and re-injured my right knee. This is the knee that I have had troubles with for the past two years or so. I had previously seen a sports injury doctor who informed me that I only irritated the patellar tendon, but it's not a serious injury.

But nonetheless, you don't want to "feel" your knee when you're running. And I obviously don't want to stress it too much and cause a real injury which could take me out of running for months to heal.

So Gasparilla race weekend, my husband and I went to the race expo to pick up our bibs (my husband was running the 5K). While there, they had a booth set up with kinesiology tape. I went in and got my knee taped for the race.
The next day we headed to my husband's race. After walking around with my knee taped, I felt my knee throbbing a little, not a lot, but enough to make me worry about my race the next day. I decided I was not going to run for a P.R. (personal record), but switched my goal to simply finish.
Morning of the race, we got there early. Going out with a goal of to only finish and not worry about time takes so much pressure off. For the first time I didn't even slightly nervous before starting. I had the mindset that I could treat this as a training run and take it nice and slow.

It was honestly such a beautiful day. And the views were amazing.
I was easily able to keep up with the 2:20 pace group. I felt so confident, even around mile 9-11, which is usually when I hit my wall and want to slow down/give up. I told myself I was almost done and kept running.

I think it also helped that I knew my husband and sons would be somewhere on the course. I would be so embarrassed if I saw them while walking. I finally saw my husband at about mile 12; my husband was so encouraging and ran next to me and cheered me on.
I finished my race at 2:19:04; my best time is 2:18:42 so I was just shy of my personal record! It's kinda frustrating to know if I had pushed myself just a little more, I would have achieved a PR. But on the other hand, I am proud of myself for showing up, running the entire time, and completing with a decent time...bum knee and all!

Chipotle Dinner: Chicken Burrito Bowls

February 7, 2016
It is no surprise to learn that Chipotle is one of my favorite places to eat. I love just about everything about them: the spice in the meat, the abundantly healthy options, and their commitment to serving "food with integrity". But as much as I love Chipotle, it does take a toll on my pocket book to eat there very often as a family of 6.

Our solution: homemade chicken burrito bowls. Although this is not a Chipotle copycat meal (therefore will not taste like you're eating at the restaurant), it's good enough for us so we call it Chipotle dinner. It's my oldest son's favorite meal.

"Chipotle" Chicken
8 chicken thighs
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon chipotle seasoning
1/2 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

Place chicken in bowl or container.
Drizzle olive oil and add all seasonings.
Get your hands in there and massage the marinade into the meat. Don't be shy.
Set aside while you heat up the grill.
(Marinate the chicken for about 1-2 hours for best results and a deeper flavor.)
Grill until chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes per side.
Allow chicken to rest before cutting. Then cut into bite-size chunks.

Cilantro-Lime Rice
2 cups of rice
2-3 limes, juice of
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro
Salt - to taste

In a large pan, cook the rice. Allow to cool.
Juice 2 limes. Mix well into the rice.
2 limes is usually sufficient, but be sure to taste the rice to determine if you can pick up the flavor.
Right before serving dinner, chop up and stir in the cilantro.
I hold off this step until right before serving so that the cilantro stays vibrant.

Black Beans
2 cans black beans
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic
2 cups water
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 bay leaf - optional
salt and pepper to taste

Over medium, heat olive oil.
Add onion and garlic. Sauté until onions are clear.
Add remaining ingredients. Mix.
Allow to come to light boil, then turn down heat to simmer.
Allow to simmer for 20-30 minutes.

While my husband is grilling the chicken, the beans are simmering and the rice is cooking, I begin to tear the baby spinach into bite-size pieces. That's it! Once the hot ingredients are ready, you can plate:

buen provecho.

Truth Be Told, I'm 35

January 25, 2016
Earlier this month I turned the big three five. Yep, I'm thirty five years young old. This is a big admission for me since I am known to claim that I am still 28. But, let's be real, I wasn't fooling anyone (especially when they found out I have four kids).

I've decided to accept my age. I know, I'm so mature now.

Well, I've decided to try it on for size and if it's not fun, I can always exchange it for a smaller number. But there have been recent events that have convinced me that 35 is probably the right number.

I have more gray hairs than I'd like to admit.
As a friend of mine told me, "Oooh, Bri, your grays are showing." Truth be told, since they are appearing front and center and where my hair is parted, I tried to dye them, but it didn't work! So instead of fighting them, I have decided to embrace my grays as natural highlights.

My body's internal clock cannot be stopped. 
I wake up no later than 5am everyday like clockwork. Of course I glance at the clock and force myself back to sleep on the weekends, but I can kiss any deep sleep goodbye after that. It's rather annoying. I miss the days of sleeping in until 10am.

I can barely stay up later than 9pm without yawning.
I went to my friend's house for a girl's night pajama party this past weekend. Since I had an early morning 14-mile run the next day, I chose not to partake in any alcohol. I got home shortly after 1:30am, but woke up super early the next day (see above). I felt like I had a hangover, even though I hadn't even had a sip of alcohol. My body just felt...drained.

I don't know how to Hit the Quan, Whip, Nae Nae, or any of that jazz.
I do know the Electric Slide, though.

I don't understand the use of emoticons to tell a story. 
They just don't come naturally to me. You know what it's like when your dumb friend tries to use big words but uses 'em all wrong? That's what it's like when I attempt to use an emoticon. So I just don't.

and the final reason I know I need to accept my age:
I've actually tried to explain to my husband how thirty is the new twenty.
If you have to explain, then it's not a thing.

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