Cooler By A Mile

As a kid, my family and I vacationed in Avalon, New Jersey.  So many fond family memories stem from the many years we spent down the shore.  And still to this day just driving that direction brings a calmness and peace over me–it’s my true “happy place”. Avalon 2014 BeachAvalon 2014 Beach 2One memory brings me to the annual lifeguard races.   I remember as a teenager being in awe of the swimmers and thinking that I would never do a race like that!

Well, never say never.  Fast forward to earlier this year and I started getting the itch to sign up for my second triathlon. I found one in Avalon and began thinking, “hmmm, could I be brave enough to do a race like this?” With only one race under my belt I wasn’t sure, but the day that I was considering this was on a cold, snowy one.  Dreaming of warm beach days and my family believing in me prompted me to take the plunge.

So leading up to race day, I began hitting the pool and riding my used, but new-to-me road bike.  And before I knew it, race day was here!

Triathlon-start 7

Me and my mama.

June 28, 4:15 am–Race morning arrived much too early!  But surprisingly I popped right out of bed.  I had a pretty good night’s sleep.

Me and my stepdad, Frank.

Me and my stepdad, Frank.

The hour and fifteen minute drive only took us about an hour.  After grabbing my race gear it was time to set up my bike in the transition area.

Looks like I have a bodyguard.

Looks like I have a bodyguard.

Triathlon set up 3Unlike the Iron Girl race I did last September, non-racers were allowed into the transition area for this one.  So my mom and stepdad came in to watch me set everything up.  Triathlon-start 9 americaWhile much of this race was much more laid back than the Iron Girl race, looking back I wish that there was a bit more structure.  For example, there was no pre-race talk…only a quick talk over the loudspeaker 10 minutes before the race started.  I could have used a little more guidance as I later learned.

Swimmers getting ready.

Swimmers getting ready.

Please, no pictures, mom!

Please, no pictures, mom!

Triathlon-start 8

Total Cheese!

Triathlon-start 5

Getting nervous.

 

 

 

 

 

As we headed down to the beach, I learned that my wave would be the last group to go out around 7:40 am.  I thought great, no one would be passing me in the water.  Later I wished there was another group.

Pre-race, talking to a family friend, John.

Pre-race, talking to a family friend, John.

Pre-race, with family friend Frannie.

Pre-race, with family friend Frannie.

Triathlon-swim 5

Heading out into the Atlantic.

Triathlon-swim 2

And we’re off!

One last look back to dry land!

One last look back to dry land!

The water didn’t look too rough–a few days later I was grateful the swim was not on the fourth of July when the waves were much bigger due to Hurricane Arthur making its way along the coast. But even so, it was still the ocean.  I started towards the far left of my wave (the race went from left to right with the current) because it appeared that people were getting pulled and having to back track to get around the first flag.  Well the funny thing is that I was the only one who didn’t seem to be moving left to right.  It was like the current just stopped and at one point I asked one of the lifeguards who was in a lifeboat near me, “Am I even moving?” He said, “Yep, you’re moving!!”  It sure didn’t feel like it to me!  Near the very beginning of the race after I got past the breakers I started to get really nervous and my breathing felt rushed.  I knew that I had to calm myself down, so I flipped over to my back.  I tried to swim some freestyle strokes, but couldn’t get into a rhythm.  As more and more swimmers began getting smaller and smaller ahead of me, I was getting annoyed and frustrated at myself–I could do this in a pool, no problem.  Finally after what seemed like a lifetime I made it past the third and final flag.  Coming in ought to be a piece of cake, but even that was hard!  I heard one of the female guards who was treading water near me say to another, “Keep an eye on her.” Part of me wanted to laugh and part of me wanted to cry!  Avalon beach patrol made sure I didn't drown!As I made it in, I saw two girls who came out of the water just ahead of me.  And my parents cheering me on.  I can’t imagine what I must have looked like at that point, but I began pulling off my goggles, swimcap, and wetsuit.  I plopped to the ground and had my stepdad yank the suite off of me.

Triathlon-swim 9

Running down the beach. Frank is waiting for me to get the suit off.

Now to get to T1–a quarter of a mile up the beach–I was finally there.  A girl was yelling “way to go” and stuck her hand out for a high-five.  I was thinking, well she’s excited and I gave her a half-hearted high-five.  Of course I was so stressed in the water that I couldn’t even think of peeing (sorry if that is too much information here) so I ran into a port-a-potty (barefoot and all…gross!).  Clearly I was wiped and didn’t care.

Now for putting on my bike gear and I was finally out of T1–two girls (probably the two from earlier) were right ahead of me which helped make the awful feeling of being last in my age group a little better.

Triathlon-fans Randy, Kat, Frank

The bike ride was a four-mile loop to the end of the island three times.  It was flat with a breeze at my back for one direction.  As I completed the first lap, to my right was my cheering squad–my mom, step-dad, brother, sister-in-law, best friend and her husband. For the first time since the race started I felt a smile return to my face.  It was time to forget the swim and enjoy what was ahead.

I'm not the cool-looking gal up front!  Yellow helmet.

I’m not the cool-looking gal up front! Yellow helmet.

But my comedy of errors was still to come…as I was about to transition out of T2, I only then realized that my bike helmet was still on.  There goes another 20 seconds!  I ran back to toss the helmet down and then finally I was off to the final stretch.

Running is usually my strong suit...but I didn't follow directions too well that day.

Coming out of the water and heading up to T1.

The sand was not as packed as I had hoped for and the gully in the middle did not help the cause.  People kept crossing through the water to get to the more hard packed sand. Approaching the turn-around I asked a girl whether that was the correct spot (because earlier I saw a sign for the kids’ race).  She said yes that it was, and within less than 5 minutes I was already headed back towards the finish line which didn’t feel right.  Did they shorten the race, because at this rate I must have set a new record for the 5K?  I didn’t know what to do so I ran through the finisher chute.  Soon I was giving up my race timer, handed a cold towel and a water.  I saw my parents and they were shocked to see me so soon.  I cried out, “I think I cheated!” and a few tears began to form in my eyes.  What had happened?  Soon I saw my sister-in-law and she told me that I had to run past the finish line and then back out again the way I came before circling back to the finish line.  I threw my water bottle down, but she said, “come on, we’ll do it together.”

Here I come (again)!

Here I come (again)! Running is usually my strong suit…but I didn’t follow directions too well that day.

So off I went again to finish the race with my sister-in-law encouraging me.  About 30 minutes later I crossed the finish line a second time, this time with no timer chip.

Feeling a bit silly I went to the timing tent where the race officials sat (including one from USAT). I told them what happened and they took my information down and said they would see about adjusting accordingly using my split times (not sure how since I gave up the timing chip).

As I strolled back to my family and friends, they all gave me hugs and said how proud they were of me.  Who really cares after all if my times were terrible (at least in my own mind).  I did something that as a kid I never dreamed about doing–swimming a race in the ocean.  I’m pretty competitive with myself and being at the end of the pack was not the best confidence booster.  But you know what, we all have to start somewhere in order to grow from our experiences and become better.  I realized that it’s not always about being the fastest.  The fact that I went through that finish line–not once, but twice–when many would have just given up and quit at that point, told me a lot about my perseverance and character. I felt that I had cheated and not finished the race the right way.Triathlon-post race

Me and my best bud, Amber.

Me and my best bud, Amber.

Afterwards we went to Uncle Bill’s Pancake House.  My best friend asked me if I saw her give me the high-five.  Incredulously, I said, “that was you!” and laughed.  She and her husband said “yeah, we didn’t think you knew it was us!” Haha!  I was so drained at that point.

Me, best buddy Amber and her hubby Kevin.  So fun to see them!

Me, best buddy Amber and her hubby Kevin. So fun to see them!

Coffee (and pancakes) at Uncle Bill's Pancake House never tasted sooo good!

Coffee (and pancakes) at Uncle Bill’s Pancake House never tasted sooo good!

And of course with my family you gotta have a thick skin so I knew I had to just laugh about the race rather than let any teasing get me down.  At the end of the day I know it’s out of love.

I was so appreciative of everyone who came to cheer me on.  Although not the best race I’ve ever had, it was one at which I needed a fan base all the more.  Thank you!  I love you all!

Family!

Family!

Vacation could now begin at my “happy place”…a week in Avalon where it’s always “Cooler by a Mile.” And it sure was a relaxing one!Avalon 2014 Beach 3

Beach dining, Sal, Randy, Kat at Quahog's2

Family dinner out.

Avalon 2014 Beach

                                      **In the end, the race officials did not give me an overall finish or 5K time since my timing chip was removed early, but I completed the entire race (23:23 for 1/4 mile of swimming–I probably swam more in the long run–and 50:19 for 12 miles on the bike); I estimate I would have finished in the low 2-hour mark had everything gone according to plan. I look forward to besting this one!

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St. Michael’s Running Festival

This past May I ran a half-marathon in St. Michael’s, Maryland.  Earlier in the year when the days were cold and short, a friend suggested that a few of us sign up for the St. Michael’s Running Festival and make a girls’ weekend out of the race. A few months later, spring weather had arrived, bags were packed and five of us were off to the races! St. Michael's Race 3

My parents had been to the quaint Chesapeake town of St. Michael’s in the fall so I was really looking forward to visiting. That Friday evening after race packet pick-up–all set up in what appeared to be the storage garage of a nearby church–it was time to chow down with a pasta dinner.

St. Michael's Race 1The next morning we loaded our two cars and drove back into town for the race.  The neat thing about the festival was that there was a race for everyone–two of the girls would run the 5K, one the 10K, and two the half-marathon.  St. Michael's Race 4St. Michael's Race 2

Racers seemed excited and the music was blasting.  After the National Anthem we were ready for go-time.  My friend Emily started her 10K and a few minutes later Lily and I were off for the half-marathon.  St. Michael's Race 5The race began near a school, wound its way down Main Street and the picture-perfect town.  As we left town, the road turned into more of a highway until we hung a right into a golf-course neighborhood.  During this part of the race I saw a few glimpses of the water and a few miles later I was back on the main drag.  This part of the race was rather boring in my opinion. This out and back portion of the race had very few fans; hence, I needed to find other ways to keep me preoccupied. I began fixating on people’s t-shirts.  One guy was wearing a Baltimore Running Festival shirt with a crab on the back.  I passed him at one point, then he passed me, and then I passed him again.  During races, especially longer ones, I always have two or three people that I play a game of chase with.  It helps to gauge how I’m doing and gives me some extra juice when I start getting tired.  Plus, yeah I get a little competitive.

St. Michael's Race 14As I crossed the 10K mark, I knew I was running a strong race.  Finally a few miles ahead I saw the turn-around, only about 5 miles to go!  I saw the leaders go by and the pack ahead of me was in sight.  The beauty of a race under 2,000 people is that you really see how you stack up against the others.

As we approached town again a spectator yelled to me, “Wow, way to go!  Two half-marathons in two weeks!”  Well, not quite.  I was an imposter wearing the race shirt from the Nike Women’s Half that took place the week prior.  I ran last year, but not this year.  A friend gave me the shirt because it was too small.  That comment did put some extra spring in my step though!  St. Michael's Race 10

Soon the race took a right down a neighborhood side street.  A water stop was waiting and then there was about a mile left to go down a trail.  Crowds were gathered along the homestretch with a quarter mile to go!  I saw Christy and Andrea, who ran the 5K, and Emily cheering me on from the side of the trail, which brought a smile to my face.  And then before I knew it I was finished the race!

St. Michael's Race 9After I grabbed some water I joined them to cheer on Lily as she finished her first half.  After a massage, we meandered to the post-race party where an Army band was playing music.  We checked out our finisher stats on the board and I set a new PR at 1:44:18:0, with a pace of 7:58, 10th in my age group and 84th out of 1,260 runners overall.  I felt great–my speed is improving (even had negative splits–i.e. I ran faster during the second half than the first) and it was a wonderful day to race! St. Michael's Race 7

Lunch was next on the agenda.  On the menu–crab cake eggs benedict and coffee.  Yum!  St. Michael's Race 12St. Michael's Race 6Then we meandered through the historic town and visited the cute shops.  I plan to return to St. Michael’s again as it was a great weekend getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city!

St. Michael's Race 8

 

St. Michael's Race 11

Post-race relaxing outside the Inn at Perry Cabin (yes, this is where they filmed the movie Wedding Crashers)

 

  St. Michael's Race 13 St. Michael's Race 15 St. Michael's Race 16

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Taking On The Sea

I’ve been a bit MIA from the blog-o-sphere lately due to a crazy time at work.  I have many things to report on…a May half-marathon (another personal best), a yummy energy bar recipe, my bike buying experience, and much more. But I’m focused on my next race…my second sprint triathlon!  This one is tomorrow, at the Jersey shore and I’ll be taking on the ocean.  I honestly haven’t had much time to think about the race.  But as someone recently told me, “trust your training.”

So trust is what I’ll do and I’m banking on the salt to make me more buoyant.  I’m trading chlorine for salt water!  Here goes nothing.  More to come…

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Rock The Ridge 2014

Last year, readers met my friend Sarah who completed her first 50-mile endurance challenge at Rock The Ridge in New York.  Well she recently was at it again, completing the race a second time!  I know that I’m inspired after reading about her experience.  May it encourage you to reach for your goals!  Congratulations Sarah!

Guest Blogger: Sarah Topping

On May 3, 2014 I got to run my favorite race once again. Since I didn’t do too well last year and didn’t get to see any of the Hudson Valley while I was there, I decided to take the week after the race off and spend it getting to know a little more of the area. I drove to High Falls on Thursday, May 1st. It was great having my car this time as I was able to pack everything I could possibly need for the race (and after). I was lucky enough to stay at Clove Cottages again. The Blue Cottage was all ready for me when I finally arrived, including a hammock, since they remembered how much I loved that the year before!

I was asked to participate in a video telling the story of Rock The Ridge and I actually agreed to do it. I met with the folks on Friday morning. It was really strange talking about my path to Rock The Ridge and my experiences last year. I left the interview feeling like a complete idiot. That was when I started wondering how much I had really improved over the year. Before the interview I was not nervous about the race. After, well, I started to wonder just how smart I really am. But since I knew that after everything that happened last year I still made the time cut off and finished the race, I had no worries about finishing this year. So I wrote off the nerves as just normal pre-race jitters and continued on with my plans.

One of the things I learned from last year was that I don’t eat well when I run, so on Friday I made raspberry mint rice cakes to take with me. I packed up all the food I was taking (rice cakes, roasted peanuts, coffee caramels made for me by a dear friend, and freeze-dried strawberries), took stock of my blister kits, and picked the clothes I would wear. Then I packed up my drop bag. YES! I had a drop bag this year and in it were two bean and cheese burritos!!! I also packed a fleece shirt, headlamp, extra socks, more rice cakes, strawberries, peanuts, and string cheese, and another pair of shoes just in case I felt like changing them for the last leg. And ibuprofen. Forget the nerves, I was ready.

Friday evening I went to packet pick up and the pre-race dinner, just like I did last year. This year Lisa Smith-Batchen was giving a talk before the dinner and I made sure to be there for that. I was introduced to her before her talk and it was like meeting royalty! What really struck me was being a novice runner talking with someone of her caliber and having her be truly interested in me. I can run in races with 30,000 runners and speak with maybe two of them. At the much smaller Rock The Ridge, I meet so many more. I think that’s one of the main reasons I love ultras. I decided then to join the group Lisa was leading to a projected 15-hour finish.

This year I was actually able to sleep before the race. I was so excited to get started that I was one of the first runners to get to the start. I double checked all my gear, checked my bags, had some coffee and great conversations with other runners, and watched the sun rise.

Then we were off. I started out running on Lenape Lane and kept up the running until it started climbing. That’s when I kind of merged into Lisa’s pace group. I managed to keep up with them until we were just about to Spring Farm when my brilliant blister regimen started to go south on me. I stopped, redressed my foot, and started out again. Once I got to Spring Farm I realized that my tried and true blister treatments were not working for me any longer. And who happens by on her way out of the aid station? Yup. Lisa. She stopped, helped me fix up my foot (with a moleskin donation from another runner going by), then went on her way. What an awesome thing to do! I decided that I was going to slow things down and not push my feet to the point of the open sores I had last year. I knew I was kissing goodbye my goal finish time, but I figured I could push harder at the end if I didn’t hobble myself in the beginning.

near mile 30

Approaching Mile 30

I topped off my water supply (by the way, Nathan makes a hydration vest (the Intensity) that fits a big girl like me. All hail Nathan!), had a snack, and started back up Cedar Drive. Then starts the climb to Skytop. The final push to the tower is a set of stone steps. REALLY? That was just plain mean. =) Almost everyone I came across was really interested in what I was doing. I actually had a great time talking with hikers and bikers and taking photos for people. Who knows. Maybe some of them will try the race next year!

mile 30

Mile 30!

Next came what I think is my least favorite portion of the race – Forest Drive and Old Minnewaska Road down to Rhododendron Bridge. Not sure why I don’t like it, but I don’t. I got to the water stop at Rhododendron Bridge at the same time the third place finisher was there. Last year I was there when the fifth place finisher was there. I’m getting better!!!! That’s when I started up Overcliff Road, one of my most favorite portions of the race. I turned a corner and came across a couple of women who were out running. They stopped and cheered me on. Then one of them exclaimed that she remembered me from last year and she gave me a big old hug! What a pick-me-up! I’m sure I was moving a little faster after that.

Near Castle Point

Near Castle Point

My feet were holding up pretty well, I was happily taking in the sounds of the trees in the breeze, and next thing I knew I was at the Lyons Road aid station. Talk about a cheering section. Man, the volunteers there were fantastic! I rooted through my drop bag, added another pair of socks to the two pair I was already wearing, swapped out my empty snack baggies for full ones, grabbed a cup of chicken broth (yay, chicken broth!!!), and headed on my way to Awosting Falls. Comparing how I felt this year to how I felt last year I realized just how much more fit I am. I felt great. And that’s when the steepest climb started. I huffed and puffed, but made it up the hill feeling tons better than last year. I’m still shocked about that. At this point I was between miles 25 and 30. I swear. The longer I run, the less I am able to gauge how far I have run. I swear I should have come upon the 30 mile marker much earlier than I did. I felt like I’d run the distance. But maybe I was just excited to get to Castle Point, another of my favorite spots. I gave myself a 10-minute break once I got there. Ate, drank, and stared out at the beautiful Hudson Valley.

Lake Awosting

Lake Awosting

The weather was pretty much perfect as far as I am concerned. A little chilly to start, then warm throughout the day with some great breezes. This year it was mostly cloudy which suits me just fine. That held until I was just past Lake Awosting when it started pouring. I had no rain gear with me, so I got soaked to the skin. I was cold, but the rainbow that followed made it all worthwhile.

A glimmer of a rainbow, post-rain

A glimmer of a rainbow, post-rain

 

 

 

 

The rest of my jaunt back to Lake Minnewaska and then to Lyons Road was really uneventful. At this point on the trail I was by myself just plugging along and enjoying the run. This time through Lyons Road I decided to try the bean and cheese burrito I dreamed about last year. You know what? It was TASTY! Since I was certain to finish after dark I grabbed my headlamp and put my fleece on for the rest of the race. I was not going to freeze like I did last year. Grabbed another cup of broth and set out on the final leg of RTR #2. I couldn’t stop smiling as I went along.

Evening is creeping in...

Evening is creeping in…

This year I had people around me for the majority of the race. It was great to get to know some of the other runners. The trip to Trapps Bridge and Undercliff Road was just plain fun. And this year it was light the entire time I was on Undercliff! Of course, because of the rain there were only a few climbers to watch, but I enjoyed the chance to see them. It didn’t get dark until I was well on my way to done with Oakwood Drive. The headlamp goes on, I’m chatting away with the women in front of me, and all is right with the world.

Then comes the dreaded loop on Forest Drive (this is where I barfed last year). I wound around a corner, up an incline, and am greeted by none other than Marc & Heidi, the two volunteers who were there last year! I think I may have squealed with delight. They were just as sweet as they were last year, and even made a joke about thinking twice about bringing coffee this year! It was so great to see them again, but I had a loop to traverse. Which was really much more pleasant than it was last year. Once I got back to Marc & Heidi, I gave them a very heartfelt thank you for being so wonderful to me last year. As I was walking off, the two women in front of me asked me about last year. Turns out one of them had read my blog post about it! They’d had no idea until then that that poor sap in 2013 was me. We laughed quite a bit about that.

The last few miles were actually kind of boring this year. It was dark. I knew I would finish. I felt good. It was vastly different from last year.

This year I ran across the finish line. 16:17:53. I did it.  And I wasn’t hurt!!!! [sound of screeching tires]

Finished the race!

Finished the race!

I wasn’t hurt then.

I drove back to the cottage. Talked with a friend. Had a snack. Went to sleep. And woke up a couple hours later with a pain in my right calf like someone ran a flaming knife up the side. It was swollen, hard as a rock, and I couldn’t put any weight on my foot. Every position hurt, so I couldn’t get comfortable enough to sleep more than a couple minutes at a time. And that’s how I spent the night.

Sunday morning Noah brought scones to my door again. He asked how I was doing and I had to admit I wasn’t doing too well. A couple hours later Noah and Michelle came and checked on me. They were going to Poughkeepsie to run an errand and went out of their way to drop me off at the urgent care clinic. The doctor at the clinic poked my leg a minute and told me it might be a blood clot and sent me to the ER.

UGH.

At this point I had traversed 50 miles, slept less than two hours, been up another 12 hours, had not showered, was hungry, thirsty, and in pain. And I got to go to the ER.

Seven hours of hospital joy and I was discharged with a diagnosis of Rhabdomyolysis and a peroneal strain. So here I was at midnight, floundering on crutches, exhausted beyond measure, and waiting for a cab to drive me back to High Falls.

This is where the fun begins. The cab pulls up and there’s already a guy in the back. Okay. I get a double fare. Sure. All I want to do is get away from the hospital so in I go. The fare and the driver start asking how I got hurt. I thought for sure there would be an accident when they both started screeching “fifty miles? FIFTY?.” All I could do was laugh. Yeah. Fifty miles. They start talking about all the places in the area that are fifty miles away and are more and more astonished that I would have done that on foot on purpose. That’s when I see that we have left the roadway I know and are somewhere. I don’t know where. After a quick shopping trip at a gas station we weave our way into some residential area and drop off the other fare. Then we get back to a roadway I know and I can relax a bit. Meanwhile, the driver is talking a mile a minute, and everything is punctuated with “no, really!” I am so punchy it’s giving me giggle fits every time. He starts telling me how I should move to the area. No, really! It’s not a bad commute to NYC. No, really! There’s every type of food you could want in New Paltz. No, really!

I’m giving him directions to the cottage and tell him to make a left turn. He tells me that’s not the right way. I say…no, really! So he turns. He got me back to the cottage, offered to help me out of the car, and waited until I got inside before he left.

So here I was, in New York for the week and I couldn’t do anything but lay around with my foot up. I had to cancel my rock climbing class. I didn’t get to go to the bakery at the CIA. I didn’t get to see Hyde Park. I didn’t get to go to the Saugerties Lighthouse. I didn’t get to go to Bear Mountain. I didn’t get to see West Point. I didn’t get to walk across the Walkway Over The Hudson. I didn’t get to do anything that I had planned.

But I did get my first ever visit to an urgent care clinic. My first ER visit. My first ride in a wheelchair. My first ride on a stretcher. My first IV. And my first crutches. So I guess it wasn’t all bad.

Next year I will drink more than I did this year but less than I did in 2013. I will keep my eating plan. I will tweak my blister plan once again. I will wear a zip-up fleece instead of a pull-over so I won’t overheat if it’s not that cold. And I will once again have bean and cheese burritos in my drop bag.

Because I will be back next year and I will run better. No, really!

earned it

 

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Crunchy Chickpeas

A few months ago I bought the “Daniel Plan: 40 Days to a Healthier Life” by Rick Warren, D. Min., Daniel Amen, MD and Mark Hyman, MD.  I tore through it and really enjoyed every aspect of the book.  Its approach to living a healthier life is focused on the combination of four areas–faith, food, fitness, and community. Having all of those aspects allows us to renew our minds and get us back on track for a healthier way of living. There is a lot of good stuff–whether you are trying to lose weight or simply stay on track and be healthy–that all can learn from reading the book.  What makes this unique compared to other diet or fad lifestyle books is its tie-in to the faith aspect.  For God expects us to be good stewards of our bodies.  “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

Although I have not started following a meal plan in the book, I know that it’s a resource I will continue to return to for additional information.  The recipes are fabulous!  I am providing one below, that I just made this morning.  Took all of 5 minutes to prep and is a healthy snack that I’ll take to work tomorrow.  Enjoy!

Crunchy Chickpeas

photo

Ingredients

  • 4 cups garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place the chickpeas in a large bowl and toss with ingredients until well coated.  Spread on a baking sheet and bake until crisp, 30-40 minutes.  (Serves 12, 1 ounce each)

 

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Cherry Blossom 10-Miler

Last Sunday’s Cherry Blossom 10-miler in Washington, DC marked a great start to the racing season!  The temps were in the high 40′s creeping into the 50′s, the sky was blue, the cherry blossoms were just starting to bloom, and there were good crowds cheering along the way.  I ran the first five miles with my friend Nicole.  It’s amazing how much faster the miles go by when you have someone to chat with along the way. And then finished off the last half on my own.  Felt pretty good the whole time with just a bit of exhaustion kicking in during the last 800 yards as I made my way up a slight incline to the finish line (why do race officials always seem to put the hills at the end?).

Cherry Blossom Race 2014

It was  a great morning to be out running and I even set a new personal record for the 10-miler (beating my time at last year’s race by a minute and twenty seconds) at 1:23:59 (8:23.8 pace).  Cherry Blossom Race 2 2014

I saw the elite women run by at the very beginning of my race. I thought it was neat that the fourth fastest woman to finish (also in my age group) was Sara Hall, wife to the famous runner Ryan Hall from Arizona. She finished in under an hour with a 5+ minute/mile pace!   I meanwhile finished 297 out of 2,325 in my age group and 4,029 out of 17,861 finishers.  Cherry Blossom Race 3 2014

The day ended with a delicious brunch with my boot camp buddies!  It was fun talking to my friends who ran their first 10-miler and seeing all the awesome times people crushed!

Here’s to springtime running!

 

 

 

 

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Running Deep Thoughts

While I’d like to make myself sound incredibly wise and tell you that when I go out for a run there are many deep thoughts running through my head, more often than not, the exact opposite is happening. I notice what other joggers are wearing, who does/doesn’t smile (or wave) when they run by me, who I pass or who passes me, and other things that are probably too embarrassing to post! I wish that during my runs I was able to solve life’s big questions, but rather that time provides me the opportunity to get the junk out of my head. Life ain’t perfect and sometimes our brains can use a timeout from the stresses that life has a way of bearing. The sound of my own breath is enough to reset myself and give myself a little grace that I don’t have to solve everything during that time. And that is just fine by me.

Runners and non-runners alike probably can all agree that we runners come from a different breed. A lot of people don’t get that logging miles, getting faster and breaking PRs is addicting. But I agree we are a little nutty. Have you ever been on a run and asked yourself, “What possessed me to come out in 17 degree weather today?” or “Why am I up THIS early?” or even better, “Why am I running another marathon and why won’t this blister go away!” (well duh! This said to myself at Mile 18 of a marathon). People say having a baby is the most painful thing a woman will ever go through in life, but that you immediately forget the pain (why would people choose to go through it again if they didn’t). Well running is kind of like that…we push through the pain and love it even when we ask ourselves why we are doing it. It’s addicting and challenging and there is always room to grow.

As my first race of the season is only a few days away, I’ll leave you with some BuzzFeed humor to close this post. I know that I particularly found some truth in a number of these and many more came to my mind as I read. Hope you enjoy and don’t take yourself too seriously as a crazy runner like me!

“75 Thoughts Every Runner Has While Out On A Run”

BuzzFeed, by Erin Chack

http://www.buzzfeed.com/erinchack/thoughts-every-jogger-has-while-out-for-a-running

1. What a beautiful day for a jog!

2. This sucks.

3. Well, five miles is only two and half miles each way, which is basically two miles each way, so I’m really only running four miles. That’s not too far.

4. It’s starting to feel far.

5. How long have I been running? A year?

6. SIX MINUTES?!

7. I can barely remember what my life was like before I started this run.

8. OK, concentrate. There are still four-plus miles to go.

9. But who counts the first and last mile? This is pretty much an easy three miler.

10. Oh, shit! A fellow jogger!

11. Should I wave?

12. I’m totally gonna wave.

13. OOOK, they didn’t wave back. Never doing that again.

14. Just keep running, no one saw. Except that old guy who may or may not be averting his eyes.

15. Man, I think I’m hitting that “second wind” thing my gym coach was talking about.

16. Wait, never mind. I’ve been running down a decline.

17. If I leap to avoid dog shit, does that make me a CrossFit athlete?

18. What the heck is CrossFit anyway?

19. Mental reminder: Google CrossFit when I get home.

20. If I ever get home.

21. If I had a heart attack right now, I wonder who would find my body.

22. OMG, I hope I never find a dead body. Joggers always find dead bodies.

23. Bodies. Body. Bod-ay. Runnin’ all day, no one can catch … may.

24. OK, I must be halfway done by now.

25. What?! Only two miles in?

26. Alright, stay focused. What am I going to eat when I get home?

27. I’m running five miles so I should probably eat five slices of pizza.

28. Or I could buy one pizza and ask them to cut it into five slices.

29. I should probably get a side salad too.

30. …

31. F*** the salad actually.

32. Man, what are these people doing in front of me? Walking?!

33. Is this a contest to see who’s the worst at walking? Because you are both champions in my heart.

34. Maybe if I pound my feet on the ground they’ll hear me coming and let me pass.

35. Oh, God. They didn’t turn around and now I’m right behind them. They’re going to think they’re getting mugged by the world’s sweatiest criminal.

36. You know what? Now seems like a good time to run in the street.

37. * Jumps off curb * Parkour!

38. Hi hi hi please don’t hit me with your car.

39. Pedestrian pedestrianizing over here, let me cross.

40. Thank you, Mr. Blue Honda. I’m trying to smile at you but it probably looks like I’m having a stroke.

41. Actually, I wonder what I look like right now.

42. * Checks out reflection in shop window * Yeesh.

43. Is that what I look like when I run? What am I, a newborn deer with a drinking problem?

44. Whatever, I must be almost done by now.

45. Heck yes. Three miles down, two to go. It’s all downhill from here.

46. Except for that very real uphill in front of me. God damnit.

47. Wait, is that… Is that…

48. A DOG!

49. Hi dog! You are so cute. You are now my mascot. I will finish this run for you, pup.

50. And — hello — what do we have here? Your human is pretty cute too.

51. Hope you like drunk fawns, Cute Human.

52. Watch my bambi ass prance up this hill.

53. Holy shit, prancing is exhausting. I am exhausted.

54. Honestly, I don’t even like running.

55. Why do I even run?

56. Why does anyone even run?

57. Why are we even alive?

58. OK, let’s not go down that road.

59. Focus. Focus on that sweet, delicious ‘za waiting at the finish line, calling your name with its cheesy breath.

60. Wait, less than one mile to go? I am KILLING this run.

61. I AM THE SWIFTEST GOD OF ALL TWO-LEGGED CREATURES.

62. YES, including ostriches.

63. Honestly, I should sign up for a marathon.

64. What is it, like 30 miles?

65. That’s just 15 miles each way, which is practically 10, and 10 is twice five, and I can run five miles EASY.

66. That’s it, I’m doing it. Thirty miles.

67. Thirty mile marathon… 30 mile marathon…30 Rock marathon.

68. On second thought, I’ll probably just binge-watch every episode of 30 Rock. That takes a lot of dedication and I will be winded from laughing so hard.

69. But I could probably do a marathon IF I wanted.

70. OK, almost home. Should I shower first and order pizza or order pizza and shower before it shows up?

71. Yep, definitely ordering first. I earned that shit.

72. Oh, no. Oh god no. Another runner. Should I wave?

73. No, be strong! Do not get burned again.

74. OMG, SHE waved first! Hello! Yes! We are both runners! Look at us run!

75. I guess running’s not so bad.

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