Rotterdam Race Report – Spoiler Alert: I finished, with two happy calves, a new personal best and 4 haunting seconds.

rotterdam3

Where does the time go?! I can’t believe it’s been a month since Rotterdam. Apologies for the delayed post! After Rotterdam I spent a week in Sweden visiting one of my best friends, her hubby and their adorable year old son. We went to the spa, toured around Stockholm, ate delicious treats and drank fancy cocktails (it’s a tough life recovering from a marathon while on vacation!).

Right when I got back, Andrew and I moved into our very own home! We now live in a hotel-room-sized condo in the West end of the city (new running routes galore!). Following the move, I spent a week going back to school in London, Ontario, so needless to say it’s been an active recovery.

When people have asked me how Rotterdam went, I’ve told them it was both my best and worst marathon.

I had to reach far to fight the urge to quit.

I’ll give you the coles notes version (or try to). I mentioned in a previous post my friend Clair (a fellow Angel) and I were heading to Rotterdam together. When Clair and I are healthy (we’ve both had very similar calf issues over the last year) and fit, we pace really well together. After one long tempo during training where we paced the entire way together, I compared us to Shalane Flanagan and Amy Cragg (except for the fact we’re no where near Olympic-level athletes haha). So needless to say I was super happy that we were doing this one together.

It was great having someone to run, go out for meals and race-strategize with leading up to the big day. I highly recommend doing races friends – and will even go so far to say I may just follow Clair around on her marathon adventures from here on out.

RACE DAY

rotterdam1

Luckily Clair and I were staying less than 1km from the Start/Finish area so we were able to do a quick warm up before dropping our stuff off at the hotel. We noticed it felt pretty warm during the warm up so I didn’t even bother with my sleeves (I had planned to wear during the race) or my throw away pants.

Our plan was to try and stay together for as long as possible. Clair had run her first sub 3 hour marathon in the fall in Philly, so I was hoping to try and stick with her. We decided to go with her Philly marathon race plan and see how we do.

Long story short: we went out a wee bit too fast.

Just before the half way point Clair told me I was going to drop her soon. I was worried her calves were giving her issues but she said her legs just felt like lead.

Don’t leave me Clair!

I crossed the half-way point (21.1km) feeling pretty good, but shortly after 25km I started to fade, my hamstrings got really tight and that’s when I realized I went out too fast. I have never “died” so early in a marathon before. I had no idea how I would get through the next 17kms feeling so badly.

30km onwards was the biggest mental and physical battle I have ever experienced while running. I would have actually stopped if I hadn’t had the experience in Boston the year before when it took me 10 times as long to get to the finish line then if I had just kept on running.

I had talked to my coach leading up to the race and she told me when it gets tough to break the race into 5km chunks. From 30km onwards, that’s what I did. It really helped make it more manageable, although I remember thinking “why is the marathon so long! It really should end at 30km. I need to talk to someone about this”.

I think a couple of reasons lead to my not-so-perfectly-executed-race:

  • Shake out race. With my last couple marathons I’ve done a race about six weeks in advance as prep to get into race mode. This shake out race helps test my fitness and gives me confidence. This year I had signed up for the Chilly half marathon in March, but I had the worst flu the week of and was unable to run it. Ergo no shake out race.
  •  Heat. While it was only 12ish degrees, it was sunny. And when you’ve trained in a near polar vortex for the last 4 months, 12 degrees felt like 25. On my long, cold runs leading up to the race, I trained with chocolate gels that were actually more like pudding because they were usually frozen. I loved my pudding treats at 5am on lonely Yonge Street. During the marathon they got so hot and turned to liquid, I felt like I was drinking hot chocolate syrup – which, on any given day I wasn’t running a marathon, I would enjoy, but not so much on this day. So I stopped taking gels after 25km which I know was a big mistake and could have been dangerous to my health.

Then came 3:00:04.

Seriously?

Seriously.

After 30km, I threw all motivation to finish under 3 hours out the window. At that point I really didn’t even want to finish. I just wanted to stop running.

It wasn’t until the last couple kilometers that I realized I would likely be right on the nose. I tried to pick it up and actually did run the last km 13 seconds faster than the one before that, but c’est la vie. Mentally I had given up 12.2kms ago.

The first couple days post-race, I altered between thinking, “WHAT THE…?!?!” and “WOOHOO!”

WOOHOO about: 1) crossing the marathon finish line for the first time in a year and a half 2) with smiling calves and 3) with a 3+ minute PB.

In the grand scheme of things, 42.2km is a long distance. Could I have taken 5 seconds off a three hour run to achieve my first sub 3 hour marathon that day? Oh yeah, most likely.

But I didn’t because the marathon gods want to me make hungrier for that golden sub 3.

Clair finished just behind me. While we weren’t overly thrilled with our performance, we learned a lot. PACING, PACING, PACING.

Did we dwell on it for the rest of the day? Heck no! We had a lot of yummy food and alcoholic drinks to get into our system! We spent the rest of the day on a ‘food tour’ of Rotterdam – sitting on patios, drinking local beer and eating (mainly) cheese and icecream.

I am so happy to have experienced this race with Clair. She is a great training partner, travel buddy and friend.

I’ve had a month to reflect on this marathon, and oddly enough, what I am most happy about is being able to run POST marathon. Last year, since I was injured after Boston, I couldn’t run for almost two months. And then came the months of “nervous running” thinking my calf might fall off at any time.

While coaches orders post marathon have been minimal running, the few runs I have done have made me just SO happy to finish this race injury free.

I’d like thank my cooperating calves, my family and friends (including all my Angels) for all the support for not only this marathon but all my races. Sometimes I think my friends must say to themselves, “not another race. Who cares Sarah.” But I still get so many messages of support and check-ins, which seriously helps fuel me to the finish line!

No recipes this time but if you’re ever in Rotterdam, eat cheese. If you’re ever in Stockholm, eat cinnamon buns. Life is too short not to indulge in everything.

Cheers to my first successful European marathon adventure!

 

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2 Weeks to go with 2 Misbehaving Calves

rotterdam

Hi I’m back! I’m alive! It’s been a roller coaster last month of training.  Here’s the Coles Notes version:

About a month ago (shortly after my last blog post), I was running home from the Monday hill work out and my right calf (formerly known as the “good” one) started bothering me.

Cue panic attack.

To make a long story short, turns out I had a very minor calf strain in my soleus. This can happen from 1) hills and 2) overuse. Makes sense since my running group had been ramping up the hills week by week  (the week before we ran 10km worth of hills that nearly killed me!). I had also been ramping up my weekly mileage (I hit 120km for the first time ever (woohoo!)) – so needlesss to say I wasn’t super surprised about the pain but I was SUPER bummed.

I took four days off which I know doesn’t seem like a lot, but I’ve been running six days a week since I came back from my calf injury last May, so taking four off in a row was terrifying (I didn’t want to lose my fitness). But that break did wonders. I was actually able to finish a 33km run by Sunday of the same week with absolute zero pain. I was so giddy with happiness.

Then Monday came around and I only lasted an hour at work before I had to go home. I was hit HARD by some kind of flu. I haven’t had to take a sick day from work in well over a year and ended up having to take nearly the entire week off work. Every morning I tried to get up and shower and was so dizzy, congested and sore. I don’t think I’ve ever been so sick.

Cue my second panic attack in two weeks.

Needless to say I wasn’t able to really walk straight let alone run that week. But by the end of the weekend I was feeling better and got two runs in.

Following my comeback from the dead, I was back running full time but by the end of the next week BOTH my calves were tender. I was so confused since I had given them nearly two weeks off. I saw my physio who is also my friend and teammate and she said my calves were just tight and gave me sh*t for not stretching more.

Let me tell you, since that visit, I have stretched, rolled and heated more in the last two weeks than the last six months combined. I’m stretching at my desk at work, doing calf raises every time I brush my teeth and have a nightly date with my heating pad.

COME ON CALVES.

I am happy to report it’s been two full weeks since my calves have felt tender or sore. Now I’m tapering which will give them additional rest.

I’m not above giving them daily pep talks right now. Just give me two weeks and a solid 42.2km run and you will have all the downtime you want, calves!

So how do I feel about Rotterdam? Nervous. Extremely nervous.

My goal is to finish the marathon without injury. Of course Competitive Sarah wants to set a PB, but being realistic with the last month of training (or lack thereof) in mind, I will just be happy to cross the finish line (0k and, in a decent time).

Please wish my calves luck!

Back to food. Random fact – I love cooked apples. I am not so much a pie person (because I am biased towards anything chocolate and pies usually don’t have chocolate in them). But I do love apple pie – mainly just eating the cooked apples inside.

Lately I have just been warming up apples in the microwave with a bit of cinnamon. That’s apple love.

I’ve been eating a lot of oatmeal lately – post workouts, for dinner (who doesn’t love breakfast-for-dinner?!) and oatmeal is my pre-race meal.

This Apple Pie Oatmeal is healthy, sweet, filling and easy to make. Enjoy!

oatmeal

  • 1/4 cup steel cut oats (you can use regular oats if you prefer)
  • 1 chopped apple (you can remove the skin if you like, but I leave it on)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon cinnamon (depending how much you like it)
  • honey to taste (after cooking)
  1. Combine all ingredients, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for approximately 20-25 minutes (until the oats are tender).
  2. Add the honey after cooking – it really brings out the apple pie taste!

There’s No Such Thing As Bad Weather

Just poor equipment choices. This is what my coach said earlier this week as part of an email chain that was going around between my team on whether we should move Saturday’s tempo workout to Friday because it was supposed to feel like -3o Saturday morning.

That’s chilly.

She went on to explain that it would be a good way to prepare for races with wild weather. I totally agree. No matter how hard you train, you will never be able to predict the weather on race day.

I run year round in all types of weather. I hate the treadmill with such a fiery passion that I would rather run in -30 degree temperatures than run indoors where I start to sweat after 45 seconds and get bored running on the spot after another 15.

Looking back on all the races I’ve done, there are two which stand out to me as having the worst weather conditions. Coincidentally enough, they happen to be my best and worst marathons to date. New York City in 2014 and (I think it goes without saying), Boston 2015.

It was cold and rainy in Boston. My friend Britt (who ended up being the first Canadian woman across the finish line!) and I sat in Athletes Village with 35,000 other runners shivering and trying to shield ourselves from the rain for over 2 hours before the race. At one point I remember turning to her and saying, “this is pretty insane. I can’t think of too many people who are so excited to spend over four months training to all but then spend one morning sitting around in the rain to stand up and run a marathon.”

During the actual race it not just poured rain on and off, but it was cold rain. Just as I would start to dry off and feel warm again, it would start pouring. I’m by no means a medical expert, but I do think the weather in Boston had something to do with my calf injury. I don’t think muscles react too kindly to sporadic bursts of hot-cold-hot-cold-hot-cold.

I remember talking to my coach the week of the race and stressing about the rain. She told me to bring a hat and toss it during the race if I needed to. I don’t really wear hats when I run or previously saw any benefit to them, but that hat was a life saver! Kept my face dry and my head warm.

Running in the rain is uncomfortable, but manageable to a point if you have the right equipment.

New York City was WINDY. I have never in my life experienced wind like that. To put it into perspective, I was part of a sub-elite group that was lucky enough to have special accommodation prior to the race including transportation. As we were sitting on a nice, comfy, heated bus that morning waiting to take the 1+ hour long drive to Staten Island to wait for another 2 hours outside before the race, one of the race directors told us the tent they had set up to house all 100 of us with food, water, etc. had literally BLOWN away.

That didn’t really make me too excited to run 42.2kms across New York City.

At the start of the race I remember giggling to myself and thinking, “I wish someone was filming this” because I was literally blown from one side of the road to the other – back and forth, back and forth – it was actually comical. I started to strategize and find tall people to tuck in behind.

Thanks to all the tall people who ran the NYC Marathon in 2014.

The wind eventually died down in the middle of the race but reared it’s ugly head during the last 10kms. As I was running the home stretch into Central Park, I had no one to hide behind and it was so windy, I remember thinking, “Come on! I’ve made it this far – wind you have made your point!” I had a PB to set.

This is my “wind you will not beat me” face.

nyc

Suffice to say, I think wind would be the absolute worst weather condition to run in. You can’t practice running in the wind all that well. It’s too unpredictable.

Days where it’s -30 or +30, you just have to choose the right equipment and get yourself out the door. This past week I’ve been wearing all the running clothes I own. I never find I get cold on my runs, it’s the exact opposite actually. Sometimes I overdress and come home a sweaty mess. Rather a bit too hot than too cold though on days where it’s -100.

So when did the Angels end up doing the tempo this week? Saturday – in all our glory in temperatures with a windchill of -36. It was almost 2 hours of non-stop freezing running fun.

I sound like a broken record, but there’s no way I would have left my warm bed on Saturday morning to literally have ice build up on my eye lashes to run by myself. Angel Heather made a comment afterwards that if felt badass to be out running in such a big group. A group of us were running home together afterwards and I heard a man say, “crazy girls” as we ran by. The Angels are so crazy and so badass.

That being said, when I got home I sat in the shower for 1/2 hour, using up all of the hot water and then went back to my warm bed.

Let’s talk crockpots. For those that know me, I love my crockpot. I endorse them in my spare time. You can make anything in a crockpot.

This is one of my new favourite crockpot recipes. It’s vegetarian, super easy, filling and makes a ton. It usually makes enough for three-ish dinners for Andrew and I (but if you aren’t 6’7 and/or running 120km/week you could probably stretch it out to four). I usually serve it with naan bread and salad.

Slow Cooker Cheesy Salsa Quinoa
Ingredients
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15-ounce can yellow corn, drained and rinsed
  • 2 15-ounce jars of mild or medium salsa, divided
  • 1 15-ounce can of diced fire roasted tomatoes and green chiles
  • 1 cup un-cooked quinoa + ½ cup water
  • 4 ounces cream cheese (light or fat free is okay)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican style cheese
  • optional: chopped cilantro, diced tomatoes, diced avocado, sour cream
Instructions
  1. Add beans, corn, 1 jar salsa, diced tomatoes and chiles, quinoa, water, cream cheese, and salt and pepper to the slow cooker. Stir everything together.
  2. Pour remaining jar of salsa on top, then sprinkle with shredded cheese. Cover and cook 4-5 hours on high or 5-7 hours on low.
  3. Uncover, top with tomatoes, avocados, sour cream, and chopped cilantro and serve.

*Recipe has been adapted from here

Becoming a Mental Warrior – you can too!

I hit a mental and physical milestone this week! I ran the furthest I have run since Boston (10 months ago). And I did it by 7am.

I mentioned before that my upcoming European adventure is what helps me get out of the door these days, but 4:15am came pretttttty early Wednesday morning.

This is what my bathroom looks like before I go to bed most nights:

clothes

I try and get everything ready so I don’t wake up my boyfriend in the morning – but without fail he still wakes up  to make sure my clothing is bright enough and tells me to be safe and stick to the main streets (I look like a neon highlighter running up and down Yonge Street).

I always tell people training for a marathon is 90% mental. I truly believe it is. Leaving my apartment at 4:24am Wednesday morning to run 32km was a mental battle. As I was running along the deserted streets of TO (which is rare and why I prefer to run in the mornings), I realized, “Holy crap – I haven’t run this far since I hurt myself”. Which then got me thinking, “does my calf hurt right now? Is that pain I’m feeling?”

Cue me stopping to stretch out my calves at 5am at the corner of St Clair and Bathurst.

I spent a lot of time over-thinking my phantom calf pain on that run. But I finished 2 hours and 44 minutes later with my calf in tact. Phew.

Whether your goal is to run 1km, 32km or to make it to the gym, getting out the door is 3/4 of the battle. Something to keep in mind on the days you need that extra push:

workout

I made a shake (protein within 45 minutes of a workout is key), lied on the floor for 15 minutes, showered and was off to work. Happy Hump Day!

I feel like I have completed one mental test in my preparation for Rotterdam. 32km done. I’m now thinking of my long runs as ‘exam prep’. I have about eight to go before taper time. Eight pre-exams means two months full of carbs #winning.

FOOD!

During the week I usually eat the same things throughout the day. (Classic Type A personality). Weekends are for indulging – in everything.

My good friend Sarah Cruickshank is a fitness enthusiast, fashion guru and someone who makes your life better. Occasionally we spin together. On one such occasion she brought me one of her homemade Almond Butter Snack Balls. I demanded the recipe have been snacking on them ever since. Almond butter and dates are two of my favourite things in the world. These date balls are a great afternoon snack that will keep you feeling full for a while (or in my case after a 32km run, for an hour).

Almond Butter Snack Balls

  • 1/4 cup raw almonds
  • 2 cups Medjool dates, pitted
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup (heaping) raw almond butter

Directions

  • Use a food processor or blender to grind raw almonds. Process until almonds become crumbs, but not flour-like.
  • Add in remaining ingredients and process until fully combined.
  • NOTE: My food processor is from the 1980’s and doesn’t like dates so I chop them by hand.
  • Press and shape mixture into balls.
  • Store in a sealed container in the fridge for several weeks.

dates

What’s Up 2016?

Hello 2016! I’m back! I’ve missed you all!

One of my 2016 intentions is to start my blog again.

Let me back up a bit. One of the many great things my boyfriend has bestowed upon me, is the idea of setting “intentions” at the beginning of the year (vs. a New Years resolution). Things we both “intend” to do/work on over the course of the year (relationship, work, personal, fitness, etc). Last year I set out 10 intentions for myself and saved them in a list on my phone and would check in from time to time. Before I could set my 2016 intentions, I looked back to see how I held up to my 2015 ones. Out of ten, I achieved 8.5 (whether I’ve actually been able to improve my golf game is hard to judge). I had two intentions related to running:

  1. Circuits/strength/cross train: once a week minimum

    CHECK! Looking back at my training log, in 2015 I attended 26 spin classes and did 77 strength/circuits over the course of the year. (If you do the math, that’s about 2 cross training/strength sessions per week – I had doubled goal after I got injured). I found this was one area that would always fall off when I started running a lot because I couldn’t fit it all in. But after my calf injury, I realized how important this ‘stuff’ is to help keep my limbs healthy, so I’ve made a concentrated effort to keep it going.

  2. Run a sub 1:26 half or sub 3:00 full marathon

    Key word being “OR”. So I can check that off because I ran a 1:25:54 half marathon in March of last year – just barely made it in there! If you’ve been reading my blog, you’ll know I had one failed attempt at a sub 3:00 marathon in Boston because of my stupid left calf.

After I set my 2016 intentions, I logged on to my blog and it so kindly reminded me it has been 4 months since my last post (but I had over 2,200 views in 2015 so THANK YOU!). Looking back, I think after my injury when I wasn’t running as well, I selfishly didn’t want to write about my not-so-great-running experiences publicly. I ran a half marathon in November that was the slowest I’ve run in two years. There I said it! I’ve had just as many bad runs as good ones and those are the ones I learn from and encourage me to work harder.

So while 2015 didn’t end up being the record breaking running year I had hoped for, I am ready to try again in 2016!

I knew I wanted to train for another marathon in the new year, but I wasn’t about to train in another polar vortex to stay local – and I am not emotionally ready to go back to Boston.

So, really, that only leaves EUROPE as my marathon destination. I have signed up for the Rotterdam Marathon (in the Netherlands) on April 10. (I have paid for the cancellation insurance just in case.)

After my less-than-stellar performance in the half marathon in November, my running group went on a much needed break. We enjoyed two weeks of optional running followed by a gradual, easy-does-it increase through December. It was nice to run when I wanted, and when I didn’t want to – it was nice to not feel bad that I was ‘slipping behind’ in my fitness because I knew the break was needed. Now that January has hit – the Angels are back in full force! Hill repeats until our legs fall off! Yippee!

I hit 100km this week for the first time in 10 months. While I have been excited to challenge myself again, I am a bit sleepy and my legs are starting to feel tired.  9:30pm is the new bedtime and if I don’t eat every 1.5 hours, I get hangry (hungry + angry). But nothing feels as good as running full time and pain free again. The excitement of my upcoming European adventure is what gets me out of the door before 5am in sub-zero temperatures lately.

Regardless how running goes this year, I promise to talk all about the bad stuff just as much as the good stuff. This is my solemn intention to you!

run4

FOOD! Well I can’t say I took the same break from cooking or baking like I did from running. These black bean brownies have literally changed my life. They are so easy and SO delicious. You won’t believe you’re eating a can of black beans! Enjoy!

1 1/2 cups black beans (One 15oz can rinsed and drained very well).
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1/2 cup quick oats
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup pure maple syrup (or agave or honey)
2 tbsp sugar (or omit and increase maple syrup to 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup coconut or vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup to 2/3 cup chocolate chips (NOT OPTIONAL)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients except the chocolate chips in a food processor, and blend until completely smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips and pour into a greased 8×8 pan. Sprinkle extra chocolate chips on top. Bake for 15-18 minutes (it usually takes 20-23 minutes in my oven). Cool completely for 10 minutes before serving. If they still looked undercooked, place in the fridge overnight and they will firm right up!

brownies

Black Bean Brownies – No Flour Required!

 

 

The 5km Race Pain is Real

The 5km Race Pain is Real

Who would have thought that such a short distance could hurt so bad?

I have three official (chip timed) 5km races under my belt now and I am happy to retire from this distance.

My comeback from injury has been slow and gradual. I was allowed to increase my mileage by 5km every week until I hit 80km/week. I’ve been consistently running 80km/week since mid-July with a down week every four weeks or so.  While I’d like to run as much as much as possible in the gloriously warm weather after training in the polar vortex earlier this year, I don’t want to risk another setback by doing too much too soon. While it’s been a bit mentally painful, I am happy to report I have now completed two races without injury :).

Without injury – but not without entire-mind-and-body-pain. Three weeks ago I ran my first Women’s Only 5km race which is part of the Toronto Women’s Run Series. My coach suggested we do it as a ‘warm up’ for the 5km Road Race Championships that was two weeks later.

So a handful of Angels and I were off on our warm up race. I forgot how painful running fast was.

2015 Toronto Women's 10K/5K

To put it into perspective, my boyfriend surprised me by showing up and cheering (along the sparse course of other cheerleaders) and I ran right by without noticing him yelling because I was thinking about being someplace else – anywhere else – that I blocked the world out completely.

There’s no room for pacing error in a 5km. If you go out too fast, you’re screwed. The is one of the many reasons I love the marathon distance. Out of the 42.2kms, I can afford to run a little too fast or too slow for a couple kilometers, because it all evens out in the end. Not with a 5km though.

I finished the warm up race about 35 seconds off my PB. Meh. Not happy with it but I was reminded how painful the 5km can be and was now mentally ready to prepare myself for that again in two weeks at the 5k Canadian Road Race Championships.

Fast forward to 5:30am on Sunday, September 13 as I was sitting eating my usual pre-race meal of oatmeal thinking, “why do I keep doing this?” I reassured myself that I would be leave my apartment at 8am, race at 9am and would be back home in bed by 10am. Nice little Sunday.

There were five Angels running in this one but countless other Angels had come to cheer us on at different spots of the course. The team support was incredible and honestly keep me going right to the end.

5km2

Again, my boyfriend showed up to surprise me along the course (at two different spots). He may not know this yet but he’s now set an expectation which I’m not sure he is ready to commit to.

This race went better than the Women’s Only by about 15 seconds (so 20 seconds off my PB) but I still felt pretty meh about the result.

What have I learned from these 5km races? To temper my high expectations. Not every race is going to be the best race. I was so fortunate to have an amazing 2014 race year, with a PB in every distance. 2015 is an injury-recovery-rebuilding year, but LOOK OUT 2016.

I have one race left and am so happy it’s in my hometown of Hamilton!!! On November 1, I am doing the Hamilton Road 2 Hope half marathon for the first time. I’m also raising money for Save the Mothers organization. This international organization aims to improve the health of mothers and babies in Uganda. If you would like to donate (and I promise to run extra fast), please click here.

Looking ahead over the next couple of weeks, I am excited that I’m allowed to run 90km/week until I start to taper at the end of October. I wish I was doing the full, but I know my body wouldn’t hold up for that kind of mileage and I plan on running my next marathon in 2:59:59.

FOOD!
A little while ago I posted a picture on Instagram of my weekly meal prep and a friend suggested that I include it as one of my blog posts, so this is for you Laura.

It’s there’s only one thing I need to do on Sundays, it’s grocery shop and meal prep #typeA. Ok maybe two things.

I usually make the weekday lunches on Sunday. The salads vary from week to week, but consist mainly of:

  • Spinach and/or kale (usually a mix of both)
  • Peppers (yellow, orange or red)
  • Cucumber
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Broccoli slaw
  • Beans (I alternate between black beans, lentils or this 6-bean medley you can buy at the grocery store)
  • Avocado
  • Hard-boiled egg
  • Goat cheese
  • Nuts/Trail mix

I have been trying to incorporate more protein in my diet so started adding a hard-boiled egg and/or nuts. With more protein, I find that I stay fuller for longer.

I’ve been using the dressing from the Crunchy Asian  Ramen Noodle Salad I posted a couple weeks ago since it’s so delicious!

foodprep

Sometimes Running is Really Hard

Sometimes Running is Really Hard

Which is what I said to my boyfriend Andrew after a recent interval workout as I was laying on my living room floor with a cold, wet bath towel covering me.

It got me thinking: do the top athletes go through the same pain during their workouts? Is running just as hard for them as it is for the rest of us? It would make me feel a lot better about how exhausted and worn out I feel after workouts knowing everyone hurts sometimes.

After taking a month off of running post incident and an additional month off of group workouts (I was allowed to do short, easy runs every other day), I am back running with my Angels full-time.

I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but I really didn’t think it would be so hard.

The first workout I went back to I couldn’t finish. Mentally and physically, I just couldn’t do it. Its tough to get the drive to do intervals or a quick tempo knowing 1) you’re not at the fitness level you were just a couple months ago; and 2) you’re going to be very, very uncomfortable the entire time.

But it’s like ripping off a bandaid. The sooner you do it, the better off you are. I could barely run home from that workout and while I was trying to catch my breath on my kitchen floor (you’ll notice a pattern here), I thought to myself: I can be upset that I’m not in racing shape anymore or I can be excited that I’m getting back in the groove.

I chose the second option. As frustrated as I was, I am too competitive and know I am capable of pushing myself harder. My challenge now is not to get back to my pre-Boston fitness level, but to get faster while staying injury free.

That was eight weeks ago and just now I’m finally starting to feel strong again.

Like me, a couple of girls on my team are struggling with injuries and muscles that just don’t feel quite right. My coach has sent reminders about doing three strength sessions per week in order to get stronger for the fall race season and prevent injury. Before I joined the Angels, I didn’t do any strength work so I feel like I could become a body builder now. I don’t enjoy it as much as running, but I enjoy being injury free and the idea of becoming a faster, stronger runner – so I have welcomed it with sore arms and wobbly legs.

I’ve talked with a couple friends recently who have put off exercise for other priorities in life and are scared to get back into it for fear of how out of shape they think they are. My advice is to start slow and get your endorphins going. Endorphins are magic and make you feel so good! When I get back from workouts now, I find I’m looking up races for the fall and am now researching my next marathon (for next year).

A few other tricks of my trade:
1. Make a date to meet a friend to workout. Getting up at 5am sucks but abandoning your friend on the street corner will make you feel worse.

2. Pack your bag or get your workout clothes ready the night before. A friend once told me they slept in their gym clothes so they wouldn’t have an excuse to not be prepared in the morning!

3. Make it a routine. I meet a couple Angels every Tuesday at 6am for circuits. Counting on Tuesday circuits is helpful so I know I’m always going to be a little bit sore on Wednesdays 🙂

courage

Back to food!

I feel like I’ve hit the jackpot with this salad. It’s easy to make, it’s colourful, it’s delicious and makes a ton. I’ve never seen Andrew go back for seconds of salad before I made this one.

Crunchy Asian Ramen Noodle Salad

asiansalad

Ingredients
Salad Ingredients:

  • (16-ounce) bag coleslaw mix
  • 2 (3-ounce) packages of ramen noodles, crumbled (you will not use the seasoning packet)
  • 1 cup shelled and cooked edamame
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted and diced
  • 1 mango, peeled, pitted, and julienned (or diced)
  • 1/2 cup thinly-sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup thinly-sliced green onions (scallions)
  • Asian honey vinaigrette (see ingredients below)

Asian Honey Vinaigrette

  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil (or any cooking oil)
  • 1/3 cup honey (or agave, to make this vegan)
  • 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
  • pinch of salt and black pepper

(Optional first step: Heat oven to 425 degrees. Spread the crumbled ramen noodles and sliced almonds out on a baking sheet, and stir a bit to combine. Bake for about 5 minutes, or until the almonds and noodles are slightly toasted and golden. Remove baking sheet, and give the mixture a good stir to toss. Then return it to the oven and toast for an additional 3 minutes. Keep a very close eye on the mixture so that it does not burn.  Remove and set aside.) Add ingredients (including the vinaigrette) together in a large bowl, and toss until combined.

Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. (This salad is much better eaten the first day, as the noodles lose their “crunch” the longer it sits, and the avocado may brown a bit. Still, it’s perfectly edible and enjoyable even after a few days!)

Crunchy Asian Ramen Noodle Salad (a.k.a. Basically The Best Potluck Salad EVER)