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Happy Halloween!

Today I had a just-for-fun half marathon trail race.  I had no expectations going into this race, which I figured was a good thing.  I haven’t run much since the Adirondack Marathon – a couple 5 milers or so, and a 13.1 two weeks ago.  I basically took the month of October to rest.  So I didn’t expect my conditioning to be amazing.

On top of that, this was a trail race!  I haven’t really run trails since high school cross country.  I did 2 or 3 short trail runs this month, just to get reacquainted with the whole thing.  It wasn’t bad, but definitely tiring.  I had heard that the trails for Hairy Gorilla were really tough, so I was mentally ready, at least.

My main goal for today was to run the race, have a lot of fun, and keep encouraging my friend and running partner, Chelsea.  This was her first (official) half marathon.  We did a 13.1 two weeks ago, so she already knew she could go the distance.  But the fact that it was RACE DAY was making her nervous.

We spent a couple nights this week working on our costumes, and they turned out awesome…

Can you say “puffy paint and glitter???”

Awesomeness.

And very comfortable to run in too!  I am so saving that shirt for future races.  🙂

The whole setup for this race was great.  The volunteers are all in costumes and they get really into it…

A gorilla roaming the parking lot as we pulled in.

The squirrel – the six mile race is the “Squirrelly Six”

They’re everywhere!  They did this all along the course too.

Never had my picture taken with a gorilla before…

It was a beautiful (and a little chilly) day.  We were at Thatcher State Park – up on top of the Heldeberg Escarpment (geologist-speak for “cliff”).  So the view was excellent.  Unfortunately, my husband was having so much fun taking pictures of dogs (he loves dog pictures) and people in costume that this is the only picture we got of the view.  It really doesn’t do it justice.

We checked in and got our bibs and eventually found Carrie.  Much picture-taking ensued.

Carrie was without costume since she only decided to run 2.5 hours before the race actually started.

I also ran into Jen – another local running blogger.  She had a great bee costume!  She also has some great on-course pictures (Check them out!).  I didn’t bring my camera with me since I knew it was going to be muddy.  I didn’t want to slip and fall into the mud and drop my camera in it.  That would be bad.

The race got started and already the craziness was happening.  One of the volunteers was running around with a chainsaw (chain removed, no worries) and a hockey mask.  He was all over the registration area before the race and then he got himself right in the thick of things in the start.  He came after Chelsea and she screamed at the top of her lungs.  It was hilarious.

The first half mile was pretty congested.  It was a little tough since the group hadn’t had a chance to thin out yet and we went right into narrow trails.  There were parts where we had to stop and wait for a second to get through.  There was also a woman behind us screaming “JUST MOVE!!!” at the top of her lungs.  Someone was taking it a little too seriously…

The boys (my husband and Chelsea’s fiance) managed to catch us not too far in.  So we were still all smiles.

Then we got in to the REAL trails…

The first four miles were TOUGH.  And I mean TOUGH.  It was pretty intense hills.  And it was muddy.  And rocky.  And did I mention muddy??? Chelsea definitely didn’t enjoy the hills.  Every time we rounded a corner, only to be faced by another uphill, interesting strings of words kept being yelled very loudly muttered quietly to herself.  I had to keep reminding her that we were just doing this for fun.  If (when) we needed to stop and walk, it didn’t matter.  We needed to walk the uphills.  There was just no way we were going to be able to run up them with all the mud and leaves.  So we took our time.

We made our way through the first part of the course fairly uneventfully – except all the crazy uphills.  It was also very pretty, but hard to stop and appreciate because you were focused on your footing. Unfortunately I didn’t do a very good job with my footing and I kept rolling my ankles.  Between all the mud, and rocks, and the generally uneven terrain, I was just not doing a very good job.  And once I roll my ankle once, I seem to keep doing it over and over.  So they were getting sore.

We made it past the point where the 6 mile race turned to head to the finish and we split off and kept going.  By mile 7, I started to get shooting pains in my ankles and I started to get concerned that I was going to end up getting injured.  Since breaking my ankle a year and a half(ish) ago, I tend to be fairly cautious when it comes to ankle injuries.  So far I’ve been lucky and haven’t had any problems with the one that I broke, and I’d like it to stay that way.

By 7.5 miles, my ankles were feeling pretty bad.  I was rolling them more and more, and decided to play it safe.  I gave Chelsea my Garmin and told her to kick ass.  And that I would see her at the finish, screaming my head off.  I worked my way back to the finish (another 1.5 miles) – running wherever it wasn’t muddy, rocky, or steep.  On the flat and dry sections I was okay.  But there weren’t too many of those!

After I got back to the finish, I found my husband and Chelsea’s fiance.  Not too long after that, Chelsea appeared!

Our first glimpse of Chelsea as she was coming out of the woods.

I wish my camera batteries hadn’t died right then.  The chainsaw guy was waiting and hiding right next to us and kept popping out as people rounded the corner.  Since Chelsea was running with a couple other people, I told him to aim for her, since she would be sure to be hilarious.  And she was.  Darn.  Stupid camera batteries.  I promise it was good.

I ran down the field with Chelsea, screaming my head off as we went.  She popped back in the woods to loop around quickly and we got ourselves situated at the finish line.  I was so excited for her!

GO CHELSEA!!!

She kicked so much butt.  Her first official half marathon, AND it was a trail race.  And she OWNED it.

She did it!

A big hug from her fiance.

And then it sinks in… “I DID IT!”  And “I AM SO TIRED!”

An official half marathoner!

Showing off the medal.

So even though I didn’t run the whole thing today, I had a great time.  It was a really fun (and tough!) race.  And I am super proud of Chelsea for kicking butt and powering through her first (and a really tough) half marathon.

And now she’s ready to run the Buffalo Marathon with me.  🙂

Bring on the training!

Congrats Chelsea!!!

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Just a quick post to say I’m still here!

Since the marathon, I’ve been pretty quiet.  I’ve been taking my cues from my body and my mind and just rolling with the punches.  It’s been a fairly stressful couple weeks, and I’ve also been fighting a weird pseudo-head cold, which seems to get the best of me every fall when all my students come back to school and the germs are making their annual rounds.

Next weekend is our “just for fun” half marathon on Halloween.  It’s a trail race, which I haven’t done much of since high school cross country.  I’ve done a few trail runs here and there since the marathon, but not a lot.  Apparently the trail itself is fairly technical in spots, and it’s one of those races that you just do for the experience, and not for a time.  So I’m going into it with the expectation that we’ll have fun.  And nothing more.  I think that’s a pretty good plan.

However, I DO need suggestions for a costume.  It needs to be something that I’ll be comfortable running 13.1 miles in and something cheap – because it’s going to end up getting covered in mud.  My husband was going to run the 6 mile race that goes off at the same time as the half, but he didn’t follow through on his training, so he won’t be running with me.  We were going to be Hans and Frans.

Bummer.  That would have been fun.  Any ideas???

I might be vegan, but my husband is not.  Although he has significantly reduced his intake of animal products, he still enjoys them occasionally.

So what’s a vegan/omnivore household to do?

First off, it’s important to accept the fact that you can’t force someone to change their eating habits (or any habits, for that matter).  If someone wants to do something, they need to do it of their own volition.  So I tried my hardest not to nag my husband about any non-vegan eating habits he may have.  It definitely got easier with time.

Second, it’s important for everyone to keep an open mind.  There are a lot of misconceptions about vegan food.  I’ve been very fortunate that my husband has been pretty open minded right from the start.  He was a little skeptical, but he’s pretty easy to please when it comes to food.  And, aside from a few exceptions (coconut and cilantro – neither of which I’m all that jazzed about either), he’ll eat anything that’s put in front of him.  So I was fortunate to have such a willing partner in this experience.  For some, it might not be as smooth a transition.  But as long as all parties involved keep an open mind and are willing to try new things, it’s very possible to make everyone happy.

Another important thing we needed to do was come to an agreement of sorts.  When I first went vegetarian and then later vegan, it was for ethical reasons.  (It later became health reasons too.)  So it really upset me to see my husband continuing to eat factory farmed meat and other animal products.  The important thing here was, again, to acknowledge that no one can be forced to change their habits.  And we needed to come to a compromise.  I didn’t want to force him to stop eating those things (although I’d be thrilled if he did), but I really wanted to at least make sure they were coming from a source that wasn’t a factory farm.  So we talked about it and (very easily) came to the agreement that as long as those food products were purchased from sources we knew (ie: the farmer’s market), I wouldn’t complain.  It’s worked out well for us.

Very often, a major concern when a family member decides to go vegan is the worry that they’ll need a bunch of new and obscure ingredients.  However, this really isn’t the case.  Are there lots of weird ingredients you could use?  Sure!  But you absolutely don’t need to:

Replacing eggs – Flax egg (1 tbsp ground flax seed – can be found at your local grocery store – whisked together with 3 tbsp water), Ener-G egg replacer (can also be found at your local grocery store, usually in the specialty/gluten free baking section), bananas, applesauce, etc.  Most (all?) recipes will give you specific instructions for this.

Replacing milk – There’s tons of good non-dairy milk out there!  Soy milk, almond milk (my favorite), and rice milk are all great.  I don’t really ever drink them straight (lost my taste for it), but you can.  Lots of people love the chocolate non-dairy milks.

Replacing butter – Any margarine will do, but Earth Balance is the one that is a vegan favorite.

Pretty much everything you could need is available at your local grocery store.  The only thing I’ve needed to make a special trip to the natural foods store for was nutritional yeast – which is different from baking and brewers yeast.  It’s used to give a cheesy flavor.  Other than that, I’ve never needed to go any further than my local grocery store’s organic section (which isn’t huge or all that impressive).  Rarely has there been a time when I’ve come across an ingredient I wasn’t already familiar with (nutritional yeast may have been the only one, actually).  So you can still use many of the items you already have in your kitchen – just be careful to check the ingredients for any “hidden” animal products.  You’d be surprised how many things have milk and eggs mixed in that you’d never expect.

Great Vegan Resources

Cookbooks/Recipes:

Informational iPod/iPhone apps (these are all free or under $2):

  • VegWeb
  • Vegan YumYum
  • VeganXpress – A great handy resource for when you’re eating out.  Lists vegan-friendly menu items for many popular chain restaurants and cafes.
  • Whole Foods Recipes
  • Cruelty Free – A helpful resource if you wish to bring vegan ideas into your everyday life outside of your food.  Lists companies that do not test on animals as well as specific products that are/are not vegan-friendly.
  • iVegan – Another handy app that lists vegan-friendly alcohols, companies, and ingredients.  A little bit of everything!

Perhaps the most important thing to do when a family member decides to go vegan (or vegetarian, for that matter) is to keep an open mind.  Just because one person wants to change their diet doesn’t mean everybody in the household has to.  Yes, you will probably all adjust a little, and in the long run, everyone will eat a little healthier.  But hey, that’s just a positive side effect.

No, it’s not always super easy (although it is FAR easier than I ever anticipated), but most people don’t realize that they’ve had vegan meals before.  Maybe not on purpose, but they’re not that difficult to make.  It’s all about your mindset.

Going vegan and playing with your food can be a lot of fun!  Don’t be afraid to take a deep breath and dive right in.

Happy eating!

There have been many delicious eats in our household lately…

Eggplant Parmesan

Slice eggplant into 1/4 inch thick circles.  Rub a small sprinkle of salt into each slice.  Place into colander and allow to drain for 20 minutes.  After draining, rinse slices off.  Dip eggplant slices into egg replacer or flax egg to coat.  Then dip into breadcrumbs (mixed with your favorite seasonings – I used something like thyme, oregano, etc.).  Once eggplant is breaded, pan fry (I used olive oil, but canola oil or something similar would work well too) until golden brown.  Place browned eggplant into a baking dish and cover with marinara sauce and your favorite vegan cheeze (I used Daiya mozzarella).  Bake just long enough for cheeze to melt (I did 5 or 10 minutes at 350 degrees).

Angela’s Lentil Walnut Burgers – best burger I’ve ever had.  And AMAZING with avocado on top!!!  I’m totally addicted.

Awesome Avocado Salsa – So easy and so good!

  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 1 can corn kernels
  • 1 or 2 diced tomatoes (In subsequent versions of this salsa I’ve been leaving the tomatoes out because I’m not the hugest fan of them and tend to just eat around them anyway.  It’s awesome without the tomatoes too.)
  • 1 or 2 avocados, diced

Mix together and enjoy!  To save for later, it’s best to add a drizzle of lemon juice to keep the avocados from browning.

Mmmm… now I want to make this again…

Vegan Peanut Butter Cups (from Alicia Silverstone’s The Kind Diet) – They’re so good, they’ll make you cry.  More than one person has said they’re better than Reeses (and I agree!).  They weren’t super pretty the first time I made them (pictured).  The second time I made the peanut butter part and then put it in the freezer to harden a bit before I added the chocolate.  I also reduced the amount of chocolate by about half.  It was simply amazing.

Angela’s Pumpkin Butternut Squash Chili – It was even better as leftovers.  For future purposes, I’ll make the chili the day before so the flavors can deepen overnight.  Then I’ll do the pumpkin bowls the day of.

I really need to get a better camera…  Sigh…

And I’m rested and ready to pick back up on my training.  I rested this weekend and enjoyed relaxing with my husband.

I have a fun half marathon coming up on Halloween and need to get back into a regular routine.  I also need to start getting used to trail running again.  My plan for the week is a little bit of everything…

  • Monday – PM run (5 miles) and then lift
  • Tuesday – AM run (4 miles), PM swim and lift
  • Wednesday – AM run (5 miles), PM swim and lift
  • Thursday – AM run (4 miles), PM swim and lift
  • Friday – REST
  • Saturday – swim and lift
  • Sunday – Medium length trail run (9 or 10 miles), leisurely afternoon swim

I can always skip the swimming if I feel like I’m doing too much.  I play it by ear.  But I really love being in the pool.  So I try to go as long as I feel up to it.

I have to say, I had a little bit of marathon envy today.  I regularly post on a health and fitness forum and many members were running marathons today (10-10-10 is a popular race date, just like weddings).  I spent the day enjoying the beautiful weather, resting, and cleaning – but a part of me was wishing I was out there doing another 26.2.  I had to keep reminding myself that I’ll have another one soon enough!

It really is addicting though.  I know there’s a winter one around here somewhere, but I’m not sure when that is.  I’ll find it though!

I hope you had a fantastic weekend!

I took most of this week off completely.  I didn’t do any running or other exercise-related things until yesterday (Saturday).  I’m glad I took those days off, because when I started back up yesterday I was feeling really good.  Sometimes your body really (REALLY) needs to rest.  And this week was one of those times – for sure.

Yesterday I decided to change it up and try my hand at swimming.  I plan to incorporate swimming as my cross training activity while I’m training, so I figured I’d go and see how it went.

We had a pool at the house I grew up in, so I spent many summer days (and nights – gotta love the night swimming!) playing around in the water.  But I’ve never been a big lap swimmer.  EVER.

I’m in a fortunate situation in that I teach and get to use all the college athletic facilities for free.  That includes the cardio, weight room, and pool.  Sweet. So I figured I’d go try out the pool.  Worst case scenario, I hate it, and I’m not out any money.

But I loved it!  I had no idea what I was doing really.  I could count the number of times I’ve gone to swim laps before on one hand.  So Carrie went with me.  For the first little bit, I was scoping out her form and the form of the girl on my other side.  Then I just had at it.  It definitely wasn’t easy, but it got a little better with each lap.  By the end of an hour, I was tired, but feeling really good and starting to get my confidence up.

Carrie and I went swimming again this afternoon and I felt even better than yesterday.  Also, one of my super nice students who is also on the swim team was lifeguarding (ah, and joys of working out at the school facilities), so I asked her to give me some pointers.  It was really helpful!  The pool is only 25 yards long, so it’s not huge.  I was doing 50 yards at a time and kept stopping when I’d get back to the wall.  I knew I had the physical ability to do more than one lap at a time, but I was having a mental block.  After Carrie yelled at me and told me to “just do it” I forced myself to continue on and ended up doing just over 175 yards without stopping.  Yay!  I could have gotten to 200 yards, but my foot cramped up and I needed to stop and tread water for a second until it went away.

So now I am totally addicted and am LOVING swimming.  I was only going to do it once or twice a week, but I have a feeling this might become a more frequent thing.  It’s so fun!  And very zen.  Something about gliding along and just staring at that black line of tile really zones me out.

There was one other event today…

My friend Chelsea was running a 5k this morning and wanted to beat her PR of 28:38.  I hadn’t run since the marathon on Sunday, so I had no idea how I was going to feel.  But I decided to run and pace her to beat her PR.

Pre-race.  Don’t we look snazzy in our awesome running tights?

We needed to run a 9:14/mile pace to beat her PR.  So I took her out at 8:44/mile for the first mile to bank some time.  Unfortunately, someone was calling out the splits at the first mile marker and she heard how fast she was going and got a little nervous.  (She was totally rocking the 8:44/mile, by the way.)  But she kept pushing and we did the second mile in 9:25.  I pushed her a little harder for the last bit (9:12/mile) and she crossed the finish line in 27:42.  A new PR.  Way to go Chelsea!

New PR!  Go Chelsea!

I felt pretty good for the first two miles, but I definitely started to feel the post-marathon fatigue in the last mile.  It wasn’t anything horrible.  But I could definitely tell that my body was still in recovery mode.  It takes a long time to recover completely!

And now it’s time to rest and relax.  I hope you had a fabulous weekend!

Need to contact me?

geonerdette at gmail dot com

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