Posts made in March, 2011

an almost perfect 10.

10

Posted on Mar 28, 2011 in Uncategorized

an almost perfect 10.

So, guess what?

I ran 10 miles yesterday. In fact, due to a little miscalculation (more on that later) I actually ran closer to 11. 10.84 to be exact.

And I entered double-digit mileage with a smile on my face!

It was like a whole new world compared to my problem-ridden 8 miles. This was the first time that I really, truly felt confident that I’ll be able to complete my half marathon without worries. It is nice to be able to safely say, “I can do it” and feel confident that statement is true.

I started off relatively early for this run. I woke up at 7am, got out of bed, and had some water, toast with peanut butter, honey and banana and some coffee.

While eating my breakfast, I checked the weather. Clear, sunny and a 16° wind chill. SERIOUSLY, SPRING? So I bundled myself into my running gear from February and set out to the trail.

Apparently no one else was interested in running on a cold, cold spring Sunday at 8am, because the parking lot was empty.

While I was in good spirits, I knew from the second I stepped my foot on the parking lot pavement that my peroneal tendon was not going to make this easy. I had rolled my ankle a few weeks ago walking Puppyface and thought the pain in my foot/ankle was pretty much gone. I was wrong.

I had mapped out a course that had me running a mile spur out and back before I made the long out-and-back on the entire length of trail. Since my foot was hurting, I decided I’d warm up with the mile spur and then try to do at least 5 miles total before making a decision.

Since I’ve been trying to heal my foot, I haven’t been running much in the past two weeks and I felt like this was a really, really important run in my training. I didn’t want to skip it completely. I felt like 5 miles would at least help keep my conditioning up to par.

So I started off the first mile and, truthfully, I was in so much pain that I came close multiple times just to walking back to the car. During that first mile, the pain was a 7. But then as I warmed up, it diminished down to a 6. I finished the mile spur and joined up with a dirt trail, determined to get at least 3 miles in.

SWEET GLORIOUS DIRT.

It was like running on pillows. Within 1/2 mile, my foot pain had dropped to a 2 and was barely even noticeable. My original course had me doing 4 miles total on dirt and 6 on pavement. Thanks to well-marked trails (thanks City of Bloomington), I did some math and figured out how many laps I’d have to do to stay on dirt.

So back-and-forth I went. I much prefer doing an out-and-back instead of laps, but the soft, cushy dirt was totally worth the boredom.

After the fueling-failure of my last long run, I made sure to stay on top of everything. I took two dates every two miles and made sure to sip on water through the entire run. Every time I took fuel, I’d walk a bit and stretch out my foot.

My stomach felt totally fine for the entire 10 miles. Here is what I think made the difference:

  • Adequate hydration the day before, morning before and during the run.
  • A well-balanced, but large meal for dinner the night before (all my good runs have come on the mornings after I was totally stuffed at dinner the night before).
  • Smaller cup of coffee in the morning.
  • Taking fuel early and often during the run. Not waiting until I crash.

Of course, I did get mega, mega tired during the last mile. I walked more than I would have liked, but that edge was softened when I realized I am terrible at math on the fly and actually ran almost a mile longer than I needed to. But hey, I finished it! And I didn’t feel like hell at the end!

Random picture of a horse farm along the trail, go!

I did finish up my run by doing something that I think officially initiates me into the club of “real” runners.

An ice bath!

Errr….ice bucket.

As nice as the soft dirt was for my foot, after 10 miles, it was screaming. I knew it needed to be dunked.

After the initial shock, it actually felt amazing. My foot was so hot and throbbing that the ice felt so nice. And I can say, it helped SO much. I was almost positive it was going to be hard to walk today, but I only have a mild ache in my tendon.

Ice works! And it makes for funny pictures. :P

Next long run is a 15k in two weeks and then after that a 12 miler and then…race day! Woohoo! Almost there.

ask me anything : the story of bebop and rocksteady (part 7)

4

Posted on Mar 27, 2011 in Family

I’ve had a few people request that I do an open-ended “ask me anything” series on BTHR. So, here it is! You’ll see me answering a reader question each week. Submit your questions by e-mailing me or commenting on this post. If you want to be identified in my answer, include your name and website (if applicable).

Literally, ask me anything. I’ll answer anything!*

*Okay, maybe not anything, but almost anything.

You can see previous AMA responses here.


Let’s continue with the Story of Bebop and Rocksteady. You can read other parts here: part one, part two, part three, part four, part five, and part six.


Now that we’re to the point in the story where we are engaged, I thought I might take a slight detour and elaborate on something I mentioned early on in the story—how Babyface and I both lost friends during our relationship.

A little bit of my relationship history to set the stage. I had my first serious boyfriend when I was a sophomore in high school. We were very much in love (and not just luv-love, it was real). But we were also very young and very incompatible. The first two months were fun, but the remaining 6 months of the relationship were painful, emotionally and verbally abusive and confusing. I was not emotionally mature enough to deal with being in love—let alone strong enough to realize I was in an abusive relationship. In fact, it was relatively recently (5 or so years ago) that I actually came to the realization that it was abusive. Anywho, after 8 months of pain and suffering, I finally left that relationship defeated, broken and completely pessimistic about the future. Pretty awesome for a 15-year-old, eh?

On the bright side, after my first fail of a relationship, I dated a string of guys in high school and college that were amazing. I had another serious boyfriend later in high school and he taught me so much about how a real relationship should be. He was kind, complementary and sweet. For one reason or another it didn’t work out, but he gave me so much. Throughout college, I dated pretty regularly. Of course, there were a few duds, but for the most part I dated nice guys.

Basically, why I’m sharing all this is the set the scene for my relationship judgment. I wasn’t new to the dating scene. I had been to hell early on and had, over the years, learned what I wanted in a partner. So when I met Craig, I wasn’t blinded by infatuation or naive to the struggles. I’d been around the proverbial dating block and more, or less, knew our relationship was something to pursue.

Some of our friends didn’t agree.

My closest friends were hesitant, but they all asked me, “Are you sure?” and when I replied with an emphatic, “Yes!” they dropped the issue, hugged me and told me how happy they were.

The standout was my closest male friend. In about the span of 15 minutes, after I told him I was engaged, he spiraled into a curse- and insult-ridden diatribe telling me how he wasn’t going to watch me ruin my life. It was hard for me. I wanted him to be happy for me. I wanted him to trust me. To see what I saw. But he didn’t. And it literally went from someone being my best friend to being a complete stranger in a day. I had no problem with him voicing his concerns—I got that an engagement after 6 days was weird. What I struggled with was his approach. He was mean. And talked to my like a child. I felt like I deserved more credit than that. Or at least more respect.

He walked out of my life. Or I walked out of his. I’m not sure which.

Babyface’s side was a little more organized. After the news spread that we were engaged, Babyface received a joint email from a number of his closest friends telling him that I “wasn’t good enough” (exact words). I translated this into three things:

  1. I’m too fat. I’ve been varying levels of chubby my entire life. This wasn’t the first, and certainly wouldn’t be the last time someone judged my character based on my size. I’m assuming to his friends, “good enough” meant skinny, when in reality, that wasn’t what Babyface wanted. I doubt they’d ever admit to the prejudice, and they may not even realize they are doing it.
  2. They judged my entire personality on about 6 hours of interaction. They thought I was the quiet, tired girl from the party. They never gave me a chance past that.
  3. They thought I was kidnapping him. It is easy to see how someone might think this from the outside. American girl swoops in and forces the Canadian to move to her country. But truthfully, we talked through all possibilities, including me moving to Canada, but I was the one with a full-time job, benefits and an apartment. It made sense.

What is most interesting is that his friends could have brought any of these (well maybe not #1) to Babyface and just talked to him about it, and he would have addressed their concerns—just like I would have with my friend. But instead, they ganged up on him and basically gave him an ultimatum—them or me. I’ll let you guess who lost that game . . .

If anything, the way in which his friends approached him proved to Babyface how much of a different place he was in than they were. I don’t think he was even that upset by it all. Mostly just surprised at their complete lack of tact.

So, with a few weeks of us getting engaged, Babyface and I both lost a whole lot of people close to us. Which sounds terrible, but in the end, it brought us closer together. We didn’t have many other people to lean on, so Babyface and I leaned on one another.

We focused on our relationship and each other. And when I went to visit him the next time—for my birthday—we didn’t see any of his friends or have any parties. Instead, we stayed inside, ate pizza and fell even farther in love. We started to realize that, as codependent as it sounds, we didn’t really need those other people anymore.

And on that visit, he gave me a Kinder Surprise Egg (for those of you Americans, it is a chocolate egg that you break open and has a prize inside) and inside was a vintage diamond engagement ring.

We didn’t need anyone else.

to be continued . . .

sunday brunch : cranberry orange whole wheat muffins

3

Posted on Mar 27, 2011 in Food

In the world of weight loss and dieting, the word muffin has long been a four-letter word. Basically, muffin equals cake. Cake dressed up in a disguise to look like breakfast.

I’ve had a bag of unsweetened, dried cranberries hanging around my pantry for a few weeks now and decided they needed to make their way into muffins. As I searched the far reaches of my favorite cookbook—the internet—I discovered a million recipes chock full of white flour and cups (!) of sugar.

Call me crazy, but I’d like to believe the natural sweetness of the cranberries and oranges could mostly stand on its own in a breakfast muffin. Eating a ton of refined sugar for breakfast is fun and all, but it also is the precursor to a nasty 11am sugar crash. Which is fine on the weekends. Not so fine if you want to consume something before your huge work presentation. These muffins keep you full and focused.

And white flour? To start your day off right you need your flour to be bigger, better, strong, whole-wheatier. No need for real flour’s sad, bleached and processed relative to steal the spotlight.

So I went rogue. I created a muffin that is dense, rich, lightly-sweet and fulfilling enough to actually make for a good breakfast (or snack).  Now that’s my kind of non-cake muffin.

Of note, we stashed these in the freezer in a zip-top bag. Before we head out the door in the morning, we wrap one in a paper towel, microwave for 30 seconds, smear on a pat of butter and go! Doesn’t get much quicker than that.

Cranberry Orange Whole Wheat Muffins

  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling on top
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tbsp. orange zest (about 1 large orange)
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice (about 2 large oranges)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • Cooking spray or muffin tin liners
  1. Preheat oven to 400°.
  2. Mix cranberries and hot water in a bowl to plump cranberries, set aside.
  3. Combine flours, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients.
  4. Add in orange zest, orange juice, water, canola oil and egg. Stir until just mixed.
  5. Drain cranberries and add to batter, fold in.
  6. Spoon batter into a muffin tin coated in cooking spray or filled with muffin liners.
  7. Sprinkle with extra sugar.
  8. Bake at 400° for about 13 minutes, or until golden brown and middle is springy.
  9. Cool 5 minutes in muffin tin, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 12 muffins.

 

sweet saturday : lemon curd

5

Posted on Mar 26, 2011 in Food

Good morning, sunshine! I have a sunny, bright and totally summery treat for you today.

Unfortunately, it is gray, cold and windy out. And it is supposed to snow today. Boo! But at least my eats are bright and sunny!

Lemon curd has a reputation of being finicky. Anytime you mix together acids with dairy, it can get iffy, but I found this recipe super smooth and quick. There was nothing tricky about it.

Lemon curd is extremely versatile. Here, I spooned it into some store-bought tartlets and topped them with almond whipped cream (yum!). Between Babyface and I, these cute little suckers somehow disappeared in under 24 hours.

Not into tarts? You can use lemon curd just like you would a marmalade on toast. Or drizzle it over vanilla ice cream. Or spread it onto warm biscuits. Or just eat it by the spoonful because it is that good.

The curd will live in a covered container in the fridge for about two weeks. Although if you are anything like us, it’ll be gone before it even gets close to that two weeks.

Lemon Curd

  • 6 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp. grated lemon zest
  1. In the bowl of a mixer, cream together butter and sugar until well-incorporated (about 2 minutes).
  2. With mixer still running, add in eggs one yolk at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  3. Once all eggs are added, mix on medium-high for one minute.
  4. Add lemon juice. Mixture will look lumpy and curdled.
  5. Transfer mixture to a saucepan and heat over low heat until mixture looks smooth.
  6. Bump up heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly, for about 15 minutes, or until sauce is thickened.
  7. Remove curd from heat, stir in zest.
  8. For immediate use, spread curd onto a cookie sheet covered in parchment, press a piece of plastic wrap onto surface to avoid a film and refrigerate for 15-20 minutes, or until cooled.
  9. For storage, transfer to covered container.

Makes about 2 cups.

 

fun friday : high school you.

1

Posted on Mar 25, 2011 in Fun

The 10th anniversary of my high school graduation is coming up in a few months and it has me thinking about how much I’ve changed since high school.

(Top left. On the bus after a marching band competition.)

Who were you in high school?

(Holy crap, I was tan.)

I know a lot of people hated high school, but I actually had a lot of really pleasant experiences. Would I go back? No way! But I definitely enjoyed that time in my life. In high school, I was . . .

(Top row, second from the right, #54)

An overachiever. I was in pretty much everything I could be in. French Club, Art Club, Volleyball, Prom Committee, Academic Bowl, Science Olympiad, Spell Bowl, Color Guard, Winter Guard, Sunshine Girls, SADD. Beyond this, I took all the college credit classes I could and made sure to get an academic honor’s diploma with honors. I took one study hour session my senior year and hated it so much that I volunteered my time to help out one of my favorite teachers instead of slacking off for an hour. I was super focused on getting into a good college and getting scholarships.

(You may have seen this green wig before. . .)

A band geek. Okay, so I didn’t play any instruments, but I was totally in the color guard and performed in the marching band. I loved it and being in flags was definitely part of my identity. All my friends were in marching band and pretty much my high school life revolved around it. To this day, I still miss performing. I’m a total ham. :P

(In the middle. With the mic. Singing karaoke.)

Moderately popular. Mostly just because I went to the same school K-12 and it was a tiny school, so most of the cliques had very fuzzy lines. It’s hard not to be friends with someone you’ve been in school with for 12 years, regardless which clique you run with. Also, since I was in everything, I knew everyone. And I giggled a lot. People like gigglers.

(Group project in English class. I wore that black cardigan yesterday, no joke. And I still love black nail polish. And Blow Pops.)

A goody-two-shoes. I was super naive and a little bit sheltered and so were most of my good friends. We never really got into trouble. I’d say I was a pretty easy teenager for my parents to handle (other than the hormonal screaming fits). No drinking. No drugs. No sneaking out. I did get pulled over once for speeding (first of many times in my life). But other than that, pretty squeaky clean.

(Painting a mural on the wall in the French classroom. And my favorite black cardigan again.)

Artsy. Again, small school, so there were a handful of us that were “marked” as the artists of the school. Sometimes I hated it. I just wanted to be “normal” and being a funky-clothes wearing, outgoing, art kid was not normal in a tiny Indiana school.

(Junior Prom! I still have that red dress. And now that I think about it, probably fit in it now.)

Totally boy crazy. I had my first serious boyfriend at 15 (more on this in this weekend’s Ask Me Anything post) and never looked back. I almost always had a boyfriend or a crush or something. It helped that I get along with guys very, very well (I’m a guy’s girl, if you will) so I always had boys around me.

(Graduation party!)

Okay, now that I list all of those out, maybe I haven’t changed all that much. What about you?