There’s Something About Chloe: Review of Chloe’s Vegan Desserts
Those who have never heard ofChloe Coscarelli might very well do a double take if they stumble upon her latest book, Chloe’s Vegan Desserts, while browsing the desserts section of their local bookstore. Upon closer look, a slew of thoughts run through their minds: “Who is this beautiful lady who looks like she is positively radiating with happiness? Are those mint leaves and flowers on those delectable-looking cupcakes? These are all vegan? I want them (all 16 mouth-watering photographs on the back cover alone) in my mouth right now!”
Those who have heard of or seen Chloe speak already know she has the charm and enthusiasm to match that big glowing smile, as well as the kitchen saavy and creativity to win all three rounds and the grand prize on Cupcake Wars back in 2010, making her the first vegan chef to ever win a Food Network Challenge. She won over many viewers and food lovers alike with this and subsequent TV appearances, sharing her genuine passion for making accessible, animal product-free versions of comfort foods without ever compromising texture or taste. Indeed, her debut cookbook,Chloe’s Kitchen: 125 Easy, Delicious Recipes for Making the Food You Love the Vegan Way, earned VegNews’ 2012 Cookbook of the Year Award.
Her latest book, Chloe’s Vegan Desserts, continues to reinforce why this young Californian chef has found so much success. Not only is the book filled with gorgeous photographs of moist, decadent desserts, it includes everything from classic birthday cupcakes to mud pies, cobblers, mojito cookies, chocolate babka, and everything in between (more than 100 recipes total)—all “veganized.” There is also a section dedicated to baking basics, including recipes for coconut whipped cream, pie crust, pastry crème, and more.
The recipes are all, frankly, quite ridiculously easy to follow, making this cookbook awesome for beginners and efficient veteran bakers alike. Besides the fact that one is spared from the messiness of baking with eggs and dealing with dairy and other potential allergens, Chloe’s desserts do not contain many of the vegan baking substitutes—applesauce, egg replacer powder, tofu, etc.—that many people assume are necessary for creating vegan desserts that rival their non-vegan counterparts. To accommodate readers who are gluten intolerant or want to cut back on wheat products, Chloe also includes special ingredient notes on how to substitute wheat flours for gluten-free flours and xanthan gum in her creations.
Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins and Raspberry Swirl Coffee Cake…both hit the spot!
I’ve been fortunate enough to try out many of the recipes in the cookbook already, and they are a hit. Every single person has raved about the cupcakes, muffins, cookies, cobblers, and cakes that I’ve created thanks to Chloe! That’s a pretty impressive feat, seeing as my taste-testers hail from different nationalities and included quite a few picky non-vegans. Based on my experience with the book’s directions, the baking times listed can vary quite a bit, so set the timer for less than what is called for and check on your recipe every few minutes thereafter until you find the best configuration for your oven.
I also noticed that her recipes are easy to tweak if one is short on ingredients (type or portion), and when ready, are still promptly devoured by anyone within smelling range. So if you only have olive oil instead of canola, or decide to substitute whole-wheat pastry flour for unbleached all-purpose flour, things will more than likely be deliciously a-okay!
It is important to note that Chloe’s Vegan Desserts is NOT a health book. Chloe does incorporate a few predominately fruit-based desserts, as well as some treats containing natural sweeteners like dates and agave. But for the most part, those looking to cut back on sugar and oil will not necessarily find their match here; these desserts are meant to, after all, taste indistinguishable if not better than classic cream and butter-laden pies, cupcakes, and donuts (it’s still a wonder to me how Chloe stays so slim despite spending her days concocting these!). However, the sheer fact that Chloe keeps her ingredient lists short and free of any animal products automatically does make it a more healthful option than choosing the aforementioned cream and butter-reliant desserts, and trust me—you will not miss those ingredients one bit! But don’t take my word for it…try one of Chloe’s recipes for yourself! Below, with permission from her publisher, is her breakfast and dessert-friendly Tiramisu Pancakes (which also happens to be Chloe’s favorite recipe from the book).
Chloe’s Tiramisu Pancakes
Serves 2 to 3
Ingredients: 1 cup all-purpose flour 1 Tbs baking powder 1 Tbs instant espresso powder ½ tsp salt ¾ cup water ¼ cup maple syrup 1 Tbs dark rum 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (dairy-free) Canola oil, for greasing Powdered sugar, for serving Coconut whipped cream, optional
Directions: 1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, espresso powder, and salt. 2. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the water, maple syrup, and rum. 3. Add the liquid to the flour mixture and whisk until just combined. Do not overmix; the batter should have some lumps in it. 4. Gently fold in the chocolate chips. 5. Lightly oil a large nonstick skillet or griddle and heat over medium-high heat. 6. Pour ¼ cup batter onto the skillet. When bubbles appear in the center of the pancake, flip it. 7. Let cook on the other side until lightly browned and cooked through, about 1 minute more. 8. Repeat with the remaining batter, adding more oil to the skillet as needed. If the batter becomes too thick, add a little more water, 1 tablespoonful at a time. 9. To serve, dust the pancakes with powdered sugar and top with a dollop of coconut whipped cream if desired.
My Review of Chipotle's New Sofritas...now on Chic Vegan!
Chipotle’s New “Sofritas” Look to Win Hearts (and Taste Buds) in SF Bay Area
Meet a potential new addition to the Chipotle family! In mid-February, the popular restaurant chainChipotle Mexican Grill began testing a new vegan menu item, Sofritas, at some of its San Francisco Bay Area locations. Sofritas are an aromatic and spicy blend of shredded tofu braised with chipotle chilies and roasted poblano chilies. Hodo Soy Beanery, Chipotle’s tofu provider, is also based in the Bay Area (Oakland) and has gained popularity at restaurants and other local venues for its artisanal methods of production and the high-quality organic and non-GMO tofu that results.
What’s the idea behind this new menu item? Steve Ells, Chipotle founder, chairman and co-CEO, states that
“[Sofritas were] really conceived with vegetarians and vegans in mind, but it’s so delicious that we believe it will have a broad appeal on taste alone.”
Chipotle already offers vegetarian and vegan-friendly options with their fajita vegetables, black beans, four types of salsa, and top-notch guacamole, but this would be the first “meaty,” protein-packed filling that is not animal-derived.
To find out first-hand how this appealing new product tastes, I recently made a trip to the Palo Alto Chipotle location—one of the seven restaurants currently offering Sofritas—with a non-vegan friend in tow. We decided to try the Sofritas in both a salad and traditional burrito format.
My first impression was that WOW, the Sofritas sure pack a kick! Spicy food lovers will appreciate the layers of chili and seasoning, which come through a bit more in the salad than burrito format. Both the spices and the chewy, dynamic texture of the Sofritas pair especially well with Chipotle’s rice and their divine guacamole (which I love, if you can’t tell!). Despite this, I must admit that the Sofritas did not totally hit a home run for my friend and I. We enjoyed its texture and spices, no doubt, but the flavors didn’t seem to be totally or evenly absorbed into the tofu. The result was a very strong initial chili taste, which then made way to a less flavorful, markedly salty base that kept me grabbing for my water. In addition, despite having the potential to act as an alternative/compliment to Chipotle’s “carne” offerings, the Sofritas are very finely shredded and therefore seem to act more like a topping or condiment, rather than the main event. This actually worked out quite nicely in my salad, but made the Sofritas harder to detect and appreciate in the burrito.
Chipotle is very good about providing ingredients and nutritional facts about their products to customers, and in terms of nutrition, the Sofritas stack up pretty well! A 4oz serving of Sofritas is less caloric than Chipotle’s equivalent meat offerings (145 vs. 170-190 calories), has significantly less saturated fat (1.5g vs. 6.5-8g), is free of cholesterol, and happens to be protein and fiber rich (10g and 3g, respectively). Each serving is, however, quite high in sodium (850mg), which explains why they made me so thirsty! As for the price, getting a Sofritas-filled meal costs the same amount as the cheapest entrees on the menu (Veggie and Chicken), so that’s a definite win.
Bottom Line? I find it admirable and exciting that a chain as popular as Chipotle is continuously and actively striving to appeal to a wider range of customers. Filling, fun, and distinct animal-free items like the Sofritas are definitely a welcome addition, and one that will hopefully encourage people to introduce more vegan items into their repertoire. For me, personally, Sofritas aren’t necessarily going to replace my typical order of Fajita Veggies, beans, and guacamole, but I can definitely see it being a hit for a lot of people, vegan and non-vegan. It’s also nice to know that if I’m ever craving yummy and convenient Mexican food bursting with chili flavor, my closest Chipotle will have a hot, fresh plate of it waiting for me!
If you happen to be or live in the Bay Area and would like to try Sofritas for yourself, the following locations are currently offering it:
525 Market in San Francisco
121 Fourth St. in San Francisco
126 New Montgomery in San Francisco
2019 Chess Drive in San Mateo
251 East 3rd Ave. in San Mateo
180 El Camino Real in Palo Alto (Stanford Mall)
135 El Camino Real in Millbrae
If you’d like to encourage Chipotle to keep the Sofritas and/or bring Sofritas to your area, please contact them and let your voice (and growling stomachs) be heard!
Interesting Article about Complex Carbs by Jeff Novick, part 2
Clarifying Carbs: Making the Complex Simple
By Jeff Novick, MS RD
4) Refined Carbohydrates
These are foods that have been refined, which means most, if not all of the bran and/or the germ have been removed. One example is white rice. While these foods are low in calories and low in calorie density, they have had most (if not all) of their fiber removed; in addition, they lose many valuable nutrients in the refining process. Always choose the whole grain variety of these foods (i.e., brown rice).
(The calorie density of these foods is around 500-600 calories per pound. A serving size of these foods is 1/2 cup cooked.)
5) Refined, Processed Carbohydrates Low in Calorie Density
These are foods that are made from refined grains but the refined grain was ground into flour first and then made into the final food. One example is pasta that has been made from white flour. The reason these foods are low in calorie density is that, during the cooking process, they absorb a large amount of water back into their structures, which lowers calorie density. While these foods are low in calories and low in calorie density, they have had most (if not all) of their fiber removed. In addition, they lose many valuable nutrients in the refining process. Always choose the whole grain variety of these foods (i.e., whole grain pasta).
(The calorie density of these foods is around 500-600 calories per pound. A serving size of these foods is 1/2 cup cooked.)
6) Refined, Processed Carbohydrates High in Calorie Density
These are foods that are made from refined grains but the refined grain has been ground into flour first and then made into the final food. These foods are consumed in a dry state. Examples of these foods include breads, bagels, crackers and dry cereals that have been made from white flour. These foods have had most (if not all) of their fiber removed and they lose many valuable nutrients in the refining process. In addition, these foods can be easy to overeat on because they are higher in calorie density. Therefore, for those who are concerned about their weight, these foods should be either limited or eliminated from their regular diet. Always choose the whole grain variety of these foods (i.e., whole grain breads, bagels, crackers and dry cereals).
(The calorie density of these foods is about 1200 to 1800 calories per pound. A serving size of these foods is 1 oz, which is 1 slice of bread, 1 cup of dry cereal, or 1/2 a small bagel.)
NOTE: Refined carbohydrates and refined processed carbohydrates, regardless of their calorie densities, are not recommended and should be minimized, if included at all.
National recommendations are for us to consume at least 3 servings of whole grains per day. This is a minimum recommendation; in addition, it does not make the distinction between intact unrefined whole grains, unrefined, processed whole grains low in calorie density, and unrefined, processed whole grains high in calorie density, which is important to know, especially for those who are trying to manage their weight, insulin resistance and/or diabetes. I would encourage the consumption of at least 3 or more servings of intact unrefined whole grains per day. Not only will they help fill us up for fewer calories, they will help provide many of the important nutrients and phytochemicals we need.
Interesting article about COMPLEX CARBS by Jeff Novick, part 1 of 2
Clarifying Carbs: Making the Complex Simple
By Jeff Novick, MS RD
I can’t think of anything that creates more confusion and is more misunderstood than carbohydrates.
To help understand carbohydrates and the recommended versus not recommended types/forms, I will break them up into 6 groups, 3 of which will be important to you.
1. Unrefined, Minimally Processed Carbohydrates
These are foods that we can consume in their most natural form, or “as grown in nature.” Examples of these foods include intact whole grains that we consume in their intact form (such as brown rice, oats, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, wheat berries), starchy vegetables (such as sweet potatoes, yams, corn, peas, potatoes, winter squash) and legumes (such as beans, dried peas and lentils). These foods are not only low in calories, but also low in calorie density and high in fiber and nutrients, so they fill you up with fewer calories. Enjoy these foods as a regular part of your diet.
(The calorie density of these foods is around 300 to 600 calories per pound. A serving size of these foods is 1/2 cup cooked.)
2. Unrefined, Processed Carbohydrates Low in Calorie Density
These are foods that are made from whole grains but the whole grain was ground into whole grain flour first and then made into the final food that is low in calorie density. Examples of these foods include whole grain pastas, including pastas made from whole wheat, brown rice, corn or buckwheat. The reason these foods are low in calorie density is that, during the cooking process, they absorb a large amount of water back into their structures, which lowers calorie density. These foods are also very high in fiber and a rich source of nutrients, so they will fill you up for fewer calories.
While these foods are low in calorie density, the mechanical process of grinding the whole grain into whole grain flour before making them into the whole grain pasta does raise a concern. The mechanical grinding of food results in a less effective fiber and increases the surface area of the food so it is more readily absorbed. So, even though these foods are made from whole grains, this increase in the surface area and the rate of absorption may pose a temporary and minor problem for those who are highly insulin resistant while they are getting well. Therefore, it may be prudent to eliminate these and if so, their best choices would be intact unrefined, unprocessed carbs.
(The calorie density of these foods is around 500-600 calories per pound. A serving size of these foods is 1/2 cup cooked.)
3) Unrefined, Highly Processed Carbohydrates High in Calorie Density
These are foods that are made from 100% whole grains but the whole grain was ground into whole grain flour first and then made into the final food that is high in calorie density. These foods are consumed in a dry state. Examples of these foods include whole grain bread, whole grain bagels, whole grain crackers and whole grain dry cereal. While these foods are high in fiber and nutrients, they can be easy to overeat on because they are higher in calorie density.
In addition, the mechanical process of grinding the whole grain into whole grain flour before making them into a whole grain food does raise two concerns. First, since these foods do not absorb any water back into their structure before they are consumed, they are much higher in calorie density. Second, the mechanical grinding of food results in a less effective fiber and increases the surface area of the food so it is more readily absorbed. So, even though these foods are made from whole grains, this increase in the calorie density, the surface area and the rate of absorption may pose a problem for those who are overweight, &/or diabetic and/or are highly insulin resistant while they are getting well. Therefore, it may be wise to eliminate these and if so, their best choices would be intact unrefined, unprocessed carbs.
(The calorie density of these foods is about 1200 to 1800 calories per pound. A serving size of these foods is 1 oz, which is 1 slice of whole grain bread, 1 cup of whole grain dry cereal, or 1/2 a small whole grain bagel.)
Many vegans would probably agree that one of the many great things about a plant-based way of eating is being able to expand your taste and food horizons in a really unique way. Though the variety of grains, fruits, plants, and ethnic cuisines to try are seemingly limitless, sometimes nothing satisfies quite like an animal-free take on an old non-veg favorite.
In comes the Vegg, “The World’s First Vegan Egg Yolk,” a product that is helping satisfy egg lovers’ cravings everywhere without the cholesterol or cruelty often associated with consuming chickens’ eggs. Introduced to the market in early 2012, the Vegg proclaims the following mission statement on its Facebook page:
“To help put an end to the suffering of male and female chicks in industrialized egg production factory farms through competing with the industry by way of offering to the public a cruelty-free, ecologically sustainable zero cholesterol, gluten-free alternative to eggs.”
The company goes a step further by also donating 10% of all profits from Vegg sales to Compassion Over Killing, a non-profit organization that works to protect animals. Sounds lovely in theory, but what does this vegan egg yolk actually taste like? And what sorts of weird things and preservatives must one mix together to form something with a convincing yolk consistency?
A vegan broccoli quiche topped with Daiya and sundried tomatoes, made using the Vegg
To address the latter question, the Vegg’s ingredients list is actually quite short, and not at all full of strange, questionable things; it consists of fortified nutritional yeast (an all-natural and tasty deactivated yeast often used as a health supplement or delicious cheese substitute), sodium alginate, black salt (which gives it that sulfuric, “eggy” smell), and beta carotene. The only preparation involved with the Vegg, which comes in a powder form, is to add water and mix using a small food processor or blender. This step is vital, as it gives the mixture an instantly thick, yolky texture, which is sadly not achievable if mixed by hand.
Tasty savory French Toast made with the Vegg. It even has the same egg-like color! Recipe below.
As for the taste? Not only has it gotten enthusiastic approval from all the people whom I’ve shared it with, but it has turned me—someone who never really ate or was particularly fond of egg products—into a Vegg lover. Not just that, but a bonified, Licks-the-Stick-Blender-After-Blending-a-Batch-of-Vegg-Yolk lover. Needless to say, I highly recommend it! Below is a recipe for basic Vegg French Toast, like the one pictured above. The Vegg is available at select retailers in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Australia, and online. For meal ideas like the ones featured in this post (and many more!), visit the Vegg’s special recipe page and let your creativity take over from there!
Scrambled Tofu with Vegg, veggies, and toast. Adding a little Vegg gives the tofu scramble a nice hint of yolk taste, but adding more and using tofu with less moisture creates a VERY convincing vegan egg scramble! Versatile depending on your personal taste preferences.
Ingredients: 2 tsp Vegg flakes/powder 1/2 cup water 1/3 cup of unsweetened almond milk (or other milk alternative) 4-6 slices of bread 1-2 Tbs olive, grapeseed, or coconut oil (optional if using a non-stick pan–works both with and without, in my experience!) salt*, pepper, and other seasonings to taste**
*I found that the flavors of the Vegg were strong enough, and additional salt was not necessary **You may omit seasonings, or add cinnamon and other spices, to create French toast compatible with sweet toppings
Method: 1. Blend or process the Vegg flakes/powder together until smooth. Stir in milk and seasonings, and pour into a shallow bowl or baking dish (big enough to fit the bread slices) 2. Place the bread in dish and turn the slices over until covered and soaked with Vegg mixture. 3. Heat oil (if using) in pan for several seconds, and drop bread into pan. Lightly fry each piece of bread for several minutes, turning and pressing down with a spatula as needed until both sides are golden and Vegg starts to appear crispy. 4. Serve with your favorite toppings and breakfast sides!
Hi! I really liked your recipe for almond pulp cookies and I was really ready to pin it to my pinterest board to try later. But your beautiful photos can't be pinned for some reason. Just thought I would let you know!
Thanks for the heads up, and for the tumblr love! I figured out how to make the page itself sharable on other social media sites, but am not sure how to configure it so that the images themselves are Pinnable. If anyone has experience with this or can help me figure it out, please message me…would be much appreciated!
2012 was amazing, and flew by in the blink of an eye. I am super grateful to have accomplished so much, met so many great people, and been able to steer my life in some exciting and rewarding directions.
In 2012, I completed my first Ironman 70.3, and became a marathoner. I had a blast doing both and became a much stronger endurance athlete as a result. And thanks to some great friends and generous acquaintances, raised nearly $1,300 for Food Empowerment Project, a worthy organization that I was fortunate enough to get involved with this year. I met some great neighbors, artists, vegans, and athletes (and some combinations of all four!) who got me excited about living and loving life. I also made a big decision to move across the country with my best friend and partner, which has been a catalyst for some other positive changes in my life. Among these is a path I am taking to become a fitness professional and wellness coach, which has already led to many more opportunities than I could have imagined. I posted a few months ago about these goals and some of my hesitations, and am definitely still in the process of learning a LOT. However, as of later this month, I will be teaching in a variety of formats that I am greatly interested in: indoor cycling, high-intensity choreographed training, boot camp (am especially psyched for this one), core strength, kids’ fitness, and stretching/strength maintenance for older populations. The latter might be my biggest challenge as a relative newbie, but comes at an especially relevant time after coming home to visit my family and seeing how limited my dear grandmother’s mobility has become. I am also in the middle of completing my plant-based nutrition certification from eCornell and the T. Colin Campbell foundation—which is incredibly eye-opening and lights my fire all the more—as well as shadowing and studying to become a fitness trainer. In terms of my personal illustration work and Whole Foods store artist gig, progress has been a bit more gradual, but I am lucky to have some new and old creative friends who inspire me every day to keep on plugging away. I have also started helping out a little bit in the Whole Body department (body care, accessories, books, and supplements), which is yet another valuable learning tool that ties into my coaching and fitness aspirations. All in all, it’s been incredibly busy, challenging, and time-consuming, but I am loving the process, the variety, and the lessons that I am constantly picking up along the way. Passion and a sense of continuous progress in a direction that is still somewhat nebulous, but feeling more clear and “right” all the time, is definitely keeping me going.
In 2012, I also think I genuinely became more mature. I let go of some fears, forgave more, and became a little more patient with the people who deserve my patience the most—my loved ones. I let go of some pride and opened up my heart to more compassion. I set goals that I didn’t give up on. I tried to love more genuinely, deeply, and unconditionally.
Today is the first day of 2013, and with it comes great hope and possibility. I hope to hold on to this positivity, passion, and momentum in the new year and in all future ones I am blessed enough to see. I hope to live in the present every day, and keep taking chances and making things happen instead of sitting around over-thinking and doubting. I hope to improve and grow spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually, and use this to create good in small and big ways. And I hope to remain grateful, be more humble, and remember (and enjoy!) the journey. I know a lot of this year will be about continuous learning both as a person and with my fast-paced career changes, so hopefully there will still be time to maintain important friendships, cultivate new ones, and train for a few races :)
To sum it up, I think my overarching resolution is to really “live my own truth” this year. Especially given that I want to help coach others to their own best, healthiest, happiest selves, I need to start by being true to myself and what I stand and care deeply for. This means living in a forward-thinking present, being really kind to my body (eating an even cleaner, plant-strong diet!), allocating more time for spiritual wellness (my wise little sister is an ever-present beacon and reminder of this), being more deliberate and thoughtful with my actions and words, and doing my best to break negative cycles that affect my own as well as the wellness of those around me.
Wishing everyone tons of success, discoveries, and abundant love this year and all the rest! Happy 2013!
Now…cheesy inspirational images montage time.
To breathe and know you are alive is wonderful. Because you are alive, everything is possible. ~ Thich Nhat Hanh
Hello, about your recipe for almond pulp cookies, do I have to dry the pulp fist before using it? And if so hoe would u do it without a dehydrator?
Hey there! No drying needed. I used moist pulp that I had stored in the fridge after making almond milk. If you think it’s too wet to hold your cookies together, try straining it again with cheesecloth or putting it the oven at very low heat for a while! Best of luck.
I am so overwhelmed by the support! Thanks to the many generous donations, I was able to surpass my goal of raising $1000 for theFood Empowerment Project via my marathon. BUT it’s not too late to give and continue to make an impact!
With Thanksgiving having recently passed and the holiday season in full swing, it is a great time for us all to reflect the things we are thankful for, and to count our many blessings and loved ones. One thing that I have always been thankful for—especially when training for an endurance event—is the fact that I have access to healthy, diverse foods to fuel my body and keep me healthy and happy. It’s something that is far too easy to take for granted, and for many people in this world (and in our very country), not always if ever a given. As many of you may already know, this was one of my biggest motivations for running my first marathon on behalf of theFood Empowerment Project, a CA-based non-profit organization that is doing extensive work in making healthy, affordable options available to low-income areas and minority populations. On top of that, they are working with policy makers, educators, companies, farms, and individuals to address many issues in the realm of food justice, farm worker conditions, community health, and much more that have direct and positive long-term impact on those who need it the most (and ultimately, all of us).
All the successes in my life have been possible with the help of others, so I didn’t want to make this marathon solely about me; I want to give back to a great organization on behalf of my friends, my community, and our at times unfair—though ultimately very compassionate—world. I hope you will consider making a donation to my cause this holiday season (maybe on behalf of a friend or loved one) and help out this great organization. As another way to say thank you, I have a bunch of raffle prizes for those who donate, including Food Empowerment Project T-shirts, ethical chocolate, gift cards, and art, along with my already abundant amounts of gratitude. Please check out my donation page and decide for yourself: http://www.crowdrise.com/foodispower
Did I mention that the large custom painting—for donors who give $150 or more—is still up for grabs since no one has given that amount? Talk about a great holiday present…helping a super awesome organization + paying a lot less for a great piece of art + getting a very unique and customized gift out of it = BIG win :) —> for examples of my art and what yours could look like, please visit www.yifanluo.com!
I have been a busy busy lady the past few weeks, with hours increasing at all my part-time jobs and the marathon looming closer and closer. I’ve also cooked up a lot of yummies and promise that I will post some of the recipes soon! Hopefully they can inspire some of you to try out something new in the kitchen, especially with Thanksgiving coming up tomorrow (November is flying by!).
Here is a quick snapshot of marathon training from the past few weeks:
Week of 10/29 — 31.35 miles run total with 12.28-mile long run
Week of 11/5 — 44.19 miles run total with 20.18-mile long run
Week of 11/12 — 25.7 miles run total with 12.42-mile long run
From the looks of this, I dropped off into taper mode pretty quickly :) This isn’t totally true, though, as I attended the official 3-day training this past weekend for getting certified to teach Xercise Lab. I have also been teaching spin, core blast, and team-teaching Xercise Lab pretty intensively. Hoping to take time off of certain jobs next week to really get rested up and keep those legs fresh.
Some kinks I need to work out before the race: - My right hip has been bothering me a little bit :( It’s not as bad now that I’ve scaled back on miles, but I guess all the running and high-impact activity makes for some stiffness and imbalances. I’ve been trying to be good about foam rolling as much as possible, using a tennis ball to really get in those tight spots, stretching, and have a light sports massage booked. Let’s hope this gets nipped in the next few days! - I am just recovering from a strange, not-fully-diagnosed stomach bug of sorts. My stomach wasn’t necessarily feeling that bad, but I was having waves of nausea and trouble digesting/going “regularly” this past week. I’m not sure if it was poorly-time nutrition, food gone bad, or something else, but it’s mostly gone now and hopefully sickness karma will have pity on me come race day! - I’m still not totally sure what pants/shorts I’m going to wear on race day. I was initially hoping to wear my light compression leggings, but on the 20-miler, they started to give me this nasty chaffe/bruise by my ankle! Ugh, it’s frustrating how many little discomforts you notice when you’ve been running 2.5+ hours. I might switch to regular leggings, or my other distance proof combo: my black shorts and compression leggings or long socks. The main concern with the latter is the temperature on race day, but maybe it will feel fine like it has on recent morning training runs. - To bring music or no?? I’m not a huge fan of running races with music, and have run many awesome long runs without. However, I have also run quite a few with…and on my recent half-marathons, I believe it helped on the home stretch. I will likely bring my iPod in a pouch for the race, and only whip it out if I really need a pick me up. We shall see.
Turkey Trot 5k with some friends tomorrow! Probably won’t go all out, but it should be a fun way to squeeze in some tempo miles :)
Girls like shoes, apparently. For me, it’s sneakers. Here they are…my pumped up kicks:
Let me make it clear that I don’t buy shoes impulsively, nor am I obsessed with them. Mostly, I’m just bad at parting with them, and tend to keep them around much longer than many of my peers and “running experts” might recommend. I have become more sensitive to wear & tear on running shoes since starting with half-Ironman/marathon training this year, but find that I’m pretty happy walking around/cross-training with sneakers old and new. Though I admit that it oftentimes feels like *such* a “first world problem” to be worrying about putting too many miles on shoes that I’ve only had for a few months, rotating between sneakers has so far helped keep me injury free and made my runs more enjoyable. I’ll definitely donate them as they stop fitting my needs, but I honestly wear them all quite a bit—definitely much more than any other non-sneaker shoes I own. Here’s a little breakdown of the crew above:
- Far left: two pairs of Brooks Green Silences (black is almost a year old, purple was purchased this spring to switch off with the black pair). These were my go-to shoes for pretty much all of my winter, spring, and summer training and racing, and are super light and “free” feeling. Great air circulation, and made of sustainable materials to boot. Strangely, the material on the black pair is a lot more meshy and airy than the one on the purple. I don’t run in the black pair anymore but wear the shoes around since I like the way they look. I still do quite a bit of training (and maybe will do some shorter races) in the purple ones, but they make the soles of my feet a bit sore during longer/more intense runs (half-marathon distance+). - Top middle: Brooks PureFlow. I bought these later in the summer, hoping they would be a more stable and sturdy complement to the Brooks Green Silence, and my potential marathon shoe. They have a lower heel-to-toe drop than the Green Silences (~4mm vs. 8mm), but it’s easy to switch off between the two since the soles are made of similar materials, and the Green Silences are pretty minimal to begin with. I raced in them at USAT Nationals and had a great run split. So far, I have been doing about 65% of my marathon training runs (and 95% of my long runs) in them. They’re really great overall, but the silly “nav bands” that wraps around the foot have been giving me really annoying blisters in the same spot on the side of my foot once mileage goes up to 9ish miles and beyond. Not a deal breaker (and manageable with band-aids), but I am hesitant to race 26.2 miles in them. - Top right: Oldest pair and the only “traditional” trainer I own, the Nike Lunar Glides. I bought them at a time when I didn’t really have any decent sneakers, and went by what felt decent and looked kinda cool at the local running store. Since my other shoes all have a (sometimes significantly) lower heel-to-toe-drop, I’ve actually tripped over my own feet and fallen a few times while running in the Lunar Glides in recent months. Yes, my clumsiness is to blame as well, but it’s an interesting fact/observation. These days, I use them mostly for weight training and high-intensity circuits. - Bottom middle: I have my eye on the Saucony Cortana as a potential contender for marathon racing shoe. They felt great on a test run at a local running store, but I bought them online for over 50% off, a slightly better color choice, and a 90-day return policy. I have run a few shorter runs and one “longish” 12+ miler in them. They felt a bit narrow the first time, but have since felt really good. The feeling of tightness started creeping back again on the 12+ mile run, probably since my feet were more swollen and fatigued from the longer distance. However, it didn’t get to that point where my feet were actually sore from being in something too narrow, which has definitely happened to me before. I just ordered a half-size up to test out and compare. If all goes well, I’ll be running my 20-miler in them this weekend. - Bottom right: Saucony ProGrid Type A4. Originally ordered two pairs of the Type A5 (newer model) to try since I had read rave reviews, but saw these at Ross for $39.99 and had to get them. They actually fit my feet a lot better than the A5s, though the color is a bit too hot PINK (just a bit, ha) for my taste. Better than baby pink though. So far, I’ve only taken them out on one run, but they’re comfy, light, and responsive! I can see them being great for track workouts, races (maybe 5K and 10K distances), and maybe tris.
There you have it. Now excuse me while I tuck them all in and get ready for bed ;)
Marathon Training Week of 10/22 & First 20+ Mile Run...!
Saturday, I got a little lost during my long run, and while trying my best to guesstimate the distance of my re-routed course, I ended up overshooting it and running a little over 21 miles despite having only planned on 20. I had actually anticipated having to cut my run short because I haven’t been getting as much sleep this past week, and it’s starting to wear on me a bit. I also got called in to team-teach for the first time at Xercise Lab earlier on Saturday morning, which was exciting but came after a night of staying out late doing Halloween-y things. It’s easy to mentally psyche yourself out and make excuses when you’re about to attempt distances longer than you have ever done before. <—future blog post topic?
…but the run felt great! If my calculations and mapping skills are right, I did the run at about 9:15 min/miles. My ideal pace for the marathon (based on my own approximations, half-marathon pace capabilities, and somewhat arbitrary first-timer goals) is around 9 min/mile, so the fact that I managed to do 9:15 min/miles for 21 miles of a training run is really exciting!! Of course, my marathon will likely involve more hills, and less trail-like, easy-on-the-joints roads…BUT, I will also be armed with race-day adrenaline, encouraging spectators, cooler weather, and my A game. 32 days to go!
Other notable things from my longest run to date: - Saw a HUGE vulture eating roadkill - Saw a big heron and stork up close while in the Baylands - Ran by a good chunk of the Mt. View Google campus. The Google bikes are cute! - Pre-bandaged the two sometimes “trouble spots” on my feet, and came out relatively blisterless.
Training Week of 10/22:
Monday Easy 4.18 miles, bootcamp, and Xercise Lab BurnLab
Tuesday 6.84 miles as it got dark. Ate pizza right before so had some slight GI issues…haha yummy thought
Wednesday Practice run of Xercise Lab BurnLab with my boss. It went really well and my confidence levels were way up! 8.49 miles with Palo Alto Run Club (tacked on a few trying to meet up with them, and then running home)
Friday 5.02 miles running with Gabrielle, plus some circuit strength work at the gym
Saturday Xercise Lab BurnLab class in the morning, where I team taught. Home for breakfast, then a successful 21-mile run!
Sunday 75-minute gentle flow yoga class taught by my friend
Marathon Fundraising is Now Officially Up & Running! (haha...running)
Hello lovely followers! First I want to give a big welcome & virtual *hug* to all my new followers, and thank you for checking in on my lil’ blog. You flatter me.
Now, I have some exciting news!
As most readers know, I have signed up to run my first marathon on December 2nd. I will be running the 30th Annual California International Marathon in Sacramento, CA. Though I love a physical challenge, running a marathon had never really been on my radar until this summer, and frankly has always intimidated me quite a bit! However, I have decided to pair this meaningful milestone and my hours of hard work & training with yet another challenge: raising $1000 for the Food Empowerment Project, a non-profit organization that “seeks to create a more just and sustainable world by recognizing the power of one’s food choices.” F.E.P helps educate and empower people to use their food choices—something we all make each and every day—to minimize environmental stress and cruelty to workers and animals, improve farm worker conditions, increase awareness and access to healthy foods, petition for reform, and advocate against issues like water privatization, environmental racism, and child labor.
I don’t have a lot of time to reach this goal because of logistical issues faced while trying to get approval from both the organization and the race, but I will be working hard over the next 41 days to raise awareness about F.E.P’s work, collect funds, and provide incentives* to show my gratitude for those who are able to contribute. Please visit my donation page for more information: http://www.crowdrise.com/foodispower/
Both the Food Empowerment Project and I would be extremely grateful for any funds that you can contribute! Many deserving organizations need money, but small, solely volunteer-based ones like F.E.P are often overlooked and deeply underfunded. Still, their efforts are making a profound impact both locally and globally, such as providing better access to healthy foods in underprivileged communities in the San Francisco Bay Area (where they are based), as well as influencing large companies (such as Whole Foods Market and Clif Bar) to increase transparency and boycott inhumane/slavery-based operations. Every dollar counts and will be used for good! Feel free to share the fundraising link and my information with anyone you think might be interested. If you have any questions, feel free to message me via Tumblr or the fundraising site!
The holidays will be upon us shortly after my race, so please consider donating in a loved one’s honor.
Thanks so much for your time and support.
* Any donation amount is deeply appreciated, but here are some pre-set levels you can choose from:
Tuesday Run 6.83 miles (split up into two) before and after Xercise Lab BurnLab
Wednesday Much needed totally OFF day
Thursday Practice run of Xercise Lab BurnLab with instructor. Didn’t feel my best and was a little discouraged. Run 7.89 miles HILLS to vent - Finally ran the Dish! It was hard but rewarding.
Friday Run 4.11 miles intervals (9:30min warmup, 7x [1:30 hard, 2:00 easy] + cooldown] Strength at the gym (two rounds of a circuit featuring push-ups, abs, shoulder presses, biceps & triceps curls, leg presses, chest extensions, and back extensions) - the biceps and triceps curl machines are surprisingly hard!! Had to lower my weights from what I usually do w/ free weights since the machine locks your arms and helps you hold your form. Will have to work my way up on those since I’m at a meek 10-15lbs per arm at the moment…. 30min practicing BurnLab in front of gym mirror. I looked ridiculous but my form has improved and I felt much better than on Thursday.
Saturday 13 miles pace. It was windy and hot, so even though I managed 9:04 min/miles, it felt like a lot harder effort 1.5 hours of awesome flow yoga
Sunday Went to Xercise Lab hoping to do BurnLab and BuildLab back to back. BurnLab was cancelled at the last minute, so ended up doing a mini BuildLab with another prospective instructor, and then “real” BuildLab afterwards. Practiced my BurnLab routine for 25min afterwards.
Total miles: 34.62 (up 3% from last week, but with a shorter though more effort-intensive weekend long run)
Running has felt pretty good, and this week was definitely overall more relaxed than the one before. I’ve been trying to breathe through my nose more on my runs, which is helping my fitness level. Marathon training is definitely teaching me patience and stamina, but also resulting in much slower runs than I used to do (not necessarily a bad thing though). I signed up for a Thanksgiving Turkey Trot with some friends, so we’ll see how the 5K legs fare! My Xercise Lab progress feels hot & cold, but overall the practice sessions have been a big help. It also felt great to go to yoga, so I will have to check out that studio more and hopefully work yoga practice back into my routine.
Out for now! Food post is in the queue for next time :)
I ate these a ton as a kid. Rarely so now, but we had some laying around in the apartment because (I think) Jeff bought a bag of them months ago, and though I’d pretty much forgotten about them, some got mixed in with the snacks that we packed up for our move.
What are these colorful things I speak of? Asian jelly snacks. Usually konjac-based and fruit flavored, they are mini jello-like shots of delight.
I decided on a whim to bring one on my 18+ mile run this past weekend (in addition to 2 gels, only one of which I ended up taking). It was surprisingly AWESOME. More solid than a store-bought or homemade energy gel, didn’t get stuck in my teeth like gummy snacks tend to do, and evoked just the right amount of childhood nostalgia to make me wanna finish the damn run and make mommy proud.
In yesterday’s post, I mentioned getting hired at Xercise Lab and making other promising relationships with area fitness studios. As a result of getting hired at Xercise Lab, I have been working really hard to get up to speed on all the choreography, and working on my anaerobic and Xercise Lab-specific fitness levels by attending classes (think lots of kickboxing-inspired moves, jumping, mountain climbers, burpees, agility work). I have also been trying to go to Form Fitness, a more traditional area gym with a really cool vibe, as much as possible: I had a free pass with them last week, culminating in an audition on Sunday for an indoor cycling instructor position. I hope to build a more rooted, long-term relationship with them, so I wanted to make an effort to attend as many of their popular classes as I could to get a feel for the clientele, show my mug consistently, and check out different cycling instructors’ teaching styles. On top of this, I also started my Whole Foods job last week, and am still trying to do a decent job with my marathon training. All while staying balanced and sane.
The result?? Doing cardio like it’s my job (I guess it sort of is now?). The main differentiating factor between this and my days as a varsity athlete/this summer’s half-Ironman training is the added pressure of trying to perfect something so that I caneffectively teach and coach others. It’s not just about me anymore…it’s about putting in 200% so that I can push others to their 100%, and in Sunday’s case, impressing a potential employer with a combination of both my fitness and teaching skills. Here’s a brief recap of last week’s workout-related activities:
Monday 10/8: 45 min Xercise Lab BurnLab class (high intensity cardio) 10 min Xercise Lab audition 30 min of Xercise Lab BuildLab class (high intensity bodyweight strength work) 1 hour Flow (barre style) class at Form Fitness…surprisingly intense! Stretching
Tuesday 10/9: 1 hour power cycling class at Form Fitness 2.5 hours learning Xercise Lab choreography 1 hour practicing my spin class with friends 30 min run with Jeff
Wednesday 10/10: 1 hour meeting/interview at local YMCA 50 min Stanford Rec Boot Camp (a bi-weekly class that two friends and I signed up & paid for at the beginning of the semester, so feel obligated to keep coming to despite busy schedules and a pretty low-key format so far) 25 min run 45 min Xercise Lab BurnLab class 35 min run
Thursday 10/11: 1 hour learning/practicing Xercise Lab choreography 1 hour working with Xercise Lab instructor to fine tune my choreography and technique 70 min power cycling class at Form Fitness Foam rolling and stretching
Friday 10/12: 45 min Xercise Lab BurnLab class 1 hour practicing my spin class with a friend 30 min weights/strength training at the gym — was craving some weights after such a cardio-heavy week Much needed mini-yoga/stretching
Saturday 10/13: 3-hour long run (longest yet! 30km, ~18.6 miles)
Sunday 10/14: 1 hour doing my Form Fitness power cycling audition*! (subbing a class) 24 min running on treadmill 1 hour Flow class 2 hours learning/practicing Xercise Lab choreography
Total: 4.9 hours running (was scheduled to do 36-41, but “only” got to 33.5. Got in the full length of the most important run, though!) 5.2 hours cycling 3.75 hours working hard at Xercise Lab 5 hours practicing Xercise Lab stuff (more low key) 3.3 hours strength work (I count bootcamp even though it was pretty low key…) 0.5 hours stretching (this is for dedicated, independent stretching time; I stretch after nearly every workout, and the stretching components of spin, Xercise Lab, and flow are worked into the class time)
Oh yeah, and commuting by bike everywhere. Thankfully, everything is fairly close together!
Holy crap, when I put this all down in writing, it seems like so much. It’s comparable to peak training for Ironman** in terms of time commitment alone, haha. I don’t want family/friends/readers to think I’ve suddenly gone unhealthily nutso for exercise, or am jumping off the good-novice-marathon-training bandwagon. I don’t love the fact that I haven’t had a rest day this week (my legs felt it today), or that I’ve had to cut back on running. However, I must admit that this is overall not a bad problem to have. I wanted some fitness jobs, and several opportunities have rapidly come my way. I basically got what I wished for, and some. I anticipate things to slow down physically & mentally once I get better at the Xercise Lab routines and start teaching on a set schedule. But for now, I trudge on, do my best, and foam roll every chance I get.
Best fwiend ^
* I got the job!! More details to be determined. ** Maybe this is a sign that I’m officially ready to take on the mental aspects of Ironman training at some point in time, haa.
I'm totally trying to figure out how to make what I love (health, fitness, sports, etc) into a career as well! It's just so hard to fathom giving up the stability that my boring job offers. How did you go about getting certified to teach spin classes?
Totally. For me, I think a lot of it had to do with timing. Anyhow, you don’t have to necessarily give up the stability of your job if you want to start teaching classes! First off, I would take a ton of indoor cycling classes if you don’t already. Really get a feel for the bike, different instructors’ styles, and whether it’s something that you would enjoy teaching. Then, look into obtaining a recognized instructor certification. There are quite a few options out there, including these. I did the official Spinning certification through Mad Dogg Athletics, a.k.a the “Johnny G” certification (Johnny G invented indoor cycling as we know it back in the ‘80’s and is highly regarded in the indoor cycling world), and highly recommend it. You register and pay in advance on their website. It includes a helpful one-day workshop and a multiple choice test that you should have no trouble passing if you read the manual and pay attention in the workshop.
If you know of some facilities where you would like to teach, it might be good to check with them to see if they prefer/accept certain certifications over others. The Spinning certification is accepted everywhere I’ve ever inquired, though.
In terms of getting experience teaching, like I said above, it is great to go to as many classes as you can. If there are specific facilities or instructors that you love, start building a relationship with them. They can be invaluable mentors, and will often give you a shot at “team teaching” or subbing if they know you are dedicated and are training to become an instructor. Gyms in general are often looking for subs and new instructors, so don’t be afraid to network and show your enthusiasm. I’ve also found that practicing my routine alone (or with a group of friends, when the gym’s spin bikes are free) is a great way to build confidence and practice cueing.
I hope that helps! I’m still new in my journey as well, but just found out this morning that one of the gyms I auditioned for wants to hire me!!! Super stoked. Let me know if you decide to pursue a certification!
PS: Congrats on Tough Mudder…those are some crazy battle wounds :)
Taking Chances -- my quest for career fulfillment and spreading happiness, health, and sweat
In my post from October 3rd, I wrote a bit about my recent move to California and utilizing this transition to “recalibrate” and pursue some new career paths that I’ve been interested in exploring for a while now, though was maybe lacked the confidence, resource, and [insert other excuse here] to do so before.
Initially, I was applying to jobs at various tech companies in the area, thinking that it was what one should do when young, educated, and in Silicon Valley. However, my heart just wasn’t into it. With the exception of a few really neat start-ups that I could definitely see myself working at, I felt that though a lot of the companies had cool culture and perks, the actual jobs themselves wouldn’t be all that exciting. Sometimes, that’s totally okay—to not love your day-to-day tasks if you love the company, people, and pay, or if your current job is a gateway to something else you really want to do—but I just wasn’t feeling inspired by the thought of starting another questionably-fulfilling desk job. Furthermore, many of the aforementioned jobs seemed like they would work “for now,” but I couldn’t really see myself being there long term, or having them result in something I was truly passionate about.
Therefore, after quite a bit of contemplating, meditating, and a dash of “eh, screw it, I’m going for it!,” I gave up the good-Ivy-League-grad-searching-for-a-neatly-packaged-full-time-job path that I’ve been on since graduation, and started looking for part-time gigs that would hopefully give me a clearer sense of what I’m looking for in a career, and ideally help me get there. Of course, I’m also trying to enjoy the ride and not get too caught up in “where I’m going,” because I’m definitely a believer in living in the present moment!
One of the things I’m currently working on is getting certified as a group exercise instructor—something I have actually been contemplating for a while, and wanted to do regardless of whether or not I ended up getting a full-time job. I have always loved and been really interested and invested in health, wellness, and fitness, and it’s something I spend a lot of my free time learning about and indulging in (making fun dishes and writing in this blog being just a fraction of it). I also love motivating and coaching people towards success, or, if anything, towards that gratifying feeling one can only get from an effective, sweaty workout. I’m already certified to teach Spinning (indoor cycling), and my former DJ self is really enjoying coming up with ride profiles and playlists. The search for instructor positions on the West Coast has actually been more fruitful than I initially anticipated because I’ve been both aggressive and super enthusiastic. Though I haven’t secured a regular gig, I’ve made some meaningful connections that currently show a lot of promise; I think studios and gyms really appreciate a passionate, go-getter attitude! In addition, I recently got hired to teach classes at a new start-up studio called Xercise Lab! The home studio is in Palo Alto and offers pre-choreographed cardio and strength classes that don’t require any equipment. The company is working with gyms across the country to license their workouts (a bit like Les Mills), so it’s exciting to be a part of. I am still in the process of training and learning the choreography, so probably won’t start officially teaching for a few more weeks. As I get more experience with teaching, and if I continue to enjoy it, I am also thinking about obtaining other secondary certifications (maybe in TRX, flexibility, etc.).
As much as I love sweating in a group, I see health and wellbeing as a holistic pursuit, and am therefore also very interested in becoming a lifestyle & wellness coach. I’ve had friends ask me why I don’t just go back to school to become a nutritionist or dietitian, and how wellness coaching differs. Nutritionist and dietitians, similar to personal trainers, are usually responsible for accessing someone’s overall health, and using their expertise to subscribe a detailed plan of action and/or diet for their clients. By contrast, wellness coaches are less focused on numbers and the clinical aspects of health, and more focused on empowering clients to make sustainable health and fitness changes based on their individual strengths and interconnected lifestyle choices. The goal is to help guide people to their best physical, mental, and emotional health. Many nutritionists, physicians, and psychiatrists work in conjunction with wellness coaches to give clients the best of both worlds; moreover, quite a few wellness coaches are also nutritionists or registered dietitians themselves! I am personally more interested in the wellness coaching aspect because I think it’s something I would enjoy more and thrive better in, but the scientific/clinical aspects of nutrition do fascinate me as well. So as not to pursue too much at once, I have been focusing on options to gain further training and credentials in the wellness coaching arena, while learning about the science of nutrition and physiology as more of a fun side thing for now (via reading and Coursera courses, woohoo!). I’ll also be studying up on the the latter in preparation for some of the group fitness certification tests mentioned earlier. I don’t really know what this will lead to in the future, but it would be really cool to start my own coaching business in the not-too-distant future, and maybe one day open a fitness/wellness center offering unique classes, personalized coaching, and delicious vegan smoothies ;)
On top of all that, I am still working on keeping the art skillz sharp. It isn’t as big a focus at the moment, but I do currently have a few small illustrations projects that are generating some income. As a new contributor to Chic Vegan, I am also creating illustrations for the site on a monthly basis (for now), for which I am getting paid in feel-good karmic points, plant-based creative inspiration, and exposure :)
In addition, I just started a part-time job at the Palo Alto Whole Foods (the oldest location in California) as one of their back-up store artists! My main tasks consist of making signs, writing and drawing on chalkboards and glass, and creating digital flyers. The hours are sparse for now, but it’s perfect for my current situation and I love the work so far! It helps that I get a sweet discount on all their products and that everyone who works there seems really happy. Not to be overlooked is also the company’s focus on health and sustainability, which should complement my own personal and professional health/wellness endeavors nicely.
To sum up this lengthy post: I’m definitely taking some interesting chances, but enthusiastically trying to build a career around health, fitness, wellness, and coaching, balanced out with a healthy dose of meaningful illustration work. Time will tell if this is what’s right for me…but hey, if I’m gonna take some chances and make some changes, no better time than now, right? :)
Have you been through a similar situation, or are going through one now? I’d love to exchange stories and motivation.
I realized I never wrote a post articulating that I was moving, and explaining why. Now that I’m finally settling into my new life in California and back to bloggin’ (took me longer than I thought, tsk tsk), I think a little catch-up is in order!
My boyfriend, Jeff, just started grad school at Stanford. Throughout his application process, I had been considering the pros and cons of moving with him wherever he ended up. Ultimately, after he settled on Stanford, I decided to go along for the adventure because a.) it was what we felt was best for our relationship/happiness, b.) the Bay Area has always intrigued me with its kickass-ness and beautiful weather, and c.) I’m young and excited to shake things up! I had also been feeling a little stifled at my old job, not because of my co-workers or the job itself (I enjoyed the people and creative environment tremendously!), but because it didn’t feel like my true passion. That, combined with the fact that I am not a happy camper sitting at a desk all day. I was hoping that the move would be a chance for me to recalibrate, and the duration of Jeff’s program a good timeframe in which to explore some opportunities I’ve been wanting to get serious about for a while, but that I never did due to lack of time, confidence, etc. More on this in the next post….
We’re living on the Stanford Campus, and the apartment is actually quite nice. We have a cozy little balcony that, despite not getting a lot of sunlight, has a great view of some mountains and the Stanford Football scoreboard. The campus is huge, and the surrounding areas can be confusing to navigate, but thanks to my continued marathon training, I’ve been able to explore quite a bit via running. Though I miss this:
I’m getting used to (and enjoying!) this:
Speaking of marathon training, I am very pleased with how it’s been going since the move! I am so glad that I’ve been able to find some nice paths and trails to run on. I have also been trying to find a good running group to do some of my training with, but so far haven’t gone to practices consistently. The Stanford club seems sweet, but I don’t feel like I quite fit in as a non-student. My best prospect at the moment is the Palo Alto Run Club—they’re super fast and overall seem a good 10-20 years older than me on average, but have a variety of practices throughout the week and so far have been welcoming. If only there was a Bay Area TMIRCE!
Since my last training update, I have decided to tweak my training plan and make a hybrid from the novice plan I had been following + a more intermediate-beginner plan, being careful to monitor my body so as not to overdo it. It’s exciting to be running my longest runs ever almost every weekend! Also, I have been able to take advantage of free access to Stanford’s gyms (oh yeah!) and some of their classes (available to me at a reasonable rate since I am living here) to throw in some strength work and cross-training. Here’s the approx. mileage from the past few weeks:
(this doesn’t include all of my non-running stuff)
I know it may not seem that impressive to some—especially my more experienced distance-running peers—but it’s the most I’ve ever run consistently, and it’s a great feeling! I’m not doing a great job of following the “10% rule,” but am trying to be as body-aware as possible in order to train smart. So far so good as I only have a few blisters and sore toes to show for it (knock on wood). Getting more sleep, eating pretty clean, and taking my weekly rest day seriously really have been doing magic for recovery!
That’s all for now, but I look forward to sharing some more details on new career prospects and aspirations with you in my next post! Hope everyone is enjoying their weeks so far :)
…so a lack of posts lately. Sorry again! Flying out to California tomorrow. Super excited for this new adventure, and should be back to posting regularly as soon as I’m settled.
In the meantime, here’s my profile on Endurance Films’ website! I applied to be on their sponsored Age Group Racing Team a while back, and though I was ultimately not chosen, I did make the finalist round! Not bad for a vegan triathlete of one year :) (you can click on the picture for a little bio)