Wednesday, March 27, 2013

5 Easy Ways To Add More Vegetables to Your Diet

Vegetables are a nutrient packed power house.  If you are looking to change what you eat, feel better, have more energy and lose body fat....then eating more vegetables is the way to go.  They are nutrient dense, low in calories, low in sugars and high in fiber.  Many people just simply don't eat enough vegetables.

1.  Start small.  Anything you were going to eat anyway, see if you can think of a way to sneak in vegetables.  Making macaroni and cheese? Add in some broccoli (recipe).  Making a grilled cheese sandwich?  Add in some spinach.  Scrambled eggs?  Add veggies!  Pizza?  Add veggies!

2.  Snack on vegetables!  I always have vegetables cut and ready to go, so that when we are hungry (like now, right now) you don't have to shy away from the vegetables because they still need to be cut and washed, but that bag of pretzels is waiting and ready to, no.  I pre-cut carrot sticks, red, orange, and yellow pepper slices, and celery in mason jars and have them ready in the fridge.  Make ahead kale chips (recipe), squash chips, carrot chips.  When you are hungry, just grab a single sized portion.  Instant gratification that won't leave you feeling worse off later.

3.  Always add in a side salad.  Some people shy away from salads because they can be time consuming.  All the washing and chopping and having so many ingredients on hand or they are trying to avoid the processed store bought salad dressings.  Salads don't have to be complicated.  Often as a side dish we have the simplest of simple salads. We buy pre-washed organic baby argula and put that on our plates, add a sprinkle of shaved salad blend cheese (a blend of parmesan, asiago and romano), a dash of freshly ground pepper and sprinkle with olive oil.  Salad done and ready.

4.  Drink vegetable smoothies and juices.  Don't have a juicer?  No problem.  It can be done in a blender.  See recipe here for a green juice made in the blender using frozen vegetables.

5.  Make them delicious!  Try new recipes with vegetables you wouldn't have tried.  You might like it.  Our family fell in love with roasted Brussels sprouts and since making them that way, request them once a week.  Who would have thought!  If you give them some attention at the meal, they move from being an afterthought to front and center at the dinner table!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Recipe: Spicy Thai Brown Rice Noodles with Tofu

You will need:
Package of brown rice noodles
Package of organic tofu
1tsp raw honey
1/4 cup chili sesame oil
1/4 cup sesame oil
Sesame seeds
2 shaved carrots 
Fresh cilantro
Green Onion chopped 
1/4 cup peanuts crushed

I took a block of tofu out of the wrapper and drained the excess water.  This is my favorite type of tofu because you don't need to press it to get the water out and make it firm.  I am used to other brands where I let it sit with a cook book on top for a few hours to get the water out (because I am too cheap to buy a tofu press) but with this one you don't need that is awesome.  I won't buy anything else anymore!
Are you starting to see my love affair with Trader Joe's yet?

I cut the tofu block into chunks and put a bit of chili sesame oil and regular sesame oil in a pan to heat up.  Once it was hot, I tossed the tofu in and tried to brown the chunks on all sides.  

I cooked up a box of Brown Rice noodles according to the package instructions.  They cook really about five minutes.

I then drained them and put them in a large bowl.  Meanwhile, I started to make the sauce.  I put 1/4 cup chili sesame oil in a small sauce pan with 1/4 cup sesame oil, 1 teaspoon raw honey and cooked over medium heat for two mins.  I added this sauce to the drained noodles and mixed it with the tofu.
Small Snippet

On top of the noodles, I then put a lot of fresh green onion (which I have been growing on my window sill from scraps, thanks pinterest!), sesame seeds, lots of fresh cilantro, carrot shavings and some crushed peanuts.  I realized I was out of peanuts, but remembered that we had some from our last flight so I used Southwest peanut packets crushed up as garnish.  Making the most of what I've got!

My husband went back for THIRDS and thanked me twice for making this I'd chalk this one up as WIN!

Training: Week 12

Sunday: 10k race; Monday: REST; Tuesday: REST; Weds: Taught Extreme Fit circuit class at gym; Thurs: Taught Spin at gym, Fri: REST, Sat: MARATHON DAY!

The final week of training began with the Fort Hunt 10k race with the DC Road Runners Club.  It was part of the Snowball Series, the final race, so even though it was taper week, I still wanted to give it my all.  I am trying win an age group award for the series. 

It was all the way out by Mount Vernon so we had a bit of a drive to get out there.  This was also daylight savings so the 8am start was almost completely dark....and cold, very cold.  It was a unique course as it was a 5 laps of the loop.  I was afraid I would loose count! 

I ended up running a great race and came across the line as the third overall female!  Wahoo!  That has never happened before.  The thing I like about small races is that you never know who will be racing that day and luck can be in your favor!  I am not fast enough to win age group or overall awards at the huge races.  I won a Starbucks gift card, which will always come in handy!  (My husband also placed in his age group, but they weren't giving out age group awards at this race.)
Receiving my award

I'm a winner!
I rested a lot this week because while it felt strange not to run, I was nervous to run.  I was nervous to do anything where I might get injured and cause me to somehow miss out on the marathon, or at least cause the marathon to be painful. 

Wednesday, I taught my 6 am Extreme Fit circuit class at the gym.  I tried to take it easy on the burpees, jumping jacks etc.  because I have had issues with my ankle (spraining it twice during training) and I did not want to do anything to injure it again!  Thursday, I taught an evening spin class and this I did all out.  With spin, I never feel like I will get injured...which is why I love it so much!

Friday was a rest day.  We headed down to the Expo at the DC Amory to pick up our packets.  Went to the playground that afternoon with my daughter and got the house ready for my Mother in Law to fly in that night to watch Avery while my husband and I ran the race the next morning.  I laid out my running gear, fuel, bib number so it was all ready for the early morning start.

I enjoyed my go-to pre-race meal of whole wheat vegetable orzo (recipe here) and of course a beer!

Awoke very early, and it was GO TIME!  Marathon day!  Wow!  Training was officially over.  You can read the Rock and Roll Nation's Capitol Full Marathon race recap here.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Recipe: Spicy Black Bean Quinoa Stew

I am anti-processed foods and always advocate making as much from scratch as you can, but I know that some nights are just too busy or you are just too tired.  This recipe is a hearty and delicious dinner that takes minutes to throw together.

All the ingredients can be found at Trader Joe's. 

This recipe is even faster if you already have quinoa pre-made in the fridge as I often do, but if you don't, no fear....quinoa takes about 15 mins and you can do other things will it simmers on the stove.

First, cook the quinoa.  You have to rinse it first so I pour it out into a strainer and rinse it with cold water.  Then I toss it in a big stew pan.  The TJ's quinoa has 3 cups of quinoa in the bag so I add 5 cups of water in with it.  Bring to boil, then cover with lid and let simmer for 15 mins.

Once, the quinoa is cooked, I take half out and put in a pyrex container for leftovers.  I can use this later in the week to make other meals and I often use it for breakfast in place of oatmeal.

With the remaining quinoa in the pot, I then throw in the Black Bean Soup, the Corn Chile, the Cuban Style Black Beans, and the Green Chiles.  Then just let it get to your preferred temperature over the heat.  And just like that, dinner is served!  I garnish with some chopped avocado but you don't have to.  I have also considered buying two cans of the Green Chiles because they are so delicious!  This creates a lot of stew, so you will definitely have leftovers.  If you would like it thicker, add more quinoa in from the amount that you were reserving.  And if you want it even spicier, add in some sriracha sauce.

We eat this at least once a week and we always go back for seconds!   It is our go-to quick meal. I just keep the ingredients on hand in the pantry, so it's always ready to go.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Recipes: Whole Wheat Vegetable Orzo

This is a satisfying, hearty and healthy meal that is my go to pre-race.  I've eaten it before all of my half-marathons and before my marathon. 

Pasta is a great energy food.  Orzo are tiny pasta shapes that look like rice. 

2 cups whole wheat orzo
4 small carrots, peeled and diced
4 small zucchini, diced
2 cups of chopped broccoli florets (I use frozen and microwave it prior to adding)
4 tablespoons organic unsalted butter
1 cup grated organic cheddar cheese

Put the pasta in the saucepan together with the carrot.  Cover generously with boiling water and cook for five minutes over high heat.  Add the zucchini and broccoli and continue to cook for seven minutes.  Dump contents into a pasta strainer.  In the same pan you used, melt the butter.  Once melted pour back in the vegetables and pasta from the strainer.  Toss in the cheese and stir until melted all the way through.  Enjoy!

The beer is to calm the nerves!  Technically carbs too right?

You can also vary the vegetables if you like.  Using peas and corn instead of zucchini and broccoli. This recipe definitely makes enough for leftovers and this heats up very well, making it great to take to work. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Race Report: Rock and Roll Marathon Nation's Capitol

The Nation's Capitol, Washington DC. 

Cost:  I registered during a special online code they were having.  I would have to look how much I paid, I think it was $85.  I know my husband registered super early and only paid $45 for the half. 

My family: ready to rock
We made the cover! JK!
Expo:  Normally, I am not a huge fan of expos.  I sort of feel like you've been to one, you've been to them all.  I try to get in and out with my race packet.  I feel it's mostly just trying to get you to buy stuff.   I wasn't even going to go.  The plan was for Jim to run over there at his lunch and pick up both of our packets.  I called him at work that morning and told him since it was my first full marathon, that I should really go and so I can have first hand experience on the expo for my race report.  I am so glad that I did because this expo was AWESOME.  This was the best expo I have ever been too.  And it wasn't just because it was a big race.  Gasparilla was big too, but their expo was not nearly as good.  What made it great?  There was so much free stuff.  I got so many free tshirts and free fuel.  There was a burpee contest for free Spartan race series entries.  There was a Nuun station where I tried every flavor they make and bought some more of my favorite flavor, lemon-lime.  They had tv's showing a video of the course.  There was a poster making station.  They had lots of fun photo booths. 
Avery and I took the metro down to the DC Amory building and Jim met us there on his lunch break from work.  We had a lot of fun.  Jim also found a pair of his favorite running shorts for cheaper than we had seen at the stores, so that was a bonus too.

Metro full of runners

Parking/Transportation:  Huge perk of DC racing is that a lot of races you can take the metro to and from the start/finish and not have to worry about parking.  That was really nice.  They opened the metro two hours early on Saturday just for the event.  It was sort of cool to be on the metro at 5:45am and the whole thing was full of other runners.  There was so much excitement and energy.

start corrals before sunrise

Start:  The start was located right off the National Mall.  It was slated for a 7:30am start and we arrived at 6:30am.  I am glad we did because the bag check was so far from the start corrals.  Since we are a "D" last name, ours was almost the furthest away!  And the bathroom lines were very long as well.  There were 30 corrals which each started in it's own wave.  The entire start area spanned the width of the street and two entire blocks long.  There were 30,000 runners in a sold out field so it was pretty crazy.  I was in corral 14 and it took almost 20 mins for us to cross the finish line, so I didn't actually begin the race until 7:50 or so.  While I like wave starts so that it isn't too crowded and so that you are starting with those with similar paces to yourself, runners actually have to start in the correct corral for it to work properly.  Otherwise you are darting around people to keep pace and cutting around people who are walking four abreast....not ideal.  Some races, they really police the corrals and make sure you are in the right one based on your bib, but this race there was nothing of the sort.  There were a lot of people who just started wherever they felt like it.  It made the first few miles very congested.  Also, since it was about 20 mins of waiting in the corral before I crossed the start line, I had to go to the bathroom within the first mile.  There were a few single porta potties lining the first few miles, but each had a padlock on them.  Not sure why...but runners kept veering off and getting frustrated that they were locked.  By the time everyone made it to the open set of bathrooms at mile 2, it was packed!  There were 8 of them, but each line was 12 runners deep!  I lost an entire 3 minutes waiting in line.  It was such a bummer because the entire song "Thrift Shop" played while I was in line and I was looking forward to running to that for a boost!  Afterwards, when I checked my pace it was confirmed it was a 3 min loss.  Mile 1 was an 8:30 pace and Mile 2 was an 11:46.  Yikes! 

Just passing the Kennedy Center

Rock Creek Park

Course: The start line was on Constitution Ave. surrounded by the sights of the White House, Smithsonian Libraries and Washington Monument.  We ran past the White House and Lincoln Memorial, across the river and back.  Then we followed the river under the Kennedy Center and headed into Rock Creek Park.   I ate a pack of my Jelly Belly sport beans here about mile 5.  The biggest hill of the course came as we exited Rock Creek Park and entered into the Adams Morgan neighborhood.  I pysched myself out for that hill a bit because when we drive it, it seems huge.  But it all honesty, it wasn't bad and it was over before I knew it.  I get a lot of hill practice as we live on a really big one that I run every time I go for a run.  As I got to the top of the hill (about mile 7), my friend Anna was there cheering me on and hopped in to run along side of me and be my hydration sherpa for a while.  For the next ten miles, I had a non-stop conversation while running with Anna.  I definitely wasted some energy there, but it was a nice distraction too.  I never usually talk during races, but I knew I was purposely trying to take the first 13 super easy.  As part of the Rock and Roll format, there are live bands and cheer squads along the course at every mile.  Since I run with headphones, I didn't really hear every band.  As we continued through the Adams Morgan area, there were lots of young adults partying on their porches cheering us on in crazy costumes and offering up beer and mimosas to the runners.  I will admit, the mimosas looked good! Since I was doing so much talking, I think I missed out on a lot of sights that I would have normally taken in.  My husband asked me if I saw this or that after that race and I said "no".  Next time around, I will be more in the moment!

 The split off of the half marathoners and the full marathoners was well marked and we diverted just before mile 13.  Originally I was worried because there were about 25,000 half marathoners and only 5,000 marathoners that it would be lonely after the split off but it was actually really nice to finally have a bit of space.  It was crowded all the way to the split.

I knew once we hit mile 13, that the real fun was about to begin.  I was now officially entering into the longest race I had ever run.  Since Jim ran the half marathon, he was supposed to get his bag at bag check, hopped on a Capitol Bike Share bike and met me along the course to cheer me on just before the split. Getting his bag back at bag check was an absolute nightmare (more on that later) so he couldn't get to the course until much later.   I saw him at about mile 15.  He had my water bottle with Nuun in it and that tasted so good.   I had my lemon Gu at this point.   He rode ahead to meet us at another stop and then decided to just return the bike and run a long side me with his backpack on.  What a guy!

My favorite picture from the race. 
I had to stop at mile 16 because the Morton's Neuroma in my feet was really starting to act up and I was actually saying out loud "Ow, ow, ow" with each step.   I sat on a curb, took off my shoes and socks, and rubbed my feet to make the pain go away.  Once again, lost time but I had no choice.  Once I started running again,  at mile 18 the 4:00 pace group (which had been my time goal) caught up to me and passed me.  I had been ahead of them the entire race and now they were passing me.  That was mentally hard to take and a beat myself up a little bit.  At that point, I told Jim and Anna that I need to focus and I put back in my headphones and "got into the zone".  That area was really nice as it was the Anacostia Riverfront walk.

I saw a set of bathrooms at mile 19 and while I didn't really have to go, I stopped anyway since there was no line and didn't know when that would happen again.  This part of the course got a bit weird.  Anna asked if I wanted my picture taken and Jim said, "Um, not the best background"-we were running right past junk yards and scrap metal piles.  Not the best scenery on that part of the course.  Here, I had a Cliff shot block for some additional energy.  Anna split off here to run the rest of her training run and Jim stayed with me. 

Hitting mile 20 was symbolic because I knew that everything I ran after this was going to be the longest I had ever run in MY LIFE.  It felt quite amazing actually and I felt so empowered.  As we were crossing over the bridge, I felt my bib flapping in the wind so I turned my bib belt around so it could flap on my back and Jim noticed that my bib was only attached on one side.  I had lost one of my bib clips.  We had to stop and Jim ruffled through the backpack to find safety pins.  I took off my bib belt and then safety pinned my bib to my chest.  Once again, more lost time, but couldn't do anything about it.  I can't believe I almost lost my bib number!
Mile 20!

Mile 21, my stomach started to bother me a bit.  Not the "I'm working out too hard I'm going to puke feeling" but the "My stomach is so acidic, I need Tums or I am going to puke" feeling.  This is where I really started to crave that chocolate milk they kept advertising they would have at the finish.  I needed something basic to even out my acidic stomach.  I have always been someone whose stomach doesn't do well with sugar.  If I eat candy on an empty stomach it makes me feel very sick, so I don't really eat sweets at all.  I think that all the sugar from the Gu and sport beans was starting to catch up with me since the real food (oatmeal) that I had eaten at been at 5am and it was now about 11am.  The feeling kept getting worse.  I am not going to lie, tears were shed at mile 22.  As I was running that mile, tears were streaming down my face.  My stomach hurt so badly, I knew I was off my time goal and I just felt like it was all crashing in around me.  I mentally told myself to suck it up because there was nothing I could do at this point, I was going to finish this thing whether or not I had to crawl across the finish line while throwing up.  The downside was, I didn't eat anything else to fuel from this point forward and didn't drink any water because my stomach just hurt too badly. 

I was eagerly awaiting the mile 23 mark so that I could tell myself that I only had a 5k left.  But it still felt far!  Once I knew I only had a mile and a half to go, I started to get really happy.  I was about to finish A MARATHON.  The last mile was almost a straight away with the stadium clearly visible.  It felt like a very long mile, because the stadium never seemed to be getting that much closer.  Once you got to the stadium, the finish line was still about a half mile to go, uphill and around a corner.  You could see it but could also see the hill you had to complete to get there.  It had never felt so far away. :-)  As I came up that hill, I looked around and smiled.  I saw Anna and Jim cheering me on and calling out my name.  I started to pick it up the finish, and so did the girl next to me.  So I ran harder and then so did she.  Neither of us wanted to let the other get ahead on that final stretch to mat.  We crossed the line in a perfect sprint to a perfect tie.  I told her "good run" and headed off to find some real food to ward off the stomach pain.  I was proud of myself that I still had that kick in me at the end. 

Enjoying my beer post race
Finish:  I crossed the finish line and got handed my medal.  Right as I was crossing I heard Cowboy Mouth just finishing up their song, "Joe Strummer".  They were the headliner of the post race concert and they were saying goodbye as I was walking through the shoot. Major disappointment and poor planning on RnR's part (since a lot of marathoners would be missing the headliner).   I got a bottle of water and started to drink it.  There were a few finish line photographers there taking pictures of us against the Rock and Roll background holding up our medals.  My bib was crumpled at that point and I haven't received those pictures yet and I think its because they couldn't read my number.  Then I made a bee line for the chocolate milk.....ahhhhh I had been thinking about this for the last 4 miles!  I got there and they told me they were all out.  I actually said outloud, "You've got to be kidding me!".  Another lady was pretty upset too.  There were still a lot of marathoners that were going to be finishing (about 2000 more!)  That was definitely poor planning.  I saw bananas and bagels so grabbed both.  I ate the banana even though I didn't want to (more sugar) and gave Jim the bagel (it was so dry).  Afterwards, I saw someone walking by with chips and realized that would have been a good choice, fat and salt, but once you are out of the food area, they don't let you back in...bummer.  I sat with Anna and Jim on a curb and we all chatted for a bit.  Jim and I decided we might as well go take advantage of our free Michelob Ultra at the beer garden.  We said our goodbyes to Anna and I once again thanked her for being my water girl.  On the way to the beer garden, luckily there were food trucks (though they also were out of almost everything) we did each get a veggie slice of pizza and it was delicious!

Grade: C
If I was to give this race a grade, as I have done the others it would be a C.  Which is sad.  It was my first marathon and I wanted to love it.  In many ways I did, but there was a lot to be desired.
1. It was a great course, for most of it.  The Marathon course did travel through some not so scenic areas, which I know it's hard to miss when you are trying to fit in 26 miles within the district. 
2. Bag check retrieval was a nightmare!  My husband said it took over an hour waiting in line to get his bag back.  He said there was almost a riot.  He said people were getting very angry.  I think that they were very understaffed.
3.  Out of chocolate milk at the finish!  This made me so sad as I was really, really looking forward to it.  They completely hyped this up at the expo and mentioned it multiple times at the starting line that it would be there waiting to rehydrate and replenish us....well it wasn't
4.  Seems petty, I know, but the shirts for the half marathoners and the marathoners are exactly the SAME.  I've never run a race where that has happened.  With this being my first full, I really wanted a specific shirt for my accomplishment.  Instead, Jim ran the half and I ran the full and we have the same exact shirt.  A little disappointing. 
5. The finish line concert.  This really was upsetting.  RnR planned this big finish line concert because it is the Rock and Roll Marathon after all, except, the way that they plan it.  Most marathoners (about 50%) don't even cross the finish line until after the headliner of the entire concert is finished with their set.  This seems like poor planning to me.  Have some more openers so that everyone can catch the headliner.  That seems to make sense to me :-(  I missed Cowboy Mouth and that makes me sad.  I hope RnR learns from that....though probably not.  It really seems that they cater to the half marathoners and the full marathoners are truly second fiddle.

Overall, I did enjoy running a marathon.  Would I run another marathon?  Heck yes!  Would I run another Rock and Roll event again?  No.  I really don't like the way that they treat the full marathoners....they are running twice as far....don't discount them!  Even if I was running a RnR half I wouldn't do it.  The only one I may ever do is San Diego, only because it's the original (so hopefully they have that to a science) and because the City of San Diego will always have my heart, (it's where I met my hubby and we lived for our dating/early years of marriage)!

Recovery: That afternoon after the marathon, I was definitely tired.  My hip flexors and quads were the most sore, but I really just wanted to go to bed.  But with a two year old, I just had to count down the hours until she went to bed and then I crawled in to mine not long after!  The next day the hip flexor pain was gone, the quads were still a little sore, but nothing too bad.  We took my mother in law to Georgetown and walked all around the city and I was fine.  The only thing that was acting up was my knee were a few weeks ago my knee bursitis had really been bothering me.  And today, with two days of rest under my belt, I plan to head out there for an easy 3 miler with Avery in the stroller...if she will cooperate!  :-)

I was beyond humbled by the amount of support that I received while training and after finishing.  Fellow bloggers, family and friends (in person, through email, texts, phone calls, facebook), and even mail!  (Thanks Sheri!)  My neighbor who has completed two marathons herself stopping by that night to drop off a bottle of wine (Thanks Kristi!).  You all are amazing!  

I learned a lot running this first marathon and that's what I wanted it to be -A learning experience.  That is how I approached my first half marathon and walked away loving it and craving for more.  I really got a good gauge of how each mile feels.  The second 13.1 really is a whole different ball game than any race I've ever run!  The biggest thing I walked away from this race learning was that I NEED to find different ways to fuel.  I am going to start looking into more natural fuel sources than the sugary Gu and Sport Beans.  They just tear up my insides.  (Even looking at them right now as I added these links made my stomach turn...ugh).  I am going to try HumaGel which is more natural and contains Chia Seeds (my favorite!).  I am also going to try and make my own fuel sources as well like ultra-marathoner Scott Jurek does.  I plan on also trying to carry pit-less cherries or prunes as fuel.  No Meat Athlete has a recipe for homemade gel that I plan on giving a whirl as well.

Mostly, I learned a lot about myself.  I can do anything.  That is truly how I feel right now, on top of the world!  I never thought I could run a marathon, ever.  But I did it.  It scared me.  Even as I signed up back in November, it terrified me.  All through training, I had moments of self doubt...I asked myself why am I doing this?  Could I actually run 26.2 miles?  Everyone is stronger than they realize.  They just have to not be afraid to put themselves to the test!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Recipe: Risotto with Butternut Squash

2 1/2 cups of chopped onion
5 tablespoons unsalted butter or coconut oil (vegan)
2 1/2 cups brown basmati rice
5 cups boiling water
30 ounces of chopped butternut squash (I use pre-chopped)
30 ounces of diced tomatoes (I use petite diced tomatoes in a can)
2 1/2 cups grated cheddar cheese (I use a bag that contains 2.5 cups) or daiya dairy free cheese (vegan)

Saute the onion in half the butter until softened.  Stir in the rice until well coated.  Pour in the boiling water, cover the pan, and cook for 8 mins over high heat.  Stir in the butternut squash, reduce the heat, and cook covered, for about 12 mins or until the water has been absorbed.

Meanwhile, melt the remaining butter in a small saucepan, add the tomatoes, and saute for 2 to 3 mins.  Stir in the cheese  until melted, then stire the tomato and cheese mixture into the cooked rice.

This recipe is adapted from Annabel Karmel's cookbook for babies.  (Which is a great gift for a new mom, btw!)  We used to cook this when Avery was first eating solids and she loved it and so did we.  So I'd make a big batch and we'd all eat it for dinner.  Then I would send the extras in little containers with her to eat at daycare and some for both adults to eat at work the next day.  Win. 

This makes a HUGE batch and is suitable for freezing if you would like to.  We use it for left overs for the next few days.  The reason I make such a big batch partially as well is because our grocery store (Harris Teeter) sells pre-chopped butternut squash in a container that contains 32 ounces so I just base the recipe off that size.  If you don't want a ton of leftovers, you could always cut the recipe in half especially if you are peeling and chopping your own squash. 

I also use brown organic basmati as opposed to white because it's healthier, with more fiber and a lower GI (Glycemic Index value).  Basmati rice in general is a lower GI rice. 

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Training: Week 11

Week 11: Sunday: 12k race and yoga; Mon: REST; Tues: REST; Weds: unplanned rest; Thurs: Taught Spin; Fri: REST; Sat: 7 miles

Wow, week 11.  Race day is almost here.  I know that taper is a slow decrease in miles and not a cliff, but that is hard in a way.  It's strange not to run as much, but in a way I almost want to not run at all....too risky!  I am terrified in the back of my head that I am going to somehow injure myself and not be able to complete the 26.2 and all this hard work will go down the tubes. 

I started out week 11 with a 12k race.  Racing is prob. not the best during taper but since I am competing in the DC Road Runners Snowball Series, I have no choice.  I have to race if I want to win a series age group award!  I ran a great race and I was happy with myself and performance.   I came in third in my age group (F 30-40) and was only four seconds off the second place runner.  I felt I had a bit more in me to push it, but I kept telling myself, "This is not THE race, your marathon is".  I knew I had to protect myself and not risk burnout and injury.   Most of the race was on a trail through the woods, so I was dodging roots and mud and knowing that I had to protect my still unstable ankle (since I've already sprained it twice during marathon training!)

My runkeeper GPS was acting super funky and was a mile behind when I finished the race.  This of curse threw my average pacing off and since I had it programmed to give me average pace every 1/2 mile, it was telling me I was running 10:20 miles, which in a way was really mentally dragging me down and causing me to beat myself up a bit.  Because I definitely FELT I was running faster (turns out I definitely was, I was at 8:09 per mile!).  I guess that's when technology can have a down side and those runners who say they run naked (without technology) here's a definite reason they probably do! 
 The afternoon after the race, my husband and I head to our favorite fast food place, SweetGreen, for a Misoba bowl and then to the Sunday afternoon Yoga class.  I took rest days on Monday and Tuesday.

Wednesday came as an unexpected rest day.  I was set to teach 6am Extreme Fit at the Bethesda Y, but with impending bad weather, Montgomery County closed schools and the group fitness follows their schedule.  Turns on we just got wet snow that quickly turned to rain.  I would have gone out for  a run if it was real snow, but that wet stuff was heavy and would get stuck to my face and was just yuck.  I probably should have taken a spin on the treadmill, but didn't. "Snow" days just make you feel lazy :-)

Thursday night I taught my spin class and really felt like I gave myself a good workout.  I was covered in sweat!  Friday I took a rest day.

Saturday, I went out for a quick 7 miler.  It was a GORGEOUS day here in the DC area and I ran in the sun in short sleeves and it was everything that reminds me of why I love to run.  It was just what I needed.  Took the rest of the day off in anticipation of the early 10k race in the morning (and even earlier with that time change). 

It's really starting to feel real now.  The test of 26.2 is so close!

Monday, March 11, 2013

This Is How I Roll: Foam Rolling

Not sure I look as cool as this guy while I'm rolling....but I'm sure its close.
Foam Rolling.  You've probably heard about it and how great it can be for runners (and other athletes alike).  I've recently invested in my own foam roller instead of just using them at the gym.  I bought mine at Sears when we purchased our treadmill.  They have a whole workout section, who knew?

It's the NordicTrak 3-in-1 foam roller and it runs $30.  Not bad.  The nice thing about the 3-in-1 system is you can customize the density of the foam roll to your preferences.  It includes 18 in. foam roller, 18 in. rolling massage stick, high density foam roller layer, and low density foam roller layer.  There is also an included instructional DVD to "learn how to reduce muscle tension and improve your recovery time".  I actually haven't used the DVD, because I learned how to use them in a yoga class once.  But it could definitely be helpful for someone new to rolling.

 Foam rolling is touted as being able to stretch and lengthen your muscles for fast relief after hard workouts/long runs.  It is also said to shorten recovery time.  My school of thought is, if it can help and it isn't going to hurt, why not give it a try? Runner's World as even called it the "Magical Foam Roller".  A video on how to use can be found here:  How to Use a Foam Roller When I use it, especially on my IT band (outside of hip), I can definitely feel a release in tension.  It also feels like a great massage on my well used quads and hamstrings as well.

I also found this cool infographic on Pinterest as well:

Happy Running and Happy Rolling!  :-)

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Training: Week 10

Week 10: Sun: REST; Mon: Spin and Strength; Tues: REST; Weds: REST; Thurs: Taught spin and 20 mi run; Fri: REST; Sat: REST

Week 10 began with us flying back from Florida late Saturday night and I planned on getting up early Sunday morning for the RCA Ten Mile Challenge representing DC Road Runners.  With my blisters still nagging from Saturday morning's 15k race in Tampa and knowing I had to get in 20 miles per my training schedule that day, I decided to skip it.  (Jim ran it and did great!)  I didn't end up getting out there for my 20 miles and with my mom staying at our house, I decided to take a rest day.

Monday I headed to RCSC for a Spin class with my neighbor Andrea and then did the strength circuit at the club.  I took Tues and Weds as rest days.  Thursday morning I taught a spin class at RCSC and then that afternoon headed out on my first ever 20 miler!  I ran 8 miles from our house down to the white house.
horrible self shot!

I then over to the memorials and at mile 10 stopped for bathroom break and refueling and then headed home.  It was a great run with so much to see.  We are lucky to live in such a great running city.  The way home was almost entirely uphill and I hit a lot of stoplights heading of downtown as it bordered on rush hour- it shows in my splits!  I saw this really cool street sign on my run and it made me smile.  I had to stop and take a picture.  It was just too fitting!

Overall, my 20 miler went awesome.  I gained such a confidence boost from that run.  I felt like I could have pulled out the extra 6 miles AND I had taught spin that morning.  It made me feel ready for race day and feel that a 4:00 goal is completely possible.  I couldn't believe that this was my final long run before the Marathon.  It's been an amazing journey and I was ready to begin my taper.  I took the following two days off for rest to let my body recover from such a long run and the elevation gain that I completed with it.  Runkeeper told me it was my greatest elevation gain to date, on my 20 miler no less...go big or go home I suppose! 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Recipe: Pumpkin and White Bean Soup

Pumpkin and White Bean Soup 

A spicy, high protein, super food soup

Makes ~6 servings.
Recipe adapted from Dietitian on the Run's recipe.

1 tsp coconut oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
2 cans (15 oz) organic white (cannellini) beans, drained & rinsed
1 can (15 oz) organic pumpkin puree
3 cups vegetable broth (low-sodium)
5 tablespoons of chia seeds (they will soften and become gel like after 20 mins)
4 tablespoons of nutritional yeast
Seasoning to taste: turmeric, pumpkin pie spice, cayenne pepper.

In a deep pan, heat the oil over medium; sauté onion and garlic until softened.  Pour the rinsed beans and vegetable broth into the blender.  Blend until smooth.  Add this to the pot.  Add remaining ingredients, stir to mix well – this may take a few minutes as the pumpkin “melts” into the mixture.

Bring to a boil; reduce heat and let simmer for 25-30 minutes. Stir frequently.

Serve with Manitoba Harvest  hemp seeds (for additional amino acids) and a green onion garnish.

This soup is vegan.  The chia seeds provide wonderful omega-3s as well as research has been done on the health benefits of eating "gelatinous" foods.   The nutritional yeast provides a source of B12 and protein.  Pumpkin is high in vitamins A, C, and E and rich in minerals.  Tumeric is a powerful anti-oxidant. Cannellini beans are full of fiber, protein, anti-oxidants, are a low glycemic food and have detoxifying properties.

I've recently discovered just how easy soups are.  You really can't mess this up this SUPER will taste good!  Just go with what you have and feel free to make adjustments according to your preferences!

Recipe: Kale Chips

Kale Chips 

 Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). 

Carefully remove the leaves from the thick stems and tear into bite size pieces. Wash and thoroughly dry kale with a salad spinner.   Spread out onto baking sheet. 

Spray kale with olive oil (I use the Misto Sprayer) and sprinkle with garlic salt and nutritional yeast.  Which is a great source of B12.

Bake until the edges brown but are not burnt, 10 to 15 minutes. 

Enjoy!   They are deliciously crunchy, quick, easy, and good for you!

Did you know that Kale has more iron per calorie than beef? 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Product Review: 5k Runner App

Information from iTunes can be found here

With Spring officially upon us, running season is in full swing. Some of you may be looking to get back into running, or even lacing up the shoes for the first time. I wanted to share the Couch to 5K program that I used to get back into running after having my daughter (by c-section).  I was telling someone that I met at my AFAA Indoor Cycling training about this app after he mentioned he wanted to run a 5k and realized I should do a review on my blog and spread the word!

What’s most appealing about this app, at least to me, was that it tells me exactly what to do and when to do it. It breaks it down into easily manageable segments.

Make sure you’ve enabled coaching, he or she will tell you to begin with a walk.  Your audio coach will prompt you when it’s time to walk, time to run, and when you’ve reached the halfway point. The voice will tell you what to do over your music, which is very nice.

On the screen, you’ll be able to see your progress as the app tracks the time left in this current session, what activity is coming up next, how much time has passed, and how much time is left for the total workout. You can also pause or skip ahead if you’re so inclined.

What it doesn't do: provide more information about each run, such as an average pace, calories burned, or distance. If you are just starting out, these are things I wouldn't be too worried about at this point.  The goal is truly about the distance and time spent running.  But, if you are, you can always have Nike+ or RunKeeper, both free GPS apps running in the background for your pace and cals. 

The downside is also that it is now $2.99 to download.  When I used it two years ago, the whole app was free.  I guess it was their way of getting a following and word of mouth advertising (it worked!).  I would definitely say that $2.99 (less than a Starbucks coffee) is a pretty cheap price to get you across the finish line for your first 5k! 

It is an 8 week program, so find a local 5k and work yourself back 8 weeks from that date and begin.  Or if you can't find a local 5k and want to get started right away, by all means do it!  You can always repeat the final weeks of the training program leading up to race day.  

If you download it and start using it, please come back and comment on this post letting me know how its going!  I would love to follow your success as you cross that finish line! 

Finish line of my first 5k post baby, using the 5k Runner App!