Week 3 Marathon Training and Vegan Mac and Cheese

Getting up on Sunday morning was a little tough. We had gone to an arena football game in Orlando the night before and after 2 pitchers of Sangria, I could have used more sleep. But 5:30 am came early and made me get up. My smoothie was already in the fridge from the day before, I feel like it’s my secret power fuel, like Popeye on spinach! The drive down to the track was beautiful with the sun rising to the left of me on the beach and the supermoon setting to the right. A little Dave Matthews, and I was totally ready to run and have some fun.

This week we did the Magic Mile time trial. If you’re not familiar,it’s basically a pretty dialed in predictor of improvement and race performance. We are doing several of these throughout the training to measure progress and this was the first one. We started with a short walk, then did 1:1 run walk intervals for about a mile. We then did ‘acceleration gliders’. Basically you start with walking 15 steps, then increase to a jog of the same interval, then a little faster, then faster, then scale back down. After about 5 of these we all prepared to run our mile. I knew I wanted to be under 10 minutes, as my fastest average pace during a 5k was 9:34, just about a month ago. We were on a track, which is a little hard for me because it’s so dang boring! Anyhow, round and round we went and my time was 9:59! Well at least I got under 10 I guess… So at 3% improvement I can increase to  9:42 and at 5% to 9:30. Now, I was just at near 9:30 a month ago, so I think I can increase more than that. We then finished out our run with 1:1 intervals, running a total of 5 miles. I came home and took about an hour nap as I had a girlfriend’s birthday party to go to.

My husband is on a very different training program, one put on by a local track coach. They run many more miles and do more tempo and targeted pace runs, including a Wednesday run that is 60-70% of your long run on Sunday. I think I’ll blend a little of this program into my workout, doing some faster runs and some longer steady runs. I feel like if I just do the 30 min run/walk twice a week, I’ll actually lose of the conditioning I have built for the last year.

After a 2nd nap, ( I’ve been working a lot)i wanted to make some Vegan Mac and Cheese. Now, before you frown if you’re not vegan or think of some chalky substance if you are, I promise you this is the best vegan mac and cheese. How do I know? My nephews, ages 10,7 and 3 all devoured it at Christmas. And they eat the real mac and cheese and loved this one.

The recipe comes from VegNews, a great vegan magazine with some delicious recipes.  The link is here, and I didn’t deviate much from it http://vegnews.com/articles/page.do?pageId=40&catId=10


Vegan Mac and Cheese 

Serves 6

What You Need:

  • 4 quarts water
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 8 ounces macaroni ( I used the whole box, less cheesy but feeds more)
  • 4 slices of bread, torn into large pieces
  • 2 tablespoons + 1/3 cup non-hydrogenated margarine ( I used Earth Balance)
  • 2 tablespoons shallots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup red or yellow potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1/4 cup carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1/3 cup onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup raw cashews ( I soaked mine for a few hours while I was doing other stuff)
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
What You Do:

  1. In a large pot, bring the water and salt to a boil. Add macaroni and cook until al dente. In a colander, drain pasta and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a saucepan, add shallots, potatoes, carrots, onion, and water, and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and simmer for 15 minutes, or until vegetables are very soft.
  3. While the veggies are cooking, make breadcrumbs by pulverizing the bread and 2 tablespoons margarine to a medium-fine texture in a food processor. Set aside.
  4. In a blender, process the cashews, salt, garlic, 1/3 cup margarine, mustard, lemon juice, black pepper, and cayenne. Add softened vegetables and cooking water to the blender and process until perfectly smooth.
  5. In a large bowl, toss the cooked pasta and blended cheese sauce until completely coated. Spread mixture into a 9 x 12 casserole dish, sprinkle with prepared breadcrumbs, and dust with paprika. Bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese sauce is bubbling and the top has turned golden brown.

This is one of my husband’s favorite dishes and gets us all carbed up for our next run!

Week 2 Marathon Training and Thai Peanut Noodles

Yesterday, I had my 2nd marathon training session. Through the Jeff Galloway training program, we are responsible for two 30 minute runs during the week then come together on Sundays to build mileage. I think that’s not enough, since for my first half marathon, I was running 4-5 days a week. 

We only had 4 miles to do yesterday, and we continue with the 1:1 intervals (1 minute walk, 1 minute run). They would have been torturous had it not been for the company of these women. One of my friends, MJ, whom I used to work with, is also training for the marathon. We run similar paces and it is our first marathon. I hadn’t talked to her in a while, so the 4 miles let us catch up. We all joked when we did 20 milers, we could all tell our life stories. MJ may not be in the happiest of places right now, but she’s a super strong woman that I have never seen play the ‘victim’. I’m enjoying running with her. The 4 miles went by in a breeze. Next week, we do 5 miles, with the Magic Mile thrown in (more about that next week).

So that takes me up to 8:00 am. Seriously. We got back home, did some yoga, then our friends texted us to go to the beach. Did I mention I live 3 blocks from the beach?  It’s heaven.


After the sun became unbearable, we I came home and made these Thai Peanut Noodles. the recipe is from Cooking Light, a magazine I subscribe to (at least for the following month). I started my subscription before I went vegetarian, and it’s a shame they don’t put more vegetarian recipes because I truly enjoy their magazine. Anyhow I veganized these by subing tofu for chicken and it was really tasty. It says it’s a soup, but it turned out like a saucy noodle dish for me. The original recipe is here http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/peanut-chicken-noodle-soup-50400000128102/

but here is my adaptation


Thai Peanut Noodles

  • 14 ounces uncooked fresh udon noodles
  • 1/2 cup Better than Bouillon Chicken Flavored Stock (vegan)
  • 3 tablespoons of chunky or smooth peanut butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (13.5-ounce) can light coconut milk
  • 1 container of tofu, drained and cubed
  • 1/2 head Napa cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 small serrano chile, thinly sliced
  • Sriracha to taste


  1. Cook noodles according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain in a colander over a bowl, reserving 2 cups cooking liquid.
  2. Heat stock and next 4 ingredients in a large pan over medium-low heat. Add tofu and let simmer for a few minutes.
  3. Add cooking liquid, serrano,noodles and cabbage; cook 2 minutes or until cabbage wilts. Sprinkle with cilantro; serve with Sriracha.

My husband usually doesn’t like anything with an Asian flavor, but he really liked these noodles! They were the perfect after-workout meal too: tofu for protein, noodles for carbs, sriracha for all the other important stuff. Haha! I really like the stuff! 

This put us right to napping, then I skyped with my dad to wish him a Happy Father’s Day. The day ended with Mad Men, as all Sundays do. 

Sunday is quickly becoming my favorite day of the week.

What’s your favorite thing to eat after long runs?

Spirit of the Marathon Review

On Wednesday, runners from all over the country came together in their own movie theatres to watch the one night only screening of ‘Spirit of the Marathon II”. If you haven’t watched the first one, you really missed out. Here’s the link to the full length movie. http://www.hulu.com/watch/85354

This movie followed 6 runners, some of them veterans, some not, on their journey to the Rome Marathon. The setting is breathtaking and these runners are from all over the world. One of the first things that stand out is that although they are all from very different backgrounds, ages, and expertise, the same fire and the same desire burns within them. One of the runners, Ylenia, owns a running store with her husband and after facing some challenges, decides to focus her energy on running her first marathon. There was something about this runner I liked. Maybe it was her balance, or her determination, or her  solution to escaping from her problems. I think she started running for the same reason many of us do: to think about something else beside what is going on in our lives, whether good or bad. Julie, another marathoner, has planned to run 52 marathons in 52 weeks to raise money for pancreatic research, as her father passed away due to the disease. There’s something contagious about her spunk, her spirit, her determination, her heart. I think we have all met a person like this in our lives, that inspired good change even though they have been through some dark times. Many of the other stories also talk about loss, and the quest to prove something to themselves. 

It made me think about my own reasons for running. I’ve mentioned before that I never really excelled in sports, and one of the reasons I love running is because other runners accept those at different levels of experience and speed. Running is a welcoming sport and unlike most, it’s much more about the journey than it is about the end game. I also run because I want to be active, to lead a healthy lifestyle. I started this with going vegetarian 2 years ago, and it’s funny how many other choices have been affected by that change. I’ve become more intentional in life, doing things because i think it will better my spirit or my physical well being and saying no to the things that don’t. It’s given me the confidence to take risk in my life and to be vulnerable and always accept that there is someone out there faster and stronger than I am. 

I loved Spirit of the Marathon 2, I actually liked the first one better. mostly because the store about Jerry and Rona was so touching. But as I sat there in the movie theatre surrounded by other runners cheering, laughing and groaning at the same things, I realized that the spirit of the marathon is really just the human spirit of perseverance and unity.

What’s your favorite running book or film?

Healthy and Delicious- It’s a Wrap!

When I decided to go vegetarian 2 years ago, I never thought I would also decide to train for a marathon. Getting enough carbs, protein and nutrients isn’t hard, but it does take some planning. It’s not like I can just go pick up a roast chicken at Publix for dinner (although pizza does sometimes get picked up).

A common misconception is that because I run, I can eat whatever I want. But it’s quite the opposite. You know how really expensive cars only take premium fuel? Well if you want to be the Mercedes of running, you’ve got to eat good stuff! Minimally processed, mostly plants.

One of my favorite places here in Cocoa Beach, FL is the Green Room Cafe. Eclectic, fun, fresh, funky-everything that Cocoa Beach stands for. Yes, it’s as my friend would call it ‘hippie-granola’ but it’s inviting, clean and anyone can enjoy it.

Ribbet collage

This place serves vegan, vegetarian and also chicken and fish, all prepared in delicious sandwiches and wraps and all ingredients are organic (check our their full menu at greenroomcafecocoabeach.com ). I have a few favorites, but this night I was especially hungry and ordered the J-Bay. This wrap consists of brown rice, black beans, corn, banana peppers, zucchini and cheese, served with a side of fresh salsa and chips.


If you’re wondering, yes, I ate the whole thing. Fresh teas and smoothies abound as well. The Green Room Smoothie is practically a meal in itself, full of soy protein, bee pollen, flaxmeal and a bunch of other ‘good for you’ ingredients.

While my husband and I were dining, a man came in to pick up a to go order and said ‘My wife is pregnant and she craves this place every week. I have to drive here from Merritt Island (15 min. away) to satisfy her craving.

It really is that good.

Many people pick up fast food when they’re pressed for time, and this is a great alternative and will keep you on the track to health. And you’ll also be supporting local businesses which is always a good thing.

What’s your ‘go-to’ healthy place to eat?

It takes a special kind of idiot….

“Any idiot can run, but it takes a special kind of idiot to run a marathon”

It all started with sea turtles. You know, those beautiful, gentle, mysterious creatures that burrow themselves in a reef to sleep, come up for air every now and then and nibble on jelly fish. Well, technically, it started with scuba diving. 5 years ago my husband and I moved from Colorado and being a certified diver, my husband convinced me i had to get certified as well. Snow skiing obviously wasn’t an option around here. Only caveat was, I couldn’t even swim. Swim lessons at the YMCA and one spectacular night dive filled with turtles so close i had to be aware of every inch of my body in order not to hit them, and my love of turtles was born.

Then I heard about the Turtle Krawl 5k in Indialantic. Having never been athletic and always being either somewhat active or in that ‘I’ll go to the gym tomorrow” cycle, a 5k was a challenge. When I started the Couch to 5k program, I prayed those 30 second running intervals would be over. A few months of slow and steady training, and when I crossed that finish line, I was hooked. I set my sights on the half marathon. Seriously, I quit high school soccer and softball and went to be a choir geek instead. I didn’t know what had gotten into me.


Distance training is 90% mental in my opinion. Your body say either you can or can’t finish and either way, it will be true. That’s why training is so important, so you can train your mind to be your friend, instead of your enemy. It does still tell you every now and then ‘ What the heck are we doing running before sunlight?”

My first half marathon was the Miami Marathon. Sun, salsa, and one of my favorite cities, what could go wrong? 13 miles of running is what. I crossed the finish line at 2:37, so emotionally and mentally exhausted that when I saw my husband (also a runner) I burst out in tears. Crazy sh*t.


You know those people that date in college, then the next step is getting married, then having a family and buying a house? Yeah I’m not one of those people. But with running. I am such a ‘next natural step’ kind of person. The marathon is the elephant in the room saying ‘ Is it my turn yet?’.

I started training with the Jeff Galloway program at Running Zone this morning at 6:30 am. I wish everyone training could meet an Olympian at the start of training. It’s so motivational and Jeff had nothing but positive and encouraging things to say, even to those with injuries and those old enough to remember the first time a woman ran a marathon.

The premise of this program is that by taking enough walking and running intervals, anyone can tackle the distance while remaining injury free and not running as many miles a week as other programs recommend. Jeff is an Olympian so I trust his judgement.


We did a short 3 mile run (never thought I would think ‘Just 3 miles’) today and will continue to build up. There are some really amazing girls in my group including one that has registered for 3 half marathons and has never run one because she always manages to get pregnant. I asked her if maybe twins were in her future since she registered for the full marathon.

With the right support, training, and willpower, I really think anything is possible. Welcome to my crazy journey!

What challenges have you taken on lately that you never though you would overcome?