Friday, November 30, 2012

my first Thanksgiving

This year, I hosted Thanksgiving for the first time.  It was a small affair - just my husband, my mom, my dad, and I.  I think it was good that my first time hosting was small - made the cooking more manageable! I made turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, and roasted zucchini/squash/onions, as well as fruit tartlets and brownies for dessert.  I started the food prep on Tuesday and Wednesday, and the mashed potatoes were mostly ready to go by Wednesday evening (just needed 45 minutes in the oven).
Thursday morning I woke up in time to go for a 4 mile run before I had to get started.  I think I was most nervous about the turkey, since I had never cooked one before.
I used a really basic recipe, and basically just covered the turkey in a mixture of olive oil and herbs and popped it in the oven around 10am.  Then it was time to start chopping a million veggies - luckily my parents were bored and willing to help with that, so I was able to get started on the stuffing recipe.
I hadn't cooked mushrooms in a while, and oh my gosh, I forgot how delicious cooked mushrooms smell.  YUM!  After abour 3 1/2 hours, the turkey was ready and I was able to put the stuffing and mashed potatoes into the oven.  After that, I roasted some veggies in the oven and made green beans on the stove, and by 3pm, here's what we had:
Turkey, green beans, stuffing, and mashed potatoes (not picture: roasted vegetables, store bought bread, and store bought cranberry jelly).  YUM.  And now all together:
Everything was delicious, but I think the stuffing was my absolute favorite.  I highly recommend it.   The roasted zucchini/squash dish was my second favorite, although we left out the mushrooms - the poultry sauce really brought out all the flavors!  After we ate, we settled into to WATCH THE REDSKINS WIN (so amazing), and then watch the Pats win too (also good, but less thrilling).  We had some of these for dessert:
They were good, but I just REALLY wanted pumpkin pie, so we ran out to the store and bought some later.  Oops!  So, overall my first Thanksgiving was great - I'm no longer afraid of cooking a turkey, and I definitely will make the stuffing and roasted vegetable recipe again some time... delicious!
How was your Thanksgiving?  Did you have to cook anything?  What was your favorite dish?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

weekly updated #13 and my next half marathon!

Oops, I'm posting this much later than usual.  New reader Ben called me out on it (Hi Ben!  Nice to meet you!) - so - here's my short and sweet weekly update:

Mon. 11/19: 3.24 miles, avg. pace 10:33
Tues. 11/20:  3.61 miles, avg. pace 10:11
Wed. 11/21: rest day
Thurs. 11/22: 4.03 miles, avg. pace 10:19
Fri.-Sun.: rest/laziness

Friday I intentionally rested.  I meant to do a long-ish run on Saturday or Sunday, but it just never happened.  Oops.  Turkey hangovers are rough, haha.  Monday's run was nice and easy.  Tuesday we did a farklet, but  about 2.6 miles in my knee really started hurting, so that sucked.  I managed to run home and after foam rolling/ice I felt a lot better, but I skipped Tuesday night's spin class and rested Wednesday to try to give my knee a break.  Thursday I ran with my brace on and it felt much better, so I guess I'm back to wearing my knee brace for a while?  Hopefully foam rolling and hip strengthening exercises will help.  Any tips about knee/IT band pain would be much appreciated!

In other news, I've signed up for my next half marathon.  Marissa, Kimmy and I will be running the Disney Princess Half Marathon in Orland, FL on February 24, 2013!
I haven't been to Disney in about a decade, so hopefully we will get sufficient time to tour the parks while we are down there.  I'm also planning to dress up, but I'm kind of nervous about running in costume.  Lots of people do it:
Look at all those costumes!
Meghann from Meals and Miles at the race last year
...but running in a costume presents a number of challenges.  I feel like I'm pretty particular about what I wear/being comfortable, so that concerns me.  Right now, I'm leaning towards being Belle (I like to wear bright colors while I run; I probably look the most like Belle).  So far, I'm thinking I can wear a yellow performance tshirt or tank top with a normal pair of shorts and a yellow sparkley skirt over my shorts.  I'm undecided about any type of tiara, although I would love to wear one if I can stand it.  Any thoughts/suggestions?

In addition to this being the first race I will wear a costume at, it's also the first race that I will intentionally not be trying to for a PR.  Our plan is to run at a fun, easy pace and to stop take photos with princesses and other Disney characters are our leisure.  I'm really excited about this fun girls' weekend in Florida!  Another perk to this race... check out the medal:
Isn't it BEAUTIFUL?  Haha.  I'm very excited to get this very girly, very pretty medal in February.

What spring races are you looking forward to?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

weekly update #12

Happy almost Thanksgiving!

I have to admit, I have not been the most disciplined runner since my half.  Over the two weeks after my half, I ran 3 times, went to 3 spin classes, and did no strength training.  Not terrible, but also not fantastic.

Week of Nov. 5th-11th:

  • Monday: rest
  • Tuesday: spin class
  • Wednesday: rest
  • Thursday: spin class
  • Friday: rest
  • Saturday: 4.5 mile run with M
  • Sunday: rest

Week of Nov. 12th-18th:

  • Monday: lazy
  • Tuesday: spin class
  • Wednesday: lazy
  • Thursday: 3.5 miles on the treadmill
  • Friday: lazy
  • Saturday: 3.1 mile run with M

I wish I could say those runs have been all sunshine and roses.  None of them have been bad, but my knee has been a little sore each time, and I'm not exactly sure why.  Now I'm trying to get back into my 'normal' routine - running 4 times per week plus going to spin class once.  I've also made some post-race running "resolutions":

  1. Try to foam roll after every run
  2. Spend at least 5 minutes stretching after every run
  3. Do hip streghtening exercises 2-3 times per week
  4. Do other strength training 2-3 times per week.
Okay fine, that last goal is a recurring life goal of mine that I don't seem to be all that successful with.  But I'll get there one day!  I also recently bought 10 lb weights, so I can do strength training from home.  I'm hoping that will encourage me to do it more often, but we'll see.

I have a somewhat structured plan for my next 5-6 weeks of running, but I'm waiting for the spring gym class schedule to be released before I make a detailed training plan for January and beyond.  I've started to sign up for fun spring races... details on those soon!!!

Who is cooking for Thanksgiving?  Who is going somewhere exciting?  My parents are coming to visit and I'm cooking all of Thanksgiving dinner for the very first time!  I'm excited to share how it goes with y'all next week!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

City Of Oaks Half Marathon Race Recap

It's finally here - my recap of the Raleigh City of Oaks Half Marathon, which I ran on November 4th.
all my race gear, laid out Saturday night
race morning photo - all smiles!
To get ready for the race, I made sure to eat plenty of carbs on Saturday, but nothing that would upset my stomach.  I tried to go to bed at 9pm, and then woke up around 11pm and had trouble getting back to sleep... womp womp!  Sunday morning my alarm clock went off at 5am, and I woke up EXCITED and ready to go.  I had a bagel w/ peanut butter and gatorade at 5 and then got dressed/ready.  I started off with an old zip up sweatshirt, arm warmers (made from old oscks!), gloves, shorts, and a t-shirt.  Marissa came over at 5:40 and we hit the road!  Around 6:30 I had a little more gatorade and a honey & oats bar and more gatorade.  When we finally found parking (it was a bit of a mess), we found a secret bathroom spot (porta potty lines were so long!) and then headed to the start line.  We found the 2:00 pae group and started a little behind them, but in front of the 2:15 pace group.  The race started with the YMCA playing, so Marissa and I entertained ourselves by dancing until we got closer to the start (subsequently, it was stuck in our head for much of the race).  By the time the race started I was warm enough to ditch the old sweatshirt, so I tossed it right as we crossed the start line.
NC State Bell Tower - the start and finish of the race
Annnnd we're off!
Miles 1-3 (splits: 9:30, 9:23, 9:45):
I started off excited and feeling really good during the first mile.  We were holding around a 9:30 pace which is pretty much what I wanted.  It was cool but not too cold, and there wasn't rain (which had been in the forecast, so I was glad it had cleared up!).  I knew the first place Scott was spectating would be around the half mile mark, so I started looking for him.  As soon as I spotted him, I also saw two girls holding signs with my name.  Uhh, what?  It was Sabrina and Monica (my ADPi grandlittles!!), who had driven down from Maryland to surprise me and cheer for me!  SO awesome.  Not as awesome: right after that I realized my watch had not started, so I was missing about a half mile.  Womp womp!  I started my watch then, but I was still annoyed.
Unfortunatley, shortly after seeing them (probably right around the 1 mile mark), my stomach started hurting. I tried to just focus on running, but it really didn't feel great.  There was a hill around 1.5/2 which I expected to be bad, but it didn't end up being TOO terrible.  Then, Sabrina, Monica, and Scott were waiting to cheer again around mile 2.5, so that lifted my spirits a little.  Then, at mile 3, my knee started hurting!  At this point, I was just mad.  Stomach ache AND knee pain?  This early on?  WTF.  I knew I had a lot of miles left and I started to wonder how well this race was really going to go for me.  We started to slow down at mile 3 as you can see in the splits, but were still doing okay.
This is me looking REALLY confused the first time I saw Sabrina & Monica!
Excited to see them all again!
Miles 4-7 (splits: 10:07, 10:06, 10:17, 11:03):
If I had to sum of these 4 miles with one word, it would be hell.  I was feeling naseous, and started contemplating the pros and cons of throwing up.  On one hand, sometimes throwing up makes me feel better when my stomach hurts, right?  On the other hand, if I threw up I would have no food in my stomach and 10 miles ahead of me.  There seemed to be more hills than the elevation profile suggested, and I kept getting annoyed every time we turned a corner to find more hills awaiting us.  My knee pain was also getting worse, so somewhere between miles 4 and 5 I stopped sto stretch, but it really did not help.  I was really, REALLY unhappy.  I thinks Marissa asked me what my mantra was (after some guy yelled "one step at a time") and I grumbled something about how I had no mantra, didn't want one, and nothing would make me feel better.  Luckily, Marissa was having a good race and was willing to stick with me.
So - something kind of annoying about this race.  It was a 10k, half marathon, and full marathon.  All three races started at the same time, and the 10k finished at what was mile 6.2 for the half and full.  They just had cones to split the road in half, and the 10k runners ran through the finish line, while the rest of us ran past it and continued on.  Basically, I got to listen to lots of people cheer and be excited about finishing a race, only half way through my own race.  This did not lift my spirits.  I suppose the music and increase in spectators was kind of nice, but mostly seeing all those people FINISH when I was only about half done was not fun.
Shortly after the 10k finish line was yet another hill, and I contemplated pretending I had only signed up for the 10k.  I did get to see Allison, Elena, and Ryan around 6.5 (grad school friends - cheering for me/Marissa AND two other girls in our program who ran the full marathon!), but I could barely put on a smile for them.  Mile 7 was the absolute worst.  I was pretty much the most miserable possible.  Towards the end of 7 miles I stopped and stretched again.  I'm surprised looking at the splits that I really didn't fall apart pace-wise until mile 7.  Not sure how I managed to stay that strong through miles 4, 5, and 6, haha.
still trying to wave, but clearly in pain
awkward face, mostly full of pain.
Miles 8-11 (splits: 10:13, 10:28, 10:01, 10:00):
After stretching again, I actually did feel somewhat better.  My knee pain went from signficant to mild, and my stomach calmed down.  Then we got to a part of the course where I knew I would be able to Scott, Sabrina, and Monica three times, because there were three spokes going off one intersection and we went down all 3.  I perked up a bit.  Then, the 2:15 pace group passed us.  I think that lit a fire in me, and I became determined to finish ahead of them.  Somewhere in between miles 8 and 9 I really hit my stride, and in mile 10 we left the 2:15 pace group in the dust as we tried to pick up the pace a little bit.  The last spoke of the out and back (around mile 11) was by far the longest and hilliest, which I found very obnoxious.  Somehow I pushed up my way through, and saw Scott, Sabrina, Monica, Elena, Ryan, and Allison for the last time just before the mile 12 marker.
a genuine smile, hooray!
I like to wave?
Miles 12-13.1 (10:01, 9:34, nubbin 7:34):
At this poinst, I was finally feeling good.  My knee didn't hurt, my stomach didn't hurt, and although I was a little tired, I was ready to RUN.  I let race adrenaline take over and really started to push.  Somewhere around mile 12.4 I started picking people in front of me and setting goals to pass them.  Around mile 12.6 or so, I realized Marissa was no longer with me (sorry M), but I was totally in the zone. I later described this to M as "picking out targets and going after them - kind of like you are shooting them, but instead you are just passing them).  As I hit the 13 mile marker, I pushed myself even harder into an all out sprint, and passed a bunch of people as a crossed the finish line.  The time said 2:15 something, but I knew it had taken a few minutes to get across the start, so I really didn't know what my time was at that point (stupid watch!).
we finished! (but my face shows my pain, haha)
best grandlittles EVER!!!
my amazing husband is a professional race-watcher
Post Race:
Marissa came across the finish line just about a minute later, and we got water, space blanket, and our medals.  We waited by the Bell Tower for Scott, Sabrina, and Monica.  As we tried to walk/stretch, I realized that I was in tremendous pain.  Probably no more than when I ran my first half, but WOW, it was hard to walk, and I was definitely limping.  It was sooooo amazing to have Sabrina and Monica there, and after we made it back to Durham I went out to brunch with them.  I didn't find out my official time until later that night (like 10pm) when it was posted on the website.  I officially finished in 2:13:21 - 6 seconds short of a PR.
You get medals even when you don't PR.
I cannot express how frustrated I was to have missed a PR by 6 seconds.  At the same time, I had a miserable race, and the fact that I was even close to PRing demonstrates that I have made progress as a runner in the past year.  My first half was picture perfect: I was never in pain, the weather was great, etc.  So if a miserable half can produce the same time, logic would tell you I'm better off fitness-wise.  It definitely took me a few days to get over how mad I was at (a) not PRing and (b) not being able to have a good race. But guess what?  Just like every run isn't great, every race can't be great.  And there's really only one solution to a bad race: signing up for another one and hoping the next one is a good one.  So, that is exactly what I've done.

Probably related, I have been really unmotivated to run for the past ten days.  I intentionally took off 6 days (although I went to 2 spin classes that week), and M and I went on our first post-race run on Saturday when Kimmy was in town.  That run was actually really nice.  Then this week I planned to get back to regular running, but M has been sick and cancelled on me.  Not that that is an excuse - I should go on my own - but I just haven't.  Hopefully I can get back into the swing of things as I began to train for my next half and work towards that elusive PR... details on all of that soon.

Have you ever had a bad race?  How did you handle it afterwards?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

beef stroganoff

Since I haven't had time to write my race recap, and I don't want to fall of the face of blogland, I figured I'd share this post I wrote a while ago about beef stroganoff.  Enjoy!

Over the past few months. I have been trying to perfect my beef stroganoff recipe, so I figured I would share some of my attempts with you.  When I'm low on time, I have a pretty quick and easy substitute - frozen meatballs, a packet of gravy (jar would work fine too), and egg noodles.  The last time I made it this way I used mushroom gravy, and Scott did not appreciate the bits of mushroom - which was surprising, since he doesn't mind cream of mushroom soup.
So, this is fine in a pinch, but I wanted to be able to make it from scratch.  For my first attempt, here's what I did:
-Sprinkle salt, pepper, and garlic powder on chopped up beef tips
-Heat butter in a pain, added beef tips to brown them
-Add 1 cup of beef broth or water with beef boullion cubes
-Add Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, and white wine vinegar
-Add half cup of water to about 3 TBSP o f bisquick, stir into pan with beef and broth

-Add green onions
-Boil for about 1-2 min, then bring down to a simmer
-Add about 1/2 cup of mayo

-Meanwhile, cook and drain egg noodles, then stir into pan.
Pictured sanz noodles.  Okay, so, it doesn't look great, but it was pretty good!  The pros of this recipe was that it had a lot of great flavor.  The drawback was that I overcooked the beef.  I think browning the beef, then removing it from the pan while you make the gravy, then adding it back in at the end would be better.

Do you have any favorite beef stroganoff recipes?  What are your tips and tricks?

Friday, November 9, 2012

beer beer beer

It's no secret that I love beer.  I can drink Bud Light when the occasion calls for it...
... and yes, sometimes this is totally appropriate... but I'm really a sucker for delicious, unique, seasonal beer.  So with summer ending (hey, in the south, summer ends in October) and fall on the horizon, I decided to share some of my favorite summer and fall beers.  Sam Adam's Summer Ale is probably my favorite go to beer in the summer.  I've actually been known to hoard summer ale in August so that I could drink it throughout the fall and winter.
Although Sam's Summer is my favorite go-to, I also have a love affair with some other summer New England beers.  Maine is known for it's blueberries, and it also has fantastic blueberry beer.  You will often see blueberry beer served with blueberries floating on top in New England/Maine, and it makes me oh-so-happy.  After our Maine trip in July, I was craving my favorite blueberry beer and was excited to find that the local beer store (Sam's Quik Shop) sells Sea Dogs!  Along with blueberries fresh picked in Lincolnville, Scott and I were able to bring some of Maine to North Carolina.
Beer is more enjoyable in our fancy pint glasses!
Maine Beer with Maine blueberries on top!
Not too long ago, I went on my very first brewery tour at Triangle Brewing Company in Durham.  If you are local and have never been, I highly recommend it!  More free beer than any person should drink on a Saturday afternoon, along with an informative tour.  Their Habenero Pale Ale is really unique (and spicy).  Their Belgian-style Lambic is great for a non-beer-lover - it tastes mostly like liquid sour patch kids.  When we were there they still had their summer seasonal - the Farmhouse - which is a great beer with fruity notes.

A while back, we went to dinner at Milltown in Carborro, and along with my portabello sandwiches, I tried a Victory Golden Monkey, which is a strong Belgian ale at 9.5%, and all of the above were DELICIOUS.
roasted portabella with leeks, spinach, peppers, chive havarati cheese, & a pesto cream sauce
overall light body with herbal, fruity notes...delicious!
Now that it's getting colder, I'm shifting to another great love of mine: PUMPKIN.  There are so many great Pumpkin beers out there.  In 2010, I discovered Cottonwood Pumpkin Spiced Ale, which I SWEAR tastes exactly like a spiced pumpkin latte.  I'll definitely be picking up a 6 pack of that soon.  Recently, I have been drinking Shock Top's Pumpkin Wheat, which is a pretty basic fall wheat beer.... perfect for a Blue Moon or Shock Top lover who wants to feel more fall-esque.
Those are some of my more recent favorites... what are some of yours?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

weekly update #11 (kind of)

This past week included one training run only - a nice, slow 3 miles.  I meant to run twice, but it just didn't happen.  And then, of course, Sunday was the Raleigh City of Oaks Half Marathon.  I think it will take me a little while to get a full recap written, but for now, some photo highlights.
we got ready to leave for Raleight at 5:50am
we finished / survived
I got a shiny new medal
and insisted on wearing it for the rest of the day
Yep, this wasn't a very interesting post, but, that's all I have for today.  I'll get the recap up in the next week hopefully!

Friday, November 2, 2012

october wrap-up

October was a fun, busy month.  We traveled a lot and saw many wonderful friends....
Hokie tailgate at Fed Ex Field
Carly's wedding....

... got a little crazy!
we had fun staying local too...
Visiting the State fair... Fried cheese balls is a must.
Trying out fried snickers on a stick...
holy moly turkey legs! delicious.
and a petting zoo. love the NC State Fair.
We also headed to my alma mater...
...visited our house <> 4535 <>
...and tailgated with sisters & friends
I also ran over 65 miles!  Of course, I did other fun things too... but I don't always bring my camera.  Overall, a pretty good month :-)  Bring it on, November!