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?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The calm after the run

While I try to maintain a healthy lifestyle in all senses of the word "healthy", one area I often forget about as it relates to my health is stress. Stress is something that I frequently experience, a lot of which I bring on myself. I've been feeling quite a bit of stress these past few days, in between having a cold, moving, getting ready to go back to school, and all of the life changes that go along with that(my school is 2 hours away from my parent's house, where I've been living for the summer).

I set a lot of expectations for myself, and accomplishing things is often what helps me get through the day. I'm not sure where I picked up the idea that productivity is a requirement to living a happy life (okay, so I totally picked it up from my parents), but like it or not, that belief is ingrained in my head. As a result, I stress out when I'm not accomplishing anything productive. Not having a job this summer really brought this out into the open. Z said it best: "You're stressed when you're working, and now you're stressed because you're not working".

Some of the expectations that I set for myself revolve around exercising and marathon training. I don't follow a strict training plan, but I try to follow a loose outline. I caught a cold last week after my crazy 35k run (weakened immune system, much?) and since then my exercise routine has been minimized. My longest run since had been a slow 5k.

Since I was already stressed about other things, I began also stressing that I wasn't training enough for the marathon. I worried that running a slow 5k was a struggle and that I should be able to run longer and faster at this point in my training and that I'm only going to have less time once school starts up.

Today I set out to run 20k - my short long run (short long run because it was still long, but not as long as last week!) I started off by having my eyes almost glued to my Garmin and thinking negative thoughts about my pace. But, as I continued to run, I decided that I would focus on running the distance and that pace didn't matter. Those 20k were a struggle, but I finished. It gave me a sense of accomplishment, but more than that, having gotten all of that exercise really helped ease my mood. As the day has passed, I've become much more calm and content and I no longer feel stressed.

While pushing myself to try to fit in exercise almost everyday can sometimes lead to stress, not exercising can make me even more stressed - because I'm not accomplishing that task AND because exercising (particularly running) calms me!

I think the most important thing is to find a balance of what works for each individual. I'm still working on the balance thing, but it's always nice to be reminded of yet another reason that I run.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Marathon goal setting

I ran 35km on Tuesday.

35 km!

That's only 7.2 km away from running a marathon. (And I'm still 7 weeks away from running the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon)

I calculated that if I run those last 7.2km at the same (slow) pace that I ran those 35km, I could run a marathon in under 4 hours, 30 minutes. (Runners World has a great tool for calculating pace.)

But really, my only goal is to finish the marathon.

Hah. I'm way too competitive for that to be my ONLY goal. But, I do like having finishing as a main goal, because that way if I'm not able to meet my time goal, then I can still be proud of my race. Apparently others agree with my thoughts on this - Just a few days ago I read somewhere (possibly in iRun magazine) that it's important to have "progress goals" in addition to time goals. Progress goals can be things like finishing a race, running the whole race, only walking through water stations, running a negative split, etc. Despite flawless training, unfavourable race-day conditions (be it weather, illness, or injury) can often make it make it near impossible to achieve time goals that may have seemed realistic during training. You can still attain "progress goals" even if race-day conditions prevent you from being able to meet your time goals.

I also like to make different levels of goals, and qualify my goals so that I won't be disappointed.

When I think about my goals for the marathon, my thought progress goes something like this:

1. Finish the marathon.
2. Ideally run the whole thing - unless I'm injured and need a walking break.
3. Ideally finish in under 4:30.
4. Maybe with some more training I could make it under 4:15?
5. It would be cool to run a marathon under 4 hours, but realistically, I will save that goal for a future marathon (if I ever make it through this one)
6. How fast would I need to be to qualify for Boston? 3:35? Hmm.. if I ran the full marathon at the same pace that I ran my last half marathon - I still wouldn't be fast enough. Maybe I can qualify when I'm 65 and only need to run it in 4:40?

What are some of your strategies when setting goals for races?

Friday, August 26, 2011

Back at it..

So, I was doing good there for a while. I updated almost every day for about a week!

... And then life got in the way, and then my blog became a chore because I hadn't done it in so long.. and then.. and then..

No more excuses. I had things that I wanted to blog about, but life was getting me down, and my motivation for blogging disappeared.

But then suddenly tonight, I decided that my strange delicious food combinations needed to be shared with the world - or at least saved on this blog, so that if any random stranger ever were to stumble upon my blog, they will learn something important.

Something important about food.

Now, I like to eat healthy most of the time. And health-food or not, I prefer to eat unprocessed or minimally processed foods. But, when you live with your parents, and they buy a box of president's choice chocolate chip cookies, you mustn't shy away from such an indulgence.

However, because my palette is so sophisticated (I totally just had to spellcheck how to spell that), it sometimes gets bored with the simple flavours of this cookie. So, naturally, I dress it up a little. This also might be because I am slightly addicted to certain flavour combinations, and I find it really hard to eat one without the other.

So here you are, Christie's "all dressed" chocolate chip cookie:

topped with peanut butter, banana, and marshmallow

I stopped after eating one and a half cookies to snap a photo, because it was just so legendary that it needed to be commemorated.

Please, do yourself a favour. You think you're too good for overly processed cookies? Try this, and I bet you will change your mind.

(and yes I realize that marshmallows are processed enough on their own, but come on, everyone still likes s'mores)

Does anyone else dress plain jane cookies up this way or am I the only one?

Because sometimes, a packaged chocolate chip cookie is just not enough.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Summer Mango Salad

For some reason, mangoes are one of those fruits that I tend to forget exist.

Now, don't get me wrong -It's not that I don't like mangoes. I actually adore them. The problem is that they don't make themselves very noticeable in the grocery store. I'm pretty sure they're available in the grocery store year round. But during the winter months, the price of mangoes is so high that they fall under my radar entirely. Then along comes summer, and the mangoes go on sale (because clearly, this tropical fruit is suddenly being harvested in Canada). Okay, so maybe mangoes aren't suddenly falling off of the trees in Ontario in July and August, but for whatever reason, the price of these tropical gems drops to the point that I acknowledge them, and I will purchase one.

It's not ripe enough to eat right then, so I throw it into my crisper, and throw the 5 lbs of apples on top, and once again, I forget about the mango.

Then one day, we're running low on apples, and I see a large, colourful, funny shaped fruit (i.e., not a sphere like an apple, as I am used to). By this point, the mango is nice and ripe, and ready to be eaten. Unfortunately, I'm rushing out the door and just wanted to grab an apple to go, and I know how long and messy it is to cut up a mango. So, I grab the last apple, and jot down "apples" on a piece of paper, in attempts to start a grocery list, forgetting once again about the mango.

Eventually, one day, I see the mango, I acknowledge it, and I have the time to cut it up and to suck out all of the juice from the inside of the peel. Because the mango has been sitting in the fridge for so long, it is now super ripe, and extra juicy.

On this day, I vow never to forget about a mango again. (I think I say this every time I eat a mango)

Summer Mango Salad (adapted from this recipe)

Serves 2-4

1 medium sized mango, sliced thinly
1 red pepper, sliced thinly
2 small carrots (or 1 large), grated
4-6 cups mixed greens
Parsley, for garnish

3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tbsp lime juice
1 tsp peanut butter
¾ tsp honey
¾ tsp soy sauce
Dash of pepper

- Whisk together ingredients for dressing and put in fridge
- Cut mango and red pepper into thin slices (so it looks pretty)
- Grate carrot
- Add mango slices, red pepper slices, and grated carrot to mixed greens
- Pour dressing over top
- Serve as a side, or add chicken, salmon, or tofu
- Garnish with parsley and enjoy!

Any other mango lovers out there? Share your love for the mango!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Tempo run pace vs. race pace

I decided to do a tempo run today. I ran about 8k today (5 miles). The first mile was a jogging warm up, then I ran faster for 3 miles, then jogged the last mile to cool down.

Mile 1: 9:46 (warm up)
Mile 2: 8:39
Mile 3: 8:25
Mile 4: 8:19
Mile 5: 9:24 (cool down)

My pace for the 3 fast miles averaged out to 8:27. How did I ever run my last half marathon at a 8:24 pace?! I felt like I was sprinting those 3 miles today - and yet I wasn't even running quite as fast as I did for 13.1 miles.

I didn't have a Garmin when I was training for the half marathon, but I don't think that I was running any faster than I am now during training. If anything, I would guess that I'm running faster now, since my Garmin pushes me to run faster. I wonder if part of it is the heat and humidity that I'm facing during these summer runs as compared to the May when I ran the Mississauga Half Marathon. Or maybe it was just the adrenaline and the race environment that made me that much faster? Either way, it still seems like a such a fast pace for me. It kind of seems like a magical fairy carried me through the race, across the finish line.

Post run breakfast:

Banana Peach Smoothie (in my gorgeous magic bullet)
- 1 Frozen banana
- 3/4 of a peach (the rest was eaten as I was making the smoothie)
- 1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 tsp chia seeds
- 1 ice cube

Along with good ol' PB&B toast. I looove this bread. When it comes to packaged bread, this stuff is where it's at. It's called Bavarian Multigrain Bread and it's got so much flavour and texture, and it's made from all natural ingredients (probably why it tastes so good). I'm telling you, those Bavarians have got something going for them.

Do you feel like it's a lot easier to run faster during races as compared to training runs?

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

An Oatmeal Haiku

Oh oatmeal, where would us bloggers be without thou?

My typical bowl of oats requires a variety of flavours and textures to keep my tongue happy, and a variety of nutrients to keep my tummy happy. It also has to be super creamy

I usually start with a base of 1/4 smashed banana (for added sweetness), 1/2 cup oats, 1/2 cup milk, 1 cup water, 2 Tbsp egg whites (egg whites and extra liquid are for creaminess). Then, I mix in some sort of fruit, some sort of nut, some sort of yogurt, and some sort of nut butter.

It's simple really.

Today my bowl looked like this:

My toppings here included raisins (which I mixed in during the cooking process so that they would plump up), half of an apple, chopped up almonds, plain greek yogurt, and peanut butter.

The lighting unfortunately sucked because it's raining outside, and I had to rely on fake inside lighting. I tried to play around with the picture afterwards, but I wasn't really sure how to change it. I adjusted by instinct.

.. I don't think instinct was enough here.

I leave you with an oatmeal haiku:

Creamy and hearty
A blank canvas for flavours
The perfect breakfast

Stay tuned next time for an oatmeal limerick!

Monday, August 8, 2011

A new kind of pepper

Last Friday I ventured to the farmer's market with my mom. This was the first time in years that I had been to a farmer's market. I made up for that though, by circling around the whole market about 5 times. I only stopped because I could tell that my mom was getting a little fed up with waiting for me.

We refrained from buying every delicious piece of fresh produce there (although I was so tempted), and left with a few items (that I did not photograph), including new potatoes, cherries, peaches, green beans, carrots, a cauliflower, and possibly my favourite: a basket full of bell peppers. The best part about these peppers, was that they were all different colours, including the good ol' green and red peppers, but more importantly, the new (to me) purple and white peppers! They were beautiful and I had never seen anything like them. Okay, so maybe I need to get out more?

Purple being my favourite colour, I decided to save the purple pepper so that I could admire its beauty every time I opened up the crisper drawer. Instead, I devoured a small white one as soon as we got home. The other white pepper, I used up today as part of my lunch.

Kidney Bean and White Bell Pepper Salad:

Romaine lettuce, brown rice, red kidney beans, white bell pepper, red bell pepper, sunflower seeds. All topped off with a dressing made by mixing 1 Tbsp hummus with 2 Tbsp water. So simple. So quick. So fresh. So delicious.

(I forgot to take a picture until I had already eaten several forkfuls. Also, all of the good stuff appears to be at the bottom. I'll get better at this, I promise!)

I'm assuming the white peppers turn into purple peppers as they ripen, much like how green peppers will turn red as they ripen, but I'm not sure.

Has anyone seen these peppers before and know anything about them?

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Old inspiration for a new hobby

Last night I went out with Z for ice cream. As soon as we got there, he told me that he wanted a hot fudge sunday (as always), and immediately sat down to wait for me to decide. He knows too well that I always take forever to decide what it is that I want, regardless of where we are. Be it a fancy restaurant, a grocery store, or his fridge, when it comes to food, I become very focused on making the right choice. Usually at a restaurant, I'll analyze each and every item on the menu, trying to balance health, taste, and cravings, ideally resulting in the optimal meal.

With ice cream however, it's hard to enter health into the equation. So, I just went with what sounded delcious at the time: one scoop of mint chocolate chip and one scoop of chocolate peanut butter ice cream, all topped off with hot fudge sauce, peanuts, almonds, and coconut. Yup. It was pretty delicious (and only caused my dairy sensitive self slight discomfort later on). Once again I failed at capturing this delciousness on camera.

Following the consumption of ice cream, we ventured to a nearby city for a jazz festival. We passed by a couple of decent acts, but we kept walking until we reached the jackpot. As soon as we heard the tone of the guitar in the distance, we knew that that would be our final destination. We took a seat on a balcony overlooking the band and a great portion of the audience. It was at this point that I remembered to take out my camera and snap a few pictures.

Not only did we have a great view of the band, but it was the optimal location for people watching. I just stared at the all of the people from above, as they reacted to the band and interacted with one another, and I was reminded of how much I enjoy being near people, and just observing their actions, mannerisms and facial expressions. Okay, so now I sound like a total creep. But, as I sat there with my legs dangling, grooving out to the music and observing all of the people around me, I thought about how great it would be to be able to truly capture some of these moments and expressions in a photograph. Following my previous attempts at taking pictures that night (see example up above), it became clear that one (or both) of two things needed to happen: 1. I need to learn how to take good pictures AND how to adjust those pictures to look good; and 2. I need to get a better camera that goes beyond the point and shoot features of my current camera.

To be honest, I usually skim through any photography mumbo jumbo that I've seen in other bloggers' posts, because I haven't really been all that interested in it, and I didn't understand any of it. I think I'll start by reading through some of those posts more thoroughly to see where I can begin. I can see photography becoming a new hobby of mine. And hopefully, not one that is too expensive..

Any advice for a point-and-shooting newbie?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Entry #2 = success!

The fact that I'm typing this right now tells me that I'll be more commited to writing in this blog than I was the last time I tried to start a blog (8 months ago). I gave up on that blog after my computer decided to randomly turn itself off while I was just about to publish my very long, well thought out second post.

Anyways, today has been a great day so far. Whenever I wake up to the sun shining through my window (and not to my alarm), I wake up feeling happy, and with a great attitude to start my day. Mind you, having all of August off from work and school doesn't hurt my mood either (only my bank account..).

So I woke up today in a great mood, and spontaneously decided to make my long run today instead of tomorrow when I had planned to run it. It is afterall one of my easier weeks, so my long run for this week was only 20km (Ha! only 20km - still very tough in my books!)

I ran the 20km in 2 hours, 2 minutes, 2 seconds. Apparently I like the number 2. Here are my splits:

Mile 1: 10:01
Mile 2: 9:30
Mile 3: 9:58
Mile 4: 9:39
Mile 5: 10:01
Mile 6: 10:06
Mile 7: 9:54
Mile 8: 9:48
Mile 9: 9:51
Mile 10: 9:40
Mile 11: 9:48
Mile 12: 9:53
The last 693m: 3:47

I arrived home extremely sweaty. So much so that the sweat was pooling into my eyes and stinging/blinding me. I have experienced this lovely stinging sensation in my eyes before as a result of playing soccer in extreme heat and pouring rain, where I'm guessing the rain helped the sweat pour down into my eyes. But today I didn't even need the rain! Is it wrong that I'm a little proud of that? Has this happened to anyone else before? I'm wondering if it may be the interaction of my salty sweat and my contacts/contact solution. Any ideas as to what may be the cause of this eye stinging sensation?

I had a delicious post-run protein smoothie concoction, that I bet would have been a great thing for me to take a picture of to make this post prettier - but I didn't because this is all new to me.

I did however take a picture of my delicious lunch! It may not be pretty, but it was delicious! We're pretty low on groceries right now, so I basically used up the rest of the veggies and tried to be creative with what else was in the fridge, and followed my cravings. Voila the result:

I steamed some kale and carrots, then added some leftover brown rice, leftover chicken and sesame seeds to the pot, and poured in a random sauce made of soy sauce, orange juice, extra virgin olive oil, water, and pepper. I didn't measure how much of each ingredient I put in the sauce, but it ended up tasting really good! The orange juice resulted in a a nice sweet flavor, while the soy sauce provided that salty flavor that I crave after sweating so much.

I'm about to hit publish, and then I will officially be more successful with this blog than my last attempt. Here goes!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Dearest Blog World...

Dearest Blog World,

After spending too much some of my time this past year and a half devoted to reading healthy living blogs, I decided that it was probably about time that I hopped on the bandwagon and got my own! I thought that way I'd be able to join in on some of the fun and awesomeness that I see every day every now and then when I read blogs. Please accept me as one of your own and let me join your club. I'm not sure what the initiation process is like, but I'm willing to find out.

Christie (Running Through Peanut Butter)