My New Favorite Day

In college, I used to dread Sundays. I would wake up around noon (still feeling the effects of Saturday night partying) and have a ton of things to do before the day ended: papers to write, chapters to read, lab reports to finish, a long run with the cross-country/track team, and maybe some laundry.  But over the past few years, Sunday has become my favorite day of the week. I’m a total Grandma and don’t really stay out late anymore, so waking up at a decent hour is no problem. I’ve also learned to love long runs because they’ve become something I want to do rather than something I have to do. Oh, and I don’t have homework anymore. That’s pretty sweet! So I’ve decided,  Sunday is my new favorite day!

Favorite day started off with a walk to Dunkin’ Donuts for a latte lite. Love.

morning latte

And then it was time for oats in a jar. I had about 1-2 Tbs of almond butter left at the bottom of the jar, so I made stovetop oats and then added the oats to the almond butter container. The hot oats melted the almond butter and everything mixed up quite nicely!

  • 1/2 cup oats made with 1 cup water, splash of milk
  • sea salt and cinnamon
  • sliced banana
  • 1-2 Tbs almond butter
  • a few chocolate chips

Oats in a jar

My oats were perfect fuel for a long run! The weather was so amazing in NYC yesterday – sunny and 68 degrees when I set off for my run. I stopped around mile 6 to stretch out my ache-y IT band, but other than that I felt strong throughout my 12.5 mile run. I finished in 1 hour, 49 minutes which is about 8:45 per mile pace. If it weren’t for time constraints, I would have run longer! Love this weather. Can we just skip January, February, and March?

Central Park[source]

I foam rolled and stretched and then re-fueled!

  • 1 cup plain Oikos greek yogurt
  • chopped apple
  • 1 Tbs peanut butter
  • 1/2 Kashi crunchy granola bar

Yogurt Mess

And a clif bar on the way out the door!

Clif bar 

I met Katie for 5pm yoga and the same instructor from last week was teaching class. I love, love, love this teacher. Her core sequence is killer, but the deep stretches and the instructor’s mind-body philosophy more than make up for my sore abs. I don’t think it would be cool to take a camera into the studio, but I wanted you all to see what Yoga to the People looks like, so I pulled an image off of their site (thanks http://yogatothepeople.com). If you’re in the NYC, San Fran, or Berkeley areas, you have to check out this studio. I think the instructors are great and I love that the classes are donation based. Sometimes I have more money in the bank account, sometimes I have less, but I can always manage a donation for a yoga class. And that’s a very good thing.

Yoga to the People[source]

*Note for those unfamilar with yoga: this photo makes it look like the class is worshipping an altar or something, but they’re really just in child’s pose (a gentle, resting pose).

After a quick stop at Trader Joe’s (madness on a Sunday evening!), I dashed home to start laundry and dinner. Before I got down to business, I had a small snack: 1/2 whole wheat sandwich thin with Greek olive hummus.

Hummus

And then for the next 2 hours I cooked risotto. Yikes. This recipe was A LOT more labor intensive than I expected. The results were pretty good and I have a ton of leftovers, but I’m not sure I would do this again! But just in case you have a lot of time on your hands, I’ll post the recipe. Note: I improvised and used ingredients that I had on hand, so feel free to use different kinds of cheese, wine instead of beer, or arborio rice instead of brown.

Megan’s Pumpkin and Cheese Risotto (adapted from a Millenium Knickerbocker Hotel recipe)

Ingredients:

  • 1 small onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1.5 Tbs olive oil
  • puree of one small pumpkin
  • 1/2 can of pure pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/2 cups short grain brown rice (use arborio if you have it)
  • 4 oz cottage cheese (or you could use goat cheese)
  • 2 laughing cow lite cheese wedges (or you could use Parmesan cheese)
  • 5 cups hot water (or chicken stock)
  • 1/2 cup beer
  • bay leaf
  • 1/4 tsp pepper, 1 Tbs salt
  • 1 Tbs butter

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Directions:

  • Steep bay leaf in 5 cups of very hot water.
  • Heat olive oil in large pot and saute rice, onions, and pumpkin until onions are translucent and rice has nutty aroma.
  • Add garlic and saute briefly.
  • Add beer and deglaze the pan.
  • Remove bay leaf from hot water and discard.
  • While stirring rice mixture with a wooden spoon (vigorously!), add one cup of hot water at a time until rice absorbs all water.
  • This is where I started to freak out – my risotto was taking a very long time to cook. I was stirring and stirring and going to the laundry mat to pick up my laundry stirring non-stop for nearly 50 minutes before everything started to come together. I realized this was because I used brown rice and the original recipe uses white arborio rice which has a much shorter cooking time. This is what I get for trying to be healthy…
  • Anyway, after your rice has finally absorbed the water and is al dente (soft, but chewy), add the canned pumpkin, salt, pepper, and cheese.
  • Before serving, add Tbs butter and stir until melted.
  • Allow the risotto to sit for a minute or so before serving and then enjoy over spinach or mixed greens.

pumpkin risotto

pumpkin risotto

After dishes and laundry folding, I was ready to pack it in. Phew, what a night of domesticity!

I finished up my Sunday with an episode of Mad Men, a glass of milk, and 2 white chocolate pumpkin cookies. Perfect.

cookies and milk

Don’t love running? Neither did Matt until he discovered the beauty of the trails. Check out the new Running Shorts article on True/Slant for the whole story!

Cursing the alarm clock every morning? Read these tips for getting the restorative sleep you need.

Question: What’s the most labor intensive thing you’ve ever cooked or baked?

Welcome to the Speakeasy

What a weekend! Prepare yourself for a monster recap :-)

Saturday started off with the usual cup of 1/2 decaf and a banana. Perfect prep for a long run with my beantown running buddy.

Quick breakfast

Hannah and I ran a lovely 9 miles through Central Park and I was pleasantly surprised at how good my IT band/hamstring felt (must have been the day off from running on Friday). As soon as we finished I had to shower and hustle out the door for a meeting downtown.

I grabbed an apple and a vanilla Chobani for the subway ride. I got some weird looks for taking photos of the food in my lap…

chobani

I had a morning meeting with some folks from Nike – a shoe designer and some marketing reps. A small group of NYC runners met with the Nike team to discuss training shoe design – and I snagged a free pair of racing flats! These babies won’t go on the market until January, so I was psyched to get a sneak peek.

Nike Prototypes

My stomach started growling mid way through the group meeting (hello, 9 miles), so I snacked on a clif z bar and some raisins.

snacks

And then I met up with Ms. Hannah and a blog reader (Hi Rachel!) for a tall skim decaf 1 pump pumpkin spice latte. It was even better (and more high maintenance) than usual.

Starbucks

Hannah and I procured some very essential Halloween accessories and then walked across town. We were in need of a mini-meal and the Whole Foods salad bar seemed like a good option. I filled a small take-out container with lots of veggie goodness. I don’t remember exactly what I put in there, but it was a mix of beans, beets, brussels sprouts, and other roasted veggies.

whole foods salad bar

The rest of the afternoon was spent preparing for Halloween night!

A princess, a marathon runner, and a flapper.

Except Alma’s ensemble was for real – she ran the marathon this weekend!

Halloween

We ventured to the E. Village (dodging a 7 foot tall hamster wheel costume on our way…) and met a few friends at a place called Quantum Leap. The restaurant is famous for their veggie burgers, so I made Hannah stand under the sign (in the rain). What a good sport :-)

Quantum Leap

Our dining companions were Mario and Luigi.

Mario and Luigi

Quantum Leap

Along with a pumpkin ale, I enjoyed the “fire rock burger”. My juicy veggie burger patty was topped with jalapenos, onions, mushrooms, tomato, and chipotle mayo. The burger also came with soy bacon, but I took that off because I think it kind of has a weird texture.

Pumpkin Ale

Plus a side salad and the BEST garlic fries ever.

Quantum Leap

We were all pretty full after devouring our burgs so we ordered another round of drinks and lingered at the restaurant for awhile. In true prohibition style, I ordered a diet coke and slipped in some of my own Jack Daniels.

And then it was time for more Halloween celebrations. The village was absolutely crazy last night – the weather was beautiful and the costumed crowds were out in full force. A bunch of us found our way to Mud Coffee – coffee shop by day, bar by night. I really liked that we were able to hang out and talk without having to shout. It was a very chill atmosphere and the scene reminded me of a speakeasy – a perfect pairing for my flapper costume and smuggled whiskey.

Maddog and Jonah

Flapper

Halloween

Speakeasy

Mud Coffee

Hannah and I got home pretty late and after chugging some water and nibbling on some (un-pictured) pumpkin cookies, I crawled into bed. It was a very fun night, but it definitely involved a later bedtime than I’m used to!

Stay tuned for part 2 of my weekend recap…Marathon spectating, a GIANT red velvet cupcake, and quite possibly the best yoga class ever.

Autumn Miles

Despite Saturday’s rain and wind, I managed to fit in quite a few fun activities. I started the weekend early with some coffee and a 4.5 mile run mostly around the reservoir in Central Park. I was a little sleepy for the first 20 minutes, but I felt much better after that. I returned home to try out the new pineapple Chobani greek yogurt flavor! I enjoyed it with a sliced banana and 1/2 Clif mojo bar (the other half was eaten quite awhile ago…).

chobani

Mojo

Then Alma and I grabbed our yoga mats and headed downtown for 60 minutes of vinyasa flow. I was really challenged during the lunge asanas (especially crescent moon, yikes), but I felt sooo much looser and relaxed after class. I enjoy running much more than other activities (yoga, spinning etc.) so it’s always a struggle to find motivation to cross-train. However, I know how important stretching and strengthening are to my running, so that gives the activities a defined purpose. Plus, I’ve found that the more I do an activity (like cycling!), the more I enjoy it.

After class, Alma and I treated ourselves to pumpkin spice lattes! I ordered a no-whip decaf skim latte with 2 pumps of pumpkin spice syrup. My order was so high maintenance that the barista accidentally made me the iced version. Hot or iced, I enjoy all of the overpriced beverages Starbucks has to offer :-)

latte

When I got back from yoga class, I was h-u-n-g-r-y! I plated up some sliced apple with almond butter and a slice of whole wheat toast with (more!) almond butter and pumpkin butter. And then awhile later I dug into a multi-bran vitatop with pumpkin butter.

Almond butter

vitatop with pumpkin butter

An friend from college was visiting the city this weekend and I agreed to run a few miles with him that afternoon (um, yes, that would be run #2 for the day). We ran for about 3.5 miles at 8 minute pace. After this morning’s run and then the hour-long yoga class, my legs were feeling pretty dead. I made sure to snack on some tasty treats to refuel.

peanut butter lara bar & spiced almonds:

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and then a Sam Adams Octoberfest beer!

beer

After a few hours of being lazy, it was time for dinner! We braved the winds and rain and ventured to a restaurant called Turkuaz on the Upper West Side. I’ve been wanting to try this place for awhile and it didn’t disappoint. The interior was really cool – the main dining room reminded me of a tent in Middle East. The space was cavernous (by Manhattan standards anyway) and the ceilings and walls were draped in canvas fabric.

Turkuaz

Dinner started with some warm flatbread while Alex sampled a Turkish beer.

Turkuaz

For my entree, I actually selected something with chicken! Now if you’ve been following my blog for awhile, you may remember my 30-day Vegetarian Challenge. At the end of the month I announced that while I wouldn’t prepare or consume meat at home, I might partake at certain restaurants or on special occasions (Thanksgiving). Lately I’ve been putting in some serious time at the gym/on the roads, so I felt like I could use the extra protein and heme iron.

Anyway, back to the entree: I ordered a chicken kabob dish that contained roasted tomatoes, char grilled peppers, yogurt sauce, and toasted bread cubes. It was so delicious! I would definitely go back to Turkuaz and order this again.

Turkish food

The rest of my evening was pretty low key. Alma and I opened a bottle of red wine that we had leftover from our housewarming party and I enjoyed some dark chocolates along with a few small pours of vino. Antioxidants!

red wine

I was having trouble sleeping on Saturday night (mosquito attacks), so around 3am I headed to the kitchen for a small (un-pictured, sorry!) bowl of cereal. The carbs + milk helped me drift of to sleep – finally!

After my late bedtime, I didn’t wake up until after 9:30am on Sunday. It was kind of awesome – I never sleep that late anymore!

spiced pumpkin pie clif bar

After the requisite coffee and 1/2 clif bar (new pumpkin pie flavor!), I headed out the door for a long-ish run. I wasn’t sure how my legs were going to feel after my high volume week of training, but I was pleasantly surprised. The weather was absolutely gorgeous  – 60 degrees and sunny. I’m sure that helped make my run so good! I ended up running 12 miles in 1:46:37 (a bit under 9:00 per mile pace) and I felt strong throughout. My IT band started aching a bit after 5 or 6 miles, but it wasn’t too bad. After the run I downed some water and a banana and jumped in the shower. Thank goodness our hot water was working again (ughhh…so many problems with the boiler in this apartment building).

banana

Around 2:30pm, I headed to brunch with my friend. At this point I had been awake for 5 hours and had run 12 miles, but had only ingested about 250 calories. I started feeling pretty yucky. On the subway I had 1/2 of an un-pictured fruit and oat bar (free sample from the HLS!) and that made me feel a teeny bit better.

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Once we arrived at our brunch locale, I immediately ordered a big glass of OJ to get my blood sugar back up. Once the food arrived, I was ready to dig-in! I ordered the goat cheese and spinach egg white omelette that was accompanied by country potatoes (with lots of ketchup, of course) and a slice of sour dough toast.

Megan

omelet

It was just what I needed – I felt 100% better after eating! Post-long run brunches are fun, but I think I just need to skip the  shower next time. Food should come first in my book :-)

Oh! And the restaurant featured this amazing sandwich as one of their specials: french toast sandwich with ricotta and nutella filling, covered with strawberry jam and honey. OMG. This sounded so good. If I wasn’t craving salt and protein (eggs + potatoes!), I think I would have ordered this sammie.

Brunch Specials

I wanted to enjoy the Autumn weather for the rest of the afternoon, so after running some errands, I popped into a Starbucks and ordered a decaf skim misto with 2 pumps of pumpkin spice syrup. FYI: Mistos are 1/2 milk, 1/2 coffee and are about $2 cheaper than lattes! But I think they taste pretty similar.  I enjoyed my warm drink while walking around my neighborhood.

Starbucks

Once I was back at my apartment I basically crashed. Late bedtime + 12 mile run = sleepy Megan. I was able to enjoy a little nap and it was awesome. I wish I could do this more often!

My stomach felt a little off all day, but around 8pm, I knew I needed to eat something. I toasted up a slice of whole wheat bread and topped it with almond butter and 1/2 banana. I rounded out dinner with some veggie chili and ate it with a generous dash of hot sauce and a dollop of greek yogurt. Perfecto!

Toast

Veggie Chili

The rest of my Sunday was very chill - Gossip Girl watching, tea sipping, vita brownie (with almond butter!) snacking, and preparing for the week ahead.

vita brownie

Fingers-crossed, I think the  hamstring/IT band injury might be almost 100% better…

Last night I tallied up exercise totals for the week: 46 miles of running, 2 x 45 minute spinning classes, 50 minutes elliptical cross-training, and a 60 minute yoga class. Holy cow, I had no idea that I’d been that busy this week! My legs are a little bit sore from the increase in mileage, but this is the most positive (and pain free) week of training that I’ve had since last fall. Hooray!

Check out these healthy, Halloween cookies (they’re kind of like personal apple pies!).

Question: What’s your favorite thing to eat when you go out to brunch? Sweet (waffles and french toast) or savory (omelettes)?

Pumpkin Swirl and Butternut Squash

Highlights of my Saturday so far:

1) Having a conversation about track & field with the homeless guy who hangs out on my block.

2) Finally killing the mosquito who’s been feasting on me all week.

I started the morning with a quick trip to DD for a latte lite (ahhh, newest obsession!) and some breakfast: TJ’s honey greek yogurt, grapes, and Kashi warm cinnamon Heart-2-Heart. I had quite a few handfuls of cereal straight out of the box after I finished my initial bowl.

Latte Lite

After I finished my breakfast, I started to prepare the dough for some delicious Pumpkin Swirl Bread. I based this recipe on MeganNerdRun’s version, but made a few alterations.

Ingredients:

Dough

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1.5 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • dash of ginger & nutmeg
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 package (1/4 oz) active dry yeast
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 3/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

Filling

  • 2 Tbs butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Instructions:

  • In a large bowl, combine 1 cup of the all-purpose flour, ww flour, oats, brown sugar, spices, salt, sugar, and yeast.
  • Stir in the warm water and pumpkin until moistened. Add egg, mix until smooth.
  • Stir in the remaining 1 cup flour until the dough is firm.
  • Put dough in stand mixer and knead using dough hook for about 5 minutes. Place dough in lightly oiled bowl, cover with dishcloth, and let rise for 1 hour.
  • Spray the counter lightly with cooking spray and roll out the dough to a 18″ x 9″ rectangle.
  • Spread the melted butter on the dough and then sprinkle with cinnamon and brown sugar.
  • Roll up the dough jelly-roll style, starting with the short side. Pinch ends to seal.
  • Place seam side down in loaf pan, cover and let rise for 90 minutes.
  • Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes or until crust is golden brown.

Dough Rising

Rolling out the dough

During the 90 minute second rising, I headed out for a long run. I didn’t feel awesome, but the weather was ideal (sunny, breezy, and 60 degrees). My legs are STILL feeling the effects of last Saturday and my right knee/hamstring were a bother, but I was feeling great mentally by the end of my 10 mile run (finished in 1:30:10, about 9:01/mile). I think I’m going to take it easy for the next few weeks – lots of sleep, lots of cross-training, and lower running mileage. Hopefully that will put some pep back into my legs!

When I got home, propped my legs up against the wall while I waited for the oven to pre-heat. I’ve found that this trick really helps with circulation/muscle recovery.

And then I popped the bread in the oven. 30 minutes later…

Pumpkin Swirl Bread

I was very pleased with the consistency of this loaf – the middle was perfectly light and doughy with a nice crust on the outside.

Pumpkin Swirl Bread

Mmm….a thick slice of pumpkin swirl bread with peanut butter!

Pumpkin Swirl Bread

After finishing up the bread, I was ready for some more post-run food!

A big bowl of brown rice, pinto beans, roasted butternut squash, and a wedge of laughing cow cheese.

Butternut Squash

Rice & Beans & Squash

Now I’m watching a few Mad Men episodes and preparing for a fun dinner in Williamsburg.

Hope your Saturday is going well!

Prepping for a Long Run

Slowly, slowly, slowly I am starting to feel like my old self again. It’s been nearly 9 months since I injured my right hamstring and there were definitely times this year when I thought I might never get to do a long run or race again without pain again. Things still aren’t perfect – my right hamstring still aches sometimes and it resists a bit when I try to push the pace. BUT, it’s a million times better than it was in the Spring. In June I couldn’t run for 5 minutes without having serious pain. So it’s been a long road, but I think things are finally starting to turn around. Even though I’m signed up for the NYC Marathon on November 1st, I’m going to defer until next year. As much as I’d love to be running through the crowds near First Avenue and Tavern on the Green, I’m not ready to tackle another marathon yet. But next year? I’ll be there.

meganmarathon1

Ok, enough reflection! On to the food! I had plans for a long run on Saturday morning, so I whipped up a yummy pre-run meal Friday night. A few days ago NoMeatAthlete featured a wonderful pesto recipe on his blog. As soon as I saw all of that fresh basil, I knew I had to make some of my own!

Pesto ingredients

Megan’s Version – Homemade Pesto

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups fresh basil
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/4 cup toasted pecans
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup parmigianno-reggiano
  • salt to taste

Directions:

  • Place basil, pecans, and garlic clove in food processor, process until a thick paste forms
  • Run processor on low speed and stream in the olive oil
  • Add cheese and salt and process just until combined

I mixed about 1/2 of my homemade pesto with 1/2 lb of penne pasta and a pint of cherry tomatoes. Makes about 3 servings. You can refrigerate the leftover pesto for up to a week. Mix it with some light mayo and use as a sandwich spread. Yum!

Pesto pasta

Pesto- Cherry Tomato Pasta with Grated Parmigianno-Reggiano:

Pesto, penne, and tomatoes

And for dessert – the last two oatmeal-pb-chocolate chip cookies with a dollop of nocciolla (hazelnut) gelato. Heaven.

Cookies and gelato

I was up bright and early on Saturday morning – around 6:30am (who am I???). After some coffee, I dug into my pre-run breakfast: a piece of whole wheat toast with sliced banana, peanut butter, and honey. Plus some more spoonfuls of pb straight out of the jar. When it comes to peanut butter before long runs, my brain usually asks “Is that really a smart idea?”, but my tastebuds always say “YES!”

Toast, Banana, PB

Luckily all of that peanut butter fueled me for a fabulous run! The weather was perfect (sunny and 60 degrees) and I was pleasantly surprised by my pace. I was a little tight for the first few miles, but after about 25 minutes everything loosened up quite nicely. I was feelin’ so good that around mile 6 I threw in a faster mile (7:45) and my hamstring didn’t give me much trouble at all. I ended up running 11 miles in 1 hour and 34 minutes (8:35 pace). Yahoo!

After chugging some water, I put my feet up against the wall for about 10 minutes (this reduces soreness and improves circulation).

Putting my feet up

And then I had some eats! I mixed some powdered sports drink into a glass of water, sliced up a HUGE honey crisp apple (seriously…the size was almost ridiculous), and had a lemon yogurt on the side.

Apple and yogurt

After a much-needed shower (lots of salty sweat today), I had a bowl of Kashi cinnamon Heart-to-Heart with pecans. And then another bowl :-)

Kashi H2H

Now I’m off to attempt a nap – I’m headed to a benefit dinner tonight. I need some rest if I want to stay awake past 10pm :-)

Have a great weekend!

Question: When do you feel most like yourself? When you’re out with friends? When you’re running? When you’re home alone with a glass of wine and a good book?

Running in the Dark

For the past few weeks, I’ve been running in the morning. I feel like exercising before work allows me to have more flexibility later on in the day (impromptu happy hour, anyone?) and my motivation is highest as soon as I wake up. However, on Thursday, I decided to postpone my run until the evening.

I prepared by fueling up with a baggie of pretzels around 5pm (it was warm outside, needed that extra salt!).

Pretzels

I hopped on the subway after work and was back at my apartment by 6pm. At this point my motivation was pretty low. It had been a long day, I was tired, I didn’t want to run, blah, blah, blah. But I knew I’d probably feel better once I got on the roads, so I changed into my running shoes and off I went!

I ran to the Northern entrance of Central Park and started down the West side. I was a little stiff for the first few miles, but by the time I met up with Ani and her brother at mile 2.5 I was feeling better. I ended up running about 8.5 miles in 1 hour and 20 minutes and still felt like I had a lot of energy left. My right upper hamstring/butt was giving me a bit of trouble whenever I tried to drop the pace, but I’m currently massaging it out with a tennis ball, so hopefully that will help.

I forgot how enjoyable a night run can be!  I was able to do my run without the time crunch that mornings usually bring and running in the dark (don’t worry, I stuck to well-lit paths!) was an interesting change.

After stretching, foam rolling, and some ab work it was time for dinner:

I toasted up a slice of whole wheat bread and topped it with a falafel sunshine burger, sprouts, mozzarella cheese, and chipotle hummus. Arugula, dried cherries, and walnuts drizzled with balsamic vinegar rounded out the meal. Yum!

Sunshine burger

Falafel burger and veggies

After a shower and some Gossip Girl (FINALLY caught up to season 3), I ended the night with a cup of tea and a leftover red velvet cupcake from Crumbs. Cupcakes + Gossip Girl = my favorite guilty pleasures :-)

Red velvet cupcake

We all know I have a HUGE sweet tooth, so I need to do everything I can to prevent cavities. A few weeks ago Waterpik asked if they could send me an sonic toothbrush to try out. I’ll admit it – my dental care can be a bit lacking at times. I try to convince myself that Orbit gum is just as good as a brushing. Um, no. It’s not. So this morning I plugged in the Waterpik and gave it a whirl! The toothbrush stays on for 2 minutes (the recommended teeth-brushing time), so I really had to focus on cleaning every nook and cranny. The toothbrush also buzzes at 30 second intervals to remind you to switch quadrants. Loved that! After my thorough brushing, my teeth and gums felt very clean. Recent studies have shown correlations between mouth health and heart disease risk, so I think oral hygiene is something we all need to pay attention to. Thanks Waterpik!

Waterpik

Question: What’s your favorite part of the day? I think I’m a morning girl!

TGIF  Links:

Stay in shape naturally – no gym required.

Headache? Stomachache? Running injury? Sometimes time is the best medicine.

Eat right for the rest of your life.

Check out this new Dessert Hummus – the maple walnut sounds like a great waffle or toast topper!

Best Week(end) Ever

Friday after work I hit the road and headed North to Boston. My bus left at 6pm and so I channeled my inner 3rd grader and packed a lunch box. On the menu: leftover homemade pizza and carrot sticks with a lil container of peanut butter. 4 hours is a long time to be on a bus – this girl needs her snacks!

Pizza, carrots, peanut butter

I arrived in beantown shortly after 10pm and  was met by the 3 smiling faces of Anj, Hannah, and Agnes (college housemates from senior year!). After much catching-up and some homemade chili popcorn (must get Anj’s recipe!) we hit the hay. Yes, I’m 25 and still absolutely love sleepovers :-)

popcorn

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The four of us were up early on Saturday and after the obligatory coffee and a bite of bread pudding, Hannah and I hit the road for a run.

coffee time

bread pudding

Even though I ran 11 miles last weekend, there were small breaks in between the warm-up, race, and cool-down, so I was a tad worried about doing a continuous long run. However, I needn’t have worried – Hannah is magical and the run was the best I’ve had in maybe a year :-) The weather was beautiful – bright sunshine and 60 degrees. We ended up running 9.25 miles in 1 hour 22 minutes. My hamstring/IT band/knee felt amazing! I’m still wearing the pre-wrap on my knee – I’m not sure if it’s actually doing anything, but it kind of feels like a security blanket.

Megan and Hannah run 9.25 miles

After a fabulous run, Hannah and I returned to an impromptu yoga sesh. Pajamas are a perfect choice for warrior pose!

Yoga in PJs

Check out the giant jar of peanut butter Hannah and I found!

Peanut Butter

After a pretty basic re-fuel (banana, yogurt, peanut butter) we showered and headed to Cambridge.

44 Home Housemates

After a bit of exploring, we happened upon Darwin’s Cafe. Fair trade coffees, yummy sandwiches, and a case of delicious baked goods.

Darwin's Desserts!

My sandwich was two pieces of freshly baked whole wheat bread stuffed with hummus, avocado, carrots, sprouts, tomato, granny smith apple, and honey mustard. It was packed full of veggies and I ate every last bite!

Veggie Sandwich from Darwin's Cafe

After a few more hours of exploring Boston (I love fall weather!!!)….

Downtown Boston

Exploring Boston Common

Waterfront

Agnes and Megan

Waterfront in Southie

 we made a pit stop for pumpkin lattes!

Pumpkin lattes and frapps

Invigorated by caffeine, I was ready for an adventure. Someone special was celebrating a birthday on Saturday and per his request we trekked out to Bob’s Food in Medford, Mass. Back in college Bob’s Foods was THE destination for post-track meet sustenance. This little Italian grocer/sub shop was always on the cool-down route for the Wesleyan track team and returning to Bob’s brought back good memories. This place has a ton of yummy food, but the vegetarian selection was a bit sparse.

Bob's Foods

DSCF4535

I managed to find something veggie though – roasted red peppers, grilled eggplant, and provolone on a roll. Nate and I took our sandwiches to a grassy field on the Tufts campus and made a pic-nic of it. Twas delightful!

Roasted red pepper, grilled eggplant, and provolone sub

Despite ordering the small, my sandwich was bigger than my head. Loved all the roasted red peppers and ooey-gooey provolone!

Melt-y cheese

Nate ordered something involving a lot of turkey and melt-y cheese.

Turkey sub

Nate

With New England-themed chippers for a side dish.

Cape Cod potato chips

My tum was full and happy by the end of the pic-nic, but I was still tempted by all the delicious foods that Anj had back at her place. Had to have a little taste of everything!

 Check out these garlic & parsely sweet potato fries:

Sweet Potato fries

homemade nachos!

Homemade nachos

And Individual chocolate souflees:

Chocolate Souflee

Unfortunately my camera battery died at this point, but the night concluded with some Shipyard pumpkin ale, wine, and lots of reminscing about our college years :-)

Saturday morning brought another lovely run with Ms. Hannah (5 miles!) and pumpkin pancakes (2 cups pancake mix, 1.5 cups water, .5 cup pure pumpkin). They were perrrrrfect with brown sugar and peanut butter. I’ll have to make these again and photograph!

The rest of Sunday was a glorious mix of long walks, sunshine, raw-organic Kombucha (my first!), and a life goal of mine – ice cream from JP Licks. After missing out on the Healthy Living Summit excursion to JP Licks in August and reading about all the yummy flavors on Tina’s blog, I knew I had to go there someday. I ordered a small cup of 1/2 oatmeal cookie, 1/2 oreo cake batter and it was delicious! So glad I finally got to try it – thanks for the company Hannah :-)

JP Licks ice cream

I’m on the bus back to NYC as I write this and am about to dig in to the other half of my red pepper-eggplant-provolone sammie from Bob’s. Hope your weekend was as good as mine!

Question: What food brings you back to college/highschool?

P.S. Decorate an e-cupcake for free and $1 will be donated to children’s cancer research!

Fuel for Endurance Running

A balanced diet will go far in helping you feel your best, but endurance runners have some special dietary needs to consider. Consuming enough calcium, iron, magnesium, and zinc is essential for maintaining healthy bones, muscles, and immune system. I wrote a guest post on Nutrients for Marathon Training awhile back – check it out for more details!

If you run 3 miles or so a few times a week, you probably don’t need to do anything out of the ordinary. Just make sure you’re eating a balanced breakfast, drinking enough water, and including veggies, whole grains, and lean protein/dairy whenever you can. You certainly don’t need to carbo-load for a 5K :-) If, however, you are training for an endurance race such as a triathlon, half-marathon, or marathon you’re going to need to really focus on fueling properly.

How Many Calories Should I Eat?

First things first, everyone’s body is different. What works for me, might not work for you. Eating enough to fuel your running takes a lot of trial and error – I’ve been running for 10 years and I still haven’t figured it all out yet! To get a base line calorie goal, check out the Mayo Clinic’s interactive tool. I don’t count calories everyday, but sometimes on long run days I will estimate to make sure that I’m eating enough to maintain my weight. For me, that could mean close to 3,000 calories. It can be tough to eat that much without feeling overstuffed, so I try to focus on energy-dense, low-volume foods such as: peanut butter, trail mix, homemade granola, olive oil, whole grain, seed bread, avocado, Clif bars, 2% greek yogurt, whole grain banana pancakes, etc. These foods are packed with nutrients AND the calories you need.

Peanut Butter!

If, on the other hand, you are trying to lose weight, you might want to fill up on low-calorie, high volume foods such as melon, berries, apples, raw veggies, salsa, soup, high fiber cereal, fruit & yogurt smoothies, etc.

Raspberries and yogurt

However, I would not recommend trying to lose weight while training for a marathon. It can be done, but the high amounts of mileage you’ll need to complete will require a lot of energy. Doing a long run when you’re hungry and cranky is a recipe for disaster! In fact, many marathoners actually gain a few pounds during their highest mileage weeks – it happened to me! Some researchers theorize that this uptick in body weight comes from the muscles retaining glycogen/extra water while others attribute it to the increase in appetite. In any case, asking your body to run 26.2 miles (or even 13.1!) is intense. Please don’t hesitate to give it what it wants – FUEL.

Fueling Before/After Exercise

Although I still haven’t figured out the perfect formula, I’ve noticed that I feel a lot better when I have a small snack before an early morning run. Ideally, I’d eat a light meal 2-3 hours before running, but on days when I can’t do that I try to eat a 100-150 calorie snack about 20-30 minutes before heading out the door. Food that is low in fiber/fat and high in carbs while minimize tummy troubles. Some of my fav pre-run options:

  • slice of toast with nut butter
  • 1/2 luna or clif bar
  • small bowl of cereal and soymilk
  • handful of raisins
  • banana
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt with honey

banana

After you finish running, try to drink some water ASAP and have a combo of protein + carbs within an hour (preferably 30 minutes).

Some examples of post-run food:

  • smoothie made with yogurt, frozen fruit, spinach, almond butter, and ice
  • bagel with banana, peanut butter, and honey
  • turkey and hummus sammie on whole wheat
  • veggie soup (perfect for replacing sodium) and whole grain crackers
  • oatmeal with chopped apple and cinnamon
  • hot latte or hot chocolate (it has protein + carbs!) and trail mix
  • homemade pita pizza

Stove top apple oats

Fueling During Long Runs and Races

If you have a big race coming up, you’ll want to try out your breakfast and mid-run snacks in advance. Nothing worse than finding out your scrambled eggs aren’t going to agree with a 10 mile long run. Ugh.

Pre-Race Breakfast

Before both the New York City and Boston marathons, I had basically the same pre-race breakfast: coffee, banana with 2 Tbs peanut butter, cinnamon raisin bagel, and gatorade. I started eating my breakfast about 4 hours before the race start – next time I would add a small snack (1/2 an energy bar) about 30-45 minutes before the gun goes off. If you’re worried about having to use the porta-potties during the race, stop drinking water/gatorade at least an hour before the start. The time buffer will allow your kidneys to empty before you start running. Inside tip: I chew gum while running to keep my mouth from getting too dry.

During the race, a good rule of thumb is to consume 100 calories for every 60 minutes of running. I personally like powergels (chocolate flavor!) and clif shot bloks, but jelly beans, fig newtons, and gummie candy could also work. The key is to get simple sugars into your body ASAP. Most gels are concentrated carbs, so make sure to have a few sips of water or diluted gatorade with your mid-run fuel. As always, practice-practice-practice with this kind of stuff before the big day!  When I was training for Boston, I had no problem digesting gels/shot bloks during slower-paced long runs. However, since my race pace was a minute faster than long run pace, I had a MUCH harder time with fueling during the marathon (think: low blood sugar, nausea, etc). Practice eating gels/drinking gatorade while running your projected race pace – it will prevent any unwanted surprises!

Snickers Marathon Protein Bars & Clif Shot Bloks

Happy Running!

Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor or registered dietitian, just a runner interested in nutrition! The tips provided above are things I’ve learned from personal experiences.

11 miles, check!

Last night, after a bedtime snack of cookies + milk, I hit the sheets. However, a pesky mosquito made its presence known and around 2am my sleep was interrupted. After fumbling for some Benadryl and closing my window, I was able to get back to bed. My alarm beeped at 7:30am and I woke up to have the usual coffee. For my pre-run breakfast I went with a banana, peanut butter, and a luna bar.

I only had about 1.5 hours to digest before starting to run, so I was a little nervous but my stomach ended up feeling fine. Alma and I hit the road for a warm-up (about 4 miles for me) and then it was time to line up at the start. Exciting news: Kara Goucher happened to be running in the park and stopped by the starting line to say hello. Love her!

Hmm, running fast is hard when you’re out of shape. I’m not going to lie – this felt really TOUGH. After a summer of only very easy running and cross-training, I was sucking wind by the end of my 4 fast miles. But, with any luck my hamstring/piriformis/IT band will keep cooperating and next time will be a little easier.

The breakdown:

4 mile warm-up with Alma and then Ani.

“Fitness Mind, Body, Spirit” 4 mile race in Central Park in 31:19 (7:49/pace).

1st mile: 8:00
2nd mile: 7:38
3rd mile: 8:16 (hills)
4th mile: 7:25

3 mile cooldown

Despite some twinges, my right leg felt good! Actually, my legs felt fresh and quick, but the rest of me wanted to die by the end of the race. I had that tight, heavy feeling in my chest for most of the run and then felt kind of woozy after I finished. Yikes. I started feeling better after some water and fruit juice (loved the big pieces of fruit in this!)

I was happy with this effort though, I feel like my road to recovery has been a long one (going on 9 months…) and I’m just SO excited to be running without pain. Wahoo! Also, 11 miles is the most I’ve run since April :-)

Alma and I ran home (~3 miles) and then I promptly collapsed on the floor. Haha, well not really, but I was tired!

Goodies from the race:

Post-run meal:

Leftover potato soup with olive oil and red pepper flakes, Ezekiel sprouted grain toast with laughing cow cheese and hummus, and some Kashi crackers with more hummus. Mmm, carbs.

After a few hours of room re-organizing (my Ikea desk is now put together correctly!), I was hungry again. Mmm, how about a delicious yogurt mess?

  • 3/4 cup 2% greek yogurt
  • chopped apple
  • 2-3 Tbs peanut butter
  • chocolate chips
  • honey

Perfection.

Later on in the afternoon, I got the urge to bake. Stay tuned for the results of my herb pizza dough.

Around 8pm, I came home from a walk to the delicious smell of Alma’s peanut butter pasta. I filled my bowl with arugula and then topped it with the yummy pasta-veggie-tofu-peanut dish. It was so good that I had to go back for a second bowl. My appetite was on fire today!

Best part of my day: I met 3 blog readers at the race this morning. Hello to Laura, Ada, and Courtney! You were all so sweet, thanks for introducing yourselves :-)

New York readers: Would you be interested in a meet-up at some point this fall? Maybe we could go for a run in the Park or get some yummy food. Leave a comment or shoot me an email if you’d be interested!

Best Places to Run in NYC

I often receive emails from readers asking me about running routes in New York City. While the Big Apple is best known for its gourmet restaurants, high-end stores, and skyscrapers – it also has an amazingly vibrant running scene. I’ve been living in Manhattan for 2 years now and have been able to train for 2 marathons and bunch of half-marathons without a problem – it just takes a little planning (and some tips from a local!)

Part 1: Where can I stash my stuff?

First of all, if you’re going to go for a run in the city, you’ll need to plan ahead. Since most New Yorkers don’t have cars, you can’t stash your work clothes and gym bag in the backseat of your ride. Also, if your apartment or hotel is not close to a park/pedestrian path, you’ll need to take the subway to somewhere run-able. There are a couple of things you can do:

1) Run with only the essentials. When I run from my apartment to work, I only bring my metrocard, keys, and a cell phone. I leave a change of work clothes at my desk the day before and change when I get to the office. If you’ll be taking the subway either to or from a run – make sure to bring a metro card and a couple of dollars for a gatorade or emergency snack.

2) If you have a gym membership, you can stash your stuff in a gym locker and then take to the roads (try to find a gym that has locations near Central Park or Prospect Park). The Westside YMCA is near Central Park and a ton of New York Sports Clubs around the city. Ask about a day pass if you’re just visiting!

3) Leave your bags in the cubbies at the New York Road Runners office on E. 89th st. The office is open until 7pm, so you can get a quick run in after work or during your lunch break. Just make sure to pack deodorant – no showers here!

4) The Niketown store on E. 57th st offers group runs 3 days per week and the last time I attended a run, they had a bag-check (similar to a coat check) and post-run refreshments. I’ve never had a problem, but I wouldn’t leave anything TOO valuable.

Part 2: Where should I go running?

1) The most popular choice is Central Park. The Park’s boundaries are 59th street on the Southern end, 110th street to the North, Central Park West (a.k.a 8th Avenue), and 5th Avenue. For suggested routes and mileage, check out NYRR’s Guide to Running in Central Park.

2) Another favorite running route is the 4-mile long Riverside Park. When Alma and I were training for the Boston marathon, we did a long run that went all the way down Riverside Park, into Battery Park at the bottom of the island, and then up the East River Path (check out the public track near E. 6th street!). However, be warned: The East River Park ends around 34th st and turns into the FDR. Apparently NYC cops frown upon highway running…We learned this the hard way.

3) A few weeks ago, Highline Park opened to the public. This elevated park is located along former railroad tracks in the Meatpacking district (from W. 34th  street to Gansevoort street). Exciting!

4) When I lived in Washington Heights, I used to love to run in Inwood Hill Park and under the George Washington Bridge. The NY Times roving runner recently paid a visit to Northern Manhattan and provided a very good recap of the neighborhood’s running options.

Part 3: What if I have to use the bathroom? Where can I buy running  gear? Where should I go to re-fuel and celebrate?

1) Best public restrooms for runners: My personal fav is on the second floor of the Time Warner Center Mall at Columbus Circle. It’s never very crowded and usually very clean. The boat house bathroom (E. 74th St), the Delacorte Theatre bathroom (W. 79th st), and the bathroom near the Harlem Meer ( Northeast corner, near 110th st) are good options if you’re running in Central Park. You can also pop into a Barnes and Noble or Starbucks location in an emergency.

2) Local running shops (many will even videotape you while you run and recommend a specific shoe – for free!):

3) My favorite places to eat after a long run or race:

4) If you’re looking for somebody to keep you company, check out these lists: local running clubs and running buddy want-ads!.

Happy running!

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