Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Recipe: Spicy Buffalo Cauliflower "Wings"

A healthier and kinder alternative to the traditional wing! source

Spicy Buffalo Cauliflower 'Wings'

1 cup organic unsweetened soy milk (or other non-dairy milk)
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp. garlic powder
1 head of cauliflower, chopped into pieces
1 cup buffalo sauce
1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • Preheat the oven to 450°F.
  • Combine the soy milk, flour, and garlic powder in a bowl and stir until well combined.
  • Coat the cauliflower pieces with the flour mixture and place on a baking sheet line with parchment paper. I found they came out crispier if they didn't touch each other.  Bake for 18 minutes.
  • While the cauliflower is baking, combine your buffalo sauce and olive oil in a small bowl.
  • Use a spatula to move the pieces closer together and pour the hot sauce mixture over the baked cauliflower and continue baking for an additional 5 to 8 minutes.
  • Serve alongside blue cheese dressing and celery sticks.
Makes 4 servings (or in my house-2)

These are really good!  We make them often we feel like we need some "junk food" to go with a beer.

Recipe adapted from PETA Living

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Training: Week 9

Week 9:  Sun: 3 mi on the treadmill; Mon: Taught a 6am spin class; Tue-Fri: REST; Sat: 15k Race

Week 9 started out still worried about my knee.  I took a quick spin on the treadmill Sunday night to see if the symptoms from last week would recreate themselves or if the rest I had already given it would be sufficient.  I didn't feel any of the same pain and I was a happy girl.  I had wanted to wait to see how my knee was going to be before we officially signed up for the Gasparilla Distance Classic on Saturday.  My husband and I usually try to run a race where ever we are vacationing, so this race in Tampa worked out perfectly.  We had looked into running the Disney Half that was also going on that weekend, but it was full at that point.  Only the 5k was open, and while it would have been neat, it was very pricey for a 5k....but I digress. 

Monday morning I headed over bright and early to Kensington Anytime Fitness to teach my very first spin class at 6am.  I really hoped they liked it!  I am of course my own worst critic so I analyzed every little thing I did and went over scenes in my head afterwards.  A few hours later, we were on the plane to Florida!  I definitely packed all my running gear and told myself that I had to fit in runs while on vacation.

Tuesday I walked around Disney World all day wishing I had a pedometer to see how far I went.  Plus, my daughter was having a "mommy day" and only wanted to be carried (by me!) so the walking had the additional almost 30lbs of carried weight.  No biggie.  That night we headed over to downtown Disney and they had a kids concert going on.  My daughter immediately rushed to the dance floor to start dancing and I decided to join her.
My daughter is the little blondie in the white shirt next to me

Right after this is where it went downhill.  The next song was Gangnam Style and I of course was trying to recreate Psy's moves.  The horse and rider bit was fine, but the problem came during the little foot shuffle to the side thing he does.   (Moves 7 and 8 for those of you unfamiliar).   Note to Self:  do not do Gangnam Style in flip flops!  My flip flop sort of bent and my ankle twisted- hard.  I scrapped some skin off my foot, but that was almost unnoticeable compared to the pain of my ankle.  And it was the same one that I had sprained on Christmas Day during my long run!  My only thought was that it had not completely healed.  It hurt, a lot.  I sat and iced it for a while as my daughter continued to dance.

Spraining my ankle (for the second time in this marathon training cycle!) and being on vacation was forced rest for every other part of my body, besides all the walking again at Disney the next day (but this time I made sure I wasn't carrying my daughter).  

Fast forward to Saturday after all those days of rest.  My ankle was feeling better but I was a little worried about how the race would go since I hadn't run since Sunday night at home on our treadmill, and had missed last weekend's long run.  The original plan to get my long run in for this weekend was to run the 15k race (15k = 9.3 miles) and then after crossing the finish line, turn around and run the course again.  So, I was stocked up with two packets of Gu and well hydrated.  (You can read the race review here).  It was pretty hot and humid which at the present juncture, my body is not accustomed to, I've been fighting off the freezing temps in DC lately!  I made sure to drink at every aid station due to the heat and knowing I was going to be running another nine and half miles after I finished the race.  I crossed the finish line in a time slower than if I was running the race all out, but I knew I was conserving energy.  Except the big bummer is that I didn't run the extra distance.  Once we finished, we called our hotel to request a late checkout (we were told we could only do morning of) and we were denied.  We realized we couldn't run the extra mileage and still make it back to where we were staying in Clearwater Beach in time for check out.  Bummer.  So add to my list a second weekend of not getting in my long run.  Ouch.  Between injury and missing two long runs, I was seriously questioning whether or not I was going to be able to pull 26.2 off in just 3 weeks!  There is a definitely a lot of self doubt floating around in my head right now.

You know the old adage, "Do Something That Terrifies You?'....well this Marathon is that for me

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Race Review: Gasparilla Distance Classic 15k, February 2013

Setting:  The race was warm and humid in Tampa, FL on a bay front course. 

Cost: $40 online registration

Expo:  Huge expo at the Tampa Convention Center.  It was a bit chaotic because there was a game that night at the arena and another event at the Convention center the same night.  So we had to park in a far off paid lot, then take a special Gasparilla shuttle to the expo.  Once inside it was a mad house and long lines.  At the door, they couldn't find my husband's registration so we had to wait in another line to have them look it up, so that was an added stressor.  It was late, we had our daughter and my mom with us, otherwise we probably would have looked around at all the vendors, but we didn't bother.  We got our bib numbers, our race shirts and got out of there!

Parking:  Morning of race parking was available in a number of paid lots and garages.  We were lucky enough to find street parking on a side street.  The City of Tampa does not collect meters on weekends, so we got free parking!  Score.  If you run this race, definitely go onto the side streets and park for free!

Start:  We started the race before sun up at 6:45am which was nice to try and beat the heat.  The start line was NOT well organized.  This was a huge downside of the race.  The race contained 4921 runners, which is very large but there was only one entrance into the starting corral.  It was completely fenced off.  This made it very difficult to find your pace area within that corral.  My husband ended up hopping the fence to get up near the front (since he runs at a 6:30 pace).  Since I wasn't going to be hopping the fence, I just kept following the fence back, back, back trying to find an entrance.  I finally realized I was back near the 10:00 pacer and needed to be up closer to the 8:30 pace group since my half marathon time is closer to that pace.  It took me a full 2 miles to have enough open space around me to settle into a pace.  I felt I wasted so much energy those first two miles maintaining an 8:40 pace while bobbing and weaving all over the street, up onto curbs, in the gutter, on the grass was a mess!  I tried to regain my running zen after chaos at the start!

Course: The 15k course (9.3 miles) along the Hillsborough Bay. You could see the bay for almost the entire course.  We went into a neighborhood for the turn around portion.  I was thinking the course would be more scenic than it was, but the scenery didn't really change at all and made it slightly monotonous.  At mile 3, there was a terrible smell coming off the bay....and I mean stinky.  Since it was an out and back course, we ran through the stink again at mile 7...ewwww.  I am not sure what the stink was and if that was normal, but I sure hope not.  Tampa was under a boil order that weekend as their water system experienced failure, so I am not sure if that had anything to do with it or not.  But it was yuck.  Due to the system failure, they also mentioned to us to not drink the water being sprayed from the water misters as we ran through them.   There were plenty of aid stations (in which they assured us the water was bottled water), and lots of porta-potties along the course, though the one that I stopped at mile 4,  I did have to wait for two people in line ahead of me.  

I took my time on the course and took water/gatorade at each stop because of the heat and because my original plan was to turn around at the finish line and run the entire course again so I could get in 20 miles for my marathon training.  I didn't think I'd be able to get much water on my second loop so I wanted to take it all in now.  The inserts my podiatrist put in my running shoes to help alleviate the symptoms from my Morton's Neuroma unfortunately give me blisters and I was starting to get two really ripe ones.  I stopped at mile 6 to put band aids on the blisters on the soles of my feet :-(

Finish:  The finish line wasn't anything spectacular.  The finish shoot was really long, which in a way is keeps people walking instead of stopping immediately.  They were handing out cold, wet face clothes which was a really nice was HOT.  I got my medal and my bottle of water and found my husband.  Our plan was to find the medical tent for more band aids, grab some food, drop the gear off at the car and take off to do a second loop of the course.  We searched and searched among the crowds to find the medical tent and could not find it!  That was crazy.  We asked information in the Convention Center and they didn't know either.  Not good.  Couldn't find the food anywhere either...usually races have bananas, oranges, etc with the water at the finish.  Not so here.  We called the hotel (we were instructed we could only do so morning of) about getting a late check out and we were denied.  So without extra band aids, food or a late check out, the additional ten mile run wasn't going to work.  Which was good anyway as it was pretty hot and humid.  So then we decided we might as well go get our free beer and we couldn't find the post race party for our free beer either.  The finish line was really disorganized and crowded because the 5k which was even bigger (11,000 runners) was about to start in the same area.   We headed back to our hotel with a bad taste in our mouth about the whole race :-(

Overall, the novelty of running in Tampa, seeing the bay and palm trees, and having nice weather at the start was nice.  As a former San Diegan,  I do miss my palm trees living in DC! $40 for a race is a good price too.  This race definitely has those things going for it.  I would say the downsides were definitely the disorganization.  Would I run this race again?  No. 

Grade:  C-

Training: Week 8

Week 8: Sun: 2 hours of Spin; Mon: REST; Tues: 3 mi increasing speed run on new treadmill, Weds: REST; Thurs: 4 mi run; Fri: REST; Sat: REST.

Week 8 started out attending an all day (9am-5pm) Indoor Cycling workshop through AFAA on Sunday.  I was using this workshop as an add on to the group fitness certification that I already hold.  The gyms I had been hired by wanted to see me have this additional training before giving me my own spin class.  It was great and I learned a lot!  It was also work because we completed a one hour ride in the morning and a one hour ride in the afternoon....double duty!  I sure put my body to the test as I had just finished my 18 mile run about 16 hours prior, whew!  I felt my body handled it really well though and I think that is a good sign for the grueling test that 26.2 miles will do to me in just a few short weeks!

I am so excited to begin teaching Spin/Indoor Cycling because I feel it is such a great workout and excellent cross training for runners.  (Sprints on the bike really get those fast twitch muscle fibers fired up!)  I finally invested in a pair of indoor cycling shoes (Pearl Izumi) and I am so happy that I did.  I can really notice the difference that I have a lot more power all the way through a revolution on the bike, the down stroke and upstroke.  I got some great music ideas as well.

Monday, I gave myself a well deserved rest and our brand new treadmill got delivered. (big smiles!)

Tuesday, I decided to take the new treadmill for a spin and did my 3 mi run on it and tried to continually increase the speed through the end of the three miles.  It made for a great workout. And I took Wednesday as a rest day (but Wednesday was still exciting as I auditioned and was offered my own class at the Bethesda Chevy Chase YMCA called Extreme Fit 6am Weds mornings!)

Spring has sprung?
Thursday, I set out to do my 9 mi mid week run and at mile 4 developed some terrible knee pain.  It was on the interior inside of my knee, where the tendons are.  Every few steps, I would get a sharp pain that actually caused me to yell out in pain.  I tried a few more times to get going after stretching out and the same thing happened.  I finally realized I was going to have to walk the four miles back home, I could not run it.  I let my husband know and he came and picked me up.  I felt pretty down about not being able to complete my 9 miler and really, really nervous about what it could possibly be/mean for getting to the finish line in a few short weeks :-(.   The one bright side of the run was seeing daffodils along my route.

I had planned to also attend a spin class that night and nixed that just to let my knee rest until I could figure it out.  I did lots of online research (what did we do before the internet?) and determined it to possibly be a meniscus tear.  This terrified me and decided first thing in the morning I would call an Orthopedist.  

Friday, I took off from activity until I could see the Ortho.  I was able to get an appointment that afternoon.  He determined it to be Knee BursitisPretty much, the remedy is rest and anti-inflammatories.   Rest is not something you want to hear when you are only four weeks out from race day.   Saturday was meant to be a hilly ten miler, but I had originally planned on moving this to Sunday and using my leg of the marathon relay as that run.  But with my knee, I was thinking I probably shouldn't run my leg of the relay.  My two team mates, came down with bad colds and so as a team on Saturday night, we all decided not to run the GW Birthday Marathon Relay Sunday morning.  :-(  That was the first time I had ever bowed out of a race I had signed up for due to injury. 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Guest Review - Shamrock Marathon

The Shamrock Marathon takes place in Virgina Beach the weekend right around St Patrick's Day and was my first ever full marathon.  It was also on my 35th birthday last year (2012) so I celebrated by running 26.2 miles!  Overall it was a good one to pick for a first full marathon.  There were some negatives though, however they were outweighed by all the positives.

Here's the good part about the course...the course is flat.  Dead flat.  Except for twice having to cross a bridge about 40-50 feet high over the Inter coastal Waterway.  However, looking at the course map, one would think you have lots of water views.  In reality, the only water views were from mile 10-11.5 running along the boardwalk and the last quarter mile finishing at another location on the boardwalk.  Otherwise it was just a block inland with all the hotels blocking the views.  The crowd support was awesome through mile 16, then turning inland into a park through mile 22, there was hardly any crowds.  Those are some of the toughest miles in a race so perhaps it would have been better to "flip" the race so the park is in the first half.  Some really big thanks goes to the military members on the base around mile 8, they gave some loud cheers and high fives to everyone!  Also, the Livestrong crew at mile 26 right before the home stretch on the boardwalk was very supportive too, they shouted louder than any crowd I've ran past before!  Also neat was the bib numbers having your name printed large.  It was great hearing people shout "GO JIM!!!", and even the volunteers saying "Jim, here's the water!!!".

Even though the course didn't have many water views, you can't beat the finish area.   You do run the last quarter mile down the boardwalk to a huge party on the beach!  The have Irish bands playing, with Irish food (bangers and mash, etc), and every finisher gets 4 beers!  They had Yuengling on tap with was delicious.  Here I am running towards the finish on the boardwalk (both feet off the ground!  But I didn't feel like I was flying at this point).  The crowd was confined to the near-side of the photo, and they were very supportive at this point even though you can't see them in the picture.  It was nice hearing that at the finish.  Of course the best crowd support came from my wife and daughter, here they are wishing me off at the start and cheering me on during the race:

Avery pointing at the King Neptune statue waiting for daddy at the finish line
The weather in mid-March in Virginia Beach can be anything from hot to cold.  For 2012, it was a bit warm, nearing the mid to upper 70s by the end of the race.   The wind was also strong out of the north (and I've heard that's usually a factor at this race), but I looked at that as half the race was a tailwind and half was a headwind so it canceled itself out.  One of the downsides with the heat was that the full marathon starts at 8:30am.  The half marathon starts at 7:00am.  This seems a bit backwards, and it wouldn't have been a big deal except for the warm weather that day.  It would have been nice to have the full start earlier.  However that did mean you don't have to wake up really early, especially since we stayed in a hotel right near the start line. With 3,300 finishers for the full marathon, it was large enough to always have a crowd of runners around but not too large that you feel overwhelmed.  Also, since the half marathon doesn't start at the same time (as they do with lots of other half/full marathons), you didn't get that feeling of all alone when the majority of runners turn off for the half marathon finish.  Another neat part was the finishers get not only the usual medal, but also a nice runner's hat!
Avery wearing my finisher hat.  It is a nice running hat that I use a lot
The race overall was very well run, the expo check-in was quick with no line at all for the packet pick up.  The fuel stations were very well-stocked and staffed with plenty of water, Gatorade, gels, etc.  The course was marked with mile markers and easy to follow turn signs (we've been in races lately with no course markings so this is something we've been grateful for!).  The start line corrals were very organized.  If you are looking for course entertainment though, there were two bands, and two radio station DJs, so there was not much there.  But as mentioned, the areas away from the park had great crowd support, and the leprechaun and St Patty's Day costumes worn by some of the runners were great!

Some other things to note, the day before there is an 8k race and a kids marathon.  The kids marathon is 26.2 yards, and all the kids get bib numbers and shirts!  They break it into groups by age, and the kids get to run across the actual finish line and get a medal!

Cool bib numbers, every kid is number 1!

Nice shirts too!

Avery 'warming up' with a binky!

Finding her start corral
Lining up!

Celebrating with her finisher's medal
And of course, if you are making a trip out of, it is a great place to go.  There are hotels all up and down the boardwalk close to the start/finish line, which means the family gets a beach vacation out of it!  Here we are enjoying the nice sunny weather that weekend.
Trying to get my cool shades on!

Look what I made mommy and daddy!

It did rain the day after the race and was much cooler out.
Colleen wearing my Brooks Shamrock Marathon jacket that I bought at the expo.
The view from out hotel room was great, we had a sliding door right out to the beach, and I think we only paid about $100/night for it, not bad for the location and crowds that weekend
View from room
Overall, I'd give it an A minus.  A really good first-time marathon for someone to run.  It was very well organized, a flat course, a great vacation spot, good finisher's party, nice crowd support, and a nice medium-sized race field.  The biggest negatives were the lack of water views (it is Virginia Beach after all), and the potential for the finish to be during warm weather due to the later start time.  If any of you have run it before or plan to in the future be sure to comment below and add your thoughts!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Training: Week 7

Week 7: Sun REST; Mon REST; Tues Spin class, 30 min strength circuit, 1 hour with PT; Weds 6 mi run; Thurs REST (due to cortisone shot in foot), Fri REST; Sat 18 mi run.

Week 7 started off with two days of rest.  I realize I've been resting more than I probably should and want to but I'm trying to keep the nerves in my feet from getting too aggravated until a solution can be found.  Sort of a bummer, but I am trying to listen to my body. 

On Tuesday, I headed to a spin class at RCSC, followed that up with 30 min circuit on the strength machines and then did one hour with Jeff Withers doing TRX training, kettlebells and ropes. body was wiped by the end of that 2.5 hours at the gym!  Weds I ran my 6 mi mid-week medium run without any issues.  Thursday, I headed back to the podiatrist to go over my ultrasound and take about next steps.  While there, he decided to give me two shots of cortisone in my left foot to see how it would work and if I liked it, I would come back and have my right foot done as well.  The cortisone works to atrophy the nerve so that it will eventually shrink.  So I spent the rest of the day with my bandaged foot elevated in front of the fireplace.  I took Friday off as well just to be safe.

Saturday, I headed out for my 18 mile run.  I mentally broke it down into three 6 mile segments and told myself after each 6 mile segment I could stop for water and Gu Chomps (which were sort of gross! I plan on doing a product review on them).  The whole run went pretty well and I was happy.  I was getting tired of running on the greenway trails and Rock Creek Park, so I decided to do a more urban run.  I ran through Chevy Chase and into the District.  I was so preoccupied with watching all the people, etc, that I didn't even realize one song had been on constant loop for four miles!  I maintained about a 9:30 pace which is what I am hoping for on race day, coming in just over 4 hours.  I felt great up until the last two miles where I began to get some under knee cap pain.  I researched it later and it may be do to overused quadriceps...which makes sense I suppose.  I met my husband and daughter at the local Starbucks for a quick refuel and then we headed home for the evening.  My daughter joined me for some post run yoga in front of the fireplace.

Training: Week 6

Week 6: Sun REST, Mon 40 min of spin, Tues Bootcamp and Yoga, Weds 1.5 treadmill miles and 1 hour of strength with PT, Thurs REST,  Fri REST, Sat 8k/10k race.

Week 6 of training started out a little rough as we had friends in town from when we lived in San Diego.  We stayed out pretty late on Saturday night and I was feeling it on Sunday.  Luckily, it was a rest day anyway and I got my run in on Saturday before we went out!  On Monday, I headed to the gym to take a spin class only to realize I had my days mixed up, doh!  So I used the spin bikes that have a video screen and you watch an instructor on the screen coach you through a workout.  It was pretty neat actually because you could see where your RPMs were and work to keep them in the correct zone.  You could also hook up your heart rate monitor as well (but I dont have one YET!).  If your gym has these, they are a great alternative to attending a spin class.
On Weds, I headed to the gym for my first of two free personal training sessions.  I was assigned to Trainer Jeff Withers who was fantastic!  If you live in the DC area, I highly recommend him!  This was actually really helpful because I tend to do all of my strength training with free weights as part of a strength training class, but I used this hour to have him go through all the strength training machines with me so I could do them on my own anytime.  The machines have always intimidated me because there are so many settings, etc.  But, after our session, I feel much more comfortable and really like it.  My gym (Rock Creek Sports Club) has the machines set up in a full body circuit that takes about 30 mins to complete.   I was going to run my 18 mile run that evening that I had pushed back from Saturday due to it being so cold and having visitors in town.  I was all suited up and ready to go, and a severe weather warning was put out.  I decided not to risk it and stay home.  Unforeseen factors can really get in the way of training!  

I took Thursday off.  Friday I went and had an ultrasound done on my feet.  I had been having foot pain and seeing a poditriast, Dr. Firestone.  He thought it was Mortons Neuroma, but ordered an ultrasound to be sure.  Off to George Washington Hospital I went and sure enough, yup Neuromas and big ones.  :-(  Basically, these nerves are suppoused to be about 1-2mm thick and mine are 10-12mm in both feet!  So ten times too large!
With that great news, I took Friday off to rest up for my race on Saturday, the Langley 8k.  Since it was part of the Snowball Series, I wanted to be fully rested in order to race my best....I really hope for an age group award at the end of the series!  Race day arrived on Saturday and it was FREEZING!  I have never raced in weather that cold.  I am not a cold weather person and think DC is too far north weather wise for me.  It was 24 degrees at race start.  Everyone huddled inside the building to try and stay warm as long as they could.  Right before race time, I grabbed the only scarf I had in the car, which was not meant for running by any means, but it definitely helped keep my face warm. 
This race was a bit of a disaster for almost everyone!  It was supposed to be an 8k, but the third person in the race took a wrong turn and most of us all followed.  I knew something was up as I was headed up one of the final hills and realizing that I was passing walkers.  There was no way walkers could have gotten ahead of most of us runners unless we had run extra mileage.  Once I crossed the finish line, I realized I had actually run a 10k and so had everyone around me.  I found Jim and he had done the same.  :-(  So while it was good for my training and I didn't mind the extra mileage at a faster pace than I would have run on my own, it doesn't bode well for "official" results.  It shows that it took a lot of time to run the "8k" and shows my pace as over ten mins a mile which was not accurate.  So that is disappointing. 

Another week of training down!  (Always eventful!)