Saturday, December 18, 2010

In Russia the laundry washes you

We managed to dig our way out to get groceries and run a few final Christmas errands. How much snow do you have in your neck of the woods? We only have about six inches, but its sticking around and it might as well be six feet. School was out three days last week (yay!) and everyone in our neighborhood was either sledding or trekking through the snow to the post office and library.

Being home all week was exhausting wonderful, it allowed me to try some new recipes. I tried a couple new Rachael Ray recipes for dinner for the Mr. and made this fabulous soup for myself. It appears Miss Sal likes Barefoot Contessa too!

I subbed veggie broth for the bullion cube and after making the soup, threw in some portabella mushrooms that I had sauteed for another dish. The mushrooms put this soup way over the top, making it dark, rich and hearty and super flavorful. Add a salad and it is the perfect winter meal and it was even better the following day. For you non veggies, any sausage could be subbed for the veggie sausage.

The main reason I tried this soup was to make the veggie sausage. I've seen these steamed "sausages" on a couple blogs and in Isa's Brunch book and was intrigued, but it seemed like it would be too time consuming and complicated. Not so. I used the recipe from Everyday Dish and the dough came together in minutes.

You just mix together the dry ingredients.

Add water and mix.
 Roll the sausages in foil or cloth. Toss in the steamer for thirty minutes while you fold ten loads of laundry. Dang we go through a lot of layers in the winter. I'm mail ordering myself a Russian bride for Christmas. I've been good and I deserve some help with the laundry.

Then the big reveal! Viola. Nice, firm, phallic-looking fauxsages. No ThermaJock jokes please.

I think I love making these even more than eating them. The transformation from dough to sausage is a special kind of magic that I just can't get enough of. They have a great texture and the flavor is good but I'll be experimenting with other spices and maybe some base ingredients to see what works and what doesn't. The kiddos dig them and shockingly even the anti-veg Mr. thinks they're swell.

Although I didn't do so great as a participant in Vegan Mofo, I sure made up for it as a spectator. I have tons of new recipes and blogs bookmarked and have plenty to keep me busy during the blizzardfest.

In other news, I'm doing mostly dvd workouts mixed with a couple bodyrock workouts a week. I'm just not moving enough though. My legs are feeling stronger but I've def gained a noticeable winter layer on my midsection and I feel like I've lost all my cardio endurance that I had gained when I was running. I've been on the fence about joining the gym for a couple months just so I can run on the treadmill. The only possible time I could go is like 5am and they don't open until 6. I'm trying to catch the manager to see if there is a way I could come in earlier. Oh and to see if I can sweet talk him into buying an X Bike like the one at Rae's gym. :) We'll see.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, December 10, 2010

It's Good to Be Back

The chest cold is mostly gone with a tiny bit of coughing that kept me and everyone else up for a couple nights until I gave it a dose of eucalyptus oil and some steam. Someone online suggested the warm mist humidifier and I'm sorry but I can't remember who, but I do want to say THANK YOU if you are reading this, because not only did it cure my cough, it has done wonders for my dry, scaly, winter legs that I scratch all winter long!

In other news we had a wonderful Thanksgiving with my folks. My dad lives at this lake and it is a super place to run. So super, he's taken up running! GO DAD! As for me, I ran a couple times while we were visiting but haven't since. I've been doing yoga and some home workouts, but you all can keep your 17 degree running to yourselves. Unless Santa drops one of these babies down my chimney, I'm staying indoors until spring.

Christmas is just around the corner. I've got the tree up and the hall decked at last.

Our home is a place where the Holy and the Roly Poly mix and mingle to a jingling beat,

and there's a nice blanket of snow all winter long.

 I'm off to bake a special little big girl a birthday cake. I can't believe she's 10!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I'm still alive and will try to update this weekend. I've been sick since turkey day: sore throat, lost my voice for three days (family was SO digging that), achy, cough, chest congestion...the usual. I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and hope you Canadians had an awesome Thursday. We had our first snow today! No accumulation, but it looked beautiful coming down. I have lots to say about the last two weeks and the upcoming holidays, but right now a tea kettle is whistling my name and I'm off to bed. Night.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Bootie Bustin', Aussies and Another Fall Soup

Today marks the start of Amanda's Holiday Bootie Buster Challenge and I am psyched! Nothing like a little challenge to keep ya from totally piggin' out (and spreadin' out) during the holidays. She has over 300 participants and you can still sign up until the end of today, so head on over. I think its going to be great meeting a lot of active folks and there are some great prizes too! I believe Miss Shelly was the big winner last year. I can't imagine why, I mean it's not like she's dedicated or anything.

Here's another fascinating and active lady I found through Q.  I've always wanted to visit Australia, now I can live vicariously through  Miss Barbie (as in, put another shrimp on the). She's an amazing wife,  mom, triathlete and is uber cool! She is hosting a seriously aussome giveaway over at her blog. Checkity check her out.

After one gorgeous week of warmth, sunshine and salad, last week me hit me again with its darkness, wind and rain. But I kicked it in its sad blue a** with some Butternut Squash and Apple Soup. I love Ina Garten and have made this soup every November for the last five years. I halve the recipe, add a bit more curry to fire it up and leave it a little on the chunky side 'cause I'm not a big fan of pureed soups. All that was required to make it vegan was a switch from butter to Earth Balance. Yum! Hot and sweet, just the way I like it.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Year End Race Report

All work and no play makes me grumpy. I've been working on some on-line training this week for my job and some other work that also involves sitting. So much sitting that my bum is sore and my legs are stiff. Not cool. I have managed to get in most of my workouts this week which has helped. I do miss all my bloggy friends. I'll try to catch up with everyone next week.

The Nick Caldwell Memorial 5K was last Saturday. I mentioned before that I slacked off on my training plan and went my own way and even no way for a couple weeks since my last race, so I was nervous this time around. My last few runs before the race weren't great, my heart rate was high and I couldn't get my breathing under control.

It was chilly the morning of the race and I don't exactly have my cold weather wardrobe sorted out yet, so I wore a long sleeve top and a pair of teal "running tights" that are actually Victoria's Secret yoga pants. During the race, a couple dudes were poking fun at my choice of apparel, but I didn't mind. Whatever works.

The course was flat except for one hill close to the second mile and one tiny hill at the finish. I made the first mile at right around nine minutes and I felt pretty good except for my breathing. I'm a heavy breather and always feel a little self-conscious about it, but this time there was some guy behind me that was even louder than me, so I tried to stay ahead of him so he'd drown out all my huffing.

There was a water station right past the first mile and I grabbed a cup and gulped it down. Huge mistake. I guess it was Gatorade, but it tasted so sickeningly sweet, like kool aid with too much sugar. I spit, threw my cup then huffed and puffed up my way up the first hill and headed down the street. Right about mile two is when things started to go bad. That foul liquid kept threatening to come back up. I kept telling myself to keep running while simultaneously looking for some bushes for cover. I kept everything down, but the last mile was a combination run/walk. It wasn't JUST the sick feeling either, my heart rate was through the roof.

When I came up the last little hill toward the finish line, I saw Knucklehead waiting for me. This made me so happy and gave me that little extra push that I so needed. The clock read 30:38 when I crossed what I thought was the finish line. I was excited because I thought I had totally blown it, I didn't even see anyone else behind me. Suddenly I found I had shaved over a minute off my last 5K time. Not.

See the white mark in the pic? Apparently, that was NOT the finish because when I received my official time, it was 31:24. I'm okay with that, because that is still a tiny bit faster than my last time.

This is my last race for this year.  I'm going to spend the winter conditioning my body to run better. I'll race again when three miles feels good, not like I'm going to die.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Pumpkin Bars Revisited

Success! After thinking about what I really wanted in a pumpkin bar, I came up with a new recipe and it was a hit not only with my fam, but I tried it on one of my friends and she liked it too!  It tastes more like pumpkin pie but without the crust.  I only wish I had taken a picture, but by the time they were cool enough to cut, we were packing up to go for a hike and then they were history.

Super Pumpkin Bars  
(these are Vegan, Gluten Free*, Sugar Free and Healthy so if any of these words frighten you, step away)

8-10 dates
1/3 c. maple syrup
1 (15oz) can white cannelini beans, rinsed and drained
3T. ground flax seed
2T. coconut oil or Earth Balance melted
1c. pumpkin puree
2t. cinnamon
1t. ground ginger
1/4 t. ground cloves
1/4 t. allspice
3/4 t. baking powder
1/2 c. oat flour**
 1/2 c. shredded coconut
1c. dried cranberries (optional, I didn't use these this time around, but they would be good)
note: if beans contain no salt, you may add 1/4 t. salt to mixture.

Preheat oven to 350º and grease an 8x8 or 9x13 glass baking dish.

Pit the dates and toss them into food processor along with the maple syrup and ground flaxseed and process until dates are broken up and evenly dispersed. Add the beans and oil and pulse. Add the rest of the ingredients except for the cranberries if using. Process until thoroughly mixed. Stir in cranberries if using.

Spread batter into prepared pan and bake for about 30 -40 minutes. Here's were it got a little tricky. The toothpick test really doesn't apply here, because hot beans are going to stick to whatever you poke in there. I ended up baking this batch 35 minutes. The top had formed a bit of a golden crust (think brownie) and it felt firm to the touch.

Let them cool completely then cut into squares, or if you are in a hurry, cut them all crazy while they are still warm and make everyone "guess" at what shape they got.

*gluten free if you are using oats from a gluten free facility yo
** you may just whir old fashioned oats in the food processor until they look like flour

Today's Workout:  Yoga Meltdown- I haven't done this DVD for a while and I was happy to find my balance is much better on warrior 3 and the rolling T's felt almost easy. Holding them for 15 seconds? That's nothing after all the 30 second side bridges. That means my core IS getting stronger!!!  Thanks Jamoosh!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


The vegan thing is going pretty well, I did have a minor set back over the weekend that involved much oohing and ahhhing over a friend's hot artichoke dip which made me have to try it. My family loved it, so I'm going to see if I can create a vegan version for the holidays. I will say that last week I felt kind of BLAH but I'm 98% sure that it had more to do with the weather than my diet. I've also avoided the scale because I'm off sugar again (no Halloween candy since Oct, 31!), so I'm not counting calories or watching portions while I'm doing the vegan experiment.

This morning I was checking out some Vegan MoFo around the web and came across this ineresting pumpkin bar recipe. I had leftover beans and pumpkin that needed to be used, so it seemed like the perfect thing for after school snacks.
Knucklehead thought it was pb fudge. Boy was he surprised!
The bars were very soft, I had to bake them an extra five minutes and even then, they remained quite soft inside. When I first tasted them, the banana was overpowering, but they were also hot out of the oven. After letting them cool completely, I could detect some bean, but no one else in the family suspected, so it may just have been because I knew what was hiding in there. I would have really liked for the bars to taste more pumpkiny.

Overall, the whole verdict was...strange. Everyone ate them, but everyone said they were "different" which is the word my family uses to tell me that they really didn't like something but they are either afraid they will hurt my feelings or there is nothing else available to snack on. I have a feeling this was the latter because I declared today a candy-free day.

In Happy Herbivore's defense I did make some modifications to her recipe. I eliminated the sugar completely, adding a touch more maple syrup and I didn't really measure, I just dumped in the pumpkin and beans that were in my fridge. I also used up the rest of my oat flour instead of the instant oats called for. So basically, I didn't follow her recipe at all. Sorry HH, that's just the way I roll. All of these modifications could have affected the taste and I'm sure this is the reason they were so sticky inside.

I like the idea of vegan pumpkin bars, and the use of beans to get that chewy texture (and protein!), but I'm more interested in eliminating refined sugar than doing away with fat, so I'm going to play around with the recipe some more. I want to have some vegan goodies for my dad to try at Thanksgiving and I think this one will be a winner.

Today's Workout:
Run 3.1  Ran the course I will be running on Saturday. Man, I'm a mess...way too much walking! I have to get back to regular running STAT!!!!  Legs feel fine, just my heart rate is through the roof! I need some advice (I probably won't use it, but I do need it).

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Rain Rain Go Away

It's tough explaining to Tucker why I refuse to go out running in this weather so I just let him out to see for himself. He came right back inside. He doesn't mind the cold, but I think we're on the same page about the rain.
He pouted about it all day.

It was a great day for soup though and for dinner I made one of my favorites: Pasta Bean Soup. I've always served it without the bacon, and use vegetable stock instead of chicken, but this time I added a few drops of Liquid Smoke to give it a little more depth. Delicious! A little almond butter on toast to accompany...perfect.

No workout today. Boo! I got a new Runner's World today that has a plan that's supposed to help keep me motivated. I think the fact that I'm excited to go to bed so I can read about getting motivated says a lot about my current state.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

First Ever Cheesless Pizza

 I love pizza and all its cheesy goodness, so I seriously doubted that this would ever work out.  I usually start with a yummy homemade crust, load mine up with tons of veggies and lots of ooey gooey cheese. Everyone gets to choose their own toppings; Smiley likes banana peppers, black olives and extra cheese, Knucklehead likes the same but with pepperoni  and Mr. Run likes everything but the kitchen sink on a thin crust. But everyone loves the cheese.

After digging through the veggie bin, I came up a little short for my portion- just a half a portabella mushroom, a red onion and big bunch of basil from the garden. Seemed like that would be a little dry on a pizza with nothing to stick it all together so I made a quick pesto.

Basil and Walnut Pesto     
1 c. packed basil leaves
1/4 c. walnuts, shelled
2 garlic cloves                        
1/8 to 1/4 c. olive oil
sea salt to taste

Whir the basil, walnuts and garlic in the food processor until the nuts are finely chopped. Add the oil a little at a time until it is a good consistency. Stir in sea salt.

Yes, I know it looks kind of weird, but I promise it's not. It's yummy. I started with a layer of pizza sauce, then added the mushroom and onion, then spread the pesto on with a fork. I had to thin the pesto a bit with water to make it spread and hindsight tells me a spoon might have worked better for spreading and for photographic purposes, but dang, I was hungry.

Pesto doesn't melt and glue everything together the way cheese does, but it does pack a flavorful punch. I'll be experimenting more with pizza toppings as it is one our favorite meals and I'm pretty much over salad since the temperature dipped below 60º.

 I would love to hear your favorite pizza toppings (vegan or not) and any recommendations you may have for making vegan pizza.

Today's workout : 2.5 mile warm up
Lower body: squats, lunges,wall sit, step ups, plie squats, stiff leg deadlifts , leg lifts (two sets of 12)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Banana Ginger Pancakes

In case I haven't said it before, we're pretty big on pancakes around here. Sunday mornings consist of everyone sitting around our tiny table with their favorite section of the Sunday paper and chomping on some 'cakes. We definitely have our favorites including cranberry orange and buckwheat, but lately I've been trying some new flavor combos. The most recent was Banana Ginger. These are vegan and the recipe was (heavily) adapted from Get Healthy, Go Vegan.

Banana Ginger Pancakes

3/4 c. oat flour
3/4 cup. 50/50 flour (this is just half whole wheat and half white flour)
1/2 cup oats
2 t. baking powder
2 t. ground ginger
1/4 salt
1 1/4 c. soy milk
3T. apple butter
1 t. vanilla extract
1 c. mashed banana

Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Mix rest of ingredients together in a medium bowl. Mix wet into dry and mix until combined. Add more soy milk if needed to get a pourable batter. Pour about 1/2 cup onto a hot griddle that's been lubed with vegetable oil (I like Earth Balance or coconut oil). Flip when bubbles form and serve hot with 100% pure maple syrup. Yum!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Its a New Day!

October went out with a candy-fueled bang, but no more. I'm so over that. I ended the month having ran  46 miles, four miles off my target, but I'll take it. My weight stayed the same and I never did get back a good strength training groove. Try, try again.

 I did sip some good beers though. We had some Saranac Pumpkin Ale, Beck's Octoberfest, and Shiner Oktoberfest and I have to say I enjoyed the pumpkin ale the most. You can taste the cloves, not too much, perfectly spicy.

Big November goals:

Run - 4x per week with a distance goal of at least 50 miles.
I'm having a harder time getting out there. I'm a complete wuss when it comes to the cold. My runs the last two weeks have been late in the morning or in the afternoon when the sun has been shining long enough to knock some of the chill off the air.

Lift  3x per week
With a focus on glutes at least twice per week - I noticed while trying on jeans recently that my derriere seems to have gone south for the winter. So not cool! I worked so hard last year to get everything where it belongs and then let it go! I guess where I don't see it all the time, I kind of forgot. Nothing like a giant three way mirror to remind you!
Work on flexibility - more yoga and stretching. Flexibility is great until I start lifting, then my hamstrings get soooo tight. There's got to be a cure.

Eat -Vegan for the month 
I eat a lot of vegan meals, but I'm no vegan. I became rather obsessed with vegan baking a few winters ago, mostly because I doubted it possible that great baked goods could be made without butter and eggs and partly because I love a challenge. Some things worked, some had the texture of upholstery foam (yes, I have ingested some, don't ask).

Since I have admired Vegan MoFo from afar for the past two years I decided to go vegan for the month and join in all the fun (if they will let me since I am indeed a poser). This will be somewhat of a challenge because as the days become shorter and colder I like hot, comforting meals that generally involve cheese and/or cream. I'm so not into any of that fake stuff either. I love a challenge, especially if it involves food.
So for the next month, this blog will have a heavy leaning towards vegan meals, recipes and how all this veganization  makes me feel, look etc.

Non-fitness related goal:
November is Home month here at casa de loco. I have several projects  that are (and have been for years months) in various states of completion and my goal is to complete them and maybe start a new one. Smiley and Knucklehead are both ready for a change in decor, so I would like to at least get one of their rooms painted a shiny new color before the new year.

Oh and this month I vow to actually look back at my goals and try to stay a little more focused.  Pinky swear.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Down with OPM – Three things Thursday

The month is coming to a close and I thought I'd share three very important lessons I learned this month.

What goes up must come down

After my first 5K, I somehow got the notion that I no longer needed my training plan and took matters into  my own hands. I thought running hills instead of my usual semi-flat route would make me stronger and the next race would be easier. I mapped out my new route that consisted of three hills of varying ascent and took  off.  

Wow!  Three hills going up results in one helluva coming down.  That very first day after slowly making my way up, coming down was super fast and felt amazing!  Short lived.  I learned that FLYING  down a very steep hill, pretending to be a GAZELLE then suddenly hitting a patch of brand NEW ASPHALT  that’s been rained on for two days results in things get real crazy real fast. Even crazier if you have a dog attached to you.  I survived though. No broken skin and only two people had to witness it. 

Do not start a strength training program the week of your race.

 I got cracking on my Octoberfast challenge and wrote out a plan for the month that included three days of weights, three days of core and four days of running. It looked beautiful on paper but I got so busy the first week that I didn’t do hardly any of it. The second week I jumped right into my lower body routine, doing three sets of various weighted squats, lunges and dead lifts which resulted in very sore and stiff legs. I could barely walk. That was on Tuesday. By Friday I could finally run again and Saturday was the race. Lesson learned.

I’m so not down with OPM (other people’s money)

 I'm finally wrapping up that fundraiser. Way more hours than I had expected.  I used to do the penny fundraiser at our school, which basically consisted of collecting coffee cans full of pennies from all the classrooms each month, driving them 10 miles to the bank and depositing them. I thought I was being smart by taking on the big fundraiser, as cash and checks are a heck of a lot lighter than thousands of pennies. Jokes on me though, as I grossly underestimated the time and frustration involved.

 It totally paid off for the school though. We made a lot of money. What I learned is that I'm so not comfortable with wads of someone else's cash in my possession. Oh its fun to pretend I'm an accountant or a pimp for a minute or two, but then the nightmares start. For three nights straight I tossed and turned dreaming about people breaking in to our home and stealing the school's money. So freakin' happy to get that to the bank.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What's Going On

Super quick post about where I'm at health and training wise and what else is going here. Long overdue, no? October is almost over and I don't think I even posted my month's goals (I'm too lazy to look).

I took Clyde and Patrick's Octoberfast Challenge at the beginning of the month. My goal was to run 50 miles,  cross train 3x a week and lose 5 lbs. Weeeeell, seeing as there is only a few days left in the month and I haven't lost an ounce, I don't see that one happening. I have reinstated my strength training plan, but am only averaging about two days a week. I've slacked a little on hard core club too, getting only two days in per week instead of three. Ah, but what's this? If I combine weights with hcc, I'm getting three (sometimes four) cross training days in. Hells yeah. I think I've ran thirty some miles (again, too lazy to actually pull up a new window to look) so if I run all my planned days, I'll hit my goal of 50. Not too bad*.

I won these cool Ryders sunglasses from Neil's Virtual Race. Thanks Neil! Ryders also sent me a pair of crazy black and red socks. Sweet!

What else? New hairdo.

Hmm. Looking at it, I guess its not so much a new do, just a shorter one. I had several inches cut off the back. And a change from summer blonde to winter blonde. I'm working on getting a different job, and thought the change would make me look slightly more pulled together than my usual thirty-six year old surfer chick look. Or bum. I prefer surfer chick.

Halloween costumes. I've finally started working on them. I still have two more days til trick or treat. I'm headed out right now to search for a big bag of snakes.

How's your week going and who's ready to face that giant mountain of Halloweeny candy? 

*Damn you candy corn for getting between me and my goals. Soon though I will be rid of you and your wicked ways. Yesterday at the grocer's I noticed your gang that was once so large and strategically positioned is getting smaller and smaller, down to just a few bags of Autumn Mix and an errant Indian Corn. Die candy corn, die!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Hot and Heavy Pumpkin Pie

After the race on Saturday we stopped back at the house for a quick change and dropped Mr. Run and Knucklehead off at the dojo for his karate test. Then Smiley and I headed back out to P in the P for the second event.

The Pumpkin Pie Eating Contest!

Seriously, Smiley has been waiting for this all her life. When she was around three, she started asking if there are ever any pie eating contests around here. It always cracked me up, because while she loves horses, softball, Littlest Pet Shop and lots of the other good things in life, the kid is passionate about food. Not just any food, either. She became pretty health conscious last year after she developed a little crush on Jamie Oliver and watched his vid about how chicken nuggets are made. Then about a month ago, she announced that she was vegetarian. This thrilled me because I had nothing to do with it, she arrived at the notion totally on her own. She's pretty selective about her sweets too.. She knows whats good and can spot something delicious amongst a sea confectionery mediocrity. But I digress. On to the event.

The rules were: Absolutly no hands. No drinks may be consumed. If you puke you are disqualified. The winner is the person who consumes a whole pie in 5 minutes. If the whole pie is not consumed, the winner will be the one who had eaten the most, and the audience will judge by cheering.

Get ready. Set. Go!!!

This was probably the funniest yet most horrifying thing I've ever witnessed. Pies were scooting around. I swear I heard some snorting. One kid's mom, who apparently wasn't paying attention when the rules were stated, kept shoving a large beverage at her kid."Get a drink!" The kid kept giving her this awful look and shaking his head. The other moms were poised, ready to rat cheater mom out as soon as the boy dared sip. Somebody finally gave her a heads up about the no drink rule.

After about the third or fourth face full of pie, I noticed Smiley's expression seemed a little off. Hmmm, the girl next to her wore the exact same expression. I elbowed the girl's mom and whispered, "Not sure about this."  She whispered back, "They look like they might throw up."  We started cheering for our girls, hoping that our enthusiasm would somehow curb their need to spew pumpkin pie all over the place. Around the fourth minute, I could tell Smiley was losing momentum. Fortunately a little girl that she knows and a teenage girl moved in behind her and began cheering her on. "You've got this," the teen shouted. This was all she needed. She began chomping on the crust and I knew it was in the bag.!!!

Looking down the line, I noticed the boys all looked totally normal, save for the pumpkin all over their face. It was the two girls who looked pale and disgusted.  The judges walked around checking out the damage and immediately declared Smiley the WINNER!!!

Okay, did you see all the contestants? All kids right? Guess what the prize was? Ready?

Dinner for two, two tickets to the Comedy Zone (not a kid show)  and an overnight stay at the hotel where they have the comedy hour. So basically they will feed you, entertain you and put you up after you spend all your money on booze. Smiley didn't even care about the prize, it was the experience she was after. After it was all said and done, we traded. She gave her prize to her dad and me, I gave her cash.

After the contest, we were looking for some paper towels and she said, "Mom, your pumpkin pie is way better." Then a few minutes later as we were searching for the restrooms, "That was the grossest pie I've ever eaten." "It was really nasty. It was all hot from the sun and it tasted funny."  I felt so bad for her and she still had no color in her face. After she got cleaned up and blew all the pie out of her nose, she said, "Can we have a different kind of pie for Thanksgiving this year?"  Sure thing, babe.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Pumpkins in the Park

Has it ever taken you three days to write a post?  Life is full and happy, but crazy at the same time. Every time I sit down at the computer, something or someone demands my attention.

We headed out Saturday morning for the Pumpkins in the Park 5K.   I picked up my swag bag:  my first race bib- good ol' number five, a long sleeved pumpkiny t-shirt and mostly ads but the kiddos got a voucher for free tickets for activities later in the day, which rocked.  I pinned on my bib then tried to warm up by running up and down the sidewalk and stretching a bit, but mostly I just jumped up and down trying to stay warm. I made a couple of new friends and ran into Amy, whom I recognized from the last race. We chatted a bit and then as everyone was lining up, I started choking on all this smoke that came rolling out of a little building next to the lineup. At first I thought it was a clever ploy to kill the competition. Smoke everyone out. Turns out it was a vendor firing up the bbq.


You can see the smoke better here. It ended up being an advantage, cause all the runners took off fast to get away from the smoke.
 The course was straight and flat, which I thought would be an advantage, especially since I've been running some hills, but honestly I thought this course was tougher than the last. I think being able to see pretty much the whole course is much harder than winding around through streets. With the streets there are distractions, things to look at, people to see, etc. Here, all I could see is the fog rolling around on the river and the long, long road ahead. There were three or four water stations which was kind of funny for a 5K. No one stopped, or even slowed down, so I felt kind of sorry for the volunteers who looked so eager holding out their cups.

I didn't take off with the fast front runners. I got near the back of the pack and started off slow. I found a little pack of runners who were running about my speed and stayed with them pretty much the whole race. In hindsight, this was not my best plan. There were several times during the race when I could have passed them, and I should have. I kept thinking that by going slow and steady, I would have enough punch at the end to pick up some speed and blow through the finish. Didn't happen. By the end, I was worn out. It was weird. My time was ten seconds slower than my first race.

This totally bummed me out until I found Amy later on. She confirmed my thoughts about the course. She said her time was way off too. That when she looked at her Garmin at 3.1 miles, she still had a way to go to the finish. It WAS longer. Are they trying to kill me? Made a mental note to start increasing my miles so that 3.1 (or 3.whatever they have to throw at me) won't feel like a hundred miles.

Thankfully there was water at the end. And some damn good bagels (thanks Panera!).

The kiddos hammin' it up in the fog.
After the race, we headed over to the WV State Museum for a bit. The museum has been redone and it's fab, they even have a scavenger hunt for the kiddos, which makes it easier for the adults to look around and absorb a little WV history. If you are ever passing through Charleston, you should check it out.

More to come!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Virtual Race Report and Strange Sightings

To celebrate 10/10/10 and in honor of Neil's birthday, I signed up to run the 10/10 virtual race. My contribution was to run 10 miles by 10/10/10. I went a little over, so maybe I get extra entries.

Sun - 3.1mi.   Firehouse 5K
Wed - 3.3mi. New hills training route.
Fri. -3.4 mi. New hills training route with a small detour.
Sat. 2.5 mi. Short run with the doggy.
I ran my 10 miles plus two 1.0 milers. Woohoo! And a big Happy Birthday Neil Z!!!

Congratulations to all of you runners who ran races this weekend! It was a gorgeous fall weekend to race or get out and do stuff with the family.

We headed out to the trails again today.  The scenery looked a little different than a few weeks ago. Instead of roller skating on fallen acorns, we walked on red carpet. 

 Looking up, we were surrounded by sunny yellow and happy, happy orange.

We weren't just sightseeing today though. We were on a mission. Knucklehead wanted to go back to look for this:

It 's going to become rustic decor for the new fort he's been working on all week. We found it, cleaned all the dirt off of it (please, please let that be dirt that was clinging to the eye sockets) and went on our merry way.

Mr. Run Hard's favorite trail activity is to run way ahead, hide and just as we approach his hiding spot, jump out and scare the begeezus out of us.  Only today it went a little differently. Today as the kids and I walked along, we heard this strange thumpity thump sound and when we found the Mr. he was standing in the middle of the trail in front of a ginormous fallen tree (perfect for hiding behind) and looking at us very strangely.

"Did you not just see that deer with the car seat on its head?"

"What? Did you say something about a deer with a car seat on its head." (I ran this image through my mind and when it proved to be totally illogical, I thought maybe "car seat" was some kind of new slang for giant rack).

"What are you talking about?"

"A deer just ran right by you and Smiley and it had a car seat stuck to its head. I can't believe you didn't see it or hear it. I jumped over this log to hide and almost landed on top of it. It scared the sh*t out of me."

"What do you mean by a car seat?" (At this point I was certain he had hit his head on a tree and knocked himself delirious.)

"I mean a car seat!"

As those final words came out of his mouth I heard something in the woods and turned to catch a glimpse of what looked like red plastic bobbing along behind some trees. As I moved closer, the bobbing stopped and I adjusted my eyes to separate the forest from the trees and saw this:

The poor guy had a baby swing wrapped around his antlers. Doesn't he look so sad? Now what? Smiley's freaking out. "We've got to get it off! Oh, mommy look at the poor thing!" I'm at a loss here. Look, I'm all for helping animals in need, but I've seen the video.Wild animals are one thing, but one in distress is another thing entirely.

When we got home, I sent an email to our local DNR with the picture and all. Hopefully they can find him and get that contraption off his head. Deer season will be here soon, and with a target like that, he has a snowball's chance in hell.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Another First

The lack of posting over here isn't due to inactivity.  I've been running, doing core work, and fueling myself with candy corn. I'm so behind on blogging because I've been gobbled up by a giant monster called Fundraising. It's my first year doing the BIG fundraiser for my kid's school and every time I think I see the light at the end, it swallows me back down. The end is near...I hope.

But that's not the first I was talking about. This one is much more important and exciting. 

My son ran his first race last Sunday! 

Look at them go!!  See how he and the girls are neck and neck? See the look of determination and joy? It stayed that way pretty much the whole race. When they hit the half mile mark, Knucklehead was in first place. On the way back, he slipped back to second...then third. As they neared the finish, I moved closer to the sidewalk behind some bushes to get his picture as they came in. First came in, then second, so I got ready. Nothing. Then some other kid ran by. Okay, he must have run out of steam. As two more kids ran by I stepped out from behind the bush to see where he was. He wasn't. My heart jumped up into my throat. I could see all the way up to the half mile mark, and he was nowhere. Not running, walking or my worst fear - lying on the ground. I opened my mouth to yell his name, but then noticed the yellow emergency ATV coming up the road, my little guy sitting between two EMTs. He was crying but looked intact and as soon as I saw him I knew what happened. I ran to the car to get the inhaler. He never has to use it, I think he's used it once in two years. But it isn't every day he runs a mile trying to beat two girls either.

He was a little shaken, but more than anything he was upset that he didn't finish. I told him to go back and walk across the finish line, but he would have none of that. He felt much better after a cup of Gatorade, some fruit, a granola bar and hearing that he still gets a medal and a t-shirt. Even though he didn't finish, it wasn't for lack of trying. We are sooo proud of him!!!  He's looking forward to his next race and now he's even developed his own training program. He runs Tucker up and down the street every single evening after school.

I tried to get him to trade his cool medal for a bag of candy corn but he'd have none of that, either. Smart kid.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

First Race Report

On Sunday I ran the Eleanor Firehouse 5K.  They even gave me a shirt! I was hoping for my first race bib, but we got popscicle sticks. I was number 48.

It was freezing (by freezing I mean 50 degrees) and drizzling rain when we first arrived. There weren't that many runners - maybe 100, but the ones that were already there looked tall, skinny and fast. I was sooo nervous. I signed in, picked up my packet and went back to the car to contemplate going home get warm. People were already stretching and running around the parking lot.

My race shirt. It's a tech t...all slick and shiny.

When it was race time, I took off right in the middle of the pack. I wish now I had started farther back, only because all the lightening fast track kids and crazy runners were in my sight and I took off waaay too fast chasing them. I didn't mean to, I told myself to take it slow, but the excitement, the cold and  the fact that there were a bunch of people behind me trying to pass me freaked me out.

About a half mile in, I was worn out and my mind started taking me to bad places. "You'll never make it, you're already toast." "What were you thinking?" "You are so not a runner."  I slowed down and forced myself take a realistic look at what was going on. I always struggle the first ten to twelve minutes of my runs, usually about the first mile. Then, my breathing gets more steady, my gate more rhythmic, my legs no longer threaten to leave me lying in a heap in the road. If all my running felt like the first ten minutes, I would have quit a long time ago.

I hung in there. Finally we turned onto a residential street and as we were coming in, we were met by the front of the packers who had already circled the block. I had to laugh. Those guys were fast. There was a little guy hanging right up there with them. Came to find out later that he is seven...and he came in tenth overall.

By this point I'd certainly found my pace and was doing so much better. I liked the residential route. People were out in their yards and they would wave and I'd wave back- so much better than the honking cars that scared the begeezus out of me along the main road.

I was by myself for a long time. I wasn't quite sure what to think of that, so I didn't. Instead, I thought about Shelly, and how she just puts one foot in front of the other... Every. Single. Day. And Emz running fifty freaking miles in one day.  Who the heck can run fifty miles and come out looking spectacular? Must be the pickle juice.  I thought about Rae and how she started out with a beginner program just like me and now she's running 10K's. I've got this.

Finally I began to catch up with a group of runners. Then I began to pass them, one by one. By myself again, I saw a couple ahead and made it my goal to catch them. We went back and forth for a while, they would lead  then we would switch places. At some point I looked back and didn't see them anymore. When I rounded the corner, I could see the finish line way up ahead. Excited, I picked it up a little.  I passed a few young runners and could see three more before the finish. Slow and steady, I caught up. The last girl was seemed to be struggling a bit so I said, "we're almost there, just a little farther." She grunted and I went on by. I started searching the finish line for my family and thinking about what I was going to eat. Suddenly I heard clomp, clomp, clomp behind me. What? I glanced back to see yellow shirt closing in. I took off as fast as I could. She beat me to the finish, but not for lack of trying.

I had no idea what my time was. My husband cracked up at this. "You didn't see that giant clock?" Um, no. I was too busy trying to get away from yellow shirt girl.

I finished at 31:41. My best time so far. I learned a lot too. I learned not to give chase to the fast kids. Not to listen to anything my mind tells me the first mile. Do think about all the people who inspire me. I learned not to fall for last stretch shennanigans. And last but not least I learned I can run pretty fast when someone is chasing me, but then when I stop I get all woozy and feel like I might pass out.