This is it. For me, this weekend marks a culmination of my health and weight loss journey. On Saturday morning, I’ll be rolling out of bed at some godforsaken hour, dragging my tired and sorry self…I mean, my perky and energetic self (think positive, think positive)…onto public transportation and heading to the start line of the Salt Lake City Half-Marathon. (Hence, the large plate of carbo-loading whole wheat pasta salad, complete with protein and veggies.) While this is not my first rendezvous with a 13.1 mile race, there is something different about this one.
When I first started my journey last September, I was not a newbie to running. In fact, I had been running about 4 days per week for several years. But I never ran like I meant it. I would run the same route, huffing and puffing up the same hill (wondering why it never got any easier) and feeling somewhat satisfied when the darn thing was over. Maybe it was watching my husband train for his marathons with such passion, maybe it was because the running became easier as I shed some pounds or maybe it was because I was tired of just doing things in a half-a$$ed fashion. Whatever the reason, something shifted in me.
I started increasing my mileage, getting stronger in strength-training classes and adding in some speed work. Gradually it started paying off…I was feeling great during my runs, sweating like a pig and loving every (okay, almost every) moment of it. Yes, there were days that I overdid it and paid for it the following day. All of that was part of learning what my body could do and how hard I could push it without ending up injured. I have never felt stronger and more energetic.
I am not a fast runner, but that doesn’t really matter right now. Speed is all relative, anyways. Rather than comparing myself to other runners around me, I focus on the improvements that I made. My goal is not just to finish the half-marathon – I do have a specific time in mind. The fastest I’ve ever run a half-marathon is 2 hours 3 minutes. This time, I am REALLY hoping to beat 2 hours. Cutting off 3 minutes is no easy feat, but I’m feeling pretty determined.
Part of the pre-race ritual is to carb-up with a big bowl of pasta. I prefer something light, without cream, filled with healthy protein and some fresh vegetables. The dressing, a mixture of fresh parsley, oregano, lemon juice and olive oil is simple and flavorful. This dish will be on the menu on Friday night, fueling me up for my Saturday run.
The best part? My family will be waiting for me at the finish line, and we get to watch our boys run a 1 km race. Whatever happens in the half-marathon, I know that better health and fitness will allow me to enjoy my family and run alongside my boys for years to come. That’s the only finisher’s medal I really need.
In the bowl of a food processor or blender, combine garlic, lemon juice, parsley, oregano, dried chile flakes, salt and pepper. Pulse until parsley is finely chopped.
With the motor running, slowly pour in olive oil and blend until the dressing mostly smooth.
Cook penne according to package instructions. Drain and transfer to a bowl. Immediately toss with three-quarters of the dressing.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Coat with cooking spray. Add the salmon to the skillet and saute until salmon is just cooked through.
To the pasta, add salmon, tomatoes, myzithra (or feta) cheese and the rest of the dressing. Stir gently to combine.
Season with salt and pepper to taste, as desired. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Other whole grain pasta dishes:
Cookin’ Canuck’s Healthy Lasagne with Turkey, Pesto & Peppers
Cookin’ Canuck’s Whole Grain Penne with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce, Cauliflower & Capers
The Talking Kitchen’s Goat Brie Arugula Pasta
With a Side of Sneakers’ Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Lemon, Olive Oil & Roasted Asparagus
The Healthy Foodie’s Chicken & Sundried Tomato Pasta
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- ½ cup chopped Italian parsley
- 3 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
- ¼ tsp dried chile flakes
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup olive oil
- 13 oz. whole wheat penne pasta
- 12 oz. skinless salmon, cut into ¾-inch pieces
- 8 oz grape or cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- 3 oz. myzithra (or feta) cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In the bowl of a food processor or blender, combine garlic, lemon juice, parsley, oregano, dried chile flakes, salt and pepper. Pulse until parsley is finely chopped.
- With the motor running, slowly pour in olive oil and blend until the dressing mostly smooth.
- Cook penne according to package instructions. Drain and transfer to a bowl. Immediately toss with three-quarters of the dressing.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Coat with cooking spray.
- Add the salmon to the skillet and saute until salmon is just cooked through.
- To the pasta, add salmon, tomatoes, myzithra (or feta) cheese and the rest of the dressing. Stir gently to combine.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste, as desired. Serve warm or at room temperature.