Aug 31, 2013

Posted by Jo W. 8/31/2013
On Monday, I finally made the decision to buy a GPS watch of my own, and ordered the Garmin 310XT from (it was on sale!). I also ordered a bike mount from Amazon, since it was out of stock at REI. They both arrived yesterday, which was perfect timing! I was so excited, and I used it for the first time this morning. I'm pretty satisfied with my purchase!

I went on a 34 mile solo bike ride this morning through the hilly countryside. I didn't set the watch to display my speed, so I tried to change the settings while riding. Not the best idea, but I finally got it to display my instantaneous speed after struggling for a while. 

The 34 miles were pretty hard, and I felt drained going uphill. I think I was dehydrated, because after drinking most of the water from my CamelBak, I started feeling a little better. Still, after 2 hours of riding, I feel pretty beat.

Aug 30, 2013

Posted by Jo W. 8/30/2013
The Lean Green Bean

It's Foodie Pen Pals Reveal Day! This is my first time participating, and I am really glad I did! Don't know what Foodie Pen Pals is? Each month, you sign up and get paired with another foodie. You get to know them a little and what they like. Then you put together a little package filled with yummy treats for them! (Spending limit of $15). The best part is, you get a package from another participant. At the end of the month, bloggers who received packages share what they got from their pal on the Reveal Day.

My Foodie Pen Pal for this month was Georgie from In It 4 the Long Run. She made me some AMAZING homemade treats that were both healthy and delicious. Check out what I got!

Posted by Jo W. 8/30/2013
Woohoo it's Friday! Yes, I pointed out a terribly obvious fact. You're welcome ;)

For most of you, Friday is the last day of the work/school week, and the start of the weekend. I actually don't work on Fridays, but I do on the weekend, so today is my day off :)

Five things I'm enjoying this Friday:

1. Biking 23 lovely miles through the countryside this morning. The weather was rather cool, too.

2. Cinnamon Hazelnut granola with Greek yogurt for second breakfast; enough said :P

3. Catching up on Season 3 of Game of Thrones (who else is a GoT fan?)

4. Enjoying a rhubarb pie that I got yesterday at a Pennsylvania Dutch market. I go there every Thursday/Friday to pick up a yummy treat to reward myself at the end of the week. It might not be the healthiest treat, but it makes me happy and IMO, a healthy habit.

5. Going to Bucca di Beppo for dinner with my bro. $15 off coupon FTW!

Bucca di Beppo is an Italian, family-style restaurant. It's not fancy, and a bit kitschy, but I think the food is solid and a great deal. The portions are HUGE, since they are meant to feed 2 or more, and the prices are very reasonable. I'm gonna stuff my face with delicious carbs :D 

What are you doing this Friday? Have you been to Bucca di Beppo?

Aug 29, 2013

Posted by Jo W. 8/29/2013
I started my day with a 7 mile run. I went pretty hard and fast for the first 4 miles, slowed down at mile 5, and picked it up for the last 1.2 miles to the 10k mark. The final 0.8 miles was a cool down. I still felt a bit fatigued today, and keeping an 8 minute pace was a bit of a struggle. Blergh, and the humid weather isn't really helping.

Cooling down and refueling with a green smoothie was in order :)

This is a banana peach green smoothie with spinach, soy milk, and Greek yogurt. I actually used peach sorbet since I need to use up the sorbet that I made in July. Frozen peaches would also work.

Aug 28, 2013

Posted by Jo W. 8/28/2013
I have to admit, I am terrible at doing things in moderation. When it feel like it, I eat a lot, drink a lot, and a lot. Similarly, when I am training for races, I train a lot. This may be a good thing, since I usually don't have problem with motivation. If I could, I would be out there running and biking every single day.

But I am not a running goddess, and my mortal self has its limits. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I need to take rest days. Lately, I've been resting on Mondays, which means I am walking at my usual working-out time. I like routine and wake up around 5:45 and am out the door by 6:45. I want to do something every day, even on my rest days. Being outside makes me happy, so why not do it every day?

Even though I rested on Monday, my legs felt a bit fatigued on my Tuesday bike ride. Probably because I ran a total of 22.1 miles and biked 33 miles from Friday to Sunday. I should ease off on the mileage this week, and focus on recovering.

But like I said, I'm not too good at moderation. Today I did an Insanity workout and ran a 2 mile cool down. Not exactly restful. Oh well, I will probably do some easy running for the next few days.

How do you recover from a hard week of training? How often do you take rest days and what do you do?

Aug 27, 2013

Posted by Jo W. 8/27/2013
Greek yogurt topped with granola and fresh fruit makes a great post-workout snack. I love granola, but I think it's pretty ridiculous to shell out $5+ for a bag of granola when it's so cheap and easy to make yourself. Oats are dirt-cheap, and more expensive ingredients, like nuts and dried fruits, go a long way when mixed into granola. 

I made cinnamon hazelnut granola recently, but you can use the basic granola recipe and add your own favorite ingredients. Switch up the spices, types of nuts or seeds, add different dried fruits, or toss in some chia or flax seeds. You can also make it gluten-free by using gluten-free oats. Granola is really customizable, and you can toss in anything you have on hand!

Aug 26, 2013

Posted by Jo W. 8/26/2013
This past weekend, I checked out a small Lebanese restaurant in a shopping and dining center that I frequent. The area has many small restaurants, boutiques, yoga studios, Fleet Feet, 16 Handles, and most importantly, Whole Foods. As you can probably guess, I go there quite frequently.

On Saturdays, I like to go out for lunch with my brother and explore new restaurants. We decided on trying Kentlands Lebanese Bitro this week. The restaurant is small and has great outdoor seating overlooking a plaza where the Saturday farmer's market is held. There was also live music when we went. 

The interior was decorated with a lot of artwork by the owner of the restaurant, as well as other local artists. It was pretty cute.

Aug 25, 2013

Posted by Jo W. 8/25/2013
Today, I decided to go on a 13.1 mile long run to gauge how I am doing on reaching my 5 minute PR goal for the Philly Rock n' Roll half marathon. I started out at a conservative 8:3x pace for the first mile or so. I ran some negative splits, the fastest at 7:30. I was surprised at myself for being able to run some sub-8 miles. My energy levels were great, so I just went with it. I slowed down some the uphills, but gained that time back, and then some, on the downhills.

I ended up finishing the 13.1 in 1:46:48 averaging an 8:09 pace. This is actually faster than my goal time and I still have about 2.5 weeks left to train! If everything goes well on race day, I should definitely finish in 1:48, my original goal.

Huh, maybe I need to set a higher goal for myself.

What I love about running is seeing myself continuously improve and reaching goals that I thought were beyond my ability. A year ago, all I wanted to be able to do was to run 13.1 miles, no matter how long it took. I did that last October, and felt that I had a long way to go to get faster and finish in under 2 hours. Well, this April, I did just that, and got a whopping 21 minute PR.

This time, I am ready to give it my all and get another big PR. I have been training great all summer, and making a lot of progress. Today's run is evidence of how far I have come with my training. It's a huge confidence boost to see that I was able to meet my goal time, and on tired legs, at that. I wonder how much faster I could have ran with well-rested legs.

8/18 Sun- 16 mi

8/19 Mon- rest

8/20 Tues- 7 mi fartlek

8/21 Wed- 24 mi ride

8/22 Thurs- 6.5 mi tempo

8/23 Fri- 10 mi

8/24 Sat- 33 mi ride


Ran- 39.5 mi
Biked- 57 mi
Posted by Jo W. 8/25/2013
I was really craving lasagna on Friday, so I decided to throw one together. Since it was an impromptu decision, I didn't have lasagna noodles on hand. I had all the other ingredients for a white lasagna, so I made my own pasta. It was a bit of work, though it was fun making fresh pasta!

YUM, just look at those layers of ooey gooey mozzarella cheese, spinach, and flavorful Italian sausage between sheets of freshly-made pasta. I had two pieces for dinner, and then leftovers for Saturday's dinner.

If you don't have the time or equipment to make your own pasta, store-bought noodles will work equally as well. Just follow the instructions on the package.

Aug 24, 2013

Posted by Jo W. 8/24/2013
I had a wonderful 33 mile bike ride this morning and I am raving about it. There is a small (emphasis on small) mountain/natural area called Sugarloaf Mountain about 15 miles from where I live. I have been wanting to bike there all summer, and finally mapped out a route and rode it this morning!

My route took me through the quiet countryside, and it was really really beautiful! I wish I stopped to take more photos along the way. I'm really bad at stopping to smell the proverbial flowers. Oh well. 

When I reached Sugarloaf, I decided to ride up the roads that loop up and down the mountain. It wasn't too bad of a climb, and there were a few switchbacks.

Aug 23, 2013

Posted by Jo W. 8/23/2013
After using my brother's Garmin Forerunner for my last few runs, I am looking into buying one for myself. Maybe once I get my first paycheck, haha.

This is what I am using right now. I can't keep stealing my brother's Garmin forever, though!

I am looking for a GPS watch that I can also use as a bike computer. I'll be needing one when I ride the my first century ride on September 22nd.

What I am looking for in a GPS watch:
  • affordable for a poor recent college grad (I'm willing to shell out around $200 though)
  • reliable 
  • multi-sport function
    • can be mounted on a bike
  • Easy to read
  • Displays pace, distance, time, splits, etc. (the usual stuff)
I don't really need a heart rate monitor function. I've never used one, and I don't really care to know my heart rate at any given moment... I also don't mind too much if it's bulky, as long as it's not actually like a computer on my wrist. I have pretty skinny wrists, so I don't want a jumbo watch that'll look ridiculous. I think the Garmin Forerunner 305 is a pretty good size.

I am considering getting the Garmin 310XT, since it seems like a good watch for triathletes. Since I am looking into triathlons in the near future, it might be a worthy investment. 

Has anyone used the Garmin 310XT? What do you think?

Are there any other great GPS watches out there that I should consider?

Aug 22, 2013

Posted by Jo W. 8/22/2013
Three more weeks until the Philly Rock n' Roll Half Marathon! I am really excited for it because I am aiming for a 5 minute PR. Since I have a time goal of 1:57, I have been working on my speed lately. Except for my long runs, I am trying to do every run faster than my comfortable pace of 8:30-8:45 min/mile. I need to get used to running at a faster pace and sustaining it over a longer run.

Today, I decided to do a tempo run. My half marathon goal pace is 8:10. I really don't know if I can maintain that for 13.1 miles, but I still have three weeks to work on it! For today, I aimed to run the first 4 miles 10-20 seconds faster than goal pace, then maintain goal pace for the last two miles. The last two miles were tough, and I kind of bailed out from my original plan of running 6 miles at a sub-8 minute pace. Oh well, the last mile was basically all uphill, and I slowed down/struggled a lot. Gotta work on those hills, grr.

Here are my splits:

(mile- pace)

1- 7:36
2- 8:02 (ugh, long hill)
3- 7:57
4- 7:55
5- 8:12
6- 8:19

Cool down 0.5 miles at 8:44 pace

Haha I really need to get my own Garmin, because I keep stealing my brother's.

Aug 21, 2013

Posted by Jo W. 8/21/2013
Happy hump day! Though for me, not really, because I don't work on Fridays, but work half a day on Saturdays. I am settling into my new work schedule, though when school starts next week, it'll be changed around again. I work at an academic enrichment center, so once the summer is over, I get to start work at 3pm! Now, I am working 11-7:30, so it's nice that I still have time in the morning to run or bike. And do other fun more productive stuff.

This morning, I biked my usual 24 mile route. It was so foggy today, I was basically riding through a cloud! Haha, I could see tiny droplets condensing on my arm hairs. The fog was quite beautiful in the countryside, I wish I stopped to take a picture! Oh well, maybe next time when I'm not trying to get a hard workout in. 

I have been constantly hungry lately. Before my ride, I ate two slices of toast with almond butter and pineapple, but I started feeling hungry during my ride! At the turn around, I wished I had a gel with my because I felt my energy getting low. I'll have to try to remember next time. 

When I got home, I showered and made toast topped with sharp cheddar cheese, egg, spinach, and avocado. 

After I ate this, I was still hungry, so I ate the rest of that muesli bread that I got at the farmer's market on Saturday, slathered with this:

Heaven in a jar. 

I swear, I eat like a teenager :P

Aug 20, 2013

Posted by Jo W. 8/20/2013
This morning, I decided to do some unstructured speed work. I borrowed my brother's Garmin Forerunner 305. This was my first run with a GPS watch! I liked being able to see my instantaneous speed, which is helpful during a fartlek.

For the first two miles, I ran at a 6 to 7 min/mile pace for 60-90 seconds and then a couple minutes at a 9 min pace to recover. Then I ran mile 3 and 4 at a steady pace at about 8:20. Mile 5 was the slowest, because it was the steepest part of my route. I ran the last mile trying to sustain a 7:30 pace, which was hard! I was pretty tired by then, but I pushed hard and finished with a 7:31 split.

Then I ran a mile to cool down for a total of 7 miles.

When I first started running, I didn't like the idea of using a GPS watch to get constant feedback about time and pace. I wanted to focus on my effort, instead. Now that I am trying to build up speed and reach time goals, a GPS watch is an invaluable tool for hitting a target pace.

After using my brother's watch, I am thinking of getting my own. Or else I'll have to steal it from him.

Any suggestions on what kind of watch to get? Maybe one I could use for biking, as well?

Aug 19, 2013

Posted by Jo W. 8/19/2013
These crackers are inspired by Trader Joe's Raisin Rosemary Crisps. Those things are dang addictive; I almost ate a whole box in one sitting. I made this homemade version using whole wheat flour and currants instead of raisins. You can use raisins or any other dried fruit that you want. Just chop up larger fruits into smaller raisin-sized pieces.

These crackers are actually just plain wheat crackers. I forgot to photograph the rosemary currant ones (before sending them off to my Foodie Pen Pal). Whoops!

You will need:

1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp rosemary
1/3 cup currants (or raisins)
1/4 cup olive oil
3/4 cup water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, combine the flours, salt, sugar, rosemary, and currants. Add the oil and water and mix until a dough forms. On a floured work surface, roll out the dough as thinly as possible. Also try to roll it out as evenly as possible to prevent thinner crackers from burning before thicker ones are done.

Cut the crackers into desired shapes and transfer to a lightly greased baking sheet. Prick each cracker with a fork a few times. Bake for 13-15 minutes, or until the crackers are lightly toasted and fragrant.

Cool completely before storing. Enjoy them with your favorite cheese, spread, or just straight up!

Aug 18, 2013

Posted by Jo W. 8/18/2013
The forecast today said rain all morning and into the afternoon. Uh oh. I usually avoid running in the rain, because I absolutely hate being soaking wet and hate wet feet even more. But Sundays are my long run days, and I had to get it done. It was raining very lightly when I was getting ready to go out, but as I stepped out, wearing capris, cap, and a light jacket, it stopped raining! I was overdressed, but I didn't want to turn back, so I tied my jacket around my waist and kept going.

I was not feeling it this morning. Let's just say I had some digestion issues and I had to use the toilet a few times before I left the house. I was feeling a bit queasy, even slightly sick. And weirdly tired. But I went out anyways.

I headed on my usual long run route, and told myself that maybe I'll cut my run short today. Just reach the turn around for a 10 miler and turn back. I felt a bit depleted for some reason, so I took half my gel at mile 4 and the other half at mile 10. As I turned back, my energy levels seemed to increase and I was feeling pretty good. At one point, I decided to go at least 13 miles.

Then I was like, heck, I still feel great! So I added a few loops here and there, and what do you know, I ended up running 16 miles! At a 8:45 pace, too! My marathon goal pace is 9:00 min/mile, so running 16 under goal pace is awesome :D The last few miles, I was getting pretty fatigued and hungry, though. I need more than one gel if I am going longer than 13 miles. I need to practice my fueling strategies on my long run, and now I know that I should be taking at least 2 gels during 16 miles.

Here's my training recap for this week:

8/11 Sunday- 12 m trail

8/12 Monday- rest/walk

8/13 Tuesday- Insanity Plyometric Cardio Circuit 

8/14 Wednesday- 6.2 mi tempo + 2 m cool down

8/15 Thursday- 20 mi bike

8/16 Friday- 10 mi tempo

8/17 Saturday- 31 mi bike (easy)


Ran- 30.2 mi
Biked- 51 mi

Aug 17, 2013

Posted by Jo W. 8/17/2013
My dad and I have been going on Saturday bike trips throughout the summer. We usually head towards DC and over the Potomac River into Virginia. Virginia has some great bike paths and we have explored the Custis Trial, Four Mile Run, and the Washington and Old Dominion (W&OD) Trail.

Today, I wanted to explore Old Town Alexandria and check out the farmer's market there. We started from Bethesda to Georgetown via the Capital Crescent Trail. Then we crossed the river at the Arlington Memorial Bridge and continued on the Virginia side of the river along Mount Vernon Trail. The path leads right up to Alexandria, and finding the farmer's market was pretty easy.

There were vendors selling fresh summer vegetables with many heirloom varieties. The tomatoes and peaches looked and smelled especially yummy, but I don't think they would have survived the trip home in my CamelBak. Oh well.

Aug 16, 2013

Posted by Jo W. 8/16/2013
This morning, I ran 9 miles in 71 minutes, pushing just under an 8 min/mile pace. After today's and Wednesday's run I discovered that I am capable of running faster and sustaining a less comfortable pace for longer distances. I realized that I hold back too much when I run, and I finish with too much left in the tank. I guess I am afraid of bonking, or that drained feeling when I feel like I can't possibly go any further. My limits are mostly in my own head, doubting my abilities to run a sub-8 pace. Now I realize that it is necessary to keep pushing myself out of my comfort zone to get faster. 

I am starting to feel the urgency to take my training to the next level since the Philly half marathon is in a month and my first marathon is in only 10 weeks! I am setting high goals for both races, and I want to see if I can reach them. I want to get at least a 5 minute PR for the half marathon, which would be a goal time of 1:47 at about an 8:08 min/mile pace. 

This is really ambitious, but I want to get as close as possible to 4 hours for the marathon. That's going to be about a 9 min/mile pace... It may be naive to set such a high goal for my first marathon, but I have learned that when I expect more from myself, I will put in the work to reach those goals. I feel like my training has been going pretty well, and I still have 10 weeks to work towards this goal.

I have this quote on a magnet, and it reminds me to put in the hard work to see the results. I can do this. I WILL do this.

Are you pushing your limits and getting stronger?

Aug 15, 2013

Posted by Jo W. 8/15/2013
Is it really mid-August? It sure didn't feel like it this morning. It was 55 degrees and I was planning on going for a bike ride. Since I dress for about 5 degrees colder because of windchill, I layered up with running capris and a long sleeve under my bike jersey. Going out at first is like jumping into the pool: I'm really frickin' cold at first, and was shivering for the first three miles. My nose was all runny, too :( I started warming up after climbing a few hills, and felt a bit over dressed near the end. I should invest in some good arm and leg warmers.

For some reason, I just wasn't feeling that great today. Maybe I'm coming down with a cold, or just need rest. I was planning to ride 25 miles, but I just made it to 20 in 1:16.

So I thought I was supposed to go into work today, but when I got there, I was told that I actually didn't need to come in today. I was told on Monday that I would be working a full day today, and that I would get a call yesterday about my schedule. Well, I didn't get a call yesterday and I just assumed that I had to work, but I actually don't. Fail...

Since I was already out of the house, I decided to hit up the Pennsylvania Dutch Market for some groceries. I bought butter, sharp cheddar cheese, a sausage, some marrow bones, a mini blueberry pie, and a large slice of pumpkin roll cake. I wanted to try roasting marrow bones, because it looks delicious. And I got the pie and cake just because I am really craving sweets lately. And this cool weather is reminding me of fall and all the delicious flavors of fall like PUMPKIN. With CREAM CHEESE FROSTING.

I ate about half of it when I got home. Then I ate lunch. And an hour later, I started picking at it and it's practically gone. I am trying to exercise my will power to not completely polish it off... I may or may not win this battle.

Nope. All gone :P

Aug 14, 2013

Posted by Jo W. 8/14/2013
This morning was a chilly 55 degrees with wind chill, so I decided to go for a run instead of freezing my ass off on my bike. I started at a speedy pace to warm up, in the low 7's, and decided to make it a 10k tempo run. I challenged myself to keep my pace under 8 min/mile. It felt pretty hard, but manageable. I slowed down a bit on a particularly tiring hill, but kept pushing. Near the end, I saw that I could get a 10K personal best, so I gave it my all and almost sprinted to the finish. This was one of the hardest runs of my training, and it felt really good to get those miles done at that fast of a pace!

My iPhone app says I ran 6.3 miles in 49 minutes, averaging a 7:43 min/mile pace. To put that in perspective, I ran my first 10k last November (Turkey Chase) and finished in 52:10, so that's shaving about 4 minutes off. Now I know what it feels like to maintain a pace in the 7's, and it definitely requires a lot of effort. It was tiring, I was breathing hard, and I was outside of my comfort zone. Today's run showed me that in order for me to get faster and stronger, I need to run outside of my comfort zone more often. It's not particularly enjoyable, like when I'm running at an 8:30 pace, but it's effective.

When I first started running, my pace was about 10 min/mile. When I was getting more fit and could run longer, 10 min/mile started feeling a lot easier. I began running in the 9's, which I thought was pretty fast, until that felt easy. Now, my comfort zone is about 8:4x, which I can hold for my long runs. It's amazing to see myself improve since I started running about 14 months ago.

My Eats:

Yesterday, I found Peanut Butter and Co Dark Chocolate Dreams on sale (3.99 with a 55 cent off coupon!), so I grabbed two jars. I've seen PB&Co on the shelves before, but never tried it before. Now I'm kicking myself for not trying it sooner! The Dark Chocolate Dreams is what delicious breakfast dreams are made of.
For my pre-run breakfast, I slathered it over two slices of whole wheat toast and topped it with a sliced banana. Iced coffee per usual on the side. I might also have eaten some straight off my knife, you know, to top off those fuel stores.

And since I like breakfast so much that I eat it twice, post-run, I had some Greek yogurt with homemade gingerbread spice granola (recipe coming soon!) and another slice of toast with almond butter and berry preserves. Haha I love my carbs and nut butters :P

And yes, I did use the same plate as first breakfast without washing it. Hey, I'm conserving water, okay?

Aug 13, 2013

Posted by Jo W. 8/13/2013
Rainy morning today. I was totally not expecting that and I was hoping to go cycling. It wasn't raining that hard, so I contemplated running instead. Then it started raining harder, and I was a wuss and decided to work out indoors instead of getting soaked. I decided to do Insanity Plyometric Cardio Circuit.

This video was about 40 minutes; relatively short, but intense. I like doing Insanity because it really gets me sweating. Like completely soaked and dripping with sweat. You can't really tell, but I am glistening.

I wanted to go out for a short cool down run afterwards, but it was still raining, so I chickened out once again (despite already being soaked). Oh well, tomorrow morning is going to be an amazing 60 degrees and dry, so I'll definitely be doing something outside. Probably running, since I need to start ramping up my mileage!

Aug 12, 2013

Posted by Jo W. 8/12/2013
Yesterday, I went to DC with my brother and two friends for dinner. I found a TravelZoo deal for a HUGE feast at Hill Country. Hill Country first opened in New York City, and now expanded to DC. I love good BBQ (especially after living in St. Louis for four years), and it's pretty hard to find in the Maryland 'burbs.

The restaurant is "market style" where you get a meal ticket and go up to the counters to get your BBQ and choose your sides. The TravelZoo deal was a feast for two, and it included:

- two beef ribs
- pork ribs
- lean brisket
- 1/2 BBQ chicken
- choice of two 16oz sides
- two drinks (alcoholic)
- two desserts

This was a TON of food! I couldn't finish my portion, so I brought home a nice lunch-sized portion of meat home and a barely touched bread pudding. I did have two beers since my friend didn't want his, and I couldn't let good beer go to waste!

Yummy BBQ chicken. This was my favorite meat; the chicken is amazingly moist. And I don't know why we got that huge stack of bread...

The sides! It's all about the sides! From left to right, we got corn puddin', baked beans with burnt ends, mashed sweet potatoes, and green bean casserole. It tasted like Thanksgiving. The corn pudding was my fave, followed by the mashed sweet potatoes. Omg it tasted like dessert.

Speaking of dessert, both my friends and I got the strawberry-rhubarb crisp and bread pudding (which was made with cinnamon rolls!!). I was so full by that point, but still managed to finish the crisp with my brother. I left extremely full and extremely satisfied. Worth it!

And today, I took an impromptu rest day since I had to work a lot later than I expected, so I missed the group trail run. Sad :( 

Aug 11, 2013

Posted by Jo W. 8/11/2013
This week, I decided to cross train more since my knees were feeling a little wonky after that hilly half marathon last Sunday. I did my first trail run on Monday evening with my running club, and I loved it! We did a 6 mile mixed surface run that included a loop around a small lake. The pace was a bit aggressive, but manageable, and we really picked it up near the end. I kept my eyes fixed 3 feet ahead of me basically the whole way, because I was terrified of falling and making a fool of myself.

Since Monday's trail run was a success, I wanted to go on the longer trail run on Sunday. I met up with a group of seven other people, and we did 12 miles on the trail in 2.5 hours. It's so different running on trails than on roads. I thought our pace wasn't too slow, until someone with a Garmin announced that we were going at about a 12 min/mile pace. What!!! Haha, since trails are more challenging, 12 miles is equivalent to 15 miles on the road, amIright?! I really enjoyed the run, though, and I want to do more trail running now. It's a lot easier on the knees :)

8/4 Sunday- 13.1mi run

8/5 Monday- 6mi trail run

8/6 Tuesday- P90X2 yoga

8/7 Wednesday- 22mi bike

8/8 Thursday- 25mi bike

8/9 Friday- 8.8mi run

8/10 Saturday- 20mi bike (hard)


Ran- 27.9mi
Biked- 67mi

Aug 9, 2013

Posted by Jo W. 8/09/2013

Sushi is a great runner's food. It's nutritious with minerals from the nori (seaweed), protein from fish/eggs, healthy fats from avocado, energy-rich carbs from the rice, and vitamins from the veggies. It's a complete meal all rolled up in a neat package!

Making sushi at home isn't hard. It takes a while to prep all the ingredients and assemble each roll one by one, but once you get the hang of it, it's pretty simple and fun! This is a recipe for California rolls, the ubiquitous sushi roll, but following this tutorial, you can make any kind of sushi that you wish! Make it vegetarian by using pickled veggies, tofu, egg, sweet potato, or other veggies. If you can buy sashimi-grade fish, you can make your own sushi at home for a fraction of the price you'd pay at a restaurant.

Aug 8, 2013

Posted by Jo W. 8/08/2013

Mizuno EVO Cursoris

This is a great zero-drop shoe for someone looking for a more minimalist ride. I love how lightweight they feel, yet they still provide some cushioning. I am a neutral runner with a mid-foot strike, so these are perfect for me. I got these about a month ago and wear them on my longer runs, since they have more cushioning relative to my Merrells.

Merrell Road Glove Dash 2

This is my other pair of running shoes. They are also zero-drop and the soles are a lot thinner. They are even more lightweight than my Mizunos and I wear them on my shorter runs. As you can see, I am a fan of minimalist footwear and avoid the heavier, more cushioned running shoes.

Belkin Arm Band + iPhone

I used to use a Griffin armband, but it didn't fit on my arm and kept sliding down. The Belkin armband is also a bit large, but I can tighten it enough to stay put. I use my iPhone for music (Pandora) and keep track of my runs with GPS apps.

Amphipod RunLite 4

This is the only hydration belt I have, and it's all I really need. I decided to get the 4 bottle belt since I can always remove a bottle or two as needed. It took a little time to get used to it, but once I figured out how to position the bottles, it's pretty comfortable and doesn't bother me at all.

iPhone apps:

RoadID- great for staying safe when running alone
MapMyRide- keeps track of my mileage and split times, though it usually over-estimates the distance. I use this for both running and biking (gives average speed)

Strava- pretty darn fun to compete with other users

Posted by Jo W. 8/08/2013
The fall racing season is approaching fast, and if you have a marathon or two planned this fall, you are probably in the middle of training. You are building up speed with interval training, those long runs are getting longer, and your weekly mileage is quite impressive. You avoid junk food and alcohol, eat well, go to bed early, wake up early, run a lot, and repeat.

At this point, marathon training may seem to take over your life, and sometimes, it's just hard to drag yourself out of bed before the sun rises to get in a run before heading off to work. It could be hard to keep the motivation up, but I hope that my tips can help you from feeling burned out.

Aug 7, 2013

Posted by Jo W. 8/07/2013
"I'd rather have boring plain toast instead of French toast," said nobody, ever.

I love French toast. There's just something magical that happens when you dip a piece of bread in an eggy-cinnamon-y batter and pan-fry it until the edges get all crispy. And top it with a little drizzle of syrup for sweetness. It's a special breakfast for me and making it is a ritual reserved for the weekends. I usually make a batch of French toast before my long runs or rides, since it's a more filling breakfast, with the added protein from the egg, to sustain me for a longer workout. And eating French toast just motivates me to get up early in the morning and run. On Sunday long runs, this girl is powered by French toast :)

What's your special weekend breakfast?

Here's my recipe, so that you, too, can run those extra miles powered by French toast.

You will need:
2-3 slices of bread (I use whole wheat homemade bread)
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
A dash of salt
A dusting of cinnamon 
A splash of vanilla extract

Beat egg in a shallow bowl. Add milk, salt, cinnamon, and vanilla extract. Dip a slice of bread in the egg mixture, flipping it over to get both sides soaked. I like to flip it a few times to make sure it has absorbed as much egg as possible. Fry in a lightly oiled pan, until golden brown on each side. Repeat with the rest of the bread until the egg mixture is gone. 

Posted by Jo W. 8/07/2013
I still had some blackberries left over from last Tuesday's blackberry-picking adventure. I had about a pint left, so I decided to make a no-bake yogurt pie. The crust is made from almonds, oats, and dates, and can be made gluten free by using gluten-free oats. The filling is made with Greek yogurt and set with agar-agar, a vegan "gelatin" derived from seaweed. It's pretty cool to use, and a lot of Asian jelly-like desserts use agar-agar.

Aug 6, 2013

Posted by Jo W. 8/06/2013
Rainy day today :\ I wanted to go for a bike ride this morning, but I'm not too fond of getting soaked.

Instead, I opted to do some yoga in my basement. The only yoga DVD I have is P90X and P90X2 yoga, so I do that sometimes on rest days. I prefer the P90X2, since it's about 30 minutes shorter. It's faster paced and more challenging, as well.

My home gym set up is a black mat underneath an area rug that I roll up to workout and a projector screen for workout DVDs. Other equipment I have (that I don't really use) are PowerBlocks, agility ladder, jump rope, pull-up bar, yoga mat, resistance bands, medicine balls, and an exercise ball. My brother loves buying workout DVDs and gear, which is why we have so much stuff. In addition to the P90X's, we have Insanity and Asylum. They haven't been used much recently, since it's hard to do the program concurrently with marathon training. I just do them occasionally on rainy days like today, and when I need a break from running.

The yoga felt so good since my muscles were feeling pretty tight from the marathon on Sunday and a 6+ mile trail run yesterday. Every Monday, my running club has a recovery run in the evenings, and during the summer months, the run goes through a trail around a lake. I've actually never tried trail running before, but have always wanted to. Yesterday's run felt great and I had a lot of fun! The pace was perfect; exactly what I needed to recover, and the challenge of navigating trails full of rocks and tree roots kept things interesting. I want to run some more trails! Sorry I don't have any pictures, since I was too busy trying to stay upright and not twist my ankles. I might go on another trail run with the club on Sunday, so hopefully I can take a few then!

Aug 5, 2013

Posted by Jo W. 8/05/2013
I love sweet potato fries. If I have a choice between sweet potato fries or regular fries, I would choose sweet potato fries 99% of the time. I just love that sweet and salty combination, especially when they are well-cooked, crispy with the sugar all caramelized. I like to dip them in honey mustard, a spicy mayo sauce, or just regular ketchup. I made a sriracha mayo dip for these fries. I might be addicted to sriracha, and I can't get enough of it, and the mayo dip was so good, I could eat it with a spoon! I made it healthier, though, by using mostly non-fat Greek yogurt and only a small amount of real mayo to give it that fatty, more decadent taste. You can see the recipe below.

Without deep frying, making fries well in the oven is a bit of a challenge. You  want them to be crispy, and not soggy. Sweet potato tends to get soggy if the temperature isn't high enough and the fries basically get steamed in the oven. My recipe achieves crispy fries by first parboiling the potatoes, then dusting them with cornstarch before tossing them with oil and seasoning. 

Aug 4, 2013

Posted by Jo W. 8/04/2013
I didn't run much this week because of Riley's Rumble Half Marathon today, so I mostly crosstrained.

7/28 Sunday- ran 9 mi easy

7/29 Monday- biked 20.4 avg 14.5 mph

7/30 Tuesday- ran 5.6 mi tempo

7/31 Wednesday- biked 23.5 mi avg 15.2 mph

8/1 Thursday- Insanity Core Cardio and Balance + 2.5 mi easy run

8/2 Friday- biked 22 mi avg 15.3 mph

8/3 Saturday- biked 15.5 mi


Ran- 17.1 mi
Biked- 81.4 mi

Haha, I almost went 100 miles total. Close, but not quite.

This week, I am planning on doing mostly crosstraining and easy running. Next Sunday's long run, I might go for a personal distance record. My longest currently is 15 miles. It's only twelve weeks out from the Marine Corps Marathon!!! Yowza
Posted by Jo W. 8/04/2013
This morning I ran the Riley's Rumble Half Marathon, part of the low-key race series put on by the Montgomery County Road Runner Club. I joined the club last Monday, and this is the first event that I've attended. I am looking forward to training with them and running more local races!

Riley's Rumble starts at the Germantown Soccerplex, which is a short walk from my house. It does a loop within the park, and then veers off into the countryside. The course is hilly; a lot of rolling hills, with some longer climbs. There are two turnarounds, and the last couple of miles has the longest and hardest climb.

Here's the elevation profile of the course. That bit at mile 11 was the toughest.
My pre-race breakfast was French toast, salted watermelon, and a big glass of iced coffee. I also munched on an energy bar and two fig newtons when I was waiting for the race to start.

Waiting in line for the port-a-potties. For the second time.

Aug 3, 2013

Posted by Jo W. 8/03/2013
Almost all of my training is done solo, and early in the morning. My runs are mostly in my neighborhood, which feels really safe (hello, I'm in the middle of suburbia). There's a soccerplex near my house with nice paths with plenty of walkers, runners, and bikers during the later hours of the morning and in the evening. I also run along a more major road that has a nice path along it. If you can, try running in an area that's not deserted, so you can call for help when needed, but not with too much traffic that you risk of getting hit by a car every time you cross the road.

Here are some safety habits that I think are important when running or biking.

Tips for safe running:

1) Always let someone know where you're running and how long you'll be out

2) Headphones- turn down the volume and don't use noise-reducing headphones. Running isn't a time to enjoy the fine nuances of your music with fancy noise-cancelling headphones. You want to be aware of your surroundings at all times and be able to hear and respond to cars/runners/bikers/random people approaching you

3) LOOK both ways when crossing a street, every time. Come on, you learned this in kindergarten

4) If you must run when it's dark, wear a headlamp, reflective vest/clothing, tail lights, knuckle lights, glow sticks, etc. Maybe not glow-in-the-dark stars...

5) If you have to run on the road, generally run on the left side, so that you can see traffic approaching you. If the road has a sharp left bend where you can't see cars ahead of you, carefully cross to the right side of the road until it straightens out again

6) If you feel unsafe on any part of your route, consider carrying pepper spray or a loud whistle with you

Tips for safe riding:

1) See #1 above

2) Helmets- USE THEM

3) Headphones- DO NOT USE THEM. Doh. I see some kids wear huge headphones on their bikes sometimes. What are they thinking

4) If it's slightly dark out (sunset, sunrise, really shaded area, midnight rides), use a head and tail light. Get some reflective gear. You want to be as visible as possible

5) Know and follow traffic rules! When riding on a road, you should act like a car and be predictable. You don't swerve around or drive through traffic lights and stop signs in a car (or I really hope you don't), so you shouldn't on a bike, either

6) Use hand signals- like using turn signals in a car, use hand signals when biking

For more tips on road cycling safety, check out WikiHow

If you have an iPhone, I highly recommend the RoadID app. When you go out, you start the app and it texts a link to notify up to 5 people. The link takes them to a map with a dot on your most recent location. There is also a feature that sends an alert if you are stationary for more than 5 minutes in the middle of your ride or run. I use it every time I go on a solo ride and it makes me feel a lot safer. I mostly ride on very low-traffic roads in the countryside, so it's nice to know that someone (my mom) can track my position in real-time.

Aug 2, 2013

Posted by Jo W. 8/02/2013
Happy Friday! Who's excited for the weekend? This girl!

Tomorrow, I am going on a bike ride in DC, touring the National Arboretum and the Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens. I joined a cycling Meetup group, and am finally going to a Meetup! I've been browsing for years, but never went to any events. I dunno, I guess meeting strangers isn't my thing. I really want to meet some cycling and running people, though, so I'm trying to find local people online. 

On Sunday, I'm running a local half marathon, Riley's Rumble. The race starts right in my neighborhood, so it'll be easy to get there. The start is at 7am, so I won't have a ridiculously early wake up call. The cool thing about the course is that I ride on it all the time. I basically know every turn, hill, and crack in the road. I didn't decide on running this race until recently, so I'm not mentally prepared to race. I'm running it as a training run, in preparation for my (hopefully PR) half marathon in Philly on Sept. 15th. So, no pressure for this race. I'm just going to go with it, depending on how I'm feeling. 

Other than that, I'm going to this hole-in-the-wall taco joint I discovered last Tuesday. I'm going with my brother after the 13.1 and feasting on cheap tacos ;)

So a lot of riding, running, and eating this weekend. It's what makes me happy!

Posted by Jo W. 8/02/2013
I made a little video for you on my morning ride through the country roads. I'm not fancy enough to have a GoPro, so I used a ghetto-ass way of taking a video by using the front-facing camera of my iPhone strapped to my left arm. The quality is terrible. I apologize for my lack of video-taking technology.

LMAO it's super-dee-duper crooked! I tried.

And a super shaky video going through my favorite part of the route. It's all wooded and shaded, with some fields, creeks, horses, and houses.

DISCLAIMER: trying to take a video or using an iPhone while riding is extremely dangerous. I only did this on a really deserted road, at a slow speed. I do NOT recommend anyone trying this at home.

Aug 1, 2013

Posted by Jo W. 8/01/2013
Last weekend, I made a bunch of dumplings, wontons, and Chinese chive turnovers with my mom. It took a few hours of our Sunday afternoon. Quite productive :) 

Chinese chive turnovers are called jiu cai he zi in Chinese, which literally translates to chive "boxes". As you can see, they kinda sorta resemble boxes. Boxes containing a delicious, savory, garlicky filling.

Making these is a bit involved, but I swear the results are worth it and impressive! 

You will need: 

2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 boiling water 
1 tsp salt

1 bunch of Chinese chives (about a fistful)
2 eggs
1 block spiced baked tofu (the really firm, dry kind)
White pepper
Vegetable oil

To make the dough, slowly pour in the hot water into the flour and mix until a dough forms. Let the dough cool until you can knead it. You may need to add a bit more flour to make a dough that's not too sticky. Knead until smooth, then cover and set aside. 

To make the filling, chop the chives into about half inch pieces. Mince the tofu and beat the eggs with a pinch of salt. In a medium frying pan, heat a teaspoon of oil and scramble the eggs slightly. You don't want to overcook them. Set the eggs aside in a bowl and heat another teaspoon of oil. Add the tofu and sauté a bit. Then add the chives. Season with salt and white pepper to taste. Cook until the chives look wilted. Add the egg and break it up into smaller bits. Set filling aside to cool. 

To make the turnovers, divide the dough into 6 pieces. Dust your work surface with plenty of flour and roll out a piece until its pretty thin (cover the other pieces so they don't dry out). Spread the filling over one half of the dough, then fold the other half over to make a half moon. Pinch the edges together, and either crimp the edges like in the photos, or use a fork to press them together. Just make sure that the edge is sealed well. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough. 
To cook, heat a tablespoon of oil in a frying pan until hot. Gently place the turnovers in the pan and cook on each side until golden and crispy, about 5-6 mins on each side. Serve with some black vinegar, sriracha sauce, or whatever you fancy and enjoy!


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