Monday, September 26, 2011

Silence on Music Mondays

Seeing as how I'm the type of person who has regular blog feature about music, you'd think that I couldn't even take two steps without plugging into my music.

And for a long time, that's exactly how things worked.  The iPod's not charged?  Well, I guess I'll do my run after work and a good charging session?  The speakers aren't working right?  Let's take a detour by Duane Reade to grab a replacement set.  The battery died mid-run.  Time to count every step all the way back home.

For years and years, running and music went together likes peas in a pod for me.  Until one day it didn't.  That day I was running with my Garmin and obsessively monitoring my splits.  Near the end of every mile, I would stare at my watch so intently to catch the split that in hindsight I'm really surprised I didn't trip or run someone over.  And then the little 'pod died, and it was just me and Garmin for over five quiet miles.

Or, more like five fast miles.

That run ended up being one of my fastest of the summer.  I guess it turns out that the reason I love running to music, is also the reason I shouldn't always run to music: it's a distraction.

This past week, I ran once without an iPod and a second time, I voluntarily shut it down mid run and ran to the beat of my heart and breath.  But that doesn't mean that I don't still like a good song.  There is nothing like a new song to get the blood flowing, but this week all my headphone free runs left my music collection lacking.

This week I'm listening to:

All Night Long (feat. Missy Elliot & Timberland) by Demi Lovato

Lay 'Em Down by the Outsiders

We Found Love (feat. Calvin Harris) by Rihanna

Bulletproof (Dave Aude Cherry Radio remix) by La Roux

Question Existing by Rihanna

What are you listening to this week?


Friday, September 23, 2011

Why I'm Running New 2012

Oh yeah, don't you just want to join them?  Source

When I started my blog last year, I was all about running a marathon.  One marathon in particular - the New York Marathon.  But by the time I decided that I wanted to run a marathon, I was way past the lottery deadline, which obviously meant that unless my name was Kara Groucher or Heidi Klum, no one was letting me enter the race.
My name isn't Paula Radcliffe either.  Source

Well, actually, that's not entirely true.  I could have entered the race through a charity spot, but I would have had to front two-thousand dollars because they had fund-raising deadlines, and the $2K mark was about a minute after I decided I wanted to run the marathon.  Resigned, I decided that even though I couldn't run New York, I would run something else, and picked a Team in Training Race, the San Francisco Half Marathon.

But then it turned out that I'm lousy about asking people for money.  I just couldn't do it.  Not because I don't believe in the Team in Training's cause at all.  I do.  I respect their cause.  How can you not respect a charity's cause though, unless it's like "Save the keg at the frat party" or "Eliminate all taxes to stimulate the economy"?

Maybe I should have put up a billboard in Times Square?

It felt strange to champion a cause that didn't feel personal to me.  I mean everyone wants a cure for cancer, but  for me, things like heart disease, poverty, women's rights, and education about nutrition tug more at my heart strings that TNT's mission.  The truth is, I felt like my fundraising mission, should have been renamed, "Help Amanda Run a Marathon."

So I switched to a marathon that didn't have any barriers to entry, aside from a little entrance fee.  Talk about commitment problems?

I love, love, love running next to the water.

For the remainder of the summer, I trained hard for the Philadelphia Marathon instead, all the while working on qualifying for New York with their 9+1 program.  That summer and fall, I really fell in love with the marathon training.   I also fell in love with my city as I got to see her in a way I had never thought possible.

The Intrepid Air & Museum, never been in it but all those planes look cool.

A quiet, cool, fall morning.

When the marathon finally arrived, I was welcomed to Philly by friends and accompanied by an awesome cheerleading squad.  Without the support of my friends and family, I'm not sure I would have even finished my marathon.  The race was hard, and though I had trained for it, and expected it, there was something missing from it all.  Looking back, I can see, while I wanted to run a marathon, more than that I wanted to run one very specific marathon and that one's not in Philadelphia.

My Cheer Squad - the BEST part of the Philly Marathon!

After the marathon, I muddled around finishing up my qualifications for the 9+1 program, half-heartedly running, eating lots of cheeseburgers and drinking all the wine that my training program didn't allow.  I had qualified for the New York Marathon and was eligible to run it in 2011, and though I signed up for it, I couldn't muster up an ounce of enthusiasm.

Beers after a spring race, cause that's how I recover.

I ran a few races that spring, enjoying the shorter distances and the freedom those distances allowed in my social life.  The specter of NY hung over my head through the winter, spring and into the summer.  I had signed up so as to not lose my qualification, but though I no longer babbled about my running like I had the previous summer, I couldn't admit defeat.

I went to Barcelona instead of training for NYC.

Cause that's what it felt like.  After all the blog jibber-jabber about running New York, I felt like I had to run it in 2011.  What can I say?  I've always had a problem with doing what I should be doing as opposed to what I want to do.

Finally, about three weeks ago, when the longest run I had run in several months was seven miles, I had to concede that my training was not going to be sufficient to allow me to run the marathon.

I was watching baseball with my "buds" instead of running.  Ooops!

And so I deferred.

Yep, I threw all those self-imposed restrictions out the door.

As soon as I was free of the pressure to run the marathon, I got back on the computer and started blogging like a mad-woman again.  I started reading lots of running blogs once again, searching out new blogs about running which I had previously avoided post Philly because they made me feel like a loser for not wanting to run a marathon.  I bought a new pair of shoes which I hadn't done since March.  I made a plan to run the Detroit  half-marathon and did my first long run on the West Side Highway of the summer.  I downloaded new music just for a run.

Once upon a time boats used to actually use these piers.

Then I logged another long run, and another one, and another one.  And suddenly I remembered, how much I loved training for the marathon and how much I wanted to run New York.

Just like that, I was back on the marathon train.

Running is such a conflicted beast.  On one hand, there is the satisfaction of achieving a new distance or new PR, but on the other hand there are the physical limits of the body.  And yet, the body wants to run even when it's limping, aching, and depleted.  And the mind, oh the mind, it wants to continue to feel the high that can come only from sheer exhaustion at the end of another great run.

Looking back, I can see that a huge reason the Philly marathon was such a struggle for me was that I had over-trained for it by not taking a break from running for over a year.  By the time, I got to the race, my gas tank had a gigantic hole in it.

yeah, i just needed a break.

After my first marathon, my lack of enthusiasm and energy, which masqueraded as severe disappointment, was my own body's way of telling me to take it easy.  I needed time to heal.

Almost a year later, the scars are almost gone.  My hips no longer constantly ache, and my body, though carrying around a few more pounds, doesn't feel like its been beaten up anymore.

But it's my heart that feels the most changed because when as I write this story and see all those running pictures, it starts beating a little faster, and a smile that I can't stop comes to my face.  And just like, the fire is back.  2012 here I come.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Some Questions for Bloggers

After over a year of working with Blogger I've finally decided to make the transition to Wordpress.  Blogger has done well by me but it's cookie cutter themes and limited customization have finally gotten to me.  It's still a great platform for a beginning blogger and I'd recommend it to any newbie who asks.  

My new site will be and it's up but it's totally not ready yet.  You can go ahead and take a  peek if you want, but don't be surprised when it....underwhelms you.  I'm sorry.  I'm having some problems. 

I read a lot of blogs; I'd say that on a daily basis I read between twenty and thirty regular blogs.  My blog roll does not reflect what I read daily anymore.  But you know you are one of my favorites, if I comment on your posts every few days.  After my favorites, I click around and read other random blogs, sometimes book marking one that I really like.  

I need some help from all of you bloggers out there!  How can I get help with Wordpress?  Is there a book I can read?  Do you just google things?  Or does the Wordpress help section actually, ummmm, help?

Also, how do you get custom headers?  What I mean by custom headers are something like what you would see on,, or  These look like they are designed by a graphic opposed to simply uploading a photo and using standard text?  Or something like with a photo but custom text?  

Any and all advice, you fancy, super-smart, really awesome bloggers could give me would be really appreciated.  Because I have no idea what I'm doing, clearly.  

(Although, I did figure out how to get a snazzy new email address, so if you don't want to comment or have too much to say, you can email me at!)  

Monday, September 19, 2011

Music Mondays and The Music I Didn't Run to this Week

Oh man, last week was not a good week.  I can't give you an specific reason except to say that I just felt grumpy and angry and irritated all week long.

The good thing about a bad week is that it always ends.  And this one did....on a great note with an awesome almost ten mile run.

And though, I'd like to tell you that the reason that ten mile run was so awesome was because my music was just so awesomely motivating, I'd be lying.

Because the 'pod died mid-run.  Tear.

Now, it's not officially done because it worked today, but it's reaching the end of it's life.  It's cranky and temperamental, and it works perfectly fine until I start working out.  I guess it's had enough of my sweating.

But that doesn't mean that I didn't go out to run fully equipped with motivating music.  I actually even rearranged my playlist and cleared out some songs that I didn't care to run to anymore.

This week, I'm loving:

Mr. Saxobeat by Tribute Mega Stars

Marry the Night by DJ Wallace Mays (a Lady Gage remix)

Good Life (Remix) [feat. B.O.B.] by One Republic

This is not new to my playlist but for some reason I really felt like listening to Eminem.  Yeah, I guess that's what happens when you are from Detroit or the suburbs of it.  I don't live on 8 mile!

Superman by Eminem and Dina Rae

Punching in a Dream by the Naked and Famous

Happy Running!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Let's Get Juicy

I used to start every day with a cool glass of orange juice.

You know the kind that you buy in the grocery store in the carton from the refrigerated section?

The stuff that is made from oranges picked up to a year ago, treated with heat to remove all traces of bacteria, and then finally enriched with essential oils, vitamins and sugar. Natural, fresh squeezed orange juice it is not.

I quit the juice in high school.

Not because I cared about how organic or processed my food was. Rather, my utmost concern was my waistline, and fitting into a size five.

Ohhh, I would never wish a teenage girlhood upon anyone.

Somewhere in the fitness magazines and diet books I read, I got the (correct) idea that orange juice was empty calories and ditched it. For years after, I stayed away from juice like the plague – unless it was mixed into an adult beverage.

Until recently…

Now, I drink juice all the time. Oh yeah, I’ve become a juice head. Watch out New Jersey! (Ok, not that kind of juice).

My drink of choice is fresh pressed vegetable juice.

Unfortunately, in NYC you need to be a millionaire to drink a steady diet of fresh pressed juice. Those babies cost on average eight dollars a pop! That’s $3,000 annually for one measly juice a day. You could get a supersized meal at McDonald’s for that price and still have change left over for a pack of gum.

But when I looked into buying a juicer, I realized that I didn’t have any extra storage space for something in my kitchen, and I didn’t have an extra ten minutes every morning to clean out my juicer. Plus, I wasn’t too keen on shelling out a couple hundred bucks.

It turns out that to enjoy fresh juice, I don’t need to be a high-roller nor buy another fancy kitchen appliance. I can make juice in my blender.

How to make your own juice without a juicer:

High Speed Blender
Fine Strainer and/or cheesecloth
Large contrainer to fit under strainer

Start with fruit and veggies washed, and chopped to about the size of an apricot for really hard items (beets, carrots) and larger for softer items.

(1) Start out by putting the softest watery vegetables and fruits in the blender. I usually start with: lime or lemon juice, tomatoes, cucumbers, and watermelon are all pretty watery

The blender turned those cukes into mush.

(2) Then add leafy vegetables. I usually fold big leaves – like kale, lettuce, and collard greens and drop them into the blender until they are liquefied.

Celery...not just for Bloody Mary's.

Red kale going into the celery-cucumber mixture.

(3) If at anytime, the blender gets stuck, add a little water.

Some chopped up beets and a little - oops - I mean - lot of ginger.

(4) Add the hardest stuff last.

The raw beets were peeled and chopped first.  

(5) I also add last any extras like – salt, hemp seeds, a knob of ginger, or a little jalapeƱo.

Add some lime. Citrus is almost a staple in any juice I make.

(6) Once everything is blended, it should look like a thick shake when you tilt the blender around, but there should be no chunks. Usually, I blend on the liquefy setting for about 1 minute, but you may need to adjust for your blender.

The beets really give this juice an awesome color.

(7) Nestle the strainer inside your large container. Be sure that bottom of the strainer is about 2-3 inches from the bottom and that the side of the strainer don’t hang above the large container.

My strainer....I bought this at Ikea for under $5.00.  

Strainer + pan = True love.

(8) Slowly pour the contents of the blender into the strainer. You might want to use a spoon in the strainer and stir while pouring. If you are using a cheesecloth, lay the cheesecloth inside the strainer, allowing generous amounts to hang over the edges so you can tie up the pulp in a bag.

Be careful not to spill beets all over. They stain!

(9) Once blender contents are poured into the strainer, you can let it drain for a minute or two, but then pull out the spoon and stir the contents gently. Scraping the sides of the container as you stir.

The leftover pulp after giving it some swirls with the spoon.

(10) If using the cheesecloth, gently gather the edges of the cloth to make a bag, remove the strainer, and with clean hands squeeze the pulp. It helps to squeeze small sections as the cloth is fragile and will rip or certain holes will enlarge if you put too much pressure on the bag.

(11) Once you’ve extracted enough juice, poor the juice from the large container into a glass and enjoy. You will know have extracted enough when if using just the strainer, the pulp is lumpy, and if using the cheesecloth, when the pulp begins to start coming out of the cheesecloth.

A multi-vitamin in a glass. It tastes good too.  

(12) The remaining pulp will be juicy still and it’s a bit wasteful. Sometimes I stir in a few spoonfuls of the pulp into the juice to add some fiber. Sometimes, I freeze it and reuse it another recipe – such as to bulk up veggie burgers, but sadly most times, I throw it away. If you have a garden you can use this as fertilizer and you can certainly start a compost pile with the remains.

Although not the best method to make juice, this certainly yields a cheap cup of juice and a rich cup of vitamins.

Enjoy your juice!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Truth About New Yorkers

Confession:  I've been rude to a few tourists in my New York life time.  

I don't want to perpetuate any stereotypes about angry New Yorkers here, but one time I lived in Hell's Kitchen and worked in Midtown East, and between work and home, lay Times Square.

Every morning about 7:30 a.m. I would walk through the quiet, and almost empty Times Square sipping my coffee and jamming to my iPod.  It was my morning ritual.  

But every evening, I would return along the same route and find myself trying to wiggle my way through swarms of tourists.  In a twenty-four hour period, hundreds of thousands of pedestrians will walk through Times Square and a significant chunk of them are people who live or work in the city.  Most of them are not there to visit the M&M store or snag a cameo on TRL either.  Most of them are just passing through on their way to somewhere else.  

You can think of Times Square as the Magic Kingdom of NYC.  The place where we keep our biggest and brightest stars.  Or you can think of it as our flashiest intersection.  The place where nine roads practically collide into each other.

It is here, in Times Square, where I have regrettably said a few rude things, and way to many loud, "Excuse me's!" as I wiggle my way to the front of the crowd waiting to cross the intersection.  And I feel a little guilty about it, until I go home to Michigan, and another driver honks his horn on the expressway as I merge just a tad under the speed limit because I haven't driven on a freeway in six months or someone waves a choice gesture at me because I stopped too quickly since I haven't looked at a traffic light since last Christmas.  

I'm not rude to tourists.  And neither are most New Yorkers.  If you want to know where the Musuem/Building/Street/Park is, I will gladly point you in the right direction and give you alternate public transportation options.  I can even recommend a nice restaurant or the nearest Starbucks in certain neighborhoods.  But when someone stands in the middle of the sidewalk, mouth agape, oogling a billboard, I'm not about to pause and wait for the crowd to clear.  

Instead, in my most assertive but kind voice, though after a day of work kind sounds more like stressed out, I ask the crowd to move.  In my standard black outfit, the ooglers immediately recognize me as a citizen of the city, and jump to conclusions about my 'tude.  

So folks, when you visit New York City, and someone asks you to move over, consider what you are doing?  Are you texting in the middle of the sidewalk in front of Rockefeller Center?  Are you staring at a billboard at a crowded street crossing?  Are you consulting your map in front of the turnstiles to the subway?  

Then, ask yourself how you'd feel if I parked my car on your freeway ramp, or decided to send text messages in your driveway when you're running ten minutes late?  

Monday, September 12, 2011

Music Mondays and What My Spinning Teacher Made Me Do

Before I was into running, I used to wake up at eight in the morning on a Saturday, walk to Union Square for not one, but two, spinning classes in a row.

Why in the world would I do that?

Because I was bored and had nothing else to do?

Because I was trying to understand why hamsters run on those wheels for hours and hours?

Because I was preparing for the Tour de France?

Perhaps because I liked pain and sweating?

Because there was a really hot guy I was trying to impress in the class?

Because it made me feel better about the cheeseburger and beers I would have while watching Michigan kick Notre Dame's butt

Nope, nope, and nope.  None of those.  I went because I liked it.

Sitting on a bike, or anything really, for an hour and a half and not going anywhere despite a bucket of sweat and maybe a few tears, is maddening stuff - except when you've got the right music and words. 

And Saturday mornings at the NYSC in Union Square one of the best spinning teachers ever taught two classes in a row - and I sure as hell wasn't going to miss out on even one minute of it.  And, if you think I'm the only nutball to do this, let me correct you:  Not only did about half of the class stay for both sessions, but people would line up at the door for the class.  I'd even witnessed a fight or two for the last remaining bike. 

No, we're not all going insane here.  Instead, were here for the magic.

Week after week, I've shared the music that moves me.  But that's only the half of the story.  A good song does not make a spinning class.  The spinning teacher does. 

Some like to motivate by offering words of inspiration and encouragement.  "You came here for a reason.  This set is it," says one teacher.  "This is your hardest piece of work today," says another, likening a workout to a physical thing that we give to ourselves.

Others create fictional scenarios, in which we must call upon our imaginations and glycogen stores in equal measure.  "Imagine your ex is chasing you up this hill," says one shrill voiced instructor.  "Think of someone in your life who needs you in some way; they are standing at the finish line waiting for you," says another. 

Some don't even need to use words. They just climb up on the bike in front and sweat it out with us.  Their breathy voices, shouting out commands.  One teacher, who had the most estatic following I've ever seen, wouldn't say little besides a short, "Yeah," and always rapping a ringed finger on his bike - perhaps in encouragement or lost in his own cycling high.  Another never stepped on a bike, but would lift his hands and face to the sky, almost as if praising the spinning gods - or maybe to get a breath of fresh air from all the stinky spinners. 

But lately, I've become enamored with a teacher who likes to take a interactive approach to class.  He repeatedly asks us for a "Hell yeah!" in class.  I'm generally not one to hollar out during class, but his infectious requests get to me.  Even though, I'm not the loudest or most enthusiastic, I love to hear him ask the class.

And then, last week he asked us to sing.  Excuse me?  I can barely breathe, let alone sing.  But that's what he wanted us to do.  And then he climbed off his bike, onto one of the empty bikes in the room, jacked up the music and when it was time, he sang:

"I've got soul, but I'm not a soldier.
I've got soul, but I'm not a soldier..."

It was not what I expected, but it was awesome.  Thank you!

From my spinning class,

All these things that I've done by the Killers (The "I've got soul song)

Girls Like You by the Naked and Famous

Not Over You by Gavin DeGraw

You and I by Lady Gaga

But don't take my word for it.  Try it for yourself.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

Long Run Tool Kit

Once upon a time, I used to think that a mile was a long run. It was so bad that I would start sweating at the mere mention of running.

Oh how far I have come since those days – literally and figuratively.

Now a long run means something like double digit miles to me.

And believe it or not, I love the long runs. They’re my favorite part of training. I love the whole eat-lots-of-carbs-before-the-run part, and the-watch-movies-and-go-to-bed-early part, and the run-through-ten-NYC-neighborhoods part, and the run-by-the-rivers-and-bridges part and best of all, the mini I-just-finished-my-long run weekend celebration of brunch.

It’s almost as much fun as go out to dinner and enjoy nice wine and delicious tapas and sleeping in nights. Almost, folks. Almost.

The nice thing about running is that any old fool can do it: no fancy equipment or expensive gym memberships required. Even legs are optional (and I'm not trying to funny on this point, just trying to point out how lame all my old excuses were).

But after some training, it becomes obvious that perhaps a few pieces of special equipment might make the run go just a tad bit smoother. In my world, there are five main things that you need in your long run tool box. Sure you can go without them, but I guarantee that they will make your run easier.

Protection from the elements

Assuming you run long runs outdoors, there are lots of things to deal with like rain and sun and heat and snow and hills and wind and…the list could go on. And running outdoors means that you will commune with nature. Like it or not, there is no glass box to wrap around your body and protect you. If you need that much protection, then get thee butt to the gym.

Sun: Sunblock + sunglasses or a hat. Never forget these!
Rain: Hat, possibly water-proof shell for cooler temps, synthetic socks and gear to prevent chafing
Wind: Windproof shell for cooler temps
Snow: Water and wind proof outer layer, plus cold gear
Cold: Sweat wicking (no cotton!) layers, with a wind proof outer layer if necessary
Heat & humidity: Sweat wicking clothing for close fitting gear


Before-before: The night/day before eat easily digestible carbs – this doesn’t mean only grains - fruits and vegetables count too. I like to cap off my nights with some sorbet or a yummy cupcake. (I stay away from really heavy or dairy dishes like ice cream and cheese cake.)

Before: A meal of simple carbohydrates. I like a banana and/or one of the Thrive gels.

During: Water, water, water! Plus either Gatorade or some simple sugars – try the energy gels, energy blocks, honey packets, jelly beans, gummy bears, dates. I go for honey (Whole Foods cafes have them!) and energy gels.

Within 30 minutes after: A meal of mostly carbs, plus minimal fat and protein.

Within 1.5 hours after: A hearty meal filled with protein, fat and carbs. A bloody mary is optional.

Running Outfit

The basic outfit is: running shorts, shirt, running socks and for ladies, a sports bra. Anything that is fitted should be made of a synthetic sweat wicking fabric.

You can get creative with the tops, that shirt that says ‘Seniors 2001’ is perfect, but I really suggest that you wear specialty shorts. Running shorts are super light even when drenched in sweat and they allow the greatest amount of unrestricted movement.

Since I wear running shorts with the underwear built in, I don’t wear underwear. Oh, you didn’t want to know that?

Protection against Friction

In running, there will be friction. Body parts might rub against other body parts or against clothing. Sounds a little dirty, right? Actually, try more like painful. Chafing sucks, and most any long distance runner will experience it at some point. My sports bras cause chafing under my arms. It’s not pleasant.

To prevent chafing, wear synthetic sweat wicking clothing. However, this is not a guarantee. If you find that you are chafing, apply body glide or Vaseline to the affected areas prior to your run.

To prevent blisters, make sure you have the right sized shoes. They should be ½ to 1 ½ sizes bigger than what you normally wear. Feet swell when running. Also, invest in sport socks. I’m sure you will be surprised to know that the socks should be made out of synthetic sweat wicking materials. Cotton is the enemy when running.

Safety first

I know you don’t want to think about it, but during a run it’s possible that you might get injured or sick and be unable to help your self – carry identification with you and emergency contact information.

I also always run with either my credit card or $20.00 and sometimes a Metro card. You never know when it might start hailing and you need to head home early.

I don’t run with my cell phone, but that’s an option. Particularily if you don’t live in a city and can’t hail a cab to take you home in the rare instance that you might need to abort your run.

Bonus Item!

It’s totally not mandatory, but definitely very fun. Music! My runs just don’t exist without music. As evidenced from my weekly Music Monday posts. If music isn’t your cup of tea, maybe a pod cast, the good old radio, an audio book or even a running buddy.

NOTE: All pictures are from Wikipedia's picture database.


The rain gods are out to get me. It doesn't matter if I venture outside in a rain coat, rain boots and with an umbrella. The rain will find a way to get to me.

It might start raining sideways, or a cab will speed by when I'm crossing the street and spray water all over me. It's a good thing that it's perfectly acceptable to hurl profanities at no one in particular in the city.

The rain always comes when I have things planned outside: I have had tickets to two baseball games this year - both have been delayed by rain by at least an hour and a half. Someone clearly doesn't want me eating over priced hot dogs and drinking over priced low-brow beer.

Puddles, an especially unfortunate side effect of rain, are also out to get me. They have ripped a flip flop off my foot too many times to count. And though, I know that it's not yet pants season for me, those puddles are just waiting for my hemlines so that they can jack up my dry cleaning bills.

The worst part of the rain is that its not predictable. If there is a 10% chance of rain in the evening and I don't bring my umbrella, it will rain cats and dogs. If there is a 90% chance and I pack the rain gear, the sun will shine.

Don't even tell me about running in the rain. The trees provide limited respite from the rain but the puddles are so numerous that running through puddles of mysterious depths becomes mandatory, unless I want to zig and zag for five miles.

See, I'm telling you, the rain gods are out to ruin my summer - and maybe a few others as well.

But with all this rain, I have learned a few things about how to manage training when there is rain.

Plan to run in the rain. The most die hard runners will run in any weather condition, and most races will go on rain or shine. I am not so crazy. If there is a blizzard, I stay indoors. But since races rarely get cancelled, try to run on the lighter rain days or chance it when rain clouds are threatening. This will help you figure out what sort of gear would work best on a rainy race day.

If possible, be flexible with your schedule. So you do yoga or take a spinning class once a week? Try to rearrange the running schedule, to allow the rain day to occur on a rest or indoor cross training day. Of course, if it's supposed to rain every day, this isn't an option.

Run on the treadmill. I really hate treadmills. I do it, but I just can't stand the idea of all that sweat and steps getting me no where. To make treadmill work more fun, try doing a short speed work-out or planning your run around your favorite T.V. show. I love getting in a treadmill run while watching The View.

Run on an indoor track. There are several gyms in the city with indoor tracks and you can have access to them for a week or so by signing up for a trial membership. Chelsea Piers, Reebok Sports Club on the UWS, and three NYC parks and rec tracks in Manhattan.

Most importantly, don't let rain derail your training plans. The idea of running the rain seems scary and more than a little bit crazy, but it's not like you are going to melt in the rain, right?

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Not Quite Mashed Potatoes

While its not exactly cold out yet, no one is calling it warm either.

Did the weather get the message about labor day or what? Last weekend, it was sunny and everyone was wearing shorts and sundresses and sunglasses, and on Tuesday, like a light switch, the coats, pants, umbrellas, and ties came out.

Along with a wardrobe switcheroo, it's also time for me to change up my diet. Gone are the days of cold food morning, noon, and night.

It's way too early to be talking about Thanksgiving but in my world, turkey is what they serve next to the mashed potatoes. Not the other way around.

And since, it's way too early to be talking pilgrims and cranberry sauce, I thought why not mash up something else.

Enter the yuca, also known as cassava or manioc. It's a starchy root vegetable, similar to a potato that is grown in tropical and subtropical regions. When cooked, it's reminiscent of mashed potatoes with a sweeter, starchier, and some say slightly more bitter essence. No matter how you describe it's taste, few leave out delicious in their descriptions.

And I decided to use up a little bit of the summer squash I had laying around the apartment in my recipe too.

Yuca and Summer Squash Smashed

1 Yuca root, skin removed and chopped up (see note below)
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup of onions, finely chopped
1 yellow squash, chopped into quarter inch pieces
Sea Salt to Taste
1/4-1/2 cupped of finely chopped dill
2 tbs of olive oil

Cut up the yuca root into small pieces. To shorten the cooking time, I chopped my yuca into 1/2 inch square pieces. Yuca roots are very tough, so I suggest using your sharpest knife and cutting the yuca into several large chunks, cutting the skin off the large sections, and then chopping the sections up into pieces.

Once yuca is chopped up, cover with water about one inch about the yuca, add a dash of sea salt and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat slightly and watch until cooked. My 1/2 pieces only too about 8 minutes. Keep checking the pan by sticking a fork into the pieces, it should be soft and mashable - the same as if making mashed potatoes.

While the yuca is cooking, saute the onions and garlic in one tablespoon of the olive oil. Once caramelized, remove from the heat and set aside. (Make sure to keep garlic and onion pieces similar sized or you will end up with slightly over browned garlic like I did.)

When the yuca is done, drain the water and set aside.

In the same pan, bring 2-3 cups of water to a boil. Add the squash and cook until tender. Then remove from heat and drain.

In the same pan, combine the sauteed garlic and onions, yuca, squash and olive oil and mash the ingredients together. You can do this over heat but be careful as you do not want to cook anything much more.

Once well combined, add the dill and sea salt to taste. Serve and enjoy.

(Since I'm a sucker for spice, I also added 1 chopped jalapeno to my recipe. You could also mix this up and exchange the dill for parsley or cilantro, butter instead of olive oil, zucchini instead of yellow squash.)