Marathon Training: Fun Times Ahead!

Today marks the official start of my marathon training! In just 16.5 weeks I’ll be toeing the line at the Philadelphia Marathon and I can’t wait. I thought I’d do something different this training cycle and do weekly recaps to highlight how things are going. In the past I’ve been a little more hush-hush about my training, only posting it on DailyMile and a few Tweets here and there. I always assumed no one was really that interested in my training, but I always enjoy reading other people’s weekly recaps. So considering the work I know I’m going to be putting in, I thought it would be fun to share the journey with you!

Whenever someone talks about a big race, the next logical thing to think about are goals. So you’re probably wondering, what are my goals, exactly? Well, I’m not entirely sure… yet. Based on my half marathon PR from this past April, McMillan and similar race calculators suggest I can run a sub-3:30. Which, if we’re being completely honest, is terrifying. If you’re a regular reader, you know that my current marathon PR is much slower than that. I’m talking nearly an hour slower. While it’s true that PR was done on little training and is nearly two years old, it’s still scary to think I’m capable of running an hour faster. I mean, an HOUR? At a pace that not too long ago was a struggle during a half marathon? Yikes.

Regardless of what the online calculators say, I know I’m capable of a big PR, I’m just not sure how big. After my last marathon, my goal was to get in under 4 hours. Realistically, that’s still my number one goal. Without having any official marathon training and longer workouts under my belt yet, it’s difficult for me to say what my time goal(s) are beyond that. I have a great base, but I know that 20 mile long runs are a different beast from the 16 mile long run workouts I was doing for my half marathon this past spring. Would I like to BQ? Sure! But considering my initial goal was to just get under 4-hours, I’m not nearly as consumed with it as most people are… which I actually think is a good thing.

Since I’m yet to have a successful marathon training cycle, I’m actually looking forward to this one. We’ll see if I feel that way when I’m doing 18 mile workouts, ha! I know that right now I’m the strongest I’ve ever been as a runner and am confident that strength is only going to grow. Coincidence that my coach’s website is called Strength Running? I suppose not! Despite feeling strong, I know I have a ways to go. This training cycle is going to include a lot more strength work – core, hips, glutes, and making sure my always problematic feet and shins stay happy. I know it’s going to be time consuming, tiring, and I’m probably going to spend a lot of time being sore. Jason said he has some “fun” in store for me, but uses the term loosely… we’ll see how fun I think it is in a month! My ultimate goal is to follow my training plan 100%. This has always been my downfall when training, especially for a marathon. This past winter and spring was the first time – I think since I trained for my first half marathon –  I didn’t take any shortcuts or make a ton of modifications to my plan… which obviously paid off. Either way, I’m as ready as I’ll ever be for an intense training cycle that will hopefully yield some big rewards!

Tell me…
Are you currently training for a marathon? Which one?

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Filed under Running

Race Recap: Downtown Westfield Pizza 5k

Running a 5k at the end of July on a Wednesday night takes strategy. You have to know what to eat throughout the day and when, how much water to drink so you’re well hydrated but not bursting, and you have to be able to mentally push yourself while also knowing when you need to take it easy because of the heat. Those three things seem easy enough, but as race day progresses it becomes more important… and annoying.

Going in to Wednesday night’s run, I really wasn’t sure what to expect. My runs at home had been feeling less than stellar thanks to the heat and humidity, but while I was up in Rochester visiting my sister over the weekend, my runs felt great in the cooler and less humid temperatures. I talked with Jason, and he said I really had two options: run hard and maybe feel like crap at the end, or take it a little easier knowing that I am faster than my finish time. I figured I would play it by ear, since I really didn’t know how it would feel until I started running, and making a decision while sitting on my couch in air conditioning seemed silly.

Since the race started at 7pm, I arrived in Westfield at around 5:30pm. This gave me enough time to grab my bib and t-shirt (and snazzy bright red hat since I was one of the first pre-registered runners) and get in a warm-up. I was supposed to do a 3 mile warm-up, but felt lethargic and was covered in sweat within a mile, so I called it at 2. Being the smart cookie I am, I brought three different shirts: one for warm-up, one for the race, and one for afterwards. After making a pit-stop at the port-o-potties they have set up by the train station, I made my way over to the starting line. Since the race starts right in the middle of downtown, they leave the traffic open until the very last minute. Being the good citizen that I am, I waited patiently on the sidewalk, while I watched runners haphazardly walk in the street. At one point a cop yelled “GET OUT OF MY STREET!” to which I laughed. Isn’t it the tax payer’s street? But anyway…

After waiting for a few minutes (finally in the street), it was go time. As usual, it was a crowded and bunched up start. So much so, that at one point someone must have tripped over someone else’s feet and a whole slew of people were almost taken down. I don’t think anyone actually fell, but I was pushed and slammed into quite a few people. I’m not sure how I didn’t get taken down, but I managed to stay upright and get away from the mess. The first half mile felt decent, but the second half is all uphill. That’s when I realized the race wouldn’t be anywhere near what I had hoped it would be back when I signed up, so I resolved to just try my best, but not push it too much because of the weather.

The second mile has a  lot of turns and a few more hills and, by this point the heat was starting to get to me. I wound up slowing down a lot in the second mile, but I still felt like I was working hard. It’s amazing how deceiving hot weather and humidity can be while running! There were plenty of residents outside cheering, a lot with hoses spraying out into the street and I made sure to take advantage of any cool drops of water coming my way. Despite slowing down, I was able to pass a lot of people during the second mile. I knew that if I could just save a little energy I would be able to pick it up for the last mile, especially because the majority of it is downhill.

As we started the third mile, I tried to dig down as best as I could to finish strong. I reminded myself what Jason had said to me when we were making a race plan – it’s just a mile. I picked it up as best as I could in the first half, and then let the final hill carry me down the last half. I usually pick it up too early on the home stretch and wind up getting re-passed by people I’ve passed on the downhill, but I managed to hold my ground and even pass a few more people in the final quarter. I got myself across the finish line in 21:43, which turned out to be a 14 second PR from my last 5k in December. Considering the weather, I’m quite pleased. Originally I was bummed, knowing that I have a much faster 5k in me (my 4 miler’s average pace was 9 seconds per mile faster), but then came to my senses and realized that even the slightest PR in the heat and humidity would have been impressive.

After I finished, I immediately grabbed two water bottles and made my way back towards the finish so I could watch other runners. Unfortunately, I made it back just in time to see a girl start to really struggle, and then almost collapse about 200 feet from the finish. Thankfully a spectator ran out into the street and eventually a cop and race official grabbed her too. Understanding the drive and determination of a runner, the cop actually picked her up and hurried across the finish with her in his arms. I cheered for a few more minutes, and then made my way over to get some pizza!

PIZZA!

PIZZA!

After enjoying a slice, I figured I would check the posted results to see if I placed. The race is pretty big for a local week night 5k, and it attracts a lot of fast runners (especially high school and college runners getting ready to start XC season). Assuming I didn’t place, I quickly scanned the results. WRONG. I wound up coming in 3rd in my age group! So I took some time to grab another water and wander around the different vendor tables. As I was waiting for the awards, I noticed the sky getting darker and darker, and the deep gray clouds moving at a rapid speed. I knew it was only a matter of minutes before a serious storm started. Since the race started at 7pm, they wanted to wait until 8pm to do the awards. Under normal circumstances this would have been fine, but by 8pm the lightening had arrived, and I was watching it flash across the sky as I stood in the middle of the street hoping not to get struck. They got through about 5 age groups before they called it, because the lightening had moved to being right over us, and rain drops were starting to fall. I ran up to the table to grab my medal and just like that, the sky opened. It started to torrential downpour, so hard and fast that I couldn’t see in front of me. I laughed that I had finally dried off, knowing that a cool-down wasn’t going to happen. So instead, I sprinted (probably just as fast as during the race, if not faster) to my car, which was just under a mile away. I let that count as my cool-down.

The medal I waited for in severe weather. Logical.

The medal I waited for in severe weather. Logical.

I made it back to the car safely, tried to towel off as best I could, and made a beeline to Chipotle to pick up dinner.  While eating dinner at 9:30pm on a Wednesday night isn’t ideal, it was a fun evening. I whine about the race every year and swear I won’t sign up the following year, but do anyway. I used to be envious of everyone in my hometown that could run, so when I finally started running this was a race I knew I had to do. I mean, it was my first 5k back in 2009! Even though I missed the last two years due to injury, I’m probably going to keep doing this race for as long as I can. And I’ll probably keep complaining about it, too.

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Filed under Pizza, Running

Smorgasburg: A Little Bit of This & That

When I first heard about Smorgasburg, I couldn’t help but think of Fat Templeton from Charlotte’s Web. It might sound odd (and troubling) that a rat from one of my favorite childhood novels was what I thought of when I heard about a food festival, but I have a reason! At the fair where Wilbur and Charlotte are, Templeton realizes that once the fair is closed for the night there is trash everywhere. He refers to the trash-filled fair grounds as a rat’s smorgasbord.

So after hearing about it from pretty much everyone, I finally made the trip to Williamsburg on Saturday to check it out. It was a beautiful day and when I arrived at around 3pm there were plenty of people getting their eat on. I had asked a few friends for suggestions, but decided to take a lap around to (try to) see all the vendors before making any decisions. I only had so much stomach real estate and I wanted to make every bite worth it! They have pretty much everything you can think of: Thai street food, Vietnamese, burgers, lobster rolls, tacos, mac ‘n cheese, ice cream, ice pops, doughnuts, fried chicken and waffles, BBQ… the list goes on and on.

My first stop was at the Chickpea + Olive stand, where they were slinging beet burgers and sliders. I wanted one of everything, but eventually settled on their Calexico; a beet slider topped with jalapeño, pickled red onion, avocado, tomato, daiya cheddar cheese, and a chipotle aioli. The beet burger (made with beets, lentils, brown rice, and mushrooms) had a nice char to it and the toppings were awesome. The pickled red onions and chipotle aioli were plentiful and really made the slider next level. It was absolutely delicious and I was so sad when it was gone… but since it wasn’t a full-sized burger (which they do have), it was the perfect size for my quest to try a bunch of different things. I also got an iced coconut black tea which was equally delicious and refreshing.

Next up was a stop at Oaxaca Taqueria for a taco. I mean, you didn’t really think I’d go somewhere that had tacos and not have one, right?! I settled on the Papas y Rajas, which included roasted potato and poblano peppers, pickled red onions, salsa roja, avocado salsa, cojita, and cilantro. The tacos were listed as $4 for one, $7 for two, etc.,  but I decided to just get one since I wanted to be able to try other things. The taco was literally two bites, but it was two delicious bites. It was super fresh and vibrant thanks to the salsas, and it really was a great bite sized snack. If you aren’t planning to try a bunch of different things, I would definitely suggest ordering a few – one just isn’t enough. This was my second dish of the day with pickled onions, and again they were a great addition to the taco. I guess I need to start adding pickled onions to more things!

After the taco, it was time for frites! My love affair with frites hit an all time high when I was in Brussels, Belgium in January, so I was thrilled to see Home Frite there. While waiting in line, I weighed my menu options and eventually decided on the “Dutch” (I mean, might as well go all in), which included curry ketchup, garlic aioli, and chopped onions. It was super messy to eat, but absolutely worth it. The fries were piping hot and crispy, and the curry ketchup and garlic aioli added a nice creamy element. While I was bummed this particular version of their frites didn’t come in a paper cone, the fact that they were delicious helped make up for that.

frites

To end my tour of deliciousness, I made a stop at Kelvin’s for a slush to wash it all down. I don’t think I’ve had a slush drink in quite some time, but growing up I was a huge 7-11 Slurpee fan (how could I not be?!). So I was thrilled to see a grown-up version of a childhood favorite. The line was long and while we were waiting they had to give the machines a few minutes to re-freeze, but it was worth the wait. They had either Arnold Palmer or Ginger slushes with a few different flavor add-ins (white peach, pear, guava, etc.). I decided to go with the Arnold Palmer with the white peach add-in, and it was amazingly refreshing.

kelvin.jpg

By the time I left, I was happily satiated and wishing I could get my Smorgasburg on every weekend. I mean, what a fantastic idea! It provides people who don’t necessarily have the funds (yet) to have a storefront or food truck to showcase their delicious treats, and also those that have found success and have storefronts to reach another audience in a laid-back and fun environment. Plus, it provides people like me who love to eat and to try new things the opportunity to do that in one space, and without breaking the bank. Everyone wins if you ask me!

Tell me…
Have you been to Smorgasburg? What were your favorites?
If you don’t live in the NYC area, have you been to any similar food events?

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Filed under Food Blogging, Food Review, Restaurant

Friday Favorites

It’s been awhile since I had a Friday Favorites post and I’m sure you all missed them terribly.

fridayfavorites

 

 

The Wild Pea Curry Hummous

Every so often I make the glorious trip to Whole Foods to get my grocery shopping done. Last time I was there, they were offering hummus samples in the refrigerated section and even though I don’t usually try samples, I decided to have some. The brand, Wild Pea, offers not your average flavor combinations; I tried a little of their Asian Fire hummus, as well as their Curry hummus. While they were both delicious, I was really drawn to the curry hummus – I immediately started thinking of all the things I could make with it! So naturally I ran right over to the case and grabbed a container.

chip

So far I’ve had the hummus with chips, and also as a sandwich spread. I definitely have plans to use it with chickpeas for some curried “tuna” and also as a salad dressing. While I was enjoying some the other day, I realized I could easily make this hummus flavor myself… I’m going to have to give it a try!

 

TriggerPoint Therapy Ball

I actually bought the TP Ball when I was dealing with IT Band issues because my foam roller wasn’t cutting it. While I still use it for my hips every once in awhile, my main focus recently has been my calves and feet.

Trigger Point Therapy Ball

Since it’s small, I can easily throw it in my bag when I’m traveling, and I don’t have to worry about lugging around a foam roller and getting weird looks. It’s slightly softer than a golf ball and about the size of a lacrosse ball, so it’s perfect for any spot on your legs, the bottoms of your feet, even some spots on your butt and lower back.

 

LUSH Massage Bar

I remember nearly running past the LUSH cosmetics counter at Macy’s in the mall when I was younger to try and avoid the perfume spritz and random questions from the different counters. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I actually took the time to learn a little bit about LUSH cosmetics, and I was immediately drawn to their massage bars. A bar that has little bumps on it to help you work out sore muscles? Yes please.

lush

The first time I used the bar, though, I mistook it for soap and used it in the shower. I quickly realized it isn’t actually soap, and used it properly the next time! It’s perfect after a long run or a race, and since you don’t use it in the shower, it lasts a lot longer than a traditional bar of soap would. I should probably stock up on these for marathon training!

 

Keds for Kate Spade Sneakers

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I was a Keds kid growing up. I can’t even begin to tell you how many pairs of Keds I had… and in so many colors! I saw Kate Spade Keds last summer, but held off on buying a pair since the only sneakers I buy nowadays are for running. When they came back out this year, though, I couldn’t help but buy a pair. And I’m obsessed.

keds

I couldn’t remember if I thought Keds were comfortable when I was younger, but I honestly assumed they weren’t. I’ve gotten picky about my shoe choices and comfort levels as I’ve gotten more and more into running, so I figured these weren’t going to be much better than a pair of flats or flip-flops (AKA not good for your feet). Turns out I was wrong – these are super comfortable! I get compliments every time I wear them and they ever-so-slightly make me feel like a kid again

 

Pave Crisscross Ring

I first spotted the pave crisscross ring on a friend Instagram’s account, and immediately fell in love. Of course I took to the Internet to try and find it, and found just what I was looking for. There was only one problem – it was $850! That was a major bummer, but I soldiered on intent on finding a similar (cheaper) ring. It actually took me a few days of Googling and Pinteresting to find what I was looking for, which was kind of surprising. But when I get something in my head and I want it, I search for it feverishly until I find it. I nearly jumped up and down when I found this ring at Lord & Taylor for two reasons: it was exactly what I was looking for AND it was on sale!

PicMonkey Collage

I’ve only worn it a few times so far, but I’m completely obsessed. The picture from the website doesn’t do it justice as it’s much thinner and “real gold” looking in person. It’s definitely going to be a staple ring for me as it can easily be dressed up or down.

So there you have it! Just a few of my current favorite things.

Tell me…
Do you have any current favorites? 
Have you tried/do you have any of the above? Thoughts?

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Filed under Life

A Banana-Free Protein Smoothie!

I know I’m in the minority, but I hate bananas… and they’re everywhere. In cookies! Muffins! Smoothies! After races! I can’t escape them. I know they’re good for me and believe me, I’ve tried to like them. But I just can’t do it. My mom jokes that she must have fed me too many when I was little, and that’s why I don’t like them anymore. I’ll take her word for it and accept the reasoning, since I have no recollection of ever enjoying a banana. Just the thought of them puts a bad taste in my mouth!

I should also note I took to Twitter to ask whether or not you liked bananas and the responses were hilarious. Below are two of my favorites. And yes, the two favorites are proponents of bananas – go figure!

bananas

But enough about bananas – this post is about how you can make a delicious protein-rich smoothie without them! When searching for smoothie recipes, I’ve found most of them include a banana – usually frozen – added for texture. I was never really sure what to use to replace the banana, so instead of trying I completely skipped attempting to make smoothies at home. I remember trying to make a “green monster” a few years ago with frozen spinach and a crappy blender, and it was gross. I begrudgingly gulped it down, spinach mush and all, because I thought I was supposed to like it. I’ve since come to my senses and no longer try to like things just because they’re “cool.”

I like to think that I maintain a mostly well balanced diet, but I know there is always room for improvement. And since marathon training is about to start, I know that my diet is even more important; I need to make sure I’m getting enough calories from the right kinds of foods. That isn’t to say I’m going to stop ordering a side of waffle fries with my breakfast egg skillet that includes potatoes at the diner after a long run (yes, I did that on Sunday), but I need to make sure that aside from those moments of pure gluttony, I’m maintaining a well balanced diet. If there’s anything I’m learning as I get more and more into running – which is an entire post for another day – is that that there is more to it than just running.

Since I want to maximize my nutrition, when I realized I had a big bag of spinach in my fridge, I started to think about how I could use it in a smoothie. Like I said, the first (and only) time I made a smoothie using greens resulted in something I could barely drink. After a few minutes of looking through my pantry, I decided I’d throw a few things in the blender and hope for the best. Thankfully, it turned out really well! It’s funny how limited I felt by not liking bananas when it came to smoothies, when the reality is that there are endless possibilities. I’m looking forward to trying different combinations!

Vanilla Peanut Butter Spinach Smoothie | FoodosaurusRex.com

 

Vanilla Peanut Butter Spinach Smoothie
- makes one smoothie -

Ingredients:
12 oz. Vanilla flavored non-dairy milk (I used coconut-almond)
1 scoop vanilla protein powder (I used Plant Fusion vanilla bean)
1 Tbsp Peanut Butter (I used Earth Balance’s coconut peanut butter)
2 handfuls fresh spinach leaves

Directions:
1. Combine all ingredients in a blender
2. Blend until smooth
*feel free to add some ice cubes to the blender, or just drop them into the smoothie once it’s all blended together

Tell me…
Do you like bananas? 
Have a favorite (banana-free) smoothie recipe you’d like to share?

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Filed under Recipe, Running, Vegetarian/Vegan

Race Recap: Firecracker 4 Miler

When I started running 5 years ago in the late Spring of 2009, I decided that my first attempt at a race would be the Cranford Jaycees Firecracker 4 miler. I was nervous, ran in a pair of three-year-old Nike Shox sneakers and a cotton t-shirt, but made it to the finish line in 36:26. By that point I was hooked on running, and wanted to make this race a yearly tradition… and on Friday I ran my 6th Firecracker 4 miler!

Who doesn't love a dark, cotton t-shirt for a 4th of July race?!

My first race! Who doesn’t love a dark, cotton t-shirt for a 4th of July race?!

It works out that this is the only four mile race that I do each year, so it’s a great way for me to see the progress I’ve made from year to year. When I signed up for the race this year, I was excited to see what I was capable of, especially after a big half marathon PR and my recent attempt at the mile. After talking with my coach about time goals, we settled on a time, which I of course thought was a little on the faster side. Jason has been really good at knowing my ability better than I do, so I trusted his suggestion and decided I’d go for it.

I woke up on Friday morning not sure what to expect outside. It had stormed pretty heavily the two nights before, and there was a pretty good chance that it would be raining for the race. I was happy to see that it wasn’t raining, but was instead overcast and in the upper 60s. Of course I scrolled right to the humidity section of the weather app on my phone, and wasn’t surprised to see 90%. I had my normal pre-race breakfast (picky bar, half a peanut butter sandwich, and a lot of water), and was out the door by 7am for the 9am race start. I packed a few different options for the run (hat? headband? sunglasses? shirt?), but after my 2 mile warm-up I knew exactly what I’d have to wear: a hat to keep the sweat from my eyes, and no shirt to keep me as cool as possible. Sure, it was “only” in the upper 60′s, but the 90% humidity made it a typical July sweat-fest.

When it was time to line up for the race, I put myself right up front. I knew that if I didn’t, I’d spend the next mile or so wasting energy weaving in and out of the crowds of people who are somehow overly confident with their expected finish times. Despite being right up front, I didn’t hear a countdown. The next thing I knew the starting cannon sounded, and everyone surged forward. I was swept up in the crowd for a moment and glanced down at my watch and saw my pace flash as 6:20. I knew at that moment I had a decision to make: fool myself into thinking I could hold onto it and fight through later, or slow down slightly and save a little for later. I pulled back ever so slightly, and settled in to a 6:50/6:55 pace as we rounded the first corner. I was able to count the women in front of me, and found myself running as the 6th woman. We passed the first mile marker and I clocked a 6:42, according to my Garmin. The next mile or so is straight down a main road, and I spent most of it jockeying back and forth with another woman and man. I could tell the woman was doing everything in her power not to let me pass her, and I think the guy was too – I even got an elbow a few times, despite the road being plenty wide enough for three, even four runners to run next to each other.

I'd say "Where's Waldo?" But there was actually a kid dressed up as Waldo at this race...

I’d say “Where’s Waldo?” But there was actually a kid dressed up as Waldo at this race…

The third mile starts right after a turn onto a post-winter potholed road with a water stop, which is where I was able to shake the girl and guy I had been running with. I ran the second mile in 6:54, and started to worry that I wasn’t going to hit the time I was hoping for. I was getting tired, and bargained with myself that I could ease off just a bit to save some energy for the fourth mile. Slowing down a little helped (7:03), and by the time I hit the third mile clock I realized that I was about to hit a small 5k PR (clocked 21:23 according to the Garmin), and I knew it was time to try my best and hammer home. The last mile includes a path in a bit of a wooded area, and as I looked down at my Garmin and saw my pace listed as 10:00, I realized I’d just have to push it without really knowing my current pace. We looped into the park, and as I passed a spectator he yelled, “Just a quarter to go!” and what I thought was, “alright, 11th female!” I gave myself an imaginary pat on the back, and focused on the 12 year old boy in front of me that I just couldn’t seem to reel in (6:34).

Firecracker 4 Miler | FoodosaurusRex.com

I pushed it to puke pace like I do every time I enter that park, and I crossed the finish in 27:18. I made my way right over to the water truck and tried to walk as best as I could to prevent actually puking. I noticed they had a results table, so I made a beeline over to see if I was in fact the 11th female like I thought I heard the spectator yell. While they didn’t have overall placing listed quite yet, I caught my name on the scrolling computer screen to see that I had placed first in the 25-29 age group! Since I knew it would be awhile before they presented the awards, I took the opportunity to jog back to my car to grab my water bottle and a shirt. I made sure to run away from the course, because there’s nothing worse than seeing someone that’s already done jogging back towards you as you’re killing yourself to get to the finish line.

This race always provides free snow cones, popcorn, yogurt, and ice cream at the end of the race, so I was excited to grab a free Yasso frozen Greek yogurt bar to help cool me off as I waited for the awards and chatted with some hometown friends. Before I knew it they were starting the awards, and I scored a sweet little medal and a t-shirt! I should note, though, that the t-shirt says “2014 RACE WINNER” on the back which is just a little deceptive… since I won my age group, but not the race! It turns out, though, that I misheard that spectator as I was coming down the home stretch and I was actually the 7th woman overall, which was a nice surprise! (But again, does not warrant a “race winner” t-shirt).

Firecracker 4 Miler

Overall, I’m really happy with this race. Originally I went into it thinking I would run around a 28, but after Jason’s suggestion to go for a 27, of course, I hoped I would run slightly faster… internal competition is fierce. My 6:50 per mile average is the fastest I’ve averaged in a race, ever (aside from my road mile), so it was a big boost of confidence. I’m looking forward to a few 5k’s this month before really starting to marathon train.

Tell me…
Did you race over the weekend? How did it go?!

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Filed under Running, Uncategorized

Golden: 28 on the 28th

Tomorrow, I turn 28.

That’s right, it is what some refer to as a “golden birthday,” which is when your age and day of birth match [defined here on Urban Dictionary]. I only learned about this recently, and was happy I hadn’t missed the golden opportunity to pretend my birthday this year was a momentous occasion (see what I did there?! golden birthday… golden opportunity…). While I don’t think I’m “old” (I joke about being old but don’t truly think you can say you’re old and believe it until you’re, well, old), I’ve realized that I’ve completed a good portion of this thing called life, and took a little time to reflect on it. I suppose as you do get older, you start to think about where you’ve been, where you’re going, and everything in-between. Reflections seem to happen during those milestone moments – a birthday, a wedding, the start of a new year. So rather than try to ignore it, I decided I’d do something productive!

I’ve seen plenty of people make lists for things they’d like to accomplish within a set period of time, and I find myself thinking, “that would be cool to do!” but never actually doing it myself. But as I enter what is decidedly my “late twenties,” I realized there is no time like the present to do what I want. Within reason, of course. So yes, I created a short list of things I would like to do during my 28th year. They don’t really have a theme, and are random things I started to jot down when this idea first popped into my head. I’m sure I’ll add to the list as the year goes on, but the idea is to embrace doing the things I love; especially those that make me a little uncomfortable. And yes, this little graphic took me a lot longer than I’d like to admit.

28

I’m starting the celebration a little early today by going for a run and having lunch with Ashley and cutie-pie Jennie. I’ll officially kick off  my 28th year tomorrow morning with a 14 mile long run, followed by a much-earned free Starbucks drink (I’m thinking a Trenta will be in order). Beer, ice cream, and general relaxing will also be involved, and Sunday will include a trip to my hometown municipal pool, and a delicious dinner (to be determined where) with my mom and dad. Here’s to my golden year!

Tell me…
Have you had your “golden” birthday yet?
Any fun birthday traditions?

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Summer Cooking

It’s no secret that summer is my favorite season. Sure it can be oppressively hot, but the days are long, the sun is shining more often than not, and I can get away with boycotting pants much more easily than during the winter months. It also means that I don’t turn on my oven much… which is something I think I get from my mother. We didn’t have central air conditioning in my house growing up until I was in high school, so the mere thought of turning on the oven to make the house hotter during the summer was unbearable. Just writing about it brings back memories of sitting in front of the giant oscillating fan propped in the kitchen, skin hot and sticky, while in my summer uniform – a bathing suit.

So now that I’m in charge of making my own meals, when it comes to summer cooking you can usually find me throwing something on the grill, occasionally turning on my oven’s burners (but never the oven itself), or making things that do not require any cooking at all. Aside from the heat-in-the-house factor, who wants to be inside slaving over an oven when it’s gorgeous outside, anyway? I could take the “easy” route and just eat the same thing every night, but that’s boring. Enter my most recent creation – vegan curry tofu salad! Yes, it has “salad” in the title, but it’s not the leafy greens type of salad… though you could put it on top of one if you wanted.

The idea to make a vegan curry tofu salad stemmed from my love of sandwiches. As a vegetarian, I often feel like my sandwich options are limited since they so often revolve around meat… which isn’t necessarily the case. There are plenty of ways to enjoy sandwiches as a vegetarian, you just have to get creative! I had been thinking about tuna and chicken salad, and how not only are they quick and easy, but you can really make them as simple or dressed up as you’d like (add some apples, celery, spices… it can get crazy!). Since I don’t eat chicken or tuna, and am not a huge egg salad fan, I immediately thought of tofu as a substitute and tried to figure out how I could make it more than just a mushed tofu sandwich (gross). Throw in some curry powder for flavor, some (vegan) yogurt and mayo for creaminess, and something for crunch, and you have yourself a quick, easy, oven-free salad that you can use as a sandwich, a dip, or a salad topper. I’m pretty proud of myself for this one – I had it for dinner on Tuesday, followed by breakfast and lunch on Wednesday. I guess you could say I liked it!

Even though the recipe is vegan, you can definitely use regular yogurt and mayo for a vegetarian version. Or, you can completely ignore the meat-free part and add in shredded chicken! The possibilities are endless.

Vegan Tofu Curry Salad | FoodosaurusRex.com

Vegan Curry Tofu Salad
- makes enough for 4 salad sandwiches –

Ingredients:
1 block extra firm tofu
1/2 cup plain vegan yogurt
1/4 cup vegan mayo (i.e. Nasoya or Veganaise)
1 Tbsp curry powder
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes*
1 cup red onion*
1 cup diced green apple or celery*

Directions:
1. Drain the tofu for 10-20 minutes (I do this by placing it in-between two plates with a heavy book or weight on top, with a paper towel on each side to help absorb the liquid).
2. Once the tofu is drained, add it to a large bowl and mash it with a fork – you want the consistency to look like scrambled eggs. Chunks are good!
3. In a small bowl, combine the yogurt, mayo, and curry powder.
4. Add the curry/yogurt/mayo mixture to the tofu along with your red onion, green apple, and/or celery. Stir to make sure the tofu is evenly coated.
5. Enjoy on bread, a top a salad, or as a dip!

*Notes: The ingredients with an asterisk are optional. You can use more or less red pepper flake for a little kick. The onion, celery, and/or apple give some crunch and flavor, but you can choose which you do or do not want to include.

Tell me…
Do you have any favorite no-cook (or minimal cooking required) recipes for summer?

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Filed under Home Cooking, Recipe, Vegetarian/Vegan

That Time I Raced a Mile

If there’s one thing most people remember about gym class in middle school and high school, it is having to run the dreaded mile. For some reason no one minded in elementary school; running around in the school’s field as fast as you could against your classmates was actually fun. By the time you turned 12, though, being told you had to run the mile – in gym class, no less – was among one of the “OMG worst things ever” for most people.

Admittedly, I don’t remember having to run the mile in high school. We definitely had days where we’d run outside in elementary school, and we were taken to the track a few times a year during middle school (it was right across the street), but we were never told to run a certain distance in a certain amount of time. By the time high school rolled around, we never ran. I think I remember one of my gym teachers taking us for a “jog” around the block once. In four years. Sure I was exempt from gym during swim season (usually mid-November to early March), but that isn’t prime running weather anyway. My school district just didn’t include running in it’s physical education curriculum. Most people are shocked when they hear this since for most, it was their least favorite day of the year in gym. Even though I didn’t run growing up, I’m not sure how I would have felt about running the mile in gym. Knowing me, I would have enjoyed it.

When I finally started running after college, I joined the local road race scene which meant 5k’s and longer. I didn’t know of any shorter road races, and the thought of hopping on the track intimidated me. Every race distance requires a different approach, and as I’m getting more comfortable with racing (it’s been 5 years!), I’m finally learning the “tactics” and applying them (albeit slowly) to my racing strategy. So when I heard about a local 1 mile road race, I knew I had to sign up. Plus, knowing one of my fellow NJ Oiselle birds, Jen, was racing made me want to run even more.

The College Avenue Mile runs two loops in New Brunswick, on you guessed it, College Avenue! This was actually the third year for the race, but the first time it actually worked out for me to run. Since I’ve never raced a mile, I didn’t know what to expect. I was nervous knowing I’d have to race hard from the gun, but tried to reassure myself that the pain would be over in 6-ish minutes, a solid 14+ minutes less than any other race I’ve run! When registering for the race, you had to select what heat to run in – elite (sub-5:30), emerging elite (sub-6), masters, sub-7, or sub-12. I checked off the sub-7 option during registration, knowing that the McMillan pace calculator predicted me at 6:01 based on my recent half marathon PR. I was wary about running in the emerging elite heat and posting a 6-something mile. After much debate and some encouragement from my Twitter bud Sarah who was manning the registration booth, I decided to hop in the emerging elite heat. They were running over an hour before the sub-7 heat, and I figured running with a group of women slightly faster than me would be motivating… and I’d get home earlier! Plus, seeing that the race was relatively low-key, it was no problem for me to hop into a random heat. Probably the only time in my life I’ll be called an “emerging elite,” ha.

I warmed up three miles around College Ave. while the earlier races were going on, and before I knew it, we were being called to the start. As we waited for the go-ahead, I couldn’t help but think, “What have I gotten myself into?” along with, “Try not to come in dead last.” Everyone in my heat was friendly, so we were able to distract ourselves a bit by chatting about how we just wanted to get the race over, how hot it was, etc. And I finally met Meghan! You can see us in the picture below talking strategy, ha.

Serious business

Serious business

When the race started, the first quarter felt relatively slow. Of course it wasn’t, but in my head I needed to be going balls-to-the-wall immediately. I held back, though, knowing that there was at least someone I was running with that knew how to race a mile. We ran the first half mile in a pack, and started to thin as we reached the halfway point. Two laps of just one block meant 8 left-hand turns, which proved to be somewhat difficult for me. Since I was running so fast (for me!) and had a younger girl right next to me against the curb the entire time, I wound up swinging out a little further than I would have liked. At one point, the girl even had the nerve to put her arm out to make sure she had enough room for herself. I wouldn’t have minded, except for the fact that she started the race on the right-hand side of the road, cut across all the way to the left, and hugged the curb the entire time running the exact same speed as me. Guess it’s good the race was only a mile! I tried to focus on my own race, and realized I was really working based on the fact that I could hear myself huffing and puffing within the first quarter of the race.

Let's play "Where's Danielle in the pack?"

Let’s play “Where’s Danielle in the pack?”

 

Before I knew it we were on our second lap, and as I started the last quarter I somehow had a little gas left in the tank to pass two women that were right in front of me the entire time. Thankfully we finished on the right-hand side of the road, so swinging wide on my last left-hand turn worked out in my favor. I kicked my legs and pumped my arms as fast as I could as I rounded the corner and saw the clock slowly ticking away in the 5:50′s. I wound up crossing the mat in 5:56.06! As it turns out I did belong in the emerging elite heat – go figure!

Home Stretch!

Home Stretch!

In addition to the race, because I do my long runs on Saturday, I wasn’t getting away with just running a mile for the day – I had a total of 10 on the schedule. So after my three mile warm-up and one mile race, I set out for another 6 miles to finish off the day. When it was all said and done I was tired and all my legs wanted to do was relax, but it was  a fun way to get in 10 miles. I also won’t lie – my legs (and core!) were pretty sore on Sunday which I wasn’t expecting. It made my recovery run more of a slog… but it was nice to know I pushed myself the day before. Next on my schedule is a 4 miler on the 4th of July, followed by a bunch of 5k’s. Aside from the heat and humidity, I love summer racing!

Tell me…
Did you have to race the mile in school? Love it? Hate it?
What’s the shortest race (distance-wise) you’ve done? Longest?

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Another Race? Broad Street 10 Miler

You might be thinking to yourself, “didn’t she just run a half marathon last weekend and PR? Why is she racing again?” Well, those thoughts would be correct. Sometimes I’m smart, but most of the time I’m not.

The Broad Street 10 Miler in Philadelphia is a race that has always been on my radar. So when a bunch of my friends from college decided they wanted to run it this year, I couldn’t help but throw my name into the lottery with them. I had friends from high school, college, and post-college (should I call that “adulthood?”) all signed up for the race, so I knew it would be a good time. Since I was originally shooting to PR at the Shamrock Half, I thought there would be plenty of time between the two races. Thanks to my ITB issues in January I pushed back my PR half marathon attempt, leaving it just one week before Broad Street. At first I wasn’t sure what to do. Should I just skip the run? Run it easy? Eventually I decided to run, but wasn’t really sure what my running plan would be up until I started running.

I had little expectations going into the race. Since I raced last weekend, I knew pushing my body to the same effort level was not smart. It helped that my PR for this distance was over two years old, so I knew I wouldn’t have to push hard (or at all, really) to beat it. That helped to quell my inner competitor a bit and allowed me to have a more relaxed approach to the race. I stayed at my friend’s apartment the night before and slept on her pull-out couch, I didn’t do anything fancy for dinner or breakfast, and I didn’t get to the race until about 20 minutes before it was supposed to start (which was a bit stressful).

While waiting in my corral for the start, I was kept quite entertained by men doing static stretching (tisk, tisk), a guy dropping to the ground and doing a handful of push-ups multiple times, and other antics. It was the perfect distraction from being chilly and wanting the race to just start. The forecast had predicted a relatively warm and sunny day, but by the time we started it was overcast and quite cool. I had my (sweet) sunglasses with me, but decided to hold them in my hand and hope that the sun would come out eventually. At about 8:25am the wheelchair corral was off, and 5 minutes later right at 8:30 the elites and red corral were sent on their way. By 8:33 I was crossing the start of my first Broad Street Run!

Jersey Birds do Philly! Me + Hollie after the race

Jersey Birds do Philly! Me + Hollie after the race

Per the usual, I took off at the start and made my way to the left side of the road in a comfortable spot. I’d heard nightmares about how crowded and bottle-necked the start and other parts of the race can be due to the nearly 40,000 participants, so I wanted to make sure early on that I had enough room to breathe. Since I was in the second corral and Broad Street is really wide and there were no real turns, I never experienced any overcrowding. While you would think a straight-shot race may be boring, it was quite the opposite. There were plenty of spectators, and the undulation in the road provided a great opportunity to get a glimpse of the sea of people up ahead. My first mile was way too fast and the next two were slower, but still too fast (6:58, 7:05, 7:11), and I knew I needed to slow down.

After passing the 3.1 in just about my current 5k PR, I made a conscious effort to slow. The next four miles were 7:18, 7:13, 7:21, 7:17. It was difficult to actually get myself to slow down enough. I’d lower my effort, and somehow I’d look down at my watch and be running faster than before. It was frustrating because I knew I needed to be running slower, yet my body wouldn’t let me. Of course that sounds like one of those “that’s not a bad problem to have!” situations, but I really didn’t want to be pushing my body too much. My effort was probably at around 90%, when it really should have been no more than 80%. It wasn’t until mile 8 where I actually slowed down to the pace I should have been running the whole race. My fast start combined with the sun and heat (which made an appearance around mile 2) were finally catching up to me. Under normal circumstances I would have been upset that I slowed so significantly from the start to finish of the race, but I was actually relieved! The last three miles were 7:38, 7:43, and 7:35. I crossed the finish line in 1:13:41 – a new PR by 10 minutes!

University of Scranton swimmers + soccer players turned runners?

University of Scranton swimmers + soccer players turned runners?

After the race I quickly found my friend from high school and her fellow Central Park Track Club Runners. After that I was able to find Hollie and chat with her for a few minutes before making my way to the port-o-potties to change out of my sopping wet racing clothes. As I was coming out I heard a “Danielle!” and turned to see Oiselle teammate Danielle waiting in line herself! By the time I made it back to the designated meeting place, my friends started to arrive. They all had great races themselves, and it’s fun to look at us now – running road races after spending so many years in the pool as swimmers! We had a great brunch at Fado after scaling a mud wall and hopping over a highway divide to get to the subway. I even got to stop at Whole Foods on the way home! It was  a great weekend with some of my best friends from college with a side of running – what more could I ask for?

I have a week of some more base building before getting started on some 5k work. I can’t wait for summer!

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Filed under Running