Friday, August 31, 2018

August What I'm Craving This Month

I think my food posts are getting monotonous.  Like July's, this has many garden-related food photos, and I am starting to wonder if I have posted everything I eat and should stop my series.  I love reading other people's food posts though, so maybe I'll just try to be more interesting next month!

I did an Instagram post about meal prep, so I didn't include those pictures but you can see those here.

This was my fancy meal of the month, on a work trip:  salmon, risotto (mostly covered by the lemon slice), asparagus, a single piece of cauliflower with a yummy sauce, and single slice of tomato.  I think it goes without saying that this was not enough food, but it was really good!

I also got a soup with my fancy meal, and this was possibly the best soup I've had in my life.  It was called honey carrot, and I could tell it was made with real cream.

Roasted garden eggplant with Italian seasoning (bonus that the seasoning was the free packets from Papa John's)!

Roasted garden bell peppers.

Raw garden mini-sweet peppers.

I continued to refine and perfect my roasted pumpkin seed recipes.  I like both sweet and savory flavors, and I've tried several seasoning options (e.g., cinnamon and sugar, cumin, curry powder, garlic salt, etc.).  I've also learned you really don't have to clean the seeds much at all because the pumpkin "gunk" will bake off in the oven.

Roasted butternut squash topped with cinnamon is on point, and also very easy to make (i.e., wash it then shove it in the oven at 375* for 45-60 minutes).  Also the same recipe I use for baked sweet potatoes!

A new recipe I tried this month - protein powder pancakes, made with just protein powder and water  The batter drifted to the side of the pan and ended up like this.  They were edible with good toppings (i.e. peanut butter!), but I did not make this a second time.

I love fresh juicy peaches.

Continuing my omelet game with all garden veggies in this one (onion, kale, and tomatoes).

I began craving cottage cheese with salted tomatoes after some runs, probably for the sodium, so I had this for breakfast on several occasions.

A plate full of health here:  garlic crusted tilapia, cinnamon topped baked sweet potato, and roasted eggplant, bell peppers, and tomatoes.

A new smoothie addition I tried this month was homegrown pumpkin!  I had a cooked pumpkin in the fridge and added some cubes of it to a smoothie along with frozen mango, snickerdoodle protein powder, cinnamon, and almond milk, and it turned out really well.

Sweet potatoes with cinnamon never get old.

Our pear and apple trees both produced this year!  The Asian pears were extremely good, but all of the fruit was tiny.  I would typically eat 6 pears at a time (probably equivalent to 2 from the grocery store).

Blueberries were 99 cents at the Aldi produce sale, so I bought 24 packs knowing we could freeze them if needed.  Albani mowed through them; blueberries are her favorite fruit.

I made a switch this month that I've needed to make for awhile, and that was to plain Greek yogurt.  I eat Greek yogurt nearly daily, but I'd been eating the flavored types which contain sugar or artificial sweeteners, or both.  I began buying large containers of plain Greek yogurt to use when making tuna salad, and decided I'd start eating it instead of the flavored kind.  I add in chia seeds, cinnamon, and fresh fruit, blueberries here.

Cantaloupe was also on produce special for 99 cents, and I love this fruit.

Roasted yellow potatoes, roasted squash, and garlic roasted salmon is a winning meal.  Potatoes of all varieties are such great runner fuel with nutrient-dense carbohydrates and lots of potassium.

Random post-long run craving of a baked sweet potato topped with plain Greek yogurt and cinnamon.  While this is something I eat often, it's not usually something I want at 8:00 a.m., but on this day it was.

Sushi is also not something I eat often, and when I do it's a basic California roll for the win.

Few things beat watermelon in the summer!

This was a lentil quinoa bowl with chicken from Panera, and it was delicious, although I was hungry again about 90 minutes after eating it (may be related to running 14 miles that day vs. it not being filling enough).  The spoon sitting on the plate was GIGANTIC, but it doesn't look nearly as large in this photo, which I was disappointed about.  I even put the apple by it for comparison, haha!

This was a black bean quinoa bowl that I made myself...not a pretty as Panera's but it turned out well.

I have been trying to increase my healthy fat intake, which means more avocados.  I didn't get a photo of it, but I've also been using more coconut oil on my cooked veggies, and it has a great flavor to it.

One of the many perks of meal-prepping on weekends is that after a long day of work and running, my 10-year-old can make her own dinner from the fridge.

Orange Leaf to celebrate a Friday long run and a monthly mileage PR in August!

Monday, August 20, 2018

It RUNS in the Family

My running club asked me to write an article for their August newsletter, which featured stories about running with children and parents.  I'm fortunate to have experiences with both to share!  Below is what was published, and in case the text isn't clear I've included it below the screenshots.

It Runs in the Family

Children typically view their families as “normal”, so I grew up thinking that distance running was normal (“You don’t know crazy if you grew up in an asylum” - right?).  I saw my dad come in from training runs every morning and watched him compete in road races.  I grew up traveling to watch my sister, who is 14 years older, compete in high school and college meets.  I just thought distance running was something people did!

From an early age, I participated in kids’ runs at events my dad competed in.  Usually these were half mile fun runs, but I was pretty motivated to earn some bling (this was before the era of finishers’ medals), so I’d beg my dad to help me train beforehand.  This training typically consisted of him tacking on a half mile with me at the end of his runs, but I quickly learned the most valuable strategy in distance running by age 6:  don’t start out too fast!

As I grew older, my running increased while my dad’s decreased (you can do the math that he was an older parent based on my sister being so much older than me).  Our family’s Saturdays morphed from going to his road races to going to mine.  Running a half mile with my dad at the end of his runs transitioned into him riding his bike with me while I ran 3-4 miles.  We combined summer vacations with AAU and Youth USAT&F track meets.  My dad came to every high school cross-country and track meet I ever ran in, while working full-time, which is something I am now very awed by as a working mother.  We share countless memories related to running events, and today we continue to combine vacations with race trips.  He and my mom have recently traveled as far as Sacramento and Duluth to watch me run marathons.

Because of my lifelong bond with my dad over running, in addition to my love for the sport, I was thrilled when my daughter Albani became interested in racing.  I love finding events that she and I can both participate in, and I enjoy seeing her determination and joy for the sport.  She hasn’t started begging me to train yet, but just like me at age 10, she’s pretty motivated by the bling (but now we are in an era of finishers’ medals).  She has also effectively learned to not start out too fast!
While I hope Albani embraces running as a lifelong fitness pursuit, I believe a big part of the reason I came to feel that way was because my parents never pushed me, so I don’t pressure her.  I hope she finds the passion that I have for running in some pursuit in her future, running or otherwise, and I will be on the sidelines of whatever that is.

My dad not only supports me in all I do in running, but in all I do in life, and I would have never made it to where I am today without him.  He is there for me when I'm victorious and when I'm defeated.  If I can be even half the parent to Albani that he’s been to me, I’ve succeeded.  

Monday, August 13, 2018

Tips for running on vacations

I am a big fan of running while on vacation!  I always see sights I wouldn't see otherwise, and I enjoy staying in my training groove.  I've learned a lot about how to make outdoor vacation running happen through trial and error, so I thought I'd share the strategies that have helped me...because not every trip can be a race trip, right??

I would have missed this if I hadn't run on vacation!

  1. Look at a map of your area.  I simply pull up the map app on my phone and look around my current location.  I've done this enough that I can typically determine a pretty accurate route from that map alone; for one run on my last vacation I eyeballed a loop I thought would be 4 miles, and it ended up measuring 4.1 miles (I was going to run it 3 times for a 12 miler, but then I found other places to explore, illustrating the importance of being open-minded)!  Look for:
    • Rivers and lakes.  There are often running trails that run along rivers and lakes, and you won't always find them online.  Find an easy way to get from your hotel to the water, and you'll often find great running paths once you get there!  I found a great path by doing this on our Niagara Falls vacation.
    • Parks.  Every park is going to have at minimum sidewalks around it.  Some parks are tiny and not of much help, but you can gauge that from the map.
    • Roads leading out of town.  When road tripping, we often stay in smaller towns along the way, and in the Midwest I can simply run out of town onto country roads.  I did this several times on our Niagara Falls vacation, our Minnesota/Canada vacation, and our Yellowstone vacation.
    • In town major roads.  If there are no great options for routes, running alongside a major road in town is often a good bet.  There are almost always sidewalks you can run on, and since you're running parallel to most of the traffic flow you won't have to stop for cars (cars coming off of side streets will generally have stop signs or lights, so will have to yield for you).  I did a lot of this on our Orlando vacation.  If you are at a big attraction like Disney, another option is running around the theme park parking lots, but we didn't stay on site so I didn't do this.  Parking lot loops can be helpful almost anywhere though; a mall parking lot can give you quite a bit of distance and will be a flat option if you have a workout.
    • Highways, so you can avoid running on them and crossing them.
  2. Ask at the front desk of your hotel.  Sometimes you'll get great advice on a nice running route; other times they will direct you to a park with a loop that ends up being a quarter mile; others they will look at you like you're crazy.  At minimum they can usually tell you the safest direction to go.
  3. Just run and you'll find something.  My husband always says that I'd run 10 miles around the hotel parking lot if I had to, which is not untrue.  Sometimes I just start running and see where it takes me, and I always find something.  Out and back courses are your best friend in this scenario!  I only run simple loops if I've verified them on a map beforehand.
  4. Run early.  Every route is easier to navigate at 5:00-6:30 a.m., and you won't have to deal with nearly as much traffic.  Running later in any city is just asking for a lot of stop/starting.
  5. Run with your phone.  I loathe running with my phone, but for safety I always take it when I'm running in unfamiliar areas.  It's also helpful if you get lost; I had to use it in Chicago once for this reason!
  6. Pack breakfasts and electrolytes.  If you're traveling with a group and you're the only runner, you might be running while others in your party go to the hotel breakfast; or the rest of your group may eat McDonalds for breakfast nearly every day (this was the case on our Niagara Falls trip).  I always pack oatmeal, protein powder, fruit, raisins, and nuts, and can always put together a nice breakfast out of this (you can heat water in your hotel coffee maker if needed).  Many vacations also entail sweating a lot, so I am extra vigilant about drinking water with nuun after running.
  7. Adjust pace expectations.  Remember that stress is stress and energy expenditure is energy expenditure.  Your body doesn't distinguish between training stress and other stress, and vacation can be draining!  Don't worry about slowing down your pace as needed.  Every day is different, and I haven't really found a clear pattern for myself regarding fast vs. slow vacation runs, but more are the latter and I don't put pressure on myself to perform the same as I would at home.  That's what the other 50 weeks of the year are for!
  8. Fit things in where you can.  It's amazing how much you can do if you're creative about it.  I fit in about 90 minutes of strength work on my last vacation, nearly exclusively during road trip rest stops and while waiting for others in our group at the hotel.  Another technique that's helpful is when your group goes to a sit down meal, tell someone else your order and go run while everyone gets seated, gets drinks, orders, and waits for their food.  You can easily run for 30 minutes then change while this is occurring, and then sit down to refuel!
Running on vacation may not be for everyone, but it is for me!
You can read related posts here:
Running on vacation in general
Our 2018 trip to Niagara Falls and what I ran during it
Our 2018 Minnesota and Canada vacation, and what I ran during it
A briefer mention of our post-CIM 2017 California vacation
Why being an endurance athlete is helpful on a Disney vacation
Disney vacation part 1, with runs detailed
Disney vacation part 2, with runs detailed
Disney vacation part 3, with runs detailed
Disney vacation part 4, with runs detailed
Our 2016 Yellowstone vacation, and what I ran during it

Friday, August 3, 2018

Summer Vacation 2.0

My family was blessed to be able to take two major vacations this summer.  Everything aligned for us to travel with my parents in June after Grandma's Marathon (trip details here), and our second excursion was in July with my mother-in-law, father-in-law, brother-in-law, two nieces, and a nephew.  Our ultimate road trip destination was Niagara Falls, but we stopped along the way for several other activities.  We visited 6 states (or 7 if you count our home state of Missouri):  Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York.  Here is a quick break-down of our trip, including what I ran each day!
We bought this photo, but I didn't end up with it...I need to
borrow it to scan for a better version than this picture of a picture!
  • I ran 10.6 miles before we left home, including winning the Girls Just Want to Run "5K" in Springfield.
  • We visited the Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site in Collinsville, Illinois (just outside St. Louis, Missouri), then drove about an hour farther before stopping for the night.  Jon and I had toured this before, but the rest of our group saw it for the first time.
    On top of Monk's Mound with the St. Louis cityscape in the background
  • I ran 7.3 miles in Mount Vernon, Illinois, mostly on fairly rural roads.
  • We visited the Ark Encounter in Williamstown, Kentucky.  It sprinkled on us and was unseasonably cool.  The Ark was very extensive and impressive!
Ark Encounter
Donkey ride
  • I ran 11.2 hilly miles in Florence, Kentucky.
  • We toured the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky, then headed northeast.  If you can only do one of the two, choose the Ark Encounter over this, but both are worth seeing.
Creation Museum
  • I ran 8.7 miles, including 5 x 3'/3' farlek workout in Willoughby, Kentucky.
  • We drove all morning to Niagara Falls.
  • We ate authentic New York pizza.
  • We took a trolley ride to the Falls area and did a walking tour around the visitor's center and downtown area on the U.S. side.
  • The kids finally got to swim in a hotel pool!  All it takes to make these children happy on vacation is hotel pools, WiFi, gift shops, and fast food, so I always jokingly tell Jon that we should just get a hotel in Joplin (between us and cousins) and call it good!
Niagara Falls
  • I ran 10.5 miles on the Riverview and Shoreline Trails.
  • We took a Niagara Falls mega-tour that included:
    • Maid of the Mist boat ride
    • Visitor's Center observation deck
    • Cave of the Winds Tour
    • Crossing the Canadian border
    • Viewing at Whirlpool Aero Car area (Canadian side)
    • Viewing at Queen Victoria Park area (Canadian side)
    • Ride up and viewing from Skylon Tower (Canadian side)
Visitor's Center observation area
Cave of the Winds tour
  • I ran 10 miles + strides on the Riverview, Shoreline, and ___ Rim Trails, and I saw a rainbow over the Falls.  This was certainly the highlight of my vacation running!  The Falls are something to put on your bucket list for sure.
  • We toured Old Fort Niagara, which was impressive and also had a great view of Lake Erie.
Worth stopping my Garmin for!
Old Fort Niagara
Lake Erie
  • I ran 4.4 miles in Mansfield, Ohio (the town where Shawshank Redemption was filmed, although we did not get to tour the Ohio State Reformatory because it didn't open until 11:00).
  •  We drove/rode a lot...  I am not a fan of sitting in the car all day, but I read some great books on the trip.  The kids slept a lot in the car!
  • I ran 13.1 miles in Troy, Illinois, mainly around corn fields.  The front desk attendant at the hotel was sleeping seated upright when I left on this run!
  • We spent our final day at the St. Louis Zoo before returning home that night.  We were planning to go up in the Gateway Arch too, but the tickets were sold out.
St. Louis Zoo
I set a PR for the most miles run on a vacation (67), beating my previous best of 52 miles (detailed here), plus I managed to get in some strength training.  I learned more about figuring out where to run when spending every night in a new area, and about how to fit everything in, so I'm going to do a full post on vacation running tips soon.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

July's What I'm Craving This Month

Much like June's food post, this one includes a lot of garden goodness!  We've had more than we can eat (such as over 200 cobs of corn!), so our freezer is also stocked now.  Also like June's post, this again includes a lot of "what I eat at restaurants" from our second summer vacation.  I thought I did a really good job of eating healthy while eating out 3 meals a day on the trip.

We had a lot of blackberries, and one way I really enjoyed them was in yogurt.

I also love them plain.

And fresh blueberries are amazing plain, or in yogurt and oatmeal.

I am not even sure how many varieties of tomatoes Jon planted, but here are three of the bite sized varieties.  The yellow pear tomatoes are Albani's favorite.

Here is a mix of many sizes and varieties.

I love roasted tomatoes!  Cooking them really brings out their sweetness.  Just drizzle some olive oil on a baking sheet, slice the tomatoes, and season them (garlic salt is my favorite, and I've also found that basil and cumin have good flavors), then bake at 400* for 40 minutes or so (depends on how thick the tomatoes are, but in my opinion you want them a little blackened/crispy on the edges for the best flavor).

Cucumber slices pair well with hummus for a snack.  Cucumbers are in general one of my least favorite vegetables (celery is my least favorite), but the ones Jon grew were really, really good!

I got two new protein powder flavors, snickerdoodle and chocolate peanut butter.  It's hard for me to choose favorites, but I think birthday cake and peanut butter still tie for #1, followed by cinnamon bun and these two in contention for #2.  The only flavor of this brand I haven't loved is orange creamsicle; I have a container of it and make myself use it on occasion in an effort to use it up.

Jon's been into rotisserie chicken this month, and I like it quite a bit too. It is very moist.  We just buy them at Walmart, and they have a few seasoning options.

I like to make omelets with garden veggies (of course!), like this one with garden kale and tomatoes, topped with nutritional yeast.  I love melty cheese in my omelets but too much cheese too close to a run doesn't sit well for me.

These are bell peppers prepared to be roasted.  If anyone tells me they don't like veggies, I always ask if they've tried roasting them.  I didn't discover this way of cooking them until a few years ago, so I missed out for many years (I like them sauteed and steamed too though)!  Using olive oil or coconut oil on them helps your body better absorb the nutrients and gives you a dose of healthy fats.

This is an Italian inspired dish I made up based on the garden veggies we needed to use that Jon loved; it is roasted eggplant, tomatoes, and zucchini (seasoned with Italian seasoning and garlic salt pre-roasting) along with veggie crumbles (i.e., fake beef) and pasta sauce.  When I was putting this together Albani asked if I was preparing it for a special event or party; apparently I rarely use our casserole dish, haha!

I am still on nightly smoothies - this one was mango with Snickerdoodle protein powder.  When we were traveling I really missed my recovery smoothies!

I roasted pumpkin seeds from pumpkins from our garden, and they turned out well.  I coated these with coconut oil and cinnamon before baking at 375* for about 40 minutes.  The worse you clean the pumpkin innards off them, the longer you have to bake them, and I'm too lazy to clean them much at all.

Another smoothie, with frozen banana and cherries, and birthday cake protein powder.

Tasty Thai chicken and veggies over rice on a work trip.

I don't eat these very often, but they hit the spot as a road trip snack.  This picture is pretty terrible but I never claim to be a food photographer!

This was tilapia, rice, and veggies at a Mexican restaurant.

My first trip through the buffet at the Creation Museum; I forgot to photograph my second plate but I loved the Brussels sprouts and got many more of those!

The only thing better than a veggie omelet is one topped with avocado.  This was a late dinner at IHOP.  I worried that eating at 10:30 p.m. would cause a problem on my 6:00 a.m. run the next morning, but it didn't.

We stopped at a fast food chili place (Skyline or Skylight or Sky-something Chili, I think), and I really hoped they'd have a white bean chicken chili, but they didn't, so I had a Greek salad.  It was good but I needed carbs.

Grilled chicken, veggies, and biscuits at Bob Evans.

 Greek salad, take 2, in Niagara Falls.  Also delicious and the bread was helpful.

Vegetarian chili in Canada.  This was good, but not nearly enough food, so I ended up eating Albani's cheese pizza that she couldn't finish too.

Another Bob Evans meal:  a veggie omelet, wheat toast, and fruit.  My mother-in-law also gave me part of her roasted chicken plate, which is what is on the right.

A burrito bowl from Moes - rice, beans, tofu, guacamole, and all of the veggies.  The red onion on top is pickled!

Chicken, veggies, and rice Chinese meal.

Basic roasted chicken on wheat with all of the veggies at Subway.

Jon loves barbeque, and this roasted turkey was one of the best meals I've ever had from a barbeque joint.

This is a poor photo of an amazing Hawaiian chicken soft taco from the Great American Taco Company; it had chicken in a citrus sauce, feta, pineapple, cabbage, pico, and cilantro sour cream.