Friday, July 27, 2012

5K Double Header

On Saturday, I will be running in two 5Ks. I cross the starting line of my first one at the Klement's Sausage House right by Miller Park in Milwaukee. That's at 8am. At 6:30pm I will cross the starting line of the second race on Lombardi Avenue by Lambeau Field. I am hoping for some big things from these races. I am postponing my 16 mile team run until Monday after work, so I want it to be worth it.

Last year, I ran the Lambeau Field 5K a week after the 16 mile run and I was still in pain. I probably had a stress fracture in my femur already, just didn't realize it. I still managed to finish the 5K in 33 minutes, but that was the last real run I had until November. That was a long time without running. I don't have any of those problems this year at all. I am not walking with a limp, and only have a slight tweak in one thigh, but only after I run.

I have never really said this before a race before, but I want a personal record (PR) on Saturday. The last 5K I ran was at the end of April and I finished in 28:43, for a 9:15 pace. That is my PR and it was almost 40 seconds faster than before. I did run a timed 3 miles a week after I set that PR and finished a bit faster than 9:15 per mile. I think I can run faster than that on Saturday. I don't think I can do it in both races, but in the morning one. I know that running at 6:30 after driving and an earlier 5K may slow me down.
I don't know what time I am setting as my goal. In reality, 28:42 would be great, because it would be my new PR. However, I know that won't make me truly happy. I shaved almost 40 seconds with my last PR, so 28:00 would be amazing. That would put me in the top 10% of my age bracket, something I never really imagined. I just have to average 9 minutes per mile. I think I can do that. It is only 3.1 miles.

After thinking about this for a while, I really want to break 28 minutes. I will be shooting for 9 minute miles. I've come close to that pace for that distance before, I can do it again. I will post tomorrow to let you know how I did.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Nutritional Yeast

I have heard about this item for years. It's one of those items that is sold in health food stores and crunchy granola people swear is amazing. Although I border on being crunchy and granola, I still see myself as separate from them. I hate patchouli, hacky sack, and drum circles. Because of that, I've never tried nutritional yeast until this week. I really wish I had tried it sooner. It's delicious. I just sprinkled some on popcorn with garlic salt and devoured it.

I would describe the flavor as similar to fake cheese popcorn flavoring, except without the mental thought of, "What is this?" People describe it as nutty, cheesy, savory or umami. It's also really nutritious. A serving of 2 tablespoons and contains 8 grams of complete protein, 4 grams of fiber and only 1 gram of fat. Most companies fortify it with B-12 to help vegetarians and vegans get that into their diet. It naturally contains high levels of most of the other B vitamins.

I don't think I'm alone in avoiding this product. I think part of the problem stems from the name. It sounds like something you'd find on the shelf next to castor oil. People have tried to improve that by calling it nooch, yeshi, brufax, or savoury yeast flakes. None of those help. Nutritional yeast, although clinical sounding, is very accurate. It differentiates it from active yeast, which is used to make bread. It's simply a yeast that is cultivated on molasses then heated to "kill" it. The most common yeast used is a member of the fungi kingdom, so it's related to mushrooms and the yeast used to make alcohol. It comes in flake form, so it sort of resembles gold fish food. I wish I had a better description.

Despite it's weird appearance and unappealing name, I will continue to use this as a popcorn topper. A small amount of it doubled the fiber, tripled the protein and added many vitamins and minerals to my snack. I may also add it as a topper to other savory dishes like potatoes or other vegetables. I may also try it in some recipes.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


I have been a pescatarian for about 11 years. Basically, that means I'm a lacto-ovo vegetarian who also eats fish and seafood. Part of the reason I hadn't become a full vegetarian 12 years ago was because I love sushi. I was also planning a move to Florida and seafood was super fresh, cheap and delicious. I knew I would miss it too much. Over the years, I have had a bite here or there of meat, but the total would barely equal 8 ounces.

Recently, I've read several books discussing being vegan. I am considering going vegan at home. One of the first things people will say upon hearing this is, "what about protein?!" Somehow, most people think protein only comes from slabs of meat, or some variation of tofu. They also seem to think that the average person needs a huge amount of protein daily in order to avoid illness. I decided to look into the facts to see how much protein is actually needed.

The consensus says that 10-35% of your daily calories should come from protein. This comes from the Mayo Clinic, WebMD, and the CDC. Using the 10-35% figure and a 2,000 calorie diet, that means 200-700 calories from protein or 50-175 grams of protein. Some others base it on grams of protein per pound of body weight and activity level. If I use the grams per weight, it works out to 52-79 grams of protein per day. The CDC has set a firm number for each group of people. That number is 46 grams for adult women and 56 for adult men. Dr. Andrew Weil sets the line at 10-20% of total calories or 50-100 grams.

I will use 70 grams here as being clearly in the range that everyone has set. If I were body-building, or just trying to increase my muscle mass, I may try to get closer to 100, but when I'm just maintaining my fitness, I'll stay on the lower end. Is 70 grams of protein difficult to get in a vegan diet without eating soy at every meal? Let's look at the protein contents of some foods not normally thought of as protein sources like beans, lentils, meat, eggs or soy.

100 grams of asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower or brussel sprouts each give you 3 grams of protein. 100 grams of oats is 17 grams of protein. Rye, wheat, buckwheat, quinoa, and barley each have about 14 grams of protein per 100 grams. That means if I have oatmeal for breakfast, veggies and quinoa for lunch, I would already be at 34 grams of protein on the day. If I add 2 tablespoons of peanut butter I would get another 8 grams, for a total of 42 grams on the day, and dinner hasn't even been touched. I've almost met the CDC's goal and still have an entire meal to eat a cup of cooked beans or lentils, which have 12 and 18 grams each. I could also make this simple by having 1 cup of Tempeh and getting 41 grams of protein right there and everything else would make 70 total grams a breeze.

I hope I have demonstrated that reaching 70 grams of protein in a day is not difficult on a vegan diet. I also hope I have shown that our dietary needs don't require large amounts of protein. There is also a health risk from eating too much protein. I will be careful to not abandon protein, but mainly because I know that along with fiber it helps to keep me feeling full on a smaller amount of food. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Body Image vs. Comfort

Because I'm currently training for a marathon and half marathon, I wasn't able to avoid running during the heat of the last few weeks. I haven't been running as much as my schedule calls for, but I have been running at least twice a week. This has meant that I have been extra careful about hydration and not running as quickly as I normally would.

It has also led to me running shirtless on two occasions. This was harder to do than I would like to admit. The first time, I debated taking it off for about 10 minutes, or 1 mile. I was really, really hot, but taking off my shirt meant inviting eyes onto me. During that mile, I thought about my lack of six pack and tan. I thought about comments I've heard about others going out without a shirt. Finally, the heat and sweat won. The second week, most of my pace group took off their shirts, and I gave in to peer pressure and joined the crowd.

I still had to overcome by discomfort at being that exposed, but it was easier the second time. I was really comfortable physically, and too distracted by the heat to dwell on any personal, emotional discomfort. I think I'm just as annoyed with myself for being self-conscious as I am actually self-conscious. I wish I didn't care what others thought of my body. I wish I was as self-assured as I project.

I post about positive body image very often. I think I do that to convince myself as much as convincing anyone else. I believe that everyone should feel free to take off their shirt when it's over 100 degrees outside. No one should feel that they're too fat, too hairy, too pale, too old or too anything at all. If someone doesn't like how you look shirtless, they can look away. Now I need to work on convincing the nagging voice in the back of my head that those beliefs apply to me, too. To help me, I will read and reread the creed of the "Shirtless Runner" until I am more comfortable without a shirt. I will consider running the Chicago Undie Run when the details are settled. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012


I know that I follow this advice, without even thinking of it. If you look at my mile splits on the Daily Mile widget at the bottom right, you'll see my last miles tend to be faster than the middle miles. Weirdly, the people in my pace group seem to follow this advice, too. We all speed up the last mile or two, even though we're not running slower than pace up to that point and don't discuss trying to finish early.


I have suggested that instead of women infighting about what is an attractive weight, we should be fighting the use of Photoshop in magazines. Julia Bluhm, a 14-year-old girl, took it farther than a simple blog post. She created a petition and delivered it to Seventeen Magazine. That was in May, and the magazine commended her for her efforts, but refused to change. That was until today, when they agreed to several points that Ms. Bluhm had requested. They won't forego Photoshop completely, but won't be using it to alter the body or face of the teens in their magazine.

I don't think anyone really wanted Photoshop banned completely. Removal of red eye, an odd shadow, a bug or something else that somehow distracts from on otherwise lovely photo is fine. Cropping a picture to better center the subject is also fine. The problem comes when models are altered to look thinner than reality would ever allow.

Seventeen has gone the extra step of setting up a tumblr to show pre-edited photos and behind the scenes shots from photo shoots. They have also shared their "Peace Treaty" on photos and editing. I wish they had done this from day one when she delivered the petitions, but better late than never. Now if only magazines targeted at adult women would follow suit. I found out about their change in heart while commenting on the below magazine at the grocery store. I love Salma Hayek, and think she's beautiful, but the amount of alterations on this cover are disgusting and show why that should be the real enemy, not other women and their bodies.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Even if You Suck

I think many of us have some level of competence that is required before we will do something. It's something that only seems to afflict adults. All children dance, sing, paint and run. It's only once we develop self-consciousness that we stop doing some of those things in public. This is dumb. We should all dance, sing, paint and run. Who cares if someone sees us running slowly? If they're bothered by that, it's their problem. It was really hot on Saturday when I was getting in my 12 mile training run. I very quickly became annoyed with my shirt, so I took it off. I would have taken it off 5-10 minutes earlier, but I was worried about what my run companions would think or say. That didn't last long, because I realized that they wouldn't care. They made some friendly teasing comments when I first took off my shirt, but then seemed to forget about it. I know I did. If something makes you feel good and isn't hurting anyone else, DO IT!!!