Friday, January 28, 2011

Vegan recipe of the week: Red Lentil Curry

Recently I decided to give up most meat foods (other than the occasional local salmon), and I am exploring the benefits of a vegan diet. I know several other athletes and runners that have seen improvements in their health and running after switching to a vegan diet. I will not fully give up dairy and eggs, but I want to rely on them less as the protein source of my meals. Hence, I am making a move toward a mostly vegan diet.

As I try more vegan recipes and learn more about vegan eating, I will share my recipes and insights here.

This Indian recipe adapted from the new "Vij's at Home" cookbook.

My version is actually a lot simpler and quicker. I would like to make the full version at some point, but my whole family actually like this one.

Red Lentil Curry (serve over rice)

2 cups finely chopped onion (one large or two small)
vegetable oil
5 cups water
1 3/4 cup dried red (orange) lentils
1 28-ounce can Roma tomatoes with water
1 Tbsp tamarind paste
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp tumeric powder
1 Tbsp brown sugar (optional, depends on how sour your tamarind paste is)
1 cup frozen peas
1 tsp masala spice mix or to taste

Saute onion in a medium-to-large pot in hot oil for about 5 minutes. Add water and lentils and bring to a boil. Turn down heat and cook partially covered for about 20 minutes or until soft, adding a bit more water if needed. Add can of tomatoes with water, mashing into smaller pieces in the pot, and stir completely. Add tamarind paste, cumin, tumeric, and sugar (if desired). Add peas. Allow to simmer for another 10 minutes or so. At this point or earlier you can add the masala spice, although I leave it out add on the table because my daughter doesn't like things too spicy. It will have a very mild flavour without it, but maybe a bit too mild for most. You shouldn't need extra salt because the tomatoes are salted.
Serve over rice and enjoy!

Training Summary Week 3 (January 17-23)

Monday: 7K easy, 39 min
Tuesday: 10K along the Richmond Dyke trail, wind-assisted negative split :) 56 min
Wednesday: 10.3K with Mike downtown, 59 min
Thursday: Rest
Friday: Intervals on treadmill: 7 x 800m in 3:34 average, 3:30 rest between. 11K total.
Saturday: 14K easy, 1:24 (6:00/km)
Sunday: 23K in 2:21 (6:09/km) partly with the Running Room group. Nice run. Another 2.3K with my son in the afternoon.

Total: 77K

Friday, January 21, 2011

Training Summary: Week 2 (January 10 - January 16)

Monday: 6.3K easy recovery run, 38 min (6:00/km)
Tuesday: 3K warmup, 2 x 3K at tempo with 3 min rest between, 3K cooldown. Tempo sets were 14:30 each (4:50/km). Great run. 12.5K total.
Wednesday: Slush on the roads meant a 7 mile (11.2K) treadmill run in the morning (65 minutes or 5:47/km)
Thursday: Skiing and rest
Friday: 13K on the dyke trail again, this time easy with a fast finish (1:13 total)
Saturday: 4K easy, pre-race rest
Sunday: 15K race in 1:15:19; full report soon! (1K warmup before)

Total: 63K

Monday, January 17, 2011

Race Report: Chilly Chase 15K in Langley, January 16, 2011

Sometimes things just work out they way you want them to. Or at least pretty close.

Short story: Yesterday I ran the Chilly Chase 15K in Langley, BC. My time was 1:15:19, for a pace of 5:01/km. Just a hair over my goal of a sub 1:15 finish, but I am still very happy.

Long story:
The start of the race was not great. Or should I say non-start: some organizational problems delayed the 9:00 start by about 20 minutes. I was not prepared to stand out in the weather for that long, and by the time we actually were able to go, my legs body was freezing and my legs were shaking. When the gun finally did go off, I managed to get moving pretty quickly (although had probably lost all the benefit of my short warm-up by then). My goal was to hold as close as possible to a 5:00/km pace for a sub-1:15 finish time. I thought my friend Rob would be running about the same pace, but he he got a better start than I did and I just let him go.

I hit the first three kilometre splits in just over 5:00/km, but I knew I had time to make up the deficit. There was a bit of a hill at kilometres 2-3 which also slowed us a bit. For kilometres 4-6 I actually sped up to under 5:00/km, hitting close to 4:45 on a couple of them. I worried that this was too fast, but the pace felt good-- and later I realized that I was helped by the downhill and a bit of a tail wind. Although the pace felt good, I have to say it felt pretty hard the whole time. I never really felt like I got into a smooth groove, but I somehow was able to hold on. Around the 6th or 7th kilometre I saw Rob up ahead by about a minute. I was glad I was not catching up to him, though, because I was afraid that I would try to keep his pace and run too fast. Oddly enough on this course I did not pass that many people and was not passed by many either. But it was a pretty small race and we covered most of the first 10K with the 10K racers; it was hard to tell exactly who I was running against.

By the time I hit half-way I already felt like I was fatigued; it was so hard to hold on. But my heart rate wasn't too high, and my body could do it-- I just had to convince my brain. I kept a pretty steady pace although was worried that I would slow down- and I did just a bit after kilometre 10. So maybe I did start too fast, and I almost let my race go at that point. My mind was playing tricks on me: “You're not going to get under 1:15, but anything under 1:17 would be respectable...” Then I thought-- NO! Just keep going as fast as you can, don't slow down on purpose. Hold on, this pace is hard, but it is doable. Just like the end of a hard tempo.

I actually had something in the tank left as I turned the last corner and saw the finish line. I am not sure where that extra kick comes from, but it was there. I crossed the line at about 1:15:30 on the clock, which would be a 1:15:19 chip time. That was good enough for 5th out of about 20 in my F40-49 age group.

I am very happy with this race, especially because it shows I can push hard even when things start to become really rough. I might have had a slightly better time if I could have managed a negative split, but it was still a very strong effort for the day. So I did not run my best race, but it was definitely a good race-- and a great first race of the year. Thanks for reading, and thanks for all of the supportive comments yesterday.

Here are the splits from my Garmin for the numbers junkies; more data can also be found on my itsmyrun entry (Laps and Elevation):

1 5:07 (cold start!)
2 5:12 (bit of a hill)
3 5:01
4 4:49 (downhill, and tail wind)
5 4:47
6 4:52
7 4:57
8 4:58
9 5:01
10 5:08
11 5:15 (bit back uphill, and headwind! and fatigue)
12 5:18
13 5:06
14 5:04
15 5:01

(the course actually measured a bit short, 14.95K, but I'll take it. :) The splits above are by pace.)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Nutrition taken too far

You know it's a slow news day in Vancouver when the article on the front page is headlined: "Vancouver wants nutrition standards for street food carts". My first response when I saw this was, "Huh?" The article describes how those applying for new licenses for downtown food carts must show that their offerings are nutritious. Want to serve deep-fried food? Better have that with a side of fresh veggies.

Now this is a city that until recently only allowed street vendors to sell one kind of food: hot dogs. In addition to the Mr. Tubesteak carts and others like it, some companies got creative with condiments and side dishes. Hence, the creation of the hugely successful Japa Dog food carts that serve hot dogs with spicy Japanese add-ons. Still-- hot dogs are hardly a nutritional staple.

I don't know about you but I do not expect street food to be particularly healthy. I expect it to be greasy, salty, and maybe even taste good. Monitoring the nutritional standards of street vendors' food takes things a bit too far, in my opinion. A friend of mine called it "nanny state run amok." Either way, I think there's a place for good nutrition, and street food is not it.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Training Summary: Week 1 (January 3 - January 9)

Monday: 5.5K easy, 33 min
Tuesday: progression tempo: 1.5K easy, 2.5K @ 5:25/km, 6.5K @ 5:05/km (11.5K total)
Wednesday: 11.25K in 1:07 in the cold rain
Thursday: Speed work on the treadmill (6 x 800m in 3:32 average, 3:30 rest between) 10.5K total
Friday: Rest
Saturday: 12.25K easy, 1:13 (5:50/km)
Sunday: 20K easy, 1:55 (5:45/km)

Total 71K

Yesterday's run was great. I met up with a friend at the Running Room and we ran with the marathon group for the first 12K. This friend and I used to run together quite often but our weekly schedules these days do not overlap very well for running; she has joined a Running Room clinic for this winter/spring, so the only way we will be able to run together is to go with that group. I was reluctant at first because I did not want to go back to 10-and-1 walk breaks, but it actually went really well. We ran with the 3:45 pace group whose target pace is 5:45-6:15/km average, but we were on the fast side of that. During the run portions we averaged about 5:25-5:30/km, and I stayed in my aerobic zone the whole time. The average pace of 5:45/km is about where my long run pace has settle into these days anyway, but it didn't seem to be much different with the walk breaks.

I am also glad to have broken 70K for the week. The season is looking great already.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Training Summary: Week 0 (December 27- January 2)

New for this year, I will post training summaries by the week. As the week progresses, I will update the list on the right. I will then archive the weeks in the tab above for easy reference.

Since I am not counting down to any single goal race, I will simply count up the weeks from this one. I will call this week "Week 0" of 2011 because it only includes one run from the new year and the rest from 2010.

Monday: 16.5K in 1:32: 4K@6:00/km, 5K@5:25/km, 1K easy, 5K@5:15/km, 1.5K easy
Tuesday: 10K easy in 58 min (5:50/km)
Wednesday: 5K, very easy recovery run (6:40/km)
Thursday: 2K easy, 6 x 800m (3:36 average)
Friday: 5K easy, 6:30/km
Saturday: Rest
Sunday: Awesome run with a friend (first 4K alone): 18.6K total in 1:48 (5:49/km). I'm loving the quicker pace of my long runs now. It's coming naturally with no extra effort. After the first 4K on my own at about 6:00/km we did about 13K at 5:36/km average, and then a slower couple kilometres up the hill. Finally the training effect kicking in.

Total: 66K