Monday, December 23, 2013

Chicken Soup

The Mike had asked if we had any soup in the cupboard and I hadn't bought any in sometime. I did head to the store on Sunday and bought some gluten free/organic soups that we can heat up (with ingredient lists that  are not scary).

Thursday night we had some ice and the weather turned cold (and frightful). . .
After the snow came on Saturday evening/Sunday morning we had about 4 inches of (delightful) fresh powder.  The Mike went out snow-biking (wide tire bike) and I baked away in the kitchen (banana bread, cookies, rice krispie treats--the box now says "gluten free made in dedicated facility!)

Three hours later The Mike came home from his bike ride, cold, but not frozen, and I whipped up some fresh Hershey hot chocolate to warm his body.  Then we had some of the soup I bought at the store with UDIs bread grilled cheese sandwiches.

Later, when the cookies were done baking, I made this chicken soup for Sunday evening.

Chicken cheese soup

I modified a recipe I had printed off the internet for Chicken Tortilla Soup and sadly, the page I had printed out didn't have the webpage/owner on it, so I cannot give credit. However, since I modified the recipe, I can say this one is my own.

I used three Just BARE Chicken breasts (14oz package), cooked those in the stockpot. When they were done, I removed them and --when cool--cut into small cube

To the hot pan I then added:
1 diced onion
 and heated until translucent.

Then I added:
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander

When these were all in the pot and had been stirred/heated to let the flavors of the spices come out, I added a can of diced tomatoes, two small cans of diced green chiles. I added in the cut up chicken.  

I let that heat up/simmer while I made the 'roux'/thickening agent.  The recipe calls for 1 cup room temp milk, so I just microwaved it for 30 seconds or so and got it up to room temperature. [If you're doing a paleo version, you could use other milk, or just chicken broth at this point]

In a small pan, I melted 2T butter [or ghee, or coconut oil], added 2 T of tapioca flour, mixed that together until it thickened, then poured in and started whisking the milk into the flour mixture.  I added in a cup of shredded cheese at this point and whisked that until smooth. [you could leave out the cheese]

Then I poured all of this into the mixture of the chicken/tomatoes/onion and stirred well.  At this point I added in about 16 oz of chicken broth and then brought all of the soup up to a small boil and then simmered for about ten minutes.

I served with sliced avocado, crushed corn crackers ( Food Should Taste Good® is what we had on hand).

You can finish off with sour cream, shredded cheese, diced fresh tomatoes, diced cilantro, guacamole or whatever interests you!

I'd say it took about 40 minutes from start to finish, but I wasn't really watching the clock.

The soup would be fine without the cheese if you're doing a paleo recipe

Colorful chicken soup for the holiday season

 Ingredients/shopping list:

Chicken ( I used 14oz, you can use more or less)
1 diced onion ( I used white onion since it was a chicken dish)
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1 can of diced tomatoes
2 small cans of diced green chiles

1 cup room temp milk [other milk or extra chicken broth]
2T butter [ghee, or coconut oil]
2T of tapioca flour
1-2 cups shredded cheese (I used cheddar)  [this could be omitted]
16 oz of chicken broth

sliced avocado
crushed corn crackers
sour cream
shredded cheese
diced fresh tomatoes
diced cilantro

or whatever interests you!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Best Marathon I've run with my worst marathon time

Early this year I signed up for my "A" race of the year, the Detroit Free Press Marathon.  It was a bit of a long process on the computer, as one has to input the passport information. I've wanted to do this race since I've heard of it and decided to add a new state with a portion in another country, would be excellent.   The race, if you are unaware, starts in Detroit and runs a few miles to where runners cross the bridge to Canada, continues to run along the river street in Windsor, and then comes back to Detroit via the tunnel for many more miles in the US.  FUN!

Then the year progressed and my energy levels still weren't up to where they were in the spring of 2012.  Last fall my doc said I was "over training" and then mom died in December and then earlier this year my doc said my she couldn't find anything wrong and that I was just depressed over mom's passing. . . be that as it may, it doesn't explain why I had this last year before she passed, nor does it explain why I'm ccccold all the time (being cold is not a symptom of depression), as well as my legs/muscles feel like I've run ten miles after having just run three. 

One small worry was the passport. We renewed our passports last fall in preparation for The Mike's Tour Divide bike trip.  However, I just got the book, not the card.  When I started to register for this race, The Mike laughed and laughed, and said, "Guess you need the passport card after all". Right. Because I didn't want to run with my passport booklet in a ziploc baggie 'just in case' I had to show it at the border!   The local office said the photo from last year would work just fine, so I sent in my passport only to get it back about six weeks later saying the photo was too old and I needed to get redo the photo and send it back in.  Thankful that I was doing this early enough that there was time still to get the passport sent to me, and that it happened before the gov't shutdown!   


So here I am with my training so-so and my desire to still run this race and The Mike and I set off after work and get as far as we can stay awake and find a hotel, or rather, try to find a hotel. We completely forgot about those leaf peepers when planning this trip!  
Peeping the leaves
  We had just crossed the time zone line and had to stop.  The third hotel at the interstate offramp had a few room vacancies and we were happy to score one--even one that served breakfast in the morning!   The next morning we were on our way through the sprinkles and rain; I was so thankful the race wasn't that day!  

It seemed like quite a long drive to Detroit due to the almost constant road construction.  As we neared Detroit, we saw these large 'creatures' in the distance. It was only as we got closer we realized it was a  set of bridges. In the meantime, we entertained ourselves with thinking they were creatures from War of the Worlds. This side view at the off ramp doesn't really do it justice. 
Interestate bridge on the way into Detroit. From the distance, 
when all you can see is a round top
and "legs", the bridges look a bit like the space creatures from War of the Worlds
Once into Detroit we had the scenic "ooh, this is nice" mixed with the eye sores.  We arrived at the hotel via navigation in the car. . . I'm sure there was a 'shorter' way to get there, but the navigation system likes to keep us on the interstate for as long as possible. 
Slight view of the Detroit Tigers baseball field from the hotel room
None of us in the group are sports people and didn't realize until that night's 

news that the Detroit Tigers were in the playoffs to make it to the World Series
(They lost to Boston) 
After heading to the Expo to pick up our packets and do some shopping.  I got a race glass and a new pair of CEP sleeves for the calves. . .and a reminder to always take cash to the expo. I saved $5 by paying cash instead of credit.  The sister got some new socks and GU.

Next, we headed back to the hotel, picked up The Mike and using Find Me Gluten Free app, we found Passport Pizza. It's a small place, corner store front with two tables, a couple actual pop machines and then the counter to order your pizzas. We were overwhelmed with toppings to put on the pizza and The Mike had a ton of selections for type of pizza as well.  The gluten free pizza was cooked/served on tins, ensuring it was GF, and the hubby's (gluten) Detroit pizza on thick crust.  Their webpage here.   

Passport Pizza on Woodward Avenue
As we left the pizza place, I realized the street looked slightly familiar. No, it wasn't from being on the street an hour before!  In reading up on Detroit on Wikipedia, I recognized the street/buildings from a photo. It's the last street in Detroit to lose its streetcars(1956). 

Beautiful old theater building on Woodward Avenue. 

Dinner the night before was from the hotel, as we didn't want to venture out with no specific destination.  Salmon with a cream sauce of cream, garlic and spinach.  Hubby had some left over pizza, so he just got dessert of pie and ice cream.

Prepping for the race the evening before,  I had my clothing laid out and  was spazzing about the temperatures. It was going to be colder than I had read when I packed. . .don't let the photo fool you--I had a long sleeve shirt and gloves as well. I decided to wear my new calf sleeves to help against the cold. 

I had packed my skort, tank, bra, long sleeve shirt, shoes, socks, mittens and visor. . .

I neglected to pack:  earband/headband, running knickers, common sense. 

As an inventive measure, I pulled the wide elastic band of my Road ID visor down over my ears to protect them from the chilly wind and ran with "loose hair" until later in the race when the sun and sweat was making it heavy and hot; then I pulled it into the ponytail.

~~~~RACE START~~~~
One of the things that surprised about Detroit was how many old buildings are just left in ruin.. . and a moment to remember the urban flight that afflicted so many large cities.  One of the first large buildings you see in downtown from the airport is an abandoned grand building 10, 11 stories tall, the abandoned Amtrak building.

Start of the race. So dark, so cold. brrr. 
38º at the start of the race!  Race Course Map  There wasn't much wind which was nice, but I had been reading weather reports of 45º for the start.  Sigh.  I didn't want to buy anything the day before at the expo to wear for 26.2 miles for the first time either.  

****FYI: Running when you're really cold and your body is trying to keep you warm and expel energy for your race is not good!**** 
just in case you needed the obvious stated!  

There we were at the start line with thousands of our closest running friends. We could see runners still arriving via the "People Mover" system.  The race information said that once the last corral of people left, no one else would be allowed to start late.  The environment started really PUMPING for us and the crew put on Eminem's song Lose Yourself!   Really got the blood pumping.  There was a count down "clock" for each corral as well. . .by clock I mean a large screen that would be at home in a movie theater, with digital count down for each specific corral.  

Then we were OFF and moving down the course.   I was feeling good and didn't start run/walking until the aid station in Canada to refill my bottles.  

As we neared the start of the border crossing we had to run in a bit of a circle up the roadway to the  checkpoint windows and then wind our way on the long bridge approach. As we passed through the checkpoint windows/gates that looked like individual toll booth stations there, leaning against one, was SANTA CLAUS!  He smiled, chuckled and waved when I yelled, "HI SANTA" while other people looked at me like I was nuts. . . later, when I mentioned this to my sister, she said, 'He DID look just like Santa and if he didn't want people to compare him, he shouldn't have been wearing a RED suit'.   The race course entertainment, Santa did have a long sleeve red shirt, I don't recall his pants color.   
Climbing the on ramp to the Ambassador Bridge, mile 2
Getting closer to the border crossing. There were scores of US border patrol at this point watching all racers and using the car speakers to inform us our race numbers had to be exposed, or else we would be pulled aside and searched. . .  
The bridge, the posts on either end say 'Ambassador Bridge'.
The bridge was still open for traffic. Semi drivers were honking at us (okay, many of us were doing the standard "arm honk" to encourage them). While we ran on one half of the bridge, there were"two lanes" open on the other side; however, only one lane was actually used by traffic with the second lane as a buffer between cars and racers. Felt bad for traffic, as the tunnel was closed until 10am and the bridge was one way traffic for them, but it was VERY safe running.
As we came down into Canada, the Border patrol there was a 180º from the US patrol, they were on their loud speaker welcoming us to Canada, high five-ing runners and mentioning that we got beer and donuts on the course because , 'hey, it's Canada' and "if you twist your ankle, no worries, you'll be covered under Canada healthcare, you'll just miss the race sitting in the medical office all day".  The sister heard a different message, but agreed, they were a HOOT, eh!

By the time we reached Canada, we were at mile 4.  We ran under the bridge approach and past an old cemetery where we turned to run along the river.   

Along the riverfront in Canada
Feeling good along the way, not much wind at this section, the riverside, miles 5/6.  

Heading into the  'underwater mile' zone  
Mile 7 to 8 I was a bit freaked out here and did a bit more 'turbo running' than I should have so early in the marathon.  As I was approaching the passport clearance area for us, there was a runner with a basic walking jacket on in beige and he had his hands clasped behind his back as if he was out for a stroll. I peaked behind me as I ran and he did have a number partially showing. I thought the border agent who was there might stop him. I was glancing between her and this runner guy and back and forth. I don't know if they did or not, but can say, "that's not normal runner behavior".  

As we entered the tunnel I was amazed at how HOT it was! I stripped off the long-sleeve shirt so it wouldn't get soaked and I concentrated on busting on through the underwater mile area.  I didn't even stop at the border crossing area, I had my cell phone out and just snapped a picture as I walked past.  I was still freaked out by the runner guy I saw on the Canada side.  My underwater mile was my fastest mile in a LONG time.  Seriously, even though it's downhill for the first part, I went through the tunnel at about 81/2 minutes/mile pace, something I rarely can accomplish!  I just wanted out of there and to be away from that creepy guy.  
Last actual race photo. . . the dividing line in the middle of the tunnel
Coming up out of the tunnel is hard mentally because you just keep climbing slowly and then you are turning and still cannot see any daylight.  I have no recollection of seeing a photographer there, but the photos on the website show there was one. 

I passed through a car path corral area as I exited the tunnel area. . .as I did, I notice the US Border agents talking to someone and (sorry, but she was) a blond woman trying to take a camera shot. The US Border kept saying NO, NO, NO. and the lady kept trying to take the picture until one agent started walking towards her and then she took off running.  Interesting race!     As I came up out of the tunnel area and into the street there were corrals holding back spectators from the runners and I heard my name announced. That was really AWESOME!  Hubby said he missed me here and I said I was scanning the gates for him, but never saw him either.

Next up was "Mexicantown" and it was sweet and nice to run through here. The wind seemed to be picking up some, but there were actually people out in their front yards cheering us on, as well as "no parking, Marathon Sunday" signs in both English and Spanish. There was a gorgeous old church there with multiple out buildings and it looked a bit in disrepair, but still gorgeous bones in the building.

About Mile 11 I stopped for the loo, which I haven't done since my second race, but I had to stop this time. Only three people ahead of me for the one portajohn and this guy comes up behind me and asks how long I've been waiting, because he doesn't want to lose much time in the race, but he has waited four minutes before. All I can think is, "really, cause I don't care how long I have to wait, I am not going on until I can use it".   I am FREEZING at this point and the skin exposed on the thighs is not happy with me, not pins/needles sensation, but just the realization that they are wicked cold, and realize that standing still, stretching is NOT helping me in the 'keep the body well' category.

We run along the course, make some turns and come to Corktown, which apparently is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Detroit and named for the Irish from County Cork (which I assumed when I was running past, but did confirm with that fabulous Wikipedia!) .  Lots of great signs along the course/bridge overpass area here, including the first of several "Smile if you're not wearing underwear" posters I saw in the race.  Obviously made by a spectator 'cause we all know the term is 'commando', right?  Then we had a long open /straight path for a few miles where the roadway opened up from being a two lane neighborhood street to a boulevard like course. Along this straight away from mile 14 to 16 or so we passed an amazing high school band/flag corps out there wearing mostly black uniforms and doing some "get down" moves while sounding their trumpets and trombones. Quite impressive and the dance/flag folks were great too. Really helped pep me up!   

Just before the turn past mile 16 was suppose to be a GU station. . .but, alas, as usual, all the GU was gone. I was really wanting it, as one of my GUs dropped from my waist band and I had repacked the band at the hotel and forgotten to put in the Cytomax gels.  The track runners did have bananas, so I took one of those for in a bit. 

We turned onto an awesome road that reminded me of the movie Home Alone and American Beauty scenes of the streets with wide streets, large old and tasteful/elegant homes.  It was interesting and sad to note that there would be four or ten fabulous houses with the next one being something that looked like it hadn't been touched in twenty or more years, and it was repeated.  This was the "Indian Village" neighborhood of Detroit. I didn't know what it was before running there, but afterwards found out it is one of the older neighborhoods and had homes owned by Ford, etc. 'back in the day'.  My running was still going so so here and I was run/walking and feeling good. The citizens came out with beer and polka music. An elderly man sat on a whimsically painted straight back chair cheering us on. Another man was out there with a squeaker horn? I'm not sure what they horn in his hand is called, but I said, 'You look like a Marx Brother' and he honked at me :-)   A few houses down a resident pointed to me and said, "you look like a beer person, come on over" and I said, "Gluten free" to which she replied, "we have Whiskey!"  oooh, I was sooo tempted, but didn't want to chance it with ten miles to go!  

Turning the corner and running into mile 18 we passed more gorgeous homes, There was one I wished knew the address of, it would have taken up a whole block in my city with the fence, distance to the garden shed, large house, etc.  Beautiful architecture here. . . As I ran down the street more residents were out, one had Jelly Beans and pretzels, another had (thankfully) M & Ms which I had to run back for (they're GF) and enjoyed with my banana for fuel treat.  

Up to this point my time was pretty decent for me.  Sadly, I started to drain here. Mile 19 and I was losing energy and pep. I didn't know how I was going to finish, but, by golly, I was going to do so!   We crossed MacArthur Bridge and headed onto the Belle Isle in the Detroit River. Gorgeous place, but my mind was trying to figure out how far we had to run on the island (it's only two miles, but one thing I should NOT do when running is try to do math!).

As I headed down the last stretch on the island there was a poor sole sitting on the side waiting for the medics to come, not sure what happened but I had reason to be thankful that wasn't me and I realized that the ankle/calf I hurt a few weeks prior to the race stumbling on a tree root wasn't hurting me. (maybe the compression sleeves were helping in that regard?).  This gave me a bit more pep in my stride, as did the family giving out Jolly Ranchers as I neared the bridge to exit the island.  

At mile 23 those around me and I realized they were starting to scale back the course. They had us running on the sidewalk for a bit, but I ran on the street unless cars were coming.  Mile 23 1/2 we ran along the river front and I was freezing as the wind came whipping across the waters and hitting my bare arms. I had tossed the long sleeve shirt at mile 14 as it was wet and I didn't want it tied around my waist, flapping and annoying me.  At this point I was screaming at myself for being a dummy and getting rid of it.  Ah well, someone can find the shirt and aim to do the Des Moines Red Flannel Run :-)   Even a course worker remarked "aren't you cold?"  

Knowing we only had 2.2 miles left helped some and I continued my run/walk method to get me to the finish line.  As we closed in on mile 25 I had to stop at a light. Just disgusted with myself that I was still out on the course at this point, but I didn't lose much more than maybe thirty seconds waiting for the light. Ohh, wait, I should say I lost a few minutes there, wink, wink.  

Then the last bit came on. I came upon mile 26, had to turn the corner and run to the finish line. As I came up the hill near just before the turn the spectators were inching out farther and farther into the roadway. I looked a guy right in the face and said, "I'm NOT moving over" and he scooted the three feet back to the curb. 
My Super Girl (with cape) finish photo for the family.
Runner finish area: OMG this was the BEST finish area/goodie line I've ever seen (Sorry Trekman!)  The sack I'm holding above has goods in it. I got a couple of chocolate milk (Yes, they had chocolate milk at this late in the race/finish area), a HUGE container of Hummus, as well as a couple smaller containers, a couple bags of "Food Should Taste Good"  chips, individual bags of carrots and sliced apples, mini Larabars and a few other things as well. This bag was seriously YUM for a gluten free runner!  

FINISHED:  Time, not happy with it, but since my body was off this year,  I was cold, running on a bad ankle/calf, and my knee just started hurting a bit towards the end, I was satisfied to take the time and getting out there and doing it!   It was my slowest time for my fourth marathon.  However, I felt the race itself was AWESOME. The other three marathons I've done were all Rock n Roll ones and this one had such a different vibe and was great. 

I loved the course, the spectators, the city, the architecture, the views, and even the spectator dude at the end who I had to tell to get out of my way on the course. Memories of the race! 

The old Detroit Free Press building.  

Alice in Wonderland chairs we spied as we walked back to the hotel.
In the background , to the right and behind of the pink chair,
one can barely spy the tops of giant cheese board pieces, about a foot tall each.
Special room key

The glory

Phew, that's a LOT of steps! 
After cleaning up, stretching some and snacking on those apples and chips, I decide I'm hungry and wanted food. The Mike said, 'Be sure to get something before 4pm" and Sis and I were like, 'why'.  Oh, right, the football game at the stadium nearby a few short blocks away!  We got the directions for Five Guys burgers in Greektown, and we managed to get inside just before the neighborhood is swarmed.  With our food in hand we head back to the hotel feeling like salmon swimming up stream for our lives. Lion fans are walking on the sidewalks so we take to walking on the street, after all, it's not like the cars are going to be able to go anywhere with all those pedestrians!  
The fabulous dinner/snack.
I laughed at the thought we were going to Five Guys.  I had never been there until Sis was coming back through North Dakota with me this June (from dropping The Mike off in Banff for his bike ride/race).  Then I had it at the airport in June in DC, and then again here.  So wonderful to have a burger and fries!  The fries are the only fried thing in the restaurant and they use peanut oil as well.  

Red race entry shirt, it has the course outline on the back. The shirt is very cozy and soft as well. It is now one of my favorite shirts (behind the Park to Park shirts--which, if you're interested from reading about that even in Runners World, in 2014 it will be a half marathon only).  The blue is my finisher shirt, the first "finisher" shirt I have managed to buy. Most events they're sold out by the time I finish. . . Strangely, in my mind, people were buying this shirt at the expo.  My glass is near the ribbon of the medal. The medal itself I thought was nicely done, it's heavy, and the ribbon is USA flag/maple leaf design.  
My Detroit goods.

We took sis to the airport to grab her flight, headed back to the hotel to pack up and relax before heading out early the next morning. 

We stopped for lunch in Battle Creek because I told hubby I was starving and going to take the next town exit, but he found a place for us in Battle Creek, MI.  
The entrance sign you see, once you've driven the few miles off the
interstate on Sojourner Truth roadway

It was so very nice to be able to order at a restaurant and have someone there understand Celiac/gluten free and have experience with it.Arcadia Ale Brew Pub in Battle Creek, MI. Menu  Our waitress hadn't worked there long and wasn't sure of all the things on the menu, but her child is celiac and so she understood the requirements!  She got the bartender, who was able to help me with the menu as her boyfriend is Celiac!  Great attention and we got there just before the lunch crowd, so perfect timing for additional attention from the staff.  
Gluten free tomato stew
Very tasty 
The Mike had a chili type soup that sounded fabulous, but they put some of the ale in the recipe. 
Brisket with mashed potatoes and broccoli.  (Gluten Free)

The Mike's "Cuban" sandwich, not gluten free.
While waiting for the food to be served we had a nice time watching the bottling/capping process in the brewery through the windows separating restaurant from processing rooms. 

Great adventure in Michigan, but afterwards on the loooong drive home, I had to question why I didn't just fly into Detroit!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Weekend of water, duck, and apples--apple crisp that is

Saturday we headed to a race for The Mike.  I had a long race to do and planned to run while he was racing. I am not very good about doing well on a  run when it's not my regular run time. The race started at 11, so I headed out shortly thereafter for my race. I normally run at 5 or 6am, so the late delay threw me off. I headed out to do two turns around the lake and ended up getting in just  one lap there, and then I took to the road for a couple more miles. I didn't get the mileage in.  

Near the end of my first lap around the lake, I landed on a tree root with scar tissue and wobbled, falling and twisting the ankle.  My running on the smooth asphalt wasn't so good, my ankle was hurting--but not swelling--so I just rested it. 
Nice southern view of the lake
The knobby tree root that I landed on, causing me to biff it in the trail. Thankfully the trees were the only things that saw me fly.

Beautiful wooded trail
Later, we  headed out to a restaurant in the cap city called Djangos, recommended by my boss. Our anniversary is this week and so we splurged on a evening.  Enjoyable atmosphere at the restaurant. We dined at the bar, as the wait for a table was over an hour and a half.   

I had the Moulard Duck Confit, which we've seen created on the cooking shows quite often in the past weeks. It was served with oven roasted potato wedges, and braised red cabbage with carrots.  I have never had this before and while it was quite good, I'd probably not order it again due to the heaviness of the meal--duck is quite fatty. 

 The Mike had Chicken Prosciutto and said it was quite tasty, filling, and satisfying--especially after his four hours of cycling

After dinner we headed to the Fleur Drive Cinema & Cafe.  A fabulous surprise for a movie theater! Small, old school, complete with a coffee shop to order from and retro lounge chairs.  It was a first for us watching a 3D movie, as well as having hot chocolate and Chai Latte while watching the movie!  (We saw Gravity; amazing movie, great details, and great cinematography!)  

Staying up until midnight when  one gets up at 6am is hard work!  We had a relaxing day and then headed home--to laundry and chores!  

After dicing up the ingredients for the Potato Soup Sunday evening I decided to make apple crisp.  The last several years (since we moved into the house), the apple tree has not produced much, and the apples were *tiny*.  We thought this year we'd cut down the tree. . . and then there was a BOOM crop on the tree!  Turns out, this year is THE year for apples:  wet spring followed by a dry summer.  The top branches of the tree are bent over and that is where the larger apples are located.  I gathered six, peeled, cut and spiced for baking: 

Cut apples with cinnamon, nutmeg, and some regular sugar.
I added in zest from one lemon, juice from half that lemon , and
1 T of orange juice. To help thicken the juices, I added some
crushed tapioca pearls. 

Topped with a mixture of 2 Tablespoons melted butter
with 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup quinoa flakes,
cinnamon and brown sugar mixed together 

Baked at 350ºF for a n hour 

Side view of the 8x8 pan with the sugars all warm and bubbling

Finished apple crisp

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

July, August and September running

July, August and September races

I was at the hometown in July for the hometown days then and participated in the fun run, timed--but not seriously timed--"5k-ish" race.  My watch actually said it was 3.2 miles. Maybe it should be made into a 3.1 by finishing at the bar instead of on the elevator scale ;-)

(And, my face is *always* red after I run, no matter how long, hard, or weather! However, it's never red when I'm actually running).

I did the awful thing that day though, of running all my miles. I was supposed to run ten, so I went out and ran five, then went to the house, re-fueled, and ran/walked into town for the race. The Mike came in before the race started and got some pictures, but none I think are web worthy. Not to mention I wasn't completely feeling 100% since I had ice cream the day before when we took in the Jocelyn Art Museum and stopped at Dairy Queen on the way to the homestead  :-)   When you have dairy and sugar you're not use to, the performance level isn't going to be there. Amazingly though, my time wasn't much different from the previous year I participated (it was really hot and humid that year).

Dale Chihuly
piece at the Jocelyn
I have no photos from my August run.  It wasn't an actual "race" but rather a fun run to raise funds for a Veteran and paying it forward to others.  I actually had forgotten about the event until I walked to a food establishment that day and saw Taylor getting out of car.  I had been thinking earlier that day that I just would not run an August event. Not only was this a night run, which I had never entered before, it was also a glow stick event. Everyone who entered got at least one glow stick, and then helpers were handing out multiples as we waited for the start.  Others bought their glowsticks at stores and came for the costume event.  Definitely fun, definitely different and definitely want to do this event again. You could choose to run or walk.  The path was lined with glow sticks every foot or so. On the darker parts of the course, the glow sticks were end-to-end around curves and the like. It was very cool to run in the dark along those areas.   The only thing I wished was different would be not allowing people with flashing/strobe lights. Those were really hard to run with in the field of vision.  Some people had them on their hands as rings, others had them in their hair.  It was okay to see at the start when we still had street lights. Hard to handle when we were on the trail. . .then again, maybe my eyes are just getting (eek) 'old'.   One of the great things for this event was having so many veterans there and others who had prosthetics.  Many also ran with us. I wasn't sure if they all started the race, or if some positioned themselves along the course. I saw a couple who had been off on the side and then got onto the trail to run.  The sound of the feet on the ground was interesting and a great rhythm. At one point I was thinking, "this is a good pace" and then all of  a sudden the guy got a burst of energy and he was off! Afterwards there was water, cupcakes and gluten free cupcakes!  I ran/walked back to where I parked my car and a neighbor came up. He had never done a 5K before and was amazed at what all was involved. 


I had a hard time deciding which races to do this month.

There is the standby, Park to Park, that I've done for several years. It is fun. The race director is awesome. You can stand around and chat with the elites afterwards. Great music, great food, massages, and it's in a state park near a small lake, so it's beautiful as well. It is run on all trails in the area.

There were others I wanted to do as well.  The half marathon in my home town, the Quad Cities half marathon near the end of the month, and a few others.

I decided to run Park to Park and the Wabash Trace half marathons as training runs. I knew I wouldn't be going "all out 100%" but that I could use the people, the atmosphere and the energy to carry me a little faster than maybe I'd do in a training run on my own.

Park to Park was mentioned in Runners World this year as one of the top picks for a half marathon due to its trail run, awesome race director, beautiful weather, etc.

Enter race day and the humidity was high, the heat was already present, making the combination feel a big muggy. Then, a few minutes before race time, a cloud went overhead and we had a bit of a shower.  Ugh. More mugginess!   There were people not able to get in to park and were having to be bussed up to the start line. Due to the number of people still needing to get bussed to the start, the director made the very tough call to delay the race. He has never had a race start late.  Some people were disappointed, others loved the delay and used it to go to head to the portapotties. The folks with the mics reminded us to think of if we were in those folks' places/shoes. . . then schooled us in a brief 'cliff note" version of a classic. 'if you don't know what compassion is, read To Kill A Mockingbird.  As a person with an English Ed degree, I LOVED that!  In light of a contest the festival had on Facebook, I won an entry to the VIP tent, which meant I had a smaller gear check area, food waiting for me afterwards, a place to meet up with some friends who were also in the VIP tent, etc.   This was also the first race that hubby wasn't going to hang around, ride through the woods on dirt trails and take pics of me randomly!

The race started a bit before 8am, an pavement still slick with the short shower.  The Elites went off and did their amazing fast stuff while I wondered if I had what it took to do 13.1 today, let alone 26.2 in a few weeks in Detroit.   If you hadn't read some of the other running posts, my training has been off this year due to fatigue, lethargy, coldness and just plain not feeling "ON" this year.

I knew most of the course and knew there were some turns and scenic areas, but I also am use to running the trails with some WIND, or breeze of some kind. I am operating, this year, on the run/walk method and due to the heat, the race director had bicycle patrol out checking on racers. It seemed everytime I was at a walk break point there'd be  a bicycle go by to see if I was okay!   The air was fairly still until about mile four or five when the course opened up to a southerly direction and a wonderful breeze there. I caught up with a friend's sister at this point (or rather, she caught up with me) and we talked a bit and then she picked up her pace a bit.  Knowing the trail is a good thing and something I forget when I go to other towns to race. Sometimes I drive the course and sometimes I don't . It's always a good thing though!  I knew that when we came to the "end" of one trail, we had to turn left to do a short loop and then come back to the pedestrian bridge we could all see.  I also knew that the curvy road on the way out was our way back to the finish. I'm sure some people have the curves counted. I am not one of those people.My body pretty much screams with joy when I see the "TURN AND SPRINT" sign.  Instead, I focus on the steps at the given time and try to find a way to motivate myself to the end.  

I had been quite hot when running, and kept hiking my tank up to the chest to get the belly some air to try to cool down the body. In the last section before we had to turn left for the quick loop, I was walking more often.  After crossing the river, I knew there wouldn't be a lot of people for a mile and a half or so, so I just took off the tank and ran. I wasn't around a lot of people at this point and only felt comfortable (ha ha) doing it because of the trail/trees.  As I got closer to the park entrance of the trail, I put the shirt back on and then did the "try to catch" so and so routine.  I had been trying to "reel in" my friend's sister as I could see her on the trail ahead of me in the last mile every so often. In the last few curves I could see her ahead and thought, "I'm going to catch her!   

Alas, it wasn't to be had.  She crossed the finish line just as I had turned the corner to sprint.  Finishing about nine minutes slower than what I had wanted for this training run. . . the highlight--> hubby WAS at the finish line for me!  He had just gotten back from his bicycle group ride!   

After the race, walk around, cool down, enjoy the VIP tent.  Pizza, bagels, chocolate milk, cookies, potato chips galore.  I went to the regular food tent for the gluten free food--found some chili and lots of Larabars to enjoy, along with the chocolate milk!   While biking to the race is fun, it's always the riding the bicycle home that's the issue!  We broke up the ride home with a stop at the local mexican restaurant

The next training run/race was the Wabash Trace Nature Trail Marathon, Half Marathon, Marathon Relay in Southwest Iowa.  Great former railroad bed trail and we were running it on the descent. They had packet pickup on Friday night, with dinner and a speaker from Runners World magazine.  There was also packet pickup on Saturday morning, which was FABULOUs since things went south on Friday and hubby wasn't able to go with me, which meant I left town later than I had planned/needed to in order to get to the pick up then.   Since the race was point to point, they had busses running from the finish town to the marathon town and to the half marathon town early in the morning. It worked out well that a relative was riding the bus, so his car was in the finish town for us afterwards. My car would be in the start town and we could store our race packets/shirts in the car. I headed into the town early to get the packet and get in some prerace running per the coach.

There were a few areas of climbing and enough to make your bum notice, but not enough to make one struggle. . .that's how I recalled running the trace before However, in the race, it was different --as racing always is, right?  We started in the small town, went about twenty feet, turned and immediately started up the snow-sledding hill of the town, then we meandered around until we were at the Wabash Trace on the north side of town and we ran south to Shenandoah for the race. We almost had a 5K under the belt by the time we headed out of town.  It is is nice running a path you've run before, and knowing the surface--gravel/worn asphalt in the town, crushed limestone most of the way on the trail, and with 3 or so miles left it turned to asphalt trail and concrete streets.   It was nice, too, to know I was running this as a training run and not as a race so much. Thus, I didn't mind stopping to pick up the 47¢ laying on the trail !

Various folks were out on the trail, at intersections with roads, cheering us on  and seeing so many friendly faces!  One fabulous woman (WKS) wasn't able to race, and she kindly offered to pick up some oranges for me for a mile marker stop, and then she had grapes too!  It was awesome to see a friendly face, as well as her adorable son with a great cheerleading signs! One was:  

The Trace is mostly tree lined from a time when Earl May and Henry Fields nurseries had train cars moving with seeds in the cars (and some would blow out).  Every once in a while the trees would open up and we would get the nice brisk wind coming from the south.  As we crossed the highway, we passed mile marker 9, traffic was stopped by the sheriff's department, then we had an aid station and a seemingly 'straight shot' to the  finish line. . . I didn't realize we'd come into Shenandoah and turn to the east side of town and we had some climbing to do back there, but still it was a "fairly flat" course regardless of those four or five blocks. As we made a turn and headed north I knew we had to be getting close to the finish line on Sheridan Avenue.  I asked which way we turned at the diagonal street and knew the finish was near so I just kept going past other people, even though I knew I wanted to rest---there'd be time for resting in eight blocks!   An announcer stood at the WCTU historic water fountain and then we turned the corner and pounded pavement for a few more blocks. Great finish line area with 'railroad crossing arms'  for decoration.

Feel free to check out some photos of the race here on Facebook.    I am so glad I didn't run this race last year. I wanted to, in its inaugural race, but wasn't sure of my ability to run a 'training race' with limited time before the Omaha Marathon last  year. I'm glad I didn't as I found out that runnign downhill just makes you want to go faster all the time!

The finish line is near the old Depot in Shenandoah, which is now a restaurant--refreshments for runners were outside and I went in to get a LARGE milk for getting sugar and protein in the body.  Also open, but I didn't get in that day, was the Everly Brothers museum (restored childhood home).

Next on the agenda is a run/walk (walking) Pancreatic Cancer Purple Stride event to honor my mother.

In October, the main goal is Detroit Free Press Marathon, running Detroit, USA and Windsor, Canada.  I have my 'passport card' and am ready to roll. . . or so I think, part of me is still screaming (EEEK) that it's less than a month away!  

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Shrimp pizza and a beautiful sunrise

Tuesday I had wanted to have shrimp for dinner and planned to use Ellie Krieger's  Baked Shrimp with Tomatoes and Feta dish.  We've made this recipe several times since I discovered it in a magazine a few years ago.

I did some grocery shopping and then came home and put my feet up. I didn't really want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Then inspiration hit, and I decided to make the recipe for a pizza. On one prior occasion we thought to make it a pizza, but it was too liquid-y.  I had the regular Chebe roll mix on hand and used that for the crust, rather than the pizza crust as I didn't want the pre-seasoned mix to not compliment the feta/dill seasonings.

I sauteed half a red onion and three good size portabello mushrooms (which have potassium as well as Vitamin D), added in the full garlic the recipe called for and then added just one can of diced tomatoes.  I added about two tablespoons of dried parsley and a tablespoon of dried Dill.  I brought that up to a boil so the liquid would reduce. Then I added in the medium size shrimp to cook up a bit.

While the onions and mushrooms were cooking down  I prepped the Chebe mix. Then, when the product was reducing down, I rolled out the dough on parchment paper to cook on my pizza stone.  I tried to get most of the tomato mixture on the crust and then place the shrimp on most of one half of the pizza (so the left overs wouldn't have shrimp on it).  Then I placed what feta cheese was left in my house on the top, along with torn pieces of provolone slices. 

Just out of the oven

Dinner is served

In order to make the dinner a little better for us, I sliced up a cucumber. We didn't plant any and our neighbor is getting sick of them, so we are getting some garden fresh cukes for free (yeah!)

Dinner ingredients: Tomatoes, mushrooms, red onions (antioxidants), shrimp, with feta and provolone cheeses, atop with a tapioca crust. Cucumbers.


My return from yoga Tuesday morning brought me the sunrise (off to the right of the photo) with large green katydid-like bug.  The back end is more pointy like a grasshopper.  I'm not sure what this bug is, but we had one on our screen door Monday and this one on the bridge on Tuesday.  

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Awesome pizza

A few weeks ago The Mike and I rode our Big Dummy bikes downtown and browsed the sidewalk sales, before heading to a movie and the grocery store.

We found this Stonewall Kitchen GF pizza crust at the herb store. The store has been there for a few years, but has "daytime" hours so I've never been. . . and we're usually out of town on the weekends. Last night I decided to this mix for dinner. I made a trip to the store especially for Hormel's Turkey Pepperoni, which The Mike had to take back and return since the pepperoni was green--there was a hole in the bag. I just grabbed one off the shelf. I suppose in the future I should check to ensure there is still an air in the bag.   
The directions were pretty basic as far as making a bread goes.  I added the yeast to warm water, along with the sugar for the yeast to feed upon. Then put all the ingredients in the mixer. I decided to try to the bread hook (which I haven't used since 2006) on the mixer and it worked divinely!   
The batter was a little sticky, but held together and was 'sturdy'.  I tossed it on some parchment paper and used the reserved 1T of flour mix to help coat the dough.  After pressing it into a circle, I used the rolling pin to finish the job. 

The box does say it makes one large or two smaller pizzas. I originally went with the "one large" and then realized it wouldn't fit on my Pampered chef pizza stone. I cut off about five inches of one side for a 'mini pizza'--although The Mike suggested using it for breadsticks.  I still cannot roll a pizza crust, from scratch, into a circle.  I worked at Pizza Hut in college, I should be able to do so!  

After rolling out,  one is suppose to let the dough rest for twenty minutes in order for the yeast to go to work.

We topped this with Dei Fratelli pizza sauce, it was the first time I had purchased pizza sauce (I usually make my own). Then added bacon, fresh onion, Hormel turkey pepperoni, Canadian bacon, black olives, large cherry tomatoes and fresh shredded cheese.  

Stonewall Kitchen pizza is a definite WIN.  It was crunchy on the bottom where it was on the pizza stone. The dough itself had a great flavor and texture to it.  We will make this again.  The price tag was a bit steep, but knowing that it was so good and made a HUGE pizza crust definitely will lean in the favor of parting with the money. (The website says $9.95, but we paid $7.95!).  

Contents:  Tapioca Starch, Sorghum Flour, Nonfat Dry Milk, Potato Starch, 
White Rice Flour, Corn Starch, Corn Flour, Xantam and 
Guar Gums, Salt, Yeast, Gelatin, Basil and Garlic. 

The pizza was great and Chebe won't be the only pizza mix in the house, but the Stonewall Kitchen brand does contain milk, so it won't be ideal for everyone's home.
As I said, after buying the mix we went to a movie (We're The Millers--hilarious, though lots of foul language) and the grocery store afterwards. We needed to get some Canola Oil mayo (one of the few soy-free brands on the market) as we were about out. 

A few weeks later, I went to get the new bottle of mayo out of the cupboard and didn't find it. I thought maybe it was in the fridge. No, not in there either. I went to The Mike, who was in the garage with the Big Dummy bikes and asked him about the mayo. No, he didn't recall putting it away. He checked the bags on both Big Dummys and came up empty.

It dawned on us that maybe it bumped out of the bike bags and is sitting some where along the nine mile trail system from the grocery store to our house. We learned our lesson and will make sure the grocery bags loops are tied and that we need to secure the loops in the storage area of the bike bags!