Archive | Marathon RSS feed for this section

Recipe testing, new yoga class and post-half-marathon high, OH MY!

27 Oct
I run for Animals!

PETA Pack for the win!

This past month has brought many highs amidst a devastating low. I completed my first half-marathon, despite my stupid knee acting up, and it was one of the greatest personal accomplishments EVER. I raised 750$ for PETA, and completed the race 30 minutes shy of my expected time! Not only was my experience with PETA Pack an incredible one, but the organization and efficiency of the Oasis Marathon organizers and volunteers made Race Day a very special, smooth and inclusive event for everyone. To all my friends and family: if anyone is interested in joining the team next year, please let me know! Let’s start training early, together, and run the race as a group!

As much as i enjoyed my pre-race training, i was happy and excited to return to my yoga practice. When i started training for the half-M, i vowed to continue practicing yoga on a daily basis. I failed. My practice dwindled to once a week (if i was lucky). It was gross. I was gross. My hips were tight, my shoulders were stiff, and i was kind of an emotional wreck. Adding to this was the fact that i was teaching 2 classes a week, which made me feel like a yogic hypocrite. As i entered Moksha yoga for my first class back in 3 months, a look of shame was clearly written all over my face. Even before we prepared for our first downward dog, i knew this class would be a disaster. A wonderful, eye-opening, sweaty disaster, but a disaster nonetheless. By the end of that class, i left the studio with shaking arms, a sore core and the biggest smile ever on my face. I had returned home. Just like returning home after an extended absence, the familiarity of the practice was there, but it was surrounded by change. I embraced the shaking of my legs in Warrior 2, I relished in the screaming of my hips during any and every forward bend we went into. There was so much stiffness in my body, so many points of tension. I felt like i was rediscovering yoga asana all over again. And it was awesome. Though i initially felt frustration at having let my practice slip during training, i have begun to discover that taking a step back, to then revisit my practice, has offered me a whole new journey of self-exploration.

Reuniting with my asana practice has been a welcome addition to my weekly schedule, as has the addition of a morning yoga class to my teaching schedule. Starting next week (November 2nd) I will be teaching a morning yoga class at FlowSpace, a wonderful space in the historic Union Francaise building. If you or anyone in your circle is interested in yoga before work, this class is for you. I’m hoping its proximity to the downtown core will attract 9-to-5ers, as us office workers can always benefit from the awesomeness of yoga! (I don’t know about you, but Computers give me Stiff Shoulders.) It’s better than coffee, i swear! For a look at my complete teaching schedule, please click on the option under the “About” header.

On the food front, I’ve signed on to test recipes for one of my favorite vegan cookbook authors, Terry Hope Romero. I’ll be posting lots of food pics once i start testing; I’m really looking forward to getting started!

To celebrate Halloween, i have tried incorporating pumpkin into soup and desserts. The soup (roasted pumpkin soup) was awesome, the dessert (pumpkin brownies) was a huge fail. I literally had to scrape the pumpkin layer off the brownie crust and throw it out, so as to salvage the brownie part. It was messy to make, messy to eat, and messy to dispose of. I should have known better than to try and change a good thing; brownies are the cat’s pajamas on their own, with no need for a layer of gelatinous pumpkin to dress them up.

The soup, however, was warming and spicy; perfect for crisp fall lunches.

Garlicky Pumpkin Soup

Ingredients:

Extra virgin olive oil

1 small pumpkin

1 full head of garlic (to ward off vampires, of course)

1 medium yellow onion

2 sweet potatoes

1 carrot

1 regular potato

1/2 cup red lentils

6 cups veggie broth

1 teaspoon curry powder

1 teaspoon of cayenne powder or crushed red chili flakes (optional)

1 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut the pumpkin in half through the middle and scoop out the seeds and stringy parts. You can keep the seeds for roasting if you’re into that. Cut the garlic in half through the middle, keeping the white outer layer on. Drizzle olive oil on inside of the pumpkin halves, rubbing it on the flesh. Rub olive oil on the exposed flesh of the garlic as well. Place the pumpkin halves side by side on a parchement-lined baking sheet, flesh side down, with the garlic halves under the pumpkin halves. Bake in the oven for 45-60 minutes, until tender. (WARNING: It’s going to smell soooo good.)

While the pumpkin is roasting, prep your other ingredients. Chop onion into little pieces. Peel sweet and regular potatoes, and chop into small pieces. Peel and chop carrot into small pieces.

Once pumpkin is ready, get out your favorite soup pot. Cover the bottom with a couple of swooshes of olive oil. Throw in the onion. Cook the onion on med-high heat for 5 minutes, until soft. While the onion is cooking, scoop out the flesh from the pumpkin, discarding the skin. Put in a bowl and reserve. In your soup pot, throw in the carrots and cook for a couple of minutes more. Throw in the potatoes, lentils and pumpkin. Take your sweet, delicious roasted garlic bulbs. Grab the bulb halves from the top and squeeze the bulbs out of their skin into the pot. Add all the spices and cover with broth. Turn the heat to med-low and let simmer, partially-covered, for at least 45 minutes. Once the potatoes are tender, you are ready to mash this soup into potage form. Take the cauldron off the heat and grab your handheld masher (electric or potato masher). Mash the soup until it reaches a creamy consistency, or leave it a little lumpy if that’s your thing.

Put pot back on heat, and heat soup on med-low heat for another 10 minutes. Remove from heat and enjoy!

You can sprinkle pumpkin seeds or walnuts on top before serving, it gives the soup a delicious crunch.

I wonder if our neighborhood will get many trick-or-treaters? I wonder if the trick-or-treaters will stage a mutiny against me if i give out vegan fruit chews or carrot sticks?

Advertisements

10 days and counting! I love apples.

14 Sep

The Montreal Oasis Marathon is only 10 days away and i am so pumped! As many of you know, i’m running with the PETA Pack to raise money for PETA’s Rescue and Investigations fund. In the past couple of weeks, my fundraising page has seen a flood of donation activity, which pleases me beyond words! I never dreamed i’d be able to raise 500$, and i’ve surpassed my goal with more donations waiting to be registered! The money you have all donated will go a long way in supporting PETA’s efforts to raise awareness, provide support and lead investigations. As Paul McCartney once said: “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be vegetarian”. If more people understood and knew what went on behind the scenes at circuses, in zoos, at slaughterhouses, in labs, they would be able to make informed choices when choosing what to eat, what to wear, where to seek out entertainment, and what products to buy. Unfortunately, ignorance is not bliss.

Things that ARE bliss:

1. “The Thrive Diet”, by Brendan Brazier. The sports gel recipes Mr. Brazier shares in this book are incredible. More effective than store-bought gels, and so much healthier!

2. My running shoes. My delightful boyf bought them for me as his own personal donation to my racing efforts, and boy do they make me run fast! I think it’s the flashy stripes on the sides…

3. Vegan Break‘s Peanut Butter Chocolate cupcakes. Go make these now. They are sinful. Or ask me to make them for you. I need an excuse to make them again because they are so good. (Christina Vani, for real, go make these now.)

4. Apples.

On the running front, i’ve come across a little speed bump (pun INTENDED!) in my training. I kind of hurt my knee a teensy little bit, and i’ve had to slow down my training. Truthfully, the doctor told me to stop training completely for 5 days. Those 5 days were the longest ever! I couldn’t believe how much my body yearned to run. I kept looking at my running shoes with longing in my eyes. (Again, it might be because of the cool flashy stripes on the side) Now that i have re-embarked in my training, i’m running much slower than before, with no goal or expectations. It takes crazy amounts of willpower to slow down instead of speeding up, to recognize that my body is demanding that i go at a respectful pace. This is where my yoga off the mat comes in. Listening to my body when it comes to yoga is a piece of cake (most of the time…!), but applying the same compassion towards my body when it comes to non-asana (posture) situations is kind of super challenging. Performing to the best of my ability come race day does not necessarily mean beating my best training times. I must let go of the concept of setting personal time records, and concentrate on respecting my body’s limitations, while completing my initial goal, which was simply crossing the finish line and raising money for our animal friends. Whether i cross that finish line in 3 hours or 2 million hours, i know that my family and friends will be at the finish line ready to give my big hugs, i will have raised an insane amount of money for animals, and i will have completed that initial goal of completing the 1/2 marathon. The fact that my team, the PETA Pack, has raised close to 100,000$ as of today, and my fundraising is a part of this awesome achievement, helps me keep this all in perspective. I’m running to make a difference in the lives of countless animals who need our help; my goal is not to run fast, my goal is just to run. To stay present, to be part of something much bigger than my time goals and finish line expectations. Just to run.

 

T-22 days… It’s crunch time… literally.

2 Sep

I’m actually eating cashews and almonds as i write this. They’re delicious, unsalted and nutritious. Did you know that almonds are “a rich source of vitamin E, containing 26 mg per 100 g (Table). They are also rich in dietary fiber, B vitamins, essential minerals and monounsaturated fat (see nutrient table), one of the two “good” fats which potentially may lower LDL cholesterol. Typical of nuts and seeds, almonds also contain phytosterols, associated with cholesterol-lowering properties.” (Thanks, Wiki…) I love almonds. Everyone should eat more almonds.

When i embarked upon this whole 1/2 marathon journey, I considered myself a wholesome, vegan eater who was in decent shape. Daily yoga did my body gooooood! Two months into training, my body feels incredible. I feel like a well-oiled machine. A well-oiled, somewhat sore machine, but well-oiled nonetheless. Running is hard! It’s not just the physical aspect, but the mental part is quite the challenge. Usually, my long runs are on Sundays. Last weekend, i was slated for a 9 mile run for the Sunday, but had plans all day. I decided to modify my schedule so i could do the run on Monday. I charted my course on Google Maps. The result i got blew me away. 9 miles is FAR. 9 miles is from my apartment all the way to Des Pins and St-Denis, and back again! Anyone who knows Montreal, knows this is not a distance to scoff at. Not one to back away from a challenge, i laced up my new runners (which by the way, are so awesome.), charged up my ipod, and took off.

I WILL finish the race, thanks to my awesome Asics!

During the course of this training run, current Sara HATED afternoon Sara for plotting this course. There were hills. Lots of hills. Hills going through Westmount, hills along McGill, hills everywhere. My calves were screaming, my bum was sore, my brain was sending curse words to my soul. It wasn’t solely a challenge on a physical plane. No, no, no. My brain was tormenting me, not with words of encouragement, but with bad words. At the beginning, i was intimidated. Then i remembered the yogic philosophy i repeat to my students time and time again in yoga classes: just breathe. Listen to your breath. Stay in the present and breathe. In. Out. Inhale, exhale. Just breathe. This mantra seems quite obvious, maybe a little foolish to some, but it’s what helped me continue. When i reached my halfway point, even though i was solo, i jumped and fist pumped the air. People stared, but their attention was quickly diverted to a man across the street throwing garbage on a wall. That man’s distraction allowed me a couple of seconds of victory dancing. (Thank you, dear Montreal and your eclectic people.) After that halfway mark, it was smooth sailing back home. Many experience runner’s block at the end of the race, during the last couple of miles. Having not run the full 1/2 marathon yet, I have no experience with the “wall” many hit. However, i am taking my yogic breathing with me, and hopefully will be able to overcome it by concentrating on the breath. Though 9 miles was extremely intimidating at the onset, completing it while running non-stop gave me a huge boost of confidence for the race on the 25th of September.

Though training takes up much of my thoughts, my heart and soul hold dear the real reason i am running this race. This past week, i have been humbled and rendered speechless by the donations that have been pouring into my personal page. As a proud member of the PETA Pack, i am running this race to raise money for the Rescue and Investigations fund of PETA. My parents were the first to donate, and donate they did. My parents are 2 of the most compassionate people i know. Though my father teases me constantly about my vegan diet, i know they respect and admire my decision to live a more compassionate lifestyle. Many associate PETA with veganism, though they raise awareness on so many other subjects and investigations. By contributing to my PETA page, my parents have helped in a HUGE way to build dog houses for dogs chained outside by neglectful owners, to help retire and save animals beaten and neglected in zoos and circuses, to help finance spay and neuter services for low income neighborhoods, etc. Animals have no voice to ask or plead for help, yet they are neglected, beaten and used for our own gain every day. As many of you know, animal rights and the fight for their humane treatment is a cause so dear to me, so the donations many of you made have warmed my heart. I have even received an anonymous donation from someone who has never met me,  sending me such kind words of encouragement. These gestures are what encourage me to run further during every training. Running 13 miles seems intimidating at first, but remembering that i am running for a cause much greater pushes me forwards. Thank you to everyone that has donated, your money will go a long way. If you have not yet donated, and would like to, please visit my personal page here! You still have time before the big day! September 25th is around the corner!

Week 7 – Forgive me Training Schedule, for I have sinned…

9 Aug

Here I am, a month and a half away from Marathon Day. I’m nervous, excited, petrified and curious, all at the same time. Training started out super smoothly; I had picked up Brendan Brazier’s awesome book “The Thrive Diet”, and was eating whole foods to help with my energy levels. With every run completed i saw major improvements in my times, as well as my overall fitness level. I was pumped. Then, a major, horrible event occurred in my personal life that sent both my training schedule and my energy levels into a downward spiral. I missed 5 whole days of training, and since i wasn’t at home, i was forced to settle on fast, convenience food loaded with empty carbs and overcooked veggies most of the time. I felt gross. My “well oiled machine” of a body was feeling sluggish, tired and bloated, in part due to lack of exercise, less than optimal food and added negative stress. Worse than these physical side effects was my mood. When i am practicing yoga and exercising regularly, i feel happy, peaceful and patient. When i fall into a rut, i get snappy, cold and frustrated, taking all my stress and anger out on those i love the most (I’m sorry, B…!!). Exhaustion from dealing with said horrible event had me running on adrenaline during the day, while disturbing my sleep patterns at night. Needless to say i was completely out of balance, coupled with a complete loss of focus and motivation.

Now that the dust has settled, I have eased myself back into my training. The guilt i felt at missing a whole 5 days of training was stronger than i expected. When i commit to something, i commit wholeheartedly, and missing a mere 5 days made me feel awful. My first couple of runs out were 3-4 mile runs, and they were painfully long. Before my unwanted hiatus, i was running 3-4 miles in great time, finding them quite easy. Upon returning to training, my body felt like it was resisting to the run. My muscles ached, my knees felt sore, my breath was staggered, and i felt an overall sense of heaviness. Even harder was that first day back, convincing myself to get back into my runners. Finding the motivation to resume training was extremely hard. I am ecstatic to say that returning to my training program was incredibly difficult after those 5 long days off, but finding the motivation paid off! I ran my first 7 miles on Sunday, at a non-stop pace! This distance is the longest i have ever run, ever.

Even though 5 days may not seem like much to many, I am proof that not sticking with a strict schedule while training for a run is NOT a good idea. It took me days to get back to the level i was at before those days off. Even though i completed my 7 mile run, i am convinced that had i not taken that break, i would have run that distance in less time, felt less tired after, and needed less time to recuperate. Though my 5-day hiatus was somewhat out of my control, we all have days where going to the gym/yoga class/out for a run might seem like the last thing we want to do. Whether you are training for a marathon or have incorporated exercise into your weekly routine, pushing yourself to get out there and exercise is the best gift you can give your body, improving your mood and physical well-being. To all you first-time marathoners out there, stick to your training schedules! It will pay off in the end!

If you would like to sponsor me in my efforts to run my first half-marathon, on behalf of PETA, please click here!

Week 4 – It’s hot in here…

21 Jul

As the temperature outside rises here in Montreal, so do the distances for my training runs. Funny enough, i don’t mind running in hot weather, though the humidity is really a killer once you hit mile 3. As many have repeated to me, hydration is the name of the game these days. Coming from a Moksha Yoga practice background, i’m no stranger to staying hydrated during the day, in preparation for evening activities, whether they be yoga classes or training runs. The more water i drink during the day, the easier the run is. My B has taken to making me these delicious hydration concoctions, which quench my thirst like nothing else when i get home from a run. He fills a large glass half way with ice, squeezes lemon, throws in lemon slices and fresh basil leaves, and fills with water. The perfect elixir to replenish my fluids after a long run.

I’ve been tracking my times and distances using a handy little app called Runkeeper. This app has been a godsend for me, as it works in real time with a GPS. You launch the application, start the activity, and start running. A soothing, motherly voice notifies you at every mile, and even tells you your time/mile. The days of having to plot my run in advance are over! I can spontaneously run wherever i want, in any direction, and the nice lady of Runkeeper will track my distance for me! At the end of my run, i can review my stats for that activity, and compare them to past runs, which are saved in the app. They also have an online component, where all your runs are tracked on your personal Runkeeper page online. I highly recommend this app to runners who use their smart phones on runs. Best of all, it’s free!

Thanks to Runkeeper, i have noticed a trend in my runs. My best times have been early in the morning. I love early morning runs; i feel lighter on my feet, faster. When running after work, i love the feeling of my body loosening up from sitting down all day, though i do not feel the same lightness as AM runs. It’s as if my body is a little sluggish, heavier, not as nimble. My mind is also bogged down from the day, and controlled breathing does not come as naturally as in the morning. I share the same sentiment with my yoga practice. I feel a certain fluidity, ease, when practicing in the morning. Though i love the feeling of practicing after a long day of work, my body does feel much more weighed down, as if the day’s stressors have added pounds to my physical self. Dropping into Savasana is much easier in the morning, when your mind is already clear.

Since training has taken up much of my free time, my daily yoga asana practice has suffered a little. I practice twice to three times a week, and throw in some mini practices here and there after my runs. I have noticed during practice that my calves are much tighter than before training started, and my lower back is begging for attention. I’ve been favoring forward bends and hip openers, which i feel have really helped me during my runs. Who knew how stiff my hips could get when running long distances?!? A posture i have benefited from in a big bad way is Viparita Karani (legs up the wall). Taking this pose for 10 minutes or so after a run has felt AMAZING for my calves. Not to mention the slew of other benefits this poses offers the body! As Yoga Journal lists, Viparita Karani can help with:

  • Anxiety
  • Arthritis
  • Digestive problems
  • Headache
  • High and low blood pressure
  • Insomnia
  • Migraine
  • Mild depression
  • Respiratory ailments
  • Urinary disorders
  • Varicose veins
  • Menstrual cramps
  • Premenstrual syndrome
  • Menopause

All that in a yoga pose! I can stay in Viparita Karani forever, i love laying a small towel on my eyes and completely dropping inwards.

Even though i have not been able to practice the physical part of yoga (asana) on a daily basis, as was my routine before, i try to remind myself that i am practicing yoga in so many other ways off my mat. I feel like i practice yoga every time i eat, through my veganism, through my animal activism. I practice every time i show kindness to another being. Even cooking for my B is my yoga!

For the runners who are reading, give Viparita Karani a try, and tell me what you think! Does it help you release tension from your runs?

Please don’t forget to visit my fundraising page, here, and donate! Every little bit of money PETA raises helps give a voice to the voiceless!

Week 3: Granola makes me happy…

13 Jul

Week 3 of training for the Montreal 1/2 marathon brings with it some pretty intense runs. I’m going to be honest here, i have never run 4.8 km (3 miles) steadily, without breaking into a walk midway. My training schedule had me slated for a 3 mile run on Sunday, as well as Monday and Thursday of this week. I’m not going to lie; i was nervous.

As i departed from the warm comfort of my home, where my B was still snuggled comfortably amidst the sheets, i thought to myself “Wow, Sara, you’re running at 8AM on a Sunday morning. You’re wacko.” However, as i comfortably settled into a nice jog, i found myself loving the crisp morning air, relishing in the small rays of sunlight poking out through the clouds, and becoming entranced by the sound my feet made as they hit the pavement. As i passed fellow joggers, we exchanged small smiles, as if we were all in this together, part of some special club of AM wackos. I found myself loving the feel of my body slowly waking up from fingertips down to toes as my pace quickened. I’d be lying if i said the 3 miles flew by effortlessly, but i was able to complete the whole run without slowing down to a walk!

As i embarked on my second 3 mile run yesterday, knowing that i was able to complete the distance Sunday made the run so much less intimidating. I again completed the 3 mile run at a steady pace, without stopping to walk, and on top of that, i beat Sunday’s time by a handful of seconds! As a long-time asthma sufferer whose symptoms pretty much disappeared once i took up yoga, i am surprised my lungs are not causing me discomfort. Not once in my training have i felt wheezy or short of breath. As i run, i keep remembering my yogic breathing, which helps sustain my pace throughout my runs.

On the food front, i’ve been going nutso for granola. My new breakfast fix has been a huge bowl of granola goodness, made with Sunburst granola found at Fleur Sauvage. This granola contains rolled oats, chia seeds, flax seeds, pure vanilla, raisins, almonds and no artificial un-pronounceable stuff! The flax and chia seeds sustain me throughout my morning, and the dried fruit give me that little burst of sweetness i sometimes crave in the AM.

Breakfast Bowl of Awesome

Ingredients:

1 cup berries (i’ve been using strawberries, blueberries and raspberries)

1/3 cup granola

a small handful dried fruit (apricots!! YUM!)

1/2 cup non-dairy milk, or more if you like your granola soft

Directions:

Throw fruit, granola and dried fruit in a bowl. Pour milk over mixture and enjoy!

I’ve also taken to sprinkling some extra flax seeds on top, to boost the nutritional content, though if your granola contains flax seeds already, you’re good to go!

In case you’d like to support me in my efforts, please head on over to my personal fundraising page. Please remember that PETA’s research and investigations team needs all the help they can get to fight for animal rights not only in the food industry, but also when it comes to pet abuse and neglect, inhumane treatment in the entertainment and circus industry, as well as in the medical experiment and clothing industry. You don’t have to be vegan or vegetarian to support their efforts, and any money you can spare will go a long way!

Week 2 of training: Bring it On!

6 Jul

As i find myself in the middle of week 2 of my training for the Montreal 1/2 marathon, running for PETA, i can’t help but marvel at the highs i experience post-run. I was always under the impression that nothing could beat post-yoga bliss (and nothing can!), but post-run high is a close second. The feeling of pure euphoria i get after completing my daily run, even if it’s a short distance, is awesome. So is the after-run shower. Wow. All this to say that i am feeling great! Granted, i am only at the beginning of my training program, but my body is loving the feeling of running/training every day. My body’s one complaint is my knees. They are getting a little sore, which leads me to believe that i need new running shoes. A trip to Running Room might be in order next weekend…

To complement my post-run feeling of awesomeness, i’ve been making these killer smoothies. They’re packed with flax seeds, which contain omega-3s, dietary fiber and micro nutrients. Did you also know that flax seeds may also lower cholesterol levels? (Thank you, Wikipedia)

Euphoria-enhancing smoothie

Ingredients:

1 tbsp flax seeds

1 banana

1/4 cup soy yogurt

3/4 cup non-dairy milk (I love almond milk)

1/2 cup mixed berries (I’m on a strawberry/blueberry kick right now… YUM!)

1 tsp agave syrup

Directions:

Throw the flax seeds in the blender first, and give them a whirl. Once most of the seeds are crushed, add remaining ingredients. Blend until smooth. Drink and be merry.

Let me know what you think!

And don’t forget, if you would like to support my running efforts, please visit my fundraising page!