Seeing Red

Red has always been my confidence color. It’s passionate, sexy, mysterious, and bold. It’s delicious. Would you believe me if I told you that I’ve been on the hunt for a red dress for years? Honestly though, it’s been a half-a$$ed hunt that I occasionally forget about, but I can never find a red dress when I actually want / need to wear one.

P.S. – don’t judge my silly photos please! Not only am I a horrible photographer (and can’t use my self-timer properly), but I can’t seem to properly edit these photos to showcase the beautiful red color. I did my best because I really want you all to fall in love with this dress like I have!

red dress

Of course I end up stumbling across *the perfect* red dress when I’m not searching for one. Of course. I’m not complaining though, because this sexy red lace number is now forever mine mine mine!

red dress

The uncovered lace cutouts on the sides of the dress add a subtle yet sassy touch to this classic number. I’m a firm believer in owning a little red dress to accompany that versatile little black dress hanging in your closet.

red dress

This dress is perfection. It’s an appropriate length, hugs my curves nicely without being overly tight, and shows just enough skin and cleavage to make it sexy yet sophisticated. I feel like I can conquer the world in this dress. Talk about a boost of confidence!

red dress

I’m very picky when it comes to the quality of my clothing, and scrutinize the sewing / stitching on every article of clothing I purchase. I can attest that this dress is incredibly well-made and worth every penny.

red dress

For reference, the dress appears to be true to size! I ended up purchasing a size 2 and it fits perfectly – tight on the bust and just loose enough around the bum & thighs to be comfortable without being overly tight.

red dress

♥ Irina

My Running Mantras

When I first started running back in 2011, I basically just put one foot in front of the other and pushed myself to new distances. It wasn’t until I formally started training for races, especially my first half marathon, that I discovered how necessary it was to have running mantras. I have two that are integral to my running habit.


“Run your own race”
I came across this quote many years ago and it stuck with me since. It’s so easy to get caught in the comparison trap, especially during races when people are zooming past you left and right. But the key for me has always been to focus on myself and run my own race while ignoring everyone around me. This is the reason I often run negative splits in races. I avoid going out too quickly at the start because I run my own race from the moment I cross the start line!

“You can always run 1 mile”
This is the running mantra I repeat to myself during 95% of my runs. It stems from my tradition of running 1 mile on January 1st to welcome in a healthy new running year. During particularly challenging runs, I like to repeat this phrase to myself as a reminder that, no matter what happens, I can always run 1 mile. This is especially helpful to me at the end of long runs when the final mile or two feel never-ending.

Brooks running shoes

Runners, what are your mantras?

What are your life mantras? Exercise mantras? Share away!

♥ Irina

NYC Marathon Training (Week 16)

First and foremost, GO CUBS!!! I’m not a baseball fan at all, but the Cubbies are going to the World Series for the first time in forever and I’m pumped. I bought a last minute flight home for this upcoming weekend to watch the 4th game in the Series (I’m dreaming of a sweep so there will be no need for a 5th, 6th, and 7th game)! And I’ll get to celebrate Halloween with all my friends. Two-for-one special. I simply couldn’t deal with the FOMO anymore. #yolo

Second, I updated my blog layout and I love it! If you’re reading on Bloglovin’ or Feedly, head over to my site and let me know your thoughts.

Third, I may or may not be caught up in taper madness. I keep questioning my readiness for this marathon and my shins are suddenly bothering me after last week’s 20 mile run. I know the taper is necessary for our bodies to recover and mine is clearly still recovering, but come on…cut me some slack!

Previous weeks:
NYC Marathon Training (week 1)
NYC Marathon Training (week 2)
NYC Marathon Training (week 3)
NYC Marathon Training (week 4)
NYC Marathon Training (week 5)
NYC Marathon Training (week 6)
NYC Marathon Training (week 7)
NYC Marathon Training (week 8)
NYC Marathon Training (week 9)
NYC Marathon Training (week 10)
NYC Marathon Training (week 11)
NYC Marathon Training (week 12)
NYC Marathon Training (week 13)
NYC Marathon Training (week 14)
NYC Marathon Training (week 15)

Queensborough Bridge

(Running across the Queensborough Bridge to see what all the hill hype is about. Well, it’s certainly valid…a near 1 mile climb up, which happens to fall right around miles 16-17 during the NYC Marathon. I’m scared.)

WEEK 16 (10/17/2016 – 10/23/2016)
Monday: rest
Tuesday: 6 mile run (56:42 min @ 9:27 min/mi)
Wednesday: rest
Thursday: 6 mile run (53:44 min @ 8:58 min/mi)
Friday: rest
Saturday: 12 mile run (1:45:08 @ 8:45 min/mi)
Sunday: rest
TOTAL = 24 miles

Thoughts: It’s taper time and I’m utterly exhausted. This is not encouraging, especially when 6 miles feels tough. I’m pretty sure the same thing happened last year too, so I’m not getting too hung up on it. I think it took me all week to recover from my 20-miler, and my muscles feel swollen (i.e. my jeans feel super tight and I hate it). I decided to run the tougher parts of the NYC Marathon route just to get acquainted with the route, so I ran across the Queensborough Bridge (mile 16-17) on Tuesday and the uphill part of 5th Avenue (mile 23) on Thursday. Well well well, I get it now. While the hills themselves aren’t too steep, I can only imagine what the climb will be like after running for 2-3 hours.

My legs felt exhausted during the two 6 mile runs this week. I think it has something to do with the fact that I started doing squats and other exercises ~5 times a week, because my poor quads were shot. The scab on my right knee (from last week’s brutal fall) isn’t helping either, especially because it cracks and hurts whenever I bend my knee too much while trying to stretch. The 12 mile run was awesome though, and it almost didn’t happen! I ran it at my half marathon PR pace and it didn’t even feel too intense, whaaaaat?!? It was cold and rainy and I ended up having to run at 4PM because I was volunteering in the early morning. But the weather was a blessing in disguise, pure fall bliss even with the light drizzle. I don’t know where this speed is coming from, and I probably should actively slow down since I’m tapering, but the fast (for me) pace is feeling pretty good.

I tried a bunch of new things during the 12 miler though:
– new running shoes: Brooks PureCadence 5s, which kind of gave me a blister but I didn’t hate them
– new arm warmers: HOW did I live without these?!? love love love
– iFitness belt: the same one I wore for my first half marathon

I do wish I ran my 20 miler wearing all these but alas…I have some time to decide if I’ll risk wearing them for the marathon.

♥ Irina

Pumpkin Pie Cookies (vegan, gluten-free, date-sweetened)

Soft and nutritious vegan oat cookies packed with pumpkin, raisins, cacao nibs, and walnuts. Sweetened only with dates, no added sugar! A dash of turmeric adds an anti-inflammatory kick to an already healthy cookie.

pumpkin pie cookies

It’s basically a blogger’s job to post pumpkin-based recipes, so I’m just doing my job here. You’re welcome.

pumpkin pie cookies

I was on a mission to find the perfect pumpkin cookie recipe that didn’t involve any added sugar, and my search came up short. So what’s a girl to do? Create her own of course! These cookies are my idea of perfection – they’re dense, filling, sweetened only with dates, and absolutely delicious.

pumpkin pie cookies

But turmeric is the secret ingredient here, and it’s exactly what gives these cookies a luxurious bronze/red tint. Its anti-inflammatory properties and health benefits are essentially the cherry on top of a superfood cookie. Turmeric is truly my secret weapon as a long-distance runner thanks to the antioxidants and muscle-soothing properties it offers.

pumpkin pie cookies

In other words, these cookies have it all…a true nutrient powerhouse! That means I can eat as many as I want, right?!?

pumpkin pie cookies

Pumpkin Pie Cookies
(vegan, gluten-free, date-sweetened)
Makes 12 cookies

– 2 cups gluten-free oat flour
– 2 Tbs. ground flax seed
– 1 tsp. baking powder
– 1 tsp. baking soda
– ½ tsp. salt
– 2 tsp. ground turmeric
– 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
– 6 large Medjool dates, pitted *
– 1 cup pumpkin puree
– ¼ cup almond milk
– 1 tsp. vanilla extract
– 2 Tbs. extra virgin coconut oil, melted
– 2 Tbs. cacao nibs **
– 2 Tbs. raisins
– 3 Tbs. walnuts, chopped

* If needed, soak the dates in hot water for 1-2 minutes to soften. Drain water before blending
** Alternative: use chocolate chips for added sweetness

Preheat the oven to 350°F
2.) Combine oat flour, flax seed, baking powder, baking soda, salt, turmeric, and pumpkin pie spice in a bowl
3.) Combine Medjool dates, pumpkin, almond milk, vanilla extract, and coconut oil in a blender and blend until smooth
4.) Pour the wet mixture into the dry ingredients and combine well – the batter will be sticky and wet but don’t worry, this will create soft and moist cookies
5.) Fold in cacao nibs, raisins, and walnuts
6.) Wet your hands and form batter into small balls, flatten on cookie sheet to form 12 cookies
7.) Bake for 15-20 minutes until bottoms are golden brown, and allow cookies to cool before enjoying

pumpkin pie cookies

Enjoy! Preferably with tea or coffee.

♥ Irina