2 Fat Nerds and the Midnight Marathon Bike Ride 2014

Mike, Dad, and Dave at the starting line.

Mike, Dad, and Dave at the starting line.

On Sunday night, or rather, in the wee hours of Monday morning, before the starting gun and commencement of the 118th Boston Marathon, we rode our bikes 26.2 miles (and then some) in the clear and cold, under a blanket of stars, surrounded by hundreds of like-minded cyclists doing the same. It was 2 Fat Nerds’ first time at the Midnight Marathon Bike Ride, and despite a few question marks leading up to the occasion, it proved to be nothing less than an incredibly fun, unique event with a great community of riders and organizers.

After the tragic events of last year, the people of Boston stood tall, galvanized, defiant. Through the One Fund, millions of dollars were raised for the victims in the blink of an eye; #BostonStrong trended hardcore; we all sported the marathon colors — blue and yellow — like they were going out of style. Like many of my fellow Bostonians, in the months leading up to this year’s marathon, I began to consider how I might fill the weekend that would be so charged with emotion and civic pride.

I knew that while there was no way in hell that I could run the marathon myself, I still wanted to participate in some way: to get out there on Patriot’s Day weekend in solidarity with the runners and victims, to push my own athletic boundaries and compete in some manner, to stay stubborn and vulnerable instead of hiding in the crowd, or worse yet, at home, as a silent spectator.

The Midnight Marathon Bike Ride seemed like a great fit for a number of reasons. First, I knew that the course and the ride home afterwards would amount to a distance just on the edge of what I could reasonably do on my bike. (It ended up being my longest cycling workout logged on 2 Fat Nerds to date.) Second, the ride followed the course of the Boston Marathon almost turn-for-turn (though avoiding the start and finish lines for security reasons this year). Having never seen most of the western half of the course firsthand, I knew that the experience would deepen my understanding of the race itself, and give me at least some idea of the terrain with which the runners contend. And third, I knew that over 1,000 cyclists participated last year, and so doing the ride would fulfill my need to feel like a part of something bigger, something great, on the day of the race.

On the other hand, like I said, there were some questions and concerns about the ride this year. Most of them were raised over the weekend, as I waged a little campaign to recruit Mike and Dad as my riding buddies. Yes, the Boston Athletic Association asked the organizers not to hold the ride this year. Yes, in response to pressure from the B.A.A. and MEMA, the MBCR (commuter rail) cancelled the special train that was introduced in 2013, which brought hundreds of riders and their bikes safely and easily to the starting line. Yes, the event is unofficial and unsanctioned, with no formal support for riders along the route. Yes, ride takes place in the dark, and stretches of the more rural western section of the course are poorly lit. Yes, it will be cold, and yes, there will be hipsters. But come on, guys… we can’t let the terrorists win, right?

Despite all of the above, we did it anyway. And what did we see?

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We saw hundreds of riders of all types and experience levels, all of them friendly and supportive, and each one taking the necessary safety precautions. We struck up spontaneous conversations with complete strangers along the way. Even at 1am, there were a few spectators out along the route to cheer us on. Police from every town, along with state police, were present and helpful. We thanked them as we passed; they told us to be safe. We saw rope lights and glow sticks, cruisers and beaters and fixies, rich dudes in their jerseys and Lycra, women wearing LED fairy wings, some guy in a giraffe costume. We saw the Wellesley Scream Tunnel (silent), heard the rush of the Charles at Newton Lower Falls, looked up to see the half moon rising as we crested Heartbreak Hill. We counted thirteen Dunkin’ Donuts locations along the way.

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And when we got to Back Bay, crossing Dartmouth Street as we rode the length of the Comm Ave Mall, I smiled and I checked my watch. We finished the Boston Marathon route in 2:01, just two minutes ahead of Geoffrey Mutai’s course record in 2011. Man, that dude is FAST.

 

Weigh-In Wednesday April 23rd: Bean-Town!

Here at 2 Fat Nerds each Wednesday is a Weigh-In day, where all of the data from the previous week is collected, displayed, and analyzed. If anyone is interested in taking part in weekly tracking, leave a comment!

Weight Loss

Each week, members who have opted to have their weights publicly displayed for the world to see have them graphed on the main blog. It is a great way to keep track over time, and it gives a bit more accountability to your workouts. If you are interested, leave a comment!

As usual, lets dig into Adrienne’s results first!

adn-graph

I am liking the trend!

percentages

Anti-Fat Points

Anti-fat points (AFP) is a system designed to give some sort of value to each and every workout, regardless of type. It is based on metabolic-equivalent values out of the compendium of physical activities. Submit a workout, get AFP. Each week we post the totals for each person for the week. In addition, you may see the monthly AFP leader-board on the right-hand sidebar. This is meant to be a fun way to encourage competition to see who can earn the most points!

Weekly Points

2014-AFP

The threshold is back to 100 AFP, Green is over and Red is under. Try to get 100 AFP and turn your bar green!

The Chain-Game

The Chain Game is a fun little system we came up with to see how many consecutive weeks a person can complete a minimum of three days of workouts. Every week in a row that a person completes the three-day goal, he or she adds one link to his or her active chain. For more information see this post!

2014-Chainquarterly

I grouped the first 13 weeks of the year and calculated everyones “longest chain” for that window of time. That way each quarter we can chart peoples progress, allowing for a nice jump-in point if you missed the first 13 weeks. Start building your Q2 Chain!

As always, if you were slow to get data in, your chain will be re-instated!

B.A.A. 5k 2014 Race Recap

For the third year in a row we had a small group representing 2 Fat Nerds in the Boston Athletic Association’s 5k the weekend before Marathon Monday. This year, we had 8 runners (Mom, Dad, Dave, Brooks, Gracie, Mark, Emily, and myself), and it was a lot of fun!

The B.A.A. 5k is the first race of the B.A.A. Distance Medley, which includes the 10k in June and the Half Marathon in October. 2 Fat Nerds members Gracie, my father, and myself will be training and running this year’s Distance Medley and we registered several months ago, so we were excited that the 5k was finally here!

There were more runners in Boston than ever this year, and it was great to see everyone outside ready to run before 8am on a beautiful Saturday morning. The sun was bright and smiles were everywhere. There were so many people at the start, the elite finishers were crossing just a couple minutes after everyone cleared the start!

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                                            Thanks for the awesome sign, Mike and Suz!

Some notable moments: Mom set a PR! She worked really hard all winter long to maintain her distance, even working out EVERY SINGLE DAY in the month of March. Her hard work definitely paid off, and she finished this race faster than ever before. I started out running with her, and during the first half mile she was out of reach. Way to go!

Brooks set out on fresh legs without logging much training time and ran a 5k faster than I will probably ever be able to do! I think she’s caught the running bug, so we’ll have to pay attention to her progress!

This was the first year that I both ran the 5k and trained for it. Despite my best intentions, both years prior, I ended up going out to run without preparing, and always being disappointed in myself. This year, I maintained my distance throughout the tough winter, and was ready to run the race. Two weeks ago, I ran my fastest 3 miles (38 minutes), and I was really excited to show off my hard work. I’m pretty sure there is a force out there trying to make it as difficult as possible for me to run, because a week and a half before the race I was struck with a miserable 8-day stomach bug, that left me 7 pounds lighter, weaker, and just plain old ill. The morning of the race, this past Saturday, I woke up very nervous to run, but I got out there, and I did it! I was the happiest I’ve ever been during an organized race, and had a pretty good time, but I could definitely feel the effects of being sick for a full week. My legs ached, my stomach was uneasy, and although my time suffered a little bit, overall, this was a successful start to my Distance Medley.  

 

118th Boston Marathon

The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and the city is buzzing with pride as the 118th Boston Marathon has just begun. The much-anticipated race is finally here, and even though I’m watching the live stream from my office, it really is an exciting day to be in Boston. The months leading up to the marathon have brought not only memories from last year’s tough day and increased security and police activity, but a swelling pride for an already proud city. I haven’t been able to walk around the city for the past week without tears pooling, as Back Bay has been draped in blue and yellow and adorned with unicorns. The talk around the event has been about patriotism and standing strong; keeping going even in the face of fear and uncertainty. We have seen people forcibly knocked down and standing up stronger than before. My friend and coworker lost both of her legs at last year’s marathon, and she is running today on her new prosthetics, inspiring the world with each step. And until today, that was all I was thinking about.

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My coworker Celeste (on left) and her daughter Sydney were both injured in last year’s marathon.

My train to work at 6:30 this morning was packed with runners going downtown to be shuttled to the start line in Hopkinton. Until this morning, I had been a little out of touch with how many people were actually going to be taking on the physical challenge of RUNNING A MARATHON. I listened as marathoners chatted with each other on the train, asking where they were from, and had they done the marathon before, and how their IT bands were bothering them. Some runners sat quietly with nervous faces, mentally preparing to run for 4+ hours. City pride aside, these people reminded me that the Boston Marathon is about the runners; runners that have trained so hard, set their mind on a goal, and pushed through unbelievable obstacles to achieve them. I was emotionally overwhelmed on my way to work this morning thinking about runners making their dreams come true with not wishing or hoping, but hard work.  

It’s a great day to be in Boston; it’s a great day to be a runner, so cheer loudly and remember that each of the 36,000 people running today’s marathon has worked their absolute butt off to be there today, and it truly is incredible. You can do anything.

Tune in tomorrow for a B.A.A. 5k Race Recap!

 

Eat Fit Not Fat- Southwestern Turkey Meatball Skillet

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I stole this weeks recipe from my sister in-law, Suzanne’s Pinterest page. Thanks Suzanne! If you’re into the “clean eating” thing, this recipe is for you. We served ours over a bed of sauteed red pepper spaghetti squash. A filling meal without all the carbs and calories that tradational spaghetti and meatballs gives you. Enjoy!

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(Not pictured above- Turkey meat, cumin, salt and black pepper)

 

Ingredients:

1lb ground turkey meat

2 egg whites

1/4 cup whole wheat bread crumbs

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1-1  1/2 tsp cumin

2 + cups of fresh diced tomatoes ( I used roma)

1/4 cup cilantro

1 can low sodium black beans, drained and rinsed

1 orange pepper (use whatever color you like)

1 cup white or yellow corn (I used white, it has a tiny bit more fiber)

1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth

1 tbsp lime juice

1/2 large onion, diced

Note: I didnt showcase the spaghetti squash prep. Please see my spaghetti squash primavera recipe on how to make spaghetti squash. The only change I made was to saute the squash at the end for approx 5 minutes and added plenty of red pepper flakes and a dash of olive oil. 

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1) Combine turkey meat, egg whites, bread crumbs and salt and pepper in a medium size bowl. Smoosh and mush together with your hands. Don’t be afraid to get in there and get your hands dirty. Roll into approx. 16 golf sized meatballs.

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2)In a medium to large skillet heat oil on medium heat. Cook meatballs in skillet, rotating every 4-5 minutes until you establish a “crust” on each side. Remove from heat and tent with foil.

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3) Saute onions in same pan for approx 5 minutes. Add pepper to skillet and con’t to cook.

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4) Add in beans, tomatoes, corn, broth, lime juice and cumin. Stir to combine. Add meatballs back in. Stir to combine. Cover partially and con’t to cook till meatballs are cooked all the way through.

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5) Stir in cilantro. Serve independently or serve on a bed of spaghetti squash like we did.

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Serves 4.  Approx 330 calories and 5 grams of fat per serving (not including spaghetti squash)

Recipe adapted from: http://www.cleaneatingmag.com/recipes/20-minutes-or-less/southwest-meatball-skillet/

Mind Over Stomach

A recent article over at NPR briefly covered the topic of food, or rather, how your body changes the way it responds based on your assumptions about the food you consume. In the article, the author points out a recent study that looked at the levels of Ghrelin (a hormone related to how hungry you feel) and how diet versions of food predictably leave your levels of ghrelin relatively unaffected, leaving you just as hungry. Sucking down a fatty milkshake, however, lowers Ghrelin levels drastically, as expected.

But there was a catch to this study. The participants drank the same drink. One was simply labeled “Fat Free – Low Calorie,” while the other was labeled “Indulgent.” The research and the article elude to the idea that the brain’s perception of what it is consuming directly impacts the biological response to the food.

The-laughing-cow-cheese-mascot

I hate you cow.

The reason I bring this up is because I think we’ve all experienced this before. Your first day on Diet X is horrible. You are constantly hungry, and the Laughing Cow is mocking you for your efforts. How will you ever get through this on only 800 calories before dinner? Never mind the fact that most days thats about how much you eat when you skip breakfast and have a quick lunch while you are super busy.

If our minds do in fact have the ability to regulate how we process food, regardless of its contents, then can we easily trick each other into consuming less? Could Ellie go into the fridge and put skim milk in the carton of half and half, and I save the calories without missing them? I find this fascinating and potentially exploitable!

I drive my family crazy when I say that “running distances is all mental.” But hey, if we really have that much subconscious influence in our levels of hormones—simply by reading the labels on the products we consume—then maybe running really is just mental.

Weigh In Wednesday April 16th: No Luck Lotto

Here at 2 Fat Nerds each Wednesday is a Weigh-In day, where all of the data from the previous week is collected, displayed, and analyzed. If anyone is interested in taking part in weekly tracking, leave a comment!

Weight Loss

Each week, members who have opted to have their weights publicly displayed for the world to see have them graphed on the main blog. It is a great way to keep track over time, and it gives a bit more accountability to your workouts. If you are interested, leave a comment!

As usual, lets dig into Adrienne’s results first!

adn-graph

Congrats for hitting your goal, and glad you are feeling better!

percentages

Anti-Fat Points

Anti-fat points (AFP) is a system designed to give some sort of value to each and every workout, regardless of type. It is based on metabolic-equivalent values out of the compendium of physical activities. Submit a workout, get AFP. Each week we post the totals for each person for the week. In addition, you may see the monthly AFP leader-board on the right-hand sidebar. This is meant to be a fun way to encourage competition to see who can earn the most points!

Weekly Points

2014-AFP

The threshold is back to 100 AFP, Green is over and Red is under. Try to get 100 AFP and turn your bar green!

The Chain-Game

The Chain Game is a fun little system we came up with to see how many consecutive weeks a person can complete a minimum of three days of workouts. Every week in a row that a person completes the three-day goal, he or she adds one link to his or her active chain. For more information see this post!

quarterly

I grouped the first 13 weeks of the year and calculated everyones “longest chain” for that window of time. That way each quarter we can chart peoples progress, allowing for a nice jump-in point if you missed the first 13 weeks. Start building your Q2 Chain!

 

2014-Chain

As always, if you were slow to get data in, your chain will be re-instated!

April 15, 2014: One Year Boston Strong

 

 

When Not Working Out All Winter Became Obvious

This weekend was absolutely stunning in Buffalo. Maybe it is because of our abnormally long and drawn out winter (we are supposed to get snow tomorrow . . . ), or maybe it’s because I was largely inactive all winter, but as soon as the sun came out, I had an insane desire to go out and get some running in. Ellie and I decided on our route, and off we went.

She moves so fast her legs are a blur

She moves so fast her legs are a blur

Ellie has been pretty active most of the winter. She has gotten in a typical three-day-a-week minimum at the gym, and her level of fitness has been pretty well maintained. I, on the other hand, didn’t keep up for various reasons. It became abundantly clear to me, though, while on that run Saturday that I have some serious work to do to get back to where I want to be. I know not every run will be good, but I think I have some expectation of myself that I should have certain distances in the bag. If anything, it was a pretty good reality check, because now I know exactly where I am and how much I need to work to be where I want to be.

I’m excited to be more active again though, and I joked with Ellie as we stepped out the door saying, “Active Jono Mode — Engage.” To which she replied, “I like Active Jono Mode.” Probably because I am far less annoying when I am properly exercised.

Anyway, Hopefully the snow tomorrow won’t derail spring from coming, because I am totally ready for it.

Eat Fit Not Fat- Pulled Chicken Posole and Jalapeno Cornbread Muffins

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Last year Mike and I visted Strip T’s in Watertown MA. No, this is not a strip joint in a shady area of Boston. Get your mind out of the gutter. Strip T’s is an amazing and tiny, 10ish small table restaurant. I believe a father and son started the joint and it is somewhat family operated? My facts might be slightly off, don’t judge me. The menu changes weekly and is full of your local farm to table deliciousness. The restaurant also does amazing take out sandwiches. Hands down I’d say its the best meal Mike and I have enjoyed together in the 6+ years I’ve lived in Boston. Where am I going with this story you may ask? Well as our first course Mike and I split this amazing- fill your soul with goodness bowl of  posole/pozole (spell it however you like it). The watier really talked it up, said a family friend had been cooking it in the back all day. Mike was skeptical. He hates soup. Well, I should say he hates hot fatty broth. So choosing this special app of the night was a real stretch for him. But aren’t we glad we did. It was EPIC! So many delicious flavors that brougth me back to my grad school days living in AZ.  So so so so gooooood!

I knew going into this recipe this week I would def. not be able to recreate Strip T’s masterpiece, but I wanted to try something similar. Overall, I think it was pretty darn successful. Give it a try for yourself, you might just like it :) (Note, ours was super spicey. Dial down the jalapenos if you don’t like the heat)

Some terms you may not have come across living in New England

Posole/Pozole- A hearty mexican stew usually made with hominy and pork and either has a red or green color depending on your chilies.  Sometimes you will see it made with chicken, beef, seafood or beans.

Hominy- is simply dried maize kernels which have been treated with an alkali in a process called nixtamalization.  What is nixtamalization? -  refers to a process for the preparation of maize (corn), or other grain, in which the grain is soaked and cooked in an alkaline solution, usually limewater and hulled. :) Use google if you want more info :) Its tasty stuff. Just trust me.

Tomatillos- aka “little tomato”  about the size of a cherry tomato. Found inside a brown husk (if buying fresh). Tomatillos are closely related to tomatoes, but unlike tomatoes, they are valued for their tart rather than sweet flavor. You can buy them in a can or fresh in your produce section.

Now on with the goods!

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Ingredients:

Jalapeno Cornbread Muffins:
1-2 tbsp chopped jalapeno, seeds removed
1 large egg
1/3 cup 1% milk
1tsp chili powder
1 container of cornbread mix ( I used Jiffy 8.5oz mix)

 

Pulled Chicken Posole:
8-10 tomatillos (I used them from a can)
1 overflowing cup of hominy (drainied if using from can)
2 cups low sodium chicken stock
2 (approx 6 ounce breasts of chicken)
1 cup onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp black pepper
1tsp cumin
1tsp oregano
1/2 to 1 jalapeno, diced and seeds removed (we used a full one, without seeds removed. Whooooo buddy it had some heat, just an fyi. Adjust to your liking)
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup radishes, sliced thinly
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Lets make the cornbread muffins first

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1)Slice/dice your jalapenos, remove seeds. Set aside enough for your posole (however much you have decided to sweat out tonight) Picture two makes for much easier removal of seeds and I recommend.

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2)In a bowl whisk together milk, egg, chili powder and jalapenos. Fold in cornbread mix. It will still be lumpy. Don’t try to mash out the lumps. Not worth your time.

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3)Pour batter into 4 (8oz) ramakins or into a standard muffin tin. Make sure you grease your pan prior to adding batter ;) Place aside until you are about 15-20 minutes out from eating. Bake for approx 15 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for a few minutes. Remove from tin or ramakins.

Now lets make some posole!

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1) In a food procesor or blender pulse together tomatillos, jalapenos (whatever you have set aside after your muffins), cilantro, black pepper, cumin and oregano.

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2)In a dutch oven heat 1 tbsp of oil on medium heat. Saute onions for approx 4 min. Add garlic and con’t to saute for 30 seconds or so. In a seperate pan cook chicken. I coated my chicken in salt and pepper before cooking. Cook 5 minutes on each side and then finish chicken in the oven for an additional 6-7 minutes. Oven times will vary.

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3) Pull chicken apart with two forks. Set aside. Meanwhile, add cilantro/jalapeno mixture to dutch oven. Pour in hominy. Bring to a boil. Add chicken. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered for approx 10-20 minutes. Or till your so hungry you can’t stand it anymore :) Pour in lime juice at the last minute. Divide into 4 seperate bowls.

Don’t forget to take your muffins out of the oven! Top posole with radishes, squeeze of lime juice, some cilantro and enjoy. We also threw in chunks of the cornbread which was pretty tasty.

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Approx 4oo calories and 10 grams of fat per serving (posole and cornbread)

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Recipe adapted from: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/chicken-corn-bread-muffins-50400000134169/

 

 

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