nutrition ponderings and prs

I’d say I know it’s been a while, but posting once in a blue is probably the new normal around here. Even though I wish it could be a more regular thing, time is precious these days and I’ve been filling it with a lot of work, a little travel, running, yoga and other pretty fun things.

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boston spectating!

Still, I think and talk about nutrition and food so much during the day and there has been a lot of stuff going on in the news I would have loved to post about if there were, say, 28 hours in the day. But instead, a couple of sentences on a few topics that come to mind:

  • The FDA forcing Kind Bars to remove the “healthy” claim from labels: I support regulating bogus claims, but this isn’t one of them – the higher fat content in Kind bars (and reason for this action) is due largely in part to healthy fats from nuts, which are good for us! There are so many other companies and organizations I wish the FDA would focus their resources on, and Kind bars remain one of the only bars I recommend to clients (here’s a great piece from a fellow NYC RD).
  • The letter from 10 Columbia MDs urging the University to cut ties with Dr. Oz for ongoing “quackery” and Dr. Oz’s response: I’ve never hidden my disdain for Dr. Oz, and like one of the Columbia docs said in an interview, I also spend a lot of time demystifying his ridiculous advice to my patients and clients. I’m really glad well-respected professionals in the medical field are calling him out on his unresearched and untrue claims. This is an opportunity for him to become a responsible health advocate (using evidence-based research) and he’s blowing it with the current reactions.
  • Chipotle’s plan to stop serving GMO foods: the whole GMO vs non-GMO foods debate is really complicated, and I honestly haven’t done enough in-depth research on it to have a really thoughtful comment. But! I do think that any step towards limiting more processed foods from restaurants or grocery stores is a good one, and it’s highly likely that we’re better off consuming less GMO foods.

Running-wise, things are going well and I almost don’t want to talk about it for fear of jinxing what appears to be some solid progress. I ran a ~1:40 minute 10K PR earlier this month at the NYRR Scotland Run (45:35, 7:21/mile) and was really pleased with the effort and how I felt both mentally and physically during the race – positive, strong, and in an appropriate amount of pain. I hoped it meant good things for the NJ Half Marathon this past Sunday because I really wanted to achieve my goal of breaking 1:40 before transitioning to marathon training this spring.

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Spoiler alert – it happened and I ate some very delicious post-race carrot cake. Official finish time: 1:39:40, 7:36/mile and 9th place in my AG (whaaat?).  I had a great race which deserves a more detailed recap, and I’m really going to try to write that at some point this week while my runner’s high (and memory) is still intact.

running update; nyc half recap (ish)

Yeep! It’s been quite a while. I had the best intentions earlier this year, but guess I’m best at updating this blog when I’m sick and incapacitated.

So here we are, in some kind of pseudo-spring in which I’ve still been wearing two layers of gloves and tights on most of my runs, along with many other east coasters. There are some whisperings of spring, though, and the now two weeks ago United NYC Half gave us pretty decent weather (in the low 40s!). This race was an interesting one. First, I did not want to run it. I haven’t been feeling like doing any sort of regimented training most of this awful winter, and had no idea what to expect from myself. Fully prepared to give my best effort but not PR, I went out for margaritas two nights before the race, had fun and didn’t really worry about being properly hydrated or rested. I did eat some carbs the night before and managed to get to bed at a reasonable hour for a super early wake-up call.

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whole wheat pasta, tofu, kale, brussels sprouts, pesto

Even though the race started in Central Park and all I do is run to the starting line, we had to be there at least 30 minutes before the race when the corrals closed (big races… grrrr), and I remember standing in my corral, quite cold and wishing I could just take off and go home. By the time the gun went off, I was just ready to get the damn thing over with and felt pretty “meh” through the park loop (~6 miles?). Didn’t really look at my watch because the satellites were kind of screwy, and just ran by feel. I think my pace averaged around 7:50-ish. Once we were out of the park my spirits perked up a bit and I found myself enjoying the run through Times Square and down to the West Side Highway (minus the girl who was trying to make a phone call while running and cut in front of me. I was not nice to her). And, I started to think that hmmm, I may actually be pretty close to my PR (1:42:24). But whatever, just keep running.

Then something happened near the World Trade Center where there were some great crowds cheering – I remembered why I love running! And in particular, racing. Pushing yourself, doing something you maybe never thought you’d be able to do, people cheering for you – it’s pretty awesome. I felt all the feels, got a little emotional, and freaking loved the last few miles of the race. For the first time in a long time (maybe ever?) I finished with negative splits, had a nice finishing kick and PR’d by about 40 seconds.

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1:41:41 (7:46/mile) was my official time (so, pretty easy to remember..).

The post-race high was just as awesome as brunch at The Smith with some RD friends afterwards. I didn’t realize how much I missed that feeling until actually feeling it again. I’m kind of sad my training failed so miserably for the New Jersey Marathon (on April 27), but was able to switch to the half marathon and am pretty excited to have another shot at my goal (<1:40) before getting back into marathon training later this spring/summer. So that’s the plan for now, but as evidenced by my life of the past few months, it could change. And I’m ok with that too.

something to add on diets “free” of seemingly everything

A recent survey of about 500 registered dietitians asked what they (we) thought were going to be the biggest diet and nutrition trends in 2015. I love stuff like this and think it helps spark conversation among fellow nutrition professionals – a lot of us can unite on similar things that drive us nuts (for me it’s currently the whole “gluten is bad/evil/toxic” belief) and things that we love (new superfoods, acceptance of healthy fats and ancient grains, for example).

One thing the survey found is that most dietitians agree consumers receive the majority of their nutrition information from blogs and websites (and maybe even Instagram?), which leads to mass confusion as not all of this information is accurate. I’m going to take this a little further and say most of the stuff out there isn’t accurate (accurate here being nutrition information backed by evidence-based research and professional experience).

For example – how many times have you heard “gluten free”,“dairy free”, “grain free”, “soy free” or “[insert food group] free” lately? The trend of super restrictive diets seems to be growing, as is the belief that the more things you cut out, the “healthier” you are. And if a meal or recipe has lots of those “frees” in them, it’s better for you. I tend to look at it like this, though, and so do a lot of my fellow RDs – the more foods and food groups you unnecessarily (meaning, you don’t medically need to) cut out of your diet, the harder it is to get in a variety of quality nutrients. And what’s more, there is nothing wrong with any of these food groups! Sometimes I wish I could shout that from the rooftops all day every day. But instead of focusing on the (again, unnecessary) things to take away from your diet, how about all of the great, nutritious foods that can be added? Here are a few of my current favorites.

Goji berries – native to China, these little dried red berries are packed with antioxidants and also provide a healthy dose of vitamins C, A and a bit of fiber. They’re great sprinkled onto oatmeal or yogurt, added to granola or trail mix and have a sweet but not to sweet taste. A bit on the pricey side, I find them most affordable in the bulk bins at the grocery store.

Sunflower seeds – an excellent source of vitamin E, a fat soluble antioxidant that helps reduce cellular damage from free radicals throughout the body. They also contain phytosterols, which may help lower cholesterol levels and promote heart health, and are a good source of copper, magnesium and selenium. I love them sprinkled on top of salads for a perfectly nutty crunch.

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sunflower seeds on top of this winning hospital salad bar combo = perfect!

Chia seed pudding – when I was home sick last week, I spent a strangely large chunk of time trying to perfect my chia seed pudding recipe. So far, I’m working with a combination of almond milk, Greek yogurt, chia seeds, cocoa powder and coconut, but it’s still not totally there yet (I’ll share when it is!). I love this stuff, though, because chia seeds are packed with fiber, have some protein and are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which is key for healthy brain function. A small portion of this pudding is also really filling, which makes for a perfectly satisfying and low calorie snack.

Cacao nibs – pieces of raw cacao beans after they are roasted and broken down, these minimally processed bits are bittersweet to taste and very potent sources of antioxidants. They also contain some fiber and are an excellent source of magnesium. Great sprinkled on top of desserts, used for baking, smoothies or even savory dishes, cacao nibs may also give a bit of an energy boost due to the presence of a compound called theobromine, which has a mild stimulating effect.

Pistachios – packed with phytochemicals, healthy fats, fiber, protein and potassium, recent studies have found pistachios may help control body weight by promoting satiety and have a positive effect on blood sugar control. One of my favorite ways to enjoy these nuts are in this homemade granola, or simply sprinkled on top of Greek yogurt.

IMG_4623the most delicious granola there ever was

Quick running update – today is one of the first days I feel like a fully functioning human again! I ran about 7 miles on the treadmill (and now I know that’s probably my limit) because it was a bit too cold out for my recently stressed out lungs and icy from this horrendous weather. Will probably have some more ponderings on potential changes to my spring racing schedule at some point soon.

slowing down; feel-good, nutrient-packed new-to-me recipes

I can honestly say I haven’t been as sick as I was the past week in a long time – a nice flu/bronchitis combo – and it thoroughly kicked my ass. It’s still kicking my ass, as it’s hard to go outside in the cold and not become a pile of wheezing snot. That makes running hard and fairly undesirable, even for me, the stubborn as they come “I will run in anything” semi-irrational person.

Every now and then, something happens that causes me to slow down and really think about what I’m doing. Even after the first couple of days feeling sick, I would lay out my running clothes or reserve a spin bike at the gym for the next morning because, “of course I’ll feel better tomorrow! Gotta get back on the schedule!” Yeah, no. I barely left my apartment for six days except to go to CVS, Fairway and the doctor. At first it was hard and weird to really just sit and lay around all day, constantly thinking about all of the things I should be doing. Sometimes I think I automatically assume resting equals laziness, and I can’t stand laziness. But this isn’t always the case (duh). By the third sick day or so, the little light bulb went off in my head and I realized the only thing my entire body needed at that moment was to rest (and later, a sensible Z-pack).

Lesson learned: slowing things down, resting and listening to your body are always important. Another positive thing that came out of this whole apartment-confinement thing is some minor kitchen experimentation in the form of an easy, comforting soup and new-to-me breakfast – both full of feel-good nutrients whether you’re laid up on the coach or in the midst of training.

Simple Split Pea Soup (vegetarian)
Makes three large bowls or four normal-sized bowls

Ingredients
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
2 Yukon Gold potatoes, cubed
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried parsley
6 cups vegetable stock (this makes a thick soup – add an additional cup for a thinner version)
2 cups green split peas (rinsed and picked over)
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
Add all ingredients into large soup pot and bring to a simmer. Cook loosely covered for 45-60 minutes, stirring occasionally, until peas are tender and broken down. Serve hot with salt and pepper to taste.

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Nutrition fun: peas are a good source of fiber, folate, vitamin K, manganese, vitamin A (to name a few) and a surprisingly great source of protein. As with most plants, they also contain a healthy dose of immune-boosting, disease-fighting antioxidants – a perfect sick day solution or comfort food on a cold night.

Morning Oat Bowl
Serves one

Ingredients
¼ cup quinoa
½ cup old-fashioned oats
1 cup water
½ cup almond milk (or any kind of milk)
½ banana, sliced
5-6 blackberries
1 tbsp. nut butter
1 tbsp. dried coconut
½ tbsp. chia seeds

Instructions
Add water and quinoa to a medium-sized pot and bring water to a boil, simmer for about four minutes. Then add oats and ¼ cup almond milk to the water and continue simmering for 3-5 minutes, until the oats are tender and most of the liquid is gone. Transfer to your favorite bowl and add nut butter, banana and blackberries. Pour in remaining almond milk and sprinkle with dried coconut and chia seeds. Enjoy!

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Nutrition fun: oats are a great source of a special kind of fiber called beta glucans, which have been found to lower cholesterol levels and promote satiety (keeping you full for longer!) and may also help reduce insulin resistance and boost immunity. The nut butter adds a little protein and healthy fats to the mix, and the fruits give a nice boost of antioxidants and more vitamins and minerals. A perfect way to start the day, whether you’re nursing a cold or already feeling fabulous.

sick day(s), immune-boosting foods

A couple weeks ago, one of my co-workers was sick and had to stay home most of the week. I caught myself thinking, “man, maybe I could get just a little sick so I could stay home and have an excuse to do nothing and rest.” Well, be careful what you wish for (sidenote: if wishing oneself sick isn’t a sign to slow down, I don’t know what is). This past week was pretty busy, and even though I started feeling not so hot around Wednesday, it didn’t totally debilitate me until Friday night.

Not really great timing for the weekend, let alone grand plans for a good long run. In general, I probably push myself and tough it out too much, but this time I had little desire or ability to leave my apartment let alone do any sort of physical activity other than travel the ten feet between my couch and bed. Embracing the rest won by a landslide. If this was my body’s way of telling me to slow the eff down, then I am patting myself on the back because I listened whole-heartedly.

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good tea and good reading

Even though I’m a big fan of good old-fashioned medicine when needed (in this case, NyQuil and Alka-Seltzer), I also think nutrition plays a role in not only preventing silly but debilitating colds/flus like this one, but treating them. Here are a few things I’ve been trying to include in my daily eats and drinks to help get better:

Tea – a hot cup of tea helps soothe a sore through and break up chest congestion, and is also a potent source of certain immune-boosting antioxidants called catechins. I’ve been alternating between green and white teas and can’t get enough. Added bonus – hydration!

Berries – in this case, blackberries and strawberries because they were on sale at Fairway. Berries are also excellent sources of antioxidants, which help reduce free radicals in the body and may help boost immune function.

Yogurt – one of the best (and tastiest) sources of probiotics, which are key for maintaining a healthy gut with “good” bacteria. The gut and overall immune system are known to be linked, and there is more and more research coming out on the important role this good bacteria may play for overall immunity and the development of white blood cells.

Turmeric – contains curcumin, which is a known anti-inflammatory compound and may also activate immune cells important for fighting infection. I’ve been having it in the form of this recipe, which as an added bonus, is delicious, comforting and full of cruciferous veggies.

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Cruciferous vegetables – I always tell my clients to include cruciferous veggies in their diets every day because of their great fiber content and ability to promote satiety (think cauliflower, broccoli, kale and Brussels sprouts, for example). But, the breakdown of these veggies in the body may also promote the function of certain immune cells and prevent certain cancers.

Sweet potatoes and bell peppers – sweet potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin A, and bell peppers contain more vitamin C than an orange. Both vitamins are crucial for immune function, and therefore, staving off and treating that winter cold.

There are a lot more I could probably add to this list, but these are my current favorites and what I’ve typically got in my apartment (read: still haven’t really left).

One benefit of being sick – time for a little blog makeover! Let me know what you think.

2015 check-in {part 2 – running}

I spent a good amount of time after Chicago (three months ago now? Another yikes), being fairly low key with my running. I think I needed some time to not think about workouts, mileage and race times for a while, and it was nice. Actually really nice – I ran however far I felt like whenever I wanted, did some spinning, some yoga and some nothing here and there too.

Towards the end of December, the itch to run with more of a “purpose” finally started getting stronger, so I did some basic workouts like hill repeats and fartleks to help get back into the swing of things. Then I signed up for two goal races this spring – the NYC Half on March 15 and the New Jersey Marathon on April 28. Usually signing up for races is pretty motivational to get things moving with training, and for the most part, it’s working. But I’m going to be honest here and say that my motivation still kind of waxes and wanes. I think it’s partly because my training is getting a little stale. I’ve been doing the same workouts for a while, and since I run mostly alone, think that maybe I don’t push myself as hard as I should or would if I were in a group or with a buddy (Betsy moved to Brooklyn!).

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definitely have the running shoes down, though…

Case in point – my first race of 2015 on Jan. 10 (a 10K). I’m terrible at 10Ks, so that’s always in the back of my mind, and my PR is pretty crap (for me). So I thought a little one could be possible even though I have no idea where my speed or fitness is at. Long story short, I finished in 47:54 (7:43/mile), and didn’t come close to PRing. During the race – especially the first couple of hilly miles – I was pretty content with just running “comfortably” and not pushing it. It wasn’t until the last couple of miles (my fastest) where I picked it up, mostly because I wanted to beat this tall dude dressed in all black who had been flanking me for a while. I beat him by about 2 seconds, but it kind of goes to show that I probably could have run a faster race if I tried a little harder and embraced the discomfort/pain a bit more.

So where does that leave me? I’m not sure. The only way to attain different results is to change what you’re doing to get there. This advice can relate to many aspects of life (dating, travel, happiness, work, etc.) and is one of my new favorite mantras. Running-wise, I’d like to break 1:40 in the half and BQ (DAMMIT) in the marathon. That means changing up the workouts, trying to run with (faster) people more often and maybe getting some advice/guidance from some kind of coach.

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totally got homemade brunch down too – two egg omelet with veggies, baked sweet potato “fries”

Last week I did pretty well workout-wise and hit just shy of 60 miles for the first time in a good while, so I guess that’s a good start!

Monday: always an XT/rest day – I either do a spin class, yoga class, both or nothing

Tuesday: 9.5 miles, lifting at the gym. still felt kind of tired from Saturdays race, so took it nice and easy on the run. One of my goals this year is to do strength work at the gym at least 1-2 times per week to help get/stay strong.

Wednesday: 10 miles with 8x800m repeats, 400m rest in between. Did this workout on the Central Park roads and actually had no idea how quick each one was until I checked my Garmin at home. Ended up being all between 3:28-3:33, which if you listen to Bart Yasso, is right on target for a 3:30-ish marathon. I’ll take it! These felt great.

Thursday: 9 miles easy, core work

Friday: 13 mile long run, 8:35 average pace. Had to work on Saturday morning and it was supposed to be 20 degrees warmer on Friday, so got up a bit early and knocked out somewhat of a long run. Had no workout plan but ended up picking up the pace for about 3-4 marathon pace miles (8:05-8:10) and felt great.

Saturday: 8.5 miles easy, core and arm work

Sunday: 9 miles easy, wanted to hit 10 for a 60 mile week, but the roads turned into an icy mess about halfway through my run and I’m just happy I made it home in one piece. Did an afternoon yoga class with my favorite instructor that was pure bliss.

Total: 59 miles

calories {good vs bad, what 2,000 looks like}

The other day one of my clients asked me a question about foods that have “bad” calories and what they should be eating instead of those foods. I automatically flinched – one of the things I really try to get people away from is using the word “bad” in relation to food. It conveys a negative association with food (good vs. bad) and can set you up to feel like a failure if you eat something perceived as “bad.” It can also set impossibly high standards to always eat “good” foods.

Now, it’s true that some calories are less beneficial than others – those full of sugar and trans fat, for example, may not provide as much nutrition as fiber, protein and vitamin/mineral-rich calories. But, most of them can have a place in a healthy, varied diet.

The New York Times recently published an info graphic on what 2,000 calories looks like, which is the estimated number of calories the average American eats (or should be eating) daily. I don’t really like broad generalizations like this because calorie needs are so individual, but let’s go with it.

option 1: double shack burger, fries and a milkshake (2,000 calories)

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sorry, Shake Shack lovers (photo via the NYT)

option 2: home-cooked meals of fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean protein and a few cookies (2,000 calories)

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(photo via the NYT)

When you look at these images (and there are more great ones in the graphic), it’s kind of obvious how you can get the most bang for your buck when it comes what you eat on a daily basis. Not only is there way more food in the second photo, but tons of nutrients that are lacking in the first photo.

The key takeaway here is that the more you can cook and prepare meals at home, the healthier they are likely to be because you can control what goes into them. I could not agree more, and this is what I talk at length about with my clients and patients all the time. It’s almost always possible with a little planning and effort, no matter how busy you are. I’m not saying a healthy diet doesn’t consist of the occasional Shack Burger and fries every once in a while, but in general, cooking more at home is an awesome first step towards eating a healthier diet.

I’m currently loving this nutritious, easy and delicious recipe – try it!

2015 check-in {part 1}

It’s been a while! I can’t believe it’s 2015 (and that I graduated high school in 2000… yikes!). Like most people, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on the past 12 months and wondering where I go from here. Career-wise (and I guess, life-wise), 2014 was kind of a transition year – getting settled into my new career as an RD, finding fulfilling side projects in addition to my full-time clinical work and figuring out how to make ends meet with the onslaught of student loan payback time. It took a while, but I think I finally found my groove.

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started 2015 with a run followed by my favorite breakfast {sprouted grain English muffin with PB, banana, Greek yogurt, berries and chia seeds plus coffee}

I think it takes time to build confidence and knowledge when starting any new career, but especially one in the healthcare field. Nothing can really compare to getting some experience under your belt. When I first started working at the hospital, I think my outlook was kind of, “wait, I actually get to do this for real now? And you TRUST me??” Totally normal, but not exactly exuding confidence. But the good thing about my job is that you never really stop learning, and nothing helps more than just getting in there and doing it. Now with my patients, clients and colleagues, it’s more like, “here’s what you need to do, here’s how you do it. Let’s get to work.” The more I work and learn, the bigger difference I feel I’m making – that’s a great feeling. There’s nothing better than seeing real-life results from the people I work with, whether it be a client reaching their goal weight or a patient learning how to eat with their new ostomy or diabetes diagnosis (or whatever it may be). I have a lot of career-related goals for 2015, but in a field that’s ever evolving I think in general it’s just to not stop growing.

I also really want to get back into regular posting here about my favorite nutrition and running-related stuff. Even though I’ve been radio silent for a while, I have been writing lots about nutrition on other channels (links below if you’re interested!). Can’t wait to do more here soon!

Mount Sinai Blog:

Rise Blog:

In addition to my clinical work, I’m also still seeing private clients (always! more information here), and am an online nutrition coach with an awesome start-up company poised to do great things in 2015 (check it out here!).

Up next is a running update!

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First race of 2015 – check {NYRR Joe Kleinerman 10K in 16 degree weather, no less}

running lately & san fran adventures

Yikes, it’s been a while! Since Chicago, I’ve wanted to blog a bunch of times, but for whatever reason (usually busy, work-related stuff or just fun stuff) it hasn’t happened. I wanted to talk about my running and how motivated I’ve been feeling after the initial post-marathon recovery phase, and even though I was consciously vowing to run shorter distances during the race, I really can’t wait to run another one now. Funny how that works.

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New Jersey Marathon? San Francisco Marathon? NYC Marathon? All of the above?

Part of my itch to plan and start training for the next one is definitely from watching the NYC Marathon from the sidelines. Even though the wind was kind of gnarly, I totally wanted to be out there. I haven’t not trekked over to Staten Island in the pre-dawn hours on the first Sunday in November (aside from the disaster that was 2012) since 2009, and it was weird to see everything happen on TV and in person on First Avenue. Even so, it will still super inspiring to watch pros, friends and strangers tough it out that day. I tried to be a part of race week as much as possible, and volunteered at the Expo T-shirt pick-up on Friday and ran the NYRR Dash to the Finish 5K on Saturday. My sister and I were supposed to run it together (her second 5K and first NYRR/NYC racing experience!), but she broke her foot. So it was just me, a lot of foreigners taking selfies mid-race, rain and some wind. This wasn’t really a good race to “race,” because of the crowds and weird corral system, not to mention the fact that I did just run a marathon, so it ended up being a nice tempo effort and I finished in about 22:48.

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beating waldo, thank god

This week, I’m trying to get back into some light wokouts slowly and planning ahead for my next races. I just came back from an awesome trip to San Francisco and am pretty sure I want to sign up for the San Francisco Marathon on July 26. Despite the hills, the city is far too awesome and I’d love the chance to run 26.2 there (and an excuse to go back!).

When I was in San Fran, I ran three out of four mornings and about 8-9 miles each time. That’s pretty much my sweet spot lately – a decent distance but not too much (for me), and I take it as slow or as quick as I feel like. I’ve always thought NYC is one of the best running cities there is, but oh goodness does SF give it a run for its money. Not only were the runs I took down to Crissy Field and the Golden Gate bridge amazing, but my friend Jo and I took an awesome hike on some trails in the Tennessee Valley. The possibilities or where to go and run were pretty much endless, with gorgeous views wherever we went.

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could this ever get old? I think not

We also had some delicious foods! Like I always tell my weight loss clients, it’s all about balance. We ate at great vegetable-heavy, organic restaurants and had our fair share of beer, wine and sweet treats too. A few of my favorites:

Gracias Madre – vegan Mexican food. Need I say more? I love me a good vegan restaurant, and with a Mexican twist it was awesome. We shared fresh corn tortillas with guacamole, a kale salad and a bunch of tacos with fresh veggies (kale, butternut squash, mushrooms), cashew cheese and black beans. Plus margaritas, of course.

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Smitten Ice Cream – ice cream churned in front of your eyes – definitely the most rich and flavorful ice cream I’ve every had.

Plant Café – veggies until your hearts content, fresh ingredients and really inventive twists on typical foods. I had a “plant burger,” which is a veggie patty made in-house with lentils, beets, mushrooms, cashews and bulgur wheat on whole wheat sourdough bread with roasted potatoes and a green salad. Perfect refueling after our 5.5 mile hike!

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Roam Artisan Burgers – awesome fresh and all natural burgers. Jo and I both had the Farmers Market Salad with mini burger trio (turkey!) added on top and a side of sweet potato fries. It was perfection.

Suppenkuche – German beer hall with traditional German fare, and it was out of this world. My friend Jo and I split some potato pancakes, a salad with beets, carrots, potatoes and pickled cabbage, roasted trout, sauteed venison and spaetzle. And of course, some delicious Hefeweizen. I did not know what spaetzle was before this trip – basically soft egg noodles – but now I think I’ll be wanting it on a regular basis. #carbs

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The Grove – great little breakfast (and lunch and dinner) spot in Pacific Heights with a big menu and perfect thick slices of sourdough avocado toast and poached egg.

Rams Gate Winery – Sonoma winery that’s only about a 30 minute drive from SF with great wine and beautiful scenery. Super relaxing way to spend an afternoon, if you ask me.

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I’ve only been to San Francisco once before, but both times I can’t help but wonder if it would be as awesome a place to live as it is to visit. I mean, I love New York, but…

 

2014 Chicago Marathon Recap

I meant to blog again before the race, but… oops. Sometimes taper seems to last forever, but this time it flew by and before I knew it I was meeting Betsy at the airport for our flight to Chicago. We flew in the morning before the race, which looking back, may not have been the best way to spend the day as it involved some stress (bumpy flight), plowing through the expo with our heavy bags to get bibs, checking out the merchandise and embarrassing myself in front of Nick Symmonds (maybe we’ll save that for another post), going to Whole Foods for pre and post-race essentials (bananas, chocolate milk, water, popcorn, pretzels and carrot cake), relaxing at the hotel for what seemed like 3 minutes before heading out to dinner. Yikes! It was an exhausting day but we were still excited to be there and pretty much ready to run.

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flat Kelly

Race Day
4:45 a.m. Woke up, coffee’d, ate some breakfast (for me: 1 slice sprouted grain bread with almond butter, 1 banana) and got ourselves ready. We were both feeling pretty calm, and the weather was perfect – 50s and clear.

5:45 a.m. Left the hotel and immediately found a cab, as well as a nice gentleman who asked to share the cab in exchange for paying for it. Done.

5:55 a.m. Cab dropped us off right at our entrance gate, which was a relief to me as I was stressing a bit about the logistics of getting to the start village. Turns out, it was extremely well-organized, huge and actually very pretty as we were in Grant Park.

6:15 a.m. We parked ourselves at Buckingham Fountain to chill out for a bit and I ate a Honey Stinger Waffle, another banana and some candy corn pumpkins (quick energy!). The sun was rising over the lake and it was such a pretty morning. The atmosphere in the start village was like it always is – excitement, nervousness and dashes to the porto-potties.

7:15 a.m. Made our way to the starting corrals, which was easy and again, really well-organized. Betsy and I were in corral B, so we were pretty close to the starting line. Before we knew it, they were singing the national anthem, announcing the elites and telling us to GO at 7:30 a.m.

Miles 1-2: 16:20; miles 2-6: 8:01, 8:07, 8:10, 8:08
Put my Garmin on manual lap and missed the first mile marker… oops! I felt ok during the first few miles but was also trying to warm up and find my grove. Betsy moved ahead of me pretty early on, and I wouldn’t see her again for a while. The first miles in a marathon are ones I typically do not like – I’m so impatient for the race to get started already and also pretty bad about holding back. I was right around goal pace for the most part and felt not ok (but not great). Took my first gel about 45 minutes in, which was a bit earlier than previous races but I really wanted to avoid any sort of bonk.

Miles 7-13: 8:13, 8:15, 8:16, 8:12, 8:13, 8:18, 8:10
My pace was steady, but something was feeling off. My legs didn’t have the freshness and pop that I was expecting after taper, and I started to wonder if maybe we should have come in two days before the race to rest up more. Or maybe I should have tapered “harder.” Tried to shut my brain off from the negative thoughts, but remember thinking, why don’t I just train for half marathons? DAMMIT I SHOULD JUST DO HALF MARATHONS. Or 5Ks. 5ks sound awesome. My mental game was definitely a bit off, but the crowds in Chicago were awesome and the combination of people cheering and loud music was a great distraction. I also tried to think about the people tracking me (mostly my sister) every time I crossed a timing mat and hoped they were cheering from afar. Every mile that ticked off, I thought, ok, one less mile than you can fuck this up. Keep going. Took my second gel around 90 minutes in.

Miles 14-19: 8:20, 8:15, 8:22, 8:30, 8:36; miles 20-21: 17:26
Pace was slowing slightly, and I knew I wouldn’t have enough to get in there for the BQ. I’ve been in this position before, though, and knew I still had a great chance at a decent PR. I started feeling more positive and tried to soak up what was happening around me – I was running the freaking Chicago Marathon! People were cheering for me! It doesn’t really get much better than that. I also thought of one of my favorite quotes from the Boston Bombing Memorial Exhibit that I went to last year: Lace up your shoes and run for those who can’t. This quote has always resonated with me, even more so recently. I took my third gel around 2:15 in and then started stopping at water stations to drink but picked it right back up, which I think helped me mentally. Around mile 20 (missed it for the split above) I saw Betsy, who had been running a great race but started struggling. I remember saying to her, you got it, dude! as I passed. And then I thought, hmm, ok I wonder if Betsy realizes I just quoted Michelle Tanner. It’s amazing the thoughts that go through one’s mind over 26.2 miles…

Miles 22-26.2: 8:31, 8:37, 8:45, 8:34, 8:53, 8:26
From this point on, it was all about counting down and focusing on the PR. Every mile that ticked by, it was ok, just a loop around the park. And then, 30 more minutes of running, that’s it! And then 20, and so on. I didn’t feel terrible physically, but was a bit too nauseous to take my fourth gel so instead focused on Gatorade at the aid stations and continued to walk through them quickly to make sure I got it down. I kept doing the math in my head to make sure I was on pace to break 3:40, a huge goal of mine. As we neared the final (and mercilessly uphill) turn, I knew I could do it and told myself there would be no slowing until I crossed that damn finish line.

Official time: 3:39:17, 8:22/mile (PR by 3 minutes, 31 seconds)

I think I said some expletives as I crossed the line – both from the joy of breaking 3:40 and of being able to finally stop running. The volunteers were great, and my only regret is feeling too nauseas and in pain to enjoy the free beer that was offered about 5 minutes after crossing the finish line. I hobbled over to get my checked bag and waited for Betsy, who ended up with a great PR. Chicago has an AMAZING post-race party in Grant Park with live music, more beer and other fun stuff, so we hung out there for a while as it was a gorgeous day and all we wanted to do was lay on the ground.

After showering and more laying in the hotel beds eating homemade banana bread from Betsy’s mom (clutch), we headed over to meet Dani and some CPTC ladies for celebratory beers and race rehashing.

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<3 <3

So, ok. I didn’t BQ yet again. And yet again, I really, really wanted to. But, I’m not too bummed. My “B” goal was to finally see 3:3X on the clock when I finished, and I did that. I worked through some negativity and some not-so-fresh feeling legs and didn’t stop running even though I wanted to more than a little bit. Every time I run a marathon I learn so much about the distance, myself and what it takes to get through such a unique challenge. And each time, I think I’m more prepared for the next one. That’s what’s so great about running – there is always a next one.

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(but first, recovery!)