Thursday, January 8, 2015

#writeandrun31

Well I joined a group on Facebook, #writeandrun31, that my friend Becky invited me into. The goal/point of this is to write and run for 31 days straight. The running part should be easy as I am in the middle of a running streak (22 days and 69.5 miles so far) but the writing part may prove a little more difficult. But its a good push for me to write for my blogs (the other one is http://musingsofawomanscientist.blogspot.com/ where I post my scientific writing) and to write for my social running group, which I am woefully behind on.

So I was supposed to post daily goals for each of these tasks and I haven't done that yet. The minimal running goal is easy - at least 1 mile. Right now that is proving a little tougher as we are in the middle of a cold snap and motivating myself to run outside when the windchill is 3 F is tough. But I have other running goals during the year. Again, I have a goal of running 1200 miles. I fell short of that in 2014 and didn't make it even to 1000 miles, but I got pretty close at 985.4 miles. I also need to work on my speed. On Christmas, while talking with my brother-in-law Joe, a family challenge was proposed. Of course this challenge wasn't going to include the whole family (Joe run??!?) but just myself and my youngest sister, Sarah, as we are the only ones who run in the family. As both of us have run marathons the challenge is to see who can run the Naperville (IL) marathon the fastest. Thankfully, Sarah has agreed to base the results of this challenge on age-graded results as she is 15 years younger than me. Training for the distance of a marathon won't be difficult as I've been running ultra-marathons for a couple of years but I've gotten older and slower and I really would like to beat her outright! My fastest marathon was my first - 4 hrs 20 min at Marine Corp Marathon in 1996. My slowest was 5 hr 24 min at the D&L Heritage Marathon in 2011. There are other races and goals that I am mulling but I'll save that for another post!

I don't have a set writing goal yet - just to write something every day. I'm almost tempted to count this as part of tomorrow's goal as I've already updated my other blog today. But instead, I'm writing this now as a means of procrastinating. I don't feel like reading and grading a student paper!


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

30 Day Weight Loss!

Signed up for a 30 Day Weight Loss support group shepherded by Miranda Zukowski. The goal of course is to lose weight but do so in a healthy way. We've been sent Excel spreadsheets already organized to help us track our food and exercise and there's a private Facebook group. Of course each of us need to know where we started. That could be weight, measurements, or before pictures. So this is where I started on 6/23/14: 147.1#, hips - 37 3/4", waist - 29 3/4". And here's the before picture:


Not too bad but still need some work. I have pants that I still need to fit into! My ultimate goal is to get down to 135#. This is still not as low as I've been. Up until the last year of grad school I weighed 125#. 

Besides upping the exercise (I'm currently training for a tough 50 km race in August), I also need to focus on the diet - which really means less beer and snacks and eating more fruit! - as I've been pretty good with the diet having more vegetarian meals than I used to.  I think I'll post an update here in 2 weeks and of course the final results.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Black Bean & Mushroom Enchilada Casserole

I have a lot of stuff in my freezer so I'm trying to use up some of it. Last week I made chicken & andouille gumbo with the andouille sausage that had been frozen for a year. Turned out really yummy. Today it was black bean & mushroom enchilada casserole with the enchilada sauce, corn tortillas, and chipotles in adobe sauce from the freezer. I checked a few recipes but nothing had what I wanted in it so I winged it. It turned out quite good!

Ingredients
chipotles in adobe sauce. I think I used about 4 or 5 chipotles and whatever sauce was remaining. Make sure to dice them. I only sliced them so would get a chunk of chipotle every so often
corn tortillas
enchilada sauce (I think I used this recipe but probably omitted the sour cream )
1 can black beans, rinsed
diced onion
diced green pepper
sliced mushrooms. I used baby portabellas (they were on sale) but button mushrooms will work too
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
grated cheese (use whatever you like for a tex-mex dish)

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a large frying pan, saute onions and garlic for a few minutes. Add green peppers and saute. Add coriander and cumin, saute for a minute. Add mushrooms and saute until mushrooms release their moisture and moisture cooks out. Add black beans and diced chipotle. Mix well until everything is warmed through.

Spray 9X13 in baking dish with Pam. Put a little enchilada sauce in the dish. Put in a layer of tortillas.
Spread enchilada sauce on tortillas then half of the bean/mushroom mix. Sprinkle with grated cheese. Repeat with another layer of tortillas, sauce, bean/mushrooms, and cheese. I had a final layer of tortillas, enchilada sauce and cheese.

Place in oven and bake 30 min. Let cool about 5-10 min, cut and serve.




Friday, March 21, 2014

Lenape Trail

March 1, 2014.

The day started out pretty cold, about 20 F, and with no heat in the truck I was pretty cold as I met the other runners at the Locust Grove parking lot of South Mountain Reservation in Millburn NJ. Thankfully one of the guys let me sit in his truck with the heat turned up high so I could warm up. After warming up, I got out of the truck and the pack made its way to the Millburn train station. We were taking the train to Newark NJ where we would begin running the Lenape trail.

The run is 33 miles long starting in Newark, wending through Belleville further north and west back to Millburn NJ. The day started at 20 F and warmed to the low 30's. It was a pretty good day for a run. The temperature was comfortable with what I wore, and the sun was out for most of the day; but there was still a lot of snow and ice on the trail portions of the route. I also had not been running long enough due to the cold I contracted and the crappy weather we've had this winter. For the first several miles through Newark I was running with Sean. But I was soon alone. And would continue the rest of the run by myself. Some of the marks were difficult to find in the park in Belleville, but I knew where I needed to be. I think I may have cut a bit off but I was needing a bathroom break. And luckily for me trail actually passes right in front of my condo. Stopped at home, got a few swigs of Gatorade and a couple of cookies and the much needed bathroom break.

Trail continued through a park through Nutely, that I hoped would have been free of snow & ice but wasn't:

Lenape Trail through Nutely NJ
 The trail is a mix of everything - streets, paved bike paths through parks and trails. Running through Mills Reservation was beautiful - except for the icy trail - and at the top of the hill afforded me some nice views:

I was really regretting not bringing my Microspikes. It would have been a pain to have to take them off and put them back on but I probably would have moved easier through the snowy & icy parts of the trail. I got a bit turned around in the reservation after taking some advice from a hiker but I called up Chris and he was able to set me on the correct path. At this point, I was mostly walking with a little bit of running. The legs & knees were sore and I still had quite a ways to go before the first aid station at mile 16. After Mills Reservation trail eventually took me around the Cedar Grove Reservoir. With all the ice and snow, it was a bit tough going and ended up running on the street with a narrow shoulder. Thankfully there weren't too many cars and I was able to make my way to where the trail turned back into woods.

This was an interesting section of trail as you end up running along this narrow ridge which is a path for deer. There was so much deer poop and urine in one area; it was a deer bathroom! I was also alone with about 6 deer. Since I wasn't running, I didn't really spook them much and we were traveling in the same direction. If you look really closely you can see them in the trees:


Finally I made it to mile 16. Chris and a couple of volunteers were there with clementines, bananas, water and snacks. I took a clementine and some peanut M&M's. Chris gave me a few pointers of where to go and I was on my way. Trail continued on a rail-to-trail until I made it to Verona. Thankfully there were port-a-johns at Verona Park for another pit stop. I was still trying to eat and drink still at this point. However, t some point I stopped eating and drinking since I didn't want to deal with bathroom issues and just wanted to finish. This was probably a bit of a mistake as I probably slowed down. And I was getting cold. Clouds started to cover the sun and sometimes the wind picked up.

But I was still appreciating the beauty of where I was. Trail went through Eagle Rock Reservation. I've run through this park during warmer seasons and this was the first time I was in the park during the winter. There was no one really on the trails and of course, trail went up to afford a hiker some nice views:





It was after this that was the lowest point of the trail for me. I hadn't been eating or drinking for a while and it was a very long trail and uphill along the by-pass route after I-280. Eventually I made it to the second aid station, which was at mile 26.  The two volunteers drove me back to the start/end in Millburn. I was able to finally warm up after sitting in Doris's car (with heated seats!) for a while. Marcus was kind enough to let me have one of his Sierra Nevada Torpedo IPAs. Much appreciated after my longest run (in miles and time - 9 hrs!) of the year. I hung out and chatted with everyone for a while but then it was time to get home, have a shower, and head to the pub for some dinner and a well earned beer!

A few things that I took from this run is that (i) there are some pretty beautiful areas of northern New Jersey; (ii) I was still able to appreciate the beauty despite being tired and very sore; (iii) I have a lot of strength & determination and can keep powering through a run/hike. This is something that I need to remind myself the next time I have a low point in a long race or run. Of course, it helps that I really didn't want to call Chris, the guy who arranged the run, and see if I could catch a ride earlier. and (iv) I was likely going to be able to finish the 50K at the NJ Trail Series Ultrafest later in the month**.

Here's one link to the Lenape Trail.

**Actually the race is tomorrow! Better late than never with this race report!


Sunday, January 19, 2014

Need For a Change

I've just spent the entire day on the couch feeling like crap. Intermittently napping and trying to eat something. Its 5 PM and all I've had to eat was a few pretzels, a couple small glasses of Gatorade, and am now finishing 1/4 cup granola with skim milk. And I haven't run yet. And my stomach is not really happy with me right now. Yep hung over. For the second time this year.

I've been pretty good with the running. 57.3 miles so far. I've done some yoga but little strength training. And the diet has been pretty good too. I've eaten a bit more fruit, mainly apples, than usual. Last week's dinner was a vegan dish of curried mushrooms and chickpeas with rice.

So I think I need to stop drinking for 2 weeks. A week is easy. Just don't drink during the week and then its Saturday and running with a particular group of friends. And this is a good time to do this as I won't be running with the group next weekend as I'll be having dinner with a friend and his wife. And then try to extend the non-drinking habit for another week after that. Wish me luck!

Friday, January 3, 2014

2013 in review and what's next for 2014

The past year was ok for my running adventures. I had a goal of running 1200 miles, which I didn't reach. I still ran quite a lot, for a total of 975.5 miles, but even that wasn't close enough to my B goal of 1000 miles. I started out 2013 on a good note, running on Jan 1 with my social running group but then ended up getting sick for a whole week. I didn't quite race as much as in 2012 due to lack of funds. I ran the 50K at the NJ Ultrafest in March. The temps were quite cold and the training was lack luster but I did finish in 8 hr 10 min. In May, I ran the 48 hr race at 3 Days at the Fair. I started the weekend by volunteering 2 shifts on Thursday then ran/walked to a new personal best of 71 miles. This was also while in the midst of a decent running streak. I didn't technically run on Saturday or Sunday but considered walking 29 and 7 miles, respectively, to be sufficient to count it towards my streak. I ended my streak after 74 days and 309.7 miles because I was tired! And I was ok with that.

In July, I decided that I would celebrate my birthday by running my age. I let everyone know I was doing this on a 1/2 mile loop in a park in Parsippany and had a number of people come out and run or walk some miles with me. I ended up spending pretty much the whole day with my friend Steve. We were probably a site since he's a good foot taller than me! I didn't come close to running my age but did run/walk 29 miles. The day before I volunteered all day at Running the Devil and ran one 3.1 mile loop up and down a ski hill. That and the fact that I do not run long runs nearly enough contributed to the "low" miles. I think I will try to run my age again in 2014. In August, I ran the Wildcat Ridge 50K. I ended up DNFing that race. It was a last minute decision to run it since my friend Becky couldn't run it and I took her bib number. I ended up getting bad blisters on my heels (might want to invest in gaiters) and during the second loop my knee really started bothering me to the point that sometimes even walking hurt. I still ran 20 miles on a tough course in the heat of an August day! A week or 2 later, I and Mike hosted the Parsippany 12 hr fat-ass. Its on the same loop where I ran my birthday miles. I didn't have any big goals, which was good since I developed foot issues early on. Took some time to ice and stretch the foot, walked in sandals, changes shoes, and pushed on. I ended up with 23 miles and got to know better a few people I've met before. I ran the cross-country series again this summer and did pretty well. I was consistently finishing the course in the 30 min range, including one or two finishes under 29 minutes. I finished the year by starting another running streak on the day before Thanksgiving. Right now most of the miles have been in the 1-2 mile range because of the crush of a very busy semester, and now snow and cold, but I'm now on Day 38 for a total of 108.9 miles. I hope to at least make it to 80 days at least.

I met my diet and weight loss goals in 2013 but still have a few more (10-15) pounds to go. It was nice to be able to start 2014 weighing less than I did when 2013 began! I started cooking more vegetarian meals and if I tracked what I ate, I would say that I likely ate more vegetarian dinners than not. I plan to continue this as it seems to be working. And hopefully try some new dishes. Between Pinterest and posts from Jessi, I hope to get some good ideas. One thing I need to work on this year is to eat more fruit. I've also been doing a lot better about not eating as much sweets as I've had in the past. I think one reason is that I am eating healthier and don't have as much of a craving for them (though I did bake chocolate chip cookies tonight. But it is also frigidly cold!)

I also need to start doing more strength training. I haven't been in the gym in 2 years and I'm surprised my knees have held up so well. I think its because most runs I do have hills in them. I've been doing some body squats but not a lot, so I will try to incorporate these more into my training. I started doing push-ups in 2011 with the 100 push-up challenge. I am actually now able to do a proper push-up and will be using these more for upper body strength.

So goals for 2014:
  1. run 1200 miles.
  2. properly train for and run NJ Ultrafest 50K with a goal of a sub-7 hr finish.
  3. More sub-29 min cross-country finishes and beat Wendy at least once!
  4. Run my age in July. This would be a personal best for miles in a day.
  5. 135#. Based on the number on today's scale, I have 12 pounds to lose.
  6. Continue my running streak till at least 80 days.
  7. And if I have the funds, run some other races. I would like to run the Finger Lakes 50K again and perhaps run an ultra down in Virginia.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Black Bean Soup!



Back in January I decided to start eating more vegetarian meals for dinner. I had gotten in a rut with dinners – meat or fish and a vegetable; healthy but not a lot of vegetables. It also had been a while since I truly cooked - lots of ingredients, following a recipe. Plus my friend Jessi went almost vegetarian and lost a ton of weight. Of course, she was also running a serious number of miles and lifting weights. So with the small change in the diet and more running, I’ve been able to reach one weight loss goal (less than 150 #) and maintain it, despite a very hectic fall semester of teaching. Hopefully when the fall semester winds down I’ll be able to step up the running again and maybe make my next weight loss goal of 145 #.

Here is a recipe for black bean soup that I developed myself, taking from various other recipes:

Ingredients. Didn't know how much I was going to use so I bought extras.


3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 jalapeno, diced (remove seeds or omit for less spiciness)
2 (15 oz) cans black beans, rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes, with juice
1 can chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp thyme
Olive oil

1. Sauté garlic for a few seconds in 1-2 tblsp olive oil
2. Add onion and sauté until softened
3. Add green pepper and jalapeno and sauté for several minutes
4. Add spices and heat for a minute or two
5. Add black beans and tomatoes
6. Add 1 can broth and 1 can water (I’m rethinking whether the extra water was needed.)
7. Stir and bring to a boil. Simmer for 30 min.
8. Puree 3-5 ladles of soup in a blender and add back to soup
9. I thought the soup looked too soupy and wanted it thicker so I boiled it for 5-6 min to reduce the liquid a bit.

Simmering.

 The soup was a success! The taste is really good, different flavor notes, and a definite kick to it! I'll be making this again!


The soup! Yummy and spicy! (ignore the corn bread fail in the background)