Saturday, October 29, 2011

Please don't leave me yet.

I find this time of year so bitter sweet.

The days are getting shorter.

The trees are getting barer.

The air is getting colder.

A foreshadowing of what is to come.

And yet, at this time of year, the air is more crisp and fresh. There's something about the air that makes me feel so much more alive than at any other time of year. I love how natural and whole it feels to breathe outside.

Taking walks in the fall is so calming.

I always get a little bit anxious in the fall, knowing that it'll be over before I know it, and dreading the thought of the cold, long, unfriendly winter. So I spend a lot of my time outside, taking it all in. And I spend the rest of my time worrying about how I should be outside, while I can still do so comfortably and enjoyably.

The fall is too short here.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

I ran a freakin marathon! (Toronto Scotiabank Race Recap)

The week before the marathon, I got sick. I had a horrible cold which was only made worse by the fact that I was terrified that it wouldn't go away before the marathon and that I would feel awful and wouldn't be able to run.

So, I took the whole week off from running. On Thursday, I still felt awful, and it felt like my head cold was working it's way into my chest and I was finding it hard to breathe - not exactly something I wanted to struggle with 2 1/2 days before running 42.2km. I went to the doctor on Friday, who patiently listened to my anxious rambles, listened to my chest (and didn't hear any congestion), and prescribed me a puffer.

I woke up Sunday morning feeling much better, and able to breathe!
I was pumped.

After eating my breakfast and getting ready (the Kleenex clearly makes the outfit). My dad drove me to Toronto where I stood outside with the thousands of other runners, trying not to be cold in my layers of clothing.

Then I got down to business, stripped down, and headed to my coral.

When I found a comfortable spot to stand and wait, I started to look around and I realized that everyone around me was wearing a half marathon bib. I finally spotted another girl who was also running the full, and we chatted for a bit, sharing words of encouragement. There were so many people and I was so far back that I didn't even know that the starting gun had gone off. It finally clicked that the race must have already started after I had been shuffling forwards towards the starting line for a few minutes. It took over 10 minutes before I actually crossed the starting line.

Since there were so many people, it was hard to keep up my pace at the beginning without stepping on peoples' heels, but I wasn't too worried about that since I was too busy enjoying the experience and taking it all in. There were a lot of spectators at the beginning which kept me entertained, along with thinking to myself "I'm running a freakin marathon!", which I kept repeating in my mind for the entire race.

After the first km, there was more space to run and pass people, so I tried to maintain about a 6 min/km pace. Of course my competitive self interfered a little, and I ended up running just below that, but I tried not to go too fast cause I knew I'd be regretting it later. I maintained that pace for the first half of the marathon, resulting in a half marathon time of 2:07 (which was actually 21.3km - not 21.1km). The best part of the first half was when we got to see the super fast Kenyans coming back towards us along Lakeshore. I liked the fact that for a large part of first half I was able to watch the runners on the other side of the street - both on the way up the street, where I watched the faster runners, and on the way back, where I watched the slower runners/walkers.

My quintessential two thumbs up mid-race pose.

When we separated from the half marathoners, at around 19k, there were big banners that we ran under identifying one way for the half marathon and another way for marathon. When I passed under the banner with "marathon" written on it, I was so excited and filled with pride that I raised my arms up in the air triumphantly, as if I had just tackled some huge feat. But really, I still had 23k to go..

After the halfway mark, my pace dropped to around 6:10-6:20min/km until about 27k, where the one thing happened that I realllly did not want to happen. My bad knee started to hurt. I didn't want to make it worse, because of what I experienced the first time I screwed it up (i.e. not being able to run for a year and a half), but I knew that I still had 15km to get through. My pace dropped a little, and I took a couple of short walking breaks and stretching breaks in the next few km, trying to ease the pain.

Eventually, either the pain legitimately went away, or my brain told the pain to hide until I finished the marathon. However, I then started experiencing massive muscle pains instead - but at least that was "normal" pain that I knew I could push through.

The best part of the second half of the course was definitely going through the Beaches. - But they lied to us. On the website, for some reason, they went out of their way to note that the part of the course through the Beaches is "Pancake flat". ROLLING HILLS! NOT pancake flat by any means. The worst was at the turn around, where we had to run down a hill to get to the turn around point, only to have to run back up that same hill right after we turned around. Okay, so the hills weren't THAT bad, but I still don't understand why they would advertise it as "pancake flat".

Oh right, I was going to talk about why this was the best part of the marathon. Well first of all, the Beaches is such a cute area with lots of little shops and restaurants and all sorts of things that are fun to look at while you run. Plus, there was great spectator support along this stretch, which was especially helpful so late in the run (31ishkm - 36ishkm).

It was near the beginning of this stretch where I saw my family! I didn't know where they'd be watching from, so it was a wonderful surprise - my mom, dad, and sister all came out to watch and support me. It gave me an amazing boost. I was going to give them all high fives, but as I got closer to them, my emotions took over and I gave my mom a hug - until my sister yelled out: "Why are you hugging her?!" Apparently she was even more competitive on my behalf than I was. (But I don't think that hug lost me too much time, really)

I was once again surprised when I saw them again on my way back along the other side of that street. It's amazing how much other peoples' support can mean in such an individual sport.

Unfortunately, soon after I saw them for the second time, the course got uglier, the spectators disappeared, we were running directly into the 30km/h winds, I was running further than I had ever run before, and there were still 6km left. And then suddenly, I had to run uphill. The next 5km were the hardest km of my life. I wasn't sure what my time was because my watch had automatically paused the few times that I stopped to stretch, so I knew it was a little off. I knew I'd be close to my time goal (4:30), but was starting to worry that I wouldn't make it. I calculated in my head that if I could just run each km in 7 minutes, I should almost make it.

37: 7:11
38: 6:53
39: 7:01
40: 7:27
41: 6:40

And then the endorphins kicked in.
42: 6:08
last 500m: 4:52/km

I'm not sure where that energy came from, but I was on fire in those last 500m. I was sprinting and passing so many people.

Me passing people at the finish line:

I did it! I ran a freakin marathon! And I beat my time goal! I finished in 4 hours and 28 minutes!

Apparently Z was running with me along the side lines for the last 300m, but I was so focused and in the zone that I didn't even notice! (But I appreciated it nonetheless!)

After the race, I grabbed all the food that I was offered, but really didn't feel like eating anything, so I ended up walking around aimlessly, trying to awkwardly hold a banana, apple, bagel, waterbottle, and yogurt container - all with my cold, wet hands. Some nice lady saw me struggling, and offered me a plastic bag that she had in her purse. So helpful. I love friendly strangers. She also directed me to the family meeting area. My family wasn't there yet, so I continued to wander around, as the feeling and pain started to return to my legs, and the feeling of hunger began to take over, so I started eating and stretching.

Eventually I met up with Z and my family, and we all headed home where I had a much needed ice bath.

Today, 4 days after the marathon, my muscles are finally feeling back to normal. My knee however, is not. I'm choosing to stay in denial optimistic, and have already spent hours researching possible future races.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

You had me at goat cheese.


I have recently discovered that I love goat cheese. Whenever I'm out for dinner, I immediately gravitate towards anything on the menu that has goat cheese in it. Whenever I'm reading other blogs, I stop and drool at any recipe/picture with goat cheese in it. And most recently, whenever I'm at the grocery store, I actively search for, gently caress, and contemplate purchasing goat cheese. Goat cheese is pretty expensive. I suppose it's common for good cheese in general to be expensive. And you know, cheese in general is delicious. But, you see, I have great difficulties digesting most cheese. Me and cheese, unfortunately, do not get along. Goat cheese, however, seems to be an exception - probably why I seem to be so infatuated with it as of late. Nevertheless, each time I linger in the grocery store, goat cheese in hand, I ultimately decide to put it back. "I don't need it," I say.

Until today. Today, after being let down by Walmart for not having Clifbars in bulk (when I specifically biked all the way there to purchase Clifbars in bulk because I saw them at a different Walmart a few weeks ago and didn't buy them then and have regretted it ever since), I decided to splurge on a super small block (or roll?) of goat cheese for $3.97.

Best idea ever.

AND I discovered tonight that I can and will make it last, because even using just a little bit at a time makes a huge difference to a meal.

Like my dinner tonight:

Brown Rice, chopped spinach, red kidney beans, steamed broccoli, and sunflower seeds. Topped with a few squeezes of lemon juice and a few drizzles of olive oil. It tasted pretty good...
And then I remembered the goat cheese I had just bought, and it took it over the top.

And yes, I took the picture after I was halfway done eating the deliciousness.

Anyone else goat cheese fans?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Speed demon

Ahhh! I'm so giddy!

I just came back from an AMAZING run. I was feeling really tired today, and kept putting off this run. I planned to do a tempo run today after not having done a real tempo run in about 5 weeks.

Let's put some things in perspective:
For my last tempo run (5 weeks ish ago), I ran 8k including warmup and cooldown, and the middle 5k I ran at 5:16 min/km (or 8:28/mile).

Today, I ran 7 miles (11.25km) including warmup and cooldown, and the middle 5 miles (almost 8km) I ran at 4:56 min/km (or 7:56/mile)

Where did that speed come from?

I've been so down on myself lately with the upcoming marathon, feeling like my long runs are so hard. Last Sunday, at the end of my 35km run, all I could think was that I felt like absolute death and that I had no idea how I would be able to run 7.2 more km in 5 weeks time (at the same pace, in order to be under a 4:30 marathon). I've been reading marathon forums like crazy, freaking myself out that I haven't trained enough or properly and that I'm doomed to fail at the marathon. I've been so focused on all this negative thinking, that I haven't really been able to enjoy my runs. Which is silly really, because the reason I wanted to run a marathon in the first place was because I loved running.

Today, I felt amazing after (and during) my run. This is why I run. This is why I'm running a marathon. This shows that not only has my endurance increased over these past few months, but my speed has too! And I can run faster for longer!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Oatmeal Raisin Breakfast Cake

So clearly school has begun again. Between all the moving, the school work, the social gatherings with friends I haven't seen all summer, and all the other things that go along with living on your own, oh and not to mention freaking out about marathon training, I haven't had much time to devote to this little project of mine.

Nevertheless, I haven't forgotten about Running Through Peanut Butter. I've still been running, and I've still been going through lots of peanut butter.

In fact, this morning I was planning on running, but decided to instead enjoy a nice breakfast (with peanut butter, of course), and to save my run for later in the day. It's nice that now that the temperature has dropped a little, I can have an afternoon run, and not melt or die.

Ever since seeing Ashley's Buckwheat Bakes, I've been intrigued. I've made many oatmeal versions because I never had buckwheat (nor was I really sure what it was). But the other day at Bulk Barn, I went for it and purchased some Kasha, or buckwheat groats. Then I came home, read over Ashley's early buckwheat bake entries, only to discover that I got the wrong kind. Kasha is toasted buckwheat, and I needed the non toasted kind - which, I might add, bulk barn didn't have.

So, back to the oatmeal bakes it was, but I managed to find a way to incorporate the kasha! It added a nice crunch!

You'll notice that I used the microwave for this baby rather than the oven - because I'm lazy and impatient in the mornings and want to eat breakfast asap. I also didn't grind the oats, and Ashley suggests, because that is yet another step that I don't have time for. I also kind of like the chew of rolled oats. So there ya go.

Oatmeal Raisin Breakfast Cake:
1/4 ripe banana, mashed
1/3 cup rolled oats
1/2 T whole wheat flour
1 T kasha
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 T chia seeds
1/4 cup almond milk
1/4 cup egg white
1 T raisins

1. Mix everything together in microwave safe bowl
2. Microwave for 2 1/2 minutes, checking every so often to make sure it doesn't rise over the top of the bowl.
3. Top with whatever you so desire. (Preferably PB and Greek yogurt)

This is just barely sweet (from the banana), so you might choose to add sweetener. I imagine maple syrup and/or molasses would taste delicious!

Tell me: Who else is on the buckwheat bake train? What's your favourite version?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Cauliflower Bean Mush

I know, the title just screams sophisticated delicious food.

The pictures aren't exactly stellar either..

But, at least I remembered to take pictures this time!

This lunch came together by me looking in the fridge, and using up all the veggeis that were left.

You know how sometimes people avoid eating the last of some sort of food, either because they don't want to have to throw out the garbage that comes with it, or they genuinely feel bad about using it all up? The milk bag in the fridge with a drop of milk that could really only be used in a cup of tea (except that no one living in your house takes milk in their tea). Or the one lone cookie at the bottom of the cookie jar/box, which is pretty useless because who ever eats just one cookie?

Eating the rest of the veggies was not like that for me. I justified it to myself because I was moving back to London (Ontario) the following day and since I'm the one in my family who eats most of the veggies, I might as well eat them up so that my family doesn't let them go bad! Imagine, what a waste that would be.

There wasn't even that much really, just half of a pepper that didn't know if it wanted to be red or orange or green, and half a head of cauliflower. Good enough for me!

It also helped knowing that my dad was about to go out and buy groceries, so I knew I'd have some veggies to eat for dinner.

Cauliflower Bean Mush

1/2 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
1/2 cup kidney beans
1/2 cup frozen corn
1/2 a greenish orangish pepper
1 TBSP sunflower seeds

Juice of 1/4 lime
1/2 TBSP Olive oil
1/2 tsp seasoning

1. Steam cauliflower for 3-5 minutes, then add frozen corn and continue to steam for 2-3 minutes
2. Stir in beans and chopped pepper and simmer for a few minutes as you make the dressing
3. Make dressing by comining oil, lime juice and seasoning
4. Add dressing to pot, stiring thoroughly, so that it starts to look like mush
5. Enjoy with tortilla chips, crackers, or with a fork!

If you're feeling really adventurous, mix in some grated cheese and enjoy the stringiness of the cheese as you eat.

^^^check out that stringiness! mmm

Friday, September 2, 2011

No hummus? No problem.

Growing up, I ate everything very plain. I didn't like butter or mayo on sandwiches, I didn't like ketchup, mustard or relish on burgers and hotdogs, I didn't like sauce on my pasta, no dip with my veggies or dressing on my salad.

People thought I was weird. (okay, so I am a little weird..)

A lot of those things I still don't really like. But now, instead of eating everything super plain, I replace those condiments/sauces/dips them with things I DO like. For example, hummus. Oh hummus, how did I ever live without you? Why did I ever eat carrot sticks plain?

Sometimes I buy hummus, sometimes I make hummus, sometimes I have no hummus in the house and want to eat carrot sticks and don't feel like getting out the blender. What's a girl to do?

Answer: Make Tahini Dip!

Super simple to make. I made this up as I went, as I do for pretty much anything. I kind of tried to mimick making hummus - without the chickpeas.

Together in a bowl went:
1.5 TBSP tahini
juice of half a lime
1 TBSP water
1 TBSP plain greek yogurt
salt, to taste

Blogger fail #1: These measurements may or may not be completely accurate because I did not measure. Solution? Just add the ingredients a bit at a time and keep tasting until it's exactly what you want.

Blogger fail #2: I didn't take a picture until I was almost done. Solution? Make it yourself to see what the full portion looks like!


Did you eat things super plain or eat any weird combinations of food as a child that made people think you were weird?