“It builds character!”

Ah yes, it’s my answer to imperfect weather conditions, “It builds character!”

It’s freezing outside, but running in the cold builds character.
It’s pouring outside, but running in the rain builds character.
It’s hotter than Hell outside, but running in Satan’s heat builds character…

That’s the attitude I kept today when Michael (my brother), Aaron, and I hit the Mt. Vernon Trail for our weekend run. Michael ran 3 miles and Aaron and I ran just under 6 miles. Today was my and Michael’s first time running together…EVER. How is that even possible??

Sibling dedication!

Sibling dedication!

The temps were frigid today, and the wind sharp and frosty. Less than ideal? I’d say so. But hey, running in conditions like that says a lot about a runner.

No excuses.
Commitment.
Drive.
Dedication.
A little nutty.

Aaron pushed me hard today, and I’m super thankful for that. I’m definitely one of those people that needs a bit of fire under my feet to test my limits. It’s easy to hold back running solo, but when you’ve asked your running buddy to set the pace, you’ve committed. Boom. Done. Run.

You're going to see a lot of us lately!

Aaron is proof that I can co-exist with a New England fan!

Fundraising for the Marine Corps Marathon begins on Wednesday, April 1. My brother and I recorded a “Mission Moment” video today, which I’ll share with all of you on Wednesday. I hope you’ll join us this year, and help us beat blood cancer’s butt one mile at a time! Let’s Do It For David!!

POW!! Let's beat blood cancer together!

POW!!
Let’s beat blood cancer together!

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Bye-Bye Sideline

“We are always running for the thrill of it thrill of it,
Always pushing up the hill searching for the thrill of it.”
Empire of the Sun, “Walking on a Dream”

That’s pretty much what I was thinking today on my first run in SEVEN DAYS, which felt more like an eternity than a week. I’d been sidelined since March 16 thanks to an Amtrak passenger who didn’t exercise proper cough etiquette. Today is the first day that I’m not coughing my head off or spewing gobs of snot from my nose. (Sorry, should have warned you about that.)

Credit to my recovery goes to the following: rest, saline nasal spray, Advil, and Zarbee’s Naturals Cough & Sore Throat Relief. Thanks to each and every one of you, I am no longer a congested, zombie-like creature.

Today I ran a combo of speed and hill drills for about 3.25 miles. The weather was perfect: overcast, a light mist, and low 60s. Spring is on its way! My next run will be on Sunday with TNT teammate Aaron. I was supposed to run a 7-miler with him last weekend, but the head cold got the best of me. I hope to log 7 on Sunday; however, stubborn Aaron has runner’s knee so we’ll see how far we go. Our half-marathon is 8 weeks away, so we have plenty of time to add on mileage. We’re actually way ahead of the game!

This weekend is going to be especially fun since my brother is coming down to visit. We’re going to a Wizards game tomorrow night, meeting friends for a beer tasting on Saturday, and we’re running together on Sunday. SPOILER ALERT: We’re recording a Do It For David campaign video this weekend, so stayed tuned for our debut!

“Do It For David” Gets Press Mention

I am over-the-moon-can’t-contain-it excited!!! In an earlier post today, I mentioned that the new 2015 Do It For David signs grabbed attention of a local reporter with the New Jersey Star-Ledger. Well, we got a press mention in today’s paper! How’s that for starting off the 2015 season?!

We’re creating awareness. The next step: create more! Let’s keep it going!

We're getting on step closer to finding a cure for blood cancer!

We’re getting one step closer to finding a cure for blood cancer!

 

 

2015 Race Season Begins with TuTu Race

As you know, my brother Michael and I have committed to running hundreds of miles and raising thousands of dollars for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) through its Team in Training (TNT) program. We’re both participating with TNT in the Marine Corps Marathon this year (me the full, Michael the 10K), but we’re also running unrelated, nonaffiliated races in an attempt to raise awareness and money for LLS. Today was Race #1 for Michael: the TuTu 2.2 Race.

This race was held in Asbury Park, New Jersey, and benefited the Boys & Girls Clubs of Monmouth County. Michael finished in just over 27 minutes, and ran with a group of five Do It For David supporters, including the Edwards’ family. As you may recall, they were one of our biggest supporters last year.

With a new year comes new race day signs! Check out these gems, which made their first appearance today. I should mention that they received attention from a Star-Ledger reporter. Maybe we’ll get a blurb in the paper!

After today’s race, Michael has 197.8 miles to go (this includes training runs). Think he can do it? I know he can!

Stay tuned for Do It For David fundraising information. I’m working on the site and can’t wait to share it with you when it’s complete. LET’S DO THIS!!

Let's do this!!

Let’s do this!! Love the new signs!

 

Lace Up and Get Those Miles In!

It’s taken a few weeks, but I can finally say (with confidence!) that I’m back on my A Game! To quote my boxing instructor Ivan, I’m keepin’ it hot.

No ankle pain, no knee pain, no hip pain. I’ve finally found a way to manage it all: routine chiropractor visits, yoga, and strength training. I’m feeling super pumped now that training for the Marine Corps Historic Half is in full force. I’m also excitedly working with my brother, Michael, to develop some great fundraising ideas for the 2015 Do It For David campaign, so stay tuned for that. When you find what motivates you, the training and fundraising doesn’t seem like work anymore.

My weekly training runs during my lunch break are doing more than keeping me fit. They’re keeping me sane. For me, training in the middle of the day clears my mind and helps me refocus on what’s important. I’m fortunate to work near Arlington National Cemetery, so many of my running paths take me over there. Sometimes there is a funeral taking place, and I always assume it’s one of our country’s young soldiers. It makes me thankful that people are willing to risk their lives to protect an entire country. It’s noble and it’s brave, and I can’t think of a better way to say “thank you” then running with the Marines. As you know, I’ve committed to three of the Marines’ races this year. Until you’ve run alongside soldiers, you don’t know what “driven” means.

Here is a picture from one of last week’s runs. To celebrate Women’s History Month, it just made sense to stop for a picture in front of the Women in Military Service for America memorial.

Women in Military Service for America Memorial

Women in Military Service for America Memorial

As my brother and I gear up for our 2015 races, we hope that we’ll have your support. It’s important to keep our cousin’s memory alive, and to help other patients battling blood cancer. This is our purpose. It keeps us motivated and moving.

Thanks in advance for your support. MCM 2015 or BUST!

Revived!

Let’s be real: exercise can be boring. It’s the main reason I love group fitness classes and change up my routine regularly. Between boxing, barre, and yoga classes, I rely on my iCal to remind me where I need to be. Since changing up my routine a few weeks ago, I’ve become re-energized—and it applies far beyond the gym. It’s affected my personal life, what I’m whipping up in the kitchen (two new recipes to share with you!), and my mood at the office.

Last Saturday, I met up with one of my TNT teammates (Shout-out to my boy AARON!!) for a run. We’re training together for the Marine Corps Historic Half on May 17. I broke in my new pair of kicks (see below) and was reminded of how much I enjoy running with a buddy. Chatting helps pass the miles, and before I knew it, we’d already cleared five. In total, I pushed out 7 solid miles on Saturday and felt pretty damn good. No ankle pain. No hip pain.

 

My new kicks! Brooks Ravenna 6

My new kicks! Brooks Ravenna 6

After a good run or workout, that boost of adrenaline and release of endorphins really kick-starts the metabolism and improves mood. I’ve found that I’ve become more creative in the kitchen. I’ve been experimenting with gluten-free and vegan recipes out of curiosity, and have found a few I think you’ll enjoy.

Gluten-Free, Vegan Breakfast “Cookies” adapted from Kumquat blog

Ingredients
1.5 cups gluten-free rolled oats
1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
1 TB golden flaxseed meal
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup dried currants
3/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans
3 very ripe bananas, mashed (if frozen, thaw before using)
1/4 cup coconut oil, warm enough to be a liquid (I used a three-oil blend as a substitute.)
1 TB agave nectar or organic honey
1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 350. Line cookies sheets with parchment paper. If you don’t have parchment paper, use cooking spray.
2. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.
3. Combine wet ingredients in a separate bowl. Once thoroughly mixed, add to dry ingredients. Mix well.
4. Place a 2.5-inch round cookie cutter on the baking sheet. Press 2 TB of the mixture into the cookie cutter. Continue with remaining mixture.
5. Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden and fragrant. Let cool on baking sheet.
6. Store in airtight container for up to one week.

NOTE: Next time I make these, I think I’ll add some cacao powder, since I love my daily dose of chocolate!

Gluten-free, vegan breakfast "cookies"

Gluten-free, vegan breakfast “cookies”

This next recipe makes a great side or main dish. Add some fresh mixed greens for a yummy salad option.

Roasted Red Pepper and Green Bean Quinoa Salad adapted by Closet Cooking blog

Ingredients
1 lb. green beans, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
2 red peppers, seeds removed
1/2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
1 TB olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup quinoa
1 3/4 cups water
1/4 cup walnuts, roughly chopped and toasted
Goat cheese and more fresh thyme (for topping)
Splash or two of sherry vinaigrette (as dressing)

Directions
1. Place red peppers cut-side down on a baking sheet and broil for about 10-12 minutes (until skin starts to blister). Remove from oven and place in a seal-able container to steam (about 20 minutes). Remove skin and cut into 1-inch pieces.
2. In a large bowl, mix green beans with olive oil, thyme, salt, and pepper. In a single layer, spread beans on a baking sheet and roast for about 25 minutes, flipping halfway through.
3. As the green beans roast, cook quinoa according to package directions.
4. Mix beans, red peppers, and quinoa together. Before serving, toss with sherry vinaigrette and a pinch more salt and pepper. Combine well. Top with a little bit of goat cheese crumbles and thyme.

I hope my little does of inspiration in the kitchen (and out on the trails) will help you stay motivated too! Eat well. Be well.

Yoga Retreat Recap: Magical, Inspiring

This time last week, I was airborne and flying over the Florida Keys. I was flying business class (what a treat!) and working on a crossword puzzle. Today, I’m watching sleet and ice fall from the sky and wishing I were back in Guatemala. One can daydream…

So, how was the trip? Nothing short of life-changing. Yoga twice a day, delicious vegetarian meals, an endless supply of ginger and lemongrass tea, communal meals, exploring lakeside villages, stand-up paddling boarding, mediation, conversation, meeting new friends…I could go on, and on, and on.

Here are few pictures from the trip:

The view...every morning. This is Lake Atitlan, a collapsed volcanic crater that filled with water.

The view…every morning. This is Lake Atitlan, a collapsed volcanic crater.

This is where our morning practices were held. On the top floor is where we lived for the week.

This is where our morning practices were held. On the top floor is where we lived for the week.

Here's the "main drag" of Mystical Yoga Farm. On the left is Rancho, where we ate our meals together.

Here’s the “main drag” of Mystical Yoga Farm. On the left is Rancho, where we ate our meals together.

That's me exploring San Marcos, a fun hippie village settled by expats.

That’s me exploring San Marcos, a fun hippie village settled by expats.

Coming back to the States has been a hard adjustment for me. During the retreat, I felt surrounded by endless amounts of positive energy and a sense of community. I know that comes off sounding “crunchy,” but it’s true. From my observations, Guatemalans seem to have a strong sense of family and love for others. They work hard and they work together. It’s not a cut-throat environment where people only care about themselves and sabotage others for promotions or more money (examples: Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., and Wall Street in NYC). It’s not that I’ve been unaware of this type of behavior, but to be removed from it for a week and then come back…

The first few days were a struggle, but then I consciously decided to stop manifesting negativity. I started exercising my mind and began to manifest positivity. I thought it would help bring the light back into my life. You can’t move forward if you keep living in the past, right?

Since changing my behavior, happiness is filling my heart and pushing out the darkness. When you are kind to others, when you smile more, when you say “hello” to a stranger, you start a chain of positive reactions. Think of what happens when you do the opposite. It causes a chain of negative reactions. For example, someone cuts you off for a parking spot and the first thing you do is start yelling at them, as if they can hear you and will politely backup and allow you to have the spot. That’s not the typical outcome, right? What would happen if you let it go? What type of person would you be if you let it go?

This small shift is a direct outcome of the retreat. I cannot thank enough my yoga instructor, Ariele Foster, and my yogi friends (especially you, Megan) for not only creating a safe place for physical yoga practice, but also for the practice of being mindful. I have so much gratitude for all of you.

Jag Quote

Many special things happened to me on the farm, and I thought I’d share one with you regarding David.

Below is Grandfather Rock. According to many on the farm, it is believed to be a type of portal to the past, and maybe even the future. Unfortunately, this picture does Grandfather Rock little justice; it doesn’t portray its strength or magical qualities fairly.

The mystical Grandfather Rock, a portal to the past and future.

The mystical Grandfather Rock

On Wednesday evening, February 18, David came to me in a dream. I’d never dreamt of him before. In the dream, David died in an accident and came to me with a bruised and scraped up head. He said, “I’m okay. I need you to be strong for Lori, Courtney, and Aunt Mary. Comfort them.” I woke up, slightly disturbed. I wrote it in my travel journal and then read my entry from the day before, February 17. I attended a cacao ceremony, and knew I wrote about it in my yoga journal, so I flipped through that.

“Today is the 12 year death of Mommom. I saw a cardinal on the farm — in Guatemala! During the cacao ceremony, I felt a light spirit. Maybe it was Mommom.”

When I put the two together, the only reasonable explanation was that Grandfather Rock played a role in these two experiences. Both were unusual events, but they made sense. The timing made sense. It was as if Grandfather Rock opened up a portal to the past for me, perhaps to reassure me that the things I experienced during the cacao ceremony were real and valid.

After reading this, some of you may think I’m a little unstable, nuts, or foolish. I had the same reaction when I was trying to explain all of this to myself, and I’ve found that some things are better left unexplained.

This retreat was much more than a lesson in deepening my physical practice; it also deepened my spiritual practice. Now that I’m adjusting to “normal life,” it is time for me to apply some of the lessons I’ve learned to my race training. I’ll start with positive mantras: I can do this. I am strong. I got this.

This retreat was so refreshing, and the boost I needed to begin the 2015 training season and Do It For David campaign. I can’t wait!!