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)