Friends, Food, and a Flat Course = Perfect Weekend!

Posted November 4th, 2010 by Caroline and filed in Uncategorized
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10 Comments

This past weekend, I traveled to New Orleans, LA to meet up with one of my best friends from college, Dain. This trip was long overdue since we hadn’t seen each other in over 3.5 years! Since neither one of us had ever been to New Orleans and Dain’s sister Marta recently moved there for Graduate School, it seemed like the perfect meeting place (she’s in San Diego). I really had no idea what to expect from the city and am happy to report that it didn’t disappoint at all. In fact, it might have just been the perfect weekend getaway. Let’s recap some of the highlights shall we?

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The first day we were there, Dain and I decided to explore Magazine Street. This street is full of cute little boutiques, art stores, vintage stores, restaurants etc. It was an absolutely gorgeous day, and we had nothing on the agenda except exploring on foot. After visiting a few shops and actually finding some awesome Christmas presents for people as well as a few trinkets for myself  Winking smile, we asked for recommendations for lunch from one of the store owners. She recommended the restaurant next door which happened to be Baru, a Latin/Caribbean style tapas restaurant.

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Since we were on vacation, we went for it and ordered drinks, appetizer and an entrée. The drinks, although non-alcoholic, sounded too tempting to pass up. We both ordered the special of the day which was a Caribbean style iced tea called Guarapo made with ginger, pineapple juice and I think lime? I can’t remember the exact details but it was heavenly. The picture actually does do it justice.

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Dain and I are pretty in sync with most things and both had the same idea for a split appetizer. The Guacabello caught both our attention with it’s simple description: avocado, grilled portabello, lime and olive oil.

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We were literally both speechless when we bit into these crispy corn chips topped with the most flavorful of combinations. Seriously, the waitress came over to check on us at that moment and we both were just in shock at how delicious this dish was. We asked for the recipe and it seemed to be as simple as the description above. Definitely going to have to try and recreate it.

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As if we weren’t satisfied enough with our drinks and tapas plate, lunch came out and blew our socks off. Dain ordered the Fish Tacos which were served on a bed of coconut rice.

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As I mentioned, she’s from San Diego and knows her Fish Tacos. She raved about these.

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I could have easily ordered the same thing and been happy but since I was fueling for a half marathon the next day, I knew my body needed some simple carbs and a sandwich sounded perfect.

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Of course this wasn’t just any sandwich, this was a Cubano Pulled Pork Sandwich served with sweet pickles, fried plantains, and black bean/corn salad. I ate the entire plate and felt so satisfied afterwards. The bread on this was absolute perfection; crispy on the outside and soft and warm on the inside. I am salivating as I recap this.

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Since I had good lighting at the restaurant and had just purchased a little sweet treat for later on, Dain humored me and let me set up a little photo shoot.

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Great subject matter. Purchased from the store below.

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The next morning I awoke around 5:30 in order to get myself fueled up and ready for the Jazz Half Marathon in Downtown New Orleans.

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Dain had purchased some necessities the day before and was nice enough to share some bread and almond butter with me. This wasn’t just any old bread and almond butter though, it was Udi’s Gluten Free bread and Justin’s Maple Almond Butter (which makes it extra special that she shared Smile).

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I toasted the bread and smeared it with the almond butter and added a super ripe banana to create the perfect pre-race breakfast!

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I absolutely adored this combination. The bread reminded me of Pepperidge Farm white bread (in a good way), so soft for a gluten free bread.

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The Half Marathon started at 7:00 which was quite early for us on vacation. Marta and Dain were such awesome sports, they drove me to the start line and then found their way to the half way mark to cheer me on. I arrived at the start about 45 minutes prior to go time. This was perfect. I was able to use the bathrooms, stretch, and line up without being stressed at all. I was actually super excited as shown in this picture taken just before the start!

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As I was waiting for the gun to go off I talked to a few people and discussed the course. They talked about how flat it was (which I knew but I don’t think I fully realized what this meant until after the race was done) and how it should be nothing for me if I am used to training with hills. This put the idea in my head that I might just be able to P.R. even though I ran a full marathon 2 weeks ago. So I set off with the idea that I would push myself if my body was feeling good. Miles began to pass by and there were no weird calf pains, hip twinges, knee aches or sore ankles to speak of. I was feeling great! Around mile 6.5 I took my Chocolate Gu that I scored from the Baystate Marathon. It went down really easy (tasted just like chocolate frosting) and left me feeling fast! Shortly after I saw Dain and Marta!  My fellow runners were clearly not as excited as I was.

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After passing them, I realized that they were in a point where I would see them again in about 2 miles which was awesome because I knew by that point I might really need a cheer or two. The course took us through a golf course and a park which were both beautiful. So far so good. Then before I knew it I was at mile 9 and still maintaining a really strong pace. Dain caught this picture of me taking off after saying “hi” to them again. I was putting my headphones back in. I love how the light is and the fact that I am almost air bound.

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The last few miles flew by and I continued to feel awesome right up until the last stretch. For some reason my lungs started to feel tight on the last .2 of the race. If I am going to have a problem though it might as well be with the finish line in sight! I only wish I could have sprinted a bit harder at the end but I am absolutely overjoyed by my overall time and splits!

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Here’s :the splits:

Mile 1: 8:43 < Starting out nice and slow…

Mile 2: 8:33

Mile 3: 8:13

Mile 4: 8:25

Mile 5: 8:27

Mile 6: 8:30 < Gu is going in…

Mile 7: 8:18 < Gu taking effect!

Mile 8: 8:22

Mile 9: 8:08 < Seeing Dain and Marta for the second time!

Mile 10: 8:13

Mile 11: 8:12 < Realizing that I am only 2 miles away and that I feel great!

Mile 12: 8:21

Mile 13: 7:52 < Where’s the finish line!?

Last .1: 8:46 pace < Lungs are tight but I am done!

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This was by far the best I have felt finishing any race, ever. I knew that I didn’t hold anything back and I had a new P.R. under my belt. My net time ended up being 1:50:51!!! I realize that it might be hard to beat this because of the course I ran this time on but I am fully willing to travel back to NOLA next year Winking smile.

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After the race, I drank the remaining two bottles from my fuel belt and some additional water. I wasn’t hungry until we found ourselves sitting down at the famous Café Du Monde.

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I had heard from everyone who knew anything about New Orleans that I HAD to try the Beignets which are French Doughnuts. I figured what better time than after my 1/2 marathon? The menu was literally just Beignets and a few drinks.

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Little known fact about me: I have a huge weakness for fried food and in particular donuts.

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I ordered a large iced Café Au Lait to wash down the sugary, fatty goodness and was in absolute heaven.

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Every bite was sinfully delicious. My runners high complimented my sugar high quite nicely as well.

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Post race fuel? Worked for me.

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Dain enjoyed the beignets too but probably not as much as I did, I kept talking about going back the rest of the weekend! Smile

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After the beignets we walked around a bit and some random offered to take a picture of us. People were really nice in this city.

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After our walk we went back to Marta’s house and I finished up some stretching, took a shower and made more food of course! In order to fuel me through the cooking process I ate this bar which is almost always appealing to me.

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Dain and I had picked up some goodies at Whole Foods the day before and I couldn’t wait to begin preparing the meal we had planned on. First up, I prepared the asparagus with Olive Oil and Salt and Pepper and roasted them for about 30 minutes at 375 degrees. I am not 100% sure on how long they actually were in there but just keep checking until they are still firm but good and cooked.

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Then I chopped up a block of Extra FIrm Organic Tofu and cooked it on the stove top with a bit of cooking spray and salt and pepper.

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Meanwhile Dain chopped tomatoes, avocado, hearts of palm, butter lettuce and goat cheese.

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When all was said and done, we had the PERFECT salad loaded with nutrients and flavor. As a dressing I just mixed balsamic and olive oil with a little mustard and drizzled it over the top.

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Not that Beignets are bad post race fuel, but my body was looking for something real and nutritious and this hit the spot!

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After lunch, the transformation into our Halloween costumes began. Dain was Snooki from the Jersey Shore so lots and lots of sunless tanner and even body paint were applied to get her that “golden brown, fake tan glow”. I was a “Cougar” which didn’t take as much preparation but it was still involved with fake nails, blown out hair, and lots of make up! Here’s a little taste of our night.

Getting ready…

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Riding the street car into town for the Halloween Parade and Snooki looking lost…

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Frozen Daiquiri’s everywhere you look!

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NOLA is crazy, you can drink on the street?!

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And tons of little “hole in the wall” stores to pop in and refill your glass. I actually only had 2 drinks that night (we split the Daiquiri and I drank half a beer after that). You don’t have to drink to enjoy NOLA!

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My lame attempt at the Thriller Dance in one of the clubs. Note to self, Thriller is supposed to be scary, don’t smile!

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A shot of Bourbon Street (no pun intended).

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The next day was our last in the city so we had a few things on the list to still check off. First off we went on a swamp tour.

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Where we saw some Gators!

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We also hadn’t eaten any typical New Orleans food yet so we went out to The Gumbo Pot and ordered what else? Gumbo!

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I loved it and could have eaten another bowl. Shrimp, rice, tomato base, okra. Yum.

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I had to save room for the main course which was split with Dain. This was a combo platter which included Jambalaya, Shrimp Etouffee, and some kind of Cajun Shrimp dish.

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YUM! I loved everything about this. Not too spicy and really thick with tomato taste.

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After our meal we walked through the French Market and checked off another item on our last day list.

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Eat a snowball! Most of the places were shut down due to the fact that this tasty treat is seasonal. We were happy to find one open and I loved every artificial moment of this little gem. It reminded me of a slush puppy but better because the ice is shaved finer.

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Sadly the trip did come to an end but I am already thinking about when I can go back since I feel like there is so much more to do in this city! Thank you Dain and Marta for an awesome weekend!

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BayState Marathon Recap!

Posted October 18th, 2010 by Caroline and filed in Uncategorized
Tags: ,
18 Comments

Yesterday, I ran the BayState Marathon. Here’s my recap of the day and part of the day after. I’ll warn you now, it’s a Marathon long post. ;)

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Sunday morning the alarm went off at 5:00 a.m. I learned at my 1/2 Marathon in East Hampton three  weeks ago that getting up early and eating a full two hours before the race was ideal. We had to drive about 30 minutes north of the city to Lowell and wanted to arrive around 6:30 a.m. to avoid any traffic, parking issues or un-necessary stress! This careful planning and the fact that my cousin Meg offered to be my “support crew” for the day meant that the morning went very smoothly. Breakfast was the classic English Muffin with Almond Butter and Banana. I wrapped it up in tinfoil and ate in the car (pitch dark!) around 5:45 a.m.

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Alongside my English Muffin, I drank a lot of water and about 7 ounces of black tea.

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As I said everything went perfect with the drive there (no traffic) and we found the parking garage with no problem. It was a bit chilly but I knew that it was going to warm up as the day progressed. We made our way to the Tsongas Arena where all the racers were lounging, using the bathrooms and stretching.

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I really appreciated being there so early. This picture was taken around 6:15, a full 1 hour and 45 minutes before race time! I used the bathroom probably 4 times, had time to stretch everything thoroughly and around 7:15 I began chomping on these.

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This was my first time eating these (I know, not the smartest) but I couldn’t find sport beans at the store I was at and figured these couldn’t be much different. They were super chewy but pretty tasty and seemed to give me some good energy just before the start.

At this point, we realized that if Meg was going to see my at the three mile mark (the best place for spectators to stand since we loop back there twice) she better get moving (she was running there with her backpack which held my extra clothes, what a champ!) So she wished me luck and set out on her 3 mile run to the bridge. Before she left she snapped one more “pre-race” shot. Standing straight up and smiling!

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Before I knew it they were moving us out of the warm arena into the cold October air and getting us to line up! I was chilly but not too bad, I actually ran the 1/4 mile to the start to keep warm and jumped around in place before the gun went off. I placed myself behind the 3:50 pacer thinking I might be able to keep up but I didn’t want to see them pass me. Once the gun went off I felt great. I didn’t have the nervous anxiety that I normally have at the beginning of a race and everything felt good! I cruised along for the first mile at a 9:23 pace and felt good with that because my pattern is to go out way to fast and this was perfect.

Around mile 1.5 I noticed a sharp pain in my left calf muscle. I immediately stopped to stretch it out a bit and then continued running. The pain actually seemed to get worse and felt like there was a golf ball lodged inside my calf muscle. I ended up stopping two more times to try and stretch/massage it a bit but each time nothing seemed to help. This was a really tough thing to be up against so early on in the race especially since I have never experienced this pain before. I was used to my hip hurting, or my knees getting wonky later on, or my ankle which I sprained last year feeling a little sore, but my calf? No way, my calves are always fine. So I made a decision at this point that since it wasn’t a pain that felt like I was doing damage to my body that I would run through and see how it continued to feel.

By this point I was getting excited and focusing on seeing Meg at the 3 mile mark. It was awesome to have her yell my name and start running alongside me with the camera. I didn’t hear her at first but she managed to get a good action shot!

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From here we made a 10 mile loop which ended up feeling O.K. despite the leg pain. I tried to focus on other things like the people around me and making sure that I wasn’t favoring my right leg at all which would of course contribute to poor alignment. I had a Strawberry Banana GU packet at mile 6 and 12 and grabbed some water at the water stop to wash it down. I hit the 13.1 point at about 1:58 which was nerve racking because I had the goal of beating 4 hours in my mind and I knew that it was going to be close. Meg was there on the bridge again and got one of me looking quite happy. I am telling you knowing that she was going to be there at that point was so motivating, I definitely sped up my pace on the bridge before and after seeing her.

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This next half was definitely the hardest. Of course this is to be expected, you’ve already run this far and you have to do it all over again? I think it was especially hard for me because this course was another loop which is not my preferred style of long-distance running. I much prefer and out and back or one big loop but I suppose there were some benefits. I knew what to expect. I attempted to have my 3rd fuel packet at mile 18 but this one didn’t go down as well. I bought two vanilla flavored PowerBar gels and after one slurp I realized it was going to make me vomit and I quickly got rid of it. I was bummed that I hadn’t taken the free GU packet at this point but I also had a suspicion that anything at this point would make me want to vomit. So I continued to drink my watered down Pure Fitness that I had in my Fuel Belt and grabbed some full strength Gatorade at the next couple stops. Despite the lack of fuel, things progressed well and I managed to maintain a 9:09 or better pace (average) all the way until around mile 21. After that things began to slow down for me. I saw my sub 4:00 hour marathon slipping away and had to give myself some major pep talks to keep going and relax because I was beginning to get discouraged. I kept telling myself that I had trained so hard for this and I was still going to finish faster than my previous time. So because I am goal oriented, I readjusted and said to myself, “I want to beat 4:10”.

What made things harder was my Garmin was off by about .25 miles so every time it beeped saying I had completed another mile it was wrong and I still had more to go! Tough. But not enough to stop me. Around mile 23-25 I was dying inside. Seriously, I felt like I had nothing to give and I just kept visualizing a field of grass and lying down and crying. I tried to keep myself from getting to emotional because I knew I would just fall apart. I told myself that you can cry all you want when you finish, just finish. I actually walked through the last water station which felt good, my calf was pretty numb by this point but it made it feel a little better to not be running. However, I quickly realized that walking was not going to get me to the finish line any faster so I picked it up again. My pace during these miles was around a 10:15. Finally I started to see people and what looked like the finish line, however, it was further than I thought. Basically we had to run into this arena and I saw Meg and thought that it was the finish line. Sadly I had to now run around the track to the finish line. Oh my god, who would have thought a track could feel that long!

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Finally I came to the Finish line and looked up and saw the time 4:11 something and I knew that I had done it since I started 1.5 minutes behind the gun.

Here are my splits according to the Garmin which says I ran 26.50 (which would be a new PDR but I think it must have been off)

Mile 1: 9:23

Mile 2: 9:01

Mile 3: 9:10

Mile 4: 9:13

Mile 5: 8:44

Mile 6: 8:57

Mile 7: 9:17

Mile 8: 9:10

Mile 9: 9:00

Mile 10: 9:14

Mile 11: 9:07

Mile 12: 9:01

Mile 13: 8:55 < sped up due to Meg!

Mile 14: 8:58

Mile 15: 9:35

Mile 16: 9:34

Mile 17: 9:28

Mile 18: 9:18

Mile 19: 9:22

Mile 20: 9:16

Mile 21: 9:25

Mile 22: 9:52 < the WALL has been hit!

Mile 23: 9:59

Mile 24: 10:59 < ready to die, and wanting to stop.

Mile 25: 10:46

Mile 26: 10:14 < maybe there is an end in sight?

Last .2: 9:33 <which ended up being my overall average time!

So my official net time for the Marathon was 4:09:49 with an average pace of 9:33.

I was SOOO happy to be done and literally collapsed onto the ground. Meg was kind enough to hike up the stadium stairs to where they had the food for the runners (cruel joke to make people climb stairs after a marathon?) but I wasn’t hungry at all, and in fact felt nauseous.

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I tried a few bites of what I thought was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Turned out to be just jelly and it turned out to make my stomach turn.

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I wish I had been able to eat more at this point as I know it is a crucial time to get food in and start repairing your muscles but everything just looked unappetizing. Plus, nothing they had on offer had any protein in it anyway (except chili and chicken noodle soup, both which disgusted me at the time!).

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I did manage to drink 3 bottles of water and eat this banana along with one bag of Cape Cod Potato Chips on the way back home.

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Did I mention how gorgeous the weather was?! This was the perfect day for a race in my opinion, sunny but not too hot (60 degrees) and no wind. I also have to thank my cousin Meg again for all her support. She was awesome and I could not have done it with out her!

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The ride back to Boston was what I had been fantasizing during the last part of the race. I kept thinking if I can just make it I can recline and have the heat on and just relax for the drive home. It was everything I imagined and more. Once home, I iced, showered and got into the coziest clothes possible. We ordered Thai Food and just as I started to get really hungry it arrived.

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Brown Sugar is my favorite! We ordered Vegetarian Pad Thai (which is loaded with fun veggies like Cauliflower and Zucchini not to mention Pineapple!) and an order of Chicken Pad See Yew. We also sprung for the Vegetarian Thai Rolls.

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Consumed with a bottle of Low Calorie Gatorade while watching Hulu and sitting on the couch. Best post race meal ever!

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After that I was pretty spent and ended up doing a bit more stretching and icing and then got into bed and fell asleep around 10. This morning I woke up feeling sore but not awful. The best news was I had scheduled a massage that I bought with a Groupon for this morning knowing I would be totally wrecked and needing some TLC. This was my first ever full body massage and I was so impressed. She listened to what my needs were and took it easy on tender spots but dug in where I could handle the deeper pressure.

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After the massage I ran walked a few errands and ended up getting some food at Trader Joe’s on Boylston. I ate this bar and an apple around 11:30. I had a bowl of cereal for breakfast this morning but my stomach is still a bit off. The bar tasted great though.

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I could have taken the T back home but it was so nice out, and my legs felt pretty good considering, so I decided to walk the mile or so back home and get the blood flowing a bit. So with my newly purchased Trader Joe’s cooler bag,

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I took the scenic route home.

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If you asked me yesterday if I would be walking around the city today I would have just laughed in your face. Just goes to show you what a good night of sleep, some advil, a massage and plenty of fluids will do for you!

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Now I am not ready to sign up for another Marathon just yet but I am excited for the one I mean TWO half Marathon’s I have coming up in the next few weeks! :)

Prepping for the Big Day!

Posted October 15th, 2010 by Caroline and filed in Breakfast, Dinner, Lunch
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5 Comments

With the Marathon only 3 days away, I thought it might be interesting to share how I have been preparing this week. Of course my real preparation began 16 weeks ago when I started my training plan, but what you do or don’t do the week before a marathon is very important to the outcome. For my first marathon in 2008, I didn’t really pay attention to my eating habits the week before and probably didn’t hydrate properly. I still had a respectable time of 4:22 but since I have my eye on an sub 4 hour finish time, I trying to do everything right! To start off, my breakfasts this week have been quite complex but nothing out of the ordinary for me.

A classic green monster to help me hydrate and ensure that I am getting a serving of fruits and vegetables first thing in the morning.

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Alongside the shake, I have been eating one TJ’s Whole Wheat Cinnamon Raisin British Muffin with a laughing cow wedge (Swiss Flavor) and a healthy scoop of my Mom’s Homemade Apple Butter.

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This meal, while similar to what I have eaten in the past, is larger than what I have been eating recently. However, it is still a reasonable sized breakfast that contains plenty of healthy carbs both from the bread and the fruit, some protein and a little bit of fat.

According to “Nancy Clark’s Food Guide for Marathoners’”, one needs to be careful that they are not fat loading during the week because fatty foods will simply fill the stomach and the fat cells but leave the muscles less fueled.

With this in mind, my lunches for the week have looked similar to this one.

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Whole Wheat When Pigs Fly Bread, Tuna made with Hummus and BBQ sauce instead of mayo, spinach, Blue Terra Potato chips, pickle and ketchup for dipping.

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The tuna with hummus and BBQ was inspired by Anna from Blue Plate Special. I read about this awhile ago and have made it a few times with excellent success. This meal provided plenty of carbs (bread, potato) but also gave me some low fat protein which is what I was craving.

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I washed it all down with a large glass of iced Good Earth Tea. One of the best ideas I have had in awhile. I love this tea hot but iced it’s even better! In between meals I have been keeping busy with my normal routine of yoga, homework, errands and two short runs. Here’s the stats from my last ever training run for this marathon. The cool thing about this was that I didn’t feel like I was running that fast but when I saw my average pace I realized that I was cruising! I guess all the training and the few speed work runs I did have paid off!

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On my errands around town, I have been trying to remain comfortable and opted for these the other day when I saw the sun shining.

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Even though it may look a little summery outside, it is in fact the middle of October and I quickly realized that my Ugg boots would have made a better choice!

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One of my errands this week took me about 30 miles out of the city to pick up my race packet. I didn’t do this the last time I ran a marathon, but since I had the time I figured it would be helpful to not have to worry about getting my number the morning of. On the way there I ate one of these:

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And hydrated with some of this:

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Getting all your gear ready for the big day is essential. Buying a new outfit to wear is not necessary but it helps get you excited! Lululemon was running a promotion where they offered 20% off of running gear for Baystate runners. So, I decided to pick up a few things which include a new running skirt! I understand it’s a bit risky to run in something brand new but I am planning to walk/run a tiny bit today just to feel it out an I have a feeling that it’s going to be fine.

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Dinners this week have been heavier on the carbs than on anything else but again nothing too drastic. I basically went to Trader Joe’s at the beginning of the week and looked around for all my favorite carby options that I usually don’t indulge in. My go-to snack this week has been Trader Joe’s Spicy Black Bean Dip, Trader Joe’s Smooth and Creamy Hummus and Trader Joe’s Whole Wheat Pretzels.

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One of my dinners that I put together on the fly at work was a bag of Asparagus Risotto and two Apple Walnut Chicken Sausages.

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I had intended to only eat half which is the portion above, but I was still so hungry so I ended up getting out the Tupperware with the rest and polishing it off!

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Dessert is the piece that has looked the most different this week. I have been trying to limit the sugar intake and instead eat an apple for dessert. Yea, it’s not the most exciting but it will work for the short term.

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There has also been plenty of down-time this week where I have been stretching, icing, foam rolling, tiger-tailing you name it. The weather has been beautiful as well so the other day I took advantage of the sunshine and took my studying outdoors. I made myself a cup of Starbucks Via Coffee to help me focus.

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This was probably my favorite afternoon of the week! You would never know that I am looking out onto a very busy road. At least I had my headphones and Pandora to drown out the traffic.

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So now I am down to the last day and a half before the Marathon. At this point I am going to continue to rest, stretch, hydrate and fuel.

The book says that due to your increased carb consumption and decreased exercise output “You may have gained about two or three pounds which reflects water weight. For every ounce of carbohydrate stored in your body (i.e. glycogen) you store about three ounces of water. You can tell if your muscles are well saturated with carbohydrates if the scale has gone up two or three pounds.”

I am happy to report the scale is reflecting this gain for me and I am feeling confident my muscles are well prepped, the training has been done, my mind is ready, all that’s left to do is RUN!

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*Update: I have decided to wear my tried and true Nike Running shorts for this race. I have put too much into this to have my race attire make a difference in my time so I am going with what I know. I do love the skirt though and plan to wear it after the marathon in prep for my 1/2 Mary in NOLA!

The Final Push

Posted September 24th, 2010 by Caroline and filed in Breakfast, Dinner
Tags: , ,
9 Comments

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After 13 weeks of training, I finished my final long run yesterday! Since the end of June I have logged approximately 403 miles running, including five 20+ milers. Looking back at this “Run Less, Run Faster” training schedule versus the beginner Hal Higdon program that I followed for my first marathon, I notice that I am able to run longer distances at a faster pace and with a quicker recovery time. I didn’t do as many speed work runs as the program prescribed but I did make sure that each run was executed with purpose and wasn’t just to “log the miles”. I also only ran about 2-3 times a week during this program where in the past I ran about 5 days a week. I think this has helped heal my hip and keep running exciting for me. With the Marathon three weeks away I wanted to give this last 20 miler all I had and finish strong.

Breakfast was the typical pre-run meal: Whole Wheat toast with nut butter (Justin’s Dark Chocolate) and a sliced up banana on top. I also grabbed a handful of grapes to round out my plate.

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Perfect pre- run fuel. Carbs, Fats, Fruit and some Potassium which is surely going to be depleted on this run! IMG_2087

I did some stuff around the apartment while digesting and gearing up. After packing up my fuel belt with some cash, Crystal Light Fitness Water (no HFCS or Aspartame! It’s sweetened with Stevia), two Gu packets, and camera I hit the road. In retrospect I probably should have started this whole process earlier in the day since it was actually pretty warm for the first day of fall. Either way, it was cooler than some of the long runs I had taken on this summer so I was able to handle it. All of my long runs with the exception of those run outside of the city, have taken place along the Charles. This is my favorite route and it seems to never get old for me. From my place to the river is just about 1 mile.

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My secret for tackling long runs on my own (which is the only way I do them) is breaking the run into manageable distances. For a 20 miler I say that I have to run 10 miles out and 10 miles back. Today I was looking to do 21 so I said to myself I was going to run 7, then 7 and then 7 one more time. I also tend to look at my Garmin around 5 k, 10 k, etc. to see if my pace is on with what I am looking for. Today my aim was to keep my over all time under 9:30 min/miles. So, once I hit the river I literally cruised along my favorite terrain at a pretty good pace.

I passed Harvard,

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Ran under the creepy bridge,

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Over the rickety boardwalk by the pretty lily pads.

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Passed the Northeastern Boat House,

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and the Cambridge Community Gardens.

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And the next thing I knew I was past the 10 k mark!

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Around mile 7 I decided to fuel up with a berry Gu. I figured I would have one at 7 and then one at 15 and that should be enough to carry me through the end. I felt great after this packet and continued running through Watertown Square.

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At this point I entered the reservation area in Watertown and Waltham which I love. It’s basically like running through the woods but on pavement or nice boardwalks such as this one.

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The Gu helped me enormously and it felt like my legs were re-energized. I hit just over 9 miles in Newton and refilled my water bottles which were now out of Fitness Water. One of my biggest hurdles for long runs is not drinking too much. Once I start, I can’t stop! I try to limit myself to small  sips but sometimes I just need to gulp it down. It tastes so good but I pay for it with cramping later. Today I was able to keep it in check and hydrate responsibly. :)

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In Newton the river turns into this little stream which runs through the middle of a neighborhood, it’s pretty cute and I wouldn’t mind living around here if I had the money!

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I left the neighborhood and re-entered the reservation again. At this point I felt pretty awesome because I was on the home stretch meaning I had gone out as far as I was going and now just had to run back! This bridge is pretty cool looking but beware, it doesn’t go anywhere! I tried on one of my earlier long runs but was disappointed when I just had to turn right back around. Oh well, it’s still fun to run across a bridge.

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Around mile 11 I hit up my favorite convenience store for some sweet sweet nectar, AKA Gatorade!

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I don’t think I ever would have stepped foot in this place otherwise but on a run when you start hallucinating about brightly colored, electrolyte enhanced beverages, you go where you gotta go.

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Typically I go with the lemon lime flavor but I was feeling adventurous and picked up the low calorie Strawberry Kiwi. It was alright, but certainly no lemon lime. Do you find that only certain flavors work for you on runs?

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After refilling my bottles for the third time, I kept on trucking. I took the route on the other side of the river back which I don’t always do because sometimes it’s nice to a straight out and back run; you know what’s ahead of you that way. Today though I was up for the challenge and wanted new territory. I had to take a picture of this sign since it just shows you how far away I am from my place, Boston isn’t even on the sign!

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More trail running.

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And another Gu.This one was consumed outside the boat house in Cambridge at around mile 15. I was definitely hurting at this point, more so than I thought I would be and I was looking for a miracle with this little pouch since I still had 6 more miles!

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After sucking it down, I filled up my bottles again. Yes, this is the fourth fill up which means I will have consumed 128 ounces of water over the course of my run, too much?

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I tried to rally myself together at this point and take it one mile at a time. My joints were just starting to ache and I was mentally exhausted but somehow I pushed on past Harvard again…

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And finally got to Boston!

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Typically I end my run right at my place but I was unsure of exactly how long I would go today so that didn’t happen. I ended up finishing “running” at 20 miles. I was going to push it a bit further but I didn’t have it in me and realized it would be stupid to injure myself now! So after 3 hours and 7 minutes I hit stop on my Garmin and looked at my final long run distance.

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I then started walking because I still had just over a mile to get HOME! I re-started the Garmin to see what my final distance and time would end up being. Then I hit the stairs. Ugh. I wanted to cry.

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On the other side I was taking my time coming down and a police officer noticed me and said “Hey didn’t I see you like an hour ago?”. I said “um yea more like 3 hours ago.” We talked about how far I had just run and he told me I was his hero. Kind of put a smile on my face even though I was hurting! I then realized that this mile was going to take a lot longer if I walked it than if I jogged a little so I started to pick it up just a bit and was so glad when I finally hit my street again and saw this.

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Not bad with some walking at the end! My last sip of water before reaching my apartment. All 128 ounces down the hatch!

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Coming home to my foam roller was like heaven. I rolled and rolled and finally made myself get in the shower and dress for work. Oh god, I have to go to work right now? Yikes. A quick Green Monster smoothie was the only thing I was craving.

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In the mix: 1 cup of Kale, 1/2 cup of frozen mixed berries, 1 banana (yup it’s  2 banana kind of day) and 8 ounces of Chocolate Soy Milk.

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Forget Gatorade, this is it!

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Lucky for me, it was pizza night at the house so I didn’t have to think about anything. I ate 4 of these in about 20 minutes.

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And then made a salad with sweet pickles, tomato, and light creamy parmesan ranch dressing from TJ’s. I ate half of it before I got back to my desk to photograph it.

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And then someone answered my prayers and presented me with a ooey-gooey congo bar fresh from the oven. Yup, I can die happy now. I ate the first one which was a good 3 inch square so fast I didn’t have time to take a picture and then went back for a little nibble just to so I could show you what it looked like. :)

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At this point I was pretty full and even though I was still at about a 1200 calorie deficit I just wasn’t that hungry anymore. However, around 10 when I was settling in for bed, my hunger came back. I knew just the thing.

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Yup, chips and hummus. In bed. Watching the Biggest Loser. Don’t judge.

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A very “productive” day…

Posted August 31st, 2010 by Caroline and filed in Breakfast, Caroline Dines Locally, Dinner, Lunch, Snacks
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9 Comments

Last night, when I realized that we would officially be entering into a heat wave, (the forecast was calling for a record breaking 97 degrees) I devised a plan to escape the urban heat and still have a “productive” day. Since my summer classes officially ended, a “productive” day for me has meant exercise of some sort, reading for pleasure, and an errand or two. Of course my work day begins at 4:30 but up until that time I have been trying to fit in as many relaxing activities as I can since summer won’t last forever and my classes will start up again before I know it…

So, my alarm went off at 6:00 a.m., and by 6:04 I was out of bed. This is quite early for me but I knew that in order to completely avoid any traffic, I needed to get an early start.

Getting out of bed this early was made easier by the promise of a delicious breakfast that I had planned out the night before.

I toasted 2 English crumpets…and added a bit of butter to the tops…

Then sliced up a perfectly ripe peach and microwaved a TJ’s Mango Chicken Sausage (these are my favorite!). To wash it all down I had a frosty glass of Mango Iced Tea.  Absolutely delicious!

I was in the car by 6:30 and made great time thanks to my planning ahead. Check out the traffic going towards the city…good thing I am always doing the “reverse commute” :)

I made it to my “beat the heat” destination in great time (a little before 8:00 a.m.). Where did I decide to go? Well, with lots of fabulous water opportunities nearby it’s hard to pick but I had a bonus waiting for me in Little Compton R.I., my Grandmother! We spoke the night before and I realized that it would be the perfect day to go for a couple reasons:

1.) It’s going to be about 10-20 degrees hotter in the city than in Little C, so while still hot it’s will be a bit cooler and with the beach right there I can get some relief! 

2.) She was free!

3.) I was scheduled to do a 10 mile run and am always looking to change up my route.

Arriving earlier was also beneficial for my run because it was only about 80 at this point. Still hot for 8 a.m. though !!! I made sure to load up my fuel belt with cold H2O before leaving.

Setting out on this run, I felt pretty exhausted. My legs felt like bricks, my feet were sore (I need new running shoes again!) and I was psyching myself out about the heat and the distance I had planned. However, after the first mile which was a 8:56, I had a mental and physical switch. I am not entirely sure what triggered it but I started picking up the pace and it felt great. I think it may have had something to do with the new scenery, good music and the fact that my lungs felt strong. I guess all my marathon training is paying off!

I had planned a big loop but soon realized that I was feeling an “out and back” situation instead and so adjusted mid run. Around mile 2, I encountered a tiny turtle trying to cross the road. I almost stepped on him and was so thankful that I didn’t. I stopped for a second to help him find safety so that he did get squished in the road.  He was too cute not to take a picture of so I quickly squatted down to get his best angle. ;)

After the turtle I just focused on keeping my legs moving as quickly as possible and was so surprised every mile that passed by with minimal effort. I don’t think I have ever run this kind of distance at this kind of speed and it gave me hope for my future goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon.

Here’s how my splits ended up:

Mile 1: 8:56

Mile 2: 8:39

Mile 3: 8:39

Mile 4: 8:33

Mile 5: 8:15 < cruising!!!

Mile 6: 8:43

Mile 7: 8:23

Mile 8: 8:47

Mile 9: 8:35

Mile 10: 8:31

At the halfway point I came to literally the end of the road, Sakonnet Point. I debated running my way out on the rocks to the real end of the road but quickly thought better once I realized my ankle might not make it!

I stopped for a brief minute to drink a sip or two of water and enjoy the view.

Then I set out again to finish this run up. I was so happy when I finally made it home and looked down at my Garmin to see these figures. My goal had been 1:30 for 10 miles and I beat it by 5 whole minutes!!!

Happy/Sweaty Face!

I showered briefly before throwing on my suit and grabbing my gear for the beach. Nana and I took a swim right off when we arrived and then many more! It was soo hot but the water was super refreshing at 69 degrees.

Having checked off one item on my “productivity” list, I started in on another: reading! I am loving this book that I borrowed from my other Grandmother and am trying to finish it before visiting her this coming weekend.

For lunch I had packed up some Hickory Smoked Blue Fish that I bought at the South End Open Market this past Sunday. I threw in some spinach, Grillo’s Pickled Tomato and Relish, a bit of feta, some TJ’s Light Parmesan Ranch dressing, and a few AkMak crackers on the side.

The highlight was a tie between the smoked fish and the Grillo’s Tomato. Just look at all that fresh dill on top!

The fish and the creamy dressing were the perfect compliment to each other as well. Nothing better than eating locally caught fish while staring out at the bright blue ocean. The Grillo’s Relish was hard to beat too, it was dill flavored and so fresh and crunchy; like adding vegetables to the salad with some extra salt. Lucky for me I needed the salt since my run was super hot and quite long.

I also could handle a few extra calories today so I was pleased when my grandmother brought out not 1 but 2 soft and chewy, oatmeal raisin cookies! These totally hit my sweet tooth after all that vinegar and dill. I am definitely a good mix of my parents, my Dad can’t get enough of salty things and my Mom would eat dessert after breakfast if it was socially accepted. :)

After lunch, more swimming and reading commenced. I also may have managed a few zzzzz’s in there (waking up at 6 and running my little heart out takes it out of me!) I woke up,  broke for a little snack before heading home. This was my second peach of the day, which I am not complaining about at all, just check out the juice factor on this guy!

It was so hard to pack up and go but I knew I had to leave more time to get home since traffic would be piling up by the afternoon. I took an ice cold shower and dressed for work. Then I hopped in my car and on my way out of town decided to check the last thing off my list: an errand. I needed some fresh produce so stopping in at Walker’s Roadside Stand was the perfect solution!

I picked out four ears of corn, four peaches, a box of crackers, a head of lettuce and some of these golden grape tomatoes. How enticing does this display look? It made me want to buy some mozzarella and call it a day.

While snapping this shot, I noticed something in the distance. Upon closer inspection it turned out to be just what I suspected…A Del’s Lemonade sign!

Now, at this point it’s 90 some degrees (still cooler than the city) and I’m working with a 900 calorie deficit for the day. A sweet, frosty, iced lemonade was just what the body ordered.

I did exercise a bit of restraint and ordered the small which ended up being smaller than I wanted but still made my mouth happy! This little guy was probably about 8 ounces. Soooo cool and refreshing….I am talking about the Del’s, not me with my wet hair and shades trying to look cool while taking a self portrait at a stop light. ;)

After a longer ride back (traffic!) I was horrified to see that the temperature had crept from 87 when I left Little Compton to an unbelievable high of 102 in Boston! Gotta love the city! :)

For dinner I threw together a quick salad using some more Mango Sausage, fresh lettuce, fresh tomatos, the last of my feta, more TJ’s parmesan ranch dressing, raisins, and sliced almonds. On the side I had the tastiest ear of corn I’ve had this summer.  Oh and I threw in a pickle for good measure to my salad. In case you’ve been counting I am up to 3 different Grillo’s Pickle products for the day. Too much sodium? Probably, but I like to think it’s ok because of the amount I sweat during my runs. I really crave it after hard work outs.

Fresh corn is the best.

Fresh and Balanced

Posted August 4th, 2010 by Caroline and filed in Breakfast, Caroline Dines In, Lunch
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9 Comments

Hello! It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged and it feels good to be back! I’ve been quite busy lately with my school work and weekend trips but I still find myself wanting to document some of my simple meals that have been satisfying my hunger lately. This morning, I decided to combine fruit and cottage cheese with a side of whole grain toast. While I love cottage cheese and of course I love all kinds of fresh fruit, I had never combined the two, but had seen others do it.  I used a nice juicy Cantaloupe for my bowl, which turned out delicious! Fruit and cheese go quite well together, and cottage cheese is kind of similar to yogurt, in that it’s very mild and not overpowering. This makes it a perfect vehicle for other foods.

Now, I am typically a Hood Low-Fat Cottage Cheese kind of girl, and have been this way ever since I got “burned” with a Trader Joe’s variety (who would have thought?!) and was similarly disappointed after trying Organic Valley’s Low Fat offering. With this said, I was in Whole Foods yesterday and decided to give this Organic line a shot. When it comes to milk products, I do believe that organic is better for you and ethically feels better as well.

Horizon’s product was very creamy (probably the 2%, where I am used to 1%) and had small curds which I prefer. While I don’t think it has won my heart, I may go back for more based on the fact that it is produced without any of the “bad” stuff. Along with my fruit and cheese combo, I had two slices of whole grain bread, which I also found at Whole Foods. I toasted it and topped each piece with just a smear of creamy Blue Diamond Almond Butter (I am still working my way through this stash that I won from Elana’s blog last year!).

The bread itself was a sweet treat since it contained Vermont Maple Syrup but still had very good nutritional stats per slice (70 calories, 0 fat, 2 fiber, 3 protein).

All together, this was a great way to start of my morning; fruit, protein and whole grain with lots of different tastes and textures to keep me interested! :)

After breakfast, I got busy with school work; you might remember I recently began a graduate program at Northeastern in Applied Nutrition. I am really into my classes right now which are Health Promotion and Disease Prevention as well as General Nutrition. For my Health Promotion class I am working with a group to implement a hypothetical program that would target high-school students. The program’s aim is two fold: to increase the students nutrition knowledge base as well swap out unhealthy foods from the “competitive food” selection (ala carte and vending machines) for healthy treats. Obviously this program is working to improve the health of adolescents (ages 12-19) which are right now a very unhealthy population with 16%  labeled as “overweight”. While this program is hypothetical, it’s exactly the type of work I want to do when I graduate from this program so it’s getting me very excited for the future and my career goals.

Lunch was spent in a nearby park in an effort to get some sunshine and get out of the apartment! I loaded up my turtle backpack chair with my massive Nutrition Text Book, water, a towel, and of course food! Here’s the spread:

Again, my goal was to be as balanced as possible. I believe I hit all the bases. Maybe not enough of all of them but what I have learned so far from my readings is that if you fall behind in a particular food group at one meal, you can make up for it later on in the day. I used to think that each meal needed to have each component but as long as you eat whatever it is that same day, your body will be able to use the nutrients properly and benefit. 

So, this lunch contained:

A few green trees! (or Broccoli as it is sometimes called)  

Food that tasted good. (AKA Multigrain FSTG chips)

Essential Amino Acid: Tryptophan! (about 2 ounces of left-over BBQ Turkey Tenderloin)

Fatty Fruit and Sweet Salsa (1/3 of an avocado and Whole Foods Fresh Mango Salsa)

All in all, it was a perfect meal to eat while learning about protein digestion. Is it weird that I like to eat while I read about what’s happening on the inside?

“Down the Cape”

Posted July 5th, 2010 by Caroline and filed in Breakfast, Caroline Dines Out, Dinner, Lunch, Snacks
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10 Comments

Since I have been living in Boston for the past 8 years, you would think that I would have visited Cape Cod more than once, in October, for a Marathon. The Cape is known for it’s gorgeous beaches, endless bike trails, unbeatable seafood, and laid back summer vibe, which you may have figured out are basically my idea of heaven! Since I normally spend my summer weekends in Maine or Rhode Island with family, I just haven’t gotten to “down the cape” and was so excited when friends of ours decided to rent a house in Eastham for the 4th weekend.

Our Cape adventure began bright and early on Saturday morning. We left Boston by 8:00 a.m.  and we’re lucky not to hit TOO much traffic at that time. Of course the Sagamore Bridge was backed up but other than that it was pretty smooth sailing. Once we arrived in Eastham, we met our group at Nauset Light Beach.

The weather was spectacular!

Perfect for “sacking out” on the beach allll dayyyy lonnnnng…..

Around 4:00 we decided to go check out our rental house. We were all quite impressed with the privacy that this place provided. A long driveway away from the road and no neighbors to hear or see. A real escape.

After unpacking our things, we showered up and hit the back porch for some beer and appetizers. It had been a long day in the sun and I had not taken very good care of my stomach (a banana and half a scone does not qualify as lunch!). I was starving and was so excited to see these Baked Tostitos and Salsa, nevermind the beer!

Ahhhhh….a cold beer after a hot day in the sun. Nothing better. Say what you want about Michelob Ultra not being real beer, but it’s just so darn refreshing! Especially with that added twist of Pomegranate and Raspberry ;) ! Of course, fruity beer isn’t for everyone…Cape Cod Growler anyone?

We ended up hanging out at the place until about 9:00 p.m. when we realized we hadn’t had dinner! Lucky for us there are no shortage of fabulous seafood restaurants in the area and that just happens to be what we were all craving. We cruised the strip and settled on Arnold’s Lobster and Clam Bar. I acted like I needed to peruse the menu when in reality I knew EXACTLY what I was going to be ordering.

Fried food is not normally on the top of my list for health reasons but there’s something about Fried Seafood that just can’t be beat. Fried clams are pretty much one of my favorite things to eat and if I am out at a place known for fried seafood, I am certainly not going to go with a house salad and grilled chicken!

Fried Native Clams doused in Malt Vinegar and eaten with a healthy side of Cole Slaw and Tartar Sauce. F.A.B.U.L.O.U.S.

Since I went for the “Roll” instead of the “Basket” I didn’t get any fries which was fine by me since I snagged some off of Darin’s Fish N Chips Platter.

He didn’t mind too much since his buddy (Thanks Anthony!) had just shown up with a round of Sam Summer Ale for the whole table :)

Cheers!!!

After dinner we hit the beach for a huge bonfire and to watch the moon rise over the ocean. This is one of those things that you just have to enjoy and not be worried about documenting with a camera. I can tell you I enjoyed it and left my camera in the car. Darin and I retired earlier than some since we were exhausted. Somehow I managed to wake up rather early and felt rather good for all the celebrating I had done the night before. I decided since I was in a new place that I would lace up my sneaks and hit the dusty trail.

I had in my mind that I wanted to go about 4-5 miles and that I wanted to get to some body of water. Our house was very close to the Cape Cod Rail Trail so I turned in the direction and set off to see what I could find. Here’s some scenes from along the way:

Getting my bearings.

The Bay Side.

Finally got to the beach!

My idea of heaven…

All alone.

While my run wasn’t the fastest I have ever done, I enjoyed the scenery and took it somewhat easy since it was an extra run in my schedule.

It felt so nice to have a solid run under my belt before breakfast. Speaking of breakfast, it was lovely and consisted of 3 strawberries and a slice of Starbucks Berry Coffee Cake (Reduced Fat) that was part of  HUGE donation to my house on Friday which I ended up packing up and bringing along for the group.

Moist and cakey! Not my typical breakfast but hey that’s what vacations are for, trying out new things!

After everyone was up we called in our lunch order to Sam’s Deli…

…and gathered our gear for the beach.

Calling ahead was a great idea. The place is quite popular and was swamped with people. We got in and out and on to the beach! My new beach chair backpack was perfect since we had a little walk to the beach from where we parked to get on the shuttle to take us to Coast Guard Beach. Darin said I looked like a turtle.

Although, I took that as a compliment :)

After a quick shuttle ride…

 we arrived at Coast Guard Beach!

It was crowded, and hot but I was happy to be there and ready for lunch. I ended up getting a Mediterranean Wrap from Sam’s which turned out pretty delicious albeit a little soggy. I enjoyed it with some ice cold water and a nice handful of what else, Cape Cod Potato Chips!

A thin lavash roll up with kalamata olives, feta cheese, roasted red peppers, lettuce, tomato and a vinagrette dressing.

The water was the only relief we got this day and at one point we brought our chairs down and sat in the ocean just to keep cool! I can’t imagine what it was like in Boston!

By the end of the day we were all feeling a little out of it. Pete’s get up pretty much sums it up!

We were ready for shade, water, and a good hearty dinner.  Before dinner I had some fresh mango…

and some of the best Guacamole I have ever eaten! Marlies makes a mean guac, I ate a ton of this stuff! I think it’s the cilantro that makes it so good. I never add it to mine because it’s rare that I have it on hand.

Dinner consisted of plenty of grilled meat (steak and sausages)…

and a delicious salad made with fresh mango, avocado, tomato and a miso dressing. It was exactly what I wanted, lots of veggies and some good old fashioned protein!

Alongside this summery meal, I drank an Original Sin cider. This happened to be the Pear variety which I had never tried before and quite liked! It had a very strong pear taste so if your not a fan this would not be a good choice. I love the apple variety of Original Sin and order it whenever I see it out. It’s such a light tasting cider which is hard to find.

And for dessert, Angela brought over a refreshing banana pudding! This guy had all the right stuff; Nilla wafers, banans, pudding, and cool whip!

After our individual portions, most of us went back in for more pudding with Nilla Wafers in hand. We realized that this would make a fun dip instead of serving it like a pie!

After dinner, a rousing game of Pictionary was played (love this game!) and people slowly dropped off one by one. In the morning, Darin and I packed up the car and got on the road for the long, sad trip back to Boston. We stopped for a breakfast wrap before leaving Eastham. Again, I don’t normally eat bacon, egg and cheese anything but this pita wrap was delicious and hit the spot!

I washed it down with a Cranberry Lemonade (bought with the Cranberry Bogs of Cape Cod in mind!)

Now I am back in Boston and it’s 90+ degrees. Luckily I only have 3 short days until I am out of here for another beach escape! Hope you all had a wonderful Fourth Of July Weekend!

Peanut Butter Banana Soft Serve!

Posted July 1st, 2010 by Caroline and filed in Caroline Dines In
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7 Comments

Oh hi there…long time no blog.

I had an experience the other night (and tonight!) with a mini Cuisinart and a frozen peanut butter filled banana.  After doing some thinking I realized it would be just wrong not to dedicate an entire post to this creation. It’s just too good not to share! I am sure that some of you hard core bloggers have tried it yourselves after reading all about ‘how it will change your life’ on Gena’s gorgeous blog, but I knew that for the small number of you who hadn’t heard what it’s all about I needed to put it out there.

So you might be wondering what I am talking about at this point? Well, let me tell you. It’s called Banana Soft Serve and Gena’s absolutely right when she says it WILL change your life. This is quite honestly the best thing I have eaten in a long time. Of course I have been eating some really great meals lately but nothing quite compares to the decadence of this creation. I don’t know if my favorite part is the creamy texture which mimics whole milk ice cream or the fact that I know in my brain I am eating something completely un-processed and totally nutritious! Either way, you’ve got to get this bowl in front of you as soon as possible.

And here’s how to do it:

Step 1:

Buy a bunch of very ripe (but not overly ripe) bananas. The key is you want them to be super ripe for sweetness but still firm enough to keep their shape when you slice them open.

bananas

(photo credit)

Step 2:

If you want to go pure then simply freeze the bananas on a baking sheet covered in tin foil (after you peel them). Or if your feeling a little adventurous/you love an excuse to use any type of nut butter, slice each banana the long way and spread the nut butter along one side of the banana. Then sandwich the two halves together. Lay all the bananas out on the cookie sheet and freeze for a good 4 hours. At this point you can put the bananas in a freezer bag to and store them in your freezer until you need a fix! I also decided to get the biggest bananas I could find, more bang for your buck! To get the full effect, a little comparison shot for you:

Step 3:

When the craving strikes for a smooth, cold, creamy, delicious treat run go to the freezer, pull out one of these guys

chunk it up, and throw it in the nearest food processor, blender or magic bullet (*EDIT*I have heard that blenders to work as well, you may be better off getting a Cuisinart, check out this mini one that I have and love!). I have only used my mini Cuisinart but plan on experimenting with my magic bullet. I don’t see why it wouldn’t work though. I hear that the Vita-Mix is the best way to do it…if you are lucky enough to own one! For now my mini Cuisinart is working just fine. :)

Step 4:

I found that I needed to pulse back and forth between the two modes for a good solid 2 minutes to get it to the best consistency. Don’t stop too soon thinking that it’s as creamy as it will get because you wont get the full effect. Keep it revving until you get something that looks like this:

Step 5:

Eat the entire bowl with the biggest smile on your face.  Seriously, have you ever in your wildest dreams imagined such a treat?! Feel free to top with whatever you want. I’ve tried homemade granola which was fantastic and have plans to do some type of chocolate sauce and strawberries…just think…Banana Split!

The money shot…

Oh, and a word to the wise, try not to cut your tounge on the sharp blades of the cuisinart as you are trying to lick up every last bit of this deliciousness. It happens though… :P

Breathe deep.

Posted June 21st, 2010 by Caroline and filed in Caroline Dines Out, Lunch
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ahhhhhh….I just returned from a much needed weekend “away”. I traveled north to the family Island in Friendship Maine  and was lucky enough to have nearly perfect summer weather (with the exception of one doozy of a thunder and lightning storm, didn’t last long though!). I didn’t take ANY food shots (not typical at all!) which wasn’t due to a lack of photogenic food but rather a need to truly enjoy my time and not focus on “blogging it”. Last summer I did a marathon posting on the Island so I’ll link back to some of those posts in case your interested in reading more.  This trip was very much a recreation of the last weekend (Labor Day 2009) I spent on the Island, even down to what I ate! I did take a few new beauty shots and will be highlighting one stellar summer cocktail that my Mom brought to share.

Since this past Sunday was Father’s Day, what better a way to start of the post than with a picture of my Dad! So glad that I got to spend the day with him and enjoyed some more FAST boat rides! One of these rides took us to Port Clyde where my Mom and I split a Fried Clam plate. Pretty much exactly this!

Since I can’t come to the Island without remembering my Grandfather, I made sure to pay a little visit to his grave site. Around every turn there is something that he built or that he loved which makes it hard to be there without him but also comforting to be there and feel his presence so strongly.

The Island is truly one of my favorite places on earth and breathing the air here soothes my soul. This weekend the air was a perfect mix of the Maine Balsam Fir trees…

…hot, summer-y, sun…

…and a good dose of salty seaweed! The best smell ever!

Something else that smelled delicious AND tasted good was my Mom’s special concoction that she read about in a magazine recently. It’s called Creme d’Mentia and you can read all about it here -  it’s supposed to ward of alzheimers, lower anxiety and lift your spirits! I can say that it certainly did the last two! ;)  

Recipe: Jim Duke’s Creme D’Mentia
  • Mix 1/2 pint of 80-proof vodka with 1/2 pint water.
  • Add 1/4 fresh lemon, 4 T. rosemary leaves, 6 T. lemon balm leaves, 4 T. peppermint leaves, and 2 T. sage leaves.
  • Add sugar to taste.
  • Steep for 3 days. Enjoy!

My Mom tells me it was much prettier on the first day but I still found it pretty intriguing looking at all these floating herbs admist the vodka.

We mixed ours with seltzer water (didn’t have tonic), a little sugar, and extra lemon wedges. I had two full glasses and enjoyed every last sip. You could really taste the fresh herbs which made it so delicious. I highly recommend “steeping” up a batch or two!

As sad as it was to leave this glorious place, I had to get back to work today. At least I was lucky enough to have my cousin Meg volunteer to pick me up from South Station! We drove a short distance to Flour Bakery (the Fort Point Location) and enjoyed a hearty lunch outside in the Boston heat. I wasn’t planning on taking pictures (even left my camera in the car) but when I realized how amazing this place was I ran back to the car and grabbed the camera so I could share this fabulous lunch with you all! Just look at the choices for sandwiches. Simple yet intriguing combinations. I had a really hard time making up my mind.

But in the end went for an old favorite: Fresh Mozzarella, Basil Pesto and Tomato on grilled bread. Flour uses Iggy’s Bread which is one of my favorite local brands. I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed but I didn’t know just how delicious this creation could be until I saw it.  I ask you two questions:  What’s not to love? and How could I not take a picture of this?

Simple perfection in my humble opinion. I ate the entire thing which left me pleasantly satisfied. I honestly think I may dream of this tonight…

Sugar Overload!

Posted June 7th, 2010 by Caroline and filed in Uncategorized
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Well it was bound to happen at somepoint. I had been doing so well with the whole “eating mindfully” thing and trying hard not to indulge in late night sweets at my job. Then, this past weekend, I went to Maine for my cousin’s graduation, and ended up going a wee bit crazy on the sweets! As you may remember my Mom’s family is pretty famous for their sweet tooth and they know how to do it when it comes to desserts! My aunt and uncle invited us all back to their house after the ceremony for dessert (lunch was provided by the school and was delicious!). In keeping with the Swedish tradition of serving 7 desserts, my aunt prepared all of my cousin’s favorites for us all to enjoy. I will admit it was very tough to walk into a room with a table full of beautiful homemade desserts and not go crazy. In hindsight I suppose I exercised some restraint and for that I am proud. However, far too much sugar was ingested which actually left me with a terrible “sugar hang-over” the next day. I considered not blogging this because it’s actually a little painful to look at the pictures after over-doing it so much.  Although I realized that these desserts were just too beautiful not to share and it is always good to be honest with yourself. Perhaps being open about my behavior will help stop me from repeating this display in the future!

So without further ado, I bring you the seven deadly sins… ;)

Homemade Blueberry Pop-Tarts

Mmmmhmmmm….they were as delicious as that sounds for any of you that are pop-tart fans from way back! I certainly am but never, ever eat them anymore because of all the awful ingredients (plus they don’t really get me going in the morning like a green monster does!).  I had heard a lot about these and was dying to try them. They were lightly iced and topped with rainbow sprinkles to add a little pop of color.

These were just too good to resist and I *think* I ended up having 3! The inside was filled with blueberry jam (a very fruity jam I might add not very sugary tasting) and while I hear they are unbelievable out of the oven (just like the toaster!) they were delicious room temperature as well.  It just may have been the sprinkles that threw me over the top, I have a serious love for sprinkles.

Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

I actually had a hand in this one so I couldn’t NOT try it right? My aunt Jane and I made two of these cakes the night before and were both worried about the end result since we had to bring them to the event without sampling. I have to say it couldn’t have come out any better!

The cake base came out perfectly and had a subtle flavor of buttermilk, while the pineapples and cherries on top were carmelized with brown sugar and butter. I added a dollop of homemade whipped cream and enjoyed every bite of this slice (and another!) thoroughly!

Ghiradelli Chocolate Chocolate Chip Muffins

Now, these were from a box but you couldn’t tell at all! They were so moist and flavorful I sampled 2 over the afternoon. Not my typical pick but they were quite appealing being mini and so tasty!

Toblerone Chocolates

Thankfully I had enough sense to realize that I could eat these any day and didn’t have one! I saved room for the homemade goodies. I did think it was a cute addition to the spread since the logo is a mountain and my cousin is taking a year off to hike the Appalachian Trail!

Ina Garten’s Lemon Loaf

I only had a half a slice of this even though I LOVE lemon flavored things. The icing was awesome and the loaf part super moist. If I hadn’t been so full from other goodies, I would have gladly eaten more!

Molasses Cookies

While these were the least decadent of the spread, they are one of my favorite cookies and I had two! My aunt Laurie did an awesome job of making them soft and chewy, just how I like them.

Sugar Cookie Fruit Pizzas

I split one of these and loved the “light” texture of the sugar cookie paired with the creamy  topping, it wasn’t overly sweet.

So if you were counting, I think we can all agree that there was quite a bit too much sugar taken in over the course of the afternoon. The good news is that I rebounded quite well and have been back on track ever since. The lesson learned? Moderation is key! Don’t over do it on anything (even delicious homemade desserts) or you will be sick and pay the price. Luckily I think it all balances out because for the past two days I have not even THOUGHT about sugar!

Just as one of my favorite Dave Matthews Band song says,

“sugar ain’t poison
but sugar will kill you
too much of a good thing
maybe not so sweet”