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Happy Tuesday!

Today was one of those mornings I wished I had a camera as I rounded the Central Park reservoir on the bridle path – the sky was a soft purply blue and the sunrise so perfect. 7.5 progression miles later, I’m still thinking about it.

From earlier this year:

Corny, but when my love for running isn’t enough to get me out of bed in the morning, the promise of seeing a great sunrise always does the trick.

Anyways, I’m really happy with my training last week and got in a lot of quality miles. Here are the deets:

  • Monday: 35 minutes spinning, 25 minutes elliptical; lifting
  • Tuesday: 2 miles w/u, 3×1 mile repeats (7:47, 7:37, 7:45) 3 miles cooldown (8 miles total)
    Wednesday: 8.65 miles
  • Thursday: 7.35 miles, 3 @ MP
  • Friday: 5.5 miles easy
  • Saturday: 17 miles, 5-ish miles @ MP
  • Sunday: 6 miles super easy

Total: 52.5 miles. This week I’ll bump up my long run to 18 miles and then scale it back the following week to 15-16 miles for a little break (heh, love that I’m already considering 16 miles a “break”. Oh, marathon training…).

When my mom was here last weekend, we talked a lot about food choices both at restaurants and while grocery shopping. See, she is making a huge effort to change her eating habits from a heavy cheese and red meat diet to one with more vegetables, lean meats and whole grains.

Sometimes I take for granted how much I know about nutrition, or at least forget that not everyone has been sitting in lectures and labs about nutrient structures, optimal carbohydrate/protein/fat ratios and vitamin/mineral absorption (etc., etc.) for the past bajillion few years.

My mom has no nutrition background, so for once it’s time for me to teach her a few things.

Since we’re basically starting from square one, here’s what we’ve done so far and how I’m going about it.

Slow and Steady
I think it’s important to implement change in patients like my mom gradually. Forcing them to give up everything they’re used to and totally overhaul their diets in one day is never something I would do.

Here are some of the small changes my mom is making now:

  • Cooking with lean ground turkey instead of red meat; limiting red meat to once per week
  • Limiting (but not removing) her cheese intake
  • Incorporating one additional serving of vegetables that her usual on most days
  • Drinking water instead of soda while at work (right, mom?)

(source)

  • Starting the day with a balanced breakfast – usually Kashi cereal, milk and a banana

Educating
My theory is that making changes is easier if you actually understand why you’re making them. So for each change she makes, I make sure to explain why. For example:

  • Cheese and red meat contain high amounts of saturated fat (in addition to lots of calories), and are likely one of the reasons why she has high cholesterol
  • Red meat may also be associated with a higher risk of some cancers (‘nuff said)
  • Vegetable intake is associated with a lower risk of some cancers, they pack tons of necessary vitamins and minerals and are low in calories

(source)

  • Soda is a pointless, nutrition-less beverage and I’m annoyed that it was ever invented (ok, I guess I’m a little opinionated on this one). Drinking lots of water flushes out toxins and keeps the body working properly
  • Eating a decent breakfast will help keep her satisfied until lunch and give her more energy at work. Kashi cereals pack good doses of fiber, which helps keep you full, and are low in sugar

(source)

Continuous Dialogue
My mom emails me what she eats on some days, and asks questions about cooking, recipes and her meals on a regular basis. This is important because it helps keep her nutrition goals top of mind, holds her accountable for food choices and decisions and I can give her feedback and answer her questions before she forgets them.

Reevaluating/Progress
Since I want to make sure my mom keeps making progress, once she gets comfortable making the changes above we’ll revisit them and I’ll give her new goals. For example, eventually I’d like her to limit red meat intake to once per month (or even less) and branch out on the vegetables she eats.

I will also bother her until she does it strongly encourage her to start an exercise routine.

So far, so good (right, mom?). She’s a great patient, because in addition to wanting to make changes, she understands that it takes time to see and feel results. And she has me to help her stick with it 🙂

Now if only I could get her to quit smoking…

Question: Do you ever “teach” your parents anything? I love being able to help when I can, even if they don’t always listen (ahem, Dad with the never eating vegetables, ahem). I guess it’s payback time for my teen (uhh, and pre-teen) years…

Sweets & 17 Miles

Running 23 miles in two days plus entertaining momma Meals for Miles, who was visiting, is kind of tiring.

But despite the fact that I almost fell asleep at Cirque du Soleil on Saturday night, it was a great weekend.

Sometimes I like to think I can do it all – work, school, weekend trips, plans with friends, blogging – while marathon training and it will all go extremely smoothly. Other times, like this weekend, I’m reminded why people don’t typically train for marathons all the time.

Because it’s exhausting, yo.

When you’re working the body hard six or seven days a week, getting the proper rest isn’t optional, it’s essential. In fact, I may just go to bed before the sun completely goes down tonight…

I also don’t think I could afford to feed myself if I trained for marathons year-round, because I am hungry ALL THE TIME.

At least my mom was kind enough to feed me this weekend, and did not judge when I refused to share desserts with her.

ABC Kitchen carrot cake – to fuel my long run the next morning, obviously.

Sidenote: our entire meal at ABC Kitchen was amazing – simple and subtle with tons of flavor at the same time.

Mexican Chocolate Brownie with caramelized banana, vanilla mole ice cream, toasted pecans and chocolate ancho sauce from Candle 79

Sidenote: Our trip to Candle 79 was my mom’s first vegan restaurant experience. She survived and liked it!

I had planned to run my long run on Saturday morning, and mom was a good sport regarding an obnoxiously early bedtime after our trip to ABC Kitchen (bless her). Since I was going to be running for ~2.5 hours, I wanted to make sure to get it done early so we had the day to do some very important shopping.

So it was out the door by 6:15. My first couple miles were pretty slowish, and I was a little worried the run would be somewhat of a struggle. But once I got to the Riverside Park part of my run (around miles 6-9), the legs noticeably pepped up and stayed that way when I returned to Central Park.

The second half of the run was much stronger than the first, and I actually felt good picking up the pace. Runs like this gives me much-needed confidence that I’ll be able to hold a similar pace for the marathon, and hopefully PR the crap out of it 🙂

Even though I do prefer to chill out after long runs, sometimes walking around a bit helps prevent stiffness. So my mom and I shopped for a bit and hit up the High Line, which is an elevated park on NYC’s West side, constructed on some old railroad tracks.

It’s kind of awesome. And has a gelato stand.

Mint gelato with chocolate chunks – delicious.

I think my sweet tooth is officially out of control. But I’m ok with it.

I actually haven’t hung out with my mom one-on-one in maybe years. When you’re a twin, this can be somewhat difficult. And while we missed my sis up in Boston, having my mom all to myself was probably the sweetest treat of the weekend. 🙂

Question: Do you make sure to save room for dessert? I always, always do. Also, what do you prefer to do after long runs – rest? Hit up the town? Take a trapeze class?

Your comments to my last post on how you started running were great! I love me a good story with a happy ending.

And any story involving running has a happy ending, yes?

This week has been pretty busy at work, but quite stellar running-wise and I’m feeling strong. Tuesday I set out for some mile repeats (I bagged my last mile repeat workout because of the heat), and I was determined to get in some quality speedwork.

It was a gorgeous morning, and despite some leg fatigue/soreness at the beginning of my run, each repeat was pretty much right where I wanted them to be.

  • 2 mile warm-up
  • Mile 3: 7:47
  • Mile 4: 7:37
  • Mile 5: 7:45
  • 3 mile cool-down
  • Total: 8 miles

Eventually, I’d like to get these down to 7:30 (and under), but I know developing speed takes time. If only I had more than an ounce of patience in me…

Wednesday was an easy longish 8.65 miler with Megan, Ali and Elyssa – like always, we chatted away the miles and I loved every second of it. Ali has termed our morning crew the “Sweat Squad.” I kind of think we should get this printed on matching tech T-shirts.

This morning I ran a solo 7.25 mile progression run ending at about marathon pace and am ready to take on the day. But first…

A few weeks ago, my running buddy Sara brought some watermelon over to my apartment to accompany a quick dinner I had prepared. It was so juicy, delicious and refreshing!

And it was also the first time I’ve had watermelon all summer – terrible, I know. But ever since then I’ve been slightly obsessed with it, and decided to create an easy recipe featuring tons of delicious juicy goodness.

Simple ingredients: Watermelon, Cucumber, Shrimp, Farro, Mint, Goat Cheese and Pine Nuts

And a super easy prep (i.e., I’m so lazy this summer in terms of cooking!)

Tupperware version:

Watermelon, Cucumber, Shrimp and Farro Salad with Mint, Goat Cheese and Toasted Pine Nuts (yield: 4 servings)

  • 3-4 cups chopped watermelon
  • 2 cups chopped cucumber
  • ¼ lb cooked shrimp
  • 2 cups dry farro
  • 1 bunch mint
  • 3-4 oz. goat cheese
  • 1-2 tbsp toasted pine nuts
  • Juice from one lemon

Instructions
Cook the farro according to directions on the package – I just boiled mine with 3 cups of water and then let simmer for 15 minutes. Let the cooked farro cool completely, and empty into a large bowl. Add in watermelon, cucumbers and mint and mix together. Add lemon juice and mix thoroughly. Top with shrimp, goat cheese and pine nuts. Mix as much as desired.

About Farro
This was my first time cooking farro. I originally wanted to use quinoa, but Fairway didn’t have a ton of affordable options ($7 for quinoa = hell to the no). Don’t worry Fairway, this is your one and only flaw, and I forgive you.

Anyways, farro is also a great grain and super easy to cook. It’s a member of the wheat family and tastes similar to brown rice but chewier (in a good way) and a bit nuttier (also in a good way). Farro is also a great source of fiber, protein and complex carbohydrates. So, a perfect runner food!

This salad can work as an entrée or side dish, and is super versatile in terms of subsitutions – for example, cashews instead of pine nuts or feta in place of the goat cheese.

Today is my Friday – hooray for long weekends!

Question: Have you ever had/cooked farro? If you do speedwork, when do you start seeing improvements in your workouts/races?

Happy Tuesday!

It’s a gorgeous morning in NYC, perfect for a confidence-building speed session on the reservoir (hooray!). But more about that in my next post.

Last week was also a great one running-wise – I cracked 50 miles for the first time this training cycle!

  • Monday: XT: 40 minutes spinning, 25 minutes elliptical, lifting and corework
  • Tuesday: 7.25 miles (3 @ tempo pace)
  • Wednesday: 8.05 easy miles
  • Thursday: 7.5 miles (3 @ MP)
  • Friday: 5.1 easy miles
  • Saturday: 16.05 miles
  • Sunday: 6.1 miles very easy

Total: 50.1 miles

So I’ve been thinking. A lot of my running friends ran track in high school, and/or kicked butt running in college. They’ve been runners for a whole lotta’ years, which sometimes makes me wish I had started running a bit earlier.

Instead I was busy doing this for ten years of my young life:

Sad to say, that’s about all the gymnastics I can do these days.

But back to running. I think everyone has a different reason or story about why they started running, and during one of my recent long runs I started to think of mine.

I parted ways with my gymnastics career when I went to college, and not having a sport to concentrate on was really strange at first. No, I didn’t replace gymnastics with running. But rather, ehm, partying? Boston is a fun place to go to school, that’s for sure. 🙂

I did go out for a random run here or there, but never more than 15 or 20 minutes at the most. It was something I enjoyed, but only as part of my exercise routine to help keep me in shape.

Fast forward a few years, and that all changed. I went through a pretty bad breakup that left me feeling really alone – all of a sudden something that had been such a big part of my life was gone. Gradually, I started running a little more. It made me feel good, and I still remember the huge boost I got when I ran 3 miles for the first time.

Pretty soon I woke up in the mornings not thinking of some douchebag him, but about how excited I was to get my run on. Not only did running give me something to focus on, but I loved it! Eventually I got up to 5 mile runs a few days per week around the Charles River, and thought I might like to try running in a race.

So I signed up for the Tufts 10K for Women in October 2004. I think it was the longest distance I had ever run, and I finished in about 56 minutes. The last part of the race was a little painful, but I was hooked! I liked this racing thing.

That summer, a friend of mine mentioned he was signing up for the BAA Half Marathon. “You should do it too!” he said.

At first, I was like, “thirteen miles?? There is no way I can ever run 13 miles. I don’t know if I even want to run that far!”

But I thought about it, and was intrigued. Enough so that I signed up for the race and started training for it. I ran 10 miles for the first time and still remember how euphoric I felt during the run, and how I got to explore different areas of Boston along the Charles that seemed so far away before. Running long was awesome!

So I ran my first half marathon in October 2005 and finished in 2:07:04, about 9:42/mile. And loved it, obviously.

A year later I moved to NYC, joined New York Road Runners, ran as many races as I could (42 to date, actually), got a bit speedier, and the rest is history.

After finishing the 2010 NYC Marathon

So I guess I’ve been running for about 7 years now, give or take a few months. And through these years, running has been my therapy, my savior, a source of joy, a source of disappointment, a social activity, and something that has taught me more about myself than any other activity or person could have ever done.

So that’s my story. Now you tell me – how/when/why did you start running?

Last year, when training for the NYC Marathon, I remember my first 16 miler as being a huge step for me. It was a personal distance record, sounded really far (i.e., bragging rights: “I just ran 16 miles, yo”) and was only 10 miles short of the marathon distance.

I thought for the first time, “If I can run 16 that strong, then 26.2 is totally doable!”

16 miles is still one of my favorite distances, and I’m excited to be at the point in training when I get to crack it (and exceed it!). So I set out early on Saturday morning, which was a delightfully pleasant 75 degrees with low humidity at 6:00 a.m. – a picnic compared to last weekend’s slog fest.

I did my usual loop around Central Park and out to Riverside Park for another loop, and returned to CP to meet up with Ali for the last part of the run.

We chatted away the miles, and before I knew it the run was over (though I was totally tempted to keep going with Ali, who had an 18 miler on tap). We parted ways after taking a sweat-tastic photo.

I heat running with this lady!

I was pretty happy with my splits –  my goal for the run was to keep it fairly easy paced and hover around the 9:00 minute/mile range.

 

I usually do about half or a third of my long runs on the bridle path and the rest on the roads, and during the week I tend to stick to the bridle more often unless I’m tempo-ing. But a recent article in the New York Times by Gina Kolata (a runner who often writes about running. I heart her) debates whether running on soft surfaces is actually better for you.

Soft?

Hard?

According to Ms. Kolata, there are limited studies on actual runners and injury rate on soft surface vs. hard, and there’s no actual proof that soft surfaces can prevent injuries. Some can even cause them because of uneven surfaces increasing risk for things like rolled ankles or falls.

Still, I’m not completely sold. I’m pretty injury prone, and last year did a lot of my marathon training on the bridle and managed to stay healthy. I think that’s definitely worth something!

However, I do see the importance of running on the roads too – most races are on roads, so it’s important that our bodies are used to running on them. I guess like a lot of things, balance is key.

And of course, getting to the starting line healthy and in one piece.

On long run days I always crave pizza, and decided to make a super easy version with some whole wheat flatbread, mozzarella cheese, tomato sauce and tons of veggies.

It only took about 10 minutes in the oven – easiest dinner ever!

Delicious.

Of course it needed to be followed by 16 Handles

I promise there is froyo underneath the toppings and that I demolished every ounce of this massive creation.

Congrats to everyone who raced yesterday and good luck to everyone racing today!

Question: Hard surfaces, or soft? What’s your favorite distance to run?

Blossom & Balance

I was all ready to write about how exhausted I’ve been this week (which I guess is still kind of the case), but this morning’s run totally energized me. We had a big group this morning – Ali, Susan, Megan, Meggie, Maria and Tracy’s sister – and these ladies just invigorated me.

Pounding out the miles whilst chatting away, I forgot about the long week and overall fatigue I’d been feeling. Almost like it flew out of me as the miles passed, and by the time I waved goodbye to the gals I was so ready to take on the day. I heart running buddies 🙂

But seriously, this week has been dragging. Every day I’ve been all, “OMG it’s only Monday??” “OMG it’s only Tuesday???” and “OMG it’s only Wednesday????”

I also kind of think my butt may be partially glued to my chair at work. We’ve been super busy lately (aren’t summers supposed to be slow? I don’t think the PR world got that memo.), and that paired with a little thing called marathon training has made me exponentially wiped this week.

Usually when things get busy my routine gets pretty monotonous – run, eat, work, eat, work, eat, work/school, sleep. Repeat. Not because I’m that boring, but sometimes I just don’t have the energy to do anything else. And sometimes routine is the only thing that keeps me sane.

Plus, making weekday plans is tiring. Carrying through with plans? Even more tiring. Catching up on the Real Housewives? Mind-numbingly perfect.

But monotony can also result in a pretty cranky (and yeah, boring) Kelly. Especially when LuAnne’s new single gets stuck in my head.

So I’ve been trying to balance chill nights with other activities, usually involving eating. Which is never a bad thing.

Tuesday night my friend Kelly and I met at Blossom, another awesome vegan spot in Chelsea.

Sweet Potato Rolls stuffed with shredded coconut, jicama, carrot, red and yellow peppers, scallions, and avocado, with an almond ginger dipping sauce

Blossom Greens mixed greens, sweet cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, jicama, carrots, tamari-toasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds in a ginger teriyaki lime dressing

Vegetable Mezze Plate roasted fennel, brussels sprouts, sweet potato puree, sautéed kale, and tri-color cauliflower, accompanied by spiced quinoa

I was kind of bummed they didn’t have any carrot cake (because vegan carrot cake is my favorite!) but the Blossom Cheesecake was a decent alternative

The service was terrible, but Kelly and I had lots to catch up on so we didn’t mind that much. And it sure beat a night on my couch involving crazy Ramona mainlining pinot grigio.

Question: Do you consciously balance chilling out with other activities/plans? I’m a ridiculous planner, but sometimes I think I’m too anal about scheduling “chill time.”

I never thought I would be so happy to see 70 degrees on the thermometer at 5:45 a.m., but it almost made me cry tears of joy this morning.

My legs didn’t feel quite as happy about it, but I made it through a 7.25 mile tempo run that was just a bit slower than I had wanted.

But let’s talk about last week – no groundbreaking workouts, just a whole ‘lotta sweaty miles.

  • Monday: rest, 50 minutes easy vinyasa yoga
  • Tuesday: 7.1 miles; 2×1 mile repeats (7:39, 7:43)
  • Wednesday: 7.75 miles easy
  • Thursday: 7.1 miles easy
  • Friday: 5 miles easy, 15 minutes elliptical, lifting
  • Saturday: 12.5 hot, sweaty miles
  • Sunday: 6.25 miles easy

Total: 45.7 miles. Meh, I’m happy it’s done and overwith. Onward and upward!

Corey tagged me in a 7 links game that’s going around the blog world, and I’m kind of a sucker for stuff like this. So here goes.

THE GOAL

To unite bloggers (from all sectors) in a joint endeavor to share lessons learned and create a bank of long but not forgotten blog posts that deserve to see the light of day again.

 THE RULES

  1. Blogger is nominated to take part
  2. Blogger publishes his/her 7 links on his/her blog – 1 link for each category
  3. Blogger nominates up to 5 more bloggers to take part
  4. These bloggers publish their 7 links and nominate another 5 more bloggers
  5. And so it goes on!
  6. They’ll be sharing the best posts from participating bloggers on our blog and everyday on Facebook and Twitter at #My7Links

Most Beautiful

This is kind of a weird category, no? I’d have to say my most beautiful post was also the one that made me the most sad to write.

 In June, my great-grandma (called Nonna) passed away, and it was devastating.

She was everything to my family – chef, matriarch, authority figure, teacher, mentor, and most importantly, the source of so many laughs and so much love. I miss her every day.

 Most Popular

Almost every day some visitors land on one of these three posts:

And it makes my heart happy, because the reason I wrote them is to help other people learn about the risks, symptoms and causes of serious blood clots through sharing my experience.

Pulmonary embolisms kill one in three people that get them. And since I was one of the lucky ones to survive, I’ve made it a mission to help anyone and everyone realize that both deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism can indeed happen to anyone. Here’s a recent interview I did with FoxNews.com talking about my experience (I’m super famous…)

 Most Controversial

I’m not really very controversial on the bloggy, it turns out. I guess whenever I talk about nutrition-related things people have their own opinions, but I’ve never really felt that anything I’ve said has cause controversy, per say.

 Most Helpful

I like to think the posts I write about nutrition are helpful! I love sharing my thoughts and learnings with ya’ll, and think these posts in particular have gotten great feedback:

 Surprise Success

In February I wrote a post detailing out the foods I ate in one day.

I didn’t think it was going to be very exciting, but then the Fage peeps got ahold it (and my multiple mentions of massive Fage consumption), and posted it on their Facebook page that had about 100,000 fans.

And zoom went my readership for that day! Thanks, Fage. Can I have some free yogurt now?

Not Enough Attention

Even after a year of blogging, I’m still surprised you all actually read this thing 🙂 Any attention you pay to Meals for Miles at all, I love and thank you for it!

Most Proud

I didn’t even have to think about this one – my NYC Marathon recap from last year!

I had deferred from the marathon in 2008 and 2009 because of injury, and at times never thought I’d actually get to run the damn thing. But 2010 was my year, and it was the most amazing experience I’ve ever had.

Ryan Hall and I, just hangin’ out…

The best cheering squad ever!

I loved every second in every borough, and can’t wait to do it again this year!

This little exercise was actually fun – I liked thinking through what I’ve done and written about recently. It’s almost like looking back through a diary, but not all of the dirty details (some things are better left unsaid on the interwebz and therefore most of the free world, ya hear?).

Question: Do you go back and read your blog, journal or diary often? If you don’t have one, how do you keep your memories?

Also, I’m not tagging anyone here because I think a lot of ya’ll have done this already, but feel free to play along if you haven’t!