Sunday, September 25, 2011

On the Run: Run Wild for the Detroit Zoo 5K & 10K - 2011

Last Sunday was the 4th anniversary of my first race.  It's sort of hard to believe that I've only been running for four years!  In a way it feels like it's been a part of my life for so much longer.  (You can read my story here.)  

My first race was the Run Wild for the Detroit Zoo 10K.  I ran the it in 53:01.  I've run it every year since, each year shaving a few minutes off my time. 

This year I decided to try something a little different.  I've never run a 5K.  No offense to any 5Kers out there, but they don't seem worth the trouble to deal all the crowds of people for such a short race.  Anyway, I've never done one but this year I signed up for the 5 AND the 10K.  I figured if I was there anyway I might as well.  The start times are 45 minutes apart, so there's plenty of time to do both with a break in between.

The weather couldn't have been more perfect for race day.  Temps were in the 60's and it was sunny and dry.  The course is a fast and flat one through neighborhoods surrounding the zoo.  There were a lot of people out to show support, which always makes a huge difference in my opinion.  It's a seriously fun race to do and (although you may have your own opinion about zoos) the money goes to support the animals so I think it's a good cause.

My plan was to use the 5K as a warm-up - just take it easy, get myself loosened up and moving.  Well...that didn't exactly happen.  We got there late and by the time I got to the start line, the race had officially begun.  At least I heard people saying it had begun but no one was actually moving.  That's when I realized that I was stuck at the back of a huge pack of joggers and walkers and strollers.  Ugh.  The whole first mile was a fight through heavy Christmas-style mall traffic.  I tried every evasive technique in the book.  It wasn't easy - or necessarily safe - but eventually I was able to break free and once I did there was no slowing down.  Plus by that point I realized I only had 2 miles left.  I was practically to the finish line!  I kept up my quick pace and got the end as quick as I could.  Brian was there to see me finish and help me switch bibs before heading out to meet his cousin for breakfast in Royal Oak (that's their yearly tradition).  I killed time between races by walking around, stretching a bit, watching runners finish, and choosing my next playlist.  The time passed pretty quickly.



strawberry soy yogurt with raw oats, banana


I Feel It All / Feist
Don't Wanna Talk / Brendan Benson
Know Your Enemy / Green Day
Girl / Beck
1,000,000 / Nine Inch Nails
Lost in the Supermarket / Ben Folds
The Underdog / Spoon
Angels of the Silences/ Counting Crows
The Sound of Settling / Death Cab for Cutie
Miami / Will Smith
Heavy Metal Drummer / Wilco

For the 10K, I made sure to start out right at the front of the pack.  (It was a much smaller race, though, and without the walkers and strollers, I wasn't in danger of being stuck behind anyone too slow anyway.)  As soon as I started out, I thought to myself, "What the hell was I thinking doing both of these races?"  My hamstring hurt.  My hips hurt.  It was going to be a long 6 miles.

But after the first mile I started to loosen up again.  I picked a girl who seemed to be running about at my pace and decided to stick by her.  By mile 2, however, I was passing her.  I picked another girl to run near.  By mile 3 I was passing her.  Around mile 4 I found myself in the middle of a pack of guys.  I felt pretty good there, figuring that if I could run with them I was doing pretty well.  As I passed the 5-mile marker, I slowly moved out of that group, as well.  

As I neared the end of the race, I kept zeroing in on a person in front of me and making it my mission to pass him.  Once I did, I chose my next target.  It felt amazing to pass one person after another.  As I passed the 6-mile marker, I briefly worried that I may not have the energy to give it my all in the final stretch.  I was afraid I would have to slow down at the end.  But wait - slow down and disappoint all these people who were there cheering for me?  (Okay, so although none of them actually knew me, everyone there was so cool and I was so darn proud of myself that I felt like every person WAS cheering for me!)  So slow down?  I think not!  So I picked it up, dug it out, and finished strong.

Just as I crossed the finish line, a runner ahead of me turned around to tell me that he heard me behind him the whole time and I pushed him to run faster.  Then one of the guys I ran with for a bit finished just after me and we congratulated each other on a good race.  I really felt like a runner!

After the race I went over to the post-race party.  The food was really sad and unhealthy - hot dogs, chips, Twinkies, Ho-Hos, and pop.  The only healthy thing was apples.  Not even any bananas!  I didn't care too much about the food once they posted the results, though.  Although it wasn't a PR for me (that was last year - I ran it two seconds/mile slower this year) I came in 2nd in my age group for the 10K and won a medal!  wahoo! 

Armed with 4 apples and my winner's medal, I happily waved good-bye to the otters and jogged out of the zoo. 

My first winner's medal - 2nd place in my age group!




Good Day / Tally Hall
Pumped Up Kicks / Foster the People
Telephone / Pomplamoose
Song Away / Hockey
Born This Way / Lady Gaga
Float On / Goldspot
(Don’t Fear) The Reaper / Blue Oyster Cult
Misery / Maroon 5
Under Cover of Darkness / The Strokes
Shut Up and Drive / Rihanna
Charlie Mix / Otto Vector
100 Miles and Runnin’ / N.W.A.
Our Time Now / Plain White T’s
A Matter of Time / Foo Fighters
That Someone is You / R.E.M.
Bad Romance / Lady Gaga
Kick Drum Heart / The Avett Brothers

Next race: The Big House Big Heart 10K, October 9th (My birthday!)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Maple-Roasted Delicata Squash

The other night I finally decided to do something with the 2 delicata squash that came in our CSA share and had been sitting on my counter for the past couple of weeks.  I'd never cooked or eaten them before and wasn't sure how to best prepare them. I thought about soups, purees, stuffed squash...all sorts of fancy dishes.

But a week went by and there they still sat. Then another. Clearly I wasn't going to get around to doing anything fancy with them.  Finally I decided to just do a simple roasting method.

Oh YUM! The squash roasted up nicely - firm and slightly crisp in the outside, soft inside.  They were slightly reminiscent of sweet potato fries.  And who doesn't love sweet potato fries? 

Maple-Roasted Delicata Squash

2 delicata squash
Olive oil spray
Sea salt
1 tbsp. maple syrup


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Lightly coat a baking sheet with olive oil spray.

2. Rinse the squash and cut in half lengthwise.  (You can peel if you'd like - I didn't.)  Remove seeds.  Cut into 1/2-inch slices and lay on baking sheet.  Spray with a light coating of oil and sprinkle with sea salt, to taste.

3. Bake for 15 minutes or until squash pieces start to brown.  Turn and bake for another 15 minutes.

4. Drizzle lightly with maple syrup and toss to coat.  Bake for another 5 minutes.  Remove from oven and serve immediately.

The sweet squash paired nicely with smokey sauteed kale and quinoa with chickpeas, mushrooms, and Italian herbs. 

What's your favorite winter squash?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

No-Beast Feast

On Friday I attended the Dearborn Animal Shelter's 2nd annual "No-Beast Feast" - an evening of vegan food, drinks, raffles, and entertainment.  Since it combines delicious vegan food with raising money to save animals, it's something I'm obviously all about!  Brian and my mom went with me and two other friends showed up, as well.  Our table was rounded out by a cute young couple and a woman who was there by herself.  She was a riot!  Our table was hilarious and it was definitely a good thing we were sitting in the back!

I didn't get many pictures because I only had my phone and the lighting wasn't great.  The food was delicious, though.  For appetizers I had 2 fresh rolls (compliments of Chef Genevieve Vang from Bangkok 96).  There were also fresh veggies and dips, along with pretzels and nuts.

Dinner was a light Michigan vegetable soup, rolls, salad, fruit, tofu stir-fry, rice, steamed broccoli, and shepherd's pie.  My favorite was the shepherd's pie.  I haven't had much shepherd's pie, vegan or otherwise, so I can't compare it to anything but this was incredibly delicious.  It was so hearty, savory, and flavorful that I wish I had taken a whole plate of it!

Dessert was an amazing array of mini cakes, cookies, fudge, truffles, and raw treats.  Here's just a small sampling (yes, there was more):

The trail mix cookies hiding under the thumbprint were probably my favorites.  I thought about smuggling a half dozen home in my purse but had forgotten to line it with aluminum foil before leaving the house.

Dark chocolate peanut butter ice cream from Treat Dreams - ohhh yeah!

Before leaving, I got up the courage to go and introduce myself to fellow bloggers Sherry and Sandy from Exploits of a Vegan Wannabe.  We have mutual friends but haven't actually met.  Now, for those of you who know me, you know I am shy.  VERY shy.  Like, so shy that I won't even go up to someone I went to high school with because they might not remember who I am and I'm worried it will be awkward.  So we were about to leave and I was standing there debating about whether or not I should go introduce myself.  The debate went on and on and was really just with myself.  But out loud.  Poor Brian.  

Finally I just walked over to Sandy who was talking to someone else and said, "Hi, sorry to interrupt.  My name is Amanda.  (slight pause)  I'm Vegan Road Runner!"  SO cheesy, right?  But if she thought it lame she didn't let on.  Instead, she grabbed Sherry who was standing nearby and we talked for a few minutes.  Their passion for health, animals, and the environment is an inspiration so I was extremely pleased to finally meet them.  (And they are SO approachable and easy to talk to - why the worries?!?)

Speaking of Sandy and Sherry, be sure to visit Exploits of a Vegan Wannabe for inventive vegan recipes that are delicious and easily accessible for both vegans and non-vegans alike.  They're great about keeping you updated and informed and since I've been delinquent in posting recipes lately, you can get fantastic meal ideas from them when you're wondering what to cook for Meatless Monday.

Give me a few weeks to settle into 1st grade, though, and I promise I'll be back with some regularity.  Just don't be surprised if most of my recipes utilize copious amounts of wine.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Simple Sides: Broccoli Slaw

When I was at Kroger a couple weeks ago I saw a bag of broccoli slaw for only $0.99.  It was a "manager's special" because it was dated for that day (unlike the soy yogurt that was dated for 2 weeks ago and was NOT on sale).  We were having sushi for dinner and I usually like to have raw vegetables - carrots or snap peas - with my sushi rolls.  Why not broccoli slaw instead?  

I already had my favorite dressing mixed up in the fridge so I just dumped the whole bag of slaw into a large bowl, poured the dressing over it, mixed it up, and let it sit in the fridge for a couple of hours until we were ready to eat.  

I ordered one sushi roll instead of two so I had enough room to eat the entire bowl of slaw.  Normally I wouldn't recommend eating that much broccoli in one sitting...but I couldn't let it go to waste!


Broccoli Slaw with Agave-Dijon Dressing
(printable recipe)

Agave-Dijon dressing:

Mix equal parts Dijon mustard, agave nectar, and white wine vinegar.  Add a little bit of ground flax seeds and whole flax seeds.  Shake or whisk well.  As it sits it thickens up a bit so make in advance.  (optional: add a pinch of xanthan gum for a thicker dressing)

Pour desired amount of dressing over the broccoli slaw in a container with a lid.  Stir to combine, cover, and refrigerate for at least an hour.  Before serving, add fresh ground pepper to taste.  

To make it heartier, add canned chickpeas and dried cranberries.

Have you eaten broccoli slaw?  If so, how did you make it?

Monday, September 5, 2011

On the Run: Run Like the Wind 10k 2011


This weekend I ran the Run Like the Wind 10k.  The race is an out and back on Hines Drive, starting at Nankin Mills in Wayne.  Hines Drive isn't the most exciting route but it's curvy and there are a lot of trees.  The road closes every Saturday from 9-3:30 for bikers so despite the heat, there were a ton of people out riding, running, and walking.  This is my second year running the race and what I like is that it's very small and casual.  It is chip-timed and the course is accurate, so it's professional, but there's none of the fanfare of larger races.  I like races like that now and then. 

It's such a small race that just about everyone who ran is in this shot.

After my recent disastrous attempt to run a 10k in extreme heat and humidity, I'm pretty sure we all thought I'd learned my lesson.  And then I went and did it again.  In my defense, when I signed up I hadn't realized how hot it was going to be and didn't take into account that the start time was 9:30.  Thankfully, it was only 80 degrees with a heat index of 85 when the race started.  That climbed pretty quickly but I think my last race was much worse.

Because it's a small race, I didn't feel any real sense of competition and viewed it as just another run.  I'd do what I could to finish it, preferably without having to stop and walk, but I sure wasn't going to make myself sick over it.  Last year weather conditions were much better so I could run it faster.  I was the second female finisher and came in 12th overall!  I knew there was no way I was getting close to that this year so I wasn't even going to try but I was totally okay with that.

I started out slower than usual and just set out to enjoy it.  It seemed like the majority of runners did the 5k so after that turn-around things really thinned out.  I stopped for a water break at the second aid station and followed some advice I recently read in an article on  It stated that at each aid station, you should walk and count to 20 while sipping your water.  When you get to 20, toss the water and start running again.  This worked really well for me because then I got some water but not too much or too fast.  I did this again at both stations on the way back.

When I was sipping my water at my first stop, a girl came out of nowhere and got ahead of me.  This was the only girl I'd seen since the 5k turn-around and suddenly my competitiveness kicked in.  I was NOT going to let her, or any other female that wasn't already ahead, beat me.  I sped up to get ahead of her and never saw her again.  wahoo!

I continued to feel really strong through the rest of the race.  I didn't have to slow down or walk (other than when I got water) and I was even able to speed up a bit in the last mile.  I'm pretty sure my heart rate was through the roof but - for good or bad - I didn't look.  I was breathing okay and felt good so I just went with it.

The time on the clock is my exact finishing time!

Although my time was nearly 4 minutes slower than last year, I ended up finishing 1st in my age group again and won this cool magnet:

I love my winning "Run Like the Wind" magnet!

Is it any less exciting that there were only 4 women in my age group?  Heck no!  I was really proud of myself.  Not just for winning the super cool magnet but for feeling great, finishing strong, and enjoying the run.



strawberry soy yogurt with raw old-fashioned oats, banana

Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots pt. 1 / The Flaming Lips
Somewhere Only We Know / Keane
Listzomania / Phoenix
Fruit Machine / The Ting Tings
Mary Jane's Last Dance / Tom Petty
Float On / Goldspot
You Are a Tourist / Death Cab for Cutie
Theme from Rocky X111 /Weird Al Yankovic
I Can't Stand /Otto Vector
Heavy Metal Drummer/ Wilco
Fantastic Voyage / Coolio
How You Like Me Now? / The Heavy
The Underdog / Spoon
Bittersweet Symphony / The Verve

 Next race: Run Wild for the Detroit Zoo 10k - September 18th

Did you run a race this Labor Day weekend?