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I attended the 2nd Annual National Endurance Sports Summit (NESS) at Princeton University last weekend. What is NESS, you might ask? Yeah, I hadn’t heard of it either until several months ago, when I received an email through my RRCA listing as a running coach. NESS is a conference that seeks to “elevate endurance” by “showcasing the power of endurance sports to make a difference in one’s own life, in one’s community, and around the world.” It is organized and hosted by Team U, an intercollegiate fundraising endurance team founded by Joe Benun, a recent Princeton grad. I was very impressed by last year’s speaker list, which included Marshall Ulrich, Pam Reed, Ray Zahab, David Horton and Matt Fitzgerald, just to name a few. However, there weren’t any Dietitians participating in the nutrition panel or talks, which presented a great opportunity to get involved and share my passion for both nutrition and endurance sports!

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Team U listened to my feedback and invited me to join the Saturday morning nutrition panel to kick off a packed day of amazing presentations. Check out the 2015 schedule – recognize any of those names or faces above?! YEAH – only some of the most inspirational, accomplished athletes in the endurance world (from left to right – Simon Donato, David Horton, Ann Treason, Karl Meltzer, Travis Macy, Lisa Smith-Batchen, and Marshall Ulrich). Shockingly, the number of attendees was quite small – I was told 90 but it seemed lower than that, giving each talk an intimate feel and allowing for great interaction between the speakers and with the audience. Given the steady increase in popularity of marathons and ultra marathons, I’m sure that this event will grow dramatically with targeted marketing, word of mouth, and recruitment of more sponsors.

Here are some highlights from the many panels and presentations from Day 1 of NESS (unfortunately I could not stay for Day 2). Here’s another write-up on ultrarunning.com if you’d like to hear about Day 2 as well!

Panel: “To Eat or Not to Eat: Perspectives on Nutrition” 
Jason Fitzgerald, Vinnie Tortorich, Terra Castro, Claire Shorenstein 

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Running coach Jason Fitzgerald, retired pro-triathlete and founder of Be Bold Crew Terra Castro, and celebrity trainer Vinnie Tortorich joined me on the nutrition panel. The topic was very broad and one hour was hardly enough time to delve deep into one large nutrition issue let alone several, however we managed to touch upon a variety of topics with the help of our moderator, Andy Wegman. We discussed creating a nutrition strategy yet staying flexible, training your gut not just your muscles, high protein diets, becoming fat adapted through diet and exercise, and fueling with carbs-vs-fat (the most highly debated, given Vinnie supports a “NSNG” or no sugar no grain diet). Many perspectives were presented and discussed, and while we didn’t always agree with each other, it was good to talk through some of these hot topics in sports nutrition. I did my best to present evidence based recommendations while staying open-minded – nutrition is a young and ever changing science, after all.

Let me take a moment to share a few thoughts on what we discussed. I am not a food extremist and do not believe in eliminating otherwise healthy foods (or even the occasional treat) from your diet unless you are doing so for medical, moral or religious purposes. Not only is it unnecessary to achieve good health, it’s not a fun or sustainable way to live your life. It’s always important to ask “why.” Why do you avoid gluten, including in whole grains, if you do not have celiac disease or a gluten intolerance? Why do you avoid hormone free dairy if you are not lactose intolerant or vegan? And so forth.

I certainly agree that reducing intake of refined carbs and grains will aid in weight loss, and that fat adaptive training may be worth exploring for some athletes during base training (check out these related articles by sports nutritionist Sunny Blende). If you can become more metabolically efficient and train your body to burn more fat for fuel during lower intensity exercise, that’s great – but you still need SOME carbs to burn fat for fuel (it’s biochemistry folks). Fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains (portion controlled), and dairy contribute “healthy” carbs to your diet. You also need carbs to fuel high intensity exercise (e.g. racing a marathon, surging up a hill in an ultra, speed work etc). If you’re lucky to have an iron stomach maybe you can eat real food, but you may only be able to handle more refined sugars (e.g. gels, drinks) just before and while running at higher intensities. The takeaway is that it’s important to pair your carb intake with what you are doing. For example, if you’re running easy for an hour or two, you’re fine running with water and perhaps some electrolytes.

This obviously is a much more complicated topic that I will not go into further here, but those are my two cents for now! At the end of the day, regardless of guidelines and studies, what matters most is what works best for your health, your body, and your athletic performance. If you like to eat cheese and olives during your long training runs and you’re performing and recovering well, more power to you! I look forward to seeing the event organizers narrow the topic for next year’s panel and hopefully dedicate a presentation to nutrition or add another nutrition panel so that we are able to cover more ground on such a crucial topic.

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Marshall Ulrich: “Journeys of Extremes of the World”

For anyone not familiar with Marshall Ulrich, he is an “extreme endurance athlete,” author of “Running on Empty” (which is on my reading list), and a really lovely person. He has finished more than 120 ultramarathons, among many other mind boggling feats of endurance. He began ultra running later in life after his wife passed away from cancer, pushing his body further in middle age than most 20 and 30 year olds could ever imagine. His presentation covered just a few of his “extreme” journeys, including running Badwater (he just finished his 20th!), climbing Mt Everest, running across America at age 57 (3,063.2 miles from California to New York, averaging more than 400 miles a week), and circumnavigating Death Valley on foot at 61 (425 miles). He presented the challenges and risks of each of these environments (obviously there were many), and how he overcame the obstacles he faced to achieve his goals. I’m really looking forward to reading more about his run across the US, what Marshall called his hardest journey. It was inspiring to hear him speak about pushing himself to each finish, at times risking his life and running through some serious injuries. He focused on maintaining forward progress and fulfilling his commitment to himself. I hope I am fortunate enough to stay active and courageous enough to keep pushing myself beyond what is perceived to be possible as I grow older.

Dr. David Horton: “Lessons learned from 100,000 miles of running”

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David Horton is amazing – a real character. I met him right after the nutrition panel (he shared many of my views on nutrition), before he gave his own talk. He has one of the most high energy and enthusiastic personalities I have come across in awhile. He is also fiercely competitive and will poke and prod relentlessly because he knows that you can achieve more than you think you can (or in his words – you CAN’T – he wants you to prove him wrong). Dave is an endurance beast – 113,000 miles run since 1977, including 160 ultramarathons! Even though he is no longer running much due to knee surgery (long distance cycling is now his thing), he loves to share his passion for running and endurance sports with others. He teaches an advanced running course at Liberty College that requires students to run an ultra. Wish I could have taken that course in college!

His talk included a list of short phrases and sayings, which he used to prompt stories and motivate the audience. Here are a few that stuck with me:

It never always gets worse.” You may feel horrible halfway through a race and think there’s no way you will finish because it can only go downhill, but in a few moments or miles everything can change – for the better! So keep pushing. That said, sometimes it DOES get worse! Which brings us to…

This too shall pass.” Whatever it is, it always changes, for better or for worse. Wait it out.

You can do more than you think you can,” and along the same lines, “You’re better than you think you are.” It’s incredible what you can push yourself to do when you really want it. He used an example – how many miles could you run if you had to run them right now? Could you go an extra 10 miles if you were paid 1 million dollars? Could you run an extra 20 miles if someone would shoot you if you didn’t finish? Find what motivates you and run with it.

Commit to what you do.” Believe in yourself and don’t make failure an option.

E and I definitely had Horton in our head this past week when we said to ourselves, why stop at running the NYC marathon for charity? Why not also run the JFK50 three weeks later (my first 50 miler, E’s second) to keep pushing ourselves? Before we knew it, it was booked. Thanks Dave!

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Featured Power Panel: “Learning to Push Past Limits: Roundtable Discussion with the World’s Greatest Ultrarunners.” 

Ann Trason, Lisa Smith-Batchen, Dr. David Horton, Karl Meltzer, Marshall Ulrich, Dr. Simon Donato, Travis Macy

Again, how incredible to have such a concentration of legendary endurance athletes, not just at this panel but throughout the entire day! Dr. Rob Gilbert, a sports psychologist, guided a discussion that touched upon a wide variety of topics, including the idea of “suffering,” finding balance, life after winning (passing the torch to younger athletes, shifting goals), learning from past races, and more.

I really enjoyed Lisa pointing out that the word “suffering” is not the correct choice when describing endurance sports. It is appropriate for chronic disease, death, trauma, and other tragic things that happen to us. By contrast, we CHOOSE to run because we love the sport – sure we may hurt and feel pain, but we are not “suffering.” You have to enjoy the process – embrace the highs and the lows – and remember that it’s not all about the destination.

Regarding balance, I’m always amazed that many accomplished endurance athletes also hold full-time jobs, have families, travel constantly, all while doing some seriously time consuming training. Some sacrifice sleep – Lisa said that she trains between 3am and 7am – while others sacrifice family time. Prioritizing is key, but it’s still tough to find that balance.

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Christopher McDougall: “Endurance under Fire: Lessons from the Extreme Athletes of WWII” 

This was the day’s keynote talk, and it was really fascinating. I think nearly everyone has read “Born to Run,” right? Chris McDougall spoke about his latest book, “Natural Born Heroes,” which explores the idea of running for survival, as a man on Crete had to do during WWII, versus running for exercise. He shared a fascinating story of Resistance fighters on Crete who relied on a man to deliver messages by frequently running extreme distances on foot to overcome the Nazi occupation. His talk tied into how we inherently possess such natural, fundamental movements that distinguish us as humans – we are not highly specialized like most animals, but rather can do many different things. However, as we get older we lose many of these basic movements, instead doing things like running a marathon as fast as we can or doing bicep curls in the gym (both unnatural and not useful). Parkour, he explained, encourages us to get back to our natural forms of motion, including jumping, throwing, crawling and other elastic recoil motions. Unfortunately I missed the Parkour clinic that followed, but his talk intrigued me and made me think twice about some of my own exercise routines…

Panel: “Learning How to Push Further and Reduce Injury”
Shane Eversfield, Terra Castro, Jason Fitzgerald, Ann Trason, Andy Wegman

Many things were discussed. Here are a few takeaways:
Ann – Remember the P’s of ultra-running: patience, persistence, passion, practice. Consider working with a heart rate monitor. Remember that running is a gift!
Jason – Don’t neglect strength training – even just 15min twice a week. Check out his site strengthrunning.com for great articles and videos!
Shane – Listen to your gut – your gut can sometimes tell you more than your brain.
Terra – Commit to foam rolling, massage, cross-training, yoga.

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Travis Macy, “The Ultra Mindset: An Endurance Champion’s Core Principles for Success in Business, Sports, and Life”

I recently read “the Ultra mindset” to get motivated for the UTHC 65k last month, so I really enjoyed meeting Travis Macy and hearing him speak about applying principles of training to life. Most of what he said was covered in the book, so check it out if you want all the specifics! One of the key phrases that he uses to push through tough times in training, racing and in life is, “it’s all good mental training.” So true. Another one I really liked – “the harder it is, the stronger you get” – great running mantra that I used in ultra training. He discussed the importance of creating the life that you want – not listening to the stories others or even a less confident version of yourself you may create. This really resonated with me as I try to carve out my own path in life. I recommend the book – it comes with some helpful exercises that Travis even said he would “grade” if you send them to him!

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Terra Castro, “Life Lessons Learned from Racing Professionally”

Terra Castro is an inspiring, courageous, honest and lovely woman who was a competitive athlete from a young age, became a pro triathlete, and has since started her own company Be Bold Crew in an ongoing effort to keep her “joy tank” full. It was awesome to hear her personal story of her accomplishments and struggles, and what she learned from it all. Takeaway – take risks to find your joy – and be B.O.L.D. (Believe, Outpour, Light, Dedicated).

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Speaker Dinner 

We finished out the night with a lovely speaker dinner, where E and I were able to chat with everyone in a relaxed and intimate setting. Everyone was curious to see what the dietitian was eating! It was a great way to wrap up a day of learning, inspiration and making new friends. Everyone was so friendly and down to earth, it was easy to forget that we were surrounded by some seriously unique, tough, and accomplished individuals.

It’s nearly been a week and I’m still feeling the energy from NESS. If you have any interest in marathons, ultras or other endurance sports, then I urge you to sign up next year. This event is a true gem with some serious growth potential. I’m still amazed that it was organized entirely by college students – great job Team U! I certainly hope I am able to participate next year.

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Tired? Sore? Trouble sleeping? Struggling to complete your workouts? Not meeting your race goals?

These are just a handful among many possible signs of overtraining, which can derail your progress towards achieving your athletic goals. Check out this article on the Under Armour blog with tips from me at the end to see if you could be overtraining, and if so, ways to escape the vicious cycle!

Happy Friday! Last weekend’s Ultra Trail du Hurricana 65km race was pretty epic, and I promise to give a full race report soon. For now, E and I are beyond pleased to have finished the race safely, under the cut off time (just barely!!), and in great spirits, crossing the finish line hand in hand in 10 hours and 51 minutes. Such a joyful moment!

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I’m also very pleased to report that I did not fracture my wrist – I have a sprain (i.e. ligament tear) and thankfully no major ligaments involved, which means no surgery or cast. I got a new custom splint that allows for much greater mobility and with a little rest and then some therapy, I should be healed within 1-2 months hopefully!

In the meantime, here are some great tips on running form on Livestrong.com, including several from yours truly! 🙂 I contributed to this article a few weeks ago and it went live last night. It has some good info on improving efficiency and avoiding injury before, during and after your runs. Check it out!

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Have a great weekend everyone! Happy running!

This post is very belated, but I am still very excited to report that I graduated from NYU with my Master’s in Clinical Nutrition a few weeks ago! Passing the RD exam in September was an amazing feeling, but finishing my graduate degree and celebrating with my family, friends and classmates was even better. Graduation was held in Madison Square Garden and was very entertaining, with dancing, singing, and a hashtag screen for #Steinhardt2015.

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I often forget that my decision to become a Registered Dietitian stemmed from the creation of this blog nearly five years ago. It has been such a long, challenging road, and I am having trouble believing that it is finally over. I recently perused some of my old blog posts and it amazes me just how much has happened in my personal, professional and athletic life throughout this time. I am forever grateful for the support of my family, friends, and most of all my husband for helping me succeed in my professional journey. Going back to school in your 30s is a very daunting task!

I’m still adjusting to the idea of no longer being a student. I keep thinking that this is just a break and summer classes are right around the corner. I can’t even express how relieved I am to finally be done. I am still working full time as a clinical dietitian at Montefiore, but I am cherishing my new “free time” on week nights and weekends. I think I will need at least a month or two to catch up on sleep and recover from 3.5 years of craziness. I am also looking forward to my first true vacation in ages – a week of R&R in Maui, starting tomorrow, followed by a long weekend in a log cabin (literally) without TV or phone service in the Catskills! E and I are celebrating our 2nd wedding anniversary, and I can’t think of a better way to do so than some quality time out in nature, completely unplugged from the rest of the world.

I plan to focus on next steps professionally once I’m back. I will begin coaching the Gilda’s Club NYC marathon team for the 4th consecutive year, and will continue to coach private run clients and counsel private nutrition clients through Physical Equilibrium (get in touch if you’re interested). I also plan to build the website for my new nutrition business, “Eat for Endurance: Nutrition counseling for longevity in life and in sport.” In the meantime, follow me on Twitter and Instagram @eatforendurance for nutrition and fitness tips!

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E and I have been enjoying some down time on the running front since the Brooklyn Half Marathon a few weeks ago. And we are so thankful that the weather finally turned – how gorgeous were those Spring blossoms?! My hamstring has been bothering me recently, but I hope I can start training properly again later this month with the NYC triathlon relay approaching! After having such a blast at our April TNF ultra, E and I are on the hunt for an exciting a Fall race. We haven’t picked one yet but did come across a 65km trail race outside of Quebec in September that sounds intriguing! I am slightly concerned, however, about the bell that is on the “recommended” (not required) list of gear to ward of bears…hmmm.

I hope you are all enjoying the beautiful warm weather! Happy running!

I passed my RD exam on September 8th and graduated from my Dietetic Internship the following week, which makes this post extremely overdue. I thought perhaps it was a little to late to write about it, but so much of this blog has been building up to me becoming an RD, and I finally have a little downtime today as I relax before the Marine Corps Marathon tomorrow. As usual, things have been very busy since I last posted in August, mostly relating to my new full-time job as a clinical dietitian at Montefiore medical center as well as fall semester classes (I will finally be done with my Master’s in May). After such an intense year in the internship and then cramming for the RD exam, I admit my motivation to study is on the lower side, but thankfully, getting straight A’s is no longer top priority now that I have my credentials.

Taking the RD exam was a terrifying experience; I was literally shaking the entire time. I hadn’t taken a standardized test since high school (that was a LONG time ago) and had never taken an adaptive computerized test, so I was pretty freaked out. I knew I couldn’t have studied any harder (I crammed extremely hard for two weeks, with a few weeks of on/off studying before that) and I also knew going into it that a lot of people felt like they were doing horribly and ended up passing without a problem. So I tried to stay calm, as much as that was possible. My mantra was something along the lines of “all I have to do is pass,” but believe me, I did not feel like I was passing! The questions seemed very different from all my test prep materials (Inman, MedPreps, RD in a flash) and I only knew the answer right off the bat for a handful of questions. For the rest, I was guessing between two (or more) answers, in many cases because the wording was so confusing. However, I will note to anyone reading this who is preparing to take the exam that many of my friends did not think it was as tricky as I did. More importantly, despite the emotional roller coaster, I still ended up passing with flying colors!

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Getting my score report was the best feeling ever – what a high. I also haven’t felt that relieved in a VERY long time. Finishing the internship in early August was great, but I knew I wouldn’t really feel like it was over until I earned my credentials. We are able to call ourselves Registered Dietitians (RD), or the recently added Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN). I am choosing RDN, although in the hospital, RD is more familiar and thus used more often.

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It worked out that my exam was scheduled right when my family had planned to visit, which made the post exam celebrations even more wonderful. I met them uptown at Alice’s tea cup and enjoyed a lovely high tea lunch, followed by a stroll around Central Park and an awesome dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, Mermaid Inn East Village, before having to run off to class (unfortunately it was my first class of the semester that day too).

I hadn’t yet started my new job yet the week of the exam (just medical clearance appointments and training sessions), so it was nice to have some time off to spend with my Mom, before the craziness started up again. The weather was gorgeous for most of the week and although it wasn’t the same as having actual time off for a real vacation, we had fun wandering around and eating our way through NYC. One of the things my mom and I did was make ice cream in my new ice cream maker. We used the NY Times Master ice cream recipe – we figured we would start nice and simple with vanilla. IT WAS AMAZING and although slightly time consuming (you have to make the base and then chill it before putting it in the machine), it was SO worth it. I put the ice cream in individual containers, some with almond butter in the middle, to help with portion control, because otherwise we would have eaten the entire batch in one sitting! I haven’t had time to make ice cream again but am definitely going to after the marathon – perhaps will try pumpkin to make it a bit more seasonal!

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Speaking of pumpkin, I made a great batch of pumpkin banana pecan whole wheat muffins a couple weeks ago. They made wonderful pre/post running snacks, perfect as E and I completed our last long training runs for the MCM. I loosely based the recipe on Kathy’s cinnamon pumpkin muffin recipe from Happy Healthy Life, using whole wheat pastry flour, a real egg and skim milk (so mine was not vegan), ripe mashed banana instead of applesauce, some pumpkin pie spice as well as cinnamon, pecans, a small handful of rolled oats and no frosting. I’m looking forward to baking more pumpkin goodies once I’m back in NYC!

Do you have a special place to run or walk that immediately makes everything else melt away once you get there? I do. Actually, I’m lucky enough to have two – La Selva Beach (aka “my beach”) and Nisene Marks in Santa Cruz. Every time I come home to California for a visit, I look forward to experiencing the beauty and serenity of these spots. Running these routes brings me great comfort, and allows me to temporarily escape everything else going on in my life. 

After a very late arrival home yesterday due to my delayed flight, I only managed to sleep for a few hours and woke up this morning feeling exhausted and cranky. I headed straight to the beach to clear my head. It was foggy and breezy, with the sun threatening to come out and make way for blue skies later on (typical for August). I was fortunate to catch low tide and enjoyed the long stretch of packed level sand beneath my feet. The beach was mostly empty – a few surfers and walkers here and there, but otherwise very peaceful. The sounds of waves crashing made up my running soundtrack – no iPod needed. At least ten different types of birds were in the water and sky in the middle of some sort of feeding frenzy, and a couple seals poked their heads up every few minutes in the shallow parts of the water, almost seeming to swim alongside me. I almost forgot how awesome real wildlife is – you spend enough time in New York City and you begin to define wildlife as dirty pigeons, massive rats, and psycho squirrels. 

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It was just a 4M run, but by the time it was over, it was as if I had hit my personal reset button. I needed to wash away the last seven challenging months in New York City without any vacation or significant mental breaks. Even if this isn’t truly “time off” in that I have to start cramming for the RD exam, at least I’m getting “time away,” which is nearly as valuable to me. Such a long stretch of time in NYC makes me feel trapped and burnt out. 

So here I am, sitting out on my parent’s deck in the sunshine, listening to the sounds of distant waves and bird chirping, watching hummingbirds fly by and deer hanging out in the backyard, munching on some delicious California produce, and feeling so grateful to have grown up here. I really wish I didn’t have to study, but I guess if I have to, this isn’t a bad way to get it done! 

I’m looking forward to running my first 20 miler in Nisene this weekend. I was signed up to do the NYRR long training run #2 before I booked this trip; running up and down the mountain will be a lot more enjoyable and SO much harder than doing loops around Central Park, that’s for sure. I wish E could join me out here – it’s our shared special place, after all – but it will be good practice for race day, when I’m out there on the road by myself. 

I love the Oakley Mini 10k – definitely one of my favorite NYRR races! This was my third time running it with one of my friends and I was excited to be back and experience once again everything the mini has to offer. However, I couldn’t help but feel a bit apprehensive last night when I picked up the following bib number on a very rainy Friday the 13th:

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I mean, really NYRR? You couldn’t have skipped that number?! 🙂

Thankfully, despite my ominous number, I had a great race today. Was it fast? No. I came in at 47:08, which makes this year my slowest yet (compared to 46:47 last year, and 45:58 the year before…wait a minute, I don’t like this trend!). But it was my first all out racing effort in a loooong time – without ANY hamstring pain I should add – and it was super fun!

As I wrote in my first mini race recap in 2012, the mini is inspiring and unique in so many ways. NYRR always gets an amazing elite field, which this year included Desi Linden back again plus Deena Kastor, Molly Huddle (who won and broke the 30-year standing national all-women’s 10k record by 1 second), Lauren Fleshman and many others. It’s the only race that I get to be right up front – able to actually see all those incredible women start the race – which is very cool. The pre-race speeches are awesome (especially since I get to be right next to the stage for once) – today, Mary Wittenberg got the crowd revved up as usual, Katherine Switzer (along with the other female founder of the race) got up on stage to share the history of the race since it started in 1972, which I always like to hear because I certainly cannot imagine a time without women running! Desi gave a quick speech as did one of the Boston survivors, who said some very moving words about the space between where you are and where you want to be. It was a great start to the morning!

It’s also a very useful training tool for me, as I’m usually in between training cycles (i.e. post Spring marathon, usually climbing out of my gluttonous lazy phase), and thus is a great barometer of where I stand as I begin to prepare for late summer (NYC triathlon) and fall racing (Bronx 10 and Marine Corps Marathon). Two years ago – the last time I was able to really race – it told me I was in good shape for the start of my Chicago training and sure enough, I went on to BQ.

Lastly, the mini is a fun opportunity to catch up with my friend and this year – unexpectedly – race with her! I’m usually faster but this year she’s been getting one PR after another and I apparently am getting slower, so the gap is closing! She took off at the start and normally I would let her go and catch her later, since I tend to start out slower and gradually speed up (at least this works great in longer distances), but today I decided that I couldn’t let her out of my sight. My legs were feeling pretty heavy and I knew I needed a little competition to spur me on! So it was interesting for once to take off and try to hold on. Not my usual strategy but for a shorter race I guess it’s not a bad one.

I finally caught her around mile 1 and told her, “You’re really giving me a run for my money!” From that point onwards, we ended up running within a few steps of each other. I could hardly keep up with her at times and I was pushing HARD. I hadn’t raced like that in a very long time – it was uncomfortable, and at times horrible, but also wonderful to get in touch with that feeling of hard work and that good (i.e. non injured) pain that goes along with it.

I looked at my watch during the first couple of miles but then didn’t bother. I was just trying to hang on and continue to carefully toe that line of racing but not blowing up. Around mile 5, I could tell she was struggling (I was too) and so I gave her some words of encouragement about how well she was doing. She said she didn’t think she was doing that great – so I told her, “Well, you have one mile to change that! Don’t let me beat you!” That seemed to get her going – and sure enough she got a PR. That last mile was brutal. She got ahead and I managed to pour every ounce of energy I had left into one final sprint so that we crossed the line at the same time. We both nearly fell over when we finished. I had no idea what time we got but thought surely that at that effort we must have finished in 45 something. Nope – 47:08! I couldn’t believe it. But I was happy. What a great combination of camaraderie and competition.

So this year, the mini revealed that I have a LOT of work to do before my next race on Aug 3. We’re defending champs of the women’s NYC triathlon relay and I can’t let my team down! It was warm and humid out, and I hadn’t rested much during the week (silly me, deciding to start strength training again a couple days before), so I’m sure that’s part of it. But mostly I just need to get back to the gym, hit the track more regularly, and get rid of those extra pounds I’m carrying. Time to get to work! I’ve started to keep a food journal just to get back into more mindful eating. It’s VERY time consuming (even with myfitnesspal), and I’m proud of myself for sticking with it for 6 days in a row. It’s really increased my awareness of my eating patterns and how I can make some positive changes to optimally fuel my body and help get myself back into racing shape.

As in previous years, I couldn’t leave the post-race festival without getting my medal signed. This time, I got Desi’s signature (as before) as well as Deena’s and Lauren’s, and got to chat with all of them about how they ran, upcoming races etc. Definitely a wonderful experience!

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I made a killer whole wheat pizza packed with veggies as well as some chicken sausage and cheese for my post race meal. YUM. E had just gotten back from a 50 mile bike ride so we both happily stuffed our faces. Here’s the pizza before I popped it in the oven. I love Trader Joe’s dough!

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And now back to the books. I stupidly left some substantial projects for my Sports Nutrition class to the last minute (these summer courses really fly by) and thus tomorrow I’ll be in the library all day rather than enjoying the beautiful weather. I dream that someday I will be done with this program!! The good news is that I finished my clinical rotations last week and only have about 8 more weeks to go before I finish my Dietetic Internship and can take my RD exam. I won’t be truly finished until May 2015, but still…light at the end of the tunnel!

 

Now that you’ve read about E’s recent racing triumphs (which continue to blow me away – a half marathon PR two weeks after his first 50k?!), I suppose it’s time I share what I’ve been up to since Boston. I too ran the Brooklyn Half Marathon this past weekend. No PR for me – that wasn’t the goal – but I had an amazing time, which certainly was part of the goal! It was a great experience pacing E two years ago, but I really enjoyed running for myself this year.

The Brooklyn Half has really changed since 2012. The expo two years ago wasn’t memorable at all, while this year’s expo – or shall I say pre-party, as NYRR aptly called it – certainly was unique! It was a trek getting there, but with beautiful views it felt like an “urban hike” and was worth the effort. Definitely the hippest expo I’ve ever been to, with local food trucks/stands, a bar, DJ/live music, graffiti artists customizing racing shirts (also sporting a cooler design this year), a barber shop (?), coffee bar (with excellent baristas and coffee, of course), and prominently displayed Brooklyn Half hashtags (obviously), all overlooking Manhattan. A great celebration of Brooklyn before taking to the streets!

photo 1 photo 3 photo 4 photo 5

The race is a LOT bigger now than it was in 2012, with over 25,000 finishers compared to around 14,000. And I thought it was crowded back then! The course essentially is a Brooklyn version of the NYC Half, with 7M of rolling hills in Prospect park followed by a flat and fast stretch on Ocean Ave towards the beach (sure beats finishing in downtown Manhattan). It was VERY crowded in the park, and I found it frustrating at times to navigate around everyone particularly at water stations (next time I’ll carry my own small bottle so I can save time), but once we left the park the roads opened up and it was easier to get into a groove. The boardwalk finish was beautiful but I echo E – not fun to sprint on. I was gunning it towards the finish once I saw the 400m sign but then hit a wall of runners on the tiny ramp onto the last stretch, and it was tough to regain my speed on the sandy, slippery surface of the boardwalk. I guess that’s the price to pay for the scenery!

I had a fantastic race, which was a pleasant surprise. I’ve been recovering fairly well post-Boston but lately my legs have felt unusually fatigued. I spend a lot of time on my feet each day and things have continued to be so busy on the school & internship front that I haven’t been able to prioritze my training nor my recovery/sleep for that matter (working on that). I’m in the middle of my 3-week Staff Relief rotation, which is the culmination of my clinical rotations that started in late January. I essentially cover for other RDs and thus am treated more like an entry level dietitian than a dietetic intern, which means that my preceptors push me to see an increasing number of patients in the same amount of time over the course of three weeks. The goal is to reach 10 – I am currently at 7 up from 4 – which may not sound like a lot but believe me, 7 feels hard right now. This push along with less hand holding is exactly what I need and I welcome the challenge, but it has been mentally and physically taxing. I’ve been getting home from the hospital feeling utterly exhausted, body aching. Going for an evening run at that point is the last thing I want to (or have time to) do, but I’ve managed to get out there and squeeze in some miles a few times a week, which usually makes me feel better (emotionally, at least).

I felt pretty miserable when I woke up at 3:45am to make and eat breakfast on race morning, but that changed to excitement once we got to the start. I was aiming to enjoy the race and get a good workout in; if I felt up for it, I planned to run around marathon effort in the park and then gradually speed up towards the finish. Turned out I felt quite strong! I still refrained from going full-out, sticking with a cautious just below marathon pace effort in the park, but when I still felt good at mile 7, I started to pick up the pace and was able to stay around my usual half marathon range. Only in the last mile did my hamstrings start to ache slightly, but otherwise I was extremely comfortable. The weather was awesome which helped – warm but not too hot (there was shade on a large part of the course too) with a lovely but not overpowering breeze. Made the insanely early morning start worthwhile, as the temps began to rise shortly after our finish!

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I ended up finishing in 1:42:03 (Garmin details here), which funny enough is only less than a minute slower than my NYC Half time with far less effort exerted and certainly less prep work done. The atmosphere at Coney Island was amazing. I found E shortly after I finished – since he finished only FOUR MINUTES after me (he’s catching up!!!!!) – and we headed to the post-race party at the stadium for a nap in the sunshine on our space blankets. It was glorious (SO much better than the way too crowded boardwalk two years ago) – with live music, food, great people watching, perfect blue skies…too early for beer but I had a nice buzz going from my runner’s high. Wasn’t too early for ice-cream though, which we got on the way to the subway!

We just barely squeezed ourself onto the Q train back to Manhattan. I felt bad for the non-runners on that train, pressed up against all of us who had just raced. The mixture of smells was extremely unpleasant and I was contributing to it, so I can only imagine how they felt! The fatigue began to set in by the end of that hour-long standing journey. A nice hot shower and crashing on the couch when we got home felt like heaven!

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I managed to make these quinoa pecan muffins (via NY Times recipes for health, pictured on the left) in the afternoon, which I hadn’t made for years. Super tasty, not too sweet and very wholesome! They make a great pre/post run snack, packed with protein, whole grains and healthy fats. We put a touch of jam or honey on ours to make it a bit sweeter, but on its own it would go great with a savory meal. I had some leftover quinoa and quinoa flour so I tried out another version today – this time adding ripe mashed banana, substituting almond milk for skim milk (which I add 1 tsp lemon juice to make “buttermilk”), and coconut oil for canola oil. Definitely preferred version number 2 (pictured on the right) – extremely moist and a touch sweeter from the banana! I ran out of pecans otherwise would have added them. The black specks btw are from the tricolor quinoa I used (ran out of normal). These freeze very well so I popped a bunch into the freezer for quick snacks in the coming weeks!

So another great Brooklyn half in the books – and the verdict is, it’s even better than it was in 2012.  I highly recommend this race and look forward to running it again next year!

 

 

 

 

 

Finish line 5

Marathon weekend and Spring weather (hopefully lasting this time) have finally arrived and I think all runners regardless of what event they’re working towards deserve a HUGE pat on the pack for getting through this particularly tough training cycle. For me, as I’ve blogged about previously, it’s been challenging not only because of the crazy weather, but also the Dietetic Internship, which really ramped up in intensity this past month. My taper has unfortunately been accompanied by several weeks of sleep deprivation ending with a bad stomach bug this past week, nevertheless I’m grateful I was able to complete all my long runs without any major injuries and am now here in Boston ready to tackle this historic course for a second time. My stomach is still a bit queasy here and there, but that could just be the carbo-loading!

Official jacket Last NYC run Entering Hopkinton

It felt a little weird to be back in Boston at first, perhaps because we were on the same exact schedule as last year, which brought back a flood of mixed emotions and chaotic memories. E and I drove up from NYC and arrived around 2:30pm yesterday, spent a couple hours at the expo (sadly we missed all the big names this year), paid a visit to the finish line, took a bunch of photos, and then got settled in where we are staying. I opted to wear last year’s official jacket, even though I caved last week and bought a few items from the 2014 line (pictured above) – that jacket is just SO bright.

As I wandered around, it occurred to me how much things have changed since I last ran Boston, both for me – now married and nearly finished with my internship (last year I had just found out I had not matched, which was very upsetting) – and for the race too. That underlying somber element was of course still present, however, with the sun shining and thousands of people in Red Sox and Boston Marathon gear hitting the streets, I felt mostly positivity and solidarity around me. This was clear from the goodies in my race bag and the banners hanging at the expo to the excited smiles of pretty much every person I encountered. When I visited the finish line, I felt even more grateful than I did last year to have the opportunity to support and celebrate this race. It’s bound to be a good one!

Boston Expo Number pickup Expo goodies

I’ve included above some photos from the expo and below, a few at the finish line (including one of the bombing sites – huge lines to get into the running store). I really love the finisher shirt this year (especially the “Boston as One” with the unicorn logo on the back), my new orange headband (my one purchase of the day), and the little race bag packet including a 26.2 sticker, temporary heart tattoo (which I’ll wear on my arm tomorrow) and a bracelet with a lovely message. It was a really nice touch. Good job BAA!

Finish line 3 Boming site Finish line 2

Finish line 4 Finish line 1

I honestly have no idea how tomorrow will go. I am not fighting off injury as I was last year, but I also am less fit and not as well rested. I’m guessing I may be around 3:40-3:45ish, depending on how hard I feel like pushing myself (my slowest marathon time is 3:41:52, to give some context). Either way, I am trying something different tomorrow that I’ve been meaning to do for awhile. I will not be using a pace band, and I will also be covering up my Garmin (I still want to track the run but want to prevent myself from checking my splits) so I can attempt to run “by feel.” I know I’m not going to beat my hard effort from last year (3:36), but I’ve always been curious to see how I would run if I really listened to my body. It will be unsettling and will take a lot of discipline and trust in myself, but I’m excited to try it out. Even if I end up running a more relaxed race and don’t push myself very hard, I’m very interested to see what my splits will look like. I’m generally a pretty steady runner but maybe it’ll help even more – or not.

Race day is predicted to get up to 68 degrees, which is a tad warm for my taste. I’ve run every marathon in my compression tights thus far but last year I regretted that decision within a few miles of the start, so it’s time to finally try out 26.2 miles in shorts. I love my Lululemon shorts and have run many long runs in them over the summer, but my body has changed since then and I haven’t worn them for more than 9M recently…so I’ll have to slap on a ton of body glide on my thighs and hope for the best!

Here are a few more photos from the weekend, including my friend’s adorable puppy, all my gear ready to go and me this afternoon after my last pre-race run!

Carbo loading with Tessa gear check shakeout run

It’s already late afternoon and I have a pile of work to do for my program, but hopefully I can relax a bit tonight too because mentally, I’m feeling pretty worn out. I also have a really early morning tomorrow despite my 10:25am start (wave 2). Like last year, my friend is driving us out to Hopkinton (where we hang out at another friend’s house until closer to race time), and the roads close a bit earlier this year due to heightened security. We’ll probably also have to do a bit more walking to get to the athletes village, but that’s ok. My parents aren’t here this year (they are taking a break after last year) but I’m excited to see E at mile 25 near the Citgo sign, where he cheered for me last year too. I also will have a few other supporters along the course, and have no doubt the crowds will be even louder than usual. I certainly will be needing the encouragement!

Lastly, E and I found out that we got into the Marine Corps Marathon in October. I can’t say I’m psyched for NYC summer training, but I do love fall marathon running and am looking forward to running a new marathon with E, especially one near his hometown. It also means I have another racing opportunity coming up should I want one, which takes even more pressure off my performance tomorrow.

Good luck to everyone running tomorrow! I’m excited to get out there and experience what I can only imagine will be an incredibly unique race.

Between breaking my 4-year PR at the NYC Half, running my first Boston marathon, getting married and beginning my dietetic internship, 2013 was quite a year! I’m happy to report that I had a very successful (although stressful) semester since my last blog post, as well as a wonderful, much-needed vacation with E to celebrate reaching the half-way point in my internship (2 weeks in California with my family, 1 week in Tulum, Mexico). It was the first time in years that I had time off that was actual time off – no exams to study for, DI applications to complete, wedding planning to do, or anything else to distract me from spending quality time with my loved ones and getting some R&R in between two tough semesters. So much sleep and incredible food. It was awesome, not to mention good timing as we missed some pretty horrendous weather on the East Coast! Bad weather ended up hitting us in Mexico for 4 out of our 6 days, and of course the polar vortex has returned to NYC recently, but at least we got to skip a couple weeks of it! This California girl is not built for extreme cold, that’s for sure.

Here are a few shots from our trip:

Hanging out with my beautiful niece! Ice cream at Bi-rite creamery in SF  SF Two days of sunshine in Mexico better than nothing!

I could use another few weeks of winter break, but overall I’m feeling mentally recharged and ready to get back to it, which is a good thing because tomorrow is my first day of hospital rotations. The hospital is starting me with clinical rotations so I get to dive right into the deep end! It will be a bigger adjustment than starting with food service but this way I get to tackle the most challenging rotations first while the material from last semester is still somewhat fresh in my mind. It’s clear that the next 6 months will make last semester feel like a piece of cake, but I’m looking forward to helping actual patients and getting some great experience.

So with 6 months of hospital rotations ahead of me, as well as another go at the NYC Half and Boston marathons and my RD exam later in the year, 2014 looks to be just as busy, exciting and challenging as 2013. I can’t say that I’m feeling quite as positive about my training as I am about my internship, but I’m doing my best. I’m five weeks into my current  training cycle and with each week I feel like I’m moving backwards. I felt great in my first two weeks while training in California – it’s hard not to when you get run for hours in gorgeous Nisene Marks forest and on the beach in the sunshine! Pure bliss. Also, my hamstring and other niggles seem to have finally healed from all the time off, so although I felt a bit out of shape, I was able to begin speed work again feeling relatively strong.

Cut to being back in NYC and everything just feels ten times harder. I did the exact same tempo run on the treadmill that felt easy in California and could hardly finish it. Same with my interval session. I’m sure not being as well-rested and relaxed played a role, as well as the insanely frigid weather, but it’s still been discouraging. E and I ran 18 miles this past weekend in the coldest weather I’ve ever run in, and 16 the weekend before (which probably was the worst run I’ve had in months). I had three hats on, two pairs of pants, three long sleeve layers/jackets on top of my tank, and resorted to wearing wool socks over my gloves and hand warmers to keep my fingers warm (always my biggest challenge). We were out there for nearly three hours and I’m impressed that we made it to the end. Certainly the type of run that I could not have finished without the company of E and my other running buddies!

I’m not excited about the rest of this training cycle especially since I have to begin training at night, if time even allows for that. My internship obviously takes priority so I’ll just have to see how it goes and fit in whatever I can. It’s looking like Boston #2 may be the first marathon I run without a real time goal, and I’m actually totally fine with that. I ran strong last year and after everything that happened at the finish, I think Boston 2014 is the perfect race to relax my pace and enjoy being out on the course!

Welcome to FFR

Hi, I'm Claire! I’m a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (MS, RD, CDN) and a Road Runners Club of America certified coach. This is where I share my latest adventures in running, racing, food & travel! If you'd like to work with me, please visit my professional website, Eat for Endurance.

My PRs

Marathon (Chicago): 3:33:18
Boston Marathon: 3:36:14
Half-Marathon: 1:37:21
10M: 1:14:52
10k: 44:52

My latest photos

Yesterday’s Sunday Funday impromptu ice cream party with friends! Arielle had her first cone (not her first ice cream, don’t worry). Messy and delicious! How are you celebrating summer with friends and family?
Is there anything better than fresh berries in the summer?? Probably, but really loving my breakfast today. Whole Milk European style yogurt (from TJs), cinnamon, berries, and sesame coconut clusters (another tasty TJs find) + iced coffee with whole milk. 🍓 Super quick, tasty meal before starting our weekend family adventures!
Happy Friday, friends! Working through lunch today at home and thankful for the tasty homemade 🌯 in my freezer. Huge time saver! Tofu, roasted veg, spices, cheese & avo + a popsicle to cool off for dessert. Only one week until our much-needed vacation and not long after that until baby #2 arrives - trying to cram it all in while I can! Along those lines, if you’ve been wanting to work with me, get in touch ASAP while I am still accepting new clients. Have a great weekend!
Here’s a quick & balanced dinner I threw together last week - TJs pumpkin ravioli, roasted mushrooms, and chicken sausage over wild arugula. I cooked the mushrooms with olive oil along with the sausages in the oven while the ravioli cooked - super easy. What are you all making for dinner tonight? I’m commuting home from work and likely heating up a tofu veg burrito I meal prepped this morning!
Post workout breakfast bowl - leftover roasted veg (butternut squash, broccoli, and mushrooms) + pesto zoodles + 2 eggs, iced coffee with half & half, and bowl of berries. Hope you all had a wonderful holiday weekend!
Confused about hydration guidelines? Check out my latest contributions to the @uamapmyrun blog! https://blog.mapmyrun.com/how-much-more-water-do-runners-need-in-the-heat/

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