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One of my favorite things to do in the summer is to ride bikes to our local farmers market and load up a backpack of all the fresh produce. This includes finding the brightest and sweetest berries that literally pop with sugar. This, to me, defines summer.

Also finding inspiration from the farmers market, Bruegger’s Bagels has created a special limited time Whipped Blueberry Greek Cream Cheese & Greek Yogurt spread that perfectly encompasses the flavors of summer.

I think what makes this French toast casserole so delicious is the freshness of the berries mixed with this unique spread. The addition of yogurt to the cream cheese creates a lighter texture, while also adding 4x the protein and cutting half the fat of regular cream cheese.

This sweet casserole is perfect for a relaxing Sunday brunch or even a weeknight dessert. Allowing for this dish to chill overnight gives it a much appreciated lazy and low-maintenance factor.

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Mixed Berry French Toast Casserole
INGREDIENTS:
1 1lb. (16oz.) day-old loaf of French bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (discard ends)
1/2 cup (4 oz.) Bruegger’s Whipped Blueberry Greek Cream Cheese*, softened
2 cups mixed berries (raspberries and blueberries), divided
6 large eggs
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/3 cup clover honey
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Streusel Topping:
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cubed

DIRECTIONS:

    1. To make the streusel topping: in a medium bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon together. Cut in the cubed butter with two forks. Set aside in the fridge.
    2. Prepare a 2.5-quart casserole dish with cooking spray.
    3. Place half of the bread cubes in the bottom of the pan.
    4. Drop spoonfuls of the softened cream cheese over the bread and top with half of the mixed berries.
    5. Layer with the remaining bread cubes.
    6. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, cinnamon, honey, and vanilla.
    7. Pour evenly over bread cubes, pressing down on the bread cubes to ensure they absorb the liquid mixture.
    8. Top evenly with remaining berries. Sprinkle the streusel topping over top.
    9. Cover pan with foil. Allow to chill in refrigerator for an hour or overnight.
    10. When ready to bake, remove French toast from fridge. Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake covered with foil for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 25-30 minutes or until bubbling, golden and fluffy.
    11. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Serve warm with syrup and additional toppings (berries, whipped cream, honey) if desired.

*Cream cheese flavor available only for a limited time.

 

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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Bruegger’s Bagels. All opinions are entirely my own.

IMG_8908For our move to Oregon, Kevin and I sold most of our belongings and caravanned/road-tripped up with only what fit in our 2 cars. Our route included 1 night in Santa Barbara, 2 nights in the Sequoia National Forest, 1 night in Modesto and 1 night in Crater Lake. While in the Sequoia’s, I had the chance to field test both the Katya Top and Kayla Jean from the prAna summer line. Both of these items are made of organic cotton, creating a functional, and eco-friendly product.

IMG_8910 The Katya Top proved to be lightweight and breathable, and didn’t cling to my skin even when I started to break a sweat. While the Kayla Jean was thick and substantial, warding off bugs and any prickly shrubs. Both pieces were perfect for hiking and exploring around the Sequoia National Forest, and I definitely plan to wear both of these to work. I love that prAna creates versatile clothes perfect for indoor and outdoor activities, that are also sustainable, recycled and fair trade certified.

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Suit up for your next adventure at prAna.com. Use promo code “MSS17DA” for 15% off your next purchase, good until July 13th!

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This post is sponsored in partnership with prAna and Mambo Sprouts. However, as always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Big announcement: we are moving! As part of our farewell tour, Kevin’s parents hosted a going away brunch party for us. We thought it would be fun to contribute a DIY bagel bar into the party with a variety of bagels, spreads and toppings. This ended up being a simple yet creative way to serve brunch and hit everyone’s unique taste buds.

DIY Bagel Bar
What you need —
A variety of Bruegger’s Bagels:

  • Muenster Cheese
  • Onion
  • Sesame
  • Jalapeno Cheddar
  • Plain
  • Rosemary Olive Oil
  • Everything
  • Sun-dried Tomato

A variety of Bruegger’s Bagels Spreads:

  • Garden Veggie
  • Whipped Plain
  • Onion with Chive
  • Herb Garlic
  • Jalapeno
  • Plain

Toppings:

  • Smoked Salmon
  • Heirloom Tomatoes
  • Radishes
  • Cucumbers
  • Capers
  • Red Onions
  • Lemon
  • Dill
  • Chives

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Hosting a bagel bar allows for 100% creativity. Feel free to have fun with the flavors! We decided to keep everything savory, but you could also incorporate sweeter flavors with bagels such as cinnamon raisin, cinnamon sugar, etc. with plain or strawberry cream cheese, light honey drizzle and fresh berry toppings.

We incorporated this bagel bar into a larger brunch spread including frittatas, fruit salad and mimosas. It ended up being an easy but great addition to the brunch party!

Bruegger’s Bagels Catering can be ordered online or by calling 1.855.776.0660. See the full menu here!

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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Bruegger’s Bagels. All opinions are entirely my own.

If you’re looking for a different spin on traditional egg salad, then this is your recipe. The unique flavor of Bruegger’s Bagels Cucumber Dill Cream Cheese upgrades this egg salad, and the diced cucumber plays off this flavor infusion while adding some crunch. Make this as a dip for some veggies or bagel crisps (see recipe below) — but do it quickly because the Bruegger’s Bagel Cucumber Dill Cream Cheese is only available for a limited time!

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Cucumber Cool Egg Salad
INGREDIENTS:
6 eggs, hard boiled
4 oz Bruegger’s Cucumber Dill cream cheese*, room temperature
2 Tbsp. mayo
1 tsp. granulated sugar
½ tsp. lemon juice
3 Tbsp. cucumber, peeled and minced
1 tsp Kosher salt, ½ tsp black pepper

DIRECTIONS:

  1. For hard boiled eggs: Place eggs in a medium saucepan. Cover with 1 1/2” of water. Bring to boil, then immediately remove from heat. Cover and let stand for 10 minutes. Transfer eggs to a bowl of ice water to cool.
  2. Once the eggs cooled, peel them and chop them roughly.
  3. In a bowl, combine the cucumber dill cream cheese, mayo, sugar, and lemon juice.
  4. Add the chopped eggs and minced cucumber, and mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Cover and chill for 1 hour or longer.

*Cream cheese flavor available only for a limited time.

Homemade Bruegger’s Bagel crisps
INGREDIENTS:
2 Bruegger’s Bagels
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
Sea salt

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cut bagels into quarters, and then slice into ¼”-1/2” pieces.
  3. Toss bagel slices with olive oil.
  4. Spread out bagel pieces on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  5. Sprinkle with sea salt.
  6. Bake for 15-20 minutes (depending on how thin and freshly baked your slices/bagels are).
  7. Let cool and place into re-sealable container.

 

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This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Bruegger’s Bagels. All opinions are entirely my own.

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Calling all San Diegans. If you’re looking for an inexpensive getaway to somewhere not Southern California, Alaska Airlines offers direct tickets to Monterey for $130 RT in winter/early spring! Jen and I visited late February for a work conference that we extended into a weekend stay. Here are my suggestions for visiting the Monterey Bay Area.

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Where to Stay in Monterey: Jabberwock Inn. This bed and breakfast, located in New Monterey (and only 4 blocks away from Pacific Grove), is named after Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky poem from Alice in Wonderland’s Through The Looking Glass novel (I actually had to memorize and recite this poem in 4th Grade). Everything at this Inn is tied to this poem— from the names of the breakfast dishes to the names of the rooms. We stayed in the Tum Tum Tree, which was a quiet little cottage separate from the main house with ocean views, patio hangs, and a pot belly stove fireplace. The sunroom in the main house has expansive windows that look west with ocean views. Every morning you’re prepared breakfast by the innkeepers (it alternates from savory and sweet every other day). And every night, there’s wine and cookies sitting out for you.

Where to Eat in Monterey: Pacific Grove was my family vacation spot growing up, so visiting now makes it very familiar. Red House Cafe is one of my favorite brunch spots. Although we didn’t have a chance to visit there this time, it’s where I developed my “sophisticated” taste buds for marscapone cheese and berry crostinis. You should also stop by the Espresso Bar at Crema, serving up Verve Coffee Roasters espresso and the best baked goods (scones, cheddar biscuits, etc.)!

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Where Else to Go: Unfortunately when we visited, sections of Hwy 1 were closed leading up to Big Sur due to mudslides from the recent big storms. Instead, we drive from Pacific Grove through the scenic 17 Mile Drive, which led us directly to Carmel. When you’re in Carmel, don’t miss walking along the rocky, forested coast. It is probably one of the most peaceful things you could ever do, and you’ll feel like you’re on your own secluded retreat.

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Where to Stay in Carmel: We stayed at Hotel Carmel, formerly the Dolphin Inn, that was recently remodeled into a hipsters hotel paradise. The lobby is decked out with a marble table, indigo dyed pillows and leather butterfly chairs. They also serve a complimentary bagel bar in the mornings.

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Where to Eat in Carmel: Also, don’t miss lunch/dinner at La Bicyclette. This cute French/Italian bistro serves up some of the best salads, pizzas, entrees, rose, etc. We hit this spot twice during our 2 day stay. There are also a ton of wine tasting rooms (like 15+) in Camel, so you’re guaranteed to never go thirsty!

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When Jen asked me to make her a birthday cake, I began scouring the internet for recipes. Although her favorites include coconut and salted caramel, I didn’t want to end up making a repeat of Lauren’s Coconut Rum Layer Cake. So when I came across this London Fog Cake, knowing that one of her favorite warm drinks is London Fog, I knew I hit the nail on the head. Separately, I also used this decor inspo from Pinterest. Semi-homemade makes this cake easy to execute and unique.

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London Fog Cake
Adapted from The Cake Blog 
INGREDIENTS:
Cake
2 boxes Dark Chocolate cake mix
2 cups water
1 cup vegetable oil
6 eggs
Topping
Early Grey Buttercream (below)
Store bough salted-caramel sauce
Decorations:

DIRECTIONS:

Cake

  1. Heat oven to 350°F
  2. Make cake according to the directions.
  3. Pour cake batter of first 2 layers into 2 9” pans that have been greased and lined with parchment paper.
  4. Bake approximately 30 minutes at 350°F or until you can put a toothpick in the center and it comes out clean.
  5. Repeat with remaining 2 layers.
  6. Cool all layers completely at room temperature (~12 hours).
  7. Level with cake leveler and discard one layer (or reserve, but you do not need it. I always bake 4 layers and pick the best 3).

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Earl Grey Buttercream
INGREDIENTS:

2 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
¼ cup loose Earl Grey tea
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons (150 ml) egg whites
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
Seeds from ½ vanilla bean
DIRECTIONS:

  1. Place 1 cup of the butter in a saucepan with the loose tea. Heat over medium heat until the butter melts, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let the tea steep for 5 minutes more. Strain the butter through a fine mesh sieve set over a bowl and refrigerate it until is reached the same consistency as softened butter, 20 to 30 minutes. Small bits of tea may remain in the butter.
  2. Place the egg whites and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk them together by hand to combine. Fill a medium saucepan with a few inches of water and place it over medium-high heat. Place the mixer bowl on top of the saucepan to create a double-boiler. The bottom of the bowl should not touch the water. Whisking intermittently, heat the egg mixture until it registers about 155-160 degrees on a candy thermometer or is hot to the touch. Carefully fit the mixer bowl onto the stand mixer.
  3. With the whisk attachment, beat the egg white mixture on high speed for 8 to 10 minutes, until it holds medium-stiff peaks. When done, the outside of the mixer bowl should return to room temperature and no residual heat should be escaping from the meringue out of the top of the bowl. Stop the mixer and swap out the whisk attachment for the paddle.
  4. With the mixer on low speed, add the vanilla, tea-infused butter, and 1 cup butter, a couple tablespoons at a time. Once incorporated, turn the mixer to medium-high and bet until the buttercream is silky smooth, about 3 to 5 minutes.

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For the Assembly
DIRECTIONS:

  1. Place the bottom layer of cake on a cake plate or serving dish. Spread on about ½ to ¾ cup of the buttercream with an offset spatula. Top with the next layer of cake and repeat.
  2. Frost the cake with the remaining buttercream. Refrigerate until set, about 15 to 20 minutes or overnight.
  3. Pour caramel sauce over the chilled cake, starting with about a ½ cup, letting it drip over the edges. Add more caramel as necessary.

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February started off with an action packed snow weekend in Big Bear, and now I can confidently say I (think I) can snowboard. No more falling leaf or ambidextrous riding. Finally I’m able to carve without resorting to stopping via snow plow!

I signed up for a month of unlimited yoga at YogaSix, during one of the challenges to practice yoga every day (or 28 times in the month).  I started off the month strong with some two-a-days, thinking I could accomplish this challenge, but it was short lived when I got hit with a cold that everyone seemed to be catching. This put me out of commission for a week straight, and I kind of gave up on the competition.

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I also knew at the end of the month I’d be spending around a week in Monterey for a work conference. Jen and I experienced perfect weather with blue skies, and several runs/walks along the coast. It was quite out of the norm in comparison to the weather they had been experiencing up there. We stayed at a super cute bed and breakfast, just walking distance to Cannery Row and Pacific Grove. We even saw a very baby (like umbilical cord attached) harbor seal during one of our coastal explorations! More to come on this trip as I can see it being an inexpensive getaway for Southern Californians.

Weekly Workout Recap (1/30-2/5):
Mon – Rest
Tues –  Bootcamp @ YogaSix
Wed – Power Yoga @ YogaSix + Bootcamp @ YogaSix
Thurs – Bootcamp @ YogaSix
Fri – Snowboarding
Sat – Snowboarding
Sun – Snowboarding
Total Weekly Mileage: 0 mi
Number of cross-training workouts: 7
2017 miles: 5 mi


Weekly Workout Recap (2/6-2/12):
Mon – Rest
Tues –  Rest
Wed – Rest
Thurs – Rest
Fri – Rest
Sat – Rest
Sun – Hot Yoga @ YogaSix
Total Weekly Mileage: 0 mi
Number of cross-training workouts: 1
2017 miles: 5 mi

Weekly Workout Recap (2/13-2/19):
Mon – Bootcamp @ YogaSix
Tues –  Bootcamp @ YogaSix
Wed – Bootcamp @ YogaSix
Thurs – Bootcamp @ YogaSix
Fri – Hot Yoga @ YogaSix + Bootcamp @ YogaSix
Sat – Climbing
Sun – Climbing
Total Weekly Mileage: 0 mi
Number of cross-training workouts: 8 
2017 miles: 5 mi

Weekly Workout Recap (2/20-2/26):
Mon – Climbing
Tues –  Rest
Wed – 5 mi run
Thurs – Rest
Fri – 8.5 mi run
Sat – Walk along the Carmel Coast
Sun – Climbing
Total Weekly Mileage: 
Number of cross-training workouts: 2
2017 miles: 18.5 mi

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Post sponsored by Mirum Shopper. All opinions are my own.

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It’s probably no surprise, but I am no longer a well-conditioned running machine. For me, the hardest part about not running is trying to get back into the groove of things. I constantly have to remind myself it’s ok to take it slow, and to make it easy.  Taking a running hiatus usually leads to some aches and pains because I tend to pressure myself into running xx miles, forgetting I’m not trained like I used to be. Lately, when I try to go out for runs, I’ve been experiencing the same type of pain I felt in my knee last fall when I jumped into running 14+ miles without ramping up. It feels like my knee isn’t moving smoothly in a forward motion, but rather tracking out to the side.

I couldn’t have found the Whole You Dynamover knee compression sleeve at a better time. Normally I would never wear a traditional, bulky knee brace. However, the compression material in the Dynamover sleeve intrigued me because both compression socks and calf sleeves have helped me in the past when I used to suffer from plantar fasciitis.

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The Dynamover is seamless and very sleek. It has a 5 zone design, providing different levels of compression to different areas of the knee. Here’s what all of the zones help to achieve:

Zone 1: high stretch for strong compression around the patella to support the knee.
Zone 2: moderate stretch allows flexibility around the thigh and knee.
Zone 3: elastic weave to prevent slip-down during even the most active exercises.
Zone 4: (behind the knee) has a high density weave to stabilize the knee.
Zone 5: delivers exceptional breathability and flexibility thanks to the honeycomb weave.

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I’ve worn this sleeve on several runs, including an off-roading adventure into some swampy lagoon trails. It definitely held up to the test and my standards–I almost forgot I was wearing it! The Dynamover sleeve allowed for natural movement and mobility, while helping to correct my knee issue. It was comfortable and breathable, providing just the right amount of compression without being too tight or constricting.

If you’re interested in trying out Dynamover, use promo code ASHEEJOJO for 50% off and free shipping (plus there’s a money-back guarantee). Hurry before it expires 4/12!

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For Lauren’s Sweet 16, I was inspired by the coconut cake served at Solace and the Moonlight Lounge (her favorite). The inspo: Coconut Cake with Rum Caramel Sauce, Sugared Macadamia Nuts, Cream Cheese Frosting.

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I used the cake recipe from Beth Cakes Triple Coconut Rum Cake paired with the Homemade Cream Cheese Buttercream Frosting from Living Well Spending Less. The whole cake turned out super dense, and I kid you not, probably weighed around 20lbs because I didn’t end up leveling the layers.  The flavor made it taste like a humongous coconut macaroon.

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For decor, I used a big rhinestoned “16” Jen purchased from Amazon and a variety of pink roses. Fresh flowers have been my favorite decor lately. They dress up a cake without requiring a steady or artistic hand for some ingenious floral frosting.

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Haha, the first month of 2017 is already over. And we’re half way into February (kinda…whenever a full moon falls I feel like it marks the halfway point for the month). I was cleaning up my blog a little when I stumbled upon my 2015: Lookin’ Back At It post and forgot I used to do these! It’s funny, I feel like the years just start to blur together. It’s crazy to think we’re quickly progressing through 2017. But when I plan ahead (for work, personal life, etc.) and look into the new year, I start to feel like I’m already there. For example, so much of 2016 was looking ahead to events in 2017, and now…we’re here!

Anyways, looking at my 2016 goals, I feel like even if I didn’t conquer all of these last year, I’ve actually knocked out quite a few in the first month of 2017.

2016 Goals:

  • Have more weekend adventures: Always! I don’t feel right sitting at home doing nothing (unless I’m sick like now). Starting the week after an eventful weekend makes me feel so accomplished and prepared. From Yosemite the first weekend in 2017 to multiple weekends in Big Bear, I’d say this trend has continued.
  • Get outside more than just running: Yes! I’ve broken from my running only mentality and I’ve started doing other outdoor activities, including hiking, snowboarding, softball, etc. I also signed up for a rock climbing membership, and even though that’s indoors, you never know if it might lead to something outside.
  • Do more yoga: I ended up almost replacing running with cross-training, and on February 1 I signed up for unlimited yoga at Yoga Six.
  • Read more books: definitely accomplished this with the high number of “Girl” books I read last year.
  • Qualify for Boston, again (this time with 3:32 or sub marathon): N/A. I actually ran 0 marathons last year.
  • Run more ultras!!! Ran one ultra in 2016, with plans to run more that never came to fruition.

Weekly Workout Recap (12/26-1/1):
Mon – 3 mi Palm Canyon hike
Tues – Bootcamp @ YogaSix + Softball
Wed – Bootcamp @ YogaSix
Thurs – Full Body @ Core40 + 6 mi
Fri – 4 mi Mirror Lake hike
Sat – 8 mile Dewey Point snowshoeing
Sun – 7 mile cross-country skiing
Total Weekly Mileage: 6 mi
Number of cross-training workouts: 8
2017 miles: 0 mi

Weekly Workout Recap (1/2-1/8):
Mon – 7 mi cross-country skiing
Tues – Softball
Wed – Full Body @ Core40 + 5 mi
Thurs – Hot Yoga @ YogaSix
Fri – Mixed Level @ The Bar Method
Sat – Climbing
Sun – Climbing
Total Weekly Mileage: 5 mi
Number of cross-training workouts: 7
2017 miles: 5 mi

Weekly Workout Recap (1/9-1/15):
Mon – Bootcamp @ YogaSix
Tues – Full Body @ Elevate Training + Bootcamp @ YogaSix
Wed – Power Yoga @ YogaSix
Thurs – Hot Yoga @ YogaSix + Climbing
Fri – Rest
Sat – Snowboarding
Sun – Snowboarding
Total Weekly Mileage: 0 mi
Number of cross-training workouts: 7 mi
2017 miles: 5 mi

Weekly Workout Recap (1/16-1/22):
Mon – Bootcamp @ YogaSix + Climbing
Tues – Full Body @ Elevate Training
Wed – Climbing
Thurs – Bootcamp @ YogaSix
Fri – Power Yoga + Climbing
Sat – Rest
Sun – Bootcamp @ YogaSix
Total Weekly Mileage: 0 mi
Number of cross-training workouts: 8
2017 miles: 5 mi

Weekly Workout Recap (1/23-1/29):
Mon – Rest
Tues –  Full Body @ Elevate Training + Bootcamp @ YogaSix
Wed – Power Yoga @ YogaSix
Thurs – Bootcamp @ YogaSix
Fri – Bootcamp @ YogaSix
Sat – Climbing
Sun – Climbing
Total Weekly Mileage: 0 mi
Number of cross-training workouts: 7
2017 miles: 5 mi

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