My Best Worst Race Ever

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Conditions were perfect.  It was gorgeous clear, October day.  The course was beautiful, winding around Lake Natoma and past the Folsom Dam.  There were enough runners for it to be fun, but not so many that it was annoyingly crowded.  Miles 1-4 felt awesome, and we were all on track to break our half marathon record and make it under 2 hours once and for all.

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And then that pain in my left hip came back, this time with a vengeance.  By mile 5 it was hurting all the way down into my knee.  By mile 6 it was raging with every step I took, and by mile 7 I knew I was not going to make it.  I wasn’t going to ruin anyone else’s race, so I told the boys I would meet them at the finish at the entrance to the beer garden.

I would like to say that I am an adult and I did not burst into tears as I limped along the edge of the trail for another mile until the next aid station, but I did.  This was 20% because it hurt, and 80% because I was disappointed that for the first time I started a race that I couldn’t finish, because I was angry at myself for letting it get this bad, and because I had a terrible sinking feeling that this meant I was not going to be able to run the CIM after all.

At the aid station, an extremely kind and wonderful volunteer named Sandy insisted on driving me the last 5 miles to the finish line in her own car.  Sandy, if you are out there, know that you did a good deed and that I am forever grateful to you.  I got there just as the fastest runners were finishing, which meant that there were still plenty of Luna bars left and that the massage tent was virtually empty.  I met the guys at the beer tent, and we all enjoyed a free post race brew.  Special congrats to Alex for kicking ass in his first half!

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So right now, I am resting, icing, making a doctor’s appointment and hoping against hope that I can keep training after a little while and maybe still run the CIM.  It’s not looking great but I’m not giving up yet.  If not, I will have to seriously consider what else to do with my life for a while, since at least 25% of my time is spent running, preparing for running, recovering from running, and thinking and blogging about running.  I probably should have diversified my hobby portfolio before this happened, but since I’ve been running pretty constantly for the last five years without any injuries I really wasn’t expecting to need to.

But don’t worry, I will continue to provide you with more melodramatic updates on my condition as things play out.

Getting Ready for the Folsom Blues Breakout Half

Happy Friday!  I just finished my first week at my new job, and tomorrow is RACE DAY!  Not marathon day, but half marathon day, which is more than half as good.  I’m running the Folsom Blues Breakout Half with my husband and our friend Alex.  I’ve never done this race before, but I’m excited about it for several reasons:

  1. It’s almost like a preview of the first part of the CIM course, which starts in Folsom
  2. It’s October and the weather is finally awesome for running
  3. The race is Johnny Cash and prison themed
  4. There is free beer at the finish
  5. The medal doubles as a bottle opener.  For real.

However–there is this thing that started as a soreness in my left hip, didn’t go away for two weeks and then turned into an intense pain shooting down my left leg.  I confess that I was bad, I ignored it, and I’m sorry, but when it didn’t get better I decided to take my own advice and give it a rest.  My worst fear is that it doesn’t heal and I can’t keep training, so I skipped my runs on Wednesday and Thursday and twice a day I’ve been rolling it out with a foam roller and stretching a lot.  It feels way better, but I won’t find out how much better until I actually run tomorrow.

I haven’t been totally lazy though, because I started commuting to my new job…via BIKE!  This is a big deal for me because a) I have been driving a very long way to my job for the last 2 1/2 years and b) historically I am NOT good at riding a bike.  As in, I didn’t really know how to ride one at all until my husband taught me when I was seventeen years old, and after that things were kind of shaky, and may have included a somewhat devastating bike accident when I was in college in Washington DC that was witnessed by about 1,000,000 tourists.

That said, I think I will be okay because I only have a one mile ride to work on residential streets, and because (since I am very aware of my limitations as a cyclist) I am super extra careful.  But if you see me on my bike, give me a wide berth just in case.

Now, its time to carb load with some Hungry Girl Pizza and go to bed early so I can be ready for BEAST MODE tomorrow!

All The Food Groups Lunch Time Salad

I have not been posting a ton lately, mostly because I’ve been busy starting a new job and finishing an old one.  Marathon training has also gotten real.  The kind of real where you’re at the 15 mile mark of a 17 mile run wondering “hmm, what is this intense pain shooting down the side of my left leg, and for that matter please remind me why the F I am doing this to myself again?” but then you hit the 17 mile mark and feel totally invincible, and then you wake up the next day and feel very sore, very hungry, and very un-invincible again.  It’s like a roller coaster that goes on for months and that most people would not want to stand in line for.

Anyways, this post isn’t really about training, it’s about lunch.  I had been bringing the same salad to work for about a year, and it got to the point where I was so sick of it I could barely bring myself to look at it, let alone actually eat it.  So I did about 5 minutes of Googling and found this recipe on the Trader Joe’s website.  I am not a spokesperson for Trader Joe’s, although maybe I should be because all of my recipes feature their items.  It just happens to my closest and most favorite grocery store, so I buy everything there.  This recipe is a version of their Edamame Energy Bowls, with some adjustments and a better name.

This makes five servings, so I just spend some time making a big batch of it on Sunday and divide it up into five containers and I’m set for the week.  It’s tasty, it’s filling, and it incorporates pretty much all the food groups you could want in one bowl of deliciousness.  Okay it doesn’t have dairy, but just pack some Greek yogurt for a morning snack and there you go.  You’re welcome.

All The Food Groups Lunch Time Salad

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Ingredients

The salad

  • 1 cup quinoa, dry
  • 1 1/2 cups shelled edamame (I buy the frozen kind and defrost it)
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 apple, cored and chopped into small pieces
  • 1/2 a large avocado or 1 small avocado, chopped into small pieces
  • 1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tbsp yellow or white onion, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup almonds, chopped

The dressing

  • Juice of 1 medium/large lemon
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Place the quinoa and 2 cups water in a small pot.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until all the water is absorbed.  Spread out on a plate and place in the fridge to cool.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the edamame, carrots, celery, apple, avocado, cilantro, onion and almonds.  Add the cooled quinoa.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients.
  4. Toss the salad with the dressing and divide into five containers.  Enjoy your week!

“Pain is weakness leaving the body,” and other dumb things not to believe

A lot of people who are into fitness and being thin, and who want to inspire themselves and other people to be into fitness and being thin, like to post “fitspiration” pictures on the internet.  These pictures are usually of people with six pack abs and/or perfect butts, and they have captions like “pain is weakness leaving the body” or “no pain, no gain, just train.”  I have problems with fitspiration from a body image standpoint, but that is another story for another blog post.  The other reason I think it’s dangerous is that it encourages overtraining.

As someone who runs a lot, I know that exercise doesn’t always feel great.  But there is a fine balance between challenging your body and injuring your body, and you don’t have to be running marathons to risk going overboard.  You build strength and endurance over time, but slowly, progressively.  And more isn’t always better if you don’t listen to your body.  Rest when you need it, even if that means skipping your 5 am workout because you need to sleep in.  Eat healthy, and make sure you eat enough.  Don’t ignore nagging pain or soreness that doesn’t go away.

This is a really good article from Greatist about what overtraining looks like and how to avoid it.  Fitness is about balance, not about six pack abs, starvation, sleep deprivation and injury. So be balanced, and take care of yourself!

Gluten Free Autumn Apple Crisp

Tomorrow, it will officially be fall, which according to Pinterest is everyone’s favorite season because of things like chunky sweaters, rustic-cute orchard photo shoots, and making everything in the world pumpkin spice flavored for no real reason.  Fall is my favorite season because of leaf piles, Halloween, decent running weather, Halloween, boots, Halloween, and apples.

I made this apple crisp for a friend’s housewarming party because I had a bunch of apples lying around and crisps are the easiest to make.  You just cut up whatever fruit is in your fridge, throw some sugar, butter, cinnamon and oats on it, pop it in the oven, enjoy the delicious smells wafting through your house, and impress your family and friends.  I also made a miniature ramekin-sized one for my husband because I am the best ever.

Gluten Free Autumn Apple Crisp

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Ingredients

For the filling

  • 5 apples, peeled, cored, and cut into slices.  I used Gala but really who cares.
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • Zest and juice of 1 tangerine/clementine/mandarin

For the topping

  • 1 cup gluten free flour blend (I used Trader Joe’s brand, but you can use Cup4Cup or whatever you prefer including regular all purpose flour if you’re normal)
  • 1/2 cup oatmeal
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 lb (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter, cut into chunks

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. In an 8 in x 8 in baking dish, toss the apples with the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, zest and juice until evenly coated.
  3. Place the flour, oatmeal, sugars, salt and butter in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed until the mixture forms crumbs about the size of peas.  You can also do this in a food processor or the old fashioned way with a pastry blender.
  4. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the apples.  Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the apples are bubbling.  Enjoy!

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Run, Eat, Snorkel, Repeat: How to enjoy your vacation

So I took a vacation to Hawaii.  We had a fantastic time and basically just alternated between running, playing in the water and eating lots of delicious food.  Like this:  Wake up.  Run.  Eat breakfast.  Swim.  Eat lunch.  Snorkel.  Eat shave ice.  Swim.  Eat dinner.  Drink a Mai tai.   Bed.  Repeat.

Although we ate a lot of fresh fish, we also ate a lot of…less healthy things.  Things which might have caused some guilt if I was at home and not on vacation.  One of the reasons guilt did not happen was because almost every minute not taken up by eating was spent running, swimming, snorkeling and playing on the beach.  The other reason is because Kelsey Miller at the Anti-Diet Project, who you know is pretty much my hero, wrote this excellent post about why your vacation is not a “cheat day.”

“In the past, the weeks leading up to vacation had involved strategizing a master plan about how I’d maintain my diet. Then, two days in, I’d slip up and eat, like, the whole of Switzerland. Then, the rest of the trip would be spent eating additional countries and laying awake at night feeling layers of imaginary fat grow around my stomach. ‘When I get home, it’s gonna be kale and hot yoga and THAT’S IT,’ was the promise I’d hang onto as I panicked and ate and panicked and ate.”

Especially if you have a really restrictive diet at home, it’s easy to go a little crazy on vacation.  You’re away from your routines, and in a new place full of tempting new delightful food.  But you want to eat the delightful food!  You want to enjoy the delightful food!  You definitely don’t want to spend the whole vacation feeling intensely guilty about the delightful food!

When you’re on vacation for the express purpose of having fun, relaxing and experiencing new things, its really okay to eat things you might not normally eat.  But also, it’s really okay to eat those things at home, too.  That way, you won’t go too overboard while you’re away and you won’t feel the need to atone for your food sins when you get home.  Everybody wins.

On a sidenote, running 11 miles by the beach in a tropical paradise was not as fabulous as I had hoped.  Although the view was lovely, the humidity was not.  I don’t think I’ve sweated that much probably ever in my whole life, but it did give me a new appreciation for public water fountains and for the crispy, dry heat of Sacramento.  It might never rain again in California for the next hundred years, but it sure will be pleasant for running.

Feel-Good Friday: All About that Bass

In case you haven’t heard this song because maybe you live under a rock, or maybe you listen exclusively to NPR and as a result are extremely well-informed about world events but know little about pop culture, you need to hear it.  Especially if you’re a girl, especially if you have thoughts about your body, and ESPECIALLY if you like dancing around your room singing into a hairbrush.

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Meghan Trainor–All About that Bass

Happy Friday!