Salad Towers: Salmon, Squash, Seeds & Sesame Toppers

My brain and your eyes could probably take a break from all this incessant MCM talk. Today’s a mind-taper day, and a reminder that there’s another big aspect of training – well, life, in general – that has gone mostly unmentioned here. THE EATS.

Working from home allows for more flexibility with meals. If I were in the office, you’d still see a lot of pumped-up salads, they just wouldn’t be plated quite so nicely. And they wouldn’t be consumed in the backyard sunshine – my way of supplementing lunch with some Vitamin D. I choose a salad for lunch because it ensures a huge vegetable serving, is completely versatile for flavors and toppers, and gives me a high volume of healthy foods.

WIN, Win.

Let’s walk through a basic salad construction….

I don’t consume meat or poultry, but protein is always part of the salad equation here. I opt for one or more of the following: fish (usually leftover from the night before – baked/grilled), pumpkin seeds, chopped nuts, hard-boiled egg and/or avocado.

You don’t have to have “greens” to make it a salad, but I usually do. I buy the organic mixed greens from Trader Joe’s and may mix in some raw kale, arugula and/or spinach for extra nutrients. Then I pile on the rainbow! My goal is to have at least 3 colors in my salad, which may come from peppers, onion, carrots, cucumbers, squash, tomatoes, dried/fresh fruits, avocado and/or leftover roasted veggies from last night’s dinner.

At the end, I go for a little flavor with a “dressing” of sorts. I never do a store-bought dressing, nor do I take the time to mix anything together. I keep it simple: fresh lemon squeeze, drizzle of EVOO or a drizzle of Sesame oil.

Here are a few salad towers I’ve created lately:

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The season hasn’t changed much here in California, but the display at Trader Joe’s suggests it may officially be fall. And therefore we have squash.

Tower toppers: leftover roasted salmon (seasoned with chili powder), roasted kabocha squash (seasoned with cumin, salt/pepper), chopped cucumbers, red peppers and carrots, sunflower seeds. Dressing: sesame oil.

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If there’s only one thing you takeaway from this post: you cannot have too much avocado on your salad.

Toppers: tomatoes (still farm-fresh at the farmer’s market!), cucumbers, avocado, red pepper and sunflower seeds. Dressing: lemon squeeze, salt & pepper.

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I like to have my salads with a side of brain-puzzle, too.

Toppers: baked Mahi Mahi (seasoned with dried green chile powder), chopped carrots, cucumber and pistachios. Dressing: drizzle of EVOO.

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What are some of your go-to weekday lunches?

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{MCM} Run Playlist: {I’m} Ready!

It’s never a given that I’ll run with or without tunes, but I looove me some music. Some days they join me and make a big difference, but on others the silence is more than welcomed. What is a given?  A few go-to playlists that create a party in my head on a daily basis, and provide a  much-needed boost during many miles.

Spotify nearly tops the list of “best things technology has created”, IMO.

I usually start with one song that catches my attention and seems to have a “new” beat/feel/jam, and place it at the top of its own playlist. It inspires the title and all songs that proceed it on the list.

In this case, “I’m Ready” got the party started. Starting a new training plan, in a new city, with a new approach? This fit the bill. I’m ready. (This is an improvement from Chartlottesville’s playlist, “Hurtbox”. In hindsight, very appropriately titled.) Try to listen without moving just-a-little-bit to that catchy beat – not a chance! The list that followed has been in my ears for every long run since. It’ll dance and jam with me right through 26 miles of DC*….

 Spotify_Ready Playlist

Sptofiy playlist Ready_1 

Spotify playlist Ready_2

Spotify Playlist Ready_3 

Spotify Playlist Ready_4

*For those with high attention-to-detail: no I don’t plan on running a 2 hr 55 min marathon, but I do plan on jammin’ until Kate hops in to join me!

The lists are never final – pretty good chance I’ll toss some GirlTalk in there for another boost – but this one is close. I’m feeling pretty pumped about pressing “Play” on the starting line.

Any suggested adds? Favorite hits as of late?

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Filed under marathon, music, training

{MCM} Running: The Gear

There are a lot of pieces that go into any endurance training regimen, and the right gear (for you), collectively, is a BIG piece. Huge. I’ve trained for marathons with and without a watch, changed shoes multiple times, run with and without tunes and experimented with all kinds of foods (or non-foods, depending on your opinion). I don’t think there’s only one way for each person to put the puzzle together. It doesn’t matter how you make the pieces fit, they just have to come together by race day!

For marathon #6, Marine Corps #3 (swoon), this is what works for me:

Marine Corps Marathon Gear_DOTR

SHOES: Mizuno Wave Rider – 17

I was first introduced to these kicks last fall, courtesy of Fitfluential, and haven’t veered far from them since. I’ll occasionally give my toes some breathing room with my Altras, but for comfort and distance, the Mizunos are my go-to. They also happen to have some purple, and that happens to be lovely. These shoes are light, neutral, flexible and ready for game-day.

EYEWEAR: Guideline Sunglasses – Spray (Polarized)

These are new to the MCM-training-gear family, having just popped in my mailbox a few weeks ago courtesy of the Guideline crew. I was in need of some run-friendly eyewear* with a lot of time now spent on the trails and staring into the sunrise, and these fit right in! You can barely feel them resting lightly on your nose, they don’t move a bit and are flexible (i.e. don’t dig into your head/ears). Assuming we’re not in for another hurricane warning on race-day (ah, let’s not forget Miss Sandy 2012), these are essential!

*This look is always appropriate, too.

TECH – Polar RC3 GPS-HRM

What’s that? Yes, yes I do wear a heart-rate monitor, and watch the numbers closely. Yes, that watch/heart-rate sensor decides a LOT about each run. When I race it’s a guidance, but not a deciding factor. It’s something my coach gets to dissect later and use for future computing and math-crunching. But in the months and miles leading up to this starting line, it has been an essential tool. I’m all for some tech-free running every now ‘n then, but when you want to objectively measure your progress, this is how you do it.

There are some things I love about the Polar vs. Garmin watch: ability to press lap around sections of your choice (time or distance) without affecting the auto-lap, 8 training screens providing different information/instant feedback (half of which I don’t use, but they’re there!) and a better (still not great) website for logging workouts. That said, I think each high-end GPS watch has its perks and strengths. I happen to like this one, and we get along quite well.

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Other things I carry with me on-the-run:

- Small handheld water bottle, filled with Skratch Hydration Mix (lemon)
- Larabar pieces (broken up for easy eating!)
- Shot Bloks (Margarita flavor – for easy digesting late in the run)
-  Spotify tunes, sometimes
- lululemon speed shorts (the. best.)

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What are some of your essentials?

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Marine Corps Marathon Training: The Things We Did Differently

Let’s say the training for this fall marathon actually started in January, with an e-mail to a friend-turned-coach that included some stubbornness on my end and a LOT of patience on hers. Let’s look back at life one year ago and question whether/not I’d ever choose to be tied to my HRM and the numbers and science of running? That’s a definite “No, thanks!” 

Let’s just call it like it is – things are a bit different around here these days.

- I frequent the (once-boycotted) gym, and know how to properly do a dead-lift so that I can walk normal the next day.
- I haven’t looked at, or thought about, my total weekly mileage in months.
- I have an entirely different running vocab in my brain now. (MAF!)
- I know a lot of math and science go into a sport that I once considered pretty simple. (At least I’m not the one doing it, though.)
- I ignore my pace on most runs, and usually couldn’t care less about it.

image

What does that mean? All of the following made up 16+ weeks of training in a way I’ve never fully trained for a full(-marathon) before:

imageBuilding the base, and dedicating an appropriate amount of time to the 26.2 mile distance.

image Strength-training workouts, twice each week. Exercises that focused on building the running muscles we need when fatigue really sets in.

image Running mostly by time, and allowing my heart to become more efficient so that within that time frame, more and more miles were covered.

imageKeeping stress really low, as much and as often as possible. Life stress affects training stress, which means you either progress or regress – your choice.

imagePaying very close attention to nutritional detail. See above: stress.

imageTrusting the whole process. All the time.

BONUS image: Reading through this book to do a little self-education on the training method that was running my life. Pun-totes-intended. That was a game-changer.

One thing has stayed the same: I have a lofty goal, and I’m pretty damn excited to chase it down.

Marine Corps Marathon Goal 2014

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It’s worth mentioning that this central California lifestyle we’ve adopted is also quite different than that of DC living. Our little Monterey community is slow and quiet, sunny and peaceful. Not better or worse than DC (you know I love me some District days!), but nowhere close to as busy or bustling.

Then we went and dumped California trail races on the calendar, because oh-my-god they happen all the time and we gotta run on all the dirt! Big thanks to the Coach for letting all of these sneak in there.

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And now…

My brain is absolutely in taper-mode-overdrive, dripping little doses of anxiety here and there every time I think about running for 26.2 miles yet again. It’s a funny thing our memory does – to mostly forget the worst, but remember just enough of it to invoke panic in a moment of weakness. Taper becomes a focus of pushing those moments into the dump, and being like “Brain, CHILL OUT. We know what we’re doing!”

There were so many things done differently with this training cycle, and therein lies just enough mystery for wonder. But either way, I wanted to be more dedicated, run stronger, run faster and run MAF into the ground. Check! 

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Filed under balance, cross training, learning, marathon, running, training

MCM Training: Maintaining the Machine

This past Saturday was my “Last Long-a** Run”, as defined by the Coach and our current standard for “long”. For the fourth week in a row, I had over 3-hours to kill on the run with a lot of specifics in between. My legs know the GMP well, have courted it successfully and are moving quickly to the next phase of their relationship.

I’m in that place where I think about the race and instantly feel my heart-rate increase (enhanced by the fact that I am now very well aware of when and how quickly my heart is pumping blood). I feel anxiety, excitement, nausea and impatience to just GO all in one very fleeting moment.  It’s marathon month. Before I know, it’ll be marathon week – DC, I can’t wait to see you! – and then, just like that, it’s marathon DAY and, for the third time, I’m staring at the familiar red arch.

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Photo source: csnwashington.com

Last Saturday’s run wasn’t my strongest, but I finished all three hours + thirty minutes and 22 miles. Press Stop; complete the run; instantly remember that this is possible and I am capable.

But in the middle? Oh, yep there were familiar moments of sheer panic with a few mind tricks I know all too well; remember how fatigued you feel at miles 20, 21, 22….remember how you question your sanity every time you get close to the end but couldn’t feel farther from the finish…remember how much it hurts to run for 26 miles?! I don’t, really. At least not well enough to throw in the towel. Because if memory truly served us well we’d never do any of this again. Instead, memory puts up a good fight but loses to adrenaline 10 times out of 10.

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For the next 20 days the key is to remember I’m not looking at that starting line just yet, but I’ve taken all of the BIG steps. For 20 days, I maintain, recover, build, eat and sleep. I listen acutely to every message sent from every system. I do my part in Coach K’s plan to “not accidentally kill” any part of the machine we’ve carefully put together!

And when the anxiety predictably loses its battle to my insane excitement and adoration for this race, I remember this:

mcm 2014_I Will

Doing what these legs do best – run DC.

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