Weekend Fun & A Running Update

I hope you had a wonderful weekend!  I did some running, we had friends over for dinner, went to the beach, and even made it out to lunch just the two of us.  (An event worthy of the above pictured sangria.)

Running update: It’s about 13 weeks until the Chilly Half Marathon on November 8th.  I’m really hoping to drop the pace for this one (9:30 goal, down from 10:01 result last year).

I really want to use my limited training time efficiently, so I hired a running coach to help.  He’s an ultra-marathoner and triathlete who provides specific half marathon and marathon coaching packages, and I’d enjoyed his spin class.

My first session with him was last week.  We talked for a few minutes, I caught him up to date about what I’d done over the summer (not as much as I’d hoped, but hey, lots of paddle boarding) and then we did 50 minutes of circuit training and he gave me a running plan for the upcoming week.

What’s circuit training? I did small sets of exercises (45 seconds of high knees, 250 meters of rowing, 45 second plank, etc.) and would cycle through a group of 3 exercises 3 times total, then move on to another set of exercises.

Result: I worked hard and felt fantastic… until the next day.  I was in so much pain for two days that I couldn’t run.  The third day, I got a shard of glass stuck in my foot and didn’t run.  I finally ran on Saturday (already 10 miles behind for the week).  I had, by then, gotten the glass out of my foot… but my muscles still weren’t back to normal.  I averaged 12 minute miles for my 6 mile run (so glad I finally put the watch back on so we could track my summer “progress”) and took today off instead of doing my prescribed 3 mile recovery run.


The day after circuit training I ran one of the most painful miles of my life before fear of injury and straight up pain sent me walking home.

Whoops. I probably should have been more clear that while I had been enthusiastically working on my push ups in Maine, I hadn’t done the full sets of 50s twice a week as prescribed.  That may have gotten lost in our discussion, along with the fact that I’ve never done any sort of regular strength training.  Coaches aren’t mind readers.  I said “I did a lot of paddle boarding and not enough running.”  That’s not the same as “And I did the fun part of the 50s and only half as often as you advised.”  And, honestly, except for the last sets of high knees and jumping jacks, I didn’t have much indication at the time that I was working too hard.  Perhaps a little over-exerting is a necessary part of figuring out where you’re at.

Going forward: Now I have to go in on Tuesday and tell Jake that I missed four out of 5 runs this week, and that we’re not at ground zero for this training plan, we’re at below zero.  I’m not a fan of admitting I didn’t do what I was supposed to do because I’m not fit enough to make it through 50 minutes of circuit training and still run the next day.

But there’s still time.  This moves me one step closer to figuring out what level of strength training is just enough to get benefits and not so much it jeopardizes my running.  And it gives me added incentive to do better in pre-season training in the future.  It’s not just about the half marathon training, it’s about being ready to start!  (There’s a reason many beginner plans are 16 weeks, whereas more intermediate plans might be 12.  You need to ramp up!)

On the plus side, I had a great weekend, I did make it out for a relaxing 6 mile run, and I’ve got 13 weeks.  I know first hand how much can change in 13 weeks.

Runners have the best tan lines. Wearing my zoot icefil cooling sleeves – they legitimately help me feel cooler when I run in the heat.

A whole lot of peppers, onions and mushrooms getting ready to serve fajitas to friends!

I’m on instagram! I hadn’t posted even two photos when I saw this lovely instagram from paulrunslong urging people to follow me because I’m inspiring. Now THAT is inspiring :)

I bought myself a running present! Now I don’t have to struggle to shove my phone into an awkwardly shaped pocket on my outdated hydration belt. Worth the splurge already.

Bought a $3 runner’s ID. It snapped into my shoelaces and now my emergency contact info goes with me every time I run, even if my phone doesn’t.

Will the #IAmCecil Campaign Help or Hurt the Vegan Movement?


In the aftermath of beloved lion Cecil’s death at the hands of a big-game killer, animal lovers have taken to social media in outrage.

Vegan groups are trying to harness the outrage for the vegan movement, using the hashtag #IAmCecil to show photos of pigs and other livestock.

The goal of the comparison is clear, but is it effective?

Killing an endangered (or threatened) animal for sport is not the same as eating a non-threatened species for dinner, as critics will likely point out.  But it’s not entirely different, either. Both cause the suffering and death of innocent sentient beings, for the pleasure of humans.

Notice I said for pleasure.  I consider eating meat to be something humans do for pleasure, because I understand that eating meat is not only unnecessary for health and survival, but detrimental to our health.  Exposure to Forks Over Knives and The China Study led me to become certified in plant-based nutrition through the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies.  I understand how unhealthy meat is for our bodies, so to me, the only reason to eat meat would be for pleasure.  That makes me more sympathetic to the I Am Cecil comparison of livestock to big game hunting.

But showing these images to someone who feeds their family a traditional roast for dinner is likely to put omnivores on the immediate defensive.  They’re feeding their children, and they may believe that meat is a healthy and necessary way to do that.  Without an understanding of the health and environmental consequences of eating meat, it will be hard for any non-vegan to hear the #IAmCecil message.

I worry that comparing someone who feeds their children meat with someone who kills lions for sport will alienate people.  It is wonderful that people feel sadness and outrage at Cecil’s death.  Is trying to make them feel hypocritical really helpful, or will it just push them away?

I would love to find a way to help people see the connection between Cecil’s death and the unnecessary suffering of other animals.

I’m just not sure comparing omnivores to big game hunters is the way to do it.


A Great Running Quotation from John Bingham


I love John Bingham, author of The Penguin Chronicles and champion of slower paced runners.  This particular quotation is from Running for Mortals: A Commonsense Plan for Changing Your Life With Running.  It’s an enjoyable read and particularly great for runners who are just starting out.

Be consistent, and just as important, be patient!  The gains are happening, they’re just too slow to notice right away.




Have you seen College Humor’s hilarious video about running?

Greg just showed me this hilarious video from collegehumor.com – “If People Talked About Other Hobbies Like They Talk About Running.”  If you haven’t seen it, it’s hysterical.  Watch it!

One word of caution: don’t let it keep you from talking about running the way you talk about running!  It’s fine, even healthy, to laugh at ourselves as runners.  But it’s also fine to acknowledge that it can be harder to motivate yourself to run than it is to sit down with the latest novel.  (And people still use accountability and motivational tools to do that – enter Good Reads and neighborhood book clubs!)

So have a good laugh at this video, and then keep on using the motivational tools that inspire you!

Recipe: cucumber tomato plum salad

I’m back home after spending 6 weeks in Maine to be near family!  I’ll miss my daily paddleboarding, but my board is strapped to the roof of my car and the water hasn’t seen the last of me.  I’ll be researching public landings nearby in no time.

Is it weird that one of the things I missed while I was gone was my cutting board?  It’s a large wooden block, and I love how spacious it is, and the feeling of cutting on wood instead of  plastic.

I reunited with my cutting board by making this beautiful (and delicious) summer salad:

Cucumber Tomato Plum Salad

Handful of basil leaves

2 cups tomatoes

1 small cucumber

1 plum

flavored white vinegar (we used peach)

Cut up the cucumber, tomatoes and plum into small pieces.  Cut the basil leaves into shreds (I like to stack the leaves and then cut with kitchen shears right into the salad.)  Mix with a drizzle of white vinegar (no oil, the salad tastes fresher and is healthier without it!)

*If your cucumber is bitter, sprinkle it with salt and let it sit in a colander for 10-15 minutes and then rinse well and pat dry before incorporating into the salad.

How What You Eat Impacts the Oceans

As part of my plant-based nutrition course, I watched a lecture by Bruce Monger of Cornell University on how what we eat is affecting the health of our oceans.  I was so moved by his lecture, that I created a 2 minute video with the highlights to share.  (I did get credit for it, but the written assignment would have been easier!)

I hope that you’ll watch it, and if your intrigued, you’ll read the article Dr. Monger wrote about how our food choices impact the environment: http://nutritionstudies.org/impact-of-food-choices-on-the-environment/

I’m not going to become a marine biologist anytime soon, but I do eat three meals, every day.  And I can make a difference by choosing what I eat for those three meals, every day.  You can too.

For additional information on how to make better decisions about the seafood you eat (if you decide to eat it) check out http://www.seafoodwatch.org/

If you like Bruce Monger’s work and are interested in learning more about oceanography and the latest ocean news, you can like his facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/CornellOceanography

What’s your environmental passion, and how have you found ways to make an impact by doing things a little differently in your every day life? I would love to hear your ideas in the comments below or via e-mail!

7 Ways Differently Paced Running Buddies Can Help Each Other

Friends with a super speedster?  Or maybe you’re the former track star, who has trouble finding someone to run with because your running buddies can’t keep up.  Don’t give up on your running buddies just yet!


“Running Buddies” by Craig Howell / CC BY 2.0

Here are 7 ways runners of different paces can keep each other going:

1. Get each other out the door

Meet up with your differently paced friend and warm up together.  Take off in different directions, and then meet up for a cool down and a cup of coffee.  Knowing your friend will be meeting you at your cool down location will keep you close to your target pace so you don’t let them down.  Both of you will have an extra reason not to skip your morning run!

2. Help pace each other

Slow your fast friend down while they help you keep pace for a hard workout.  If they time a recovery run with your hard workout for the week, you may be more compatible than you think.  Many fast runners struggle with settling into a slower pace, but it can help them recover and prevent injury to take it easy on occasion.

3. Play running games

Head to the track and see how much of a head start the faster runner needs for you both to finish a lap at about the same time.  Compete.  Do a track relay where you tag off on hard laps, giving yourselves built in recovery time (if it’s too long, jog for half of it and then get ready to tag off).  Work on getting your combined 800 meter time down.  Find fun ways to compete against each other, or work with each other.  It will make it extra fun to run your hearts out!

4. Meet up for strength training

Strength training can decrease your risk of injury and increase your running performance, but so many of us forget to do it!  Meet up with your differently paced running buddy to get your strength training in.  Runner’s World explains the importance of strength training and gives you 10 exercise ideas here: http://www.runnersworld.com/workouts/10-essential-strength-exercises-for-runners

5. Be each other’s running coach

Time each other (and shout encouragement!) for track repeats.  Call each other after a long run to ask how it went, creating accountability.  Keep track of each other’s progress, and help encourage each other to meet goals.  Whether you want to run at least 15 days next month or decrease your mile time, it’s amazing to have a friend who is tracking your progress, providing encouragement, and who will be excited when you hit that mark.

6. Be research buddies

Brainstorm some running questions you have together.  Your running buddy may have already read a great running book with a full chapter on the topic, or may be similarly interested.  Meet up after a run to stretch and share.  You’ll be more likely to research and remember information about dynamic stretching if you know you’re going to explain it to a friend.

7. Sign up for the same race

Get excited together, swap training stories, and drive to the race together listening to your pre-race music.  Running the same race, even when you don’t run together, is such a motivating and fun experience.  Pre-race jitters are easier when you have company, and it can keep you going through those middle miles knowing someone is either waiting for you at the finish line or will be excited for you if you run a great race!

You don’t have to find a pace match to have a great running relationship with someone.  So much of supporting a friend on their running journey is done before and after the run.  If you can both run, you can find a way to run together, even if it’s just a few casual miles a week.  The rest of the time, you can be each other’s moral support, social connection, accountability and motivation.  Those are important things!  

Is how you identify as a runner/parent/person holding you back?

When my oldest was a newborn, I remember deciding that I was going to be the smart mom.  The one who didn’t freak out and call the pediatrician at the first sign of spit-up.  The one who was up-to-date on all the parenting literature and had decided, in advance, which experts actually knew what they were talking about.

I wanted, so badly, to parent intelligently and not “ask stupid questions” that I remember frantically scrubbing newborn vomit out of a carpet, agonizing over whether or not to call the pediatrician.  If you don’t know whether or not you should call the pediatrician, CALL THE PEDIATRICIAN.  They’ll know.

I almost let my desire to protect my “smart mom” identity keep me from getting expert medical advice the first time my newborn threw up.  (I called the pediatrician’s office.  They said every new mom calls the first time their kid pukes,  and told me everything sounded fine.)

I had a similar experience with running the first time I did track repeats.  I’d always identified as a happy, novice, slow runner.  What were people going to think when I said I wanted to get faster?  Would my blog readers feel like I was abandoning them?  Did it seem judgmental to say that I was no longer satisfied running 10:45 pace for a 5k?  I was the happy, easy going jogger, the one who was refreshingly novice compared to all the experienced and accomplished running bloggers out there.

It almost held me back from finding new goals for myself, and new ways to enjoy challenging myself with running.

Identity can be a powerful motivator.  Just don’t let it hold you back.  If your heart is fighting it, let yourself run faster, slower, shorter, longer, solo, with friends… or maybe while on the phone with your pediatrician.

No oil – it’s quite the challenge

I’m two thirds of the way through my plant based certification course, and one of the topics covered is why oil (of any kind) is so unhealthy.  

For a great overview on why no oil is ever “heart healthy” read this article: http://engine2diet.com/the-daily-beet/the-big-oil-post-plus-a-giveaway/

Dr. Esselstyn, quoted in the article, is one of the most respected cardiologists in the country. His son Rip founded Engine 2 to spread the whole foods, plant based message to the masses after Dr. Esselstyn discovered they could reverse heart disease by switching patients to a whole foods, plant based diet with no nuts and NO oil. (Nuts in moderation for people who aren’t heart patients are fine: http://www.dresselstyn.com/site/)

Olive oil, coconut oil, grape seed, canola, they’re all destructive to the endothelial lining of your arteries and they all put you at higher risk for heart disease. They’re high calorie, highly processed foods lacking in nutrients, and they’re EVERYWHERE.


I’ve been doing better at cooking without oil, but discovering it’s hard to avoid in processed foods. It’s in my no-sugar-added peanut butter, whole grain crackers, hummus, and pasta sauce. It’s in the whole grain pizza dough in my freezer.  I’m not buying junk food, but I’m not oil free, either.

I want to start reading labels a bit more carefully and perhaps making some additional things from scratch. It’s fun to make nut butters at home and simmer sauces on the stove. Little changes, like buying a different brand, will add up over time.

Every bit of oil you eliminate from your diet will reduce the negative impact on your arteries.

Here are some great tips for cooking without oil: http://www.straightupfood.com/blog/2012/05/23/cooking-without-oil/

Track repeats – still running this 

I’ll be honest. Summer is a tough running season. It’s hard to motivate yourself to move when you’re sweating standing still.  In cold weather, it’s hard to motivate yourself to get out the door and for the few minutes it takes to warm up.  In hot weather, it’s hard to motivate yourself to keep going the entire time.

Especially if you could be paddleboarding instead.

Enter Greg – he was going to go do track repeats. We had a babysitter. I didn’t like the idea of track repeats. I do like Greg.


We realized that Greg could do a recovery lap at a pace that felt challenging for me, and so he would do a hard lap while I walked near the track entrance, then I’d join him for each recovery. We warmed up together and cooled down together, both did challenging workouts for us,  and I got to see a lot of him.  I would not have run as many repeats, as quickly, without stopping if I hadn’t had him watching and joining me on my hard laps.

Today, two days later, we went for separate runs but I met him for his last mile. I finished hard, he finished easy, I ran more than I would have without him.

Running hard in the heat made me realize that motivation is a huge problem for me in the summer. I was able to run faster and further than anticipated in hot conditions if Greg was there – so it’s not just a problem of temperature and hydration. I don’t like running in heat. I need extra motivation, but I can do it, and I feel great afterwards. 

Maybe just knowing it was motivation all along will help me run closer to full throttle despite the heat!

That said, be careful out there – heat stroke and dehydration aren’t to be messed with.

“Summer running, happened so fast…”


I took a picture of myself sweating. You’re welcome.