Sunday, March 14, 2010

I Owned The Podium Today! Well, Sort Of.

Our friends to the north have nothing on me, except for Alexander Keith, what has to be the greatest wilderness on earth, tons of great food, rivers, lakes, the original Molson, a better economy, and Bob and Doug McKenzie. But I owned the podium today, damnit! Without getting anyone disqualified either!

I owned the podium by coming in second in my age group in a 10K race at Fort Hunt Park today. And the guy in my group who finished ahead of me didn't stick around for the awards. Bascially, we ran around the park five times on a flat loop with one tiny uphill. Needless to say, it was a course conducive for fast times. I won a nice shopping bag from DC Roadrunners. I will make great use of that, and of another accomplishment. Another PR. 43:13, best 10K on its own by 1:48, best 10K split by :34.

Great day today that ended with another yoga class. No headstand, it wasn't part of the practice tonight. But that's fine, I am more than comfortable with what I did to end.....possibly my second favorite Sunday of the year after Super Bowl Sunday, the day Daylight Savings Time starts. Bye.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Spur of the Moment Vegetarian Recipe #1

I rambled on a bit ago about moving to a vegetarian diet. I've made progress, with the complete transition to occur after I finish eating what I already have in my refrigerator and soup cabinet. Keeping with the not wasting food thing.

Well, I'm going to post about Spur of the Moment Vegetarian recipies that I throw together on, well, just before I start cooking. Heck, I may add ingredients when the water for the pasta is already boiling.

Tonight I am crashing at home, going to bed early, and bascially doing nothing of note. It's dreary, rainy, parts of Old Town are flooded. And on the docket for tomorrow: a 10 K race, 3 hours of cleaning out my old apartment pre-move-out inspection, yoga, and maybe some PMP studying. So I decided to throw together some pasta that will help me stay strong tomorrow. Where I want help is naming the recipe. Should we start a name that recipe game? Anyway, tonight's recipe:

- 2 small servings of pasta (I was hungry, need carbs for tomorrow, and had just finished a light workout at the fitness center).
- 2 or 3 tablespoons of Olive Oil EVOO!!
- 1 tablespoon of Oregano
- 1 tablespoon of Lemon Pepper Seasoning

Saute everything but the pasta, (last time I tried sauteing pasta I got a grade a G, the results weren't even good enough for an F) which you cook normally. If you are not vegan, toss some parmasean on top of the pasta and toppings. Presto, a great meal that took me about 3 minutes to think of and start cooking. Heck, it took me almost as long to wash the dishes afterwards.

So, name this dish for me. And throw other vegetarian recipes my way.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Yoga: A Year Later!

I'm still practicing! One year ago today I walked into Pure Prana Yoga Studio in Old Town Alexandria for my first ever class. I finally developed the courage and scrounged up the funds to start taking yoga classes, about five years after I developed an interest in it. That fateful night changed my life in a lot of ways. I started with the 12 week cycle of Fundamentals, as I was advised to. While I wondered from time to time what a lot of the fundamentals were doing to help me out, that wondering was for naught as I would soon learn the basics for yoga practice. The first twelve weeks helped me get used to doing many exercises that I may not have ever done before. Only four weeks in, I started going to Open to All classes on Sunday evenings and rarely felt like I was years behind everyone else. "I can do this!"

After the fundamentals class I decided to keep up my yoga practice as best as I could, including using DVDs at home. During week 12, I even managed to do my first headstand! Of course being self-deprecating, I was so suprised that I pulled it off that I immediated lowered my lower body to the ground. However, I remembered the lessons taught about it being my practice and I should do what I feel comfortable with at a given time, not to try to "beat anyone at the yoga game". So I ddin't get mad at myself for bailing out of the pose earlier than I would have liked to.

Vinyasa was the next step taken on the Yoga Parkway (I made that up). Vinyasa is flowing yoga, in laymen's terms it's, you're moving all of the time, even during final relaxation pose (time to work on your breathing, peeps!). When I walked out of one of my first vinyasa classes, I had the same feeling after I walked out of my first spinning class four years ago. I never want to go back! I'm too tired and beat! I'll be back next week anyway! But 8-9 months later, I have worked on my vinyasa "skills", taken some jivamukti classes, and went to a restorative-based class when they starting having them at my old apartment complex. I try to do 15-20 minutes of basic yoga when I wake up each workday morning as well.

Am I ready to go to teacher training? Not by a long shot. Am I doing regular headstands? No, I've only completed two headstands since the first one at the end of fundamentals. So it's not part of my regular practice yet by any means. Am I happy with my progress? Absolutely! Even though "progress" isn't the goal, I am very happy with how much yoga has helped me. It's helped me relax about as much as anything can. I'm more flexible than I used to be, that's for sure. And I only takes me a couple dozen steps to get loose during running instead of two miles. Not bad considering I would have been happy if people even knew my name after a year!

As I reflect on my one year anniversary as a yoga practicioner, I've been thinking of how yoga and running have pretty much taken over my non-work life. As Greenie from Denver said, those are good things to take over your life. I'm still 50 pounds lighter than I was on January 1, 2008 and while I would like to make that 60-65 without losing muscle and overall strength, not to mention has stronger abs, I've pleasantly suprised myself with how I have been able to keep the weight off.

Now how can I continue to grow into this practice? That's the new question. For now, it's time to celebrate tonight!

Time to celebrate the one year anniversaty of my yoga debut by..........

Going to Pure Prana for an Expanded Vinyasa class!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Considering a switch to a vegetarian or quasi-vegetarian diet

I've wondered about this off and on. Not because I am a member of PETA, in fact I find them to be off the charts crazy. But, I still do not completely trust myself tho keep the 50 pounds off that I have lost since New Years Day 2008. I like a good grilled chicken and steak as much as the next person, but often feel iffy a couple of hours afterwards. The iffyness or whatever feeling rarely happens after eating a meal consisting of grains and vegetables. I pay more for whole grain bread because quite frankly I find it better tasting and healthier. Unless I eat too much pasta the night before a long run or race, I only feel bloated after eating meals with meat, red meat in particular.

So that makes me wonder if I should try a vegetarian diet once I clean out everything in my freezer. Over the last few years I have developed a new, strong appreciation for vegetables. Not only do they make me healthier, but I can do a lot of mixing with vegetables and come up with new surprises. On top of that, sometimes I feel more energized after eating a vegetable-based lunch or salad, not drained like my beloved steak often does to me. Especially if this will help me even more with my running and my newest weight loss goal of ten more pounds without sacrificing lean muscle, I'm thinking of jumping on at least the quasi-vegetarian train. It worked wonders for the Atlanta Falcons' Tony Gonzalez. Will it work for me? Will I even get to the train station?

My first thought is to clean the freezer contents over the next 12 days before I move, and/or grill the meats at my new place. Maybe have an impromptu cookout of sorts. All this before I even think about going through with this. My second thought is to work towards a quasi-vegetarian diet, keeping fish as a staple, or even re-allocating the meat part of my diet partially to fish, for the protein. Cut meat out gradually. Phase it out, perhaps by working my way through all the soups I have (I don't like wasting food in case you can't tell). A little less each week, with July 4 as an unofficial target date to be totally aboard.

Another variable thrown in to this mix, especially concerning energy and strength. Many have advised me that this transition is very rough at first. Tony Gonzalez alludes to this in the article I linked to. I ain't kidding myself, I'm 35, am never going pro in anything, but I would like to lose a little more weight and being able to recover from long runs more quickly. But my concern about a loss of strengh is this: I don't want to be stuck 6-8 miles from a Metro station because out of nowhere I am too weak to finish a weekend long run but can't trace it to any illness or cramping.

I am running three marathons this calendar year, in late May, early October, and mid November. I feel I'm behind on my Vermont training, but if I decide to go forward with this, I'll start the transition while I train for May's race. I want to feel more energized and healthy, so if this quasi-vegetarian thing works I'll be able to rachet up my training for Twin Cities and Richmond. If this diet will help me recover from runs more quickly, I'm sold. I don't have a problem with recovery but am always looking for ways to improve.

Has anyone out there tried to move from a carnivore/balanced diet to a mostly vegetarian one? How much or how little transition time do you recommend I take? Do I need to be concerned with crashing during a training run four weeks out from the May marathon? How many extra B-12 pills will I need to take each day to stay energized at first (right now I take one and a separate B complex)? It's already going to make me fork over more cash for additional salads, will I need more for protein bars too? What about soy milk? Well I think I can handle and enjoy that. Or do people recommend I quit meat cold turkey? I'll need to research some iron-rich foods to double up on for blood donation days.

The first step, converting my Diet to Go lunch plan from Traditional to Low Fat / Vegetarian. Wish me luck.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Thai Review: Neramitra Thai, Crystal City

Okay, I am finally ready to review some Thai Restaurants. My gigantic, super-galactic audience knows that I am a big fan of Kanlaya on 6th Street NW in DC and the Pad Thai Noodles at Red Mei Cafe in Old Town Alexandria. They also know about Thai Nakon Ping in North Conway, NH, a pleasant addition to the Route 16 strip that is dear to my heart and loaded with memories.

But, it is time to actually write a restaurant review. I am a Thai food junkie, as is Zandria. This past Wednesday we were able to visit Neramitra in Crystal City. Now, my reviews may not talk about the restaurant decor as much as "professional" reviews. Well, those reviewers are getting paid, I'm just doing this to blow off steam in between study sessions. So for me, the decor was cool enough. A pleasant setting for sure.

But I care more about the food. Is it good? Does it take forever to get to you? Is it overpriced market-wise? If the answers are Yes, No, and No than you are doing well. Neramitra did well for sure. For an appetizer, I ordered Kanon Jeeb dumpings, while Zandria ordered the Summer Rolls. I am a dumplings fanatic, and feel about them the same way most Asian restaurant aficionados feel about Pad Thai. That is, if a restaurant fudges those up, they don't get business.

But at Neramitra, the dumplings were very good. I don't recall ever having water chestnut as part of an order of dumplings, but there was no net effect on the quality of the food offering. The pork and shrimp were mixed together perfectly and steamed very well (I avoid fried foods for the most part). Zandria really liked her Summer Rolls, which I will probably get on a return visit. For dinner I ordered the Kao Soi Noodles with shrimp. I never had noodles in the yellow curry in this manner before. I really enjoyed it. It almost tasted like a hybrid fusion of Thai and Indian dishes. The shrimp were a perfect, fresh, compliment to the noodles.

Bottom line, I'm not sure how the star system works but Neramitra was very enjoyable. I have a series of 5K races on Friday in Crystal City this April and plan on making a return visit then for more Thai food. Next stop, we'll see when I can go out to eat again. :)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Thai Restaurant Reviews, coming soon, I promise

Over the weekend, in between the first session of my Project Management Class, a free Yoga For Runners Class in Fairfax, VA, and a trail run......I will post a review of a Thai Restaurant. I promise. I will review every Thai restaurant I go to, in more details than here.

Until then, vote my poll, discuss the latest Armageddon, I mean tonight's Capitals-Penguins hockey game, and enjoy. And, give me some Thai Restaurants to try. Not Neramitra Thai though. Tried it, liked it, and that will be my first not really official but longer than two sentence review.