Posts tagged ‘running’
Several minutes after the explosions at the Boston Marathon, I got a phone call from a friend, “Did you hear anything about bombs at the Marathon?” I hadn’t, and immediately hopped on Google. Luckily, I was home studying and doing laundry, happy to have an unexpected day off from my clerkship. Soon after, texts and calls started pouring in from everyone I knew– “ARE YOU OK?” Finally, I put up the obligatory Facebook post letting everyone know I was safe. I heard from friends who were running and cheering, relieved to find out that everyone was physically unharmed.
The city that I have loved and grown to call home over the past 7 years has had one tough week. From the tragic bombings on Monday to the epic police chase that shut down the entire metropolitan area on Friday, I think we are all ready for a return to normalcy. I am particularly grateful that this is abnormal for my city, with places like Syria and the constant threat of suicide bombs on the forefront of my mind. My heart mourns for the families who lost loved ones and for those who were injured. However, this week cannot come to a close without a time of reflection. I remember the many years I spent cheering on runners- roommates, friends and strangers alike- from various spots along Beacon Street to behind the finish line as a volunteer. I am thankful for the spirit of the event that causes every spectator to catch the running bug, even if just for a day. I am thankful for the city that has taught me so much, and for the streets that have made me a runner. I am proud to call myself a Boston girl, and a runner.
With that being said, I cannot end this reflective post without sharing my current running struggles. After taking the winter off with a knee injury (and a lot of snow and ice), I am officially back in my sneakers and on some of my favorite routes. Except now every block is a challenge, every mile is an accomplishment. My pride is crushed when I see mile splits that are whole minutes slower than last fall. THIS IS HARD. It is like I am starting over, and I am struggling. However, I will not be defeated. I am signed up for a half-marathon with friends in May. Will I be ready? Maybe, maybe not. 4 miles today was a feat. But I will try. Whether I am running 1.4 or 4 or 14 miles, at least I am out there and I am trying. #runforboston
Question: What are your reflections on the past week’s events?
It snowed in October, and now it’s almost 70 degrees? Can someone tell the weather on the East Coast to stop messing around? Darkness at 4 pm and a noon run in shorts cannot coexist in my mind. But whether or not my mind is okay with it, that was my day! Thanks to Jenn for another WIAW – head over to check out other blogs for meal inspiration and recipes, and maybe join in next time! Here is a glimpse into my unseasonal day.
My newest blog project is to come up with a different flavor of oatmeal for 30 days. It was the brainchild of my roommate and friend Jon, and I am excited to see what delicious bowls come of it! I am sticking with just hot oatmeal, no baked or overnight oats or other fancy things. Just simple, low sugar, healthy and hot oatmeal bowls! Today was supposed to recreate a sugar cookie (with very little sugar, of course!) but had too much banana flavor. Banana oats aren’t bad though! I have an idea or two to get the sugar cookie oatmeal just right… like my page on Facebook for early previews of some oatmeal creations along the way!
Pre-run snack: 11am
Studying took longer than expected this morning. I wanted to be on my run by 11am so I could just eat lunch when I got back, but a few tough kidney problems (and chatty friends ;)) got in the way of that! To tide my hunger and keep me going for my run, I snacked on a homemade Larabar for pre-run fuel. I made these a few weeks ago, and they are still good out of the Tupperware in my fridge!
Did I have time to run for an hour? Not really. But the sunshine was taunting me through the window all morning and I just couldn’t resist. I set out in the beautiful weather, in shorts and a T-shirt (crazy!), for what is likely my last long run along the waterfront. I covered 7.1 miles and enjoyed every minute of it, not worrying about my pace or an upcoming training goal or the studying that faced me when I returned. I will still run outside during the winter, but it gets too windy to run along the water (I almost got blown away last week!) so this was probably my last time running one of my favorite routes until spring.
I always thought that a pita pizza was a common concept, but I am finding out that many of my friends have never heard of it. So spread the news about a cheater’s homemade pizza! This is a fast, easy, and fun way to get some veggies! To take it over the top, I like to make a slit in my pita and stuff it with a bit of cheese. So today for lunch, I enjoyed not just any pizza, but stuffed crust pita pizza. A bit of simple homemade sauce (just canned tomatoes and paste mixed together) with spinach, red pepper, and onion on top? Enough said. This kept me pretty full even after a long run, so my afternoon snack was just an unpictured apple and some unsweetened iced tea at Panera this afternoon.
I had some kale to use up and a friend coming for dinner, so I knew a soup was in my future! I wanted something a little different, so I tried out this recipe from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen for a North African Chickpea and Kale soup. Even without the saffron, the soup was still delicious! Warming wasn’t exactly what we needed on such an unseasonably warm evening, but we enjoyed the light spiciness of the broth! My friend contributed bread from Au Bon Pain, and brought dessert along as well! Whatever these were (Coconut Cherry Macroons dipped in chocolate, I think?) they were ah-mazing. I love coconut, and these were so great to savor slowly over great conversation, laughter and tears. I ended my night with more tea and a few handfuls of granola while cramming for my upcoming exam. Hopefully I have studied enough today between running, blogging and socializing, to do what I need to on this exam!
Question: What is your favorite pizza topping?
I had the most exciting of Friday evenings planned for last night. I biked to meet a friend for a run, ran along the Charles River through beautiful fall leaves as the sun set, and then biked home. My heart was filled with good conversations, beautiful fall pictures of Boston, and great exercise. I planned to make a great fall vegetable filled meal and settle into my laptop for an evening of writing a grant proposal. (I am reaching the age where I am okay lounging in slippers and getting work done on a Friday night if I am tired or busy, no longer feeling the need to go out to be able to say I did something. Does that mean I’m getting old?!) Anyway, a turn of events on the way home shook up my calm evening plans (I am okay, so don’t worry!) and so my fall dinner never happened. I have grand plans to make it tomorrow evening instead and will be back then with a post about it!
Until then, I have exciting news: my lovely mother is coming to visit for a girl’s weekend next week! We enjoy spending time together and are excited to get to share healthy meals, take walks in the Boston fall, and catch up on life. One exciting event we have planned for next weekend is the 2011 Komen Race for the Cure! My mom is a breast cancer survivor, and I was so excited to learn that a group of my classmates was forming a team for this event. Most of them will be running, but I will be walking the 5K with and in honor of my mom. She continues to be an inspiration for me of how to live a life of faith in the face of hardship and I am so thankful to be able to continue learning from her daily. If you are interested in supporting our team, check out this link. You can donate by searching me as a participant (“Jennifer New” will allow you to find me) or for our team (BUSM Say Yes to the Breast). Every donation, no matter the size, is helpful in funding research and treatment resources for breast cancer. It is a terrible diagnosis to receive, and hopefully the money we raise will help one less woman hear those words.
Question: Have you participated in cancer fundraising events in the past?
Time for another WIAW! Thank goodness this is a short week! I really needed Monday to recover from my half-marathon and other related festivities! I spent the day doing laundry, prepping snacks for the week, and enjoying good muscle-recovery food. Here is a glimpse into my day of domestic recovery!
I woke up much earlier than planned because I was starving! I guess running 13.1 miles the day before will do that to you! I grabbed a handful of granola and tried to fall back asleep, but eventually gave in and got up. I am done with my sugar fast, so I enjoyed jam again for the first time in three weeks! One of my favorite combos on toast is berry jam with goat cheese, and this sandwich was made extra special by homemade blackberry jam from my visit to Italy and fancy bread from the pre-race pasta party.
I spent most of my morning catching up on blog writing and reading, cleaning, doing laundry, and making snacks for the rest of the week! I made these bars from Miss Smart, and enjoyed a few bites as I was rolling them out! I also made these cookie dough balls from Chocolate Covered Katie, taste testing a bit here and there!
Vitamins and minerals in leafy greens are also essential for muscle recovery, so I made myself a big raw kale salad! Angela recommends allowing the kale to marinate in the dressing for 15 minutes, so that is what I did. The result: balsamic marinated raw kale with cranberries, celery and almonds. I was surprised at how good this was! The kale softened a bit in the dressing and had more flavor and crunch than normal lettuce leaves. And how could a combo of balsamic, almonds, and cranberries be bad?
I received a bag of whole almonds as a gift, and just couldn’t let them go to waste! I spent some time shelling them, and then made Chelsey’s cocoa roasted almonds. I probably nibbled as many cracked almond pieces as I did get successfully shelled almonds, but at least nothing went to waste. ;) And now I have a great study snack to satisfy any chocolate cravings I might have in the next few weeks! Afternoon snacking was rounded out by a crisp apple, though not pictured.
My original plan for the afternoon was to make a Roasted Garlic and Potato soup that I have been daydreaming of for a while, complete with some homemade bread, but the unseasonable weather changed my mood! After having the oven on for only 20 minutes to roast the almonds, I decided it was way too hot out to make soup and bread. I pushed that recipe back into my head until it cools down later in the week, and settled on some leftover barley and beet risotto instead. Served with a little shredded Parmigiano Reggiano cheese on top – just as good as the first time! My night was finished off with a handful or two of BBQ potato chips and a glass of red wine while studying with a friend – a little splurge to treat myself for the previous day’s work!
Hope to be making that soup later today now that fall is back in Boston… stop by later this week to see the results!
Question: What is the best thing you ate today?
I love road races. The energy that emanates from the thousands of runners gathered with both collective and individual goals is incredible. People of all shapes, sizes, levels of fitness and experience come together with the single purpose of running the best race they can. It leaves me smiling and bouncing out of my seat with excitement, like a kid on Christmas morning.
We boarded the shuttle buses at 7am to head over to Boston’s Franklin Park, full from a breakfast of toast with peanut butter and a lot of water. The weather yesterday was unseasonable – 7am and it was already 65 degrees outside. The high for the day was 81, so we continued to guzzle down water in light of the heat advisory and fear of dehydration. We arrived, got our bibs pinned on straight, stretched and warmed up a bit, and swapped last-minute tips with our friends. After a final run to the bathroom and bag check station, we were corralled inside the gates with the thousands of people registered to run that day.
They attempt to split you up by projected mile pace (6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 minute mile starts) but chaos and disorganization is inevitable with so many runners. After the Star Spangled Banner, the start gun went off and we began the slow trot to the start line. After crossing the line that would trip our timers, we took off. My roommate and I were planning on running the same pace, so we stuck together for the first few miles, weaving through the crowd and enjoying the beautiful early morning sunshine. We hit the first mile marker, and were shocked to find that we ran our first mile an 8 minutes. We blamed it on adrenaline, and tried to slow down a bit. Our second mile was just as fast though! I started to feel the heat a bit by mile 5, since the day was warming up quickly and there was only intermittent shade. I was sipping water at every stop, but still was starting to feel dehydrated. I was feeling chilled, and realized I wasn’t sweating enough! I slowed down through the next water stop, walking through to ensure I had plenty of time to drink. My official split time at 5 miles was 42:10, much faster than I anticipated!
At mile 8, they handed out goo, the sugary energy boost popular for long distance competitive events. I had a goo pack during the bike portion of my triathlon, and it was a huge life saver during that race, replenishing my energy levels and helping me get through the rest of the ride. I took the goo and a cup of water, but was immediately nauseous after one small sip. I tried to force one more sip down and then wash it down with water, but gave up after that. I realized that goo is pure sugar, which my body hadn’t seen in 3 weeks. No wonder it revolted! I dealt with nausea over the next mile or so, eventually falling behind my roommate as I walked through the next water station to rehydrate. I kept a good pace, clocking in my 10 miles at 1:28, 2 minutes under my planned 90 minutes.
Eventually, I saw my roommate’s blue tank top in the distance, but this time she was walking with another familiar blue shirt. I jogged up to them, only to find that our friend was in trouble. He was dealing with heat stroke and dehydration, staggering and delirious. Another runner had stopped to help him, noticing that he was weaving and about to faint. We walked with him for several minutes, but he told us that he already had help and the medics were on the way. He didn’t want to ruin our race, so he begged that we kept going. Torn, we left him with the Good Samaritan runner. At this point, my head was no longer in the game. I was worried about my friend, and also conscious of the fact that the conditions were potentially dangerous. I drank 2 full cups of water at the next stop to avoid dehydration, and allowed myself to walk off a cramp at one point. My roommate and I stuck together from this point forward, in case either of us ran into similar heat trouble. When we reached mile 12, we checked our watches and realized that our goal of completing the race in under 2 hours was still in reach. We picked up our pace, passing runners again as we ran through the final curves of the course. When we reached the final 400m, we looked at each other and decided to sprint. We crossed the finish line at 1:59, just making our goal! WE DID IT! Exhausted, thirsty, and in pain, we staggered for water and Gatorade. I realized how much my hip was hurting, and was crippled by a cramp in my foot that traveled up my leg. I sucked down some water and got a bite of bagel and banana, while collecting more food for later.
Before we could celebrate our own achievement, we had to head to the medic tent to check on our friend. Unfortunately, we didn’t know his number and they could not tell us anything about his condition without it. Still worried, we met our other friends at our planned spot and waited. Our fastest friends, who completed the race around 1:45, were there waiting for us. Our slower friends then trickled in. Finally, our heat-exhausted friend came to the meeting spot, medal and all. He fainted after we left him, but was revived with plenty of water and a few minutes to rest. He doesn’t remember much, but walked the last 3 miles of the race. He was one of two of our friends who ended up with heat stroke in the medic tent, and luckily both ended up being okay. When we were all together again, we celebrated our individual and collective accomplishments! We all finished the race, many of us achieving PR’s despite the heat. Most importantly, we were all safe and together again.
The celebrating continued at our friend’s house with a cookout. We shared the triumphs and tribulations of our personal struggles throughout the race, and laughed about and celebrated the day. It felt more like a summertime afternoon than an early fall day, especially with the grill roaring and the abundant BBQ food. I still had little appetite, likely still recovering from the adrenaline, dehydration and volume of water I imbibed, so I grazed slowly. I started with some pita chips and tatziki. I grazed on grapes. A few hours later, my stomach rumbled, so I got a veggie burger off the grill and topped it with some guacamole. Full from that and a veggie skewer, I continued to rehydrate. Quickly, I was hungry again! I enjoyed some juicy watermelon for dessert, and enjoyed my first baked good in several weeks!
That reminds me: an update on the sugar fast! Our three weeks are up, and so I can once again enjoy sugar! I must admit: I did cheat a few times. I took my “get out of jail free pass” to attend a friend’s dessert party, and occasionally snuck a granola bar or handful of yogurt-covered raisins while studying at the library. Was the experiment worth it? Yes and no! I think it was an interesting idea, and really made me aware of how much added sugar I consume, even with a relatively healthy diet. I don’t regularly consume baked goods or obvious sugar-laden treats, but do love jams, granola, and other sweetened treats. The only problem with giving up sugar before the race was that it made my body unable to tolerate the energy boosts classically given in a race. I doubt that the sugar fast helped my speed, but it was a fun experiment to make me more mindful of what I consumed on a daily basis.
My race day celebration ended with a group movie night to watch “Chariots of Fire.” I had never seen the classic, and enjoyed watching a movie that celebrated running and the inner drive of true athletes. Between that and the leftover race excitement, I know that I am still hooked on running and am looking forward to more races in the future!
Question: Do you have Columbus Day off? Did you do anything exciting with your long weekend?
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.