White Bean, Tomato & Cucumber Salad

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I posted this photo on Facebook over Memorial Day weekend and I had several people ask me about the salad. It’s so quick and easy to fix. This salad could be the main course or a side.

1 15 ounce can of Cannellini Beans, rinsed and drained
1 pint of Cherry Tomatoes, quartered
1 large Cucumber, seeds removed and sliced
1 medium sized Red Onion, chopped
1/2 cup Fresh Parsley (optional)
1/4 cup Red Wine Vinegar
2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and stir. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Best if you let it stay in the refrigerator over night to let the flavors meld.

 

Seize the Moment 5K

This is the first year for the Seize the Moment 5K in Evans, Georgia. The event benefits the Epilepsy Foundation of Georgia. The turnout was light and very few hardcore runners were there. Overall, the event was well organized but there wasn’t an official race clock. The clock was the head organizer calling out the time from his smartphone as you crossed the finish line. Not complaining about that–just reporting the fact.

The packet pickup/registration started at 8 a.m. I had pre-registered so the process went very quickly. I got there early because I wasn’t sure about traffic getting to the event and how many others would be there to pickup their race packet. The check-in was so quick this gave me some time to go out on a short warmup run so that was good.

By the 9 a.m. start time it was hot out! The sun was shining brightly and the temperature had to be close to 75 degrees with little to no breeze. The start was fairly informal. There wasn’t an exact start line that I could tell anyway. Just an approximate one. As we got started I was surprised about how many were still behind me. Hey, I’m not a fast runner but I don’t think there were more than 20-25 people ahead of me on the whole race.

The first mile was finished at a 9:55 mile pace. Right where I wanted to be but then it came time to deal with the hills. The first one wasn’t too long, maybe a quarter to one-third of a mile but it was pretty steep. Then came a much longer hill of at least a half a mile. Not quite as steep as the shorter one but close. The second mile took me 11:06 to finish. I knew then, I wasn’t going to get this race in under 30 minutes. By then I was starting to feel the heat as well. Luckily, the same hill I just ran up I now got to run down. That helped but then we were directed back to the same loop with the steeper hill.

After tackling that hill again I resolved myself to just keep a steady pace and get it finished. Just kept my breathing steady and kept moving forward. I used nose breathing more than I ever have on this race. Not sure if it was a good thing or not but I tried anyway.

The GPS on my Fitbit Surge told me I hit the 5K mark at approximately 33:35. One problem though. I ran every tangent I could along the way but I wasn’t close to the finish line yet. The GPS on my Fitbit isn’t exact but pretty close anyway. I took me another four tenths of a mile before I hit the finish line. My finish time was 38:01. Not the finish time I was hoping for to say the least. But, that’s the way it is sometimes. With the hills and heat of the day it was a good finish.

For hardcore runners this event probably won’t thrill you. But for me, it was close to my house and the proceeds go to a good cause so it was worth it. My only real criticism is the start time. On Memorial Day weekend in Georgia it can get pretty warm and starting the race at 8 a.m. would make a difference in dealing with the heat. A 7:30 start time would be even better but I can live with an 8 a.m. start.

Now that this race is in the books it’s time to get ready for the Peachtree Road Race on July the 4th. Running a 10K in the July heat of Georgia; I’ve gotta be crazy!

 

 

Peachtree Road Race Training: Week Two

If you read my other posts from the week you know I’m trying to learn a new running form/technique using the book “ChiRunning” by Danny Dryer. This week I focused on nose breathing and cadence.

On Saturday’s run I ditched the music and used a metronome app on my phone set at 90 bpm. I found that my running cadence is not as consistent as I thought. It’s not bad but not perfect either. Some of its due to terrain and I guess that is to be expected at times. The most significant thing I noticed is my natural cadence is a little faster than 90 strides per minute. I’ll continue to use the metronome set a 90 for a few weeks and see how it goes. My run was cut short because I had an early morning meeting to attend. It’s good to have a plan but there are times when you have to adjust.

I’ve been a belly breather for as long as I can remember but I breath through my mouth. The change to breathing in from the nose is very difficult for me to learn. I figured out I can’t concentrate on cadence and breathing at the same time that’s for sure. For now, nose breathing is on the back burner.

Here’s the breakdown for the week:

Monday: 10 minute slow run; 2 minutes fast run/1 minute walk (x8); 10 minute slow run.
Tuesday: Rest day (but still did some walking).
Wednesday: 18 minute slow run; 5 minute fast run; 15 minute slow run
Thursday: Rest day (but still did some walking).
Friday: Rest day.
Saturday: Ran 5.69 miles at 11:24 per mile pace average. Fastest mile: 10:56, slowest: 11:45.
Sunday: Strength training and stretching.

ChiRunning???

A few weeks ago a fellow runner and blogger, Jessica Payne opened my eyes to ChiRunning. If you haven’t visited Jess’s blog I encourage you to check it out at, http://runpinkjess.com. Jessica was raising money for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and held a little drawing for donors. I was lucky enough to win and the prize was a book titled, “Chi Running” by Danny Dreyer. I had never heard of ChiRunning before getting the book but after a quick browse through the pages I was intrigued enough to read it in more detail.

ChiRunning is a running technique based on martial arts skills of T’ai Chi. ChiRunning seems to be closely related to the elements of neigong and qigong which focuses on breathing, movement and awareness exercises. ChiRunning was created by Danny Dreyer in 1999. You can learn more by visiting his website at, http://www.chirunning.com

Basically, the main principles of ChiRunning are:

  • Relaxation
  • Correct alignment and posture
  • Landing with a midfoot strike
  • Using a “gravity-assisted” forward lean
  • Engaging core strength for propulsion
  • Connecting the mind and body to prevent injury

Through my own running experience I’ve discovered relaxation, posture and a midfoot strike are keys to preventing injuries so much of the focus in ChiRunning follows my own principles of running. Martial arts is something I’ve never had an interest but running relaxed without injury is something I have a great deal of interest. I like enough of the principles of ChiRunning I’m willing to give it a try.

I’ve just barely examined the focus areas of ChiRunning and it will probably take me several weeks to a few months just to get comfortable with the focus areas. I know it’s going to take months for this technique to become natural.

This week I’m just focusing on two things: nose breathing and cadence. I’ve always been a mouth breather. ChiRunning principles ask you to breath in from your nose and exhale out of your mouth. I can’t believe how hard this is for me to change. I get all out of whack. I forget to breath out from my mouth. Sometimes my stomach is going in when it should be going out. Or I completely forget to breath in through my nose and start breathing in and out through my mouth. I’m hoping this is a common problem for runners to learn. I’m just a few months shy of sixty years old and you know what they say about teaching old dogs new tricks. I’m hoping my problem is the former and not the latter.

Cadence seems to come naturally for me! ChiRunning asks you to run with a cadence between 85-90 strides per minute. After a few trial tests of my cadence I’m pretty confident my natural pace is at or very close to 90 strides per minute. At least I have one focus area I don’t have to worry much about. I’m sure my cadence does fluctuate and I know I’ll need to work on that but staying steady isn’t usually that hard for me.

I’m posting this now for two reasons really. Now that it’s public knowledge this puts a little more pressure on me to continue practicing ChiRunning. I’m willing to give it six months to a year before I pass judgement. So, that means you probably won’t hear a lot about my specific progress with learning ChiRunning for several months. Maybe on my 60th birthday would be a good time to post an update? What do you think? I’m curious to see what affect this will have on my performance. If my performance drops initially I’m not going to be too concerned. I want to give this a fair shot. My second reason is I didn’t want to wait six months to a year to tell you about my experience with ChiRunning. If I think there is potential benefit to this technique then you should know it. If this posts sparks any curiosity in ChiRunning then by all means don’t wait for me to tell you how well (or not) it works. Go ahead and explore and learn about it for yourself.

There! Now I’ve said it. I’m not sure where this journey will take me but I plan to enjoy the ride.

 

Peachtree Road Race Training: Week One

It would have been nice to have another easy week after the half marathon in Nashville but with eight weeks until the Peachtree Road Race on July the 4th I can’t do that.

I’m keeping my expectations low for this event. I’ve never ran it. I don’t know the course and the crowd will be huge for a 10K. The heat of July will likely be a factor as well. I just want to go out knowing I did my best to prepare.

It’s been nice to cut back on my distance since the half marathon that’s for sure. I’m not real crazy about interval training but if I’m going to pick up my pace I need to do it. Overall, it was a good week. Felt good all week. My run on Saturday started out a little quick but I slowed down on the last three miles. I choose a slightly different route and it made the hills harder, especially during the last few miles. On Sunday though, I felt a little tenderness in my left shin area. As long as I kept moving all was fine though. Guess I need to go back to my walking for five minutes before I start my run and maybe add a few stretches too. I stretch when I finish but not usually before I start. Don’t think it’s anything to be too concerned about–just gotta keep an eye on it.

Here’s the breakdown for the week:

Monday: 10 minute slow run; 2 minutes fast run/1 minute walk (x6); 10 minute slow run.
Tuesday: Rest day (but still did some walking).
Wednesday: 18 minute slow run; 5 minute fast run; 15 minute slow run
Thursday: Rest day (but still did some walking).
Friday: Rest day.
Saturday: Ran 7.08 miles with 11:17 per mile pace average. Fastest mile: 10:36, slowest: 12:03.
Sunday: Strength training and stretching.

The Big Race is Finished, Now What?

It’s pretty easy to get into a bit of a funk after completing a big race that you’ve trained long and hard to prepare. Having just finished the St. Jude’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Nashville Half Marathon it’s happened to me just a little bit. The funk could be worse but here’s what I’m doing to keep things fresh:

Slow Down & Recover

The week after Nashville I made it a point to slow down my pace, distance and total miles. Cutting back your weekly miles to 30 or 40 percent of your pre-race peak is a good place to start. For the first three days after the half marathon I used my foam roller to help loosen tight muscles in my legs. If you don’t have a foam roller, I recommend getting one. You’ll quickly find it hurts so good.

If you want, take a week or two off from running. Maybe do some walking or bike riding instead. A few week off won’t hurt you and you may surprise yourself and come back even stronger.

Run with a Friend or in a Group

I usually run by myself but after Nashville I spent a few days at my daughter’s house so this gave me the opportunity to run with her for a change.

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Of course, if you normally run with a group you might want to consider running alone for a change.

Find a Change in Scenery

I’m always looking for new routes to run. I spent the week after Nashville traveling to visit family so this gave me lots of opportunities to run in new places. In the photo above with my daughter we’re running in Southern Indiana where it’s relatively flat but seems to have more wind than I usually deal with in Georgia.

Later in the same week I traveled to the horse farm country of Versailles, Kentucky which is between Lexington and Frankfort. What a beautiful location to run!

Since it was Kentucky Derby weekend it even seemed more appropriate to run in the rolling hills of Kentucky. I didn’t see many horses for some reason though. Maybe most of them were in barns while the owners were off to Churchill Downs for the big race?

Sidebar: If you never been you may be surprised to see horses living in barns nicer than most of our own homes.

Sign Up for Another Race

Actually, I did this before the half marathon in Nashville. I signed up for the Peachtree Road Race (10K) in Atlanta on July the 4th. Since the race in Nashville I’ve signed up for two other races. A 5K in my local area on Memorial Day weekend and the OneAmerica Mini Marathon in Indianapolis, IN in May of 2017. Yes, that is way out there and doesn’t really count but I wanted to mention it.

Change Up Your Training Plan

I sorta touched on this. If you’ve been training for a certain distance now would be a good time to find a different distance for training. This is why I picked the 5K and 10K for my next races.

You might want to consider adding hill work or fartlek training if this is something you seldom do.

Ditch the Training Plan

With a 5K and 10K race on my schedule within the next two months this really isn’t an option for me right now but it could be for you. After the 10K in July, I do plan to ditch the training plan for at least a month. I’ll still go out and run 3-4 times a weeks but without any sort of goal other than to run how I feel at the moment. Most, if not all of this time will be low mileage and slow so I can give my body and legs a break.

Rid Yourself of Electronic Devices

Ok, I’ll admit it. This is something I don’t practice. I’m a techie by occupation and it’s just part of my DNA anymore. I do see the benefit in it even though I don’t really practice it. Frequently though, I will start my run tracker on my Fitbit and not look at it until I finish. Not quite giving up the electronics but close. Also, I rarely run without ear buds and music. I’m an avid music fan and I’ve just gotta have it. Yep, I’m addicted to my electronics but it doesn’t mean you have to be hooked on them.


Falling into a slump or a funk, whatever you want to call it happens. It’s normal and in time will happen to anyone who runs for a couple of years or more. When it happens to you, give some of my ideas a try and I think you’ll find your way out in short time. Good luck, and stay it.