What’s Next?

Marathon, DONE. Now what?

It’s time to get stronger and faster. I’ve gone to a couple of bootcamp sessions and one thing is for sure, I spent a whole lot of time at distance running and very little time at strength training. I thought I was doing so well with my here and there workout videos and mini strength circuits, but as soon as I put those non typical running muscles to work….OUCH. Do you know how hard it is to climb a tree or even just hang from the monkey bars when you have little to no upper body or ab strength? The most surprising, even my legs get sore from bootcamp, ummm, I just trained for and ran a marathon, what is up legs?

Don’t get me wrong, running is still my number one exercise love. It’s my mind clearing, attitude adjusting, depression smashing go to. And I would like to run for a very long time, but I know my body is better off with some strength training too. I’m probably a bit “unbalanced”? (such a technical term) when I only run. So goal #1 – GET STRONGER!

#2 GET FASTER – Each half-marathon I have run has gotten progressively slower, over a pretty short period of time. That needs to stop. Next up, Hyannis Half Marathon. And this time, maybe I will actually do the speed work in my training plan. Funny thing speed work = faster runner? Who knew?

So what’s the plan this week? (and here’s last week in case you wanted to check it out).

Oh, not sure if you forgot? But this is also a food blog. Sometimes you only have time to work out and cook, and not so much time to write about it, so here’s the quick version…

Oh She Glows Slow Cooker Naked Apple Butter

Ben said this picture looks gross, but you are getting it anyway. It was declious. Mark Bittman’s Lentil Soup (with lemon and dill).

For Ben’s lunch – Baked Pasta with Sausage & Spinach

Salt & Vinegar Roasted Chickpeas

Slow Cooker Taco Soup

Santa Fe Turkey Stuffed Peppers

And finally! My fall favorite combo, had to make it twice in one week……

Eat Live Run’s Roasted Root Vegetable Bisque and Ruth Reichl’s Stuffed Pumpkins!



Marine Corps Marathon Recap

It’s official! I am a marathoner!

Can you tell I can barely stand to keep those shoes on my feet for another second?

The race was awesome. Despite the impending hurricane the weather was perfect for a race, no rain, only a slight wind towards the end and cool temps. I have to say, for those of you out there considering your first marathon, the Marine Corps Marathon is an excellent choice. I am so happy I chose this marathon not only for the experience, but also to celebrate my Grandpa, an amazing Marine.

Although everyone told me that this was a heavily supported race, you really don’t know for sure until you see it and I can confirm, it was. The Marines were stationed all along the course, handing out gatorade, water, orange slices, even Dunks munchkins at mile 24 and cheering you on. The crowds were along almost the entire race, also impressive. And the name on the shirt thing, definitely works. There were very few times where there wasn’t a presence of spectators and the places where this wasn’t the case, there were so many hilarious marathon signs that you were kept pretty entertained.

Now, the running part? It wasn’t easy, it was definitely tough, but I got it done. The one surprising part for me was the earlier “onset” of leg pain than I expected. I’m not really sure why this happened, there were hills at the beginning so this might have tired out my legs, as we all know, I don’t train for hills. The usual pain/fatigue whatever you want to call it didn’t normally hit me until around mile 17 or 18 in my training runs, but this time it was mile TEN. Honestly, miles 10 – 13 were probably the toughest part of the race for me, more around me realizing the fact that I would be running another 16 miles with that pain. So, as you might guess, I slowed wayyyy down. This was fine though, my goal was to finish, I probably only finished 15-20 minutes slower than expected and I did it. And I didn’t even have to hit the dreaded wall at mile 20, my wall was already over. 🙂

By mile 20 I was so happy to know I only had 6 miles to go, that I blasted my music and felt great. The 9 minute run, 1 minute walk method really worked for me too, I kept this up almost the entire race which kept me from walking any longer than that when I wasn’t feeling great. And at mile 23, walking was starting to get a little more painful to do than running so I just went for it and ran the last 3 miles through! It was awesome! And I finished!

Does anyone else have this happen when you upload pictures and your post gets changed? Once again part of my post got deleted and it was my favorite part! So here it is:

What was most important to say here, was how awesome my husband, friends and family were throughout the race with cheering, emailing, texting, tweeting, you name it to help keep me going. And not just during the race, but before and after running and during all of my training. I even had the poster below waiting for me when I arrived home, so awesome!

And a special thank you to the Connells and Jordanos that housed us, fed us, transported us and on top of all that came out to cheer me on during the race. We loved spending time with you and was so amazing to see you during my run!

So great. Thank you all!

Bucket List – Marathon. Check!

The 22 Miler

It is done, it is done, it is done!

22 Miles! Let the taper begin!

You might remember, I felt really good during the 20 miler. I’m liking the bullets, let’s go with that again…

  • I’m feeling good about my 9 minute run, 1 minute walk method for this race, it’s worked really well for every long run and I feel 100% positive it is the best thing for me to do for this marathon.
  • My playlist needs some refreshing. It was good most of training, but I’m going to need something extra for those 5 hours. Any suggestions?
  • I had a bit of nerves before I started this run, my 6 miles on Thursday was pretty painful and I was not feeling good.
  • Thankfully, this was definitely better than that run. Phew.
  • But, there is DEFINITELY a reason you taper after this point. My body is screaming for the taper. This run was the least easy of the long runs. I know that sounds like a given, because it was the longest one, but it was more all of the miles leading into this one that made it tough.
  • Although I’m sure I’ll feel a little nervous about taper time like everyone else, I have to say, I’m thankful. You do lose a chunk of your weekend with these longer runs. It’s worth it, but it can still be frustrating.
  • Sometimes during the last mile you start to lose it and might say hello to a butterfly on the Mass Ave bridge, yes, the butterfly was actually there, it’s more the fact that I thought I should say hi…..
  • The nice thing about passing 20 is that you can tell yourself the faster you run the faster you are finished and you no longer have to worry about conserving energy, you are almost there! (of course when I say run faster, it’s not much faster) 🙂

Although it is taper time, the week ahead actually isn’t too much less, but it’s headed in the right direction.

I actually have been doing some cooking, I know it has been way too long, but I actually cooked enough that it will need to go in another post. In the mean time, I had a lovely meal out with my friend Jaime at The Salty Pig. Although it’s been since January that I last mentioned this place, it has definitely been much more frequented than posted. Always delicious, just looking at these photos this morning made me starving for yet another visit.

Time for me to get ready for church, but one more note. You may have read about him in the past in the local Boston newspapers, but check out Hassan Haydar’s story and blog. I met Hassan at my last job and can attest that he is just an amazing and positive person and his running experiences are so motivating!

Have a great weekend!


MCM Training and More

Last we left off, I had finished my 17 miler. I was feeling great with that one and then the next week, 18 miles! This one was not quite as “easy”. I had a very limited timeframe to get this one done, might have involved hopping right out of a car after a long ride, heading out on my run during the hottest part of the day and then immediately getting ready for a fun night out.

It was HOT. About two miles in, I had to start reciting motivational words in my head. Not good. After 6 or 7 my friend Sara met up with me for the rest. I was still having a rough time when we hit 9 miles. Brilliant solution though, a stop at Starbucks for one of their delicious refresher beverages. This was very helpful, a little caffeine and a little ice! Finally, at 11 miles in, I knew I was going to finish. It wasn’t easy, but thankfully it’s done. It is crazy how much a hot day can impact my run.

After the 17 and 18 milers, I have made two decisions, my “nutrients” of choice while running will be the Honey Stinger Organic Energy Chews and I will be completing my long runs and race day with the Galloway method. I’m not sure I’m following his instructions exactly, but basically I run 9 minutes and then walk quickly for one minute and repeat. Not only does this method help with recovery (and hoping it’s the smarter choice for my plantar fascitis), but I either manage to maintain the same pace I would with continuously running or at times end up with an even faster average pace. The key is to keep that minute walk at a fast pace though. Once I start getting into the teens, it does become a little more difficult to start-up again after walking, but as long as I keep a quick enough pace I’m good to go. Race day strategy, done.

Check out my workouts here for the full recap.  This weekend is 19, yikes!

I’ve been up to a few other things too, besides running, here are some pics, but not all, you know, sometimes I’m a picture fail.

Lunch from the Herb Lyceum at the Copley Square Farmers Market

JRey’s Wedding!

Adorable Millie and me!

Ben’s (1 of 3) birthday dinner at Union Bar & Grille

Beet pasta from our trip to Vermont with summer tomatoes, fresh basil and Fiore Di Nonno mozzrella.

Delicious! Have a great night!






What’s Been Fun, What’s Not


1. Dinner with Anna & Joey! Fail on pictures of them, but success on capturing the appetizer.

Haven’t made this one is SO long. Oldie but goodie. Creole Baked Goat Cheese from Bahama Breeze.

2. Celebrating my mom’s birthday with the whole family including Jean! Another photo fail. Then quality sister time at the Colonnade Roof Top Pool. And some pina coladas, yum!

3. Booking our tropical vacation! Have a bit of a wait until we go, but still SO excited. Here’s our last tropical vacation, our honeymoon!


4. Two late afternoons spent on the Charles with some beverages.


5. A first time visit (for me) to Castle Island and Sullivans with our CG.


6. Last, but most certainly not least. A weekend of dog sitting with an adorable Boston Terrier, named Boston.



What’s NOT Fun


What’s not fun, running injuries are NOT fun. My heel pain has gotten pretty bad. We are heading towards limping stage. I took the last week off from running with the exception of my long run. Better you would think, right? No, almost seemed worse. Ouch.

Here’s the deal, I really can’t stop and rest right now. It’s either I train and run the marathon, or I don’t run the marathon. Clearly this is not doctor’s advice or good advice just to throw that out there.

So what do you see in this lovely picture? It’s the Strassburg sock, purchased from my favorite Marathon Sports. I’ve tried everything else so why not try this? I haven’t done the overnight wearing yet, but am building up to it. Anyone out there used this before?

I know it’s really cool how I announced my workout log and then I didn’t use it, but I’ll get that updated very soon, if not tonight.

This week:

  • Mon – Rest
  • Tues – Run 4m
  • Wed – Run 7m
  • Thurs – Rest
  • Fri – Rest
  • Sat – Run 14m
  • Sun – Cardio & Strength

Anyone else out there dealt with heel pain or what I think is Plantar Fascitis? I’ve done the whole Achilles tendonitis thing already and I know what that is like, but this pain is all new to me.


The Running Groove

Finally, finally, finally!

If you haven’t been able to tell from the last couple of months, running has not been quite the passion it used to be for me. Training for those last two halfs (halves?) was kind of brutal this time around, and running them, even more brutal. Not sure what happened, I just wasn’t having fun running anymore.

I was super worried about this knowing I was shortly heading into training for the Marine Corps Marathon. My seven miles the weekend before last was rough too, only really ran a part and had to bribe myself to finish by running two minutes and walking one, repeat.

But…finally! A week plus straight of awesome runs. Some of them might have even been a little bit painful, but I made it. Check out my progress on Daily Mile.

I’m so thankful to have the ability to run and for those awesome runs this past week. I know they are not always going to be the best and it is going to be really, really hard (especially those miles that have a 2 with a 0 after it, ouch). But I am excited to get moving on my marathon training plan.

As usual, I will go with my favorite Hal Higdon. My selection is the Marathon Novice 2 Training Plan. Anyone else training for a marathon? Want to join me?

I am making one adaption, I was just a little too nervous at the thought of stopping my training at 20 miles. I know, everyone does it, but to me the thought of finishing up the first 20 and then remembering how I only trained to that point, and then having to convince myself to keep going for a FULL HOUR longer seems rough. At least with 40 minutes left to go I can convince myself it’s just like a DVRd episode of Grey’s Anatomy (yes, I love that show and so this is a good thing, no judgment please). That said, I have built in a few extra weeks to make it to 22 miles.

So what’s my workout plan this week, you ask?

  • Mon – Strength
  • Tues – Run 3m
  • Wed – Run 5m
  • Thurs – Run 3m
  • Fri – Strength
  • Sat – Run 9m
  • Sun – Rest

And as if I needed more motivation for marathon training, how about this little blurb from my latest Marine Corps email:

It’s about Time

While there are no timing qualifications necessary to register for the MCM, there are strict pace requirements to maintainparticipation in the event. All runners must maintain a 14 minute-per-mile pace to meet the two on-course check points. Runners must reach the Gauntlet at mile 17.5 by 12:20 p.m. Runners slower than the required pace will be detoured for safety reasons but will quickly rejoin the marathon course. These participants may continue to run the MCM but will not complete an official marathon. It is requested any runners rerouted at the Gauntlet not accept a finisher medal. Of course, the battle cry for all MCM participants is to “Beat the Bridge,” just after mile marker 20. The 14th Street Bridge will reopen to vehicular traffic making it unavailable to runners after 1:05 p.m. Any runners unable to “Beat the Bridge” will be required to board the straggler buses and be driven to the event finish area. Also worthy of note, the MCM will start five minutes earlier this year at 7:40 for wheelchairs and handcycles and 7:55 for the runners. The course will close after seven hours at 2:55 p.m.

Note the part where you have to board the “straggler buses” if you do not Beat the Bridge. Now, I know I am going to be fine to beat a 14 minute pace, but seriously, this has definitely motivated Jess!



A Sugar Vacation

What a beautiful day!

Ben and I had plans to meet up with friends and took a nice stroll down Commonwealth and through the Commons to meet up. Just before I had completed a lovely ten mile run around the Charles. With a few walking breaks, just a few…but it was perfect running weather, still cloudy at that point and 60ish degrees. Albeit slow, I was proud I finished the ten. I had missed a few long runs so it was definitely not easy to complete. There were a bunch of people out for a day of cleaning up the Charles River. I felt a little bad not helping out, but a big thank you to all the volunteers!

I might not have pulled off all planned miles this week, but I did try out two classes that I had never done before. Have you ever heard of or taken a Tabata class? I had a free pass to try it out at Equinox this past week. That is a super intense class, but I loved it! Basically for the entire 45 minutes you are doing 20 seconds of activity mixed with 10 seconds rest, and those 20 seconds are a bunch of reps of each activity. For example, one was doing burpees with a bosu ball, another might be reverse lunges off three steps, bicycle crunches, etc. You get the idea. Not only was the class intense, but I really liked it because it was doable for someone like me that has no spatial sense or really sense of direction whatsoever. I am easily intimidated in classes, because it takes me twice as long to “get” a movement as everyone else. In this Tabata class the movements were effective and straightforward that way not a second was wasted having to figure it out.

The other class I tried out was at the Life in Synergy studio. I had purchased a living social deal here awhile ago. I was a little worried about going to a class on my own, but I started out with a basics level and actually was perfect, because the class only ended up being me, one other person and the instructor so it was a great way to learn. I wasn’t sure what to expect and was thinking it would be something totally cheesy, but I didn’t find that to be the case at all. The instructor told me that the focus was to work on the muscles that we don’t use when we are sitting at our desks all day long. This makes sense to me and I was definitely pretty sore by the end and doubly sore since I had taken Tabata the night before and this class the next morning!

I’m feeling good about my activity levels, here’s how I did all week:

  • Sat – Run 3m Oops
  • Sun – Run 9m Ran 4.25 miles, too hot
  • Mon – Rest Done
  • Tues – 9×400 @5k pace Done
  • Wed – Run 3m & Tabata Ran 2m & Tabata
  • Thurs – Life in Synergy class Done
  • Fri – Run 5m Ran 2.75 miles
  • Sat – Run 10m Done
  • Sun – Rest or Strength Train I’m thinking it’s a rest day
So I feel good about my workouts, but the eating still not quite right. Well, not really at all. I’ve decided that starting tomorrow I’ll be taking a little sugar vacation for about 4 weeks. Sounds like a really cool vacation filled with sugar, right? Yeah, that’s me trying to make it sound positive. It’s a vacation AWAY from sugar. To be clear, sugar is still going in my coffee. But no more sweet treats. For now.
I know the theories always say that you shouldn’t totally deny yourselves things, that skipping it altogether will just make the craving worse and worse. I know there is something to be said about that thought, but when you lack self-control a little bit just turns into a whole lot more. Anyone want to join me on my sugar vacation? I’m thinking starting tomorrow until Memorial Day weekend.
Workout plan this week…
  • Mon – Run 5m
  • Tues – Life in Synergy class & Spinning
  • Wed – Run 9×400
  • Thurs – Tabata
  • Fri – Run 5m
  • Sat – Run 11m
  • Sun – Rest
Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

Getting Back

Well, that was a bit of a hiatus. When you are sick for two weeks and the limited energy available needs to go into work; cooking and working out are not very high priorities. Hence, my lack of blog posts. Not a whole lot to share when all you do is go to work and sleep. Although, on second thought I could have posted some really attractive pictures, let’s see how red can Jess’ nose can get?

I have a little concern in the back of my mind that I missed two weeks of half marathon training and more importantly two long runs. Yikes. I’m trying not to get too freaked, I mean breathing has kind of been an issue for two weeks so there’s not much I could have done. Breathing is fairly essential to running.

Per doctor’s orders, I was unable to run my 5k on Saturday, but my awesome sister-in-law, Bethany was talked into walking the course with me. Thank you Bethany!

If I had been smart, I would have taken a picture of us at the race. But I’m not. So instead, here is one from November.

We walked the 5k  and finished in an unbelievably fast time of 49 minutes. Amazing isn’t it? Olympic speed walking team here we come. It was a very nice walking time on a sunny, cool day catching up. Ben might have gone just a bit faster. He has now completed his one run for 2012. Check.

So here’s the plan for this week. My first workout back will be tomorrow morning. I’m hoping my running capabilities have not totally disappeared, starting to run again at the beginning is always the worst!

  • Mon – one more rest day
  • Tues – Run 3m
  • Wed – 8×400 & Strength
  • Thurs – Rest if needed
  • Fri – Run 5m
  • Sat – Run 10m
  • Sun – Strength

AND I ALSO have a recipe for you. Not my recipe mind you, but yet another from my dear friend, Amanda. I could have sworn I already shared this one here so glad I made it tonight to share with you now. It is fabulous and very quick and easy to throw together for a nice light dinner.

Amanda’s Kalamata-Lemon Chicken with a side of grilled asparagus.


Amanda’s Kalamata-Lemon Chicken

  • 1 lb skinless, boneless chicken thighs (I also will use chicken breast too)
  • 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives
  • 1/2 of a lemon cut into wedges
  • 1 tsp Greek seasoning
  • 2/3 cup dried orzo
  • 14 oz chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a casserole dish, combine all ingredients and season with salt and pepper. Stir, cover, bake for 35 minutes or until chicken is tender and cooked through.


Gluten Free, Not For Me

About a month ago I had a regular physical with my doctor and casually mentioned that I was finding weight loss not so easy. I know I don’t have a ton to lose, but I would like to be in a healthier range for sure. What I didn’t mention was that perhaps my lack of loss was due to my ridiculous sweet tooth (for example, cupcakes were brought in for my birthday, let’s not get into the details though). I’m sure my current status has absolutely nothing to do with Cadbury eggs showing up in stores again either. Just no way.

On that note, seriously, how can you not LOVE Cadbury eggs??? I find that people love them or hate them, but I don’t understand you haters.

They are delicious and nutritious! Okay, maybe I lied about that last part.

Anyway, back on topic. I casually mentioned this to my doctor, who is awesome, by the way. And she suggested giving a gluten-free diet a try for about 6 weeks time and see how things went. She also asked me to provide her with a list of the last three days of food I had consumed. Since this was one of the first weeks that I noticed the Cadbury eggs out and about, guess who did not do her homework?

So I thought, I’m not a big fan of eliminating entire food groups, but I figured why not give it a try. Now, I didn’t exactly go with what I will so technically refer to as “hard-core” gluten-free for one reason. I have a few friends that are actually allergic to gluten and it makes them sick to consume any amount. I know that they have a difficult time as it is going to restaurants and specifying gluten-free when so many people are doing a gluten-free diet for one of the more recent trends in weight loss. Because of that I think that some restaurants might be a little less reactive when someone states a gluten allergy. I don’t want to make that worse, so I tried my best to order gluten-free during this “trial period”, but with minimal disruption to others around me.

So for two and a half weeks I was totally gluten-free, would have probably gone for longer if not due to the weirdo power outages in the Back Bay. All my healthy prepared foods didn’t really make it through. Now, if I’m to be totally honest, did I actually feel good while I was eating gluten-free? No, I did not. I think my digestive system actually did not appreciate it, I also didn’t feel like my eating had  changed all that much. I was reminded again. I really don’t eat a lot of processed foods. I don’t even eat a ton of “gluten heavy” foods. Most of the foods I consume are also organic and not genetically modified as are some of the concerns that people have with wheat (I think this is right, but feel free to comment if I’m incorrect?). My problem is all portion control (okay and sweets, but biggest challenge, portions and self-control).

So my conclusion, gluten free is not for me! I think it would be helpful for someone who needs to start with cutting down on processed foods first as gluten seems to be in everything processed and might make some of your food decisions easier. Unless you have an allergy, I say maybe it’s best not to cut out total sections of food, makes it really hard to maintain and feel successful. Anyway, that is my two cents and simply my opinion. I am by no means qualified to give any medical or nutrition advice 🙂

Now, what is the opposite of gluten-free?

Pasta! Want to make me happy? Just make me pesto sauce. That’s it.

I am loving running in this weather. I almost got a little carried away and signed up for a third half-marathon in the month of May, but thought that might be a little much. Don’t forget to join me on Daily Mile. The more friends the merrier, I find it so motivating!




Just Call Me the Crazy Dog Lady

This morning, after talking myself out of bed for 45 minutes, I managed to get two miles done outside. I had three on schedule, but only would I get out of bed for two. Really, impressive, I know.

What else was really impressive? My look obviously. I’m sure I don’t look scary at all rolling out bed, oversized hooded sweatshirt and I’m sure I forgot to wipe the mascara off my face.

And then I start running and see an adorable little pug! Obviously I had to stop and ask to pet the dog. I’m sure the dog owner wasn’t scared at all that some terribly dressed, mascara smeared running lady in the early morning hours stopped to pet her dog. Pet owners of Boston, I promise, I’m not scary, just call me the crazy dog lady.

I didn’t cook as much as I hoped this week, but Wednesday night we enjoyed these fish tacos from How Sweet It Is.

Kiwi Salsa

And voila! Fish tacos…

Well, time for me to go, I am very busy eating crab rangoons, vegetable lo mein, cadbury eggs and wine. Clearly, the self-control is on full force tonight. How many cadbury eggs are too many cadbury eggs in one sitting you think? Actually, don’t answer that…