WIAW #26: Birthday Edition

This past Friday was my 22nd birthday.  I spent most of the day relaxing, doing what I wanted (worked out, read, etc.), and tried to ignore wedding planning stuff for just one day (though that turned out to be completely unavoidable).  When Jesse got home from work (with these in his hand:)

he took me out to dinner in La Crosse.  We had a really fun time (it had been quite a while since our last date night) and the food was absolutely amazing.

For today’s What I Ate Wednesday I’m sharing what I ate the day of my 22nd birthday.

**if you’d like to join in, just head over to Jenn’s beautiful blog!

The food journal below was what I ate on Friday, May 25th
A “*” by a food means that it’s organic.

7:00 a.m. 

Overnight Oats topped with fresh *strawberries and almond butter!

Morning Snack:
10:30 a.m.

I mixed together a ‘batch’ of Kristin’s Peanut Butter Protein Goo and used it to top a brown rice cake.  There was a little extra so naturally I ate it up with a spoon.  Not too pretty to photograph but deeeeelicious.  I’m thinking I should try it on apple slices next.

1:15 p.m.

For lunch I had a gigantic salad (*romaine lettuce, *spinach leaves, lemon pepper chicken, tomatoes, *carrots, sunflower seeds, and *caesar  dressing) plus some watermelon on the side.  ’twas delicious and very filling!

Afternoon Snack:
4:15 p.m.

After my run and ab workout, I snacked on an *apple, masa crackers, and tropical trail mix (last two are from this month’s Naturebox).

7:30 p.m.

Jesse took me out for a (very) nice birthday dinner, and I happily indulged.

First, red pepper soup and a slice of bread.  We were both super hungry when we got there and these disappeared quickly.

I ordered a glass of Moscato D’Asti to sip along with my meal.  Delicious as always, this stuff is just like candy.

Then it was time for our meals.  Jesse had a combination of shrimp, steak, and chicken with sides of roasted mixed vegetables and mashed sweet potatoes.

…sorry for the dark/creepy pictures…

I ordered the spinach and mushroom ravioli.  It came on a bed of caramelized veggies with sides of roasted veggies, mashed sweet potatoes (wow, good.), and quinoa in a broiled tomato.
I can’t even explain how delicious this all was.

And finally, it was my birthday, so of course we were having dessert!  We each ordered something to share (typical for us when we order dessert, though that’s pretty rare, I like to bake my own dessert usually :)

We ordered the Flourless Chocolate Cake and Fried Bananas.

Trust me when I say there was hardly anything left behind.  Jesse made me eat the last couple bites of the chocolate cake, too.  Isn’t he the worst?

This was, by far, the best birthday dinner of my life. so far. :)

Half Marathon Race Recap

Yesterday I ran my first ever half marathon.
Before getting to what it all means to me, I’ll first share the details of the day…

Sunday morning started with a 4:12 a.m. alarm.  I set out my clothes/bags/necessities the night before so I just had to get myself ready and make my breakfast to eat in the car ride.  We left our apartment at 5.

For my pre-race breakfast: 2 slices of whole-wheat toast topped with cinnamon, peanut butter, and chia seeds, plus a banana and just a tiny bit of water.  I focused on drinking a lot of water the day before and wanted to avoid drinking much the morning of the race because I didn’t want to have to pee while running (though apparently people are not shy about doing so!).  Also, I was careful with what I ate the day before and ate a breakfast that I knew settled well in my stomach for running strong.
**(if you’re going to train for a race I highly recommend that you play around with different breakfasts to find the one that’s best so that you have the best running fuel possible)

My sister gave me a notecard that she said to read the morning of the race, so before leaving that morning, and again in the car ride, I read her note.  It was a verse from the Bible, and though I won’t share it all, the main thing about it that stuck out to me was this: God will always provide me with strength and courage.  This instantly became my race motto.

We got to the starting line/area at about 6:20, the perfect amount of time to put on the rest of my gear (watch, armband/ipod/earbuds, etc.), use the bathroom, find my family that came to watch (plus take a few pictures, naturally), and find my right place in the starting line.

At 7a.m. the National Anthem was sung and then the race began!

I knew I had to take things slowly at the beginning–if I didn’t make sure of this I don’t know what would have happened.  My goal for the race was ultimately to run the entire thing but also to get under 2 hours.

My playlist for the race:

The first couple of miles were great!  I kept my pace under 9 minutes but over 8:30 (aka meeting my plans exactly) and was feeling pumped up but focused.  I just couldn’t get over the fact that I was currently running a half marathon.

Miles 4-6 were tough.  The sun was beating right on us, the wind was right in our faces, and the hills were a major challenge.  I really didn’t do any training with hills (a little incline on treadmill runs, but nothing major), so I wasn’t prepared for this as much.

My on-the-spot plan however was to really push up the hills and then relax going downhill, hoping the fact that it was downhill would pay off for me.  I was still getting under 9-minute miles despite the hills!

At mile 6, my sister (thank you, Brooklyn!) ran me some Clif Blocks (I ate 2) and a sip of water.  I walked a little here to chew but started jogging again as soon as they were swallowed.  I was tired but seeing my family definitely motivated me.

My Ipod randomly froze during mile 6 so that was a little bit of a pain to deal with, but it actually distracted me for a lot of the mile and didn’t affect my time much.

Getting to mile 8 meant that we were now in town and started our couple of loops before the final stretch to the finish line–knowing this made me feel like the worst must be over with….wrong!

Mile 9 was the worst mile of the race for me.  I felt just exhausted, we were in an area where there was no crowd/cheerers, and the wind was really blowing at us again.  This was the only mile that I didn’t run under 9 minutes and instead was 10:22.  Whoofta.  When I saw this at mile-marker 10 I told myself to kick.it.in.gear. and pushed my pace back up to under 9 minutes.  I hard worked too hard to slow it down now!

The last 3.1 miles were pretty good.  I had just seen my family again for the last time before the finish line (SUCH a major motivator!!) and after the 11-mile mark I was creating a PDR with every step I took.

A few random people in the crowd along the way made me feel good too—one woman had a sign that read “Yesyou can do it!”, another woman said there was only one mile left and I came too far to not push through it hard (amen!!), and another man complimented me on my smile. haha.

Once I saw that finish line though I instantly got chills.  I was about to do something I never thought I could ever do.  Complete a half marathon…

I had reached the crowds near the finish line, could hear the celebratory music, spotted Jesse, and my tired body just couldn’t hold in the emotions anymore.

I started tearing up, and as I crossed the finish line, the clock read 1:56.  Tears were running down my face and I was gasping for air.

Official Chip Time = 1:56:10

After stopping and shaking out my legs a bit, I grabbed a bottle of water and as many race(food) freebies as I could hold.  I was scanning the crowd to try and find my family plus working to compose myself, and once I found them the emotions did not slow down.  I gave my sister a big hug,

Jesse a long emotional hug,

and followed suit with my aunt, uncle, and cousins that were there for me.  I heard a few “I’m so proud of of you”s and I cannot explain to you how much those words and their support meant to me at that moment.

I quickly drank a bottle of water and snacked on a banana, apple slices with pb, and some baby carrots.  I did get some cramping in my feet but other than that my body felt great (just hungry soon after :)

I could not have asked for any part of this whole race to have gone any better.  I feel so blessed.


Anyone who knows me would remember these phrases coming out of my mouth, most of them at more than one occasion….
Some people just aren’t runners…I’m one of them!
A marathon?  Only crazy people run marathons.
I don’t understand how running could ever be fun unless I’m chasing a tennis ball to swing at or preparing to catch a fly ball.
I could never be a runner.

This list goes on.

For a year and a half now, I’ve been running at least a couple days every week.  I ran my first race (5K) in June 2011, a 4-miler later that month, and another 5K in October, and even then I didn’t think I could run 13.1 miles.

I’m not sure how or when this became a dream of mine, but for over 3 months I trained hard specifically for this race.  In fact, training for this half marathon was honestly one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life.  I was challenged every single week and I learned things about myself during each run.

Was I nervous for the race?  You bet.  But was I confident that I had trained well to do it and achieve my goal?  You bet.

If you’re wondering why tears were running down my face as I crossed the finish line of this race, it’s because this was the one of the greatest accomplishments of my life.  I did something I always said I could never do.

If I, Danica Louwagie, could run a half marathon, I promise you not only can I accomplish anything else I set my mind to, so can you.  This wasn’t luck.  This didn’t happen because I’m “lucky to be a runner” or “lucky to have a body that can take me that far.”  Yes, I’m blessed with these things, but I didn’t just sit on my couch and eat junk food, then one day decide to run 13.1 miles.  I had to work hard to make this happen.  I finished a half marathon (and in under 2 hours) because of my dedication, hard work, perseverance, and confidence.  This, my friends, is what this race means to me.  I am very proud of myself.

I Did It :)

Today, I ran my first ever half marathon.

And I cried as I crossed the finish line.

Official Finishing Time = 1:56:10


{full race recap to come}

Workouts 5/20 – 5/26: Last Week of Half Marathon Training

This was my last week of half marathon training!  It was a great week for workouts in general and I’m resting today to be as energized as possible tomorrow morning.  I’m also focusing on eating a few extra carbs today, drinking a lot of water, and eating home-cooked foods that are healthy and I know won’t upset my stomach.  In 22 hours I’ll be running my first ever half marathon!!

Miles I’ve Run so far in 2012 –> 189

Sunday, May 20th
5 minutes of this rotation: 20-second plank, 5-second rest
**holy shoulder burn!!
This arm workout, the ab workout (click on the picture for the link), then repeated!

{pin it}

{pin it}
*I subbed in supermans for the planks since I already did them at the beginning of the workout
**definitely made my abs sore!!

Monday, May 21st
3-mile Run (25:42)
5-minute Walk
softball game

Tuesday, May 22nd
Jillian Michaels’ Yoga Meltdown Video (level 1) 35 minutes
this upper body workout (twice through)
{pin it}

Wednesday, May 23rd
4-mile Run (35:03)
30-minute Walk

Thursday, May 24th
active rest day…
a couple hours of walking around the mall/shopping
40-minute Walk after dinner

Friday, May 25th
Jillian Michaels’ Yoga Meltdown Video (level 1) 35 minutes
this upper body workout:

2-mile Run (17:50)
Ab workout just like Sunday’s

Saturday, May 26th
rest day!

Birthday Breakfast (overnight oats recipe! *dairy free)

Good morning!

Today, I’m going to take a break from all the wedding planning and packing up this apartment to just enjoy my day.  You only turn 22 once after all.

I’m not sure if I can actually afford to do this taking the day off from wedding planning?  But I’m going to try because to be honest, I’m getting a little tired of wedding planning.  Yes, I said it…I. can.not. wait. until the weekend of the weekend, but man, this planning stuff is so exhausting and overwhelming!
Anyway–it’s a day to be a little selfish and just relax.  That’s what birthdays are for right? ;)

This morning for breakfast I had a big bowl of overnight oats topped with almond butter and, my favorite fruit, fresh strawberries.

Overnight oats are pretty new to me–I only tried them for the first time about a month ago.  I ate oats for breakfast almost every morning all winter long, and now that the weather is heating up I’m loving having cool, chewy oats for breakfast.  Here’s the recipe I’ve finally “perfected.”

**Feel free to play around with the ingredients–there’s a lot of room for mix-ins and substitutions!
**Using cow’s milk, soy milk, or coconut milk should all work well in this recipe as well–just use whatever it is that you drink!
**Eliminating the protein powder won’t negatively affect the taste of the oats, you may just want to add a little less milk…..if you’re using protein powder, any variety will work just fine

Dairy-Free Overnight Oats


  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 scoop vanilla SunWarrior protein powder
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • a dash of nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice, and ground cloves
  • cinnamon to taste (I use about 1/2 a tablespoon)
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk + more for the morning


1.  Combine all of the above ingredients together in a bowl.  Mix and pat down slightly so that all of the oats are together ‘under’ the milk (don’t be afraid to add more milk if it looks a little dry).

2.  Set in the fridge to ‘cook’ while you get your beauty sleep.

3.  In the morning, take the bowl out of the fridge and add a little more unsweetened vanilla almond milk, stirring and adding milk until it’s to the thickness/creaminess of your preference.

4.  Add whatever toppings you wish!  fresh or dried fruit, nuts or nut butter, more cinnamon, nutmeg, etc., honey, granola or cereal

5.  Enjoy!


So the plan for my day?  read, workout (last {very} short and slow run before the big day! plus some strength training with an upper body focus), catch up on some blog reading, and finally tonight I’m going out for a nice dinner with my love!

Hope you all have a wonderful day!

I’ll be back tomorrow with a (most likely sentimental) post about what Sunday’s race means to me :)

Bridal Shower #3 Recap!

This past Sunday afternoon held my third and final bridal shower.

le sigh.

Sad that they’re all over, but it just means the wedding is that much closer!

Countdown = 16 Days

Crazy, right?!  Somehow my head is still attached…

Anyway, back to the shower :)

We arrived to a decorated home and lunch being set out.  This beauty was also ready for guests to dive into (not to mention some wine ;)

my aunt made this ice ring herself–thinking I better ask how!

almost my mother-in-law!

Once everyone arrived, we had lunch (my aunt made her family-famous lasagna…SO good) and then we played a few games.

Pictures are lacking from the games unfortunately but they were honestly all a lot of fun.

For one of them the guests had to determine some of my favorite things while I made up the answer key…I had to pick ONE favorite food.  Truly, that was impossible.

After games I opened gifts!  The theme of the party of kind of the old-fashioned recipe swap and that book my sister is writing in below holds a ton of recipes, plus has dividers for organizing them.  I loved it all, as I’m sure you could have guessed.

There was a catch, however.  My aunts asked Jesse some questions before the shower and as another game I had to answer these questions before receiving a gift to open.  The goal was to match my answer with his, like The Newlywed Game.
**sidenote: I love the references to “whoopie” on that show bahaha

Some of the questions had me nervous–I wasn’t sure what he would say!  If I remember right I got 16/20 right though, so not too shabby!

Then it was time for dessert.  And though I forgot to take a picture of my lunch plate, you better believe I took a picture of the dessert display.

just take it in…it’s truly beautiful…

mini cupcakes (I stood there trying to choose a couple flavors for at least 2 or 3 minutes–not an exaggeration), chocolate-dipped strawberries, plus fresh strawberries with a creamy pudding dip…

I mean it when I say everything at this shower was a lot of fun.

I’m so thankful for everyone who was there!

my grandma and i

my mother :)

I don’t know what I would do without my sister.

Two of my aunts, Meg and Annie, hosted this bridal shower.  And to the two of you–thank you  for all the hard work you put into making this shower so relaxing, fun, and memorable.  I’m so lucky to have you for aunts and I hope you know how much this whole deal meant to me.  You’re wonderful, and I love you both.

Thank you <3

Favorite game you’ve ever played at a bridal shower?

Best cupcake you’ve ever had?

If you’re married or engaged, what did/do you look forward to most about the day?

WIAW #25: Snacking While Cooking (habit)

Happy What I Ate Wednesday!

The week is about half over already…good or bad depending on how your week is going I suppose.  I’m kind of wishing time would slow down just a bit!  Can you imagine why?

Thanks, Jenn for hosting–this week is her 70th WIAW!

*the following food journal consists of my eats on Tuesday, May 22nd


overnight oats!  I cannot get enough of them lately…topped with fresh organic strawberries and a scoop of almond butter!


While I was making lunch I snacked on a few PopChips…I have a serious habit of snacking while I cook.  Not so good.

I roasted up some cauliflower and brussel sprouts and topped them with a dippy egg (Julie’s style)…Ugh I just cannot stand brussel sprouts.  I keep trying to like them because I know they’re good to eat but I didn’t even finish half of these–I just can’t choke them down.  Anyone who wants the other half of the bag is welcome to have them :)
I also had a banana with peanut butter, as you can see!

After lunch I grabbed a small handful of chocolate chips to satisfy my sweet tooth craving.

Afternoon Snack:

After a strength training session in the afternoon I was ready for a snack.  I love So Delicious (lactose and dairy free) greek yogurt (raspberry here) but it really doesn’t have much protein in it, so I mixed in about half a scoop of SunWarrior and topped it with some granola.

looks a little funky but tasted great!

i just couldn’t help myself…

I also had a grapefruit and some baby carrots.


(semi-)homemade pizza!!
Trader Joe’s whole-wheat pizza crust, tomato sauce, spinach leaves (a full layer under the cheese), cheese, tomato, and black beans

Do NOT knock the black beans on pizza until you’ve tried it–trust me.

Do you snack or munch on something while cooking?

It’s a terrible habit I need to break.

Favorite pizza topping?

any and all veggies for me, especially spinach and tomato chunks

and to my friend Hannah, if you’re reading this, Happy Birthday, girl!! :)

PB Crave and a new Upper Body Workout

Apparently I’ve been (unusually) lucky lately because not only did I win the Coach’s Oats giveaway, but I also won a giveaway on Katie’s blog for some PB Crave!

The winnings arrived today!

Packages are always exciting to open, but when I know it’s food it’s just that much better.

I was expecting 1 jar…and instead they sent me 3!!

And this isn’t just regularly delicious peanut butter, people…

Do you see this?  Peanut butter with chocolate?  with chocolate and raspberry? cookie nookie??

You should be shocked to know I didn’t open even one of these jars yet.
Due to just opening a new jar of boring plain peanut butter this morning, I opted to save these jars until after we move (in just one week)…if I can hold myself back, that is.

Thanks, Katie for offering the giveaway and thanks to PB Crave for the treat–I can’t wait to break into them!  I’m just dreaming of how amazing OIAJ will be using these…


On another note, I had a great strength training workout this afternoon.  The creation of this was inspired by a workout I did on Sunday with my sister.  Hope you like it!  And please excuse the cheesy name.

{pin it}

**While I was getting supper ready tonight Jesse told me my arms were looking more muscular.  After making sure he wasn’t being sarcastic, I graciously accepted the compliment!  Maybe these workouts I’m doing for toning really are making a difference…it’s all about the progress after all ;)

Perfect Quote for My Week

Every morning I get an email from Runner’s World with a running quote of the day.

They’re fun to read and sometimes especially motivating on the days I need to head out for a run.

Yesterday’s quote could not have been more perfect…just imagine me saying it because it’s exactly how I feel right now.

I know I can do it.
I WILL do it.

Half Marathon Countdown = 5 days!

Pics of the Day 5.21.12

Sunday was the day of my third and final bridal shower (recap to come later this week!) and between Wednesday’s and Sunday’s showers I had a lot of unpacking/organizing to do, which took up a large chunk of my morning.

This was the to-do list today started with. I got about half of them done…

Okay so this wasn’t taken today, but since I just got back home I was able to dig in to this month’s NatureBox!

Several delicious and healthy snacks were found inside, of course. I’ve tried two of the five so far and they were both so good I had to make myself put the bag back in the pantry so I wouldn’t eat it all in one sitting ;)

I recently won a bag of this Coach’s Oats Multigrain Pancake Mix from Kristin’s (fantastic) blog. It arrived today! Can’t wait to use it!

Coach’s Oats also sent me two sample bags of their famous oats…obviously I was stoked about this. Oatmeal is my favorite breakfast, as any of you who read my WIAW posts know :)

J’s mom sent him back home with these…oh boy, Melinda…

I went for a 3-mile run this morning. THIS COMING SUNDAY is my first half marathon, people!! (warning: that’ll be a hot topic in this week’s posts). I’m not sure what I’m doing this week though and I don’t know what’s best in terms of the week before a half marathon, any advice?

Today’s lunch! Turkey sandwich (with romaine lettuce and pickles) on a homemade wheat bun + fresh veggies + a smoothie

our first official wedding gift arrived in the mail today!

more driving took place…I’ve driven about 400 miles in the past 2 days I believe?

J and I had dinner at Panera Bread tonight (one of my favorite ‘quick eats’ places). I had the greek salad and the chicken noodle soup–both are some of my favorites.

This guy’s on my softball team’s shirt. He’s pretty cool, but unfortunately we didn’t win tonight…there’s always next time!

Favorite thing to order at Panera??

Any ADVICE for the last week of training before my first half marathon??