Saturday, March 19, 2011

Spring in My Step?

Here's a (long-winded) synopsis of my last three runs:

Last Saturday
The whole family went to the Rec Center: all 5 of us, plus my mom and dad, plus my sister and niece (visiting from Vermont).  Alan went earlier than the rest of us to get a start on his planned 12 mile run.  He wound up doing 11 and it was a long time before he finally made it to the hot tub.

I sent the kids off to the pool with the rest of the gang and joined Alan on the track to do my 5 miles.  I know he was pacing himself for a much longer run, but it still felt good to run past him a few times.  I felt good about my pace, had a nice kick on the last lap, bought a bottled water at the front desk, and changed into my swimsuit.

I swam and visited with the kids and mum and dad and then sat in the hot tub where I visited with Helen and Sam.  And Brenda who used to sing in our choir and her little boy.  And then I swam some more.  And hot tubbed and visited more.  And had complicated logistical discussions with mum.  And sent Jeremy home with dad.  Then got James and Madeline out of the pool but got side-tracked by the sauna.  Then we spotted Emilie, so we went back in the pool and visited with her and her kids, and her brother.  And then visited with Robin, who I've known forever, and her two girls. And then Alan finally arrived so I hot tubbed some more....!

By this time I was starving and dehydrated (despite the 20oz bottle which I drained).

When we finally got out of there, we went straight to Subway and then home to wolf it down.  I had a 6" chicken and bacon ranch sub, sun chips, a caffeine-free orange soda, 2 chocolate chip cookies and a glass of milk. 

For dinner that night, the whole gang came over and we had a pork loin that mum brought, baked potatoes, carrots, etc, and then two desserts: pumpkin pie and sticky rice with fresh mango slices.  And I think I had a bottle of Sangria. 

For some reason, my stomach was a total mess on Sunday.  hmmmm...wonder why?

Monday evening
Madeline and I went to the Rec Center in an attempt to combine my Monday run (3.5 miles on the schedule) and our weekly Tuesday night cross-training session.  I had no oomph and only managed 2 miles at a rather slow pace.  Madeline did 1.1 after initially hoping for 1.5 or more.  Later, we tried to play ping-pong but they could find no balls, and they also had not basketballs available--small wonder: the place was mobbed with students just back from spring break who apparently were suffering from some sort of hang-out-and-shoot-hoops withdrawal.  She was bummed and we had to leave to pick up James at scouts so we didn't even have time for the pool.

In the car on the way home, I managed to 1.) get mad at Madeline for being overly cranky about it, B.) get mad at James for being rude when I picked him up, and 3.) back into an adult scout's pick-up truck in the parking lot.  Fortunately, there was only a small ginch on our bumper and a corresponding clean spot where I rubbed some dirt off the other vehicle.  I stopped at Thriftway for some snacks for my still not entirely settled stomach.  Oy!

By Wednesday, however, things were looking up.  I emailed Emilie with a daring proposition: to join her and her sole sisters for the last 6 miles of their 17 mile run this coming Saturday.  I determined that--while welcome to join them--I'd have to go to Hampden (foreign running territory to me, and "frickin' hilly" as Emilie put it) and they'd be running around a 10:45 pace.  I hit the Rec Center after work, before Rotary rehearsal.  I did the full 4 miles on my schedule and--aiming to see if I could keep up with the gang--my splits were as follows:  10:37, 10:38, 11:12 (including a 20 second water stop), 10:45 (nailed it!).  While I was really happy with this, I realistically emailed Emilie the next day to postpone my attempt to (literally) run with her crowd.  Yes, I managed to hit the pace for 4 miles on a nice cushy indoor track.  6 miles outdoors on hilly terrain is a whole different thing, baby.

So my plan for tomorrow...(oh, yikes, I mean, today! How did it get to be midnight?!?)... is to 1. go to bed! 2. have a power-boosting delicious breakfast with the kids 3. run on the track for 3 miles and then attempt a 5k loop outdoors.  Maybe.  That's sounding rawther ambitious all of a sudden.  And I know it's going to get cold again tomorrow.  But the main point is to GET OUTSIDE! because before I know it, I'm going to be standing in the middle of a road waiting for someone to say "go!" and I really need to get used to running on actual terrain again before then.

Plus, it's (technically almost) spring!!!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Spring in the Air and On Our Plates

Everyone seems to be blogging about how great they feel, how fast they're running, how far they've come...and with springlike weather and snow melting everywhere it's no wonder we're all feeling a bit of a lift!

I, too, am feeling much better.  Last weekend was a bit rough:  I overdid it Saturday and my stomach rebelled all day Sunday and I couldn't sooth it with the calming fizz of a coca-cola and I was still really wanting the caffeine....and then Monday at the gym was a bit rough, too, but I'm feeling much better now.  I still want coke, but I don't need it, although even Alan was advising me that it might not be a bad idea to post-pone the remainder of my observance of Lent until after the Rotary Show.  So far, I'm holding steady at no caffeine of any kind, but next week is "hell week"* so we'll see how that goes.

Back to now and feeling good, though [she asserts, through clenched teeth from spending the last hour composing this post, trying to duplicate an earlier recipe search, and doing internet calisthenics just to upload two pictures].

Tonight, was my first evening spent actually at home with my family with no extra guests and no scheduled activities in, well, quite a while.  Madeline and I went to the grocery store and bought what we needed for a nice family dinner.  I'd been wavering between two different pasta dishes that I found on the Food Network site so I opted to make both for fun and variety and added difficulty (you know, like adding an extra revolution into your platform dive).  We pan-fried some small steaks, threw together a salad, and spent most of our time on the pasta, dirtying as much cookware as possible (also worth more points).

Both recipes were from the adorable Giada de Laurentis (LOVE her!).

One was Penne a la Carbonara but we used orechiette aka "little round hat" pasta, for both dishes.  I pretty much followed the recipe but cut it in half and skipped the parsley.  It was predictably rich and creamy.  The pancetta was nice and salty and super easy because I found some pre-cut in the gourmet deli section.  James (my fellow alfredo lover) has a new favorite and already has dibs on leftovers tomorrow night.

The second was my favorite.  It was so simple and so delicious!  In fact, I didn't bother to print the recipe; I just watched the little video online and was able to wing it from memory.  Now, I can't for the life of me find the video, but search-master Alan found the recipe for me here: Little Thimbles Sciue Sciue.  The "thimbles" are the pasta she uses and "sciue sciue" (pronounced "shway shway") is a description of how free and easy it is to throw together.  So easy I can recap it like this:

Cook the pasta al dente.  Heat some olive oil in a large pan.  Cook up some minced garlic.  Dice tomatoes and cook with the garlic.  Meanwhile, chop fresh basil and cube some fresh mozzarella.
When the pasta is done, drain it and toss with the tomatoes and garlic.  Fold in mozzarella and basil. Serve immediately.

Not pictured, but also included in our good-for-us dinner: thin steaks with a little garlic, salt & pepper, spinach and mixed green salad with tomatoes and cucumbers, cheesy focaccia bread and chocolate soy milk.  The whole meal was subtitled "it's good to try new things".  The chocolate Silk elicited responses ranging from "Can I have some with breakfast, too?" (Jeremy) to "I tried something new; can I have regular chocolate milk now?" (James) to "I'll have the rest of his!" (Madeline).

By the time we finished cooking it was 7:30pm and by the time we'd eaten and cleared the table and I had thoroughly soaked the floor by the pot sink (more bonus points) it was past Jamie and Madeline's 8:30 bedtime so no movie night after all.  But hey: I found some time to blog, for a change!

*"Hell week" is a common theatre term for the week prior to a show opening.  Rehearsals are long, tempers are short, everything goes wrong and everyone's in a panic. And somehow, a sort of catharsis is achieved and it all comes together.  Or so we desperately hope. No really, it's going to be a great show!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Nancy, Unplugged

No, I am not on a campaign against the Coca-Cola company.

I have officially given up my preferred caffeine delivery system for Lent and I am, therefore, officially in withdrawal.

Wednesday was day 1 and it wasn't bad at all, but my day was non-stop break-neck pace from 8am to 8:30pm, so I really didn't have time to notice my caffeinelessness.  Until 9pm when I suddenly lost all oomph and began yawning incessantly.  I had a bowl of cereal for dinner and crawled into bed to faceplant in the latest Runners World magazine.   Aaaah....

Thursday, I was draggin'.
It was a good thing that I carefully planned to drink the last coke in the house on Tuesday because otherwise I might have failed right off the bat. Yesterday--as any addict would--I found myself seriously asking "why am I doing this?  I like coke and it's not that bad for me, and most days I only have a little one, and then I drink water the rest of the day, and it settles my stomach.....".  But I was good.  I popped some ibuprofen and filled my travel mug with ice water and today has been much better already.  I'm sluggish, but I have a fun day off from work to a slighter slower pace than usual.

A few observations for my own edification:

~It know Coke is bad for me!  All those calories!  All that sugar!  Of course I should quit! 
~I know that I always say I'm giving up Coke for Lent, which means that--on a technicality--I could drink Pepsi [bleck!] or coffee [uhg], or any number of flavored, foamy, delectable, dessert-like beverages [yum!] or otherwise deliver caffeine unto my blood stream if I reeeeeeeaaally feel I need to.  But I will try not to cheat.

~I know that some people--on a liturgically-based technicality--give things up for Lent but allow themselves to indulge on Sundays (Lent is 40 days, plus Sundays). But I consider that cheating, too, so I don't do it.  It only prolongs the addiction, and it means cheating in front of the support group that ought to be backing me up.

~And finally, I also know that on Easter Sunday I will start the day early with 20 ounces of coke-y wondrousness and that is what will get me through two long church services, a big breakfast, and an egg hunt, followed by a huge family dinner at our house.  After that, I'll back off a bit and be better off for having abstained.   Until around Christmas when I'll probably be calling myself a "coke-head" again and occasionally worrying that someone will overhear and get the wrong idea.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Cinderella and Her Prince Go Shoe Shopping

A modern-day, mixed-up, fairy-tale follow-up:

* * * * * * * * *

Poor Prince Charming!  He thought he had it bad when he went traipsing around the kingdom asking random women to try on his glass slipper.  I imagine him patiently maneuvering around over-protective chaperones(you're who?  and you want to what?! with all the single ladies in the castle??) and delicately redirecting over-zealous wannabes (No, dear, you are not the one.  Now would you please allow my footman [pun intended] to accompany you to the nearest hospital to have your toes re-attached?).

But did you ever think about them later on, after the reunion of the precious slipper with its mate and the patient prince with his Cinderella?  Well, obviously a girl can't go around wearing glass slippers every day, even--or especially--magical ones.  So let me take you to Once Upon a Time, say...17 years down the road....

The Prince and Mrs. Charming have taken up running (a natural extension of the midnight dash).  Purchasing their first pairs of running shoes had been a fun little birthday shopping spree.  In the year since, the Prince has replaced his with the exact same model such that the princess recently complained that there were 3 pairs of size 14as in various stages of wear taking up serious real estate on the kitchen floor. 

The Princess, on the other hand, is ready to upgrade and needs to explore her options.

She scours product descriptions and reviews, in books and magazines, online, and in the stores.  Finally, she is ready to start trying things on.  She's already in love with something called Nimbus 12s which cost $125, are praised for their cushiony feel, and make her think she might fly if she wears them.

So, the Charmings take advantage of a kingdom holiday and retain a nanny for the royal children.  First, they spend a couple hours at the village rec center and enjoy a relaxing pub lunch, and then it's on to the shoe shopping.  They go to a very expensive sporting goods store where the sales woman checks over the wear on the princess' old shoes and basically confirms what the princess already knew about her feet and her running footwear needs.  The prince raises eyebrows at the exhorbitant prices, asks occasional questions, but otherwise waits patiently.  The princess assures the sales lady (and her prince) that she is sensible enought not to choose her shoes based on color... but that she does not want orange.  "You can call it tangerine, or melon or whatever you want but it's really just orange and I don't like it."  She has an affinity for purple and the saleswoman is delighted to produce a hideously expensive and funky-soled Mizuno Wave Creation 12 in shades of plum. 

The princess likes.  They feel bouncy and comfy and fun.  And like they cost 140 bucks.

Next, they go to Dick's which has a bigger selection and better sales.
The princess finds the famous Nimbuses (Nimbi??) and discovers that they are not for her at all!  Disappointed (and a little relieved), she tries on many more pairs of running shoes.  She's starting to feel like another famous fairy-tale character in an eternal quest for "just right"....  The prince is more actively involved here, finding things for her to try on and pointing out technical details like which ones have more arch support.  The princess/brown-haired Goldilocks wants lots of cushioning, something that hugs her arches...and pretty color choices.  The prince wishes not to break the royal bank.

Princess/Goldilocks still loves the cost-a-king's-ransom Mizunos, but she has found a less expensive alternative.  They fit well, feel good, meet all her picky standards except one: they're white with orange accents (the company calls it "Sun" *scoff!*). 

So they go to one more store where Princess/Goldy is lusting over goofy looking KSwiss shoes with tubing on the soles.  The prince doesn't think they look very durable but Goldy thinks they are super comfy...and they're purple (shown below in a different color which makes them look so not exciting). 

By now the prince is searching every shelf, every brand, every style for size 7s that might satisfy His Royal Darling, while fending off PTSD flashbacks to those evil step-sisters flocking and flirting and hacking off their heels....  Instead of one shoe and a thousand potential princess, it's one princess and a thousand potential shoes!

They finally return to the castle empty-handed (although not exactly barefoot), but armed with enough information to make an informed internet purchase.   Now it's one PC and a hundred thousand potential shoes....!  Mmmm....more shopping!

*     *     *     *    *     *     *     *     *

A few days later (on pay day, to be precise), I made my final selection.  The aforementioned "Sun" colored shoe was in fact, the Brooks Ghost 3, and does, in fact, come in several colors.  You'll be surprised to learn that I chose the bugg-y looking color palette over the purple-y one.  I'm liking these bright greens and blues...
I had a 15% discount code for so I ended up paying $108 for my hundred dollar shoes, plus a cheap pair of socks, plus a pair of not-so-cheap Thorlos, plus a pair of borderline-pricey Injinji toe socks for Alan to try.  And I got a free shopping bag.  You can't argue with that!

But here's the ultimate punch line:  AFTER I placed my order, I was flipping through (read: drooling over) a Title Nine catalog and they featured a very familiar looking pair of shoes--MY shoes!  In MY color choice even!--under the heading "Goldilocks Runners"!!
Just right!!