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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!

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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!

This heat is killing me. I’ve lived in NYC before – I know the drill – but I wasn’t running regularly outside back then nor was I sitting in an un-airconditioned classroom for nearly six hours a day (not sure if that is better or worse than being blasted with too much AC in an office). It’s cooled off this weekend, but I know that probably won’t last for long…

I got back to NYC last Sunday, after a short but wonderful trip to California. It was a painful return, stepping out of JFK into this crazy urban sauna with a month of organic chemistry awaiting me, but I’m slowly settling into my new routine. I just hope my body can adapt to this weather! I attempted to run the day after my arrival – granted, I didn’t start until 10am, but it was brutal. I only ran 6.5M and I was a mess – at least I looked cute in my new Lululemon running skirt! I am so glad I made that purchase – it is very comfortable and lightweight, although I do look like I’m about to go play tennis…

I definitely need to get on an earlier running schedule for Chicago training, which officially begins in a couple of weeks. Fitness-wise, I am not where I had hoped I would be at this stage, having only run three days a week without any speed work at all since March, in addition to some extra pounds from recent weeks. I also don’t have the base mileage I should have going into a somewhat ambitious marathon training cycle – I am at 20-25M rather than 30-35M per week – but that’s okay. My main goal has been to run pain free and as of now my hamstring is doing well. It hurt slightly after my first attempt at speed work on Wednesday (8x1min repeats) despite my taking the pace down a few notches, but I managed to knock out a pretty solid 10.5M run at 8:37 average pace a couple days later in Central Park without any pain.

It will be pretty interesting to see how Saturday’s NYRR women’s mini-10k race goes! I haven’t raced a 10k in a very long time. It will be a great diagnostic tool, and will help me build my training program (currently I only have a skeleton of long runs plus a few races). I’m not expecting an amazing time, given how little I’ve prepared, but hopefully I won’t embarrass myself!

In terms of early morning running, I actually don’t have much choice this month, since my organic chemistry course starts at 9am up in the Bronx! That means 6am start times – yuck. This course is very intense – an entire semester’s worth of material crammed into the month of June. I suppose that’s the definition of all summer classes (this is also my first summer class). I’ve never been a chemistry fan, and the last time I actually took chemistry was in 1999, so to say that I was nervous going into it this whole thing is an understatement. So far I’m managing to hang in there (kind of) and my confidence has increased (slightly). In some ways, it’s refreshing to be problem solving rather than simply memorizing! I almost found myself enjoying it the other day, that is until I got to the much harder material and wanted to throw the book out the window.

We’ve only had two days of class so far and already we have our first of two midterms this week. I definitely haven’t been studying as much as I should be, but hopefully I’ll have a firm grasp of the material by Thursday. I made the executive decision that I need to at least have a partial social life this summer and of course still prioritize my training. Plus, the material is so dense, I feel like there’s only so much time you can actually stare at it before your brain explodes. I think I’ve done a fairly good job of maintaining balance between school, training and fun so far, and I even found some nice places to study in the sunshine that aren’t too distracting. Sleep has been suffering though…I need to work on that.

In other news, I FINALLY got a hospital volunteer position! I have been persistently calling various NYC hospitals since early April, and it was becoming a discouraging process (programs already full, no one returning calls/emails etc). I realize now that it’s just how it goes with hospitals – everyone is so busy and there are so many forms and rules to follow, and things take awhile to process as a result. I was relieved when the manager of Clinical Nutrition and Patient Services at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center called me in to interview last week. It went very well and I was offered the position on the spot – I start on July 2nd (four hours every Monday), or as soon as I am medically cleared. Very excited!

And last but not least, a quick announcement: my coaching gig with Gilda’s Club NYC will be starting soon (our first meeting is in June, first run in early July) and the team still has about ten spots open. If you or anyone you know would like to run the NYC Marathon and raise $3,000 for a great charity, please let me know and I will give you all the details!

Have a great Sunday! As for me, time to hit the books…my head hurts just thinking about it!!

I finished my last final exam on Tuesday morning – and it’s taken me this long for my brain to start functioning normally again! Nutrition & Health on Monday was a piece of cake, but Physiology on Tuesday was a bit brutal. I walked out of there in such a daze that it took most of the day to actually register that I had finished my first semester of grad school! Once it did click, I can’t tell you how great it felt to be done. I just got all of my grades – 4.0 (woo-hoo!) – so it was a very successful start to my program and I’m feeling quite proud of myself.

My freedom is short-lived – two weeks to be exact – but I’m trying to make the most of it. I somehow managed to drag myself to the gym after the exam and then balanced it out by spending the rest of the day in bed watching bad TV. It was amazing. E arrived later that night – that was my real reward for finishing exams, finally seeing him! I had planned for us to do a short tempo session the next morning – just 2M at his goal race pace of 8:20min/mile so I could practice pacing him before tomorrow’s race – but we were both too exhausted to make it happen before his early morning meeting.

While he worked, I spent the day catching up on emails, running errands and doing an internship project up at Physical Equilibrium. I know, not exactly post-exam vacation stuff, but it just felt nice to not have my head in the books. My RD taught me how to process food logs using top of the line software, which gave me a good taste of what I’ll be doing both in Diet Assessment next semester and in my own future nutrition practice. I also met with the owner of the company to sign all the paperwork for my coaching gig with Gilda’s Club NYC – I am BEYOND excited. Our first meeting is in mid-June, and our first scheduled run is in mid July. I’m not sure yet how big our team is, or how much experience our runners have, but I will find out soon.

It was a gorgeous day and I had bailed on my run, so I walked from midtown all the way up to the NYRR office on East 89th street to pick up our Brooklyn Half Marathon numbers. On the way, I stopped at Bloomingdales to get frozen yogurt – while processing food logs, someone had eaten a small frozen yogurt from Forty Carrots and I was trying to estimate serving size. Obviously I had to do some research! 🙂 Let’s just say it was the largest “small” I’ve ever seen in my life. It was at least 2.5 cups, maybe 3? Portion sizes in this country are just insane. But it was so good.

  

It was my first time up at the NYRR headquarters and I thought number pickup was very efficient. There weren’t too many giveaways this time – just a gel – but the t-shirts were WAY better than the NYC Half. E’s number is in the 9000’s and I am in the 5000’s, so I will be heading back to start with him. Even though my coral doesn’t matter for this race, I took the opportunity to speak with someone at NYRR to understand the system better. I didn’t get why I was once again placed in the 5000’s.

Apparently, as a member, you are placed according to the best time you have run with NYRR. You can’t predict a better time or use a best time from another race that is minutes faster – you must prove yourself. Fair enough. However, for non-members, even those who have raced with NYRR before, you simply enter your predicted time and are placed accordingly (which is what I did when I registered E for this race). I wouldn’t mind except that in the NYC Half, I was placed in the mid 5000’s – the runners around me were much slower, which slowed me down in the first mile or so. I finished in the 2000’s which clearly supports that I didn’t belong back there, yet once again, I was placed in the 5000’s! I still don’t get it. They said that I have been placed with other runners whose best pace is 7:39 (for the record, that is not my best pace) – so either Brooklyn Half runners are a lot faster than NYC Half runners or everyone’s best time was from a long time ago. Again, I don’t care for tomorrow’s race, but when I’m actually racing, it’s frustrating and causes me to lose precious time while I weave around everyone. But enough venting…

Yesterday I was supposed to begin a serious apartment hunt – trying to find a decent apartment in NYC has displaced my school stress (this city is the worst) – but I didn’t get too far. It was another beautiful day out and I decided to let myself enjoy if for a few hours. I had a great lunch with a friend at Google (the NYC office is nuts – the food is amazing, I’m very jealous), then wandered around Chelsea Market and walked along the High Line. I also finally treated myself to my first item of running clothing from Lululemon, as a reward for finishing my first semester. I settled on the Run in the Sun skirt – I’ve always been curious about running skirts, and really need more gear for summer. I also liked one of their running shorts, but the liner bugged me slightly. The skirt had longer spandex shorts underneath, which I find far more comfortable.

It was a pretty awesome day until my water bottle opened up and spilled all over my bag – which I didn’t notice until it was too late. All over a book I borrowed from a friend, my wallet, my iPod, and most importantly my iPad. My iPod seems to be okay, thank goodness my phone was in my hand, but my iPad is not faring so well. It seems to have dried out slightly and the sound is now working again, but the screen is a bit messed up. That was my 30th birthday gift – huge bummer. So much for trying to stay hydrated!!

It wasn’t anything a nice dinner with E couldn’t fix, though. We went to Hearth and had a delicious meal – I got a marinated mushroom and ricotta salad to start, veal and ricotta meatballs with spinach cannelloni (can you tell I love ricotta?) and we shared a rhubarb crumble with ginger ice cream for dessert. So tasty!

Today, the apartment hunt continues, and I’m trying to rest up for the race tomorrow too. I’ve walked so much in the last few days, my legs desperately need a break!

Honestly, I’m not sure how tomorrow will go for either myself or E. Normally, running 8:20 pace wouldn’t be anything I would worry about – but I haven’t been running very much the last two months, I’m still recovering from weeks of sleep deprivation and there’s a heat advisory. I also need to be very careful about not running too fast in the early miles – my legs will naturally want to break into half marathon mode and I can’t let them! E has been training but he’s exhausted and jet lagged, and he usually struggles with heat.

But we’re still going to go for it – our goal is sub-1:50 so he can PR and qualify for a seeded start coral in the Chicago Marathon. I’m a bit bummed that we didn’t get to practice pacing, but we’ve run together so many times in the last couple of years I’m sure we’ll be fine. I’m going to wear a pace band and try my best to keep him with me. It will be our first time racing together, his first time racing with someone, and my first time pacing someone, so I’m very interested to see how it plays out. I’ve received strict instructions to only deliver facts regarding time, pace, distance etc and not encouragement, which is against what I would naturally do, so hopefully I can keep my mouth shut and not piss him off. 🙂

Either way, I’m really excited to cross the finish line together. The race is at 7am and we need to get up at 4am – I’m counting on adrenaline to get me revved up! Obviously I am hoping we finish under 1:50 – his goal is my goal, his victory my victory – but given the weather and our physical condition, we can only try our best.

I’m SO relieved it’s the weekend. This past week was more intense than usual – two final exams, a presentation, two quizzes, my last long run before the Brooklyn Half Marathon and a mountain of draining admin stuff to wrap it all up. Bleh. Now it’s Saturday night and I am feeling very content in my PJ’s, chilling out in front of the TV after cooking a really nice meal for myself. Ahhhhh. I have a lot of work to do before this semester is over – one final push from now until May 15th – but it feels good to put my feet up and relax for a bit first.

My exam on Monday, which was for my Food Science lecture, mostly covered baking. I think it went well, although there were a few tricky questions on there. I was more nervous for my Food Science cooking exam on Wednesday – hence the flurry of food photos over the last couple of weeks. The night before the exam, I basically just turned up some music and cooked for four hours. Not a bad way to study, I must say – particularly since I got to eat what I made!

Our exam included an improvised section in which each person got a protein, a grain and a vegetable. I never cook pork for myself, so I pan-seared some pork and had another go at making a sauce. This time I didn’t set off the fire alarm! I deglazed with white wine, used chicken stock and golden raisins. I also sauteed some kale and made brown rice pilaf style, which is a nice alternative to simply simmering rice, as I often do. You heat some olive oil, throw in some shallots (or onions) and let them cook for a minute, then add your rice and coat with oil. Pour in your chicken or vegetable stock, bring to a boil then turn down to a simmer, cover and cook the rice as you normally would, until all the liquid is absorbed. I also practiced making other things, including a cornstarch slurry and a roux. Guess I should make a soup to put that roux to good use!

On exam day, we walked in and chose a station, which included a plate covered with a paper towel. It was stressful, particularly in the beginning as everyone was scrambling around, but I eventually got into a groove and actually started to enjoy myself (well, to an extent)! I did well with my knife skills (we had to dice, julienne, chop, slice and mince) and perfectly poached my egg (was slightly worried about that one). Most importantly, I finished my improvised plate on time and it came out great!

We each got a chicken breast, and I got Brussels sprouts and white rice. I knew exactly what I wanted to do – pan sear the chicken, roast the Brussels sprouts with pecans and cranberries, cook the rice pilaf style with shallots and chicken stock, and then spice up the dish with some roasted red pepper sauce. Timing was tough with the sauce, since it takes at least an hour to make and we only had 40 minutes, but thankfully I was able to start the roasting and other prep while doing my knife skills and techniques. This recipe from Martha Rose Shulman’s NY Times Recipes for Health series was my sauce inspiration – I had made it last year a couple times, and I remember it being sweet, spicy, colorful, and simply awesome. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any yellow pepper – it’s even better when you get both red and yellow. Either way, put it on anything and it tastes great! I loved it with goats cheese on bread or crackers, or on fish, or on chicken or…with a spoon.

I’m particularly grateful I made the sauce because for the first time ever I screwed up searing chicken – it was sticking to the pan and not breaking free when it should have, so I eventually had to pry it away to flip it before it burned and tore the meat. The sauce was the perfect cover up! I wish I had plated differently now that I look at it, but overall I was proud of my dish and my judges seemed impressed. My sauce – particularly the fact that I roasted the pepper – apparently won some points!

 

The best thing about cooking exam week is how much food I’ve had in my fridge – both leftovers and stuff I never got around to cooking. I used my leftover caramelized onions (I practiced sweating and caramelizing), mushrooms and kale to make a kick-ass omelet – with my brown rice on the side. And tonight, I continued my pan searing series and seared marinated tofu, served over broccoli, kale, mushrooms and sweet potato. I had been looking for recipe inspiration the night before my exam, to prepare myself for whichever protein, grain and vegetable I received. For tofu and veg, I visited my friend Kathy’s blog, as she has SO many incredible recipes with beautiful photos. You must try her seared maple tamari tofu – really delicious. I’m always lazy and buy the packaged marinated tofu – after tonight I’m going to try to not do that anymore.

As for running – yes, I realize that FFR has turned into more of an eating than a running blog lately – but I have been running too! I am still only training three times per week – easy, tempo and long – in order to let my hamstring heal as much as possible before I begin marathon training next month. It’s been frustrating – some weeks I feel strong, others not so much – but I know that’s the healing process, and I just have to let it run its course.

This week I reached 25M, which is the most I’ve done since the NYC half. I need to get myself up to a 30-35M base by mid-June, so I’m hoping that’s possible. I ran 5M at E’s tempo pace on Wednesday without difficulty (although with a few hamstring pangs in the beginning), but I seriously bonked on my long run. It wasn’t even that long – only 13.5M – but the humidity and the stress of the week really weighed me down. My legs felt like lead by mile 9 and my hamstring was okay but not feeling as great as it did the previous week. I’m thankful for my running buddy who kept me going in the last few miles – I would have finished had I been on my own, but it’s always nice to have support. I spent the rest of the day totally wiped out on my couch.

Friday’s weather made me realize just how much I’m dreading summer training, especially since Friday wasn’t even that bad. It was a bit warm and quite humid, but nothing close to true NYC summer weather. Don’t get me wrong – I’m extremely excited to train and to coach – but it will take some adjustment. I’m not used to training in that type of weather, nor am I used to marathon training with so little time to train. But I’ll make it work – I always do!

I still haven’t figured out what I’m going to do for my training races. I was counting on the Bronx half on August 12th as my first training race, but they cancelled it, and I can’t seem to find any local replacements (understandably so – who on earth wants to race in East Coast August weather?!). I’m on the fence about September – the Philly half is a possibility, as is Chicago, but both options are somewhat pricey when you take everything into account. I’ll have to think it over and see if anything else pops up – I would hate not to have a dress rehearsal before marathon day!

Time to get back to vegging out. Counting down the days until I see E, run the Brooklyn Half and go home to California to see my family! I can’t wait.

As I write that title, I realize that I’m nowhere close to finishing anything. I’m trying to convince myself that there’s light at the end of the tunnel while I cram for my next two midterms (both on Monday), but I’m a first semester grad student who just started chipping away at a long list of prereq’s. With school, volunteering, training and much more, it’s go-go-go all the time. And this is supposed to be the easy semester!

Forgive me for being a physiology nerd, but this graph kinda sums up my life right now:

If you’re familiar with muscle contraction, then you know what I’m talking about. My big finish line is graduation, and that is a LONG way off – unfortunately it will take me much longer than 300 milliseconds to get there!

However, as with anything, you have to break it down into smaller, more manageable chunks to avoid going insane. I can’t help but focus on the future, but I’m trying my best to also be fully present. I’m trying to enjoy the craziness (it’s stressful but awesome stuff, for the most part) and take things One. Step. At. A. Time.

My physiology midterm this past Tuesday morning was my first big step. It was my first exam in eight years, I studied my butt off for it and I CRUSHED it. I only missed one question! It had been so long since I had taken an important test, the closest thing I can relate the experience to is racing. And really, when you think about it, racing and testing aren’t that different. You set goals, you work hard to prepare – and then you perform and get your results.

I woke up early Tuesday morning and pretty much went into race mode until I handed in my exam. I was even wearing running clothes (since I had planned a tempo run following the exam)! I ate a good breakfast, drank lots of water, gave myself a little pep talk in the mirror and then headed to campus, blasting upbeat music to rev myself up. In the classroom, I blocked out the chatter of my classmates with some calming music, closed my eyes and just chilled out. I was focused and ready, just waiting to begin. I could’ve been at a race start – same exact feeling!

So, with my physiology midterm under my belt and my last NYC half marathon long training run completed as of this morning, I’m going to let myself consider the next couple of weeks my HOME STRETCH! Two midterms and a race – I can handle that. Sure I have another midterm the week after spring break, and mountains of reading, assignments and a billion other things to deal with in the meantime, and then another round of exams shortly followed by final exams, all very tightly packed together, but I’m not going to think about that right now.

What I AM thinking about right now is the incredible bagel I just ate. Whole wheat everything Ess-a-bagel, still piping hot from the oven, with cream cheese and eggs (made a mini omelet with egg white and feta cheese) on top. It was so delicious I nearly cried. Ah I love my post-long run food! The second bagel is taunting me – but I’m going to try to save it for tomorrow morning. I did a HUGE shop at TJ’s earlier this week and have tons of other tasty things waiting to be cooked!

I logged 16.85M this morning at 9:12 average pace, bringing my weekly mileage to 40.45M! AT LAST, I crossed the 40 mile threshold. It’s been awhile – since Portland marathon training, I believe.

Today’s long run was very wet, but awesome – my last long run before the NYC half marathon on March 18th. My hamstring was a bit tight at the beginning and end, and I was tired from not sleeping enough lately, but overall I felt really good. I ran with a friend for the first 11.5M and then finished on my own. As you can see in my Garmin details, we covered most of the race course, which starts on 64th st, loops counter-clockwise around the park, cuts over to the west side highway and finishes at South Street Seaport. I really appreciated the change in scenery – I love Central Park, but after a loop or two I get bored. I suppose one way to alleviate that would be to a loop of the bridal path and reservoir – I’ll do that next time. It was also really nice being able to run back to my neighborhood and immediately stuff my face with a bagel!

I ran in my new shoes, and they were very comfy. I got the same ones I always get – Saucony Omni 10 – but in a new color. Loving the black shoe laces! I almost didn’t wear them given the rain, but I figured they’re bound to get nasty eventually, so it may as well be today! Plus, I need to get some mileage on them before the race. They were soaked by the end of my run, but still I’m glad I wore them.

Lastly, I just wanted to mention that I learned something quite useful in the park from my running buddy today. This is probably common knowledge, and I feel a bit silly admitting this, but I didn’t realize that every lamppost on the loop is marked with a cross street. I often wonder where I am in between the larger park entrances and exits, and now that will never be an issue!

I should probably stop procrastinating and start studying for my Intro to Food and Food Science exam. I wish I could take a nap! Instead I get to learn a long list of food borne illnesses and other things relating to food safety and sanitation; various pigments in fruits and vegetables and how they react when cooked; all kinds of information relating to potatoes; tons of information on fats, oils, sauces and emulsions; how to make stocks; “mother” sauces (that just sounds so wrong to me) and their various uses; and much much more! It’s a lot more complicated than it sounds, but at least it’s all very interesting. My other midterm, Nutrition & Health, is your typical intro to nutrition, so things like dietary planning and guidelines, digestion and absorption of the macronutrients (fats, carbs, proteins) in great detail etc…I’ll tackle that tomorrow. Fun weekend ahead!

Blogging has become a luxury as I approach my first round of exams, but I need a break from the skeletal and muscle systems! The 4th floor graduate study rooms in Bobst have practically become my second home. I’d take a photo but this pretty much sums it up: a table, two chairs, three blank walls (no padding), and a door. Try spending 8-10 straight hours in one of these things for several days – then you’ll know how I’m feeling right about now. At least they’re quiet and great for studying (unlike my apartment).

Also, I can get boxes of cupcakes delivered here, as I found out on Friday! E had arranged for a box of 25 mini cupcakes from Baked by Melissa to be sent to me on Valentine’s Day, but I was – of course – at the library all day and night, and also during the rest of the week. Thankfully, they finally found me on campus and I received my goodies at the library entrance. It definitely brightened up my afternoon – they were so adorable and came in such unusual flavors!

  

Ironically, I was reading about carbohydrates and lipids for my Nutrition & Health class as I proceeded to stuff my face with these little, yet lethal morsels. So wrong, yet so delicious. I ate about half the box and felt a bit guilty but okay, and shoved the rest as far away from me as I could (which was about two feet towards the other wall). But who was I kidding? By 10pm, ALL 25 of those things were GONE. It wasn’t my proudest moment, I must say, and my stomach was not happy with me.

Lesson learned – never get a box of cupcakes delivered to your jail cell library study room, particularly when you’re stressed, tired and don’t have much self control at the best of times! But hey, I was just following orders on the t-shirt E sent with the cupcakes.

I suppose tasting and gorging yourself aren’t exactly the same thing, though…

This week has been a perfect example of what grad school – as well as my NYC half training – has been like recently. Constant ups and downs. I am loving this program and so many amazing things have been happening – equally, I don’t think I’ve been this stressed out or exhausted in a very long time.

Let’s start with the positives – I got an internship! A couple weeks ago, I applied for my first nutrition-related position, since I need to begin building my resume for my dietetic internship application. I started on Friday morning at Physical Equilibrium, a small nutrition and fitness boutique in NYC, with a great RD and I’m beyond excited. The woman I’ll be working with is an ideal mentor for me at this stage of my education – she received her personal training and triathlon coaching certifications before attending NYU’s Master’s program in Clinical Nutrition, then worked in a hospital for several years and gradually transitioned into full time private practice. She splits her time between personal training and nutrition counseling.

The opportunity is a great fit for me as a future RD, while also allowing me to contribute and further develop my coaching, writing and marketing skills. I’ll be doing a wide variety of tasks relating to the private practice – some marketing/PR related, and some more nutrition/researched focused. I’ll gain tons of exposure to running a small business while learning from her diverse nutrition and fitness experience. It will be a wonderful introduction to both industries – it will also give me a sneak peak into what I ultimately hope to do before I begin my clinical training.

This past week’s lab was also quite fun. The basic set up is that we arrive in our uniforms (chef’s coat etc), our teacher talks to us for a bit about what we’re doing that day, we spend the bulk of class cooking a variety of things (each team makes something different) and then we taste and discuss as a group before cleaning up. It’s a bit crazy trying to find everything in the kitchen and finish everything in time before presenting to the class (it really is like those cooking shows), but I love it, especially since my team includes two of my closer friends from my program.

  

We didn’t do any “real” cooking last class – we conducted a few experiments (like adding vinegar and baking soda to two pots of cabbage to see the effects of adding acidic and alkaline substances to different vegetables), practiced basic cooking methods (we had to steam, roast, grill, broil, sweat etc a variety of vegetables), and made applesauce (each team had a different type of apple so we could compare flavors during our tasting). We also learned knife skills – I definitely need to practice my new technique. It’s a bit tricky if you’re not used to it! Next week the real cooking will begin! I can’t wait.

As for the downs…well, I’ve really been a bit all over the place this week. Some days I feel great, others not so much – and that goes for my training as well as my emotions, which for you runners out there know are often linked! School is stressful even when my body is feeling great, so without that exercise outlet, I really struggle. Plus, I was really hoping to do well in the NYC half, and it upsets me that I’ve missed so many important workouts – mainly my speed work, but overall mileage has been very low.

My hamstring, which started to trouble me after I got back from London, was still not feeling well even after several days of rest. I finally dragged myself to a PT on Tuesday and again on Thursday, started to do various exercises she recommended and didn’t run or cross train for several days. Meanwhile, I was spending hours on end sitting in the library, walking less (I have discovered the NYU bus, so it’s a bit easier to be lazy) and not sleeping well, which surely didn’t help things. I finally did a short run on Friday, which felt okay but afterwards I didn’t feel great, I rested yesterday (went for a nice walk along the river) and ran 9 relatively pain free miles today at 8:46 average pace. Here are a couple of photos from my walk – it was such a beautiful night! On a side note, I discovered the voice memo feature on my ipod nano – I created my own physiology “podcasts” by reading my notes aloud for each chapter, so I can listen to them as I walk, run or cook. Pretty handy!

 

My legs are definitely better but I still don’t feel quite right. My energy levels are lower than ideal and my muscles are tight, despite tons of stretching and foam rolling. I’m sure stress is part of it. I’m getting a 75-minute sports massage tomorrow so I’m hoping that will help. I never go this long without sports massage, but as a student in NYC, it’s definitely not something I can afford to do even on a semi-regular basis. But desperate times call for desperate measures!

The half marathon is in a month. I haven’t given up entirely on my hopes for doing well, but I’m realizing that now may not be the best time to put pressure on myself. Clearly my body is sending me a message, and I need to listen. Perhaps I just need to adjust my definition of “doing well.” Either way, school, and my health, must come first. Hopefully by the time Chicago rolls around, I will have managed to find a better balance in my schedule. I keep forgetting that I’ve only been in this program for a month – it feels like so much longer!

At the end of the day, this is what’s important: I am exactly where I want to be. Even in that tenth hour of studying, when I’m burnt out and ready to butt my head against that unpadded wall because I’m convinced I’m going to fail my physiology exam – I never doubt the decision I made to become an RD. I didn’t expect this path to be an easy one, which doesn’t mean I don’t occasionally envy some of my working friends, with their paychecks and social lives, but I know all the pain and joy I’m experiencing right now is part of my chosen adventure.

So let the fun continue – back to learning the muscle system and banging my head against that wall…

Sometimes you need to take a few steps back in order to move forward. This is true whether you’re talking about working on form to improve running economy; practicing long tones to become a better oboist; taking undergrad classes to pursue a Master’s; or getting back to basics in the kitchen to become a more advanced chef! Clearly these are all examples from my own life…

So what’s the first step? Dressing the part, of course! I always feel like I run faster when I’m wearing a kick-ass, high-tech outfit, so obviously I had to get a chef’s coat and some essential chef’s tools to support my future success in the kitchen! Granted, I didn’t have a choice – my Intro to Food & Food Science lab required that I buy these things – but I was happy to do so. I love my new outfit – not the highest quality coat, and certainly not the best knife (the insane amount I already spent on textbooks for the semester forced me to keep my budget low), but they will do for now. Not a bad look, right?!

 

In yesterday’s lab, my professor (who is awesome) did a series of demos on various measuring techniques, kitchen tools and cooking methods. We don’t begin cooking until next week (I can’t wait!). She demonstrated how to fluff and measure flour; sauté pieces of chicken; sear a chicken breast; bread and pan-fry a fillet of fish; poach an egg; blanch and shock broccoli; roast zucchini; sweat onions…and much more.

All sounds pretty straightforward and obvious, right? I thought so too, until class started.

As familiar as I am with cooking methods from eating out in restaurants, reading recipes and attempting to teach myself to cook over the last eight years or so, this class was a bit of an eye opener for me. I can make beautiful salads and cook delicious things, but I’m still a rookie when it comes to many of the basics. This is as much due to ignorance as it is to laziness. As a home chef, I often try to make my food look pretty, but I have never thought about searing a specific side (the “presentation side”) of a chicken breast first, for example. I usually use a knife (rather than a thermometer) to make sure something is cooked thoroughly. And speaking of knifes, my knife skills aren’t great (that’s on the agenda for next week’s class). The multiple scars I have on the tips of my thumbs are proof that I need to improve!

Here are a few examples of what I learned yesterday:

  • I’ve always used the terms pan fry and sauté interchangeably – I didn’t realize that there is a subtle difference between these two dry cooking methods, or if I did I never bothered to find out what it was. Of course, it seems so obvious now – I mean, I studied French…
  • I didn’t know that overcrowding my pan while I was sauteing something might have a greater effect on my finished product than simply taking a bit longer to cook (it essentially turns a dry method of cooking into a moist one – with chicken, you don’t get as much of that nice brown color and the meat becomes dry)
  • I understood the concept of searing, but I didn’t really know how to properly do it myself, or that you could turn the crispy leftover bits (the fond) into a sauce
  • I’ve eaten many delicious braised meats and vegetables, but I’ve never braised anything in my kitchen and didn’t know how something is braised (it’s a combo method – first dry, then moist)
  • When breading something, I didn’t know you put flour on the product first before the egg wash and bread crumbs, meal etc (probably because I don’t usually bread and shallow fry stuff – I prefer healthier cooking methods)
  • I’ve attempted to poach an egg a few times, but I think I used boiling rather than simmering water and it was a slight disaster. Once I bought my silicon egg poachers, I never tried again
  • I’ve blanched vegetables before but not exactly as it should be done (30 seconds). I knew that carry-over cooking occurs, but never actually set up an ice bath to shock my vegetables (although I have run them under the tap before).
  • I observed that blanching enhances the color of green vegetables, but never stopped to think about why that occurs (blanching causes the air to bubble away so that it no longer clouds the chlorophyll pigment that is responsible for the green color of plants)
  • I use my microwave to cook vegetables more often than I should – that I already knew though…I really should be blanching and shocking my veg for stir fries and crudites, for example
  • I’ve been measuring flour completely wrong – I’ve been packing it rather than fluffing and pouring it.

Those are just some of the things I realized in class yesterday!

I love to cook – and I like to think that I make food that both tastes and looks good – but when I’m not using a recipe, I’m often just throwing things together. I’m not really thinking about the science or the method behind what I’m doing, and I use a lot of short cuts, which ultimately means that my food may not taste or look as great as it could. Have I ever perfectly seared a chicken breast? Definitely not. But now I know how to do so! Actually, there are two chicken breasts sitting in my fridge, and I am going to put my new knowledge into action! Or at least I’ll try – and try again until I get it right. That’s all you can do, anyhow.

So why am I babbling about cooking methods? Well, perhaps you might be interested in learning a few cooking basics with me this semester! Primarily, however, I want to stress the importance of slowing down for a moment in whatever you do, either professionally or for fun, once in awhile. Whether it’s running, cooking, playing an instrument or something else – take a step back and evaluate your basic technique – the foundation of your strength and success. You may think you know it all – but my guess is that there is at least a little room for improvement.

I returned late last night from my shortest trip to London yet. I spent two and a half days visiting E from NYC and it was worth every hour of travel (26, to be exact) to spend that time together. I had to blow off studying for a couple days and I’m paying for it now, but I had a great time.

I was actually a bit surprised by how great it felt to be back in London! I enjoyed myself during my last trip in November and it was really sad saying goodbye, but the decision to leave had been made long ago and I was eager to move forward. This time, however, I didn’t really want to leave – it was an escape from reality as well as from the abrasiveness of NYC, and obviously it was wonderful to see E. I nearly got my wish when a snowstorm hit London on Saturday night and shut down Heathrow, disrupting service right up until a few hours before my flight took off at 8pm! Mixed feelings on that one, but I suppose it’s best NOT to be stuck somewhere and miss classes today…

I arrived early Friday morning, a bit of a mess from my crazy week plus the redeye flight, but incredibly excited to see E. The flight – my first time flying with Virgin Atlantic – was practically empty and getting to E’s flat went very smoothly. It took 13 hours door to door, using public transportation on both ends – not too bad! London seemed so calm, particulalry E’s flat which is ironic given that I always used to complain about the noise (he lives near a busy street). Everything is quiet compared to NYC, I guess! I forgot just how chilled out London is by comparison – more parks, less noise, not as claustrophobic. I miss it.

 

We headed to Borough Market for some Monmouth coffee (I brought home three bags – very exciting) and some of my favorite goodies, including Comte cheese (the best!), oak roasted tomatoes (SO amazing – like sun blushed but WAY better) and homemade ginger granola. I always love going back to Borough Market – it’s comforting to see all the same vendors, some of whom recognize me from my years of weekly visits.

 

We relaxed for most of the day – it was FREEZING out and I was very jet lagged – but we had a nice meal at The Garrison, one of our favorite local gastropubs. I wasn’t over the moon about what I ordered, but the atmosphere was awesome as usual – very cozy and bustling.

Saturday morning we headed out to the river for a 9M run. It was peaceful and relatively nice weather, although a bit chilly. E has become so much faster in the last year or so – I really am impressed. I had to tell HIM to slow down at times (well, mainly because I was trying to do a steady, easy run and he kept surging every mile or so, but still). My legs definitely feel SO much better after this past week – I’m glad I took three full rest days and only ran 23 miles.

Our run was followed by coffee with a friend and then an early dinner at one of my favorite London restaurants – Boca di Lupo. We sat at the chef’s counter, which is always my favorite place to sit (I love watching the chefs). However, this time was a bit different. Ever since my Food Safety lecture in Intro to Food & Food Science, I have become VERY aware of all the things that should and should not be done in restaurant kitchens. I couldn’t help but watch the chefs – particularly the grill – with a very critical eye and analyze the death out of what they were doing. I was cringing as I saw about twenty different examples of cross contamination, among other things, and of course I couldn’t shut up about it. E was ready to kill me!! But our food was delicious as always – malfatti with ricotta and spinach; celeriac, radish and pomegranate salad with parmesan shavings and truffle vinaigrette; and profiteroles with hazelnut, chestnut and pistachio gelati and chocolate sauce (pictured below). We also got an amazing sausage dish, a veal chop and a lovely carafe of red wine. I can’t tell you how much of a treat this was – I haven’t been out to eat much these past few weeks and really missed it!

    

During dinner, it suddenly started to snow! We were so surprised. We had planned to meet some friends across town at a pub after dinner – by the time we got there it was a full on snow storm, which is pretty unusual for London. I apparently bring winter wherever I go – first NYC and then London! At least we were nice and cozy inside the pub with our pear ciders, and it was awesome catching up with my London “framily.”

 

 

E and I had to walk 15 minutes to get back to the flat. We were soaked by the time we got home. I was also a bit stressed out that so many flights were being cancelled, including the Virgin flight to Newark right before mine. However, I couldn’t do anything about it, so I just tried to focus on having fun. Got some great shots during the walk back – and yes there wasn’t THAT much snow, but London shuts down even after a dusting! Ridiculous.

         

We slept in Sunday morning and had a fabulous lunch at Zucca, another local favorite on Bermondsey street. I forgot how great my old neighborhood is! I packed up and checked my flight status – on time! What a relief. E of course was bummed out – apparently he had been conspiring with the weather to keep me in London!

E accompanied me to Heathrow which was very sweet. Saying goodbye was tough as always, but he’s running the NYC half in mid-March so we’ll be seeing each other again soon. Meeting up every month or so until he is able to move to NYC (by this summer, we hope) is doable.

The airport was mayhem and I had a bad experience at the Virgin check in counter (never have I heard of a 6kg weight limit for carry ons – stupid) but the flight went smoothly and I even had a free seat next to me.

It’s going to be a very busy week trying to catch up with school and get back into a more intensive training schedule, but hopefully my lovely weekend in London will provide me with plenty of inspiration to get through it! At least it’s sunny in NYC…

My news for today is that I registered for the Chicago Marathon! I’ve had my sights set on this race for awhile now, but with the craziness of registration these days, you never really know what the calendar will hold until you see an email like this:

So, October 7, 2012 will be the big day – the day that I reclaim my BQ!! At least that’s my goal…I’m announcing it now to make sure I stick to it! Racing 26.2M in 3:30-3:33 is a bit ambitious considering how busy I will be with grad school, work etc, but I’m going to give it my best shot. I know that I’m capable of achieving it if I’m lucky enough to remain injury free throughout training, run strong on race day and of course have favorable conditions. This race is notorious for hot weather in recent years, but it’s a risk I’m willing to take in exchange for a relatively flat course. And if you’re wondering about the 3:33 upper limit – that’s because Boston still adheres to a faster runners get priority policy. After the fiasco of last year’s registration (where I qualified but missed out by 50 seconds), I’m not taking any chances!

And hey – if I fail, I fail – but that’s how these things go. You work hard, you set a lofty goal (but within your reach), you go for it and hope for the best! If you don’t succeed, then you pick yourself back up and learn how to improve for next time. Easier said than done for sure, but it’s the way you grow and achieve greatness.

Either way, whether I qualify or not, I’ll have E by my side. Well, not technically speaking – we never actually run races together – but we’ll be in it together, supporting each other every step of the way from registration today through post-marathon celebrations in October. We ran our first marathon “together” in NYC 2010, my first BQ race. I was incredibly grateful not only to have achieved my goal, but also to be able to celebrate with someone I love who understood exactly how I felt, down to waking up the next morning and hardly being able to hobble to the bathroom! I am fiercely independent and I love my alone time, but shared marathon experiences – whether they are with friends or romantic partners – are far more meaningful to me. At least that’s what I’ve found based on my own races.

Equally as important, I’ll also have my parents supporting me on the sidelines – Team Claire back in action! I missed them in Portland and am so pleased that they decided to make the journey to Chicago from California. They’re always superstar spectators and knowing that they’re waiting to see me really helps to keep me going when things get tough.

And since we’re on the topic of tough, I got my butt whipped on the track yesterday! That photo above is my post-track “holy crap I survived” face. What seemed like a hard but not overly strenuous or long workout ended up being a 9+ mile, VERY challenging session. I’m sure doing strength training for the first time in ages the day before and not really sleeping much for several days due to late nights of studying didn’t help! I ran 1.1M easy, 7M at the track: 2x [1200 @ half mara pace (400 rest), 2×800 @ 10k pace (200rest), 4×200 @ 5k pace (200rest)], 1.23M easy. I aimed for 7:24 (1:50/lap), 7:13 (1:47/lap), and 6:55 (0:50/200m) approximate paces. My average splits were relatively close to goal times (except my second set of 800s), but my lap splits were pretty inconsistent, at least with my 1200s and 800s (went to fast then too slow – ie second 1200 was 1:48, 1:49, 1:55; first 800 was 1:45, 150).

My splits show that I was pretty solid with my 200s, but a bit all over the place with everything else. Aside from really trying to force myself to slow down in my initial laps during my next track session, I might also slow down my goal times to see if that helps achieve more consistency. REP ONE: 1200 – 5:30.2 overall time, 1:49.93 avg lap time; 800 – 3:35.9, 1:47.95; 800 – 3:37.3, 1:48.65; 200s – 50.92 avg (50.5, 50.8, 51.6, 50.8). REP TWO: 1200 – 5:33.6, 1:51.2; 800 – 3:38.1, 1:49.05; 800 – 3:37.1, 1:48.55; 200s: 50.47 avg (50.9, 51.0, 50.2, 49.8).

In school news, things are still going great! I had my first Food & Food Science lab this morning in the department kitchen – love my instructor and the section I’m in is mostly made up of grad students, which is nice given that all my other courses have tons of undergrads. I bought my chef’s knife and instant read thermometer today – just need my chef’s coat and I’ll be ready for official culinary training! I’m continuing to meet great people in my program and am feeling more and more like this is where I belong. The work is still overwhelming and challenging, but I know I’ll get through it.

Here’s a delicious dish I made for myself after a very long day in class:

This was so easy to make and extremely tasty. I literally grabbed whatever vegetables I had left in my kitchen – in this case, shallots, baby zucchini and red pepper – sliced/diced and sauteed them with some golden raisins, added the mixture to the quinoa (which I cooked in chicken stock to add flavor), and then threw in some toasted pine nuts (which I LOVE in quinoa). Sprinkled feta on top plus some cherry tomatoes and that was it! I used about a cup of dry quinoa and it made two servings – the leftovers were great for lunch the next day on top of salad, which I really appreciated during an endless study session in the library.

And I’ll leave you with a sign I saw above Marion Nestle‘s NYU office which I love – if it were my sign, I’d replace “cookie” with “dark chocolate peanut butter cup.” But hey, I’ll take cookies too!


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

This morning's breakfast bowl isn't exactly pretty, but really delicious and filling! Two fried eggs in a pan with black beans (I used 1/2 cup = 1 serving), a little feta, a few spoonfuls of ricotta, some pesto (random but had some leftover and tastes great with eggs), and 1/4 avocado. Cooked all together for a high protein tasty breakfast! Awesome @onepeloton endurance ride earlier today with my buddy @mattwilpers before enjoying some family time outdoors on this beautiful day. Arielle came to visit afterwards and clearly is a big Peloton fan too! Speaking of which, check out the latest episode of the Clip Out (a Peloton fan podcast) - had such a great time talking all things nutrition and Peloton with @clipoutcrystal and Tom, who are hilarious btw! (Link in bio - my segment ~20min in). Wishing everyone a very happy first day of Fall! 🍁🍂 It's my favorite time of year to get out into nature and go for a run. L'Shana Tova to those who celebrate! We started the New Year with some apple picking at @wilkloworchards on our way back to NYC yesterday. Was so much fun, and Arielle was a great little helper! We don't have much food in the house after being away so these crisp local apples with almond butter will be our tasty, healthy snacks today. Getting ready for the loooong drive back to NYC after unplugging in Lake Placid for my bday! Fueling with a bowl of 5% plain Greek yogurt, bananas, peaches, and apple cinnamon granola. Not much of a view from our balcony this morning of Mirror Lake - swipe right for our view yesterday! So beautiful and peaceful here - minus screaming baby, of course. 😂 #Tbt to earlier this week, when one of my awesome @nutritionenergy clients surprised me with a @levainbakery cookie after we talked about them at our last session. I had planned to save half for my husband (those cookies are seriously dense!), but it was so delicious, I changed my mind and had the second half later in the day. Did I feel bad about it afterwards? Did I end up skipping dinner or working out more to compensate? Nope! I had already eaten a healthy balanced lunch, and it's not everyday that I enjoy such a decadent treat (although you will find me having smaller treats quite often 😀).

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