Race Report – 2014 Johnny Kelley Half Marathon

Here is a positive race report from last weekend’s Johnny Kelley Half Marathon in Hyannis. Until recently I had not been expecting to do too well. I felt that I didn’t have enough training after my layoff to even approach my best half marathon time, let alone surpass it. Recently however, my hopes had shifted towards the positive, after I had a nice showing in my first ever road 5K. My son and I ran the Women Run with Strivers 5K on Mother’s Day; my time was a startling (to me) 24:58.

With Sam on Mother's Day

Race day dawned with absolutely perfect weather for a half; partly cloudy and temperatures in the mid to upper 50’s. Once again I rose early enough to have a good sized breakfast and hydrate well before heading to Hyannis. This year I was not going alone, a friend from home was also signed up for the half, and my oldest son was signed up for the 5K that runs just prior to the half.

Sam at the finish

Having something else to focus on while waiting for my own event, kept the pre-race jitters to a minimum. After picking up our numbers and using the restrooms once, we headed over to the start of the 5K, and saw my son off on his way. I started my stopwatch to keep an eye on the time and make sure we could get to the finish in time to see him cross. By the time we went to the car to drop off extra clothes, and got in line for the porta-potties, I started to get nervous that we wouldn’t make it to the end of the line before he came across the finish. Thankfully, the nice people behind us “saved” our spots momentarily, so that we could watch the finish and still take care of business before we needed to be at the start.

Our timing worked out perfectly in the end. We got over to the start with enough time to spare, but not so much that we had to wait for too long. One big benefit of smaller races, is that they don’t require long periods of time waiting in corrals for the start. It was at that moment that I realized that we didn’t warm up! Oh well, the first mile would have to stand in for the warmup, and we were off!

I have to say that it was one of the more uneventful races I’ve done, in a good way. My pace was steady and I even managed a negative split in the end. After about mile 8, I lost interest in consuming any fuel (I had brought my latest trial food, fig newtons). I felt that this wasn’t really a problem however, since I knew that between my breakfast and what I had already consumed, I would be fine with less than an hour left. By the time I reached mile 12, I was still feeling good, I had maintained a good but challenging pace throughout, and now was the time to see if I could push it just a little more. So it was, that mile 13 was my fastest, at 8:29! My official time – 1:55:41, a PR of almost 2 minutes! My friend Tasha also had a good showing with a nice strong kick at the finish!

Tasha, celebrating the finish

Overall, it was a great day of running for everyone! I’m now very excited to continue my training through the summer, as I prepare for a fall marathon. I’ve hired a coach to write up a personalized plan, and I’m hoping that the third time is the charm after marathons one and two!

Why is Dark Chocolate Healthy?

You’ve heard it before, and maybe it’s the excuse you use for your afternoon snack break; Dark chocolate is healthy. You know that it has something to do with antioxidants (you might have even read it here!) but how exactly this works has not been totally understood, until now. Recently, a study out of Louisiana State College of Agriculture, revealed a clue as to how cocoa may be acting in a beneficial manner.

The findings, which were released during the American Chemical Society’s annual meeting in March, showed that gut microbes may enjoy chocolate even more than we do. It appears that some of the “healthy microbes” in our digestive tracts, consume compounds in cocoa, and break them down into smaller molecules. These smaller molecules act both as anti-inflammatories, and may help to increase satiety after they have been consumed. This is one more fascinating piece of the puzzle explaining the role of bacteria in our digestive system!

A word of caution about these results. Like any bit of information, this is not the entire story. This was a preliminary study, done in test-tubes, and utilizing only a few of the multitude of bacteria in our micro biomes. The study was done using cocoa powder (dark chocolate has a higher proportion of cocoa than other types of chocolate), and anti-inflammatory compounds are only one of many influencers of health.

So continue to enjoy your chocolate, in moderation of course! Remember Mother’s Day is on Sunday, maybe she’d like some chocolate?

365 Days of Vegetables Continued

We are well into the year and our plan for trying new vegetable dishes is going well. This past Sunday we had two new-to-us recipes which were both a success. The first came from the Vegetable of the Day book I got for Christmas; Two-Pea Sauté with Basil & Pecorino. The combination of English and sugar snap peas, along with lemon, basil and pecorino cheese was delicious. The flavors were bright and fresh, perfect for the first weekend of spring even if the temperature outside was not!

Our entree was a Mushroom and Leek Galette with Gorgonzola from America’s Test Kitchen. This was a dish I had been meaning to try for awhile now. It was full of shiitake mushrooms and leeks, encased in flaky pastry dough with just the right amount of thyme and gorgonzola for added flavor. The boys (who were a little dubious at first) pronounced it good, and two even had seconds.

Meatless Mondays have been becoming more and more popular over the past few years as a way to kick off the week in a healthy way. Somehow in our house it has turned into Meatless Sundays as we sample more and more vegetable entrees – not a bad thing at all!


Green Smoothie for St. Patrick’s Day!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! As I’ve written before, going green does not have to entail drinking large amounts of green beer or eating overlarge portions of corned beef. You can make your day a green one by incorporating plenty of green produce in your day. What that meant for me today was a green smoothie after my workout.

I used spinach, greek yogurt, banana, and milk. You can use almost any combination of fruits and veggies in your own smoothie (read my post about smoothie making for more guidance) and enjoy!