Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Apple smoothie and a 4 mile run

Creative title, I know.

This morning I tried an "Apple Pie Smoothie" based on a recipe I stumbled upon over on the blog How Sweet it Is.  When I came across it online, it sounded really delicious!  And I did like the taste, but I think if I made this again, I would make a couple changes.

First, I would peel the apple (maybe that's obvious to others, but it didn't occur to me when I made this while half asleep this morning).  It blended well, but there was still some chewiness that was clearly the peel.

Second: My microwave is older, so I needed to microwave the apples for more like 90-100 seconds instead of the recommended 60.  The apples were nice and soft, however they were also hot!  Next time I'd heat the apples ahead of time and then chill or freeze so I wasn't starting with a warm smoothie.

I did make a couple modifications to the recipe; I added some frozen banana (largely to cool it down), I added a little bit of some local wildflower honey, and a little extra milk (also to cool it down).

In searching for Apple Pie smoothies, I came across another recipe, "Apple Pie in the Sky," here, involving applesauce, and a whole bunch of ingredients that would not be as readily available as those in the first recipe I linked to.

Some other Apple smoothies [that I have not tried yet]:
-Apple Pie Smoothie (Apple Pumpkin Banana) from allrecipes
-Apple Pie Smoothie (involves Coconut Oil? I don't have that on hand) from The Creative Pot
-Apple Pie Smoothie II from Smoothie Web

Have you made an apple smoothie before?
Do you have any other "fall" smoothie suggestions?

In fitness news, I went for a comfortable-paced 4.35 mile run after work today.  Nice and comfortable (yeah, I know I just said that word twice) in the low 70s with no direct sun as I didn't head out until 5:45.  A little buggy though, as it has rained for the last 2 days... I found a gnat in my hairline when I got home, and I pulled a gnat out of my eye!  Ew.  It's only my third run since the half marathon, but I'm enjoying not being on a 'training plan' at the moment.  No pressure to run a certain distance or at a certain pace!

I wore my Lululemon black circle mesh Cool Racerback and my new Lululemon Coal/Citron Fast shorts (I previously wrote about my black Fast shorts here).  I'm glad I bought a second pair of these shorts!


Observation: My new sneakers are only a month old and they are no longer that crisp white!  
I guess I have put 72 miles on them already (that's crazy!)

Have a good night!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Tone It Up

I don't remember how I first came across Tone It Up a couple months ago, but their website is a great (free) resource!  I have previously referenced their coffee ice cube suggestion.  But they have made several short videos (less than 5 minutes) demonstrating exercises to target different regions.  You can check out all their videos here.

Here are some of my favorites:

They have just released their own DVD, Tone It Up's One Day Fat Blast.  It's going to be available through their site for $19.99 + s/h for a total of $24.98 for customers in the US.  According to their site, somehow shipping to Canada brings the grand total to $43.98??  Hopefully not.

Anyway, you can also get it on Amazon, for only $17.99 + shipping (or add more to your order and get Free Super Saver Shipping on orders over $25).

According to their emails, the DVD will feature two 30-minute workouts.  I'm thinking of getting it through Amazon to have on hand for days that I don't run, especially in the winter.

I have used the short videos on their website many times, but I think having a 30 minute routine playing on the TV will help me to more (instead of looking up say 2 or 3 of their videos and doing those moves for only 5-10 minutes).

Are you familiar with Tone It Up?
What exercise videos/DVDs do you use at home?  
(I have a Denise Austin Pilates DVD that I used during undergrad... haven't used it much recently though)

Friday, September 24, 2010

Half Marathon Recovery

Woo hoo!  A couple days after the half marathon, they posted pictures.  They even have video footage of you as you approach and cross the finish line - crazy!  (Available for purchase, of course).  Here's a pic from somewhere along the course, can't figure out when it was taken:

I'm still riding the recovery wave following my 13.1 miles last Sunday.  My quads and the muscles around my knee were a little tight/sore for a day or two after.  I took a break from wearing heels to work.  Wednesday, the soreness was mostly gone.  Thursday morning I went for an easy 1.6 mile run before work on a nearby path (flat surface, dirt).  I felt really good after!  And now on Friday night, as I write this, my leg muscles are feeling completely back to normal.  I didn't take any pain medication/anti-inflammatory.

Aside from Thursday morning, my physical activity over the past 5 days has consisted of walking the dog.  My plan is to go for a bike ride Saturday, and I'll start up with the running again sometime after that.  I don't have any specific goal in mind to train for right now, I just plan to resume running about 3x/week and to enjoy some fall bike rides.  I was up to running around 20-25 miles per week at the peak of my half-marathon training.  I don't necessarily plan to maintain that level but I will probably strive for about 15 miles per week (maybe a 7-8 mile long run on the weekend, an easy 3 mile run and a 4-5 mile tempo run or some kind of speed work during the week).

I'm actually really looking forward to some cooler weather for outdoor exercise.  Here's an article from Runner's World on fall running and what your runs should look like in the fall based on your summer running accomplishments/fall running goals.

Some Tips on Half Marathon Recovery from a few sites:
Some sources say you should do an ice bath; I couldn't convince myself to get into a cold bath tub.  Some say you should get a gentle massage (sounds awesome...actually it's been a really long time since I've treated myself to a massage, probably over 2 years.  Maybe it's time!)  I have read some things that say to take a day off for every mile you raced (!) but there is no way I can be sedentary for nearly 2 weeks.  I think it's most important to just listen to your body.  If you're still sore --> rest.  If you feel comfortable starting up again, go for it, but take it easy for your first couple runs.

And here are a couple of pictures from Competitor's website from last Sunday:

Tons of people waiting at the Start Line
 View of the Finish Line from the Art Museum Steps, looking toward City Hall

What does your post-race recovery/rest routine look like?
What are your fall running or fitness goals?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Fall/Winter Running Jackets

It's still balls-hot here in NJ, as we are expecting temps in the upper 80s temps today and tomorrow.  However, I thought that maybe I had a glimpse of fall last week so I started thinking of fall running.  It's been getting into the 60s and maybe even the upper 50s at night, so it's time to start planning my fall running gear. 

I have a Columbia rain jacket from about 7 years ago that I realized this summer is no longer very good at repelling water.  I ran in that a little last fall on rainy days, and it was doing its job at the time.  Not such a good option any more, so I am in the market for a new water-repellent jacket for running, rainy dog walking, and maybe even some camping if we get our act together before it gets too cold.

Here are some jackets I am considering:

Brooks Infiniti Jacket 
I kinda like it in this shade, Winter Plum.
Check it out [here].

Picture from RoadRunner Sports

What I like:
-Wind and water proof w/DWR
-360 reflectivity
-Cozy cuff w/thumbhole
-Internal Moisture proof media pocket (good for mp3 player or small camera)
-side pockets

-No hood (does it matter?)

Columbia Pave the Way Jacket
I'm leaning towards black.
You can find it [here].

  Picture from                                 

What I like about the Pave the Way jacket:
-waterproof-breathable (so it shouldn't matter that there is no venting, I think)
-fully seam-sealed
-zip-closed security pocket on lower back (click on link above to see back view)
-reflective detailing
-waterproof pockets
-drawcord adjustable bottom hem
-high stand-up collar
-side pockets

-Only color options are black and lemongrass.  Lemongrass, while highly visible, might be bright for my tastes and less versatile?
-No thumbholes. I don't know that they're necessary though.
-No hood, not sure if I care yet though

Columbia Turn n' Go Softshell
check it out [here]
Columbia has it available in Corange, Mud (below), and Black; Altrec has it in Black, Mud, and Greenscape (dark ivy green).  I must say, I do like earthtones!
Picture of Turn n' Go Softshell in Mud, from
What I like:
-internal media pocket with way to thread headphones through inside of jacket
-"reflective details" (though I'm not sure where besides on back pocket, maybe arm logo)
-zip-closed security pocket on back right (I like this!)
-chest pocket and side pockets
-pocket security tab for keys
-"advanced repellency technology" to protect you from water and dirt
-Wind resistant
-no hood
-is it reflective enough? (Does it matter since I have a clip-on light?)
Columbia Trail Twist Jacket
Available in several colors: Corange/Grill, Tidewater/Deep Teal and below in Black Cherry/Grill and Black.

Photos of Trail Twist Jacket from

What I like:
-front and sleeve panels are wind-and water resistant
-back is "advanced evaporation technology"
-front pockets w/key tab inside
-stand up collar

-no reflective detail?
-no hood, thumbholes
-not entirely waterproof 

Lululemon Inspire Jacket
Available in black, senorita pink, and lolo purple.  Leaning toward black for versatility.  This is the only real-life picture in black that I've come across so far.

L: Picture from Lulu website; R: Picture from Lululemon Dallas Galleria Facebook page

What I like:
-Protection from light wind and rain
-Perforation at underarm and collar for air flow
-Stowable hood
-Thumbholes & cuffins for warmth (no need to run with gloves)
-My FAVORITE feature: a watch window, so I can see my GPS watch without pushing my sleeve up, and without needing to wear my watch on TOP of the jacket sleeve
-side pockets, zip pocket at back left
-internal music pocket, and place for headphones wire
-360 reflectivity

- Price.  Is it really worth $158 when there are other jackets out there?

Final Thoughts.

Important features to me:
  •  Reflectivity is great since daylight hours are rapidly disappearing. I do have a clip-on blinking light though.
  • Water/wind-resistance because fall can be wet and cold.  And it's not going to stop me from running.
  • A Pocket somewhere on the jacket.  Preferably the zipping kind so things don't fall out. 
Nice features:
  • Stand up collars are great for keeping your neck warm, plus you have the ability to unzip as you warm up.
  • Comfort cuffs are nice; snugger fabric around the jacket's arm opening keeps the wind from getting up there. 
  • Fitted. I don't like lots of baggy clothing for running.  All of the above options seem to have a somewhat shaped or active fit. 
Not sure if I need them:
  • Thumbholes/Cuffins are great for running without gloves, but I own thin SmartWool running gloves.
  • Internal media pocket is nice to have, but in a downpour, I will not likely be running with music.
  • Hood is nice, but depends on my visibility with the hood up.  Do I have any peripheral vision left?  Does the fabric make a loud noise whenever I turn my head?  I have moisture wicking baseball caps and a Lululemon Brisk headback to keep my ears warm.
  • Any additional warmth/thickness.  I am planning to use the jacket as a layering piece, so I can adjust what I wear underneath according to the weather.  Anything from the Lululemon Swiftly Tech L/S to something a little warmer like the Lululemon Run:Energy Pullover or Brisk Pullover (running luon) or my heavier Marmot Powerstretch half-zip fleece (All of these items have thumbholes, actually...)
 - - -

I think the Trail Twist is at the bottom of my list of the jackets I summarized in this post because it doesn't seem as well-equipped for a soggy run.  I really like the Brooks Infiniti Jacket and the Columbia Pave the Way Jacket.  The Columbia Turn n' Go Softshell isn't bad.  I like many features on the Lululemon Inspire Jacket.  But $158 is a lot!! 
The Brooks Infiniti Jacket I can get through RoadRunner Sports (I'm a VIP) for $100 $90 + an additional 10% through Friday evening (special promotion due to a website glitch the other day?)  That brings it down to $81.  I can also get 5% cashback if I launch my order through Ebates (that's $4.05 back to me in about a month or so).

The Columbia Pave the Way would be $140 + free shipping at Columbia (Free Greater Rewards program gets you free shipping), + $7 cashback through Ebates.  Which is actually not that much less than the Lulu Inspire Jacket.  The Turn n' Go would be $68 with $3.40 cash back.  Lululemon gives you nothing.  That jacket will be $158. period.  

To get free shipping and 10% off all orders at Road Runner Sports-- online and in-store-- for one year (at a cost of $1.99), click here.

To join Ebates, for occasional coupons + cash back, click here.
Currently you can get:
-5% cash back on orders from,,
-4% at
-3% at

When shopping, I always make sure to check and see what kind of cashback percentage is available through Bank of America's Add It Up program.  If I use my BOA debit or credit card that is linked to this program, there are a number of stores that give you cash back.  You can look at discounts by store, or search for a specific item.  I.e. If I search for the Brooks Infiniti Jacket, I see it is available for $100 through +13% cash back, or through +10% cashback and free shipping.

Not sure what I want to do.

What do you like to wear for cool/wet fall and winter running?  Any experience with these jackets, or are there other great jackets out there I'm overlooking (I'm sure there are!)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Two down.

Well, I finished my second half marathon this morning!

Finisher's Medal

Sadly, but not unexpectedly, it was not faster than my first.
I'm still awaiting my chip time, I think it was approximately 2:30 or maybe just under.

I woke up around 5:45, when it was still dark out, got ready, made myself almond butter and raspberry preserves on a slice of wheat bread, grabbed a banana, and met my friend outside of my place at 6:15 to carpool in to Philly.  We got there a little after 7, found parking pretty easily in a garage with a flat rate of $11 (not bad considering the rates of some of the lots!) about .6 miles from the start line.  I ate my little breakfast in the car on the way there because I don't think my body knew I was hungry yet at the crack of dawn.

I was excited to see (and be able to identify) long distance runner (and last year's winner of this race) Ryan Hall warming up with the other professional runners on my way to my corral.  As there were over 18,600 people registered, the race had a wave start.  The fast people  (you know, like sub-5 minute pace!!) went first at 8, then every minute and a half or so, another wave of people was released based on estimated finish time.  My corral crossed the start line at about 8:21 or 8:22.  This made the road much less crowded for everyone at the start (I didn't even have to walk at the beginning), and as we had D-tag timing chips on our shoes, our individual time did not begin until we crossed the mats at the start line.

I had fantastic splits for the first half of the Half (10:40, 10:33, 10:31, even a little 9:36, though that might be where my GPS got off a little because we went through a tunnel and I briefly lost GPS reception).  Then beginning with mile 5 it was more like 11:02, 11:19, 10:56, 11:18, 11:26, 11:23... and the last 3 were even slower with a couple short walk breaks sprinkled in, mostly by the water stops.

Here's where the course took me

My initial goal when I signed up back in May or early June had been to finish around 2:16 (10:25 pace), shaving about 5 minutes off my April half marathon (10:46 pace).  Runner's World Smart Coach came up with that goal for me based on my previous half marathon time, weekly mileage at that point, and training moderately hard.  However, as our summer continued to be brutally hot, I continued to log the miles suggested in my training plan but not necessarily at the right pace.  My speedwork sessions definitely suffered in June and July, and I rarely had a run outside with temperatures below 80 and/or humidity below 60% until only a couple weeks ago.

Once I realized I was never going to get in all that speedwork, I decided I would just try to beat my April time, which was still kind of ambitious.  In April it was just 50 degrees, and cloudy.  Today it was 64 at the start line and had crept up to about 73 by the time I finished, and was sunny.  I was so thankful for the shady stretches!  When we turned the corner around some tall buildings downtown, we got some shade, and along the east side of the river there was a nice shady section.

I enjoyed running past the Franklin Institute, City Hall, The Liberty Bell, the Art Museum, then along the Schuykill River past all the boat houses, then finishing back at the Art Museum (The famous "Rocky" steps).  There were sooo many supporters lining the streets, as well as occasional bands (as it was part of the Rock n' Roll series) and it was a lot of fun!

Phila City Hall (Pic from August visit)

Art Museum Steps (Also from August visit)

 Photo from [this blog] of Boathouse row
(We ran on the road behind the boathouses--into the distance in the picture, 
crossed the river about 3.5 miles down, and came back on the other side of the river)

After finishing, there were tons of snacks being given out: water, Cytomax, little bags of pretzels, (I missed the mini bagels), mini Lara Bars, Dole Fruit cups and "Real Fruit Bites," and bananas.  I grabbed some stuff, met up with my friend who also ran today (who had hoped to improve from April's 2:08 to 2:00 but finished around 2:26) in the "Family Meeting Area" and we headed back to my car.  We dropped our goods off at the car, grabbed swung by a nearby Starbucks (mmm, Venti nonfat Starbucks Double Shot!), and made our way back home.

Back at home with my medal!
(No, I did not run in flip flops)

According to my Garmin FR 405, based on my age/weight/activity class/heart rate, I burned 1534 calories.  
I think I deserve ice cream tonight!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Ready to Rock n' Roll!

Went to the Expo to pick up my race number, chip, and goodie bag this morning.

All kinds of goodies in the bag/given out: Sport Wash, Clif bar (Chocolate Mint), Lara bar (Carrot Cake and Coconut Cream Pie), Oikos Greek yogurt, Cytomax sports drink, Gu Chomps, some Dole fruit chunks (mango), Cascade Farm granola, an ING stress ball, coupons for the Sports Authority, Cascade Farms, Oikos, and more.

I sampled Tribe Origins tomato & veggie hummus, Nutrilite Grape sports drink, some pretzel-white chocolate? Nutrilite protein bar, Orange Cytomax sports drink, Strawberry Gu Chomps (pretty similar to my Strawberry Clif Shot Bloks).  Also sampled chocolate Muscle Milk.

Lots of technical clothing available for purchase; I resisted temptation.

I checked out the iFitness marathon belt (I saw the single pouch for $24; now that I have seen their website, I like their mini pouch which is only $20) which is very similar to a Spibelt (basic one for $20). (I don't have either).  It's something I've considered though, instead of trying to cram things into my tiny shorts pocket.  Does anyone have one of these?  Thoughts??  I'm told they don't ride up if you wear it low and tight.  Maybe I'll get one and try it out before my next race, whenever that will be.

I also checked out some water bottles with handles/pockets which I was very tempted by.  On my long runs, I just carry a biking water bottle... but I love the idea of a handle and zip pocket.  There were some by Nathan - the "Quickdraw Plus" a 22 ounce bottle with zip pocket that came in cute colors like pink and purple.  And a tiny "Sprint" a 10 ounce bottle with hand strap but no pocket.  I wonder if there are straps/pockets you can slip on a bottle without having to buy a bottle too... I don't need to drop $20 on a new water bottle.

The race shirt is a technical shirt by Brooks and oh my gosh, it actually fits!  First race tee that doesn't hit at my knees.



I'm mostly ready for tomorrow!  Here's my stuff:

Clockwise starting with the shoes:
Saucony ProGrid Omni 9, Feetures Light socks - no show with tab, Columbia Omni-Shade Eddyline baseball cap, Lululemon Women's Baseball Cap, Lululemon I Just Wanna Run tech SL, Lululemon Run: Fast Short, Moving Comfort Juno bra  (see, I haven't decided if I'm wearing a hat and/or sunglasses...and which hat).

In the middle is a pack of Strawberry Clif Shot Bloks and Espresso Love Gu.  I decided not to bring my own water bottle, so I will pop a shot blok or some gu as I see a water station come into view.

And I just realized I did not include my precious Garmin 405 watch and heart rate monitor in this photo (the watch is charging as I type this).

And last but not least, in the Competitor magazine I picked up at the expo, note that Amy Palmiero-Winters is wearing black Lululemon Speed Shorts on the cover...

and Lululemon reflective citron ombre stripe/coal Speed shorts for the picture inside the magazine:

That's all - wish me luck tomorrow morning!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Lululemon Hat in Runner's World

Just wanted to share that I spotted a Lululemon baseball cap in my October 2010 issue of Runner's World magazine, to which I subscribe.

Here is the online version of the "article," scroll down to the bottom:

I have a similar hat that I bought back in June, in coal, but without the zipper.

It's pretty cute and fits much better than the running bonnet (which was so big it fit over the tops of my ears).  It's adjustable in the back, and the ruching is cute.  The reflective logo is nice.  I found that I wore this hat for sun protection in the pool/at the beach this summer too.

It's a nice hat, though for runs on really hot days, I prefer my Columbia Omni-shade Eddyline baseball cap with mesh inserts on the sides for ventilation.  I bought it last October and have gotten a lot of use out of it.  I wore it for my first half marathon this past April.

I'm still trying to decide if I'll wear a hat or not for my half marathon this Sunday, because I seem to like to worry about little things like this leading up to a big run.  It's between a hat and sunglasses.  I have worn sunglasses for 99% of my runs this summer because it's been sunny and hot all summer; I probably add a hat about half the time.  It's nice to not have any sun in your eyes.  Overnight low is supposed to be 60, high of 80 on Sunday, with "increasing clouds."  Race starts at 8am, though with 18,000+ registered (!!!), they are doing a wave start, so I'm guessing I'll actually start somewhere around 8:30 as I am no speed demon.  I'll figure it out tomorrow!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

New Delicious Coconut Water

Newest awesome discovery:

 Coconut Water a la Goya.

Back of the can.
And I drank it down so fast, I didn't remember to get a full-glass shot.  
But here is a photo to show you the (surprise!) chunks of actual coconut in the beverage.

Anyway, this was fantastic and reminded me of my coconut drink experience at the Vietnamese restaurant in Philadelphia back in August (read about that at the bottom of this post).

And here is a lesson about why you should read labels at the store.
I loooved the above coconut water, so I went back to Wegmans and picked up 3 more.  Why not, at only .99/can!?  And I poured it into a glass:

 No coconut chunks!

It turns out there are 2 versions of Goya coconut water.  Note the little "un-sweetened" graphic on the lower left of the can.


It's 120 calories vs. 80 calories.
I'm gonna say it's worth the extra 40 calories though.  I like it enough to drink it not just after workouts.

Checking out the nutrition info:
The first has 80% young coconut water; the second has 98% young coconut water.  Water is the second ingredient for both.  The sweetened one then has sugar and young coconut pulp, followed by citric acid (which is also the next ingredient in the unsweetened version).  Both ingredient lists end with potassium as a preservative.

The Sweetened version has slightly more calcium and iron + 1g fiber, but also 2g more sugar and 1g more fat.  Sweetened version has only 130mg sodium; Unsweetened has 180mg (high compared to other brands).

Moral of the story: Look closely!

The un-sweetened version is comparable in taste to some of the other brands, but maybe not my top choice (I'd rank it below Vita Coco; on par with the Naked and O.N.E; above new-Zico).  Not bad, but it was a let down when I was expecting the sweeter version with coconut pulp.

I will be sure to pick up more of the sweetened variety!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

I love avocados. and peanut butter.

Tonight I made guacamole, sort of.  I love avocados, and we had a ripe one.  So I cut it up, added some tomatoes from our garden, plus some crushed red pepper (from dried cayenne peppers also from our garden!), lime juice, pepper, and a little garlic salt.

I saved a couple slices for some salmon burgers we are having for dinner tomorrow night, but it was about 2/3 of an avocado + a small "big boy" tomato, part of a roma and a couple cherry tomatoes.  Because we had tons of tomatoes to use.  Here's the most recent harvest from our garden (Monday 9/7):

My version of guacamole is much healthier, I'm sure, than the version I grew up with.  I'm pretty sure the kind made by my parents involved mayonnaise and/or sour cream?  Anyway, we didn't have tortilla chips (I like the whole grain kind) so we ate this with Triscuits.

I also love peanut butter.
Or, really any nut butter.

As if peanut butter weren't delicious enough on its own, I came across some natural peanut butter with maple syrup at the store earlier this week, by Peanut Butter & Co. I tried some on a graham cracker today and it was fantastic (how could it not be?)

The label suggests trying it on waffles... hmmm.
You can read more about Mighty Maple peanut butter here.

In other peanut butter news, back in January while in Vermont skiing, I came across Vermont Peanut Butter Company brand of peanut butter/almond butter.  They have 8 different varieties you can check out.  It is really good but also kinda expensive.  It was definitely worth trying, and I'm happy to support smaller businesses, but at $8-9/jar (+shipping if I were to order it online before we are in Vermont again), I can find cheaper alternatives - like the Peanut Butter & Co. brand above ($4) at my local Wegmans, or Trader Joe's Almond Butter (crunchy, unsalted) is around $5/jar.  Back in January, I didn't realize there were much cheaper alternatives.

I ordered three kinds to try.  Here are the two I have left: Good Karma (Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter) and Stowe Cinnamon Raisin.  The third kind I had (which is long gone) was Green Mountain Goodness (peanut & almond butter with pumpkin and flaxseed).

 What's your favorite brand/variety of peanut/almond/other nut butter?
Any favorite avocado uses/recipes??
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