Friday, August 13, 2010

White hot

There was a sweetness that surprised me. A creamy, delicate texture that I wasn't expecting. A feeling I definitely wasn't used to. A feeling that I might actually like eggplant.

Mark and I received a white eggplant as part of our CSA basket this week, and I was a little put off. I've eaten eggplant twice in my life and both times I've found it to be bitter and a chore to eat. But we paid for this share and darn it, I was going to eat it!

We interrupt this blog for an important public service announcement: Mark only eats broccoli, corn and the occasional cooked carrot. All "weird" vegetables are thereby relegated to Kimberly's plate.

I sliced up the eggplant, seasoned it with salt pepper and the slightest drizzle of olive oil and roasted it at 400 degrees for, uh, 40 minutes or so until I was finished eating dinner. It had a nice golden edge and the plentiful seeds were toasty looking. I snagged a piece right out of the oven and though it was hot, it was good.

I also tried it today with a balsamic vinaigrette, which totally ruined the flavor. I definitely think it would be good in a pasta or on a pizza as one of you gals suggested last night. Funny, I've been craving pizza and was planning on having a slice (or two ... or three) this weekend.

Mmmm ... pizza.

Stretching or lack there of

Pre-workout fuel: Slice of whole-wheat toast with peanut butter and half caff coffee.
Workout: Ran 5.65 miles in 51 minutes, 12 seconds; average pace, 9:03. Followed it up with 20 minutes of "Tank Top Arms."

It always takes me a good quarter-mile for me to find my "legs." I have to workout the kinks, any stiffness, settle into a groove. I have to find my breathing and let the dog workout some of his craziness. In that first quarter-mile, I have to reassure myself that, yes, I want to be running. After the first quarter-mile, though, I'm fine.


Today, it took me a bit longer to find my legs. I'd call it a lingering stiffness in my thighs that kept me off target, feeling wise, for a good half-mile. And it was only with the help of a downhill at the half-mile mark that I began to feel good. Maybe it was the too long, too fast tempo on Wednesday. Could have been the 10-mile bike ride Thursday. Or, you know, it could be the fact that my stretching has been nearly non-existent all week.

I know, I know. Stretching is important. I know I should do it, and I know how to do it. I just don't make time to do it. I'm either making breakfast for Mark, trying to squeeze in some weights or running around trying to get ready for work because I woke up too late.

But you'll hear it here first - I'm going to do better. Starting Sunday, after my long run, I'm going to get in a good 15 minutes of stretching. I'll make it a priority next week, even if it means trimming some mileage or getting up at 5:45 a.m.

In other, less grumble-inducing, talk: My husband signed up for the half-marathon next month. Apparently, he couldn't bear to be a spectator once again. He's hoping to unleash his inner speed demon and so we won't run the race together. That's OK, though ... I'm taking the Garmin ;)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Three Things Thursday: Need You Now

Pre-workout fuel: Banana and slice of whole-wheat toast. Half-caff coffee on the side.
Workout: Rode 10.37 miles on Green Envy in 52 minutes, 25 seconds; average speed, 11.9 mph.

Who knows who goes bicycle riding in capri pants when it's 80 degrees out?
I know! I know!

That would be me. And that would be me because I own just two pairs of shorts and both pairs were stinky and in the laundry pile.

Need No. 1 on Three Things Thursday: New shorts. I know it's August, and we all hope and pray that in a month or so the air will cool and those capri pants will be a comfortable part of the rotation. Regardless, I now have 6-7 weeks of half-marathon training to go through on two pairs of shorts. Not good. So I'm on the hunt for another pair or two, and my current fave is the Brooks Epiphany Stretch Shorts on Running Warehouse. I've never worn Brooks shorts (reviews greatly appreciated) but they're cute and have an even cuter matching top. Do I predict a F4F sub-2:00 outfit?

By the way, there are also a pair of capris and a long-sleeve top in the "collection." Maybe I need to change my need to wardrobe ...

Need No. 2: Biking bravado. I like to ride my bike. I do. Really. It just scares me a little. The turns, other bikers who seem to take up too much space, my husband riding behind me. I spend a good third of the ride in fear that I'm going to crash/fall/lose control and hurt myself. I'm sure riding more will help (as would wider pathways). Any advice?

Need No. 3: Recipes for beets. We got our CSA delivery this week, and I was more befuddled than last week. Potatoes I can cook. Beets? Uh, not so sure. I asked my grandma and she began listing off Harrison(?) beets, pickled beets, roasted beets -- all the types of beets she likes. I'm not sure she's made any of the varieties as she told me to look up recipes on the internet. If you knew my grandma, you know that's way out of character. Her in character comment? Telling me how good this vegetable is and assuring me that I will like 'em. Here's hoping the 11th command -- Grandma is always right -- pulls through.

Also in our CSA basket: More potatoes, green beans and a white eggplant. At least I think it's an eggplant. I'm going to roast it tonight and hope for the best.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The plan

Pre-workout fuel: Slice of whole-wheat toast with Amish cherry jam and cup of half-caff coffee
Workout: Ran 6.92 miles in 1 hour, 1 minute and 24 seconds; average pace, 8:52. Super-quick upper body workout followed while watching "Teen Mom."

I have a plan. A plan to run a sub-2:00 half-marathon on Sept. 25. The plan might be from Runner's World but it's mine now.

Cue hysterical laughter.

The Runner's World plan features two quality workouts -- a pace workout and a long run -- and two to three shorter runs each week for 10 weeks. I began the pace workouts about a month ago, and I plan to continue those - sort of - as prescribed by the plan. However, I am adjusting the schedule to accommodate my recent half and reverse taper, as well as the weeks that feature five runs, including four straight days. I know that it will not work for me. At all.

So here's what I'm doing:

Week of Aug. 9: 4 miles on Tuesday; 6 miles w/4 @ 9:00 on Wednesday; 5 miles on Friday; 8-9 miles on Sunday.
Week of Aug 16: 4 miles on Tuesday; 3x1-mile repeats @ 8:20 on Wednesday; 5 miles on Friday; 9-10 miles on Sunday.
Week of Aug. 23: 4 miles on Tuesday; 6 miles w/ 4 @ 8:54 on Wednesday; 5 miles on Friday; 9-10 miles on Sunday.
Week of Aug. 30: 4 miles on Tuesday; 7 miles w/ 5 @ 9:00 on Wednesday; 5 miles on Friday; 10-11 miles on Sunday.
Week of Sept. 6: 4 miles on Tuesday; 4x1-mile repeats @ 8:15 on Wednesday; 5 miles on Friday; 11-12 miles on Sunday.
Week of Sept. 13: 4 miles on Tuesday; 7 miles w/5 @ 8:50 on Wednesday; 5 miles on Friday; 12-13 miles on Sunday.
Week of Sept. 20: 4 miles on Tuesday; 5 miles w/ 3 @ 8:54 on Wednesday; RACE DAY on Saturday.

I can't lie - some of those paces intimidate me. I was downright scared this morning when I set out for 6 miles with 4 miles at a 9:00 pace. I knew I shouldn't be - I practically ran 7 like that on Sunday. But it's like a test - you know you knew the information in study sessions but will you be able to pass the test?

Thankfully, today I did.

My breathing was labored, my Tempo shorts soaked through. There were points where I wondered whether I would make it, and I stopped each mile to take a breather. My splits? They were well under 9:00. My sub-goal pace could have affected my breathing and need for rest but I am inclined to blame the heat. Seriously, it was friggin' hot (as if I had to remind you) and the humidity was even worse. A friend on Daily Mile put it best, "Would have been only slightly less miserable if I'd been sitting in a sauna wrapped in a wool blanket."

Question of the day: Do you adjust training schedules to meet your needs?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Germany meet Mexico

Have you ever had a Reuben quesadilla? Yeah, me either. At least until today.

After literally clocking myself while getting ready for work (knocked an alarm clock off closet shelf and it fell 3-4 feet onto my head), I spent the morning thinking about all things crazy and delicious: sliced turkey, cheese, 1000 island dressing, sauerkraut. Mmm, sauerkraut.

"Reuben. Reuben. Reuben," my brain chanted.

One problem: This German girl had no rye bread in the house. Shameful, really. So I decided to take a whole-wheat tortilla and make a wrap. One problem: I want to put too much in a wrap and it never stays "wrapped. " So I decided to make a Reuben quesadilla. I could stuff it as full as I wanted, and just fold over the tortilla.

I took the tortilla, one slice of Swiss, some turkey breast and sauerkraut and put it on half of the tortilla. I folded it over and cooked it for a few minutes on each side in a skillet. I put some light 1000 island dressing on the side for dipping. YUM!

To get in some veggies, I had one of my favorite soups: Progresso Light Savory Vegetable Barley. I could eat this soup every day it's so good. OK, I do eat it almost every day but I ate it out of a mug today, which is always way more fun.

Question of the day: What's your favorite non-traditional lunch combo?

Building up to Fort

Pre-workout fuel: Half a banana with Peanut Butter & Co. Dark Chocolate Dreams and half-cup Amaretto Cream roast coffee
Workout: Ran 4.16 miles in 39 minutes, 17 seconds; average pace, 9:26. I also did 10 minutes of abs on my new ball.

I guess it's official.

I'm running the Fort-4-Fitness half-marathon on Sept. 25. It might seem completely insane to run half-marathon No. 3 just six weeks after half-marathon No. 2 but hear me out.

Each day, I would look at the race's website and get nervous when I saw that registration was 85 percent full. I would get jealous as registrants would discuss increasing serious long runs as the race nears. I had a training schedule ready to go, just sitting on my desk. And, well, the allure of a sub-2:00 half-marathon is hard to shake.

I couldn't not do it.

I would be lying if I said if I wasn't unsure about my decision and a bit scared shitless nervous. But I am excited to see what I can do with a little more training and learning from my RnR Chicago lessons.

Wish me luck!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Having a ball

Upon coming home from work, I was super excited to find that my new stability ball had arrived in the mail.

I had ordered the burst-resistant ball from CSN after winning a $40 gift "card" over at Rust Belt Runner. I have been wanting one for a while and never got around to buying one. Free money seemed like the perfect time to get one.

I quickly opened the box and got to work pumping up the ball. It seemed like it took forever but just 10 minutes or so. The instructions said to blow up the ball to 80 percent, let it sit for 24 hours and then inflate the ball to full capacity.

For once, I followed instructions and let it sit on the floor, looking sad and lonely. I know it wanted me to do some crunches and other cool moves that are on an included poster. But no stability work for me. Instructions said.

So instead, I opted to finally try kale "chips" and get to work on "Eat Pray Love." I am in total infatuation with the book. Kale chips ... uh ... yeah. I enjoy the way the seem to shatter between your teeth like glass on pavement but the parts that didn't get crispy weren't as good. Plus, I sprinkled on a lot of salt - good or bad, I guess, depending on how you like your food.

In case you care: I made the kale chips by preheating the oven to 350 degrees. While that was getting hot, I cut the kale off the stem, washed it and dried. I put the kale in an even layer on a pizza pan (because it was the easiest one to grab). I sprayed it with butter-flavored cooking spray (because it was the easiest to grab) and sprinkled it with salt and pepper. I baked it until the edges were crispy. I don't know how long - I wasn't paying attention. Most recipes say 15 minutes.

Love tap

Pre-workout fuel: Half slice whole-wheat toast with apple butter, water and half-cup Amaretto Cream roast coffee
Workout: 40 minutes P90X yoga and 2.2-mile walk with Denali

I love my husband. I do. Really. But as much as I love him, sometimes I want to reach over and smack him.

Like this morning.

Mark and I were plankin' it out with Tony Horton, and Mark decides to get chatty.

"I love this pose."

"Good form babe."

"This one is always tough for me."

I replied in grunts. I don't particularly like to talk while doing yoga, and I can't particularly talk when I'm doing my upteenth chataranga. "Hi, triceps and back. It's nice to meet you. Mark? Shut the front door."

This morning, I made it through 40 minutes of the workout before I decided that I was entirely too sweaty and needed to stop. Of course, I might have been less sweaty and been able to go 50 minutes had someone, ahem Mark, hadn't turned on the HEAT last night rather than the air conditioning.

Yeah. I wanted to punch him then, too. Instead, we took a walk and I made him an eggy sandwich. Love ... at its finest.

Question of the day: Do you like to chat while working out?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Fast times at runner's high

Pre-workout fuel: Slice of whole-wheat toast with Amish cherry jam and half-cup Amaretto Cream roast coffee
Workout: Ran 7.21 miles in 1 hour, 4 minutes, 49 seconds; average pace, 8:59.

The pain in my right leg was nagging as I walked my two-block warm-up. It started somewhere around the knee and went up to mid-thigh. If it was going to feel like this for the entire run, I was going to be in trouble. T-R-O-U-B-L-E. Thankfully, though, once we got started, the pain dissipated.

Today's plan was 6 miles, with Mark and Denali joining me for the first 4 miles. I say it every day but from the moment we started, I knew we were going too quickly. I kept trying to rein in the pace, reminding myself that I wouldn't get to go inside and shower when we looped back to the house. And yet, for whatever reason, three of those first four miles were faster than a 9:0o pace. D'oh!

After I split with the boys, I did slow up a bit but "slow" once you've been running 8:50s ends up being 9:08s and 9:09s. I was fatigued from the pace but felt relatively good, and I opted to add in another mile. Reason 1: Six miles is going to be a weekday run this week - I can't have a long run be the same distance. Reason 2: I wanted to test how good I felt doing distance after last week's half to help me make a decision about Fort-4-Fitness.

And while no decision was made about that half, I'm happy to say that this is my fastest pace at this distance.

In other running-related rambles, you know you are a runner when you watch "Ice Road Truckers" and think about how your quads would feel making those Alaskan climbs. In the summer, of course.