Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Stratton-Faxon Fairfield Half Marathon

I sadly did not PR in this race.  I was hoping the fast & flat course combined with the huge crowd of runners would carry me to a spectacular time above 1:28, but it was not meant to be. It ended up being my worst half since August 2011 when I ran a 1:41, which at the time was an huge PR for me.  Weeks of exhaustion combined with the hot sunny weather on race day did me in.  So...I'm calling it a very expensive training run.

It didn't help that there were time clocks at every mile marker during the race.  I no longer race with a watch, because I run better when I'm not obsessing about my splits being too fast or too slow.  Without a watch, I can run purely by feel, and I often do remarkably better that way.  However, when there are clocks at every mile marker, it is nearly impossible not to look at them, and I spent the race stressing about the splits.  And they were mostly discouraging, and although I never completely gave up on the race, the splits told me I was not going to get a PR, and it was demoralizing.  I may have been able to do slightly better without the clocks, although I know I still wouldn't have done great.

My personal disappointments aside, it was a great race.  The course had some nice views, the spectators were awesome, and there were lots of bands along the way to provide a soundtrack for the run.  There was even a group of bagpipers! (I love bagpipes...)  I may come do the race again sometime if my schedule permits.  Just because I had a bad race this year doesn't mean I can't come back and dominate some day in the future...

This Week:
M: 2.76 / 21:05 / 7:38
T: 5.56 / 41:42 / 7:30
W: 7.17 / 56:17 / 7:50
R: off
F: 4.93 / 38:15 / 7:45
Sa: off
Su: 13.1 / 1:37:29 / 7:26
total : 33.52

Side note : Friday's run was after a 48 hour period that involved 15 hours of driving and less than 8 hours of sleep. On Thursday I started sipping coffee around 4, I had a concert to go to from 6-8, I hit the road at 8:45, got to Annapolis at 1:45 AM, left Annapolis around 8:30 the next morning, and arrived in RI about 10 hours later, at which point I'd been sipping coffee for over 24 hours.  I was so jittery I desperately needed to run it off.  The caffeine caused stomach cramps at first, but once they wore off, the run felt great after all that time spent in the car.  

I went to Boston yesterday and got a super-snazzy pair of Mizunos for the next couple months of training.  I got fitted for them at Marathon Sports so I am confident that they will be perfect.  Plus, I love the colors : bright blue and green!  I will win my next race because the competition will be blinded by my shoes...

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Exploring Wild & Wonderful West Virginia

People often tell me "I'm so lucky to be a teacher because I get summers off."  To which I always respond that no, I don't get summers off.  I have to work all summer so that I can pay the bills.  Just 'cause I'm not at school doesn't mean I'm on vacation.  However, sometimes, I need a vacation.  Since school let out at the end of May, I really haven't worked much.  A few babysitting jobs here and there, but that's about it.  It's been wonderful.  Not so wonderful for the bank account, but wonderful for my sanity.  I needed some time to recharge my batteries.

On Friday, I realized that I had a whole day free, with nothing that I needed to do...not even run, because I was resting a hurting muscle.  So I decided to go exploring.  There were a couple places I wanted to check out, the furthest one being a little more than an hour away.  So, I grabbed my camera and a picnic lunch, and jumped in the car.

I went to the Cranberry GladesDroop Mountain, and Beartown.  The skies threatened to rain on my a few times, but they never did.  It wasn't too hot either, the sun was in and out of the clouds and the weather was cool enough that I kept a light pull-over on the whole time.

Cranberry Glades and Wilderness

it looks like a grumpy face

Droop Mountain Overlook


It was a fun day of exploring and picture-taking!  I will definitely have to go back to Cranberry at some point, it's way too big to see all of in one day!  Also, I bet it will be spectacular if I can catch the leaves when they change. 

Not the high mileage week I had planned...

I had all sorts of delusions about getting some long runs in before race week.  But then I wore the *wrong pair of shoes on Tuesday, and a muscle in my calf started hurting. So, trying to be a responsible athlete, I took Wednesday off.  It felt fine, so Thursday I put on my best pair of running shoes and went for a run.  Halfway through, it started hurting again.  Much as I hate taking time off for injuries, (and usually don't take nearly as much time off as I should), I then took the next THREE days off.  Not happy about this with a race next Sunday...but oh well.  What can ya do?  It seems that something always interferes with training in the week or two before a race.  Sometimes it's the weather, sometimes it's an ache or pain.  Somehow I always manage to race well anyway.  So I've about stopped caring what happens once it comes down to the wire.  If I don't already have the training under my belt, there's not much I can do about it now!

Today it occurred to me that instead of being lazy and doing nothing on the days I didn't run, I should have biked.  So today I took the bike to the river trail and biked 16 miles.  I did every other mile a bit faster, averaging about 3:40 per mile on the faster miles and 4:25 on the slower ones.

This week:
M: 5.56 / 40:31 / 7:17
T: 4.7 / 36:25 / 7:44
W: off
R: 4.7 / 34:35 / 7:21
F: off
Sa: off
Su: BIKE 16.05 / 1:04:46 / 14.87 mph
total miles (running) : 14.96

Chocolate Guinness Cake with Pumpkin & Cream Cheese Icing

For the last...too many years to count, I was able to honestly say that I did not have a sweet tooth.  I'm starting to think that I can no longer say that.  I used to be addicted to salty snacks, like Triscuits. (I think I was eating 2+ boxes a week for awhile) But then one day I discovered that the excessive salt in my diet was causing painful leg cramps when I ran.  So I weaned myself off of salty snacks.  Actually, I think I quit cold-turkey.  Ever since, I have used less and less salt in my food.  Now, I think the only time I use salt while cooking is when I salt the pasta water.

For awhile after quitting the salty snacks, I just didn't snack.  But recently, I have started craving snacks again.  And this time I'm craving cookies and cake.  It's such a weird feeling, after all the years where I could look at a cookie or piece of cake and be genuinely disinterested.  I still don't have a huge love of sugar, and won't eat things that are too sweet.  But I love to have some cookies or a piece of not overly-sweetened cake in the evening.  The Chocolate Cake I made a few weeks ago was probably one of my all-time favorite desserts that I have made.  Last night, as I ate my last 2 delectable Chocolate Cream Cheese Cookies, I realized that I would have to make another batch of cookies today.  But then today came, and I decided I wanted to make another chocolate cake.  The fact that there is no milk in my fridge wasn't a problem...I wanted to use Guinness this time. I also had some little 50mL bottles of Bailey's that someone gave me, so I threw one of those in too.

The Cake
2 1/8 c flour
2 c sugar
3/4 c cocoa
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 c Guinness
50mL Bailey's Irish Cream Liqueur 
1/2 c vegetable oil
1 tbsp vanilla

grease and flour 2 8.5 inch round cake pans
bake at 350 for 40 minutes or so

let cool in pans for a little while, then transfer to wire racks

when the cakes are cool, spread icing on top of one cake, place the other cake on top, and then cover with remaining icing

The Icing
4 oz cream cheese
1/2 c pumpkin
1+ c confectioner's sugar

I used a fork to mix the icing.  It came out with cream cheese lumps, which are rather unsightly, but don't bother me.  If you want a smoother icing I suggest you use an electric mixer.

Photo Evidence

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Crockpot Chicken Stew

3 b/s chicken breasts
4 cloves garlic
1 inch ginger root
1 small onion
5 celery sticks
7 small carrots
1 can of corn
1 can of stewed tomatoes
1 1/2 c pumpkin
1 1/2 c veggie stock

Mince the garlic and ginger and saute them in bacon grease.  When they are browned, add the onion and cook til translucent.  Put the chicken in the bottom of the crockpot, add the garlic, ginger, and onion on top.  Chop the celery and carrots, add them to the crockpot.  Add the corn, then the tomatoes.  Mix together the pumpkin with 1/2 c veggie stock, then pour it over the contents of the crockpot.  Mix the rest of the veggie stock with herbs & seasonings, then add to the crockpot.  Cook on low for 6 hours. When done cooking, shred the chicken and mix well.  

This made a tasty lunch on a stormy day.  I ate it with a gouda and spinach grilled cheese sandwich.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Beer, Bourbon, BBQ, OH MY!

So this post has nothing to do with my food, but this is an event I went to in Richmond yesterday, and it was awesome.  I got to sample all sorts of beers and bourbons, and I also had a delicious bbq sandwich and a delicious crab cake sandwich.  I love crab cakes...don't get them here in WV too often!

Photos from the Adventure

and this is what we saw while we were waiting:

All in all, a very fun day, and a fun weekend spent out of town with friends.  
A great way to kick off Summer 2013.