NHBPM WEGO Prompt: Calling BS…

Per the WEGO health post prompt today, I’m ready to call “BS” on a few things.

Any health-world professional will tell you that there are too many ways to accomplish one goal –weight loss, health improvements, muscle toning…whatever it may be – some great, some ridiculous. Most people go for the quick fixes, while some are in it for the “long haul” (hello, life).

The fluctuating trends in nutrition and fitness are even confusing to professionals at times – your friend told you almonds do WHAT? you’re running backwards because of {insert new theory on gait-changing}? you bought that super-food for HOW much?  – and we try hard to keep up! It’s anyone’s guess as to how these get started, but thanks to our friend the internet they spread so dang quickly.

Enter: blogs. Our space and time to speak without interruption! If I may, here are a few things I’d like to call BS on…

Low-caloriesnacks:

We all remember the craze of “100 Calories!” snack-packs, yes? I think they’re still around, but thankfully I see them less and less.

We all know that it’s pretty easy to only snack on 100 calories, right? And it doesn’t have to be in the form of depressingly small “cookie” discs? It can be a banana, a grapefruit, a large apple, a baked sweet/regular potato, a small handful of nuts, a spoonful of peanut butter or even few pieces of dark chocolate. The list goes on and on. Nobody needs to tell you exactly how many calories are in your snack – if they feel like they do, you should probably feel like there’s no need to listen.

natural-peanut-butter

Oil separation = a beautiful thing. Get stirring…

Reduced-fat peanut butter:

Let’s show peanuts some love! They don’t need anyone messing with them, and they certainly don’t need any sugar in their butter. Yep, reduced fat peanut butter is just sweetened and plumped up with additives (read: crap) to make up for the missing fat. It’s just an oil and it’s plenty healthy for you. Plus, some of those vitamins and minerals in there need fat for storage. They’ll thank you for going au natural.

Bacon-wrapped/flavored/infused-everything:

Clearly, as a meat-free eater, I’m biased here. And I’ll be the first to say there’s room for balance in all things – indulge, enjoy, balance, repeat. But the praising of bacon has gone a little bit far, especially when we consider what it is– cured pork meat, mostly fat. That’s it. There’s no rejoicing in the hidden nutritional content here! Nope, it’s just a lot of saturated fat, salt and protein.

If you’re a bacon-lover, enjoy a strip here and there with breakfast, or around a scallop or chocolate-dipped if you’re so inclined. But chew with caution!

cat energy drink

Energy-drinks, “Full of B vitamins!”:

You’re a smart crowd – you probably know full well that energy drinks, with their crazy loud claims and 1980s-style commercials, can’t have anything good going for them. Serious health risks aside (important to note, though), they are not your ideal source of B vitamins.

You’d be surprised how many people seem to think otherwise, and are genuinely swayed to maybe believe these drink-makers for 1.2 seconds when they see the “nutrition” information. Wait, what?…1000% of Vitamin b12?!

No food/drink/product needs to provide you with 1000% of anything; aside from the obvious fact that this can’t be natural in any way, the body can’t absorb all of that! Your urine will be pretty amped up, though.

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I’m sure that list could go on forever, but we’ll leave it at that for now.

Health-enthusiasts (I’m looking at you) – what would you love to call “BS” on?

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Filed under Dietitians, food, health, in the News

Spiced White Bean Pumpkin Soup (Vegan, GF)

It’s been a big week here, with dairy talk and elections, and it’s about time we eat. Yes? Sit down, and grab a spoon. This one is cozy and comforting…

pumpkin white bean soup

It started with a Pin, and an excuse to really bust out the slow-cooker. Then it was Monday night, and suddenly waiting five hours for soup to cook didn’t sound quite as a fun. Our version is still dairy-free, gluten-free and vegan, but just happened to find its way into our bowls much faster.

Spiced White Bean & Pumpkin Soup
Makes ~4 servings. Adapted from Healthy Eat’s Curried Pumpkin Soup.

1 tsp Olive Oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup lite coconut milk
1 can (15 oz) organic white (cannellini) beans, drained & rinsed
1 can (15 oz) organic pumpkin puree
3 cups vegetable broth (low-sodium)

Seasonings: garam masala, turmeric, salt/pepper, cayenne pepper.

In a deep pan or dutch oven, heat the oil over medium; sauté onion and garlic until softened.  Add remaining ingredients, stir to mix well – this may take a few minutes as the pumpkin “melts” into the mixture. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and let simmer for 25-30 minutes. Stir frequently.

Optional: serve with a green onion garnish.

pumpkin soup 2

This the first deliciously seasonal pumpkin meal we’ve had, and it was a big win. I have my eyes on this soup’s comeback happening sooner than later.

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Happy Friday!

What’s on your dinner menu(s) this weekend?

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Filed under dinners, food, gluten free, recipes, vegetarian

What it Means: Four More & ACA

It’s not often you’ll find me touting political beliefs – the Obama-Biden bumper-sticker I received for donating to the campaign is on my fridge, not my bumper – or getting deep into discussions, debates or long-winded arguments. Rather, I do my own research (read, watch and pick D’s brain) and “like” photos and smile when I feel proud of what we’ve done as a country.

I voted for Obama

I cannot wait to take advantage of our DC life and head to the inauguration on January 20th. History, we heart you!

In the meantime, I’m trying to really wrap my brain around what this means. Given my profession and passion, the things that matter to me are education and changes to student loan laws (if/when I go for that Masters…), changes in agriculture and environmental laws, and last but not least the Affordable Care Act.

With ACA in effect, this re-election means:

  • Women have control over their care. ‘Nuff said. (Why this was ever not the case would be a separate conversation…)
  • Coverage must be provided for: pre-existing conditions (this is huge; you know the significance of this when you see it first-hand) and pregnancy (under job-based plans).
  • Medicare recipients will save money on the cost of services and prescription drugs.
  • “Gender-rating” is essentially eliminated – meaning women can’t be charged higher because, well, we’re women. Because we’re of “child-bearing” age and might cost the health insurance companies more. Coverage also “vastly improves” for other minority groups.
  • Light is shed on preventive services. What this will mean, long-term? Who knows. But it’s a step in the right direction. For now: “You may not have to pay a copayment, co-insurance, or deductible to receive recommended preventive health services, such as screenings, vaccinations, and counseling.”
  • For example: “depending on your age, you may have access — at no cost: Counseling on such topics as quitting smoking, losing weight, eating healthfully, treating depression, and reducing alcohol use.”

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I realize this post is quite out of character here, but I hope that won’t always be the case. It’s so important that we’re aware of these things and invested in what it means for each of us!

——

Moving on to other fun things we do in DC…run! I love the Tuesday night lululemon run club because it gives me a weekly run along the waterfront and underneath the Kennedy Center, coming up to Lincoln and seeing the National Mall. We had a great election-night turn-out, as we all tried to pass the time and enjoy a cool evening in our city:

Lincoln memorial at nightwomens memorial DClululemon georgetown run club 11.6.12

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And with all of that, I bid you happy post-election day. Good-bye ads, hello to four-more-years!

How was your election day/night?

Non-US peeps – were you interested, too?

9 Comments

Filed under Dietitians, health, in the News, new things!

WEGO Health Soapbox: Why I (Mostly) Avoid Dairy

I’ve signed up for the WeGo National Health post prompts (thanks to Sassy). I won’t touch on all 30 days, but I think it’s a great way to get some (hopefully) thought-provoking posts up here.

So, for now, we take a break from running…and I step on a soapbox.

—–

The back-story: After a lot of back-and-forth deciding what may be causing D some chronic discomfort, he finally let me play dietitian and test out a few theories. Eventually, we cut dairy and gluten from his diet – ergo, mine at home, too – and voila! Problem (mostly) solved! Just in time for the summer and his cycling season, whew.

got milk you dont need it
(Photo source)

Further back: I stopped drinking cow’s milk right after college, finally realizing I very obviously didn’t tolerate it well*. I stuck with yogurt and hard cheeses because they have little-to-no lactose thanks to the fermentation process. For the lactose-intolerant, they’re generally safe. For the dairy/milk-intolerant (often associated with the protein, not the sugar), they’re not.

*Cow’s milk is the number one cause of food allergies among infants & children.

Approximately 33% of adults are lactose-intolerant, and 75% have a decrease in lactase activity (the enzyme that breaks down lactose). These numbers significantly higher in African-, Native-, Mexican- and Asian-American populations (75 & 90% respectively).

For long-time readers, you may recall a love-affair with vegetable pizzas – homemade or a la the pizzerias of the world. After cutting out meat and poultry, it was a fun dish to be creative with and never miss the meat! When eating out, it was an easy go-to for a “vegetarian” option.

Alas, you may have noticed less pizza appearing on these pages as of late…

I’ll be  the first to admit that melted cheese leaves little to be desired in any dish. But knowing what I do now, and with all stomach discomforts left in the dust, it’s easy to avoid. And we have.

cow milk production then and now
cows milk production 2
(Photo source)

Cows treated with hormones means you’re drinking those hormones. The solution? You can opt to buy organic milks and look for packaging that clarifies something along the lines of “not treated with rBST”.

If nothing else, do this!

{There are a handful of companies responsibly producing dairy products that I’ve supported – notably, Chobani & Stoneyfield – and continue to follow for their quality initiatives, health promotion and community outreach.}

——

So, let’s say you’re in the minority of adults that are fully able to digest lactose and you buy organic, hormone-free milks, cheeses and yogurts…

Then, what’s the problem?

milk studies
(Photo source)

Here are a few other reasons to think about decreasing your dairy intake:

  • “In multiple, peer-reviewed animal studies, researchers discovered that they could actually turn the growth of cancer cells on and off by raising and lowering doses of casein, the main protein found in cow’s milk.”
    China Study Cheat Sheet
  • “Some of the “experts” who helped create the pyramid actually work for the dairy industry, which makes the US Department of agriculture’s {dairy} recommendations reflect industry interests, not science or our best interests.”
    “Countries with the lowest rates of dairy and calcium consumption (like those in Africa and Asia) have the lowest rates of osteoporosis.”
    Dr. Mark Hymann – Dairy: 6 Reasons you Should Avoid it
  • “Dairy products, such as milk, cheese and yogurt, may worsen asthmatic symptoms…High-fat dairy products may worsen inflammation.”
    Foods to Avoid When Asthmatic
    Of note: there isn’t significant research (yet) to support this. The only testament is word-of-mouth & posts like this.
  • “…the truth is that {milk}  isn’t the only way to work toward your 1,000-a-day {recommended mg of calcium}. We gathered some of the most calcium-rich foods out there (including many vegan and vegetarian options) — just be sure to pair each of them with adequate vitamin D intake (the body needs this nutrient to absorb calcium, and milk is already fortified with it).”
    Surprisingly Calcium-rich Foods that Aren’t Milk

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What are those other calcium-rich foods? Things that I would bet most of you already eat, anyway!

white bean salad bowl of kale almond trail mix

Things like: salmon, kale, almonds, white beans, oranges, dried figs, arugula, broccoli, sunflower seeds & soy products (milk, beans/edamame, tofu, etc.).

Milk-substitutes: I primarily drink Almond Milk because I prefer the taste and consume other soy products throughout the week (tofu, edamame, etc.).

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I do believe in approaching all things with moderation. If you’re not up for cutting out dairy completely, just consider reducing your intake.

We’ve learned it can be frustratingly hard to completely avoid dairy – most restaurants use butter/creams in various cooking methods and sometimes  I’ll find “milk” on the allergen list of random foods like BBQ chips or dark chocolate (not okay – that’s what milk chocolate is for!). Sometimes it’s in dips, sauces, etc that I wouldn’t think of. And there are some random days when my 80/20 attitude kicks in, and that’s okay. For me.

Last week I bought organic peppermint patties at Whole Foods, and then saw “milk powder” low on the ingredient list. I didn’t care enough not to enjoy and indulge.

I’m not perfect and I would never expect anyone else to be. But, I care passionately about my health; the information here is too hard to ignore, and it’s worth mentioning that we are the only  species that drinks another animal’s milk. It’s not healthy nor environmentally responsible. Even reducing your intake – vs. eliminating it entirely – will make a difference.

“Eat Food. Not too Much. Mostly Plants.” – this will never steer you in the wrong direction. {Michael Pollan}

—–

And with that, I step off my soap box!

There’s always a sensitive discussion to be had around food. I think it’s important to be open and honest, especially as a dietitian, and I hope you’re along for the ride.


Sources:

Lactose Intolerance Statistics (source: National Digestive Disease Information)

China Study: 10 Things You Need to Know

Learn Stuff: Got Milk? Infographic

USDA ERS – Dairy: Background

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Filed under about me, Dietitians, food, health, Nutrition

Marathon Recovery Week: Rest & Routine

Well, if there’s one thing that will make sure you stay in and rest after a marathon it is a hurricane warning! Thanks, Sandy.

We lucked out for the marathon on Sunday, with nearly perfect conditions (save for some windy miles), and that luck continued. The storm passed over us resulting in two days working from home and a few without power in the area. But in the District we saw little other than rain, wind, and sacrificed leaves, branches and public transportation.

NY & up the coast – we’re all pulling for your recovery. Come to DC if you need an escape – we’re welcoming!

So, with that, recovery week has been easy (as it should be)!

No running – duh. I take one full week off after a marathon; usually I’m stir-crazy by day 3 and really ready to go by day 5. This week? We’re at day 4 and I have zero desire to test anything out and am still feeling tight up and down the legs. I went for a walk today, which is the closest I’ll get to a “stride” for at least another few days.

Yoga, please! I bought a yoga pass last week with every intention to use it all up during my post-race refrain-from-running phase. In an effort to ease back in, I went to Sunrise Yoga on Wednesday morning. The instructor, recognizing most of us in the class, almost decided that since we were all ‘experienced’ it could be a tough class! Then she saw our 6:30 am reaction and said, “What, did you guys run a marathon or something?

MCM recovery yoga

Seriously.

Luckily I wasn’t alone –another racer + run-group friend was there, too. Well, um, we did, actually…take it easy on us!

Fuel me up! Refueling on Sunday was rough. I could barely stomach brunch – more salty potatoes, please! – and tried hard to eat in response to cravings for the rest of the day.

What’s a marathoners best friend? Take-out! My instagram words: “amazingly convenient when your legs don’t want to move. #hungryrunner”

Takeout dinner

The rest of the week has been an effort to fuel the bottomless pit that is my stomach. Homemade pizzas, quinoa, chips, hummus, veggies, pumpkin, etc…

homemade gf pizzaspumpkin cooking

Hydrate & replenish: the drinks of choice have been water and coffee, but yes there’s been a glass of vino & a beer with that pizza.

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This race rocked me up and down – my abs hurt to laugh on Monday, and my back was stiff until Wednesday. The soreness is still lingering and that makes me happy in a masochistic way. I left everything in those miles, and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

This month will be one of deep rest, as Katie puts it. I have one race on the agenda – the Run for Shelter 10K on 11/17 – and a lot of yoga in mind. Otherwise, I’ll run easy when I feel like it and try to stick with a loose routine so I can start fresh when I’m ready to.

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What is/are your preferred recovery method/s? I’m 2-for-3 in effective 26.2 rest and rejuvenation, and always learning.

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Filed under doin things My way, health, learning, marathon, running, Yoga

Marine Corps Marathon: Run DC for Boston!

Well folks, it wasn’t raining on Sunday morning and the hurricane held off for us! We ended up with ideal running weather for most of the race (60* and overcast), completely lucked out. I wouldn’t change a thing about this day…

I set a lofty goal for this race, but wasn’t willing to let it go. If you want to take the island, burn the boats. I know all too well from coaching and personal experience that as soon as you give yourself an out, you’re 1) deciding that not even you believe your goal is possible and 2) setting yourself up to let it go.

Burn the boat – go for 3:30! If you don’t try, you’ll never really know.

MCM outfit   bib longMCM morning readyMCM gear   sign 2

It started with a 5 a.m. wake-up call, to make it on the Metro by 6. It takes at least 10-15 minutes just to get out of the station once you arrive at the Pentagon! Then you’re looking at a long walk to the bathrooms, bag-check and eventually the race start. Consider this your warm-up!

Lines weren’t too bad, and I arrived to my corral with about 15 minutes to spare. I found those Pacer balloons right away and headed over to join in the fun, taking everything in and the throw-away jacket off.

THE PLAN: Run with the 3:35 group for the first few miles (exactly how long? TBD). Break off to eventually settle into an 8 min/mile pace.

MCM banner _ Congrats Runners

Miles 1_3 elevation Miles 1-3: Our pacer warned of the initial uphill battle – we would take it relatively easy and then use the downhill to balance it out. Given the crowded start, you don’t have much of a choice! It takes a lot of weaving, watching the ground to avoid potholes and making sure these miles don’t spend too much energy.

My first clue that this race & I were on the same BQ-or-BUST page: it was easy to keep up – vs. last year when staying with the 3:35 group was requiring way too much initial effort. Early win!

I stayed right with the crew– those hills lending a helping-hand – and focused on effort. Keep it easy, keep it easy, keep it easy.

5K – 25:06 – 8:05 min/mile – Perfect.

Miles 4-6.2: Passing over the Key Bridge brought me to the first D sighting of the day – hello! He had his bright neon-green sign (recycled from last year, thanks to its effectiveness & familiarity) and a big smile. I loved it; he knew I was cruising nice & easy. I had passed the 3:35 group, and was one mile out from worrying how far behind me they were.

10K – 49:18 – 7:56 min/mile – Building a cushion.

As my feet stomped on the 10K mat, I knew updates were being sent and everything felt right. “Here I come, Boston…”

Miles 6_9 elevationMiles 6.2-9: Heading up Canal Road brings us to the first deserted stretch. Spectators are few and far between (understandably) and there’s a steep hill up ahead. I charged up conservatively – this won’t be last hill to tackle!

My coworker Jared was waiting right in the middle with his girlfriend – more familiar faces and a Hey-I-know-you! grin…

Mile 7 JBR tweet

The passing high-five was so hard it left my hand tingling – there was a lot of oomph behind that cheer! Keep powering up, up, up… Coming back down into Georgetown greeted me with D sighting #2.

Feeling good? Yep! Need anything? Nope!

For every mile there was a feeling of gratitude that I was here again, doing this race again, testing my limits again. There was a flashback of right here, last year, I felt ___, and a mental check-in with the here and now.

Mile 9 was crucial last year; I realized I was running a sub-3:35 in a 3:40-goal. I wondered what would happen.

your body hears everything your mind says

This year? I was running my sub-3:35 goal, landing every step with intention. My pace felt easy (for now), but I knew what every mile ahead looked like. Stay positive; focus on this mile and this effort. Save your energy and take all of this in…

15K – 1:14:05 – 7:56 min/mile – Spot ON.

Miles 10-12: The crowd is thick, loud and amazing! We’re essentially running through a tunnel. (Side-note: apparently Bart Yasso was at this spot, mixed in the crowd! Awesome.) We pass behind my favorite memorial, Lincoln (hey friend!) and right onto Ohio Drive. Running on a flat stretch along the water I saw D again, taking a few sips of water from his bottle (spoiled, yes). He warned me that the wind was picking up, and to draft or run with a group if I could*.

I saw a sign** that would push me around Hains Point and onto the mall:

Today is not that day

Photo source.

**Another sign we saw a few times: Paul Ryan would have Finished by now!Clever.

Miles 12-15: Distractions welcomed! Running around Hains Pt. will never be “fun”, but it’s flat and it gets 3-4 miles out of the way. There were a few cheer groups, a band or two and a lot of signs put into the ground every ~20 yards (by the Pacers group, I think?).

As soon as we made the turn around the top of the peninsula (now on the North side), it hit. *There’s the wind – hello! I held onto my hat for a few strides, overhearing someone say this would give us a tail-wind over the bridge. If that’s true, enduring it now is totally worth it. If not, thanks for the hopeful distraction!

20K – 1:39:17 – 7:59 min/mile – Sticking with it.

HALF – 1:44:45 – 7:59 min/mile

Hello again, D! He was parked at miles 15 & 17, right near the same corner. Yep, feeling good!

MCM running 2 Keep going no matter what

Miles 16-19: After a quick out-and-back on Independence Ave, we’re finally on the National Mall. It’s gorgeous, mostly flat and still packed with the best spectators. The wind is seemingly blocked as we loop around the front of the Capitol and I see D one last time before the bridge.

30K – 2:30:20 – 8:03 min/mile – Beat. The. Bridge.

My mind flashes back to painful running memories – if I do anything on this day, I will BEAT THE BRIDGE. Here we go…

MCM sign I will

Miles 20-22: Remember the ups and downs – remember how long this stretch feels…

A lot of people stop to walk here – last year that was my weakness, as it seemed so much better than running. This year it was my strength – keep running, you’re fine!

I saw D twice (one lane of the bridge is open = perfect for cycling spectators!) and he reminded me that everything was on pace. He said my Mom had been tracking & texting, and she was excited! I so happily took water & motivation from him.

When I made it to mile 22, and didn’t need to use the Water stop as incentive to get to the end / take a walk break? Huge win! Things were undoubtedly starting to hurt, but all systems were still going.

35K – 2:55:52 – 8:05 min/mile

MCM lululemon cheer stationMCM lululemon sign Kim Kardashian

Miles 22-23: Hola Crystal City, I’m back!

The best part of this stretch was knowing that the lululemon cheer station was here and ready to dance with us (and/or hop in to run a few yards)! It was a huge boost to see them – Hi Katie + pup! – and listen to their pumped-up voices.

Thank you, team lulu!

MCM running 1
Photo courtesy of fellow Run-Ambassador, Melani.

The bad part about this stretch was the new route – we had a few extra inclines and ramps thrown in, vs. the old out-and-back. On any other run, those elevation changes wouldn’t have made an impression. When you’re racing, and 23 miles in? They hurt.

I took my only water stop around mile 23, walking for a quick 20 seconds and thinking nothing has ever tasted better.

Miles 24-26: I reminded myself over and over and over that I was BQ-ing today. (I may or may not have repeated it in my head to the tune of “We will, we will Rock You!” by Queen.) This was it! We powered through gusts of wind – holding onto my hat again – and the extreme fatigue that sets in at this point. I knew my pace was slowing, but not enough to throw me off.

40K – 3:22:29 – 8:08 – Bring it home…

Somewhere in that last mile I saw Ivan & Elizabeth – it shocked and surprised me in the very best way (also saw them back at 17), and this picture tells me everything.

Did every muscle and joint hurt? YEP. Was I about to BQ? No doubt…

MCM running - ivan

26 – 26.2: My time was getting too close; I put absolutely everything I had left into that last stretch. My feet were killing me, my hips were screaming and my stomach was giving the unmistakable puke-threshold signal.

Ignore it all. Get to Boston – Get to Boston – GET TO BOSTON. The last 3 hours of 8 min/miles brought you to this. Don’t let it go!

MCM Finishing Clock Time

MCM finishers shootMCM logo   medal
MCM time   believe instagram
MCM post-race w D

Marine Corps Marathon – October 28, 2012

3:34:04 – 8:10 min/mile avg

Overall: 1416 / 23515
Gender: 230 / 9995
Age Group: 75 / 1865


I know that 3:30 is in there for me, I just didn’t quite get it this time. That’s my sign that the marathon won’t be shelved; I want to go after it again*.

I’m thrilled with the way I paced myself, held onto energy for the end and pushed through the seemingly unavoidable fatigue that comes from pounding the pavement for 26.2 miles. I can’t imagine anything I would have done differently during the race, and that’s all I wanted to run away with.

Here’s lookin’ at Boston, 2014! Mission accomplished.

*After Boston, which c’mon, we all know that one is just for fun & hills!

Thanks, again, for your endless support! It’s invaluable to have a community behind you with each goal tackled and accomplished, and I hope these pages continue to prove that.

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Filed under DC, Goals, learning, MCM, motivation, race report, Races, running, things that make me Happy

Here’s lookin’ at Boston…

…April, 2014!

Who knows if I’ll actually get in, but all that matters right now is that I know I ran this:

MCM shoes medal watch 6

It wasn’t the perfect day, or the time I initially had my sights on. But… it’s mine, and it was ultimately an outcome I wanted (get. to. Boston!). More to come soon, once my toes calm down and my hips aren’t screaming. Like, whoa.

Thank you for the congrats – for following along and supporting every mile. This community kicks ass!

MCM morning readyMCM outfit   bib long

MCM running 1
MCM post-race w D

Marine Corps Marathon – 3:34:04 – 2012

‘Til the recap…

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Filed under DC, marathon, MCM, race report, running, weekends