Quinoa & Red Rice Salad Recipe

Over the past 12 months or so I’ve been becoming more and more vegetarian oriented in my diet and choice of foods.  I’ve all but cut out  dairy, but will have small amounts either in cooking or desserts when taking it out is just too difficult for those preparing the meal.  I’m not really vegetarian, more pescatarian, as I still eat seafood.

All in all, I think I feel better for it and I find it easier to keep my weight in check.  One thing I have found difficult at times, is creating meals that are both filling, tasty and provide the level of energy necessary to support training and help my body recover.

So, from time to time I’ll share recipes I either discover, or create, that are healthy and tasty, just in case you are facing the same dilemma.  Would love to hear some of your favourites too – please feel free to share on the this post or email me at gpontherun@gmail.com.

Today I noticed we had some really nice salad ingredients in the fridge which inspired the following recipe.

Quinoa & Red Rice Salad Recipe

IMG_3208A word of warning, don’t take my measurements too literally as I tend to “make it up” a little as I go  😉

8-10 vine ripened cherry tomatoes halved
1 lebanese cucumber (or half a large continental cucumber) halved then sliced
1 small carrot peeled, halved and sliced
3-4 medium button cup mushrooms halved and sliced
1/3 cup of red rice cooked to directions then allowed to cool
1/3 cup of white quinoa cooked as per directions then allowed to cool
4-5 mini peppers/capsicums (mix up the colours if you can) deseeded, halved and sliced
small handful of continental parsley coarsely chopped
Generous squeeze of lime juice
Good slug of quality olive oil
4-5 Grinds of black pepper

What to Do
Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, mix to combine to ensure the dressing touches all ingredients.  Serve and devour – either as a light meal or as a side for a main meal.

Want to add some protein?  I’d suggest smoked salmon strips or chunks of quality tuna.

So why red rice you ask?  Well, red rice looks good for starters, also, it’s really good for you.  According to sources brown rice and red rice are quite similar when we talk about them on the nutritional front.   They are both  great sources of fibre, B vitamins, calcium, zinc and iron, manganese, selenium, magnesium and other nutrients.

Another benefit that sets the red variety apart from its brown counterpart is it being enriched with antioxidants that can help fight damaging free radicals in your body.  Red rice apparently gets its colour from an antioxidant called anthocyanins. This compound is believed to have properties that can reduce inflammation (good for runners), allergy, prevent risks of cancer and help in weight management.  Along with calcium, magnesium helps in maintaining healthy bones and teeth, and prevents risks of arthritis and osteoporosis (both of which are life buddies of mine).

I’m guessing you already know about the benefits of quinoa.  As a naturally gluten-free grain it  contains iron, B-vitamins, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, vitamin E and fiber.  It is also one of only a few plant foods that are considered a complete protein and comprised of all pernine essential amino acids.  When you are more veggie than carnivore, quinoa is a great addition to the diet.

You’ll note that the vegetables are all raw and therefore retain all their natural goodness.  I’m sure you could a lot more to this recipe than I have and hope you do.  I’m thinking some garlic, spinach and cashews…. Hmmm – will let you know how it turns out.

Bon appetit.

Oh, and Happy Running 🙂

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Moments in time…

I heard the news today, Oh Boy…. lyrics from the Beatles “A Day in the The Life” sung hauntingly by John Lennon have been on repeat in my mind for many days now.

There are moments in time when you are stopped in your tracks and find yourself questioning life, the universe and everything – which is what that song means to me.  I had one of those moments occur last week.

A friend of mine, not a close friend, but someone I liked and I knew fairly well – but not as well I as wish I had, made a momentous decision. He was someone whose company I enjoyed and a person I respected.   And just over a week ago he decided that this world was no longer the place for him.

Why? I wish I knew… Everyone I have spoken to who knew him has asked the same question – and there are no answers.

I could say without embellishment that he was one of the smartest people I have ever met. Add to that his lust for life, enthusiasm, gregarious personality, caring and friendly disposition – he was someone who was genuinely interested in everyone and everything.  A man who enjoyed life and, from the eulogies and stories recounted over the past week, made everyone else’s life better for being a part of it.

Standing in the foyer of the funeral house where his friends, family and colleagues came together to say farewell, I looked at his beaming smile from the presentation screen and asked myself (and him) again “Why?”

It was only a few months ago I was on a training run along my usual track when a cyclist rode past me at speed, only to slam on the brakes and scream out my name. Scared the hell out of me! It also snapped me out of meditative running state and when I turned around there he was, that same beaming smile I saw at the funeral house lighting up his face.

We quickly worked out we were living close by now and frequented the same trails, as he was a health and fitness enthusiast.  He was, as always, excitedly talking about all the things happening in his life whilst taking particular joy in hearing about my own adventures that he kept abreast of via Facebook. His wife (who he adored), their dog and their regular hiking adventures were obviously his passion.

As is the normal practice when you see an old friend who you haven’t been in touch with for a while, I said we had to arrange a time to hit the trails together and that we would now keep in touch, considering we were living close by.  Sadly, that opportunity is one that I will never be able to realise and will always regret.

His passing has caused me to reflect again on the fragility of life and what is important.

I am as guilty as anyone at taking things for granted. I try not to, but I’m not perfect. I wish I spent more time living in the moment and less thinking about what could have been, or what could be. Or just taking time to embrace every moment as something special, not just a path to the next job or activity.

Having seen the devastation that his passing has had on all those close to him, I wondered if he fully appreciated the impact of his decision and the pain that it would cause to those he would never want to hurt.  Surely not…. I have no doubt that in his mind he was doing what he truly believed was best for everyone.  On this occasion he was so terribly wrong.

The value of life and how special it is was reinforced to me as I looked around the room at the faces of sorrow surrounding his devastated and inconsolable wife (who is also a friend), each trying to process the unimaginable.

Life is fragile – here today, then gone in the blink of an eye.

I wish I had made contact months ago after we had crossed paths and gone on that run.

I wish that he had reached out to someone and got help.

I wish that someone had spotted signs that no one else could see and prevented the tragedy that occurred.

I wish that he had known how much his friends, family and colleagues valued him and how much pain his actions would cause.

I’m sad that the world will no longer see that beaming smile and so very sad for those who were much closer to him than I for their loss.

The only thing I can take from this tragedy is the reinforcement that we all need to be grateful for life and live true to our values.  We should all take time out from the trappings of a material world that seems dominated by work matters, politics and possessions and devote more to the things that really matter – looking out for those we love and our own well being.

Following the funeral I went home and tried to work – not altogether that successfully to be honest.  As I worked I set Pandora to play classical guitar music having just learned that he was also an accomplished classical guitarist and that this genre of music was another of his passions.  I think I’ll listen to it more often from now on.

Noted author Haruki Murakami once said:

“People die all the time. Life is a lot more fragile than we think. So you should treat others in a way that leaves no regrets. Fairly, and if possible, sincerely. It’s too easy not to make the effort, then weep and wring your hands after the person dies.”

My request to you is a simple one.  Always remember that your family and friends love you and would miss you terribly if you were gone. If the days get dark and your world feels hopeless reach out to someone, anyone (you can even contact me via this blog) and get help.  You deserve it, and so do those that care about you.

(not so) Happy running….

If you need help – the following sites may also be helpful:

Note: I have not mentioned the names of my friend and his family out of respect.

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The Morning Run

Originally posted at http://www.thememoryjogger.com.au/the-morning-run/ on December 4 2014.

The 5am morning conference call, which I thought would go for 30 minutes, actually went for quite a bit longer than I thought it would. Nevertheless, I still had enough time to squeeze in a 5km run before heading into work. With a 9am international flight the next day there was not going to be any running tomorrow.

I thought about looking for a new circuit, but I enjoyed the run from the day before so much I just made my way down to The Greens again and trotted around the track. Not quite as nice a day, but still a good little outing.

Running in the morning is one of life’s joys that makes me feel alive and sets the tone for the whole day. Skip a run – and be ready for a day of regret and lethargy.

If you’re not a runner, this might sound a little weird and even somewhat masochistic. An alarm clock screaming out at 5am (or earlier) saying it’s time to get up. Heading out into darkness in your running kit when most people are snuggled down in bed. Btw, the earliest I have risen for a run is 2:30am – the Great Barrier Reef Ultra marathon – that was a long day!


Don’t get me wrong – I’m still tired at that hour of the morning. My body and mind both work against my best intentions with a host of excuses as to why skipping a run would be ok. Little aches and pains appear from nowhere and my eyelids feel like they are being dragged down by lead weights.

BUT – once I get up and start moving – the muscles start to warm up, my arthritic joints move more freely and before I know it I’m in the kitchen making an energy smoothie and thinking about where I will run. By the time I’m out the door I’ve got my running route planned and even wondering if I have enough time to increase the distance of my planned run and chastising myself for not getting up earlier!

It doesn’t mean my legs don’t hurt when I start running and that I’m not gasping for air as I tackle the first few kilometres and/or hills. It doesn’t mean that I don’t shiver uncontrollably when the cold air hits me or that being drenched by rain doesn’t make feel uncomfortable, or the combination of the two doesn’t make my nose run and my fingers and toes numb. It doesn’t mean that I don’t sweat buckets when it is hot and/or humid and I most certainly get fatigued.

The first couple of kilometres in my run are always tough – but I know I will feel better as I go, my body will warm up, my joints will loosen, endorphins will be released into my body and my senses will be charged. That’s why I do it.

Of course, there’s a certain event coming up in April called the Marathon Des Sables too, which is keeping me very focused. I know if I don’t do the training – there is no way I’ll complete the event. So you know what that means? Many more early rises between now and departing for Morocco 😉

Happy Running!

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Running off the jetlag

Originally posted at http://www.thememoryjogger.com.au/running-off-the-jetlag/ on 3 Dec 2014.

A very long flight with delays during the flight and the short stop over in Kuala Lumpur – perfect way to top off a flight delayed by a good hour at takeoff.  If it was something I could control I would be annoyed – as it’s not, all I could do was try and catch some sleep between the occasional movie.

Landing in Dubai the weather was a perfect 26 degrees.  I arrived mid afternoon and caught a cab to the hotel.  After a slow check-in, I was able to finally drop my bags in my room and call home before grabbing a shower. There’s not a lot that beats a hot shower after traveling for what seemed an eternity.


A room with a view – from my hotel room.

A quick trip to the nearest supermarket for some essentials, bananas, water, juice and electrolyte drinks then back to the hotel.

I had organised to catch up with a colleague of a friend of mine who works in a similar industry.  Having only been in Dubai for five or so weeks, Kevin was the perfect person to get some advice for a new businessperson in town.

We went to an English style pub for some fish and chips and a couple of pints.  Despite the good company, the long flight and lack of sleep were starting to take their toll and I was ready to call it a night before too far into the evening.

By 9pm Dubai time I was in bed and pushing zzzz’s.

A slept solid and woke around 5:30am Dubai time. A quick call home, then I scoffed down a banana followed by a big drink of juice – on with the Hoka’s and out for a run to go exploring Dubai. Prior to heading over to Dubai I had conducted a few searches on-line to see if I could find any running circuits or routes that would be suitable for training.  Most were pretty short, but as I was tapering for a marathon that wasn’t too big a problem – finding them, well that might be a challenge.

One problem I quickly found was that the majority of roads in Dubai are not easy to cross by foot, except via designated overpasses or underpasses. Heading off along a major road I deviated a block away and before long I found myself in an area called The Greens that was a residential area with a fantastic footpath/track around a canal.  One of the few footpaths that wasn’t sand.

The view was fantastic and I quickly found myself with other runners trotting around a tree-lined path as the sun came up projecting reflections of the buildings on the glistening water (see the pic above).  A couple of circuits added to my run to the track were enough to cover 5kms or so and work up a sweat as I blew away the jetlag cobwebs. What a lucky find.


The best way to get the body back on track after a long journey, is to get out for a run!

Running back to the hotel I reflected back on the last day or so.  Only yesterday I was having dinner with Diane in Carlton, and this morning I’m running in the streets of Dubai.  No matter how many times I travel (and I’m a pretty seasoned traveller) it always amazes me how, in less than a day, a person can be transported to the other side of the world into new cultures, languages and a way of life and be going about things as normal.  It was only two generations or so ago that this would have been unimaginable.  I remind myself again (and not for the first time) to take time out to appreciate the “now” and be thankful for the opportunities that have come my way #luckyboy .

Even though the MDS is still many months away, being a little closer to Morocco got me thinking about the run and my training program. Sure the Singapore Marathon would be good for my conditioning, but there is a long way to go before I’ll be physically equipped to tackle the toughest footrace in the world. Today I enjoyed the run, but in the back of my mind, I’m thinking about what is ahead.

Back at the hotel I was able to stretch in the gym before rehydrating and then grabbing a shower.  Breakfast was pretty good and I was able to load up to compensate from substandard nutrition in transit – although the coffee in Dubai was seriously ordinary.  It was staggering to see that they had the equivalent of Krispy Kreme donuts out for the breakfast buffet – needless to say, I didn’t have any 😉

Not exactly the breakfast of champions I'm sure!

Not exactly the breakfast of champions I’m sure!

My work colleague Brendon offered to pick me up at 9am and head into the office for a full day of meetings and workshops.  Given I had plenty of work to do, I went straight back to the hotel after work.

A few calls back home and sort out some emails before trying to work out what to eat for dinner.  By sheer chance I stumbled across a health food chain called Kcal and hopped into a Quinoa Veggie Burger, Steamed Veggies, a side salad and Sweet Banana Sushi.  Delicious – wish they had one near home!


Kcal Dinner in Dubai – yumm!



Well it’s been a long day and tomorrow will be just as long. I have a 5am conference call that I need to be online for so a good night’s sleep is important.  Then maybe another run 😉

Happy Running!

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Up, Up and Away!

Originally posted at http://www.thememoryjogger.com.au/up-up-and-away/ on 2 Dec 2014 (which by the way is me also – just in case you hadn’t worked it out 😉 )

What a stupidly busy day – into work early for some meetings and organise a few things before heading home to finish packing and get organised for the flight to Dubai.  Obviously, no training.

The biggest dilemma… What kit to pack for the Singapore Marathon and what else I will need for my training runs?  I elected for my Melbourne Marathon Finisher’s shirt – but it was a toss up between that and my Two Bays Trail Run 10th Anniversary running tee.

On my feet, I always wear my Hoka One One’s – Stinson Tarmacs (which are now called Stinson Lite).  To minimise blisters, Injinji socks – love my Injinji’s.  Shorts were Adidas running shorts with a zip pocket (for the hotel card) and UnderArmour compression shorts (best way to look after the legs and reduce chafing).

I normally run with a SpiderBelt that has tags for my race bib and pocket for GoPro camera and any nutrition (minimum is Endurolytes, Dextro Tabs and maybe a gel or two for emergencies!) Also packed in the bag were couple of extra shirts for good luck, another pair of shorts and plenty of socks.

After quite a bit of shuffling around I managed to squeeze all my running gear, work clothes and some casual gear.   I was probably going to push the limits for carry-on luggage – but figured I should be ok.

My one tip for choosing running gear for an event – always go for gear that you have worn before and know won’t rub or ride up.  If you haven’t worn it before, don’t risk it in a race!

More work from home for an hour or two before it was time to leave.  Given it was a late night flight we decided to grab a bite to eat between home and the airport.

Dinner at Masani in Carlton was very nice. Good food and good service – although a little slow due to a company Christmas function keeping the staff under the pump.

Masani in Carlton.

Masani in Carlton.

After dinner, Diane drove me to the airport to drop me off so I could wait for boarding. It was a long wait and the lounge was closed so I napped, window shopped, read my book and attempted to get some work done – in all honesty, I failed at each activity.  Past midnight after a long day was not good for maintaining focus and airport chairs aren’t good for sleeping – so I just gave up.

As you would expect when arriving at the airport really early to catch a flight – it was delayed.  A long night ahead with a 15 odd hour flight ahead. No running for a while it seems.

Happy running!

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Runners in the suitcase…

Originally posted  at  http://www.thememoryjogger.com.au/runners-in-the-suitcase/ on 1 Dec 2014.

Tomorrow I fly out to Dubai where I will stay for a few days before flying to Singapore. I say tomorrow, but it’s actually 3:30am tomorrow morning so it’s as much today as it is tomorrow!

Given I haven’t packed and have a mountain of things to do before I leave, training has had to take a back seat.

It doesn’t mean I haven’t thought about running or my training program. I’m always contemplating what training I should be doing and questioning whether I’m doing enough. Travel can be a disruption to training, but whenever I have a trip planned one of the first things I do after I’ve set the dates is hop on-line and look for new and interesting places to run, or find an event that I can sign up for.

The runners are always packed in the suitcase – best way to see a city ;)

As luck would have it, I arrive in Singapore in time to run the Singapore marathon! :)

I’ve already signed up and had a quick look at the runners guide and what I need to bring with me to collect my race kit.  Of particular interest to me was how many, and the location of the, drink stations – heat and humidity aren’t normal conditions for Melbourne area!

My prep is far from ideal for running a marathon – or at least in a decent time, but still feel I can run it – even underprepared and running in extreme humidity and heat.  Arrogant? Not really, more confident in what I can push my body to do.  As I said – it won’t be a startling time and it’s a pretty flat track.

SCMS banner

I’ve found a few running routes on-line for Dubai as part of my training, but as I’m tapering they won’t be big runs, but good for blowing away the jet lag cobwebs and rolling over the legs.

Singapore should be a very interesting running experience and I’m really starting to look forward to it – stay tuned.

Happy Running!


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Feeling like a Turtle…

Originally posted on http://www.thememoryjogger.com.au/feeling-like-a-turtle/ on 30 Nov 2014.

In this blog my aim is to provide some insight into the training program that I am applying in preparation for MDS2015 and some insights into the purpose – raising awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s Australia.  That said, if all I do is record my training from every day – you’ll soon get sick of it as there’ a fair amount of repeating prior training days – after all, practice makes perfect.

But don’t worry; I won’t be boring you with every minute detail from every program, but providing sufficient insight about the training – just in case you’re interested ;)

Today – it’s back to the gym for a solid workout. More core work and upper body – why upper body when my focus is running? Well the MDS requires me to be self sufficient for the entire 250km+ journey carrying everything I will need except water – which is rationed out by the race organisers.

The MDS organisers are very specific in regards to the mandatory gear that I have to carry, plus a list of recommended gear. All up, I’m expecting my backpack to be around 10kgs or so at the start of the race – as I consume my food – it will get lighter! Here is the mandatory list and items provided by the organisers:

Mandatory equipment:
• backpack MDS or equivalent
• sleeping bag,
• head torch with spare batteries,
• 10 safety pins,
• compass, with 1° or 2° precision,
• lighter,
• a whistle,
• knife with metal blade,
• tropical disinfectant,
• anti-venom pump,
• a signalling mirror,
• one aluminium survival sheet,
• one tube of sun cream,
• 200 euros or equivalent in foreign currency.

Marathon Kit:
It is supplied by the organisation and will include the following:

• a road-book issued on 03 April,
• a distress beacon,
• an electronic transponder,
• salt tablets,
• sachets for the toilets
• ID marks

So as you can see there’s a lot to cart around with me  in my backpack – so much so that I’ll be looking like a turtle – so long as I’m not as slow as one!!!

If you’ve ever run with a backpack for any period of time, you will know that it places additional demands on the body. For a race of this length and difficulty, I will need to ensure that my shoulders, upper and lower back, arms and core are conditioned to enable me to carry the weight and hold form.

The MDS Ultra-bag is much bigger than a normal running backpack and the weight I will be carrying is more than double what I am used to carrying on some of my bigger runs. I know I’m not yet conditioned so there will be plenty of work to do in the gym and with the backpack to get me ready for MDS2015.


The other reason for working the upper body is that running burns a lot of energy. Not investing time and effort into creating a balanced program that works all the muscle groups can create imbalance in the body.

I’m not exactly built like a whippet, but I’m not a big build either. When I was in heavy training mode for some longer runs last year, I copped a lot of criticism and comments that I was too thin. So I’m trying to keep a better balance and ensure I don’t waste away!

My MDS backpack is on order and I’m expecting it to arrive in January for some solid training runs to condition me for running with it for six days in a row. It’s both daunting and exciting :)

Happy Running!

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