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?

Weekends are for (food)lovers- Flu Fending Foods

“Neither rain, nor snow, nor sniffle, nor fever shall keep me from my training schedule.” ~Runner’s World

How I've felt running this week

So…I’ve been sick. Really sick. I don’t get sick very often but when I do, it knocks me out cold. And just when I was quietly rejoicing because I thought I was lucky enough to slide by without getting sick during marathon training…BAM…out for a week. How silly of my to think I was the exception to this terrible rule. Remember that not so peachy half that I told you I ran last weekend? Turns out that rain I was running in didn’t do much for the flu I was coming down with.

Not that there is ever a good time to be sick but with a busy week at work and a 20 miler scheduled for my long run, I was hesitant to take anything down a notch. Turns out I didn’t have  a choice. Cough, aches, headache, stuffed up nose, and an upset stomach kept me out of work and in bed. I tried to go to work a couple times. Fail. I tried to do a hilly 5.96 course with the nasties Wednesday. Yet another utter and complete fail. I couldn’t breathe. With each gasp I felt like someone was throwing a brick on my chest. I know, I know, I’m stubborn which sometimes turns into borderline stupid.

You’d think I would’ve learned my lesson right? Wrong. Saturday night as me and the Boy (who came down with the cold as well) were laying low, I thought I was getting better but every time I would laugh I would be caught up in a coughing spell.  The Boy cautiously  asked, if I thought continuing to plan to run 20 miles Sunday was a good idea. Yeah, why not I told him. 20 mile run yesterday…Epic fail. I made it about 11-12 and felt like my lungs were drowning.

So maybe running wasn’t the best idea but honestly, I really needed a good run. I had a bad half marathon, my run during the week was a bust, and all I wanted was a killer long run to get me back on the right track. Running only 11-12 when you planned 20 isn’t the best mental boost. I was frustrated, disappointed and angry but I keep telling myself it has nothing to do with fitness, it’s being sick and I will be fine after I get better. Ugh.

Turns out what they tell you about running while you’re sick is right (and the Boy was right): use the neck rule. If the symptoms are above the neck like a runny or stuffy nose, you can continue to work out. If it’s below the neck i.e. chest cold, body aches etc., take time off. (Great Runner’s World article here)

So while I’m dialing back the intensity and trying to fully heal so I can get back to it, I’ve been researching food runners can eat to help battle the flu and give the good ole immune system a swift kick in the pants.  The important thing I’ve learned and am trying to get better at is incorporating these food into everyday life instead of using them in an emergency :) so here are the five I’m focusing on:

Mmm...

1. Chicken Noodle Soup- Mom was onto something. According to Runner’s World Hot List, studies actually show that chicken soup can decrease symptoms of the common cold as well as neutrophils, the white blood cell that is considered partially to blame for the dreaded flu. It is also said to have some mild anti-inflammatory properties, to help decrease the production of mucus production. I think I’ll be taking this to lunch more often this Spring.

2. Cherries- My grandma had the right idea when she drank cherry juice. In northern Michigan, where I’ve been lucky enough to go each summer, the roads are lined with cherry orchards and cherries are in salads, cookies, on cereal, everything. Turns out they’re great for athletes because they are full of antioxidants.  Add them onto your cereal in the morning or that lunch salad.

If I ever have a garden, these will be first on the list

3. Bell Peppers- bell peppers are full of essential immune boosting vitamin C so before you reach for the OJ give these a try. I love to slice up some yellow and red bell peppers and add them on top of some penne pasta, marinara and sliced italian sausage.

4. Carrots- Carrots are a great immune boosting snack because they have beta-carotene. In the body, this turns to vitamin A which aids the increase of T-cells and in turn boosts immunity. I’ve started bringing these for a snack during the day with some almonds which bonus, are also a great immune booster because of their high concentration of vitamin E.

5. Sweet Potatoes- I love sweet potatoes and luckily for me, like carrots, these babies are high in beta-carotene.  I make sweet potato fries whenever I can as an after work snack or as a side dish. So good and super super simple.

The not so peachy ING 1/2- Race Recap

“Tomorrow is another day, and there will be another battle!” ~Sebastian Coe

ING 1/2 March 21, 2010

It was supposed to be a cinch, an easy 13.1, a taper week, a chance for my family to come see me run and a mental boost for me to run an easy 13.1 through Atlanta. Turns out, it was one of the toughest runs I have had in awhile.

I went to Atlanta this past weekend to see the family, relax and run the ING Half Marathon.  Even though the half didn’t go nearly as well as I had hoped, I learned a lot.

The night before the half, we went to dinner at some friends house. They were wonderful, beautiful people. It was only hard because I couldn’t eat my normal pre-race dinner. I didn’t think it would be a problem but I could tell during the race that something was off. It’s so funny how when you run those distances, something little can make such a huge difference. Lesson #1: never mess with the pre-race meal.

ING pre-race

The morning of the half, I rode with neighbors downtown. We left at 5am which meant I had to wake up at 4am eastern (3am my time). Woah. My body had no clue what was going on. I had decided the night before to add a banana to the lineup that morning for some extra energy. Normally I just have a Luna bar. I’m not sure if this was a good idea or not. I’m still trying to perfect the morning race meal but as you’ll see later, something just wasn’t right during the race and the banana may be to blame in part. We’ll see- the verdict is still out.

When I went to the corrals at 6:50 (the half started at 7) 18,000 runners were already on the move! Since when do races start on time, let alone early!? I was supposed to be in corral B but I was back by K and knew I wouldn’t make it. I pushed my way up to corral D. I probably could’ve made it to corral C but figured since I really wasn’t trying to race this half, it would be good to start farther back so I couldn’t go out fast. Wrong again. There I was dodging runners, all the while averaging right under a 9 minute mile for the first five. Oh brother. Lesson #2: Get a corral number close enough up so you aren’t dodging people for half the race. You add mileage (and time) that way.

Around mile five when I looked down at my watch and realized the pace I was keeping on what was supposed to be a long run on my taper week…I had what’s called here down south, a Come to Jesus talk with myself :) I reminded myself that I’m in training right now and this was not my race. I couldn’t be sore for the next week because I had to hop right back into training. This was supposed to be  my easy week. Even after the talk, it was easier said (or thought) than done. I felt like a stick shift car- jerky (or at least the way I drive one). I kept running as if it was a race and then had to pull back. Over and over I had to keep my competitive edge in check. I think that’s why I got SO tired. By mile  8 I was done.

Thank God I wasn't doing the marathon

How silly of me to think that  Atlanta was flat. Wrong again! It was SO hilly. The good news is that after Dante’s Peak, I knew that no matter what the course threw at me, I could make it to the top. Mile 11 came and they started separating us for the half and full marathon. I can’t tell you how thankful I was that I wasn’t doing the full. I almost knelt down and kissed the ground. The last 2.1 were nasty rough and once I was done I felt awful. There was a lurching in my stomach, my head was stuffy and my legs hurt like hell.

On the way home I felt like I was going to throw up. My whole body was in revolt. I hated that my family had to see me like that. On my 4 hour drive back to Nashville I was upset. Really upset. Why did I have such a bad race? Luckily I have great friends, including a wonderful running buddy and a fantastic and knowledgeable boyfriend to listen to me as I hashed out what I learned from ING.

My new compression socks will from here on out be called sausage casings

Lesson #3: Run the race you set out to run.
-I should have decided long before I was in my start corral, what my strategy was. It was a taper week and I should have treated it as such from the very start.

Lesson#4: You are tired at your finish line, no matter the mileage.
– Let’s be honest…I was terrified that the thought of breaking off to do the marathon almost made me cry. During the half, at mile 11 I was beat when just the week before I ran close to 19. How would I ever run twice with I did at ING?! Well, cause that’s where the finish line is. My line was 18.something the week before and that’s what I did. It was 13.1 for the ING. It’s all where the finish line is.

Lesson #5: Compression socks or as I call them, sausage casings, should be in everyone’s running arsenal.
-I got some CEP Compression Socks this weekend.  I have been hearing from everyone how great these are but quite honestly didn’t want to spend the money. I finally gave in because I knew I’d be driving 4 hours right after the half and heard that compression socks are especially great for traveling after a race since you can’t ice and put your feet up. I love them (even though they are UT colors). My shins have felt so much better this week.

I ended up with a time of 2:03:19, not my best time by any means but for a long run, not bad. I was 3,531 out of 10,481 runners, 1.264 out of 5,863 females and 149th in my age division. Not great but not bad.

My body is just now recovering, just in time for a killer hill workout with the nasties tonight. I still don’t feel 100% and my body still doesn’t like anything I put in it but I am giving it till 6:00 to get it’s act together. The sun is out, the weather is beautiful and I’m ready to run.

What lessons have you learned from a bad race?

You Know You’re Training for a Marathon if…

“Risin’ up, straight to the top
Have the guts, got the glory
Went the distance, now I’m not gonna stop
Just a man and his will to survive.” ~Survivor

What part of our run looked like. It was gorgeous. Photo by Markus Bernet

Monday night after work I met Christy for our 17 mile long run. After that wonderful 15 miler the week before, I had a terrible 5 mile run and then a painful 8 mile run. I took 4 days completely off to let my legs rest so that hopefully the pain that would shoot up my leg with each step would subside. When Monday came around I was nervous. I packed up my running stuff and made sure to add the Aquafor (after learning that painful lesson on the 15 miler), the IcyHot and Cliff Shot Bloks and headed to work. All day, all I could think about was the run.

5 o’clock came along with butterflies in my stomach and I went to go meet Christy for what I was sure was going to be a death march. I slathered IcyHot on my shins and knees hoping to sufficiently numb them, got suited up, and left at about 5:45.

On close to a three hour run, we talk about a lot of stuff. It’s funny how much ground you cover in your head too on a run. I love our run conversations and how the longer the run gets, the more laughing we do. For me, I think it’s so I don’t cry. haha. Then I think it’s that we are going certifiably insane so laughing is just a side effect. I mean really, 17 miles?! We need a new hobby, something stationary like TV watching. But truth be told, the run actually felt great. About an hour in, we were feeling strong. We grabbed some water, took some shot bloks and then as the sun started to set, settled into our second hour.

Before this run that Christy mapped out, she kept talking about this hill. I didn’t think much of it honestly because I was naive and didn’t know that area of town all that well and she wasn’t trying to kill me right? So it couldn’t be that bad. I mean, I’ve run hills before. First off all, this was not a hill…it was a mountain and second, after that mountain climb, I am a little skeptical that Christy may in fact be trying to kill me.

Dante's Peak

Right around mile 12, we had a 2.5 mile incline from a 4% grade to a 7% grade at mile 13.6. Holy cow. From now on, Lynnwood Way (which both Christy and I think is way too nice of a name for a mountain so terrible) will be called Dante’s Peak. The good thing about all of this though is that we did it! We survived. We pushed each other up the mountain knowing that if we could do this…it would literally be all downhill from there. If we could run this, we could run any little hill the marathon could throw our way. I mean for goodness sakes, all the cell towers were on this “hill.” You know you’re high up when that happens.

To keep our mind occupied, we came up with a Top Ten List:
You Know You’re a Long Distance Runner If…
1. You run out of the city limits
2. You owe your life to a headlamp
3. You feel like you are in a Runner’s World Rave Run photo/calendar as you run the quiet miles over Tennessee’s rolling hills as dusk falls
4. While you’re out running, most people have driven back from work, helped their children with their homework, had dinner, watched their favorite TV episode  and gone to bed
5. You like the smell of IcyHot
6. 13 miles is now a short run
7. Wearing tights in public is now acceptable
8. You have to write down your directions on a sticky note because you are going places you’ve never been
9. You’ve seen your life flash in front of your eyes as a car threatens to sideswipe you
10. You are constantly hungry because your body burns more calories than your body can keep up with

What would you add?

East Nasty Water Stop at Tom King

We finally made it back, a little worse for the wear but all in one piece. While we were cooling down, Christy looked at her Garmin and then at me and said, “You’re going to kill me. We ended up doing 18.33 miles” I didn’t have the energy to kill her ;) Again, we just laughed. It felt good. Sure our feet, shins, hips and backs felt like we had just pounded 18 miles into them but other than that we still felt good. We did it, we survived. We had great conversation, amazing scenery and a killer hill to keep us occupied. As I drove home ready for a big bowl of pasta, a warm shower and a soft bed I swear I heard Eye of the Tiger in the background.

I would also like to say a special thanks to Walmart for the head lamp Christy bought there. Without that, I would not be writing this post. Legs are still a little tired but not as sore after the yoga I did yesterday. Can’t wait to run with the Nasties tonight and have some green beer after. Happy St. Patty’s Day!

Chafing- The Mark of a Champion

“I’m petrified of nipple chafing. Once it starts, it’s a vicious circle. You have sensitive nipples, they chafe, so they become more sensitive, so they chafe more. It’s a tough one. Gotta take precautions.” ~Ed Helms in The Office

East Nasty Sunday Brunch Crew. Photo by C. Young

There are some words I just can’t stand. This past weekend, I added “chafing” and all it’s derivatives to that list. Chafe, chafed, chafing, I’m sorry but you are no longer welcome in my vocabulary.

Chafe (chf)
v.intr
1. To run and cause irritation or friction
2. To become worn or sore from rubbing
3. To feel irritated or impatient  (Can I say I’m chafed at the chafing?)

Because of the Boy, and the fact that he is a collegiate runner, I’ve heard the gruesome tales of horrors like the Bloody 11, toe nails falling off and things I’ve only known in nightmares. I had never experienced them, but then again, I had never run a 15 mile long run.

This past Sunday, Christy and I ran 15 miles. 15 miles! That’s the longest I’ve ever run- hence why I was terrified when we started. There were a couple times when I wanted to stop but great conversation, laughs and the East Nasties to cheer us on along the way got me through. Around 13.5 miles I hurt, but something clicked in my head and for the first time during training, I knew I could do the marathon. It’s going to be painful and I’ll want to quit but I can do it. I finished our long run with a great feeling…in my head, no so much my feet and definitely not my knees.

A couple things happened after that long run that I wasn’t ready for. I’m hoping that unlike me, you won’t make these novice mistakes.

Body Glide

#1- Chafing
Guys tend to suffer from nipple chafing, the Bloody 11, and girls will normally get it from wearing shorts. I have been able to avoid this malady until now because 1- I am not a guy and 2- I always wear tights when I run.  My luck ran out this weekend. One of my battle wounds ended up being a tender, red rash right under where my sports bra strap hits which consequently has made getting ready for work just a tad bit uncomfortable. Who gets chafing there?!

Aquaphor

I’m assuming that since my long runs will only get longer, I should probably find a way to fix this. I guess that means it’s time to get a real sports bra instead of one from Gap Body. My bad. I will remedy that soon.  Beyond that, I will be adding Body Glide to my running arsenal.  Some people use Vaseline but I have never liked it. It’s too goopy. I’ve also heard of people using deodorant or Aquaphor instead of Body Glide.  I have Aquaphor from when I got my tattoo and I really liked it. It didn’t feel greasy so I think I will try that for this next weekend but also pick up some Body Glide on my next trip to the running store.

#2- Sleep  after you run

I thought I was doing pretty good after the long run and it threw me off. Wasn’t I supposed to feel terrible? Come to find out it doesn’t kick in till a couple hours later. Around 4, I had a splitting headache that had me doubled over in pain. I am not used to these distances and at that point I had covered 30 miles in 4 days and my body just felt depleted.  I quickly made something more to eat and then laid down for a nap.

More sunbathing after a long run. Photo by C. Young

I think two factors created this crash. This is the first week where I have really hiked up my mileage with each run during the week being longer than I’m used to and  your body craves sleep after a long run. However, it made me think about the sleep I’m getting during the week. I need to be more diligent about getting 8 hours of sleep during the week, which will be hard but I think it will really make a difference.  On long runs you deplete your body of energy and  nutrients. Just like I am paying more attention to what I’m eating, I need to watch the sleep schedule more carefully.

Christy texted me to see how I felt later that day and her last text made me laugh. “Training for a marathon takes up lots of hours of your life. Hours of running, sleeping and eating :) Ah, that’s the life”

So true Christy, so true :)

What are some things you’ve learned as you have built up the mileage? Have you changed your sleep/eating patterns?

The Love of the Chase

“It has been said that the love of the chase is an inherent delight in man- a relic of an instinctive passion.” Charles Darwin

One of my favorite race pictures.

There is something about running that I have missed. I’ve loved getting back into running but there has been a lingering feeling that it wasn’t quite complete. There was a hole in the midst of the daily runs, the cross training and the long runs. I could quite put my finger, er, foot on it.

I finally found it this past week. It was my good friend competition. I never thought I’d see her again. I ran track in high school where everything was competitive. I ran the 200m, 400m and 4x400m. I THRIVE on competition. I liked the hunt of sprinting those distances. You zone in and you hunt people. At least I did. I’d zero in and attack. There is NOTHING better than the thrill of the chase. I loved it and to be honest, I haven’t felt it since high school. I don’t think I’ve been in good enough shape too.

Two things this week seemed to point me in the direction of my lost friend. The first was when I ran a 5k this past week. Although it was at a god awful time in the morning and my legs felt like lead, I was competitive. I could kick at the end and I felt strong through the finish. I was high on the chase. I’ve never felt that before. Until recently, when I get to the end that’s reason enough to celebrate. I had never been to concerned with time.

The second thing was going to see the boy and his team in Johnson City (for the life of me I don’t understand why these meets can’t be somewhere warm) for their indoor conference meet. I love watching track. I love how you can watch the whole race unfold. Initially when I started going I thought I’d like watching the longer distances on the track but would tolerate them only to get to the shorter distances I was more familiar with. I mean that’s how it was when I ran. The distance events only got in the way of my 4x400m. Well, that’s all changed. I love watching the distance. I guess the 100, 200, 400 just don’t satisfy my craving anymore. I need the hard stuff, the mile, the 3k and the 5k. The boy is in great shape now too and more importantly, injury free so he’s experiencing the same thing, which I love to watch. He raced so well! I was so happy to be there and see that. During track season I now get to see what the Boy has dubbed, the Kick of Doom. It’s incredible to watch. I thought I liked to hunt. You should see my boy out there chasing down 1-2-3-4-5 runners. I thought I was going to go hoarse from screaming. It was then that it clicked. That is what I love about running.

Little brother Z at the Tomato 5k

All this has taught me that I really need to do more speedwork. That would not only satisfy this junkie’s cravings but help my running and overall performance. I’m think I’m going to throw in some more 5ks into the mix so I can remember why I’m training for this marathon. I’m sure I’ll do more marathons after this first one but I doubt it will be my sweet spot. I do however see myself keeping mileage up as if I was training for one so I can perform better for the shorter distances, 5ks, 10ks and halves. It’s on.I feel like now I can chase my times for these shorter distances.

Tonight is run with EN night. I can’t wait…for two reasons. One- I think the boy is going to come tonight which will be fun. He’s heard me talk about it so much so I can’t wait for him to come. Second- these tend to be the nights when I run hard and fast. I chase and I love it. I can kick it in with the group near the end and come in fast to the finish. Yeah it’s not a race but you have to work for those 2 for 1’s :) We’ll see if I can do this tonight. The EN run is 4.43 and then Christy and I are adding on more so we have 8. When is 8 a normally during the week run?! Well it is now, so we’ll see how my kick does tonight.

Speaking of EN, Check out some of my fellow Nasties’ blogs:

Christy-remember, she was my first blind date :) She is my new partner in crime when it comes to running. This girl keeps me going and keeps me smiling.

Rod- To me Rod typifies an EN. He’s fun, a great runner and is welcoming. I am still learning and meeting EN people since I am pretty new to the group and Rod is always there to introduce me to people. Thanks so much!

Annie and Cherie.- both are, what I like to call, The Displaced Nasties (how did they both end up in Colorado)? Annie I’ve never met before, I started running with the Nasties after she left for CO but I have so enjoyed getting to “meet” her through her blog and can’t wait till she comes to visit. Cherie has become a friend through Girls on the Run. She’s awesome. She is the one who encouraged me to go run with the Nasties. Thank you Cherie!

My Blind Date

“The woods are lovely dark and deep, but I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep.” – Robert Frost

I'm official! I signed up Friday!

13.5 miles. That’s the longest distance my legs have carried me and the the duration of my first blind “date.”

After two weeks of dreading my weekend long runs because I had to do the high mileage alone,East Nasty saved me again. I wrote a post a little bit ago about how sometimes you just can’t do it by yourself. This group has been great for my training! I love the people, the support, and how every time they run, it includes eating/beer or both. These are my people. I can’t wait for our Wednesday runs. It’s a highlight of the week. But after that, the dread of the Sunday long run would start. Most of my friends and those running with the Nasties were training for the half marathon so I was starting to experience what happens at mile 11 here in Nashville for the Country Music marathon. Come mile 11, there’s a huge split where the crowd goes left to complete the last two miles for the half and the few, who lack better judgement, go right to do it all over again to complete the marathon. My training runs were starting to get longer, and I found myself alone on the road. I know, I could pay to be part of a marathon training group but honestly, I have a hard time paying to be in a running group for someone else to set out water and map out a route. No thanks. I’ll save my money and squirrel it away for my next pair of running shoes. Why are those suckers so expensive anyway?

This past week after a great Wednesday run I knew I had to do something because my Sunday long run was going to be 13 miles. The longest I’ve ever run was a half marathon and I’ve only done that twice. This was going to be brutal. So in desperation I went to East Nasty’s blog and on the Sunday run post and asked if anyone in the group was doing the marathon and wanted to go longer. What did I think this was? The e-harmony of running? I hoped I didn’t sound to desperate but seriously people, I was terrified of doing it alone.

Enter Christy.

Within the hour she responded saying she was in training for a marathon too and would love a partner for the long runs. Perfect!

One of the many bridges I will see for my first marathon in Cincinnati...hoping I won't want to jump off of it.

In my excitement, I would be telling people how happy I was about my weekend plans and having a new running buddy, people were amazed at the fact that we would be running together having never met. “It’ll be like a blind date, aren’t you nervous?” Ha! I never thought about it that way. Now I’ve NEVER been on a blind date, and for good reason. I love getting to know people one on one but to be stuck for 2 hours with someone you’ve never met? No thanks. Wait…wasn’t that what I just signed myself up for? Guess they were right. I was going on my first blind date and I was a little nervous.

I got to Percy Warner at 8 (an hour before the Nasties got there so we’d have plenty of time for an easy 5-6) and anxiously waited. Normally you don’t meet new friends and run 13.5 miles but that’s exactly what we did. I had a blast. Not only was it so nice to have a partner to run with but she was great! For the first 5 she bestowed all her marathon knowledge upon me which I so appreciated! She gave me tips on things this marathon newbie wouldn’t even have thought of. Then we met up with the Nasties for a hellaciously hilly 5.8 through Percy Warner park where we kept each other trucking up the hills. After that we ran with two other friends of Christy’s who were equally as great for 2 miles.

Don’t get me wrong, the miles were hard, it’s the longest I’ve ever gone, but I felt great! Never being on a blind date, I’m not sure how people feel after a successful one but I know that after this long run with a new friend, I was thrilled.

It’s funny how many of my friends are ones I’ve met while running. Before I started running, I was in that weird place that a recent grad finds him or herself in after graduating where friends move away and you are stripped of that common language of experience. For the few friends I’ve lost in the shuffle after college, the ones I’ve kept are getting stronger and I’m meeting so many great new ones like Christy through running. More than running, I’ve learned that those who stick it out and do these distance together have so much more in common. As I was running with Christy, I realized that just like her and I, many runners I’ve met share a passion for life, a determination to make a difference and not become an onlooker but a participant in what’s going on around them. Runners work hard and play hard, always with a smile on their face and always cracking each other up and cheering you on during the tough times. It’s a community where you never stop learning, you always look out for each other and constantly share. What more could you ask for? I am so thankful for new friends like Christy that running has allowed me to meet.

So as for compatibility…we are a match! Ha. I mean come on, she also wants to do the Great Wall marathon!

The run was great and we are already scheduling out second “date.”

Have you ever had a running blind date?