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Summer Dinners + Training Updates

August 22nd, 2014 · Challenge, Fitness, Meal Planning

After my first triathlon this summer, I decided to try giving up music while running outdoors. During the triathlon, where headsets are prohibited by the USATF, I managed to get through nearly two hours of swimming, biking, and running, without it, and found myself really enjoying the quiet time. Without music you can listen keenly to your body and your surroundings. I find that I’m slower, but I think that really it’ll help me continue to build up my fitness, and more importantly, my mental fortitude. When you have nothing to listen to other than your thoughts, you have to make a conscious effort to fill your head with positivity in order to keep going strong. Last weekend I went for my longest run of marathon training so far, 13.1 miles on the coast, with nary a song nor podcast to keep me company. I did, however, have this view:

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Now, about that positivity. I wouldn’t exactly say that marathon training is going smoothly, but it hasn’t been abject failure. My long runs have all been *excellent* learning opportunities – specifically what NOT to do when running. 10 miles without food? Bad idea. You will be tired and crabby. Forget your water bottle? Good thing you brought some cash. Thank you kind people of Starbucks. Chafing under your left arm? Next time, there’s body glide. Yeah, I don’t quite know how that happened either. Fortunately, I’ve been tweaking as I go along, and each part of this adventure has me itching to continue. That’s really my ultimate goal with this marathon training: work hard toward something new, and have fun doing it.

I’ve also been doing it my own way: plenty of cross training in the mix, and as many new ways to challenge my body and mind as possible. Last Wednesday I woke up before dawn to head out to Harvard Stadium for a full tour with November Project. Stadiums are a challenging mental exercise. You head up the big steps, down the little ones, and work your way up and down, again and again, until you’ve worked your way around 37 sections. It has that hamster wheel feel to it, although working out with hundreds of other people at once makes it a spectacularly fun form of torture. My “carrot” was a 6 month old piglet named Phoebe, who was waiting to play at the last section of the day if you got your best time. My kind of motivation, and you bet I got to play with her!

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Another major piece of this marathon adventure has been fueling my body with delicious (and nutritious) foods. Here’s some brutal truth about endurance training: many people gain weight while training for a marathon. I did not want to do this! A large part of training is learning how to effectively feed yourself on long activities, as well as during your every day life. It’s easy to get into the habit of rewarding yourself with food post workout, but I’ve long tried to avoid this, because usually it’s a hard habit to kick when you reduce your milage and energy expenditure. Instead, I’ve been rewarding myself with home cooked dinners and packed lunches.  Yep, very wholesome of me. Here are a few of the best last week, re-shared from over on my Instagram.

Breakfast for Dinner. Cooked up some ground beef and onions with salt, garlic powder, and cumin. Added chopped potatoes, browned for a few minutes then added some chicken stock and covered the pan so the potatoes would cook through. Added a few extra eggs, and dinner is served!

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Seafood Mixed Grill.  King salmon, monkfish, and sea scallops, and beautiful dry farmed tomatoes I picked up at Formaggio Kitchen.

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Zucchini Noodles with Meat Sauce.  I shred, and then salt zucchini generously in a colander for 20-30 minutes. Give them a good rinse, and I usually try to wring out all the excess liquid. Usually I’ll pat with paper towels. If you have time, you can put them in the fridge for an hour to further the drying. And then just cook for 1-2 minutes in a good hot pan, and I’ll season and coat with a little olive oil. Topped with meat sauce made with Rao’s marinara.

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Dinner, Island Style. Pork chops, seasoned with salt, allspice, and garlic powder. Cooked in a little coconut oil on medium high, about 7 minutes on each side. Salad: cabbage, mango, and mint, with a dressing of lime, fish sauce, a little coconut oil for sweetness, and water.

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Crispy salted chicken leg with a carrot, tomato, cucumber and avocado salad with cumin dressing. Quick tip: to cut lots of cherry tomatoes, put away the knife, and take out your kitchen scissors!

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What’s on your table this week?

Are you training for any particular events this fall?

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Week in Fitness

August 4th, 2014 · Fitness

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Hello! I’m not quite sure how the weekend is over, but I thought I’d check in here for a fitness update, and use my little corner of the internet as an added source of accountability. I have a habit of signing up for things and then worrying about them later, which is terrible for my wallet, but great for unlocking fitness achievements that my normal brain would be wary of. Somewhere along the line I looked at my fall racing schedule which had become a tad crowded, and I thought that I’d better start actually *training* for these races.

Some of the highlights of my upcoming season include: Sharon Sprint Tri, the 200 mile Reach the Beach relay, the B.A.A. Half Marathon, Tufts 10k, and the Savannah Rock n Roll Marathon. Yep, that makes me tired even thinking about it! Knowing me, I’ll stuff in a few 5k’s in there as well, and another triathlon if I can manage it. As a self described reluctant runner, for the past few years I’ve been using racing as my race training, but I decided this year I’d at least make a go of running during the week, and I’ve taken advantage of our office track workouts to get some speed in.

Knowing that I have a good amount of miles to get in in the next few months, I finally found a new pair of sneakers to add to my rotation – these bright and happy Mizuno Wave Sayonaras from Heartbreak Hill Running Company. I knew I wanted a neutral-ish shoe with a little bit more padding than my usual minimal options, and so I tried on about 20 different pairs of shoes, and ended up with these. (For those curious, these are actually mens – I wear a mens 10 on my ski feet, which limits my color options, but the turquoise and orange are right up my alley!)

Here are my workouts from last week. I’m on a three month streak walking 10,000 steps a day, so none of my rest days are fully rest days, but I have a good base of walking to make that doable:

Monday: 10k steps (rest)

Tuesday: Track workout! 8 x 400 (1:30 rests). Mile and a half warm up and cool down at faster than normal pace. (Running with officemates at their leisurely pace is simply additional speed work for me!)

Wednesday: OLY class! Worked on cleans, hovering around 95.

Thursday: 10k steps (skipped a short run) (a.k.a. team potluck)

Friday: 10k steps (rest)

Saturday: 7.2 miles long and slow + 3 mile walk (overshot route, had to get home)

Sunday: 10k steps (rest)

Definitely some swimming and biking missing, but I’m back on the wagon this week, and hoping to get in a slightly more varied set of workouts!

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Summer Reading: Man Booker Long List

July 31st, 2014 · Books

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Ahoy! Let’s talk about summer reading. I *love* a good reading competition, even if the competition is with myself. A few years ago, I challenged myself to read through the BBC Big Read list, and have been slowly ticking off all the great books that I managed to miss out on – who knew that I’d love Jane Eyre so much, or Dune, or Steven King! I also have a b. goal of also reading all of the Man Booker winners, a literary prize given over the past 45 years to the best original English language novel published in UK. (This year, in a startling turn in the book world, the prize was also open to foreign authors, with four Americans making the long list.) Every year, the committee releases a long list, which is then narrowed down to a six book short list, and a final winner. A few weeks ago, a friend mentioned reading through the long list, and given that I was stalled in my summer reading, I’ve taken up this challenge as well.

Now, this attempt might face a few complications – I’ve had a little bit of trouble sourcing all of the books on the list, and The Dog hasn’t been published yet. I’ve gone ahead and requested most of the titles at the library, but knowing my luck, they’ll all arrive at once. I’m also committed to purchasing a fair number at independent bookstores, and given that the Harvard Bookstore has a 15% off fiction deal during summer Fridays, I have a few of these on my shelf already. Onward!

To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris (Viking)

The Narrow Road to the Deep North, by Richard Flanagan (Chatto & Windus)

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, by Karen Joy Fowler (Serpent’s Tail)

The Blazing World, by Siri Hustvedt (Sceptre)

J,  by Howard Jacobson (Jonathan Cape)

The Wake, by Paul Kingsnorth (Unbound)

The Bone Clocks, by David Mitchell (Sceptre)

The Lives of Others, by Neel Mukherjee (Chatto & Windus)

Us, by David Nicholls (Hodder & Stoughton)

The Dog, by Joseph O’Neill (Fourth Estate)

Orfeo, by Richard Powers (Atlantic Books)

How to be Both,  by Ali Smith (Hamish Hamilton)

History of the Rain, by Niall Williams (Bloomsbury)

The first book I grabbed was Richard Powers’ Orfeo, a book which I’d classify as primarily about music (and a seventy year old man accused of committing bioterrorism). Honestly, it was one of the books I thought I’d struggle to get through, so I decided that I might as well get it over with. Aside from a few eye rolls in the first twenty pages, I’ve actually been enjoying it!

Anyone else up for the challenge?

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Summer Scallop Salad

July 23rd, 2014 · Salads, Vegetables

Scallop Salad

You guys, it’s hot around here. It’s hard not to feel sluggish. And back when I was bragging a few weeks ago that the extra air conditioners didn’t raise the electric bill? Well, I lied. Or at least this month we ran them harder than ever. Today I woke up at 5:05 to make my way to November Project, and going back on my verbal with a coworker, promptly fell back asleep. The heat made me do it! I spent part of the day racked with guilt, and then got over it to go to my favorite class of the week – olympic lifting at my gym. We worked on snatch balances and power snatching. Snatches are my most dreaded lift – more reason to practice them! I’m always looking to bring power to the lift, execute an efficient bar path, and reduce my tendency of muscling up the weight, which *surprise, surprise* doesn’t work when you aim to lift heavier!

When it’s blazing hot outside, it’s doubly hot in my kitchen, so if anything is going to be cooked, it has to be quick! Here’s my dinner tonight.

Summer Scallop Salad

I’m always on the lookout for light summer salads with seafood of any kind.  Some of my favorites are Greek salad with grilled shrimp, Niçoise salad with the addition of smoked fish, and this scallop salad, which is equally good with scallops, shrimp, mussels, or lobster.

Serves 2
scallops 9 or 10 large
olive oil
tomato 1 large
cucumber 1 medium
romaine lettuce a few cups per person
assorted antipasti (optional) olives, gigande beans, crisped prosciutto, corn, feta, roasted peppers are all good!

lemon 1
olive oil
chopped fresh herbs (a handful of dill, basil)

Season scallops with salt and pepper. Heat a few glugs olive oil in a large skillet until shimmering. Add scallops, and cook over high heat until browned on the bottom, about two to three minutes. While they are cooking, go ahead and slice up a cucumber, and cut a tomato into wedges. Turn the scallops and cook for another minute, then take out of the pan immediately to avoid overcooking them! I like arranging this salad on a plate. Layer the bottom with romaine lettuce, and sprinkle on fresh herbs. Add the cucumber and tomato. Add on any extra antipasti (tonight I went for kalamata olives and gigande beans from the Whole Foods Antipasti bar). Drizzle with olive oil, squeeze the lemon wedge over top, and season, if you’d like, with a little bit of extra salt and pepper.

Some reading:

Good coaches and trainers don’t let their athletes work irresponsibly through injury. Great post by Alyssa Royse on why she kicked an athlete out of her gym.

The Man Booker Long List has been released! I’m likely going to team up with some other voracious readers to work my way through the list this summer. Anyone else in?

Also:

I’m currently signed up for B.A.A. Half, and Newton Chilly Half. Should I add Hampton Rock Fest to the mix? (Home turf race!) Maybe Newburyport Half? Do I even like running??

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New Balance Girls Night Out

July 22nd, 2014 · Fitness, Meat

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A few weeks ago, I managed to snag one of the coveted (free!) spots at this month’s New Balance Girls Night Out! The last few events were sold out before I could get on the list, so as soon as this one was posted I acted quickly to get in on the action. The events, hosted by (Boston based!) New Balance are billed as a healthy alternative to a night out on the town, and I always love getting my sweat on with a group. This time around you could choose to head out for a run, take an Equinox class (on the roof!), or a hardcore Flywheel sweat session right in the middle of Copley.

When I arrived at the New Balance Experience store on Boylston, I realized there was a bit of a mix-up – the event confirmation email said 6:30, but the event actually started at 6! The Flywheel and Equinox classes were already booked up and started, but fortunately I was there for the run, which hadn’t yet gone on it’s way! (I’ve just started a half marathon training plan to work my way up to a decent – ie: non brutal – B.A.A. Half.) Tonight I skipped out on track workout to participate, but I made sure to choose the event closest to my goal workout!

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The two folks leading the run were Joel (the experience store manager), and Kate*. We ended up just shy of a three mile loop down the Charles and around the Common, and interspersed were push ups, burpees, lunges, and other calisthenics that truthfully I wasn’t 100% up to after my race weekend. (This is a few miles less than I would have run with our office track workout today, but based on my fatigue after the first mile, that’s probably a-ok.)

After our run, we came back to the store where the party was happening – cocktails, hydration, mini burgers, and other delicious looking snacks. You could get custom t-shirts at a discount, and there were also cute swag bags, filled with a handy towel (which I needed, because I was sweaty!), some stickers, magnets, coupons, temporary tattoos, lip gloss, a usb stick with a running mix on it, and a little headband! I stuck around just long enough to say a very quick hello to some fellow bloggers, and then headed home to make dinner. I think the key to these events is going with friends – I’m so bad at making a game plan in advance, and then get totally overwhelmed and awkward trying to say hello to people without a wing-person! Yep, even if I know them.

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On the table tonight: ground beef with cumin and garlic powder, pinto beans, and a Popeye-worthy amount of spinach. And a huge scoop of guacamole, as you do.

Which activity floats your boat? Running, an Equinox Bootcamp, or FlyWheel?

*A quick aside: tonight I was wearing my much-loved Glen Doherty Cup shirt (my kayak + running race I participated in a few weeks ago.) The event was part of the Cambridge Freedom Run, and in honor of Navy Seal Glen Doherty, who was killed in action in Benghazi. This was a particularly moving race to me, and I was truly humbled to be a part of it in his honor. It turns out that Kate, leading our run, is his sister, and it took everything in my power not to cry right there in the store. Just feeling thankful tonight for meeting her.

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