Guilt-free maple roasted banana ice cream: dairy, gluten and fat free!

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I love ice cream. I could literally eat an entire half gallon of Edy’s Girl Scout Cookie Samoas Ice Cream. Ice cream is one of my “trigger foods” and I can’t keep it in the house because it will call my name until it’s gone.

 

Luckily I’ve created a healthier alternative using only four ingredients! Bananas, real maple syrup, vanilla extract and unsweetened vanilla almond milk.

 

I was happy to see that Oxygen Magazineactually featured a banana ice cream in the March edition. They actually have a Mocha Banana Ice Cream which I’m also going to try. I made my roasted banana ice cream last week and was pleasantly surprised at the creamy, rich flavor. The bonus is that this recipe is dairy, gluten and fat free! Give it a try and let me know what you think!

 

 

 

Ingredients

  • 3 medium-sized bananas
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 400.
  • Peel and slice the bananas. I actually peel, slice and freeze my bananas in advance because I love to have frozen banans on hand (they are a delicious snack on their own).
  • Throw the bananas in a glass baking dish, pour maple syrup on top and roast for about 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and let cool (i can neither confirm nor deny eating a few bananas covered in maple syrup straight from the pan)
  • Scoop the roasted bananas, almond milk and vanilla extract into a food processort and pulse until combined. Chill for at least two hours.
  • Dump into your ice cream maker and make per manufacturer’s instructions.

Yum-o!

Let me know if you try it and like it!

Healthy Girl Scout Samoas with NO added sugar, flour or dairy

DSC_0134I love Girl Scout Cookies. I’ve loved them since I was a little brownie pushing boxes of coco-nutty Samoas®, peanut buttery tagalongs and minty thin mints. Now I’m the leader of my own little Daisy’s troop, which means that I’m surrounded by their deliciousness and I MUST buy a box (or 100)

Which call my name.

As much as I love Girl Scout cookies, I can’t eat them everyday. I wanted to come up with a sugar-free version of my absolute favorite: Samoa.

Can’t be done?

After experimenting in the kitchen, I re-created a version that delivers all the chocolate and coconutty goodness without a drop of added sugar.

How did I do it? I’m about to tell you the secret.

First, I had read about combining processed chickpeas and dates soaked overnight in the Chocolate Covered Katie Blog. She has some amazing recipes, so I encourage you to check her out. When I first read about the chocolate chip cookie dough dip with beans and dates, I thought it sounded disgusting! But I was too curious, so I gave it a shot and I PROMISE you, it is delicious! It got me thinking of other ways I could incoporate this technique.

So I came up with these healthy samoas. They are vegan, and contain no added sugar, flour, oil, food dyes or preservatives.

DSC_0156Stacy’s Sugar-Free Samoas

  • 1 1/4 cups cooked, drained chickpeas (do not use canned! they have a different flavor and won’t turn out a swell. Soak your chickpeas overnight in water, then cook the entire next day in the slow cooker. Refridgerate overnight and then you can puree them in this recipe)
  • 1 1/4 cups soaked dates with liquid (soak 1 1/4 cups of dates in 1/4 cup water overnight)
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup Artisana Cocoa Bliss Organic Raw Coconut Butter
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 Tbsp oats
  • 2 Tbsp. unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1/4 cup sugar-free coconut flakes (I bought mine at Earth Fare, but you can also find at Whole Foods and on Amazon)

Using your food processor or Vitamix, puree the chickpeas completely. Add the dates with water to the mixture and puree for a full minute. Add the vanilla extract, baking soda, salt, cocoa powder and oats. Process until combined. Add only as much almond milk as you need to reach the desired consistency. I added 2 Tbsp., you may need a bit more or less. Remove from processor and stir in coconut flakes. Sprinkle with coconut and serve! These taste best after they’ve been refriderated for a few hours to harden.

Voila! Girl Scout Samoa cookies with NO added sugar, NO added oil, NO flour and they’re are good for you! They are also super easy to make and require NO cooking! What more could you ask for?

If you are looking for more sugar-free, flour-free recipes, check out my recipe for my oatmeal cookies. They are delish and don’t contain an ounce of added sugar!

Please try them and let me know what you think!

Guilt-Free Cupcakes only .99 on the Kindle for a Limited Time!

GuiltFreeCupcakesBookCoverImageI’m excited to annouce that I’m offering my book, Guilt-Free Cupcakes, for only .99 for a limited time! This book is 9.99, but I’m offering this discount in honor of my birthday! I wanted to pass along a birthday gift from me to all of you!

The book is filled with light, lucious and low-calorie cupcakes recipes.

If you have a Kindle and are looking more more cheap reads, check out Good Reads for the top cheap books (that are worth reading.) Amazon also has a daily listing of the “Deals of the Day.”

I love my Kindle and especially love finding good, inexpensive books! In Charlotte, today is the perfect day to stay inside, curl up by the fire and read a good book. It’s also a great day to bake some cupcakes while watching the rain hit the window pane.

Do you have a Kindle? What are your favorite books? I’d love to hear from you!

Walt Disney World Goofy Challenge – Part Four (FINAL Post)

 

 


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Blood, sweat and tears had led to this day. Months of training. Thousands of dollars spent. Injuries, pain, elation and joy; this was the moment I had been waiting for: The 2013 Walt Disney World Goofy Challenge and a Half Marthon. 39.3 miles in two days.

As the alarm sounded at 2:45 a.m. the first thought that went through my head was “Second verse, same as the first, a little bit longer and a little bit worse.” It felt like deja vu, since I had ran the Walt Disney World Half Marathon the previous day.

 

I got dressed silently in the dark, brewed my cup of coffee, pinned my number to my shirt and double checked my gear bag. I walked in silence to the bus stop at the Wilderness Cabins trying to gauge the soreness in my legs. Did I have DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) or was this typical early morning fatigue?

 

The practice of the previous day made getting out the door a breeze and I was on the bust by 3:15 a.m. and at Epcot’s Wonder Lot by 3:45. I had more time to kill before the race this time, so I sat down at the bench, ate my banana, protein bar and water. I decided to head over to my corral when they actually told me to this time since there was so much congestion the day before. I checked my gear bag and decided I most definitely didn’t need my coat or even my light, long-sleeved running shirt that I brought in case it was chilly while I waited. It was already 60 degrees and still the middle of the night!

 

I was in my corral by 4:45, so I had about an hour of waiting before my corral left the gate. This gave me time to observe the runners around me. Many of them had come with a partner and it was interesting to watch the interactions. I saw best friends, dressed like Minnie Mouse helping each other stretch. I saw a couple with matching shirts that announced they were running together to celebrate their anniversary. There were some first timers, some seasoned runners and everything in between. We all had one thing in common: We were embarking on a 26.2 mile journey at the most magical place on earth.

 

I looked around and saw that there were many other Goofy Challengers. This put me at ease because I realized I wasn’t the only one “goofy” enough to take on that challenge.

 

The fireworks burst overhead and we were off. My last thought before starting was, “Why am I doing this?” I reassured myself that I was going to take it easy and I could walk if I wanted to. Given that this was the second leg of my journey and I had just run 13.1 miles the day previous, I was cutting myself some slack.

 

This first mile is always the most rough. I slowly increased my speed, keeping a close watch in my Garmin. I had never kept tabs on my Garmin more closely than I did during the two-day Goofy  Challenge. I made sure I didn’t go any faster than an 11 minute mile during the first five miles.

 

IMG_3535I decided that I would take a picture with the characters that were meaningful and dedicate each of them to a loved on, posting it on Facebook. At mile three I took a picture with Jack Skellington at mile 3 for my nephew Cody.

 

At mile five I clocked in at 1:03:04 with a 12:37 min/Mile. I had a bit of sticker shock when I saw this time, as it’s a lot slower than I normally run, but I told myself that was the goal. Take it easy and just finish.

 

IMG_3537I saw Buzz LIghtyear, my son’s absolute favorite character, who he has loved since he was two.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_3538I took a picture with Belle for Emily because that is her favorite princess.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_3536At mile six I ran through Cinderella Castle, which is the absolute most magical moment of the race. It is the moment that everyone who runs is waiting for and the reason why many of us participate in Disney races.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_3539After the jaunt through Cinderella Castle, I took a picture with Bullseye for my Mom because of our inside joke. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At this point we exited Magic Kingdom and head on a long stretch of backroads past Grand Floridian and Polynesian.

 

I mentally chunked the race into the first 10K, 1/2 marathon mark (13.1), mile 20 and then the last 10K. The mental component of a marathon is huge. Breaking down the 26.2 miles into manageable chunks is huge. I had gotten through the first 10K and only had three more legs to go.

 

I downed a GU because a lesson that I learned the hard way during the ThunderRoad Marathon (as I posted about on my everything you SHOULDN’T do before a marathon) was not taking in nutrition during the race.

 

The chocolate outrage GU has always worked for me in the past, so I decided not to change anything on race day (check out my post on my favorite products for marathon running for more of my tried and true methods of what works for me.)

 

IMG_3549At mile 8 1/2 we approached one of the most awesome parts of the race: running around the Walt Disney World Speedway! I LOVE cars and so does my husband, so I dedicated this round to him. I took pictures of all of the amazing cars that were around the speedway. It was  like a car show and a run at the same time. I’m from Charlotte, NC, home of NASCAR, so I guess that explains why I was so hyped up about this part. Runners around me seemed to ignore the beauty of the cars while they slogged their way around the track, but I took it all in and took tons of pictures.

 

 

 

But, all of that picture taking took its toll. My iPhone buzzed that it only had 20 percent battery at mile 12 1/2 and I turned it off so I could reserve battery to find my family after the race. This was a total bummer though because it meant that I couldn’t listen to music, post on Facebook or take pictures with the characters during the race!

 

At mile 10 I clocked in at 2:06:48 with a 12:41 min/Mile pace. We ran through more backroads and we ran past a sewer plant, which made me sick to my stomach. Not the best landmark to pass when you’re running.

 

They gave out bananas around this point and I gobbled it up happily. I typically don’t eat while I’m running (except for GU) and I normally don’t get hungry while I’m running or for hours afterwards, but I think because I was going slow and taking pictures with characters, my body wasn’t experiencing the effects of intense exercise.

 

We approached Animal Kingdom right at the 1/2 marathon mark. They had animals greet us at the entrance, which was cute, but also a bit smelly. I noticed at this point that there were not a
ny Christmas Decorations up at the parks. When I ran the Walt Disney World Marathon in 2011 they still had Christmas Decorations up throughout the parks and resorts. I made a mental note of this so I could advise guests who asked me about how long the Christmas decorations remain up on the Walt Disney World Moms Panel. My half spilt time was 2:48:36 with a 12:52 min/Mile.

 

Miles 14, 15 and 16 went across the Osceloa Parkway and was an uneventful leg of the journey. At mile 16 we could see other runners coming back from the loop around ESPN Wide World of Sports. It was great seeing them come off of that part of the loop and realize that we were entering it. The only thing is that when I ran the race in 2011, the loop was a quick little loop that led us to our mile 20 mark. Even though I knew we were at mile 16, mentally I felt like I only had a quick jaunt before reaching mile 20. The mind plays tricks on you when you are running. That is why they say that running a marathon is all mental – because it really is. I kept thinking that I would be turning around any moment, so it made for a long run to the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, which was actually at miles 18 and 19. Also, when you are running 26.2 miles or 39.3 over two days, four miles doesn’t sound like a lot, but it still is about 45 minutes of running (given the pace I was at.)

 

They had a jumbotron up at the complex and we ran around the track and were able to see ourselves on the screen. It was an awesome part of the race! I was feeling awesome and decided to pick up my pace. I picked it up to about a 10 minute mile, which is what I typically run my LSDs (Long Slow Distance) runs at. I even found a pace group behind me that was aiming to complete the race in 5:00 and I tagged along with them to try to aim for a time goal.

 

As we turned around and approached mile 20, I saw the energy of those around me dipping. Mile 20 is one of the toughest parts of the race. Again, with the mental component, mentally you think you are almost finished, but you still have a 10K to go. This typically takes about an hour, so even though you feel done, you still have an hour more to run.

 

Eminem articulates it perfectly in his song “Till I Collapse”

Cause sometimes you just feel tired.
You feel weak and when you feel weak you feel like you wanna just give up.
But you gotta search within you, you gotta find that inner strength
and just pull that shit out of you and get that motivation to not give up
and not be a quitter, no matter how bad you wanna just fall flat on your face and collapse.

 

On a similar note, I find that Eminem always has the right words of wisdom or advice for any occasion. He is a lyrical genius – I absolutely love him!

I had to use the restroom right before mile 20 and I was so pissed because there was a line, which kept me away from the pace group I was trying to follow. I literally waited ten minutes and I was going to just go on, but, when you have to go, you have to go. This is when being a man would come in handy. I just had to pee, but decided to wait it out. However, I had a great conversation with a couple who was waiting in line with me. I discovered that they were actually celebrating the “Perfect 20” which means that they’ve run ALL 20 Walt Disney World Marathons!! Can you believe it? There were about 90 runners who had completed all 20 WDW Marathons. That is an amazing accomplishment and I was honored to meet them!

I hit the road again and reached the 20 mile spilt at 4:06:18 with a 12:25 min/mile. I was hoping to make up for lost time and complete the marathon in 5 hours, so I tried to pick up the pace. At this point we reached quite a steady climb at the only hill I noticed on the course. In front of me was a couple with shirts that read “Tweedle Dee” (with an arrow pointing right) and “Tweedle Dum” (with an arrow pointing left.) As they struggled to get up the hill someone passed them and said, “Your arrows are pointing the wrong way.” because they had shifted and flipped sides. You should have seen the look they gave that runner. At 21 miles into a marathon, there is no joking. This is when shit gets real.

 

Finally we were approaching Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which is a fun part of the race. They gave out chocolate at mile 22, which I gobbled up. Luckily it wasn’t melted when I ran through, although I heard that for some runners who came through after me it was all melted and gooey. We were able to run through the Studio Backlot Tours area, which is one of my favorite attractions.

 

We left Hollywood Studios as quickly as we entered and then headed over to the Boardwalk area to enter the back entrance of Epcot. I was getting excited becaues wee were at mile 24 and I knew I only had a couple of miles to go, but it was also getting very hot around this time and my energy was melting. I felt sunburn on my back and it was about 80 degrees. I had stayed hydrated, but the sun was starting to take it’s toll on my energy levels. We entered the back area of Epcot and I swear I was tempted to get a pretzel from the Germany Pavilion! I was actually feeling hungry (again.)

 

 

The World Showcase never felt so long as I ran that last 1.2 miles through Epcot and into the Wonder Lot. I appraoched the finish line and saw my awesome husband and two beautfiful kids and I felt elated! As I crossed the finish line and the volunteer put the Mickey Mouse Medal around my neck I felt like a million bucks! I headed over to the Goofy Tent and got my Goofy Medal and I stared at them in awe! Two days – Three Medals – Priceless! I finished in 5:25:28 at a 12:25 min/mile pace, which was almost an hour slower than the Charlotte ThunderRoad Marathon, but boy did I feel MUCH better! I consider ThunderRoad a failure, while I consider Disney a success. It’s not about the time, it’s about how you feel and the experience throughout the race.

 

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I took a picture at the finish line with my two medals and beamed as brightly as I could.


 

 

 

 

 

IMG_3778I picked up my runDisney box of treats, which included a pack of crackers, trail mix, chocolate square, chocoalte candy, Clif bar, cheese dip and a wet wipe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_3557I grabbed a few extra bags of fruit snacks for my kiddos and silently thanked myself for not using the last twenty percent of my battery so I could text Shane and ask where they were. They ran over to meet me in the Family Reunion area. I gave them a huge hug and was so happy to see them.

 

 



I actually felt great and didn’t feel like a ran 39.3 miles, 60K, in two days. The first thing I wanted to do after I gave my family a big hug was buy the Goofy “I did it!” T-shirt to celebrate my achievement! I didn’t want to buy it before I ran, because I’m superstitious and didn’t want to jinx it! I also bought the Mickey Mouse runDisney Vinylmation with Mickey, Donald and Goofy medals.

I got my bag and then sat down with the family as we waited for my friends, Christie and Tracy, to cross the finish line. It was their first marathon and I was so happy for them.

 

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I followed Christie and Tracy’s journey, subscribing to their alerts as they crossed over the key mile makers in the race, and I was cheering them on the entire time. Tracy finished in 6:19:41 and Christie finished in 6:53:52. I was so incredibly proud of them!!! Seeing them experience their first marathon touched me deeply and I was honored to be with them at such an occasion. My Disney Moms Panel friends also crossed the finish line that day with amazing times! I was so proud of all of my friends who completed the event!

 

After the race, Christie and I headed over to Senses, the spa at Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, for our massage. WOW is all I have to say! The spa was incredible! We were able to shower at the spa and we changed into fluffy robes. I sank into the whirlpool and relaxed in the sauna while waiting for my appointment. I was even able to lay on the heated lounge chair in the waiting room. After our massages, we ate dinner at my FAVORITE Walt Disney World restaurant: Ohana! Christie, and her husband Stephen, joined Shane, the kids and I at this delicious meal, celebrating Christie’s first marathon and my first Goofy Challenge.

 

In the weeks leading up to the Goofy Challenge I swore I would never do a marathon again. The last thing I said before I crossed the start line was, “Why am I doing this?” But the first thing I thought after I crossed that finish line was, “When can I do this again?”

 

IMG_0524I am a runner. But sometimes I don’t feel like one because I don’t run everyday. I would be bored out of my mind if all I did was run. I like to lift weights, do yoga, dance in Zumba, work my core in pilates and I even did some kickboxing today at 9 Round. I have a love-hate relationship with running. Some days I don’t feel like running. Hell, some days I don’t feel like doing anything except for sitting on the couch and watching 30 rock while surfing the Internet on my iPad. But I’m a runner and I can’t deny it. There is nothing like hitting the pavement and logging miles. There is nothing like crossing the finish line and feeling a medal around your neck.

 

I’ve already signed up for my next challenge, which is the Rock n Roll Half Marathon in D.C. My goal is to complete at least two Rock n Roll Marathon’s this year so I can get the Encore Medal. I also want to compete in triathlon’s again this summer. Have you done the Goofy Challenge? Are you a runner? If so, I’d love to hear about your experiences!

 

 

 

Walt Disney World Goofy Challenge Part III

StacyHalfMarathonPicIf at first you don’t succeed, try again.

As I mentioned in my previous post on the Goofy Challenge, I bonked the Thunder Road Marathon in Charlotte, over-trained and suffered from a serious case of Plantar Fasciitis leading up to the big event. I was experiencing an all-time low just weeks from the Walt Disney World Marathon and I was concerned that my months of training, not to mention time and money invested, were all going to go to waste. My travel was booked, the marathon was paid for, my kids were excited about going to the most magical place on earth…..there was no backing out now. Luckily as I began to taper my running in preparation for the big event, I began to feel better.

We arrived in Disney the Thursday prior to the big day. We headed straight for the ESPN Wide World of Sports to pick up my packet. My amazing husband kept trying to buy me anything that said “Goofy Challenge” on it, including a shirt, Mickey Mouse Vinylmation with the three iconic medals and Disney running Mickey ears. As we walked around the expo I reassured myself that as much as I wanted to try out some of the “new” products, I didn’t need the new compression pants with ice packs built into the legs, gel chews for fuel during the long runs and Disney designed New Balance running shoes. I learned my lesson from Thunder Road to not try anything new before the race.

I discovered what worked for me through months of training and I wasn’t going to let the shiny new packaging throw me off my plan. People often ask me about the gear and products I use for running, so I’ll tell you what works best for me. But the most important thing to note is that you should find what works for you and don’t change anything on race day. Find your ideal product early in your training and be loyal!

Stacy’s Favorites:

Shoes:  Asics Gel Nimbus

Hydration: Camelback Hydration Pack (I like my hydration pack much better than the Fuel Belt.)

Fuel: GU Chocolate Outrage

Recovery: Sugoi Compression Pants

Pre-race fuel: Think Thin White Chocolate Protein Bar

Running clothes: Luluemon

Gadget: Garmin Forerunner and Nike Running App on my iPhone

IMG_0532After the expo we arrived at our Cabin at the Fort Wilderness Lodge. The kids bound out of the car and ran into the cabin, heading straight for the bunk beds. This was our favorite resort we’ve stayed at, and we’ve stayed at almost every Walt Disney World Resort, including Grand Floridian in November. More on that later…

The night prior to the half marathon we enjoyed a delicious dinner with great friends at the Team in Training L&LS Inspire Dinner. My friend, Christie, was running her first marathon and had trained with TNT. This dinner was truly inspiring. The keynote speaker shared his journey with leukemia and how we continued with running and marathon training through his treatments. With each story shared, I felt my spirit rise, I was ready for this.

Screen Shot 2013-02-04 at 1.03.45 PMAfter dinner my amazing husband took the kids out around Disney while I prepared for the race. I checked the weather and realized that all of the cold weather gear I packed would not be necessary. The forecasted high was 80 degrees, so I wouldn’t need my fleece, gloves or hat. I carefully pinned my number to my race shirt, laid out my clothes and packed my race bag, which included my pre-race meal, water, Garmin, SPI Belt, iPhone, headphones and magazine to read while I waited for the race to begin. I hit the sack early and wrote a little poem to clear my mind:

‘Twas the night before Goofy, only eight hours to go

For some reason this seemed like a good idea six months ago

My gear is laid out in advance with care

From my shirt to my shoes to rubber bands for my hair

The kids were out playing with Mickey Mouse and Tink

While I lay in bed, unable to sleep a wink

I’m ready for the challenge, the time is now here

I repeat my positive mantras to calm my fear

The alarm went off at 2:45 a.m. Well, I should clarify. Three alarms went off at 2:45 a.m. Mickey Mouse cheerfully greeted me on the phone, my iPad beeped and the alarm next to the bed shrilled. I didn’t want to risk oversleeping on the big day! I got ready and headed out to the race bus that would transport us runners to the start line.

I observed my fellow runners on the bus. Some chatted nervously with their seatmate. Some posted status updates to Facebook notifying others of the journey they were about to embark. While others silently focused inwards on the challenge that lie ahead. But we all had one thing in common – we were runners.

We arrived at Epcot around 3:30 a.m. and walked to the Wonder Lot area. You would never know it was the middle of the night by the music blaring and activity of thousands of runners. Hundreds of green porta pottys lined the Wonder Lot area, along with refreshment stands, merchandise tents and tables. At 4:30 a.m. the DJ began encouraging runners to make their way to the start line. I ignored the plea until about 5:00 a.m. when I checked my gear bag and made the trek to the start line. There was literally a 20 minute walk from the Wonder Lot area to the start line and it was jam-packed with people. There were times that we were at a standstill and couldn’t move an inch. I started to get nervous that I wouldn’t make it to the start line in time. There were 8 corrals, A-H, and I was in corral B. I finally made it to my corral with minutes before the wheelchair start, which was at 5:30 am.

IMG_3517Before I knew it the National Anthem was being sung and fireworks lit the sky for the start of the Walt Disney World Half Marathon. I wasn’t nervous because I knew that this was only the start of my 39.3 mile journey. I repeated to myself that this was only the beginning and no matter how good I felt, I needed to take it easy.

We inched up as Corral A took off (after another round of fireworks.) Now it was our time. At 5:40 a.m. the fireworks for Corral B splayed overhead and we began our journey through the parks.

Some runners took off like they were being chased by a cheetah. This happens every race and inevitably I’ll see that same runner miles ahead sidelined with injury or exhaustion. The rest of us took off slowly and found our rhythm and groove after the first several miles. The first mile of a race is always the most difficult. Thoughts come in my mind such as, “why am I doing this,” “I don’t think I can make it,” “I’m already tired, how will I make it through 13 miles?”

Getting through those first couple of miles can be difficult. The key to success in a long-distance race is to not think about all of the miles you have to complete. Think about how far you’ve come, or about the next mile, but don’t overwhelm yourself by thinking of the total distance.

I already had to use the porta potty at mile 1. After a quick stop I was back on the road. Music filled the air, characters lined the sides of the road and entertainment was abound. Disney races are the absolute best because there is so much to do and see. I saw Jack Skellington at mile 4, which is my nephew’s favorite character, but I decided to run straight through the race and visit the characters during the full marathon instead.

IMG_3521The best part of the race was Mile 5 when we approached Cinderella Castle in Magic Kingdom. When I ran the marathon in 2011 we didn’t run through Cinderella Castle until Mile 10, so this part of the race came upon me quickly. We hit mile 6 after we exited Magic Kingdom and Miles 7 and 8 brought us past Grand Floridian and down to the speedway. I was super excited when we hit the speedway because I saw a racecar sitting by the entrance. I made a mental note to get a picture with it during the marathon. As the mileage increased I felt my pace increase as well, but I kept close tabs on my Garmin to make sure my pace didn’t get higher than a 10 minute mile. I wanted to make sure I was conserving energy for the next day. I felt great and definitely felt as if I could have gone longer and faster, but I reassured myself that was the goal. I wanted to finish feeling strong, not depleted.

 

 

 

 

IMG_3525As we approached mile 9, they were giving away Cliff Gel Shots, but I reminded myself of my bad experie3nce with the Cliff Gels during ThunderRoad and I bypassed the fuel. Instead I grabbed a cup of water and continued on to Epcot. We entered Epcot through the back entrance, ran around the World Showcase and on to the finish line. I finished in 2:17: 41, which wasn’t by best time, but I wasn’t aiming for a time goal. The finish was actually anti-climatic, as I knew it wasn’t the end, but only the beginning. I was 1/3 of the way through the Goofy Challenge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_3527I held my Donald Duck medal in my hand and felt proud of my accomplishment, but also concerned about doing double the mileage the following day. Could I do it all again? Did I reserve enough energy to complete a marathon the following day? Would I be sore?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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My husband and kids brought me a beautiful Mickey Mouse Rose to celebrate my acheivement. The best part was seeing their beautiful faces at the finish. Check back tomorrow when I post the fourth and final post in the Goofy Challenge series. In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you! Have you ever run a marathon and half marathon in quick succession? Have you heard of the Goofy Challenge? How about the Dumbo Challenge in Disneyland? I want to hear from you!

 

Walt Disney World Marathon: Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge Part II

IMG_3556I’m glad I bonked the Thunder Road Marathon in November.

 

The wise words of Anthony D’Angelo say it all:

 

“In order to succeed you must fail, so that you know what not to do next time.”

 

As I mentioned in my previous post on the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend: Goofy Challenge Part I,I did everything wrong during this marathon. As I drug my dehydrated, defeated body over that finish line I didn’t know if I could ever run again, much less run not one, but two marathon events only one month away.

 

I was physically, mentally and spiritually exhausted. I felt as if I ate too much chocolate cake. I overdosed on something I once loved and I didn’t know if I could ever look at running in the same way again.

 

My training plan had me hitting the pavement again for a six mile run after one day of rest, so I dutifully headed out for my run. It felt like I had cement blocks tied to my legs. I trudged forward, feeling as if I was running in quick sand, getting slower and more entrenched with every step.

 

I stuck with my plan, but with each successive run, I became slower and less motivated. Sure, I’ve had days in the past that I didn’t feel like running or I had to force myself out of my warm bed and lace up my running shoes, but nothing like this. The following Saturday I had a 18 mile run, which wasn’t the longest run in my plan and it certainly was less than the previous weeks’ 26.2, but that was my worst training run. I ran from Leroy Springs Recreation Complex in Fort Mill to the Gold Hill YMCA, which is 9 miles, and back. A simple out and back run should have been enjoyable, but instead I was miserable. I became slower with each mile. As I sat in the hot tub after my run I reflected on my journey and realized I couldn’t continue like this. The Goofy Challenge was only a month and a half away and I was regressing. All signs pointed to overtraining. There is a fine line between adequately training for an event and overtraining. I wasn’t letting my body repair itself in between workouts and I had overtrained. I hope others can learn through my mistakes. Please look out for the following signs:

 

  1. You’re getting weaker and slower and your stamina is deteriorating despite regular exercising
  2. You are losing leanness despite increased exercise
  3. You feel tired, drained, sluggish and have a lack of energy
  4. You’re unable to sleep
  5. You have pain in your muscles and joints
  6. Loss of enthusiasm for the sport
  7. Headaches

 

I consulted with my running coach, Deb, who was amazing through this process. She advised me to take some time off from running to recuperate. So I did yoga, lifted weights, continued with my aqua jogging class and cut back my mileage on my weekly long run. The following week we were on vacation in Walt Disney World, so I was really able to relax, spend time with my family and not worry about my training or running. This worked wonders. I came back the following week completely refreshed and feeling great.

 

I hopped back on my training plan upon my return. I began doing all of my long runs at the Greenway by my house for a change of scenery. I downloaded The Nutrition Diva Podcasts to have something interesting to listen to during my runs. I watched my favorite show, 30 Rock, while I ran on the treadmill. My amazing husband who supported me through this entire process and listened to my running ailments ad nauseam bought me new running gear from my favorite store, Lululemon. In short, I gave myself new motivation to go out and run.

 

 

The Walt Disney World Marathon and Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge was only one month away at this point and the words of Eminem rang in my mind: “Success is my only m$#@* option, failure’s not.”

 

I had invested time, energy and money to complete this challenge and I would not fail. I had announced to everyone that I was doing the challenge. My kids were excited about their upcoming trip. I had everything on the line. But, would I be able to complete the challenge? Was I trained enough since I had to scale back the plan? What if I got down to Disney and bonked this race? There was much more at stake this time. Check back tomorrow for Part III of the Goofy Challenge where I’ll let you know how it turned out and the top running and training tips that you’ve haven’t heard before! In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you. Do you agree that you learn more from failure that success? Have you ever felt like just giving up?

Goofy Challenge Part I

stacythunderroadBeing a fat kid is the best thing that ever happened to me.

Sure, I endured teasing as a child. It wasn’t uncommon for me to hear chants of “Boom bada boom,” when I walked by or have endearing messages written in my yearbook like the one from Beth Sloan that said, “Ha, ha, you’re fat and have red hair.”

See, the thing is that if I would have been a thin, cute and popular child, I may not have developed the drive improve myself and take on new challenges as an adult. I see plenty of formerly knobby kneed kids from my old ‘hood (courtesy of Facebook) who are now overweight and miserable.

The best thing about childhood is that it’s fleeting and sets the tone for how you live the rest of your life.

I had to learn how to lose weight and stay in shape the hard way. Those kids who grew up saying things like, “I can eat whatever I want and I just don’t gain weight” are now experiencing the harsh reality of aging.

I lost 80 pounds and have maintained it for about ten years now, with the exception of having to lose the baby weight after two pregnancies. I’m sorry I don’t have a sexy story about how I lost the weight through raspberry ketones, a gluten-free diet or a magic pill. I lost the weight the old-fashioned way thorugh exercise and diet. Through the process I’ve challenged myself with new goals to stay motivated and keep the weight off. That brings me to my most recent challenge, The Goofy Challenge in the most magical place on earth: Walt Disney World.

The Goofy Challenge includes running a marathon and half marathon through all four Walt Disney World parks, ESPN Wide World of Sports and race track over the course of two days, totally 39.3 magical miles. I ran my first marathon in Disney in January 2011, completed three triathlons the summer of 2012, so I was ready for my next challenge for 2013. What could be more crazy than running not just one, but two marathon events in one weekend? Being a Walt Disney World Moms Panelist, there is no place on earth I’d rather be than Walt Disney World. And combining my two favorite things: Disney and running? Priceless!

I started training in July for this ultimate endurance test. Every weekend I committed to increasing my distance from 5 miles, up to 26.2 and back down again to taper prior to the big event. Training involved running four days a week, weight training two days a week, aqua jogging, yoga for athletes and long runs every Saturday. The toughest part of the Goofy Challenge was the training. Since I wasn’t just training for one event, but two, I partnered two long runs back to back each week to prepare for running on tired legs. Training for an event such as this requires a great commitment. Every weekend, through rain, cold temperatures, fatigue and boredom, I hit the road to prepare for the big day. There were days when I would much prefer to lay in my warm bed, cuddle with my kids and linger with my cup of coffee, but I would make myself lace up and run.

The peak of my training came the week of November 17. My running coach had advised that I run the ThunderRoad Marathon in Charlotte on November 17 as a training run. This means I was running a marathon to prepare for a marathon. This was absolutely the worst experience of my running career. Everything that could go wrong went wrong. I had to travel for work that week to Dallas, Texas and it was a horrible trip. My flight was delayed, I got lost driving to the hotel and again driving to the office. The days were long and draining. I had to switch hotels mid-trip. I was on a long flight the night prior to my marathon. I was mentally and physically exhausted. I shouldn’t have run the marathon at all, but I was stubborn and when I commit to something I feel obligated to complete the task at hand. I prayed to God that morning to get me through. I knew I wasn’t feeling up to the challenge when I arrived, but I forged ahead.

Everything that you SHOULDN’T do during a marathon run I did during this race, including:

  1. I was already physically and mentally exhausted when I started
  2. I didn’t have adequate rest the entire week prior to the race
  3. I tried a new food the morning of the race
  4. I tried new nutrition during the run
  5. I started off too fast

 

At first I felt great and I started off quickly. I was hoping to PR with a new time of under four hours. Given that my previous full marathon time was 5 hours and 7 minutes, this wasn’t a realistic goal. By mile 10 my stomach began to feel a bit sick. I ignored it and pressed on. I saw the half marathon spilt off and was tempted to go off on that track, but I was stubborn and pressed on. That is when things really went downhill. I tried to eat the Cliff Gels that I brought to calm my stomach and give me energy, but that just made me feel more sick. At mile 18 I thew up. The first time. I felt miserable, but at this point there was no turning back. I pressed on. I threw up again at mile 20, 22, 24 and 26. Yes, a marathon is 26.2 miles so I threw up with the finish line in sight. I was miserable. I tried to drink my PowerAde, I tried to eat the gels, I tried to have an orange, but everything made me sick all over again. I thought I was going to pass out. I was fully prepared to go straight to the medical tent, and probably should have, but when I saw my wonderful husband and beautiful kids at the finish line, I instantly felt better. I gave them a huge hug and collapsed on the curb.

At that point I said that I would NEVER run another marathon. But what would I do with the Goofy Challenge?  I was already committed to run in January. I not only was mentally commited, but financially as well. I had paid money for the race, hotel and my entire family to go with me. There was no backing out now.

I didn’t know how I would move forward. After that marathon I was completed depleted: mentally, physically and spiritually. I didn’t know how I could possibly move on. My motivation was gone. I didn’t even feel like running anymore. I felt like I had overeaten my favorite food. I couldn’t stand to think about running, look at anyone run, hear the word “run” and definitely couldn’t stomach a run. I would try to run a few miles and my legs felt like cement. How would I recover from this? My Goofy Challenge was only two months away! How could I possibly complete this challenge when I couldn’t run a mile without feeling like I had sandbags attached to my legs?

Stay tuned to find out. I will post part II of the Goofy Challenge tomorrow to let you know how I overcame this all time low and completed the Goofy Challenge.

In the meantime, do you have any questions about mistakes I made during this run? Have you ever bonked a race? I’d love to hear from you!

Sugar-Free Flour-Free Artificial Sweetner-Free Oatmeal Cookies

I’m trying to cut back on the added sugar and flour in my diet, but it has been extremely difficult. Did you know that manufacturer’s sneak sugar in practically everything? There is sugar in ketchup, peanut butter, salad dressing and even some dried fruit. I went three weeks with NO added sugar and NO flour and I lost weight, but I was miserable. I scoured every label and couldn’t find one brand of salad dressing that didn’t have some form of added sugar. Also, be careful of peanut butter labeled “Natural” because I noticed that many “Natural” peanut butters still had sugar and oil. I had to go to Earth Fare to buy a sugar-free ketchup that didn’t have artificial sweetner added. The problem with going completely sugar-free is that it became an obsession to find sugar-free products.

I’m now trying to find a happy balance.

I love sweets, but obviously it is quite a challenge to satisfy a sweet tooth without sugar. I adapted this delicious recipe for sugar-free, flour-free and artificial sweetner free oatmeal cookies from Dr. Gott’s No Flour, No Sugar Cookbook. I was leary how cookies would turn out if they didn’t have sugar, but they are excellent! You would never know that they don’t have a drop of oil or sugar in them.

They are so healthy that you can eat them for breakfast or dessert. Give them a try and let me know what you think:

Sugar-Free, Flour-Free, Artifical Sweetner-Free Oatmeal Cookies

  • 3 bananas
  • 2 c old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 c almonds
  • 1/2 c raisins
  • 1tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Mash the bananas well with a potato masher. Mix in the oats, walnuts, raisins, cinnamon, vanilla and salt. Mix well. Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.

 

Fresh Strawberry Cake

There is something special about picking a plump, juicy red strawberry off the vine and popping it in your mouth right in the strawberry fields.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m lucky to have fresh strawberry fields right across from my neighborhood that allows customers to “Pick-your-own” strawberries. I bring my kids every year because I think it is important for them to understand where food comes from. Real food, food that is nutritious for our bodies, doesn’t come in a box.

We picked strawberries last weekend and made a fresh strawberry cake.

 

 

 

 

I’m a big believer that it is OK to indulge in treats occasionally, especially if you prepare something from scratch with fresh ingredients, is much better than eating pre-made, chemical-filled “faux food.” We hear messages that “butter is bad” or “don’t eat carbs,” and manufacturer’s force so-called “healthy” snacks on us like low-carb cookies, sugar-filled energy bars and low-fat chips. They are all filled with chemicals to replace the carbohydrates, sugar and fat, which does more damage to our bodies than a little butter. According to the Centers for Disease Control obesity rates are two times higher today than in the 1970s. What’s interesting is that today we have more “fat-free,” “low-fat,” “low-carb,” “gluten-free” foods than ever, but we are geting fatter. Back in the 1970s cooking with butter was common, but so were homemade meals.

Get back to the basics by making this delicious, fresh strawberry cake for your family. I modified this recipe, which was in the April issue of Southern Living Magazine.

Fresh Strawberry Cake

This is a three part cake, so it take a bit of time to make. First, you will want to make the cake layers.

Cake Layer:

  • 1 1/4 cup greek yogurt
  • 2 1/4 cup sugar
  • 7 egg whites
  • 3 1/2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract

Mix the Greek yogurt with the sugar first, then add the egg whites, beating well with an electric mixter after each egg white. Mix the flour and baking powder seperately, then add to the wet mixture. Add one cup of water and almond extracts. Mix well, then pour into four 8-inch round cake pans. Bake at 350 for 22 minutes.

While your cakes are cooking, prepare the strawberry mousse.

Strawberry Mousse

  • 1 envelope gelatin
  • 2 cups strawberries
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup whipping cream
Sprinkle gelatin over 1/4 cup water in a small bowl and let sit for 5 minutes. Using a food processor, combine strawberries and sugar. Transfer strawberry mixture to a small pan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove from heat and add gelatin mixture. Stir well, then cover and chill for 30 minutes.
Beat the whipping cream until soft peaks form. Fold whipped cream into strawberry mixture until blended well. Cover and chill for 30 minutes.
While the mousse is chilling, prepare the strawberry frosting.
Strawberry Frosting
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 3/4 cups strawberries (finely chopped)
Cream butter and powdered sugar together in an electric mixter. Add strawberries and beat at a low speed until just combined.
Now it’s time to bring it all together!
When the cake layers are cooled, spread a layer of strawberry mousse over each layer and stack four cakes high. C
over and chill for three hours, or until mousse is set.
Remove from fridge and spread frosting on the top and sides of the cake.
This cake takes a while to make, but is incredibly delicious!

Little Ones Magazine – Tips for Walt Disney World

I’m so excited that I’m featured in Little Ones Magazine this month with tips on planning a magical vacation to Walt Disney World! If you get a chance, please head on over to Little Ones Magazine to check out the article online or pick up a copy for FREE at your local grocery store, library or newsstand.

I am honored to be a part of the Walt Disney World Moms Panel and help families plan their trip to Walt Disney World! It is truly the most magical place on earth and there are so many special ways to enjoy quality family time while visiting Disney. The best part is that there is something for everyone to experience, whether your kids are babies, toddlers, big kids, teenagers or adults. It is a vacation that the entire family to enjoy! I’ve been every single year, and three times this past year, since my kids were toddlers and we find something new to experience each time we visit! I’ll be visiting Disney for my 9th time this September for the Tower of Terror run and the 10th time with my family over Thanksgiving Break this year.

Are you on a budget? You can visit Walt Disney World on a shoestring budget and still have an amazing time. Do you like to run? runDisney has many events throughout the year so you can partner a race with a family vacation! Are you a foodie? Come during the Wine and Dine Festival to enjoy delicious foods from countries around the world while exploring Epcot. There is truly something for everyone!

Please come visit me at the Walt Disney World Moms Panel to ask me any of your questions about Walt Disney World! It is my pleasure to help! You can ask me a question directly by clicking on “Meet the Moms” then scroll down to “Stacy C.” Then just click on “Ask Stacy a Question.” Please come visit me today!