A robin perched on our deck railing yesterday. A fat, fluffy bird with a bright orange belly sprang up out of nowhere, stood on our railing for a bit, and fluttered off. Two tiny indents in the inch of fresh snow linger as evidence.
Which means: spring is coming!
And also: running season is upon us.
This may have been the coldest winter of my adult life and cabin fever is nearing dangerous levels, but I still have that inevitable feeling of: Wow, is it really almost March? Almost spring? Almost running season?
And yes, it is. My 18-week training program for Grandma's Marathon starts on Monday.
It's funny: I've been running a June marathon for the past two years, and every time I cross the finish line, I say: Nope. No way. I'm done. Never again. Because it's insane. It hurts. It's exhausting, and I hate it.
It takes all of your time for 18 weeks. It sucks you up on a Wednesday night when you should be sitting by your grill and drinking ginger ale. It ruins your Friday nights when you should be sharing a pitcher on a patio somewhere, and your Saturday mornings when you should be drinking coffee by the window. You give these things up.
But I also love it. Because it's insane. It hurts. It's exhausting. It makes you lace up your shoes on a Wednesday after work when you think you have nothing left after dozing off on the bus ride home. But somehow you get out there in the evening sun and run 7 miles with more energy than you ever imagined. Or you drag yourself out there on a Saturday morning and run 18 miles, even though you really wanted to sleep in and at mile 3 you were still dragging. But you do it, one foot after another, and then suddenly you're done and treating yourself to a vanilla milkshake because your body needs to make up about 1,800 calories and you deserve it. That, I love.
So here I am again, already. The snow is still falling, but the calendar is telling me it's time. I'm ready to get out there, to be active. To have that feeling of tiredness and strength in my legs that lingers throughout the day and reminds me I have been running a lot.
One of my goals this year, aside from my perpetual goal of drinking enough water (oh why do I struggle with this?), is to figure out a food plan that really works for me. Recipes with good carbs, lots of protein, and healthy fats to fuel my runs and nourish my body.
This guacamole quinoa may just be in the weekly rotation.
I made this after my 7-mile run on Saturday (for the record, that's 112 times around the track at our condo association gym). I was famished, and this was the number one thing I wanted to eat when I got back to my apartment: good carbs (quinoa), protein (quinoa and walnuts), and healthy fat (avocado). A perfect post-run lunch.
This recipe was inspired by a similar recipe on Food52, but I created my own version to play into my favorite guacamole recipe, and added some walnuts to make it more salad-like. I may try it someday with fresh corn kernels cut off the cob or diced fresh tomatoes when those things are in season. I bet some crumbled feta would be good, too. But for now, it's perfect as-is eaten right out of the bowl. Scooped up on tortilla chips would also be a nice snack.
Do you have any favorite recipes that help fuel your workouts? I'd love to hear.
Guacamole Quinoa Salad
1 1/2 cups quinoa
3 cups water
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of 1 large or 2 small limes
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 small cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro, roughly chopped
5 green onions, thinly sliced, or 1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
Rinse the quinoa well and drain. In a medium saucepan, heat the quinoa and 3 cups water over high heat until it boils. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer until liquid has evaporated, 14-15 minutes. Remove lid and set aside to cool. When it has cooled a bit, add the glug of olive oil (1-2 tablespoons) and stir to coat evenly.
In a medium bowl, mash the avocados together with the lime juice, salt and minced garlic. Stir in cilantro.
Stir the avocado mixture into the quinoa, and then add the onion and walnuts. Stir to combine.