Wednesday, 29 June 2011

White Bean Spread

I love making these spreads during the summer.  They are the perfect take along food for potlucks or lunches on the go while camping.  And really this recipe is just a variation on hummus.

A basic hummus recipe 5 basic ingredients:
  • beans or legumes
  • nut butter or some type of binding agent
  • something sourish like lemon juice or vinegar
  • salt 
  • extra flavours
You can play around with different beans, nut butters and flavours to create a hummus or spread you enjoy.  They are great added as a layer on sandwiches too.

Here is the recipe.  I added veggies around it to make it look a little more colourful.

White Bean Spread          

 1 can of white kidney beans drained and rinsed
1/4 cup almond butter
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
2 cloves garlic minced
2 tsp salt
juice of 1/2 a lemon
water as needed

Put all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth adding water as needed.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Keeping it Fun

Its been almost a month since my big marathon and I feel like I am mentally much better than I was after my first.  Physically - not so much.  I feel tired.  I have been enjoying my runs and had some decent times.  But on most of the runs I've been doing lately the effort I've been putting in doesn't equal the time and the distance I'm covering.  

Last Saturday morning was no exception.  I left with my group for 15k.  I kept pace with Simon and Rick for the first 5k and felt pretty crappy doing it.  By 6k I was dizzy and needed to turn around.  I think I walked a total of 4k of my run.  It was a little warm, but not too bad.  I had eaten and had plenty of fluids before and during so I don't know what my problem was.  Needless to say, my body had had enough and was refusing to go.

I know sometimes I push myself and expect too much too soon.  But I have had so many runs where I start off feeling terrible.  If I ignore those feelings of wanting to quit I can often get past that terrible feeling and end up having a fabulous run.  I'm really torn at the moment at how or where to take my training.  Do I give in for a bit more time, take it easy or try to push past it and work toward my goals I've set?

Through blogging about my past races and thinking about my training maybe I should do the opposite of what I normally do.  I used to tell myself the definition of Stupidity (Doing the same thing and expecting a different result) when I couldn't figure out my kids sleeping patterns when they were babies.  Perhaps that is just what I will do.  I used to do different activities that I loved  prior to starting to run.  And not that I would ever give up running at this point in my life.  The one thing I learned after my marathon was how addicted to my running endorphins I am.  But maybe my focus should be to enjoy other activities and moving my body in different ways besides the repetitive motions of running.

I would also still like to focus on getting some speed back.  I can't completely let go of the goals I set for myself earlier.  I still feel like I have a 22 minute 5k in me.  When I think back to my mind set last year when I set my pb in a 5k I knew I could do it.  But now I get the sense I'm over analyzing it and need to chill out and enjoy running.

That being said here is my next race.... 

Some of the people I run with have put a group together and we are all running this race starting and finishing as a group.  And because we are all a little crazy and the race on its own isn't enough... we're dressing up.  Snow White and the dwarfs (there may be more than 7).  I am the Evil Queen.... how suiting. 

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Race Number 7: Guelph Thanksgiving Day Race

The Guelph Thanksgiving Day race is a whole race event.  There is a 10k, 5k and a kids run.  Now anyone who has spent anytime in Guelph over the past few years knows that you can't drive anywhere without running into construction.  The Guelph Victor's host this race and had decided to move it to Exhibition park in Guelph.

The change in venue is good and bad.  Its great if you are doing a family run.  You have a central meeting point.  The park is a great place for kids to play before and after the race.  The post race wrap up is great because it is centrally located.  Its not so good to run a race around and around the same small loop.  Thank God I didn't enter the 10k and only ended up running around the park just under 3 times - otherwise I may have lost my mind.

This was a good race to try to run in my goal time.  The only person I knew running the race was Mike and I didn't have to worry about anyone but myself.  As usual in a race the gun went off and so did everyone else.  I started running around and around and around the park.  At 2k I wanted to quit, but I knew that was normal.  One of my co-workers - Deb came to watch and cheered all 3 times I ran by.  At just over 4k I passed the 74 year old who beat me in the Highland Games 10k.  Coming in on the last stretch I raced a woman and beat her by 1 second.  My official time 25:35 still not under 25 min, but at least getting closer.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Post Run Fuel

This post is dedicated to Joe for two reasons - first because he is the only one who told me I hadn't posted in a while and the second will be revealed at the end of this post.

Tonight I had what felt like a hard run.  I don't think it was very fast, but it was humid so it felt like I was working harder than usual and I was also talking a lot.  Talking is usually my trick to make whoever I'm running with slow down a bit, but tonight for some reason I couldn't stop talking. It must be my beautiful voice and clever wit that I couldn't get enough of.  I knew I should stop talking when Rick asked my why I was breathing so hard.  Running and trying to keep up with him while talking is just plain silly.

By the time I got home I was hot, hungry and tired.  I needed something super quick and filling.  What did I make you ask??? Why a salad of course.  I know what you're thinking "Come on a salad".  But it was perfect - filling and refreshing.  There will be no need for snacking tonight. Anyone who has seen my salads know they can feed a family of four and count for a weeks worth of your vegetable requirements under Canada's food guide, but I do think they are a perfect recovery food. 
Seriously - tell me that's something you wouldn't love to chomp on after a hot run.  They don't take much time to throw together if you've done some prep work.  Here are the basic steps to my Crazy Salads....

1) The base - the greens.  I usually wash all my lettuce and have it ready to go in the fridge.  I also buy prewashed baby greens.  I really like the PC Sassy Baby blend.  Its a mix of baby spinach and baby arugula.  I mix leaf lettuce and the baby blend together.

2) Veggie toppings.  I buy the PC carrot coleslaw blend.  Its basically julienned carrots and broccoli stems.  I also buy the regular coleslaw blend.  I know I could grate carrots and cabbage and add it and save a few bucks.  But I won't - and I like the uniformity of the carrots - my grater doesn't make squares.

3) More veggie toppings.  I also added cucumber, grape tomatoes and yellow pepper - all which I cut up by myself.

4) Protein. Sometimes I add chopped up hard boiled eggs or a crumbled homemade veggie burger.  Tonight I added pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and chia seed to the mix.  Chia seeds are suppose to help recovery, I'll let you know how I feel in the morning.

5) Fats.  I sometimes add an avocado or cheese to my salad. Your dressing also counts.  I usually make a simple vinaigrette with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

But that in a nut shell is my salad.  I ate these like crazy a few years ago.  They were my lunch for about 4 months and eating them helped my lose a lot of weight. After a while I do get sick of them, but now that the weather is warming up, they are the perfect meal. 

Oh yeah - reason number two this is dedicated to Joe.... tomorrows lunch.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Race Number 6 - Guelph Downtown Dash

At this point of my running and training I felt somewhat like a seasoned runner.  In addition to setting a goal of running a half marathon I was also determined to run a 5k in under 25 minutes.  I really felt I could do it.  I had increased my training to run 5 or 6 days a week and had incorporated a lot of speed work into my training.

I had also started to use a Nike Sport band for my training.  It calculated my distance, speed, time and calories burned.  I loved it.  The only problem was it had to be calibrated.  I tried to calibrate it a few times, but it always seemed to be a little off.  It seemed like no big deal at the time.  I would just subtract 500m or so from my runs. But the longer my run, but more it was off.

The day of the race, the weather was overcast, but not rainy.  I work in Guelph and drive on half of the route everyday on my way to work.  I had decided this race to use my sport band as a way to pace myself through the race and come in my goal time.  I figured if I ran a 4:40 to 4:50 minute per km pace, I would still be running slightly less than a 5 minute per km pace given the discrepancy of my sport band.

The race started and we all to off.  I continually referred to my watch to measure my pace staying within the 4:40 - 4:50 range.  I felt great.  I thought I should have felt a bit more tired, but I was in the "pace" I should have been, so why push it.  I didn't bother trying to push myself until I thought to myself that maybe I should check my time at the 4k mark.  My time - 22 minutes and change.

There was absolutely no way I would be reaching my goal time.  I had two choices at this point 1) continue at the pace I had been running or 2) make up for as much time as I could.  I opted for two.  Every frustration I had felt about my watch came out as I ran that last km.  I ended up finishing the race in 26:20.  At pb, but not by much and definitely not under 25 minutes.  I was pissed.  But I learned that I could not trust "technology" during a race.  The only time indicator that matters in a race is what your watch tells you at each km marker.  Even if a course is not accurate and slightly off, if there is a clock involved your watch, sport band, mi fit or gps means squat.

The other thing I learned was that a man can out run a bus during a race.  Here is Rick beating Guelph transit.  He also set a pb in this race.  (Btw - he has since beat it.)

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Crunchy Granola

This was one of those crazy weekends where it seemed like all we did was run around.  Fortunately the running around was all for fun stuff.  My daughters had their dress rehearsal during the afternoon and evening so it was back and forth between our house and the rehearsal for 2 and a half hours.  Later on Friday night we had a planning party for an upcoming fun race with my running group. We ended up with a theme and costume ideas.

Unfortunately Rick will have to find another use for this hat.

Saturday morning I ran my first 10k since the marathon.  The first half was a little slow, but suddenly I found my legs during the seconds half and finished in 53 min.  After my run I started the girls hair and make up.  We rushed off to the recital.  It was amazing - what can I say, my girls are stars. They love dancing and performing on stage.

So after the weekend recap here is the recipe...

Crunch Granola

1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup oil
1/3 cup honey

3 cups oatmeal
1/4 cup flax seeds
1/3 cup coarsely chopped almonds
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
1/3 cup sesame seeds

Melt butter, oil and honey together in a pot on a stove.  In a bowl, stir together remaining ingredients.  Stir the melted butter mixture into dry ingredients.  Spread evenly in a 17x11 inch baking dish.  Bake at 375 for 20 minutes stirring every 5 minutes.  Cool and store in an air tight container.

I usually have my granola like this...

But its good with just milk as well.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Race Number 4: Highland Games 10k

I have been trying to write this post for over two weeks now.  Usually when I write something, the ideas flow pretty easily and I have material I can work with in less than half an hour.  I have started and stopped writing about this race five times.  To sum up my feelings about this race at the time - complete failure. 

This race was the goal race for my 10k clinic I had enrolled it.  I considered the people in the course with me friends and dreaded the thought of racing them.  The sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach began 5 weeks before and I knew at that point I was going to blow it.  In retrospect, I should have saved myself a lot of grief and not signed up for the race, but I didn't'.

This course is very close to my house, in fact part of it runs around my house.  I trained on the toughest part of it twice a week.  I should have rocked it, but I didn't'.  I started out way too fast and about half way through I was out of energy.  The last 4k felt like they dragged on and on.  I was passed by people in my clinic that knew where their inner racer was, but I just couldn't find mine.  I dragged myself through the last half of the race.  My time in this race was 60:01.  I had ran the course 3 minutes faster during one of my training runs.  I was disappointed in my time but as I approached the finish line I remember hearing my girls cheering for me like crazy and I found the positive in the race. 

At a party hosted by Scott and Katherine (who knew where their inner warriors were during the race) I talked to Mike from Grand River Running.  Mike has ran over 500 races and I consider him the Yoda of my running world told me I just needed to keep running more races until I got to the point were it was no big deal to stand at a start line.  His talk with me that night although it only lasted a few minutes is the reason why I kept racing.  Had it not been for his words of encouragement, I would have walked away from racing and probably running altogether. 

Mike told me about a race the following weekend that he and Bob were racing.  My husband and I would go just before we left for a week long vacation with the kids.  I also decided that I would start training for a half marathon to run in the fall.  So at that I learned that despite the huge let down I needed to just pick up the pieces, lace up my shoes and move on.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Grilled Bruschetta Polenta with Portabello Mushrooms

Today was a spectacular day.  The weather was absolutely perfect.  I was finally home and not recovering from a long run and able to garden.  I used to think that I liked gardening, but I really could take it or leave it.  Nonetheless it was a perfect day to spend outside and I didn't just plant flowers.  The girls and I planted some herbs and a few vegetables which are more of an experiment.

Despite the fact that I was working outside all afternoon, I was able to multitask and create a pretty smokin' dinner to boot.  During the summer on Sundays when we're home, I usually go a little crazy on the bar-b-que and grill a ton of veggies and create some crazy concoction.  Today's turned out pretty well if I do say so myself.

It is a multi-stepped meal, so you do need to start a few hours early.  But each step takes under 15 minutes so it doesn't feel like you're locked in the kitchen.

Grilled Bruschetta Polenta with Portabella Mushrooms


3 cups water
1 1/4 cup corn meal
2 tsp salt
1 clove garlic minced
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh basil

Bring the water to boil.  Add the salt and garlic.  Slowly pour in the corn meal, stirring the entire time.  Continue to stir the mixture.  It will thicken quickly.  When the spoon is able to stand on its own in the polenta its ready.  Stir in the basil.  Pour mixture into a parchment lined 9x9 pan and smooth with a spatula.  Let stand until set - at least 2 hours.


1 tomato seeded and chopped
2 tsp olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tbsp finely chopped basil
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

Mix above ingredients and let sit while you prepare the rest of the meal.

Portabella Mushrooms:

2 portabella mushrooms
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp salt and pepper

Mix olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper.  Pour over mushrooms.

Putting it all together:

Preheat your grill.  Place mushrooms gill side up for about 10 minutes to begin cooking.  Turn once, for about 2 minutes, then turn back over.

Remove the polenta from the pan and cut into equal squares.  Brush generously with oil to prevent the polenta from sticking to the grill.  Have your bar-b-que turned to medium.  Place polenta on the grill and close the lid.  After 5 minutes carefully flip the polenta and put the bruschetta mixture on the polenta.  Close the lid again.  After 3 minutes sprinkle with cheese if desired.  Once the cheese has melted removed polenta and mushrooms from the grill.  Slice mushrooms and pile around your polenta.

Bon appetit!

Last Word on Ottawa

Final words on the race... and then moving on.... promise.

Are those gels in your pocket or are you about the run a marathon?
All of the races in during the race weekend start with corrals.  It is a pretty smooth start and in the marathon everyone seemed to go in the proper corral.

This is from the start of the race.  I'm not sure what my husband was standing on, he didn't see me in the crowd, but I wave at him before I get cut off.

Here is the race shirt.  Its one of my favourites so far. 

 And the medal.  It spins!

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Coping with "Failure"

I love having goals.  I love having a plan in the works.  Dreaming of the goal, sitting down planning it out, imagining what it will feel like when I achieve that goal send shivers down my spine.  Well maybe not shivers, but I do get excited when I think about my next potential "achievement".  In fact, I enjoy the planning and execution of a training schedule so much I feel a little antsy as I enter into my taper period of my training schedule and start thinking about my next race.  I now have a rule against signing up for a big race until I have completed my current race.

I think everyone has goals they set for themselves... I'm going to loose 20 pounds, quit smoking, stop buying coffee every day (and no it doesn't count if you switch from cappuccinos to regular coffee).  I have set and achieved the first two goals. I'm working on the coffee.  Lululemon has an entire section of their website dedicated to setting goals - short term, long term, work, personal.  Its actually a pretty neat part of their website.  Goal setting is everywhere around us. 

I'm no exception.  Every year after Christmas I start thinking about what I want to accomplish in the up coming year.  This year I wrote 10 goals I had set for myself - 4 of which were running related.  In the middle of May I wrote down 10 goals again - some were the same and some new.  The idea behind writing down your goals is to commit yourself to it.  You are even more committed if you tell people and with the Internet the number of people who can bear witness to your goals is huge.

Runners are a huge goal orientated group of people.  When I first started running, the goal of everyone in my group was to be able to run 5k.  Some people continued increasing their distances, some people stayed running 5k and some people quit.  From the start some people said they wanted to run a marathon or run a specific distance in a certain amount of time.  I set running related goals all the time.  I'll even put them out on the world wide web so my mom and all her friends can read them. 

Crazy Mother's Running Goals for 2011:

1. Run a total of 2,500 k during 2011.
2. Run a sub 4 hour marathon.
3. Run a sub 50 minute 10k.
4. Run a sub 23 minute 5k.

So what happens when we set these goals for ourselves and "FAIL"?

I just ran the Ottawa Marathon - finishing time 4:18.  It kind of looks like I blew my goal.  Time wise I did.  But in my mind I am proud of my accomplishments.  I threw up - and I didn't quit.  I saw the most wretched road kill and I didn't quit.  I followed a pace bunny who had pulled out for almost five minutes before I found out he had quit and I still finished.  For all of those reasons and the fact that I covered 42.2k of ground makes me proud.

Here's what else makes me proud - the screen shot of the Ottawa Marathon app and my progress throughout the race

At 30k I was in 2699th spot.....

I finished in 2489th spot... I passed 210 runners.  Even though I didn't meet my time goal, I toughed it out and finished strong.

Anyone who completes a marathon regardless of their time, whether they achieved their goals or not should be proud of their accomplishment.  I should also thank Simon for texting me and saying that I did something that 99.9% of the population won't even attempt after my marathon. 

Here is my next goal: To stop writing mushy posts for the next little while - let's blame the post long distance run euphoria. 

For now I leave you with the following quote.

“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”

Henry Ford

Cappuccinos and marathons rock!