Retiring from Racing

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It’s been a hell of a year racing.  I’ve run 3 marathons, 4 halves and a host of other races.  It’s been awesome.   But this past weekend I had a little heart to heart with myself.  It was time to call it — I’m retiring from racing

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for the remainder of 2012.

Actually perhaps it’s more appropriate to say that I’m taking a self-enforced break from racing for the remainder of the year.

You might recall that this past weekend I was tentatively slated to run back-to-back half marathons in Santa Barbara on Saturday and Malibu on Sunday.  And guess what??? I bailed on both.  Didn’t even pick up my bibs.

 Running is my drug of choice.  It’s my oxygen, It’s my sanity.  It’s my freedom from my own head.  Running is my guilty pleasure.  But I need to also be honest about my recent relationship with training.

Mid way into my training cycle for Chicago, I knew I needed a break and I fought really hard with my inner self to sweep these feelings aside.  The struggle to complete each long run and many mid-distance runs was ever-present and while my body continued to perform, I felt like I was running in between gears, grinding out the miles.   Mentally my marathon focus was as good as a pair of worn out shoes – unsupportive, dusty and filled with holes.

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Despite all this, I set a PR during Chicago, but I’m pretty confident that had more to do with race experience than actual training.   This being my 3rd 26.2 meant I knew better how to start, how to moderate, how to fuel and where I’d have to fight my head as it tried to sabotage my performance.

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With a new race looming around each and every corner these days – marathons, half mary’s, 10k’s, charity races, color runs, zombie races, 80’s runs, relays etc.  It’s so easy to get sucked into the race of the weekend and sign up to run all the races.

When this past weekend rolled around and after the crazy, intense high of our wedding, I could not wait to spend both Saturday and Sunday morning doing one of the things I love to do most, running.  But the idea of setting an alarm and  doing it for anyone other than myself, anytime other than my time and anywhere other than the path, trail or road that I chose, was the exact thing I didn’t want.  I immediately realized that I had zero interest in 4am wake up calls, bussing to the start line, porta potties and point to point courses on either Saturday or Sunday – or quite frankly anytime in the next 6 weeks.  My racing days are done for 2012.  I need the space to run the distance, the time and the path that I want to run — with no race goals looming over my head.

Since I wasn’t formally training for SB or Malibu after Chicago, I was hopeful that my training would carry over.  That allowed me a total lack of running focus and a freedom to run without a plan.   And what I found was there are times when this works for me – It enables me to relax and simply run. {and interestingly simply running or running simply has resulted in some pretty speedy legs that failed to show up with any regularity during Chicago training}. Alas.  Go. Figure.

I’ll be a back racing in 2013, but for now I’m going to enjoy this sweet time off from training, enjoy putting in the miles on my time, still work towards 2012 miles in 2012 (I’m 214 miles away from my goal) running simply, and re-center my focus for hopefully another big year of running in 2013.

Have you ever taken a self-enforced break from competition?

{MF Dre}

LOVE at First Drink.

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 My first decent run in a while happened this morning. 7 miles down – 5 solo, 2 with the homies.  Felt so good (and so freeing). Plus, I have a total love affair with running in the rain so the 57* temp and drizzle was sweet perfection.

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 When I got home I was famished….time to refuel.

A few weeks ago, via my relationship with FitFluential,  I was introduced to Muscle Gauge Nutrition –  a new line of body building, fat loss, and fitness supplements. The team at MGN are attempting to make the highest quality ingredients and supplements available to athletes for affordable pricing.  They offered me the opportunity to select some of their product to test out!!

Ever since I made a running comeback a little more than a year ago,  I’ve been working on my goal of 2012 miles in 2012. Certainly with all this running, I can EAT! but I find that my performance is dramatically effected by the types of foods I fuel my body with. As a red-meat disliker {except for In-N-Out eveeeeerrry.once.in.a.major.craving.while}, I’ve made an effort to incorporate far more proteins into my diet to ensure proper recovery and regrowth for my muscles.

So I picked out a protein powder – the Pure Isolate Whey Protein – that would provide me with a solid amount of protein and the proper amino acids for my recovery. The Pure Isolate comes in some pretty amazing flavors – Cake Batter, Chocolate, Cinnamon Bun, Ice Cream Sandwich, Rocky Road, Strawberry, Unflavored & Vanilla

I picked out Cake Batter and it was LOVE at first drink.

{side note, I’ve been a TRUE Trader Joe’s fan and even bought their protein powder for a while…  I was missing out.  There is no way you can compare their Whey protein in Chocolate and Vanilla to these flavors and this protein. Sorry TJ’s this may be your first loss in my book}

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Lots of reasons why I loved MGN Cake Batter.

It Blends Well – NO chunks left behind

It’s sugar-free, lactose free, fat-free and digests super well –  NO rock in my stomach.

It tastes delicious – NO nasty metallic aftertaste.

With 25g of Protein per serving it fills me up – and keeps me full until lunch.

So I’ve been making a ton of smoothies and here are a few of my favorite fall smoothie recipes.

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PUMPKIN PIE:  1 C. ALMOND MILK, 1/4 C. PUREED PUMPKIN, 1 SCOOP MGN CAKE BATTER PROTEIN, DASH PUMPKIN PIE SPICE, 3 ICE CUBES.

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1 C. ALMOND MILK, 1/2 RIPE BANANA, 1 TBSP COCONUT BUTTER, 1 SCOOP MGN CAKE BATTER PROTEIN POWDER, DASH TRADER JOES CINNAMON SUGAR, 3 ICE CUBES.

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1 C. ALMOND MILK, 1/3 C. FROZEN BLUEBERRIES, 1 TSP. TRADER JOES SPECULOUS COOKIE BUTTER, 1 SCOOP MGN CAKE BATTER PROTEIN POWDER, 3 ICE CUBES

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1 C. ALMOND MILK, 1 TSP. VANILLA EXTRACT, 2 DATES CHOPPED, 1 SCOOP MGN CAKE BATTER PROTEIN POWDER, 3 ICE CUBES

What are some of your favorite fall smoothie recipes?

Do you have a favorite protein powder?

{MF Dre}

DISCLOSURE:  WHILE FITFLUENTIAL AND MGN SENT ME COMPLIMENTARY PRODUCT FOR THIS REVIEW, ALL OPINIONS ARE MY OWN.

A Brilliant Run.

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A few weeks ago I was invited by Fitfluential and Mizuno Running to join the Mezamashii Project.

The Mezamashii Run Project is an effort by Mizuno to help create a more euphoric running experience — a more “brilliant” run — for more runners everywhere.  The word “mezamashii” means “eye-opening” or “brilliant” in Japanese — it’s a word that captures the euphoric feeling of a brilliant run.

Instead of spending multi-million dollars on a huge marketing blitz, Mizuno invited thousands of runners to receive a free pair of shoes with the hopes that their shoes would deliver on this quest to help runners discover the euphoria that comes with a brilliant run.

You know me, I have good runs and I’ve certainly encountered some of Murphy’s Laws during my daily running as well, but the good ones…they’re the reason I keep running, each and every day.

Despite my many years of running, I’ve actually never run in Mizunos. Everyone I know that runs in them literally raves about them so I’ve been pretty eager to try them.  I’ve run in just about every other brand but the last time I wore Mizunos was back in high school when they were the cool volleyball shoes to wear.  {side note, I didn’t play Volleyball.  total poser}

So when I was invited to join in, I scrolled through the myriad of running options that Mizuno has and also used their Precision Fit  guide and selected the Wave Rider 15s – a mid-lightweight shoe, with great cushion and just enough stability for often heavy mileage weeks.

I pulled these out of the box about two weeks ago and thus far, I’ve put about 35 miles on them, rotating them in with my Brooks PureFlows.

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Here are my thoughts so far:

Color.  I LOVE the fact that they’re yellow and gold. Gold is hands down my favorite color and my favorite element.  Looks alone, I’d marry these shoes.

Stability & Cushion.  I’ve gotten very used to a minimalist shoe and I was pretty hesitant about the Wave Riders feeling clunky.  They are most definitely “more shoe” but they’re also much more stable across all terrains – road, trail, grass, gravel path, wood chips.  Whereas the PureFlows flex across the terrain with their softer and lighter DNA, I feel more protected and less reaction/feedback from the road in the Wave Riders. I kind of coast on top of the terrain in these vs. shifting with it.  I’m not sure whether I like that or not yet.

Box to Run.   These shoes didn’t need any time to break in.  They went from box to road and so far, I haven’t had any issue with them.

Heel to Toe Drop.  These Mizunos have a 12m heel to toe drop. My Brooks have a 4mm.  As a converted mid-foot runner, its easier to strike mid-foot in the Brooks and I think they’ve been critical to helping me train my gait.  I haven’t noticed any challenge going backwards to the 12mm, but I’m paying close attention to ensure I don’t get lazy in my stride.

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Overall my experience has been pretty great.  I probably need to put about 25-30 more miles on them – including a 10+ miler on them to fully determine how “mezamashii” they are, but since we’re still dating, I’m going to say that I like them a lot.  Let’s see how the next few run dates go.

{MF Dre}

PS – If you’re interested in testing out some Mizunos,  you can sign up to participate in The Mezamashii Run Project by visiting www.mezamashiirunproject.com and click on “Apply for an invite” to sign up for the weekly giveaway.

IRL Running Friends.

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We jetted out of LAX yesterday, headed for the Windy City and ready for a weekend filled with adventure and hopefully a few surprises.

It’s Chicago Marathon Time!
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We got to our gate and ran into HauteRunningMama and Pam!  I met Pam back in March under the warming tent right before I ran my first marathon and HauteRunningMama and I have been blogger, twerper, fb friends for a long while now and finally met IRL. (in.real.life) and now we’re all Instant FFL (friends.for.life).  I think our collective Mr.’s may be RSFFL (runner.spouse.friends.for.life) now too.

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I often tease the Mr. that I time how long it takes for one of his conversations to turn to cars, racing, engines or something auto related.   I guess I owe myself a little big fat touche as we dove into incessant chatter about Gear, Shoes, Course, Races, Times, Training and Hot vs. Cold Weather Running.

We took the blue line into the city (wish L.A. had a real subway.train system). We’re staying at the Monaco (LOVE this spot) – it’s a pet-friendly, boutique hotel right on the river.  They’re funky, fresh and luxe and they’ll even bring you a goldfish to the room if you’re missing your homies at home.

Anyway, we’re all here, ready to toe the line.

Let’s do this.

Good luck IRL Friends (and all of my other friends running)

{MF Dre}

September Favorites.

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Restaurants, Running and Romance, these top my list of September Favorites.

A Ridiculous Run along the beaches of Los Angeles.

Our Wedding Tasting which surprised and delighted us with creativity, flavor and presentation.

 A Love Fest to remember in the heart of Central Park.

 A Hidden Restaurant in the basement of New York City.

{MF Dre}

Milestone Monday: The Boss of 20.

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20 Miles.  The last long run of this cycle. Likely the last 20 mile distance I will run this year.

after some highs, some lows and some meh’s in this training cycle, it was time to show this run who was boss.

With temps reaching fireball status, RP and I got up waaaaaaaaay too early for a Sunday and were pounding the pavement pre-6am.

Brentwood, Santa Monica, Pacific Palisades, Venice, Marina del Rey, Playa del Rey, El Segundo and picking it up for the last few miles into Manhattan Beach, we cruised through 20 miles with relative ease.

20 miles. 2:52.

Running Redemption.

The only battle wounds we felt from this run were the rose-bush that attacked me from the left it and the 2 inch spider and it’s web that RP cruised right through pre-dawn. nasty.  Otherwise, our minds were calm, our bodies relaxed.

If this is any indication of my training, I’m ready for Chicago.  I’ve doubted myself along the way and given myself the latitude to be flexible with myself as I’ve adjusted to a new job, major life changes and a whole lot else going on.  Clearly though, when I focus, I am capable and I am stronger than I think.

3 weeks until Chicago.  It’s taper time.  Time to rest, recover, run easy, stretch, fuel, hydrate, sleep and mentally focus and show Chicago who’s Boss.

Will you be there?

{MF Dre}

Roasted Fig and Coconut Breakfast Qunioa

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So I wasn’t really so sure about this one.  Pretty much not at all sure.  The only time I’ve ever ordered Quinoa (keen-wah) off a menu was by accident on a date when I wasn’t really paying attention. I ordered some roasted  vegetable bowl that I presumed was over rice. Wrong.  I didn’t know what I was eating, it felt waaay healthy and I wondered if my date was secretly judging me from across the table as one of those girls as he dominated a bacon burger and fries.  That date turned out well – the one and done kind.  and I’ve never ordered a roasted vegetable bowl again.

  A few weeks ago I was at Costco and this 5 lb bag of Quinoa was staring me in the face saying buy me buy me buy me.   Didn’t help that the Saturday Samplers kept trying to shove those paper cups in my face to try this miraculous Gluten-Free Superfood. 

Weird people.

On a Saturday.

At Costco.

Seems completely and totally wrong.  How many Costcos – outside of LA – are hawking Quinoa? None.

But they suckered me in like the hopeful promise of a good date back in my single days used to do.  And I went out on a liiiiiitle – ok 5lb limb.

What is it about Costco that makes you feel like you really neeeeeed something Duggar family-sized (for 2 people).  Duggar Size Quinoa.  They sold me.  Now I have to figure out what we’re going to do with it.

{The Mr. looked at me and told me it was a me problem, not a we problem}

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Does this look like a me problem???

Quinoa

Surprise fact:  it’s not a grain, its a seed from the Spinach family.

aaaaanyway

Because I am currently obsessed with the freshest figs ever this season, I did a little kitchen experiment.

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{and I think I have eaten it for breakfast and dinner every night this week}

Don’t judge the dinner thing.  Breakfast for dinner every night is ok. By the time I’m done working each day it feels like 24 hours have passed – I’m calling breakfast again totally fair game.

and anyway, it’s ridiculous.

Roasted Fig & Coconut Breakfast Quinoa

serves 4

1 cup dry quinoa, rinsed

1 1/2 cup almond milk + more for drizzling

3 tablespoons flaked coconut, + 1 teaspoon to taste

1 tablespoon coconut oil

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

pinch of salt

6 figs, quartered

Olive Oil

1 tablespoon honey

Brown Sugar to taste

Combine quinoa, almond milk, coconut oil, coconut, salt and vanilla in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and let cook for 15 minutes until quinoa is light and fluffy.

Preheat oven to 400*.  Rinse and cut fresh figs into quarters and place cut size up in a small pan.  Drizzle with olive oil and honey and place in oven for 15-20 minutes until soft and starting to caramelize.

Divide quinoa into four bowls then cover with figs, and a few extra drizzles of coconut and almond milk.

Note: you can certainly sub almond milk for regular milk, soymilk or coconut milk.  I happen to only stock Trader Joes Almond Milk in our house.
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Oatmeal Lovers.  I think it is time you meet Quinoa. and Figs. and Coconut.

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Quinoa, we’ve reconnected.  And I still have 4.8lbs of you left.  Where will we go next? Suggestions?

{MF Dre}