Beginning the Odd Year: 2015

The great thing about ending the year coming off of an injury is that everything just seems pretty great, because you’re hopping back to it! Sure, there’s endless paranoia and restless heart beats and a grumpy ego, but they’ll come around soon enough. Ending those two months of idleness in a place like this wasn’t so bad, either…

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The go just sat back in awe and let the island do the talking.

For the first time in months, I was active without  a schedule. I had a few guidelines (“keep it easy – do what makes you happy!”), the first of which was quietly overlooked. We stayed in Kailua, which is resort-free and full of trails, stunning shores and perfectly flat running roads. We ran to, and then up, the “Bunker Trail” (aka Pill Box Trail) multiple times. We slipped and slided our way to Mauanwili Falls (this is no joke; be ready to hose yourself down!), we kayaked the Pacific, and we chased two shockingly-quick toddlers in the sand.

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One day I ran for an hour, passing the Obama’s vacation home (NBD), and thinking “this may have been a little too long, too soon”, but not really caring enough to stop. {Insert the foolish-injured-runner’s-hand-raised!}
60 minute milestone: check!

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And so begins the Odd year. I’ve noticed that I swing pretty far on the pendulum of goals achieved and actions taken every other year. I do just enough one year to keep myself sane and feel comfortable – traveling, running, indulging and enjoying. Then I get sick of feeling sane and comfortable (and slightly hung-over), and almost overcompensate.

The odd years stand out for the latter, and this one is throwing down a cannon-ball splash right away:

After today, I’ll be 5 hours into the 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training (YTT).
Next weekend I’ll visit Austin, TX for the first time with two of my favorite gals.
In
8 weeks I’ll have a new last name.
By May we’ll have run two goal races (13.1, 26.2).

By June we’ll be starting to plan a 200+ mile hike in the Sierras.

And that’s all we know for now. I have no goals or resolutions, but there are plenty of ways I’ve committed to keeping all systems active, engaged and happily exhausted!

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Spicy Coconut Seafood Soup

Welcome to 2015! We’re settling back in after a 2-week holiday hiatus that started with a southwest venture for some family time, followed by a week on Hawaiian island time. Ringing in the new year without a hangover was a refreshing first (in at least 7 years); starting the first day of the year on top of O’ahu has got to stand for something, and I’m pretty pumped to find out whatever it may be.

One thing’s for sure: two weeks of vacation & holiday eats, treats and libations makes the comeback-to-reality a little startling on all systems.

This soup, however, did us a solid.

For our first meal back at home I scoured some simple recipes for something new. This Whole30 list popped up with some great ideas, but we had a few different things to work with – namely some Hatch Green Chile salsa that won’t last more than a week in my fridge. {THANKYOUTRADERJOSE!}

Spicy Coconut Seafood Soup
Makes 4 servings

1/2 cup heavy coconut cream
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1 tbsp fresh garlic, minced
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, divided
1 bag Trader Joe’s frozen seafood mix
1 red pepper, chopped
1/2 cup green chile salsa*
4 cups water
salt to taste

Heat the coconut oil over medium in a deep soup pan; add onions, garlic and 1/8 cup cilantro. Sauté until onions become translucent.

Add coconut cream, water, red pepper, seasonings and green chile. Mix well and bring to boil. Add seafood (thawed). Cook for 8-10 minutes, or until seafood is heated through (don’t go too long, or they’ll get all rubbery on you). Optional: mix in kale (I almost always do this with soup) and top with remaining fresh cilantro.

*any chunky salsa or even canned tomatoes works here – chef’s choice!

Coconut seafood soup 
If you want a creamier texture, alter the coconut cream: water ratio to your liking. If you want more spice, by all means, dump it in! Enjoy.

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I am (not?) patient

Now that both of our big goal races have come and gone, our laundry basket has just a few less sweaty shirts, shorts, and socks, and our calendar boxes have a few less intense workouts. This stark difference in weekly routine was amplified by my hanging out in the injured runners’ corner.I think the knee & I are close to having that little episode behind us (knocks-fiercely-on-wood), but I now know nothing is ever guaranteed!

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Things are certainly looking up. Sloooowly, but surely, we’re making progress. After learning to train by heart-rate this year, I am no stranger to long slow miles. I’m all-too familiar with the frustrations, the walking, the slowing down more than you physically knew you could slow down.

I’m still working on the patience part.
Add injury-recovery to that equation? Oof.

A few years ago, I went on a weekend retreat with a large group of DC/Baltimore lululemon fitness ambassadors (just as amazing as it sounds). We chatted, set goals, reflected on life things, made s’mores and chatted some more. One particular “session” stuck with me. I still use it in my Nutrition and Health coaching, and when I need an attitude check: we talked about declarations.

How do you identify yourself? (“I am…..”)
How do you introduce your characteristics to others?
How does your inner monologue of declarations read?

One gal offered up an anecdote that shows the power of this so simply: I own a {fitness} studio, and to create a sense of community I need to remember peoples’ names. I used to say “I’m just not good at remembering names! So I’ll probably forget yours”. But I realized that wasn’t gonna work. So, I started saying “I remember names really well”. And now I do.

Seriously. As simple as that. She just reversed her mindset. Does she remember everyone’s name ALL the time? I have no idea. But for the day’s sake, it simplified what we were aiming to achieve.

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My point? After a month of burying my heart-rate strap in a drawer and agreeing with the Coach it would be useless for a while, so we can take a break, I had to dig it out this week. On Tuesday I had it on but didn’t have to worry about it. But today I had to “keep it under 150”.

We’ll skip the gory mental details and just leave it at this: I wrote to Katie that it would be “very generous” to consider what I did today a “run”.  Maybe a shuffle, mostly a walk, but definitely not a run. It was aerobic, I’m sure, because nothing my legs could do to keep my heart-rate under 150 could be considered strenuous by any stretch. The diligent and accepting attitude I once had towards this process has faded quite a bit.

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I saw this on my walk/shuffle back home. It’s faint, but it’s there. Just like the tiny deposit of patience I continuously deplete and try to refill. By nature, I am not a patient person. But that doesn’t mean that I’m not patient. It means I can choose to work on having patience, or I can spend a LOT of time being frustrated. They’re both exhausting in their own ways, but at least the former gets me somewhere. The latter is just annoying for me and everyone else.

So, for now, I am patient. I’ll see this {lame} recovery-thing through, because I know I want to. And I know that by the time I get to reach for my puke-threshold just before the next Finish line, it will seem ridiculous that I ever thought this was difficult.

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{His} CIM Race Report: When a 45+ min PR Isn’t Quite Enough

Moving across the country together didn’t seem to up the ante enough, so we added household coaching to the mix. He signed up for CIM in July and handed the reigns to me: “Let’s see what you’ve got, Coach”. His previous marathon PR didn’t come close to justifying his running capabilities, so I set out to change that. MAF-style.

Here’s how round 1 turned out, from his perspective…

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Most of the time a PR is cause for celebration, confirmation that the effort, training, long runs, watching what you eat, and staying in every weekend was all worth it. But sometimes that excitement and satisfaction is accompanied by a nagging “what if.” What if I had taken it out slower? What if I had just pushed through the pain? What if I hadn’t let the pain win? What if I had trained just a little bit better?

This was how I felt after the California International Marathon in Sacramento.

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I was ready for this race. I had trained for 6 months. I had PR’d my half marathon 6 weeks earlier on a challenging course. I had mostly listened to my coach (aka Heather, aka “dietitianontherun”). I had stopped just going all out every run, and learned to train strategically. I thought I was ready for that Boston Qualifying time.

I needed to break three hours and five minutes, or run 26.2 miles averaging 7:03 per mile. I ran 3:10:26. At the end of the 26.2, I was relieved, happy even. It was over. I had crushed my previous PR and actually felt okay doing it.

But days later, the more I thought about it, the more disappointment crept in. Should I have listened to my coach (and her coach) and taken the first 10K a little slower? Would it have made a difference?

Mile 1: I went out and patiently ran with the 3:10 pace group—ironically the pacer who would rush past me in the last half mile of the race. I let everyone else take the first mile fast (it was all downhill), while I cruised, found a rhythm, and didn’t trip. I kept my pace, even when the competitor in me said “don’t let that guy pass you!” I stayed patient for the first 10K. After that I slowly upped the pace, reaching cruise control at just under 7:00 minutes per mile. For the next 10 miles, I thought I could hold that pace forever.

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My breathing was controlled, even as I passed people already laboring. My heart was cool, calm, and collected. Peaks on the rolling uphills, calm on the downhills. It was echoing what my coach would say, “easy peazy man – you’ve got this.” I got a boost seeing THE dietitianontherun.com (and Katie) at mile 12 where I swapped water bottles (with Osmo).

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Mile 13.1: At the halfway point, the 3:05 pace group was within sight.

Then the race before the race started. Miles 15-20: not quite close enough to think about the end, but you’ve been running for 15 miles and you’d like it to be over soon. Those around you are starting to labor. You start to wonder if, in fact, the miles are actually 1.2 miles long. You don’t see many smiles among your fellow runners at mile 18; you’re a little tired of all the people encouraging you on the side of the road, they look comfortable and happy. The number of racers on the side of the road stretching out tight muscles – or walking – is rapidly increasing.

Fortunately, the miracle of Osmo, dates (yes, real fruit!), Clif Shot Blocks, and good ol’ fashioned H20, kept my body from completely revolting for this period, and the entirety of the race.

When I had the pleasant surprise of seeing Heather again at mile 20, I gave her a nod and a “We’ll see,” recognizing that 10K was a long way, and my body was starting to ask “can we just lie down?” Since this was marathon #5 for me, I knew – and every 7th sign along the race course said it –  it’s a 20 mile warm-up followed by a 10K race. But, man, you are never ready for that race.

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Miles 20-26: My pace began to slow, first 7:10, then 7:20, then 7:27. The mohawked, neon yellow-clad dude I had passed at mile 15 caught back up. He was shooting for sub-3:00 but had long ago recognized that, today, it was not meant to be; he decided to run with me as we acknowledged “this f***ing blows.” Soon, I was completely off the saddle: 8:00, 9:16, and 8:47. See you at the finish, neon-clad dude (he finished in 3:08). We’ll talk later, Boston.

The 3:10 pacer blew by me, with none of the posse that had been with him over the first few miles. (Where did they go?) Even he didn’t look like he was having fun.

Finally, after another .2 miles, it was over.

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image image

My joints survived. My muscles didn’t feel terrible. I was just happy to lie down. It was over, and I had done well.

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How could I not be ecstatic? I blew away my previous PR of around 3:58 by about 48 minutes. Maybe it was the acknowledgement that there is still so much to learn about running strategically. Or maybe lingering questions if I was, in fact, fit enough. Or, if only nerves hadn’t had my heart knocking 95 beats per minute for the two hours preceding the race, I could have come in 5 minutes and 28 seconds faster.

In the end, my disappointment was not in the result, but in the recognition that – Oh crap, now I have to do this all again if I want to run Boston. Yes, I would have to run another marathon just to qualify to run…another marathon.

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After a few days/weeks off of running, and getting to go to CrossFit as much as I want (Coach, you can’t stop me!), I’ll be running the same old route back and forth. It’ll be back to the heart rate monitor, hour-long runs at 150 beats per minute, and nothing but my water bottle plus PTI and BS Report podcasts to keep me company.

I guess I’ll see you in Eugene, with sights set on breaking three hours.

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Filed under marathon, race report, Races, running

Outstanding in the Field: Big Sur Secret (2014)

Public Service Announcement: there’s a traveling bus, table and quirky crew that stop at farms all around the country and bring delicious dinners, drinks and desserts to you – all courtesy of local farms and chefs. Outstanding in the Field (OITF). No matter where you are, I bet they’ve come close.

Last summer, we dined with them in Whitefield, ME, and proceeded to stalk their 2014 scheduling knowing they would very likely stop somewhere near our new digs around the Bay. We opted for the “Big Sur Secret Location”…

DSCN2814 There’s not a single bad spot along Highway 1, heading south to Big Sur. The scenery stuns and amazes, mile after mile. If nothing else, we did this for the drive and the confidence that you can’t go wrong with doing anything in Big Sur. Confirmed.

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We parked about 15 minutes away (driving) from the actual spot, as there’s no parking near this hideaway. An OITF shuttle took us to/from. We arrived to the familiar bus, without the usual farm setting. We may not have been surrounded by fields of vegetation, but our table was perked right atop a cliff and backed by the Pacific Ocean. (Literally, take 2 steps away from those back seats and adios!, down the cliff you go!)

OITF Big Sur 2014

With each OITF event you’re treated to appetizers and local libations; in this case, we had freshly baked flatbread pizzas with artichokes and smoked leek sauce, sea urchin, mussels, dashi braised pork belly and Alma Rosa wines.

Chef: Clark Staub, of Full of Life Flatbread (Santa Barbara, CA)
Farms: Sea Stephanie Fish; The Abalone Farm (Cayucos, CA), Drake Family Farms.

DSCN2855 DSCN2860 DSCN2865 We were also treated to absolutely perfect November weather, comfortable in jeans and sleeves while the sun was out and as it set right behind us on the ocean.

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We dined on Abalone and seaweed soup to start (a first for these two!), fresh vegetables and herbs, and white sea bass for the main dish (fine by this pescetarian!). Our dessert was a spiced walnut cake with pine and wild fig ice-cream, and all courses were accompanied by wine pairings. Each section of the long group table is served family-style, so you get plenty of eats and friendly conversations!

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We’re already anxiously awaiting the 2015 schedule, as we fully intent to capitalize on our current California to catch this delightful crew once or twice next year. It’s a pricey ticket, but considering the full afternoon-to-evening experience, delicious local eats and should-you-choose-to-indulge beer/wine pairings, it’s more than worth the splurge.

Have you joined them for a dinner? Any location recommendations? We’ve planned a trip around this meal before and will likely do it again…

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