A special interview and Summer Ratatouille

Yesterday was busy- it started with a 6:30 am spin class I was subbing, which is about the time I usually workout, but required a much earlier wake up. As much as I grumbled when my alarm went off, I loved getting that burst of energy first thing in the morning.

While L had her Tuesday morning class, I had the opportunity to interview Marshall Ulrich about his recent adventures.  He and a friend just completed the first circumnavigation of Death Valley National Park, about 425 miles and 40,000 feet of elevation gain in the heat of summer.  And all of this just 3 days after running his 18th Badwater Ultramarathon! (Badwater is a 135 mile race through Death Valley with temperatures up to 130 degrees!)

Marsh is also the author of Running on Empty, which I reviewed a few months ago.  He was incredibly down-to-earth, and I felt like we could have talked for hours. I took as many notes as I could and look forward to sharing what I learned from him soon.

School started here this past week, and it doesn’t change too much for us other than the extra traffic.  But it does remind me that summer is coming to a close.  I’m trying to use the remaining weeks to get our fill of summer produce before it’s gone. Here’s what we’re eating:

[Bfast: Yogurt, banana, oats & mila; Snack: 1/2 banana+ almond butter; Lunch: Eggplant Rataouille with white beans +polenta; Snack: (unpictured) plum + handful raisins+ almonds; Dinner: Laura’s Cauliflower pizza (yum!)+ Spinach salad with cukes, tomatoes + peppers; Snack: Rice “pudding” (leftover brown rice + almond milk+cinnamon)]

And what L’s been eating:

[Bfast: Yogurt+banana+granola; Lunch: pasta+avocado+cheese; squash; Dinner: Ratatouille; Snacks: goldfish (at school); small granola bar

Unfortunately, our easy-to-please toddler is finally taking a turn to the picky side.  She downs her breakfast, but has been picking at lunch and dinner lately.  She never used to leave food on her plate! It’s a strange transition, but I’m trusting that her body knows what she needs and I’m sure she’s getting enough.

It didn’t help that we made granola bars this afternoon, so she was counting on that being her dinner.  I heard myself say something I’ve never had to say before: that old, familiar “Let me see you eat two bites of your dinner and you can have dessert.”  I don’t want to start that battle! But we rarely have dessert, and these granola bars are actually a very healthy snack, so I played her game this time. And made a mental note to save any baking for after dinner!

I added the Ratatouille recipe to my Recipage… it’s so easy, and delicious!  If you’re looking for another way to use the last of summer’s eggplant, I recently added our favorite Mediterranean pasta recipe as well.

I’m linking up with Jenn at Peas and Crayons . Check it out for more What I ate Wednesday posts!

Runners, have you read “Running on Empty“?

Moms, did your kids go through phases of more and less pickiness?

Two peanut sauces and wiaw

Did you know it’s National Running day today? Get out for a run if you can!


I’m over one week in, and the running streak is going well.  It’s pushing my 30 mile weeks to 33, which is a reasonable 10% increase, and my legs have been handling it so far.  I also mentioned last week that I had to tape myself teaching spin over the weekend to submit for a final review on my certification.  I’m happy to say it’s done and in the mail…here’s hoping it’s good enough!


Switching gears, it’s time for another What I ate Wednesday with Peas and Crayons:

Yesterday was an extra snack-y day for me…ironically, I realized at the end of the day that snacking was the WIAW theme for June.  It was mostly “sensible.”  Here’s a peak:

[Breakfast: Yogurt, granola bar crumbs from failed bars, and banana; Lunch: Leftover black beans with feta, carrots and hummus; Dinner: Gado gado (veggies and egg with peanut sauce) over quinoa; Snacks: a few of L’s roll-ups; dried fig; watermelon; and an unpictured granola bar; Dessert: Gooey garbanzo brownies]

After sharing my peanut-lime noodle lunch a few weeks ago, I had several requests for a recipe.  So I’m answering with two of our go-to peanut sauce dinner recipes. As it heats up, these are great options for tasty, healthy vegetarian meals that don’t use the oven!

Peanut Lime Noodles

  • 1/2 c. peanut butter
  • 1/2 c. salsa, medium or hot
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • dash salt
  • 8 oz. soba, buckwheat noodles or angel hair pasta
  • diced cucumber, steamed broccoli, marinated tofu chunks, shredded carrot, steamed kale, etc.

For the peanut sauce, combine equal parts peanut butter and salsa.  Stir in lime juice, cumin and salt.  Cook the noodles according to package directions, and drain well.  Coat the noodles with the peanut dressing, then add tofu and veggies of your choice.

The peanut butter-salsa combination may sound odd, but it’s one of the easiest ways to make a peanut-lime sauce- and it’s really yummy!

The second recipe is a version of Indonesian Gado Gado, a vegetable salad covered with a peanut sauce .  You can add sliced hard-boiled eggs or grilled tofu for extra protein.  We like to eat ours over brown rice or quinoa.Simple Gado Gado

Simple Gado Gado   (Print recipe)

  • 1/2-1 c. vegetable broth or hot water
  • 1/3 c. creamy peanut butter
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • hot sauce to taste
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 5-6 c. total : steamed broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, carrots or green beans
  • 4-6 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
  • grilled tofu, optional
  • steamed brown rice

Combine the first 7 ingredients (peanut butter through salt) to make the peanut sauce.  Add enough broth or water to reach your desired consistency. Steam or prepare the vegetables of your choice, and boil eggs for 10 minutes.  Serve veggies over rice, top with sliced eggs and tofu, and pour peanut sauce over everything. Enjoy!

I made some changes to the recipe page: under the recipe tab, I added a “search recipe” option where you can bring up the recipe without viewing the entire accompanying post.

Okay, it’s time to figure out dinner… what are you having tonight? Are you planning to get a run in today?


May recap

Happy June 1st! It’s time to revisit my 2012 goal post for another monthly recap.  Here’s May!

Running Related

  • May stats: 16 runs- total 122.25 miles; 9 spin classes- total 213 miles;  and weights 2-3x/week
  • May races: Sprint 4 Life 5k;  Astros 10k
  • Cross Training Challenge: I tried a few free, new-to-me yoga resources
  • Running Buddy: New buddy! No running picture of us yet, but we met up for our first 10 mile run together last weekend!

Personal and Family Balance

  • Evening quiet time:  Thanks to Terzah’s sleep challenge, I’ve been working hard at getting to bed a little earlier this month
  • Computer balance: I think I’ve found a good rhythm, with L’s naps and evening time for myself
  • Reading: Running related- read Running on Empty, which I’ll share more about soon.  Otherwise, I read several yard sale books when I was sick: A Thousand Acres; Good Grief; and Sundays at Tiffanys
  • Date Nights:  We finally made it to the local outdoor theater, and saw a medley of Motown hits, called “Dancin’ in the Street!”

Running-wise, I’ve finally added back my fourth day, which is where my legs are happiest.  I kept 3 days/week for months afraid of re-injury, and halfway attempting the Run Less, Run Faster plan.  But with no marathon on the calendar, I’m not strictly following any particular plan, and I like having a family recovery run Sunday morning.

Spinning-wise, I’m gearing up to complete a video tape of myself teaching RPM this weekend, which I have to submit as the final portion of my certification (although I already began teaching.)  I rounded up a few willing volunteers for Saturday afternoon. Local friends, if you want to come, let me know!

Last side note… I finally joined Instagram.  If you’re on there, you can find me at @mommyrunfast.  Check out other Fitness Friday posts here!

What were your highlights from May?

Spinning for runners- part two

Thanks for sharing your comments on the first spinning post.  There were some really inspiring stories about how spinning has made you a stronger runner, or  was part of your marathon training routine.  I love hearing your experiences!

Part two is more of the “nuts and bolts” of spinning.  These are a few tips I wish I had known when I started spinning:

1) Experiment!

Take several classes with various instructors before you decide whether or not it’s a good fit for you.  I have one favorite RPM class and one favorite free cycling class.  They’re very different!

2) Bike set up

Find your approximate saddle height by standing next to the bike and lining it up with your hip bone.  When your feet are in the pedals, bring your feet to 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock, and your front knee should make a straight line down to the ankle and pedal (adjust the seat front to back to find the right fit).  The handlebar position is more for comfort than efficiency or preventing injury.  And don’t be afraid to ask for assistance.

3) Position

Ideally, your instructor should be giving you instructions throughout the class to ensure proper form.  Your upper body should be relaxed and your core engaged when climbing or sprinting.  Your hips should be back in the saddle, but can slide forward to help you sprint.  Good form can help you avoid any soreness or discomfort, and can make you a more efficient, stronger cyclist.

4) Pace

If the instructor isn’t pushing you, push yourself. I appreciate the instructors who offer the pace (cadence or rpm’s) to shoot for (although RPM spinning will not do this).  RPM’s pace is tied directly to the music, and ranges from low 70’s for strength tracks to 140’s for intense speed work.

When adding resistance, you still want to maintain a strong pace and push yourself to get stronger.  You should engage your muscles the entire way around the circle when you’re climbing: instead of simply pushing and pulling, you want to push, scrape (along the bottom), pull and lift (over the top).

5) Intervals

  RPM classes are based on interval training and research, and other cycling classes should also incorporate challenging phases of work.  A few classes will describe effort in terms of your heart rate.  In those classes, you may want to wear a heart rate monitor to track your heart rate zones.

6) Find challenging resistance

Instructors will coach you to find base resistance (a light tension), working resistance (more tension or a headwind, but still considered a flat road) and climbing resistance (enough to stand on and challenging in the saddle) but most will not tell you what gear to be in.  As you find yourself getting stronger, challenge yourself to set a new gear as your base, working and climbing minimums.  Your working resistance may eventually become your base load, and this is a great way to track your strength progress (easier to track with digital gears!)

7) Come prepared

Bring a water bottle!  Wear comfortable clothes, ideally fitted shorts or capris.  (Running shorts can expose your skin to the seat, and after 45 minutes… ouch!) And grab a towel – you should be sweating enough to need it!

If you had a question I didn’t answer, let me know! And if you want more information on spinning, Meredith wrote an excellent post recently covering all the basics.

I’m teaching on Fridays right now, and will soon be adding more classes.  I’m still experimenting and finding my style so for those of you who spin regularly, I’d love your opinion… what makes a great spinning class?

Spinning for runners- part one

Since getting certified to teach RPM spinning, I’ve gotten a few requests for a post on spinning and the things I have learned.  So I’ll start with my spinning story:

I started spinning consistently after my marathon last spring.  My shin was a little achy, and I jumped back into long runs too soon, resulting in an ‘almost’ stress fracture (it was never confirmed) and a conservative two months off running.  In the healing process, I experimented with a number of spinning classes and quickly learned how much variety there is!

Initially, I was not impressed and was really missing the endorphin rush and good sweat from a nice run.  But I eventually found instructors who really pushed me, and I began to work harder.  I got to a point where I was consistently leaving class dripping wet and found my fitness improving (strength and pace).

RPM is one particular brand of cycling classes, although some of my favorite classes were free cycling… it really comes down to the instructor in most cases!

What I appreciate about RPM classes is that they emphasize interval training– hitting your peaks, then recovering so you can work hard again.  When you’re working, you should REALLY be working… it’s only 45 minutes long, so the idea is to max out in those 45 minutes.  Interval training has been shown to be the best way to get fitter.  And if you’re looking to burn calories, it revs your system and you continue burning calories for hours afterward.

After I returned to running, I found that I had not lost as much running fitness as I anticipated.  I ran my first 5k on two weeks of training and felt much better than I expected to (finished in 21:47). I continued going to spinning classes twice a week.

Spinning can effectively strengthen the entire muscles of the leg, serving as a great compliment to running, especially if you live in a flat area (like me) and don’t get a lot of hill workouts in, or rarely take the time to strength train your legs.  I credit spinning for powering me up the hills in Austin’s half marathon when I only trained on flat roads. I know that spinning has made me a more well-rounded athlete and a stronger runner.

Spinning can also replace one (or two ) easy runs per week and allow you to train harder without overtaxing your body with extra running miles.  Run Less, Run Faster encourages spinning as the cross-training of choice for this reason, and I’ve found that spinning helps me keep my mileage lower while my body still benefits from extra cardiovascular training.

I’ll continue this post on Monday with additional spinning tips that I’ve picked up along the way.  Head over to Jill’s for more Fitness Friday posts!

Do you spin or cross train?

Have you seen benefits in your running fitness from cross training?


April recap

Hope you all had a fantastic weekend!

I’m a little tired today, but 18 hours of training and 90+ spinning miles later, I am officially approved to teach spin! It was a powerful experience– I was really impressed with our trainer and I soaked up a lot of new information from him, both related to RPM spinning and coaching technique.  It was simultaneously exhausting and exhilarating.  The last step is to videotape myself teaching one class in its entirety and sending it in for a final critique.

I’m on the far left… sweaty, but still smiling!

April Recap: I feel like I just wrote the March recap, but it’s time to revisit my 2012 goal post and review another month. Here’s April!

Running Related

  • April stats: 16 runs- total 100.25 miles; 11 spin classes- total 227 miles (plus training, so 317 total spinning miles); elliptical- 4 miles; 10 walking miles and weights 2x/week

  • Cross Training Challenge: New yoga downloads, I’ll share more later this week
  • Running Buddy: Yes! I met a potential buddy at the 5k

Personal and Family Balance

  • Evening quiet time: Yes, but I’m staying up too late to fit it all in, I think I’m going to join Terzah’s sleep challenge
  • Computer balance: Still managing to avoid the computer most of the time when my daughter is awake!
  • Reading: Finally read and loved “Run Like a Mother“; got half way through a potty training book… fun things ahead 🙂
  • Date Nights:  We took advantage of family visits and got out twice- once for dinner and some shopping; and then went to Rice for our track date

April turned out to be an eventful month! We had two extended weekends with family visiting, and I spent one entire weekend getting certified as a spinning instructor.  In between, I managed to squeeze in two shorter races and nail a new pr for each!

I would love to add in a few more short races in the next month or two. Unfortunately, local races really quiet down around here as it heats up. I may do another 5k in May, and am considering a triathalon in June, but the rest of the summer is still up in the air.

Last thing: I finally set up a Facebook page for Mommy, Run Fast, and would love if you would stop by and give me a thumbs up! Let me know if you have a page- I would love to follow you back!

What’s next for you? Any races coming up in May?