Food = Energy

Food = Energy

Monday, August 18, 2014

Great running weekend & vegan love

Happy Monday everybody! It's been a few days since my last post and yes...I've missed you all too!

I had an excellent weekend full of relaxation including time spent with Val, family, and great running. 

Great runs

I decided to sleep in Saturday morning. Evidence that the body can be "programmed" to wake up at a certain time is evident in my waking up at 5:30AM without my work/weekday alarm being set. Well, 5:30 wasn't working for me that morning, but 8:30AM seemed like a good time to wake up. Truthfully, I can't recall the last time I woke up at past 7:45..sleeping in is just not something I do. 

It didn't and doesn't help that I still don't know what I should be focusing my training right now. I was so excited for the Via Marathon in Lehigh Valley, PA, but that sold out not too long after I decided I would register. Womp womp...

So I walked out the door Saturday and figured I'd get in 2 hours before Val came down for the weekend. I couldn't believe how great I was feeling and managed to run 16 miles at an averaged 7:16 per mile pace, while negative splitting the run (running the second half of the run faster than the first half). 

While I was running I knew that the next day would probably consist of a light recovery run or a very slow long run. I was sure that I wasn't going to be able to run anything significant after my last mile of the 16 was around 6:36, but I was wrong.

Sunday morning came around and it took me forever to get out the door. Val wasn't feeling too well and wasn't sure if she was going to go out for her bike ride. The last thing I wanted to do was leave her at the house and go for another 2 hour I went for a 10 miler instead! And boy was this one heck of a ten miler. My calves were tight from the outset, but my breathing was spot on and I knew after my warm-up that I would be able to sustain the sub 7 pace I was running. I told myself: If I can finish no slower than 1:10 (a 7 min/mile pace) then I'll be able. I averaged 6:41 mins/mile for just under 
1 hour and 7 minutes. I was ecstatic!

How these runs happened 

I couldn't even tell you how these two runs occurred. The last thing I thought I would be doing 3 weeks after my 6 hour would be running 10 or more miles under 7:30 pace. I did take 3 days off last week I've read a lot about how a nice gap in running like that allows the body to not only recover, but really process the training you've been putting in and enhance overall fitness. Given that my diet didn't change and my hours of sleep have diminished slightly, I think I can only look to the rest days I took to explain this weekend's runs. 

So next time you don't want to take a rest day or think that a day or two off is going to really set you back or decrease your fitness, take solace in the knowledge that this won't happen. It generally takes about 3 consecutive days to start to lose fitness so as long as you don't go through that (a "rut" is what I like to call it), then you should be just fine. 

Going forward

So after this weekend's running I think I'm going to stick to the pavement this fall. I'm looking to run the 2014 Staten Island 6 hour just about a month on September 20th. This ultramarathon is run on a 2 mile loop on pavement which is something that might not be great for my joints, but I am looking forward to nonetheless! 

For after this race, I have my eyes set on the Runner's World Half Marathon festival 3.5 weeks later and I don't know if I want to attempt the hat trick (5k, 10k, half-marathon). THENNN comes the NJ Trail Series One Day in November which is another timed event on a 1 mile loop. Don't know if I want to run that or attempt a marathon instead. I guess I have to figure all of this out!

Okay, I'm realizing that tonight's post is a lot of text to read and for that, I don't want to keep typing too much more. I'll go into the "vegan love" aspect of this post tomorrow instead as I don't have any images to share with you, unfortunately.

Happy Running!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Just not feeling happens

So I left the school building at 6pm again, and was bummed that it was raining. Had it not been raining, I probably would have scrounged up some motivation to go out and run, but that just wasn't the case. 

It took me 20 slow minutes to move about my house to get my running clothes together and by the time I actually got my clothes on what little motivation I had to go run had altogether diminished. I searched for an image to portray how I felt during this situation and this captures my feeling almost exactly:

 ....I say "almost exactly" because, "Good, I'll get your shoes," was replaced with, "Okay, put away your shoes." 

So I decided to take a day off and just eat dinner at a somewhat normal time and get some work done for school. 

Idk. I don't get these days often where I am just not feeling it, but that's exactly how I felt today. I felt off and I've learned, mostly from my conversations with Val, that it's okay to have those days and to accept that they are a normal part of training. However, now that I'm working full-time I have to watch how often those days might sneak up on me because I don't want to fall into a running rut. 

As promised, here are a couple shots of my go-to salad for the past week and a half or so. 

Start off with the greens. Plain spinach usually suffices for me as well.

End with the greatness. Cut up oranges, strawberries, cucumbers and blueberries. That's all she wrote. No dressings needed although maybe soon I'll include a recipe for a tasty homemade dressing after I consult with Val. She used to make her own for her salads she'd take to work so I know she has some good ideas. 

Okay that's all for tonight. Still debating this whole marathon thing. I'll keep you all posted! If it wasn't so late and therefore the most expensive the marathon fee gets then I would be all over it..but sadly that's not the case and I am left to debate what I should do.

Oh well.

Happy running!!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Marathon in less than 4 weeks?? Maybe

Happy Monday everyone! 

I really don't like that I have to write these posts so late at night, but I don't quite see an alternative...I guess it's just the reality. Today was the first day of school for our new students and it was a great day. My school is pretty strict on behavior and procedures so this week is really a student orientation week just on behavioral and daily expectations, which have proven to really help the students succeed in the long run...all that matters, right? 

So I was up at 5:30am and didn't leave the school building until 6 so it was quite a long day. I'll get used to those hours, but what I have to make sure I don't give up is my running. So knowing that I had to get a run in, I had to fuel up properly to give me sustainable energy throughout the day. After a day of poor eating yesterday (Tostitos and salsa, spiced ginger snap cookies, kettlecorn popcorn, and who knows what else), I was relieved to be forced to be back on track with my eating.

For lunch I've been packing a packed salad which I will take a picture of tomorrow morning to share with you all, but it's just greens with sliced up oranges, strawberries, blueberries and cucumbers. Simple, but such incredible flavors when combined into one juicy bite. Then there's the apple, baggy of fresh cucumber slices, carrots, and cherry tomatoes, and today I had a cherry pie Larabar as an afternoon snack to tide me over until a late dinner after my late run. Larabars were never my fancy, but after my dad bought a handful of them last week I've been hooked. Clif are still my favorite, but there a bit too heavy for just a small snack. 

Speaking of running though, I had an amazing 15 miler on Sunday. I wasn't and still am not sure what kind of running I should be doing right now given that I have nt yet registered for a race for the fall so I decided to run a 90 minute run Saturday and a 15 miler Sunday. These times/distances weren't actually planned until that morning, but I knew I wasn't going out for anything more than 2 hours. I just wasn't feeling it. 

The 11 miles mile run I got in on Saturday was okay; I didn't feel great about it, but I was glad to have gone for at least 90 minutes. Sunday's run on the other hand was amazing. I managed to go 7:31 pace for the 15 miles and felt like I was running on clouds. My new Asics Excel 33 3's are super light and comfortable and, to be honest, I was worried how my feet were going to feel after a quick paced longer run like that given my experience in light shoes for longish distances, but my feet were completely fine. In fact, I enjoyed the run so much that I'm thinking about signing up for the Via Health Network Marathon in Lehigh Valley on September 7th. I was contemplating this marathon back in May after I ran the NJ Marathon at the end of April, but decided against it and now I'm back to thinking I want to do it. I'll keep you posted! I don't foresee a BQ time, but something about the marathon is calling me back already. 

That's all the posting I'm going to do tonight...too much other stuff to get to. I realize I didn't post any pictures so I'll be sure to make sure that doesn't happen any time soon!

Before I go...

I want to acknowledge Robin Williams on a fantastic career in the multimedia industry. When I found out that this great actor and comedian passed away, I felt truly sad for the first time in a long time which makes sense because a prominent person in our culture has sadly passed. 

I just want to share the three films that I will forever remember. I will always be grateful to Robin Williams for giving these to my world. I know there not his Oscar winning films or anything, but they impacted my life so that's all that matters.

Patch Adams


Mrs. Doubtfire


Friday, August 8, 2014

Can't get it together!

I just can't get it together. I feel like my hours are just running into the next at lightning speed and I can't slow them down! Even tomorrow I want to get out for 2 hours and run but have a bunch of teaching/classroom-related errands to get done. It's going to be stretch, but I can't sacrifice my runs. They are what keeps me whole.

For tonight...please read Ben's story as it really is an inspiring story.

Also, I have to share with you all that I was "published" (my comment to the Editor) in the September Issue of Runner's World which is on a newsstand near you! I can't believe they decided to publish my comment.

Sooo ecstatic to see my name in such a prominent magazine for the running community I just love so much! the article I am raving about. It was truly a fantastic and relatively short read which is what prompted me to share my delight with RW.

That's all for tonight!

Happy Running!!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

News Blast!

The charter school I work at (my first teaching job!!) has a DIY kind of environment. Don't get me wrong, if you need help there's plenty of people to ask and there are extremely kind and hard-working maintenance staff as well, but the numbers are minimal. Because of this, we've been moving desks and chairs and tables and everything else for the past week. 

Today, I carried about 25 desks up two flights of stairs after we finished at 4. Then I had to organize my room a bit and didn't get home until 6, so I figured I needed to drop my desire to run and use today as a rest day so I can get more planning work done before the kids come on Monday. So I guess the same shall apply to my blogging, but I just love you all so much that I decided to treat you all to a news blast instead!

Enjoy! (Pics definitely not mine!)

First and foremost, you have to watch this Under Armour ballerina video if you haven't already. 

  • Gluten-Free peeps, check this out!

  • White House graced by Meb's presence!Meb Keflezighi at White House dinner 

  • Came across this on Why it struck my eye: the author uses almond milk and doesn't mention "vegan". Sweet!

  • You either have to leave really early to beat traffic on race-morning or you have to suffer through it. Don't like either of these scenarios??

  • Yesterday, the running community (minus me) celebrated and honored Joan Benoit Samuelson for her amazing achievement 30 years ago.
  • Joan Benoit crosses the finish line

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

"The nose is for breathing, the mouth is for eating."

So still no word on Christina, better known as The Athletarian, but I am confident that something might come out of this. Why am I confident?? Okay, so maybe I just mean extremely hopeful. It would be so awesome to interview her, but if that doesn't work out then I shall not be discouraged!

I just want to comment on how awesome swimming has been for my cross-training efforts. Of the three triathlon sports, swimming was by far my least favorite, but I have to think that biking has taken that position when it comes to training. Every time I go back to swimming in a pool I am reminded of the pleasure of working on cardio while working out other muscles and not constantly pounding muscles and joints like I do when I run (although I never think of running like this!).

It is so important to do other types of exercises to strengthen other muscles that are not used during your activity of choice. If you can't or don't like to swim, try biking or playing some tennis, perhaps. And don't forget to perform strength training no matter the sport or activity you engage in. Strength training is vital for bone health and improves overall fitness.

So I told Val about a couple weeks ago that I wanted to return medium runs at quicker paces back into my running regimen. Back when I was training for Tesla Hertz 50 mile ultra, I had back-to-back long runs and every Tuesday or Wednesday was a 9-12 mile run at a decent pace---and I loved these runs. So given that all of the salads, blueberries, tart cherry juice concentrate have me feeling almost completely recovered, I decided to run one of the runs today.

I got in 9 miles with miles 1 & 9 as cool-down and warm-up miles. The 7 miles were probably at an average of 7:05 pace which wasn't necessarily easy to do given the fact that it was approx. 86 degrees outside and my body is technically still recovering from the Montour 6 hour race 10 days ago. But I have to give some credit to what I could call a successful run to something I think I have gotten pretty good at after two years of focusing on it: my breathing.

The start of this 2 year time period I mentioned is marked by my reading of Scott Jurek's Eat & Run. In this book, on page 108 to be exact, the legendary ultrarunner recalls what a yogi said in a class he attended: "the nose is for breathing, the mouth is for eating."

Ever since I read this sentence, I haven't been able to shake its message. I immediately began training my body to get used to breathing in through my nose. Given that it's very important for ultrarunners to master the art of eating and breathing at the same time, I was also forced to really hone on this skill, but I'd like to think that I would have honed this skill had I not pursued ultramarathon running.

The conversation around breathing is convoluted with terms such as 3-2 pattern or 2-1 pattern which refers to inhaling and exhaling when your foot on a particular side of the body is landing. Truthfully, I didn't have the patience to read through all the articles and try to understand them quite frankly because I believe that breathing nasally adjusts your breathing to a more appropriate and slower rate which allows you to run easy-moderate runs easier and longer.

I'm not expert, though. And I still catch myself breathing through my mouth when my pace picks up or when I look focus on my run. It is important to be able to catch yourself and refocus your energies to your running economy. For me, and for today, that included refocusing my breathing back to nasal breathing. I immediately felt the difference. My body became re-centered and I felt a small resurgence of energy which began to wane as I began to breathe through my mouth.

Think I'm full of it? Well, I don't. Try nasal breathing for yourself. Start by focusing on 2 options:

1) Breathe in through your nose, out through your mouth   OR

2) Breathe in AND out solely through your nose.

Do one of these on an easy to moderate run and see if you feel any improvement in your energy levels. My bet is that you do because when you breathe efficiently, you allow more oxygen to get pumped to your muscles which sustains their ability to keep up the performance. Efficient breathing is also linked to improved brain activity so you're now thinking more clearly and more aware of your surroundings when you are breathing efficiently versus when you are not.

When you have been doing this for a couple weeks, perhaps you are ready to try nasal breathing on a slightly harder run. When your heart rate is at a very high level it becomes necessary to breathe in more quickly which usually involves breathing in and out solely through the mouth, but you can train your body/muscles to be satisfied with the amount of oxygen from at least 80% effort of nasal breathing (occasional deep breaths through the mouth).

So, just try it! I hope this little bit of advice helps out. Please feel free to Google and read through credible articles on breathing.

I will not be posting articles/sources in this post because this information was largely a compounding of various articles/conversations that I've come across over the years as well as my personal experience trying to perfect my breathing to allow me to complete ultras one day to much faster mile repeats on another day.

Last thing before I post:

This is happening. This weekend. The Seed .

If you are free or in the NYC area, please check this out! Oh and Scott Jurek will be there so maybe you can ask him personally about this whole breathing nonsense!

From their website: The Seed invites the vegan-curious, vegan-skeptical, and vegan choir to explore what we have to offer today. You’ll gain understanding of the endless benefits of a compassionate, healthful, and earth-conscious existence of the vegan & plant-based lifestyle.

That's all for tonight!

Happy Running...or whatever else you prefer to do!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Weekend recap

Quick post tonight...


Not too much going on. Went to my little cousin's high school graduation party (she's off to Rutgers at the end of this month. Woot! Woot!). Val and I brought our own veggie tray and hummus because we knew that our options were going to be quite limited and....we were right. The only other foods we could eat was watermelon (I could actually eat this all day if you let me!), Tostitos chips, and a version of my grandma's family-famous yellow rice that she has altered for Val and I by not cooking it with any meat. So nice of her, right??

So that's all for that day.

Sunday...a bit more eventful!:

We went to the Trenton Punk Rock Flea Market which was actually my first real event like this that I attended to in the city where I was born. I don't know if I would have heard about this event if Val wasn't checking out The Cinnamon Snail's Facebook schedule. So thanks goes out to Val for making it possible for us to experience this pretty neat event.

So this flea market really catered to all things weird, and by "weird" I only mean by typical American standards which includes what you Won't find in a shopping mall. There was jewelry galore and also zombie art, posters, clothes, repurposed-materials-turned-useful-art, and a bunch of other really neat and unique crafts and items.

Easily over 100 vendors were sharing (and selling) there beautiful, artistic, creative crafts and passions with attendees. I've driven past this used-to-be-warehouse so many times, but had no idea how huge it was on the inside.

This guy uses wood materials from the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy to craft these artworks. Pretty neat to idea to repurpose/reuse materials in this way which ties the artwork to the shore that Sandy rocked (waves, surfboards, anchor, shape of NJ). 

Val checking out some vintage video games. Brought us back for sure. Her top favorites were Super Mario Kart and Tony Hawk Pro Skater for Nintendo 64. Mine would have to be 007 Golden Eye if I had to choose just one!

Of course Rita's had to make there way to this event. Some of their stuff is vegan! The bus to the right is actually a small boutique store! How cool??

If you look closely, you can see some of a food truck behind the group of people in the center of this picture. That's right. The Cinnamon Snail. 

Which segues perfectly into.... 


Val got a Raw Pizza which she wasn't a huge fan of, but I would definitely get again. So we decided to switch meals about halfway through.

I got the special which was a Habanero Cauliflower "Chicken" sandwich which was just incredible. The hot/spicy habanero sauce definitely made this sandwich, but to get cauliflower to taste and feel like chicken is just mind-boggling to me. 

Now the great stuff....

We got 4 desserts, but don't worry...we only had two while we were there. The top-left is a peanut butter chocolate cookie dough donut which was simply phenomenal. Definitely my favorite of the 3 shown here.  The brownie-looking dessert is just that: a cheesecake brownie which pretty fantastic as well. The two on the right are The Cinnamon Snail's award winning creme brulee donut which was great, but I prefer to have chocolate with my dessert! 

Here's the peanut butter cookie dough donut. Jealous? I know. 

And who says vegans just eat lettuce?? Val and I...we live it up!! when it comes to food. 

So before I end this post, I just wanted to put it out there that I have requested an interview with The Athletarian  who is a resident of Canada (I forget where exactly), with a passion for running and being vegetarian. Her blog is excellent and I love her style of blogging where it's not just about one topic or issue, but really a mix of just whatever comes to mind or whatever happened that day that sticks out....sound familiar? So I hope she allows me to interview her through e-mail and I will let you know either way how that is progressing.

Meanwhile, please click on the link and check out her blog! If you have any questions that you would like me to ask her, please comment on this post or e-mail me at and I will see if the format we agree to allows for your specific question. 

That's all for tonight!

Until next time,

Happy Running! 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Recovering well

I know it's Saturday and it's likely that not many people will read this post, but I wanted to post anyway. I've missed the past couple days because I was so too darn busy with work (these posts don't take 10 minutes to get written!).

I had a pair of great short runs Wednesday and Thursday and they spawned this idea of how my body has recovered so quickly from last Saturday's 6 hour race. I logged 6 miles Wednesday and 7 on Thursday and I felt so light on my feet. This certainly means that the new shoes aren't inhibiting my running, but I think it just comes down to excellent recovery. But there is something that I can't ignore that has surprised me this week. I'll get back to this shortly.

So maybe you haven't heard that sleep is extremely important in aiding and even allowing the body (muscles) to recover from physical stress which can be caused by anything from weightlifting to running to any other serious physical activity you engage in. If you haven't heard this then it has to be because you've been engaged in the activity for far too long....WAKE UP! Okay, kidding. But seriously. This talk of sleeping to recovery well has been in the sports news for a while now and it's not losing steam.

Check out some online articles here. And here (scroll halfway down to find when they start discussing sleep). Here.

There's even a journal abstract I came across that focused on the effects of protein ingested directly before nighttime sleep. The protein, unfortunately, was casein protein which comes from dairy milk, but I think protein from nuts would help just the same. In Rich Roll's book, Finding Ultra, he mentions that he eats a few brazil nuts before bed to assit  in testosterone production, but the ultra athlete that he is, I would bet that this protein ingestion before bed aids in his overnight recovery as well.

         Brazil Nuts (click here for nutrition info)                                  Rich Roll

Anyway...let me get back to what I was saying.

So what surprised me about my ability to go 7 minutes/mile for a few miles on Wednesday and then get down to 6:35/mile for a few miles on Thursday was the fact that I have been going to bed much later than usual. I mean I have not gone to bed before 12 midnight all week--which is a streak I haven't seen since freshman year of college--and I have been waking up at 6:15. So this would seem to contradict the sleep-to-recover theory, right? Not even close.

One: such lack of sleep and ability to perform well in your fitness exercise of choice is just not sustainable. I wouldn't be able to keep this trend going for more than a week and I don't intend to do so either. Two: I believe nutrition has saved me. And I don't mean eating a vegan diet.

For starters, this past week I have eaten more salads than I've eaten in the last couple months (horrible, I know) and I truly believe the nutrients I was putting into my body have helped a lot in my recovery process. I also can't rule out that my reduction (not elimination) of packaged-processed foods and my intake of tart cherry juice concentrate just might have shown what they are truly capable of: for me, prepping my body for optimal performance. Despite the lack of sleep, my energy throughout the day has been pretty decent and my runs and swims have been great as well. I see no choice, but to credit proper nutrition for my body's ability to combat not only the stress of the ultra last week, but the loss of sleep hours. Do I recommend sleeping less? Absolutely not. I am merely stating my thoughts on the power of proper nutrition.

Now I am off for my first run over an hour all week. Wish me luck!

Happy Running and have a good weekend!