Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Meatless Monday on Training Tuesday

First and foremost, I must say that I am thankful for the crazy monsoon weather that we've been having in Arizona this year.  While it makes for some seriously muggy, sweat-laden morning runs, the temperatures have been kept to within reasonable parameters.  By Arizona standards.
My morning runs with Zooey, which begin with a 4:30 AM alarm - followed immediately by a 4:30:30 coonhound alarm, just in case - have been hovering in the low 80s.  Not my most favorite temperature to run in, but it beats anything hotter.  So while the rains have drowned all by my mint (I think) and peppers (which are thriving), I'm more than happy for them to continue so that we can keep things tolerable.
Today marked my first Official training run to prepare me for my second half marathon, which will be in November.  I have, of course, been running and cross training throughout the summer, but it's been Unofficial, which means I haven't felt that bad about veering off of The Plan for various reasons.  Starting today, though, my heart rate monitor was strapped back on, and instead of just running a "basic" run, I set a time goal (in this case, a mere 30 minutes).
I love the time-based goals.  My training plan is pretty much the half marathon training plan set out in Marathoning for Mortals, by John Bingham and Jenny Hadfield, which I used to prepare for London's Run, and having the weekday runs be time-based is something that I came to almost rely on - it was the promise that I'd be done "soon."  Really, the only alteration I made was to add a few more weeks of training in and switch around the running and cross training weekdays.  Using time instead of distance really helps me focus on my heart rate, stride,and foot strike instead of "how much farther?"
Of course, this morning I had trouble remembering how to start my heart rate monitor, a delay that Zooey found unacceptable.
The Official training run didn't feel much different than Sunday's last Not Official training run (except we were faster this morning; I was tired Sunday), but it's nice to know that I'll be back on The Plan.  When on The Plan, I'm much stricter with myself and have the discipline not to skip/put off days, so I anticipate a solid performance for my second 13.1.

In Mrs. Obama Arms news, I'm still struggling with my Hundred Pushups Challenge.  After falling off the wagon for about a week and a half, I reset myself back to Week 3, Day 1, in which I did 48 pushups.  They were a little difficult, but that's to be expected.
My frustration lies in the fact that while Weeks 1, 2, and 3 felt like they were gradually moving me toward more and more pushups, Week 4 felt out of control.  I am not one to make excuses (most of the time), but I can't help but wonder if a woman's upper body strength limitations - I really don't like that word there, but I'm not sure what else to say - were taken into consideration with this program/app.  That's not to say as a woman I CAN'T do this, but I think some resetting and careful cross training will need to be taken into account; I might have to do Week 4 three times in a row before I think I'm ready for Week 5.
What I need to do is remind myself that this is OK.  I'm still working toward a great goal, and as of last night, I have completed 843 pushups since beginning the Challenge.  That probably brings my lifetime total to about 900, so I can't complain.
I mean, I CAN complain, but there's not really anything tangible for me to stand on there.
Besides, if it were easy, it wouldn't be called the Hundred Pushups Challenge.  It would be called the Hundred Pushups Easy Thing.

One more thing - I've started the Plank a Day Challenge as well.  This one is fairly simple to follow.  Each day, I do a plank for as long as I can.  That's it.  The goal, of course, is to be able to plank longer and longer, improving my core muscles.  I'm not gonna lie - I'm really tired of crunch/pushup workouts, so I'm game to try this.
My inaugural plank wasn't bad:

Now it's time to up the game and see where this can take me.  The good news is that, unlike my Hundred Pushups Challenge, I don't have a set time that I have to hit each day.  I just need to challenge myself at my level.  And, apparently, watch out for the Plank Police.

So how am I fueling myself?  Lots of plant-based proteins.  I'm not one to say "never" to anything, but I don't foresee myself our our family going 100% vegan, and I think that may not be the best route for me.  But I am doing my best to cut down on animal products when I can.
I've moved from half-and-half to coconut milk in my coffee.  While both have saturated fats in them (that's the " really bad juju" when it comes to reading the fats label), I've been reading up on the stuff, and studies are suggesting that the saturated fats in plants, such as coconuts, have less of a detriment on one's body than those found in animal products like butter or cream.  That being said, I am careful to have only 3 spoonsful in each cup, and I generally have two cups of coffee each day.  That's my "splurge" each morning.
And while I moved on to agave nectar for a while, I'm a little concerned about the process by which the "nectar" is made, so I'm trying out coconut sugar, which is gotten by a process similar to how maple syrup is obtained.  It's still got calories - my coffee is my morning splurge, remember? - but the coconut sugar is lower on the glycemic scale than white sugar, so there are no spikes in the blood sugar.

I still can't believe I've come this far, considering it wasn't long ago that I had to have a splash of coffee with my CoffeeMate.

I'm also having fun with vegetarian and vegan versions of my favorite dishes, like korma.
Last week, the okra in our CSA bag gave me a craving for Indian food that would have impressed even the most pregnant of women.  I thought about it morning, noon, and night, and I kept thinking about ordering take-out or suggesting that we go out.
The problem - HRH.  I'm perfectly happy to "force" her to eat certain foods, but I'm not going to take her to a restaurant that serves fare that far outside her comfort zone (we're still working on quesadillas, people).  I want to be allowed out in public with her again.
But if I were to make it at home, I could serve her similar ingredients like brown rice and carrots, and I could still get my korma fix.
Now, I love love love love (freaking) LOVE lamb korma; it's my go-to item when we go out to an Indian restaurant.  But unlike Aunt Voula, I understand that lamb doesn't fit into my plant-based focus, so I opted to make a vegetarian korma with tofu and fresh veggies, including that okra.  I just needed a recipe.

Thank you, Interwebz.

So, last Monday night (maybe Tuesday - I don't remember), I tried a recipe from Vegetarian Times.
It was good.
But it wasn't the korma I was thinking of - that creamy, spicy, sauce that you can literally sop up with a biscuit bit of naan.
So the craving?  Still there.
My poor husband - it was like I was pregnant all over again, but I didn't have a pregnant belly that he could rub like it was a freaking genie lamp.
So I searched and found one that would be better - perfect, even - one that used not only coconut milk and tomato but a cashew cream to give it a silky, creamy texture.  Thank YOU, Post Punk Kitchen, for delivering!
Of course, I didn't follow the recipe exactly (you know I have a hard time following directions) - I made my own garam masala earlier this year, since I am sensitive to ginger, anise, and turmeric.  So I played around with everything to get something that would still be savory, although I think I still needed to amp the spice and garlic when we have our next go round.
End result - this recipe was a lot of work (I'm sparing you pictures of the aftermath in the kitchen since this post is already so dang long), but it was totally worth it, especially when paired with some homemade naan that was already on the right track (it's hard to duplicate the flavor and texture when your kitchen is lacking a tandoori oven).

As far as naan goes, it was good, but The Husband and I discussed how we can improve it so we didn't use so much oil in the process.  We determined that some terra cotta planter bottoms (the flat parts that hold the water in) on the grill will probably be the closest we can get, so next time you see me at the hardware store, it's probably because I'm thinking about dinner.
I've gotten my korma fix, but we still have a jar full of the leftover korma sauce, so I'm thinking of making a korma pizza later this week.  I can toss some roasted veggies on top of it and call it a meal - the perfect training food.

Do you need to be on a training plan to be disciplined?
What is your favorite way to strengthen your core?
What food cravings have you had recently; did you indulge?

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