Rainbow stir-fry

SnapseedI couldn’t let a week go by without a new recipe, even though I barely had any time to cook. I missed not being at home – and next week I will be away even more! – but today I immediately grabbed the opportunity to eat as many veggies as possible.

This may well be the easiest recipe ever for a great completely home-made stir-fry. I adapted it from http://www.superhealthykids.com

We got a colourful, healthy and nutritious post-workout meal and even managed to save and freeze one portion for the hard times (read: those times when I’m working abroad and Francesco needs some comfort food straight out of the freezer).

RECIPE

Wash and chop all of your vegetables. I used 1 head of broccoli, 1 red bell pepper, 3 medium carrots, 1 onion. Throw them into a pan with olive oil on medium for 5 mins, then cover them and let steam for 5 more mins.

In the meantime prepare the sauce. Half a cup of soy sauce, 1 generous teaspoon of honey and 3 teaspoons of grated ginger root: combine them in a small pan over medium heat, and add 1/4 cup of water where you will have mixed 1 tablespoon of cornstarch. Stir until you like the texture, then put to the side. Take your chicken breasts, chop them up into bits, quickly dust with flour, and cook over medium heat. Add in a tablespoon or so of sauce. Add to the first pan together with udon noodles, stir in the sauce and finish cooking (4-5 mins). Enjoy the easiest and healthiest stir-fry ever!

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Today we run in… Molenbeek

by Francesco

Chiara was in action today for the 10k Foyer, a race of the Run in Brussels Challenge, a nice initiative that is helping us discovering Brussels while running races all over the city. Great race by Chiara (2nd place) and wonderful atmosphere during the whole race: keep it up Molenbeek, it was great!

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Race recap by Chiara

I loved this race! The atmosphere was great from the very beginning. A group of mums from the neighbourhood gave out our numbers, while all the kids together got ready for their race (400-800-2.5 k for the little ones). Everyone was very relaxed and we got to cheer for the kids as they came in on the final stretch.

Although we had a plan – to start conservatively and increase my pace with each loop -, it immediately went out of the window. The pack started off on a very fast pace and I didn’t want to be left alone in the wind, so I stuck with them and then hung on for dear life. It payed off though! I got a new PR on the 5 k and still managed to finish strong. I loved the way Francesco cheered for me all the way through the race, always encouraging me and pushing me to really go for it, even when I wasn’t quite so sure I had anything left in me. It turned out he was right most of the time!

But perhaps the best thing was the post-race experience: Francesco got to enjoy a well-deserved beer for the modest price of 1 euro, and I helped myself to a generous portion of a heavenly Turkish delicacy, a sort of a savoury pastry filled with herbs and feta cheese (for the even more modest price of 50 cents/piece… I got myself three). While we were waiting for the prize-giving ceremony we were entertained by a bunch of local kids singing and dancing and by a group of adults playing the drums. Their enthusiasm was contagious!

Thank you Molenbeek for a great race and all the love. We’ll be back!

Sunday evening ramble

By Chiara

 

After a 6-day week of work between two countries – Belgium and Italy -, two interpreting modes – simultaneous and consecutive – and 5 languages – Italian, English, French, Slovak and plenty of Croatian – and about 60 km of running, I am stranded at the airport in Linate, waiting to go back to Brussels because tomorrow I have to go to work.

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Shit happens, as do delays… and I can’t help being beyond exhausted. But I am with my husband, and we are in this together. We will make it, one way or another. And I am deliberately going to enjoy every minute I can spend with him, especially because Francesco is leaving again tomorrow. Destination: Strasbourg, for the plenary of the Parliament. I won’t be seeing him for five days, as it often happens. Every month, the Parliament holds a plenary session in Strasbourg. When we both have contracts for the Parliament, we both go. Most frequently, Francesco has contracts with the Parliament for Strasbourg and I have contracts with the SCIC in Brussels. So he goes, and I stay. That is the nature of our job, I guess, but I still miss everything of him. Interpreters are required to be nomads. Some leave their spouse behind, some leave their children with a nanny, some have to separate from their dogs, cats, snakes and parrots. I have never been attached to places. I can feel home pretty much anywhere. But I love the people I choose to have in my life fiercely. My mum being an interpreter herself, it was always hard to let her go as a child. That hasn’t changed now that I am married to a wonderful man who also happens to be an incredibly talented interpreter. You might argue that they come back. And they do, but then they leave again. And no, it doesn’t get easier with time.

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… Waiting for better times ;-)

DSC_2670Sometimes not training is much harder than any training. Setbacks are part of the journey, and it is normal to feel down when you can’t do what you like. I have a minor knee issue and was only able to do some strength training today because running hurts too badly, but hopefully we can fix that soon. In the meantime, I want to share some reflections with you.

But this is also the time to look back at what we have done together. I had never run until about two years ago, and Francesco only started coaching me about a year and a half ago. Since then, he has taken me to the point where I’ve run a full trail marathon, 2 half marathons and a good handful of shorter races (not necessarily easier though!). We’ve run some races together, some on our own, some for each other, as in the case of a relay race.

I broke the 2 hour barrier in my very first half marathon, which was also my first race ever. On my second half marathon I smashed my PR by more than 10 minutes, finishing strong in 1h45′. We ran our first trail marathon together, on our honeymoon, and won it. I had never run a trail race OR a marathon before, but all I could think was that all the training that we had done had really paid off. Having a coach can make all the difference to your running, really, both in terms of motivation and in terms of the results you can achieve. So I thought I would post a sample week of the training that I do, in case you’re interested. You can also follow us on Strava and contact us for more information.

Here is my past week of training:

MON

20′ warm up + 30′ fartlek (3′ hard 2′ easy)x6 + 5′ easy

TUE

AM 35′ + PM 30′

WED

rest day

THU

AM strength training

PM 15′ warm up + 10×200 @40” (200m jog in between) + 1000m @4’20”

FRI

40′

SAT

20′ warm up + 10′ tempo pace + 5′ easy + 5′ hard + 5′ easy

SUN

8 k race (2nd place for me)

Happy birthday my love! Plus race recap

This morning I woke up next to a thirty-year-old husband. Happy birthday my love!

We woke up and had cake for breakfast (of course), then headed to Jette, an area in the North-Eastern part of Brussels where we had never been, for an 8 k race. We had not done any specific training at all, but sometimes we just grab the opportunity to run with other people and explore the different “communes” of this city.

We ended up with a 1-2 finish! Francesco won the men’s race and I came in second among the ladies. We had to run on a 2-loop cross-countryish course, with continuous hills and ups and downs, party in a park and partly in the woods. We enjoyed the atmosphere of the race and Francesco got a huge cup and a full Happy Birthday song in French when he was awarded his first place prize. You can check it out towards the end of the video!

 

And here is my race on Strava, in case you’re interested (I am probably unveiling a secret, as there is no information available about this race on the internet, so this is the only place where you can find it. Make the most of it!)

https://www.strava.com/activities/1154483642/overview

Brief update by Francesco: It was the best birthday I’ve ever had. I got two whole (small) cakes just for me, I won a race, I could watch both the F1 GP and the MotoGP, I got an interesting book about running and philosophy, a whole collection of local beers, and I even got a surprise party in the evening. Chiara invited some friends to our place without telling me and we ended up having a wonderful dinner where we could also proudly show some of the pictures of our wedding. The final surprise consisted in 30 muffins of 4 different kinds that Chiara had baked the day before…amazing. Loved every second of it; thank you to all those who made this such a special day and thank you to my wife…I love you and you are the best!

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New track, old habits…

So, we finally went to a new track here in Brussels, which is located at the VUB sports centre (Flemish University). After registering at the desk and getting our card with 10 sessions on it (under 20 euros of cost, card included), we tested the track and I found some old toys (barriers) that maybe will be used again in training. The track is nice, quite and shielded from the wind…not the fastest around but fast enough! Besides, it should be lit until midnight and you can access the changing rooms and showers…fingers crossed, it is true! To sum it up: we discovered a new place and we like it!