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Merry Christmas 2014

by Alaina on December 25, 2014 · 0 comments

2014

I hope everyone has a wonderful and Merry Christmas today!

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My 30 Races in 2014 Challenge

by Alaina on December 22, 2014 · 5 comments

Just last Sunday I completed my year long challenge of running 30 races to celebrate turning 30 years old in March. My inspiration was stemmed from the “30 Before 30” lists that I had seen floating around (namely, my sister in law and her awesome challenges). I never thought of myself as too creative to come up with 30 things so I decided to put together a challenge of something that I was familiar with: running. Up until this year, the most I had done was 10 races in one year! Thus the challenge was born. Smile

To recap my year, I thought about putting together a superlative list of the races, to highlight some of my favorites and the unique aspects of some of the races. I happened upon Amy’s blog where she had recapped her 2014 racing year and decided to use that outline.

1st Race2nd race3rd race4th Race5th Race6th Race7th Race8th Race9th Race

Most Scenic Course – Definitely the Pell Bridge run in Newport (Race #27). The race begins just as the sun is rising and the majority of the 4 miles takes you over the bridge. We’ve been blessed with beautiful weather every year so it’s always a breathtaking view over the harbor

Most Challenging Course – That would have to be the Run to Home Base (Race #18). It wasn’t so much a challenge in terms of hills or difficult terrain, but more so for the heat and the lack of shade. The route was one that I had done previously (the running on Memorial Drive) but it was the combination of heat, humidity and lack of training that made the course tough. It was so worth it in the end though when you finish on home plate.

Across Home Plate

Best Expo – Hands down the Run to Remember (Race #12) has the best expo. The race coincides with a sports and fitness expo that features over 30 vendors where you can sample new products, talk to nationally recognized athletes, and purchase the latest and greatest in running gear and apparel. They also have an area specifically for children activities that feature jump rooms, clowns, story telling, kids safety programs and much more.

10th Race11th Race12th Race13th Race14th Race15th Race16th Race17th Race18th Race

Best Post-Race Food/Beverages – For such a small race, I was extremely impressed with the Take the Lake 5K’s food and beverage (Race #16). They had bananas, apples, Food Should Taste Good chips, pizza and wings (from Bertucci’s!), tzatziki with pretzels from Cedar, and yogurt. The pizza tasted so good after that one. Smile with tongue out

Best Swag – The Energize the Earth 5K (Race #8) had a great set up of vendors just before the race. They were giving out water bottles, bags, Frisbees, etc. It wasn’t really so much about how many items they were giving out, it was more because even though the race was small (40 people!) they had some amazing items being given out. All in the name of preserving our Earth. Smile

Most Unique Medal – The Craft Brew races (Race #11 and #24) had fun medals since they doubled as beer openers (obviously). I never quite got a good picture of the medal.

19th Race20th Race21st Race22nd Race23rd Race24th Race25th Race26th Race27th Race

Favorite Race Shirt – Oh, sooo many race shirts! I actually ended up not picking up the shirt for my very last race since the line was ridiculously long. Otherwise, I have accumulated quite a collection. My favorite is probably the Oktoberfest 5K (Race #25). It’s a simple cotton tee that’s dark gray with the Oktoberfest logo on it. It’s just the right size and really soft. Not a shirt that I would run in, but it’s been in my rotation of outfits since the race.

Favorite Overall Race – Heavy question right here! How the heck do I choose? I would probably say the Bemis 5K (Race #13). It was right here in my town, the course was a simple loop with some hills thrown in and to top it off, I actually placed! It was the only race this year that I actually received a medal for placing (3rd in my age group). The weather was great, course was great and I ended up doing a pretty darn good job! Smile

Best Course Support – Most definitely the Yankee Homecoming 5K in Newburyport (Race #19). The race was comprised of a 5K and 10 miler that wound through the town. There were people EVERYWHERE. It certainly helped that it coincided with a big street festival, and everyone was cheering the runners on for the entire 3.1 miles. I had such a great time at that race and would definitely consider running again.

Race You Are Most Proud of Yourself for Completing – Honestly? The last one!! At the 2.5 mile mark I was getting a bit emotional knowing that I was really going to complete this thing. There were a couple of times where I thought about stopping to walk but just kept telling myself that I was so close to finishing. The end of the race is a downhill and I ran down and put my hands up in triumph! Smile with tongue out

28th Race29th Race30th Race

Overall Thoughts on this Challenge

I am so glad that it’s done and I am relieved that I completed it without injuring myself. I won’t miss the early mornings, which were quite honestly the hardest part of the challenge. Being at the race and actually running was, for the most part, very enjoyable, but having to run with only 4-5 hours of sleep was rough. There were a couple of times where I thought about bailing and finding another race, but I’m glad that I stuck with it and finished.

When I started this challenge, I was working a Monday through Friday job which would have allowed for the races to be completed without any issues. But when I left that job and went back to hotels I was concerned with how everything would work with my new schedule. Thank goodness my managers were so accommodating and allowed me to work my schedule around the races so that I could finish it. They were always amazed that I could run a race in the morning and then come in to work. Legs of steel I tell ya. Winking smile

In the end though, I think it made me feel burnt out with running. Because I had so many races on the weekends, I found myself not wanting to run during the week. The year became more about quantity over quality. I hoped that I would become faster as they year went on, but it became all about finishing rather than getting faster.

So what’s up for me next year? Right now I have absolutely nothing on the racing schedule. I’m contemplating signing up for the BAA Medley but that sign up is not until January. It’ll be a 5K in April, 10K in June and half marathon in October. Much more manageable!

How was your 2014??

Happy Holidays to everyone!!!

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Peppermint Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting

by Alaina on December 17, 2014 · 0 comments

It’s been such a long time since I posted a baking recipe! I still bake here and there for my co-workers, and I always love to bake goodies to give as Christmas presents.This year I’ll be making dark chocolate, cherry, pistachio cookies and cranberry, white chocolate chip, NUTELLA cookies! I’ve made the former many times, but the latter will be a new recipe. I’m excited to see how it turns out. Smile

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Of course this recipe is a easy-peasy as it comes. The base of these cupcakes are from a box of classic yellow cake mix. I added the requisite 1 cup of water, 1/4 cup of vegetable oil and three eggs, and I added 2 teaspoons of peppermint extract to add some extra “holiday” flavor. I then baked the 24 cupcakes at 350* for 18 minutes. They came out amazingly moist with just the right amount of peppermint.

The only problem came when I made the frosting. As you can tell by the picture above, it didn’t quite stay in the shape of what cupcake frosting should be. I waited until the cupcakes were cool but they just kind of melted into a…blob of chocolate frosting. Nonetheless it tasted delicious! Happy with the flavor, not so much the presentation.

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Chocolate Frosting
Source

Ingredients
1/4 cup margarine, melted (Oops, forgot to do this part!)
1/2 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups confectioner sugar

Directions
In a large bowl, beat margarine and cocoa together until combined. Add milk and vanilla; beat until smooth. Gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar until desired consistency is achieved. Adjust with more milk or confectioners’ sugar if necessary. I ended up adding an extra 1/2 cup of sugar to get a thicker consistency.

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My aunt sent David and I this BEAUTIFUL wreath for Christmas. It looks great on our door!

The happiest of holidays to you all! What is your favorite baked good during the Christmas/Hanukkah season?

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