Thursday, June 5, 2014

Garmin Marathon in Olathe KS 2014

This past April I ran my second marathon, and achieved a new personal PR of 4:24! Finally, a sub 4:30, which was what I was aiming for last fall when I ran my first marathon with a time of 4:52.

(Around mile 20 after my bib flew off)

The race went really well, and it was nice to take a small vacation just for myself to go do something I really enjoy. I think we all really need to remember to take some time for ourselves every now and then. I am aware I'm a workaholic, along with being a full time student that can't settle for anything less than an "A". However, taking even just a weekend off to leave town and do something for myself was just what I needed.

I woke up that morning feeling surprisingly rested and eager to get ready for the race. I had my banana, date, and chia seed power breakfast and then started getting ready. I made sure to lay everything out the night before, and fill my Camelbak up so I could do the bare minimum race morning. After getting everything together, double checking to make sure I had everything, and packing up the car, I was finally off.

I arrived to the race expo about an hour before the start, which was nice because there wasn't even a line yet for the bathrooms. After locating and using the restrooms I headed back to my car to just sit and relax for a little while until the start got closer. 30 minute before the race I figured I would get back in line for the restrooms again. I remember reading a marathon training book that advised just getting back in line after using the restrooms until it was time to line up. It may sound kind of silly, but it makes perfect sense come race day when you're all anxious and constantly feel like you need to pee. Haha, plus what else are you going to do for 30 minutes before the race starts anyhow?

With only 10 minutes until the race start I use the restroom one last time, and then head off to the corral. I set my ipod up, made sure my backpack was securely in place, and got in line around the 4:30 finish mark, since running a sub 4:30 was really my only goal. I planned to run the first half of the race at an easy effort, the 3rd quarter at a moderate level, and the last 6 or so miles with whatever I had left. I also packed my race fuel the night before and stuffed it into the pockets on my Camelbak. I brought 10 dates along with me in 5 little plastic baggies. My plan was to eat 2 dates every 5 miles during the race to keep myself from hitting the wall.

At 7:00 the race was off!

Miles 1-4
These miles for me were basically just really easy relaxed miles. I learned my lesson last time how stupid it is to head out too fast. I let people pass me and didn't bother to worry about the split times on my Garmin. I was determined to run this marathon based completely on feeling and nothing else.

Miles 5-11
It started raining around mile 5 and didn't let up for about an hour. The majority of the time it just sprinkled, however the was about a 10 minute stretch when it just poured, causing everyone and everything to get soaked. Oh well, a little water never hurt anyone.

(around mile 12 after the rain finally let up)

Miles 12-20 I started to push a little more here as I planned to halfway through the race. Now I was starting to feel some of the fatigue set in, but I tried to block how many miles I still had left to go out and just focus on the present.

Miles 20-25 Now I was really starting to feel tired, and it was getting harder and harder not to dwell on how many more miles I still had to go. Time was going by slower than it had before, but I just reminded myself that I was in the final stretch, and that now was my time to step it in to gear and push myself with whatever I had left. Due to the wonderful wind and rain that day, my race bib flew off around mile 20 landing face down in the mud. I had to turn around and run back to go pick it up.

Mile 26
Right after completing mile 25 my Garmin died on me. Normally I would have been a lot more frustrated, but at this point I was too tired and too close to finishing to even care. I just dug deep and pushed with everything I had left, making my last mile of the marathon my fastest. I passed so many people the last few miles. You can tell they had hit the wall or wore themselves out too early, which reassured me I made the right decision holding myself back during the first part of the race. It also let me know that my fueling system with dates worked perfectly! Finally I could see the finish line and an end to what felt like the longest mile I've ever ran. As I crossed the finish line I was so thrilled to have finished a sub 4:30 marathon. First things first though, I had to make a trip to my car to get my recovery shake and my victory banana!

After chugging my shake and devouring my banana, I walked around for a bit to stretch my legs, hit the restroom one more time, then headed home. It was a decent 3 hour drive back to Wichita, and I had to fight the urge to fall asleep the whole way home.I thought about a lot of things, like how far I've come in the last year. Not just with running, but with myself in general. I've grown and learned so much. I'm so much more confident now, and certainly much stronger than I ever would have thought I could be. I feel like as a runner I know who I am, and I really like where life's taking me.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Creamy Cauliflower Soup

With the temperatures dropping, I figured now would be a great time to test out some new soup recipes. After looking through a few different blogs with soup recipes I decided on a thick and creamy cauliflower soup. I used the recipes I found as a starting point, but decided to add my own flare from there and, well... the results were delicious! This soup is thick, creamy, and has a "cheesy" taste to it.

You will need:
1 large head of cauliflower (about 8 cups)
1 large white onion
1 bulb of fresh garlic
1/2 a large ripe avocado
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
2 cups water
salt and pepper to taste

Time: 30 minutes

Servings: 4

Start by cutting up the cauliflower and placing it in a large boiler pan. Add enough water to completely cover the cauliflower, then bring to a low boil. While to cauliflower is cooking, peel and dice the onion and bulb of garlic and grill in a skillet until the onions are caramelized. Once the cauliflower is soft, drain the water and let it set for a few minutes in a strainer. Cut into your avocado and throw half into the blender. Add in nutritional yeast, two cups of hot water, grilled onions and garlic, and salt/pepper to you liking. Blend on a high speed until smooth and creamy. If you have a small blender you might have to divide the ingredients up and do it in two parts, which is what I did. I just blended half of all the ingredients twice, and then combined both mixtures in a my larger boiler pan. If you want to re-heat the soup make sure you set the burner to a very low temp. If the soups starts to boil it will bubble and splatter everywhere (trust me, I learned the hard way). Then just serve and enjoy!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Super Foods for Weight Loss

"Super foods" are great for just about everything! They boost our immune systems, supply out bodies with a variety of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, help reduce inflammation, give us more energy, and reduce the risk of all kinds of disease. Along with all of these wonderful health benefits, super foods also aid in healthy weight loss and management by helping the body to use energy as efficiently as possible. Including more super foods into your diet in general is a great idea for better health, but if you are specifically trying to lose weight, here is a list of some of the best super foods for weight loss.

1. Chia and Flax Seeds
Don't let these little seeds fool you. They may be small, but they are packed with fast blasting power! Both chia seeds and flax seeds are packed with heart healthy omaga 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. These fatty acids help work to control appetite and help you feel fuller and more satisfied longer. They are also packed with protein, and loaded with fiber, which also help to control hunger. These seeds can be consumed with basically anything, since they don't have much of a taste themselves. Try them sprinkled on salads, blended in smoothies, on top fresh fruit, in baked goods... the possibilities are endless! Just make sure you purchase milled flax seeds, or grind them up in a blender at home. Our bodies can't break them down and absorb their nutrients in whole form because of the outer coating on the shell.

2. Leafy Greens
It's probably no surprise that leafy greens made the list, considering they are some of the most nutrient dense foods per calorie. Greens like kale, spinach, and all kinds of lettuce are packed with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and water. They help to fill your stomach up without overloading your body with calories. For example, and entire head of romaine lettuce is only about 100 calories. Including a lot of raw, leafy greens in your diet will help you to feel more full and satisfied with less calories. Eating a large green salad topped with some healthy lean protein (like beans or soy), healthy fats (like chia and flax seeds), and a natural and healthy low calorie dressing (like a red wine vinegar or lemon juice) would be a great option.

3. Lentils
Lentils are a great source of protein, and are packed with fiber! There are different kind of lentils, such as green, red, and black. All vary slightly nutritionally, but are generally the same. Lentils are a member of the legume family and are very low in fat. Legumes are known for being heart healthy, and can be used in place of meat in most dishes. They are great to add into soups, stews, or any kind of main dish as a protein source. Just be careful, if your body isn't used to a lot of fiber you could be in for an interesting ride.

4. Avocados
Who doesn't love avocados? Like all of the other foods, they are loaded with fiber, and are a great source of potassium! Avocados are mostly fat, but they are packed full of natural healthy monounsaturated fats that keep your feeling full, curb appetite cravings and actually help your body to burn fat. Use avocado in place of unhealthy fats, such as atop a baked potato or spread on toast.

5. Green Tea
Green tea is a super food that is packed full of antioxidants that help to cleanse the body of toxins, protect the body's cells from free radicals, reduce the effects of aging, and reduce the risk of a wide variety of diseases. It's also a great weight loss aid, because it helps to speed up your metabolism and help your body burn fat. Green tea increases thermogenesis in the body when digested, which causes the body to release more heat and burn more calories. Green tea also contains a decent amount of caffeine, and can be consumed before a workout to help boost energy levels and help your body burn more fat during your workout. Adding some fresh lemon juice to your green tea is a great way to help cleanse and detoxify the body while also boosting your metabolism. Just be careful not to load your tea up with processed sugars!

6. Quinoa
Pronounced "keen-wah", this super foods is amazing at aiding in weight loss. Quinoa is technically a seed, but is used mostly as a grain in cooking. Quinoa is low in calories when compared to similar foods, and is packed full of dietary fiber. It also has a low glycemic index, meaning your body will burn it more slowly allowing you to feel fuller longer. You can use quinoa in place of rice or couscous in dishes, or use quinoa flour when baking in place of other flours. Quinoa has a natural earthy taste, but takes on whatever flavors you add to it.

7. Beans
Beans, like lentils, are a member of the legume family and are known for being heart healthy and low in fat. Beans are a great alternative to meat, and can be used to make similar dishes such as black bean burgers or mung bean meatloaf. Beans are packed full of many important nutrients, such as fiber, folate, iron, and magnesium. Black beans and garbanzo beans (or chick peas) are some of the most popular types of beans. Black beans work well in a wide variety of dishes; from soups and chill, to burritos and burgers... even desserts like black bean brownies! Garbanzo beans are great as a salad topping or ground into fresh hummus and served with vegetables.

8. Almonds
Like avocados, almonds are high in healthy monounsaturated fat. They are also a decent source of protein, and are known for their hunger suppressing effects. Snacking on a small handful of almonds (about 1/4 cup) mid-morning can help you from overeating later on in the day. Almonds are also a great source of calcium, magnesium, and iron, which are important in any diet. While almonds are certainly healthy, limit your serving size if you are aiming to lose weight. Almonds are very calorie dense, making them easy to overeat before you feel full.

9. Fresh Fruit
Many people tend to avoid fresh fruits when aiming to lose weight due to the high sugar content and the high glycemic index of fruit. However, adding fresh fruits to your diet is very important for weight loss. Firstly, fruits are packed full of the vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that your body needs. Secondly, they are a healthy alternative when you want something sweet. Humans naturally crave sugar, and while processed/refined sugars are unhealthy and promote weight gain, the natural sugars in fruit help to reduce sugar cravings in a natural and healthy way. Fruit is also relatively low in calories compared to volume, especially melons and berries. Lastly, fruits help to alkalize the body, meaning that they help to restore a natural PH balance. Having balanced hormones and PH levels in the body makes it easier to shed excess weight and rid your body of toxins.

10. Spirulina
Last, but certainly not least is spirulina. Spirulina is a blue-green algae that is completely loaded with nutrients! It's has more protein per gram than any other food- even more than meat. It contains essential amino acids, omega 3, beta-carotene, and also helps to fight the aging process. It can be purchased in a powdered form which can be mixed into smoothies, or as a supplement to be taken daily. Spirulina works best when it is taken 30 minutes before a meal to help curb hunger and cravings. It can also be used to help with weight gain if taken after a meal, since it will supplement and improve your nutritional deficit by giving your body additional nutrients. Spirulina is an amazing super food, and will help your body maintain balance and optimal health.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Banana Black Bean Brownies

Typically when you hear the word "brownies", you don't immediately think of the word "healthy". However, I have recently found a way to make gluten free, vegan, oil free, and yes, HEALTHY brownies! These brownies were delicious, rich, and gooey, and they made my kitchen smell like heaven! Plus, they were super easy to make.

3 very ripe bananas (mostly brown, the more ripe the better)
2 cups of cooked black beans
1/3 cup agave nectar
1 cup brown rice flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
2 TBSP ground flax seeds
1 TBSP baking powder

Set the oven to 375 degrees. Mash together bananas and black beans, then add in agave. I just let my kitchen aid mixer do the work for me, but you can also use a fork to mash them together or a hand held blender. In a separate bowl mix together all dry ingredients, then add to banana mixture and stir until everything is combined. Line a small square 8x8 inch baking pan with foil, then spread in brownie batter. Bake for 35 minutes, and then let cool for another 30. Grab the edges of the foil to easily remove the brownies from the pan, then cut, serve and enjoy!

This recipe makes 9 brownies.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Long Runs on the Treadmill

Whether it's the iced over roads, the three feet of snow that fell overnight, or the below zero temps, you're now stuck with a long run and no place to do it. Training for a spring marathon certainly poses new challenges, and sometimes there's nothing you can do but pound out the miles on the treadmill. Luckily, I've been there before, and I can honestly say it's not too terrible if you approach it right. Here are some of my tips for going long on the treadmill!

1. Find some form of entertainment- When I'm running outdoors, I can run for hours with nothing but my GPS watch and my thoughts. The treadmill however is a little different. If you are going to be running for hours in one place, you are going to need some distractions. I used my two and a half hours to watch Christmas movies, but music, an audio book, or anything distracting will work. Just make sure you pick something you know will be able to distract you for the amount of time you will be running.

2. Use the treadmill to your advantage- One of the few benefits to using a treadmill is that you don't have to worry about carrying all of your fuel on you. I took advantage of the extra space by starting with two full water bottles. One filled with regular water, and another filled with an electrolyte solution. Normally I wouldn't be able to do this with my hydration backpack, so having a shelf to put everything on was actually pretty nice.

3. Change it up- Running on a treadmill isn't as good of a workout as running outside since the belt moves for you. Fortunately you can change it up throughout to help stimulate outdoor running. I changed the incline and the speed a little every quarter of a mile to keeps things from getting too boring. You can also use this as a way to challenge yourself throughout your run since you can add more incline and crank up the speed the last few miles to hit marathon goal pace.

4. Expect to break up your run- Unfortunately, most treadmills don't allow you to run for 2+ hours. Most treadmills I have run on automatically transition to "cool down" after an hour, meaning you might have to re-start the treadmill 2, 3, or even 4 times in order to get all of your miles in. Instead of allowing yourself to fall out of your "groove", use this time to take a quick stretch break or fill up your water bottle. I personally hate having to stop for any reason during a long run (or any run for that matter) but I try to look at the breaks in between as a chance to re-collect myself instead of letting it become a nuisance.

I broke up my run 14 mile run into three chunks. (Luckily it was just 14 and not 20!)

First Set

Second Set

Third Set

5. Embrace the strange looks and stares- If you're logging some serious mileage on a treadmill, be ready to be known as the "crazy treadmill runner" at your local gym. Most people don't run the full hour, let alone start it again and again to further punish themselves. Just learn to embrace the title, because let's face it, you earned it!