Month: November 2014

A Product Review And A Recipe

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! I ate too much after the race and enjoyed a lovely day.

At the Turkey Trail Trot Thursday morning, I had the opportunity to pick up some sample bars I wanted to write a bit about. I usually don’t buy these, as I try to make my own. But sometimes I don’t have the time to make them, or I’m away from home and have to rely on store-bought items.

Some brands are better than others, and many energy bars are much better than others. I’ve always liked Larabar as a brand. So I was pretty happy seeing their fruit and nut bars as samples.

Uber bars

Uber bars

LARABAR UBER ROASTED NUT ROLL

LARABAR UBER STICKY BUN

Both bars tasted really good. Both are gluten free, non-GMO and Kosher. They use honey, so they’re not vegan. But all the ingredients are REAL FOOD in each of them makes this bar a great go-to one if you can’t make your own. The salty, sweet crunchiness of the Nut Roll made it my favorite, but I wouldn’t turn down the Sticky Bun either.

Each one of the sample sizes have 130 calories with 80 calories in fat. It’s the perfect bar for apres-running. I’d even cut a full size bar in half, as a whole size would be too much in one sitting after a run unless it was over 10+ miles.

Most energy/protein bars are either all sugar or chemicals, but these seem to be the ticket for those who want to eat more whole foods.

Of course, a handful of nuts could do the same thing. But if you still want a bar, I would reach for an Laramar Uber.

And now a recipe:

CRANBERRY SAUCE

This is quickly cooked and can be used in everything from your holiday table to your steel cut oats. I love it!

1 bag fresh cranberries

½ cup fruit juice – apple or cherry juice works great

½ cup honey or other sweetener

1 cup diced fresh pineapple or fresh oranges

Pick out the discolored cranberries and then combine cranberries, juice, honey and other fruit in saucepan and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes under low heat. Cool to room temperature.

Store in container. Will keep for up to two weeks in the refrigerator.

Cheers!

San Francisco Turkey Trail Trot 2014

The Turkey Delights the Kids

The Turkey Delights the Kids

This was the second time I ran the SF 5-mile Turkey Trail Trot. I was looking forward to it for a long time, as last year’s race was great fun. Everything benefits the Lowell High School track team, so the team volunteers, alumni show up and even the Lowell High marching band performs.

I PR’d by about 3 minutes although it would have been more had I not had to take a bathroom break along the course.

It was cold and clear yesterday morning. The race is limited to a small number of runners, but the place was packed by start time. Before the main event, there’s some kids races, which are really fun to watch. Equally are entertaining are the kids’ reactions to the Turkey, who walks around getting pictures with everyone, including Yours Truly.

The race itself is done on the trails and grass of Golden Gate Park. It starts at the Polo Fields and winds around the dirt paths of the park. And it is FAST! The fastest running clocked in at 28:18!!

But it being San Francisco, doesn’t mean the runners aren’t just great runners, they’re also into costumes. Lots of turkeys, pilgrims, Native Americans and foods of every sort, including pies, vegetables and yes BACON!

There were lots of goodies given away a the race as well, and the t-shirt is cool.

The only suggestion I could make to the race directors to make it even better is to not give away all the food goodies until after the race. Much of the food giveaways were given before the race even started to those of us who aren’t jackrabbits didn’t get anything when we crossed the finish line. Luckily, I avoided this with some of the stuff by foreseeing ahead and stowing some things in my bag. But I really shouldn’t have to do this. The goody samples should be for everyone once the race is done. But that’s the only complain I have and it’s a small one. Everything else is so well coordinated and organized. I’m very happy about this year’s race.

It’s always loads of fun for the entire family. Outside of the race, I especially love the raffle after the awards are given away. I won a DVD copy of the movie Elf, but I gave it to a guy who was more than happy to have it.

I can’t wait until next year!

Cheers!

PS: I need to congratulate my friend Steve Snyder for coming in third is his age division! Keep crushing it, Steve!

Beautiful Sunrise

Beautiful Sunrise

THANKFULNESS

Sometimes our lives’ events go by so quickly we forget to take time out to reflect and honor those things that are most important. I would like to do that now.

I am not perfect and Goddess knows my life is not, but I try to do the best that I can. If I stumble, I get up and keep moving. If I take a step back, I take a step and half forwards. If I goof up, I try to pin point how, make amends and attempt to not make the same mistake again.

We are works in progress and it will take our entire lives (some say many lifetimes) to learn all that we need to learn.

I wanted to say how thankful I am to the many people and things in my life who have helped me over this past year. Without them, I’m not sure where I would be.

First and foremost, I am thankful for my sobriety. Nothing is possible without. Each and every single day I am happy to be sober. It is a blessing and I cherish it.

I am thankful to my dad and stepmom. I love them with all my heart and I am so happy they are in my lives, give me unconditional love and have sometimes been the only guiding light there is in the storm.

I am thankful for my friends for being there. Even when I am distant or busy, or we are far from each other, we still know that we have each other’s backs and love.

I am thankful for running; it has given me some of the greatest joys I’ve had over the last few months. I never feel as free or as strong as when I am out running on the pavement.

I am thankful for San Francisco for many things. Even though this city is too expensive, too dirty, filled with too many hipsters and tech bros, it still has some of the best produce, the best food, the best views, the best places to run and some of the best nature areas one could ask for.

I am thankful for the creativity I have been given and also for the stubborn determination I have inherited.

I am thankful I have a plan and goal for my future. There are bright lights in the distance and I will reach them.

Have a great Thanksgiving and appreciate who you are and whatever you do!

Cheers!

RICE CAKES – Why Are They Still “A Thing”?

The Dreaded Rice Cake

The Dreaded Rice Cake

Much of my focus these days is on what I should be eating, what I need to be eating and what really isn’t all that great for me to be eating. In doing so, I spend a lot of time re

I read a lot of websites about fitness and nutrition. I discover some really excellent ones that help with running, fitness, weight loss as well as healthy recipes and eating ideas.

Once in a while though, I come across something that puzzles me. The majority of people that I’ve read and met who are successful in fitness know most of what they’re talking about. However, there is a tendency, especially by those who are in it just for looks or beauty-type contests to go to extremes and by doing so, they develop odd food habits. I’m focusing only on one of them today, perhaps I’ll write about the others in future blogs.

I’m talking about the existence of Rice Cakes. Why are these still around?

I glanced over a website that was a collection of pictures, bios and the eating habits of extremely fit (and some VERY underweight females) the website owner looked up to as role models. Some of them were healthy and ate healthy; meaning, they didn’t radically limit their eating nor did they starve themselves. But two of the women did. They consisted on meals of protein shakes, or chicken breast and broccoli and maybe a sweet potato if it was a heavy lift day. And then for snacks, they had rice cakes.

It’s trendy to make ALL flour, even good healthy whole wheat or rye flours, a BAD food. If it’s gluten and flour, it must be BAD, so they must be avoided AT ALL COSTS! This just isn’t the case. In moderation, there is nothing wrong with a slice of 100% whole wheat or rye bread. Make it homemade or organic from a local baker and that’s even better. In fact, a slice of whole grain bread has more nutrition than a rice cake and I dare say tastes worlds better. Those slices of cardboard don’t even fill a person up.

Perhaps it’s the crunch in a rice cake that makes it appealing to some. OK, then, how about Akmak crackers instead? They have crunch and guess what? They have nutritional value too.

So, give up the cardboard and eat real food!

Cheers!

HOMEMADE ENERGY BALLS

In an effort to not only save some money, but also eat healthier, I started experimenting with making my own pre and post workout foods. I make my own ELECTROLYTE MIX (recipe posted below) but I also make my own ENERGY BALLS. These are MUCH tastier than protein bars and I dare say, healthier.

There are no exact measurements and no set ingredients; it’s up to you and whatever you want to put into them. That’s the pure beauty of these….what they do have are protein, carbohydrates and fat, all of the healthy varieties. You can make it gluten free, vegan…it’s entirely up to your personal preference.

Use any of the following:

Nut Butter – I like peanut or almond butter, but choose whatever type you like. I DO like using the salted kind as it’s good to get salts back into one’s body after working out.

Rolled Oats – Can use 100% oats or a mix of different grains

Honey or other sweetener since as Malted Barley Syrup or Maple Syrup. It is good to use something thicker. Molasses could work as well, although the taste would be much stronger.

The above three are all you need. You can add in any of the below additions if you like. Go wild and add in a lot or just one.

Semi-sweet chocolate chips, dried cranberries, raisins, chopped nuts, unsweetened coconut flakes, protein powder

The amounts of each ingredients will determine the consistency of the mixture. Start out with 1/2 cup of each peanut butter and oats and 1/4th cup sweetener. If it’s too dry, add more nut butter. If too moist, add more oats. When it seems right, roll into small balls. Store in a ziplock bag in the refrigerator. I usually only make a small amount as they are very tasty and easy to eat too many. But, if you have more self control than myself, make a lot and keep for many days, use as needed.

Remember, you only need one or two per serving; there’s a wallop of energy in each one! Enjoy!

Cheers!

Energy Balls

Energy Balls

ELECTROLYTE MIX

Here’s my homemade Electrolyte Mix, which is cheaper, healthier and tastier than Gatorade, promise!

For every 10-ounce water:

1/2 cup fruit juice – your choice: something that won’t upset your stomach on a run. I like apple or cherry juice, but it’s your choice

1 tablespoon sweetener of your choice

1/8th teaspoon salt

10 oz Water

Mix everything together. Chill overnight.

* This also works well when replacing part of the water with coconut water.

Why I Run

Tonight I had what I could call A Perfect Run.

Not every one of my outings is perfection. In fact, so many of them are difficult to get through, and I love them because of my struggles and stubborn desire to finish. Sometimes, during my runs, my legs feel like lead, my lungs like iron and it takes the first half mile or so to get into a decent pace before my legs and breathing catches up to my brain.

But not tonight. I must be doing something right. All the hours I’ve spent at the gym strengthening my quads, core and hips has done some work because the last week my runs have gone well and I have felt little pain and just a bit of soreness. Tonight, I started my run slowly and especially carefully. It had been raining all day so the streets were wet and slippery. I dodged the wandering tourists and grumpy commuters Downtown. I was able to gain some breathing space on Sansome Street past Broadway, where I could lose myself in my run. I could have run for miles and miles. Everything felt great, so I spent a few moments focusing on my form: back straight, yes, cadence, nice short steps: yes, breath even and rhythmic: you bet.

I continued running down The Embarcadero and ended in front of the Ferry Building. It was about as wonderful a 3-miler as I could ever hope for. I know I looked pretty silly smiling on the Geary 38 going home, but I didn’t care. Runs like this make me feel strong and free. They give me back all the power that slips away during the week when people put me down, when they tell me I’m too old, too fat, not good enough, not rich enough, not ambitious enough, not cool enough.

Tonight was why I run. For tonight, I felt true freedom.

Run on, get your power back! Cheers!

Fort Point Run

Ah…..

Today was my return to longer runs. I can say, for the first time that my 6-mile run this morning was the first without knee or IT band pain or tightness. And it was a magnificent run!

I left the apartment around 8:30am and ran up Van Ness through Fort Mason down the Marina into the Presidio. I turned around at Fort Point (not before taking a couple pictures first) and ran back past Sports Basement towards the Marina.

Fort Point below the Golden Gate Bridge

Fort Point below the Golden Gate Bridge

My total distance was 6.4 miles and though there were some stops for traffic lights and a couple walks for water and Clif Shot Bloks, it was a good, smooth run with no mechanical problems whatsoever!

The very coolest thing this morning was during the 5th mile….I was running along in the Presidio and saw a big red tailed hawk. He swooped down and caught what looked like a gopher in his talons and took it away to a rooftop across the service road. I’ve never seen that before!

Red Tailed Hawk

Red Tailed Hawk

The morning was cool, overcast at first and a bit breezy. I did see some clear skies on my way back home. I felt so good afterwards, I could help but smile.

My next race is the Turkey Trail Trot 5-miler on Thanksgiving and then the Hot Chocolate 15k in January. There are plenty of other races I could do, but I’ll probably skip them; races aren’t cheap and I must save money for my New York City vacation next February.

This week will be busy. I’m hoping someone signs up for my beginning running class (go to http://www.joinvint.com for more info). But even if they don’t, I still need to get to the YMCA at least twice and keep my running going.

Oh, and the 49ers won today! Cheers!

11-16-14

A New Gig

A while ago I was approached on Twitter by Samantha from the start-up company Vint. They’re only about a year old out of Stockholm Sweden and have one location here in San Francisco. They offer workouts via their phone app for people who in turn pay for each workout much like someone would pay through AirBnB. It’s a terrific idea.

Samantha talked to me about doing a beginning runners course. At that time I was just getting over my knee injury so I wasn’t in any condition to be coaching or running, but as soon as I was healthy, I talked more about it with her and here I am, with sessions ready and waiting for customers to sign up.

I’m excited and nervous; I’ve never done anything like this before. They’ve given me some great guidelines and will help me through a test class. I’ve been to one of their workout classes with a great instructor. Their instructors are so nice and knowledgeable; Samantha knows how to attract the best people for Vint! I’m ready to start Monday and I’ll be promoting my running classes in the coming weeks.

I promised my friends I wouldn’t keep pushing it on them; I know they get tired of hearing about it. But I really can’t wait to get going. I’ll write more about them after my first class!

For more information about Vint, visit: http://www.joinvint.com

Cheers!