I ran my first marathon severely undertrained. I was still in college, and I really wanted to call myself a marathoner. I didn’t, however, want to stop going to the bars on Saturday nights (okay, and several other nights) and I also didn’t particularly enjoy heading out for 2+ hours running by myself (the other people I knew running marathons at that point were MUCH faster than I was). So I ran 16 miles the weekend before the race, showed up for the 2005 Nike Women’s Marathon, and jog-walked my way to a 4:41 marathon.
I was excited to be able to call myself a marathon finisher, but I knew I could have done much better if I’d actually put in the time and effort to train properly. I was a year older and wiser for my second marathon, trained a lot smarter, and dropped 27 minutes. I started running more miles, doing more speedwork, and finally managed to qualify for Boston at my fifth marathon. It was a lot more satisfying to run a hard race knowing I’d put in the work to get there.
When I signed up for Wildflower, I knew I wanted to try and train hard for it. We’ve had to make some sacrifices (especially Mike, who ends up hanging out with Ellie a lot when I’m at the pool or on my bike), but I didn’t want to repeat my last 70.3 training regimen, which lasted about two months and definitely did not contain nearly enough mileage. The whole point for that race, just like my first marathon, was to be able to say that I had completed a half Ironman.
Whereas triathlon training used to be something I had to squeeze in around my social life and school work, now it’s something I prioritize and genuinely enjoy doing. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t bother signing up for triathlons. I love the feeling of finishing up 54 miles on the bike with a good friend, nailing my 15th 100 m repeat in the pool, squeezing in a 7 mile run between the time I leave work and when I have to pick up Ellie from daycare, and hopping off my trainer after an hour long sweatfest at 5 AM. I still have bad workouts, obviously, but the process of training and the routine I’ve gotten into feels amazing.
It’s easy to get wrapped up in the idea of chasing new distances and fast times without thinking about what’s involved or whether you really even want to do it. I know, for instance, that I’ll probably never have the desire to train for 100 mile trail races even though I think crossing the finish line of one would feel completely awesome. With the limited amount of time I have, I need to make sure that I’m spending it doing what I love, not just trying to have new finishes to brag about. At the end of the day, nobody really cares what you’ve run or what your PRs are. If you’re doing it because it’s something you think you should, you’re wasting your time.
This morning I took Ellie out in the stroller for a 6 mile run on a path I run all the time. There was nothing out of the ordinary, and my pace wasn’t anything special, but it’s workouts just like this that remind me how much I love to run. My legs didn’t feel particularly fresh, but I was so grateful to be able to be out running, listening to Ellie point out dogs and squirrels and enjoy a calm morning outside. In the end, it’s not just about crushing PRs and chasing new distance records, it’s about finding the joy in training.
One of the things we’ve had to get real about since having Ellie is our food. I wish I were more of a budget person because I’d love to know where the heck all the money was going before we had to pay for daycare, because MAN it is expensive. We’ve never really tracked our spending that carefully, just paying bills when they came up and moving money into savings whenever there were chunks leftover (I know, we are financial GENIUSES).
We decided to start tracking all our food purchases at the beginning of January. We didn’t have a target number in mind, it was more just a loose plan to collect receipts, enter them into a spreadsheet, and see if there was anything we could cut back on.
Mike was awesome about setting up the spreadsheet in nice little categories (price, food type, store) so when I say “we’re tracking our food spending” I pretty much mean he’s doing all the dirty work.
A few things jump out at you when it’s all laid out like that. One, we really like our cheese and butter. Two, AVOID the “make your own six pack” shelf at Whole Foods ($21 dollar six pack? oopsie). Three, We spend a TON on produce. A TON. I’ve definitely started noticing that some things are cheaper at Whole Foods while others are a better deal at the Farmers Market. We try to buy only organic produce (and local as much as we can) but it is not cheap!
Now, how can we cut costs?
- I’ve cut way back on tofu and processed soy in our meals and haven’t really used any in the last couple weeks. We still have a bunch of big jars of dried beans that I’ve been working through, and that definitely means less money spent.
- We stopped buying dairy milk. The kind we bought came in glass and you return the bottle to be refilled (no waste except for the tiny top, yay) which is awesome, but we realized that Ellie doesn’t drink milk and we don’t really use it. We started making our own almond milk instead because it’s SUPER quick and seems to be pretty cost effective, plus that cuts back on packaging a lot.
- I started baking our bread. It’s really not that time-intensive to bake two loaves of whole wheat bread on Sunday afternoon, and it costs a fraction of the cost of buying it, plus no plastic is involved!
- Mike is now brewing our beer. Still not sure whether this is going to end up saving us money, but it’s a hobby he loves and so far, the results have been fantastic. The start-up costs weren’t exactly zero, but our alcohol spending has gone way down now that we have a whole bunch of home brew ready to drink.
- I’m being way more careful about using up all our produce. I go a little crazy buying greens sometimes, and they don’t always get eaten. But at $2.49 for a bunch of organic chard, I’m making sure to put extra greens in my morning smoothies when they start to look a little limp.
- We’re prepping WAY more food. It’s amazing how much more likely we are to use produce when it’s already washed. I’m trying to get in the habit of washing everything as soon as it comes in the door, before going into the fridge. I’ve also started making big batches of dried beans and freezing them so I can use them more quickly than having to wait for them to soak and cook (plus dried beans are cheaper and have lest waste than cans!)
Tonight I made a batch of these bean burgers to put in the freezer, so now we have those and tamales in case we need last minute dinners (why didn’t I do any of this when I was pregnant with Ellie? Who starts stocking the freezer when they have a one year old?)
- I’ve cut back on baking. I don’t NEED to have cookies lying around, and when I bake cookies, I eat way more dough than I should. Plus, buying all that chocolate adds up. I do still have all that butter in the freezer though…
One of the things I’m not willing to do is switch to non-organics or buy things that have more packaging. I’m trying to keep our food spending in check, but I’m also really concerned about waste. The less plastic that comes into this house, the better, so I’m doing everything I can to make sure that what I buy doesn’t come with any.
And now for the obligatory end of the post question: Do you keep a spreadsheet of your groceries? Any food budget tips?
This three day weekend was awesome. Except for the test I took on Saturday morning, the whole weekend was fun: coffee, walks around town, a great swim, and the ZOO! We finally took Ellie to the Oakland zoo and she loved it. Especially the petting area.
The squirrel monkeys were also a big hit. We liked it so much we became members, and I have a feeling we’ll be spending a LOT of time there over the next year.
Afterwards, since we were in Oakland anyway, we went to Subrosa. Not quite as good as the coffee in SF, but close! Ellie and Mike had a heart to heart over lattes (or water, in Ellie’s case) in the parklet.
Going back to work on Tuesday was surprisingly not painful. I’ve gotten way better about leaving work at work, and planning farther in advance (three years of teaching and I think I might FINALLY be starting to figure some of this stuff out) so after not thinking about school for three days it was fun to get back to the kids.
Not sure how to segue from that to tacos, so here we go: These are sort of similar to some other kale and guajillo tacos I made, but I think these are a lot better. They’re more filling, and they’re really cheap to make, especially if you have dried beans lying around. I used collards instead of tortillas just because they needed to be used up, and NO I will never go paleo or low carb or any of that, swearsies. I ate PLENTY of carbs for dessert right afterwards anyway.
I think the best thing about these is the beans. They’re braised in broth with sauteed onions, so they’re full of flavor. Canned beans just wouldn’t be the same. It takes some planning ahead, but it’s definitely worth it.
Kale, Pinto and Mushroom Tacos with Guajillo Salsa
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, minced
- 2 cups pinto beans
- 4 cups vegetable oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 bunch curly kale, chopped
- 1/2 lb button mushrooms, sliced
- 8 guajillo chiles, seeded and stemmed
- 1 clove garlic, miced
- 1 3/4 cup hot water
- 3 tbsp lime juice
- salt to taste
- corn tortillas (or collard leaves)
- Cover the beans with a few inches of water and soak for at least 8 hours. Drain and set aside.
- Heat the oil in a dutch oven and add the onion. Cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the beans and vegetable broth and simmer, partially covered until the beans are tender. Check on them periodically and add more liquid if the pot goes dry.
- Salt to taste.
- While the beans are cooking, make the salsa.
- Heat a dry frying pan over medium and add the guajillos, cooking 20 seconds on each side. Transfer to a blender and add the hot water. Let stand for 20 minutes so the chiles can soften. Add the garlic and blend until smooth. Add the lime juice and salt and adjust to taste.
- Heat one tablespoon of oil in the skillet and add the sliced mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasionally, until browned. Set aside.
- In the same pan, cook the garlic until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Add the chopped kale and cook until soft (about 5 minutes).
- When the beans are done, transfer them by slotted spoon into a large bowl. Stir in the kale and mushrooms.
- Assemble tacos with a scoop of beans and vegetables, and top with some of the salsa.
(salsa adapted from Hungry Cravings)
When I decided to stop eating meat 2+ years ago, I thought I was making the best environmental choice. I still think that beef is pretty much environmentally disastrous, but I was completely disheartened to read this article about one of my favorite foods (quinoa). Long story short: a lot of vegetarian staple foods are actually pretty horrible for increasing poverty and destroying rain forest in South America. I definitely need to evaluate some of my dietary choices a little more carefully from now on.
In less depressing news, I’ve been mixing up my workouts a lot lately, and Ellie’s all about it. Today she was helping me with situps. (I did this workout and it was great!) I still am not swimming as much as I should, but next week, I’m determined to go to the pool twice. I’ll let you know if that actually happens.
I’ve also been broadening my podcast horizons. I’m still obsessed with the Joy the Baker Podcast and I download This American Life religiously, but I now love the Rich Roll Podcast too. I read his book Finding Ultra and it was incredibly inspiring. Basically he went from an out of shape alcoholic to a vegan super-endurance (multiple Ironman) athlete.
Cooking has been a little lackluster around here lately, or at least not blog-worthy. So much kale, in so many forms.
This was celery root and potatoes, cooked in milk until just tender, then tossed with kale which I’d sauteed in butter. I mixed them together and topped with a little bit of grated Irish cheddar cheese. Not completely healthy, but it’s been super cold (OK, Bay Area cold, which means barely below freezing every night) so I wanted comfort food.
Also, kale salads as usual.
Horrible photo, delicious salad: curly kale, lemon juice, tahini, Braggs aminos, and hemp seeds. Hippie food at its best.
I’ve made meatless meatballs before but these are a little different. They are from the Sprouted Kitchen Cookbook and I put them on a bed of sauteed chard and cauliflower. They’re a little bit dry, so next time I’ll put them in sauce, but I highly recommend them! The fennel seeds are the best part – they totally remind me of the sausages my mom used to get at our local grocery store, but these don’t have all that grease.
- 1 cup brown lentils
- 2 cups water
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 tbsp olive oi
- 3/4 cup ricotta
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
- pinch dried thyme
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 2/3 cup bread crumbs
- Bring the water to a boil and add the lentils. Turn down to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes, or until the lentils are tender.
- Drain and set aside.
- Put the lentils in a large bowl and mash slightly with a fork.
- Add the remaining ingredients, mix well and let stand at room temperature for about 15 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 400 F and line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat.
- Roll the lentil mixtures into balls 1 to 1 1/2" in diameter and place them on the baking sheet.
- Brush with a little olive oil and bake for about 20 minutes, flipping halfway through.
I was all ready to do a “Best 0f 2012″ post, but then I went back through my archives and realized I didn’t make very much at all this year, and THEN I looked at one or two of those types of posts in Google reader, marked all as read, and decided it wasn’t worth the time. But just in case anyone cares, the number one post this year (thank you, Pinterest!) is these caramel pretzel brownies.
Mike went back to work today after a whole week off and it bummed me out a little bit, but on the plus side, I think I’m now ready (or almost ready) to go back to work too. It’s been a really productive break around here: tons of good workouts, made a batch of sauerkraut,
(I discovered it takes an ETERNITY to thinly slice four heads of cabbage and that by day three it smells incredibly gross), made a batch of kimchi, did some purging of crap and re-organizing around the house, and of course had a ton of fun with Ellie and Mike.
She is getting so much personality, and I love it. Her current fixations include cheese, shoes/boots, board books, sweeping our front porch, and blocks.
It’s not often I miss eating meat, but I always loved carnitas and when I saw this recipe (using canned jackfruit…so random!), I was thrilled. The texture isn’t exactly the same, obviously, but the flavor is spot on. I think simmering in pineapple juice is the key. I didn’t follow the recipe exactly (I don’t have liquid smoke and didn’t feel like putting in bay leaves) and by the time they were ready I was so stoked to try them that I skipped the sauteeing step that caramelizes them. They were still completely awesome. Spicy, sweet, smoky, and perfect in tacos with some cilantro, pickled red onion, and avocado. Ellie liked them too!
Note on canned jackfruit: I found some at an Asian grocery store in San Francisco. Make sure it’s in brine, not syrup! I used Chaokoh brand, which comes in green cans that are 20 oz (the label says “20 oz, 10 oz drained”). You could also order it from Amazon.
- 2 20-oz (10 oz drained) cans jackfruit in brine, drained
- 2 tsp chile powder
- 1/2 tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup pineapple juice
- 1 1/2 cup water
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo, finely chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp lime juice
- 1 tbsp molasses
- 10-12 corn tortillas, warmed
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- 1 avocado, thinly sliced
- pickled red onion (recipe below)
- To make the carnitas:
- Make sure the jackfruit is rinsed well, and drained. Shred between your fingers.
- Place in a bowl and sprinkle with chile powder, cumin, coriander, onion powder, and salt.
- Rub the spices into the jackfruit and set aside.
- Place the pineapple juice and water in a large saucepan. Stir in the remaining ingredients, and then add the jackfruit.
- Bring to a boil, then simmer, partially covered, for about 50 minutes. Adjust seasonings to taste.
- If you are going to saute the finished jackfruit (recommended in the original recipe), heat 1-2 tbsp vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium and add 1 cup of jackfruit with sauce, sauteeing until most of the liquid is gone and the edges are browned. Repeat with remaining fruit if desired.
- Assemble tacos, topping with cilantro, avocado, and pickled onions.
- To make quick pickled red onions: Peel and thinly slice one red onion. Bring a small pot of water to a boil, and add the onion for 45 seconds. Drain and place in a small bowl. Add 3 tbsp red wine vinegar and 1 tsp salt and let stand for about 20 minutes.
(from Vegan Eats World)
I ate a LOT of sugar over Christmas. It was honestly kind of gross. But today’s a new day, ripe with possibility and marinated kale.
This is not a kick-start-your-2013 weight loss recipe, because it’s not low fat in any way (hello almond butter AND coconut milk), but it’s a great change of pace after ingesting far too many cookies the past couple days. The list of ingredients might look a little random, but it blends up to a balanced, creamy, piquant sauce.
Speaking of Christmas, I hope yours was great! I woke up, ran 4 miles, then spent the day relaxing with family and cooking. Unfortunately I got sick right afterwards so my grand plans of ramping up my training like crazy over this break didn’t really work out. Womp womp.
Ellie got a chair that she’s obsessed with, and definitely got pretty into the whole unwrapping idea.
I got this cookbook and I cannot wait to cook pretty much everything in it!
This salad isn’t from this book, but it’s from another vegan favorite. You could add all sorts of stuff to this – carrots, cherry tomatoes, sauteed tofu, chopped nuts…
Coconut-marinated Kale Salad
- 1 large head tuscan kale, stems removed and sliced very thinly
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1/3 cup almond butter
- 1 tbsp minced ginger
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp lime juice
- 2 tsp agave nectar
- 2 tsp white miso
- large pinch cayenne
- Blend all ingredients except the kale until smooth. Adjust seasoning to taste.
- Place kale in a large bowl and add dressing to taste. Massage with your hands, then let stand for at least 15 minutes before serving.
(adapted from I am Grateful)
I’m not sure what I was thinking when I wrote this sentence in my goals for 2012:
I am going to run a sub-20 5K or die trying.
Well, I didn’t do either of those things this year, but the year was not a total loss.
I ran two marathons (Big Sur in 3:49 and CIM in a monsoon in 3:43).
I brought my half marathon PR down to 1:38:40, my 10K PR down to 44:30 (official) or 44:00 (training run), and my 5K PR down to 20:52. Can’t complain about any of that!
2013 is going to be a little different, though. As of right now, there is only ONE race on the calendar.
I don’t have a time goal for the Long Course (70.3) at Wildflower. The bike course is slightly terrifying, and the run course is 60% trails.
Other than finishing that, my only goals for this year are:
1. Do at least two non-running workouts a week. During tri training, this will obviously be happening a lot. But while I was training for CIM, I pretty much didn’t do anything but run, and I think I got a little burned out. I’m still totally in love with ZWOW workouts and am kind of tempted to try a few of these.
2. Do at least 3 trail races. Because trails are so freaking fun.
3. Track my mileage all year. This year I ran somewhere around 1500 miles, but I forgot to log a few of my runs. I’m over Daily Mile so I’m looking for something new. I like Training Peaks, but I feel like it’s mostly geared toward time and I can’t really figure out how to tally total mileage (but maybe that’s a good thing?)
As far as the direction this blog is headed…I’m not really sure. I’ve definitely slowed way down on posting, and I talk almost as much about running as I do about food now. I definitely don’t intend to quit blogging altogether, but I’m probably going to post only when I have a really good recipe or a race recap or an obscenely cute picture of my child. I’m grateful to everyone who still reads, comments, and emails, and I love having this place to vent about crappy workouts, celebrate good races, and share delicious things I’ve made (when I remember to take pictures of them).
Happy New Year!