Tuesday, April 23, 2013


The tragic events surrounding the Boston Marathon affected everyone, runner or not.  And the response of those showing support for Boston has been enormous.  As a community, runners are strong and resilient, but we are also incredibly supportive and giving.  Lastweek, an amazing member of that running (and blogging) community, Brian [Pavement Runner] called out to runners from around the country to get together and show our support in the best way we know how.  By running.  Running to remember and to forget.  Running for those who ran on April 15th, 2013 and for those who may never run again. 

So last night I joined 300ish of my fellow NYC runners to participate in #BostonStrongNYC (organized by Abby).  We met up at Tavern on the Green and after a few encouraging words and a moment of silence, we were off to run!


I ended up running two lower loops of the park, chatting with runners friends and ending back by Tavern on the Green, where everyone began creating a "finish line" to cheer each other on.  Amazing.

It was so heartwarming to be surrounded by runners of all shapes and sizes, all showing their support for those affected in Boston.  Each and every time I go for a run, participate in a race or meet a fellow runner I feel so proud to be a part of this running community.  And last night was no exception.  Running just makes my heart happy. 

These ladies also make my heart happy. 
Photo credit: Kristin

  Share your runner love with me!  Did you participate in #BostonStrong in NYC or your hometown?  Or just enjoy a quiet reflective run on your own?  Tell me!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Race Recap: Cherry Blossom 10-Miler 2013

I spent this past weekend in our nation's capital...eating, drinking and running the Cherry Blossom 10-mile race. 
See?  Pretty Cherry Blossoms!
Saturday morning, I met up with some amazing runner/blogger friends: Steph, Beth, Abby and Jen.  We loaded ourselves, our many snacks and foam roller(s) into Abby's car and headed to D.C.  After we arrived, we quickly checked into our fabulous hotel room (big thanks to Beth's dad!) and headed to the expo.  The expo was less than a mile from the hotel and not too crowded so we were able to grab our bibs, shop around and get out in no time!  

Saturday night, we had an amazing Mediterranean dinner at Zaytinya.  Complete with hummus, falafel and the most incredible pita!  
Delicious carbs.
(Photo courtesy of Steph)

Kudos to Jen for the great choice of restaurant!  When we were finished fueling up on pita, we headed back to the hotel for our 9pm curfew/bedtime.  The majority of our crew has recently been injured and/or sick, so even without the 7am race start we weren't in any shape to be party animals.  Those of us who were running got our race day outfits together, Abby (AKA cheerleader extraordinaire) got her cowbells ready, and we fell asleep listening to Beth still debating whether or not to run at all.  

I hadn't really put in much mileage following the NYC Half, so I didn't have any expectations for this race.  I was mostly looking forward to running a race somewhere other than NY and taking in the sights.  Relative to most other runners, I'm pretty laid back and don't like to stress about paces and finish times.  I'm still competitive with myself and love seeing improvement, but my ultimate goal is to run injury-free and happy for as long as I can! That being said, my "goal" for this particular race was sub 1:40 (10 min miles).

We arrived at the start around 7:15 and snapped a few pictures!
Jen, Me, Beth, Steph and Abby
Beth, Jen and I squeezed through a fence (literally) to line up between the orange and green corrals, while Steph went up ahead to her speedy red corral.  Shortly after we started, I told the girls I was going to go ahead, so we split up.  The first few miles were pretty crowded (as expected with a race of this size) and it was hard to get into a comfortable pace.  I did a lot of weaving and even had to hop up onto the sidewalk a few times.  Maybe for this reason, around mile 2 I started feeling twinges in my left knee.  Although I've never had major issues with it before, I knew it was my IT band.  I immediately slowed my pace but that didn't seem to help.  A sharp pain came and went a few times and I started thinking I would be the one of our motley crew who had to DNF!  I knew the course looped back in on itself a few times, so I gave it some time to see if the pain got worse.  Luckily, it eased up and I decided to keep running.  The early parts of the course had a lot of spectators, which was awesome.  I somehow missed seeing Abby along the course but just knowing she was there motivated me!   

Thumbs up for not DNFing!
After the 10K point, we ran into an incredible headwind for about a mile and a half.  It was beautiful running along the water, but the wind was not my friend.  I definitely felt like I was working harder and not keeping my pace.  Not to mention I had tears just streaming down my face from the wind.  Good thing the Marathon Foto photogs tend to skip over me, because I definitely would've looked like I was crying.   

At the final turnaround point, the wind was gone and the Washington Monument (aka Finish Line) was in sight.  I knew I was going to come in under my 1:40 goal, so I wanted to push it and see just how much under I could get.  About a quarter mile from the finish, Abby and Steph (who had an amazing PR and continues to amaze me with her speed) spotted me and gave me that much needed motivation to finish strong.  It was a short uphill followed by an easy downhill to the finish line.  

5K-10:20 (I missed the 3rd mile marker somehow?)

My official finish time was 1:35:43 (9:34 pace).  Since this was my first 10-mile race, that's an automatic PR! Woo! This is also my pace-PR for a longer distance race, which is awesome.

Also awesome?  This RunPix graphic with info on my places based on gender and division and the number of people I passed and who passed me.  Love that! 

My only real criticism of this race would be how crowded it was.  Parts of the course were pretty narrow, so it might be better if there were more corrals or the waves were more spread out. 

 I was definitely hurting after the race and woke up feeling super sore Monday.  I've taken a few rest days and have been stretching and foam rolling like crazy to prevent further ITB issues.  Overall, I had a great race and an amazing weekend with some awesome runner ladies.  I think it's safe to say we'll be back next year!  Who's in?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Trail Mix (and Match!)

At work, I don't exactly have drawers to store food (or a desk for that matter), so I keep my lab coat pockets stuffed with my healthy snacks.  One of my favorites, especially on days when I have a run or workout on the schedule, is trail mix.  I mean, who doesn't love trail mix? What I don't love is paying a hefty price for a bag of trail mix, only to find myself wishing there were more dried cranberries, less chunks of overly-sweet pineapple and of course, more chocolate! :)  So I make my own!  

Making your own trail/snack mix is not only cost-effective, but it's healthier because you are able to control the ingredients, and therefore the nutrition content.  My chosen ingredients this week: dried unsweetened cranberries, roasted almonds, banana chips, sunflower seeds and semi-sweet chocolate chips!

I set up a mini assembly line for myself with my chosen ingredients, measuring spoons and snack-size ziplock baggies and got to work!  

Approximately 20-25 almonds
1 Tbsp dried cranberries
1/4 cup banana chips
1 Tbsp sunflower seeds
1 tsp mini chocolate chips

The end result?  Healthy and satisfying snacks, ready to grab-and-go!  I love being able to make more than 2 weeks worth of snacks in less than 5 minutes, using only the ingredients I wanted...in the ratios I wanted them in!  And this particular mix cost only about $1.22 per bag! Actually less, as there are still leftover sunflower seeds and cranberries for my next creation!

This mix comes in at about 250-300 calories per bag but has plenty of heart healthy fats with those almonds and sunflower seeds.  Remember to always be mindful of portion sizes when creating your mixes, but don't be afraid to get creative! The possibilities are endless!  Add wasabi peas and cashews for an Asian-style mix or coconut flakes and dried pineapple for island-inspired flavor!

Tell me...Are you a trail-mixer?  Do you make your own or buy pre-packaged just to end up tossing out your least favorite bits?  :)

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

EAS Lean 15 Protein Powder Review

Protein is such a hot topic these days!  Are you getting enough?  Do you need a supplement?  What are the best sources of protein?  The average American needs about 0.8 grams of protein per kg of body weight.  So for a 150lb person, that's about 55 grams of protein.  This is easily met (and often exceeded) on a day-to-day basis by our intake of meats, poultry, eggs, dairy and more.  So the short answer is yes, you're probably getting enough.  And no, you likely don't NEED a protein supplement.  Yet it seems like everywhere you look (especially in the world of facebook, twitter and instagram), people are blending up protein shakes and "green drinks" as meal replacements or to fuel and re-fuel from their workouts.

 Working as a dietitian in a long-term care setting, I understand that the day may come when my meals will have to be blenderized or pureed and I'll need to get some of my nutrition from supplements.  But for now, I'm a big proponent of eating real, whole foods to get my nutrition.  Call me crazy, but I like eating my food as opposed to sipping it through a straw. 

Now don't get me wrong-I'm a sucker for the amazing 4H milkshakes at our county fair each year.  And from time to time I enjoy a smoothie for recovery after a long-run.  So I was happy to oblige when the folks at EAS (Abbott Nutrition) asked to send me samples of following products to try out and review: Lean 15 Protein Powder, Recovery Protein Powder, and Lean 15 Nutrition Bars

My nutrition philosophy centers around incorporating whole fresh foods into our diets rather than specific supplements or weight management products. However, I also understand the food/nutrition industry and the huge demand for these products.  It's definitely beneficial for me to sample products that clients may be currently using or are interested in using, so that I can give my professional opinion on them.  So let's do just that!

Nutrition facts: 200 calories, 15 grams protein, 6 grams fat, 16 grams sugar

I tried the chocolate peanut butter flavor and to be honest I am not a big fan.  It had that "protein-y" (very scientific, I know) taste and wasn't that satisfying for 200 calories, which can mean trouble if it is meant to be a weight managment product.  This bar also has a TON of ingredients, many of which are preservatives or other chemicals.  I tend to recommend products with fewer ingredients and that have names that are easily recognizable.  For the same flavor and more satisfaction, I'd probably go for a KIND Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein.  Or better yet? I recommend making your own protein bars or trail mix for a snack between meals!

Nutrition facts: 270 calories, 20 grams protein, 2 grams fat, 17 grams sugar

I tried this one after a spin class and I just mixed the chocolate flavored recovery protein powder with cold water in a Blender Bottle.  The taste wasn't bad but I was expecting a stronger chocolate flavor.  The protein mouthfeel was noticeable, but didn't leave an aftertaste.  I think it might taste better if combined with milk, however that would alter the nutritional value.  One of the benefits of this product in terms of post-workout recovery would be the inclusion of branch-chain amino acids.  Research has shown BCAAs benefit both muscle recovery and immune health, which are so important to athletes.  The Recovery Powder does contain artificial sweeteners, which I typically avoid so I wouldn't be likely to use it again. 

Nutrition facts (2 scoops): 100 calories, 15 grams protein, 1.5 grams fat, 2 grams sugar

When I'm looking for super quick breakfast or want that post-run smoothie, I usually use EAS brand Soy Protein Powder (vanilla).  So to review the last product, I just substituted the Lean 15 powder in my typical smoothie (pictured above, recipe below).  Similar to the Recovery Protein, this product contains both sucralose (Splenda) and acesulfame potassium (Sweet One or Sunett).  I have to say the flavor was excellent and I didn't feel it was overly sweet.  I would be hesitant to recommend it for athletes (especially pre-workout), because a common side effect of Splenda is gastrointestinal upset.  In addition, although artificial sweeteners help to keep the calorie and sugar count down,  research does not support their use in effective long-term weight loss.  However, if you already are accustomed to using artificial sweeteners, this might be a great product for you.  I'm going to stick to my EAS Soy Protein Powder for now!

Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie
8oz Skim milk
Ice cubes
1 Banana
2 Tbsp Peanut Butter
2 scoops Lean 15 Vanilla Cream
1 Tbsp ground flax seed

Big thanks to EAS for providing me these samples to review.  If you're interested in trying EAS Lean 15 productsfor yourself, click this link for $3 off!

Before using these or any nutrition supplements, I highly recommend visiting a Registered Dietitian to determine your individual nutrient needs and to develop a personalized meal plan.

*Disclaimer- EAS provided me samples to review, however I was not compensated for this post and the opinions expressed are solely mine.