Saturday, March 30, 2013

a book review :: "The First 20 Minutes" by Gretchen Reynolds

I finally got "The First 20 Minutes" from the library after having it on hold for a couple months, and I sped-read through it all. Gretchen Reynolds, author of the New York Times column "Phys Ed," does a great job of holding your attention and walking you through otherwise lifeless research documentation and outcomes. The book is more scientific, albeit interesting, than I was prepared for. I was fascinated with many of the research outcomes she discusses, such as the studies on speed workouts, hydration, strength-training, and eating before workouts.

Some myths that were "de-bunked" by studies the author included that I am particularly fond of:

1. Studies indicate that stretching before a workout is counter-productive and actually causes more harm than good by decreasing strength in that muscle by as much as 30%. To go along with this, researchers have also found that when comparing runners' 10K race times, those with the tightest, least flexible hamstrings had the fastest times. Best yet, research shows this isn't bad for an individual, and there's not much benefit to being more flexible than you probably already are.

2. Studies indicate that "the most dehydrated runners in any race are the winners." Athletes have it in their heads that we need to drink x amount of glasses of water a day so that we keep our hydration up. This is fine and dandy for those who are actually thirsty and their bodies are craving it, but it's unnecessary when you don't physically feel like you want to drink. As Gretchen states, "the most widely accepted DIY method of deciding if you're drinking properly is to weigh yourself before and after a race." One physician states that hydrating levels are fine if a runner is not losing more than 2 pounds of their body weight in an hour of exercise. This was chocolate to my tongue - I would rather drink fermented pickle juice than water.

3. Speaking of pickle juice (smooth segue, ex-lax), turns out the stuff actually does muscles some good. The author brings up a study done on the juice and it easing muscle cramps within mere seconds. I can dig it, but I might have to invest in a mini-bedside-fridge for those late night charlie horses.

4. Core work isn't as great for athletes and originally thought. (Obviously not so true if you're a professional body building competitor.) The studies indicated in the book had resulted in athletes with stronger cores doing no better at certain exercises (sprints, vertical leaps, shuttle runs, etc.) than those with weaker cores. However, core strength exercises such as the plank, lunges, and push-ups are still very much in the game. Apparently a women in her 20's is supposed to be able to complete 36 push-ups (and I'm not talking "girl push-ups", and that title needs to go), a number that my arms laugh at because I collapse after 16.

I realize those are some hefty words, so I'm really curious to hear what you guys have to say about the above matters. While it is tough for me to swallow the results from those studies after trying all my running years to drink more water! Stretch all the the time! Carbo load! It does soothe my brain to remind me that us humans, our bodies, are adaptable. I really do believe that they're smarter than we give them credit for, and stronger, too.

Exercising probably doesn't require all this extra science and forethought. Just get out, jump rope, lift weights like you mean it. Drink water if you're thirsty. Maybe take a shower. Listen to your body and just be.

Poster source:

Has anyone else read "The First 20 Minutes"?

Thursday, March 28, 2013

thoughtsday :: 3.28.13

Hi there! This has been quite a weird-o week that I haven't been able to get a good grip on. Between myself being sick, our furnace deciding to give up on life, having a slumber party at my parents, and then my husby getting sick it's all just been a little slippery around here.

Just when you think you have complete control of a situation (which we never do), the blindfold is pulled back over your eyes and you're wearing your mom's snuggly socks taking Nyquil on your parent's couch.

But honestly, it's sort of a good time to have our routine switched up a bit. Sometimes I feel entirely too calculated and type-A with my actions, so it's a nice reminder that I can go with the flow and actually embrace it.

Plus, ain't nothin' got somethin' on mom's fuzzy socks.

Onto some thoughts!

1. Homemade pho: it's the only thing I want when I'm sick, and it is so easy to make! All I did was boil 6 cups of water with one cube of Pho broth, which I found at an Asian store. Once that got to boiling, I added in cellophane noodles, but I'm sure you could easily use any kind of rice noodle. I also added in broccoli and a white onion, cut in thick slices. Once the veggies were done, I stirred in kale and turned the heat off and seasoned it with tons of Siracha.

It soothed my throat like no tea can, and the spice helped make my clogged nose start running, which I actually appreciated. Plus, my woozy stomach was a happy camper because rice noodles are so plain and the broth helped fill me up without making me feel overly stuffed. And now, this is all I have on the brain for dinner. Focus, focus, focus...

2. GARDEN-PLANTING! I have all sorts of big plans for planting a nice-sized garden using both our small entry-space plot of dirt and containers on our back porch. It's a little elaborate but I'm really hoping to pull it off. I read Barbara Kingsolver's "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" last year and it really resonated with me. I definitely recommend it if you're interested in learning more about eating genuine, salt of the earth, locally-sourced food.

3. Marathon training: I'm hoping it's because my health hasn't been the best the best this week, but I have had zero motivation to go running. Surprisingly, despite being sick I have kept up with my runs, but it definitely required a strong positive mindset and a good dose of caffeine. I feel almost back to normal today, so hopefully tomorrow I will be ready and raring to go. If not, I suppose lack of motivation is another trait of marathon training that I'll have to push through.

Do you exercise when you're sick?

What is a meal or dish that you would rather make at home than go out for?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

VEGFEST 2013! :: Seattle, WA

One of my favorite events of the year was on Saturday - VegFest! It takes place every March in Seattle, but I'm sure every state has one of their own (at least I hope so!). Ours is put on by Vegetarians of Washington, and is basically heaven by way of samples.

I briefly wrote about it for my weekend recap, but I wanted to write a separate post reviewing some products that are brand new to me! While this was only my second year (of many) attending, it's easy to see that there will be different trends each year. You can count on trying dozens (seriously, 12 upon 12 upon 12) of faux meats, cheeses (I tried a macadamia nut one - and it was good) and new chips or protein bars, but you never know what will fill in the cracks as the new up and coming hot items.

Last year it was healthified gluten-free options, sweet items (such as bars, cookie, etc.) made with beans, and chia seeds. Oh, and Kombucha! There was a lot of that.

This year, it was juices (for going on a juice diet), probiotic drinks and savory teas. The popular BluePrint cleanse was there, in addition to a couple other companies. There were also two juicer demonstrations, which unfortunately I didn't want to take advantage of because it would have taken me 3 years to get to the front of the line. I have pounds of soy to eat, crazy wait-in-liners.

I was really surprised to see how many Probiotic drinks there were; I would say three tables, which was three more than last year. I tried all of them, and have to say that I would not choose to drink one unless I was on anti-biotics. They were pretty flat tasting, even the one that was carbonated. However, I should also mention here that it reminded me of Kombucha, which I am not a raging fan of either. Both are fermented and have that sour taste, so if that's your bag then pro-biotics might be as well. Kevita was one of the companies, so if you feel like you need some biotics in your life, check them out.

Lastly, SAVORY TEAS. Oh my gosh. They are basically like veggie broth, but have different veggies mixed in that can get pretty strong and pretty fabulous tasting. When I first saw Millie's sign for "tomato basil tea" it threw me for a loop (literally, I walked straight away from it to find more fakey cheesy) but luckily my curious sister pulled me back.

It is really good stuff, and I guarantee you would like it if you're a fan of pho. It's just like drinking that last bit of broth, after all the noodles and veggies and flavors have hung out together in that hot bath and it has that amazing taste that is never the same as any other "last pho taste" you've ever had because all the ingredients and portions are different.

The tomato basil is killer, which I had after breakfast this morning and it soothed my slightly queezy stomach (thanks, 21 runs). I also had the broccoli cilantro flavor after lunch, which had a strong cilantro and spicy kick to it. The tomato basil won in flavor, because of both the ingredients and because the teabag lasted longer and produced a stronger taste.

I got a coupon for both Numi and Millie's Savory Teas and will have to keep you posted on what flavor I end up getting.

Oddly enough, I was all about the beverages this time around. That's not to mean that there wasn't incredible food there, but there wasn't anything that I hadn't already seen before. I've been majorly into Chai tea lately, and was hooked the second I tried this stuff:

This is the best chai I've tried in a long time, and it has way less sugar than many other brands. My stomach doesn't like the chai tea bags, so I was really happy to find a  powdered version that is a quality morning beverage instead of dessert. (Quality morning beverage = not too sweet and caffeinated. BINGO.) My sister and I both got a box for $5, which I thought was a great deal.

Oh, there also were these amazing sunflower seed spreads by a company called viana. Not only were the spreads amazing, but their veggie gyros and cowgirl steaks were to die for. I'm pretty sure their table was 50% to blame for the intense full belly I had when we finally rolled to the ferry.

And that's why I gained 8 pounds this weekend. I'm sure celebrating two birthdays on Sunday had nothing to do with it. ;)

Have you tried a savory tea? What brand, and what did you think?

Are you a fake meat eater?

Monday, March 25, 2013

Hanson Brothers Marathon Training :: Monday Marathoning 3.25.13

That's a wrap for week 8! It's been an off/on week due to this annoying sciatic nerve pain that had completely disappeared after emerging for my first marathon back in October. I think my 14-miler that I ran last weekend might have something to do with, as my new shoes are still feeling comfortable. I can't figure out what triggers it to act up since some runs have been fine and others it's shooting pain for a few minutes at a time.

I've tried out some new stretches, so hopefully those will start to show some improvement. I haven't let it get me down too much - the good thing about it is that I know I can run through it and it won't make things worse, unlike an injury or muscle pain.

Here's what went down:

Monday: 5.86 miles, 8:42 pace
Speed work on the treadmill! .5 mile w/u, 2x1600's, 2x800's, 6:30 pace, .5 mile c/d
6.10 miles at marathon pace; 7:57
5 miles, 8:25 pace.
10 miles, 8:19 pace.
6 miles, pace unknown - didn't wear my watch

 Here's what to expect this week:

weekend happenings :: 3.24.13

Saturday morning birthday cake baking, consisting of a cookie dough layer, followed by a double dark chocolate ice cream layer, followed by peanut butter frosting, followed by a chocolate drizzle. Let me tell you, this turned into a fanTAStic cake! It's crazy weird to believe that it's 100% gluten-free and vegan, but it works.

Three things I need to say about this cake: 

1. The ice cream layer tastes like coconut, due to the coconut milk (weirrrrd.) If you're not into that, I"m sure you could use another type of"milk."

2. The parchment paper stuck to the bottom layer like a mofo, so I'm just going to give the pan a good oily spray-down next time and forgo the paper altogether.

3. The cookie layer on the bottom was the BEST. I'm going to make it another time and eat it all by itself, because it deserves such attention.

Saturday afternoon was a sunny ferry ride to Seattle for VegFest 2013!

So many killer sample. I went with my sister, and this was our lunch AND dinner.

Veg swag.

Sunday morning started out with a nice (albeit 19 degree) run. Love those sunrises.

Sunday afternoon was spent birthday party-ing! We went to Azteca for my mother-in-law's celebration, and then hopped over to my parent's for a BBQ to honor my sister's big TWENTY-FIRST birthday. Crazy. How did that creep up so fast?

I wish I would have gotten more pictures but my phone is out of space (not-so-perfect timing). So I should take care of that today.

Is Spring starting to sprout where you are?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

thoughtsday :: 3.21.13

1. Homemade salad dressing is the BOMB! Last night, I mixed a zesty concoction of Siracha, BBQ sauce, and apple cider vinegar up and poured it over roasted sweet potatoes, beets, cilantro, sunflower seeds, butter lettuce, nutritional yeast, and broccoli. My taste buds were siiiiinging.

Here are some other salad dressings I've got my sights on:

Ginger Orange Dressing

Fig Balsamic Dressing

Lemon Sesame Dressing

2. Laughing so hard it can be considered my ab workout. Note that I said "my," because my abs are weak as sin.

These will do the trick.  Some of these will work, too.

3.Feedly, my new bloggy assistant. I realize I was a little dramatic when I found out that Google Reader was done for. I love the simplicity of it, and the fact that it's directly attached to my Gmail account. But then, there were some recommendations for Feedly (thanks, Kim!) and I think my heart has been revived. I've only been using it the past 24 hours, but thus far it's easy to tell that Feedly is sleek, user-friendly and -the best part- snatched all my Reader subscriptions over to it, including all my "starred" posts. I'm excited to go in and create new categories for the sites I follow, which is something Reader wasn't capable of. Ohhh snap, Reader.

Tell me about what's going on in your head these days!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

what I ate wednesday :: 3.20.13

Here we go again! I had such a great time partying with Jen last week, I had to come back for more. Since last week I showed you what I ate on a day that I wasn't running, I figured I should probably show what a day of eats looks like when there's some exercise involved.

This was Monday's food selection, which was also the day after I ran 20 miles in a weekend and had to run another 6 miles later on that night. Appetite = raging.

Breakfast :: 6:30am
Bowl o' oatmeal and a sliced apple for dipping purposes. With a large cup of the best tea in the world.

Morning Snack :: 9:00am & Afternoon Snack :: 3:00pm
A fruit and nut energy bar.

Lunch :: 11:30am
A salad monster, complete with some chickpea salad, an apple, nutritional yeast, and ginger dressing.

Dinner :: 6:00pm
Veggie red curry with cauliflower rice. ("Rice"=I cut the cauliflower into florets, pulverized it in the food processor, then steamed it.) For consisting of mainly veggies, this was incredibly filling and lasted me a solid 12 hours until breakfast the next morning.

What is a fruit that you could eat every day until you die and never get sick of?

Are you a fan of Thai food? What's your g-to dish?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Hanson Brothers Marathon Training :: Monday marathoning :: 3.18.13

That's a wrap for week 7! I feel pretty good today, despite running my first 14-miler in a few months on Saturday. Contrary to the picture below when it hailed on me, we've had gorgeous weather the past few days, which is nice and spirit-lifting.

Here's what went down:

Monday: 6 miles, 8:38 pace.
Speed work on the treadmill! 1 mile w/u, six 800's with one lap jog between each, 1 mile c/d.
7 miles at marathon pace; I averaged 7:56/mile.
5.25 miles, 8:34 pace.
14 miles, 8:14 pace.
6.16 miles, 8:39 pace.

 Here's what to expect this week:

I've realized that tiredness has been weighing me down this past week, which I think means I need to drink more water. This may or may not be due to the fact that I don't drink water. (Intelligent, thought-provoking conclusion, no?) It's flavorless, it makes me burp (anyone else with me on that?) and unless I'm really craving it or trying to balance out my wine consumption, I would really rather care about not drinking it.  

Too bad there's this nasty rumor going around that apparently I need to drink water to remain healthy.

Too bad that's not even a rumor and it's totally true.

Too bad my bad self is going suck it up and buckle down with the H20 this week. 

Wish me luck! How do you get your water in throughout the day?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

weekend happenings :: 3.17.13

Friday night Homemade Happy Hour, which was my friends and mine attempt at greatly partaking in Happy Hour while walking away not fretting about how much you really did not need that second hummus platter or glass of Riesling.

Guess what? It was a success! Not so much of a surprise when you get 3 girls together that can chat the roof off any old place while partaking in snackage and vino. We went the healthy route (and failed to plan ahead and do a St. Patty's Day theme) and had homemade red pepper hummus, veggie and bread dippers, a sampling of TJ's dark chocolate, and 2 bottles of wine. I foresee the future success rate for such an activity being 100%.

For future reference, the winner for "Best Taste" went to the Swiss 72% Dark (middle, neon green). This was the only one that had Madagascar Vanilla in it, and twas bomb. The "Best Nutrients but Has Weirdest Coffee Taste" went to the Organic 73% Dark Chocolate (left purple). It was a bit thicker, had less calories and fat, and had a strong coffee taste to it. Unless you have wine that you can swish around after each bite, it might only be good for one square. The Fair Trade Belgian was a little insignificant, and just tasted deliciously dark.

Saturday morning = long run biznass: 14 miles, 1 Vanilla GU, and 0 raindrops.

Saturday afternoon = party hopping: Scott had his aunt's 90th birthday, which was briefly followed by our niece's 5th birthday party, which was followed by dinner at a friend's new house. Like the alert documentor I am, I didn't take any pics of any of these events, but I do have these important three things to share:

1. My sister-in-law will be making all of my children's sweet treats for any of their celebrations. Hers looked a little like this:

2. Portobello mushrooms are really tasty when they're sauteed and stuffed in tacos - even meat-lovers love 'em. How have I not tried this?

3. "Card Against Humanity" is the worst and best game ever. It's R-rated, so be careful.

Sunday for St. Patrick: Included church, errands, and some greenish soup. I use this recipe all the time (seriously, it's SO good) but just use whatever veggies I have in the fridge so it changes weekly. Tonight featured sweet potatoes, carrots, cabbage, and broccoli.

Who ran a St. Patrick's Day race? How did you do? I saw so many fun race pics on Instagram (Instaddicting!) - I'll have to jump in and partake next year.

Did you have any green eats? Beer totally counts.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

thoughtsday :: 3.14.13

1. R.I.P. Google Reader...if this is true, then R.I.P. Brittani's beloved morning ritual.

and there goes my morning ritual. (Did anyone else take Philosophy in college, or did that just sound like the Pope speaking Latin to you?) I have until July to cherish my beloved RSS feed, and then all my bloggy updates will need to fit into a new home. Any suggestions?

2. Cracked, dry, and irresponsible broken fingernails. Thanks for that, winter. Hardly any snow you gave us, yet your chill is still managing to ruin my nails. I've been using this Sally Hansen business for probably, oh, 3 months, and not much as changed. I don't like it a bit, but I suppose there are worse things, like getting my head chopped off or running out of chocolate. So yeah, brittle nails aren't the absolute nightmare I originally thought when writing this.

3.Homie Homey Happy Hour: That is, a happy hour served at a friend's home. That is going down tomorrow evening, and I'm so ready. This is the first time we've done this, but I think it's going to be a hit. My girlfraaaands and I figured out that this could be the magical way to maintain happiness while still budgeting monies.

On the menu for tomorrow: wine, chocolate, fruit, dips, dippables, and wine.

What do you and your friends typically do for fun?

How do you keep track of blog updates?

Any ideas on how to manage bad nails?

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

what I ate wednesday :: 3.13.13

Welcome to the first edition of "what I ate Wednesday"! (AKA "I will be that awkward girl that takes pictures of every morsel of food that passes her lips.") While I truly did feel ridiculous being caught taking a photo of my chai tea by "Pest Man in the Truck" today, I am happy to jump on board with this series.

Looking at, reading about, and eating food is a dear hobby of mine, so naturally I love to see what others are chowing down on around different parts this wild world. I've found some great ideas and inspiration checking others' eats, so why wouldn't I join in on the fun?

Here is a Tuesday's day of food stuffs, which is slightly different than normal. Typically, Tuesdays are my speed workout days when I run an average of 7 miles and have a beast of an appetite. Today, however, involved a lot of "taking care of business" items (the joy!) so running will resume on track (ooo, see what I did there?) today.

Also, I got to eat all 3 meals at home, which is highly unusual. Every other day lunch is sloppily shoved into my mouth at rocket pace, but today I was able to take a nice little lunch break at home. That's a win!

Breakfast :: 6:30am
The last Saturday morning waffle, complete with peanut butter, banana, a syrup smidge and tea.

Morning snack :: 9:45am
Chai tea made with water. I finally told myself I need to budget my barista-made coffee/tea and now limit my addiction to $20/month...umm, it's been ridiculously easy. This was my first one for March - $17.25 of addiction-feeding left!

 Lunch :: 12:00pm
Salad mania, with the contents being: romaine, roasted broccoli stalks, roasted sweet potatoes, roasted chickpeas, vegan parmesan cheese (nutritional yeast/almond mix), craisins, and a balsamic vinaigrette dressing. Apple with cinnamon and a large H20 on the side.

 Afternoon snack:: 2:30pm
One of these delicious buggers.

 Supper :: 6:00pm
Oh whatdoyaknow, another salad monster for the salad monster. This one starred romaine, stir-fried eggplant skins (no, I don't throw any plant article out) with carrots and garlic, roasted chickpeas, vegan parmesan cheese, craisins, sunflower seeds, homemade zucchini relish (thank, Mom!), oregano, cilantro and a artichoke/balsamic vinaigrette. And a tall drink of water (no, it was not Ryan Gosling. He remains in my dreams.)

 Evening Snack :: 8:00pm
The "Life-Changing Bread" from My New Roots. Life = changed.

Thanks to Jenn at Peas and Crayons for the hosting of this faaaabulous series!

Do you ever find yourself craving salad? It's off and on for me, but obviously today that craving was turned UP.

Are you a 3-meal or 5-meal a day kind of person?

Monday, March 11, 2013

Hanson Brothers Marathon Training :: Monday Marathoning 3.11.13

That's a wrap for week 6.While my legs are constantly tired, with the exception of the day after my rest day, I feel like I'm getting stronger and and my endurance is building. My mentality has also gained some strength, as it is not the least bit easy to go out for a run with legs that feel like lead. Good thing they warm up after the first mile or so - that combined with a little mix of self-talk and thoughts of a snack attack afterwards make runs go by pretty speedy.

Here's what went down:

Monday: 6 miles, 8:39 pace.
Tuesday: Speed work on the treadmill! 1 mile w/u, six 800's with one lap jog between each, 1 mile c/d.
Thursday: 7 miles at marathon pace; I averaged 7:49/mile.
 Friday: 5.83 miles, 8:22 pace.
Saturday: My watch decided it no longer wanted to work halfway through my 10-miler, so according to technology I averaged 16 minutes/mile. How humbling.
Sunday: 8 miles, 8:36 pace.

 Here's what to expect this week:

How do you mentally prepare for long runs and/or motivate yourself on tough runs?

Sunday, March 10, 2013

weekend happenings :: 3.10.13

Saturday morning waffles! I snatched my parents waffle maker straight away from them in order to satisfy a deep, ceaseless craving for waffles. There's something so unique about them that sets them apart from pancakes - you gotta love the melting "butter" in those little holes. Oh, and don't even get my started on the fruit/syrup combo.

Saturday run, read, and SUN! The Pacific Northwest got a little taste of spring, which I feel guilty for mentioning when so much of the country is still covered in, what is that called again? Oh, SNOW. I'm sorry, guys. Unless you're enjoying it, then AWESOME!

After my 10-miler, Scott and I took a nice long road trip on some Northwest backroads that we haven't driven down in years. It's easy to forget about all the pretty we're lucky enough to be surrounded by, and MAN, it was a great day for exploring.

I was, to say the least, STOKED that our little trip ended up at our favorite Thai restaurant, Sawatdy in Bainbridge Island.  100% unplanned, 100% devoured.

Good thing the library has extended checkout. This might take me until November.

Scenes from Manette bridge.

Seattle, Mount Rainier, and beyond.

Sunday as a down day. It went church, visiting family, prepping food for the week, an 8 mile (back to the rain) run, and dinner. However, dinner's big find was vegan parmesan cheese! Behold the glory:

Chyeah. Tell me about it. I used it to top our veggie lasagna, which is cooling from the oven as I type. I just blended whole almonds, cashews, and nutritional yeast until it got to be the right texture. (Here's a similar recipe to what I used.)I didn't measure anything out, just added more nuts if it wasn't as crumbly as I wanted it to be. I'm thinking it will also be a great substitute for bread crumbs, since we're all gluten-free like that.

What wild adventures did you partake in this weekend? Keep in mind, "wild" is all your perspective. Did you read a whole book? I love how crazy you are! ;)