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Half Marathon Training Update

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It’s official — I’ve run over 200 miles! I was so excited to see this when I logged into Smashrun. In my last training update, I was just over a month away from my first half, and now I have less than 30 days to go.

Monday – 4 mile run

D and I ran together on Monday.  While I had some calf pain in the first mile, it faded away after a walk break and didn’t return — which is awesome! Stepping outside felt like a sauna and it was over 80 degrees at 6 am. I’m still using 4:1 run/walk/run intervals and they’re great. I use the walking breaks to drink water, so it helps me remember to hydrate.


Wednesday – 4 mile run

I called this run Margarita Miles on Garmin Connect, if that tells you anything! We met up with friends for dinner on Tuesday night, and of course I had to get a marg (okay, two). I was a little concerned that I would start to feel terrible during my run, but this ended up being the fastest 4 mile run I’ve had in the last month (that’s even with walking intervals)! Even better, my last mile was a full 30 seconds faster than the previous mile, and over a minute faster than my first.

Saturday – 8 mile run

8 miles! My longest ever! We have company in town for the weekend, and this run had all the makings to be an absolute nightmare. Since we were all hanging out at our house, I didn’t get to bed until around 1:30 am and was up before 7 to run. My IT band was tight and sore. It was raining. My iPod wasn’t charged. I couldn’t find the right socks.

I felt slow and tired, and spent the first 3 miles planning my bail out strategy. I tried to make deals with myself, saying I could do this run on Monday since it was a holiday weekend. If I hadn’t been using the run/walk/run strategy, there is no way I would have finished this run. Slowly, things improved. I started to feel looser and less uncomfortable. I gave myself permission to extend my walk breaks if I needed to. Things started to click into place, and when I got to 5 miles and had just 5K to go I knew I would make it.

I even tried GU again! The first time I tried on on a run I swore I would never ever eat another one again. It was like warm, fruity toothpaste. Since then, I’ve stuck with the Honey Stinger gel chews, which taste great but don’t really feel like they give me a boost of energy. I picked up a Chocolate Outrage GU after a coworker of mine recommended it and it tasted like brownie batter! The texture made sense with the flavor which made it much easier to eat without getting too grossed out. If I switch to GUs, I think the non-fruity flavors are the way to go. They’re less like toothpaste, more like dessert.


Between runs, I had 2 PT appointments and tried my best to do the exercises at home. I’ve gotten better about stretching and foam rolling since I do it at night while we watch TV.

Things to work on:

  • Fueling during and after runs. I don’t have problems with the shorter distances, but I kind of felt like I had been run over by a truck after my long run.
  • Cross training. I need to work on strength training and some other form of cardio or conditioning. I’ve learned this lesson the hard way with injuries, so obviously I can’t skimp on this any longer. Maybe this is the perfect opportunity to try out a barre class!

I’m putting together a monthly training overview, that I hope to share next week. Get out there an enjoy the long weekend!

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How To Eat a Cupcake

We all know how to eat a cupcake — or do we? I’ve been eating them this way for years, but apparently it’s not that common! There’s nothing better than a cupcake sandwich, honestly. You get the perfect ratio of frosting to cake and it’s nowhere near as messy. Let’s be real, this is totally an excuse to show off my mini cupcake frosting skills — check out that rose!

Step 1: Acquire Cupcake
How to eat a cupcake | NatalieTate.com

Step 2: Bottom to Top 

How to eat a cupcake | NatalieTate.com

You’re looking at one of my favorites, by the way. These are (were) chocolate cupcakes with fresh raspberry Swiss meringue buttercream.


Half Marathon Race Day Countdown

Back in April, I got a little crazy and registered for a half marathon. I had never run farther than 3 miles, and I wasn’t sure I could — but I was determined. And did I mention crazy? Obviously I was blinded by the medal (and the promise of mimosas).

And now I’m just 30 days away from my very first half marathon! Since March 23, I have run one hundred ninety three miles. 85% of those runs have happened in the early morning, and 16 of them have happened early on Saturday mornings. I’ve registered for 5 races, and run 4 of them. I’ve been to the physiotherapist 16 times and I own 2 foam rollers and 1 lacrosse ball. I have fallen zero times (knock on wood) and tripped more times than I can count. I’ve run in 3 pairs of shoes and have put over 175 miles on my totally obnoxious neon Nikes. My longest running streak is 3 days, and my longest break was 9 days. I have run on vacation, I have run before and after work, I have run in the rain, the heat, the humidity and the dark. Most importantly, I have kept running no matter what.


See you in September, Nashville!


Half Marathon Training Update

Only 34 days until the Women’s Running Series Nashville Half Marathon! Can you believe it?

This was my 4th week of Hal Higdon’s Half Marathon Training Program and I am enjoying it way more than the plan I was using previously from Runner’s World. While I liked the idea that it was a custom plan built just for me, it was definitely too advanced with hill work, speed workouts and tempo runs. These things would be helpful for my race (uh especially the hill training), but I think attempting to keep up with that schedule is what led to my injury. It can take up to a year to build a solid running base, and I’ve been training for my upcoming half marathon only since the end of March. Sometimes I forget that it’s barely been 6 months!

I’m working on some posts that recap my training and look at my monthly progress since the beginning of training. I love using Smashrun and Garmin Connect after my runs — all that data is awesome! I’ve been keeping notes within Garmin Connect, but I wanted somewhere else that I could compile everything and look back at what I’ve accomplished.

With that being said, here’s how this week’s half marathon training went:

Monday – 8/18 – 4.5 Miles Planned/2.5 Miles Actual

Monday was a mess. My legs were still sore from Saturday’s long run and my right calf started cramping before I even hit mile 2. I stopped to stretch and walk but it just wouldn’t let up, so I ended up cutting it short. Frustrating way to start the week.

Tuesday – 8/19 – 3 Mile Run or Crosstrain Planned/ 1.8 Miles Actual


Too. Hot. We tried to run down by the river after work, thinking there would be a nice breeze. Wrong. Good news, I conquered the bridge I have been putting off since I started running — not once but twice at the beginning of our run! We threw in the towel when we realized there was no shade whatsoever.

Wednesday – 8/20 – 4.5 Miles Planned/2 Miles Actual

Yet another run destryoed by my calf pain. I even wore the world’s brightest calf sleeves in hopes they would help, but no dice. Again, a run ended in frustration.

Thursday – 8/21 – Rest/Rest

I had a PT appointment today and we worked a lot on my calves. They were super tight, not surprisingly. My right calf has a huge knot in it, which of course feels wonderful when you apply pressure.

Friday – 8/22 – Cross Train

I spent some time at the gym after work going through my PT exercises and stretching and I walked for a mile on the treadmill to get an idea of my ideal walking pace. (This will come in handy on Saturday!)

Saturday – 8/23 – 7 Miles Planned/7 Miles Actual

Half Marathon Training | NatalieTate.com

This was one of my best runs in a long time! Not only was it my furthest distance yet, but it also included my fastest 10K! I was a little apprehensive going into this run because of the heat (it was almost 90 degrees when I finished) and humidity, and while it was miserable I still managed to finish in one piece. I was 90% pain free, and it’s the best I’ve felt since I started having hip/knee troubles in July. No calf pain, either! I have Jeff Galloway to thank for a lot of this — but more on that later.

Sunday – Rest Day Planned/Rest Day Actual


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Chocolate Chip Espresso Cookies

Espresso Cookies | NatalieTate.com


The first time I made (and photographed) these cookies was last summer, when I was looking for something to take to a pool party. I knew I wanted to do something other than traditional chocolate chip, but I didn’t have much time to whip up something fancy. Enter — Joy the Baker’s Cappuccino Cookies. I’ve been reading Joy’s blog for years, and her recipes never disappoint!

I’ve made these cookies so many times since then I could probably make a batch in my sleep. They’re just that good.

You’ll love these because they’re simple and you don’t have to chase down vanilla bean pods or organic poppyseeds or whatever is trendy right now. These cookies are also thin and crispy, which is a nice change of pace from the thick, half raw cookies that have taken over Pinterest.

Chocolate Chip Espresso Cookies | NatalieTate.com

This recipe makes a LOT of cookies. I usually use a mini scoop for my cookies, so I end up with 35+ cookies from a single batch, which makes this recipe perfect for parties and giveaways!

Below is my recipe for Chocolate Chip Espresso Cookies, which I adapted from Joy’s original Cappuccino Cookies. (I wonder, at what point does a recipe move from a copy cat to an adaptation to an original?)

Espresso Cookies
Adapted from Joy The Baker's Cappuccino Cookies recipe, this thin and crispy cookie features a rich espresso flavor and lots of mini chocolate chips.
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (I use Rodelle's Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract, it's one of my favorites!)
  • 2¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 heaping tablespoons instant espresso (I have used instant coffee powder as well as just regular ground coffee. I like the rich flavor of instant espresso the best, but you may find you prefer something else.)
  • 1 - 1½ cups mini chocolate chips
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt and instant espresso powder. You can also use the whisk attachment of your stand mixer with the speed on low.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fit with a paddle attachment, beat together butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes, scraping with a spatula as necessary. Add the egg, egg yolk and vanilla extract and beat on medium speed until mixture is fluffy again, about 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. Stop the mixer and add the dry ingredients to the butter and egg mixture. Beat on low or 'stir' speed until just combined. Stop the mixer again and add the mini chocolate chips. Fold together with a spatula until well combined.
  4. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30-45 minutes. Refrigerating the dough allows the flavors to combine and keeps your dough from overspreading in the oven.
  5. Just before you’re ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  6. Scoop your chilled cookie dough by the heaping tablespoonful (or use a cookie scoop) onto the prepared baking pans. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until lightly browned around the edges. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet for 8-10 minutes. Then move cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Cookies will become even more crisp as they cool.




Women’s Running Series Nashville Half Marathon

I can’t believe I’m just over a month away from my first ever half marathon in Nashville! It has been a challenging 5 months of training. I’ve had victories and setbacks, I’ve learned quite a few things the hard way (cross-training is not optional!!), and I still have a lot to learn. Good news, I really enjoy running and I don’t see myself stopping after my half marathon. Okay, maybe for a week or two, but I already have another race on the books!

Luckily, I started training in the spring which was a blessing and a curse. It allowed me to fool myself into thinking running outside was gorgeous and fun — and it totally is until summer gets here! We’ve had a relatively mild summer compared to previous years (until this week), but I have been completely and totally miserable for the last few months. I’m just glad I started running before it was hot or else I probably would have quit right away! Heat is one thing, but humidity is absolutely brutal. Not to mention I’ve never been the world’s best at staying hydrated. I have a great hot weather running wardrobe now at least! I’m not sure what I’ll do when winter gets here, but we’ll figure that out (Nike Outlet, anyone?).

Back to the race – I chose the Women’s Running Series Nashville Half Marathon because it was 6 months away at the time and it was within driving distance of home. I also love Nashville and will use anything as an excuse for a weekend trip! Apparently even a 13.1 mile run. (The medal looks amazing, if that helps.)

Women's Running Series Nashville Half Marathon

Looks great, right? Funny thing is, they neglected to include an elevation chart on the course map. (I should have guessed it was for a reason.) As I heard horror stories about the hills from friends who ran the St. Jude Country Music Marathon in April, I realized I may have underestimated the course.

So naturally I manually mapped out the course on Garmin Connect so I could see exactly what to expect in September. You guys, considering my average run sees a 30 foot elevation change, this is terrifying.

Women's Running Series Nashville Half Marathon Elevation

Goals for 2014? Finish. Preferably without crawling, crying or puking. I’ll come back in 2015 for a redemption race if I have to!


Who wants Margarita Cupcakes?

You heard me — margarita cupcakes made with the real deal. These are totally boozy and definitely delicious. When I set out to make margarita cupcakes for a friend’s birthday, I had a hard time finding a recipe that actually incorporated tequila. I used Centenario tequila and fresh lime and they were a total hit. There’s tequila in the cupcakes, on the cupcakes and in the frosting. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.



I used a combination of recipes, and I’m still perfecting this one before I share it here. If you’re interested in making these for yourself, I recommend The Brown Eyed Baker’s margarita cupcakes recipe and Confections of a Foodie Bride’s margarita cupcakes, both of which are excellent. They also stayed away from the box cake mix, which I love! This is such a delicate flavor that the artificialness of a boxed cake mix would totally overpower.

If you have a favorite margarita cupcake recipe, please share it here! Surely I’m not the only one who loves boozy desserts, right?



The Kitchenaid Queue

Kitchenaid Queue | NatalieTate.com

Does anyone else keep a wishlist of kitchen projects? You know what I mean, all those things you’d bake (or cook!) if you just had the time. I keep a huge ‘to be baked’ list on my Pinterest and here are a few that are in my Kitchenaid Queue right now…

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies from Sally’s Baking Addiction – Hellooooo pumpkin! No, it’s not fall yet. Yes, it’s okay to start baking fall-themed desserts. Rumor has it these are soft and chewy rather than dense and cakey like pumpkin cookies typically are. I bought a can of pumpkin at the store on Monday and you better believe these are the first thing I’ll be baking when I get the chance! (Also Sally’s blog is adorable and I’ve had wonderful success with her recipes so please do take a look.)


Champage Marshmallows from BraveTart – Also on my list now that I own a Kitchenaid are marshmallows. Even better, marshmallows with champagne in them! I haven’t managed to pick up a candy thermometer yet, but once I do I’m pretty sure we’ll be up to our eyeballs in marshmallows. The serving size just for this recipe is “about 100″. Bring it on.


Also on my list: How to Make Sprinkles featured on The Kitchn by BraveTart I mentioned this recipe/tutorial in yesterday’s post about my love of sprinkled sugar cookies and I can’t wait to give it a try. I’m thinking maybe some ombre sugar cookies? Or maybe ombre sprinkle cupcakes? Is ombre totally over? Hope not!





The search for the perfect sprinkle cookie recipe

When I set out to make my dream sugar cookie, I had a picture in my mind of exactly what I wanted.When I lived in Los Angeles, we lived just down the street from Factor’s Famous Deli. Factor’s is a landmark deli that has been open in West LA since 1948. They’re famous for their corned beef but what I really loved about that place was the sprinkle cookies. Other than being covered in sprinkles and the size of my face, they weren’t anything extraordinary. But they were my favorite.

Sprinkle Cookie Recipe

I haven’t quite found the perfect sprinkle cookie recipe yet, but these aren’t too bad! These cookies very soft and pillowy (They’re also pocket-sized rather than face-sized). Very much a cake-like cookie rather than a chewy, fudgy cookie. The non-sprinkle cookies below (how’d that happen?) are from a different recipe. Still cake-like and fluffy, but with a touch of almond.

Sprinkle Cookie Recipe 2

Sidebar: Did you know you can make your own sprinkles? These cookies aren’t topped with homemade sprinkles but that is definitely on my ‘things I want to make a mess trying’ list. Have you ever heard of Sprinkle School? Is there such a thing as too many sprinkles? I think I have a sprinkle cookie problem.

Sprinkle Cookie Recipe 3

 I haven’t quite cracked the sprinkle cookie recipe secret, but these disappeared pretty quickly so I’d say they were enjoyed. They also kicked off my summer of baking! I can’t wait to share more of what I made this summer — and hopefully I’ll have some completely original recipes to share with you soon. And of course, the moment I recreate those Factor’s sprinkle cookies you’ll be the first to know!

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Summer Reading


There’s just something special about summer that makes me want to spend the entire day reading. Partly because it’s hot and I’m feeling lazy, but also all the good books come out just in time for vacation time! Below is a sample of what I’ve been reading this summer:

Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan —
I read this book while we were on vacation in Florida and it was quite a read! Honestly, I sped through so much of it because I was just fascinated by the characters lives (and the outlandishness of it all), but I was not a fan of the ending. THE TWIST! Thanks for setting it up perfectly for a sequel Kevin.

The Shining GIrls by Lauren Beukes —

“THE SHINING GIRLS is a masterful twist on the serial killer tale: a violent quantum leap featuring a memorable and appealing heroine in pursuit of a deadly criminal.”

Definitely a mishmash, we’ve got time-travel, serial killers, romance, etc. I’ve heard it compared to Gone Girl, which I thought was 20x better. Even so, it’s full of twists and turns and I zipped right through it!

The Lost Art of Mixing by Erica Bauermeister —

I didn’t realize this was book 2 of a series, so I may have appreciated this book more if I had read the first one. It’s a beautiful, lyrical book and a wonderful change of pace after all of the wicked books I’d been reading. The stories are woven together wonderfully and it is just plain sweet.

Eating in the Light of the Moon by Anita Johnston, Ph.D —

I read this book for work and it is extremely powerful. If you’re a woman who has ever struggled with body image or food (and really, who hasn’t?), you need to read this book ASAP. Her use of metaphors and storytelling is incredible, and if you ever have the chance to see her speak in person you must go!

The Bling Ring by Nancy Jo Sales —

This was the most perfect beach read for Florida! You may have heard of the show Pretty Wild, which aired on E! a few years ago. You may also have seen this clip from The Soup, which highlights one of the more bizarre scenes from the show (which also happens to include the author of the book!) In this case Nancy Jo tells the ‘real story’ behind the group of teens accused of robbing celebrities in the Hollywood Hills. Honestly, it’s a sad story. These kids are a mess. It caught the attention of my younger self (who spent almost 5 years in Los Angeles), so I just had to read it. If you enjoyed (or hate-watched) Pretty Wild, you read the tabloids, or you’re a fan of a good tell-all, you’ll like this book.

The End of Everything by Megan Abbott —

Oh man, I don’t even know what to say about this book. It’s dark. It’s disturbing. It’s really really good.

That’s what I’ve been reading this summer! What about you guys?