Tag Archives: diet

Banana Milk Recipe

21 Jul

Good morning lovelies!!!

I just wanted to share a quick, simple, healthy and delicious recipe I found compliments of Instagram – banana milk!

Blend:

1-2 bananas (I used one)

1-2 dates

Vanilla

Water

*I added 1 cup of Light Vanilla Soymilk – Silk

Pour over your favorite granola and top with your choice of fruit! 

For granola I used Nature’s Valley Oats n’ Honey. 

Enjoy!!! (Sorry there’s no picture – I devoured this before I had a chance to snap it!)

Thanks for stopping by!

XO

Valgal 

The Pressure

8 Apr

Hello friends!!!

I hope Monday greeted you with a warm hug and cup of piping hot coffee instead of my alternative…a 4:00a wake up call for a 4:30a boarding time, an empty stomach taunted by the fresh aroma of coffee, blueberry scones, toasted bagels, butter, and eggs all begging me to indulge in just one bite (I was fasting), and a cold MRI machine hours later…(blog to follow). The adventures of my Monday wrapped up with the disappointing loss for Wisconsin. Who wants Duke? Ever? Really? I gladly threw in the towel to meet my dreams. 

I woke up thinking Tuesday ought to be better, right? Until I looked at my phone displaying a number of text alerts. Some legit. Some ok. Some from my tribe of girls. Some casual hellos. Some of which had my mind spin in a tizzy. The pressure to remain calm overwhelmed me. I had to remember I can’t change anyone’s opinion of me. It is out of my control. 

Then I started thinking of other things out of my control. Things like death and taxes. But seriously, things like the health of my family members and friends and my being so far away. All the the things that break my heart. All the things I can’t control. I want to take everyone’s pain away. I don’t want anyone to suffer, ever. I feel I’m better equipped to handle pain, heartache, discomfort, grief, etc. I would gladly take it all from you because you don’t deserve it, whether we are strained friends, lovers, or what have you, I believe in forgiveness and acceptance and you still and always will matter to me. So let me handle your pressures and I’ll run it out (when this injury is healed).

Anyway, I became emotionally numb to my text messages this morning. Messages with twisted and contorted truths hijacking my happiness. It put me in an awkward state of frozen discomfort all day, emotionally and physically. I was drowning. Paralyzed. Then there’s my hip also paralyzed from the arthrogram yesterday. Ugh.

I was frozen in pain overthinking all my realities. 

I decided early on I needed tunes to warm my heart and my hip…

And there you have it, this song was the backdrop of my mood today.

 

Particularly:

 “…But it’s really out of my control. The way you feel is not my problem…”

“…Have you seen my f**ks to give? I have none, I cannot live with…”

“…The pressure. The pressure you know I feel. The pressure. The pressure to keep it real. Pay attention to the signs. Stay and listen, you will find. Everything, ain’t rocket science. Every gem is not a diamond.”

Sorry to be so forward about the lyrics, have you seen my f**ks to give; however, it was a very necessary line that helped me pull out from the undercurrent. Why do I care about people who are committed to misunderstanding me and who don’t care about me? I shouldn’t give a F!

The pressure to wear a smile when heartache and tears overtake me for what feels like an infinite number of reasons consumed me today. Tears were streaming down my face and I was drowning in the salty reality that things, all things, come to an end. 

My lips caught each tear and with each taste I gave it a breath of prayer. Prayers for so many things. Prayers for the strength to accept that your perspective of me is none of my business (small potatoes); prayers for my grandparents health; prayers that we find a cure for cancer (fuck cancer) (stand up to cancer!) (big potatoes); prayers that people learn how to forgive so they don’t grapple with grief when it’s too late; prayers for understanding, acceptance, compassion; prayers for the health and safety of my family-blood and those I choose as blood; and so much more. 

With each tear the integrity of my mascara was tested. I couldn’t let on that something was wrong-that and my vanity got the best of me, so I took refuge in the bathroom to ensure I had no raccoon eyes and tried to pull myself together.  

I looked in the mirror and with my mirror-face I gestured silently to myself, “Stay strong, woman! You got this.” I reminded myself everything is a fight and counted my blessings. I splashed cold water on my cheeks, twisted and secured my hair with the use of a pencil , painted my lips coral and put my big girl game face on. 

I couldn’t compromise my feelings today. I couldn’t negotiate and let them spill over. Ok, maybe I did for a minute but I handled it. The pressure pulled me under but I caught my breath soon after. Sure it was a doggy-paddle but I made it up for air. I am accepting the ebb and flow of life. 

Salty words camouflaged as sweet gave new meanings to my state of reality today. Recent other realities gave me other new meanings to life, love, friendships and the true meaning of wealth. It is in those realities I have found that life gets harder but only because we get stronger…

I’d like to give kudos to fate, too. Fate brings us together when we need each other the most. Fate has helped me to celebrate the change of seasons with those I love so deeply. Looking back, the best portions of my realities have been the small, nameless moments that will forever be memories imprinted on my soul. Memories spent smiling, crying and laughing, all of which are acts that leave me in tears, with those who have warmed my heart. If it weren’t for the pressures of life, I would be void of experience and therefore, without my salty elixir.

Therefore, I thank life for pressure-it doesn’t diminish my gratitude, it adds to it.

Thank you for stopping by and reading a blurb about my life between the miles!!!

I’m so grateful for you! 

How do you handle pressure?

XO

Valgal 

 

 

Crash and Burn

20 Dec

Hello friends!

Good morning to you all! It’s been a quick minute, or should I say month since we’ve connected. I’m not going to bore you with the minute details of my life between the miles and those so-called miles…I want to update you on the NOW.

The NOW is…

I woke up hurting. It could have been because I had one too many pear martinis last night at my local sushi restaurant–nah.

I reevaluated how I was feeling. The pain by no means was in my head. There’s significant pain in my right hip still, an extraordinary dull pain in my core, and a slight pain, okay really just a soreness in my hammies that are pleading me to roll them out. [Insert me singing “Roll Out” with my own twist and gawd awful voice]. This means I am making progress with Operation Abs and Booty–I’m strengthening my core in hopes to get faster. I’ve cut back on long distances significantly to help heal my hip, with a strategic focus to get faster by incorporating more speed intervals! I figured because there are no races I’m participating in in the next month, there’s no need to crash and burn with distance training every day. My goal has given me the freedom to balance strength training with running and all things in between my miles. But no, the new regime and my aching muscles this morning isn’t the hurt I woke up with.

Ah-ha, I said it earlier but in the wrong context. Crash and burn. Yup! That’s it. It sounds awfully reminiscent of young and hopeful romances, but this isn’t a Nicholas Sparks blog. No, no, no…if it were, I’d be rich “rolling in twenties, with the top back, so much money, you can’t stop that…” my shoes would be custom-made, I’d be custom-paid , and everything I own would be custom-fitted [do you like what I just did there? Thanks Luda!]. But back to the pain, no more rolling around. The pain is because I literally did crash and burn last night. After returning home from eating sashimi and a yellowtail roll, the perfect complement to the pear martini(s), I took the pups for a walk. But you see, I can’t just walk them. I want them to get their pent up energy out so I got them riled up and gearing to go. We crossed the street at high velocity when I NOT so gracefully hit the ground running–skidding across the cross walk. My gray pants have holes where my knees crashed down, I have cuts all along my legs, and my left palm looks like I clenched jumping cholla cacti, you know, because that’s fun. My right hand was spared, slightly. The ring finger resembles a burn but fortunately I’m left-handed so it’s tolerable. That’s my story. I crashed and I burned.

So there you have it. That’s the pain. Crash and burn. The nostalgia of all things that crash and burn is that, just like relationships past, there’s an image that dances around the mind, a distant memory of affection, never affliction, until you look in the mirror and see its scars (not all scars are visible). That’s what makes it real. The satisfaction is picking yourself up, accepting the humility, and moving forward. Who cares that I had an audience! I’m sure they chuckled and hey, if I can provide free entertainment at my expense (I need new jeans), I’m all for it. They probably judged me but I’m not scathed by the opinions of others anymore, only my fall. This too will become a memory–another scar that makes ME unique. That’s the reminder. That’s the crash and that’s the burn. Ohhhh the duplicity.

Thanks for stopping by!

Enjoy your weekend and happy running!

XO

Valgal

Pain Is Insignificant: A Commitment to Honor

11 Nov

Hello friends!

First and foremost, let me begin this blog with a shout out to our veterans! My heart is full of love and admiration for those who wear or have worn the uniform in their unwavering efforts to protect us and our country. I want to take the time and honor those who served and are serving. Their bravery, courage, and service to our country is truly an act of selflessness—I am honored and privileged to write these words. I am humbled everyday by your sacrifice and feel overwhelmed with pride and honor serving you. May God bless over you, your families, and all of your loved ones. XO

It was inspirational to watch Vice President Biden speak today paying tribute to our nation’s veterans. He was speaking with charged passion and the crowd was listening in affected silence. He was literally an arm’s length away from me today, no joke. Okay, maybe ten. Regardless, he was close. And I was moved.

Talking about being moved, let’s get to running…

I completed my first run post-marathon on Monday. It was brutal. I took two weeks off after the Marine Corps Marathon hosted on October 26, 2014. I expected to kiss the asphalt with my feet with a light, easy, and relaxed feeling considering the tender, loving, care I gave to my body.

I only ran three miles. Three fast miles. The speed felt great. I ran light. My breathing was easy. But I felt nothing near relaxed. The ball-and-socket joint of my right hip felt as if with each movement there was a crushing sensation. It felt like every time the bones met each other they were sanding each other down. Then add the feeling as if my hip caught onto something. It would pop then pop again. Really?

I ran a solid three miles and called it quits. I didn’t want to welcome an injury, especially not post-marathon. I couldn’t help but think, what gives? How does one get an injury post-ANYTHING? I’m without a logical explanation.

I wrapped up my workout with an ab session. I felt defeated. I came up to the apartment and met my shower with affectionate arms—I mean hips. I hoped my hip would respond to the hot water therapy but it didn’t do much… other than leave my body temporarily stained a few shades of red.

I tended to my emotional disruption of a possible injury by indulging in a glass of wine and my master’s homework. Best thing to do at that point was ignore the pain. After all, pain happens. This pain was not significant. I told myself to get over it.

The following day I was walking around and I still noticed discomfort. I continued to try to ignore it. Discomfort is an enemy of my sheer will and determination to push through obstacles. An obstacle disguised as right hip pain paled in comparison to just having ran a marathon with acute bronchitis, while losing a contact, with my calf muscles on fire. Therein lies the truth that I can push through difficult things. Right hip pain didn’t have anything on me!

Naturally, I wanted to shake the feeling of discomfort by running seven miles. Wouldn’t you? I wanted to push through the “pain”. I was longing to be absorbed in a good, long run because I was tired of being so compulsively worried about my right hip and the reality of an injury. I didn’t want anything more than to focus on the moment and the mile I was in. I longed to be connected and fully vigilant of my breathing, turnover, cadence, pace, heartbeat, and movement because it had been so long.

But it was too difficult. Each mile my right hip felt like it snagged onto something. I grimaced one time or fifteen. I wear my emotions on my face plain as day. Anyone could have seen, with my squinted eyes, tight lips, and a raised eyebrow my silent vulgar cries. “OooOoow what the [bad word] was that? Did my hip just seriously [bad word*ing] pop? What the H.E. double hockey stick is going on? WHAT is going on!!!!?”

I was fretting because the pain was unfamiliar and a major nuisance. I forgot to mention I have another race this Sunday that I stand a chance in placing, thus supporting my deposition that this is a real and very major nuisance.

What do I do?

With that said, I decided to take today off from running. It makes me anxious with trepidation because I should be training for the race and a PR.

But what kind of anxiousness is mine in comparison if we circle back to our selfless service men and women, and veterans? The thought reminds me that running is privilege and I ought not to fuss over the insignificance of my “pain.” Pain presents itself in endless forms. And today, I was deeply moved by the Veterans Day Ceremony held at Arlington National Cemetery honoring our veterans and the sacrifices they have made. I pay tribute to their unwavering commitment, bravery, and service while recognizing the myriad of emotions, to include pain, that is entwined within their creed.   God bless.

Thanks for reading!!!

Honoring Those Who Serve(d), Veterans Day 2014.

Happy Running.

XO

Valgal

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Marine Corps Marathon Ooh Rah Recap: Hot Dammmm

6 Nov

Hi friends! Here I am with MARATHON NUMERO DOS under my belt!!! Hot dammmm.

I never knew that screaming hot dammmm could be both a good and bad thing! Let me explain.

Pre-race: good thing.

Mid-race: good thing.

Last 3.2 miles: bad thing x bad thing x bad thing. It was hot dammmm! Seriously! When is this isht going to be effing over? My Garmin was flashing 26.2 miles and I was NOT done. Where was the finish line? Was that the finish line? I couldn’t see. Hot dammmm[it]!!!

Let me define hot dammmm by breaking it down.

Hot [good]: I refined my training for this marathon. I got this! Feeling good! Feeling light. Feeling flight. Wind under my legs. I got this!

Hot [bad]: My calves were on fire. My calf muscles felt like they were falling off my bones with every strike on the pavement. Ouuuuuchhhiessssss. Then there was my anxiety. My anxiety was running hot. It had a fever. A bad one because I couldn’t see. I couldn’t see because I lost my left contact at mile 9, (my left eye requires the strongest prescription) lucky me.

So there I was with a fever of anxiousness and a crowd cheering “You’re almost there!” They were relentless with their excitement to include clapping, whistling, shouting, cowbelling…I might have had a fever but the only prescription was finding the finish line, not more cowbell!!!

Dammmm [good]:I got this! I trained. Hot diggity dog, I might BQ!!! Wooohooo I’m flying.

Dammmm [bad]: It felt like I was sprinting when the reality was I shifted into granny gear!!! Talk about a Sunday joy ride. It was Sunday and I belonged in a walker at that point to carry my weight.

The Real Recap

The morning of the marathon was unlike any other. I hopped on the metro and was greeted with a swarm of runners (civilians, Marines, and other service members), volunteers, bands, and spectators. We were all crammed on the blue line heading to the Pentagon. The metro ride was a concert of songs, Ooh Rahs, and praise. The acoustics were unlike the normal route into the city. The clamor was a stark contrast from the Monday-Friday commute when most are plugged in to their phones being disconnected from the very person who’s sharing their personal space. These people were all up in each other’s personal space and they were welcome there! It was really something.

Fast Forward.

It’s race time. Hot Dammmm [good]. There were no “real” corrals. If you think you’ll finish with a 3 hour time, 4 hour time, 5 hour time, etc., you were to go park your feet near the designated sign. Oh I hate that kind of pressure. I wanted a 3:35 time because that is a Boston Qualifier (BQ). But I hesitated because I was suffering from acute bronchitis and didn’t know whether or not I would run fast or if my breathing would be exhaustively labored. I took one look at the crowd, the 20,000+ people (talk about sharing personal space), and recalled how much effort it took to weave in and out of the crowds of runners in my last race. So I deliberately parked at the 3:35 sign until the gun went off.

Gun went off.

Welp, I was wrong. What’s new? I am wrong a lot. The 3:35 sign did me no favors. I was stuck behind crowds of runners. I was shuffling my feet.

Thank gosh I stand 5’2” tall because I darted through people and any open space given the right opportunity. It took a lot of effort but none from my legs or lungs. I had to watch the people in front of me to gauge the motion and timing of their stride and elbows. Who said you don’t use physics and math in real life? I had to strategically and deliberately plan my attack to squeeze through limbs, spit, and other runners like me trying to dart ahead, while not colliding with one another. I was gauging speed and velocity at 8am, with the intent to BQ, while maintaining steady breathing, with a focus on my stride, fuel intake, etc. Are you kidding me? This isht gets difficult. I managed not to collide with anyone other than a fellow shrimpette, who like me, was planning her breakaway and taking full advantage of her 62 inches or less. We barely touched but shared a chuckle. We exchanged an excited “Sorry!” and kept moving forward. If you know me, you know how I say this!!! [“Sa-weewww-thank you cab driver!]

Mile 3 people were stopping. I remember thinking “It’s mile 3. How are you going to line up at 3:35 and stop here!?!” I mean seriously, it’s kind of dangerous when you’ve got me and shrimpette number 2 darting around. I mean flying around. Especially dangerous because it was a decline. Declines are FREE SPEED and I was all about that high velocity. I wanted more!

The FREE SPEED lasted a while. I took full advantage of it. Hot dammmm [good]. I loved that I didn’t have to return any favors either. Each decline and incline over the course was a silent declaration of what was to come. I paid close attention to its subtle hints (how often do those get overlooked girls?) and adjusted my body to its forewarning.

I leaned into the road. I was one with the road.

I was one with the road until mile 9. I had a gnarly cough paired with its obligatory accessory-phlegm. It was radiant in shades of green. OooOoo green! My favorite color! And neon green to boot! Thanks acute bronchitis! I digress. Anyway, I had just ate a GU so everything in my mouth felt sticky. Plus my cough was deep and my phlegm was thick. That’s the time when my left contact developed a film so thick I could no longer see. I stopped to make an effort to clean it. I had no other choice. I had to. I had to because it was more uncomfortable not being able to see than hacking said lungs. I can’t see 2 feet in front of me without contacts but this was worse. So I took my contact out and planned to spit on it to clean it. (As if you haven’t before. Spare me!) But my spit was thick with Jetberry GU residue and phlegm. I couldn’t do it. Sanitary purposes. I had to draw a line.

I ended up putting my contact back in my eye. Unclean and all. And with one intentional blink to make it fall in place that sucker fell off my eye and was gone. Shit!

I glanced at my Garmin. No I didn’t. I squinted. I couldn’t see very well at all so I placed the Garmin right in front of my right eye. That’s when I realized I had lost approximately one to two minutes of precious BQ time. Hot dammmm[it] [bad].

I ran the rest of my race, 17.2 miles, with one contact. I was blind. I was uncomfortable. And I couldn’t see the spectacular air show above. I couldn’t read the funny marathon signs. It sucked. 😦

As sucky as I felt I found pleasure in how great my legs felt. I just crested the course. I relied on my other senses to elevate me. I breathed in the remarkable, and inspirational cries from the crowd. I maintained focus. I repeated the mantra, Pain Only Hurts. Flight. Glide. Fly. Easy. Light. Smooth. It worked. I was clocking 7:40 miles give or take a few seconds. I even clocked a 6 minute mile somewhere in the mix. HOT diggity DAMMMM [good]. I fell back to a mid-8 minute a few times. Even losing a contact! Insert Hot dammmm  [good] one more time! Yes!!! My potential to BQ was still real.

But the pain began to set in at mile 18. Hot dammmm [bad].

The pain got so bad in my chest that I had to stop and cough for thirty seconds at least. My BQ fell further from reality. Hot dammmm [bad].

My legs were still fresh and agile. But my chest hurt. I was hacking. I dug deep. Pain Only Hurts. Pain Only Hurts. Pain Only Hurts. Pain is Temporary. Pain is Temporary. Pain is Temporary. When, OWWWWwwwweeeeee happened. The discomfort of being blind coupled with my heavy chest was one thing. But by mile 23, with 3.2 left to go, my calves felt as if they were on fire. That was the other thing; the ugly thing.

Each time my foot touched the pavement my calves ached with excruciating pain. I tried to ignore it. I tried to ignore the ugly pain by telling myself that if the whole race goes to shit in a hand basket at this very moment, and I fall back to 10 minute mile pace, I would still, at the least, PR. So that was a good thing. 🙂

But I would resent myself if I did. I knew I was a tough runner and could endure pain. I knew I could endure even more pain. So pain, I taunted with, summoning it to BRING IT ON. I double dog dared it!!!

That was the pain I had been begging for during my last marathon. Pain is the telltale sign that you’ve pushed your limits. (For me at least.) There it was staring at me at mile marker 23. I was tickled with excitement that it finally came to meet me. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. It was that same feeling you get when you massage a bruise. (Right?)

I wanted nothing less than to be seduced by it. I wanted it to take all of me.

But I played hard to get. I wasn’t quite ready to give up. My effort was twinged but at I still had some.

For the last three miles pain and I danced around the course. It seduced me with water stops, orange slice stops, Gatorade, etc. I wanted to give in. The temptations were hydrating. The allure had me salivating.

However, I knew relief was only three short miles ahead. And in three miles I would be greeted with a medal and a beer!!! Mmm beer! Please! And it was only three short miles away. Three short miles away after having already covered 23.2 miles!!! Why do I do this to myself? I’m crazy!

I begged my body for merciful forgiveness as I repeated: Only Three More Miles. Only Three More Miles. You Got This. You Got This. Easy. Light. Smooth. Glide. Fly. Flight. Run For Those Who Can’t. Pain Is Temporary. Beer. Beer in Thirty Minutes or Less! Fly.

I convinced myself that not all pain is significant. I focused on the finish and not my legs.

I started to fly.

Or so I thought…

With less than a mile to go I started to focus on my will rather than my physical strength. I was running on empty and enveloped in pain. I wanted to walk so bad! I squinted at my Garmin to see how much more distance I had to cover before I would finish. I was p.o.’d. The Garmin told me I had already run the distance of a marathon. Ugh!

I recall thinking that I must be close. The trouble was I couldn’t see ahead. I saw two or three massive displays of orange balloons. One of them promised to be the finish but I could not decipher which one.

I had a fear of sprinting too early, granny sprints or not, so I maintained my pace.

When I could finally see the finish line I realized I should have started sprinting a quarter-mile before. Hot dammm [bad].

I dug deep, shifted gears, and I ran as hard as I could to the finish. Granny kicked ass! I think.

I crossed that finish line. Hot Dammmm [good].

I was in pain. I was exhausted. I couldn’t walk. Hot Dammmm [bad].

I was overwhelmed with emotion. I PR’d! Stopping to breathe, contact issues , and all! Hot Dammmm [good].

I finished in 3:39:35. An 8:22 pace per mile!!! Hot diggity Dammmm [good].

I missed Boston by 4 minutes and 35 seconds. Had I run 10 seconds faster per mile I would have BQ’d. But I accepted the circumstances. Had I been 100% healthy, I bet I could have celebrated a BQ. Regardless, I PR’d by 11 minutes. That’s something I’m proud of, sick and all!

This was the first race where I finally met pain. I finally met exhaustion. I finally met the wall. They all stink, literally: Pain. Exhaustion. Wall. = PEW. Hot Dammmm [bad]. But I can’t wait to meet them again and crush them. Hot Dammmm [good] J

Thanks for stopping by!!!

Happy Running!!! Happy BQ’ing. Happy Cowbelling, he he he. Happy whatever makes you happy! Just be true to you!

XO

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Blackberry Smoothie Recipe

13 Oct

Hello friends!

I woke up and I was ravenous! I looked to my dependable Blendtec to do the trick after rummaging through the fridge.

I gathered some random ingredients and hoped for the best. And WOW-WEEEE it was better than the best! It was delightful, hydrating, and nutritious.

First off, you must like blackberries. Blackberries have a high concentration of antioxidants, are low in calories, practically fat free but you ought not to worry about that because these are blackberries and not a palmier (double yummy) laden in butter (yummy), and a great fiber source to name a few benefits. So if you like blackberries, keep reading.

You should also like or be open to the idea of eating chia seeds. Chia is very versatile. It can be used in smoothies, sprinkled on salads and yogurt, and poured into your water. Chia seeds are one of the world’s oldest sources of nutrition, and has been documented to have been eaten by the ancient Aztecs and Mayans. The Born to Run book, authored by Christopher McDougall, tells us that chia seeds are a staple for the Tarahumara Indian Tribe in the Mexican Copper Canyons. Chia seeds offer the highest combined plant source of omega-3, fiber and protein, alongside a range of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.  Chia offers essential wholefood nutrition that is often lacking in the modern diet. For more information, visit

http://thechiaco.com

And if you’re still intrigued, read on to get your blend on!

Blackberry Smoothie Recipe yields 2 Servings

2 cups of Trader Joe’s Green Plant Juice

1 cup of Tropicana 50 Orange Juice No Pulp (if you like pulp, go for it)

2 cups frozen blackberries

1 chia shot packet by The Chia Co.

Blend it up and enjoy! Nom Nom!!!

Nutrition Facts 1 Serving

284 Calories

2.5 grams of Fat

0 grams of Cholesterol

52.5 grams of Sodium (mg)

600 mg of Potassium

57.1 grams of Carbohydrates

9 grams of Fiber

42 grams of Sugar (all natural)

5 grams of Protein

32.5% Vitamin A

105% Vitamin C

28.4% Calcium

25.5% Iron

*Percent Daily Values based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

I hope you enjoy! For me, this was a perfect breakfast pre-run as it was hydrating and fueled me with all the essentials!

What are your favorite smoothie recipes? Do share!!! I can’t wait to give them a whirl!

Happy running and happy fueling!

XO

Valgal

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No, I’m Not A Vegan & Running Army Ten Miler

13 Oct

Hello friends!!!

And happy Monday!

I’m sitting here at my kitchen table going over the past few weeks in my mind. I’m thinking about quite a bit—relationships, to include family and friends, diet, exercise, lifestyle, and work. The list goes on but I’m not interested in boring you with my trivial quandaries. I’m interested in sharing with you the silly dilemmas that I encounter day-to-day, with my running shoes on or off.

New revelation…no, I’m not a vegan

Here’s my newest revelation. There are far more than one, but let’s keep this short. I recently picked up the running novel, Eat & Run, written by Scott Jurek and wow…I love his writing style. Jurek is a literary genius for both the everyday and serious elite runner. No chapter is exempt from his unconventional and idiosyncratic wit. The book evaluates Jurek’s life by virtue of circumstance and reveals the peculiar way that he fell into running—running and veganism. The book illustrates how both running, oh that’s too illusive…I mean ultramarathoning, while also being a vegan can be coupled together in a tale that is motivating, inspirational, and droll.

And there you have it. My big revelation. No. No, I am not a vegan nor would I ever consider it. I like butter, eggs, and cheese! However, I have always leaned more towards being a pescetarian. I like steak, don’t love it. I like chicken but I’m bored of it. I LOVE prosciutto. But if that’s all I LOVE (when it comes to meat), it’d be easy to give it up. I have always had my qualms with poultry and red meat but enjoyed it nonetheless. Now I’m beginning to understand my objection more clearly. First and foremost, (I’m getting a little honest here) it’s difficult for me to digest. It sits in my stomach like a brick. Talk about discomfort! Secondly, the factory farming and animal cruelty our main entrees are subject to is repulsive. When I look at my plate with the deliberately placed garnish and sauce drizzled over the meat and sides I have conflicting thoughts. First, is that the presentation looks delectable and on-point. Mmm. Mmm. Then my conscious seeps in and I question, is this meat from a factory farm? The factory farming industry strives to maximize output while minimizing costs and always at the animals’ expense. My moral conscious goes into a tailspin.

There you have it. I can’t digest the meat easily and I have a moral conscious. Animals shouldn’t be subject to the most unethical and inhumane of practices to assure that business profits remain high. Another truth that we place profits above doing what is right. Sounds like the insurance business…they provide drugs for treatment but drag their heels in the sand over the notion of investing in finding a cure. Why? Perhaps because they fear their profits would cripple. Seriously? Their motto is profits over life/quality of life..?What’s wrong with the world today? Riches shouldn’t be measured by monetary balances at the cost of health. Cancer is far too prominent these days. So riddle me this, why is there still no cure? F*CK Cancer! Find a cure! Could some of the cancers be linked to meat and dairy products? I won’t even get into the discussion of the injection of growth hormones and steroids into our meat and dairy products and its repercussions on our health…ahhhh shoot, to echo Bill Maher’s antics, I just stumbled upon a new new revelation, I love cheese and cheese is dairy. Dang it! How do I protect myself from said hormones and steroids?

Anywho, back to my original new revelation…I have been steering clear of chicken and I have been feeling a lot better and a lot healthier. I have only eaten red meat maybe twice in the past year therefore I don’t have to make a deliberate effort to avoid it…Any GI troubles I have had have been recently minimized. I am finding that I have always favored eating fruit and vegetables over chicken on any given night. My day-to-day staples are pretzels, oatmeal, Quest bars, vegan protein shakes, hummus, tomatoes, avocados, cheese (fresh mozzarella, goat cheese, ricotta, and Havarti), and salmon, salmon, salmon. I could live off salmon, sushi, and halibut.

How my new lifestyle harmonizes with my running…

I raced in the Army Ten Miler yesterday, October 12, 2014. I did freaking awesome! I credit my speed and endurance to my newly refined lifestyle. I felt like I was flying during my run. I had no brick in my stomach and I was light on my feet, gliding forward.

I got a bit tired at mile 7 but fought through it. I found my mojo, if you will, at mile 8 when I picked up my speed again. I didn’t dig deep enough when I needed to but like I mentioned above, I am happy with my end result! I fell in love with the participants and the energy of the crowd. I found myself running with an infectiously charismatic group of people that pushed me. I was running with several wounded warriors. Some were wearing one prosthetic leg while others were wearing two. It was reminiscent of Nike ads for Oscar Pistorius. But what was radically different to witness was their courage, discipline, and motivation to do hard things after having done hard things—serving to protect and defend our freedom. It was an inspiring site to see and reminded me to run hard and to run for those that can’t. Because of them, I am humbled.

Waves of exhaustion and excitement carried me across the finish line. I was overjoyed to have run with patrons of the service and been given the opportunity to thank them for serving. The Army Ten Miler, #atm2014, awarded its participants a commemorative coin symbolic of the Army Commemorative Coin Program. However, I was awarded so much more than the coin and a PR finish—I was awarded an opportunity to endure the most exciting, challenging, and significant relationship between me and running. Let me rephrase, me and running this city. The streets and its affectionate solicitude made me fall more in love with each curve, straight away, incline, rolling hill, participant and spectator. I love the run. Yes. But I’m also addicted to the exquisite pain in my lungs and calves. My new diet/lifestyle helped to alleviate a lot of the pain I believe I would have felt otherwise, especially GI… not to mention, I believe it has also helped with my recovery post-race. (without much effort I ran a solid 7 miles todays without any aches or pains)

Scott Jurek says, pain only hurts. And pain, well pain through a means of running makes me feel alive. Living here also makes me feel alive—proof we can do hard things. I am blessed to call this place home for almost one year now.

Are you a #vegan, #vegetarian, #pescetarian? Do tell! How do you fuel your runs?

Thanks for reading!!!

Happy running!

XO

Valgal

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Paleo & Other Diet Schmiets

16 Aug

Hello there friends! Happy Saturday.

Here I am on this cool summer morning sipping my coffee after indulging in what was a delicious breakfast.

I got to thinking, when did indulgence become a euphemism for guilt? I harbor no guilt for what I just ate. It was healthy and it tasted good. Really good.

But why should really good equate to instaguilt? This shouldn’t be how we are programmed to think.

Geez-us!

My breakfast was a toasted slice of wheat bread layered with a thin spread of butter (less than a quarter teaspoon) and ricotta cheese (half a teaspoon), decorated with a little less than a quarter avocado, a pinch of arugula and an egg sunny side up. For taste I added a dash of pepper and sea salt. Nom. Nom.

It was delightful.

I don’t feel guilty for what I ate even though I know what I ate goes against every diet craze out there right now. Why would I feel guilty over something that is heart healthy, filling and will help fuel my run a little later? Where’s the guilt in consuming 300 calories of yummy goodness?

Here’s my point…

I used a little butter to add flavor—fat! I ate carbs/grains—oh no, gluten. All NO NOs on the Paleo diet.

Holy shyster.

I committed and abhorrent sin in name of the Paleo Gods. I would be banned from their community. (I’d gladly accept their judgment!)

Marketing has ingrained in us that if we don’t follow the diets advertised we are failures. I’m not going to buy in to their schemes. The truth is, they don’t give a flying regard about you. It’s all a ploy to get you to buy-in to their notion of what healthy is and what healthy looks like because they need your money. They have a bottom line and their bottom line is profit. Think about it.

I don’t eat gluten-free intentionally. But I like some gluten-free products.

I’m not a vegan. But I love eating vegan-friendly foods.

I’m will never NOT eat carbs. I’d fail at Atkins every day. In that respect, I’d wear failure as a badge of honor. Screw you, Atkins diet.

On that note screw Paleo, too!!!

I should have prefaced my true thoughts of Paleo…In my opinion it is an okay diet. But can you make Paleo a part of your lifestyle forever? Seriously, I’m asking you.

Drink Gluten-free Beer, forever? Seriously?

Gross.

I could not be on a diet that robs me of these luxurious and tasty delights—delights that I crave after a long run. A cold, refreshing, tasty beer. Yes, please!!!

Diet schmiets. Why do you even want to be on a diet? Make it a lifestyle about health and moderation!

Gluten-free, organic, Paleo, low-carb, vegan, no trans-fat are all buzzwords. Why not indulge in a bump of cocaine while you’re at it. It’s also gluten-free. I mean seriously friends, don’t get lost in the hype of these diet crazes.

Back to Paleo. Paleo is unique. It’s not for me but it could be for you. As a distance runner, I couldn’t fathom restricting my carbs to its model. The exclusion of grains and legumes from my diet, which are essential carb sources for runners, would have me running on empty and prone to injury and quick exhaustion. It would counter all of my training efforts.

The diet models that of the diet in the prehistoric days. In simple terms, if a caveman did not eat it, you shouldn’t. Put the gummy bears down (there are bags of Haribo in the freezer waiting for me to, dare I say, indulge in). I recognize that our society eats too much processed foods and sugary drinks. But I don’t agree that the agricultural revolution is to blame. Additives and refined sugars, maybe, but the agricultural revolution? That’s like saying death is a result of a birth. We can all see the association but the nexus is far off. It’s an ignoramus connection. Farming is the cornerstone of our diet. So what gives with the topic of grains? Haven’t we been eating them since the beginning of agriculture? Ugh.

Paleo Shmaleo…

Did you know you can eat bacon on Paleo?

You’re new to Paleo and you have two options on the breakfast menu.

Option 1: Eggs and tons of bacon.

Option 2: Oatmeal with a teaspoon of brown sugar and berries.

Option 1 is your only choice. A breakfast laden with fat. Paleo. Yes. Healthy? No.

I suppose I should have whisked up a heaping serving of eggs and fried bacon this morning and then proceeded to lick the plate of its bacon drippings. Too bad I would have had to succumb to using my tongue instead of a slice of bread. J/K

Anyways, try to find out if Chia seeds are paleo-friendly. It’s an interesting debate. I want to eat and be happy. I want to run and have the energy to do so. I do not like to eat a ton of meat and I don’t want to follow a diet that tells me I have to. It creates GI discomfort for me. I listen to my body. That’s my diet. I prefer to eat salmon, yellowtail, tuna and halibut. I love fish. But I’m not going to go to any extreme to satisfy the requirements of a diet craze.

I’m not putting you down if you follow a diet. If you’re a Paleonite or a gluten-free gal or guy. If you have Celiac, I encourage gluten-free. That makes your lifestyle more comfortable! Yay. I just beg of you to be cautious with buzzwords. Pay attention to your body and what your body is telling you. Again, Paleo’s premise is great, it encourages lean meats (bacon when other alternatives aren’t available), and fruits and vegetables. I could eat fruit and vegetables all day long. But it’s too strict with the eradication of dairy, legumes and other foods that support a healthy diet, especially for me and you other distance runners out there.

I know I didn’t write much about the science and nutrition surrounding the diets and that of my opinion. I don’t feel I need to drown you with facts and research. I encourage you to read up on the diets. Read the good. Read the bad. Form your own opinion.

As for me, I eat what I want. My staples are pretzels, gummy bears and chia seeds, as well as tons of fruit and vegetables. I indulge in an occasional beer or shot of tequila. I’m a fan of wine.

I don’t diet. I live a healthy lifestyle with moderation. About 80% of my diet is good. The other 20% is comprised of chocolate, gummy bears or cookies…I might run a little longer than the usual on those days. I don’t believe in depriving your body and I don’t think you should.

If you remember one thing from reading this, remember this—cocaine is gluten-free! But it doesn’t mean it’s good for you.

Happy running!

XO

Valgal

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20 Mile Run: Feeling Cool, Comfortable, Complacent then Consumed!!!

30 Dec

Hi again, friendos!

 

How are you all doing? I’m hanging out on my couch watching a romcom at the moment. I really, really, wanted to go for a quick 5 mile run tonight but instead I decided it was necessary to take a day off considering I ran 20 miles yesterday. I didn’t want to take a break but I know I should…(I hate breaks)  If you know me you know it’s hard for me to sit still so this particular Sunday is killing me! Killing me! Instead of just sitting around I decided to bake, cook and relax my muscles in a nice hot soak-not in that order.

 

The soak was good. I enjoyed the lavender scented Epson salt bath crystals. But I’m not one to relish in these moments. It bores me. Baths bore me because they take far too long. By the time the water gets to the level necessary to be completely submerged into it, I am too hot and inpatient and want out. I forced myself to stay submerged at the highest water level the tub would allow for for about 5 minutes. That was enough. I stepped out as fast as I could as if it were a death trap suffocating me. It was, the bath was suffocating me. I hate baths. Baths aren’t relaxing to me. It’s like unnecessary torture. I even tried to romanticize it a bit and make it more glamorous, more lustful. I added a scented candle, a glass of red wine and my journal. It didn’t work. Screw the journal. I kept sipping the wine in hopes it would alter my mood towards the bath. Nope. I told myself when the wine was done the bath was done. I drank fast.

 

There I was a glass of Malbec deep.  I was bored out of my mind in that bath.  I recognize the bath was necessary for my muscles but it was unnecessary for my mind.

 

I realized in my bath that I needed to confess a little about my run. So here I am ready confess. Confess that yes, yes I ran 20.1 miles. But no, no I did not enjoy the full 20.1 miles.  I didn’t!!! That shit was SO HARD! By the 16th mile I was uncomfortable. Not uncomfortable because my calves were burning or tight but uncomfortable because I realized after two hours of running I still had about 30-40 minutes left of running. I was tired and entirely consumed!!!! I didn’t know if I had any more in me. I remember thinking, what the heck did I sign up for and was I capable of really running a marathon? I don’t think so!?  Really? 

 

When I hit 8 miles I was cool, comfortable and complacent. When I hit the next 8 I thought, “Shit!, I’ve got 4 more until my goal of 20 miles, this kind of hurts but it’s manageable…” Then I realized there were 10 more miles to complete a marathon. Oh my gosh! I remember asking myself if I even had 10 more miles in me. What the hell did I sign up for? Holy shit, what if I can’t do it? I can’t fail! I can’t fail! I have to do it!

 

I was scared. I am scared. A marathon suddenly seemed and still seems daunting. It should have always felt daunting but it didn’t, it didn’t until yesterday! Shit!!!!

 

I Realized I Needed To Evaluate My Hydration, My Attitude And My Plan!

 

My Hydration

 

I never really prep for a run the way others do. I don’t ensure I’m properly hydrated. If I worked all day I’m fueled on early grey tea with honey, coffee with minimal creamer, maybe some water, but most definitely some green juice…The weekends, well the weekends most often mean I am well rested and hydrated; hydrated with water, coffee or too much chardonnay. What’s new?!

 

My Attitude

 

Yesterday I didn’t feel like myself. I dreaded my run. I didn’t want to go for a run. The only reason I contemplated the run was because I ate too many goodies over the holidays and I wanted to make certain the food didn’t find my waistline as I felt it had (totally mental)… I sucked it up, put my gear on and ventured downstairs determined to run off my grandmother’s pizzelle and cannolis (I can’t say no to those dang things!).

 

I recall talking to my husband when I was walking to my gym telling him something was amiss with me. He asked me what was wrong and I told him point-blank, I didn’t want to run. He exclaimed, “Wow! Yeah, something is wrong with you! You not wanting to run? Ha. Do you have a fever?  Val, you need to suck it up because these are the days where you end up loving the run.” He followed that with, “Geez Val, you blog about this very thing…The days you don’t want to run end up being  your best running days! You will make this a good run! It might be your best run!”  I cringed for a second because he was a bit too upbeat for my low-energy outlook. Then I realized he was right and he was my number one fan! He knew I had it in me to not only burn off the pizzelle and cannolis but to run my best!

 

After we hung up I was determined to make this run my best run yet, I was going to make it my bitch (pardon the language)! But I wondered how do I gauge my best run?  What is my best? What was my best run? I don’t know. Are we talking time or distance, or both? I decided instead of going for speed I would go for distance. And distance I did. My farthest run prior to yesterday was just shy of 18 miles so I set the goal for 20 miles. I knew it wouldn’t be easy. But I dared myself to complete it regardless of how long it was going to take me. (2 hours, 30 minutes and 53 seconds!)

 

I set out. One foot in front of the other and I ran. It felt liberating. I pounded my lethargic mood out of me.  I suddenly found myself wanting to run. I wanted to run for more reasons than to burn off the pizzelle and cannolis. I wanted to run to prove to myself that I could run 20 miles. And then I had dreams of drinking 2 beers after the run in an obligatory celebration! Mmm Beer!!!  (I had one Yuengling Black and Tan and one Third Shift Amber Lager)

 

My Diet!

 

This was my first run where I decided to eat gels.

 

After 60 minutes of running I went for an energy gel. Let me tell you how much I disliked the PowerGel Performance Energy in Raspberry flavor!!! EWWWWW! It was disgusting! I took one swig and wanted to gag. I felt like it was 100 times worse than cold syrup, no joke. I wanted to vomit! It tasted like sugary cold syrup well over its expiration date. It was far too crystallized and gross. Just gross. I switched to the Gatorade Prime Energy Chews in Cool Blue. I ate three of them though the serving size called for six. I drank about 8 oz of water after and went on forward. I felt reenergized and on top of the world. I ran another 8 miles, ate another 3 chews and washed the chews down with another 8 oz of water. I felt great. My stomach was happy, satiated and giving me no trouble, considering this is the first time I ever ate anything on a run. Thank gosh!

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I realized at the end of my run how imperative these energy chews were to my performance. I found that the Gatorade Prime Energy Chews in Cool Blue work for me and that I must purchase them in bulk! I will never ingest another PowerGel Performance Energy again, even if they were free. I couldn’t stomach it and I won’t suffer that foul taste again. Ugh.

 

Good Music, a Good Diet, and Suffering

 

I’m here to tell you that yes I ran 20 miles. Yes, 20 miles sucked. But because of my good music, my diet, and my willingness to suffer through the pain, I managed to make 20 miles my bitch!

 

I previously posted about my playlist. Let me now post about my diet.

 

My Diet Pre-Run and Run For My 20 Miler:

 

Pre-Run

 

1 tablespoon of cold chia seeds (after 1 tablespoon of dry chia seeds were soaked with 2 tablespoons of water and 1 tablespoon honey)

 

2 cups of coffee with a little sugar-free creamer. No sugar.

 

1 cup of green grapes

 

2 tablespoons of Trader Joe’s chunky natural peanut butter

 

One hour later I went for a run…

 

Run

 

8 miles without water.

 

Then 8 oz of water

 

3 oz of Green Machine Naked Juice

 

3 Gatordate Chews

 

Run

 

8 miles without water

 

Then 8 oz of water

 

3 Gatorade Chews

 

Post-Run

 

1 Yuengling Black and Tan

 

1 Third Shift Amber Lager

 

There I was having my beer. Savoring in the fact that I did it, I ran my goal of 20 miles!!! And here I am confessing to you it wasn’t easy. It was hard. It was hard but it was worth it. I remind myself and I remind you that when it gets hard, push on through the pain. Pain is temporary!!! 

 

Quote Of The Day

You & Me, We Are Distance Runners. We’ve Been Trained to Keep Going Even When It’s Hard (Gawd Is It Hard).

When It Hurts, When It Sucks, When We Don’t Want TO.

We Look Past It.

Relentless Forward Progress To The Finish.

Call It What You Want:

Stubbornness, Endurance, Determination, Guts.

Deep Down

We Don’t Know How To Give Up.

And It’s Always Worth It In The End!!!

 

Love the run! Image

 

XO

 

Valerie 

aka Runnergirl

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