Monthly Archives: January 2013

So, About This Weekend …

Happy Thursday, everyone!  Who’s ready for the weekend?  I can’t wait for Friday to arrive—lots of fun and fitness planned.  More on that in a second …

Lunch

Shortly after inhaling that delicious pear muffin from the Union Square Greenmarket yesterday, I sat down for a real meal—leftover spicy black bean quinoa with some avocado slices.

1:30-lunch-spicy-black-bean-quinoa

The recipe I shared was fairly conservative on the spiciness scale, so I’ll definitely add more Tabasco next time.

Dinner

I promise there’s some turkey on this Paleo pizza; I went a little heavy on the cheese.

1:30-dinner-paleo-pizza

Plus some roasted veggies on the side.

Breakfast

After sleeping in and enjoying two cups of coffee, I experimented in this kitchen and tried to make a protein pancake, but failed miserably.  Can’t win ‘em all.  I eventually settled on waffles.

1:31-breakfast-waffles

And in related news, I’m totally out of nut butter.  Grocery shopping must happen today!

Anyway, I’m pumped tomorrow’s Friday because my parents and one of my sisters are coming to visit—and celebrate my birthday!  I turn the big 2-3 on Feb. 5, so it will be nice to kickoff the festivities early, especially since Tuesday will be relatively low-key—can’t forget about Wednesday morning’s 5:45 a.m. indoor cycling workout, so it’s safe to say my 22nd birthday shenanigans won’t be replicated.

22-birthday

Homemade cupcakes and Pinot Grigio.

This means I’m officially an adult, huh?

In addition to spending quality time with the fam, I’m also running a race this weekend?

Gridiron-4-miler-NYRR

How did my type-A/slightly-ODC self overlook this?  Remember when I planned to run the Dash to the Finish Line 5-K, which was ultimately cancelled thanks to Hurricane Sandy?  Well New York Road Runners (NYRR) agreed to transfer race registration and gave runners four or five options.  Basically, most of these choices were longer races (10-13.1 miles), and although it would be fun to run 10 miles (#runnerd), this distance doesn’t match my training goals.  Luckily, the Gridiron 4-miler is more aligned with sprint- and Olympic-distance triathlons—the Nautica South Beach Triathlon actually contains a four-mile run—so I promptly signed up.  And obviously forgot about it!  Let’s just say this will be an interesting experience:  One, I can’t throw a spiral—there’s a “longest throw” contest, which I might conveniently miss—and two, this will be my second time ever running in Central Park, so the hills might kill me. (Ha—I’m so in trouble!) With this in mind, my only goal for this Superbowl Sunday run is to follow the “shorter, shorter, quicker, quicker” approach the entire time (aka this will be a training run.)

Time to head to NYRR for race material pickup!

Have you ever overlooked/forgotten about a race or important event?  How did you handle it?

My New Nickname

So what’s in a name? Or better yet, what’s in a nickname? My first few stemmed from my actual name—my family and close friends commonly call me Care and Carebear—but it wasn’t until 8th grade basketball that I received my first true nickname: Red. (You know, because of my curly red hair.)

high-school-basketball

[source]

Ah, the sweet glory days of 2008. Just winning a sectional championship. All in a day’s season’s work.

It stuck, and during the next four years of field-hockey, basketball, softball, and track, I was known as Red. I liked having an athletic alter ego: I could be Carrie in the classroom and Red on the court. (Except in my economics class senior year—my basketball coach was the teacher, so I was Red.) Sadly, the nickname didn’t carry over from high school to college, so I’ve been nickname-less for a while.

Until this morning.

Workout #1 – Biking
Recovery week continued with an indoor cycling workout alongside my Full Throttle Endurance teammates. But you want to hear the nickname story, right? Here it goes: Remember how I bought a new heart rate monitor last week? Before starting practice, Andrew synced it with the Suunto training system, and in addition to sections for standard information (age, height, etc.), there was an area to input for a nickname. Here’s how our exchange went down:

Andrew: “Nickname?”
Me: “Carrie is fine.”
A: “No, it’s not.”
[Pauses, then begins typing.]

nickname-young-c

You can now call me Young C—because I’m the youngest member on the team. Ha!

Oh, and the ride went great. Seeing my heart rate and zone level let me know if I should increase, maintain, or decrease effort (or gear or cadence). Now that I can see these values during workouts, I need to teach my body how to recovery quickly. For example, we did some high-cadence drills (110 RMP for one minute), followed by steady efforts (90-95RMP for three minutes), and a few of my teammates were able to drop from the yellow zone to the blue zone in three minutes. (The Suunto training system has green, blue, yellow, orange, and red zones that show riders how close they are to maximum heart rate.)

Workout #2 – Running
After biking, I quickly laced up my sneakers and hit the indoor track. This was my first true bike-run brick since the summer, so I had no idea how it would go—and surprisingly, it went well. During past bricks, my entire lower body would immediately feel like stressed—or maybe distressed?—jello (triathletes, you know the sensation), but today, everything held up OK. I did experience some calf cramps, but nothing too painful.

Breakfast #1
Before heading to a work fitness event, I inhaled a banana and vanilla Chobani yogurt.

1:30-breakfast-chobani

Plus my second cup of coffee!

Breakfast #2
Around 9:30 a.m., I found myself in the Union Square area, so I stopped at Whole Foods for a hot-bar breakfast.

1:30-breakfast-whole-foods

Egg whites, huevos rancheros, and turkey bacon. So random, but so good. And since I was conveniently in the heart of the Union Square Greenmarket, I picked up some apples—and a sweet treat.

1:30-union-square-greenmarket

Give me carbs!

1:30-pear-muffin

This pear muffin was absolutely delicious.

Did you have a nickname growing up? How about for sports?  If you could give yourself a nickname, what would it be?

Spicy Black Bean Quinoa

Happy Tuesday, friends!  I hope your week is off to a great start!  As promised, I have a recipe to share with you today—spicy black bean quinoa.

spicy-black-bean-quinoa6

There’s so much to love about this recipe:  it’s healthy, nutritious, delicious, and above all, easy to prepare.  It’s a no-fuss dish that calls for less than 30 minutes in the kitchen, yet lasts the entire week.

spicy-black-bean-quinoa

As you can tell from the Tupperware, I’ve gotten in the habit of preparing a batch every Sunday to have on hand for weekday lunches.

spicy-black-bean-quinoa2

Here’s a tip:  Wilt spinach in the microwave for 30 seconds and then layer the quinoa on top.  More veggies for the win!

spicy-black-bean-quinoa4

Spicy Black Bean Quinoa

Inspired by Anne P.’s Vegan Mexican Quinoa Salad

Ingredients:

1 cup uncooked quinoa

1 cup water

1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 red pepper, chopped

1 orange pepper, chopped

1 yellow pepper, chopped

1 cup salsa

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon Tabasco

pepper to taste

1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped

1 ripe avocado (optional)

Directions:

1.  Combine quinoa, water, and vegetable broth in a pot.  Bring to a boil, then cover, reduce to a simmer, and cook 10 to 12 minutes (until all liquid is absorbed).

2.  Let quinoa cool, then combine in a large bowl with other ingredients.

3.  Cut avocado and top portion with a few slices.

Happy 200th Anniversary, ‘Pride and Prejudice!’

Good morning, friends!  I hope you enjoyed the weekend!  Alas, it’s moan Monday, but here’s some good news:  today marks the marks the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

it-is-a-truth-universally-acknowledged

[source]

What—you don’t know the anniversary of one of your favorite books?

Yes, I’ve read this novel more times than I can count, and this book seems to get better and better each time.  Even though I liked Pride and Prejudice when I finished it for the first time in middle school, I definitely grew to appreciate it after each subsequent reading; there’s no better way to start high school Christmas break or college winter break than paging through a favorite book.

Even though the story takes place in the 19th century, Austen’s text defines timelessness.  Elizabeth Bennet is one of my favorite literary heroines, and I relate to her on so many levels.  Pride and Prejudice contains so many timeless characters—I know people who so closely resemble Mary Bennet and Charlotte Lucas it’s scary—and fortunately or unfortunately, there was a George Wickham-esque character during my high school days. (Interestingly, it took me a while to make the connection—I felt like I knew him from somewhere, yet couldn’t put my finger on it—so I didn’t make the Wickham distinction right away.  However, this dude eventually proved to be a 21st century, high school version of this character.) So, even though Austen wrote Pride and Prejudice two centuries ago, the characters she crafted proved to be universal, timeless, and totally spot-on—you go, Jane!

jane-austen-doll-2010

Just a Jane Austen doll at The Strand.  Totally normal, right?

Anyway, I have no probably admitting that I’m a Janeite“the self-consciously idolatrous enthusiasm for ‘Jane’ and every detail relative to her”—so it should come as no surprise that after my high school graduation, my parents and I traveled to London, and we also visited Bath for a few days, mainly to visit the Jane Austen Centre.

jane-austen-centre-bath

2008 throwback.

jane-austen-centre2

welcome-to-the-jane-austen-centre

My mom and I were in heaven, and my dad was such a trooper!  Although he did “read” Northanger Abbey—at least every other page.

In college, I even took a class titled “Jane Austen in Film.” (Liberal arts institution for the win!) We read a bunch of her books—including Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Northanger Abbey, and Mansfield Park—and then watched and analyzed their film adaptations.  Oh, and we also took a country ball dancing class.

elizabeth-and-darcy-pride-and-prejudice-movie

[source]

Dancing might not seem challenging, but I was a hot, sweaty, and confused mess by the end!  During Austen’s days, dancing and attending balls allowed young people to interact with each other—away from the watchful eyes chaperones.  Plus, an individual’s proficiency on the dance floor was thought to be directly related to how good of a spouse they would be. (Remember how Mr. Collins royally messes up and proves to be an embarrassment?) After taking this class, I couldn’t imagine looking presentable (aka not sweaty), dancing gracefully, and engaging in witty banter.  Talk about pressure!  Although I would solider through the above if I got to wear one of those gorgeous dresses.

jane-austen-dresses

[source]

And speaking of dancing, the Netherfield Ball is set to take place this spring.  Anyone want to go?

Of course, going to a ball brings up the dividing question among Pride and Prejudice fans:  Who’s your Mr. Darcy—Colin Firth or Matthew Macfadyen?

pride-and-prejudice-mr-darcy

Sigh.

Have you read any of Jane Austen’s classics?  Which novel is your favorite?  Who’s your favorite literary heroine?

Write It Down, Do It Up – Week of Jan. 27

Umm, how it is the last weekend of January?  Didn’t 2013 just arrive?  Crazy!  After completing a great indoor bike trainer ride and taking a trip to the Union Square Greenmarket yesterday, I spent today catching up on life—doing laundry and lots of meal prep like roasting veggies and sweet potatoes, plus making a batch of spicy black bean quinoa.  I’ll share the recipe later this week!

spicy-black-bean-quinoa4

In terms of upcoming workouts, the next seven days will take the form of a recovery week (as per Full Throttle Endurance’s training approach—three weeks building intensity, one week resting and recovering).  Honestly, I have mixed feelings about backing off this week, mainly because I feel like my technique in the pool and power in the saddle seem to be clicking; however, I know this active downtown will help prevent injury and overtraining.  Andrew also recommended getting a sports massage or visiting an acupuncturist this week, and I hope to get a massage (my first ever!) sometime on Wednesday.  I also have a few FitFluential events this week, plus an appointment at Finish Line Physical Therapy for a complimentary performance baseline screening—and a chance to run on the AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill!  Here we go—Write It Down, Do It Up!

(If you’re new to WIDDIU, here’s how it works:  Every Sunday evening, I post my workout schedule for the week, and I invite you to do the same.  This way, we can motivate each other and hold ourselves accountable.  Sounds like a win-win, right?)

Monday – a.m. run with Full Throttle Endurance (FTE); a.m. swim

Tuesday – a.m. run and strength train

Wednesday – a.m. bike with FTE; a.m. run or swim

Thursday – off

Friday – a.m. swim with FTE; a.m. run

Saturday – off

Sunday – bike and strength train

Did you set any January workout/fitness goals?  How have you noticed improvements?

Something Clicked

Happy Saturday, everyone!  How’s your weekend going so far?  Last night, I hit up happy hour at Brother Jimmy’s BBQ with Sara, which included margaritas and fries; no pictures, unfortunately.  This morning, I had a leisurely breakfast and completed a full-body strength training workout before tackling a 75-minute indoor bike trainer ride.

1:26-indoor-bike-trainer-ride

This was the best ride I’ve had in a while—and something definitely clicked.  The training scheduled called for a steady zone two workout (aka not super challenging), and I remained in the aero position the entire time.  Granted, I wasn’t pushing big gear by any means, but my legs felt fresh and noticeably stronger; I didn’t seem to be working as hard to turn my legs over and maintain an ideal cadence.  Maybe last night’s strawberry margaritas deserve the credit?  Ha—just kidding!  Anyway, after pedaling through the first half and watching the disappointing result of the Syracuse-Villanova basketball game (I don’t want to talk about it), I headed to the Union Square Greenmarket.

1:26-union-square-farmers-market

It was a little chilly, so the amount of people there was a pleasant surprise.  However, since the SU game went into overtime, I missed a lot of my go-to vendors.  Le sigh.

Enjoy the rest of your Saturday!

My Arms Might Fall Off

It’s here—happy Friday, friends!

excited-about-friday

[source]

Am I right?

Just a quick heads up for #TriChat tweeps—Jen and I will host the next Twitter conversation on Feb. 3 at 2 p.m. EST to accommodate for that football game the Superbowl. (Hey, I’m a baseball and college basketball fan, what do you want?)

#TriChat-logo

We’ll also welcome guest host USA Triathlon, and we’ll be chatting about everyone’s *favorite* part of the triathlon—the swim!  Speaking of …

Workout #1 – Swimming

Today’s Full Throttle Endurance swim marked our final tough workout of this training cycle—which meant Andrew was going to push us.  As soon as I hopped in the pool, I noticed my hamstrings felt tight (probably from yesterday’s class at Yoga Vida), but they thankfully loosened right up.  First, we cycled through tech drills and then began our main set:  6×50 alternating between easy and solid efforts, 6×50 alternating between kicking and swimming, and the final pull exercises—6×100 build.  Holy cow.  For the first three sets, I completed the build (slow, steady, moderate, and hard efforts) somewhat successfully, but my arms burned for the final tree—and now they fell like they might fall off!  What I found interesting about my fast-lane group (I know—what the what?!) was the girls killed the kicking drills while the boys kicked butt with the pulling.  This is probably because women usually store their strength in their lower bodies while men have more upper-body strength.  Anyway, after practice, Andrew suggested getting sports massages (or going to an acupuncturist) this weekend, so I’m open to recommendations, NYC peeps.

Workout #2 – Running

After a quick wardrobe change, I hit the ‘mill for a 40-minute progression run.  Although I’ll do almost anything to avoid the dreadmill, it was necessary this morning; I didn’t want to run outside with wet hair, and I didn’t trust myself to consistently increase my pace on the indoor track.  Surprisingly, it went well—even if I reeked of chlorine.

Breakfast

My coffee maker imploded this morning, so I stopped at Starbucks on my way back from practice and then refueled with my standard spinach and egg white breakfast sandwich.

1:25-breakfast-spinach-egg-whites

With some mashed avocado for good measure.  I was still hungry about half an hour later, so I snacked on a piece of peanut butter banana bread.

1:25-peanut-butter-banana-bread

Mmmm!

Do you have a stronger upper or lower body?  Which do you prefer to strength train?

PS – I made my debut as a “fitness model!”

Peanut Butter Banana Bread

Happy National Peanut Butter Day, friends!  How are you celebrating this creamy, crunchy, and always delicious holiday?  If you answered baking, then I have a tasty recipe for you.

peanut-butter-banana-bread3

Although I considered making cookies or peanut butter granola, I decided to pay homage to one of my favorite food combos—PB and banana.

peanut-butter-banana-bread5

And quite fittingly, three bananas in my basket turned brown, signaling they’re ripe for picking baking.

peanut-butter-banana-bread2

The secret to this recipe is the chopped peanuts; I can’t believe I nearly nixed them!  Their crisp crunch balances the moist banana and creamy peanut butter.

peanut-butter-banana-bread

Here’s to you, peanut butter!

peanut-butter-banana-bread6

Peanut Butter Banana Bread

Adapted from Joy the Baker

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups mashed ripe bananas

1/3 cup plain fat free Greek yogurt

1/3 cup creamy all-natural peanut butter

3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted

2 large eggs

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 cup whole-wheat flour

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup ground flaxseed meal

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 cup chopped dry roasted peanuts

Directions:

1.  Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  Grease and flour a 9×5-inch loaf pan.  Set aside.

2.  In a large bowl, whisk together flours, flaxseed meal, baking soda, salt, and ground cinnamon.

3.  In a medium bowl, whisk together mashed bananas, Greek yogurt, peanut butter, and melted oil.  Whisk in eggs and sugars.  Blend mixture until smooth.

4.  Pour wet mixture into larger bowl with dry ingredients.  Fold together with a spatula until no more flour bits remain.  Fold in chopped nuts.  Pour batter into prepared baking pan and bake for 55 to 65 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.

5.  Remove from oven and allow to cool in pan for 20 minutes before moving bread onto a wire rack to cool completely.

You knew this question was coming–crunchy or smooth?

Top Health and Fitness Blogs Award

Happy Hump Day!  I hope you’re staying warm; it’s crazy cold here.

1:23-nyc-weather

Since I’m from the tundra Central New York, I should be used to this weather and shouldn’t be complaining.  On the bright side, at least there’s no snow.  Anyway, I have some exciting news to share today:  Fitness and Frozen Grapes won an award!

top-health-and-fitness-blog

eCollegeFinder recently released its list of the best “wellness, health, and fitness blogs on the Internet,” which it calls the “greatest resources in the health and fitness blogging community,” and someone (thank you!) nominated me!  If you want to add more blogs to your reader, then definitely check out the other winners, including Alex and Hollie!

Workout #1 – Biking

Another Wednesday, another Full Throttle Endurance indoor cycling session.  During our 10-minute warm-up, Andrew confirmed this week is our last big push for the month, meaning we’ll back off the intensity on Monday.  With that in mind, we completed a killer workout today that focused on increasing cadence and building strength.  It wasn’t exactly like Monday’s “shorter, shorter, quicker, quicker” workout, though.  We started off with some high turnover rate drills (one minute greater than 110 RPM, then one minute at 90 RMP; repeat four times).  Next, we increased resistance and maintained cadence, and finally we completed four intervals at 80-90 percent effort.  Whew!

Workout #2 – Swimming

Next, I hopped in the pool for a reverse-brick workout. (The training schedule called for a swim, but a few of my teammates brought sneakers so they could practice running off the bike, which I plan to do next week.) Let’s just say it’s a good thing the bike comes after the swim during an actual triathlon.  I tried to work through the drills and maintain good technique, but I felt totally gassed after 20 minutes.  I wanted to push through and swim for half an hour, but I could feel my form going down the tubes, so I called it a day.

Breakfast

After having my hair freeze walking back to my apartment, I wanted oatmeal and not my usual breakfast sandwich.  Since I have a few super ripe bananas, I figured “oatless” oatmeal would be perfect.

1:23-breakfast-oatless-oatmeal

And it was indeed—with some strawberries and almond butter.  So not only did my breakfast choice prove surprising, but so did my luck shopping for big-girl internship clothes!

1:23-shopping-gap

The Gap came through—dot legging jeans, print denim top, navy blazer, and three pairs of socks.  I guess navy/denim is in right now?  Ha!  Would it be bad to say another purchase made me just as excited?

suunto-heart-rate-monitor

The indoor cycling studio at Chelsea Piers has a state-of-the-art Suunto heart rate training system, so people can wear compatible heart rate monitors that track and display data on three huge screens located at the front of the room. (The system also emails the wearer stats at the end of each workout, so they can track improvement.) During our spin sessions, Andrew relays target heart rate percentages for each drill (70 percent, 80 percent, etc.), so this Suunto monitor ensures I’ll be on track.

Lunch

More leftover spicy black bean quinoa.

1:23-lunch-spicy-black-bean-quinoa

There’s some wilted spinach underneath the avocado and quinoa, promise.

Would you rather shop for “real”/work clothes or fitness apparel?

Wild Book Review

Is it just me or has the healthy living blogosphere exploded with praise for Cheryl Strayed’s Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail?

wild-cheryl-strayed

This memoir has been on my radar for a while, and while home for the holidays, I told my Colorado-based, seasoned-hiker cousin about it; we decided to start a virtual book club and chose this text as our first read.  On the train back to New York City, I couldn’t stop reading:  Strayed’s honest tone and carefully crafted narrative caught my attention.  Overall, I liked Wild, but wouldn’t readily recommend it; I wouldn’t classify it as a must-read.

Brief Summary

From Amazon.com:

A powerful, blazingly honest memoir: the story of an eleven-hundred-mile solo hike that broke down a young woman reeling from catastrophe—and built her back up again.

At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed.  Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life: to hike the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and to do it alone.  She had no experience as a long-distance hiker, and the trail was little more than ‘an idea, vague and outlandish and full of promise.’  But it was a promise of piecing back together a life that had come undone.

Strayed faces down rattlesnakes and black bears, intense heat and record snowfalls, and both the beauty and loneliness of the trail.  Told with great suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild vividly captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.

Product Details

Publisher:  Knoph

Publication date:  3/20/2012

Pages:  336

My Review

Non-fiction, memoir, travel writing—however you classify Wild, it’s fundamentally sound from a writing perspective.  It’s tight, yet descriptive, making the reader feel as if they’re hiking with 26-year-old Strayed during the summer of 1995 on the Pacific Crest Trail (which goes from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State).  The book centers on Strayed’s hike, and the author first briefly recounts her childhood and young adult years—her father vanished when she was six, her mother recently died, and Strayed used heroin and slept around—before sharing that she separated from her husband and was working as a waitress when she set off in search of “radical aloneness.”

I’ve never been hiking, so I don’t think I fully understand Strayed’s gutsy (yet reckless?) decision to start her career on one of the toughest trails in North America.  However, she makes no attempt to hide her inexperience—she didn’t try on her hiking boots before hitting the trail, she didn’t practice packing her backpack named Monster, etc.—and I valued her honesty.  Personally, I compared her choice to someone who wanted to tackle an Ironman for their first triathlon, specifically a challenging course like Lake Placid—which is nuts.

Anyway, throughout the book, Strayed seamlessly transitions from life on the trail—eating dehydrated meals, sleeping in a tiny tent, and losing blackened toenails—to her past, telling the audience about her childhood, her relationship with her mother, her failed marriage, and her heroin habits.  This rhetorical technique usually finds its way into travel novels, yet it works in this memoir, too:  Instead of sharing her entire life story in the first 30 pages, she continuously moves from past to present, effectively connecting and building a relationship with the reader.

 

I enjoyed “meeting” Strayed’s fellow PCT hikers, but I wondered how accurately they—and the journey itself—were portrayed; she did wait 17 years before writing this memoir.  I also would’ve liked to hear more about the actual hike, but further discussion would’ve veered toward travel writing and downplayed Strayed’s life experiences.

 

Discussion Questions:

1.  Do you enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, backpacking, and camping?

2.  Strayed uses the activity of hiking as a way to tell her life story.  If you wrote a memoir, what activity would act as the “window” into your life?

3.  What’s your favorite biography or memoir?