Sunday, January 27, 2013

2013 Running Goals - Grassy and Wanting Wear

New Ruu, New Trail and New Road Shoes. Ready for the New Year!

I've set some lofty running goals this year. Lofty and unusual, let's say. I've gone back and forth on them for the past month and am finally nailing them down...a little.
Last year I set the goal of running 1000 miles. After an injury I was pretty sure it was unattainable, but with some encouragement (Thank you all!) I made it with two days to spare, running 140 of the miles in December. I'm wearing my reward Ruu in the picture.
This year I've set the goal of running 1322 miles. I know. It's ambitious. Only running 75 so far in January is already spooking me. (Move forward. Don't look back. Snap out of it. - Sorry, a little self talk) I picked this number because it is 1/5 the distance from Chicago to Beijing. You may or may not know that my family has begun the very slow paper-filled often overwhelming process of adopting our son from China. We have been working for the past six months on our home study and are awaiting its completion. Then we will move on to the next step, our dossier. It is moving slowly because the process is slow, and we are slower still. Sigh. It is 6606 miles from Chicago to Beijing, and I divided it by 5 because we are currently a family of 5. The goal makes me a little nervous because I was injured this year and obtaining 1000 miles was strenuous. I have given myself a little out in my goal in that 1/6 the distance is 1101 miles, and I would be content with that too. I would so appreciate your encouragement, prayers and support this year. I don't think our son will be with us this year, but it is good for me to keep in on my mind.
In light of this, I have gone back and forth on registering for races. In the end, and after much discussion with the hubs, it is good for me to have some races on the calendar. I've signed up to do the Wisconsin Marathon half with a gaggle of folks from the running club. I will probably do one marathon this year, but I don't know which one. We will have to see what the schedule and finances enable. Those new hot pink shoes need a workout. (They were on sale! When I opened the box my daughter said, "Mom, those are not you.") Part of my goal is to include a little whimsy in my schedule (and in my shoes) and to see where the road leads.
There is one race that I really want to do. Two years ago I ran the North Face Endurance Challenge half marathon in Madison, WI. I loved it. It reminded me of cross country skiing as a kid in the North woods of Wisconsin. I want to do more trail running this year, to run those trails that are grassy and wanting wear, to take the roads less traveled. There are a few trail races nearby, and I will be keeping an eye on them. I want to give my trail shoes as good a workout as my road shoes.
I'd like to pace a race this year. I've volunteered for one already but don't know if I'll be selected. I think it would be so fun to encourage others. The race times that I could pace at are pretty slow, but those are the paces that need encouragement. I should know. I'd like to mix up my workouts a little more too. Weights. Yoga. Swimming. Variety.

The Road Less Traveled by Robert Frost
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth

Then took the other as just as fair
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear
Though as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet, knowing how way leads onto way
I doubted if I should ever come back

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence
Two roads diverged in a wood
And I took the one less traveled by
And that has made all the difference
1322 miles. Trails. Whatever. Them's my goals. I promise to keep you posted.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Aussie Lime Pie

What's a girl to do when she's out of chocolate? Troll through the app. Last week I had lemons and was looking for something to do with them. I made a lemon chiffon pudding that was so so, but I ran across this recipe. It sounded so interesting. I'm a fan of frankenfoods, foods that merge ingredients that aren't normally paired. Fusion is the fancy word. I'm not that fancy.

Looking good in the oven

When I went to the grocery store this week, I picked up limes just to try out the recipe. We had several cans of condensed milk hanging out in the pantry not doing anything in particular. Older sister was at a play date, and littler sister needed some attention. This was perfect.

Aussie Lime Pie
The crust is amazing
2/3 cup rolled oats
2/3 cup flaked coconut
2/3 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter melted
1 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp light corn syrup (I used honey)
1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
4 egg yolks (the whites will go into the oatmeal pancakes in the morning)
1/2 cup lime juice (I juiced 5 limes and was a little short)
2 tsp lemon rind

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9 inch pie pan.
2. Mix oats, coconut, flour and sugar in a medium bowl.
3. Mix butter, baking soda and syrup until frothy and pour it into the oat mixture.
4. Stir well and press the mixture into the bottom and the sides of the pie pan.

Best helper!

5. Combine condensed milk, egg yolks, lime juice and lemon rind. Pour it into the well.

This becomes....

6. Cook for 20 minutes in preheated oven or until filling is firm. (Our crust overflowed so you may want to put a pan under it.) Chill before serving.

This! It's like a key lime pie in a macaroon crust.

Monday, January 21, 2013

This Week in Review

17 miles run
1 yoga workout

Only 17 miles this week. It's the least I've run in a week in months, and I kind of feel guilty about it. And I kind of don't. Rest is good, but I don't feel like I rested during that time either. We pulled all the kids toys out into the living room and all the sorting we should have done over the last two or three years we did last week. Then we rearranged furniture, vacuumed, dusted and sorted some more. Whew. Finally, I had enough space to do yoga yesterday.

Fruit Punch Ruu Muu! Can you believe I was overdressed?
Yoga and strength training humbles me. A bunch. I can go out and run a 10 miler without much hesitation and be fine for the rest of the day. 20 minutes into yoga I can hear my heart pounding and something on my body is burning. Humbling indeed. I love the Iron Yoga video because it combines upper body weights and yoga with no impact. It's cheesy but effective.

I had the opportunity to run with friends this week, and it was great. It was nice enough out for me to wear my new Ruu Muu running dress. The Ruu was my reward for running 1000 miles last year. Soon and very soon I will disclose my 2013 goals, before the end of January.

Today it's super duper cold, negative wind chills and single digits. I said no to running with Kim today. It made me sad, but I find my joints don't do well in the frigid cold. And I plan on kicking my own butt again doing yoga today. It was like saying no to piece of cake to have a fiber bar, sad short term, but good long term.

Classes start tomorrow. I'm taking calc III and linear algebra. I'm nervous. Not about the classes, or that I'll be reading math books and doing math problems in all my free time. I'm nervous about my girlios and sitting. I'm excited about the sitter I've found, a Godsend really, but I'm still work about these things. And juggling everything, like meals, finances, times, work, working out and class. It makes my head spin. It can keep me up at night. It makes me want to run. But, I can only control so much, and the rest I have to just let go. So I take a deep breath and remember that today has enough troubles of its own. One step at a time. One day at a time.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Soup's On: Chicken Tortilla Soup

When I had my first daughter, I was overwhelmed. I am thankful for all the friends and family who were patient with me, came to help me and listened to my emoting. I am not sure who gave me the stapled sheets of crock pot recipes. Whoever it was, thank you. They became invaluable to the family until I could get my head above water. I'll let you know when that is. It really hasn't happened yet.

On the top of the first sheet was a recipe for chicken taco meat. It involved taking 1 lb of chicken breasts, 1 package of taco seasoning and 1/2 cup of chicken broth, putting them in the crock pot and then shredding it several hours later. A few of the following recipes on the page used the chicken taco meat. I found 3 lbs of chicken yielded about 8 cups of chicken taco meat. I would, and still do, freeze the meat in 2 cup servings. It's great for dinner in a pinch. We almost always have rice or tortillas in the house. Chicken tacos is an easy go-to dinner for us.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

We also love the Chicken Tortilla Soup recipe. Normally, we have it with chips, cheese and sour cream, but it's good on its own too. Super easy and super tasty. I've even put it in the crock pot if I'm well planned for the day. Sometimes we have forgotten if it was one can chicken broth and two cans diced tomatoes or vice-versa. It tastes good either way. The way below is preferred. I use regular diced tomatoes.

Utilizing the crock pot...
Chicken Tortilla Soup

2 cups of shredded chicken taco meat
1-2 cup frozen whole corn
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp Worcester sauce
1/2 tsp chili powder
2 - 14.25 oz chicken broth
1 - 14/5 oz diced peeled tomatoes seasoned with Mexican spices (do not drain)
1 can tomato condensed soup

Put all the ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Chocolate Pavlova

My dad is from Down Under. Growing up I heard words like petrol and friends loved my dad's accent. Though we never had shrimp on the barbie, we did have fruit cake, plum pudding and pavlova. I am still trying to acquire a taste for fruit cake and plum pudding. Pavlova was an easy instant love. It's originally from New Zealand. The base is a meringue that is crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside. It's topped with whipped cream and fruit. And it's delicious.

My piece of pavlova
Pavlova is a little tricky to make. I remember my father being frustrated and throwing out ruined pavlovas. He says now that he has it figured out. A few years ago I found this recipe for chocolate pavlova and made it for my dad. Chocolate is a nice addition. I made it again for his birthday a few weeks ago. I too find that I am still working out the kinks in the recipe. After the holidays, we had some left over whipping cream. Chocolate pavlova seemed like the perfect dessert on Saturday. We topped ours with blueberries and mango. Needless to say, there were no leftovers. Especially after parent-only second dessert.

Chocolate Pavlova

1/2 cup egg whites, at room temperature (from 3 to 4 eggs - do not use liquid egg whites)
1/8 tsp of each salt and cream of tartar
1 cup plus 2 tbsp of sugar
1 1/2 tsp each cornstarch and vanilla
1 tbsp raspberry or red wine vinegar (used regular)
1/4 cup good quality cocoa powder, sifted (used Hershey's dark chocolate cocoa)
1 1/2 cups of heavy cream
1 cup strawberries, ripe mango, kiwi fruit, whole raspberries or blueberries (or a combo)

1. Heat oven to 350 F. In a mixer whip the egg whites, salt and cream of tartar until foamy with whisk attachment.

Room temperature egg whites
2. Add 1 cup of sugar, the cornstarch, vinegar, sifted cocoa, and vanilla. Continue whipping until stiff, smooth and glossy, and then for 5 minutes more. Really, go fold some laundry and come back.

After the eggs are foamy add yummy stuff
A load of dishes later

3. Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit a pizza pan. Use a pencil and a pie pan to draw a 9 inch diameter circle on the paper. Flip the paper over (you can still see the circle) and spoon the egg whites into the circle with a spatula. Spread it to the edge of the circle, making waves and swirls on the top surface.

Oven ready
4. Bake in the center of the oven for 10 minutes and then reduce the heat to 300 F. Bake the meringue for about 45 minutes more until it has puffed up and cracked on the top.

5. Turn off the oven and prop open the door. Let the meringue cool in the oven to room temperature for at least 30 minutes. The meringue can be held at room temperature for up to 10 hours before serving.

Out of the oven
6. When you are ready to serve, whip the cream with the remaining 2 tbsp of sugar. Place the meringue on a serving dish and pile the cream on top. Spread it within 1/2 inch of the edge and arrange the fruit on top of the cream.

Enjoy! We sure did.
Decorated with whipped cream, blueberries and mangoes

Sunday, January 13, 2013

This Week in Review

23 miles
3 days of yoga pants and no yoga

It was tough week. We had sickness this week. Since we didn't have any tissues in the house we just had it coming. Every one in the family has had something. I don't think it's the flu but a virus that has made the rounds. I ran on Tuesday with Carrie and Kate from the running club. After three miles I felt awful. I thought I had eaten too much meat with dinner before the run. One of my girlios was under the weather that day and the next day it was another. Then there was another. And currently it's my husband. We are super fun. For the first time in three years, my husband and I missed a show at the theater. Thankfully, there was some good playoff football on.

I was feeling better for my run on Thursday. It was another night run, and I loved catching up with my running friends. The weather was rainy at first and got milder. We did a few more miles just for fun. It was that kind of night.

On Friday I got a chance to catch up with even more people from the running club at Cheryl's surprise party. It was a really nice time out especially when the crud was going through the house. A good number of people from the party were at the run in the morning. Saturday was about 50 degrees. PseudoSpring with sunny skies. I ran six miles with my friends, had hot cocoa and a bagel, drove home, gave my husband coffee, changed jackets and headed out for another run. I mentally planned for four miles. However, it was so lovely I just kept running. The last mile was tough, and I was ready to be finished. I ended up running eight miles post bagel! I thought I had been a slacker all week. Not on Saturday.

I'm working on organizing my house. I'm terrible at it. Large spacial organization is a weakness for me. My notes and homework are beautiful. My husband and daughter are really good at organizing. Two of the places in the house where I can do yoga are filled with stuff to clean up/organize. I put on my yoga pants three times this week with every intention of cleaning up and then doing yoga. Never happened. Especially with the family illness. At least I was comfortable for most of the week. I'll try again tomorrow.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

This Week in Review

Happy New Year!

So I've been blogging for over a year now which amazes me. I've come to discover from reading and getting to know other bloggers that a blog is what you make of it. In this case, what I make of it. I'm not great about regularity and replying to comments. I'm learning. Probably shouldn't give a luddite a blog. This year I've decided to do a weekly review. The review will be posted on the blog and the fb page. It won't be putting it on my personal fb page. I feel like I'm clogging that up. If you'd like to follow along please join the site and/or like the blog's fb page. I'll still post recipes, race and running stuff to fb because of its stand alone awesomeness.

12/31 -1/6
25 miles run

This week ended one year and started the new one. Last Sunday ended the year hitting my 2012 goal and I ran 6 out of 7 days this week. My daily mileage was low. I ran two 6 milers and a bunch of 3s. It was a pretty restful week. I had in my mind to do some yoga, but since I had the chance to run during the day during vacation, I took it.

It gets to me a bit that marketing switches from 'enjoy this rich seasonal food' to 'don't you think it's time to get healthy'. As resolutions are made, treadmills and diet foods go on sale. The cyclical nature of it yearly sends a message to yo-yo. It's mentally, physically and emotionally confusing. And it frustrates me. I can't say that I've broken out of the cycle. I've put on a few pounds over the holidays, and I kick myself for my lack of self control. I, too, will try to start again with healthy eating and living.

Today ends the winter vacation. My husband goes back to work. The girlios and I will slowly work our way into school days. I'm not excited to figure out when during the day I'll run. It has been lighter earlier which I find exciting.

I haven't settled on my running goals for the year, but I did sign up for my first race of the year - the Wisconsin half Marathon in May. I find it's good for me to prepare for something. It keeps me honest and motivated.

It's the first week of the year, have you signed up for a race already?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Soup's On: Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

I can't tell if I'm a runner with a food problem or a foodie with a running problem. At least they work together. Anyway...

This is vegan and gluten free.

With cheese and sour cream, it's vegetarian and gluten free.

This recipe is adapted from a recipe with the same name at It's a vegetarian recipe, and normally I replace the chicken substitute with chicken. This time, however, used soy curls instead. My friend Kim and her husband own a company called Fake Meats. They graciously gave me the soy curls to try in the recipe. The whole family ate the soup, and there were no leftovers. I consider that a success. We garnished ours with cheese and sour cream. I totally forgot about the cilantro. It made it out of the fridge but not to the soup. Oops.

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup
Yum! Yum!
1 (19 oz) can green enchilada sauce
1 can garden vegetable broth
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1 (15 oz) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes
1 cup frozen corn
1 cup soy curls
4 (6 inch) corn tortillas, torn into strips
1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
salt and pepper to taste

1. In a saucepan, mix the enchilada sauce and vegetable broth.
2. Season with garlic powder, chile powder and cumin. Bring to a boil and reduce to low.
3. Mix in the beans, tomatoes and corn. Simmer until heated through.
4. Add soy curls and tortillas. Cook until heated through. Stir in cilanto and season with salt and pepper to serve.

Enjoy and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Journey of 1010 miles in 2012...

...started with one step. I reached my goal for the year plus 10 miles.

Exactly 1000 miles! Let's run 7 more just for fun.

And my journey started in January with the Polar Dash half marathon. I normally take December and January very easy. This year in my infinite wisdom I signed up for a January half marathon. Oops. I also was taking calculus for the first time in twenty years. I worried about balancing running with school. The Polar Dash was rescheduled, but with Chicago weather it was still ooky out. I managed to finish the half marathon with Bobbi and Dave but felt some hip/groin pain.

Class went well. I was reminded how much I enjoy calculus. Really. It's cool. Yes, I'll put another punch in my nerd card. My injury got worse and after a CT scan, some rest and more rest the groin pull healed. I had signed up for the Pittsburgh Half Marathon in May to do with my sister and her husband. With a stretch at mile 7 and a relaxed attitude I finished the race, and the next week finished my class.

Summer meant summer school and a spring marathon, Grandma's Marathon in Minnesota. I did the least training I've done for a marathon. The week I did my 20 miler, that's all the running I did that week. I didn't expect to finish but I did declaring it my merrython. In fact, it was a great girls' weekend. Carrie, Yvonne, Bobbi, Chris and I got along so well and had so much fun. The weekend was full of emotion, but we all supported each other. I smile just thinking about it.  I also was taking two hours of calculus four times a week. Two days after the race I was back in class feeling awful.

I also did the Dirty Girl with Maria, Marlene and a few other gals from the running club. I took the place of another runner who couldn't make it. What a great time! There was no real running involved, just lots and lots of muddy fun. I forgot about my fear of heights until I was at the top of an obstacle, but the gals helped me over. My girlios thought the mud race was awesome so I signed them up for the kid's Columbia Muddy Buddy. We volunteered before their race, and when the time came 2/3 of them became afraid of getting dirty. Bah!

Class finished up, and I signed up for differential equations in the fall. This was completely new territory for me, much like wearing a GPS all the time to track my mileage. I'm taking math classes to become a certified math teacher. This fall I took my certification test (and passed), hurt my brain in differential equations, ran two half marathons and a marathon. I was much healthier by this point in the year, and when I ran the Omaha Half Marathon I shaved 22 minutes off my January half and 13 minutes off my May half. The Indianapolis Marathon was a beautiful tough course, and with the help of my bandit pacer I ran another sub-5 hour marathon. It wasn't a PR, but I didn't care. I shaved almost 20 minutes off of my June marathon. After the race, I felt almost human. I also had the honor of pacing my niece for her first half marathon at the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon. She did great, and we got on the news too.

Normally, I take December and January easy. It didn't happen this year either. Maybe there's a new normal. On Christmas Eve the running club had a DIY Santa's Jingle Ball 10k/half marathon. I slugged out a half on the frozen trail with Bobbi, Carrie and Dave. With calculations and encouragement, I kept running and running until I hit my goal of 1000 miles in 2012 two days before the year's end. Yesterday, I ran with Carrie and Chris bringing my total up to 1010.

Miles just melt away with my running friends, and I am so thankful.

Today I ran with the running club. It was cold out there. The Weather Channel said, "Feels like 0." Yep, it did, but the sun was out, the wind was low and the company was great. It's a great way to start the new year. People were already discussing their goals and plans for the year. I haven't decided mine yet. Give me a few days. I just hit last year's goal. While I'm thinking about my 2013 goals, I'll keep running.

Happy New Year!