Summer Challenges

Acadia is a beautiful place and I recommend anyone go if they haven’t yet. It has everything– hiking trails, mountains, the ocean, lakes, restaurants, etc. You can make it what you want it to be, whether that’s a vacation where you sit by the pool and go out to eat or go camping and spend time in peace and quiet. IMG_0039

Here’s a picture of some cliffs surrounding the water. We climbed on them for a while and found places to sit for a while. It’s also an EXTREMELY dog friendly place to be.

The New York Times has been doing mini “summer challenges” every week or so and I thought I’d offer a few of my own. They recently said to try a nice ice cream flavor you never have. I say to read at least one fiction and one nonfiction book, and to try a new water sport you never have. We’ll be paddle boarding this weekend, and I tried kayaking for only the second time a couple of weeks ago. When I have more money I’ll buy both because it’s a good thing to do around here.

Recipe= make homemade popsicles. Pick some fruit, yogurt, honey and a tiny bit of sugar and puree it in a blender, then pour them into some molds and freeze. I think it’s easy enough not to give an exact recipe and almost more fun to try and play around on your own.

 

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Obligation or enjoyment?

I wonder when anyone will start reading this blog. It’s like my own personal journal at this point. I was thinking today about how to decipher when one is doing things for their enjoyment or because they feel like they have to. I have a friend who has trouble reading fiction for this very reason. He cannot enjoy it because he feels like he is not “learning” anything, despite the fact that there is quite a lot to be learned by reading fiction. And so this becomes the barrier to all the books and ideas and characters and worlds he could be stepping into. My other question would be to people such as this is what they do that is so valuable in the time they choose not to read. If leisurely time that could potentially be spent reading is spent otherwise, I would argue it is most likely when they watch TV or go online or do other somewhat aimless activities.

Compulsive behaviors that have no enjoyment can be a bad thing, or they can be a good thing. For example, some people run because they feel a compulsion that they have to and they are ridden with guilt if they don’t. I would argue this is overall negative. BUT some people might never do any physical activity because they claim it is not enjoyable, and this is also bad. There is a balance to be found.

It can be helpful to think through the way you spend your hours, days, weeks, etc. and question what you actually like anymore and what is on autopilot. Or what bad habits are justified based on the fact that you don’t “like” the alternative.

And here is a picture of my fiction phobic friend on the back of a DR.

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Vacation on the Horizon

Tuesday I am going to Acadia National Park in Maine, and I am looking forward to the break. The only thing I feel bad about is not being able to bring my dog, who I have an irrational habit or worrying about and missing way too much. But I am going with my family, and you never know what we will do and whether or not dogs will be allowed. If anyone has not been there, it’s a beautiful and interesting place to go. It has a New England feel about it, but a lot of the natural landscape makes you feel like you’re somewhere you could never go in another part of NE. Cliffs overlooking the ocean, mountains, miles of trails, and one time on the island a storm came and the whole thing lost power. I am also looking forward to running there to take a break from these same streets and roads.

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There is Hunter again with his two best pug friends.

On another note, I mentioned last time that I would give suggestions to vegetarians or people trying to eat less meat who struggle with getting in all of their nutrients. One of the reasons my anemia developed so drastically was because I was eating things like salads with a few chickpeas for dinner or fruit for a snack. So if you’re going to do it, do it right. I still take an iron supplement, but also eat a lot of eggs and things like black beans. Or eat fish, which can be a much more humanitarian and sustainable way to consume a little bit of meat. I am sick of all of these eating labels everyone seems to be taking on, so I don’t even like to call myself a vegetarian but it is what it is.

…Speaking of feeling good, I ran 18 miles today. The long runs are getting better and better, and I have to admit they have felt very comfortable. I’d like to take this as an opportunity to add some more stress with the idea it would make me better, but I’m going to do this right and add a little bit at a time. Not in the mood for any injuries.

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I’ve got a good recipe for anyone who loves Strawberry-Rhubarb pie (my mom’s favorite dessert). It is a compote you can put on top of vanilla yogurt or ice cream or even eat alone and I promise you it tastes delicious. I adapted it from one of Ina Garten’s recipes, mainly reducing the sugar, but you can really do this by putting any fruit with a little lemon juice and boiling it in a saucepan. Also good to put on top of waffles.

Ingredients:

About 4 cups (1 pound) 1/2-inch cut rhubarb slices

16 oz strawberries cut into halves or quarters

1/4-1/2 cup of sugar (I try to use as little as I can and taste as I go)

2 tablespoons of water

1/2 tsp lemon juice

Directions:

  1. Combine strawberries, rhubarb, sugar and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and let simmer over medium heat until the rhubarb is tender, about 10 minutes. Then remove from heat.
  2. Keep refrigerated if you’re going to store it.

 

Already missed a day

Already! One day missed in my sad attempt at 365 straight days. I did maybe 1? 2? I have a lot of excuses I am not going to give. However, it does make me reflect that it is a pretty unrealistic thing to do. For example, I might go camping this weekend. How the hell am I going to write a blog post when I’m camping? I’m not. I also have to confess that I am not a huge technology person, if that makes sense. I don’t have a Facebook, Twitter, anything. I know it can be a smart thing to have, but I had one temporarily and couldn’t stand it. There are definitely positive and negative consequences to all of this interconnectedness, and I sacrifice a lot of the positive due to the negative. I have a hard time being on a computer long.

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That is what my dog did the entire time my family had a 4th of July barbecue. Apparently he thought every time someone went up they would feed him or drop something (which they probably did).

I ran 10 miles today as a tempo run (8 tempo pace) and 2 miles warmup/cool down. Very happy to say I still feel really good and strong. Last year anemia killed my entire summer in terms of running. I could barely walk let alone run fast. TIP for anyone tired out there– GET YOUR BLOOD TESTED!!!! I played mind games with myself for a long time and kept wondering what the hell was wrong when I was anemic. I kept blaming my training. I truly believe everyone should get there blood tested a few times a year, especially athletes. It can tell you a lot.

I will explain later how I became so anemic without even realizing it, but it has to do with being a vegetarian. I was lazy in terms of making sure I was getting everything I needed, and I do think some people just have to supplement as well. It is much harder for your body to absorb the iron in plant based foods, so it takes more effort to do it right. Similarly, I think a lot of people make the mistake of ignoring their bodies when there are signals that something is off.

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That’s a pretty cool picture my brother took at the beach on the 4th. Last thing I will leave you with is a recipe—

Strawberry, Goat Cheese and Pecan Salad with Vinaigrette (makes about 4 servings for the average person but it is hard to say because I eat enormous salads..)

Ingredients for salad:

6 cups spring mix

1 1/2 cups very thinly sliced strawberries (could add more or less)

1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese

1/2 cup candied pecans

1/2 red onion thinly sliced

Ingredients for dressing:

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

dash of ground mustard

dash of cloves

pinch of salt

sugar to taste (usually a few tablespoons)

  1. Whisk all ingredients for dressing together in a jar or bowl.
  2. Toss spring mix with strawberries, pecans, goat cheese, and sliced onions in a large bowl. Add dressing when serving and toss to coat.

The Fifth of July

I HATE when the fourth of July is over. Summer always seems to speed up afterwards, and before I know it I’ll find myself in September. When I was a little kid summer felt like it lasted a very long time– the days were long and the weeks were even longer, but not so much anymore. Now everything fast forwards by. And this post is another good example why I need to start living in the present more. As you can see, I have a habit of planting myself in the future.IMG_6346

This is my dog Hunter two years ago when he was just a little puppy. My boyfriend and I adopted him from Arkansas. I bring him up because I think dogs can be an incredible companion for anyone who has a trouble living constantly in a state other than the present. Dogs, like other animals, are very good at doing the opposite, and they are also quite good at making people happy. I am skeptical of anyone who has an issue with dogs.

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This is the path I took yesterday when I did a 16 mile long run at 8:20 pace. I felt surprisingly good, got up at 6 AM and went before it got too hot (ended up being 90 degrees). I almost wish I went longer because I felt like I could have gone forever painlessly, and those days are sometimes hard to come by. I am just glad that I stuck to my plan and had no knee issues or anything like that. I listened to Tim Ferris’ podcast, which was awesome as usual. Podcasts are the greatest way to fight boredom during long runs.. if you don’t use them then start now.

Lastly, a recipe to leave you with. I love fresh vegetables more than anything during the summertime, and am always looking for new, simple ways to combine them. This is a very basic recipe, but I highly recommend it.

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Ingredients:

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

2 tbsp high quality olive oil

salt and pepper, to taste

4 medium tomatoes (really any variety- sometimes I combine beefsteak with cherry)

1/2 red onion

1 large cucumber

1/4-1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

3 tbsp fresh basil

Directions:

Slice the tomatoes into wedges, the cucumber into thin slices, and chop up the red onion. Combine all in a large bowl. Add in the vinegar, olive oil, basil, and feta. Toss together and add salt and pepper to taste. Let sit in the refrigerator to marinate for an hour if possible.

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Blogging

I am finally committing myself to blogging every day that I possibly can until July 3rd, 2017. I am sick of hearing myself say that I am going to start a blog. I don’t even know why, except I’d like to document some of my goals and the year ahead and share it with anyone else who might benefit.

Goal/Focus #1- Break 1:30 in the half-marathon. This simply requires some discipline and planning, which I am capable of but feel like I have lost touch with.

One of the most important things for me to do this is going to be having a PURPOSE for every single little run that I do. No more mindless, purposeless running. I have been sustaining a chronic, moderate pace for far too long and my body has learned how to adapt quite well. It is a good thing that I 100% enjoy running, but I’ve gotten tired of the same streets around here and the same routine. So in a lot of ways having a purpose is going to make things a little more interesting. This means tempo runs, longer long runs, easy runs (which I am terrible at, like most runners) and increasing my mileage overall. Life has gotten busy and I no longer feel like I am good at sticking to my own schedule, so it is time for a change.

Tomorrow my July 4th morning is going to be me getting up at 6 AM and doing a long run on the beach. After that, it will be barbecues, parties, bike rides, and hopefully a fun night.

Happy 4th of July!Version 2