Great Job All You Flying Pigs

“Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating. There’s really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.”

Here's what I wish I was doing today...

I hated not being able to pound the pavement with the rest of the pigs today in Cincinnati for the 12th annual Flying Pig Marathon but that didn’t mean I wasn’t reloading facebook constantly this morning to see how the runners did.

Marathon winners:

Men: Brian List 2:31:56, Tilahun Abebe 2:34:39, Rob Morwood 2:36:05.  All three are members of Earth Drummers Running Club in Cincy.  Who do they think they are? East Nasty? ;)
Women: Cynthia (Lauren) Arnold 2:55:02, Marnie Staehly 2:58:26, Rachel Bea (Cincy native) 3:02:27

Here's what I was doing :) Thanks a lot Piriformis...I'll be back next year ya pigs

Half marathon winners:

Men: Ben Foley (Cincy native) 1:12:34
Women: Leslie Kraus (Cincy native) 1:24:20

I love how many Cincy natives ran today! Great job runners, and especially since you were running in the rain! I’ll be with you next year.

Speaking of rain…if you haven’t heard, Nashville is experiencing severe flooding.  Davidson county is in a state of emergency and roads in and around the city are shut down because of flooding.  The Boy and I decided to stay in Cincy for the night to be safe and make the wet trek home tomorrow morning…or at least try.  Schools are closed and even T Nels decided to close.  It’s odd being away from home while all this happens to your city.

After talking to my roommate, thankfully, our place is ok now.  I just hope my pup is doing ok.  That sucker doesn’t even like to go to the bathroom in the rain so I just hope he’s behaving himself at the kennel and not giving them too hard of a time!

To all of those in Nashville, stay safe and dry.  Keep me updated about this crazy weather!

Here’s a great link from a fantastic organization, Hands on Nashville, where you can sign up to get involved and help out in the flood relief effort.  Help here.

Change of Plans

“Once you are a runner, it’s always there in the back of your head.” ~Bill Rodgers

So proud of everyone! Photo by Ian White

I’m a planner, a goal setter, I set my mind to something and accomplish it.  I love trying new things and changing it up, but if it has to do for a goal I set for myself, I have a REALLY tough time.  All that said, I’ve had a really tough two weeks.

I hope I haven’t griped too much. Please know anything I’ve written here is to help people.  I have found  so many running blogs that deal with products, training and races, but not many when it comes to injuries, when your sidelined. Instead of going into it, you can see here, where it started to go  downhill and then the diagnosis that has be sidelined and doomed me to weeks of cross training, here.  It’s been tough and at times embarrassing because I feel I’m not meeting my goal.  I was ready for the full marathon. I felt good and I was excited, but life had different plans. There’s a time to be stubborn and run through it (which is my natural reaction) and a time to be smart and take the detour so that you can make it to the final destination unscathed.  I am learning to do the latter.

Yes, this man is juggling while running a MARATHON. Oh the people you see while watching.

Recently, I have been religious about doing my stretches, PT and strength training but getting to the gym to cross train by myself just wasn’t happening. These past two weeks, there was no way that I was going to do the elliptical for two hours.  I think I was throwing myself a little pity party. Well…the party is over.  Time to get down to business.

I hated not racing. I hate that I will not be participating in the Flying Pig  this weekend after training since December and that no matter how long I cycle, elipticize or swim, I will lose some fitness.  I hate that my plans to do speed work this summer are now derailed. But you know what, it is what it is and there’s not a thing I can do.  I’m going to do everything I can to get back into running and focus on having a great attitude about it.

I don’t want to sound cliche but you really do learn so much about life from running.  Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger right?  Well…pretty sure piriformis won’t kill me ;) Next marathon, I’ll be stronger and smarter.

The one great thing about not racing is that I could cheer on all the runners.  Being part of a running community means you cheer other on to do the best they can.  I felt lucky to be able to cheer on these amazing runners who I’ve not only put in miles with but learned so much from.  Even though I didn’t realize it then, these runners, even that day were teaching me to take a reroute and even a detour in stride.

Check out what the wall says in front of the church I went to watch at. Priceless.

For those of you who don’t know, Nashville was under a tornado watch the whole race.  At mile 22, marathoners were diverted to the half course and not allowed to finish the full 26.2.  Sure it was disappointing, especially for some in the group for whom this was their first one.  Sure it sucked, but you know what, it happens and I love that these runners are not looking back but looking forward to the next race, and I’m going to join them! We have a couple of options and in the next couple of days I’d love your advice and suggestions on what marathons you’ve liked running.  If I need to cross train for awhile, so be it.  This is merely a detour, a change of plans, a bump in the road.  Instead of stopping, I’m going to keep on running.

Since I don’t have a great post race report, here are some great ones from my friends. You all did an amazing job! I am so proud of you all! I’ll be with you for the next race!

  1. Rod- A fellow EN, Rod PR’ed at the Country Music 1/2.  Read his race report and how his training this year set him up for success.
  2. Miss Chatterbox- The requested title for this is To Stubborn to Stop. She is a runner after my own heart.  After perfect training she just didn’t have the race she wanted to…but she STILL PR’ed! She kept going and finished the race.
  3. Dear Abby Leigh- After fainting at the finish line last year, she came back with a vengeance this year, and some salt in her pocket. You’re welcome for being the drug mule.
  4. Knight- I can’t believe we still haven’t met but this lady is amazing and had a great race. I am so proud of her and love how her post race report was thanking those who watched her.  What if everyone cheered others on in life like they were running the half.  Congrats Knight! Once I can run, you and me are going to go for a run so pencil me in.
  5. Annie- Annie, Annie, Annie. The displaced East Nasty comes home. Look at that face. Who can look that cute after they run 13.1 miles.  I know I don’t! Congrats on your 9 minute PR! Even though we only met in passing, ha, I consider you a dear friend.
  6. I had to save this for last. Christy, my training partner, fellow EN and one of my biggest supporter and one voice of reason that said, I know how stubborn you are but take a step back, get better then go for it. She, like me, didn’t get to run the first marathon she trained for either. This year, her marathon was cut short but the attitude she had about it is exactly what I’m talking about here.  In her post race report she uses one of my favorite quotes, “I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it.” We are already planning the next full.  The cool part is, this one we’ll be able to run together!

I also want to thank those of you who have encouraged me and helped me through this from the Boy, my training partner, Christy, all of the EN’s and you!  I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it.

Have you ever been derailed, detoured or had to change plans mid-route?  How do you handle it?

Race Day Prep- 7 Must-do’s for Race Week

“Racing teaches us to challenge ourselves.  It teaches us to push beyond where we thought we could go. It helps us to find out what we are made of. This is what we do. This is what it’s all about.” ~PattiSue Plumer, U.S. Olympian

Race day April 24- rain or shine!

In the next two days, thousands of people will descend upon Nashville, rain or shine, with one goal in mind: to finish the CMM half or full marathon.  For those of you  who are going to be running the race, or cheering people on, the Tennessean has put together a great marathon guide.  Writer Jessica Bliss gives you the info on the Expo, places to go eat, a course map and even roads to avoid if you are driving around Nashville on Saturday.  I was so excited and honored when I was asked to be a part of the marathon guide on the Tennessean’s On Nashville site.

Photo my Jae S. Lee

I wrote the piece so people can learn from my mistakes. You’ve put in the work, now it’s time to relax and have fun. While you’re relaxing, head on over to my guest post featured on the On Nashville website to see what I’ve learned about race prep since running, what you can do, my top 7 things to do the week of the race and why now is the time to Eat well, rest well and have fun!

Let me know how you’re preparing or what your race week rituals are!

Weekends are for (food)lovers- My Muse

Cooking is like love.  It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.  ~Harriet van Horne

Ree Drummond aka The Pioneer Woman aka My Muse

I have been noticing a couple of trends here in my cooking habits:

1. I have a cooking Muse- My Muse goes by the name of Ree Drummond, or as more people call her, The Pioneer Woman.  Until blogs, we had our grandma’s recipe books, the recipes we write down from our parents and compile to add to our own repertoire. Our recipe books are scraps of paper, notecards and photocopied magazine pages given to us by trusted family members and friends.  I now add to that list, Ree.  Her humor, stories and pictures, make me feel like I know her and as I star the recipes I want to try the following weekend my mouth waters.  I’m also glad I’m not the only one who has a four legged little rascal that seems so interested in the culinary arts ;) More than just her recipes being utterly delicious, they are approachable, much like she is.  I feel like I am in her kitchen learning and making a mess right along side her.  She really is divine.

2. When I don’t run, I eat- Honestly, what else am I going to do with those 2-4 hours a day when I can’t run, it makes perfect sense to cook and eat.  Right?  Ok, so maybe there is flawed logic lurking somewhere in there but honestly, the last time I did a (food)lovers post was when I was sick with the flu and couldn’t run. Two weeks later, Piriformis syndrome and BAM. I’m in the kitchen cooking up a storm. And this weekend, I had a little extra inspiration to do so.

So without further ado, here is what my Muse inspired me to tackle this weekend.

Picture by Ree Drummond

Chicken with Tomatoes and Garlic
Originally from My Muse

Ingredients
-8 pieces chicken legs or thighs
-salt and peper to taste
-3 Tbs olive oil
-1 Tbs butter
-1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes
-1 can (14 oz) whole tomatoes
-2 Tbs tomato paste
-Fresh herbs: basil, parsley, sage, rosemary
-8 cloves garlic
-16 oz of pasta
-grated parmesan cheese
-1/2 cup white or red wine

Directions
-Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
-Salt and pepper the chicken legs.
-Heat ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat.
-Add olive oil and butter and when it’s hot, add chicken legs to the pan.
-Using tongs, brown the chicken on all sides (about 2 minutes) and then remove chicken from the pan and put on a clean plate.
-Pour wine in, scrapping the bottom to loosen any bits.  (I used white wine, a pinot grigio in mine, mmm)

Photo by Ree Drummond

-Cook for 1 minute
-Pour in tomatoes with their juice and add tomato paste.
-Bring sauce to a boil then turn off the heat.
-Add plenty of fresh herbs (at my grocery store they had a group of fresh herbs packaged together for poultry so I used that) garlic (come on, any recipe that requires 8 cloves of garlic…perfect) and chicken legs.
-Put lid on and cook in the oven for 1 hour then remove pot from oven and allow it to sit while you cook the pasta.
-Cook the pasta to al dente, drain and add to large serving bowl.
-Remove lid and check sauce, it  is overly thin, remove chicken and boil the sauce for 5-10 minutes (I should’ve done this. The sauce was delicious but a little too watery)
-To serve, pour sauce over cooked pasta, then arrange chicken pieces.
-Sprinkle generously with parmesan (now you see why I like this woman ;)

This recipe was so easy and incredibly cheap! It hardly took any prep or attention.  Now onto breakfast, my favorite food group!

Photo by Ree Drummond. Sorry kids- don't have a camera.

Petite Vanilla Bean Scones
Recipe originally from…you guessed it…My Muse.

Ingredients
Scones
-3 cups all-purpose flour
-2/3 cups sugar
-5 tsp baking powder
-1/2 tsp salt
-2 sticks unsalted butter, chilled
-1 large egg
-3/4 cups heavy whipping cream
-2 whole vanilla beans

Glaze
-3 cups powdered sugar
-1/2 cups whole milk
-1 whole vanilla bean

Directions
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
-Split vanilla beans down the middle lengthwise and scrape out all the “caviar” inside.
-Stir caviar in cream and set aside for 15 minutes.
-Sift together flour, 2/3 cup sugar, baking powder and salt.
-Cut cold butter into pats, then use a pastry cutter or two knives to cut the butter into the flour. Keep going till the mixture resembles crumbs.
-Mix vanilla cream with egg, then combine with flour mixture; stir gently with a fork just until it comes together.

Delicious photo by Ree Drummond

-Turn dough onto floured surface and lightly press together until it forms a rough rectangle.
-Use a rolling pin to roll into a rectangle about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch thick.
-Use knife to trim to a symmetrical rectangle, then cut into 12 squares.
-Next, cut each square/rectangle in half diagonally, to form two triangles
-Transfer to parchment lines cookie sheet and bake for 18 minutes or just before they start to turn golden.
-Allow to cool for 15 minutes on cookie sheet then transfer to cooling rack to cool completely.

Glaze
– Split one vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out all the caviar.
-Stir caviar into milk and allow to sit for awhile.
-Mix powdered sugar with the vanilla milk, adding more sugar is needed to get a smooth consistency.
-One at a time, carefully dunk each cooled scone in the glaze and transfer to the cooling rack to let the glaze set (about 1 hour)

I have never been a fan of scones but can you blame me for wanting to give them a second chance when they look so good? These aren’t the cheapest things in the world because of the vanilla bean but they are worth it. The recipe makes a lot too so you’ll have them for a couple mornings. I am enjoying one right now with my coffee, so take that Starbucks.

Tiger Balm

And for a quick running update:

Today is my first day of physical therapy.  This is going to hurt. I am getting a deep tissue massage as well, which is supposed to help.  I’m hoping they can help me out on what’s good cross training to do because even being on the bike hurts. I’ve heard swimming is good.  So we’ll see.

I’ve added two new things to my running arsenal…Tiger Balm and an awesome pair of R.E.I. compression shorts.  Tiger Balm is a heating agent which is what the Dr. said to put on before running/working out.  Then the compression shorts help keep the heat on longer during a run.  Again, we’ll see. I’ve wanted compression shorts because I love my running tights and needed a warm weather alternative.  Light running shorts just don’t do it for me. I tried on a lot of compression shorts but they were all so short! These are great because they are a perfect length and they have pockets too for my shot bloks! Hopefully I’ll be able to give these suckers a spin soon! The half is this weekend and the marathon is next!

P.S. I had a break down in the grocery store this weekend when I couldn’t keep walking to finish shopping because of the pain. Called the Dr. to leave a message with his nurse to see if I could get a cortisone shot or some kind of anti-inflammatory to allow me to run my races. I haven’t heard back. I’m sure I sounded like an addict. Perfect.  Hopefully a good running update will follow shortly.  STRETCH people, it makes a difference :)

Did He Just Call Me a Weak Ass?

“18 weeks ago this seemed like a good idea” ~seen on a running shirt

Never Get Hurt for Runner's World by Alberto Seveso

No joke, as I was sitting in the waiting room of Vanderbilt’s Sports Medicine Clinic because of this unfortunate event, someone walked in wearing that quote on a shirt. I couldn’t stop laughing. Classic.

I would venture to guess that 90% of the people in the crowded waiting room were runners. With two weeks before the CMM, people are experiencing body breakdown.  New runners+long distances= lots of IT Band injuries.  The doctors must hate this time of year.

I was sitting in the waiting room watching sports center and trying to take my mind off what I was sure would be my running death sentence.  My appointment was at 3…at 3:20 the nurse called me back. Like I said, it’s a busy time of year, lots of people, so I understood but 20 minutes is a long time to wait when you’re going to be sentenced.

The nurse asked me some questions, gave me some sweet shorts to put on in case I needed X-rays, said the doctor would be in soon and left.  20 minutes later, two guys walk in, say they’re med students and are going to ask me a couple questions.  What is this…Grey’s Anatomy. After going through the round of questions, asking me to balance on different legs and other things that made me wonder if it was more like Candid Camera, they left promising to be back with the doctor. As they left they were probably whispering to each other, “Gosh I hate this time of year, nothing exciting.”

Alberto Seveso

Finally, 20 minutes after that, the doctor came in, with the two students in tow.  He looked at me for a second, sat down and started rapid firing questions at me. He knew his stuff.  Watch and learn kids. With each question answered you could see his brain  mentally going through a checklist of each muscle, nerve, and bone in my body. He tested my strength in my legs, my flexibility, and then had me lay on my stomach to check my back. GULP.

Talking to the students as he moved down my spine he said, “See, if it was a bulging disc or something in her back pinching the nerve, we’d see it. She’d feel it.” Ok I thought, not the back. Thank goodness. He told me to lay on my left side and he checked the IT Band muscles. Little tight but that’s to be expected. Then he pressed down my back asking if it hurt. I had my guard down, “No…no…no.” I was starting to wonder if we’d ever figure out what this was. Then, suddenly, and without warning, he found it.

“OWWWWWWWW,” I yelped as hot tears started welling up in my eyes.

“Found it,” he said. Yep. Sure did.

He promised me he wasn’t trying to hurt me, which I believed. I was glad we found what it was but if he didn’t stop digging his thumbs into it I wasn’t sure I wouldn’t involuntarily do something I would regret. He explained that I had Piriformis syndrome, which was pretty common in runners. Basically the IT Band is to a half marathon what the Piriformis is to a marathon.

Never Get Hurt Alberto Seveso

The Piriformis muscle is deeply buried behind the hip joint and is pretty small compared to the other muscles around the hip, thigh and buttocks.  Basically, when the big muscles get tired, the Piriformis takes over. Now here’s where that shooting pain comes in that had me convinced it was my Sciatic nerve.  Turns out I was right, it was my sciatic, but in a different way than I thought.  The Sciatic, the largest nerve in the body and the one responsible for motor and sensory function in your legs, crosses with the Pirimormis muscle behind the hip joint. So when my big glute and hip muscles get tired, it strains the Piriformis muscle which then agitates and puts pressure on my sciatic, almost choking it out, giving me that shooting pain deep in the buttock area every time I move my leg.

I had a weird sense of deja vu.  For my first half, this happened at the exact same time, right after my last long run before my taper.  I was sentenced to cross training, physical therapy and anti-inflamatories until the half. But the great news is, I could run the half, it hurt, but I did it. AND- after letting the IT Band calm down, and continuing to stretch it religiously, I run now with no pain from it.

So, although I will have to get a horrifically painful deep tissue massage, go to physical therapy to learn how to strengthen my hip and buttock muscles, and cross train till the marathon, the doctor said I should be able to run it. After talking with the Boy, I think I’m going to call him back and see if I might be able to get a strong anti-inflamatory for the race to make it somewhat less painful. It’s disappointing but it could’ve been a lot worse so for that I am thankful.

This will be me come May 2

So, game plan is deep tissue massage, get my physical therapy set up, add the hip muscles stretches to my routine, cross train till the marathon and take it mile by mile.  The doctor was great and answered all my questions. He said normally he would want me to let that inflammation go down and take it easy for awhile but he’s not going to tell me I can’t run the marathon, which I appreciate.  He said just take it mile by mile. Since muscle exhaustion is the problem, and it’s nerve related, running through it won’t solve the problem.  So lots of stretching and tiger balm before the run, compression shorts to keep that area heated and ibuprofen.  And just take it mile by mile.

I wish this didn’t happen, but I’m going to stay positive. Like my IT Band, for my next marathon (eek, did I just say that?!), this won’t be an issue.  I’ll have strong hip and buttocks muscles. Basically, I won’t have a weak ass ;)

“You can keep the shorts if you want,” the doctor said leaving the room.

“Thanks,” I said. “I’ll keep them as a souvenir.”

Chasing Pavement

“Should I give up or should I just keep chasing pavement, even if it leads nowhere.” ~Adele

20 miler done. Now time to taper!

So much of my running playlist would never take up space on my itunes if not for the running i.e. Ke$ha, Miley Cyrus etc. Don’t judge, you know all your guilty pleasure songs are on your running playlist. Anyway, in the midst of all that music, is a real gem, Adele’s Chasing Pavement. It’s slow for a running song but something about the words and crescendo of the music give me a boost. Its like a friend patting you on the back and whispering, “You can do it.” The run seems more poetic and freeing than the death march my legs keep trying to tell me it is. Even though I haven’t gotten my ipod for the marathon yet, Adele’s song still kept me going this past Sunday for my 20 miler. 20 miles! I can’t believe the marathon is a mere 3 weeks away, my last big long run is behind me and now it’s time to taper. How did that happen?

This past Sunday was beautiful. I woke up early, laced up, grabbed my Luna bar and was out the door. After being sick for two weeks, I finally felt confident again and ready for my 20 miler thanks to a good 6 miler with the East Nasties last Wednesday.  I was ready to attack it. I stretched and set out around 7 to get 4 miles out of the way so I’d be ready to do the last 16 with the Nasties.  I took it slow, mentally told myself it was just a warmup and couldn’t believe how good it felt.

Sciatic Nerve

I met up with the Nasties for the Bongo to Bongo run which included the back half of the Country Music Half Marathon. I felt good for most of it but around mile 10 of the 16 I could tell something wasn’t right.

When I trained for the half marathon, I had problems with my IT band, a common ailment for newbie runners.  Because of that, I have stretched out my IT religiously. I didn’t think it was that but I had no idea. All I knew was that with every strike of my foot, pain shot up my back and down my leg. Thinking it was muscular, I kept pushing.

Luckily, my amazing running partner in crime and friend, Christy kept me going, as did another EN, Stacey and Chuck, the EN resident running whiz. I was able to shut my brain down and listen to Chuck’s advice on pre-marathon meals, ways to stretch, how to mentally prepare for a marathon, speed sessions. That way I wasn’t consumed with how badly the whole right side of my body hurt.

We made it back to Bongo and stopped to get some water and stretch (again, I still thought it was some form of IT band syndrome).  Christy went into coach mode and looked at me with those intense eyes and said, “We’re doing these next two miles. I don’t care how slow we go but we’re finishing it.” Yep, she was right. Her and I are cut out of the same mold and hearing her say that was exactly what I needed. I knew that although every single step would hurt, I was finishing. Stacey joined us and we were off.  I have no idea my pace for those last two miles but it was SLOW. Slow, but I finished! I’ve never experienced anything like it. My body was surging with pain but I was so happy! All the experts and all the training plans say that if you can do 20, you can do 26.2. Even though I had to drag my leg through 6 miles, I know I can do 26.2.

Don't worry- my toes did not turn black from the cold nor from a 20 mile long run. I did get some pretty kick a$ blisters though ;)

I said bye to Christy and Stacey and headed home with my Nestle chocolate milk (I should be sponsored by Nestle for how much I drink it post long run :) and huge bag of ice for my first ice bath.  Let me just tell you…they work wonders!

Post stretching, post ice bath, post meal, post nap and post Flying Saucer trip with the Boy, the pain on my right side only got worse. Apparently two things happened on my 20 miler that day:

1- Because of the pain I somehow aged prematurely and was walking like a 90 year old woman and 2- because I was out running for so long in the sun, my freckles decided to come out and play earlier than usual which conversely makes me look like a 12 year old.

I woke up Monday barely able to walk and decided to call the Dr. to make an appointment. I go in tomorrow to see what this is. From everything I can tell and in talking to fellow runners, I think it is my sciatic nerve which normally is cleared up by a cortisone shot. Although I have confidence that tomorrow my mind, and body will be able to rest easy after knowing what it is and having a game plan, I’m still nervous. I know it sounds crazy but I WANT to do this marathon. I can take comfort in the fact that for my first half, it was this exact same time, the last long run before the taper, that my IT Band syndrome flared. You’re body is tired and broken down from training, but with PT I ran it. I’m hoping the same for this…

Hopefully I’ll have good news tomorrow!  Have you had problems with your sciatic nerve? What have you done to help it?

UPDATE: Here’s what the Dr. ordered.

Weekends are for (food)lovers- That’s My Kind of Vegetable

“Vegetables are a must on a diet.  I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie.”  ~Jim Davis

Don't check out yet, promise we'll make these little buggers delicious. Image by Fran Henig

It’s Springtime in Nashville, my windows have been open all weekend, the fan has been running and the sun has been out everyday. Well, besides that pesky thunderstorm that threatened to ruin Saturday but the sun chased it away before I had my first cup of coffee. After this weekend, I’m in a good mood.

I’ve been a little down recently after my not so peachy half marathon in Atlanta, followed by a week and a half long flu. It’s been miserable and no training was being done. I kept thinking I was getting better only to go out for a run and have to cut it short after feeling like someone was throwing bricks on top of my chest. It was an extremely frustrating week and with a celebrity booksigning at work, I was busier than ever. I couldn’t wait for the weekend to relax, recoup, get my life in order and hopefully squeeze in a 10 mile run and a 14 mile long run to get me back on track.

Instead of going on a 10 mile run on Saturday morning I sidelined those plans because turns out, when I don’t run, I eat. Well, I cook.  Makes sense right? You’re not running so obviously filling your home with delicious treats is the next logical step. But hey, at least it was healthy…it had carrots in it.  When The Pioneer Woman posted her favorite Easter treat, Sigrid’s Carrot Cake, I knew I had to try it. I have always been unjustly prejudice against carrot cake. I think the carrot threw me off.  Like most things I judge too quickly, I was wrong.

They taunt me with their cream cheese icing.

Carrot Cake Cupcakes- Originally from The Pioneer Woman

Ingredients

For the Cake:
-2 cups sugar
-1 cup vegetable oil
-4 eggs
-2 cups all-purpose flour
-1/2 tsp salt
-1 tsp baking soda
-1 tsp ground cinnamon
-2 cups grated carrots

For Icing:
-1 stick of butter, softened
-1 package (8 oz) cream cheese
-1 lb. powdered sugar
-2 tsp vanilla
-1 cup pecans, chopped finely (I decided to leave these out)

Directions

Cake
-Mix together the sugar, oil and eggs in a large bowl
-In another bowl sift together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon then add it to the first mixture and combine
-Add carrots and mix well
-Pour into greased a floured cupcake tin and bake until done (25-27 minutes)
-Cool Completely

Icing
-In large bowl, cream butter and cream cheese
-Add sugar and vanilla and blend
-Mix in the nuts
-Spread on cooled carrot cake. (NOTE: This is one of the best icing ever, so a word or two of warning. 1- don’t eat the whole bowl with a spoon and 2- wait till the cupcakes are completely cooled before you put the icing on or it will all run off. Trust me, you don’t want it to all run off)

One of my favorite warm weather vegetables

Oh but that wasn’t all my friends. It’s not enough to have carrot cake cupcakes, I needed to add ricotta cheese to the mix. Again though…it included sweet peas, asparagus and zucchini…so it’s healthy right?

I got out of my 10 miler but I knew that bright and early Sunday morning I’d have to wake up and do 14 so I wanted to get my pasta in and why not throw in some cheese and greens. This dish was delicious and perfect for a Spring night.

Springy Shells- Recipe originally from Tasty Kitchen

Ingredients
-16oz.  medium pasta shells
-1 lb. asparagus (cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces)  discard tough pieces
-1/2 lb broccoli, cut into small florets (I left these out since the Boy doesn’t like cooked broccoli, still had two three greens though so I was ok with that decision)
-1 medium zucchini diced
-1/2 cup frozen peas
-3 whole green onions sliced (white and light green parts)
-3 cloves garlic, minced
– 4 Tbls butter
-2 Tbls olive oil
-20 oz. ricotta cheese
-1/2 teasp salt
-2 eggs
-1 1/2 cup parmesan cheese
-black pepper
-extra olive oil for drizzling

Springy Shells Photo by Ree Drummond

Directions

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees
-Cook pasta until extremely al dente
-Melt butter with olive oil over medium heat, then add garlic
-Add the asparagus to the pan and cook for five minutes
-Add the broccoli and cook for one minute
-Add zucchini and cook for one or two more minutes
-Add the frozen peas, stir together then turn off the heat and set aside
-In separate bowl mix ricotta, eggs, salt and pepper until well combined

-Butter a 9×13 inch baking dish
-Add half the pasts, then spread 1/3 cup of the ricotta mixture over the surface
-Sprinkle 1/3 of the parmesan over the ricotta, then 1/2 of the vegetables
-Repeat with the rest of the pasta, then the rest of the ricotta and another 1/3 of the parmesan.
-End with the rest of the veggies and the rest of the parmesan
-Drizzle with olive oil and bake for 25 minutes on 350 or until nice and hot

This was so yummy! I think the Boy liked it too but not as much as the cupcakes. It was sans meat but have no fear because I have a three ingredient brisket marinating in the fridge for tomorrow to remedy the meatless weekend. Mmm.

The springy shells must have put an extra spring in my step because I went out Sunday morning and got my whole 14 miler in! It was the first time in two weeks I finished the run I set out to do and it did a world of good for me mentally. I can’t believe that after next weeks 20 miler, It’ll be taper time. Now I’m off to sit outside, soak up some sun, relax, have a cupcake and watch some more Office, which me and the Boy have been going through at an alarming speed.

Happy Monday!  How was your weekend?