Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Never quit

I came to the realization the other day, while I was running, that the best running days are behind me. It's only going to get colder from here and with the cold comes tight muscles, runny noses, and lungs that refuse to operate on cold air. These upcoming runs are going to be mostly "training runs." I probably won't actually enjoy my runs again until Spring. Then I might look for some more competitive races. I don't see the fun in busting it through the uncomfortable, frigid cold for a disappointing time. I'm still in the mood to do another race, but I think I'm gonna be looking for something more about the fun and less about the competition.

That doesn't mean I won't being trying to run my best every morning. In fact I've had a few pretty good ones lately! My last 2 miler was sub 19 and my 3 miler this morning was sub 30. My most recent pr was about 27:30, which I am super stoked about! Imagine what that would have been like on a race day! I don't know how long it will take me but, I'm hoping this progress will help me meet one of my goals: to be one of the top thousand to finish the AJC Peachtree Road Race. I think I'll have to run a 7 minute mile, at least, but if that's what it takes... that's what I'll do!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

20:03 and disappointing pastina

Let's start with the run, the reason I write these posts anyway. I know I just wrote yesterday that I've been lucky with the weather not being too hot or too cold. Well, I spoke too soon. It was around 50 degrees this morning, unbeknownst to me when I picked out my running clothes. I noticed all the other people out walking and running had their long sleeves and hats and pants and stuff. Then there's me. I'm running past with my short sleeves and shorts... and goosebumps. Yes, I am the only person I know that still ends up with goosebumps and cold hands after a run. My ears were really the worst part for me; they were sold cold they hurt. I literally held my hands to my ears for five minutes after my run until they were normal temperature again. Now, watch, I'll wear ear muffs tomorrow and it'll be 65 degree again!

The run itself felt great! Much better with a full night's rest. My legs didn't feel as tight, for whatever reason, and my feet didn't hurt me as much. I felt like I was bounding up the hills and didn't need to slow down on the down hills just to catch my breath. I was actually really excited about it and couldn't wait to see my time. I was a little disappointed to see that, after the way I felt, my run was only 5 seconds faster than my last 2 mile run. Which is basically no difference at all. It was kinda like in football when your team does their best and "finishes the drill" (a little reference to my bulldogs) but the other team is just a little better; you know when it goes down to the last seconds and there's nothing else you could've done (maybe I'm the only one that feels that way...). Anyway, try as you may a loss is still a loss, no matter how well the team played. That's how I feel about my run. I felt great and I thought I ran my best but, at the end of the day, I couldn't break 20. But, there's always tomorrow.

Now I'll talk about the second aspect of my goal - the food! Last night's dinner was more than a little disappointing. I'm guessing that I did something wrong but Giada's pastina soup didn't turn out at all like I expected. It smelled delicious while it was simmering but then, I added the pastina, which absorbed all of the broth as it cooked, and I was left with watery pastina with carrots and peas. I know I must have down something wrong because Giada's stuff is normally so good.

You can see from the picture, although it's not the greatest, there's just no liquid there. It looks like rice with peas and carrots, which is kinda what it ended up like. Whomp whomp... Tonight I've got collards and spicy pumpkin so, let's see how that goes! Here's too Fall foods and cooler runs!

Barely Fall

The weather has been pretty sunny and warm lately. You'd have no idea that it's mid-October if you didn't look at a calendar. Luckily it's been pretty mild in the mornings. I haven't seen too much heat or too much chill. That being said, more times than not, I'm cold. I'll be the person running with ear muffs when it's sub 60 degrees. The cold wind blowing past the ears makes my head and ears too cold its painful. Sometimes I end up with a head cold because of it.

This week has been even more mild, so no need for ear muffs! However, I still end up tired and that makes it more difficult too. I was particularly tired this morning because I didn't get that much sleep last night. I'm gonna go "dream journal" for a moment and record the happenings of last night.

I woke up, still half asleep, thinking I heard the roar of a crowd coming from the TV down stairs and puppy paw steps on the hard wood. Since I was half asleep, I thought it was still the football game on downstairs and my puppy walking downstairs to tell them to come to bed, she does that sometimes. Then, I woke up completely and realized the game was way over and there wasn't actually a crowd like roar coming from anywhere. I also didn't hear the puppy paw steps anymore so I thought I was just dreaming it all up.

As I laid there, trying to go back to bed, I heard scratching on my door. It sounded like my doggy but, unlike her it was one scratch and then silence. She normally whimpers when the door doesn't magic open for her. So, then my mind started racing. It went places minds normally go during the month of Halloween (or anytime really) when it's dark and you hear something abnormal. And of course I couldn't open the door and go figure it out - that's how the characters always meet their doom! No, I was staying in my room. I wasn't about to go to bed, however, I was too scared. So I knelt down on the floor and looked under the door. I saw my puppy's paws and then her nose sniffing the floor by my door. I opened the door and my doggy was so excited to see me - even more excited than when I come back from being out all day or for a couple of days. I appreciated it but still didn't understand why she came to my room in the middle of the night.

I took her back to my parents room, worried maybe one of them was hurt, but they said it must have been the thunder. What thunder?! I'm assuming that was the roaring crowd I "heard coming from the TV." Anyway, all is well that ends well. Needless to say, I couldn't go back to bed very quickly and didn't sleep well afterwards.

That made it tough to get up this morning. I did, eventually, of course. But, between being tired from last night and tight I didn't enjoy my run as much today. I felt particularly tight behind my knee... which is strange. It definitely made it difficult to punch it up the hills. I ended up with a pretty good time despite all that - 29:08. I really expected something closer to 30, or over 30 minutes. So I am pretty pumped about it!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Knocking off time

Wow! I haven't been keeping up with my times! I've been timing myself pretty regularly and I have every intention of writing my reflections on the run when I get back. And then something happens, I get busy, something else comes up and pretty soon, it's getting to be dinner time and writing about my run slips my mind completely.

The good news is - I've been getting faster! Since I haven't kept my promise to myself and wrote my times down consistently, I'm not sure exactly sure how my progression looks. I do know that I've gotten my 3 mile runs from 30 minutes, on average, down to 28/ 29 minutes. My 2 miles are still around 20 minutes, kinda lingering at 20:08 - :05, which really doesn't make sense to me. I really feel like my shorter runs should be faster because I'm not running the same distance. And, as I'm running, I have less ground to cover and have to psych myself up less to conquer anything I have left to run. But, somehow, everyday, I end with ten minute miles on my 2 mile days. The only thing I can think of is that I slack on the shorter runs just because they're shorter. I'd hate it if that were true but, it seems like a pretty good explanation.

Since Halloween is around the corner, I've been thinking about some black and orange goodies! So far I've made Chocolate Donut Holes and I have plans for a chocolate carrot cake (it looks tastier than it sounds, and hopefully it's pretty yummy!) I think I've been having a little too much sugar lately.. I'm seeing a couple of spots occasionally. I'm too stubborn to give up sugar entirely so I'm gonna try to space out my intake a little...

Chocolate Donut Holes

When I saw the cover of the Halloween issue of Food Network Magazine this year, I knew it was gonna be good - it had a cake on the cover! The cake, which is on the docket for later this week, is part of an orange  and black themed section full of halloweeny sweet goodness. The first thing I decided to make were the donut holes.

I really hate frying things. Not really because of the fat and calories but because of the mess and the waste. Every time I fry things I end up with oil splattered everywhere! Also, in order to fry things, you have to use an insane amount oil. Then, when you're done, you have to through the oil away. That's a half to whole bottle of oil gone in one shot! Maybe because I don't have much practice with frying things, the stuff I make only turns out everyone once and a while. That also tends to make me stray away from frying foods. I don't know what came over me but I decided to take on those donuts, and I'm glad I did.

I won't go into all the details of how they're made but, I will say I was a little worried as I was making them. It seemed way too sticky and I thought there was no way I would be able to roll it out, or whatever it said. Instead, I took a melon baller to make balls about an inch in diameter (which I think is what the instructions call for). I loved how well that worked! Everything was uniform, I made way less dishes and my hands where far less of a mess. However, once I fried them they puffed up quite a bit. And, as I cooked them, the started to burn faster. I don't have a candy thermometer so, maybe the oil got too hot. But, I also noticed the oil getter really, really dark, which I think was because of the chocolate. I don't know if it's a thing but, maybe they started to burn faster because of the darkness of the oil.

My other cooking note-to-self would be to make more of the glaze. I was able to make it through half of the donut holes before I ran out of chocolate and had to make more. Immediately after I glazed them, I sprinkled them with black and orange nonpareils.

They were just as delicious as I expected (even if they didn't really end up looking like the picture...). Slightly crunchy from being fried, chocolaty, smooth glaze, and chocolaty, fluffy inside with a hint of orange zest. They're a nice little seasonal pick me up after my runs in the morning ;) and I will definitely be making this again next year for Halloween!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Welcome Fall!

Fall has officially arrived! I'm excited and a little sad. There were quite a few things I wanted to do with my summer that never happened. Maybe next year...

Before I spring into my plans for this fall. I should recap my runs lately... in a nut shell because, well, I haven't written in a while and tend to forget my times quickly.

I've run pretty well lately. My runs haven't been spectacular but I think, on the whole, they've been about 10 to 15 seconds better than when I started keeping track after the Peachtree. A couple of days ago, I even ran my first 10k since the Peachtree! I've had a lot on my mind lately and I needed a moment to my self, to think and relax. That's why I started running in college anyway; school got stressful and I needed to find a way release that stress. I lived right near the gym so that made running more accessible. I was never really good at running then, but now that's I've learned, running has become more important to me.


Back on track.... the 10k felt GREAT! My time was about 58 minutes. That's not my target Peachtree time, to be sure, but for not running that distance in a while and having little sleep the night before, I was pretty proud! Plus, race time always ends up being about two or three minutes faster than practice times so, with a practice time of 58 and some seconds I'd say I could run the Peachtree in 55 (and some seconds). Which is already better than my time this past year! Yay!!

In the mean time, I'm looking for another 5k race to do - fun and holiday-themed. Or fall/Halloween/Thanksgiving themed. Themed races are always more fun, in my opinion. I'm thinking a longer distance might be good for Thanksgiving - earn all the food I'm gonna eat! lol

Speaking of food - this month has been all about the cookie bars and grilled cheese. It's like summertime when you end up sick of all the hamburgers and hotdogs (maybe that's just me). I can't wait for the weather to get a little cooler so I can make soups and comfort foods! Yum! And with the holidays around the corner I know I'll be making plenty of black and orange goodies for halloween and plenty of pumpkin spice filled goodies for Thanksgiving and lots and LOTS of cookies for Christmas. If that's not motivation to incorporate longer runs, I don't know what is! 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015


Two days ago, was garbage day. Why does that matter? Under normal circumstances, it wouldn't. But, on garbage day, everyone places their trash cans on the sidewalk. Rewind to last winter. I was running on the sidewalk with my doggy and tripped on an uneven piece of sidewalk, probably because I tend to shuffle my feet when I'm running tired. I scrapped up my chin pretty bad - I think it was broken and there's a piece floating around randomly because there's a weird dent and bump that I don't remember being there. After that incident, I told myself I would never run on the sidewalk again!

As most promises to ourselves go, a couple of months later, it was forgotten. I hopped on the sidewalk here and there to avoid a car and, pretty soon, was on the sidewalk pretty permanently. I reasoned to myself that it was safer for me and cars to be safely out of the road.

Fast forward to a couple of days ago, I was running on the sidewalk, as is now usual, and dodging trash cans as I went. It had gone pretty good for me for the two and a quarter miles. Then, as if to remind me of that promise to myself, my foot slipped into the crevasse between the sidewalk and the grass. I was trying to avoid one on those trash cans. It hurt so badly, I couldn't put any pressure on it to stand. I stopped my watch right after I fell, I was hoping it would just be a momentary pause and then I'd be back on my way. But when I realized I couldn't stand on it, I was devastated. It was actually a pretty good run at that point - the weather was great, I didn't feel tired, I was light on my feet and I was poised for a 9 minute mile, or better!!

When I got back to the house, I iced and elevated my ankle. There really wasn't any swelling or bruising. It still hurt when I'd stand on it for too long or bend it inwards. I decided, even though it hurt my psyche to not run the next day. I had been doing great with my runs, I really hated that this injury might cause me to loose time. But, one of my worst fears is doing something in my youth to hurt me in the future (I know it's silly...). Well, yesterday wasn't so bad, so I decided to run today.

Just to be safe, I wore an ace bandage while I ran. The bandage actually belonged to my sister when she was in high school. She has a much smaller foot than I so I guess I should have figured that using her brace would cause me to loose feeling in my foot. Well, I figured I could handle numb toes if it meant protecting my ankle. That's pretty much exactly what happened - my foot felt heavy and sore around the edges of the brace and it made it difficult to bend my foot. That, in turn, made me use different muscles while I ran, which hurt so, so bad.

All in all, I was glad that I went out and tried a little run and that I wrapped up my ankle. I actually had a pretty good time, given everything. Just over 30 minutes! I wasn't displeased that's for sure. :)

Hopefully that's a good sign for the rest of the day and for the runs later this week! Here's hoping!