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Beautiful Places to Run in the US

One of my least favorite things to do is to run inside. Trying to keep up a good pace on a treadmill while staying motivated is so difficult, and I find myself wanting to do something (anything) else instead. When I get the chance to run outside though, I love it. Soaking in the views and enjoying the weather make running worth it for me, especially when I get to see something cool.

Here are some of the most beautiful places to run in the US.

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Yosemite National Park: This park’s beauty is hard to write about, because it actually leaves me speechless. The looming, sentinel like mountains with waterfalls like spider webs make you feel tiny and insignificant, and from the distant rush of water to the wildlife that inhabits the park, this place is peaceful but never quiet. It’s distinctly alive, vibrant, and breathtaking. There are plenty of trails throughout the park, with plenty of variety in difficulty and scenery that everyone can enjoy. No matter where you are in this park, you’re sure to see something incredible.

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Flat Irons Vista Trail: Colorado sports many beautiful views and trails, so while I think any of them would be a great idea the Flatirons Vista trail stood out to me. It’s a fairly flat loop trail with some gentle hills, so it’s more beginner friendly. It also sports some gorgeous views of the surrounding area, so this would be a great way to get your spouse or friends involved in an easy-going, scenic run. There’s plenty of wildlife to be seen along this trail, so keep an eye out and you might see something special like an eagle or bear. (Depending on the season!)

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The 606, Chicago, IL: Moving away from the natural views is a trail that unveils the urban beauty of Chicago. Completed in 2015, this trail was built on the foundations of an elevated rail that served as a passenger and freight line until 2001. It has now been converted into a public greenway, stretching for 2.7 miles with multiple access ramps along the way. The trail boasts an exclusive appreciation and view of Chicago, including artwork and events throughout the year. This would be a great spot to visit if you want to see a different side of Chicago, whether as a tourist or a resident.

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Crissy Field to Hopper’s Hands: This is considered one of the classic runs of San Francisco, and anyone can see why. With a beautiful view of the bridge and brimming bay, this trail offers a cool breeze along with it’s amazing sites. You can watch people, ships coming into the bay, and the waves hitting the beach. This is a 3.2-mile flat route that you can double back on to add some distance, so runners of any skill level can use this path. Make sure to bring a jacket with you just in case, as the wind can get a little chilly!

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Mall and Monuments Route, Washington, DC: I think it’s only natural to talk about this route considering we’re talking about places in the US. Locals suggest that you give this path a try during the fall and winter so you can avoid the tourists and get the most out of this tour. The trail is 5.7 miles in length, and offers a stellar view of all the monuments and memorials of Washington DC. It’s perfect if you’d like to take a tour of some of America’s most memorable buildings and memorials from a distance, with some nice views to go with it!

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Trail of Tears National Historic Trail: This trail is laden with meaningful national history as it shows the route that many tribes removed from their territories had to take in 1838-1839. Not only was this journey harrowing and heartbreaking, but it spans for 9 states. You can pick and choose which sites you’d like to see, but the effect that this trail has on people is poignant and meaningful. If you’re interested in learning more about the trail itself or the sites it includes along the way, you can check the National Park Service website for more information and pictures of the various sites on the trail.  

While all of these places are beautiful, there are numerous other locations all over the US that deserve just as much praise and recognition. It just goes to show that there are endless opportunities to explore and see this country in unique ways. Whether you visit these or other places, I hope that you find something memorable and worthwhile on your run!

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Sweet Potato Casserole with a Maple Crumble Topping #Paleo #Glutenfree #healththanksgiving

Sweet Potato Casserole with a Maple Crumble Topping

This Sweet Potato Casserole with a Maple Crumble Topping is paleo, gluten-free, delicious, and will look delightful on your holiday table!

Hello from Florida!!  I’m writing this post poolside.  I did the Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon this morning.  Separate post to come on this!

Onto more important matters!  This week is…THE LAST…week of the Autumn Produce Challenge!  We’re bringing it home with Sweet Potatoes!  Let me hear it for the yams!

Sweet Potato Casserole with a Maple Crumble Topping #Paleo #Glutenfree #healththanksgiving

I figured we’re coming upon Thanksgiving and Christmas (way too quickly, if you ask me!), and you’re probably looking for some beautiful and delicious holiday dishes to adorn your tables this year.  Here’s where I come in!

Sweet Potato Casserole with a Maple Crumble Topping #Paleo #Glutenfree #healththanksgiving

You know that sweet potato casserole with all the sugar and marshmallows on top?  Yah, me too.  All too well.  And 350 calories later, I’ve finished just my little serving of sweet potato casserole.

Sweet Potato Casserole with a Maple Crumble Topping #Paleo #Glutenfree #healththanksgiving

My goal behind my version of the Sweet Potato Casserole with the Maple Crumble topping was to give you dish that’s healthy, yet still delicious enough to satisfy those family members who are the tradition-ers.  You know what I’m talking about – the family members that like their traditional dishes just the way they have always been, with all the butter, sugar, carbs, and fats included.  You don’t mess with their dishes and make them healthier.  They don’t like that.  Aunt Ronnie – I’m lookin’ at you.

Sweet Potato Casserole with a Maple Crumble Topping #Paleo #Glutenfree #healththanksgiving

But Aunt Ronnie, I think you’re going to like this one.  It is made of wholesome ingredients like yams (duh), clarified BUTTER or ghee (Yep!  Still left that butter in there for ya!), pure maple syrup, coconut milk, and chopped pecans, to name a few.

Sweet Potato Casserole with a Maple Crumble Topping #Paleo #Glutenfree #healththanksgiving

Onto the nutritional benefits…as if you needed another reason to indulge in this healthy carb!

Health Benefits of Sweet Potatoes

  • They are one of the best sources of Vitamin A, which is linked to cancer prevention, good eye sight, and anti-aging benefits.
  • They have a low glycemic index, meaning they will keep you when in a depressed state, and by keeping your blood sugar levels steady.
  • Sweet potatoes are a GREAT source of healthy, non-processed carbohydrates, which is especially perfect for you athletes out there who need to get your carbs in!
  • Double star this one!! Sweet potatoes contain magnesium, which is known to decrease stress by promoting calmness and relaxation.
  • The anti-inflammatory benefits of sweet potatoes are REAL all thanks to the high levels of  Vitamin A and E!
  • Sweet potatoes provide a great source of fiber to help you keep a healthy digestive tract!
  • High amounts of Vitamin C help with boosting immunity, and to make your skin glow and look gorgeous!

(Source: http://www.livescience.com/46016-sweet-potato-nutrition.html)

Sweet Potato Casserole with a Maple Crumble Topping #Paleo #Glutenfree #healththanksgiving

If you’ve stuck with me for this long, thank you!  It takes a lot to keep up with this rambling brain of mine.  If you’ve scrolled to the bottom in attempts to just get to recipe already, stop scrolling here!

Sweet Potato Casserole with a Maple Crumble Topping

Ingredients

  • 575-600g/1.4 lbs of sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into cubes
  • 1/4 cup full fat coconut milk, canned
  • 4 tsp maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 1 T ghee

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Boil the sweet potato cubes in water until they are soft and can be easily poked through with a fork.
  3. Drain the sweet potatoes, and use an immersion blender or hand mixer to mash them. Add in the coconut milk, 2 tsp. of the maple syrup, 1/2 tsp of the cinnamon, and the nutmeg, and continue blending together.
  4. While the sweet potatoes are boiling, you can make the maple crumble topping. In a small bowl, combine the pecans, almond flour, 1 tsp cinnamon and maple syrup. Melt the ghee and add that to the mix and stir ingredients to combine.
  5. Spread out the sweet potato evenly into a casserole dish. Cover the mashed sweet potatoes with the maple crumble topping.
  6. Place in the oven at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, or until crumble topping becomes slightly crispy.
http://www.blondeshavemorerun.com/2016/11/07/sweet-potato-casserole-with-a-maple-crumble-topping/

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Sweet Potato Casserole with a Maple Crumble Topping

Add this Sweet Potato Casserole to your holiday table!  It’s a winner!

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Runner's World Half & Festival 2016

Runner’s World Half & Festival 2016

This is bit overdue, but I wanted to tell you about my latest half-marathon experience at the Runner’s World Half & Festival in Bethlehem, PA two Sundays ago. I’m hoping by the end of this post I’ll have convinced you to sign up for 2017’s race series.

Runner's World Half & Festival 2016

Let me preface this with full disclosure.  This is my hometown race, and for that reason alone I’d likely brag up and down about it to you guys.    But I truly believe this is an amazing race.  It is so well put together and organized.  And, I mean, it’s hosted by Runner’s World and sponsored by Altra, so you know it’s going to be over-the-top!

Trail Run with Altra

For starters, this is a whole weekend event starting Friday afternoon with a 3.8 mile trail run. I did the trail run last year, but opted out this year.

Last year I was part of the Runner’s World Influencer’s Group at the race, so I got the full experience of all the seminars and races.  This year however, the influencers group was no longer a thing, so I went as a regular ole runner.  On the downside, I didn’t do the trail run or any of the seminars or pasta dinner like I did last year!  I pretty much only did the half-marathon.

Runner's World Half & Festival 2016

Seminars

Seminars, you say?  Yes!  Free seminars all weekend long.  Before the trail run on Friday, you can attend Trail Running 101 with Altra.  On Saturday, after the 5K and 10K, there’s seminars all day long.  Some seminars are with Bart Yasso himself!  There’s a whole seminar on how to run the RW Half giving you sneak peak tips and strategies for this hilly, vicious course.

There’s seminars on injury prevention, the female runner’s body, and running technology.  There’s also several yoga sessions on Saturday after the morning races.  Saturday evening wraps up with a Happy Hour followed by a Pasta Dinner with the Runner’s World editors.  I went to this last year with the influencer group, but did not get to it this year. 🙁  This you do have to pay for, but based on last year’s experience, I’d say it is worth it!

The Half-Marathon

Sunday AM kicks off with the half-marathon at 8am sharp!  I made sure to meet up with my friends for a pre-race picture before the torture ensued.

Runner's World Half & Festival 2016

The Course

Let’s first talk about where this race takes place.

Runner's World Half & Festival 2016

As I said, it’s in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, home to Bethlehem Steel, the second-largest steel manufacturer in the country.  Bethlehem Steel was of huge economic value in Eastern PA by employing tens of thousands of people.  Bethlehem Steel made steel for our skyscrapers, bridges and even the U.S. Navy.  Bethlehem Steel played a big role during the times of World War I and II.  After 120 years of operation, the Steel closed its doors in 1995, and left many people unemployed and families devastated.

Runner's World Half & Festival 2016

It has since been preserved, and around 2010, buildings were constructed around the old run down factory to create a large campus that now devotes itself to the arts and entertainment.  Meanwhile, the Bethlehem Steel stands tall in the background as a reminder of the town’s rich history.

Runner's World Half & Festival 2016

This place holds somewhat near and dear place to my heart since my hardworking grandfather, who is no longer alive, used to work there.  Starting and finishing the race right in front of the stacks always puts a little flutter in my heart and smile on my face.

Holy Hills!

You better be eating hills for breakfast, lunch, and dinner to prepare you for this race.  There is hill after hill…after hill…after hill.  And just when you thought “That had to be the last hill,” you turn the corner, and there’s another damn hill!  If you know Bethlehem, you know it’s a hilly town.

However, I did not train seriously for hills and I survived. Did I thrive up those hills?  No!  By all means, no!  But I made it.  You’re butt and legs are just going to seriously hurt for the next few days.

But if you like a challenge, this race is for you.

Runner's World Half & Festival 2016

On the bright side, the town of Bethlehem is absolutely beautiful!  The course takes you through the beautiful campus of Lehigh University, quaint and adorable Main Street, through gorgeous tree-lined streets.  During this time of year when the leaves are changing color, you can’t ask for better scenery on a race.

One of my favorite things about this race, which might seem silly to some, is running under the arch of fire at the end!  I mean, how badass is that?!

Runner's World Half & Festival 2016

My personal experience in this year’s race was not a great one.  There was no PR, unfortunately.  This was my first time trying to run with a pace group.  I really wanted a finish time of 1:55, since last year I was around 1:56, and I hadn’t done a whole lot of speed training this year.  I stayed with my pace group the whole time up until about mile 6 or 7.  I think around there, there was a monstrous hill that just really did me in and had me slowing down.  Around mile 9-10, I started getting sharp arch pain that would shoot up my inner ankle with each step.  I walked/ran the last 3 miles, and still finished in under 2 hours. I was practically limping after crossing the finish line, so I’ll take it!

Runner's World Half & Festival 2016

Your Top 5 Takeaways from the Runner’s World Half & Festival should be..

  1. Everything is SO well organized and on-time.  The whole festival from start to finish is well-staffed with people who are so helpful and friendly, and they ALL know what’s going on!
  2. Meet Bart Yasso – He is always around at the expo, seminars, and he’s there pumping you up on race morning.  The man is a running expert.  Why not take one of his seminars and learn from the best?
  3. Beautiful Fall scenery with a rustic, historical backdrop.
  4. Challenge yourself with a notoriously hilly (but by no means undoable!) course.
  5. Go to the infamous Billy’s Diner for brunch afterwards. You can thank me later.Runner's World Half & Festival 2016

Reserve your spot now for the Runner’s World Half & Festival 2017!

Runner's World Half & Festival 2016

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