Race Recap: The Women’s Health Magazine’s Run 10 Feed 10

So this weekend, I ran my first timed race! And it was a 10K! I still can’t believe it. The Run 10 Feed 10, sponsored by Women’s Health Magazine, benefits the FEEDS Projects, that provide meals to those in America who are food insecure (or who don’t know where their next meal is coming from). The entry fee alone provides 10 meals for the FEED Foundation (hence the name; Run 10 Feed 10). Being a dietitian, I’m all for feeding people! Here are my thoughts on the Women’s Health Run 10 Feed 10. I wanted to wait a little bit before writing this in order to let the entire experience digest and to gather my thoughts.

Looking back it feels like the whole race went by in a whirl lasting about 10 minutes, but I can’t forget about thinking, at the time, how hard it was and how much I couldn’t wait for it to be over. That being said, it was a hot, humid, and muggy morning (which is weird considering October is around the corner, and the past few weeks we’ve seen BEAUTIFUL weather). The race was slated to start at 7AM on Pier 84 on the West Side Highway. My roommate and I took a cab across town and got to the start around 6:40, while waiting in line at the bag check we met up with our other friends who were also running the race. I was a good mix of nervous and excited, and my mouth was super dry from the emotions. Thankfully we were standing by a water table, and I ended up spending a good part of the pre-race group stretch swishing water around my mouth. At about 7:15, the horn blared and everyone was off!

Mile 1: The first mile honestly flew by and was completely unmemorable. What I do remember was my GPS app saying “mile 1, average pace: blah blah blah” and thinking “OK, nice, I can speed it up a bit.”

Mile 2: Mile 2 was my fastest mile time, like, ever. I think I was a little surprised by how fast my adrenaline was carrying me. I also ran into a friend I hadn’t seen in a while and saddled up right next to her and talked to her for a little bit, which was nice (hi Shayna!). But then I felt a little winded and had to plug back into the music and focus. Also of note, watching everyone’s pony tails swishing back and forth was making me a little dizzy – has anyone else ever experienced this during a race?

Mile 3: Oh mile 3. I think I hit the proverbial wall, which I wasn’t expecting to hit for at least another mile (yes I was expecting to hit a wall, I have such faith in myself). I felt my legs slowing down and somewhere around 3.5 miles I had to slow to a walk. I felt so winded that I just needed to catch my breath a little, and I kept thinking “oh man, there’s still SO MUCH MORE TO GO” one second, and then “come on, only 2.5 more miles, that’s nothing!” another second. I think the humidity was making me go crazy. I ended up walking for about half a song, and then a song on my playlist popped up on my shuffle that I ALWAYS sprint to, and I picked it right back up.

Mile 4: I don’t even remember what I was thinking during mile 4. I do know that I saw a water station a few yards ahead and decided to walk until I got to the water station (so that added another 30 seconds or so of walking). After I took a small sip of water and dumped the rest over my head, I started to run again and I felt like I had much better control over my breathing. I looked at a nearby street sign and saw that I was at Houston street, and that I had about 45 more city blocks to run. I could do this.

Mile 5: I ran at a much more manageable and sustainable pace for all of Mile 5 than in the first 2 miles, and didn’t feel too badly! At this point I knew there was less than 2 miles left, I just had to keep moving, focus on even breathing, relax the shoulders, and not walk. I thought the more you walk, the longer you’re going to be stuck in this stupid race, and the longer it’s going to take to get to the free food (really this was the thought running through my head for all of mile 5).

Mile 6: I swear, we passed the Mile 6 marker and EVERYONE around me picked up the pace. An inspirational song came up on my playlist and I DUG DEEP and felt my legs pick up speed, feeding off the energy from only god knows where, because I would have sworn my gas tank was completely empty at this point. This powerful sprint lasted for literally 10 seconds, and then I was like, “nope back to a nice even pace.” I saw the crowd at the end and thought I was at the finish line, but then at the last second everyone was yelling “BIG TURN! BIG TURN!” I wanted to honestly yell back “I HATE YOU!!!!!” but then I rounded the big turn and saw the finish line about 20 yards away and somehow found even more energy to make a huge final push for it.

Immediately following the race, I walked around aimlessly in a daze. I can’t even tell you what I was thinking. Then I met up with my friends who also finished, and we celebrated our hard work with a ton of free food, a free yoga mat, and a bunch of other free swag. Despite the fact that I really thought I was going to drop dead somewhere between miles 3 and 5 and that the humidity really took a toll on my breathing, I must say that basking in the satisfaction of reaching a goal erased all the negative thoughts I had during the race.

I signed up for the RUN 10 FEED 10 at the very beginning of June and always saw it as the the official end of the summer, but now that I’m on the other side of the finish line, I’ve realized that it meant a lot more than that. If someone were to tell me a year ago that I would be running 6.2 miles, I would have literally laughed in their faces. This just goes to show that with some hard work, dedication, determination, and the mental strength to dig deep within your head, you can push yourself to achieve a goal. Yes, I realize this race was only a 10K, and it’s probably not as impressive as running a half or full marathon. But to me, this was an absolutely colossal achievement. That’s what I’ve learned to love about running: everyone has their own goals and their own journeys. Running means something completely different to everyone who does it, and what you want to set out to accomplish is completely individual to your wants and desires. When you run a race, you’re not competing against other runners, but the little voice inside your head that tells you that there’s no way you can do it. And on that note, happy racing!

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Vegetties

Who out there isn’t a sucker for a good impulse buy? On my most recent trip to Bed Bath and Beyond, or as I like to call it, the Abyss (meaning I can get lost for hours in there thinking that I need things that I definitely do not need), I was feeling accomplished with myself as I was waiting in the checkout line. Everything in my basket was on my original list, and I didn’t stray from that list at all. That is, until I laid eyes on this funny-looking and oddly-named contraption called The Vegetti. At an attractive price of only $14.99, the Veggetti promised to “turn veggies into healthy spaghetti instantly!” I was intrigued.

The cashier saw me eyeing it and said, “I bought that and I LOVE IT! I’m on a no-carb diet and am obsessed with pasta and that thing has literally saved my life.” Well, first, I had to do a little internal eye-roll because any vegetable that you put through the Vegetti is going to be made of carbohydrates – complex carbohydrates that would be healthier than the carbohydrates in pasta (think – more fiber!), but carbohydrates nonetheless. However, the cashier seemed really excited, which made me really excited, so I overlooked her error and bought it.

Well, tonight was my first experience with the Veggetti, and I must say I was impressed. It has two openings that lets you pick between thin strands or thick strands, is very lightweight, and easy to handle. I Veggettied a zucchini through the thin side and a yellow squash through the thick side and ended up with really cool-looking noodles that were full of fiber, not to mention they were also completely gluten free. Don’t get me wrong though, because I seriously LOVE gluten. However, for anyone who suffers from Celiac’s disease, a gluten intolerance, or who loves pasta but doesn’t want to overdo it with the calories (cough cough me), then these Veggetti noodles make for a wonderful alternative.

Zucchini

The package comes with a little booklet that has cleaning instructions and a few recipes. It seems as though you can cook the vegetable noodles in the same way that you would cook freshly-made pasta. Pretty cool! My only criticism is that it can be hard to clean, as food particles can get stuck in the blades and those babies are SHARP. However, the pieces of food eventually broke free using a cleaning brush and the Veggetti is dishwasher safe, so that may solve the problem.

So, what did I make for dinner tonight? I honestly just threw together all the frozen vegetables I had in my freezer (corn, broccoli, and mushrooms) into a pan with some olive oil, and let them defrost and cook. Then I added garlic, a cooked chicken thigh, and both the zucchini and yellow squash noodles. I then cooked for about 5-6 minutes until the noodles were tender and topped with parmesan cheese. One zucchini and one yellow squash yielded  A TON of noodles so I even have leftovers for tomorrow. This dinner was nothing super fancy but it was easy, filled with veggies, satisfying, and tasted delicious. I must say I’m excited to keep trying new dishes using vegetable pasta instead of regular pasta; my absolute FAVORITE dish in the world is fettucine alfredo with broccoli, garlic, and spinach, so I think I’ll make that next time with zucchini noodles rather than real fettuccine.

Pro tip: cut the noodles after you’re done Veggetti-ing (this word doesn’t get old) in order to “create shorter, easy to manage strands,” according to the booklet that comes in the packaging.

dinner

You can read other people’s reviews and buy the Veggetti (at a cheaper price than I did – that’s the beauty of doing your research rather than succumbing to the impulse buy) at Amazon here: Buy the Veggetti! 

What’s your favorite impulse buy? Do you have a good dish that incorporates spiralized veggies? Share in the comments!

Blueberry Banana Avocado Breakfast Smoothie

As previously posted, I’m trying really hard to find a way to incorporate avocados into my diet. Little did I know, my dislike for the super fruit runs in the family. My aunt and mom confessed that they, too, are afraid of avocados, but have joined me and challenged themselves to find a way to like them. My aunt discovered the concept of blending the fruits into smoothies, and found it to be a great success. So, I figured I would give it a try. I whipped together 1/2 of an avocado, a handful of blueberries, a banana, some vanilla almond milk, vanilla whey protein powder, and a little bit of Nutella (a smoothie game changer), and the smoothie was a great success! In my opinion, the creaminess of the avocado amplified the smooth texture provided by the banana. Even better – the flavor of the avocado didn’t peak through at all! So, I think I found my way to keep avocados in the weekly rotation via a nutritionally-loaded breakfast smoothie using my Nutribullet. Keep reading for the recipe and nutritional information!

Blueberry Banana Avocado Breakfast Smoothie (dare you to say that 5 times fast – may need to think of a catchier name).

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 30 seconds (really).

Servings: 1

Ingredients:

1/2 avocado

1 frozen banana*

1/4 cup blueberries

1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

1 scoop vanilla whey protein

1 tsp Nutella

1 packet Splenda

*Pro tip: Buy a bunch of bananas, peel them, place them in a plastic bag, and keep them in the freezer – this negates the need to ever waste space in your blender with ice.

Directions:

1) Cut the avocado in half and scoop into your blender.

2) Add the rest of the ingredients into the blender and blend until smooth.

3) Drink the smoothie and enjoy =)

avocadosmoothie

This is completely customizable – feel free to add your favorite mix-ins like chia seeds, spinach, flax seeds, honey/agave, etc etc etc.

Nutrition Info (as written): Calories: 372, Total fat: 15g, Cholesterol: 45mg, Sodium: 154 mg, Potassium: 815 mg, Total Carbohydrate: 46g, Fiber: 9g, Sugars: 23g, Protein: 21g.

Do you have any creative ways to eat avocado? Are you obsessed with smoothies like me? Let me know in the comments!

Fuel for Thought


Hope everyone had a great Labor Day! Now that we’re on this side of September, the 10k that I signed up for seems to be looming closer than ever. I signed up for this race at the beginning of the summer, and I can’t believe it’s only 3 weeks away. But, through my training – going on runs about 3 times a week using this app and by joining class pass (a ticket to a lot of boutique fitness classes throughout NYC), I have found myself in quite the dilemma: how do I fit eating into my new busy and active lifestyle. Even more pressing: what do I even eat?

Yes, I get that as a dietitian, answering the question, “What do I eat?” should be a no-brainer in any and all situations, especially when it comes to what I personally put into my mouth. But, I’ll let you in on a little secret; sports nutrition is NOT my forte. I don’t find it that interesting, and I’ve never really had any desire to take an elective about Sports Nutrition in my masters classes. I just didn’t really care….before this summer. No one’s perfect, and we all don’t know everything!

There’s a lot of conflicting information out there, but here are the main things that I found to be the most helpful…

1) Eating before a workout

  • Try not to eat a large meal less than 3-4 hours before exercising.
  • If you’re going to eat a snack, eat 1-2 hours before, and pick one that’s made of complex carbohydrates and some protein. Try to avoid too much fat and fiber, as they slow down digestion and take a lot more effort to digest. This can divert energy away from your muscles (where you need it). Additionally, complex carbohydrates are released much more slowly into the blood stream than simple carbohydrates and can supply energy throughout a longer workout, while the protein will prevent hunger and help supply muscles with energy.
  • My pre-workout snacks aren’t fancy and often include: apple with peanut butter, whole wheat slice of toast with peanut butter, bananas and peanut butter, (I think I like peanut butter),  greek yogurt with fruit, cheese stick, a handful of nuts and a slice of cheese, etc.
  • Experiment, because everyone is different. For instance, I know that if I eat less than 1.5 hours before working out or going for a run, well, it’s not pretty and I’ll leave it at that.
  • That being said, if I run or exercise first thing in the morning, I’m not going to wake up early enough to eat a light snack and let it digest. I make sure to drink a lot of water the night before so I don’t wake up dehydrated and will keep it super simple with a few whole grain crackers or a piece of toast and head out the door, and I make sure to eat a good recovery breakfast when I get back, which leads me to….

2) Congrats, you survived (of course you did!). Now how to recover?

  • If you’ve just come back from a rigorous workout, your body is likely to be depleted of some glucose stores that were used for energy, and if you sweat you’re most likely in need of some electrolytes.
  • If you’re not planning on eating a full meal within an hour after you exercise, have a snack that’s similar to your pre-workout snack that has complex carbohydrates and protein (for muscle repair). Since you’re no longer going to be running around/jostling the remains in your stomach, feel free to get a little more creative (i.e. stray from the peanut butter if you’re me), and try a glass of chocolate milk; some hardboiled eggs and avocado on toast; or some quick brown rice, beans, and salsa.
  • If you’re going to eat a meal rather than a snack, aim for a balanced plate consisting of protein, fats, and complex carbohydrates. Grilled chicken, fish, lean steak, pork, lentils, beans, tofu, cottage cheese, and eggs are all excellent sources of protein. Mix these up with your favorite sauce, a little bit of butter, or oil with different colorful veggies like peppers, onions, broccoli, spinach, onions, and carrots.

And lastly, the most important thing to remember is to HYDRATE. If you’re feeling any sort of wooziness, dizziness, nausea, or headaches during or after your workout, chances are you’re dehydrated. Remember to take a water bottle with you on your run or be sure that there are water fountains on your route, and bring a water bottle to your workout class. When you’re done, KEEP DRINKING. If you’re exercising for greater than 60 minutes, you may want to try a sports drink or other beverage with electrolytes, like coconut water, to replete what you’ve lost in your sweat.

When you commit to exercise, you really don’t need to get fancy with expensive protein drinks or designer snacks. You also don’t have to overthink your sports nutrition needs! Really, have fun with it. To end this, here’s a picture of me chowing down on Umami burger after a fast-paced 5 mile run last weekend (and shamelessly Instagramming it, no less), and I enjoyed it even more knowing that it was providing my body with the protein and carbs that it so desperately needed (also it just happened to be situated at the finish line and it looked DELICIOUS).

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