Thursday, May 31, 2012

I'm going to streak!

In running clothes, of course (what else do I wear?). For the first time since hearing about running "streakers"--those who run day after day after day without a break--I'm jumping on board. The streak challenge I'm doing runs from Memorial Day through Independence Day, and this marks Day 4 of 38! You can read more about it in the Runner's World article here.

Streaks have never sounded like a good idea to me for a number of reasons, the most important being that I believe my body needs a good solid day of rest every week to perform at its best. But that's the thing... with this challenge, I don't *plan* on performing. I'm not registered for ANYthing right now! I might do a 10K at the end of June, but that still fits within my self-imposed limitations listed below. The bare minimum required for the streak is one mile per day. ONE MILE. I can (and should) do that with my dog! Rather than making any great strides (ha ha) in my physical fitness during the next few weeks, here's what I hope to get out of this:

1. Rise and shine: Get up at least one morning per week to run before The H leaves for work.
2. Bond with the pooch: Take the dog with me, weather permitting, at least once a week.
3. Take it easy: Cut back weekend long runs to 6-8 miles (thanks to my running buddy for that idea) to even out overall mileage in spite of adding two days of running.
4. Stay loose: Do at least one yoga class or DVD weekly to stretch out the muscles I'm overworking.

Anyone out there a streaker? Want to join me in this challenge?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Kale with quinoa and chickpeas

Oh, kale, you dark dusky-leafed green, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I love thee blended into a cool, verdant smoothie as a refreshing post-run pick-me-up. I love thee sprinkled with kosher salt and toasted to a light crispiness. I love thee wilted into a rich red wine-saturated spaghetti sauce, or stirred into a hearty potato-sausage soup when the winter winds wail at my windows. 
But most of all, oh dear kale, I adore thee to the utmost heights when prepared the following way (super giant pink puffy-heart thanks to my friends, H&N, for this inspiration, and for continuing to acknowledge me in public):

1. Precook some quinoa and chickpeas (or use a can of garbanzos, rinsed well).
2. Sauté a bunch of washed, torn kale in a giant skillet. Set aside in a large bowl.
3. In the skillet, sauté two minced cloves of garlic in a swirl of olive oil, along with some paprika and cumin.
4. Stir chickpeas into garlic & spice mixture and mix well. (This gets 'em really nutty tasting...yum.)
5. Add 1-2 cups of the quinoa to skillet and toss it all together. Add the juice from two lemons.
6. Stir in kale until well combined; add more quinoa if you want.
7. Sprinkle with a decent amount of salt to taste and serve in the large bowl the kale was in.

It's actually far simpler than I've made it sound: stir together kale, quinoa, and chickpeas with seasonings; add salt and lemon juice, enjoy. 

The second time I made this within a week, I also bought a 2lb bag of dried garbanzos so I can do it again. You'd better believe I stopped halfway through writing this to reheat a little--and take a typical subpar picture. :)

You can serve this hot, warm, or cold... or while you stand over the stove before dinner... as you're boxing it up for lunches the next day... if you are scavenging for a midnight snack... at a picnic with your friends (genius, it doesn't require intense refrigeration)... pretty much anytime you want a hearty, flavorful, delicious, tangy, filling, vegetarian (vegan? I think so) meal. I'm already wondering how many times I can incorporate it into family picnics and parties this summer.

Check out this link to read a little more about the goodness of kale.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Two weeks later

Two weeks ago today, I ran my third marathon. It was a gorgeous course, with a super-fun and scenic 18 miles... then a hill... then a relatively flat bike path. But since my quads were toast from the downhill, then from trudging up the hill I refused to walk, it was like they had forgotten how to propel me forward on the flat parts. My legs had no "go." Mentally I was fine, other than annoyed at my lower half. I had hydrated and fueled *just right* the whole time. I just couldn't make my legs move. And for the last four miles, walking won out more than I would've cared for. I decided that slowing down to catch my breath was the way to go. There may or may not have been a text to The H around Mile 23 that said I was dying, or something close to it...

Still, I crossed the finish line running and smiling (after a moment of mild hyperventilation when I found The H waiting for me at the final straightaway), and got the same medal I would've received if I'd clocked a wicked fast PR. After that, I just wanted to SIT DOWN. And he snapped a picture of what I *really* look like post-26.2, just for future reference.
I am not disappointed in the least with the overall experience. You train for weeks to do the best you can, but you can't always predict what will happen on race day. I didn't realize what 18 miles of downhill would do to my legs, but now I know. The medal that's hanging next to my others is identical to the ones those who qualified for Boston had around their necks. It's the same one I would've gotten if I'd run faster, or walked the whole thing. I'll always find a way to pick apart a race performance, but I hope it doesn't come across that I regret any of it.

The rest of our trip to Colorado was gorgeous. We got to see Pike's Peak, the Royal Gorge Bridge, the Downtown Aquarium in Denver, and Garden of the Gods, not to mention our friends who moved out west last spring. It was a really nice week--one that felt so much longer, but not really in a bad way.
Since then, I've logged a 10K PR (53:44), and a 1st-place age group finish in a small 5K (24:01, not a PR). I guess there's no lasting damage from that downhill stretch. :)

Today's race, the 5K, was sunny, humid, and hot, with no breeze until the end. And thus begins the summer racing season! In the past month, I've run a 5K, 10K, half marathon (PR), and a full. Rest is probably in order now. While I know I'm not done with marathons--I almost registered for another in June--I'm excited to sign up for some shorter distances, probably until the weather cools down again. The idea of a marathon relay with my mom and some other female relatives has been tossed around. Anybody running Detroit this year? :)

Monday, May 7, 2012

Marathon: Survived

More to come...