Saturday, November 28, 2009

I ran it like a Turkey

I've felt a bit disappointed since Thursday morning's Turkey 10k, I feel like I had a dismal run. I was really looking forward to it, I've been keeping up with my runs, cross training on my bike, taking walks with the kids, as well as on the treadmill at high inclines. I'm a slow runner, but I've started to push myself to be faster. For this 10k, I wanted to pull about a 9:30 minute mile.
Things were going well, until I caught a nasty cold from my kids, and I was sick for the whole week before Thanksgiving. I started feeling better by Sunday, but I only got in a couple of walks in the few days before the race.

I was excited for the run Thanksgiving morning, the weather turned out to be warm (for Syracuse, it was in the mid '50's) with no rain or snow. It's always fun to get some exercise in before a day of indulging! I had on my new grey (not black for once) running pants that my friend Jen gave me (among other things) as a present for completing my first half marathon in September. I tucked some tissues into the waistband, since I still had a runny nose leftover from my cold. I had on my favorite socks (feetures) and a new playlist on my ipod. I met up with my sis in law Jeaninne, and we had enough time before our run to cheer on our Uncle Bill as he completed his 5k.
So we start out, I'm feeling good, I'm testing out my faster pace, I'm even snapping my fingers to a Black Eyed Peas song (Meet Me Halfway, a new running fave). There weren't any mile markers, but I've done this race before. It begins and ends at the high school, and it goes through fields, with one woodsy part. So I'm guessing that at mile three is where my problems started. I never got a stitch, none of my past injuries hurt, but my mouth was dry and I had to keep blowing my nose. I just started to feel tired. Really tired. I coughed a bit here and there, and my tissues were in shreds, so my black top started to look like slugs had walked across it (I'm not very good at snot rockets). I had eaten my usual pre-run meal of peanut butter toast, coffee and water, so that wasn't it. I kept pushing though. First I was thinking of how Boring the route was, then I was telling myself that this is Fun running on a Holiday!! Finally around mile five, I thought about walking, and I never walk. I thought, "how do you think you're going to possibly run a marathon next year if you have to a 10K?!!" I looked at the time on my ipod, and realized I wasn't hitting my goal. *Side note, I have a sports watch, but I never wear it since I forgot how to use it. Which Mike reminded me of when I hinted about a Garmin for Christmas, so I need to figure it out. I grabbed some water at the water station, and started up the hill, with less than a mile to go.......and I walked. I was so mad at myself, but I walked for about thirty seconds, and I felt better, so I got moving again. My new goal was to make it under an hour.
I saw the turn that lead to the high school, and this dude had his car parked, with all the doors open, blasting heavy metal music, which for some reason cracked me up. I saw the finish, then looked away again, because for me, seeing the end always feels so close, yet so far, so I'd rather not know about it. I saw Mike and the kids at the side, with my brother in law and niece, so I gave them high fives, and finished in 1:00:28, and averaged a 9:45 pace. I missed my first goal, then missed my second, but not by much. I'm just chalking it up to a bad day, and I haven't had many of those lately, so I guess I was due.

We had a great dinner afterwards with the whole family, and we were happy that my Mother in Law just finished her chemo. She has a breather before her next round of treatment, so she's getting there. We brought the kids up to her house the next day, to go to a couple of Christmas Festivities in her town. The kids had fun at a candy cane hunt, they saw Santa and his Reindeer and did a Build a Bear type thing with Grandma. It was great to see her out and about, running into her friends and going out to lunch with us. For all my bitching about my crappy run, I just reminded myself once again, of how many things I have to be thankful for.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

You Never Forget Your First Time

Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner! Get your mind out of the gutter.

Every year I want to make Thanksgiving Dinner. I look through my binder of recipes (it's white, from Staples, some are written, some are ripped out of magazines, some are photocopies of cookbook pages, with colored dividers separating them by type of meal), and watch the Food Network for new takes on stuffing or side dishes. We alternate families every year, this year we are staying in town and going to Mike's Aunt's house, otherwise we head to my Mom's. We're trying something new this year, and bringing a cheese fondue for an app, I'm still working on ideas for it.

So nine years ago we were going to Long Island for Thanksgiving, and my Mom tells us she's bailing on the family, and going to Paris with a friend for the Holiday. After panicked phone calls from my sisters and brother, I decided to take on the meal.
I still have all my notes from the planning of the day, I shopped and researched every possible way to make turkey. I hemmed and hawed about side dishes and desserts. We were living in Rochester at the time, my Turkey 10K was the Sunday before Thanksgiving, so I was able to keep that in my schedule. My Dad decided to come to dinner since my Mom wasn't going to be there (they're divorced), one of my BFF's was coming, and after some trepidation, my Uncle and Grandfather decided to attend as well. My Uncle is funny, as the above photo shows, he never takes his coat off. Luke does this sometimes too, so I'm wondering if it's genetic.
The day arrived, Mike and I were up early after the obligatory visit to the bar the night before, to see everyone else who was in town. We decided to cook the bird upside down for the first half hour of cooking, then rotate it on one side for 15 minutes, then 15 minutes on the other side, then right side up for the remainder of the time. I read that this ensured a juicy bird. My mom made her famous Pilgrim Potato's before hand (mashed, mixed with cream cheese and sour cream, and baked) and she said we absolutely could NOT forget my Grandfather's creamed pearl onions. He has since passed on, but he loved those frozen onions by Bird's Eye.
We spent the morning cooking, cleaning, getting the apps out, setting the table, and enjoying each other's company. It's funny how you have to have the same things every year, for my sister it's onion dip and chips. So we had that, along with cheeses and crackers. And wine....and beer. The meal came together right on time, the turkey looked perfect if I do say so myself, and it tasted great. Mike made gravy from the drippings, and we had the following: sausage and onion stuffing, mashed butternut squash, green bean casserole, glazed baby carrots, corn souffle, mashed potato's along with the Pilgrim, cranberry sauce, and rolls.

We had a nice prayer, and were quiet as we dove in. Until I looked at my Grandpa, and whispered "Pearl. Onions." My brother shot out of his chair, we heard the freezer door open, and the microwave turn on, so all was well.

After the meal people came in and out of the house, friends of mine, and of my siblings. Dessert was pumpkin and apple pie, fruit and my potato chip shortbread cookies that I make during the holidays. The weather was cool, with a bit of sun through the clouds. I felt so content that everyone had a great meal, was happy and relaxed. During dessert my Grandpa pulled out some vodka and sprinkled it over his fruit salad, and he said that it helped to bring out the flavor of the fruit. That still cracks me up.

Later on I spoke with my Step Mom, and she said "So how does it feel to be a grown up?" I was married and on my own, but what she said made sense, making your first holiday meal is a rite of passage of sorts. And I can't wait to do it again.
Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Want to try some Oikos Greek Yogurt?

I acquired a taste for All Things Greek after living in Astoria, Queens for four years....feta, olives, fresh fish and lamb, sauteed dandelion greens, potato with lemon, and yogurt. I'll get to Greece someday, but for now I get my fix by visiting my old stomping grounds when I see my family on Long Island.

If you've never tried greek yogurt, here is your chance thanks to Stonyfield Farms. Their Oikos yogurt is very dense, organic, and fat free (bonus!). My favorite flavor is Honey, but the plain is a great substitute for sour cream.

To enter to win an Oikos tote, 4 free 5.3 oz Oikos coupons, and 1 free 16 oz Oikos coupon, do any or all of the following (please leave me a comment for each):

1. Tell me what you love to cook (or eat!) during the holidays

2. Become a fan of Stonyfield Farm on facebook

3. follow me

Giveaway ends on November 31.....

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I wonder if the ghosts like P!nk?

My kids are pretty good about sharing, and this week, they've shared their cold with me. We've been to the doctor twice already, and have to go back tomorrow for H1N1 shots. I guess it's better to be sick this week instead of next week, because of Thanksgiving and my Turkey 10K.

I did get outside for a run on Sunday before I started feeling lousy. It was 62 degrees, and it felt like summer so I went just over five miles with my new quicker pace. I listened to some great tunes, you've gotta love a playlist that has both the Notorious B.I.G. and Josh is a snippet:

You Raise Me Up ~ Josh Groban
Just Dance ~ Lady Gaga (I love her)
Mo Money, Mo Problems ~ B.I.G and Puff Daddy
Please Don't Leave Me ~ P!nk
Relator - Pete Yorn & Scarlet Johannsen (what a great song!)
Lola ~ The Kinks
When Your Mind's Made Up ~ Glen Hansard & Marketa Irglova

I am still in dire need of some new tunes......any suggestions? what songs do you like to work out to?

And by the way, I have a new ghost story.

My sister A saw the ghosts again in her room last week! She had just gone to bed, but was having some trouble falling asleep. She started to have a feeling that something was in the room, so she rolled over, opened her eyes, and saw not one, not two, but three of the ghosts standing next to her bed looking at her. It was the dad (who I've seen) the mother (who my sister in law has seen) and the little boy (who A, and Luke, have seen). They were just staring at her, so she yelled out, and they went away. A is 25 years old, and she said she thought about going to my mom's room to sleep with her! She decided to stay where she was, but it got very cold in the room, even though she had warm blankets on, and she couldn't warm up.

My other sister M thinks we have a situation similar to the one in the Nicole Kidman movie, The Others. She thinks the ghosts haven't realized that they have left our world, and are confused about these people who keep showing up in their house. That actually makes sense to me, but who the heck knows? do do DO do DO do

Sunday, November 15, 2009

I don't always pay attention, but I'm always thinking

I've been getting time outside these past few days because Mike had some local appointments, so it's been great. I did a five mile run on Thursday, testing out a faster pace, it was hard to know what it was exactly, since I wasn't on the treadmill and don't have a garmin (are you listening Santa?) Yesterday morning we hit the public market for some beautiful local produce, we came away with acorn and butternut squash, bibb lettuce, onions, garlic, turnips, shallots, avocado, red cabbage, carrots and parsnips. We came across a Bakery booth, and went a little carb crazy and bought a bunch of dinner rolls....jalapeno cheddar, multi grain, black olive and good old white...I intended to freeze some, but I think we might just end up eating them all. We roasted a bunch of garlic last night to make garlic and brie soup today, and later on I'm going to do a big batch of roasted root veg to eat with dinner during the week.

In the afternoon I was able to get out for a bike ride. Both kids are sick and crabby, Eliza is on antibiotics, so she was on the couch watching a movie and Mike played with Luke. I'm trying to soak up as much fall weather as I can, I rode for about an hour, and I was thinking how in a few weeks everything is going to be covered in ice and snow. And since I don't pay attention to things in general, at one point I drove right off the road and into a small ditch. No biggie, but once I got going again, this dog came running out of his house and bugged me out a bit. I hate when dogs come at me during a run or a ride, because you don't know if there is an electric fence or not. I was a little nervous about passing him on my way home, but the dog's owner was outside with him at that point, so it was okay.

I've been thinking about an article that was in the NY Times a few weeks ago. Basically it's about fast runners vs. slow runners, and how if you take a long time to finish a marathon, you didn't really run it. I can understand both views. If you're an elite runner, there are races like Boston, that you need a qualifying time for, which weeds out the slower runners. But if someone trains and is able to run the whole distance, and get a finishers medal, I think that means they ran it! There were a bunch of interesting articles about the marathon, including one about the heritage of the American winner Meb Keflezighi, so check 'em out.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Mole, as in chocolate

I'm trying to think about what I've been eating lately, mostly comfort type foods since the weather has gotten cooler. I created a profile on foodbuzz, which is a fun community, I feel like it's Facebook for Foodies. I've started following some great food blogs, it's amazing how many people take the time to make creative, fabulous looking food.

Last night I made Chicken Mole, which is one of the five ways that I make chicken. If you aren't familiar with it, it's a Mexican dish, with chocolate as a base, and a bunch of spices. There are several ingredients, again it's a combo of different recipes that I've tweaked to my liking. This is a great time of year for it, as it simmers away, the whole house smells like the Holiday season. I serve it over brown rice, with a side of something green, last night it was sauteed spinach, but I also like it with broccoli. You can get another meal of the leftovers by putting it in whole wheat tortillas, with a bit of sour cream and cheddar cheese. Ole!

Chicken Mole

one medium onion, chopped (I always use Vidalia's)
2 cloves garlic, minced
one bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I actually add a bit more, because I like it spicy)
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon anise seed
1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
1 cup tomato sauce
1 cup chicken broth (I like the organic kind with no sodium or MSG)
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1.5 ounces of bittersweet, dark chocolate
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
olive oil
1.5 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed
3 cups of cooked brown rice

In a large skillet, heat olive oil in a pan, and brown chicken, then set chicken aside.

In the same pan, cook the onions and garlic until soft (you may have to deglaze the pan with wine or stock before adding the onions).

Add the stock and sauce, as well as the bay leaf, pepper, cayenne, paprika, clove, cinnamon, anise, sugar, almonds, and sesame seeds.

If you like, transfer sauce to a blender and puree until a thick paste. This is the traditional method, I skip this step, because I like the consistency of the almonds and onions.

Return sauce to pan, add the chocolate and cocoa powder, along with chicken. Bring to a boil, and simmer on very low heat about 15 minutes.

Serve over rice and enjoy!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sportsfans, here's the latest

I'm feeling much better today, and I wanted to thank everyone who commented on my last post. I truly appreciate all your encouraging words.

The funk started lifting after I got all that garbage off my chest. I spent today giving thanks to our Veterans, including my Dad, who is a Vietnam Vet, my two Grandfather's who are WWII Vets, and my cousin and friends who have served in Iraq. The kids didn't have school, so we spent a few hours at the mall stimulating the economy, then time at the playground, where I had one eye on Luke, and the other on Eliza.....good thing I dressed them in red so I could find them in the crowd. I channeled June Cleaver, and got the grocery shopping done, the house picked up, and now I sit with a glass of vino, getting ready to veg out in front of Top Chef.

Oh, and another thing......I registered for my Thanksgiving Day 10k.....and....I threw my name into the lottery for the 2010 NYC Marathon. Huh?!?! Yup. I did.

The chances are verrrry slim that my name is picked, but I figured, what the heck. My very good friend Jennifer has been really motivating me on the marathon front, and she entered the lottery herself.

I figured that if I don't get in (the names are drawn in March), I have a few other tricks up my sleeve. So, stay tuned.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Fighting a Funk

Warning: bitching and moaning ahead.

I feel like I'm in a funk. My motivation running wise has been good. But in all other areas of my life, I'm in a rut. I can't even find a way to express exactly how I'm feeling in this post.

This weekend we took a quick trip to Long Island for my niece's christening. I was dreading the drive (ten hours of driving in two days) but really wanted to see my family and friends. Mike has been driving 900 miles a week for work, and he wasn't too keen on another drive, but he was a good sport about it, and we had a great time. Today I'm faced with the confusion I always feel after a trip to NY, I still miss living there, but I also love living here.

My house is a mess. I pride myself on keeping my house clean and in order, but lately I honestly couldn't care what it looks like, the disorder matches my mood. It's a struggle to put the laundry away after it's done, right now I have dirty dishes in the sink, and there they will stay because I don't feel like emptying the dishwasher. The kids' toys have made their way out of the TV room, and are scattered in every other room of the house. None of the beds are made, I have overdue library books. I don't have the desire or energy to do anything, and the venti non fat vanilla latte from Starbucks isn't doing what I hoped it would.

I'm tired of worrying about money. Mike made it through the re org at his company, he was the only rep in the Northeast region who made it through all the cuts. Believe me, he and I know how lucky he is to have his job, but he's miserable. And he still worries about his mom's illness.

I don't feel like I'm being the best mother either. Eliza is in that terrible 3's stage, she is so headstrong I feel like all I do is yell at her. It's lunchtime and she's still in her pajama's, I don't feel like fighting with her. Luke is being a sweetheart as usual, he's doing great in school and surprises me every day with the things that come out of his mouth.

I'm annoyed with the kid's pediatrician, I call every week to get the kids' flu shot's scheduled, and they still don't have the seasonal shot, much less the H1N1.

And I want to know why I haven't been able to get into my hotmail account for the past five days.

I hate to bitch, because I really don't have anything to bitch about. My children are healthy, Mike is working, we have a house and cars and food. So I'll stop now.

On a lighter note, I found out I don't know how to tie shoes. Mike and I were talking with my sister about teaching Luke to tie shoes, and apparently I do an extra step when tying. I make bunny ears, but do the "loop, swoop and pull" as well. I guess you do one or the other, but not both. Yup, I'm 37 and can't tie my shoes.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Is it my age? Or my ambition?

I've started a new strategy this week running wise. With the amount of traveling that Mike is doing for work, I realized the treadmill is going to be my BFF sooner than I had hoped. It's a decent set up, the treadmill is in the basement, in front of the TV, facing the sliding glass doors so I can see what's going on in the backyard. But I still get bored, so to keep it interesting I play with the incline and the speed as the mood strikes me.

My next race is a 10k on Thanksgiving. So this week I'm doing four mile runs as often as I can, as quickly as I can. When I was training for my 15k and half marathon, I made it a habit of finding a decent pace, without pushing myself too hard, and sticking with it for the duration of the run. I know I can do six miles no sweat (well, with sweat), so I think if I do some speed work, I might pull a quicker time in my 10K.

Yesterday after my four mile run, I came upstairs, and iced my hamstring, right shin, and left arch. They ache from time to time, so I ice to prevent re-injuring these areas. Which has me wondering, is this because of my age (late 30's, gasp) or because I'm doing too much? I don't think it's overuse, I stretch and take rest days, and do a sit up from time to time. But is this how I'm going to be for the rest of my life? I want to be like my Dad, and still run when I'm in my 60's, but will these aches be a part of it?

I think this is why I'm afraid to take the next step and commit to running a full marathon. I can just see myself getting injured, and be out of the running game....for good. I think I'm up for the challenge mentally, but physically, am I just fooling myself?

This photo is from my first Turkey Trot, nine years ago. This dude came up next to me near the end and asked me to sprint with him, so I did. Which was a fun way to finish it off.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Just Like a Tatoo

I don't have a tatoo, but it's something I've thought of getting since college. I was in school during the days of grunge, plaid flannel shirts, clunky boots, Pearl Jam and Kurt Cobain. And tatoos. Everyone had one, or was getting one, and the night of graduation I decided to get one. Because I find easy ways to injure myself, I was running through the living room barefoot, and managed to step on a pencil with one foot, and stab my other foot into the pointy pencil end. It left a mark, (not lead, graphite) on the side of my foot. I figured if I was going to look at a dot for the rest of my life, it may as well be a tatoo.

I wanted to get a half moon, something I was into at the time, but then heard that was kind of a dark symbol, so I opted for a daisy, cheerful and pretty. I made it to the tatoo parlor, and sat there for over an hour, then chickened out. I went back a couple of years later with a friend, she got a sunflower, I chickened out and watched.

Now it seems people get tat's for a reason, to honor someone, or to mark a milestone. After Luke was born I understood why people tatoo their kids faces or name on their arms. My brother has a few, one is of an American Indian head (which, after a few drinks, I've been known to pinch the lips and make it "talk" to us). He also has a Celtic cross, which is what I think I would get, with the first initials of Mike, Luke, Eliza and myself.

I've also seen tats of marathon runners, to commemorate their races, which I think is really cool too. I must still want one, since I keep thinking about it. So I'm curious fellow bloggers, do you have one? What is it? Why did you get it?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Marathon Memories, and some other things

How great was the NYC Marathon yesterday? What a finish, for both the men and women, it's so cool that an American, Meb Keflezighi, came in first after 27 years! I love Marathon day, it's such a great time of year for it. The first time I went I was 11, my Dad was living in Brooklyn at the time, so we stood in his neighborhood and watched everyone go by. Years later, when Mike and I were living in Queens, we would snag a spot right where the race turned onto the 59th street Bridge. I would scream like crazy, and give high fives to my friends who were running. The year I was pregnant I had to watch from the couch, because I was on bed rest. But the photo below was a year later, Luke's first year as a spectator.

I got outside for a long run yesterday morning, and thought of my friend BW running the marathon at the same time as me....until I started to have some stomach issues, (too many pumpkin seeds?) and had to run home to my bathroom after only three miles. In my mad dash through the garage, I spotted my bike, so instead of going back out to run, I went out on the bike for about 45 minutes. I always forget about my bike, I want to get a trainer for it so I can use it inside this winter.

On a side note....not sure if you read my Ghost post. But this is really weird. We have a television in our room, and during the night on Thursday, it turned on and off five times in a row. The channel was turned to Bravo and that goofy guy Andy was doing his late night talk show. I grabbed the remote, and turned it on, and saw goofy Andy. So it couldn't have been a dream.

THEN, last night, we had a fire in the fireplace, and all of a sudden, one of the glass panes in the fireplace door shattered! As if someone hit it. The fire had only been lit for an hour so I don't think extreme heat did it. Yikes!

Final note, I wish I made the latte pictured in my last post! It was from my friend Jen's bridal shower brunch. Although I can make a mean foam for cappuchino, thanks to my waitressing days....I can also balance a tray full of martinis and walk down a full flight of stairs. Unless it's New Years Eve.....because that night I was rushing around, and I dropped a full tray of filled champagne glasses as I fell down the stairs. You should have seen that bruise.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Get Active is finished, but I'll stay active

I don't know what time it is, it's seven, but I think it used to be eight, I'm going to be doing this all day due to the time change. In any case, we let the kids stay up later than normal last night, because of all the Halloween fun, and Mike thought they might sleep later today because of it. Luke is still slumbering away, but Eliza's been up since 6:30, so I have her in front of Nick Junior.

My eight week long Get Active Challenge ended on Friday. For me, it was fun to chart my progress as I trained for my half marathon. I wanted to get in more strength training, and I did drop the ball on that. However I've kept up my long stretching sessions, which I think has kept my hamstring issues at bay. I hope everyone who committed to getting active these two months is able to keep it up, these Holiday months can wreck havoc on the bod!

I am still doing Kelly's nutrition challenge, with a weekly goal of 18 points. I tend to hover around 15, it's the weekends that do me in. I'm good about my sugar and junk food during the week, but I've been having some weeknight wine (gasp!). I'm still drinking my daily smoothie made with Amazing Grass, if I don't get them in for breakfast, I have it in the afternoon, so I'm definitely hitting my fruit and veggie quota. I've started freezing the banana's for the smoothies, which make them nice and cold and creamy.

On the running front, I've been doing great. After last Sunday's 5k, I fit in a six, a four and a two mile run. I agree with The Happy Runner , how running is more relaxing when you aren't training for something. I have a slight anxious feeling when I have a race coming up, making sure I stay on schedule, and hit the required miles each run. I have a 10k on Thanksgiving Day, but I know I can do it, so my runs this past week have felt more free. By the way, my time for the Halloween 5k was 33:36. I think I have a better chance of a faster time on Thanksgiving, the course is pretty much flat roads and some easy inclines, so that should help.

Off to make some coffee.....which is one vice I definitely won't be giving up!