Fruit ‘N’ Spice Granola and Half Marathon Prep

After all my blabbing about the Disney Princess Half Marathon, the week has finally arrived!!  This past weekend marked my last before my very first half marathon in Disney World. What better half to start with than one in which I get to dress like my favorite princess, Belle (thanks to RaceJunkie), with absolutely no shame or hesitation? I spent the weekend in nervous anticipation, trying to do all I could to prepare. Obviously that meant running 12.25 miles (phew I am tired today!), packing, getting my hair and nails done (this is my Disney running debut, I must look my best), and prepping items to take with me! My main concern was running a race away from home. Thus far, I have really only had to prepare for the BOLDERBoulder and local 5Ks, which means I can sleep in my own bed, make a nutritious, filling breakfast, and be as prepared as possible. Packing for my first major race in the happiest place on earth, however, has been a little less than a dream come true.

I’ve been collaborating with friends that have run the Disney Princess Half Marathon before to determine what I will need to bring, how I can best pack, and what I should prepare myself for. I’ve been making lists now for the last month, and it’s finally come down to the week of the event. I was most worried about the morning of the event, knowing I would need to be up around 3am for a 5:30am start time. The races need to be mostly complete before the parks open for the day, and it’s better to run earlier when the temperatures are cooler and the sun isn’t as bothersome. But what about breakfast? No restaurant is open that early, so I need to have something on hand.

Some runners I have spoken with absolutely cannot eat before a race, and can barely stomach anything during. My coworker gets horrific, gut-wrenching cramps if she eats prior to a run, and my friend becomes extremely nauseous. I, on the other hand, get the munchies like there is no tomorrow. It’s bad. After 4 miles, I start daydreaming about my impending meal, and seeing as though I will still have 9.1 miles to go, that’s not a good sign. So rather than risk it, I decided to make some delicious homemade granola to munch on beforehand for myself and my best friend and running companion.

I adapted this recipe from Self Magazine’s Fruit ‘N’ Spice Granola. I thought I would add a few more fun ingredients, and not being a fan of candied ginger, I concocted my own interpretation. It’s healthy (about 130 calories for every ¼ cup serving), delicious, and you know exactly what’s in it. Even better, making your own granola is significantly less expensive than purchasing it pre-made!

My Fruit ‘N’ Spice Granola
• ¼ cup packed brown sugar
• ¼ cup honey (I prefer Madhava Honey, made in Colorado!)
• 1 Tbs vegetable oil or coconut oil
• ¼ tsp salt
• ¼ tsp cinnamon (I prefer Vietnamese fine cinnamon)
• ¼ tsp nutmeg
• 2 ½ cups rolled oats
• ½ cup pumpkin seeds
• ½ cup almond slivers
• ½ to ¾ cup dried cherries and/or cranberries
Start by preheating the oven to 300º F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine the brown sugar, honey, oil, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a bowl with a spatula. Once fully incorporated, fold the rolled oats, pumpkin seeds, and almond slivers into the mixture.

Combine the oats to the brown sugar, honey, oil, salt and spice mixture.
Combine the oats to the brown sugar, honey, oil, salt and spice mixture.
Add the pumpkin seeds and almond slivers and mix well.
Add the pumpkin seeds and almond slivers and mix well.

Spread the mixture in an even layer on the lined baking sheet. Allow some portions to remain in clusters. Bake and stir occasionally until the oats are toasted and the granola is dry, about 25 minutes. Finally, fold in the dried cherries or cranberries (or both!) and let the granola cool. Store in an airtight container.

Spread evenly on the lined baking sheet, but leave a few clusters intact.
Spread evenly on the lined baking sheet, but leave a few clusters intact.
Add the dried fruit and allow to cool before storing in an air tight container.
Add the dried fruit and allow to cool before storing in an air tight container.

With my breakfast woes behind me, all I had to focus on was my actual physical preparation. Knowing the weather was going to be ideal for Colorado in February, I was determined that this past weekend would be my last real shot at getting some meaningful miles in before the 23rd. Saturday was slightly overcast and in the upper 40s/low 50s. I had a perfect run with everything in sync; my breathing was steady and deep, my pace was easy yet efficient, and my legs felt like they could run for days. Sunday was much warmer, approaching 70 degrees (craziness!), extremely sunny, and slightly humid (well, humid for Colorado). It was a good test for a warmer, more humid climate, like that which I will experience in Disney World. Although I wasn’t quite as on fire as the day before, I managed to get a great run in, and feel like I can conquer anything at this point.

View from my run on Sunday!  Warm and beautiful here and snowy and stunning in the mountains!
View from my run on Sunday! Warm and beautiful here and snowy and stunning in the mountains!

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