Posts tagged ‘race’
Everyone has their own theory on how to best prepare for a big race. One camp: Eat a lot of carbs the week before, but carbo-loading the night before is a bad idea. Another group: Eat as you normally do, changing nothing from the way you have been training. Traditional opinion: Carbo-load. There are so many schools of thought, and I have no real opinion. I am, however, a firm believer that friendship and support the night before a big race is the best medicine.
That being said, I invited all of my Boston friends running the half-marathon over for a homemade pasta party the night before our half-marathon. Some were running their first race, while others have run half and whole marathons (one even qualified for Boston!) We made fresh pasta, enjoyed a good meal, swapped stories from previous races and tips for race day. We laughed and joked, getting nervous energy out before the big day and bonding over our collective goal of running 13.1 miles.
Before my friends arrived, I started on the pasta sauce. I roasted some garlic in the oven, then chopped that and sautéed it with some onions. I added whole, peeled tomatoes with the paste they were canned in, and let it all come to a boil. I used the immersion blender to get a nice smooth base, and then added one more can of tomatoes, as well as some salt, pepper, parsley, and bay leaves for seasoning. To make it sugar-free, I added a few spoonfuls of apple sauce, simply to cut the bitterness of the tomatoes. I left it uncovered and let it continue to simmer, allowing the whole tomatoes from the last can to break down into chunks. The sauce came out perfectly, and was really easy to make!
Rolling out pasta for 10 people is a big job, but many hands make light work! It was fun to show my friends how to make the dough, then roll it first into sheets and the cut it into strips. For a basic pasta recipe, see here. As they took over the rolling process, I pulled together a simple veggie side of kale with Balsamic vinegar, white beans and dried cranberries. The cranberries were an afterthought, but really made this dish. I will definitely make this again – over cous cous or quinoa, this would be a perfect weeknight meal for kale!
Everyone left full and happy, ready for our big race! I have shared the recipes from the evening, pared down into normal family sized meals. Feeding 10 hungry athletes required 3x this amount! This post is scheduled to go up as I am running. Wish us all luck and I will be back tomorrow with the race day recap and results!
Question: Have you run a race before? What are some of your pre-race traditions?
Classic Tomato Sauce
adapted from here, for 1 lb pasta
2 28 ounce cans whole tomatoes, packed in paste
3 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp unsweetened apple sauce
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tbsp dried parsley
1 bay leaf
2 cloves roasted garlic
Wrap garlic cloves in foil and roast in toaster or conventional oven at 350 degrees for a half hour. Mince the roasted garlic finely, along with the onion. Saute in olive oil in a large pot over medium heat until the onions begin to soften. Add the red wine vine vinegar and one of the cans of tomatoes. Allow to come to a boil, and then reduce the heat. Using an immersion blender, create a smooth base for the sauce. Add the second can of whole tomatoes, including the paste. Add the apple sauce and season with salt, pepper, parsley and a bay leaf. Allow to simmer uncovered until the sauce begins to thicken. Occasionally, use your spoon to break the whole tomatoes down into chunks. Serve over cooked pasta, fresh or dried, with fresh chopped basil and grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.
Kale with White Beans and Cranberries
serves 2 as a main dish (with a grain) or 4 as a side
1 bunch kale
1 can white beans
1/4 cup dried cranberries
3 cloves roasted garlic
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Roast the garlic as instructed above. Mince, and saute in a large pan over medium heat. Meanwhile, remove the kale from the stems and tear into bite sized pieces. Rinse well, and add to the saute pan. Add the rinsed beans and Balsamic vinegar, cover with a lid, and allow to steam for 4-5 minutes. Add the cranberries and stir to combine. Serve hot, alone as a side dish or over a bed of cous cous or quinoa as a main dish.
You already know how much I love breakfast… nothing is better than a steaming bowl of oatmeal and cup of hot coffee, maybe except for pancakes! Pancakes are definitely my favorite weekend treat, and were especially great to carbo-load the Saturday before my big race! The recipe is adapted a little from my homemade pancake mix, with the addition of a little more flour and baking powder to make them a little fluffier. You can leave the banana out if you want an alternative to the silver dollar pancakes I last posted!
The weekend before starting school, I competed in the NYC Triathlon. Crazy, I know. That’s what my mom said when I told her I was signing up more than 6 months ago. “But you’re not an athlete!” was her first reaction. Thanks for the support, Mom! It is true – I was not always so into health and fitness. I grew up taking dance classes my whole life and was generally interested in health and nutrition, but my passion for exercise and healthy eating didn’t really take off until junior or senior year of college. Since then, I have run a 10k and a half marathon, and have been continually looking for ways to push myself just a little further.
Well, this really pushed me! An Olympic distance triathlon is a 1.5-k swim, a 40-k bike, and a 10-k run. In miles, that sums to be 31 in all. Since I already bike around Boston for transportation and run pretty regularly, I figured the only really hard part would be the swim. I trained a lot while I had regular access to a pool, and made a few feeble attempts at swimming during my time at home and abroad. I kept up pretty well with biking and running, and felt mostly prepared going into the race.
Conditions on the Sunday morning of the triathlon were not the greatest – rainy, with chances of thunderstorms that threatened to cancel the swim. We had to wait an hour for weather clearance (and for a car accident to be cleared from our bike route) before starting the swim, and my nerves definitely began to build. To top it all off, I was walking blindly, since my glasses were safely with my bike at the transition zone! Luckily, my roommate and fellow tri-racer was there to guide me, and we spotted my parents and sister cheering us on from the sidelines right before walking down the
gangplank to the start dock.
Seconds later, the whistle blew and I was off, swimming down the Hudson River. I took a few strokes and was immediately panicked by how dirty the water was. I was terrified of getting it in my goggles, and soon had to flip over to my back to calm down. Luckily, I had practiced my back stroke, knowing this would be a good option if I became anxious during the swim. Every time I would return to freestyle, my panic would return, so I ended up making it down the whole way on my back. Not the fastest, but at least I could stay calm that way, I reasoned.
After a 700m barefoot run to the transition zone and a quick change under a towel, I was off on my bike. The climb onto the course was really steep as we were warned, and I immediately ran into problems. I couldn’t muster enough strength to get up the hill, and my foot knocked the chain off as I struggled to unclip from my pedals. Luckily, the chain was an easy fix and I was soon on my way for the 40K ride along the West Side Highway. The bike ride was pretty smooth. I played “chase the rabbit,” constantly trying to catch up to and pass the cyclist in front of me. It downpoured twice, but otherwise stayed relatively cool for most of the ride. The rain made me a little more cautious, since I was afraid of brake failure and hydroplaning, but it overall felt really great! It really helped to spot my fan section twice!
The final leg was a 10-k run, the part I was least worried about. I have run road races before and figured that this would be an enjoyable way to end the race. It turned out to be really hard, both mentally and physically! My legs took about 2 miles to fully transition from the bike ride, and I had to talk to myself for the entire first half of the run to keep myself going. After getting some water and hitting a stride, the next 3 miles were a lot smoother. I was beat by mile 5, though, especially exhausted since the sun decided to shine in full glory, making it now both humid and hot. The final mile was hilly and curvy and the finish line seemed nowhere in sight. I finally spotted the flags in the distance and began to sprint, only to find out that it was the beginning of the finish zone and not the end! I finally passed through, clocking in for a total time of 3 hours and 33 minutes. The swim took me 28 minutes, shorter than it felt, and the bike ride was 1:48, longer than it felt. The run was 58 minutes, and the rest of the time was spent transitioning.
I am really proud of finishing my first triathlon. It proves to me that I am an athlete, even if I am new to it. I am also sad to know that two people didn’t finish. Although deaths in triathlons are rare, there were two casualties during my race, both in the swim portion. Researchers claim that pre-existing heart defects are often the cause of sudden athlete death, but it does not make the news any less sobering.
If I can swim down the Hudson, bike the West Side Highway, and run through Central Park, covering 31 miles of Manhattan, the next year of med school, even with the dreaded board exams looming in the distance, should be a
pancake walk, right?!
adapted from my pancake mix
1 1/2 cup flour (all-purpose or mix of all-purpose and whole wheat)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
1 cup milk
1 tbsp butter
2 bananas, sliced
Mix together all of the dry ingredients. Whisk in wet ingredients until well incorporated. Spray a hot griddle or pan with cooking spray, and pour desired amount of batter for pancakes. Immediately add banana slices. When bubbles appear, flip to brown the other side. Serve with pancake syrup or jam.