Phew! We got sweaty at Y7 Studio with a hot yoga class this week. DAVIDsTEA had a setup and was serving yummy tea to refresh us after we sweated buckets in a heated studio. Be sure to try their Serenity Now tea, it’s subtly sweet and calming, perfect post-workout.
It’s 2 a.m., and I’m up writing this. Just kidding! It’s like 2 p.m. and I’m writing on a lovely weekend afternoon because my usual scribe time—2 a.m.—is now filled with sleeping. Beautiful, deep, lovely, dreamy sleep. Continue reading “For My Fellow Insomniacs”
Wow, guys. Wow. That was…wow. There are so many feelings that run through you (and I mean that in the both a metaphorical and extremely literal sense) during a marathon, and you just hope that heat stroke is not one of them. Luckily, I didn’t have a catastrophic run like many people I saw, laying low in the medical tents and waiting for a sports drink. But let’s think positive. First, let’s talk about:
The Spectators: You guys are so many kinds of awesome. I’ve run a marathon with few to no spectators, and without anyone there to cheer you on, it’s gets rough. I’m so lucky to have amazing friends who came out to cheer on myself and my running partner! Their support at mile 12 energized us, and we definitely needed it, even so early in the race. And I can’t forget the people who brought out their hoses from their houses along the course to cool us down. More on that below, but for now we can say that they were lifesavers. Also, thank you to my friend, Colin, for a post-race macaroon, my favorite! It was so, so delicious.
The Stadium: Have you ever seen the sunrise at Dodger Stadium? Like, from really good seats? Because we have, and it’s beautiful.
The Bathrooms: I was impressed when, at mile 20, there was still toilet paper in the Porta-Potties.
The Course: We ran through many major Los Angeles landmarks, and it was pretty neat. There was entertainment along the way and plenty to see and take in. It was a beautiful run.
The Running Buddy: I can’t say enough about my amazing my friend and running partner, Stacey. She’s a talented athlete and always comes prepared with an excited attitude (and great stories) that make running in circles for hours lots of fun. I could not have done this marathon without her help and encouragement.
The Hour: They scheduled a marathon for the day after daylight savings time—when we lost an hour of sleep. Precious, precious pre-race sleep.
The Open Corrals: This was our mistake. We should have signed up for a seeded corral so we could start with runners who were at the same pace as us. But we didn’t, so we started in the open corral. Which meant that, from the time the race started, it took us 20 minutes to cross the start line. And then we had to weave in and out of the crowd to find a pace group that worked for us, which can take a few miles. Not great.
The Extra Tight Security: This wasn’t actually bad, and it put our minds at ease when it came to race safety. But it wasn’t effectively coordinated. To ensure that each runner was who they said they were, you had to pick up your bib number and race packet at the expo. This was instead of the usual getting your bib mailed to you or asking another runner to pick it up for you. I understand the reasoning behind this—it’s the execution that didn’t pan out. Many runners waited in line at least 45 minutes just to pick up their bibs! Have you ever stood on concrete for more than an hour? Your feet start to hurt a bit, so you shift your weight back and forth. Another hour goes by, and then they start to burn. Yeah, that’s what happens in a marathon. Except once they start to burn, you still have another few hours to pound pavement with burning soles. So the day before your race, the last thing you want to do is stand on concrete for an hour (and for some people, two), just to get your bib and then have to go in search of your race packet and stand in yet another line.
The Gatorade: And by “the Gatorade,” I mean there was none. They ran out. THEY RAN OUT of Gatorade, which is pretty essential for balancing electrolytes and preventing runners from passing out, getting heat stroke, vomiting and other super fun long-distance-running-in-severe-heat ailments. And not long after, they started running out of cups for water. Volunteers were just holding out gallon jugs of Arrowhead, asking which runners wanted a “free shower!” Nope. No thank you. I’d like some water. And Gatorade. Which I actually ran off the course for once I spotted a semi-nearby gas station. P.S.—A word of advice: ALWAYS carry five dollars on you during a race. You never know when you’ll need it.
The Heat: Temps were reaching into the mid-80s by the middle of the race, if not earlier. So without Gatorade or cooling stations—something else a race will usually provide on hot race days, which are basically buses with hoses to spray the runners—people were feeling the heat and the medical tents started to fill up. And then they were overflowing, as people couldn’t all find room in the medical tents to lie down, so they took to the grass. It just sucked. There’s no better way to put it. To give you an idea of how much it affected us, we spent the last five months training at a 10-10:15 minute pace. We finished our longest training run, a 22 miler, at our goal pace. But on race day? We were running 11:30 and 12:30 miles. Some of that had to do with the intense hills in the first half of the race, but a lot of it had to do with the heat.
The Sickness: I saw more than a few sick runners after the finish line, with nothing to do but bend over and vomit it all up. That can happen with or without the heat, but I have a feeling that the poor planning for hydration on the part of the race had something to do with it.
But Don’t Forget…
We ran a freaking MARATHON, people! At whatever time we finished, we were champs and pulled through. Training for and running a marathon teaches you a lot that has nothing to do with running (another post on that later), and that includes how far you can push yourself when you set your mind to it. If you’re thinking about doing a 5k, 10k, half or full marathon—do it! Because you might think you can’t, but you definitely can (unless your doctor tells you otherwise. Please check with your doc if you have health concerns). You’ll be surprised just what you can accomplish when you’re willing to push past your comfort zone.
When I start feeling a little stuffy, I like to cut back on dairy, especially before a big run (like, you know, the marathon on Sunday, no big deal). I decided a little spice wouldn’t hurt either, so I found this yummy recipe from Oh She Glows: Tex Mex Spaghetti Squash with Black Bean Guacamole.
Holy yummers, it was delicious. And super, super easy. These pictures don’t really do it justice, but I was in such a hurry to chow down that I didn’t pause long to take them. Oops!
FOR THE SPAGHETTI SQUASH:
- 1 medium spaghetti squash
- extra virgin olive oil
- ground cumin
- ground chili powder
- dried oregano
- salt & pepper
FOR THE BLACK BEAN GUACAMOLE:
- 2 avocados, pitted and flesh scooped out
- 1/2 cup diced red onion
- 1 small tomato, seeded and diced
- 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed (about 1.5 cups cooked beans)
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, or to taste
- fine grain sea salt, to taste
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- red pepper flakes, to taste
Step 1: Preheat oven to 375F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Slice off the stem of the squash and place the squash cut side down on a cutting board. With a chef’s knife, carefully slice through the squash lengthwise to create two long halves. Scoop out the seeds and guts with an ice cream scoop. Brush some olive oil onto the squash and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place squash halves cut side down on the baking sheet and roast for 30-50 minutes, depending on how large your squash is. When the squash is tender and you can easily scrape the strands with a fork, it’s ready. I like to check the squash after 25-30 minutes to make sure I’m not over cooking it. Be sure not to cook for too long or it will turn mushy.
Step 2: While the squash is roasting, prepare the black bean guacamole. Mash the avocado flesh in a large bowl. Fold in the onion, tomato, drained and rinsed black beans, and cilantro. Season to taste with lime juice, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.
Step 3: Remove squash from the oven, flip over, and scrape the flesh with a fork in vertical motions. Do this until you’ve scraped all the strands off the skin. Now sprinkle on some chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper (as much or as little as you want). Top the squash with guacamole and serve warm. You can also plate the spaghetti squash, if preferred.
Holy countdown, Batman. We are a mere (less than) four weeks away from the marathon! I could not be more psyched. Last Saturday, we had a nice 10-mile recovery run. We started so early that even the streetlights were complaining about the hour. But the (second biggest) event is this coming weekend, when we do our 22-mile training run. I’m equally excited for this run as well. And then that’s it! Kind of—we still have two recovery runs after that, an 11-mile and a 5-mile—but this will be the end of our long training runs. Then it’s marathon time.
I know that pretty much every recipe I feature here is, just, my new favorite thing and the best thing you’re about to ever eat. And to be fair, I never really exaggerate—I have found some amazing recipes! But this one is my new favorite, seriously, I could eat it for days. (Haha, I did eat it for days.)
Besides how yummy it is, I also love that it can be done with regular cheese, Daiya cheese for a vegan recipe or with no cheese at all because it’s Just. That. Good.
I didn’t do step-by-step photos, but you can find some great ones at Oh She Glows, where I originally found the recipe. Guys, I just can’t recommend this enough. Seriously, I’m texting my best friend right now that it’s also good just as a side dish. I’ve included the recipe as I originally found it, but when I cooked it, I changed it up a bit by doing 1 cup of wild rice (instead of a half cup of short-grain brown rice). It gets pretty rice heavy, but it’s worth it. I stirred in some cheddar cheese and then served it with avocado.
Yield: 4 burritos or 3.5 cups of filling
- 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, cubed, & roasted
- 1/2 cup uncooked short grain brown rice (yields: 1.5 cups cooked)
- 1-2 tsp olive oil
- 1 cup chopped sweet onion
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 red pepper, chopped
- 1 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
- 2 tsp ground cumin, or to taste
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste
- One 15-oz can black beans (about 1.5-2 cups cooked), drained and rinsed
- 3/4 cup Daiya cheese (or cheddar cheese)
- 4 tortilla wraps (large or x-large)
- Toppings of choice: (avocado, salsa, vegan sour cream, spinach/lettuce, cilantro, etc)
Step 1: Preheat oven to 425F and line a large glass dish with tinfoil. Drizzle olive oil on squash and give a shake of salt and pepper. Coat with hands. Roast chopped butternut squash for 45 mins. or until tender.
Step 2: Cook brown rice (for directions, see here)
Step 3: In a large skillet over medium-low heat, add oil, onion, and minced garlic. Sautee for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Now add in salt and seasonings and stir well.
Step 4: Add chopped red pepper, black beans, and cooked rice and sauté for another 10 mins. on low.
Step 5: When b’nut squash is tender remove from oven and cool slightly. Add 1.5 cups of the cooked butternut squash to the skillet and stir well. You can mash the squash with a fork if some pieces are too large. Add Daiya cheese and heat another couple minutes.
Step 6: Add bean filling to tortilla along with desired toppings. Wrap and serve. Leftover filling can be reheated the next day for lunch in a wrap or as a salad topper.
Yet again, this was a tough run. It was made especially hard since I’m coming off a 4-week (flippin’…FOUR WEEKS) cold that turned into bronchitis…the last month has been exhausting from that alone. Whatever, I’m just glad to wake up and not cough up a lung. So, following my doctor’s orders to not move from my bed, I took a two week break before our early morning 18-mile run. I was a little nervous that my legs would stop working, and they almost did, but I finished. And I kept running a quote from famed runner Dean Karnazes through my head:
“Run when you can, walk if you have to, crawl if you must; just never give up.”
Excellent advice from an inspiring athlete.
Whew! Sixteen miles. So that’s done. This was the training run that really made everything click—that this marathon is happening and running it is really hard. Twelve miles was hard. Fourteen miles was hard. But this week, 16 miles was painful. Especially once we hit the last three miles, when I felt like I was crawling through an ocean of molasses just trying to get back to the parking lot. Weirdly, this has made me even more excited for our 18 mile run coming up in two weeks.
The best thing we did was switch up the scenery and run at the beach. We started just south of the Santa Monica Pier and ran four miles north, just a little past Temescal Canyon Road. It was a beautiful day at the beach. We are so lucky to live here!
Happy 2014, everyone! Instead of black-eyed peas, we started the new year with whole wheat waffles, a recipe from “Vegan Cooking for Carnivores” by Roberto Martin. Don’t worry, you don’t even have to ask—they are sooo freaking good. Highly recommend. I also recommend buying the cookbook if you’re curious about a vegan diet—Roberto is excellent at making a plant-based diet palatable to those who prefer the meatier side of food.
- 1 cup organic whole wheat flour
- 1 cup organic, unbleached, all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon, plus 1 teaspoon, baking powder
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cups nondairy milk (almond, soy or rice. I used Trader Joe’s Organic Unsweetened Soy Milk.)
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 cup organic applesauce
- 5.5 tablespoons vegan butter, melted (I used Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread, Original.)
- Nonstick cooking spray
- Maple syrup
Step 1: In a medium bowl, combine the flours, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
Step 2: Stir in the milk, water, applesauce and melted butter until well incorporated.
Step 3: Let the batter rest for about 5 minutes while you preheat the waffle iron.
Step 4: Spray the preheated waffle iron with nonstick spray and cook the waffles according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Serve with maple syrup.
*Makes 8 medium waffles.
I’m a big believer in New Year’s resolutions. Most people wait until January 1 to start on their new goals, but I like to jump in head first—two weeks early (though, I realize right now we’re less than a week from NYE). I’ve been doing this for a few years now, and it’s always much more effective when you can step into the new year with a strong start on your resolutions.
It’s easier to exercise daily/lose 10 pounds/eat healthier/volunteer more if you’ve not only been doing so for two weeks, but you managed to fit those things in around the holidays. Plus, when you’ve planned ahead and started your resolutions early, you won’t wake up on New Year’s Day hungover and thinking, “I’ll just start eating healthy tomorrow…”—that’s the end of the beginning.
One more tip? Tell bunches of people your resolutions so you’ll feel accountable to your words. (Mine are below! And if your resolutions include charity work, start now! Find details on donating to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital here!)
So what are your resolutions? Do you guys have any special tips on sticking to those goals for 2014?