Peanut Butter Banana Bread

This morning, I got up and decided to take on the task of baking in 110 degree weather (that’s a lie; it’s actually only 85 degrees right now, but it’s basically the same).  I searched around for some recipes and stumbled upon this gem: Peanut Butter Banana Bread.

It’s no secret that I love peanut butter, so when I saw this recipe, I knew I would have to make it.

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I made some minor changes to the Cooking Light recipe, by using half whole wheat flour, an extra banana, and half the suggested amount of sugar and brown sugar.  I also didn’t have ground flaxseed, so I obviously didn’t use that, nor did I use roasted peanuts (because I used crunchy peanut butter instead).

Here is my version of ridiculously delicious Peanut Butter Banana Bread (adapted from Cooking Light, linked above):

Ingredients:
4 whole mashed ripe bananas
1/3 cup plain fat-free yogurt
1/3 cup crunchy all-natural peanut butter
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 large eggs
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose bleached flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preparation:
1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. To prepare bread, combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed. Add granulated and brown sugars; beat until blended.

3. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and the rest of the ingredients in a small bowl. Add flour mixture to banana mixture; beat just until blended. Pour batter into a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 55 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Remove from oven; cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack. Remove bread from pan; cool.

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Off to do 100-meter repeats in this hot (almost June!) sun, go apartment hunting with Diana (and then get a two-pound salad from Whole Foods…again), and then enjoy what’s left of the day.

Happy Tuesday…and enjoy the above recipe!

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Brooklyn Half Marathon Recap

It’s been a few days since the Brooklyn Half Marathon, which I ran on Saturday.  I’ve had some time to reflect on the race a little and my feelings haven’t changed one bit: it was amazing.

I got into New York around 12 p.m. on Friday and after walking through Brooklyn (where I was staying) and taking the subway to the 86th Street stop, I made it to NYRR to pick up my bib.  It was right around lunchtime and pick-up began at 1 p.m. so I expected it to be a little crazy and while there were definitely a lot of people there, it was a quick process.  Well done, NYRR.

I expected to pick up my Team For Kids singlet at this location but learned that they had mailed them out and for those who didn’t get theirs in the mail (a.k.a. me), it would be available at the Prospect Park warmup in the morning at 6:15 a.m.  I was a little bit frustrated because I knew it was going to be really hot out, so I didn’t want to wear an extra shirt and then check my bag at the race, but I also didn’t have a tank top to wear underneath, just a short-sleeved Under Armour shirt…so I had to make a quick stop in The Gap after to pick up an exercise tank to wear over to the race start and under my singlet.  A little bit of an unnecessary purchase but I’m glad I did because it was definitely warm out the next day.

I woke up at 4:50 a.m. the next morning, made coffee with my friend’s fancy French press, and then mentally psyched myself up for the race while I ate some dry cereal.  I was really, really nervous.  I probably should get over it by now, but I always get nervous before long runs and races.  Anyway.  I walked about a mile and a half to the race start and found the Team For Kids group right near the start line.  I got my very bright singlet, and tried to calm my nerves a little bit.  After a quick warmup, we made our way over to the start and just like that we were off.

The start was well-organized, based on the first numbers on your bib.  I was put in the 12th corral based on my predicted time but I think there might’ve been around 20 corrals total, and there were definitely people that moved up to my corral or others.

The race went around Park Slope in Brooklyn, with a loop around Prospect Park and then another loop in the actual park itself, before heading out to Coney Island.  I had mapped out the course beforehand so I knew where to expect the hills, and it was a little hillier than I expected in terms of number of hills, but it wasn’t bad at all.  I also anticipated the hills would be much worse than they were, so that probably helped me.  As I entered the park, a group of kids that are actually in some of the Team For Kids programs were there cheering, along with some of the team leaders, and it really made a difference going into the park.

Friday afternoon, when I met up with my former prospective roommate for lunch (and got a TWO POUND salad from Whole Foods…and paid EIGHTEEN dollars for it…and then ATE IT ALL…yeah), we agreed she’d come out to the park around the mile 6 marker and cheer me on if she was up for it.  Sure enough, around the top of all of the hills, right before the downhills, I saw Amanda there and was extremely grateful.  Knowing she was going to be there definitely helped me get through the park.

As we exited the park and headed toward Coney Island, there were more Team For Kids people cheering for me.  The route to Coney Island was straight and flat, which was easy on my legs but not too easy mentally.  I kind of like taking twists and turns to keep things fresh and interesting, but on the bright side, there were some people out cheering and I was seeing a part of the city I’d never seen before.  I also tripped around mile 8, and heard gasps behind me as I fell forward, my face leading the rest of my body into the pavement.  Somehow, though my face was undoubtedly less than a foot from the ground, I managed to stay up and my face was sacrificed, but I couldn’t help but laugh at my clumsiness.  Every time, it gets me.

Around the mile 11 and mile 12 markers, there were more Team For Kids members, which again, helped push me through to the end.  The race ended on the boardwalk at Coney Island, and as I approached the finish, I was tired but felt good.

Throughout the race, I used my Garmin to keep my pace in check, and I tried to take advantage of the downhills, but not so much that I tore up my legs.  The Garmin honestly made all the difference; there were times when I felt like I was barely keeping a 10-minute mile and I’d look down and see that I was running 8-minute miles, so I knew why I felt so fatigued and also knew to slow down.

Just to make it clear how much it helped, here are my splits:

8:46, 8:37, 8:19, 8:40, 8:44, 8:55, 8:23, 8:50, 9:07, 9:08, 8:58, 9:04, 8:00 (<– wtf)

So, as you can see, pretty much all of my splits were within 30 seconds of each other.  Which I’m really happy with.

Between the motivation from Team For Kids, my Garmin keeping me in line, and my overall feeling of strength from the very beginning (probably related to my positive attitude that I was going to go big or go home), I was able to complete all of my goals.

As a reminder, my goals were the following:

  1. Have fun with it.
  2. Run the whole thing.
  3. PR.
  4. Run a sub-2 hour half marathon.

Check times four.  I had such a good time with this race and I think a large contributor to that was the support from Team For Kids, but also the course.  I liked it a lot.  It was pretty and overall interesting enough to keep me from getting bored.

I ran the whole thing, including through the water stations.  Most of the time I ran through the station, grabbing water on my way, but towards the end with the cluster of people, I’d have to stop and grab water and continue running.  That was another thing…there was so much water.  It was great.  I want to say there was water at every mile after mile 8 or 9.  Pretty awesome stuff, especially considering how hot that last stretch got.

I also PR’d.  By a lot.  By about 9 and a half minutes…which means that my ultimate goal of finishing in under 2 hours was accomplished.

I finished in 1:57:33 officially, and I am so unbelievably thrilled about it.

The first thing I did when I got back to Brooklyn, before even going inside to my friend’s apartment was text Brenna.  Then, I told my friends I was staying with.  Then, I got a call from Diana about it.  Then my mom checked in and my friend Kerri checked in and I went to a graduation party and everyone asked about it.  The people in my life are really amazing.  Anyway, random tangent aside…

I loved the Brooklyn Half Marathon and assuming I’m still in the area, I will definitely run it again next year.  Great support (in terms of spectators and water/gatorade), wonderful course, easy to get to/from the start/finish, and overall just amazing.  It was honestly the best race of my life and made me even more excited about running and all that I am capable of accomplishing.

All I Want To Do Right Now Is Run.

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Look at what it’s like outside now.  Ridiculous.  Perfect running weather.

But I won’t.

The Brooklyn Half Marathon is in two days (!) and I want to make sure my legs are fresh.  I had heard the course was hilly, but I mapped the course out this morning, and I’m thrilled with it.

The first six miles are up and down a couple hills, but it’s nothing like Newport.  The stretch from 3.5 to 6 miles (uh…2.5 miles…yikes) will be a tough steady incline, but I can do it.  And the best part is that after that terrible stretch, the last six/seven miles are pretty much completely down a lovely little incline.  To be honest, the hills don’t really matter if you are mentally struggling and continuously putting yourself down anyway, so if I’m positive about things then it shouldn’t affect much.  So, my goals for this race:

  1. Have fun with it.  This is the ultimate goal here, especially since I am running this race for Team For Kids.  Also, this race is in Brooklyn, a borough of my favorite city in the world (okay, okay, my second favorite city in the world; London will always be first), so I need to just go out there and have fun.  I need to not stress, not get sad, not get overwhelmed or put too much pressure on myself.  I just need to go out there and enjoy it for the wonderful experience that it will undoubtedly be.
  2. Run the whole thing.  To be honest, I have no idea why I have such a problem obtaining this goal.  Well, I do know why.  It’s a mental thing.  I can go out and do training runs literally non-stop and feel amazing and on top of the world.  But for some reason, when I get into a race setting, I second-guess myself.  I would really, really like to run this entire thing (not including walking through water stations because I’m prone to tripping/falling/slipping/spilling/accidents).
  3. PR.  Again, there is no question that a PR would be wonderful.  Great and amazing.  All I need to do is run the race in under 2:06:59.  I think know I can do it.
  4. Finish in under 2 hours.  It’s go time.  Ahh, I want this one so bad.  I’ve tried to incorporate more high-intensity interval training (HIIT) since my last half, so I’m hoping this will help me.  And, per the recommendations on the running forum on Reddit, I am going to wear my Garmin for this race as opposed to just a plain old stopwatch so I can actually track my pace and not overdo it in the beginning.  Plus, I’ve realized that sometimes it feels like I’m going stupid slow and I feel like I’m dying and then I look down at my watch and realize I’m actually dying because I’m running way faster than I should be.  So.  Hopefully the HIIT combined with my Garmin and mental prowess will help me obtain this goal.

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Quick side note: I definitely thought the race started at 7:30 a.m…but just saw it started at 7 a.m.  Good thing I looked it up.

Tomorrow morning, I’m driving into Brooklyn and parking my car at my friend’s apartment, where I’ll be spending the night.  The rest of my day will be filled with picking up my race bib/other miscellaneous items, getting lunch with this awesome girl who was supposed to be my roommate back when I was planning on moving to Manhattan, and then wandering around the city for the rest of the day until my friends get home from work.  Sometimes, unemployment has its perks, and this time, it comes in the form of my having the flexibility to go into the city when I need to and not have to worry about taking time off.

After the race, I’m headed up to Worcester, Mass., for a graduation party for one of my friends from college.  I am so proud of this girl.  She literally worked 3-4 jobs throughout her time in school (3-4 at once…not over the course of four years), played a varsity sport for a couple of years, was a full-time student, and somehow managed to graduate on time, with really strong grades, and get accepted to a graduate program.  Amazing.

Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

Latest Obsessions

  1. Berries.  Now that it’s spring, the grocery stores have strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries on sale every. single. week.  It’s amazing.


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  2. Peanut butter.  Though, this obsession is nothing new, below is a recent purchase.


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  3. Insanity.  So, I’ve been doing this for the past three days and have been unable to walk all three days.  It’s hard.  I sincerely thought it was just going to be like any other exercise video I’ve tried but for real…this is tough.  And it’s definitely is making me work my legs much differently than straight long distance running.  Having to roll out of bed every morning and ease myself down the stairs has been awful awesome.  Oh, and I should also probably mention that my mom made an unprompted comment about how she could see muscle in my arms.  So I guess those pushups are paying off.


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  4. B.o.B. – So Good.  I’ll have you living life like you should, you’ll say you never had it so good.


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  5. Cake-Filled Peanut Butter Cups.  I have yet to make these and am terrified of doing so because I will presumably eat them all, but still.  Look at them.


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Hope everyone’s weekend is off to a great start!