Saturday, November 1, 2014

New England and Race 1 of 3.

A long time ago --like back in March/April, six whole months--someone asked me if I was up for back to back races, and I said "Sure".  Then I asked, 'Isn't that Columbus Day weekend? Can't we find a race to do on Monday, too?" Thus was born, "three races, three days".  

"What races", you ask? 

Hartford, CT 26.2
Newport, RI 13.1 
Boston, Mass Tufts 10K for Women 

Fast forward past the summer, and while I had more energy and did get more running in, I wasn't feeling I could do a full, half and a 10K. So I checked into getting the full downgraded to a half.  It had to happen at the expo, while you could defer to next year with an online application. 
[In 2012 I started to get fatigued when running and when living. I backed off a bit after my full in september of 2012 and in 2013 my doctor suggested I just stop running. Well, I tried that and it didn't work.  What did work was doing research, paying attention to my blood draws for the last couple years and realizing my salt and potassium levels were at the low to below normal area.  A racing friend suggested I increase my magnesium as well. I've since discovered it's one of the first minerals to be depleted when we're under stress and I'd been under a lot, first with dehydrating during a marathon, then mom's heart attack and stroke, and trying to be normal. I was having trouble holding positions in yoga that I'd mastered before. For me, increasing my salt, potassium and magnesium helped, and my running is starting to get back on track]

The other decision was to stay out for ten days, instead of just a weekend, to help a friend with her port surgery for chemo.  Prior plans had her hubby doing something else that weekend with one child, the other would have an overnight with a friend.  Friend found a large lump in her breast back in September. While things were progressing rapidly to see if it had spread, once it was determined the cancer had not, things slowed down a little bit. Which is how she came to port placement just about a month after finding the cancer.

Before leaving home, The Mike decided he needed food while I would be gone. I don't know why he couldn't survive off of the energy of the world, and the nurturing love of the cats, but he said he would need food. I've pretty much spoiled him with homecooked meals and all, so he didn't really want to eat fast food every day---I don't blame him for that!   I made up a couple chowders, including Paleo Cupboard's chicken chowder, and the one in the photo below, some mini lasagnas and a couple take-to-work containers of the "impossibly easy taco pie" recipe  
I used Beeler's pork sausage for the chowder. Obviously, no bread bowl.  If this was going to be served, instead of frozen, I'd make Chebe into bread bowls forming the dough over the outside of my small Longaberger mixing bowls and then baking upside down. 
The Felix cat wanted to come along with me. 

Dinner the night before I left: brined pork chops, asparagus and mashed potatoes.
I dissolved 1T salt with a cup of warm water, into a container large enough to hold the porkchops, added more water, covered, and refrigerated for several hours.  The mashed potatoes are Yukon Golds that were diced and tossed into boiling water, then mashed with a hand masher, and had butter, milk and sour cream added--topped with a small amount of cheese. The asparagus was put in a glass container, with water for cover, a pinch of salt and microwaved on the 'cook, vegetables, fresh' setting. 
Sadly, it's a sign of how long we've been married that while we were eating I realized "oh, carp, tomorrow's our anniversary.  Honey, I forgot to get you a card."  The Mike answered, "me, too".  Love you lots!  :-)
Seeing me off at the airport.
Why pay for parking when you dreamy one can take you to the flight?
Flying Delta, I was once again in Detroit airport for changing flights.  I was here just in June and had no recollection of seeing this service area, but it answered a question I had long had about those dogs who serve and fly. In case you're like me: here's your answer to the question you may never have known you were asking. 
Thursday night was an intriguing night. We had gotten take out for an easy dinner/easy night, but then the one kid in the house who shouldn't have done so, consumed his allergen. Off to the ER they go--freaking out-- and I'm at the house freaking out.  All was well and they were home by 3am. . .just in time for the other little ones to wake up at 7am. Yeah!  Thank goodness for caffeine!  

Multiple road trip stops and a beautiful road we came across (above), we finally got to Connecticut.  Since I was busy, apparently staring off into space, I missed the actual sign along the interstate. I made the driver do a U-turn at Rhode Island so I could get the CT picture.  Et, voila:    

The expo was actually much smaller than I had expected. We found parking in a ramp, and appeased the kids by "going way up" to the top level/sunshine.  The skywalk was open to the expo center.  I got my race changed from 26.2 to 13.1 quite easily, picked up the beautiful blue and soft/cozy race shirt, and then explored the shopping. 

Fun with the electric company booth.  They had a static electricity machine and were excited to see a red headed boy approach the booth. 
Fun fact: Red hair stands super fast compared to other color hair. They don't know why. 
We meandered around and found the race course map--always think it's fabulous when races have a large map on display. 

You'd have thought I'd have paid attention to the up and down graph at the bottom.
Nope. Completely didn't pay attention to this! 
Pretty much the motto for the weekend.  Fearless. #261.  Kathrine Switzer.
Female running hero.
After the expo, we got lunch at a deli.  I shouldn't have asked for the receipt. . . originally was charged $2.61 instead of $12.61 and he caught it when he gave me the receipt. Drat!  I'm always honest though, so I'd have said something.

We then needed to run off the energy of the little ones and found this 'awesome' park on google for Hartford.  We *finally* found it (it was touted as a huge playground with ADA items).  We even passed by a playground in order to search for this one. 

We found. . . this: 
As we sat in the parking lot in disbelief, we brought up google again and found that the playground was closed in July 2014.  It was completely stripped. Probably for safety, but it was disappointing.   Thus, we headed back to the park we had passed by before. It had this wicked monstrous oak tree.  
Can you spy the little humans? 
I decided to climb on the ground touching limb, but was afraid to climb too high the day before a race! 

The park had handicap accessible equipment, and we all loved the merry-go-round

Afterwards, we stopped at a shopping center with a Walgreens and Whole Foods, both needed. First to the drug store and then to WF, where I stocked up on their Tanka bar supply---realizing I didn't pack enough of these great protein stick snacks for ten days. 
That night, we split dinner among the group. I made Annie's mac and cheese, others had Sonic take-out.  Up and at 'em race morning --- a sad moment when I woke up and heard 'drip drip drip' outside the lodging.  It was even sadder when I realized my phone hadn't charged overnight (the outlet I chose didn't work apparently).  No morning pics, no race pics,no course pics and no stopping to take pics along the way, no MP3 player either. I decided I'd use my Motoactv watch for the music instead of a timing piece.   

Gear:  I was wearing an Athleta relay skort, my "cancer fighting" tank (purple for Pancreatic Cancer awareness), and my semi technical fabric shirt from the Detroit race last year. I figured it'd be fine to 'throwaway' this "in training" shirt.  I also had my visor on to help keep the rain off the face. (Shout out to Carla for that knowledge) 
Prerace, pre-'hair contained' photo. 
What did I do instead?  I enjoyed the race! Well, enjoyed it once I got running.   Parking was where we had parked the day before, and the XL center/Veteran's center was open on the outside area so people could use the restrooms (so nice!).  It was a damp morning, not really cold but just a light constant sprinkle (45 degrees).  After the pit stop, I followed everyone else to the Bushnell Park area, walked beside the "Gate"/Arch, and then saw all the tents for the finish area---but where was the start area?  A need to look at the area and try to figure it out was necessary. While there were plenty of runners around we were everywhere, so it was hard to tell where the start area was, which meant more walking trying to find a start line, or starting area.  Walking around I found the finish line area and saw a huge tanker vehicle displaying signage of "drinking water" which piqued my curiosity. I hadn't seen something like that since the 1993 midwest flood, when I was in the hospital in Des Moines and the Nat'l Guard vehicles were outside ensuring water for patients like myself.  a little further up the road, on a sidewalk, was a NYPD van set up on leveling equipment. This was also near the finish line area, and piqued my curiosity---something that was answered when I finished the race.  Up the road a little further and 'ah, there are the pacers'.  They were sheltering under the Bushnell Memorial Theater overhang, so I figured to stay near them and I'd be in the starting area shortly. I had been talking with a handful of women in the dry area, including one who was running for her friend, who has MS, another who was running a half in each state, and another who was running her first half marathon.  After about half an hour of chatting with people, we moved to the line and I edged up to the 2:30 area. I was aiming for this, and it'd be my fastest half since 2012.
Getting up to the start of my first East coast race is invigorating, so much energy and enthusiasm, even for a wet race start. Thanks to one of the ladies I'd talked to, I was now worried about slipping on the wet pavement, but I had no butterflies to worry about.  A police officer, with a baritone voice, sang the Anthem. I found a flag high above the nearby capitol building. At first, it was hanging straight down, wet with rain and no wind. As the officer sang the song, the flag seemed to lift up and was soon flapping in the wind, almost straight out. It was so magical and I took it as a good omen.  

Soon the race started with the elites, and then the rest of us. One thing I had never thought to worry about was all the garbage sacks on the ground/race course. You know, the ones runners had been using to stay warm and apparently they had no concerns about others in the race slipping on them.  After high stepping for the first two blocks to get past the trash on the course, I was settling into the run. I knew we were all going out too fast--couldn't verify that since I wasn't using my watch for speed/time--- and I tried to pace myself back from all the speedsters. I had 13.1 miles to enjoy.  We turned a corner and went up a longer hill and then down a bit and somewhere in here, in the first mile or so, we split from the marathoners. I was surprised it was so early on in the race. Then I just concentrated on the run, the weather, the pavement and my stride. After a couple miles, my lungs and legs had warmed up and I was opening up my run and feeling much better about the day. I was walking some of the tops of hills along the beginning of the course, and a few throughout the rest of the race.  I had thought I'd shed the Detroit shirt, but it was doing a fabulous job of keeping my skin warm, and not chilled; plus, it was fun to hear spectators yell "go Detroit".  Even with driving the city before, I didn't really pay attention to the landscape. There was plenty of constant "rollers", the up/down movement. At first I didn't like it, but there came a section of the race where it was better to be constantly engaging the whole body with that movement, rather than the flat areas.   As with any race, I am continuously surprised by the runners who just stop running where they're at and start walking. "Walkers to the edge" please, especially the ones who 'fly' past and then just stop right in front of me.  I don't understand how they do that.   Soon we were running some of the area we had driven around the previous day and it was fun to take a slower paced view at some of the green parks, big trees, gorgeous homes. We ran past a small old/colonial home with a graveyard in the front yard. I stopped to run over and see what that was about. It was a Quaker meeting house, era 17th/18th century.  We ran past the Harriet Beecher Stowe house and  the Mark Twain house about mile 12, up a long hill. 

As I got to the last four miles or so of the course, I was thinking more about the spectators, the sheer number of them on the course, all over the course, and the number of people in Hartford Marathon jackets.  So many had the cowbells.  My understanding is the race people gave the cowbells to the citizens along the course to get them out there cheering and excited for the racers who would disrupt their weekend mornings.  I saw several people with a couple in their hands and about mile 11 I asked someone for one of hers. She tossed it to me. It's beat up and well used for the race, and a great souvenir for a runner.  I was feeling good, and thought I'd be close to 2:35 for my finish time. Once we runners got to the top of that hill it seemed like it was a downhill, around a corner, through an area we'd already run at the start, then up the hill, through the Bushnell Sailors and Soldiers Memorial Gate, and up slightly to the finish line!  Woo!  I was a few minutes slower than I thought I'd be, but it was okay. It was slightly slower than my last half in September, but I felt so fabulous about THIS course. It was rolly, not flat, it was raining, but great cool weather for running. I was Happy with my run!   

That drinking water vehicle? It was connected to a long PVC pipe lined with water faucet "bubbler"  heads for runners post race as we came through the finish line.  The NYPD vehicle on the corner sidewalk? The top popped up to be an eye in the sky.   Runners went to the end of the block, still within the finish chute area, and then we turned to the left, and got finisher water bottles prefilled, and our medals. We were ushered into Bushnell Park and I was reunited with my friend. We had some fun with a couple of tents, but bypassed the food tent for the really long line and figuring there was no gluten free food in there. 
(A few days later I found that if I had just had the time to read the magazine book before the race, I'd have known there was GF food in the tent, though I don't know what kind, maybe just fruit?)

Post race
Thankfully I was able to get out of the wet clothes pretty quickly.  I fixed up my Tera's Whey protein powder for a quick fix, and then we headed out, first turning up the heat to the highest temp and the mid-high vent speed, plus turning on seat warmers (who was the genius who thought of those?), and we were road tripping over to Rhode Island. 

The pretty medal, 13.1 style. 
We were heading down the road and stopped at Dunkin' Donuts to get a hot chocolate for me.  Then I set to work using the Find Me Gluten Free app and found a pizza place coming up in Colchester,CT:  The Plum Tomato.  We walked into a cozy place with exposed wood, were seated by a friendly waitress and-first things first-we ordered hot tea to warm up our hands and our insides, as by this time my teeth were chattering, and an order of the gluten free breadsticks. 
Oh, wait, I need to take a picture of these! 
I got a red sauce GF pizza with pepperoni, riccota cheese, spinach and black olives. 
The tablemate's gluten free sandwich
Our bodies fueled and again warm, we got on the road and headed east. I found that there are no straight roads anywhere in the east. They zig this way, then zag that way, have a four or five way intersection with roads not quite meeting at the intersection. No shoulders on most roads, though those that are more 'main drags' have a shoulder of a foot or so. It reminded me of when people said, 'You're going to do races in multiple states' and I replied, "They're east coast states. You know, three of them would fit inside the outline of my state. It's not like the places are going to be five, six hours apart.'   While the places might only have been ninety minutes apart, the drive on meandering roads seemed to take much longer than that. 
Into Rhode Island
Race 2, Post 2 to follow. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Recipes: Mac and cheese---Real Simple recipe put to the test. Faux Chicken Pot Pie

Do you remember the creaminess of homemade mac and cheese? 

I have news for you. You can have it again!

I'm heading out of town for the weekend and made up some dishes for The Mike. 
I gave The Mike some options for the casseroles and he said, "I would never turn down mac and cheese".   He can pair any of these with fresh veggies, a spinach salad and some grapes.
He will also have some left over lasagna from yesterday and the faux chicken pot pie below. 

I also made a chicken pot pie--of sorts--where you use mashed potatoes on the bottom. 
Then the filling just sits in a well in that. I've had this recipe for a while too, Feb of 2009 was at the top of the printout, but no name as to who it was from, but by googling the name and glutenfree/dairy free I was able to find that it is a Rachel Ray recipe.
I took one out of the freezer to show ya.
I'm not sure I'll make it again,but will let The Mike be the judge of that. 
You don't bake the finished product.

Boil potatoes (1.25 pounds, I used four larger Yukon Gold ones)
1 cloves garlic, mashed
5T olive oil
2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 small onion
1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 cups chicken broth
1 c frozen peas/carrots
1 cup broccoli florets
2 T cornstarch
1 tsp dijon

I thick wedge sliced the potatoes and left the skin on, then boiled them. Next time, I'd only use 3/4 to 1 pound of potatoes. I had plenty left over.  The store was out of "peas and carrots" so I used, peas, and carrots, and greenbeans. 

I cooked the chicken broth in a covered skillet with 1T of oil and about 1/3 cup of water. Then removed the breasts to the cutting board and added in my cheater method of the day--dried diced onion. I don't use it very often, but didn't feel like cutting up an onion yesterday.  I let them absorb some of the moisture in the pan, and then added in minced garlic and the thyme.   Let that cook for a couple of minutes. Add 1.5  cups of broth to the pan and bring to a boil. Add the veggies, stir,and cook for a couple of minutes. 
While that's going on, add the other 1/2 cup of broth to the cornstarch in a separate bowl. Let the cornstarch become dissolved, then add to the pan and stir until thickened. 
  **Next time: I actually would use more broth, like 3 cups or so, to have a good sauce at the end**
I used three separate containers for the frozen dishes for The Mike. I put some of the potatoes in each one, and smoothed them around/up the edges, creating a bit of a dip/well in the middle. Then I added in the diced chicken in each, making it even for each serving. On top of that I put a couple ladles of veggies and then went back and put some broth sauce in each one as well. I'd want more sauce if I was going to do this again, but I think the same amount of cornstarch would be okay. I let them cool, then lidded and froze the containers. 

Just out of the oven
I have had this recipe since November 2006. How do I know this?  It's from Real Simple magazine and says so on the edge.  I have made homemade mac and cheese before, from scratch and from a recipe.  However, I have no recollection of ever having made this recipe. Thus, it's a shocker I still have it in my collection! 

Funny thing, the recipe in the link is the same one from the magazine, except the one online says to bake at 400º and the recipe from the November magazine says to bake at 350º. I think the thing that would happen at 400 is that the top would get a little more done. 

The recipe originally calls for: 

1 pound elbow macaroni
5T unsalted butter (plus more for buttering your baking casserole dish)
1/2 c all purpose flour
6 c milk (whole or low fat)
1 1/2 cups (6oz) Cheddar Cheese
2 cups (8oz) Gruyere cheese
1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional). 

I used Fontina cheese, as I couldn't find Gruyere in the stores.  It has a slightly nutty flavor. I also used sharp cheddar cheese, but you could use medium or mild as well.  My flour was 1/4 c tapioca flour, plus a few tablespoons of sorghum flour. I added an additional 1T of corn starch to some cold milk and used that to help thicken as well.  I boiled the pasta for 10 minutes instead of the 15-16 that it called for. Even then, it was still just about done-done and probably could have been 9 minutes instead, knowing it was going to bake for 25 minutes as well. 

After making this dish, for an 8x8 casserole pan and for 16oz of Tinkyada pasta, I'd change the recipe to the following for 1 pound of pasta (I bolded the changed measurements) 

1 pound elbow macaroni
4T unsalted butter (plus more for buttering your baking casserole dish)
1/3 c all purpose flour
4 c milk (whole or low fat)
1 cups (6oz) Cheddar Cheese
1 3/4 cups (8oz) Gruyere cheese
1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional).

My other thought was to use 1 1/2 packages of the pasta, and use a 9x13 pan instead.  

Yes, I had a "catcher" pan in the oven from the lasagna yesterday,
and used it 'just in case' for the mac and cheese
Sorry, no other pictures while I was making it.  Running two pans and then trying to get the pasta cooked just right enough tasking for me!  

I started out with two pans, one for cooking the pasta in and the other for the sauce. If you have two large pans of the same size, I'd recommend that. 

When the pasta had been boiling for a couple minutes, I started on the sauce. I melted the butter and microwaved the milk (in a glass container) for a minute or so to take the chill off of it. I didn't want it to get too shocked in the hot pan and curdle. I added the tapioca and sorghum flour to the pan of butter to make a roux--the flour and butter will create a thick cream --sort of the consistency of sour cream, you can still stir it, but it's not watery).  

After a couple minutes of the sauce being thick, I added the milk and stirred until the roux was incorporated in the milk. I added the salt, pepper and cayenne pepper at this time. Then I added the cornstarch/milk mixture and stirred to get it to a thicker state. I had about two minutes left on the pasta timer at this stage and slowly added the grated cheese, alternating with adding a handful, stirring until melted, repeating.  Once the cheese was all added and melted, I drained the pasta, rinsed that pan (which was the larger of the two), put the pasta back in the pan and then poured the sauce on top.  I realized there was going to be too much sauce and had to stop pouring--that was tricky. 

I probably could have put all the pasta and sauce in the 8x8 but I didn't want it to overflow/bubble over in the oven, so I used the small Longaberger mixing bowl as well. Great bowls, as they can be used in the microwave or oven, or used for sides of veggies or fruit on the table. 


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Traveling--uncertainties, differences in attitude

Last week I did some traveling across the country. Before I left I made The Mike some frozen food items to last him a few days--cause I'm an awesome wife like that.  *fine* it's because he asked this of me, and, because he doesn't put demands upon me, I said yes. 

Day 1. 
I was headed from the Midwest to the East Coast with a friend and her five year old.  Our first stop for lunch was Culver's.  This is a great chain that makes awesome custard and, while their chocolate custard use to be off limits, they've apparently changed their recipe, as it is now listed in the allergen menu as gluten free :-)  YES!  I haven't been to one in quite a while for a couple reasons. First, it's about $10 and for me, that always seems a bit high for a burger, no bun, or a salad, and I can always make a similar meal at home. Second, I no longer work near the one in my city.  I was excited to see the Cranberry Bacon Blue Salad with grilled chicken was still on the gluten free menu, which I ordered.  I was excited to see they now had a "gluten free" button on their computers!
I don't usually get dressing as most are made with soy, which I have to avoid as well, and on this particular salad, the bleu cheese offers good flavor with the cranberries so that additional dressing is not needed. The butter side was for a slice of my bread--I took half a loaf of breadmachine bread with me for the four days.

The next snack/meal time was a quick break after visiting a cemetery. I had a slice of my bread with the sliced turkey and a slice of provolone I had brought along in my friend's small cooler.  This was good, as the next stop was going to be a while :-)  We got a call from another friend, and were offered space at the Great Wolf Lodge in Sandusky, Ohio. We had a ways to move it before we got there. We estimated arrival at 11pm or so. We got there about midnight--Eastern. Being not familiar with the interstate in Indiana, we missed the exit for the Wendys and ended up stopping at an "oasis" on the tollway---it's a gas station and restaurant along the toll, instead of having to pay to get off the toll and head into a town.  This Oasis had a McDonalds, so it was a turkey sandwich again!  Time to recharge the phone at the McDonald's booth, take out the contact lenses, and then head on down the road.  We did fairly well, with light traffic. I ended up falling asleep for about half an hour, but it was all good--I was the passenger and I woke up before we headed into our destination town. Seemed quaint at night and spied an Outback I was sure we'd visit in the next day.  We were exhausted, but looked forward to a "no drive" Friday.

Day 2.  
I got up and headed to the hotel gym thinking I'd get my 7.5 miles in the coach prescribed.  Why are hotel gyms always so warm? with no fans?  Ugh.  I had almost a mile in and was watching CNN, catching up on world news, when another guest came in and got on the elliptical.  Squeak, squeak, squeak came with every movement of his machine. I couldn't tune it out, no matter how much I tried.  I decided to head out on the open road, and found the mall just down the road. I figured a lap around would be a mile and I could get the rest of my miles in.  I was just about done with my first lap when an old green car came to a stop on the access road behind me.  I could hear the sudden nonmovement of the vehicle, stopped to turn around and glance ---a lady has to be aware of her surroundings at all times!  The car just floored it and sped away down the road.  Let's say I was freaked out, fully. I texted my friend that I was coming back ( in case something happened to me along the way) and headed back to the hotel.  I felt really bad I wasn't getting the miles in--at least I did until I spent six/seven hours in the water park running up the steps to the waterslides with the kids and working up my nerves to slide down the tubes.  Up the stairs, back down again.  Later that night and Saturday morning my thighs and glutes felt as if I'd run a half marathon or more.

Breakfast was at the Lodge with an awesome waitress. After she marked on the slip that I was gluten and soy free, she handed me the slip to mark what I wanted in my omelet. Then I had the fresh fruit that was on the buffet. They also had gluten filled pancakes, danishes, cereals.  Each table was served a 'family style' plate of hashbrowns and bacon.  Spinach, mushroom, tomato and cheese omelet that seemed as if it was cooked in water, as there was no sheen to the eggs, as one would expect with an oil.

Lunch was at a different Lodge restaurant, with the same waitress, who remembered I was gluten free (and I had to remind her of soy).  I had a hamburger with a gluten free bun!!!! and a side of broccoli.  No one wanted to take their cell phones to the waterpark to leave them at a table, so I have no photo.

Back to the waterpark for more fun and then we headed out to . . . . OUTBACK.  I just knew we'd be dining here. It's our go-to place when there's one available. We had the  best ever waitress!  Or at least, the best we've had in a very long time.  Kind, funny, engaging, sympathetic to the kiddos, and brought gluten free butter for those of us who needed it, and she brought small packages of animal crackers to the kids at the table.  I had the Alice Springs Chicken without the mustard sauce (the waitress checked and it contained soy), the garlic mash potatoes (omg, those are so good, why haven't I had them before?), and the veggies.

Day 3.
Saturday, we headed to the breakfast room of the Lodge and had a different waitress.  This one wasn't engaging, and she just plain refused to write 'soy and gluten free' on the omelet slip.  She said, 'there's nothing that should contain those in the omelet'.  I asked 'what about the butter?'   She said,'It's an oil mixture'.  ARGH.  My omelet came and it had a sheen as if it was made in oil this day rather than the appearance of the one the day before. I had to decide. Did I want to eat this and risk a soy issue in half an hour, or starve.  I took a chance and apparently it must have been cooked in real butter, as I had no issues.  I really had no idea what was up with this waitress that she just couldn't even write 'soy/gluten free' on the omelet slip. BIG attitude.  Sad.

We headed out and did a few stops trying to see Lake Erie to be able to walk along its shores. Apparently this is quite impossible from Sandusky Ohio eastward.  Private access is all we found --so different from being at the beach in Hawai'i.  We stopped for lunch at Wendy's--a place I haven't been to in years for no other reason that it's not in a part of my town I travel to very often, and if I'm going to eat a hamburger in my own town, it'll be one I make. I checked the nutrition/allergy menu posted and then made my order:  a double with cheddar cheese, no bun, lettuce, tomato, and a side salad, along with a small chocolate Frosty. The manager was in back making the food for everyone, and the order taker was new, so she had to ask him on how to put the order into the computer. I was quite satisfied this was going to be a good meal--and it was. 

We headed on our drive southeast and found a McDonalds late afternoon for some ice cream/bathroom break. Then had a lovely drive along Tappen Lake in Ohio.  The road meanders along the edge, taking us out over the water, and then back along the shore.  Beautiful drive, though it did cost us some travel time to do so. 
Tappen Lake Dam--and you can drive across the dam road!
We drove through Cadiz, and discovered this is where Clark Gable was born. #ThingsWeNeverThoughtAboutButFoundInteresting. 

As we were getting to West Virginia, we decided to get fuel in Wheeling, although we had enough to go for a while, but we took the detour around town and missed out on the cheap fuel on the non-detour route.  I didn't know about the town of Wheeling, or really how West Virginia came to be, except it was a Civil War decision.  Later I read a fiction book that also mentioned Wheeling, so I gave into temptation and used Wikipedia.  Turns out, West Virginia counties broke free from Virginia during the civil war and, from what was posted, without a majority of counties agreeing to do so (though I thought this was odd).  I still find it odd that the little portion between Ohio and Pennsylvania doesn't belong to either of those two states. 

Later on down the road--well, clear across the top portion of WV, into Pennsylvania where fuel is more expensive, down into WV again, and then just before the start of Maryland, we needed a restroom break and were getting close to needing fuel, so we pulled off just before the MD border, as a storm was brewing. No sooner than we get to the stop sign at the off ramp than a giant bolt of white lightning, with a couple skinny side bolts, sets off down the road where we'd have been if we had stayed on the Interstate.  We headed to the gas station, only to discover the pumps weren't working from that same lightning blast (told you it was close).  My friend headed in to use the restroom while I watched her son and tried to call The Mike.  I was inside when I got a voice mail message from The Mike saying to call him.  (Depending on location, sometimes the calls go right to voicemail when I'm roaming, this is one time where that wasn't good).  Turns out The Mike was on a gravel bike ride with several gents, they'd taken a break on a gravel road in the shade of some trees, were off their bikes, when a truck rolled from the top of the hill down towards them. Most got out of the way, one bike was destroyed when it became lodged under the vehicle. The Mike was fine, but a friend was tossed into the ditch (he is fine too), the guys all sprung into action with cell phones snapping pictures of the license plate, vehicle, and bike lodged underneath. However, he fled the accident. Due to RAGBRAI occurring in the same state, in the same area, dispatch originally thought it was a RAGBRAI injury, which it wasn't---just some random guys out for a bike ride on a gravel road who were rolled into by a drunk dude in a truck.

Thankfully, there was walking room in the gas station, and tables to sit down at after I was off the phone with The Mike.  So scary to have this happen, but knowing it wasn't as bad as it could have been.  

The gas station had regular food for friend and her child, and I grabbed a bottle of SmartWater and a can of sardines in olive oil --who'd have thought they'd have this at an almost rural gas station, or that the two combined would be less than one of the items in Iowa?  The can of sardines held me over. Turns out I wasn't too hungry after The Mike's news!

Refueled, we headed on to push through Maryland to the destination of Virginia.  The rest was uneventful, except for the hard rain that fell, requiring us to drive 40-55mph instead of 70mph, and delayed us arriving until. . . midnight. Apparently that's our favorite time for rolling into towns!  

Day 4. 

Fly home day.  My purpose in this trip was to keep a friend company on her drive back home, and that was accomplished.  Before I headed to the airport, I was treated to homemade chocolate gluten free donuts (and I got the recipe from her), had some packed for the layover I'd have, and then I headed to the airport. My first time flying American Airlines in quite some time and I have to say I enjoyed it immensely.  Loved their terminal at DC National and in Chicago, and loved the fact that they enforced the size of the carry-on luggage. Mine didn't make the cut, so it was checked through to my destination, which meant when I got to Chicago for my three hour layover, I was able to --delightedly--do walking laps without having to wheel my luggage around.  I also experienced the yoga room  at the airport and enjoyed some movements. No one else was in the room. Several mats were available, along with cleaning wipoes,  cubbies and hooks for your belongings, and a television playing calming music and random scenes of the city. 

Also at the airport was green room of sorts, and several healthy food stations in the various terminal wings. It was quite refreshing to see so many options, instead of just fast food or bar food. 

Soon I was home again, and able to give The Mike a big hug for his experiences on Saturday, reassure myself he was okay, and just veg out for a while.  I was exhausted!

Traveling can be a bit daunting at first, but when you're prepared with snacks and a few things to get you through in a pinch, it can be so much more relaxing for you, the gluten free, special diet traveler.  Plan a bit, don't have unrealistic expectations, consult with a smart phone app such as "Find Me Gluten Free".  The child with us?  He has a (epi-pen) peanut allergy--watching out for his needs was much more important than my gluten and soy free, adult needs. I had snacks I could have to hold me over. Try making a five year old wait is impossible :-)  Luckily, he was raised to enjoy real food, unprocessed, and would eat a whole watermelon at one sitting if his parents would let him.

Enjoy your day, and remember that your outlook at the moment impacts how you react to the world.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Sometimes it's gluten and sometimes it's not. Birthday, race, and food

The last of one age group category. . .

The 12th of July I was pumped up for my last race in one age bracket.  I'd be turning a 'zero' birthday a few days later. I had my things laid out the evening before. Figured I'd ride my bike over to the race start.  Morning came and with it, rain, which was in the forecast.  I decided to still ride my bike over. Just as I was getting ready to leave the garage, a lightning bolt cracked and I said, "nope, I'm driving".  Sure, you can call me a chicken if you want :-).

The energy of the race as fabulous. It was a new event in my area, strictly a 10k. Cool weather was a plus at the start and the race followed the recreational trails in the area. This meant we went through tree lined areas. During the hot summer months it normally is grand. During mosquito infested times with no breeze and humidity, it is not.  I finished in 1:09:42 which was better than my first ever 10K, but I know it's not my best time. It's hard to get the mind around, "I was faster than this four years ago, but I haven't been in that position for four years. THIS is you NOW."  It's a mantra I repeat often. THIS is me NOW.  I cannot compare myself to what I did before, if my health has changed, or I got a bug or something, and no one else can either. Plus, I like to think mom was watching over me and the race. The finish time numbers correlate to her.

My "zero" birthday cake
Betty Crocker chocolate cake mix, two 8" rounds,
with Hershey s'mores palm oil/gluten free icing 
This past weekend I went to a county fair --you can take the gal off the farm, but she will still be a farm girl at heart.  I loved seeing the bovines (cows/steers), the chickens and rabbits, but the goats make me laugh. 

Goats living up to the reputation of trying to nibble anything.
Saturday morning I was up with the birds and sun. Headed out for a short run.  This was near my turn around spot. I will never understand how people say they could never live in the country.  The colors of the sky were even better in person. 

Old fence piece left from cattle days. 
Saturday breakfast was King Arthur GF pancakes, scrambled eggs, and bacon.  I realize as I write this that we didn't have any fruit on the table!  The nieces and nephews (and brother in laws) got Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls that my sis made.  WHY can't those things be made gluten free? 

Lunch was a catered event, a family reunion, and I had fruit!--ha ha.  Roast beast(GF), steamed veggies (GF), and a fruit platter (GF). Very delicious, though I wanted a bit of that hashbrown cheesy gluten dish!  

After chatting with family for a few hours and playing with the niece and nephews, I was out of energy.

Sometimes it isn't gluten. . .  

Headed to dad's to rest for a bit and then went back to town for dinner with the siblings. I had the Fajitas Hawaiian and am not sure what was the issue, but something was later that night.  I didn't double check the tortillas if they were corn or wheat, but usually gluten hits me 24 hours later, soy within 30 minutes, but this was a few hours later.  It might have been the chorizo, it might have been the oil used, it might have been the greasy food, it might have been. . . . The hardest thing for us to figure out what we ate is when we don't know how it was prepared.  I was dehydrated, but otherwise feeling fine and no issues besides that hour block there and a bit in the morning, so it definitely wasn't gluten (which for me is three days of torture).  It might have been the oil or the fat content of the dish.  

The first of a new age group category. 

Sunday morning came and with it SUNSHINE again.  My siblings and I decided to do the 5k/10k in a nearby county.  About 30 people started and most were not from the immediate area--which we found interesting/funny.  At the start, I was walking with one down the few blocks of main street until the crushed limestone trail came into view. Then I ran off to try to catch the other sibling--I did. She had knee surgery a few months ago and is suppose to be taking it easy.  I did stay with her, and figured this was a fun run event, not a race really, though it was to be my first race after turning the 'zero' birthday. [I figured it was okay to take it a slow and easy this day, since I was dehydrated from the night before.] It was great to talk with the sister one on one and once her knee got use to the rhythm again, we did run/walk the course. Time was about thirty minutes slower than last weekend, but bonding and friendship is priceless.  

Near the start of the race.

The race was followed by a luncheon grill-out at dad's, steak, salad, cukes with dill, grapes, ice cream and gf birthday cake for the dad's "zero" birthday.  

Monday, June 23, 2014

Kansas. Dirty Kanza finish, home to Iowa.

Oh, the land and wide skies call!  
Driving south, the herds. 
Art on the ranch.  Metal cutouts of rancher and cattle

Getting closer to Emporia, heading east. 
Hay storage system 
Back in Emporia and the day's not over yet!  almost 30,000 steps and 3,000 calories. No wonder I was starving.
Gorgeous clouds  tinted by the setting sun's colors. A few riders are coming in for their finish. 
The Mike at the finish. 
The Mike didn't finish before sunset. He said he'd been feeling well up to the last town stop and then the the energy departed.  He finished well, and truly worn, with dirt attaching to his sweat and sunscreen.

He has his Jimmy Johns unwich in his hand--the shop is right across the street from the finish!
Dorm room pics :-)   Race shirt --in my favorite colors. 
We headed over to the community center in Emporia for the after race breakfast and award ceremony. The local Lions club was hosting the breakfast--biscuits, gravy, and o.j.  Mike's ticket was included in the race, but we paid for mine. Had known of the sign below ahead of time,  I would have taken along some other items to eat. 

After the awards ceremony, we checked out of the dorms and headed to a local restaurant on Route 50 south of town, near the factories.  We'd been here a few years ago at 1am after a race finish, and knew they had good food. It's under new ownership now, friendly service, and they were fine with my request of butter, not oil for the eggs, and both waitresses offered to toast my UDIs bread I took in.  ( I didn't have them toast it, but it was the thought that counts). 
Good food. Omelet, hashbrowns and jelly for my UDI's bread! 
I spy- a face in the clouds
Hello Missouri!
Via Highway 36

Old school -retro-vintage hotel sign art.
Highway 36 west of Cameron, MO a few miles.

My reward for a half marathon with a finish time longer than I expected---my first bruised toenail in three or four years.  

Last weekend in DC my sister took me to get a pedicure. I warned the guy about my still tender toenail 19 days after the fact.  He wasn't too gentle at the start, but when he removed my nail polish and saw the purple under the nail, he was much more gentle with the toe! 
Friday night I realized my toe nail was no longer next to the bed and that there was just air in there. Instead of having it possibly get caught on something, or have my sock/shoe combo when I run pull on the nail, I decided to trim it off. ta-da:  9 nicely painted toes with OPI's Purple with a Purpose nail pols