Monday, August 27, 2012

What Does 14 Miles Look Like?

Sunday was a big moment of truth day for me and my marathon training. It was a day of, "Will I successfully run 14 miles?" This is something that I had been thinking about all week long leading up until Sunday morning. To top it all off, I hadn't been feeling all that well and going into Saturday evening I had a sore throat, earache and a low grade fever. Nothing that a good 14 mile run on Sunday wouldn't cure, right? Well let it be known that when the alarm clock went off at 5:30am, my fever, soar throat and stabbing ear pain had subsided to the point where I could attempt the run. Was I 100%? No, but I wasn't debilitated enough to where I should sacrifice my long run. With marathon training, the long run is the most crucial run of the week.

All my long runs this year are taking place at the beautiful Rockefeller State Park Preserve which is about 45 minutes north from me up in Sleepy Hollow/Pleasantville, NY. This park provides over 1,400 acres of playland for runners, walkers and horseback riders. Absolutely no bike riding allowed. The trails are well maintained and provide a wide variety of inclines from easy to steep. During my runs I have encountered a lot of wildlife including rabbits, chipmunks, ducks, deer, turkeys and an osprey. The majority of the trails are under tree cover so you aren't running directly in the sun all the time. Often you are running alone, despite the fact that there are a ton of cars in the parking lot. It is truly a beautiful and refreshing place to run!

So what does a 14 mile run look like? It look a lot like this...

I run with a Garmin watch and I love that I can download all my running data onto the computer to analyze and keep track of my stats. One nice aspect of the data is that you get a nice map of your run. This picture only captures a fraction of the trails at the park. Of course my route is in red and in a few spots I run them over again, whether to get another hill in or a little bit of a recovery before I move on to a tougher spot.

The last time I ran 14 miles was back in 2006 when I was training for the marathon the first time. I ran 12 miles two weeks ago and prior to that run I hadn't run that distance since 2009. During the 12 mile run, I felt really good up until mile 11 and then mile 12 I was faced with a long, steady hill to the finish. That was the longest mile EVER, but I finished it. 

So going into the 14 miler, I was nervous. I knew that I could do it. It was just actually doing it that scared me. So how did it go? The first 10 miles was good. I was running a bit slower than normal, but I didn't feel horrible. I had four miles to complete so I chose to rerun a path that I normally do at the beginning of my trails runs called David's Loop. On my way running toward mile 11 on this path was my road to almost disaster. 

See David's Loop is one serious hill. The incline is something else and I have conditioned myself to handle it well on fresh legs. Now I was attempting it on legs that had been running for just over 2 hours. Half way up the hill I got very tired, my heart rate spiked even though I was going much slower and I thought I was going to be sick. To get through it I just told myself that the downhill for recovery was almost there. Once I got past this obstacle, things would be better. Once I hit the downhill things got a little better. My heart rate went back to normal and I didn't feel like I was going to vomit as badly as I felt going up the hill. My legs were very tired and my mind started playing games with me. I have felt this mind game before. I knew it before I ever saw it on my run. I knew I was stronger than my mind telling me to quit. I knew I just had to keep going.

As I was running down toward Swan Lake, I hit mile 12. I was excited to be hitting the path around Swan Lake because I knew it was relatively flat and  I would be able to recover and finish the 14 miles. So as I am running I all of a sudden feel like this...
I am fighting my mind that wants to give me an emotional break down.  It wants me to call it a day. I am struggling at this point. I hit mile 12.5. I am still fighting with my mind. It's tell me I am done. I hit mile 12.75. My legs are carrying me back to the car. I hit mile 12.79. I am leaning against the car window with my head hanging on the edge and tears in my eyes. My wonderful boyfriend looks out at me and says it's ok. He helps me regain my composure and tells me that I got this. We check to make sure I have enough hydration in my bottles to finish that blasted last 1.10 miles. Just one more loop around the lake and then I am done. I got it.

I did finish my 14 mile run. It was very emotional for me. Sunday, I proved to myself that I could do it. The next time I have to run I will be that much stronger. I have pushed my threshold level up a notch. My boyfriend is such a rock. He gave me the support I desperately needed. I am so lucky to have him on my team. I thank him with all my heart.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Sunday Afternoon Cooking

This past Sunday afternoon I turned myself into "Miss Betty Crocker" the vegetarian version. Ever since becoming a vegetarian just over 2 years ago, I am always on the lookout for some awesome yummy veggie recipes. A few weeks ago I stumbled upon an awesome healthy living blog which led me to a couple other blogs that are also all about fitness and healthy eating.

During the past couple of weeks I have been scouring these blogs for some new recipes, especially ones that don't take a lot of time to prepare/cook. The one blog that I found that contains a wealth of yummy recipes is from fANNEtastic food. The author of this blog is studying to be a Registered Dietitian and the recipes she has created offer a vast amount of vegetarian/vegan choices.

On Saturday I armed myself with an extensive grocery shopping list of items to make 4 recipes and hit up the local health food store. On Sunday, I declared myself to be on a cooking mission after my long run was complete. I had the apartment to myself that afternoon and was ready for action.

The first item on my agenda was to make some healthy granola bars to have as a mid-morning snack while at work.

Don't they look delicious?
All packaged up for easy portion control.
The granola bars didn't take any amount of time to make. I honestly think it took me longer to clean the bowls than it did to make them. In my version I used Almond Butter, Roasted/Salted Pumpkin Seeds, Hulled Sunflower Seeds, Goji Berries, Chia Seeds and Flaxseeds in addition to the other main ingredients. The only thing I left out was the Coconut. Not a big huge fan of it even though I cook with Coconut Oil and drink Coconut Milk.

The taste verdict? Absolutely freaking delicious! Manny has texted me at least twice this week telling me how much he loves these bars! A co-worker tried a little bit of one the other day and she immediately replied she had to go home and make them! I think I'll be making another batch of these this weekend. They are full of nutrition and make awesome energy snacks.

The next item on my agenda was to make a couple different meals to have as lunches this week.

Wouldn't this be great in a wrap?
Again this creation took a matter of minutes to make. I wanted to increase the portion size  from individual so I used (2) cans of Sockeye Tuna (drained), (1) 6oz container of Chiobani Plain Greek Yogurt, (3) healthy squirts of Dijon Mustard, (3) Celery stalks and half a bag of Broccoli Slaw. I also included the Balsamic Vinaigrette. I ended up placing the tuna inside of Spelt Tortilla Wraps. I ended up getting 4 wraps out of this dish.

Eat this warm or cold.
The only cooking involved in this recipe is the Quinoa and that takes only 15 minutes. I must have been having a brain meltdown from my long run that morning because I had a hard time trying to figure out the amount of dry Quinoa needed to yield 2 cups cooked Quinoa. I know, I know it should have been real easy to figure out from reading the portion size, etc. on the back of the package, but I truly think my brain was tired and what I thought was right actually yielded me at least double of what I needed. Not a big deal though. The extra was eaten by my very hungry boyfriend over a couple of meals.

I used all ingredients listed on the recipe except for the olives. As many times as I have tried olives, I have never liked them so they were booted from the recipe. I used a yellow pepper out of all the color choices in the market. In the past my tummy has never agreed with uncooked green or red peppers. So I chose yellow because to me they tend to be sweeter than the other two. Well let me tell you, this dish is delicious, warm or cold, but next time I will have to leave the pepper out of it. I just have to accept that my body cannot eat uncooked peppers. Next time I will substitute it with something more tummy friendly for me.

When all was said and done, everything I made took me only 2 hours, and that included clean-up time. I still have granola bars in the refrigerator, the Tuna salad was all eaten up by Wednesday and the Quinoa dish was gone by Tuesday evening. I think someone else in my house really enjoyed my Sunday cooking for the week.

Oh wait, didn't I say earlier that I was armed with 4 recipes when I went shopping? Well I ended up making Vegetarian Sloppy Joes for dinner on Sunday evening. This meal took just over 30 minutes to cook and super easy to make. Sadly, I forgot to take a picture of it before we ate it all. Next time!

I think my Sunday afternoon/evening of cooking was a success. I am definitely going to try and make a better effort to allocate some time on Sunday's to prepare healthy meals for the week. In the past I always say I will, but now I am going to be putting it into action.

What's your favorite healthy recipe?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

5 Weeks Done

It’s truly hard to believe that I have completed 5 weeks of my marathon training. I am currently halfway through Week 6. I have a relatively easy 5 mile run Thursday morning and then 2 days of rest until my long run on Sunday. This week my long run jumps up to 14 miles! When was the last time I ran 14 miles? Well let’s see. In September 2009 I ran the Philly Half Marathon (which is 13.1 miles for all you non-runners out there). Hmmm. The last time I ran 14 miles was in 2006 when I was training for the NYC Marathon that year! I was truly amazed when I thought about how long it's been.

I would be wrong if I said that I wasn’t nervous about attempting those 14 miles this weekend. ‘Cause I am. I know what my body has been capable of in the past, but it’s been 6 long years since I last ran that distance. My body has so changed in the past 6 years. I am at a heavier weight now (even though I am now down 13 pounds since May!), my legs seem to have developed aches and pains that once never bothered me and I am now 41, not the spry 35 year old anymore that felt invincible.

So how will I approach Sunday’s run? With a positive mental attitude. Two weeks ago I ran 12 miles for the first time in 3 years. I felt awesome up through mile 11. That twelfth mile kicked my butt (it was all uphill and I swore the whole time running up it), but I finished. Will I struggle with the 14 miles on Sunday? Most definitely a yes. Will I be prepared the best that I can be? Yes. Will I give up? Most definitely a no.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Friday Laughs

I came across this video posted to a blog I recently discovered (and subsequently am now obsessed with it). Since I am currently training for my second marathon this Fall, I thought this was so funny. It left me in a fit of giggles.

Thursday, August 2, 2012


Last night, while I was trying to fall asleep, I couldn't stop thinking about the journey I have placed myself on these past few months. Since May of this year, I have committed myself to getting back to the person I was prior to working nights for a year and a half. Before the night shifts, I was a person who worked out pretty regularly, had much passion/enthusiasm for my hobbies and enjoyed socializing with my few close friends. Then while working those night shifts, because I needed to support myself, my health (mentally/physically) was slowly, and then towards the end very quickly, deteriorating.

I have been back working days now for just over a year. It took me many of those first few months to become human again. And then a couple more months to get that desire and passion reignited within me once more.

My sister and niece's visit in early May was my turning point in getting my body back into shape. While I was eating healthy all along, I struggled with getting exercise. So with their visit, the daily walking all over the city, and just having family close by again, was all it took to get the ball rolling for me. Now I don't struggle with a routine of consistency. Now there is no stopping me.

Two weeks after their visit I had finally lost 3 pounds and several inches. Then a week later I put myself on a 3 Day Green Juice Cleanse and lost 6 more pounds. I gained 3 of those pounds back but just two weeks later I took them back off.

Only July 5th, I returned to my old ways of getting my run done first thing in the morning prior to going to work. When that alarm goes off at 5:30 am every morning, not only am I getting up for that run, my honey is doing it with me. His support has meant the world to me because I know he is not a morning person. 

Now four weeks since starting this morning running adventure, getting up that early is second nature. Two weeks ago I lost 2 more pounds. This week another half pound. Right now my total weight loss is 11.5 pounds. Just 3.5 more pounds and I will have taken off the 15 pounds I gained while working nights. This is a small victory towards the bigger goal that I will gladly accept.

I am now running 5 days a week and feel so much stronger. My body is transforming itself back into the healthier version of me I use to be. On July 16th, I began my training for the NYC Marathon on November 4. I ran this race in 2006. I will run this race again in 2012.