Monday, August 29, 2011

Hurricane Weekend and Workouts

This was a less than optimal absolutely terrible weekend to be flying. We had some family obligations in NJ, so we did the best we could to work around all the cancellations and craziness.

It was my mom's birthday, my SIL's parents are here visiting from Moscow, and it was the last weekend before a good friend moves to Tampa. Mr.Blondie was off doing his own thing this weekend (a fishing tournament), so it was just us girls fending for ourselves.

We had no problems making it here on the first flight of the day on Friday.


I started off Saturday with a spin class and a 2 mile run at the gym. Tough crowd there. I showed up 5 minutes before the start of class and not a single bike was available. I'd signed up for a bike when I got to the gym 20 minutes earlier. The instructor had to pull out the sign-in sheet and take a roll call to single out who didn't belong so I could get a bike. No one would 'fess up. Awkward, but be nice and play by the rules people.

We had a party planned for Saturday night to celebrate all the above stated occasions that turned into low-key "Hurricane Party", since a lot of people ended up not being able to attend.

We had delicious food like grilled shrimp kebabs and strawberry shortcake, and more questionable items like "Sardine Sandwiches" with garlic mayo and tomatoes...courtesy of the Russian contingent at our house. We had to try it to be courteous. My kid who won't touch PB&J loved them. She's so weird sometimes.


Fortunately we didn't get much more than a little wind and some heavy rain, but it was enough to keep me inside for my run on Sunday too.

I did an easy 9 miles on my parents treadmill. That wasn't the sky, just me raining on the treadmill. Yeah, I'm a super gross sweater.


My workouts following last week's race looked like this:

Sunday: 6 mi run outside (hilly route) in 48:53, core, stretching
Monday: 1 hr spinning, 2 mi TM (@7.0, 1% incline)
Tuesday: PT Trigger Point Needling session
Wednesday AM: 2 mi TM (@7.0, 1% incline), core, stretching
Wednesday PM: 6 mi run outside (hilly route) in 50:05
Thursday: 1 hr spinning, 2 mi TM (@7.0, 1% incline)
Friday: off
Saturday: 1 hr spinning, 2 mi TM (@7.0, 1% incline)
Sunday: 9 mi TM (@7.0, 1% incline), stretching

Totals: 29 miles run, 3 hours spinning

Remember when I told you about my 1st marathon experience? Here's the proof in all it's glory. My mom has this gem framed and hanging in the gym area of the house. (Love those shiny blue tights)

I was too delirious to even pretend I wasn't hurting

Hoping to get a flight back sometime soon, after the airports are straightened out. See y'all back in the ATL...eventually. Many T&P's for those of you in the hurricane zone.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Northface Challenge is Coming to Atlanta

Hey, hey....are you guys ready for a new challenge?

You know I'm always looking for the next one. Why not join me for the Northface Endurance Challenge on October 15-16th? I'd love to see you there.



Click Here to Register for The North Face Endurance Challenge

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Unofficial Kick-Off to Fall (5k Race Recap)

You don’t need to remind me we’re still a couple weeks away from Labor Day, but I considered last night to be the kick-off for the fall racing season. Summer running is an exercise in survival, and I’m ready to move on. Daydreams of colorful foliage, cool breezes, and apple cider donuts…It’s what keeps me going. Let’s pretend we’re almost there.

I’ve had my eye on this race for a few months now, so Mr. Blondie was able to schedule appropriately in order to have the day off. It turned out to be a fun family night out for all of us. The race was held at a local country club, so there was a playground to keep Emily occupied while I was racing.



Meanwhile, I headed to the starting area. The race MC said there were about 1,000 runners as we were lining up. The race was old school (i.e. no chip timing) so I positioned myself as close to the starting line as I could.

Even at 7:30 pm, the temps were in the upper 80’s and the air was humid. The course was full of rolling hills, but that’s typical for Atlanta, so no surprises. There was one doozie at mile 2 which made me glad I wasn’t pushing the jogging stroller though.

You could say I was a little over-eager to be racing again. My spilt for the 1st mile was 6:16, then 6:50, and 6:56. Not exactly negative splits. A 6:16 mile is really fast for me, and I paid for it later.

I finished in 20:58. If nothing else, I’m consistent. I’ve been hovering around the 21 minute mark ever since I started running 5k’s as a kid. On one hand it’s a win that I haven’t slowed down, but it’s frustrating I haven’t made any gains after so many years of running.

At what point do you concede it's as good as it’s going to get?

Even if was only by a handful of seconds, this is still the best 5k I’ve run since before Emily was born. Considering the conditions, and the fact I’ve been primarily spinning and aqua jogging for the past month, I’m happy for even this meager gain. I can also thank the trigger point needling for keeping me cramp free.

I was the 10th finisher overall, 2nd female, and 1st in my age group. I was neck in neck with the 1st place female from the second mile on, but she out-kicked me in the last .1



I can only laugh about it. It was the same 10 year old girl who won that 6k race I did back in May. I thought I might have the advantage since I wasn’t running with the jogging stroller this time, but no such luck.

Yes, my local nemesis is now a girl who is 1/3 my age and weighs about as much as my left leg.

Now if that doesn’t make me feel geriatric…

The post race refreshments were rather unique. In addition to the standard bananas and granola bars at the finish line, there was a luau in the pool area for runners and their families. Margaritas (for those of age), roast pig, assorted tropical fruits… it was a pretty nice spread. A DJ was playing music and the pool was open for everyone to use. The $25 registration fee was a real deal.





Are you happy or sad to see summer go?

Stats:
Time: 20:58
Pace: 6:44
Overall: 10/?
Gender: 2/?
Div: 1/?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

PT and Trigger Point Needle Therapy

Happy Wednesday Y'all!

I finally started PT sessions last week. Too bad I didn't start sooner. I kept thinking a little rest would do the trick, but even after the first session I was feeling so much better.

The physical therapist agreed with everything I’d been doing:
• Spinning/aqua jogging in place of running
• Compression sleeves/ KT tape
• Stretching/yoga/foam rolling

Just an Aqua Jogging fool
My muscle strength and balance tests were good for both legs. I have a slight case of LAS (Lazy Ass Syndrome), but most female runners suffer from weak glutes. So I’ve got a few exercises to work on that.

Next the PT looked at my arches and evaluated my gait pattern on the treadmill. Apparently I’m very flat footed and a moderate pronator. That took me by surprise. I’ve always been a “neutral” runner.

We discussed shoes some more. Obviously pregnancy changes your biomechanics, so when I got back into running after having Emily I went to Big Peach Running Company and got fitted for shoes. That was 2 years ago, and I’ve just been buying the same model ever since. They’ve felt good all this time, so why the change all of a sudden?

She said my calves and hamstrings had probably been over-compensating for my arches for quite some time. The fatigue at the end of my half marathon in May (where I first started getting all the crazy leg cramps) must have been the straw that broke the camel’s back. My calves couldn’t take it anymore and everything came crashing down, literally. It can happen that fast.

OK, I’m willing to buy that explanation. I went to Big Peach again the following day and got a more supportive shoe. They’re basically the same as the one I’ve been wearing, but with a slightly heavier medial post.

Saucony ProGrid Ride 3 vs. ProGride Guide 4
Since I’d already gone through the first line of treatment basics on my own, the PT offered Trigger Point Needle Therapy as the next treatment option. I’d never heard of it before, but oh my goodness, it’s incredible. Apparently it’s only legal in handful of states, and fortunately Georgia is one of them.

A little acupuncture-type needle is gently pushed into areas of tight muscle. When the needle hits a knot, the muscle quickly contracts and then releases. It’s an odd sensation, and I’ll admit not very pleasant. But afterwards, you feel completely amazing as all the muscle hot spots of tension have been released. Last week we worked on my shins, this week my calves.

I got the OK to ease back into running. Here’s what it’s looked like so far.

Wednesday: 3 miles pushing the jogging stroller @ 9:48/mi pace (w/ new shoes)
Thursday: 1 mile TM (7.0, .5% incline), 1 hr spin class, 1 mile TM (7.0, .5% incline), core & planks (AM); PT and needling (pm)
Friday: 3.1 miles @7:46, 1 mile pushing jogging stroller @ 10:00
Saturday: 3 miles TM (7.0, .5% incline), 1 hr spin class, core & planks
Sunday: 30 mins aqua jogging (am);  6 miles outside, hilly route @ 7:53, core & planks (pm)
Monday: 1 mile TM (7.0, .5% incline), 1 hr spin class
Tuesday: Rest and more needling at the PT

I’m officially registered for 5 races between now and January. Of course I want to load up my calendar even more. This Saturday I’ll test myself with a local 5k to see where I’m at after my little vacation from running. I’m already giddy just thinking about it :)

Happy to be on the road again
Are you being teased with a taste of nice fall weather this week like we are?




Sunday, August 14, 2011

Crab(Free)-Cake Sandwiches

When I stumbled across Laura's recipe for Crab-Free Cakes earlier this week, I immediately knew I had to try it. I’m always looking for shellfish-like meals that I can make at home.

Let me start off with the backstory.....

When I knew I had met “The One”

Mr. Blondie loves shellfish, but has a terrible intolerance to it (didn’t start until he was about 10 years old). Wouldn’t you know the first time I brought him home to meet my parents, my mom made seared scallops.

We’d only been dating for a few weeks and had gone to seafood restaurants before. He can eat fish, just never mentioned he couldn’t have shellfish, so I didn’t know.

My mom put the plates on the table and he didn’t bat an eye. He was too much of gentleman to say anything. How bad could a few scallops be? Certainly not worse than crushing the feelings of his new girlfriend and her mom (We would have been totally fine with him telling us were about to kill him.) It was nothing a few Tums couldn’t fix….

We’ll just say the aftermath was ugly. Our relationship quickly went to a whole other level of intimacy that night. And by that I mean, wiping his forehead with cold washcloths as he lay on the ground wrapped around a wastepaper basket. We wasted no time really getting to know each other.

He endured that all so he could stay in the good graces of me and my parents (and I felt compelled to care for him instead of running the other way, teehee). I knew I had a keeper after that.

*****************************

So naturally I got the raised eyebrow when I presented this plate of “crab cakes” for dinner. Before disclosing what the cakes were made of, I said "just trust me".

My ugly iPhone pictures don't do these babies justice - Trust me.

Tempeh Crab-Free Cakes
(Borrowed from Sprint2theTable - my substitutions in red)

• 8 oz tempeh
1 C water
• 1 T soy sauce
• 1 T extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp crushed Bay Leaf

3 T light mayo
1 T spicy brown mustard
• 1 T chili garlic sauce
• 1 T red wine vinegar
1 large mild jalapeno- finely chopped
• 1/4 C finely chopped onion
2 Tbsp finely chopped celery
• 2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
• 2 tsp fresh ginger
• 3/4 tsp nutmeg
• 1/2 tsp allspice
• 1/2 tsp dried oregano
• 1/2 tsp celery salt
• fresh black pepper
• 2/3 C whole wheat panko crumbs
• 1/4 C Canola oil (for pan frying)

Break up the tempeh into a small pot. Add the water, soy sauce, oil and crushed bay leaf. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, let boil for 10-12 mins, stirring once, until most of the water evaporates.

Place steamed tempeh into a large mixing bowl. Using a fork, mask until about 50% smooth. Let cool for about 15 mins, until tempeh is lukewarm. Mix dry spices in a separate, small bowl to evenly combine. Add the mayo, mustard, chili sauce, vinegar, bell pepper, lemon, and ginger and stir together. Add the spices and mix well. If you are making ahead, cover and place in refrigerator.

Before frying, add half of the panko to the tempeh mixture. Stir until just combined.

Preheat a thin layer of oil in a heavy bottomed non-stick skillet over medium heat (I tried just using non-stick cooking spray at first...you really need a little oil!)

Pour a remaining 1/3 C of panko onto a plate. Scoop a heaping 2 T of the tempeh batter into your hands and form into a ball. Gently flatten balls between your palms and then dip them into the panko to lightly coat – just a bit for some crunch.

Fry cakes for 4 mins on one side, flipping when dark golden brown. Fry for ~2 mins on the other side and transfer to a crumpled paper towel to drain (crumpling the towel better allows the oil to drain).

Makes 8 cakes (~3-4 servings). Serve cakes in a warm pita pocket with fresh arugula and remoulade sauce.

Remoulade:

• 4 T Light Mayo
• 1 T whole grain mustard
• 1 T chili garlic sauce
• 4 tsp capers
• pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix to combine. Can be made ahead.

*******************************

They were a HUGE hit. We both went back for seconds. Mr. Blondie hates mayonnaise with a passion, and he loved the remoulade on his sandwich too. Win. Win.

Ok, so I may have fibbed a little fib. I casually stated the Cakes were made of Tempeh after we started eating. I got the raised eyebrow again. Tempeh? I said it was a grain. The "S word" is not welcomed in this home. I'll save that bombshell for another time.



Note:
This recipe was a little more labor intensive than I anticipated (but oh so worth it). It took me about an hour and a half from start to the end of clean-up. If you’re a not-so-fast sous chef like myself, you may want to do the prep work earlier in the day so all you have to do is fry up the cakes at dinner time.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Cooking with Fresh Figs

Hey y'all! How's your weekend going?

We started off our Saturday with a spin class at the gym. The Saturday morning class is definitley my favorite by far. The instructor is a drill sergeant (literally, at Fort McPherson), and it’s intense. I finished the workout with 10 minutes on the rowing machine, some core work and lots of stretching.

Next stop was the store to get groceries for the week, and specifically the ingredients for a couple fresh fig recipes I wanted to try.

I’m willing to push this monstrosity through the store as long as it keeps the kiddo occupied.



We made it home ahead of the thunderstorms. The weather kept us indoors the rest of the afternoon, and I went on a cleaning rampage. You know when you set out to do one or two things like vacuum and dust, and before you know it you’re cleaning the oven and polishing the silverware? It was one of those kind of days where I just went into the cleaning zone. Before I knew it, I’d been on my feet for over 4 hours, and my stomach was growling.

You’d think I’d know better by now, then to wait until after I clean the floors and countertops to start a cooking project. We did pretty well keeping it all contained this time though.



We started by making these Chocolate Fig Muffins with Honey Goat Cheese. Don’t they look so delicious?



Yeah, the taste…not so much. My inspiration came from this recipe for the muffin and this recipe for the filling. I proceeded to modify the muffin recipe even more (think chia eggs, pureed figs in place of the applesauce, no chocolate chips, less Splenda), and went too far trying to “healthify” them. They ended up being quite rubbery. They weren’t sweet enough either, and with all the cocoa powder, had a bitter aftertaste.

They have potential. Next time I should be  less zealous with my modifications. It’s a shame cause this little piece of white gold cost a small fortune.



After the muffins were done it was time to start on dinner.

Fortunately not everything was a flop yesterday. Combining sliced fresh figs, caramelized Vidalia onion, gorgonzola cheese, and a little shredded mozzarrella on top of pizza dough brushed with olive oil and chopped rosemary = huge win.


(That little baby watermelon is the 1st from our garden, Can't wait to see if it's any good.)

We also made a second one with fresh basil and sautéed peppers (both from our garden), a heaping pile of baby spinach, Bertolli Tomato & Basil sauce, and some shredded mozzarella.



Paired with an arugula side salad topped with Cranberries and Ken’s Vidalia Onion dressing. My taste buds forgave me for the muffins.



Is there something you’ve made that sounded good in theory but ended being a huge disappointment?

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Veruca Salt Moment

Ok, so I feel very fortunate I’ve been able to cross train at all. Let me just say what a PITA it’s been the past few weeks though.

Mr. Blondie might not agree, but investing in a home gym is some of the best money we’ve ever spent. I’ve gotten very spoiled by it.

Planning around the gym’s schedule is throwing everything out of whack. The morning spin classes aren’t early enough, so then I get stuck in traffic going to work. I could learn to deal with that, but of the 3 early weekday classes they offer, 2 are on days when Mr.Blondie is usually traveling. FAIL. Can’t leave the kiddo home alone.

Someone can't wait to get into bed



If I take an evening class we get home so late. Plus I feel like the worst mommy EVER when I pick Emily up from regular daycare, just to plop her in the gym daycare for another couple hours. It turns her into one hot, cranky mess, and I don’t blame her a bit. That’s a long day for anyone. We had a good schedule going until now, and this isn't working well. 

Have I mentioned I can’t wait to get back to running? I want to run NOW.

source

Well thanks for letting me put that out there. I feel better already.

Life really ain’t so bad :P

So how do you fit workouts into your schedule?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Hometown Tourist - Atlanta Running Tours

So have you heard about Atlanta Running Tours yet?


I was very excited when Kristy put out a call for runners to join her for one of her tours yesterday morning. Carol, Traci, and I were more than happy to help out. Our little adventure was filmed by reporter Julie Wolfe for a segment on 11 Alive News (check it out this upcoming Monday).

Even though I’d be considered somewhat of a “local” now, I got to see the city from a different perspective. Once you get started, you realize just how little you know about the places you pass everyday.

For instance, did you know the building of Centennial Olympic Park cost over $75 million, and almost all of the money came from the sale of the personalized bricks used in the walkways? True story.

You don’t walk away from the experience empty handed either. Along the way Kristy snaps pictures of you with Atlanta landmarks, and hooks you up with goodies like t-shirts, snacks, and water once you’re finished.

Some pics Kristy took

World of Coke at Pemberton Place

Hauling up the “main” Peachtree Street

The Westin Peachtree Plaza

Fun times!

If you want to know more about the tours, head over here.