Different Coasts but Still Connected

Often times we use the word “weird” to describe someone’s outfit or personality. Today, I’m using it to describe an interaction I had with my cousin Lori this morning.

As you know, I’m vacationing in British Columbia, a long way from home. My cell phone is in airplane mode, so I can only communicate over wi-fi (when I can find it). During my trip, I’ve been thinking of creative ways to raise money to reach my new fundraising goal. I decided to tap into my barre3 studio back home to see if they would help. Turns out that they would love to! I’m trying to nail down a date for a donation-based class, and am over-the-moon excited.

Flash forward an hour since receiving this confirmation, and I get a text from my cousin Lori asking if my ears had been ringing. She was emailing with Analisa Defiesta from the LLS National Office, and telling her about my hard work and Do It For David campaign. Analisa was thrilled to hear this! Lori was also explaining to her that she couldn’t commit to Light the Night in Princeton this year, a fundraiser and awareness walk for LLS. She’s not sure what David’s condition will be at the time. Then Lori followed up with the greatest news: David took his first steps on Thursday! It’s a sign he’s getting stronger! Also, his sense of humor is still intact. He shared some jokes with me through Lori about hospital food. If you’ve ever had hospital food, you know where this is going…

After hearing the news, I couldn’t help but think that my efforts are making a difference. Between the training and fundraising, I’m not always certain. Sometimes I feel as if my efforts are disappearing into a black hole because there is no immediate result. I have to remind myself that there won’t be an immediate result.

It takes time to treat blood cancer patients. It takes time to find better treatments. It takes time to find cures.

This morning’s “weird” interaction served as confirmation for me. Let’s continue fighting blood cancer one mile at a time.

10 Miles is Now A “Down Week”

I enjoyed a “down week” today — only 10 miles. I can’t believe I put the word “only” in front of certain mileages now. I guess the day would come when 10 or 12 miles would feel like a break.

I enjoyed a beautiful run this morning through Stanley Park in Vancouver, B.C. A cloudless sky, bright sunshine, and cool temperatures. Perfect. Perfect. Perfect!

The trail I followed hugged the English Bay, and I saw several large Great blue herons along the way. The seaplanes were floating overhead, and the mountains reached for the sky. Incredibly picturesque.

A view of the harbor, busy with freight ships.

A view of the English Bay, busy with barges; Great blue heron on the lookout in the foreground.

Floating barges in the harbor.

Floating barges in the bay.

After a slightly uncomfortable run (painful calf and ankles), I needed some comic relief. Enter the giants! “A-maze-ing Laughter,”  a sculpture located in tiny Morton Park across from the English Bay, is one of the happiest places I’ve been! These bronze, laughing giants were designed in the likeness of its Chinese artist, Yue Minjun.

Are you copying me?

Are you copying me?

 

He's laughing so hard his stomach hurts. Maybe a hug will help!

He’s laughing so hard his stomach hurts!

 

You're hilarious! Tell me more!

You’re hilarious! Tell me more!

Tonight is my last night in Vancouver, and I’m venturing out to find some yummy Pakistani cuisine. I deserve it after today’s run!

Next stops: Whistler and Victoria Island. Stay tuned for cross-training updates from the Capilano Suspension Bridge!

Fundraising Goal of $2,620 Reached!

Thanks to so many generous donations, I’ve surpassed my fundraising goal of $2,620! I’m simply over the moon!

Per the norm, each donor will receive a handmade and handwritten thank you card, but being on the West Coast makes that somewhat challenging right now. My apologies in advance, friends, for the delay in receiving one of my cards. I promise that you’ll get one!

Because I’m always challenging myself, I’ve decided to increase my goal for a second time: $3,000. Think I can reach that in 5 weeks? I do!

Please spread the word and encourage others to do the same. Raising awareness about LLS’s mission is just as important as a donation.

26.2 OR BUST!

Sixth 5K Complete: The Family 5K Challenge Keeps on Rollin’

So I’m a week late (oops!), but better late than never! The Family 5K Challenge keeps on rollin’, and last weekend my brother completed his sixth 5K; my mom completed her fourth.

According to my brother, last weekend’s race was his favorite yet! The Run for the Arts 5K in Ocean Grove, NJ, benefited the Jersey Shore Arts Center’s new Culinary Center for Visually Impaired and Special Needs Individuals. The course was flat and the weather nice and cool — no late summer humidity. Mom and Michael finished with their best times yet!

Keep on running family! So far you’ve run 19.5 miles for David!

Next 5K: Tunnel to Tower Run (Brooklyn Battery Tunnel to Ground Zero), Sept. 28

OG 5K

OG 5K

Cross-training at Mt. Rainier is No Joke!

Wow! Simply put: Mt.Rainier kicked my ass!

View from the trailhead.

View from the trailhead. 

Although not a long distance hike — it was about 4 miles round trip — the elevation gained on the way up was most challenging. From first steps to summit, there was an elevation gain of 1700′. That’s a lot in a short distance!

That nagging pain I’m fighting in my lower leg joined me for the climb, but the good news is that it’s gone today.

This week’s long run is a down week, so I’m only running 10 miles. Stay tuned for pics — I’ll be in Victoria, B.C.

Mt. Rainier hike

Mt. Rainier rising behind me.

My first marmot!

My first marmot!

Mt. Rainier's Nisqually Glacier.

Mt. Rainier’s Nisqually Glacier.

Enjoying the view from 6800'.

Enjoying the view from 6800′.

I did it!!

I did it!!

Training Doesn’t Stop When You’re on Vacay!

I began a glorious two-week vacation in the Pacific Northwest this past Saturday. First stop: Seattle. The weather has been glorious, the food delicious, and the coffee absolutely divine (and no, I haven’t been to one Starbucks since getting here). In between exploring the city, I’ve had to maintain marathon training. It can’t stop when you’re on vacation, right?

Thanks to my TNT coaches, I was put in touch with TNT Seattle. A few emails later, and I found myself a running buddy for my 16-miler: Sarah. She’s running her first marathon too!

Sarah and I ran 16 miles in West Seattle yesterday!

Sarah and I ran 16 miles in West Seattle yesterday!

What a great experience to meet someone else within TNT that is training for the same reason: to help blood cancer patients. We had so much to talk about because, until yesterday, we were complete strangers! We exchanged several emails leading up to Sunday’s run, and I knew when we met, it wouldn’t be awkward…at all.

Sarah is running the Victoria, B.C., marathon on October 12. Two weeks after her race, I run Marine Corps. It will be fun to exchange running stories leading up to race day, especially with a first time marathoner!

We had a great run through West Seattle. Our path hugged the Puget Sound and we ran past Alki Beach and up into great little neighborhoods nestled along the coast. Here are some pictures from our run:

Seattle Skyline

Apparently, the best view of the city isn't from the Space Needle. It's from the Columbia Building, the tall, black skyscraper in this picture.

Apparently, the best view of the city isn’t from the Space Needle. It’s from the Columbia Building, the tall, black skyscraper in this picture.

The Shoreline

Nothing but a rocky shoreline and mountains in the distance.

Nothing but a rocky shoreline and mountains in the distance.

Mt. Rainier (in the distance, snow-capped)

I learned that Mt. Rainier has its own Twitter account. Why? To let everyone know if it's out or not!

I learned that Mt. Rainier has its own Twitter account. Why? To let everyone know if it’s out or not!

Overall, Sarah and I had a great run! We kept each other motivated, and appreciated the fact that we didn’t have to run 16 miles alone. It was fun running in a new area, too. For me, everything was new — a great distraction to have on distance runs.

I made sure to pack a lacrosse ball to help me roll out since it seemed silly (and a bit difficult) to pack a foam roller. What a difference that made yesterday, along with an ice bath…of course! Sarah loves ice baths too (yay! I’m not the only one!).

It’s easy to stay motivated around here. Seattle is an absolutely gorgeous city. I’m really looking forward to continuing my training, especially since my next long run will be in Vancouver, B.C.!

Oh, and how’s this for cross-training? Tomorrow is a semi-grueling hike at Mt. Rainier. Pics to follow!

Fifth 5K Complete!

I’m a few days late, but better late than never, right?

My brother completed his fifth 5K this weekend, and my mom completed her third this past Saturday. They both ran the Fallen Heroes 5K Memorial Run in Lake Como, NJ. It was a hot and humid day, but they both dug deep and crossed the finished line! Great job family! Keep on running!

5K #5

5K #5

Lessons (Some Gross) Learned during Marathon Training

Today I hit a milestone in my training: 14 miles! This is the longest distance I have ever run, and it was also one of the most challenging. It was about 78 degrees at 6:30 a.m., but the humidity was hovering around 100%. Gnarly.

Go me and GO TEAM!

Go me and GO TEAM!

Today also happens to be my cousin David’s birthday, but unfortunately he’s spending it in the hospital. He recently came out of remission, so now he’s back on chemo. I wish that I could do more for him, but I find comfort knowing that the awareness and funds I’m raising for Leukemia & Lymphoma Society are helping to treat him and patients like him. He’s a fighter and I know he’ll overcome this challenge like he has every other.

So…as I’ve built my mileage back up, I’m learning a lot from training: some gross things and some things that I think other runners may find helpful. Consider yourself warned.

Black Toenails
I do believe that I’ve hit a runner’s milestone: a purple-black-ish toenail. After some research and a chat with my doc, it turns out that it’s nothing more than a bruise under the toenail…and there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s a result of repeated trauma to the toe. In a lot of cases, it’s from pounding pavement for a longer period of time and more often (e.g., mileage building for long distance runners). The nail will, in most cases, fall off. So much for that pedicure I was going to get this weekend…

Holy smokes, that's sexy.

Holy smokes, that’s sexy.

Ice Baths
This may be the closest thing to euphoria after a long run. I also think I’m the only one on my team that repeatedly says, “I just love ice baths!” The key to having a tolerable 5-7 minutes in an ice bath is simple: water temperature. The water shouldn’t be any colder than 54 degrees. I really enjoy ice baths because I get to reduce swelling and discomfort in 5-7 minutes, instead of icing each part of my leg for 10 minutes each. There’s no real evidence that this actually helps at all, but it can’t hurt. Learn more about ice baths here.

Thumbs up! Love my ice baths!

Thumbs up! Love my ice baths!

Calcium Magnesium Supplements
My chiropractor recommended that I start taking calcium and magnesium supplements leading up to race day. As I’m a female, getting the right about calcium is crucial to avoid osteoporosis — it helps keep the bones strong. Don’t you want strong bones? Magnesium is lost through sweat and urine in athletes, and is an essential mineral for red blood cell formation and bone remineralization. Talk to your doctor to see if these supplements are right for you, or learn more about essential nutrients for endurance athletes here.

This cal-mag supplement can be found at Whole Foods.

This cal-mag supplement can be found at Whole Foods.

Tangle Teezer
Ladies, listen up! I don’t know about you, but after a run, my ponytail is super tangled (even if I braided it). Thanks to my hair stylist and friend (love you Craig!), I’m in on a secret that many of you may not know: the Tangle Teezer. No more ripped out clumps of hair. No more %!!# screams into the bathroom mirror. This bad ass little thing is a miracle worker!

Consider the Tangle Teezer a gift from the hair gods.

Consider the Tangle Teezer a gift from the hair gods.

KT Tape
Some people think Kinesio tape is a gimmick (hell, I did at first), but this stuff has changed my life. It adds stability, and is good for muscles, tendons, and ligaments. There are different kinds of Kinesio tape, and I’m using the synthetic KT Tape. It helps with my ankle instability and tendonitis in my left leg. My chiropractor uses a different one (Kinesio brand) along with a spray adhesive to help keep it on longer. If you’re interested to learn more, check out this interview with the inventor of Kinesio tape, Dr. Kenzo Kase, with The Guardian.

Smelly Ass Clothes
Never in my life did I think I could get my clothes to smell worse than a used jockstrap. The human body — male or female — can really stink up some threads! I’ve found that most sports laundry detergents don’t work, so I found a more natural way to get the stink out: good ol’ vinegar and baking soda. I typically add 1 cup of white vinegar and 1 cup of baking soda to my laundry when I’m washing my workout clothes (I cut the detergent amount in half when doing this). Also, it’s best to wash your sweaty clothes immediately. The longer they stay wet and rolled up in a ball, the harder it is to get the smell out.

If I come across any other helpful tips (which I’m sure I will), you’ll know about it. Happy running!

 

Kitchen Fitness: Get off the Fat Train

Since returning from Memphis a few weeks ago (what a fun trip that was!), I’ve struggled with disembarking the Fat Train. I’m usually a healthy eater, but with a busy work and life schedule lately, it’s been hard to get back into my healthy eating groove. Too much pizza. Too much ice cream. Too much of the bad stuff.

This doesn’t mean I’m going on a diet — I enjoy the “bad stuff” too much for that! It’s about moderation. I’m also starting to think more seriously about how I fuel my body for long runs. I am making an effort to return to my routine of food prepping for the week on Sundays. That’s exactly what I did today…even though it’s Monday (hey, I took advantage of my day off).

Is food prep time-consuming? Yes. It eats up a few hours, but it’s worth it in the long run (oh look, a pun).

I found inspiration in a few new cookbooks I recently bought. One of them is Giada de Laurentiis’ Feel Good Food. It’s full of healthy, easy recipes. Today I made two new breakfast options and one lunch option. Dinners this week are courtesy of Blue Apron. Not familiar with Blue Apron? Basically, they plan, shop, measure, and deliver three meals for you weekly, and you can skip a week anytime. Each meal takes about 35 minutes or less to cook, and the dishes range between 500-700 Calories per serving. Not bad, eh?

Anyway, I’ve digressed. Let’s get back to food prep.

Typically for breakfast, I enjoy a large bowl of DIY Muesli with almond milk and fresh fruit. This week I’m going to try bulgur wheat with poached berries, and chia seed pudding. Both of these are from Feel Good Food.

The poached berries recipe was super simple. You can use it as a topping for muesli, bulgur wheat, chia seed pudding, and even ice cream!

Berries, apple juice, and agave nectar: Viola!

Berries, apple juice, and agave nectar: Viola!

Poached Mixed Berries
12 large strawberries, hulled and halved
1 cup raspberries
1 cup blueberries
1 cup blackberries
1/4 cup unsweetened apple juice
1 TB light agave nectar

Directions
Combine berries, apple juice, and agave nectar in medium sauce pan. Heat to boiling over medium-high heat. Lower heat and simmer 8-10 minutes until berries are soft, but not mushy. Remove from heat and let cool. Store in covered container in the fridge for up to five days. NOTE: If using frozen berries, make sure they are thawed.

Next is the chia seed pudding. I’ve tried many recipes, but not one that included actual dairy (I usually use almond milk and no yogurt). I don’t have a sensitivity to dairy, but sometimes I just like to go dairy-free. This particular recipe includes the addition of Greek yogurt, and I think it’s going to be a winner!

Combine a few ingredients together, and you've got a no-cook creamy pudding!

Combine a few ingredients and you’ve got a no-cook, creamy pudding!

Chia Seed Pudding
(serves 4)
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 cup plain 2% Greek yogurt
2 TB pure maple syrup (did not include)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup chia seeds

Directions
In a medium bowl, gently whisk the almond milk, yogurt, maple syrup (if using), vanilla, and salt just until blended. Next, whisk in chia seeds and let stand for 30 minutes (no need to put in fridge – leave it on the counter). Stir to redistribute seeds, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

My photo shows the pudding after standing for 30 minutes. It will thicken overnight as chia seeds are natural thickening agents. Another plus: chia seeds are high in omega-3 and fiber too!

Last, we’ve got a new lunch option, which honestly, I’m super excited about. Called chicken and honey-mustard pinwheels, it includes some of my favorite things: mascarpone, honey, mustard, and lavash bread. If you’re not familiar with lavash bread, well, get familiar with it — it’s absolutely delicious! Lavash bread is a soft, flat bread popular in Middle East countries. It’s great for wraps, pizzas, and dipping.

Make the chicken salad, spread it onto the lavash bread, add arugula, and roll up. Simple!

Make the chicken salad, spread it onto the lavash bread, add arugula, and roll up. Simple!

Chicken and Honey-Mustard Pinwheels
(serves 4)
1/2 cup (4 oz.) mascarpone cheese, room temp.
1/4 cup whole grain mustard (I used spicy since that’s what I had)
1/4 cup honey
Zest of 1 large lemon
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp black pepper (did not include)
1.5 packed cups arugula
2 cups cooked, shredded, skinless chicken breast
2 pieces Lavash bread

Directions
Mix together the mascarpone, mustard, honey, salt, pepper (if using), and zest. Add chicken and stir to coat completely. When ready to eat, assemble chicken salad on lavash bread and spread until you have a 1-inch margin between chicken salad and edge of bread. Top with arugula (amount is your preference). Roll the lavash bread like you would to form a jelly roll. Use a serrated knife and cut in half. Each half is considered 1 serving.

Have a great week and be well!