Monday, November 21, 2011

I am a marathoner!

I officially finished my first full marathon yesterday. The first half was fun, then it started to feel like work. And then my running partner for the race and I fell apart at mile 20. We "ran" that mile in about 15 minutes (according to my Garmin splits). Ouch! But we pulled it together and improved our pace ever so slightly for the last few miles. They were slow, but we did cross the finish line! Official chip time was 5:42:05. Though my main goal was just to finish and not get hurt, I was hoping for a 5:30 finish time. I'm not sure yet if I'll do another, but I suspect I will want to take another shot at it next year and get a better time. :)

I had a plain bagel for breakfast with some blueberry preserves (from a local farm - delicious!). I can't stomach too much before a race, so that was about the most I could handle. I lost count of how many gels I had during the race, but it felt like a million. Probably around 10, though. Sometimes I feel gross after a long run, from all those gels, but I recovered enough to start eating shortly after the finish line. I got a bag of pretzels and water going through the chute, and then headed to the Four Seasons hotel for the Runner's World Challenge Post-Race Reception. My wonderful group of friends met me at the finish line and accompanied me to the reception.

After a great tandem massage (two people doing a gentle massage and stretch, legs/feet only) I got some more snacks. They had smoothies - though they were using yogurt, they made one up for me with just fruit and juice - peanut butter banana sandwiches, some other dairy items and some dried fruit and nut mix. I stuck with my smoothie and some of the fruit and nut mix, along with a cup of green tea. Once I got through that (though I shared most of the fruit and nut mix), we all headed out to lunch. We settled on Chinese, since there is generally something for me to eat and close by. I got buddhist vegetables with tofu and brown rice, which was quite yummy. After lunch I headed home to get cleaned up and put my feet up for a bit.

For dinner I steamed and then sauteed some kale with a little cider and maple syrup, heated up some leftover root veggies I had cooked in the crock pot the day before for dinner, and cooked up a veggie burger to have on a whole wheat bun. Oh yeah, I baked up a few waffle fries I unearthed for the freezer, because I was really jonesing for some fries. haha Not the healthiest, but delicious!

Dinner hit the spot, but I still wanted dessert. So I melted up a 1/2 square of unsweetened baking chocolate with some vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips (maybe 1 tablespoon?), and 1-2 T of unsweetened coconut milk, in the microwave. Sliced up a banana, and bingo - delicious dessert.

 I am still working on re-hydrating, which I'm not very good at. Pretty sore and stiff, but that should get better in a few days. Overall, it really was a great race experience. I think I learned some lessons, so maybe if I do it again I can improve. But, as I was told, once you've done one, you're a marathoner for life!

I can't say I have been very productive today, but I have been plotting what comes next, and looking back over my training. Since July I have run 454 miles! I know that doesn't sound like much to hardcore runners, but it's pretty exciting for me. This is definitely the longest stretch that I have run regularly, and obviously the most weekly mileage I have ever put in. Though I definitely plan to rest for this week and ease back into running to give my body time to recover, I don't want to lose my momentum. I'm afraid, based on my history, that I will revert to a couch potato now that my big goal is done and winter is approaching. So I have been collecting gear to keep my nice and warm, and hopefully motivated to run even in the cooler weather. I definitely want to focus more on strength training as well, but I think I will sign up for a 5K or two over the winter so I don't completely stop running.

Do you have winter running plans? Know of any fun winter races in the Philly area?

P.S. In the winter spirit, Vegan Heartland is hosting a giveaway with So Delicious. I always loved egg nog, so I am a sucker for a good vegan 'nog. I'm excited to try the new So Delicious flavors! Check out the giveaway!

Friday, November 4, 2011


I am very excited: marathon day is only16 days away, which is hard to believe. And I am officially at the "tapering" stage of training. That is, running less and resting up to toe the line healthy and energetic on race day. Running has taken up a huge chunk of my time the last several weeks, so I am looking forward to catching up on some things during these "found" hours. Also, I'm tired, so the rest part sounds great. My last 20 mile run was last weekend (in the most horrendous weather, I was afraid my fingers were going to get frostbite, and I am pretty sure I was at the beginning stages of hypothermia by the time it was done), and this weekend's "long run" is only 13 miles.

With race day coming up quickly, the topic of carb-loading has been on my mind. Of course, that sort of sounds like every day for me. ;) Regardless, I don't think I have a solid plan for what I will eat the day or two leading up, and the morning of the race. So I have been thinking about that.

Also, I have been trying to figure out what's next. It feels like everything I have been striving for culminates in this day, Nov. 20. For awhile "after" has been a very vague thought, I have been so focused on being ready for this one event. But now I think I need to start working on a plan for "after" so I don't revert to couch potato status. I've worked way too hard to lose all my running fitness, and I don't want to completely backslide. I need a new goal to keep me on target after the marathon.

I've also been adding things to a "bucket list". It's pretty fun to come across these grand ideas that would be awesome to do "someday" and have a list to put them on. I tend to forget things, so this will help me remember all those really cool things that I would like to do. I am trying to figure out how to share the "bucket list" widget on here, so keep an eye out.

Related to the carb-loading topic, I'm thinking pasta with swiss chard for dinner. Both because I have a long run tomorrow, and I really like pasta. And the swiss chard from our garden was looking a little wilted from the cold weather, so DH picked most of it for us yesterday and there is a bunch in the fridge. If I come up with something awesome I will be sure to share it.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

18 miles down, 20 is next! And a chocolate smoothie

My 18 miler today went well, with lots of Clif shots (4) and some electrolyte/carb beverage. The company helped a lot, also. :) I did have a teensy bit of tummy upset,so I don't know if I'll be repeating my pre-run smoothie before a run again, but it was tasty! Here's what I put in:

Chocolate Protein Smoothie
1 c. almond milk
1 scoop vegan  chocolate protein powder (I used the Clean program stuff, but use your favorite)
2 bananas
1 T. milled chia seeds
chocolate Amazing Grass GREENSuperFood (or use the version w/protein and skip the protein powder)

Blend it all together, using more or less ice, to taste!

I also had 1/2 cinnamon raisin sprouted english muffin prior to my run. I think I need to do more muffin, less smoothie next time. I also found some yummy raspberry fig newtons at the co-op tonight. I am thinking of carrying a few of those with me next long run and trying those in place of 1 or 2 of the gels. The calories and carbs work out to be very similar for 2 fig newtons. I have heard of people doing this successfully, so I may give it a shot. Next weekend is my first of two 20 mile training runs before race day!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Monster Month!

I am officially over halfway through marathon training! This is Week 10 (out of 16). I cannot believe the big day is only a month and a half away. This month is the bulk of the training miles. Last week was 30 miles, this week is 32, with an 18 mile long run. I am realizing how true it is that this kind of running is 90% mental. But fuel is key, also. My first half marathon was the Philadelphia Rock'n'Roll Half Marathon in September. I had a great time and while running 13 miles still isn't "easy" to me, it felt really good. Yes, I was tired at some points during the race, and after, but never doubted that I could finish. My finish time was 2:34:57 - not breaking any speed records, but I'm really happy for my first half! There was Cytomax provided along the course, as well as gels at mile 8. I also had a few Clif Shot Bloks at the start, so I was well-fueled throughout.

The next weekend I attempted to do a 13 mile run on my own and had a completely different experience. I felt tired, dead-legged, and doubtful. I had about 12 oz of eLoad (another Gatorade type drink), and 3 Chocolate #9 gels throughout, and had some smoothie and 1/2 a sprouted english muffin beforehand. I ended up walking most of the last mile after my phone died (i.e. my music player). This run lead me to re-evaluate my fueling for long runs. Part of me had been wanting to train my body to burn fat more efficiently during long runs (, which I still think has some merit. However, I was paying for it with dreadful long runs where I hit the wall. When I analyzed my carb intake and consulted the Runner's World Challenge nutritionist it became clear that I was taking in a much lower amount of carbs than recommended. While it might be a good training measure in some cases, it really drained the fun out of long runs.

So, last weekend I did two things differently: I managed to recruit company for the first half of my 16 mile run, and I made sure I had a bit higher carb intake. My Fuel Belt only has two bottles, holding about 12 oz of fluid total, but I filled both of those with eLoad. I had a couple of Shot Bloks at the start of the run, and I carried a bottle of plain water in addition to the Fuel Belt. And I carried along 3 Clif Gel Shots (in Strawberry Banana - no caffeine). I also had an additional 20 oz of eLoad in the car, which I looped back by twice. We took in a gel around mile 3.5 (about 45 minutes into the run), and again around an hour and a half in. I drank plenty of water with these, and sipped some of the eLoad in between - though it was a cool day and I wasn't feeling very thirsty most of the time. The last gel I took around mile 13. My legs felt very tired the last few miles, but I was able to carry on running at a steady pace without too many walk breaks. In all I drank about 20 oz of eLoad, the 2 Shot Bloks, and 3 gels. I estimate that to be around 170 grams of carbs, and the recommended intake is 30-60 grams per hour of running. Considering I finished in around 3 1/2 hours, this was pretty close to the guideline. I had a hot chocolate (made with coconut milk) and the other 1/2 of a sprouted english muffin as soon as I got back to the car, along with water. That seemed to help restore some energy (at least enough to get home) - I think hot chocolate is my new miracle recovery drink. ;)

That said, all those gels are pure sugar, in varying forms. I don't love that, but they do seem to work. The Chocolate #9 gels are nice because they are agave nectar and cocoa, but because agave nectar is lower on the glycemic index you don't get that nice bump of energy. I might try them again though, making sure to be more proactive in taking them. I also want to try the homemade gel recipe from Thrive Fitness again. I first tried it a few weeks ago on a somewhat shorter run, and used whole chia seeds instead of ground. It wasn't really liquid enough to easily consume, and I need to analyze the recipe to get an estimate of the carbs (primarily from dates) and plan accordingly. I know Clif gels will be available along the Philadelphia Marathon course, so if I don't want to carry stuff with me, I need to train with those to be accustomed to them. At least I've got plenty of long runs coming up to use to figure this all out!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

I love this guy!

I just read this great article from the LA Times. I couldn't agree more on the point that vegan food can and should be delicious! Half the fun in cooking, for me, is figuring out the right vegan substitute to make a good and delicious approximation to a traditional omnivore dish. And anytime I am in the area, I will definitely try to visit a Wynn hotel restaurant and check out the vegan menu options!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Follow-up to Chia Pudding

Check out this blog, for a lovely picture of one way to serve the chia pudding, as well as a more formal recipe. Looks delicious!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Back to running - food as fuel

I have decided to reinvent myself as a distance runner. "Runner" might be a bit of a stretch, since my pace wavers between walking and jogging, but joggers don't do races, right? Regardless, thanks to Team Philly, I made it to and through the 10 mile Broad Street Run on May 1st this year. My goal was just to finish, which is good because my time was nothing to write home about. But I felt really good during the race, like I could keep it up all day. And it's a really great course, so it was tons of fun. I was beat at the end because I decided to push the speed a little in the last mile (which might mean I approached a 10 min/mile pace at times), and that finished me off pretty well. But I felt really good that I had "juice" left to do that. Prior to the race the longest we ran was 8.4 miles, so my distance PR is now 10.

But I think I've caught "the bug". I really like longer distance runs. It almost seems like a run just isn't worth it if it isn't at least 5 miles now. Not that shorter ones can't still be tough, and I definitely have bad days (lots of them), and it's work. Somewhere along the way, though, it became very true that "it's all relative". So, I decided this is the year. I'm registered for the Philadelphia Rock'n'Roll Half Marathon (in September), and as soon as I finish scraping together the dough I'm registering for the Philadelphia Marathon - the full one - in November. Am I crazy, you might ask? Why would I want to run a marathon? Great question. I am sure I should do some soul-searching and come up with some excellent, motivational answers to keep me going through the tough times. But at the moment, it just seems like the time is right and it is something awesome to do. To prove to myself I can do it? It might take me 5:30 to finish, but hey, I'd consider it an accomplishment to cross the finish line. After all, not everyone can say they've run 26.2 miles at one time. And I'm confident I can run 13.1 now (or at least, by the time I finish training, since I've slacked off since Broad Street), but I'm only pretty sure I can do the full 26.2. Plus, I really need a big goal to keep me on track. Lacking that, I've realized I don't really exercise. The pull of the couch/tv/book/crafty things/home things/whatever just gets too strong and I don't make time for it. It's too easy to fake it for a 5K, so it needs to be a substantial distance for me to keep on track. I think 26.2 miles ought to do it....

What, one might ask, does any of this have to do with food? I thought I was reading a food blog? Well, everything! Because to do (what some might consider) crazy things like run 13+ miles, one must fuel one's body! So I have been thinking a lot about foods to fuel running. Not that I didn't already think a lot about the quality of food I ate (though I still love my desserts, mind you), but this is a bit of a new spin. I picked up a copy of Brendan Brazier's Thrive Fitness, which has some recipes to try. In case you're not aware, Brazier is an awesome athlete, who happens to be vegan. He has put tons of thought and effort into excellent plant-based fuel for athletic endeavors, so his books are a great resource. Incidentally, he also has his own line of products, but the many of the recipes in the book are "from scratch" and don't require anything from his line - just good, whole foods. I have also been reading the No Meat Athlete blog which has some more great recipes and tips.

In this vein, I will finally share a (rough) recipe. It's not original, many people have version posted online, feel free to search and get more variations. But it is easy, super healthy, requires no cooking, and is delicious!

Chia pudding

1/4 cup chia seeds (Salvia seeds, also Salba)
2 cups non-dairy milk (whatever is your favorite!)

That's all you really need. You stir the seeds and the milk together, and let it sit for at least a 1/2 hour in the fridge. It will magically thicken, turning into a puddingy/gel texture, and the seeds get soft. It is sort of reminiscent of tapioca. Now, to make it more exciting, you can add any chopped dried fruits or nuts you desire, or fresh fruit, cocoa (I've been sprinkling on some Ghiradelli drinking chocolate mix which is basically cocoa with a little sugar), whatever you desire. I've blended up some pitted dates with a little of the milk and stirred that in to make it sweeter. Dates are an excellent way to sweeten things healthfully and offer great instant energy for exercising! Chia seeds are wonderful - an excellent source of omega-3's, easily digested but high in fiber, and a good protein source. So basically, perfect running fuel. I've had this "pudding" for both breakfast and dessert, often with a sliced banana.

Give it a try, and I hope to be reporting on lots more delicious vegan recipes that fuel my running - or an everyday active life!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

It's been awhile, but check out another blog's giveaway!

I know I have not posted in quite some time (again). Lots of stuff has been going on, but as it relates to this blog, the most important is switching to a vegan diet back in January! Share my adventures in learning how to make delicious vegan eats. Stay posted!
Meanwhile, check out this awesome giveaway over at Vegan Heartland. Lots of yummy treats!