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Sunday, November 3, 2013

III Carrera Popular Subida Castillo Almodóvar del Río

I ran this race this morning. First things first: I came in FIRST PLACE in my category and FOURTH PLACE out of all women who ran!

This is the slip of paper I was given after crossing the finish line.

I look silly because that podium was super shaky. I thought I was going to fall off!

She came in third place in my category.
 This was NOT an easy race. Obviously, I knew there was an uphill part waiting for me. It is called "Subida Castillo..." for a reason. However, I thought that the rest of the race was flat and the uphill stint was just at the castle. Not true.

It was all uphill--my first hilly race. It was also the first time in a race that I seriously considered stopping. Once we had finished a truly steep part we had the final "subida" waiting for us.

The castle is truly beautiful so I had to include some shots of it.

This is us at about 10:15am waiting for the shuttle bus to take us to the starting line.

And off we go!

This picture is here to show you how high we had to climb. Actually, this pic is not even taken at the top where the finish line is!

If you zoom in you can see me running down there.

This was the heart-breaker running the last few meters.

I was seriously struggling to finish at this point.

But I made it!

Glad it's over because it was a killer on my legs but it was so much fun!

I was also surprised to find out that we were giving a race pack. I got a running shirt, a t-shirt (it's too big so the hubby will use it), and a bracelet. 

This was such a nice race and the weather definitely cooperated. Last year (I didn't run that year. This was my first time running this race) it rained and hailed!

It also turned out to be only 13Km, not the 16Km I thought when I wrote my previous race recap in October.

My next race is on November 24th and it is a half-marathon.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Vegan Macaroni and Cheese

Vegan Macaroni and Cheese 
12 ounces macaroni (I used whole wheat)
1 shallot, peeled and chopped
1 medium potato, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup onion (I used red onion)
1/2 cup chick peas
1 cup water
1/4 cup raw cashews
some extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp garlic, minced (I used garlic powder)
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp. cayenne
1/4 tsp. paprika

Cook pasta, drain, rinse with cold water and then set aside. In a pan add shallots, potatoes, carrots, onion, beans and water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer until tender (15-20 minutes). When that is done preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (176 Celsius). In a blender process cashews, salt, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, pepper, cayenne and veggies with their water. Process until smooth. Toss the pasta with the sauce, put in a dish and bake 25-30 minutes.

It may seem unbelievable (because it was to me) but this really, REALLY tastes like mac and cheese! I was so thrilled when I made it because it was so easy and so delicious. I made it last week and it was a hit with my husband. 
I actually made it again today (yes, it's that good) and mixed in some sauteed spinach, peas and roasted red peppers. I also doubled the "cheese" so that we had extra to put on top because it's so tasty.

I got this recipe from a website called Feed Me I'm Cranky although a gluten-free version was posted. Please, please try this!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Achieving Six Pack Abs: Month 1 Update

The last exercise for this month was done today right before I had lunch. I have a HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workout to do every Saturday. But I wanted to do something a little different, and more challenging, than simply doing sprints.

So I did this HIIT program I saw on a new channel I subscribe to on youtube called fitnessblender. It was one of those descending workouts. I started with 10 reps of burpees, 10 side lunges, 10 push-ups and 10 jump lunges. Then with each subsequent set I would go down a rep until I finished with 1 rep of each exercise. Definitely click here to see the workout.

I was sweating like a you-know-what by the end! It was deceptive because I didn't feel ridiculously tired immediately after. However, about an hour later everything was sore and I even had to take a nap! It was great.

Overall, I do notice that my body feels different. My husband says that my muscles are way more defined and after a workout he can see my six-pack peeking through. I don't see any difference in my abs but I can feel a difference all over my body.

Actually, after I did my HIIT workout today I could see my abs as well. I just need them to stay like that all the time! But I'm hopeful that I will have accomplished a lot by the end of December.

On Monday I start weeks 5-8 and for this month I will increase my weight so I'm only doing 6-8 reps for each exercise. 

(I will be doing the same exercises so look at my weight routine to see what I'm doing). 

I will also add another HIIT workout. Currently I only do HIIT twice a week but I will start doing it three times a week. Probably by incorporating exercises I can do in the house to just break up the running routine.

Running has been great. That 7.5K race I did last week, I found out later that day that I came in second place! So I have to get my trophy at some point next week.

On November 3rd I'm running a 16K race that I signed up for today and at the end of November I'm running a half-marathon that the city of Córdoba has every year.

All in all I'm pleased with the program and I can't wait to see what my body looks like at the end of November! I will take pics at that point and post them to the blog.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

XXX Carrera Popular Cross San Rafael de la Albaida

As I stated in my I'm-turning-30-next-year post, I have a running goal of doing at least one race a month.

This morning I ran a 7.5 Km race in a neighborhood near where I live. There were tons of people, as there always is for shorter distances. However, it was a very low-key race. My bib number didn't even have my name on it. Then again, it only cost me 1€ to sign-up!

It was part asphalt and part trail and it was definitely challenging. Most of the race was uphill with me trying not to stumble over rocks and such. I had a great time and can't wait for my next race in November.

A friend of my hubby and his girlfriend.

The finish line (or la meta) !

I'm near the end now!

I fought to cross the line before those two women!

And yes, I did beat them.

Breathing hard here.

This is one of my students.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Achieving Six-Pack Abs: End of Week 1

The 27th of September is the date I started my weights, abs, and back routine for my Achieving Six-Pack abs goal.

So I felt that I should come in here at the end of Week 1 and talk about how I'm feeling and how things went etc.

Even with some rainy weather I managed to get all my workouts in. My separate running goal is to run 5 times a week but I was only able to get out 3 times with the weather. However, I still got my distance in by just doubling up on the days I was able to go out.

I have to admit that I was exhausted at the end of the week. My body was ready for a break by Thursday/Friday but I still had HIIT to do on Saturday morning. I'm hoping that I don't feel as tired by the end of next week, which will mean that my body is getting stronger.

My ab muscles are getting firmer to the touch but there isn't any real noticeable difference in appearance. Actually, right after a workout my abs look superb but then go back to "normal" an hour later or so. Then again, it's only been a week. There should be some weight loss by the end of October.

Overall I'm enjoying myself and enjoying how, not only my abs and back, but also the rest of my body is responding to this new regimen.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Vegan Chocolate Mousse

I got this recipe from a website called Vegan Magic so please go to her website and check out the actual recipe. It explains in great detail what type of ingredients to use.

This is my version of it using the tools and ingredients I had available to me in Córdoba.

Vegan Chocolate Mousse

2 400ml cans coconut milk 
(The only brand here is Goya but I would recommend using a better quality one. It's the main reason I had to use 2 cans. Again, see the website above for more detailed information)
18 soft, natural dates
1/3 cup cocoa powder
a few drops vanilla extract

Before beginning the recipe place your can(s) in the fridge so that the coconut cream and the coconut milk can separate. (I placed them in overnight). Open them and save the liquid to use in another recipe. (I used it to make some strawberry smoothies!) Scrape out the thick cream and place in a bowl. Put two tablespoons of the cream and the dates in a blender and blend until smooth. Then mix in the rest of the cream, the vanilla and the cocoa powder. Place in the fridge overnight so the flavors can blend. Then enjoy!

The quality of the coconut cream really makes a difference. Mine did not have as high a fat content as the original recipe but the mousse still came out thick. I really recommend taking a look at the original recipe as she suggests ways to improve the mousse. But for my first attempt it came out really decadent. This recipe will definitely impress your non-vegan friends!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Vegan Falafel Burgers

Vegan Falafel Burgers
400g bottle of chickpeas 
a handful of dried parsley
1/2 tsp. curry powder
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
(I used a seasoning that has a mixture of Indian spices in it like turmeric, curry and coriander. Just use what you have in the kitchen.)
1 lime
some salt to taste
2 Tbsp. white whole wheat flour
2 Tbsp. sunflower oil
1 small red onion, chopped in small pieces
1 garlic clove, minced

Put about 1/4 tsp. sunflower oil in a pan with the garlic and onion and cook until onion is soft. While that is cooking mash up the chickpeas in a bowl. Once they are mashed add the spices, lime and flour. Mix until well blended. Once the garlic and onion is done add them to the chickpeas and mix again. Shape them into about 4 patties and fry with the 2 Tbsp. sunflower oil. Fry on one side until golden brown, then flip once to brown the other side. Serve hot.

I've wanted to make falafel for awhile now and I am very happy with the results. I made this vegan dish once before using a recipe I found on Google+ but it didn't have enough flavor. So I remade them adding my own spices and changing how they are prepared. The lime is a must as well as cooking the garlic and onion separately. This recipe is so easy that you don't even need a blender!

Monday, September 16, 2013

I got a new piercing!

The silver ball is the new piercing in my right ear.
Not even sure what this piercing is called but I've been admiring other people's piercings for awhile so I figured I'd get one before the summer was over.

In case you're curious here's a run-down of my current piercings:

3 in my left ear
4 in my right ear
1 belly-button piercing
1 nose piercing

In the past I had:

1 eyebrow piercing
1 tongue piercing
2 nipple piercings

The past piercings I took out because I outgrew them. No other reason than that. Anyway, not a workout or food related post but still thought I'd share!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Vegan Portobello Mushroom Pizzas

This recipe I found on Google+, specifically from the website Carrie on Vegan so check it out. I made them last night. They were super delicious and very, very easy. The tomato sauce was so good. I plan to make it again to put on pasta.

Vegan Portobello Mushroom Pizza

1/2 red onion (or one small one), chopped
3 garlic gloves, minced
2 cups unsalted tomato sauce
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
10-15 fresh basil leaves
(I used 1 tsp. dry leaves)
1 tsp. dried oregano

4 portobello mushrooms with stems removed
pizza sauce
nutritional yeast

Place the onion in a pan with some oil and cook until soft. Add some water so it doesn't burn. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds. Add sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and stir in nutritional yeast, basil and oregano. Fill mushrooms with sauce and place in a 375 degree Fahrenheit (190 Celsius) preheated oven. Cook for 25-30 minutes or until the mushrooms start to shrink.

So good and a nice alternative to pizza. On the website it says this is enough for 4 people but I think you'd still be hungry. My husband and I ate them all and also had a side dish.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Achieving Six-Pack Abs: Weight Routine

Hey, if she can do it I sure can!
This weights routine in my Achieving Six-Pack Abs program is going to be broken up into, initially, 12 weeks. Once the first 12 weeks are over I will re-evaluate what I've done.

I took some advice from Google+ and looked on bodybuilding.com. They have a segment that is called "The Female Training Bible: Everything You Need To Get The Sexy Body You Desire!"

The name is kind of cheesy and infomercial-ish but the information is really interesting. I plan to do this 12-week program without a gym membership and without taking any supplements. The website recommends all these powders and things that will help burn fat quicker etc. 

However, I'm really picky about what I put into my body and I doubt most of that stuff is vegan. Plus, I don't have a gym membership and don't want to purchase one. So I will have to tweak some exercises by making them body weight/free weight friendly.

The main overview of the program is to lift heavy weights. Starting in weeks 1-4 you perform 3 sets of 8-12 reps for each exercise. Meaning that if you can do more than 12 reps, you need to add more weight and alternatively if you can't do 8 reps you need to take off some weight.

In addition, there is a part of the program called "Stubborn Fat Protocol" which is just a fancy way to say HIIT (high intensity interval training). I plan to do 10-15 minutes of HIIT followed by 15-30 minutes of low-intensity cardio. During weeks 1-4 I will do HIIT twice a week.

On days that I can't run (because of weather, for example) I will incorporate some of the ZuskaLight videos or anything else I find on the web that allows me to do HIIT inside the house.

I also would like to keep up my running endurance. So once or twice a week I will do a normal long run. So anything up to an hour and more. I haven't decided whether I will focus on distance for those runs or not yet.

So here is what a typical week will look like for the month of October:

Monday -- weights upper body, abs, back exercises 
Tuesday -- weights lower body, long run
Wednesday -- HIIT, abs, back
Thursday -- weights upper body, long run
Friday -- weights lower body, abs, back, some kind of run
Saturday -- HIIT
Sunday -- REST

To give some examples of the types of exercises I will do for the upper body here's a list. 
I will be doing modified versions (again, so they are body weight/free weight friendly) of:

  • bench press
  • bent over barbell row
  • dumbbell shoulder press
  • skull crushers
  • barbell curl
  • dips
  • pull ups (reverse row instead)
  • lateral raises
  • tricep push-downs
  • cable curls
After the first week, which will be October 7th, I will post a reflection post. Then I will post after each month. The next abdominal picture for my photo diary will be on October 31st. So I hope to have some improvements!

Vegan Brownies

Vegan Brownies

2 cups flour 
(I used the white whole wheat flour, not the kind that is completely brown)
3/4 cup agave syrup
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 Celsius). Stir together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Then add the agave syrup, water, oil and vanilla. Mix well until blended. Pour into a greased and floured baking pan. Bake 25-30 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

This has to be one of the easiest recipes in the world!  Plus you only have to use one bowl. It's so easy that my husband has even made them a couple of times. I adapted it from a recipe online that had a lot of sugar and oil in it.Try them, you won't regret it.

Thursday, September 12, 2013


This is our third (or fourth...can't remember) trip to Gibraltar. But yesterday was the first time we went and took our time. The previous trips we were just rushing around not sure what to do.

Gibraltar is technically in Spain but it is a British overseas territory. So one minute you are in Spain and then when you cross the border into Gibraltar you are in England! It's crazy. I actually have to show my passport before I'm allowed in.

Most of the tourist sites are located on el peñón or the Rock of Gibraltar. I didn't want to go up because it is famous for its wild monkeys (Barbary Macaques) that live up there. Since this is one of the reasons tourists go up there the monkeys are very "friendly".

Sometimes they jump on your back and try to open your backpack. Actually people like taking pictures with them and will let them get on their shoulders and backs and such. I am not one of those people.

Interestingly, while we were waiting for the bus there were two monkeys playing in the trees. The hubby took photos while I maintained a safe distance away from them. I was taking no chances!

The purpose of the trip was not only to get away from Córdoba for awhile, but also to purchase some things that are impossible to find in Spain. We walked around the shops and even went to our favorite British supermarket, Morrisons.

This is the outside of Morrisons

This is a vegetarian spread rich in B vitamins, which are hard for vegetarians to get as they are typically found in meat.

Blackberries! All types of berries are impossible to find in Córdoba.

Hubby's favorite beverage and the UK version of tater tots (they are called "potato crunchies")!

LOVE these things!

This is my favorite kind of nut butter.

Of course, my eating regimen for the Achieving Six-Pack Abs does not start until October. So I plan to enjoy my tater tots (we bought 3 packs) and the bread pictured above until then!

We also bought some measuring spoons with the US system of measurements (ie not the metric system) to take the guess-work out of cooking. I also got this gigantic, super cute, orange mug and a portable notebook for when I write down my lists.