Wednesday, April 22, 2015

How to eat healthy on under $50 a week. Part Uno.

Let's face facts...I'm a thirty-two year old broke college kid.  One thing I am very mindful of however, is money.  I am paying for my education out of pocket, and am only able to work a few hours a week, so my bank account is something I keep a close eye on. matter what our situations, we all have to eat. So here is a bit of what gets me through the week.  I cook for two, and have to keep it on the lowest budget possible.  As a nutrition student, and healthy eater overall, this sounds like it could be a scary and daunting task, but it's not as difficult as it seems if you are willing to make sacrifices and stick to your plan!
    More often than not, I can manage a full week of food for around $40, but those occasional toilet paper and cleaning supply week tend to tip the scale just a tab higher.  I do the majority of my shopping at Wegmans (hooray highest ranked grocery store!!) and one thing that makes it even more appealing is the weekly coupons they send out.  I recommend signing up for their definitely pays off.  They send out a new mailer every month, and almost every week there is a $5 off the purchase of $20 or more get the idea.  In my basket, this means a whole roaster chicken a week, nearly free!!!  I do get the family size bags in all veggies when they are offered.  One, it's a great time saver, and two, there will be more than enough for the whole week.
   I understand that not everyone has access to a Wegmans, or even a grocery store, but stick with me matter where you shop you can take away some great tips and ideas to keep your shopping trips to a minimum.  My shopping list is something that I'd like to start sharing, along with some quick, easy and healthy recipes to get you through the week with a little more money in your pocket.
$37.79 to be exact
So this is what my haul looked like this week.  Not pictured was a whole chicken, and two containers of spinach (I forgot to take them out of the fridge)With the chicken included the total weekly cost would be $43.56  Not too shabby for my wallet.  On to the cooking and preparation!  
      I try and take one day to make all my food for the week, this not only save a ton of time during the week to let me study, work, and just live, but allows me to reach in and grab anytime I'm hungry so I don't go out for food.  If I do need a second day to cook, it's typically roasting more veggies, which means I can sit and study while they're in the oven.

Post cooking fiesta.

     Here is what most of it looks like heading into the fridge.  First thing first, that chicken goes right into the crock effort needed at all.  I throw on some salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder and call it a day.  This just gets shredded and thrown in a container.  Oven gets set at 385, and I coat brussel sprouts, broccoli and mushrooms with olive oil, salt and pepper and throw them all in.  The carrots I sliced and threw in a pan to saute with some onions, garlic powder and salt.  These are always on demand around the house.
     The container on the top right is a big batch of veggie stir fry.  I cooked up two cups of rice, steamed fresh broccoli and carrots, diced up the rest of the mushrooms and threw in a can of diced baby corn and some sliced water chestnuts...viola! Stir fry to last the week, and if we want to get crazy, we can throw in some of the chicken from the crock pot.  
     Another cheap, fast and easy dish I can throw together is a crust-less egg bake.  This is something easy to grab as breakfast on the go, when you come home from the gym, or even as a dinner if you're so inclined!  Here is an easy recipe to get you started:

Crust-less egg bake:

6-10 eggs (depending on the size you want to make)

1 medium red onion

3-4 handfuls of fresh spinach (you can use frozen if it's all you have, but drain it well!)

1/4-1/2 cup feta cheese (or any you have laying around)

1/2 cup milk or milk substitute (I use unflavored almond)

Any other veggies or really anything you feel like using (this is a great way to use any leftovers)

salt and pepper to taste

1.) Mix everything in a bowl and pour it into a baking dish...size is up to you!

2.) Bake for about 25-40 minutes on 375, until cooked through (the middle will cook last)

3.) Cut it up and throw it in the fridge.  Yup, that easy.

    If I have any left from the week before, I will either cook up two boneless pork cutlets, two small steak, or fish...whatever happens to be in the freezer.  This adds a bit more variety to just chicken and veggies, and offers a wider nutrient profile.
   Now, some of you might be looking at that veggie spread and are wondering where all the fruit is....welp, it's not there!  This week was a veggie heavy shopping list, since not all of the veggies will be used up this week, that leaves more room for fruit next week.  The key is creating a balanced eating pattern.  Maybe not every piece of the myplate recommendation is there every single day, but if you can squeeze it in most of the time, you're doing great.

  So that's that...quick easy, hopefully as painless to read as it was to cook.  Remember, cooking doesn't have to be a daunting task to take on every night...just every few days.  The eating healthy part...that's the one that should be every day...or at least most.

Monday, April 13, 2015

2014: What not running taught me about running, and life.

    Last year came and went...and it happened fast.  I had every intention of following my plan of shorter races, focusing on really cutting my 50k time down, and then attempting Oil Creek again...and you know what, not one of those things happened and I couldn't have asked for a better year.
      Don't get me wrong the lack of racing is something I missed, but I gained so much more from taking time off, I learned how important that really is.  I had started off the year fast on my feet, running shorter miles, more intervals, more fartleks-getting more speed.  I felt like my plan was steadily falling into place.  I looked at race calenders, plotting and deciding how to space out my season.  I entered my first race on May, a 50k to see how my legs would do early in the year.  A month before the race I made the decision to contact the race director and step down to the 25k distance, I just didn't feel like I had enough long runs under my belt to go through happily.
  About 3 miles in I stepped of the edge of a rock awkwardly and twisted my ankle.  Instead of calling it a day I decided to change up my gait slightly and keep moving.  It paid off and I came through the finish line with a third in my age group.  I gave it a week to heal up and see how it would be.
      I ended up running a total of three races this year.  That ankle just didn't seem to want to cooperate with the ice the elevation, the rest, after a few months it was still tender with every run longer than a few miles., so I made the decision not race the rest of the season other than for fun, and I wouldn't be running any distance races.
     At first it was hard to picture a year passing without a formal training schedule, and a race plan, but as time began to wear on I realized there was nothing more I needed than a break.
     Taking that break allowed me the time to turn my focus inside, to really focus on being the best version of myself.  Running is something that I love dearly, but it isn't who I am, and I had forgotten that.  I had forgotten  to keep up with the things I want to achieve to find that version of myself  again and truly be that person.
    Looking beck through this blog I realized it was based on running and going back to school, so I made that happen.  I applied to go back to school full time and study nutrition, and I'm doing just that.  I am currently a junior at West Chester University and am struggling through a world of biochemistry, anatomy and physiology and nutrition classes, and as difficult as it is to get back in the routine of making myself study and trying to learn all new material..I wouldn't change it.
     I realized the importance of pursuing a career, not just having a job, and well as doing something rewarding with a long future ahead.   So a few years later than I had planned, I feel like life is on track.
    I am back to running and working out, not with race plans in the future, but they aren't totally out of the question.  I continue to cook and plan race nutrition and fueling strategies for others, and hope to continue to share that and some good food along the way.

 Not running was the best way to look at other pieces that were missing and fill it all in.  May the trail that is life keep winding and always open up to a beautiful view.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Here's to 2014-a little late, but better than never!!

   Well well well, its have been quite awhile since my last post; but it has been some much needed time off from everything.  2013 was a hell of a year for me.  It was filled with a lot of ups and downs, and a lot of change- both running wise and personally.  Although I had an amazing first real year of training and racing, and I had some great success in racing, I didn't accomplish my 100 mile goal. Personally I was struggling with a lot of emotional issues, and having a great deal of difficulty deciding what to do with my life. Ultimately my relationship fell apart forcing me to take a hard internal look at where I have been and where I was going.
    I made the decision to take the bull by the horns and learn to let go of fear of change and anxiety, and live to the fullest.  2014 has been a damn good year so far.
    I was asked to be a part of an ultra racing team, Team Simple Hydration, and couldn't be more pleased. If you haven't had the chance to run with one of thee bottles, do yourself a favor and pick one up. They are perfect for shorter races, and the most perfect bottle for front race vest pockets.  (If you do order any, add promo code "maggie" for 35% off!!)
Mile 62ish at Oil Creek

      Although I am racing less this year, I will one day be back at Oil Creek to take my revenge on that course.  I will be doing a few smaller races throughout the year, but nothing else set in stone.  I am running and racing for the pure enjoyment of it this year.  I also have a kick ass trip planned this summer and will have the chance to run through the canyons in yes, checking that off my bucket list!
    Perhaps the wisest person I know would follow up my millions of anxious worries with "what's the worst that can happen" and you know has become my motto, well that and "say yes in 2014."  You works.  This has been the best start to a year that I can remember.  Not only has the ever pressing anxiety been lifted off my shoulders in so many different ways, but I really took the time to figure out what I want in my life, and what makes me happy. I realized that living with regrets is a worse feeling than being afraid to try something new, or make a big change just because it seems scary.
 I finally applied to school after years of being terrified of leaving work to go back to school.  I got in, and even have my last day of work looming.  I have been revisiting those things in my life I've always wanted to do, see and experience and I will continue to do the same.
  If there is one thing I can say to anyone searching for their own something better, but are afraid to step further toward the edge it would be just that- "What is the worst that could happen?"  You may find the answer is only good things.
  So, better late than never, here is to 2014:
 To surrounding yourself with positivity
finding the people who bring out the best of you 
people who challenge you to be yourself and hold on tight to that,
 to doing the things that you love
and exploring those things that you long for.

just say yes.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Oil Creek-my mistakes to fuel the fire, my season is over.

     Well, I didn't strike oil this year, but it was truly one of the best experiences I have ever had.  First, I cannot even begin to say enough good things about this race. It was so well organized, and there was never a doubt about being lost on the course, or missing any turns. The pink reflective flags illuminated the entire way and kept us moving through the wee hours of the night.
    I could not imagine a better experience.  I met great people along the way, had my parents and partner crewing me, and my brother pacing-it was truly a fantastic experience.  The course was an amazing 50k loop.  No matter how many times I read and re-read the course description it was certainly more technical than I was expecting.  It had a bit of everything to offer-single track, mud, gravel, good climbs, and rocks and roots.  Tom Jennings is an amazing race director with an amazing race, the volunteers are just as amazing.
      I could go into a full write up on the time I spent on the trails, but that's for me to keep and use to fuel me for next year.  I'm already counting down the days until registration.  I know I need to get more dense calories in, take care of blisters when they first pop up, and keep re-applying body glide.  Rookie mistakes, all of which I am ready to keep in mind for next year.  I honestly cannot wait.  I keep planning and re-planning my race schedule for next year.  I love the planning, the building of a plan to culminate in Oil Creek again...adding longer races and planning on keeping them in the schedule just continues to open more and more race opportunities to explore.  I love running, I love trial running, and I love that deep down burning pain that makes you figure out how your brain keeps your body moving.  I can't wait to get back into it!
       This year was a good running year; I took on two new race distances, had  a new personal best in the 50k distance and still came out ready for another year of running.  In the past year I have dropped almost an hour from my 50k time.  I want to keep dropping those minutes this season; same goes for my 50 mile time; and that 100...that will be mine.
       I am taking time off from a running schedule to give myself a break and focus on strength training.  My only miles until January will be through my part time job as a dog runner.  It'll be about 15 miles a week, and that sounds pretty good to me.
    I admit I'm looking forward to the changing season, I love cold weather running gear, and plan on posting plenty of reviews.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Oil Creek. Less than a week until my first 100 attempt.

     To say that I'm nervous would be an understatement.  I have been having dreams about running a 100 miler almost every night.  In one dream I was at an aid station trying to change my socks, but every pair just kept ripping in half and I couldn't find any more to put on.
     I feel quite guilty with the time and thinking that the lead up to this race has consumed.  I know that there are pieces of my life and day that have suffered.  My goal is to return to those aspects and rebuild them better than before, refocus my attention on the things I've been putting off changing.
     But...until then, the race.   I ran my first ultra, a 50k in 2008.  During my training and lead up to it, I decided my five year goal would be to run 100.  I was fascinated with the people that ran them, the community that surrounded them, and everything in between.  In my mind I made a deal to do it...three or five years I'd think.  The next year, I stopped running.  I'm not quite sure why I stopped, but I did very shortly after that first 50k.
      I decided to let other parts of my life take precedent and would occasionally still run, but without a goal in  mind...the kind of running that is really just wandering around the neighborhood at a slightly faster pace.  I wandered to see the area, get some exercise and just get out of the house for a bit.  Somewhere in all that wandering I decided to run another 50k.  I ran and trained and amazingly crossed the finish line in the exact same time I had finished my first.  Then I ran another...and another.
      In the last race of the season, I managed to drop 43 minutes from my fastest 50k.  It was a good way to end the season.  Shortly after I met my running partner.  I made the decision to up my run distance and try out a 50..I had registered for one in the past, but do to work obligations was unable to be at the start.  We had talked about the 100 and Oil Creek and distances in between.  He was training for a 100 and I jumped into the training with him.
      I volunteered that day for his race, the same day registration for Oil Creek took place.  I watched a lot of people drop out, the cold took down many...but something about making grilled cheese sandwiches and soup for the runnners' in the middle of the night caught up with me again.
     I went home and registered for the 100.  I trained hard all summer, running two 50 milers (my first 50) and another 50k (dropping another 11 minutes off my time).  The 50k happened to be the very same race where I ran my first 50k.  It was on the drive home that I realized, low and behold, my five year goal to run a 100 was indeed coming true.
   Now, four days out....all I have to do is get there.  My bib number has been assigned, my gear has been packed, and plans have been laid out.  In two days we hop in the car and head across the state.  I four days, I will toe the line and find out what I'm made of.
   For me, it's not just about covering the distance within the cut off.  It's about accomplishing something I set out to do a long time ago.  It's proving that I can succeed when I put my mind and effort into something.  Whether I cross that finish line on Sunday morning or not...I got myself to the start, and am fulfilling a goal I set out.  That is what I will take through the race, and into those things that I have let fall to the side.
  No matter what happens, I feel like I will leave the trails a different person.  Fingers crossed for good weather, a good stomach, strong legs, and a good mindset. I can't wait to find out what's on the other side.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Pearl Izumi EM Trail N2 Review

Oh it has been a little longer than I was hoping between posts...but I suppose every now and again life seems to get in the way of perfect planning. has been quite a busy few weeks!!  I have been trying out some new shoes and wanted to share.  As I have not hidden in the past, I love my Rogue Flys, but I find wearing them too often on the road just wears down the lug too much, so I went in search of something new.  Enter the Pearl Izumi EM Road N2...yes I know it says trail review...I'll get to that.
   I had a pair of PI's a few years ago, and to be honest, I didn't like them, but watching some of the big names in ultrarunning lacing up to new emotion series caught my attention.
From Derrick Lytle Media. TO rocking the N1
Pearl Izumi Facebook photo credit. Mike Wolfe on JMT FKT
 Timmy Olsen runs in PI, Mike Wolfe finished his FKT in PI, and Nick Clark is always out and about in the PI's.  What the I read a few reviews and decided on the N2-a 4 mm drop, well cushioned shoe.  I just wasn't ready to go for the zero drop; and with an intro from the Pearl website like this, how could I resist:
                              "Your one-shoe quiver, the Project E:Motion Road N2
                                       is the perfect balance of light and fast with  just enough                          
                                     cushioning and durability to provide the maximum confidence 
                                     you need to go the distance."

Any shoe that claims to be the one shoe quiver deserves a few miles so I placed my order. I went with a size 8 in the Cherry Tomato/Blue...I just love the flashy color combos PI offers, it makes heading out the door that much more fun.  Anyway...flash forward to lacing up these beauties and heading out the door.  They felt so good out of the box I ran 15 miles and promptly went home and order the trail N2.  Ok so hear goes the review I promised.

Pearl Izumi started the EMotion series this spring.  They make a road, trail and tri shoe.  Each shoe category offer a 0mm neutral (N1) a 4mm neutral  (N2) a light stability (M2/M3) and moderate stability (H3).  The idea behind the series is the dynamic offset of the shoe to provide a smooth ride. For the best explanation i highly recommend going here because in all honesty, I couldn't really do that justice.

fresh fresh fresh.
   The shoe is certainly lighter than it looks.  At 9.2oz in a women's 8 it rivals many shoes in that light to mid-weight category.  The seamless upper material is stretchy but comfortable. The overlays are not restricting, but still keep your foot comfortably over the base of the shoe. In the past I have had blister problems on the tips of my toes...I ran a 50k in these this past weekend and didn't get a single toe blister...boom!  The heel and mid foot and slightly more narrow, really locking your foot in place so even on the steepest of downhills, there was no sliding.  The toe box is roomy, but not overly wide so you don't slip and slide all over..this shoe just has the right balance for the long run.

The traction on this shoe is solid.  It climbs well in rooty, rocky and gravely trails.  I have yet to hit a muddy uphill, by my guess is that it would still fair quite well.  The transition into single track, leaf covered trail, and wet mucky grass was solid, no slipping issues. During the race this weekend there was a hill with a 15.5% incline, and as the saying goes, "what goes up must come down."  I slid just a bit on the really steep rocky down hill, but to be honest I don't think any shoe would have taken the hill without slipping, but it was something I noted to myself during the race.

Bubble laces, that lock.
The other glorious piece in this shoe is the lace.  There are plenty of companies that add a bubble lace in order to prevent them from coming untied..but these nail it.  The lace is a bit thicker and softer so they really lace together tightly and stay that way.  The tongue, which is also the same soft material as the rest of the upper, keeps the knot from the lace off your foot so there were no pressure points or hot spots.  It also has two lace locks sewn into it so it keeps the laces from shifting, also preventing hot spots.

Cushy mid foot

While the shoe offers a 4mm offset, the mid sole clearly isn't the thin layer that many other companies use.  The shoe has a soft cushion feel under foot, but doesn't loose the ground feel so you can still get a solid foot plant and be sure you're not going to lose it.  There is a fused rock plate under the mid foot, so even the rocky sections don't make your feet turn to hamburger like other shoes I've tried.  The PI site says that the mid foot is a combination foam for shock  absorbing and energy return.  While it does indeed reduce shock and therefore fatigue over time, the energy return isn't quite as noticeable throughout.  It was more obvious on hard pack or concrete, which makes sense since you do need an opposite force to create return ( maybe??)

In my opinion Pearl Izumi nailed this shoe.  As of right now I'm planning on running the hundred in them.  The only other combo I"m considering is to start in the Montrail Rogue Fly and switch out to these for a smoother ride over night.  I can see why the big guns are sticking with this shoe.  Well done.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Montrail Rogue Fly Review

I feel that I have given these shoes more than a run for the money and after a year of running and racing in them, have a pretty fair opinion on how they perform.

A Fresh Pair.

Out of the box, the Rogue Fly weighs in at 6.4 oz.  Although many websites categorize this shoe as "minimalist"  by the true definition it is not.  The stack height, or heel to to differential is 10mm, although it is built on a slightly lower platform than some of their other models.  The reason it is often called minimal is due to the material in the upper of the shoe.  There are no fancy overlays, it is essentially two mesh sides and the tongue.  Even the lace is a lighter stripped down material from their other shoes.

The shoe excels at drying fast after stream or creek crossings , and certainly keeps your feet a bit cooler on hot days.  At first I was a bit worried about the mesh stretching and causing my foot to shift around over the midfoot platform on uneven surfaces, but after going through more than four pairs, I have yet to see that as being an issue.  The midfoot and heel hug your foot very comfortably and a roomy toe box leaves plenty of breathing room.  I have had some blister issues with the tips of my toes rubbing on the front of the shoe, however, even during a 50 mile race, it never felt painful since the meshy upper is so soft.  

In all honesty though, the only shoe I have run and raced in where I didn't experience much in the way of blisters was the old Montrail Hardrock...and since that doesn't seem to ever be making a comeback, I honestly wouldn't call this a huge complaint.  More than anything, when I slip this shoe on, I feel like it was made for my foot.

The "multi directional" lug pattern is the same that Montrail uses in the Rogue Racer, a heavier revision of the Rogue Fly.   It handles loose rock, packed trail, and even mud quite well.  In really muddy conditions, as with most other shoes, it does get a slippery, so something like the Bajada, with a deeper lug would do a bit better.  I went so far as to wear this as my road shoe, as I have had some difficulty finding other shoes I like as much.  I ran a road marathon, and did all of my training miles in this shoe.  It held up wonderfully, and since then I have seen a few others racing in this shoe.

The midfoot is soft enough for the road, but handles trail surfaces well.  It has enough cushion to stand up to 50 miles of running with no issue.  I have a few pairs with more than 400 miles on them, and they do lose their spring like any other.  I am interested in trying out some of the fluid foam line that Montrail has out, as they tout a longer lasting midsole with the new material.  

One complaint that I see frequently with this shoe, is that it has the 10mm heel to toe differential.  Although it does very well with that, I think more people would take a serious look at this shoe if it went with an 8mm drop.  Enough to keep a solid base under foot for long runs and races, but a lower setting to appeal to a more minimalist crowd; an 18mm heel platform to 10mm midfoot could be a great combo.  Still leaes cushion for a longer ride, while adding just a bit under the midfoot to prevent any bruising from sharp rocks (there is no rock plate in this shoe.)

The Rogue Flyis a fast moving shoe, and has become my go to shoe for anything from 5k, 50k to 50 miler.  I have my first 100 mile race coming up this fall, and plan to ear this shoe for the first 40-60 miles and switch into a heavier shoe for the remainder.  I am a tried and true fan of this shoe, and will continue to train and race in it. 

When I first ordered the shoe, I went with my typical 7.5, and went through more than a few pairs in that size.  For the 50, I did order an 8, and was very glad I did.  On a course with a good bit of descending I would recommend doing so.

I am definitely a big fan of what Montrail is putting out, and would love to try out a few other shoes from their line.  If you are looking for a light weight, fast shoe look no further.  They've done a great job with the Rogue Fly, and it's worth taking them for a spin.