When I first started blogging in preparation for the Boston Marathon, I talked a lot about being nervous about the downhill. The opening stretch of the marathon is a 4-mile downhill which is one of the reasons it is such a hard course. The NYC Marathon also has quite a few downhill stretches. Although there are many more hills in everyday training here in Raleigh than there were in Madison.
While descending feels easy aerobically, each step is actually triggering muscle-damaging eccentric contractions in the quadriceps and lower legs. When running on level ground, these muscles shorten as they fire; on declines, they elongate while under tension as they work to control your speed. This creates more microtears in each fiber which stimulates muscle growth but leaves you fatigued and sore.
Even if you aren’t training for a hilly race, you can benefit from incorporating regular downhill running into your routine. You will be able to run faster with less effort. You can practice downhill running through either focused repeats or an extended run on a hilly route. But choose your hills wisely. Extreme grades (like 20% drops) increase the impact too much and increase the risk of ankle, hip and knee injuries. Look for a gradual slope of no more than 8%.
And don’t forget about your form. Don’t look at your feet when running downhill. Instead, pretend you have a grapefruit nestled between your chin and your chest–this keeps your gaze 10-15 meters in front of you and your posture upright. Engage your core and lean forward slightly from the ankles.
So, tonight I had so much fun going to dinner with a friend from Tech I hadn’t seen in forever! Well, forever is extreme, but I hadn’t seen her since graduation! We were gym rats together in Blacksburg. That’s how we met. And now we live like 10-15 minutes away from each other in Raleigh! So excited! We will definitely be having more frequent dates so that we don’t have to close the restaurant down every time catching up. And she introduced me to this restaurant Sassool which has amazing, amazing food and their dessert case looked amazing! Because I had turned down dessert at our catered lunch at work today, I held my ground and did not have dessert tonight (another no sweets day!), BUT I did buy a piece of chocolate baklava to have tomorrow. Cheryl and I had chocolate baklava in Turkey and have NEVER seen it since! She was ecstatic when I told her I found some!
And because I completely forgot to post about our July Girls’ Night at The Yard House (which was awhile ago since we are coming up on our August Girls’ Night next week!), here are some pictures! I love these ladies, too! And I will definitely be going back to The Yard House, too! And, yes, that is a giant s’mores brownie! It looks better than it tasted, IMO.
Shawn ordered the pot pie, and it literally was larger than her head!
And speaking of catching up with friends, when I was in Milwaukee this weekend, Kim happened to be there as well cheering on her boyfriend as he competed in Nationals for the Olympic Triathlon (ummm, yeah, I am friends with some awesome people). We brunched at Blue’s Egg after his race was over and after A and I had finished our 11 mile run. Another delicious meal and wonderful catch up time with wonderful friends! I hadn’t seen Kim since before my move to NC! And that, BTW, is way too long!
And we had this awesome monkey bread appetizer that was “crunk” with it’s caramel whiskey sauce!
So, lots of catching up with friends lately and more to come this week!
Food for Thought: Bison instead of beef. With 32 fewer calories, three fewer fat grams, and five grams more protein in a three-ounce serving, bison is a very healthy beef alternative!
Quote of the Day:
“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” -Winnie the Pooh
I hadn’t made any cheesecake type dessert in awhile. So I surprised A with these Sugar Cookie Cheesecake Bars the last time he came down for a visit. They satisfied my cheesecake craving and my office RAVED about them when I brought the remaining bars in (because I was starting my no sweets challenge!). But it’s definitely a one-and-done recipe for me!
Sugar Cookie Cheesecake Bars
- 1 (17.5 oz) pouch sugar cookie mix
- 1 (4 serving size) box French Vanilla Instant Pudding
- 2 Tbsp packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup butter, melted (1 stick)
- 3 tsp vanilla
- 2 whole eggs + 3 egg yolks
- 2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, room temperature
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- ~ 2/3 cup cinnamon chips, pulverized in blender or food processor
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Spray a 9×13 baking pan with cooking spray.
- In a medium bowl mix cookie mix, pudding mix, brown sugar, melted butter, 1 tsp vanilla and 1 whole egg with a spoon, and when the dough starts coming together use your hands to knead it.
- Press the cookie dough into the bottom and slightly up the sides of the prepared pan.
- In a large bowl, using hand or stand mixer, beat cream cheese, granulated sugar, sour cream, the remaining whole egg and three yolks and 2 tsp vanilla until smooth and creamy.
- Spread the cream cheese mixture over top the cookie base.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes until center is set.
- While bars are baking pulverize your cinnamon chips in blender or food processor.
- Sprinkle on bars immediately upon removing from oven.
- Let cool on wire rack 30-45 minutes and then cover and transfer to refrigerator to continue cooling for at least 3 hours or overnight.
Courtesy of Cookies and Cups