Presidio 10: A Not-So-Serious Race Recap

Alex and I ran the Presidio 10 for the third time on Sunday. It’s a nostalgic one because it was the first race I ever ran. When I ran it back in 2009, I chose the 10K and finished with a runner’s high so high that it motivated me to sign up for countless races since.  

Sunday’s run was a little less euphoric; while being sick and generally unmotivated for the last month, my running ground to a halt. Alex has been kicking ass (literally) at martial arts, with less time for running. Bottom line: we were undertrained.

Instead of beating ourselves up about it, we decided to go out there and run easy and have a good time. Even while running easy, 10 miles is no joke, so I was nervous about how it would go. The racecourse is beautiful, winding through the Presidio and going across the Golden Gate in Marin for a minute before turning around and running back.

We got there early and picking up our race bibs was super easy. They did a wave start this year, and I found myself a little annoyed at the announcer. First, he said the faster, stronger runners should line up near the front. Yes, some runners are definitely faster than me, but stronger? It irked me but I let it go because I figured I was just being picky and sensitive. Then, later he called them the disciplined, dedicated runners and I rolled my eyes so hard. Some of us are disciplined and dedicated and still run slower than a nine-minute mile. Plus, there’s nothing like starting off a race after hearing you’re not a disciplined or dedicated runner. When it was our turn, he said we were the “real runners” with no explanation of how, since we were clearly not dedicated or disciplined, and started us of with a super slow song. I was annoyed, clearly, but Alex and I just started cracking jokes about it, which made me laugh. (I want to point out that I was not a dedicated, disciplined runner in training for this race, but a) I have trained diligently in the past and still run a 9+ min/mile race, and b) I know lots and lots of runners that train hard and run at lots of different speeds, so why label it?)

 The race has several hills at the beginning, and I found that they were less painful than I was expecting, considering my hill running has been nil. I like to think that all the squats, lunges, and deadlifts I’ve been doing have paid off. I did find myself really sinking into my legs and my butt to power myself up the hills and it really helped. Alex was cracking me up the whole time by making lots of jokes and being loud and goofy; I’m not sure our fellow runners appreciated it as much as I did, but the laughing helped propel me. I can’t wait to get our race pictures, because I’m pretty sure there are some ridiculous ones.

The last two miles of the race were flat, but straight painful. When I mentioned to Alex I was hitting the wall, he said “do you need some Kool-Aid?” and I laughed so hard I couldn’t breathe. Now I want to make a sign involving the Kool-Aid Man breaking through the wall and yell “OH YEAH!” at the next race where I’m a spectator.

Near the end of the race, I came up behind a guy who started saying things like, “don’t wait for me! You can do it!” I appreciated the motivation and pulled past him. He and Alex proceeded to run together for a bit and I could hear them behind me trading encouraging words and it was really awesome. He ended up pulling up next to me at the finish line, which made me sprint all out at the end. Me, him and Alex all finished at the same time and high-fived. Thank you, random man, who helped me finish strong!

Image

The race seemed to be more poorly organized this year than years past, and the line for t-shirts was literally so long I couldn’t see the end. We grabbed some organic birch tree water (yes, seriously) and hightailed it out of there. I don’t really need another race t-shirt anyway, but I was a little sad to not at least see it! 

We ended up running 10.17 miles in 1:37, at a pace of 9:33 per mile. I’ll take it! Considering the state of my running recently, it wasn’t half bad. We also had a blast, and it was nice to not take the race so seriously and just be goofy!

We just signed up for our first Seattle race in September – the Beat the Blerch 10K, based on this Oatmeal comic which is amazing. I was leaning towards the half marathon, but Alex pointed out that we’re going to be moving and hanging out with people and traveling and who knows what our schedule will look like. The 10K is a good distance to train for, and it’s also a good distance if training plans go awry. I’m really looking forward to hooking up with the running community up there!

 

OSG Cookbook Giveaway Winner

It’s time to announce the winner of the Oh She Glows cookbook giveaway! All the comments are in and thanks to a random number generator, comment #7 was the winner!

Screen Shot 2014-04-07 at 6.51.21 PM

Johanna said….“Lately my favorite is Isa Does It. I also really like Passionate Vegetarian and Bean by Bean.” 

Johanna, you should have gotten an email from me, but if you didn’t, leave a comment and let me know!

Check out the rest of the comments for more great cookbook recommendations!

Happy Monday!

Links Worth Reading: Bees, Mindfulness, and Arcades!

Program Looks to Give Bees a Leg (or Six) Up

While the program only has a budget of $3 million over five states, I’m happy to ANY federal funding being allocated on this important issue. “The new program will encourage farmers and ranchers to grow alfalfa, clover and other crops favored by bees and which serve a second purpose of being forage for livestock. Other proposed changes in practices include fencing property for managing grazing pastures in rotation so that they can replenish, leaving living plants for the bees.”

More About Mindfulness

I really like this balanced approach to mindfulness. Sometimes I get caught up in thinking that every single moment of every activity needs to be mindful, and I get so overwhelmed that I get caught in an anxiety spiral instead of being aware. “[Mindful running] is by far the most profound of the three approaches, but not always easy for me to sustain. It’s not that any of these is necessarily more enjoyable than any other. It really depends on my mood. But sometimes, the mindful run is exactly what I need.” 

Study Questions Fat and Heart Disease Link

To be sure, there is lots of research still to be done and some people think that the ever changing nutritional guidelines make nutrition science a junk science. But I’m attracted to it for precisely that reason – it’s ever changing and dynamic. We’re always learning more about how the body utilizes nutrients and what best fuels us. “Many of us have long been told that saturated fat, the type found in meat, butter and cheese, causes heart disease. But a large and exhaustive new analysis by a team of international scientists found no evidence that eating saturated fat increased heart attacks and other cardiac events.”

The Cure for Your Distraction Syndrome

As always, Leo at Zen Habits writes exactly what I need to read. “I absolutely adore the Internet, but there’s no doubt it has made us more distracted than ever.”

The 5 Biggest Lessons I Learned at the Arcade

I love the way Nerd Fitness frames things in a totally different way than all the other fitness related blogs that I read. I’m always inspired after reading articles like this to try something totally new. “Arcades have hundreds of games because everybody likes something different.  I love watching people set a high score in any game, regardless of whether or not it’s a game I actually want to play.  I watch them be good at the games they enjoy, and then move on to the game I enjoy, focusing on bettering my own high score. Life is no different.”

Jumping on the Juicing Bandwagon

I had brunch plans on Monday, which felt very luxurious and is one of the perks of being on a student schedule. But I found myself done with a pretty heavy lifting workout in the morning, and no meal on the horizon for hours.  I wanted something nutrient dense, protein filled, and light enough that I’d be hungry again a few hours later. A pretty tall order, if you ask me.

For the protein part, I threw together a protein banana soft serve that was so tasty, I know I’ll be making it on a regular basis.

IMG_0012

Peanut Butter Protein Soft Serve

Ingredients: 

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder of choice (I use Sun Warrior)
  • 1-3 tablespoons coconut water, depending on desired consistency
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, divided
  • Chia seeds, for topping

Method:

  1. Add frozen banana to food processor and process until smooth.
  2. Add the protein powder and pulse until incorporated.
  3. Add coconut water, and half the peanut butter and pulse until incorporated.
  4. Serve immediately, topped with chia seeds and remaining peanut butter.

I also wanted some greens. I knew I wouldn’t be getting them at brunch because I’d be facing tough decisions like an avocado and Jarlsberg scramble or cinnamon French toast. So I busted out our juicer for the first time.

I registered for a juicer because people that love juicing really LOVE it. And I’m all about jumping on the bandwagon (Alex and I get really into baseball right when the Giants are in the playoffs).  But since receiving it for our wedding, I’ve been kind of intimidated and haven’t used it. Turns out, it’s as easy as flipping a switch and shoving a lot of produce down a chute.

I did a kale, celery, ginger, carrot mixture, with a squeeze of lemon after the fact. One factor that has made me skeptical of juicing at home is that it takes a lot of produce to make a decent amount of juice. Then I remembered that I actually don’t love a huge glass of juice, especially when it’s a component of another meal. This small glass of juice was a perfect addition to a light breakfast.

Bonus: I felt like I was having a cocktail at breakfast. Upon further consideration, I’m not sure any alcohol would taste good with green juice.

I’m not going to be juicing daily, but the juicer has now taken up residence on the counter, hopefully as motivation to make a small batch a few times per week. Then my next task is to tackle using the pulp!

Are you into juicing? What’s your favorite combo? 

The Oh She Glows Cookbook Review and Giveaway!

I’ve built up quite the collection of cookbooks over the years. I started with an old Vegetarian Times cookbook that I stole from my mom, and then it’s progressed rapidly from there. My parents were visiting this weekend and my mom saw my three (!) shelves of cookbooks and asked, “are those really ALL cookbooks?”

My collection, however, didn’t stop me from eagerly awaiting the arrival of The Oh She Glows Cookbook. I received the pre-order as a Christmas gift, and when it came a few weeks ago I was so excited.

IMG_3826

The cookbook all vegan, and all awesome. The photography is lovely, as to be expected if you read Oh She Glows. There are a ton of recipes, plus helpful reference chapters on building up a pantry, cooking tools, and staples like cashew cream, mushroom gravy, and lots of other basics. Angela’s friendly and funny voice comes through the book the entire time, which made me want to read it even when I wasn’t cooking from it!

I’ve made four of the recipes from the book, and my favorite thing about them is that they are nourishing but very simple to make. The soups were quick and easy to make; the tomato and mushroom sauce (which I served over lentils) was hearty and full of flavor.

IMG_0005

My favorite recipe has to be the Miso Power Bowl which I’ve made three times! Having it for lunch keeps me filled up to power through my afternoon classes. My only addition to it was avocado, because avocado makes everything better. I haven’t tackled the dessert section, but I honestly can’t wait to try it. So many of the recipes look decadent and delicious.

IMG_0006

The food is filling and not fussy. The book is made up nutritious meals that will work for real people who are flying around trying to do a million things at once. There aren’t a bunch of imitation products – everything is based on whole grains, legumes, nuts, and vegetables. I really appreciate this way of eating, and this cookbook is definitely going to be one I return to again and again.

IMG_3840

My photos aren’t the best, but I highly recommend checking out Oh She Glows to get an idea of what the recipes are like.

Because I love the book so much, I’ve decided to share the love and give one to a reader!  Please leave a comment telling me what your favorite cookbook is (I always need new ideas!) and I’ll choose someone at random to receive a copy of The Oh She Glows cookbook. I’ll choose a winner on Monday, April 7!

My Thoughts on SELF Magazine and Tutu-gate

If you’re a runner, no doubt you’ve heard about the SELF magazine tutu debacle. The summary is that SELF magazine contacted a runner, Monika Allen, to request a photo of her running in a tutu. She supplied it, not realizing it was going to be published as part of SELF’s “BS Meter” – calling runners out for wearing tutus. Well, it turns out that the tutu-wearing runner is a brain cancer survivor and sells tutus from her website Glam Runner, in part to support Girls on the Run. People found out about Monika’s back story and SELF’s Facebook page blew up with people outraged and canceling their subscriptions.

SELF issued a sort-of apology, followed by a more genuine apology and interview with Monika. They have also decided to discontinue the “BS Meter” feature. Several people commented, “too little, too late,” and claimed that if SELF really supported women, they never would have run the piece to begin with. I think, though, that we can stand and say “this wasn’t okay” AND “thank you for trying to make it right.” I don’t think it has to be an either/or situation. 

I’ve been following this story and thinking about it a lot; I’m always fascinated by anything that involves women’s media. Not that long ago, I wrote a post about women’s magazines and how terrible they are, and I feel like this fits right into that narrative.

Many people commented about how SELF should be building women up and not tearing them down, regardless of whether they are cancer survivors or doing charity work. I’m glad to see that sentiment being promoted, because I agree with it. My biggest problem with SELF’s feature is that it tears down women who are doing something active and healthy. Someone wearing a tutu affects me not at all, so why the hell do I care if they wear one? 

But I wonder how much of this sentiment would have been expressed if Monika hadn’t been battling cancer. Perhaps this is cynical, but I can’t help but think that without the backdrop, most women would have maybe rolled their eyes at the feature and flipped the page. Maybe they would’ve written a letter to the editor to complain, but I doubt that SELF would have seen 9,000+ comments on their Facebook page. 

I say this not to defend SELF’s actions, but because I think they fit in to a larger paradigm where magazines tear women down so we strive to find a way to build ourselves up “thinner, leaner, faster, meaner” than ever before. Several commenters said, “this makes you no better than a gossip rag.” “Best and worst dressed lists” are often popular and we flip through them without a second thought; I’m not sure how I see this being different. Why do we tolerate it in some media but not others? 

Also, even magazines like SELF that are supposedly supposed to support and empower women are filled with articles on how to become our sexiest selves, get thinner, beauty tricks, landing Mr. Right, etc. It’s a typical narrative about striving to be something better/different in order to be happy/successful, and for women, a lot of the emphasis is how we look and whose arm we’re on. It’s also a tremendously white, cis-gendered narrative that’s not representative of the real world at all. (To give SELF some credit, their site also has stories on “Thinking Like an Athlete” and Barbell Training, so that’s pretty cool.)

No doubt SELF’s decision to run this feature was wrong, and I’m honestly happy to see the backlash of women saying, “this is not what we want to read about.” But I also want to acknowledge that SELF doesn’t exist in a vacuum. They exist in a media world that profits by telling women how they aren’t good enough and how to be better. I hope this incident changes the way SELF approaches their content, and in an ideal world, it would spread to all magazines. I’m not confident it’s going to have a lasting change on content across the board, but I’m thrilled to see people starting the conversation.

 

On Giving Up Expectations

After two weeks of this nasty cold, I finally returned to yoga today. I’m still not 100%, but I’m feeling good enough to start moving again. Ironically, the first passage the teacher read was about how illness changes our expectations about what we value and appreciate.

Being sick always somehow frees me up to let go of expectations, which ends up making me stronger. I told myself going into yoga today that it was okay if I had to take it easy and to take breaks whenever I needed to. The result was that I didn’t end up taking any breaks.

I felt strong throughout the class and even did every vinyasa and got up into full wheel, whereas I usually opt for the less intense bridge pose. The whole class felt effortless, which was a nice change from the last two weeks where even getting dinner made felt hard. And even if I had wanted to take a break, I would have been perfectly fine with it and I probably would have left the class feeling just as strong.

Running and lifting will probably require more ease in time and last night I was trying to figure out how I felt about it. On one hand, it’s always kind of annoying to go through a fitness setback. But instead of feeling annoyed, I find that I’m feeling energized to push myself – even if it’s only pushing myself to the level where I was before. Instead of being dejected that I’m not there right now, I’m excited that I get to re-experience the journey of getting there. This whole “enjoying the journey and not the destination” feeling is a new one for me, particularly around fitness. My parents have been telling me for years that the secret to happiness is letting go of expectations. It appears they may be right.

IMG_3845

IMG_3852IMG_3858 IMG_3855

I HAVE been annoyed that I haven’t been able to take advantage of the beautiful weather we’ve been having having to go for runs or long walks or anything. But this weekend, I managed to get outside a handful of times to enjoy the farmers’ market (strawberry season is starting!), coffee and donuts in a lovely outdoor courtyard, and a walk up to the top of Dolores Park to enjoy the view of the city and the city dwellers. I also got to see some friends and do some homework and get some cat snuggles in, so all in all, it was pretty awesome.

This combination of enjoying the process and paying closer attention to the little moments has me feeling pretty centered. Tomorrow it’s back to running, so I’ll be sure to report how that goes (I have a feeling it might throw off that centered feeling just a bit!)