Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Pumpkin Burger

I made these a few days ago.  They are super delicious.  I'm eating one for dinner tonight...with pumpkin mac & cheese.  Pumpkin is my favorite part of fall!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Photography Class 9-29-14

I teach an after-school photography class on Mondays.  I love sharing my joy of photography with my students, and teaching them how to use all the settings on their cameras so that they can take cool photos too.  Today was our third class, and I took them out to the barn to take pictures of the animals and beautiful scenery out there.  They thoroughly enjoyed it, and I'm looking forward to seeing their photos at the next class!

Here are some of the photos I got today.

And just for fun, here are some of the awesome photos I took during class last week.  Our new sandbox had just been completed 2 days earlier, so it's still new and exciting for everyone!  There were two younger students playing in the sandbox, and they were very willing and cheerful models for my class.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Another great week of running.

First, some photos that I captured on the way home from Mass this morning.  I love catching the fog rising off the river!

Super happy with how my runs went this week.  Still a little giddy with happiness about being able to run again, and about the fact that my runs are longer than they used to be.  Can't wait to race again!

This Week : Rides & Runs
M : Bike 12.3 / Bike 7
T : Run 8.6
W : rest day
R : Bike 21.9
F : Run 11.3
Sa :  Hike
Su : Run 8.5

Run : 28.4 miles
Ride : 41.2 miles

On Monday, Hill and Holler organized a shop ride.  It was supposed to be a 20 miler, followed by dinner and GVBC beer, followed by a movie called "Pantani : The Accidental Death of a Cyclist."  I wasn't really interested in spending my Monday night watching the movie, but I did want to join for the ride and the beer.  The brewing company has been in the works for awhile, and their beers only just made it into the local bars in the last few weeks.  Six of us headed out on the ride.  We were of varying abilities, and ended up going pretty slow.  Some of us did the occasional speed ahead and then stop and wait.  Since the others were trying to get back in time for the movie, the 20 mile plan was abandoned.  I joined them for a burger and local beer downtown, then when they headed to the movie, I got back on my bike.  The 12 miler hadn't been strenuous enough for me to feel like I really got exercise, and I needed more.  I was racing the sunset at that point, so I just did a quick 7 mile sprint.  

Mothman Black IPA

I don't have anything exciting to say about Tuesday's run or Thursday's bike.  Friday's run was really, really, awesome.  The recap can be found here.  The recap for Saturday's hike (it's lengthy and involves a lot more than just hiking) can be found here.  Today's run was pretty good.  I wanted somewhere around 8 miles.  I decided to do an out and back on Fairview Rd, which is where most of the Lewisburg 1/2 is run.  My plan was to run out 4 miles, turn around, and add more once I got back to downtown if I felt like it.  It was a bit cool out this morning, so I didn't try to push the pace at all, just kept it comfortable.  I hit 4 miles in the middle of a gradual uphill, so I continued to the top, and then turned around.  About a mile and a half from town, I was heading up the little incline towards the bridge over the interstate.  I felt good, so I lengthened my stride a bit and powered up it.  That felt really good, so I decided to keep increasing the pace.  I didn't go as fast as I possibly good, but I put a good bit of effort into the run into town.  As I was nearing downtown, I decided that while I was pushing it, I may as well run the finish of the Lewisburg 1/2, just for the heck of it.  So I kept the pace up until I crossed the finish line, and then I jogged the few blocks back home.  

Here are my splits, just for fun.  I joined Strava when I started biking, and quickly became addicted.  I recently bought a strava-compatible running watch* so I can track my runs as well.  I like that in addition to the splits, it shows you the elevation gain/loss, and shows you what your split would have been if you put in the same effort on flat ground.  

I never used to use a GPS watch unless I was going on a really long run, but now I am hooked.  My other wasn't made to upload runs to a computer, so there wasn't much incentive to use it for anything other than making sure I got enough miles in on long runs.  I really like being able to upload my runs and track them through Strava, and the GPS watch will probably be an essential part of my running gear from now on.  I know running shouldn't be all about the numbers...but I've always been obsessed with tracking/recording my runs, and Strava makes it so much easier!

*Fun fact about my watch : A bought Soleus GPS watch through Amazon.  It was pretty and turquoise and compatible with Strava and I loved it.  It also turned out to be defective.  It got harder and harder to get it to connect with the USB cable and upload my runs.  I contacted Soleus support, and they sent me various trouble shooting options, none of which worked.  So, they sent me a brand new watch...for free!  So far the new watch works great, and I am very satisfied with their excellent customer service!  They requested that I mail them the defective watch so they can figure out what went wrong with that, and I will be putting in in the mail on Monday.  It's the least I can do, in thanks for the new free watch!

9/27/14 : Chasing Waterfalls. Plus some eating and shopping.

Yesterday Holly and I decided to get out of town to hike, play with our cameras, eat food we can't get in Lewisburg, and shop. Roanoke is the best place to go from here for different food and for shopping, so I got online and searched for good photo possibilities between here and there.  I found Roaring Run.  It was advertised as an easy hike with lots of water to photograph.  Perfect.

We headed out of town around 9:30 in the morning.  Roaring Run was about an hour away.  We really lucked out with the weather, it was not too cold, not too hot, sunny blue skies, and the leaves were starting to change.  We found the parking lot without any trouble and started down the trail.  The sign said it was a 3/4 mile hike to the waterfall.  It was a mostly flat trail, with several stream crossings on sturdy wooden bridges.  There were a bunch of wooden stairs built into the hillside right before the main waterfall.  There were quite a few smaller waterfalls along the way.  The whole trail followed the stream, and it was just gorgeous the whole way.  The sun shining through the trees made it all the more beautiful.  We stopped to take so many pictures, it took us over an hour to get to the main waterfall.  (The return trip took about 20 minutes).

The last 3 pictures are from the final waterfall.  It was basically a giant boulder, with water flowing down a small part of it.  We were able to walk up the boulder next to the water fall and take pictures from the top looking down (last photo).

After our hike, we headed to Roanoke for lunch and shopping.  We wanted Thai food for lunch, and found a little place that wasn't too far from the mall.  It was called City Corner II.  It was in a building that looked more like a house than a business, and they had their herbs growing outside in boxes, which is awesome.  I usually get some kind of pad thai, but decided to try something different this time.  Being the pasta-holic that I am, I still wanted to have some sort of noodles. I went with the Roasted Duck Noodle.  A nice break from chicken, which is usually what I end up eating when I eat out.  It was good, but wasn't nearly enough to fill me up.  I was still hungry when we left the restaurant.

After lunch, we headed to Valley View Mall for some shopping.  I got some more running clothes...or course.  And of course I had to stop in Barnes & Noble and buy some more kids Spanish books for my classroom.  We were still in the mall at 4:30, and since I hadn't had enough for lunch, I knew I wouldn't make it all the way home (an hour and a half) without dinner, so we decided to have dinner in the mall at Buffalo Wild Wings.  I had a delicious crispy chicken sandwich with fries and cole slaw.  Eventually, we got on the road home, and got home around 7:30.  It was a long day, but so much fun!  It's nice to get out of town once in awhile, and even more fun with a friend.  Holly just bought a camera recently, and it's been awesome having someone to go on camera-adventure-hikes with! (I might have to do some belated posts about our previous adventures, since they were before I decided to turn this into an everything blog instead of just a running blog).

I finished out my day with a big bowl of ice cream and some photo-editing.  What a Saturday!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Beckley 1/2 in T-8 days!

I can't resist...I'm going for it. My decision is partially due to a friend who said she would carpool with me and do the 5k. Having a travel buddy is always nice! 

I haven't had any doubts about my legs being ready, but I've been worried about my lungs. It's that crappy time of year where it's in the 40s at night and 70s or 80s during the day. Unfortunately, my lungs do not handle those wide temperature variations very well, and I have been coughing up a lung for the last 2 weeks. 

Today, I was still coughing, but only a little bit, and it wasn't painful anymore. I actually felt good enough to break out of a jog and actually work my lungs with a run. I was finally able to run hard enough to be slightly out of breath the whole time (sometimes more than slightly). This is a change from my last few runs which I kept slow enough that I never had to breathe hard. 

I wanted a longer run today, and hadn't actually planned on running particularly hard. But it was a beautiful, warm, sunny afternoon, and I was feeling strong. It was perfect running weather and I wanted to RUN. So run I did.  I ran a loop that has two tough climbs, both 0.6 miles, one with 225 ft of elevation gain and the other with 249 ft of gain. I ran each of them about 40 seconds faster than last time. Last time was a 10.1 mile run at an average 8:51 pace. Today was 11.3 miles at an average 7:55. I finally feel like I'm coming back, and I love it!

I won't be getting a course or dIstance PR at Beckley this year, but that's ok. I'm really just glad that I will be able to participate. I love races, and it has been 5 months since my last one!  Beckley will be a good place for me to see how my legs/lungs hold up for the distance, before I run the tougher Lewisburg 1/2 on October 25. 

*update : just looked at my splits from today's run...my first five miles were all under 7:30, and my first mile was 6:17. Granted, those miles had a lot of downhills but still...I didn't know I was going that fast! My other miles were all above 8, and some above 9, but they involved mountains so...it's pretty understandable. Glad to see I could pull out a 6:17 first mile and still have a great run!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

2 ten-milers in 1 week!

I think the best thing biking did for me (other than saving me from a summer of no exercise, of course) is that it got me accustomed to exercising for longer periods of time each day.  Right now I am running fewer times per week than I used to, but my average distance per run is longer.

I feel distance-ready for a half marathon now, but I still feel far from race-ready.  I don't know how long it is going to take to get my lungs in shape for racing, but I sense that it is going to be a long while.  I'm still on the fence about the Beckley 1/2.  Since the early-registration deadline has passed, I guess I don't have to decide until the day before.

Today I added mountain climbs to my run for the first time since I started running again.  I didn't try to push the pace at all during the run, just kept a jog.  I was crawling up the climbs, but I felt pretty good.  I was never tempted to walk, so I'll call it a win.

This Week's Runs
M : 10
R : 5.3
Su : 10.1
total : 25.4

I am finding that the fewer times I ride per week, the better I feel during those rides.  Now that I am running again, I can ride 3 times a week instead of 6, and ride more miles on each ride.  My back is feeling a lot better now that I'm not torturing it every day.  On Friday, I switched out my pedals for "big-girl" pedals...I'm clipping in now.  I've had people trying to talk me into it for awhile, but the idea of having my feet glued to the pedals kind of freaks me out.  It still makes me really nervous, but I guess if I'm going to be serious about the biking thing it's a step I had to make eventually.  Friday's ride was short, just trying to get used to the feeling of having pedals stuck to my feet.  I didn't crash, so that was a plus.  

This Week's Rides
W : 22.6
F : 9.1
Sa : 29.5
total : 61.1

Pumpkin-Chicken Stew

Pumpkin-Chicken Stew
2 b/s chicken breasts
1 c pumpkin
2 cans diced tomatoes
(I used 1 garlic fire roasted, and 1 garlic-basil-oregano)
1 can white corn
garlic powder
ginger powder
turmeric powder

Put the chicken in the bottom of the crockpot, put everything else on top.  Cook on low for 5+ hours.  Test chicken with a thermometer to ensure it has been cooked fully.  Shred chicken or just break into large pieces like I did. 

Pumpkin-Basil Brownies

Awhile ago, I came across a recipe on Some The Wiser for Basil Brownies that sounded delicious.  I was going to make them, but then I ended up making Cinnamon Brownies instead. Today, I finally got around to making some Basil Brownies!  In the process, I compared 3 different brownie recipes : 2 of mine, and 1 from Some the Wiser.  Then, I created my own. (The new creation is in red pen).  Pumpkin was a necessary ingredient, because I just opened the first can of pumpkin this season...it's time to start putting pumpkin in everything!

Pumpkin-Basil Brownies
3.5 oz 85% cocoa chocolate bar
13 tbsp butter
1 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder
1/3 c pumpkin
pinch of sea salt
scant tsp vanilla
2 eggs
scant 1 1/2 c white sugar
1 1/4 c white flour
3/4 c fresh basil 
1/4 c mini chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350. Break the chocolate bar into pieces, put into a microwave-safe bowl with the butter, and microwave 2-3 minutes until mostly melted.  Stir until melted completely.  Add the cocoa powder, pumpkin, salt, and vanilla, mix well.  Incorporate the eggs.  Mix in the sugar, then the flour.  Put the basil in a food processor and chop finely, then add to the batter.   Add the chocolate chips.  Grease a 9x9 pan, then pour in the batter.  Bake for 30 minutes.  A toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean.  

Sunday, September 14, 2014

22 miles this week!

Working my way back to a normal running schedule, and loving it!  Trying to increase my mileage slowly, but this week I had several runs that were longer than planned. I plan a short jog, and then once I'm out there, I just don't want to stop.  I've missed running so much, and I hate to cut a run short when it feels good!  My foot starts to hurt a bit a few miles in, but it isn't the same pain as it was before.  I think/hope it just needs to be strengthened.  I've been telling myself that the Lewisburg 1/2 on October 25 will be my first race back.  But I felt so good on my runs this week, I find myself contemplating the Beckley 1/2 on October 4.  I know my legs are ready, but I'm not sure about my lungs/foot.  It's going to be a tough decision. The early registration cut-off is on September 19, which is making the decision harder.  I'm going to try not to feel the pressure of the early deadline and wait longer to decide.  It's only a $3 increase anyway, and it's not really a big deal if I get the right size t-shirt...

This Week's Runs
M : 3.1
T : 7.4
W : off
R : 5.2
F : off
Sa : 6.5
Su : off

I've been trying to decrease my biking mileage as I increase my running mileage.  Last week I ran 13 miles and biked 61.1 miles.  It was my lowest biking mileage since June, but because I'm running again, I still felt like I got plenty of exercise.  I didn't plan on biking too many miles this week, but somehow I ended up with 106 miles...  That had something to do with today's 43 miler.  I planned to do it last Sunday, but as I started out on my ride, I discovered that my front gear shifter was jammed, and there was no way I was going to be able to climb a mountain without the use of my front gears!  When today rolled around, I was already at 62 miles for the week, and would have been fine taking the day off, but this was a ride I really wanted to do, and the weather is getting temperamental, so I'm not sure how many more chances I'll have to do long rides.  As it is, today was colder than I like.  I could barely feel my fingers and toes by the end of the ride.  

Thursday and Friday's rides were both longer than I was likely to do on my own, but they were with friends, so the mileage was not entirely up to me.  And, it's easier to ride further when I'm with people.

This Week's Rides
M : 14.5
T : off
W : off
R : 21.4
F: 27
Sa : off
Su : 43.1

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Pickle-Pineapple Hummus

I finished a jar of pickles at lunch today.  I didn't want to just throw away all that pickle juice...so I came up with something to throw it in. There is still some leftover though, I'll have to think of something else crazy to use up the rest of it.

Pickle-Pineapple Hummus
3/4 c chick peas
1/4 c pickle juice
4 large spoonfuls crushed pineapple
garlic powder to taste
2 tbsp chia seeds

Put the first 4 ingredients in a food processor and blend together.
Transfer to a bowl, add the chia seeds.  (They will soak up the extra liquid)