Marathon Training: Week Fourteen Recap

Sorry for the later than usual recap – instead of getting this post up on Sunday, as I had hoped, I was off to Orlando with McDonald’s (a client) for a few days! I’ve returned to Cleveland and am playing catchup – with work, life, grocery shopping (4 days of eating McDonald’s means my fridge is pretty empty) and blogging!

Last week was week fourteen of Cleveland marathon training. The week’s training called for Tuesday: 5. Wednesday: 9. Thursday: 5. Saturday: 14, for a total of 33 miles.  For the first time since the Toe Incident, I didn’t follow the running schedule. 😦  If you read my last post, you know that I’ve been experiencing some on and off ankle and achilles pain during and after runs – and even somewhat when walking. So, I decided to take one of the days (Wednesday) off and stick to the shorter weeknight runs, ice my leg, stretch, and see how the 14 miler went.

Monday: 5 –  Not a bad pre-work run. After resting on Saturday and using the elliptical on Sunday, my legs were feeling strong. Of course afterwords, the achilles and ankle started hurting again!

Tuesday: 5 – B and I pounded through a great post-work run. We finished our 5ish miles in under 48 minutes, meaning our pace was below our typical 10 min/mile training pace. During (and after) there was still achilles and shin pain, but it felt like a great night for a short run! Yes, it’s amazing what training for a marathon will do for you – anything 6 or under is short… even a mid-week 9 miler is “short!”

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday– Rest, rest and more rest. It felt so strange not to go out with B when he was doing his 9 miles and I couldn’t help but feel jealous when he got back from his good run, but I spent most of the time just icing my ankle and prepping dinner. And of course catching up on the DVR (Glee, The Voice and Ice Loves Coco aren’t going to watch themselves!).

Saturday: 14.1– 14 miles felt great. B, his sister and I did a 14 mile loop, much of it along the actual marathon route! We ran the first 5 with one of B’s sister’s friends, and then took a water break after 7 miles and then continuing on for the rest of the run. I was feeling great emotionally, but around mile 10 or so my leg/ankle started seriously hurting again. It was not as bad as last week, but still found myself going pretty slowly for the rest of the run and not going much faster than 10:30 minute miles. Frustrating –  but glad to be finished and ONE month till race day!

Saturday night, B and I went out to dinner and then met up with my friend Ali to help her celebrate her birthday!

my beer had its own stand!

Sunday I hit the airport for a trip to Orlando for work. I was able to get in a few runs during the trip, along iwth standing ALL DAY on the convention floor – meaning my healing process may be a little sloewr.

This week: Looking forward to being back in Cleveland and participating in the Cleveland 10 miler this Saturday morning. B, his sister and I plan on using it as part of our TWENTY MILE training run.

Taking a few days off …

No, I’m not taking a few days off from blogging. Instead, I’m (sadly) taking a few days off from training. I don’t know what’s up, but since our 18 miler last week, I’ve been experiencing some pain in my achilles/ankle area. I’ve been trying to ice it (I even iced it one day at work!) and ran on it twice this week (two 5 milers Monday and Tuesday), but those didn’t seem to make it much better.

Normal Melissa would just run through it. I mean, what’s the worst that could happen, right? I’ve run through similar pain before, including horrible shin splints, nail-less toes, etc. But there’s something about this pain, so close to race day (ONE MONTH AND ONE DAY AWAY) that makes me nervous! And googling “achilles pain from running” doesn’t come up with anything pretty. Marathon-training Melissa is smart. She doesn’t run 9 miles on Wednesday, despite hating herself for “skipping a day,” and doesn’t run or work out at all on Thursday. Instead, she takes it easy, ices when necessary and waits for her 14 mile run this weekend to see how she feels.

Am I crazy? Some days it’s hard to get out of bed and actually run, so why is it harder right now to NOT run?

To end this running post, I leave you with a few images from my new favorite Tumblr – Hey Running Girl. Ryan Gosling can motivate me to run anytime 🙂

Sadly, I can relate to all of these:

Yup. Pretty awesome stuff.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes

This week, our office is participating in a few fun activities in honor of our Operation Feed Week – our effort to support local food banks. One of the awesome things we’re doing is hosting a bake sale – with donations going to the local food bank. Of course I was SUPER excited to participate – and decided to make some cupcakes (surprised?) that combine two of many people’s favorite ingredients: chocolate and peanut butter.

Wanna wow your friends with some delicious AND easy cupcakes? The cupcakes feature a homemade peanut butter cream frosting, a chocolate cupcake using (shh!) brownie mix AND a surprise inside – a peanut butter cup!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes

(inspired by Betty Crocker)

Here’s what you need:

For the cupcakes (makes 12):

  • A box of brownie mix (see, I told you it’s easy! I used Betty Crocker’s Supreme Brownie Mix with fudge packet)
  • Ingredients required per brownie mix box (mine had oil, water and eggs)
  • 15 Mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups – 12 for baking in your cupcakes, 3 to chop up for topping frosting

For the peanut butter buttercream frosting (frosts 12 cupcakes):

  • 1/2 cup butter (room temperature)
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 ½ – 2 cups powdered sugar
  • ¼ – ½ cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Here’s what you do:

For the cupcakes:

  • Prepare brownie batter per directions on box.
  • Pour batter into a muffin pan, prepared with cupcake liners.
  • Unwrap the Reese’s peanut butter cups and place one cup softly on top of each brownie cupcake.

Peanut Butter Cups in the Brownie Mix!

  •  Bake, at 350 degrees, until done, about 15-18 minutes
  • Cool completely before frosting. I put mine in the freezer so I could frost them sooner : )

For the frosting:

  • Thoroughly beat peanut butter and butter until well blended.
  • Gradually add sugar, 1/4 cup or so at a time until frosting stiffens.
  • Add milk and vanilla. Continue mixing until creamy.
  • Frost cupcakes! Chop up the remaining Reese’s and sprinkle on top of frosted cupcakes.


Weekend Fun: 18 miles, pizza, volunteering and Golden Gloves

This weekend B and I had a fun time running around Cleveland. We started off our Friday with an 18 mile training run. I know – that hardly sounds like anything fun (and if you read the post, you’ll see it really wasn’t), but it had to get done and we opted to start our Friday night with the run. We finished strong, got some groceries we needed for Saturday morning’s breakfast, picked up some pepperoni pizza and boneless buffalo wings from Angelo’s and caught up on the DVR. Is anyone else watching Awake? I’m hooked!

Saturday morning, B and I got up early and headed over to the Women and Children’s Center of the West Side Catholic Center to prepare and serve breakfast for the women and children there. It was Boston College’s Alumni Day of Service, and as Service Chairs of the committee, B and I had planned and organized the event.

After breakfast, we did some shopping and snacking at the West Side Market before returning home to crash. I was still tired from the previous night’s run and waking up earlier than usual on a Saturday.

Saturday night we met up with some friends to check out the Golden Gloves, an amateur boxing tournament. I’ll admit that I was skeptical when B asked if I wanted to go – while I love the movie The Fighter (who wouldn’t like a movie with Amy Adams, Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale AND Boston accents?) I wasn’t sure if I wanted to witness any fighting in person. We started the night with some Noodlecat Happy Hour, headed to the Golden Gloves, then finished it at Map Room. I love Saturdays!

Golden Gloves fighters

Sunday was pretty lazy and involved sleeping in while B played softball, a light elliptical workout to get my muscles moving after our run, lots more DVR catchup (PSA: The Ringer is THE BEST show on television right now. Please don’t judge me for watching the CW.) and some baking for this week’s work bake sale (proceeds go to the food bank … the recipe is awesome, I’ll be sharing it soon!). Oh, and of course some wine and cider on the patio while we enjoyed 70 degree weather! I love springtime in Cleveland.

Cider tastes better on the patio.

All in all, it was the perfect weekend in Cleveland. Hope you all a great weekend as well – and are off to a great week!

Marathon Training: Week Thirteen Recap

Lucky number 13. This week was week thirteen of Cleveland marathon training – and even included a long run on Friday the 13th (no, it wasn’t 13 miles).

This week’s training called for Tuesday: 4. Wednesday: 9. Thursday: 5. Saturday: 18, for a total of 36 miles. We stuck to the mileage but I ended up moving the days around some to fit in work schedule, happy hours and other commitments.

Monday: 5 –  Not a bad pre-work run. Had to travel to Columbus for a work meeting that day (meaning an extra 5 hours to my commute) and knew I needed a run to get me ready for my long day.

Tuesday4 – B and I had planned a post-run work together for our scheduled 4 miler, but the weather was gross out so I hit the dreadmill for the first time in months. Luckily I had my fun. playlist and some TV to watch to make the run go by smoothly.

Wednesday: 9 – Post-work run with B. The only way I could describe it was one of my new favorite words – Meh. It’s been a busy few days at work, so after an 11+ hour workday, 1.5 hours of running was the last thing I felt up to. Nonetheless, B and I made it out around 7:30 and were home by 10 p.m. for dinner.

Friday: 18 – That’s right, 18 miles!! It was just B and me running this Friday, instead of Saturday, due to a thunderstorm-filled forecast for Saturday and half-day service event scheduled. It finally hit me how far we were running when I figured out the timing – we were going to be running for three straight hours. THREE hours. We did two of our Wednesday night 9 mile route and after, I was SO SORE. I have never been in as much pain from a running workout – I’m going to have to figure out how to keep going, and stay a little pain free, for another 8 miles on race day. Only one more longer long run for training (20 miles) before we taper!

Today, Sunday, I managed to do the elliptical for 45 minutes to loosen my legs. My body is no longer sore but my left achilles tendon is still in pain. I’m wondering if I should skip next week’s mid-week long run and stay with “short” (4-5) miles during the week to keep up the running but help with the recovery? Anyone have any ideas?

A special shout out and good luck to all those running Boston TOMORROW! Best of luck as you race it up Heartbreak Hill and pass my alma mater, Boston College, cheering you on. In honor of Marathon Monday (a.k.a. Patriot’s Day, or the most fun day if you live in Boston), I leave you with an old photo of me and my roomies cheering on the Boston Marathon runners my freshman year at Boston College! I NEVER would have thought back then that I’d be training for a marathon 8 years later myself.


Marathon Training: Week Twelve Recap

I have been putting off working on this past week’s recap. I don’t know why – last week was pretty uneventful and we even had a “short” long run for Saturday … but I just haven’t been feeling it. Twelve full weeks of training for the Cleveland marathon and I’m in a rut.

This week’s training called for Tuesday: 4. Wednesday: 8. Thursday: 5. Saturday: 12, for a total of 29 miles. Again I was able to stick to the mileage and days.

Tuesday: 4.11–  Another chilly pre-work run. BRR!  Thank goodness for layers.

Wednesday: 8.02 – Post-work run with B. And it wasn’t a bad run at all. We got out relatively early (before 7!) AND made it home before dark. We did the previous week’s 8-miler – the downtown, stadium, Battery Park, Ohio City route.

Thursday: 5– Post-work run with B. I was planning on waiting until after the Indians game, but it was never-ending! We finally made it out after the 14th inning. (Sidenote: the lost in the 16th) Again it was cold. Thanks goodness I hadn’t put away my spandex and ear warmers – the weather called for them both!

Saturday: 12 – Meh. It was just B and me this week and even though the weather was decent, I just wasn’t feeling it. B picked out an awesome route through the Cultural Gardens and I really couldn’t appreciate it. I ran with my eyes closed for part of the route because I was tired and not very alert. Again- meh.

Weekly Total: 29. Again, another successful week with all runs completed, but I just haven’t been feeling it. Maybe it’s the chilly weather? Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve been training for twelve weeks. Maybe it’s that my parents are no longer making the trip out to see me run the race? Whatever it is,  I hope I’m able to shake it soon, or the next few weeks, and long runs, are not going to be pretty!

Baseball Dessert Inspiration for #OpeningDay!

Today is Opening Day! While I won’t be at the game again (I was lucky to go to the Home Opener a few years ago and sit in the Social Deck), I will be dreaming of baseball and summer games – peanuts, cracker jacks, giant pretzels and beer!

To get me in the mood for baseball, I decided to bake something baseball-y. Well, I decided to, but then was tired after my 8-mile training run and went to bed. Woops! Anyway, here are some of the recipes I looked into – maybe later in the season. It’s never too late to enjoy a baseball cake pop!

Baseball Cookies and Cream Truffles (from me!)

Indians baseball cookies and cream truffles_labeled

Baseball Cake Pops (from Sweet Designs)

Baseball Cake (from Rachael Ray)

Baseball Cupcake Balls (from Kids Fun Reviewed)

Baseball Cupcakes (from Martha Stewart)

Baseball Cookies (from Fam Friends Food)

AND this amazing cake:

Baseball Glove Cake! (from Parenting)

Did you make a special treat to celebrate your Opening Day? Go Tribe!

Healthy and Easy Moroccan Chicken

Did I get your attention with “healthy and easy”? Because honestly, this recipe is SO easy, and SO healthy – I don’t make it enough!

A few years ago, my friend Ali shard this recipe with me from Men’s Health and I’ve been making it ever since, with a few modifications. It’d been a while since I last made it so I decided to make it for dinner Monday night. It was perfect – B loved it AND there was enough for leftovers for lunch!

Steamy chicken and veggies cooking

Healthy & Easy Moroccan Chicken

Here’s what you need (serves 2):

  • 4 chicken tenderloins or 2 chicken thighs
  • 1 zucchini, cut into cubes
  • 1 can (16 oz) chickpeas
  • 1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes (or two large fresh tomatoes, diced)
  • 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 – 1  tsp cayenne pepper*
  • 2-3 tsp ground cumin
  • 2-3 tsp paprika
  • box of couscous (I use Near East Parmesan)

Here’s what you do:

  1. Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat.
  2. Season the chicken with 1 tsp of paprika, 1 tsp of cumin, and salt and pepper. *If you like your chicken particularly spicy, feel free to sprinkle with some of the cayenne pepper as well at this point. (UPDATE: Thanks Estivator for asking for further clarification on the cayenne pepper)
  3. Place chicken in the pan and brown each side-  probably like 3 minutes on each side. Doesn’t need to be fully cooked at this point.
  4. Add the chopped zucchini and continue cooking, stirring occasionally.
  5. When the zucchini has lightly browned, add chickpeas, canned or fresh tomatoes, cayenne pepper and some more cumin and paprika. I like to also add about half of the juice from the canned chickpeas.
  6. Turn the heat to low and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until the chicken is tender and cooked through.
  7. While chicken and veggies are simmering, prepare the couscous according to the box’s directions.

Serve chicken and veggies over couscous. Enjoy!

Cleveland International Film Festival 2012

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! No, I’m not talking about the holidays or Christmas (but those are wonderful times of year as well) – but I’m talking about the time of year when downtown and Tower City comes alive with activity – when people who don’t normally make the trip downtown spend hours at a time strolling around – when it’s socially acceptable to sit for hours in the dark and eating popcorn. The Cleveland International Film Festival!

Each year, B and I see one or two films. This year, now that we’re finally living downtown, we got to see even more! We saw 5 total, but I would’ve loved to see a few more. One of these years we are going to get a pass and take off of work and see all the movies we want – but until then, five movies in one week will have to do. Here’s a quick review and summary of the films we opted to see. DISCLAIMER: I was not paid to see or review any of these films. I’m also not a professional film critic (far from it!) so take these as the opinions of an average mid-late 20-something female.

Superthief: Inside America’s Biggest Bank Score

Summary, from

If a Bank Burglar Hall of Fame is ever built, it has to be placed in Collinwood, OH. The Cleveland neighborhood is home to some of the U.S.’s most prolific and daring bank robbers of all time—the most famous of whom is Phil Christopher, who pulled off a bank job in Laguna Niguel, California for a record-setting $30 million in 1972. SUPERTHIEF is a documentary about the men who put together one of the most enterprising and remarkable bank burglaries of all time, as well as the men tasked with bringing the crooks to justice …

My thoughts:

Overall it was a good, entertaining film. Kind of like Ocean’s 11 meets that History Channel show, I (Almost) Got Away With it. The Northeast Ohio connection made the film even more enjoyable.  It was fun to hear from Phil Christopher himself bout how he committed the crime, the mistakes he made that got him caught, and where he is now. It was also amusing to hear from the police officers and other enforcement that were interviewed – any of them spoke very highly of him, almost as if he weren’t a convicted criminal.

My rating: 3 out of 4 stars

The Trailer:


Summary, from

SACRIFICE, an adaptation of Orphan of Zhao (the first Chinese opera to become known in Europe), dominated Chinese theaters upon its release and is sure to impress American viewers with its dramatic performances, alluring ancient Chinese scenery and absorbing Shakespearean plot. It is a complex tale of betrayals and revenge, as the jealous court official Tu Angu (Wang Xueqi) seeks to eradicate his prosperous enemies, the Zhao clan. Weaving together traps, poisons, sword fights, and all out warfare, Tu almost succeeds with his devious schemes, but the upright physician Cheng Ying (Ge You) has mercy on the infant child carrying the last remaining Zhao blood …

My thoughts:

Meh. It wasn’t a bad film – in fact the first hour or so captivated me as I got a great look into ancient China. I think any fan of Chinese films, especially those that involve fighting, would appreciate the film. I have never been a fan of the genre, however so I don’t think I’m the right audience. B enjoyed the action and I liked viewing the beautiful scenery.

My rating: 2.5 out of 4 stars

The Trailer:

Missed Connections

Summary, from

Neal is a good guy pushed too far in MISSED CONNECTIONS, a comedic romance for today’s internet savvy dating scene. He’s recovering from a gruesome breakup and a banal job, but rather than confront his problems head on, with the help of some loyal friends Neal finds the perfect distraction on the Craigslist Missed Connections page. Lonely women write posts describing details of chance encounters, a little eye contact, or a passing glance that could have been their knight in shining armor, only he got away. Now they are hoping he’s searching the same internet back pages. What could be easier than swooping in to the rescue as a woman awaits a date who you know won’t show …

My thoughts:

I really enjoyed this film. I’ve been a fan of Craigslist’s Missed Connections for years (come on, don’t tell me you haven’t scrolled through the pages just to see who was writing what, and to whom?) and it was fun to see a movie about the site. The characters were likeable, and relatable, and the plotline followed that of a predictable romantic comedy. If you’re looking for something, light, funny and entertaining, this is it.

My rating: 3 out of 4 stars

The Trailer:

Primos (Cousinhood)

Summary, from

COUSINHOOD is an American-style bromantic comedy with an added dash of Spanish cojones. It’s the story of three party dudes, loyal cousins who have each other’s backs. When thirtysomething Diego is left standing at the altar, macho Julian has a remedy for his broken heart. They begin by drowning their sorrows and dragging their cousin José Miguel to the seaside town where they grew up. A boozy summer festival is in full swing, where they revel with childhood friends and begin reconnecting with local traditions. Diego rediscovers his attraction to lovely Martina, who lives in his former house. Julian finds that his old friend is now the town drunk and the father of a sultry prostitute. José Miguel, a hypochondriac perpetually out of his comfort zone, bonds with Martina’s young son over their mutual fears. As a new day dawns for these endearing buffoons, it looks like they might be growing up in spite of themselves.

My thoughts:

You MUST see this film. If you’re looking for a hilarious, heartwarming movie that is entertaining for girls, and guys, here it is. It  had me laughing, and crying (from laughing so hard) at parts. Seriously- any film that has cute Spanish men singing the Backstreet Boys is a winner in my book. It’s the best comedy I’ve seen since Bridesmaids and I’m not just counting international films, I mean best comedy out of all movies.

My rating: 4+ out of 4 stars

The Trailer:

The Heineken Kidnapping

Summary, from

Rutger Hauer gives one of the most intense and powerful performances of his long career in this Dutch film based on true events from 1983. Hauer plays Alfred Heineken, president of Heineken International and heir to the family’s beer fortune. When Heineken gets kidnapped by four young men, he must bide his time in a small cell hoping his company and family pay the ransom. One of the kidnappers, Rem Humbrechts, has plans of his own and they involve revenge. An incredibly intense and dark crime thriller, THE HEINEKEN KIDNAPPING grabs you from the very beginning and doesn’t let go of its grip. Brilliantly directed by Maarten Treurniet, what begins as a caper film quickly becomes a film of deep-seeded vengeance. After being released, Heineken must deal with the trauma of his ordeal and the only way to get the horrors out of his head is to see them extinguished.

My thoughts:

I was pleasantly surprised with the movie (even though the word “pleasant” hardly belongs in a review of this intense movie) – I had seen a review of the film beforehand and wasn’t expecting much. Despite some slow parts, the movie held my attention and kept me on edge the entire time. I was so involved with the film, I ended up peeling off all the nail polish from my nails – that’s how insense it was!

My rating: 2.75-3 out of 4 stars

The Trailer:

Marathon Training: Week Eleven Recap

As I type this, it hits me that somehow, I have spent eleven weeks training for the Cleveland marathon. Eleven weeks. Holy cow!

This week’s training called for Tuesday: 4. Wednesday: 8. Thursday: 4. Saturday: 16, for a total of 32 miles. For the first time in a while, I not only stuck to the mileage, but also to the days I was supposed to train.

Tuesday: 4.29 –  BRR! Last week I was running in shorts — this week I had to wear spandex, gloves and ear warmers! The sudden temperature change was unexpected and did NOT feel good! I opted to run in the morning, as I had my first DCA Advocate meeting that night and knew I did not want to have to run after our meeting. Good choice – after the meeting ended at 6:30ish, a few of us hung out and networked and had a few drinks at Flannery’s. I didn’t get home until after 10 – and was not in the mood to run at that time!

Wednesday: 8.02 – Not a bad run at all. Was dreading going out, especially after how bored I had been on the last long run but it ended up being perfect weather and a great route. B picked out a new route for me and it was a great night to explore the Detroit Shoreway, Battery Park, and Ohio City!

Thursday: 4 – Post-work run with B before hitting the movies for the Cleveland International Film Festival. More on that to come.

Saturday: 16.15– Another new long run record for B and me! This Saturday morning, B, Dave and I met up for a run around downtown, Battery Park, Ohio City, the Detroit Shoreway, and east Cleveland and the Clinic. The first eight miles I felt great! Wasn’t bored, enjoyed the route and didn’t feel the need to refuel. We stopped at mile 8 to get some Gu and water and then headed back out toward the Clinic. Around mile 10 my right foot started hurting – the arch (or lack of arch) was aching and then it slowly moved up to me knees. I slowed down a bit, but when we got to mile 14 I was feeling pretty sore, but much better mentally than the week prior. We finished strong and proud of our new record.

This is what a 16 mi run looks like

Weekly Total: 32. Another great week for miles and not too much pain either. Looking forward to next week’s down week (only 12 on Saturday!) and getting nervous for the bump in mileage to come (after that we go to 18 …. and then 20!).