Archive for the ‘Stories and Thoughts’ Category
It’s official! I am running a marathon on Sunday.
(As if the past four months of training weren’t enough to make me believe I am actually running!)
Let me back up. This morning I completed my final run before 26.2 – an easy three mile run simply to keep my legs fresh before the race. I am so ready to run a long distance…the taper period is so strange! Training involves three and a half months of building up, only to take it easy in the last two/three weeks. I am, both mentally and physically, ready to run.
Since I live only one mile from the start, I decided to loop around the art museum area to check out the preparations. The only things set up are a bunch of tents and an army of porta potties, but it was enough to make me both excited and emotional. I cannot believe that the next time I’ll be there, I’ll be approaching the starting line.
Enough of my disbelief that I’m actually running this thing! Now onto the fun stuff. Today I met Leslie and Lauren at the expo to pick up my bib, shirt and race packet.
The expo was a little small compared to the Philly Half I did in 2009, but there was definitely a great vibe and just being there made me happy. I was even interviewed for the Philly Marathon’s marketing/PR campaign! The guy kept asking me what I do when I need to “push through” and what it feels like when I “hit the wall.” I told him that this is my first marathon, so I have no idea, and I’m hoping I don’t experience that. I don’t think I gave him the sound bite he was looking for…but if you see me in any 2011 marathon ads, let me know!
The three of us then headed to one of my favorite Philly restaurants, Farmacia. Apparently 2pm is happy hour there, so we each indulged and ordered a drink. I’ve been so focused on eating right and drinking enough fluids over the past week, I knew it was time to relax. Plus, they had my favorite pumpkin beer :)
I ordered the veggie burger, which was filled with tofu and an endless list of vegetables. Definitely one of the best veggies burgers I’ve ever had.
When I got home I ripped into the swag bag given out at the expo. I’m not entirely sure what I was expected, but it was simply filled with coupons and some random vitamins. Regardless, the shirt is awesome and I have my pace bracelet :)
Tomorrow’s schedule involves relaxing in the morning, greeting my fans – who are coming in from NYC and DC to watch! – and then seeing Harry Potter :)
33 hours to go!
Less than two weeks ago, my boyfriend, Michael, ran the New York City Marathon in 3:20:46, finishing in the top 7% of 45,000+ runners. As incredible as this time is, it wasn’t what he was hoping for. Yet somehow he managed to finish the race smiling and proud. In preparation for my marathon, I asked him to do a special guest post on adjusting expectations during a race. (And as a side note – I run a full 2+ minutes slower than Michael. The beauty of running is that – while it’s such an individual activity – the experiences and emotions among runners are so similar, no matter what your pace may be.) Every runner can relate to the disappointment of a race gone wrong but then the pride of crossing the finish line. That is what this post is about. It’s long, but worth the read :) I hope you enjoy!
UPDATE: Two weeks after the race, Michael was still experiencing pain. He finally went to a doctor and after one simple x-ray, discovered that he has a stress fracture in his right tibia. The x-ray showed that the bone was already healing, which means that he ran the marathon with a stress fracture. He needs to wear a boot for the next few weeks so it can heal correctly and he can’t run again until after New Year’s. Despite the pain he felt during the race, I’m pretty positive this won’t be the last endurance event recap you read from him…
Before I comment on the race, let me introduce myself by way of athletic background. I ran cross country in high school, and I ran the NYC Marathon in 2007. That marathon was my first taste of endurance racing, and due to an injured left knee and a few lost toenails, my last for quite a while. After a long recovery period I began to get the racing bug again. However, I wanted to avoid 26.2 mile races…and so I discovered the addictive world of triathlons, and have raced eight tri’s over the last two years (two sprints, four Olympics, and two 70.3’s). Then, after watching the 2009 NYC marathon, I decided to race it again. As an aside, I gained automatic entry through the NYRR 9+1 program, which I would highly recommend to anyone in NYC who has an interest in running and wants to run the marathon.
The race date was November 7, and even though I had a 16-week training schedule to follow, I started a bit late in week 13. I used a proven schedule that I would highly recommend to any intermediate or advanced runner: the FIRST (Furman Institute of Running & Scientific Training) schedule. The program is based on three key runs per week: (1) a short, speed interval workout, (2) a middle distance tempo run, and (3) a long distance run. In between the runs, the program recommends cross training (swimming, biking, certain gym workouts) to keep fitness levels up, but if you are struggling to fit this program into a busy work/life routine, then it’s been my experience that you can generally skip the cross training and still achieve near-optimal results.
At the beginning of training, I set my sights on a common goal for advanced, non-elite runners: qualifying for Boston. I originally did not think I would be able to do this, but I’m an ambitious, goal-oriented person, especially when it comes to running. I figured if everything went perfectly, then maybe there would be a chance to BQ (Boston Qualify). If not, I would still aim to beat my 2007 time of 3:28:21. In the weeks that passed, I found my training going well…almost too well. My early distance runs where I struggled to maintain 8:00 min/mile pace started to turn into 7:00-7:15 min/mile pace affairs, and in the weeks leading to taper, I was setting training run personal bests for distances from 6 to 22 miles. My training peaked exactly three weeks before the race with a 7:01 min/mile pace 22-mile run around Central Park, which included the exact last few miles of the NYC marathon course. If the race were that day, I would have easily surpassed my BQ time; I felt great.
Unfortunately, that was not the case, and the day afterwards I began to lose my battle with right shin splints and ankle problems. Although I was struggling with these issues for weeks, the pain had always subsided after a two day rest, and for the most part I was able to continue with my training uninterrupted. After this last, final long run, however, the pain did not go away, and I was left to hobble around waiting for race day, having run a total of about 4 miles in the last three weeks leading up to the race.
I entered race day injured, but able to run. I knew that my cardiovascular shape was still near peak, as I substituted runs for long swims and bike rides throughout the taper period. However, I was very worried about my legs. First, I knew that valuable leg toughness and strength that I gained over my training had been lost due to inactivity. No matter how much one cross trains, it is no substitution for straight running. Second, I also knew that despite using an ankle brace and a shin brace, I was going to experience a fair amount of pain throughout the race. My attitude to pain is that I believe I can continue through anything as long as it does not risk any negative long term effects. Thanks to the long distance triathlons, I’ve gained the ability to somewhat disassociate pain from physical movement. Despite these problems, however, I still wanted to try for 3:10, just in case my body could hold on for long enough.
So, at 9:40am, the start gun fired, and my official race began about 50 seconds later after I crossed the start line.
My plan was as follows: maintain a 7:00-7:05 min/mile pace through mile 16 to build up a 3:30 to 4:00 minute cushion. Then, essentially hold on! Maintain 7:15 min/mile pace through 20 or 22, and then use the cushion I built up as needed over the last few miles to finish under 3:10, or 7:15 min/mile pace. I decided not to change my plan to accommodate my injuries and inactivity. This was Plan A, and I intended to give it my best shot, even though I knew that it was likely I would not be able to execute.
Through the halfway point, I was right on target, averaging approximately 7:05 min/mile pace, but I knew I was in trouble. From the very first step of the race, I was in a huge amount of pain. It felt as if my right tibia was continually trying to shove itself through my ankle unsuccessfully. The worst part about it was that it hurt most on the downhills. My left leg felt fantastic almost the entire race, and if my right leg had been in that condition, I’m confident I would have executed my plan. Alas, that was not the case. Through the first 13 miles, even though I had successfully kept up pace, I felt like I was running with dead weight on my right leg, and I knew that I was changing my stride to compensate for the pain, which would be a problem in the later miles.
Running over and up the Queensboro Bridge was when my body decided that my race day would be a long, drawn-out struggle. Just as I peaked the apex of the bridge, my right hamstring cramped up. Although I’ve experienced my share of muscle cramps in the past, especially during the long distance triathlons, I’ve never experienced a cramp of this intensity and duration. I can’t remember how long it lasted, but it was the longest one of my life, and it caught me by such surprise that I almost fell over, driven forward by my momentum. Finally, my stride change and decreased leg strength had caught up with me. Compounding my frustration, my right ankle/shin area still sizzled with pain, and I tore of my braces to increase the blood flow and rest for a second.
Well, the second turned into nearly five minutes when I couldn’t get the cramp to stay away, and I had thoughts of walking off the bridge and ending my day. Then, I had thoughts of finishing, and I knew that as long as I could shuffle along, I was going to finish the race. The next 10 miles that I ran were incredibly painful and relatively slow. I struggled to maintain 8:00 min/mile pace as my ankle continued to get worse and as the initial muscle cramp drained energy from my leg. I crossed over the Willis Avenue bridge at mile 20 dejected, but excited, because after all this was still the NYC marathon, and the crowds were still cheering and wild and urging us on at every step.
Not all crowds are equal, however, and I looked forward especially to two spots on the course where I would see my family and my girlfriend (who happens to be the author of this blog!). It helped me so much to see them and to hear their cheering. I saw them the second time in the park right around the steep uphill at 72nd St., and I barely realized I was running uphill, as I was so uplifted by the sight of them.
As I ran on my training loop in the park over the last few miles, I couldn’t help smiling as I looked back at my race and all of the training. My race plan was turned completely upside down, and I was upset that after such a successful training program that I was resigned to essentially shuffling along over the last 10 miles. I was upset that I couldn’t BQ, and I finished 10 minutes behind that goal.
Despite these setbacks, I was still extremely proud of myself and my effort. I knew that I went as fast that day as my body allowed; I fought through all of the pain around my right ankle, and the only thing that slowed me down were involuntary leg muscle cramps that I couldn’t control. I smiled as I made the turn onto Central Park South, up the hill, and then back into the park. The pain melted away (partly!) as I couldn’t believe how long the last 200 meters took me. When I crossed the finish line, however, the three hours and twenty minutes seemed like a short blink in time. I was left hobbling to my UPS truck in a fair amount of pain, but it was sweetened by my pleasure of having learned something new about myself. About my physical and mental strength, and about knowing that it would take at least a broken ankle if not more to keep me from any finish line. As many spectators were yelling to me, “pain is temporary, but pride is forever.” Although I’m still in pain a week and a half later still, the pride I feel from giving every ounce of myself to a race will certainly last for a long time.
I track all of my running on Dailymile.com. According to my Lifetime stats, I’ve accomplished the following in 2010:
I have run 948 miles in the past year without one problem. Four days before my marathon, the strap on my Garmin breaks :(
Worse things could happen, but this is pretty much equivalent to the heel of your wedding shoes breaking the week before your wedding. Off to find a replacement!
I RAN 20 MILES! If you can, use your imagination and picture me screaming that after an amazing and challenging 3 hours and 10 minutes this past Saturday morning. In fact, that’s pretty much all I said this weekend whenever someone spoke to me. Some examples:
Waiter: “Can I take your order?”
Me: “Well, I just got back from running 20 miles, so I’ll have three eggs, toast, fruit and coffee. Oh and an order of challah french toast. And water. Lots of water.”
Best friend (who lives on the 3rd story of an awesome walk-up in NYC): “Hi! How was your trip in?”
Me: “I hate stairs! Who builds these buildings anyway?! Certainly not someone who runs 20 miles!”
Bouncer: “Sorry, I can’t let you in without an ID”
Me: “But sir, I just ran 20 miles this morning and I left my ID in my water bottle! Did I mention I RAN 20 MILES THIS MORNING? I. Need. A. DRINK!” (This worked at bar #1…bar #2 bouncers unfortunately followed the law.)
After a few drinks on Saturday night, I may have even started saying it to strangers without being prompted. Sorry to my friends and family who had to endure this! I’m done. Well…kind of. For those who are interested, here are my preparation plans before, thoughts during, and celebrations after I RAN 20 MILES…
All week I had big plans of driving into Philly and running the Kelly Drive/Art Museum loop twice. This route is extremely flat and pretty mindless in that there’s no need to map out directions or figure out mileage…and for 20 miles, the less thought I needed to put into planning the run, the better. Then it rained. A lot. So after reading my friend Leslie’s post about all the crazy flooding along my route, I knew I needed to come up with a new plan. Unfortunately, the area around my house in South Jersey includes many hills I wasn’t sure my legs could handle for such a long run. But without another option close by, I was stuck. I tried to look at the positive side and figured that if I could handle 20 miles of hills, I could handle 26.2 miles on flat roads. Makes sense, right? (If you’ve run a marathon and know that these two factors have no relationship, don’t tell me. Thanks :) )
So the morning of, I woke up at 5:30am and went through my normal routine – shower, coffee, clif bar and banana. Then I put together a little “fueling station” in my mailbox that I planned to loop back to every 4-6 miles. In it I placed two water bottles (one to carry and one for refilling), a bottle of coconut water (as my electrolyte replacement), three Clif gels and my hat. Finally at 7am, I was off!
So what does one think about for 3 hours and 10 minutes? (Keep in mind I had a pretty amazing run overall so I was in great spirits. There were a few low points due to hills, but I’d say this was probably my best run to date. Had I documented my thoughts from my 18 miler last week, there would not be any exclamation marks or smileys.)
- Mile 1-5: Wow its cold! Is it going to be this cold on race day? It better not rain. What am I going to wear? I need to buy a new outfit. Maybe I’ll go shopping this weekend. Maybe I should get new sneakers too. These have too many miles on them already. For such a low maintenance sport, running is expensive. But I’m so excited to shop! (Yes, I pretty much had a conversation with myself for 5 miles about shopping…if you can imagine, the time flew by :) ).
- Mile 6: (This is around the time I saw Eric Ripert in Central Park during my 16 miler.) Why aren’t there any celebrities in South Jersey? Maybe I’ll pass an Eagles player! Who am I kidding…I wouldn’t recognize an Eagles player even if he was wearing his jersey. I hate hills. I hate hills. I hate hills. I love running downhill!
- Mile 7: Why is this guy stopping his car? This is so creepy. Thank gd I’m on a main road. Is he seriously asking me for directions? Doesn’t he see that I’m trying to run 20 MILES?! Only a half marathon left! Did I really just say “only“?!
- Miles 8-9: I love this song! I love Glee! I love running! I love fall weather!
- Mile 10: 10 miles done already?! I could go on forever! 20 miles is easy!
- Mile 11-12: I spoke too soon. What is that pain in my hip? I never felt that before. My legs hurt. My arms hurt. My hair hurts. Clif gels are gross. After this marathon I will never eat one again. I hate hills. I hate hills. I hate hills. Need. Water. Now.
- Mile 13: Half marathon done and done! In 2:04! Wow I’m making good time! If I continue like this for the race, I’ll finish in 4:08. (This is around the time I saw Kanye West by Chelsea Piers last weekend on my run.) Seriously…where are the celebrities in South Jersey?!
- Miles 14-17: I hate hills. I hate hills. I hate hills. I’m moving to Iowa to train for my next marathon. Next marathon?? Don’t get ahead of yourself. I hate this song. I hate all of these songs. Why can’t a good song come on?! I can’t believe someone twice my age just passed me. This is not okay. SPEED. UP.
- Mile 18: Three miles to go!!! The faster you run, the sooner you’ll be finished! KEEP MOVING.
- Mile 19: 19 miles?! Am I seriously running my 19th mile?! Legs please keep working. One foot in front of the other. Is that a 9:10 pace I see on my Garmin? Where did that come from?!
- Mile 20: No thoughts. No words. 8:57 pace.
I never want to reset my Garmin.
Here is a great visual of the hills I experienced…
Total time: 3:10:28
So how does one celebrate after having an amazing 3 hour run? Well, after I freshened up, it was only 11am and I had a whole day of activities ahead of me. First up – brunch with Dad. As noted above, I had eggs, toast, fruit and many many bites of my Dad’s french toast. It was the perfect post-run meal.
Then I was off to a party hosted by Sabrina for a couple local bloggers, which she was hosting to support Save the Children’s “efforts to ensure kids have access to healthy foods during the holiday season and throughout the year” (more information here). I’ve met some amazing friends in the Philly blogging community, including Leslie, Lisa, Lauren, Chrissey – who were all in attendance, as well. Definitely check out their posts for some great photos and details on the party!
Sabrina is an incredible hostess and had every detail covered, especially the treats! I filled my plate with a sampling of some of the best cupcakes I’ve ever eaten (possibly due to the hunger that was hitting me at that moment…but I’ll never forget it).
From Sabrina’s I headed straight up to NYC for a wonderful dinner (yes, more food) and to celebrate my best friend’s birthday.
One year ago, if you had asked me if I could run 20 miles, I would have said no. If you asked me at the beginning of marathon training if I’d be able to move after running 20 miles, I would have said no. But after 8 weeks, 198 miles, 33 hours and numerous Friday nights sacrificed for my long runs, I realized that, in fact, the answer is yes.
(For the record, I did wake up Monday morning – two days after the run – and everything hurt. Advil was my best friend. And I am very thankful that it is no longer sandal season. I’m thinking that my first activity post-marathon may be a pedicure. Seriously…I may run through the finish line straight to a salon. To my family and friends – you can meet me there :).)
Now if I can just motivate myself to run 3 today…
This is the billboard blocking my view of the Philly skyline on my way to class everyday this summer…
With a degree in Marketing, I can easily imagine the chain of events that led to this advertisement. It’s pretty much Marketing 101 at its best (worst?). A bunch of executives at Tastykake probably looked at recent research that concluded the energy bar market has a growth rate of x% annually and decided they wanted a part of that market share.
From here, the idea most likely went through a few different stages, including screening, concept development, market testing, business analysis and implementation. During this time, Tastykake’s chefs scientists probably realized that the leading energy bars (Clif, PowerBar, Pure Protein) have about 190 calories and 10+ grams of protein, and therefore created a combination of ingredients to match those stats. Then the fun part came – commercialization. During commercialization, companies create advertisements and promotional plans, like the one you see above. A group of creatives at an ad agency sit in a room and think about how to best reach their target market – in this case, gym-goers concerned with their health.
From a marketing standpoint, this is a great advertisement. It clearly shows the product and the brand name, and connects it to the right psychographic segments by using the dumbbell image.
From a nutritional standpoint, it’s both funny and frustrating. Funny because a company like Tastykake (who sells packaged “cream filled chocolate cupcakes”) thinks it can reach this type of consumer. And frustrating because, with advertising like this, they might.
If you do need a protein bar (I always keep one in my bag for an emergency), go for more natural ones. Just look at the ingredients list and if you can pronounce most of the items listed, enjoy :)
Before I leave for Israel, I want to share a gorgeous meal my Mom recently cooked (a major benefit of living at home while in school). My Dad picked up 10 mangoes at a farmers’ market near his work. I’m not sure how these mangoes ended up at a local New Jersey farmers’ market from Mexico, but I don’t ask questions when my Dad comes home with fresh fruit. So the challenge was what to do with 10 ripe mangoes. After a quick Google search, I came up with this Grilled Fish with Mango Salsa recipe. It’s light and uses minimal ingredients – most of which we had on hand.
For a side dish, I referenced my new Clean Food cookbook (I love this book) and found a Black Bean Salad recipe in the ‘Summer’ section. It’s similar to this one, but without the cayenne. The ingredients list matched the mango salsa recipe – including fresh cilantro, red onions, ground cumin and lime – so I knew they’d be a perfect match. (Note – Mangoes are tricky to cut. And can be very messy. For instructions on how to cut a mango, watch this video.)
The result was delicious and filling. While I’m home, I’m trying to introduce new meals to my family. My Mom is a great cook, but she definitely thinks of a “square meal” in a very traditional way. As in, carbs come from bread, protein comes from meat, and vegetables come from salad. While this is all true, there are so many other ways to incorporate these macromolecules (I’m immersed in sciences classes right now – go with it :) ) into your meals.
For instance, in this meal we have carbs from the black beans and vegetables from the tomatoes, corn and red peppers…
Protein from the tilapia (and the black beans)…
And fresh fruit from the mangoes…
All together to create a new take on the traditional “square meal.”
Question: Has your idea of a “square meal” changed since you were a child? I definitely look at my meals differently now. I stopped eating meat a few years ago (but have since brought it back to an extent). In eliminating the type of protein I was raised eating, I had to discover new ways to incorporate it into my diet. I now think its fun to play with my food and mix and match ingredients to create my version of a square meal.
It turns out that my class schedule this summer reflects how my work schedule used to be when I lived in NY and recently I’ve found myself digress back to some of my old habits. Due to my busy schedule, I’ve forgotten to pack lunch, I’ve been slacking at grocery shopping and for the last week I needed to make a conscious effort to get a vegetable in at dinner because none passed my lips throughout the day. I need to refresh my memory of many of the healthy habits I’ve come to love…and so I figured I’d share them with you, as well :)
Don’t allow too many hours between eating. This is my #1 rule. Approaching a meal with a growling stomach can easily lead to overeating and unhealthy choices. In my own experience, when I get too hungry I can’t focus, a headache usually ensues, and then when I finally do sit down to eat, I eat much more than I would normally eat and so quickly that I don’t enjoy my meal. This leads to my next tip…
Snack! This classic rule goes hand in hand with my #1 rule and is reiterated in every “how to eat” guide I’ve ever read. If you don’t snack yet…start tomorrow. The 150 planned calories in an apple/yogurt/granola bar will probably save you 300+ empty calories at your next meal because you’ll avoid becoming overly hunger. Once I realized that snacking is “okay,” I was able to control my hunger between meals and therefore make better choices at lunch/dinner time.
Here are a few of my favorite snacks (any of which I wish I had with me at 11:00am today!). Listed below is a Gnu Bar (130 calories), Kashi Bar (140 calories), Fage 0% (90 calories), an apple and orange (around 90 calories each), a serving of almonds (160 calories) and a small banana (about 100 calories). I usually have at least two of these a day – in the morning and afternoon.
Prepare fruits and vegetables the day you buy them. For easy access to your produce throughout the week, prepare them the day you buy them. Wash all of your apples. Slice all of your vegetables. Make sure they are visible in your refrigerator so you remember to grab them on your way out the door. This way when packing lunch for the week, you can quickly put together a snack bag.
Prepare lunch the night before. In order to quickly put your lunch together in the morning, get all of the ingredients ready the night before. Simply place everything together in the front of your refrigerator and then create your sandwich/salad in the morning so its fresh for that day. If you’re bringing snacks, lay them on the counter or put them in your bag so they’re not forgotten. This will save you time in the morning and money during lunchtime.
Question: What are your “go-to” snacks and healthy habits for getting through a busy schedule?
I’m about to head out for my A&P practical (as in, we look into microscopes and identify what we see…fun times). But I just wanted to let everyone know that today is National Running Day!
If you’re a regular runner – make sure you get out there and enjoy your run! Maybe take some time today to find a new route, call your running buddy or even go Garmin or iPod free and just pay attention to the road. For the non-runners - try something new! Two years ago I would have never ever thought I could run a mile. Start slow. There are some amazing training programs – like Couch to 5k – which build up your endurance over time. If you commit the time to doing it, I promise you, you can do it. Check out the page for non-runners for some tips and advice.
In regards to committing your time…whenever I consider skipping a run because I’m ‘too busy,’ I always think of the quote “Someone who is busier than you is running right now.” Gets me every time.
So tell me…did you run today???
With my legs still a little weak from Saturday’s half – as in, it feels like I did 100 squats – I figured I’d touch on a question I’ve received a few times from friends and family. Basically, they say to me “your meals look great, but I’m still not sold on the local thing.” Well let me explain…
This past week, Smitten Kitchen posted a recipe for Shaved Asparagus Pizza. The recipe looks amazing in general, but my immediate thoughts were “Asparagus!! It’s in season!!” I actually surprised myself with this reaction…as I’ve never thought of food in seasonal terms before. But ever since I started my Farmers’ Market Challenge this summer, I’ve noticed that the recipes I gravitate towards revolve more around what’s fresh at the markets rather than what I buy out of habit at the grocery store. I imagine this will continue as the produce changes throughout the summer. I’m already excited for the corn in July and watermelon in August. Check out this great seasonality chart below to see when foods are at their peak freshness.
So what is local? Local food carries a few different meanings. It can be food grown in your backyard, your town, your state or even your country. The term locavore was developed a few years ago as the local food movement began to take momentum. According to Wikipedia, a locavore is “someone who eats food grown or produced locally or within a certain radius such as 50, 100, or 150 miles.” To put that into perspective – most of the food we eat travels more than 1,800 miles to get to our groceries stores.
Local food usually goes hand in hand with sustainable agriculture. According to Sustainable Table, “Sustainable agriculture is a way of raising food that is healthy for consumers and animals, does not harm the environment, is humane for workers, respects animals, provides a fair wage to the farmer, and supports and enhances rural communities.” I’m not sure I want to know the flip side to that, but I do know that it’s something I want to support.
Now that we have a few definitions out of the way, I’ll go into reasons why I personally enjoy farmers’ markets.
- Farmers markets are an experience. Who doesn’t love spending the day outside people watching?? Farmers’ markets provide a perfect place to spend a morning or afternoon. And then the fresh food you buy can be used to BBQ with friends and family that evening :)
- You eat what’s in season, at its freshest point. As I mentioned above, farmers’ markets sell what’s in season. We all know how delicious strawberries are in the summer and how fun it is when pumpkin comes back into the mix in the fall. It makes the changing seasons interesting and exciting.
- Farmers’ markets = real food = fresh recipes = healthy family. Enough said.
- Baked goods. Entenmann’s, Dunkin Donuts, Chips a Hoy don’t hold a candle to these treats. The baked goods at markets are handmade with about 5 ingredients and sold to you from the baker him/herself. You can’t get much fresher or more delicious than that.
- Farmers take pride in what they sell. You’ll notice from my few recaps so far that most stands are set up beautifully (check out Headhouse, Union Sqaure, Broad & South and Schuylkill River Park). You can tell that the farmers are proud of what they produce and are excited to talk to you about it.
- The ability to speak with the farmers. Ask questions! You can find out if your meat is grass fed, your asparagus is organic or your eggs from free range chickens. You can also get ideas on how to use the product, how to store it and how long it will last.
- Feel good about your purchases. There is something special to me about using ingredients from a farmers’ market. Maybe it’s because it takes a little extra time to go to the market, or maybe it’s because I know I’m supporting my community. Either way, I feel good about the meals I create with my finds.
- And finally….free samples!
We are a country of people who like our wine from California, our leather from Italy and cigars from Cuba. Shouldn’t we care about where our food comes from, as well? Now I’m not encouraging you to suddenly start the “100-Mile Diet,” but instead, simply become interested and informed about the food you buy. And enjoy a day outside! I will certainly continue to shop at my favorite grocery stores (how could I ever give up Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s?!) but I love that this challenge is making me think outside the box. My goal is to be more conscious about where my food comes from…and enjoy every bite along the way.
I know there must be plenty of reasons I missed…I’d love to hear why you love going to a farmers’ market!