Still a Runner

A Blog by Mary Lou Harris

Archive for Nutrition

Hemp Hearts Discovery – they’re new-to-me

Like Columbus claiming to discover the Americas when thousands of people who lived here knew of its existence as did the Vikings who quietly arrived and left centuries before, it seems I am late to the discovery of hemp hearts.

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credit: istockphoto.com

Last week, I ran across hemp hearts as the final ingredient in a chopped salad recipe. Having never heard of it, I called my health food store and yes, of course they carry it. So off I went to pick up this new-to-me ingredient. I happened to buy the brand Manitoba Harvest.

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credit: kelownaceliac.org

With the intriguing name of hemp hearts, they are actually raw shelled hemp seed, with a moist nutty appearance, adding flavor and texture to the salad, but not overwhelming other ingredients.

While adding the texture and flavor, the hemp hearts also added a nutritional component: protein. For someone who eats many meatless meals, this was a great find. Two tablespoons of these little nuggets gets me 7 grams of protein. It also gets me lots of good fats.

Hemp hearts to my diet have become something like those surprise words that pop up. You run across that word the first time in reading not having been familiar with it, and then suddenly that word appears, looking back at you from many other sources.

So now, having made my ‘discovery’ of hemp hearts, they pop out at me here and there. Within a day of trying that salad recipe, I noticed pro triathlete Sarah Kim Bonner includes hemp hearts in her blog’s muffin recipe.

Then on a recent trip to the pharmacy,  I spot hemp hearts right there in the aisle near the energy bars and sunflower seeds. Clearly, I am among the last to add this wonderful food to just about everything – including a tablespoon or so on my morning cereal.

So, fess up readers. Am I the last to discover hemp hearts?

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credit: meganwallacerd.com

Dipping my Toe into the Ultra World

Taking on a 50K trail race is something I have pondered over time, years of time actually since I am now solidly in the 65-69 AG. After canvassing opinions from experienced ultra running friends, I chose May as the month and the Dirty German Endurance Fest as the event.

The Dirty German has 25K, 50K and 50-Mile options through Pennypack Park in Philadelphia. It was billed as suitable for beginners yet offering enough challenge for more experienced trail runners. I found the description accurate. A more experienced trail runner could run this entire course. I chose to walk in some areas, staying conservative to ensure I could finish uninjured.

Entertainment at the Dirty German Endurance Fest

Entertainment at the Dirty German Endurance Fest

To test my trail legs, a couple of friends were kind enough to do a 21-mile run/hike with me on the Appalachian Trail prior to the race. With 2/3 of that 50K trail distance completed and still feeling strong, I was ready for the 50K.

Race morning dawned with high humidity and temperatures climbing early. Within the first mile, I could see shirts ahead of me already sweat-soaked. My ponytail provided a personal air conditioning system, sprinkling cool drops of water down my back.

The shade from huge trees and the bubbling of the creek offered physical and mental barriers to help ignore the mugginess of the day. The paths were soft underfoot with the expected rocks and tree roots mixed in here and there.

The toughest areas to run were 2 miles of paved bike path as well as a short section of rough dried earth that looked like leftovers of a tractor track, jarring enough that I walked the grass section beside that hard earth.

The course includes two creek crossings. I made it across the rocks, barely getting a toe wet. Making way through a flat single track switchback section I could hear the accordion and the start/finish activity. Beginning the second loop, it felt like luxury to run on those soft trail surfaces and listen to the creek bubble. There were enough other runners out there  to feel comfortable but also enough personal space to listen and watch nature unimpeded as my feet took me on this beautiful second loop tour.

The Dirty German was my first experience with a different type of aid station. For road marathons, I keep my food intake to a few energy beans and maybe a bite of an energy bar in the last few miles. Adding 6 miles on trail required more substantial intake.

At each aid station, a volunteer quickly filled my hand-carry nearly-empty water bottle. I reached for a chunk of potato, dipped it in salt and chased it with a glass of Coke. Fortunately, my stomach didn’t rebel & I was good to the next aid station.

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Post race with running friend and 1st 50K Women Masters, Becky.

My loose goal was to complete the 50K course in 8 hours. As it turned out, my finish time was 7:05:58. I saw my friends Becky and Jeremy  (you can read about Jeremy’s ultra running exploits on his blog The Road to Trails). Becky had finished much earlier, placing 1st in the women’s masters category for the 50K and garnering a wonderful award – a cuckoo clock – for her efforts.

I took a short walk to Pennypack Creek where other runners and families with children were wading in the cool water. I washed the top layer of dust and sweat off legs and arms, did a quick change into a dry shirt, and made my way to the barbecue area for a sausage and German potato salad. We took a moment to thank Race Director Stephan Weiss for a great event and were on our way home.

Post-race, I was surprised that with the exception of some minor stiffness, my body was none the worse for wear. The softness of the trails and the changes of pace and stride seemed easier than the pounding on asphalt and cement road running hands out. That may account for some of the longevity of trail runners who have been at this for years and continue to run trails far into their senior years. A New York Times article titled Why Older Runners are Ultrarunners reached the conclusion that older runners are no more likely to be injured during trail running that younger runners.

Granted, they were not referring to women in their 60’s who decide for the first time to take up ultras (example #1 behind this keyboard). No, most of the runners in the cited study are men who have had decades of experience running distance on trail.

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Long sleeve tech shirt and finisher hat.

After a first positive experience, I will be incorporating more distance trail runs and trail hiking. I’m not abandoning the roads, but they will be sharing my running time with the trails.

Whirlwind Wedding Days in Montreal

How often does the opportunity present itself to enjoy a number of the most fulfilling things in life in a single weekend? Things like family, friends, flowers, food, travel, music, and, of course, running. All this was wound around wedding activities of my godson and his beautiful bride in the vibrant city of Montréal.

Wedding at La Toundra

Wedding at La Toundra

If Montréal is not on your “cities I must visit” list, please consider adding it. And since the wedding couple shared a few favorite restaurants and other locales during their Wedding Week, I will in turn share them with you.

Nil Bleu – An Ethiopian restaurant with beautifully presented food and a soft ambience.

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The pre-wedding day dinner was relaxed as we casually worked our way from the appetizer tray to many other courses that followed. The details of each course escape me now as I was enjoying seeing old friends and meeting new. Never fear, though. This recent review in MontrealResto captures the ambience of Nil Bleu, as well as the aroma and flavor of the food.

La Toundra was the locations of the lovely afternoon wedding  surrounded by blooming gardens and a Grand Prix race course (we arrive not in a Formula 1 but in a taxi).

After a beautiful ceremony and reception, we called it a day and returned to Hotel de Paris, Unknown-1our charming, historic lodging. It’s a great location, modern amenities in each one-of-a-kind guest room, and close to all of the wedding venues. Should you be adventuresome enough to decide on something more interesting than what the major chain hotels can offer, this is a good choice. But, come in good shape on the off-chance (ahem) you are assigned a 3rd floor walk-up room.

Le Passé Composé A post-wedding day brunch was arranged at this wonderful corner bistro with art-covered walls, large windows, old wood flooring, and of course wonderful food. IMG_0916It was a casual morning crowd and an inviting menu. IMG_0905I stayed with the traditional tête a tête, eggs and bacon with rich brown toast and fruit on the side. My husband chose a salmon omelette. Both choices were fresh and wonderful. If I have an opportunity to return, I will try le crêpe encrusted with panko. 

As the post-wedding day finale, the party planned to meet later for potine in the parc. Lafontaine Park  has a great location

Bike share locations dotted throughout the city.

Bike share stations like this at edge  of La fontaine Park dotted throughout the city.

and offers playgrounds and ponds, as well as walking and cycling paths. I opted out of the potine, but instead (yes, you guessed it)  spent my park time squeezing in an 8-mile run. The locale offered interesting views since most of the park perimeter is surrounded by colorful residential areas and small shops.

On an overcast day, Montrealers relax in the parc

On an overcast day, Montréalers relax in the park

 

And not to overlook the opportunity for music, the evening took the mother of the groom, my husband and I for a stroll down rue Sherbrooke to McGill’s Pollack Hall (where by the way the bride and groom had spent many a day studying and practicing). An evening of string quartet performances rounded out our stay. 

And as quickly as we arrived, we were again crossing Montréal’s bridges, seeing signs of an early autumn as we passed through the Adirondacks  – and home again.

Seriously, consider visiting Montréal. We can compare notes.

 

 

 

Running Raw (foods that is) & Stretching Limits

I happened upon a brief news item in elitedaily.com a few weeks ago. It reported a couple in Australia set a new world record running a marathon each day in 2013. Alan Murray and Janette Murray Wakelin ran those marathon distances by completing a journey around the perimeter of Australia.

Credit: runraw2013

Credit: runraw2013

I’ll forgive elitedaily.com for referring to this couple as “elderly.”  It is after all an online news source geared to Generation Y. Alan and Janette, Age 68 and 64 respectively, had specific goals and a nutrition plan.

First, the nutrition plan: raw fruits and vegetables exclusively. Sixteen years earlier, Janette was diagnosed with cancer. Already a vegan, she began a raw diet which for her was successful.

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credit: decortoadore.net

Their goals were many. They spread the word about the positive impact of an active lifestyle, promoted kindness for living beings, and raised environmental issues.  The couple fundraised for several charities that promote active living as well.

When reading interviews, I frequently find unexplored questions.  In this case, my unasked questions were: “On exactly what day of this 365-day mission of a daily marathon with your partner for life did you have the blow-up of all blow-ups? Did you keep running during the meltdown or just stand alongside the road screaming at each other? Which of you cracked first?”

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credit: berwick-leader.whereilive.com.au

As I searched further, it was clear my questions were irrelevant to this couple. They don’t seem the type to waste energy on disagreement, nor is this their first multiple-marathon goal. On their website Running Raw Around Australia, they chronicle an earlier celebration of the millennia by running 2,000 (more precisely 2,182) kilometers across New Zealand, running 51 marathons in 51 days.

In her interview with the Sydney Herald, Janette made it clear that in a state of optimum health, she believes the possibilities are limitless.

Which has me musing about limits, those that come from other sources in our lives and those that are self-imposed. How many runners, whether struggling to maintain 20 miles a week or training for a third ultra in a year, have not heard at least one negative and usually unsolicited comment from a well-meaning friend, colleague or family member.

Whether or not my state of health and conditioning would take me through months of daily sequential marathons, there are many facets of my life that I wouldn’t willingly give up. I would certainly miss the occasional concert, theatre, film I can’t wait to see. It would be really difficult to give up quiet time with family and training and social sessions with a variety of running friends.  Those are my personal limits, not limits outwardly imposed.

For this couple, their love of running, their willingness to fundraise and spread the word about healthy living places it well within their limits.  I look forward to seeing what running project is in the future for them.test-your-limits-white-background-concept-challenging-oneself-to-set-new-records-29747515

Now, about you. What are you limits?  Have you already determined what you can physically accomplish? Do your friends and family support your push of the limits?

 

A Year of Running and Writing

September of 2012, I touched the “publish” button and with that simple action my first blog post was released.

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Happy 1st, stillarunner Credit: Wikipedia

My expectations were to make contact with a few senior runners who I could learn from and who may be interested in my quirky training methods, my running travels and attempts at eating well.  The pleasant surprise was readers from 40 different countries and interest of runners from all over the world, and all age groups from beginners to elite runners.

In addition to runners, I’ve found – and been found by – bloggers who are incredible foodies, fashionistas, philosophers, photographers, cyclists, triathloners, every combination thereof, and just really good story tellers.

To celebrate my blog birthday, my gift to readers is a list (12 for 12 months of blogging) that I look forward to seeing appear. Several bloggers opened my eyes to before unknown activities, such as:

Park Runs –  Am I the only runner who hadn’t heard of these?

parkrun logo

parkrun logo

They are 5K runs that take place at the same locations weekly, usually in parks.  Park Runs are timed events, free, and open to everyone of every ability.  They began in the UK in 2004 and have since grown to include runs in seven countries, including the USA.  Thank you Run, Hemingway, Run for the introduction to park runs.

Gravel Grinders – Never heard of them?  Me, either, until a few posts from CultFit, a Midwestern philosopher athlete who broadens my awareness with every post he writes.

Credit: Chris Locke

Credit: Chris Locke

Gravel Grinders are distance bike rides – or races – that take place on gravel roads, generally in the Midwest but spreading to other rural areas.  Reading about the rides with minimal support, minimal traffic – the occasional farm machinery or animals crossing the road, may encourage this just-the-basics, fearful of traffic, timid cyclist the whif of adventure to think she could do this.  It’s on the possibility list for 2014.

Triathlons that include horseback – Hadn’t heard of this either, but now I know.  No, this isn’t on the list for 2014, but it was on the list for Chasing The Blackwood Marathon. This athlete’s writing clearly conveys her love of the outdoors and her beautiful country.

And what more have I learned?

That I can go to Move, Eat, Create and find recipes that are healthy and as delectable to the eye and the taste buds as any food site I have found.

That I am susceptible to being pulled into the triathlon world by Triathlon Obsession, Ashleystri and nonblogging friends who are just as obsessed as these bloggers.

That the reviews of All Seasons Cyclist can be useful for this infrequent cyclist. His blog is a great place to browse if you’re thinking of adding to your gear.

From my blogging friend Red Hen , I learned that humor in writing is a wonderful way to share your running escapades.  I vicariously join her on training runs along the craggy coast near her home.

One of my earliest readers, a strong ultrarunner and the writer of Mind Margins, has reinforced my knowledge that real toughness comes when life throws us stuff that no training plan could contemplate.

And finally, I’ve found – or they found me – three photography blogs that are great for armchair adventure and relaxation after a tough run:

Patrick Latter’s hiking photography,
Sethsnap‘s whimsical photos of mostly rural Ohio, and
Merilee’s haunting black and white photography at thegravelghost.

Thanks for being with me this year and I hope you enjoy some of my reads I’m sharing.

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On the Outside of 65+ with Outside advice

We’ve all picked up those magazines with “through the decades” articles.  Whether the topic is personal finance or skin care regimen, they generally begin with advice for each decade of your adult life, through 50 & beyond.  Since moving out of the 50’s decade I admit to taking umbrage with the “and beyond.”  Really, should I have the same plan at 60, 70, or 80 that I had at age 50?  Or, since there fewer of us beyond 60, do we cease to be a large enough part of the readership?

I recently opened the October issue of Outside Magazine and saw a by-the-decades series of articles on living your best life. Warily, I paged through, wondering if there was a decade for me. Starting at 0-20 (been there), on to 20-30 (been there),  30-40 (been there), 40-50 (been there), 50-65 (o.k., stretching those years a bit, been there) and finally, here we arrive at 65+. The + apparently indicates as long as we are sentient beings.

Within the 65+ segment, featured athletes include 79-year old Bill Iffrig (the Boston Marathoner knocked on his butt by shock waves from the bomb who then proceeded to the finish line), 

Bill Iffrig

Bill Iffrig 

80-year old Lew Hollander (a finisher of 50 Ironmans),

Lew Hollander

Lew Hollander

80-year old Yuichiro Miura

Yuichiro Miura

Yuichiro Miura

(the oldest person to climb Mount Everest), and 78-year old Harriet Anderson (a 12-time Kona AG winner).

 Harriet Anderson

Harriet Anderson

I object. Can’t we age 60-70 folks have our own segment where the grueling and impressive feats of those in their 70’s and 80’s don’t overshadow us? No? Well, I’ll go with it, since your recommendations for 65+ reinforce my own personal cobbled-together plan. Those include:

Osteoporosis Testing. Outside warns men they are not exempt from this quiet and debilitating disease.  (Yeah, we women get warnings from every direction and get tested, so this one specifically for men is warranted.)

Adding Resistance Bands to your Weight Lifting plan.

I’m onboard with this, having just replaced some worn bands with a fresh set with varying levels of resistance.images-5 The instructions with my recent purchase advised against using outdoors, but I do when I travel by car. They’re convenient to wrap around a lamp post or a tree in a rest area for a few assisted squats and stretches.  It breaks up a long ride.

Eat more Protein, fewer Carbs. Outside says that dietary guidelines call for at least a third of an ounce of protein per 2.5 pounds of body weight but note some experts think that’s not enough for we Baby Boomers.

I’ve read this in other sources and taken heed. I take in some protein shortly after most workouts, whether its running, weights or swimming.  My go-to protein is a shelf-safe boxed chocolate milk. Another favorite is dry roasted edamame, roughly 14 grams of protein in a small handful.  IMG_1275My current brand is GourmetNut.  Both items are convenient for post-workout and fit in the pocket of my gym bag.

Supplementals. 

Lots of information on this topic about vitamins and such, although the take-away was to get as much as you can of what you need from quality food loaded with nutrients, like those listed in Outside’s section for 30-40. Had we been eating those items consistently for the last 25 years (yes, I know some of you have) we would have a stronger base now.

The sci-fi blood spinning/youth pill stuff is interesting but it sounds like we in the 65+ group will be out-a-here before most become commonplace or affordable.

Overall, this issue is a good read with current information on how to stay healthy so that we can continue to go out and play.  Though much of the content of Outside is targeted to young men, the high quality of writing and interesting exploration of our natural surroundings appeals to this senior woman as well.  That quality writing includes an article in the October issue penned by 70-something Jim Harrison,images-6 author of books on the outdoors and many other topics that make life worthwhile.

So, Outside, thumbs up, although I’m still hankering for my own decade.  Is 60-70 too much to ask?

Plein Air Summer in the Laurentians

A respite in Quebec’s Laurentian Mountains easily wrapped the beautiful outdoors around this willing traveler.  Running was easily meshed with good food to satisfy a runner’s body and palate, outdoor activities for continued good health, and outdoor cultural events that inspire. Here is the sampling of what I found – or rather what found me, during a brief stay.

Sunday Morning Yoga on the Mountain

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Photo credit: Julian A. Giacomelli

 In a Lolë shop browsing through their active women’s sports- wear, I spotted a flyer announcing a free Sunday morning yoga class on the mountain.  I joined 100+ participants stretched out on mats in an open-air class instructed by Dawn Mauricio and accompanied by two wonderful musicians.

Lunch-Time Runs sponsored by Rona complete with trainers in the lead were offered in the weeks leading up to the Mont-Tremblant demi-marathon.  I took advantage of a couple of runs, picked up some training and nutrition tips and enjoyed running with local runners.

Mont-Tremblant Jazzfest overlapped with the demi-marathon weekend.  On a beautiful Saturday afternoon after picking up my race packet at the expo, IMG_1211we returned through the jazz lounge tent set up on a side street in Saint-Jovite.  The Jean-François Groulx Trio was playing. With all the seats filled, my race packet became my seat cushion as we found a spot on the curb and settled in to stay for the set. 

10K Race I jogged a couple miles to the bus pickup where runners were transported IMG_1212to the race start at Chateau Beauvallon. It was great to see some familiar faces from our lunch hour runs.  After the point-to-point 10K on a slightly downhill road, a bit of trail, and a couple of moderate hills, we reach the finish to find a IMG_1221large, cheering crowd.  As it turns out, the Mont-Tremblant demi-marathon has become a sizable event.

After cooling down, I found my way to the runner’s lunch line. Here, I spotted a gentleman in a white chef jacket directing the food staff, the first clue that this would not be the typical bagel and banana post-race food.

Runners were served a beautifully arranged plate of two salads, IMG_1223a coucous with the aroma of freshly-cut parsley rising from the plate and a pasta salad with chopped fresh vegetables, and mini-pitas sitting atop a delicious hummus.  I’m thinking this is a beautiful vegetarian runner lunch, but then we are directed into another line. Here we were served an incredibly large (think Fred Flinstone) barbequed turkey leg. IMG_1227 I doubted I could eat it all, but of course I didn’t waste a single succulent bite.

A beautifully prepared runner lunch, a variety of expo tents, live entertainment and now it’s time to go home.

Sigh.

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