22 January 2011


I'll admit it. I'm a vegan-diet-cheater. Just one time, though (or rather, for just this one thing). As my previous post explained, I'm sick with the flu. We're now on Day 5, and while I'm starting to feel better, I'm still a germ-infested snot bucket. And you know what I wanted more than anything else in the world, the only thing that would make me feel better? Cold Stone Creamery's Birthday Cake Remix. Back in May 2009, I spent much of Memorial Day Weekend feeling like poo because I had gotten like three shots that Friday in preparation for my trip to Nepal. And apparently some of those shots can make you feel under the weather, especially when you get a bunch of them all at once. Mark brought home some Birthday Cake Remix for me that weekend and it made everything better. Seriously.

So, this afternoon when Mark headed out to do some errands, I half jokingly asked for some birthday cake remix. Then I took it back and said I'd rather have a vegan cupcake from Whole Foods. But I really wanted that ice cream. And I think Mark really wanted me to have that ice cream, because guess what I found in the freezer... It took all of my self control not to lick the inside of the lid and eat straight from the carton. And. It. Was. Phenomenal.

I'll be having more for dessert tonight. I feel better already.

21 January 2011

More kleenex, DayQuil, and Jersey Shore episodes than you can shake a stick at

This week, for the first time in my professional career, I called in sick. I've always taken pride in the fact that I rarely get sick, and usually it's just something minor that an evening away from exercise and being lazy instead can fix. But on Monday I started to feel the achy, head-stuffiness, chills, and sore throat that come with influenza. Tuesday I went into work, not feeling too terrible until the end of the day. I knew when I woke up on Wednesday that I wasn't going to be going in. Same with Thursday. And on Thursday night I figured I probably wouldn't be going in on Friday, at the rate I was going. I was right. I've spent the past 3 whole days laying in bed or on the couch, layered up in clothes because I'm freezing, covered in blankets, with the dog and two cats as extra heaters. I finished the last Harry Potter book yesterday and with nothing else left to read on my nightstand, I rotted my brain today by watching way too many episodes of the Jersey Shore on MTV.com. Bleck. On the upside, watching that trainwreck of a show makes me eternally grateful for the good, true, and drama-free friends and family that surround me in my life.

I've resigned myself to the fact that I probably won't be working out at all this weekend. I've already missed all but two of this week's workouts. But the most important thing to do right now is rest. And watch the Jersey Shore.

15 January 2011


This morning I had a 2.5 hour run on my schedule. Each week my long runs have increased by 15 minutes. This has actually been a perfect increment - manageable, yet challenging at the same time. Since training with Jen, she has been really good about making all of my run workouts - both long and short - targeted with a purpose. Before working with her, I pretty much had a standard set of run workouts I would do - a track workout, a tempo workout, and a long run, with one or two recovery runs thrown in there as well. And the workout within the workouts didn't differ all that much from week to week. My long runs would be 20, 22, 24 miles and then 15 during a recovery week. And I would just run - usually in Zone 2, and that was it. Now, even though I'm running fewer weekly miles, I don't feel like I've lost all that much speed or endurance - this can likely be attributed to having speedwork in almost every run session and having more of a purpose than simply Zone 2 for my long runs. I ran just over 18 miles yesterday, on a hilly course, and I was getting faster by the end, not slower. I struggled a little bit during the middle (but I blame that on my old shoes - I need to get new ones ASAP), my nutrition was spot on, and I was happy to be out running. My pace, I think, was very similar to my pace a few years ago when I was last training for a marathon. The true test will come in February when the Washington's Birthday Marathon rolls around. We will see how that race goes and then assess whether we need to reasses. But, I am believing in the plan and sticking to it, because I truly think it will give me the results I want - if not a PR, then at least a sub 3:30 :)

14 January 2011

The Unwilling Vegan

I think Mark is tiring of my foray into Veganism. Neither of us really want to be cooking two dinners, so he has basically had a vegan dinner every night for the past 14 days. And I think he's missing the meat, eggs, milk and butter in his food. Case in point:
- He questions me when I say I'm going to make cookies - are you going to make real cookies or those "fake" cookies.
- He questions why we bother to even look at the new Food and Wine magazine, lamenting that we'll never be making any of it for dinner.
- I'm going out to meet a friend for dinner and drinks tomorrow night and he is going to stay home, buy himself the biggest steak he can find, maybe wrap it in bacon, grill it, and then enjoy every single bite.
- Tonight he requested to have his own side of the pizza with toppings of his choice - he had no interest in my sweet potato, kale, leek, onion and tofu pizza toppings.

I suppose at the end of January we'll both have to decide if I am going to stick with this vegan thing. It affects him too. I think that we might be able to come to a compromise, as he has really liked a few of the new recipes we've experimented with.

13 January 2011

Almost got dropped at swim

Oh. My. Gosh. Turns out, these past two swim practices, my new lane was just going easy on me. This morning at 5:30am, the hammer was thrown down to the bottom of the pool and by the end of the second set, I was almost at the bottom with it. The second set was a 400, descending by 100 into Zone 4 by the last one. Instead, I think I was in Zone 4 the whole time, and as I crept into Zone five, the feet in front of me were disappearing into the abyss. It was at this moment that I could've just thrown in the towel, hung onto the wall for a 50 and taken a break. It was tempting. I'm not used to being dropped in a swim. And I didn't like it. BUT, I made an active decision as I was swimming hard, that I would continue to swim hard, harder if I had to, and there was no way I was going to hang on to that wall, stop, or move down. I needed this challenge. And, I took this set as a good mental exercise. Banish all negative thoughts, tell myself that I can do it, that I WILL do it, and just put my head down and go. Simple as that.

Today's menu was much like yesterday's. In fact, exactly like yesterday's. Veggie quesadillas so good that I didn't even miss the cheese, and a veggie burger so good that I didn't miss the mayo or cheese. I am craving chocolate so I think I may need to bake some cookies tomorrow.

12 January 2011

Races will be here before we know it!

I just realized today that we are almost halfway through January. February is a short month and spring starts to show its face in March. April, the month of the season's first tri, is going to be here before I can blink. But, I'm not worried - I feel like I'm in better shape now than I was at this time last year. I feel more focused, I'm making an effort to go to bed early, get at least one workout in before work, eat better, and really pay attention to my workouts, not just go through the motions. I've been (slowly) reading a book on mental strength (you know, the book my dog ate once and attempted to eat again). One of the goals I set with Jen this year is to pick a mental strength exercise to focus on each week during my workouts and send Jen a write-up of my thoughts at the end of the week. I've not been great about keeping up with that resolution, but I'm working on it. After the disasters at France and Wisconsin, I realize what a big component mental fortitude is in a successful race.

Veganism has been going just fine - I don't miss the milk, eggs and butter much at all and I feel really healthy. This weekend we made an awesome pizza with kale, sweet potatoes, mushrooms and leeks - it was so tasty, I didn't miss the cheese at all. I made vegan chocolate cupcakes with homemade peanut butter frosting - Mark liked them more than the cookies so it was a success. Last night we made some veggie burgers using kidney beans, carrots, almonds, leeks, breadcrumbs, and onions with a little homemade marinara, and topped with sauteed onions and mushrooms. And over the weekend we made veggie "fondue" - instead of cheese we sauteed cauliflower with coconut milk, with some nutmeg, salt and pepper and used a hand blender to mix it.

07 January 2011

Vegan Day 7

Short post, minor confession. I may or may not have cheated on the vegan lifestyle today. I was at an event for the International Commission for Dalit Rights and they handed me a plate of food at the event. I tried to refuse, saying I wasn't hungry (but I really was), then said I wasn't eating any meat, they said it was vegetarian and basically wouldn't take no for an answer. I think the noodles would've been the only thing that might've violated the diet. It's late, I need to get up early, to bed!

06 January 2011

Vegan Day 6

I suppose it's only natural to hit a wall after awhile... Fortunately, mine doesn't seem like it's a tall brick wall staring me in the face, more like an old, crumbling rock wall instead that I can just clamor over. I'm talking about the vegan diet. It's not that I miss the meat or the eggs or the milk; I guess I spoke too soon yesterday when I said I didn't really need alot of variety. Today, even though I was starving, I would've rather stomped on my cucumber, hummus and sprout sandwich on wheat than eat it. It's day 4 in a row that I've eaten that stupid sandwich and I was tired of it. Thankfully, the potato samosas were gone so I didn't have to eat any more of those. Instead I had some leftover sauteed vegetables to compliment the ho-hum sandwich. Breakfast was almost the same, with a little Maypo and almond milk (my last bit of Maypo, sniff sniff... Mom, can you send me more??). I promoted myself up a swim lane this morning (and I'm still alive, hooray!) and was STARVING when I got home. And tonight for dinner we're having gnocchi with red sauce and sauteed veggies. I love gnocchi - I craved it after EVERY long bike ride during IM Florida training in 2009.

Enough about food (can you tell I'm hungry?). I found out last night that my college roommate Melissa went into labor and has hopefully had her son by now (I have my fingers crossed, 24 hours is a LONG time to be in labor). I am now officially the only college roommate from my senior year without a child. Totally fine with me - it's fun to spoil other people's kids.

Training has been going really well; I haven't missed a workout since the day before Christmas Eve. I've been going to bed early and most mornings I am able to get myself up early enough to get a workout in before work. There have been a few weekend mornings that I didn't want to get out of bed to do my long run (most notably the day after Christmas when I sat in bed eating butter rolls until 12:30pm), but I have a little marathon in February that I'd like to be in good shape for. I'd like to qualify for Boston at that race, just in case I decide that I want to run Boston in 2012. It's strange, I haven't run a stand alone marathon since Boston 2009, and I find that I miss the marathons less and less the more immersed I become in doing triathlons. I like the variety of tris and how there are so many different factors that go into making a great race and there is ALWAYS something to improve upon. Maybe I'll find renewed enjoyment in the marathon after next month's race.

05 January 2011

Vegan Day 5

Unfortunately, today's menu was rather boring - basically a carbon copy of yesterday's menu. Cucumber and sprout sandwiches, potato samosas, and butternut squash soup. Tomorrow has pizza on the menu, so that should spice things up a bit! I've never really minded eating the same thing a few days in a row, so the menu repetition isn't wearing on me yet.

I overslept this morning, so that meant to had to get my run in after work. I got one of my work colleagues to go with me - he always has a stash of workout clothes in his office so I knew he'd be game for it. We ran around the mall doing intervals - the workout was more challenging than it looked like it would be on paper. Loved every minute of it!

04 January 2011

Vegan Day 4... Dog vs. Book

So, over the summer after the debacle that was my run during Ironman France, I decided I needed to get tough. Mentally tough. So I bought a book, "In Pursuit of Excellence" and started reading it. I only managed to get through the first chapter or so before the unthinkable happened. Miles got loose from his kennel one day while I was at work and completely ate my book. Sure, some of the pages were salvageable, but I got alot of odd looks from people as I tried to read the chewed book on the metro.

Fast forward to Christmas and I find a present under the tree for me, supposedly from Miles. I open it and it's a new copy of "In Pursuit of Excellence" - perfect timing for my New Years resolution to mentally toughen up, seeing as I also fell apart during Ironman Wisconsin. I've been reading it on and off since the holiday and leaving it in various places around the house - the kitchen table, the coffee table, etc. Miles has been out of his chew phase, for the most part, minus the occasional Christmas ornament or Christmas tree branch, and he's never stolen anything off of tables. So, imagine my surprise when I hear him chewing something and when I go to investigate, it's my book AGAIN. I rescued it in time though, and it is fully intact, save a few teeth marks here and there. I can open it without the pages falling out and that, my friends, is a victory. And I won't be leaving it on any low-lying coffee tables anytime soon. At least not any time before Miles is old and gray and lost all of his teeth.

Vegan menu day 4:
Breakfast: toast with peanut butter
Mid-morning snack: chocolate, carob chip and almond cookies (2)
Lunch: potato samosas and sandwich with hummus, cucumber and sprouts on whole wheat
Afternoon snacks: banana and an orange
Dinner: butternut squash soup (roasted squash, vegetable broth, onion, sage, apple and cinnamon).
And I made, but haven't eaten yet, pecan-almond coconut balls with carob chips. It's basically pecans, almond butter, maple syrup, dried cranberries, carob chips crushed up in a food processor and rolled in coconut. Sweet but not that bad for you.

Still very happy with this change in eating habits. I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything - and I'm definitely feeling healthier (again, probably because I'm staying away from the office chocolate dish).

03 January 2011

Vegan Day 3... And a promotion!

Today's breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus were basically the same as yesterday's, minus the steel cut oats with carob chips. I feel healthier - most likely because this vegan thing is keeping me away from the Hershey Kiss bowl in the office. And it's not much of a struggle so far, I'm not feeling like I'm missing out on anything yet. I guess I should wait and talk when it's that time of the month, then we'll REALLY see how I feel about missing anything...

In other news, I was promoted - after seven, yes seven, years in the (paid) workforce, I am FINALLY not a junior anymore! I'm excited, not so much about the money, but more so that this will open up doors professionally for me - like doors to other countries. At this level, I can finally be bid on proposals and I'm looking forward to having more responsibilities.

OK, off to a hot date with my husband and Harry Potter (no, not the movies, he's reading Book 7 and I'm reading Book 6. And if he doesn't hurry along with his reading, I'm going to catch up and take Book 7 from him, speed reader that I am).

02 January 2011

Vegan Day 2

Today is January 2nd and our puppy Miles turned one!

Miles on his first day home

Miles at Thanksgiving

As you can see, age has not shrunk the size of his jowls. They flap when he shakes. We gave Miles a few more treats than usual, including a rawhide bone, gave him an extra long play session with the laser pointer, and tonight, much to the dismay of the cats, he will be allowed to sleep on the bed. Hopefully the cats won't mutiny and destroy our furniture as a result.

Today's two hour run was kind of painful - I'm more sore than I thought I'd be after Friday night's New Year's Eve Fairfax Four Miler race. I ran that race just for fun, completely forgetting my watch, HR monitor, and even my race number belt. I ran completely on feel and ended up finishing in 27:52, a 6:59/mile pace, which I was really happy with and it was MUCH faster than I had thought I'd go. 10th in the 19-29 Age Group and 15th girl overall.

Vegan menu day two:
Breakfast: Toast with peanut butter, steel cut oats with carob chips (note to self, don't eat carob chips before a run, they result in heartburn!)
Lunch: leftovers from dinner last night (Tofu Saag and potato samosas)
Dinner: Veggie quesadillas (black beans, zucchini, onions, mushrooms, green peppers, vegan mozzarella, and hummus). This dish was always a favorite of mine on Fridays during Lent.

01 January 2011

Vegan... Day 1

Over the summer I went vegetarian between coming back from Italy in July and Ironman Wisconsin in September. I wanted to see if I felt different, better. A few summers ago when I went to Nepal, everything I ate was fresh, local, vegetarian (except for the goat meat we had in the village when they killed a goat in our honor), and basically what could be termed "clean food." Nothing processed, fried, etc. I didn't exercise at all while I was there, ate probably almost as many calories as I normally do, and lost weight by the end of the trip. I attribute it mainly to eating basic, healthy foods. So, I wanted to give it a try this summer - but since this is America, processed food is around every corner and I indulged in chocolate more than I probably should have, and my summer experiment didn't quite have the same effect. HOWEVER, once Ironman had come and gone, and I gave myself permission to eat meat, I found that I didn't really want it that much. I dabbled in it, had some here and there, but still stuck to mainly vegetarian stuff. Then at Thanksgiving and Christmas, I indulged in turkey and seafood chowder and felt a difference - felt more sluggish, bloated, and generally unhealthy. I've been intrigued with the vegan diet for some time now, purely from a health standpoint, and I've decided that January shall be the month of the vegan diet for me (and for Mark if I am cooking dinner). I figure I'm going to go vegan all of January and then see if I like it and want to continue. Either way, I think I'll at least stay vegetarian. I have a vegan "Clean Eating" book and a kick-butt "Skinny Bitch" cookbook and I plan on using them. In fact, I used the skinny bitch book one today for all three meals that we ate:

Breakfast: Vegan French toast (whole wheat bread, coconut milk, almond milk, etc)
Lunch: leftover curried chickpea patties
Dinner: Tofu Saag with Brown Rice and potato samosas.
Dessert: carob chip and almond cookies.

Mark liked everything but the cookies. I liked everything, including the cookies.