Red Lentil Soup

This is my go-to soup. I’d even go so far as to say it is one of my go-to meals (I can certainly speak for Matt in that regard – he would eat this every day). It is delicious, good for you, high in protein, and simple to put together (and vegan, too!)

Red Lentil Soup (Serves 6)
3 T olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tomato, chopped
1 t cumin
pinch chili/cayenne pepper
1/2 t salt [more to taste]
1/4 t black pepper [more to taste]
3-4 c. vegetable broth
2 c. water
1 1/4 c. red lentils
2 carrots, peeled & chopped
1/2 lemon, juiced [more to taste]
2 T fresh cilantro, chopped

-Heat oil in large pot over high heat.
-Add onion & garlic and saute until golden.
-Add tomato, cumin, chili powder, salt & pepper and saute another 2 minutes
-Add broth, water, lentils, and carrot.
-Bring to a simmer, cover pot, reduce heat to medium low, and cook until lentils are soft [15-30 minutes. Mine are usually done on the earlier side].
-In blender, puree 1/2 of the soup, then put back in pot (*be careful when blending hot liquids!)
-Add lemon juice and cilantro, taste, and adjust seasonings if needed

This meal is even more delicious with the addition of some crispy french bread 🙂

Manhattan Beach 10k recap – October 6, 2012

I know this post is a few weeks late, but…oh, I’m not going to apologize. It’s not like any of you were waiting for it.

I woke up at 3:45 am. Sixteen minutes before my alarm went off. You ever wake up at an ungodly hour and somehow feel AMAZING? I was having one of those mornings. I bounded out of bed, threw on the clothes I had so meticulously laid out the night before, and headed into the bathroom to brush my teeth and pin up my bangs. When the alarm went off at 4:01, Matt was still sleeping. I ran in and started yelling and dancing around the bedroom. It’s 4am! It’s 4am! We gotta go soon! Yay! Yahoo! I’m pretty sure he was cursing me under his breath.

Because I’m so smart, I had programmed the coffee to start brewing at 3:45. So by the time I made it downstairs the kitchen smelled like heaven and all I had to do was pour my java juice into a to-go mug. We were bringing Tilley with us, and again, because I’m the smartest woman on earth, I had his doggy bag all packed and ready to go and sitting by the front door. I looked around the room and smiled. My preparation pleased me. I made a packet of oatmeal, scarfed it, and we headed out the door at 4:30.

We drove into Los Angeles to pick up my dear friend, Annie. We pulled in at 6am just before the sun rose and after a quick use of her toilet we headed down to Manhattan Beach. This was Annie’s first 10k. She had run her first 5k at a race with me earlier in the summer. She is also the one I talked into doing the Santa Barbara half with me in a couple of weeks. She is a good friend 🙂

We made it down to Manhattan Beach around 6:45 for a 7:30am start. I had just enough time to use the porto potty twice. This is my pre-race bathroom strategy: 1. Find the toilets 2. Pee 3. Get back in line 4. Pee 5. Get back in line 6. Pee — you get the picture. I’m pretty sure I was born without a bladder, and after having run one race in which I had to pee the entire 6.2 miles, I just keep getting back in line until race time.

I’d never been to Manhattan Beach, and therefore knew nothing about this route. It’s right on the beach so I figured it was flat. Wrong. I was standing in line for the bathroom when a woman behind me asked if it was a hilly route. Oh, I have no idea, I’ve never run it before, was my answer. The girl in front of me turned around. Oh, yeah. There are hills. Good luck. Great, I thought. Not only was this my first race since moving from sea level to 5500 ft a month before, but now there are hills!

Annie and I started on different sides of a grassy median, as there were too many runners for a single start.  My first mile was about 7:30 pace, and I was aiming to keep it around there. I often go out too fast, spend miles 3 and 4 bringing it down a notch, and then speed it back up for the end. This is not ideal and it tuckers me out, so today I was reigning it in and making a concerted effort to work on a negative splits.

The first couple of miles were great. Yes, some hills, but there were lots of spectators and the energy was good. We looped back around to the start and around mile 3 Enrique Iglesias “I Like How It Feels” came on. Now, this song is my running JAM. I swear every time it comes on I smile like a fool. Man, that build…I digress. This song came on and I just kind of forgot that I was racing and I just took in everything around me. The nice weather, the fans, my fellow runners. Ah, sigh. By the time the song was over I realized I had slowed down just a bit and I snapped out of it to get back in my groove.

Mile 4.5 brought with it a gnarly hill. I laughed to myself a little bit while I trudged up. Then – freedom! A huge downhill and then the last mile down the boardwalk to the pier. I booked it that last 1.2 miles, reaching about a 7:00 pace. I felt tired, but good. This was certainly the strongest finish I had ever had, and I nailed my splits. 2 seconds slower than my PR, but considering the hills and the fact that I hadn’t been running as much the last month, I was thrilled. I had run a solid race with good technique, and I felt great.

Courtesy of my amateur iphone photog boyfriend

MB 10k gives awards in age groups 10-deep. I had no expectations of placing – this was the largest 10k I had run in, and I was hoping to make it in the top 20 or 30 of my age group. Imagine my surprise when I saw I had placed 7th!

7th!

To racing! To medals! To friendship!
See you out there!

Happy finishers

Official stats:
time: 46:21
age group: 7/269
ladies: 45/1855
overall: 334/3735

Plyom-OHMYGODTHISHURTS

When I have money someday, I will subscribe to Runner’s World magazine. Until then, I shall continue to frequent their website daily. They always have some new advice on what to run, when to run, how to run, what to eat, when to eat, how to eat- you get the picture. The other morning I awoke to my daily RW email. This particular morning it was about “runner’s knee.” I’ve been having some knee pain lately (I am blaming it all on the hills), and so I clicked through the link. I ended up watching a video by a doctor who explained a few different types of knee pains and their subsequent remedies/prevention. Apparently, I just need a stronger butt. Now, based on my boyfriend’s compliments of how good my butt looks “in those jeans,” I figured I was doing just fine in that department. But I guess having a nice butt doesn’t always equal a strong butt. So here we go.

Plyometric jump squats. Dr. Jordan Metzl’s if-you-only-give-me-one-thing-just-do-this exercise of choice. These advanced squats help strengthen all sorts of stuff – quads, glutes, hamstrings. They are also a great tool to help with your speed – the explosiveness of the action promotes strength and power. Very helpful for us runners.

Megan, our workout model of the day, looks comfortable enough doing these frog leaps. Oh, easy, piece of cake, I thought. I got this!

Alright, here we go! ooh, this is fun. I feel like I’m 5. Jumping! I’m jumping! Strong butt! Ok 7, 8, 9, oh, 10, I’m slowing down, 11, strong butt? why do I need a strong butt? 13, haha..this is..uh, haha, 14, aaand what? 15. kind of. sure, that counts as a whole one. oh. I’m not done?  You want 6 sets of 15? Doc. Seriously? I am not Iron Man. THIS IS REALLY HARD!

I found that each time I started a new set I’d get through about 8 or so with no problem and then all of a sudden I just could not launch myself up anymore. And I would start to laugh. Watching your body just tire out in front of your eyes is often upsetting, but sometimes it’s just funny. Needless to say I made it through 4 sets. …with ample rest time in between. And by 4 sets I mean when I got to number 15 I just sat down. Did I mention this was 2 days ago and my quads are still sore as a mofo?? I went down a flight of stairs today and chuckled to myself. I can’t remember the last time I was this sore. If you are interested in putting yourself through this type of torture, check out the full workout here (jump squats are 2nd video in). If you are already a pro at these, well, I admire your tenacity and am jealous of your butt.

Someday I will smile this big when I am squatting.

Dr. Hydration or: How I Learned To Stop Being “Tough” And Love Water

I don’t drink on my runs. I don’t have a fancy running belt with 72 loops and straps to hold gallons of water. The fact that during a 10k race I look forward to the 1 or 2 ounces of water that make it into my mouth (I have yet to figure out how to successfully drink from a dixie cup while running) never seemed to resonate with me when it came to my daily runs. Sure, I am running much harder during a race and may not necessarily need hydration mid-6 miler here at home, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea. I should have taken a cue from the evening headaches I would get after longer jogs. No matter how much water and gatorade I would drink after the fact, the pain was inevitable. “Wahhh my head hurtsssss!!!” I would whine, knowing exactly the cause. Did that change anything when it came to my next long run? Nope! I can handle it! Nope. I can’t.

Then came the attempt to run my longest run yet up here at altitude. I remembered how damn thirsty I was during my 10-miler the week before. It had been a hot day, I was dumb and decided to run in the mid-day heat. All I could think about was water. I was hallucinating huge pools. Running around the lake was absolute torture. I wanted to dive in and drink it dry. Upon the completion of my run I ran into McDonald’s and asked for a cup of water. I was presented with a cup that held approximately as much as those race-day dixies. I asked for a second cup. I stood at the drink dispenser, double-fisting these baby cups, guzzling water like a madwoman. This is terrible, I thought. My amazing body took me this far on foot and this is how I thank it? I deprive it of liquid? I’m a terrible body owner.

And thus, when it came time to don the thermal sleeves and running shoes for my 13-miles of certain hell, I decided to invite along a new friend to the adventure. My camelbak. I wasn’t sure how it would be, running with what felt like a tiny child clinging to my back, but I decided it was worth a shot. I filled up my 100-oz bladder approximately 1/3 of the way with a water/gatorade mixture, tightened the straps as much as I possibly could, and was off. I started slowly, trying to judge how this new addition would affect my gait. To be honest, I hardly knew it was there. But when I needed a sip of that juice, boy was it comforting to have him along. I took a few sips every 15-20 minutes, even when I wasn’t thirsty, knowing that my body would thank me later. And can I tell you something? I did not have even the slightest hint of a headache that evening. Nor was I completely spent and dehydrated at the end of my run. My pace was even 2 seconds faster than it was on my previous long run. This, I told myself, is how running should be. And that, my friends, is how I discovered the magic of proper hydration.

I Want To Eat Everything.

I am so hungry. All of the time. I finish breakfast and 30 minutes later I’m snacking. I feel as though I could eat 2 lunches and 3 dinners. WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME??? I have been running a lot more up here and due to the hills, my exertion level has been upped by quite a bit, but is it possible to feel THIS hungry? Maybe I’m not eating enough, or enough of the right things? But seriously, folks. I had a huge plate of pasta & salad for dinner, followed by an oatmeal cookie with peanut butter, followed by a bag of popcorn. With butter. And I want more. Granted, that was spread over 3 hours, but still. It’s 11:30pm and all I want is chinese food. Or pepperoni pizza. Or a cheeseburger and french fries. And a chocolate shake. With whipped cream…obviously.

I know that it is important to eat the right thing 30 minutes after a long run. But what are you supposed to eat for the day or two after? I find that’s when I’m hungriest, which makes sense. I am on a pretty strict budget (I’ve been eating the same batch of lentil soup for 5 days), so my food choices are pretty slim pickins. I have no problem with carbs. Should I be getting more protein? I eat a lot of eggs, beans (and lentils, now. yay huge misleading recipe that left me with a gallon of soup!), but not much meat (damn chicken is so expensive!).  Peanut butter is my best friend and I eat spoonfuls throughout the day to keep myself from sitting down and eating entire unnecessary meals. I should start keeping a log of my food habits. That may help me see what I’m missing, what time I am hungriest, etc. Ok great, I have a plan. Thanks for listening.

In other news, my dog Tilley is a badass and did speedwork with me today.

13, Baby

I did it. I ran my longest distance up here in these crazy mountains. I had plotted out yet another route at the bottom of the hill, but paying $4.79 for each gallon of gas just to get me there scared me more than the prospect of exploding lungs and legs of jello.  So, after looking at my bank account ‘just to make sure I couldn’t swing it,’ (who am I kidding? There’s nothing in there) – I suited up and just did it.

I figured my route out to be approx 11.5 miles. I was adding 2 miles onto my 9.6 run from last week. Or so I thought. Skip ahead to the end of my run when I took out my GPS and saw that I had instead gone 13 miles. whoops. It wasn’t my intention to run race-distance before the big day, but I guess I’ll take it. I still have 3 weeks to taper down and rest my legs. I was pleased to see that a. My average pace was better than my long run down at sea level last year and b. I didn’t want to die (as much as last time) during certain hellish points in my route. My left knee was causing me pain, as was my right hip. I think I oughtta stretch those areas more thoroughly before I go out and do something like this again. This body ain’t used to these hills. I’m getting there, though, (very) slowly but surely. Anyhow, this post is mostly so that when I tell myself I can’t do it, I can look back at this and know that I did and I can.

Vegan Oatmeal-Walnut Cookies

I was skeptical. I’ve made a number of vegan dishes before, and they’ve more often than not turned out wonderfully, but I was REALLY craving oatmeal cookies tonight, and being as I only had the necessary ingredients on-hand for these vegan bad boys, the stakes were high.
My verdict?
OMGSOGOOD.
These cookies really surprised me. They are…delicious. They are crispy on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside and oh man, they just taste divine. Perfect autumn treat. They also took less than 10 minutes to prep. Could you ask for anything more?

Oatmeal-Walnut Cookies – Vegan (Adapted from The Complete Vegan Cookbook)

1 cup unbleached white flour
2/3 cup rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Scant 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (more/less to your liking – also feel free to sub raisins, which the original recipe calls for)

Preheat the oven to 375. In a medium bowl, stir together flour, oats, baking soda, nutmeg and cinnamon.
In a larger bowl, combine the sugar, applesauce and vanilla. Mix until the sugar is well incorporated.
Add the flour mixture, stirring until all ingredients combine to form a stiff dough. Fold in the nuts/raisins/whatever treat you want to add.
Mound rounded tablespoons of batter onto an ungreased baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until golden brown.
Remove from the oven, transfer to a cooling rack, try and wait at least a minute, and then dive in.

This recipe yields about 16 cookies.
Mmm mmm good.

Fail.

My plan was to run 12 miles today. My half is in 3 weeks and I wanted to get 12 in before the big day. Even with my recent improvements at altitude, I’m not sure my body could just yet handle running 12 miles up here, especially with these hills. So, I plotted a route at the bottom of the mountain. 25 minutes and I could run at just over 1,000 ft – much more manageable. I don’t go down the hill very often, so I decided to treat myself to a movie while I was out in civilization. I packed myself a bag of clothes to change into, charged my ipod shuffle, and off I went!

I haven’t spent much time in the city down at my mountain’s foothills, so I decided to do a drive-through of the route I had mapped out for myself. It was about 1 mile into this drive-through that my stomach turned to knots. I was beginning to feel uneasy. Maybe it was the run-down appearance of the homes and businesses? Maybe it was the mile-long desolate sidewalk made of dirt? Maybe it was the 4-mile stretch of…nothing? Maybe it was the fact that the sun was going to set in an hour and I had close to 2 hours of running? – Bad planning on my part…but I was trying to beat the heat of the valley –  Whatever it was, I suddenly knew that I couldn’t run. Not there, at least. I tend to trust my gut on these things. I’ve turned around mid-solo hike because of this same feeling. It’s rare that I feel this way, so when I do, I listen.

Understandably, I was a tad upset. At $4.79/gallon, gas up and down the hill comes in at a pretty penny, especially for the unemployed. Lucky for me, I had my McDonald’s Monopoly free fries & quarter pounder with cheese pieces with me, so I stopped in at a McD’s along my intended route and got me some food. I immediately felt terrible about myself and remembered why I never actually eat at McDonald’s. It was a sad state. “oh look at that girl! Instead of running, she is sitting in her car eating a cheeseburger and fries. sad.” And it was.

But then I went to the movies. By myself. Which was an oddly empowering thing to do. Much like going to the bar and drinking by myself. I have a feeling this is going to become a regular thing…me doing things by myself. oh well. INDEPENDENCE! Anyhow – the movie was just what I needed. I knew it would make me laugh and feel good about myself (I did work on it, after all), but what really made me grin ear-to-ear was hearing the rest of the audience laugh and clap along. It turned my night of fail into a night of pre..vail…?…nope, doesn’t quite work, but I’m leaving it.

I Can Fly! (Not Really)

Since being unemployed, I do my best to run like it’s my job. The first few weeks up here were a veritable hell. Running 1 mile higher up in the sky than where I had been running for the last year and a half was just…sodamndifficult. Thanks to trusty ol’ RunKeeper, I am able to go back in time and look at past running activities and my subsequent paces. I longed for my days of 8:00 min/mi training runs down Chandler in the valley.

My very first run at 5500′ ft was 3 1/2 miles and my average pace was 8:54. Also I’m pretty sure I died for a minute somewhere between miles 2 and 3. And that’s after my lungs exploded from just putting on my sneakers. For the month of September, running was not fun. I would go to sleep anxious about the run I would inevitably go on the next day. Not a good sign for a ‘runner.’ Reading a study that said it would take me 6 months to adjust didn’t help, either. Oh! Silly me, I forgot to mention the hills! Down in the valley, my average elevation climb was around 50-70 feet. MAYBE. I just went back and looked and saw that on one 7-mile run, my elevation climb was 6 feet. You get the point. Just the other day I went on a run. I came back to an email from RunKeeper: “New Personal Record For Running! Biggest Elevation Climb!” Oh no bigs, just 1575 FEET. That’s why I’m dying.

However, I have some good news to report! My pace for my 10-miler the other day was exactly the same as my 10-mile training run this time last year. Holla! Also, my regular runs are now staying steady at around 8:15, a number I am elated with. Oh and my calves are huge and I’m pretty sure my thighs are actually made out of steel.

I have my second half-marathon in just a few weeks. No, I haven’t registered yet, but that’s only because I am quite literally out of money. If anyone has an extra $80 to toss my way, I will begrudgingly accept. I’ll even wear your name on my back. So…that’s what I can offer. Who knew this hobby of using my own legs to run on my own street would end up costing me an arm and a leg? (ha! let’s hope not!   ……….  )
I’ll be running up in Santa Barbara at the same race I did last year. I had a blast and am a creature of habit, so I will be returning. Except this time I’m dragging friends along with me. You know you’ve got good pals if they agree to run 13.1 miles just because you tell them they should and omg it will be so much fun!!!!
I hope we stay friends.