Sunday, September 29, 2013

Another week gone by

This week:
M: off
T: 4.7 / 41:02 / 8:43 (AM)
W: 4.7 / 40:31 / 8:37 (AM)
R: 6.75 / 48:17 / 7:09
F: off 
Sa: 12.04 / 1:37:00 / 8:03
Su: 6.75 / 54:05 / 8:00
week total : 34.94

I was going to take Thursday off this week because I didn't feel like getting up that morning, but then our weekly faculty meeting was over sooner than usual, and I felt energetic, so I decided to go for a run.  I started out slow, but my legs were begging for speed, so I picked up the pace about a mile in and pushed it for the rest of the run.  My lungs had a bit of trouble keeping up, but my legs felt great, and overall it felt really good to push the pace and work hard.  On Friday, I got home at lunch since we were having conferences at school and my only one was at 8 AM.  So I headed to Babcock State Park to take pictures.  I ended up doing quite a bit of un-planned hiking while I was there, so I got a good bit of exercise.  (Enough hill climbing to make my legs a bit sore the next day!)

T: 20 squats, 20 lunges
W: 20 squats, 30 lunges
Sa: 10 squats

Not so stellar on the exercising this week.  For some reason I always remember when I run first thing in the morning, but very rarely remember when I run in the afternoon.  Then again, I don't need the squats to warm me up for an afternoon run because I'm already warm from moving around all day.  

I had a busy but good weekend this week!  Saturday I hardly got a moment's rest between grocery shopping, running, soup-making for the Pub, taking Cheerleading Photos for a friend, and babysitting.  Today I caught some Fog Photos on my way home from Mass early this morning, and took Family Photos for a friend this afternoon.  I played with special effects on quite a few of the photos from this afternoon, it was entertaining.  And necessary on some of the photos...early/mid afternoon is a bad time to take photos, the sunlight was pretty harsh!

Oh, and dinner tonight was some delicious PB Beef & Broccoli.  Scrumptious.  
And I even managed to eat it with chopsticks without making too big of a mess. 

Peanut Butter Beef & Broccoli, yet again

I've made this several times before, it's different every time.  (Like just about everything else I make!)  The other versions can be found on the "Meat" page of this blog.

Put a pot of water on to boil for pasta.  Chop 1/4 onion and begin browning it in some olive oil.  Chop 3 cloves of garlic and roughly a tbsp of fresh ginger and add them.  Add some garlic powder, ginger powder, and about 1/2 c of veggie stock. Chop up a pound or so of steak and add it to the pot along with some more veggie stock, a bit of beer, and some soy sauce.  Cover and let cook for awhile.  When the pasta water boils, add some salt, olive oil, and a large handful of linguini, broken in half.  Steam a bunch of baby broccoli, then chop it into bite-sized pieces.  When the beef is cooked, add about 1/3 c of crunchy peanut butter.  Sitr well, let cook until it has thickened enough not to be watery when mixed with the pasta and broccoli.  Combine everything in a large bowl and toss til evenly mixed.

This dish turned out to be just the right stickiness to make it possible to eat the pasta with chopsticks.  Hooray!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Photography Lately

Looking forward to two photo-taking opportunities this weekend!  Saturday mid-day I will be taking pictures of a cheer-leading team of 5/6 y/o kids led by a friend.  Later Saturday, or possibly Sunday, I will hopefully be taking some family photos for a friend.  I'm looking forward to both, as they will both be good experiences and hopefully will result in some fabulous photos!

My camera came with a short little wire tripod that I've barely used.  I was at the barn a few weeks ago and it occurred to me that I could set the tripod up in the grass, turn on the self-timer, and take pictures of myself with my horse.  I've been wanting some nice photos with her, and have no desire to pay someone to take them for me.  So I set up the tripod and took some pictures.  It was so much fun, I did it again the next day.  And the next.  The second day, I discovered that I could change the self timer from 2 shots at a time, all the way up to 10 shots at a time.  The 10 shot feature was great, because it allowed enough time for movement between the 1st and 10th shots, so I could get more variety.  Here are some of the best shots I got.  I'm usually against cropping my photos, but I did crop the ones I took in these photo-shoots, because it is a lot harder to set up the perfect image when you are taking photos of yourself!

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3
This is one of my of my friends photo-shopped the power lines out of the sky for me!
It came out so well, I ordered it on a canvas to hang on the wall in my apt.

Here are a few other photographs I took recently that I really like.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

7 runs in 6 days

I have abandoned the 20 miler plan.  It's not going to happen.  But I decided that to make up for not getting the long run, I would start doubling up once or twice a week.  This week the only day I doubled was on Wednesday, but it enabled me to get my weekly mileage above 40 for the first time in...18 weeks!  I was shocked when I went back and counted and found out how long it has been since I had 40 miles in a week.  I feel like I should be getting 40 every week, but I have been nowhere near it.  The closest I've come was 38, and that was 9 weeks ago.  Perhaps 40 is not realistic for me.  We'll see how this double-run plan goes.  Of course it will only work as long as I am still getting up at 4:50 in the morning for an early run.

This week:
M: 4.7 / 39:45 / 8:27 (15 squats, 12 lunges)
T: 4.7 / 39:25 / 8:23 (15 squats, 20 lunges, 10 pushups)
W: 4.7 / 39:12 / 8:20 (15 squats, 20 lunges)
7.17 / 55:14 / 7:42 (10 squats)
R: 4.7 / 37:18 / 7:56 (15 squats, 20 lunges)
F: 5.56 / 44:40 / 8:02 (20 squats, 20 lunges)
Sa: 11.01 / 1:26:14 / 7:49 w/Josh
Su: rest day
total : 42.54

I like this new plan of squats before my run and lunges afterwards.  The squats help get my legs ready to get out the door running, and the lunges are a nice extra little burn in my muscles after the run, and sometimes help loosen up anything that is still stiff after the run.  I definitely need to start doing more arm workouts as well.  I had the kids in PE do chin-ups the other day, and I went first.  I just barely got one chin-up.  I used to be able to do 5...

I've been purposely not pushing the pace in my runs because of the bad cough I got last week.  In Wednesday's second run this week, I jogged the first half, and was feeling pretty good, so I decided to up the pace for the second half.  It was the first time I felt like I was actually running instead of jogging, and it felt great to stretch out my legs for the longer stride.  It didn't really make me cough, so I upped the pace again on Thursday morning.  Friday I decided to run a little longer, and was contemplating 7 or 8 miles, but it started pouring rain 10 minutes in, and then as soon as I added the extra hill for the 5.56 loop my back started hurting, so I decided not to add anything else.  My shoes were squelching by that point and while rain doesn't bother me too much, I'm really not a fan of running in soaked shoes.  My back didn't bother me too much during Saturday's longer run, but then I tweaked it while cleaning my room Saturday afternoon... Might need to take another couple of days off.  

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Rye-Pumpkin Truffles

And by Rye, I mean Rye Whiskey.  

So last Friday night I was killing time and had the bright idea to put some Smooth Ambler Old Scout Rye Whiskey in some truffles.  I hadn't made any truffles in awhile, and I had been craving them.  I figured all the alcohol would cook out and I would be left with some delicious whiskey-tasting truffles.  

I combined 1/2 cup of the whiskey with a giant spoonful of pumpkin and 3.5 oz of 60% dark chocolate.  I cooked it for awhile in a small saucepan, poured the mixture into a glass measuring cup, and stuck it in the 
fridge to cool.  I didn't get around to taking it out of the fridge until this evening.  

The ganache was super soft, but I formed it into rough balls, laid them on wax paper, and stuck them in the freezer to harden.  I got a little taste from the ganache clinging to the sides of the cup, and it was super delicious.  

While the ganache was hardening in the freezer, I melted 3.5 oz of 72% dark chocolate.  Then I dropped the ganache balls in one at a time, turned them til coated, and dropped them on a new sheet of wax paper.  I had to make the coated truffles in batches because the ganache got soft pretty quick and it would melt into the cup of coating chocolate if it wasn't hard enough.  I ended up needing to melt a second 3.5 oz of the 72% to coat all of the truffles.  (although that left me with quite a bit of leftover coating at the end)

Once the first batch of truffles was hardened, I had a taste-test.  At first, it was super delicious.  Chocolate and whiskey, yum.  But then...I was slammed with a big, overpowering alcohol-ness.  Apparently, the alcohol DID NOT cook out of the ganache.  Apparently, it was condensed instead.  Wow that was strong.  These truffles are not for children.  Unfortunately, the taste of alcohol is so potent, the truffles aren't actually as epic-ly delicious as I had hoped.  They don't taste like whiskey, they taste like alcohol.  I guess I should have cooked the ganache longer...

Monday, September 16, 2013


Things were going pretty well.  I wasn't getting super high mileage, but I was at least running consistently, and I felt like I was on track for a decent 20 miler this weekend.  Then, Monday morning, I caught a cold.  And then my back decided it wanted to start hurting for no apparent reason.  By Thursday, I felt like I would throw my back out at any moment, and I had a terrible nasty cough, so I had to call it quits on the running.  This also happened to be my first full week of classes at school.  That was fun, since every time I talked for too long, or had to raise my voice at all, I went into a painful and nasty coughing fit.

So, I had to call off the 20 miler.  Technically, I don't mind at all since I didn't actually have any desire to run 20 miles.  However, I feel like it would be a good idea to get a 20 miler before I run a marathon in November.  I may try to do it this coming weekend, but if not, I'll just have to run the marathon without the training run.  I am not going to run 20 miles too close to my October half marathons.

Monday thru Wednesday I ran at 5 in the morning.  Thursday I almost went for a run but convinced myself to stay inside and do a light workout instead.  Sunday, after 3 days off that made my back neither better nor worse, I decided to try to get some mileage in, so I did a nice slow long-ish run.  I kept it slow enough not to strain my lungs and induce coughing, and I avoided steeper hills so as not to aggravate my back.

This week's runs:
M: 6.3 / 51:05 / 8:05
T: 4.7 / 42:44 / 9:05
W: 5.54 / 47:39 / 8:36 
R: mini workout
F: off
Sa: off
Su: 7.8 / 1:05:24 / 8:23
total : 24.34

This week's "workouts":
M: 10 burpees, 10 squats, 12 lunges
T: 10 squats, 10 lunges, 10 push-ups
W: 15 squats, 12 lunges
R: 4 rounds: 12 squats, 50 boxer twist w/10 lbs, 12 lunges, 10 leg raises, 30 sec plank, 5 push-ups

On Saturday, I did some office work at the bike shop, and then got to take pictures of this:

pretty cool.

I love playing with my camera.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Tomato Sauce

A friend gave me some tomatoes from her garden last week.  I was going to make tomato soup, but when I got to the point where it was time to add the heavy cream, I discovered that I didn't have any.  So I turned it into tomato sauce instead.  It came out pretty tasty.  I didn't end up eating it until several days after I made it, and I wasn't smart enough to write down what I did at the time, so I'll have to guess for you.

5-6 small tomatoes
1 1/2 carrots
1/4 small onion
4 cloves garlic
fresh basil

I made Xs with a knife in the bottom of each tomato, then dropped them in boiling water for 30 sec or so. Then I removed them and the skins peeled right off.  I chopped the onion and garlic and browned them in some olive oil in a dutch oven.  While they were browning, I grated the carrots into the pot.  I chopped the tomatoes and added them.  I let it cook for awhile, stirring occasionally.  I added some fresh basil at some point.  I let it cook down for a bit, and then I removed it from the heat and used an immersion blender to blend it into a tomato-sauce consistency.  

Last night I made some pasta with artichokes, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, and some leftover chicken tenders.  I tossed it with the homemade tomato sauce.  Super yummy.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Sweet Potato Fries

I had some chicken to make into baked tenders this evening, and I decided to have sweet potato fries with them.  However, they bake at different temperatures, so instead of trying to figure out how to sync them, I decided to fry the fries on the stove.

I poured an inch or so of vegetable oil into a dutch oven and heated it up.  Meanwhile, I chopped up 1/2 a sweet potato into thin shoestring fries. I coated the fries with just a bit of olive oil and rolled them in breadcrumbs.  Once the oil was hot, I dropped in all the fries and let them fry for roughly 10 minutes.  Because that's how much time the chicken tenders had left in the oven.  The fries seemed a bit limp when I took them out and laid them on paper towels, but they actually crisped up nicely when they dried.  And they were delicious.  Surely not quite as healthy as the baked variety, but that's ok with me for something tasty!

Dinner is complete.  With ketchup, ranch, and honey mustard.  Gotta have options!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Stout Stroganoff

I've made Beef Stroganoff with red wine before, I've never made it with beer.  My plan this evening was to make it with Guinness, but then I discovered that I was out of Guinness.  I did have a Breckenridge Oatmeal Stout though.  So I went with that.  1 cup of the beer went into the pasta pot along with 1 jar of beef gravy, one can of mushroom soup, and 2 cups of water, the rest went into a skillet with the stew beef with some garlic powder.  In a separate skillet, I cooked 1/4 of an onion, 2 carrots, and 4 stalks of celery.  When the beef was about done, I added the veggies.  When the pasta pot started boiling, I added egg noodles and cooked them for about 10 min.  When they were almost done, I added 5 mushrooms to the beef and veggies.  When the pasta was done, I added the solid contents of the skillet.  I added a tbsp of cornstarch to the remaining liquid and cooked it til thick, then added the gravy to the pot with everything else.

It turned out to be a pretty good stroganoff.  The beer made it a little bit bitter though.  Funny how I never notice the bitterness of the beer when I drink it, but it definitely came out in the food.

On a side note, blogger doesn't recognize "stroganoff" as a word, and wants me to change it to "strongman."

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Recovery Week

I took three whole days off after the Charleston Distance Run.  I am notoriously bad at taking days off (the more I need a day off, the less likely I am to take it...don't ask why).  It seems that I am learning to be smarter, and to be kinder to my poor legs.

I contemplated taking a week off, but there was no way I could really talk myself into that.  Three days was the most I could handle.  And then I decided that when I resumed running, I would switch to an AM running schedule.  Amazingly, I had been getting to bed pretty early, and so I decided that maybe it wouldn't be so hard to get up at 4:50 (ha).

I actually didn't have any trouble getting out of bed Wednesday morning when the alarm went off.  But it about 43 degrees out and I dressed for summer running.  That was a cold run.  Also, it was so foggy, I could hardly see where I was going most of the time.  I'm surprised I made it through the whole run without running off the road at any point.  And then after I got home and finished stretching, my knees started aching in that way that they only ache after a cold run.  Ugh.  It's only September, I don't want to deal with this.

I didn't have any trouble getting up on Thursday either, and this time I put on a long sleeve shirt for the run so I wouldn't be quite so cold.  It was a tiny bit less foggy too.  Friday I really did not want to get out of bed, but managed to drag myself out anyway.  It was a whole 10 degrees warmer out, which was awesome, and it wasn't too foggy to hide the rising sun so it was even a little bit light out by the time I finished my run.  I love being able to see where I'm going when I run...

I was going to run a 5k race on Saturday, but when it came down to it, my gas tank was almost empty and I didn't feel like filling it, or spending 45+ min in the car each way just to run a race that I've heard has a terribly marked course that everyone gets lost on.  Not worth wasting my Saturday morning.  Plus, Josh was running 10 miles, and the only way I was going to get in a long run was if I ran with someone, so I decided to take advantage of that.

I keep saying that I need to start strength training, but workout is really boring, so I haven't really managed to do it yet.  I did workout for 5-10 minutes on Monday though.  I broke a sweat and got out of breath so I'm gonna say it counts.  Also, I've started doing 10 burpees before each run, and 10 walking lunges after each run.  The burpees help a lot with the morning runs, because they are always slow, and getting my heart rate up before I go out the door helps me at least start the run faster than a 9 min/mile pace.  The lunges afterwards are just because I feel like I should be doing lunges.

This week:
M: rest/mini workout
T: off
W: 5.56 / 44:34 / 8:00
R: 4.68 / 40:51 / 8:43
F: 5.57 / 45:17 / 8:06
Sa : 10.1 / 1:19:27 / 7:51 w/Josh
Su : off
week total : 25.91

In other news, here's a picture of me from the CDR that a friend came across.  
I don't know why I always look like I'm dying in photos of running.  
This was in the beginning of the race, long before I actually felt like dying.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Charleston Distance Run 2013

Another race over.  My 12th race this year, and I've still got several to go!  I did 10 races in 2011, 11 in 2012, and it's looking like there will be 15+ this year!

I ran this race for the first time last year.  The first 3 miles are almost entirely flat, then there is a long uphill until mile 5 or 6, then you go downhill til mile 8, and then you run flat.  And more flat, and more flat, and more flat.  Until you reach the track in Laidley Field and run about 300 meters around the track to the finish line.  Last year, I completely rocked the hill, both up and down.  Then I hit the flat part and pushed the wall for 7 miles.  It was terrible and not fun and I hated it.  But I came in 6th place, and walked out with $150.  I guess a little bit of suffering on a run is ok if it results in a hundred and fifty bucks.

This year I figured I had better train for that long flat portion.  Since I run almost entirely hills, long flat stretches are a completely foreign concept to my legs.  And they hate it.  I dragged myself through a 10 mile run on the river trail in July, and an 8 mile run on the river trail a week or so before the race.  The only thing that kept me going on those 2 runs was the fact that I wasn't by myself.  Both times I found people to go with me so that I wouldn't change my mind and run somewhere else.

So I got to the race, and figured that at least my legs had survived other long flat runs and maybe the competition in this race would keep me going. didn't really work out that way.  This year, I got to the top of the hill ok.  Instead of passing everyone on the uphill, I actually got passed by 2 girls, but I had a decent pace going and didn't really worry about it.  I was in 6th place at the top of the hill.  My legs died shortly after I started down the hill.  It was super humid out, so a lot of my energy was going towards getting some oxygen out of the air, my knee was feeling funny off and on, and I just felt like crap.  So I didn't sprint down the hill like I sometimes do in races, but I managed to keep a somewhat decent pace.  I got passed by a few guys, but it didn't bother me one bit cause I'm not competing against them. I was feeling pretty discouraged thinking about the fact that I hadn't even made it to the long flat before I died, but I managed not to give up completely.  I kept chugging along.  As I crawled along the flat, with the road stretching out endlessly straight in front of me, I kept trying to find a second wind.  But every time I tried to speed up, my body just laughed at me.  At some point, a girl passed me, going strong, and I had to just let her go.  Around mile 11 or so, it started getting dark out and the wind picked up.  There was thunder in the distance.  I leaned into the wind, and suddenly found myself getting stronger.  I didn't have a hill to push against to revive me, but the wind worked just as well.  I gradually picked up the pace until suddenly I felt great.  I didn't just feel great, I felt like it was time to really pick up the pace and give the last miles of the race everything I had.  I went into 5k-mode and practically sprinted the rest of the race.  I found myself reeling in guys who had passed me minutes before.  I reeled them in, and I flew by them.  I could not believe what was happening.  I'm a half marathoner.  I run 13 miles.  I usually start dying around mile 12.  And here I was getting a second wind and flying through 2-3 miles that my body should not have been ok with.  I had no idea if I would be able to hold my pace all the way to the finish line, but I certainly wasn't going to give up at that point.  I gained on the last girl that had passed me, but she was too far ahead to catch.  I sprinted down a long straight road that led right onto the track, and then I sprinted that 300m around the track.  My breath was getting ragged, but it felt so, so, good to power my way around that track and finish strong.

I finished in 1:47:39, 7th place female, 36th overall.  I didn't place top 5 like I had hoped, but I did PR by 1:15.  And a PR is always more important to me than my placing, because placing depends so much on who happens to show up that day.  I ran faster than last year, but placed further.  Luck of the draw.

Last year, I was awarded "First West Virginian" because I was the first after the top 5.  This year's 6th place was from WV, so I missed out on that prize and picked up 1st in my age category.

After the race, while hanging around chugging water and waiting for the awards ceremony, I was approached by various guys who I had passed in the last few miles, congratulating me on my finish.  They told me how they had passed me and thought they would never see me again, and then I suddenly came out of nowhere sprinting past them.  One guy said he tried to stay with me, hoping I would carry him to the finish, but no such luck.  They were amazed by my kick, and I told them I was too.  I told them that when they had passed me I had assumed they would stay in front of me, but then I got that crazy second wind and just decided to go for it!  One of the guys I talked to is someone that I have seen at several races now, and I usually recognize him, but I had been so lost in my world of misery and then my world of flying, that I hadn't even noticed him when he passed me or when I passed him.

I am on the fence about whether or not I will return next year.  I probably will, because I want to try for top 5 again, but I'm tempted to scrap this race because the course is just so terrible.  It's boring.  And it makes me hate running.  I'm not sure if it's worth torturing myself with that run again just to try and place top 5.  But obviously I'm not going to decide now.  I'll wait and see how I feel next spring when it comes time to register.  By then I probably will have managed to brainwash myself into thinking it "wasn't so bad after all."