Wednesday, September 9, 2015

A series of setbacks!

Typical beginning of the month behavior for me, as well as most runners is to mull over the previous month and contemplate what went well and what could have been better.

When I think back on August it was pretty much what I expected in the running department. However, September seems to be off to a very strange start!

I ran almost 100 in August miles which is fine. The weather was hot, and I was busy. My training (although I hesitate to call it that as, per my admitted norm, it wasn't too structured) was a kind of all over the place! Towards the months end I found myself in a pleasant routine, and was looking forward to more consistency and cooler temps in September.

Well. WELL. It has been hot as balls. SO HOT. Like, 90 for days and days on end and just as humid as can be. So strike one for September.

TOP: when it was cold. Bottom: when it is HOT.
STRIKE TWO. 10 days ago I was out bopping along in the last mile of an easy run when I fucked up my hamstring. BOOM. I had been suffering from some back issues during the previous week and think I may have set my personal path of destruction at that time.
I cautiously finished that particular run, iced and left things alone for a couple of days- other than some gentle rolling and stretching.
Not much improvement had been made by weeks end so I decided to stay away from running until this brutal weather breaks. At this point, if I run on a funky leg I will totally screw my fall marathon season. Nobody dies from taking 4 or 5 or 3985769 days off and that is what I'm doing!
(I'm a bit bummed that I have continued to feel some serious twinges from the pesky leg- my job has had me on my feet for 12 hour stretches for quite a few days so "rest" is relative. It's ok though, it will heal!)

In all honesty I am not too bothered by this minor setback. I'm being smart about it and doing the things (ice, gentle yoga, NOT running) that will have me back out there soon. And honestly, it is too damn hot!

And speaking of setbacks and trying to overcome them (this is horse stuff, feel free to exit now!)
I have my final long weekend of equine showing next week and that's another interesting situation!
We had finished up an incredible early summer show season when the little beast hurt his dainty little back (he most likely hurt it while being naughty and sassy... as horses often do!) He is not one to suck it up and bravely march forward while uncomfortable so we had a stretch of (what can best be described as) shit training while I figured out what was bothering him. Then he got to go see the fancy Vet who gave him the kind of care that he also dishes out to the top horses in the sport. Lucky pony! (I have wrapped this up in a couple tidy sentences. Describing the whole situation would take too long. So in short: horse hurt, acts bad, sees vet, is better :-))

Yeah, Serious Vet Stuff
I'm happy to say that he is back on his feet so to speak. We lost quite a bit of time during this debacle and I got to spend 7 weeks doing the kind of slightly depressed contemplation that only dressage riders with one horse can understand. When your partner is down and out you get a bit stuck, and spend too much time pondering the endless possibilities (most of which end up as you playing the horseless rider forever and literally drowning in your own tears. JESUS what the hell!!!!?? Dramatic!) I was plenty busy teaching a boat load of wonderful students and I got in plenty of riding time on a parade of 11 hand ponies that needed fixing but it wasn't the sameeeeeeee and I was so saddddddd. FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS I know.

Anyway. All of my riding friends know what I'm saying.

The thing about competitive sports is that you are constantly being humbled by either your own fragility or (in this case) your horses. I have been in this place before- plenty of times but never before as a one horse rider. I have made the choice to limit the number of horses that I own for "personal use" at this point in my career while I am building up a profitable client base. This is all going well and according to plan but man, does it ever stink when your only little mount has a bunch of issues to get through!
I am very, very happy that he is coming to the other side of this and is back to being comfortable again. There is nothing like 7 weeks of bad issues to make you appreciate the times of good training.
(sorry for the horse stuff, but it is actually what I care about in life haha!)


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Episode 9: Cooking my way through the Runner's World cookbook

I believe from here on out I will use "episode" instead of "week" to mark my installments since this has gone to chaos. While I have been cooking right along I just have not had time to update on the internet- I'll chip away at it!

And yes, there was the week this summer that I/we ate pizza for a week straight. Quite a few different kinds of pizza which was good, and pizza really never gets old to me! (and sometimes, all you have time and/or ingredients for is pizza so you say screw it and go for it, with beer and chocolate as a side dish!)


Mint Potato Salad
Even for me this is a bad pic. Thank heavens I am not an actual real life food blogger because this is atrocious!
Right.... So Potato salad is one of my favorite foods and I appreciate how most are laden with eggs, mayo and ill health. That's my jam. (I am not lying.)
I went into the taste testing of this salad with a positive attitude knowing that it would probably be different and that different can be good.
In the end I was still "MEH" on this one. I'm not sure if it was the overall pungency of the mustard and lemon laden dressing paired with the equally salty/bitter capers or what. Perhaps it just wasn't really my thing? I also used some pretty flavorful fancy olive oil so omitting that for some very basic EVOO might do the trick.
I gave this a 5.5 and Eric (the non potato salad fan) gave it a 6.25 and ate all the leftovers. Evidently a win in the Eric department!

Awesome granola
Yes. This is actually called awesome granola and I have been meaning to make it for months.
HOLY CRAP this stuff is so good. SO GOOD!!!! Solid 8.5 from both Eric and me- we ate it dry, in milk, dry again and then it was gone, boooooo.
My only advice.
Make a double batch!!

Grilled vegetable polenta casserole
We had a good run of recipes that we really enjoyed and knew it was bound to end at some point.
And it did, with this atrocity.
I knew it would be time consuming (and it was- 2 hours start to finish. I made the polenta from "scratch" and had to grill the veggies in several batches.) Two hours is for fucking ever. I only have time like that if the food is so amazing that I cry tears of joy.
See my face? ^^^ That is not a happy face. Not joyful tears.
The polenta was nasty- I always try to like polenta and remember (upon re-trying it) that I do not.
The veggies, which were great immediately after grilling had taken on a slimy consistency. I do not like my food to be slimy, definitely not my favorite consistency.
And two hours.... UGH!
Eric gave it a 7 upon first bite and then a 5.5 when he was done because, honestly, it was crap.
I gave it a 4 which I still think was generous.
Skip this and make some damn eggplant rollatini or something...

Mediterranean pizza with (zero) ham
None of us like ham so I left it off. Otherwise I followed the recipe and this was a hit.
As previously mentioned, you can't really go wrong with pizza around here!
This was another fantastic way to use the kale pesto (I ended up freezing a big batch and I drag it out and defrost it for a variety of things- really tasty stuff!) Next time I make this I will drizzle some (or lots) of olive oil on either the crust, the spinach or both. It needed a little improvement and I am pretty sure that would fix it! This would also be great with some onion, some sun dried tomatoes, maybe a few pine nuts?
That is the fun thing about pizza- you can add or subtract to make it something completely different each time.
The crust wasn't terrific- it was a Portland Pie premade crust and was just "meh".
I gave this a 7, Eric an 8 and Kate a 6 because she really did not care for the crust.

Swiss chard with roasted quinoa and tomato
With both swiss chard and tomatoes coming out my ears thanks to my Dad's garden this was an easy choice for a side dish.
I only managed to take one picture because I was hungry and stopped caring.
This was good- all of the flavors were very complimentary to one another and the very sweet tomato balances out the pungency of the quinoa and the slight bitterness of the chard nicely. 
I am not always a quinoa fan (proving, once again my shortcomings as a health blogger as well as a food one!) However, this was a nice way to use it and we both enjoyed it and both gave it a solid 7.

OK, so I have managed to catch up a bit.
Hopefully episode 10 will be up soon since I am way behind!


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Falmouth Road Race, 1,596 words and 4 pictures

From the looks of things the past several week must have been my annual blog slump.
I was super busy, SUPER BUSY and therefore vanished.

In the Spring I was exited to gain entry to the New Balance Falmouth Road Race via the ever fickle lottery system. Based solely on the less than stellar luck of my compatriots, this particular lottery is extra fickle (or- more likely, overburdened with a gazzilion hopefuls!) What I am saying is that I got lucky....
One of my friends (we will call her Other Sarah) got a code to get a bib somewhat after the fact. I would like to thank cool internet friends for this- it was a fun situation where you actually really appreciate people who you have never met. (such a nice gesture from Capecod Runner!!!) So I had a buddy to meet up with down there which made everything seem like a good idea.

There were a few bumps in the road on the way to the start line.
-Life in general threatened to get in the way and keep me home but I quickly figured that out.
-The cost to stay on the Cape during August is astronomical- Other Sarah and I had some lengthy conversations about what on earth to do about this. After much debate she and her family bravely went camping and I, being of a very fragile and delicate nature stayed with my wonderful cousins an hour away. (We had a blast, ate pizza, watched Up and fell asleep early- I LOVE them!)
-The week leading up to the race was absolutely insane. I had my busiest work week of the year. My sister graduated College with her Nursing Degree (smart cookie) Eric was headed to Canada to support his brother at his Ironman (crazy) so we had some rendezvousing to do. There was other stuff that I luckily can not remember but you get it- life was busy!

So honestly, on Saurday AM I was like, PHEW, I get to drive 5 hours each way and run in 95 degree heat and IT FEELS LIKE A FRIGGIN VACATION. (I was like that. For real.)

Oh yeah. 95 degree heat was happening. GAH SO HOT.

I drove to the Cape along with everyone else in the world to pick up my bib, my sweet mug and my poster (I love mugs and posters. My two favorite things to get as race swag!)
While it was a bit of a hassle to drive the extra miles to the Cape to pick up all my crap it was worth it in the long run. With 12,000 runners attending Other Sarah and I were not confident in our success rate of meeting up on race morning. (In retrospect this was NOT a problem, we met up with ease. But who could have known?)
I got to my cousins house just as a million huge thunderstorms were rolling in.
I also arrived to find a HUGE basket of flowers sent from my lovely husband since it was our anniversary, awwwwwwww!

Flowers are always the right answer.
We hunkered down with all the things one needs to survive several huge storms (as previously mentioned, pizza, TV, comfy couches and some wine) and had a lovely evening. I slept well and was terribly offended when my alarm came screaming to life at 4:30 AM.

Sunday morning dawned humid as shit and hot as balls. There is no nice way to put that so there it is.

I arrived at the designated middle school parking lot nice and early- and a good thing since the lot was already almost jam packed.
I was feeling a little off with a slightly grumpy stomach but a couple trips to the (clean) porta potties set me straight.
Despite the remarkably large crowds Other Sarah and I were able to find each other easily and hop on a (hot) bus to the start.
Thus far, Falmouth Road race was winning in my book. Decent parking, clean porta potties, extra fast bus lines. All very nice.

The two of us made it to the start with ACTUAL HOURS to kill.

With hours to kill why did we not take more pics? WHY???
Naturally, we did what any self respecting mid pack runner/s would do.
We sat on a step and watched boats.
We talked about running/runners/training plans/being stupid/clothing companies.
I patted a duck.
We found more clean potties.
We gossiped a little tiny bit.
We talked about FEELINGS (nope)
We only took one picture. 

We looked at some boats.
Then, we got up and ran a race.
Or more like jogged a bit because not only was it literally the hottest day in the history of the world but it was also the most crowded race ever.
Pretty much right off, there were nice views, an odd number of hills, lots of sweat and body odor and two Sara/h's glad to be running instead of waiting to run, haha.

We had a nice couple of miles together before getting separated at an aid station.

It wasn't exactly a perfect day for fast running so I did not run fast, I looked at the views, walked thru 4 aid stations and took in the large crowds. I really enjoyed my race- far more than I expected to actually!
After the little rolling hills early on, the course was basically pancake flat. There was a long stretch of ocean/beachside running and it was absolutely lovely. And HOT.
In the last half mile or so of the race there is one big hill- very rude, but it leads to a nice downhill finish.
I finished in 58:17 which I was completely happy with given the nature of the weather and my lack of speed preparedness. BTW, this is a 7 mile race which is totally random and led to an automatic PR. WINNING.

The finish area was super organized and I was able to quickly get all of life's important things like ice cream.

Such a good idea!!!!
The one less great moment was discovering that the only way back to my car was to walk (or run) the two miles. Luckily I was feeling good so this was not a serious issue.

I can honestly say that I had a much better time at this race than I expected. I loved the scenery, I enjoyed the course and crowd support, I appreciated the management of a HUGE number of people (and maybe I got lucky-but I got everything I needed and got it quickly!)
I think that I would have really enjoyed the post race amenities more if I had not felt the pressure to get off the Cape before everyone else did.
I did actually RUN back to my car, LEAP into it and drive like hell! Due to my frantic nature I made it back to Maine quickly and easily.

I'm tired just from writing this. If you made it all the way through you are a superhero and can come to the special runners camp that Other Sarah, my new pet duck and I are planning for next year. Phew.

So anyway, in closing. Fun, hot, 650 miles of driving but I have a mug to reward me for my troubles. Overall, another good day in the world of running!


Monday, August 3, 2015

Week 8: Cooking my way through the Runner's World Cookbook

At the rate I am going I will still be working my way through this cookbook this time next year!

I have to admit that last week we ate quite well, lots of good meals which generated some nice leftovers.

I got some verbal requests for upcoming recipes as well as the one in the comments (I think the long run chocolate PB cake looks great too- I plan to make that in the next couple weeks!)

So what did I manage to cook last week?

Soba noodles with chicken and peanut sauce
Sometimes you make food after a long day and it is so good that you just shove it in your face, never bothering to come up for air until it is gone. 
For me (and my sister) this was one of those meals. I grilled a couple chicken breasts and shredded them (leaving Eric's chicken free- making some marinated tofu for this would work GREAT.)
Since I grilled the chicken this certainly took longer than the 20 minutes of projected time- I don't know how you might magic cooked shredded chicken out of thin air! If you can, good for you. If not this is going to take you 40 minutes (but totally worth it!!) Kate and I gave it an 8.5 and Eric a 7 (which basically means a 10 in Eric language!)

Rigatoni with chicken (or tofu) sausage
I made one major alteration to this recipe- I used fresh vegetables instead of frozen. I'm simply not a huge fan of frozen veg so I made the rebellious choice to sautee some broccoli and red peppers.
Crazy, I know.
Despite my shenanigans this was fast- only about 30 minutes and stupid easy.
Sometimes stupid easy means kind of basic and this was one of those time.
This was a pleasant Wednesday night dinner but nothing special or worth repeating.
I gave it a 6.5, and Eric a 7. (Eric thought it was pretty fabulous! So maybe a VERY good veggie friendly dinner?)

Red beans and rice with turkey (or tofu) sausage.
For some reason I could not get even a reasonable pic of this monstrosity.
I LOVE traditional red beans and rice- throw a damn kielbasa in it and I'm good to go (for a heart attack...)
This combated that common problem by being rater dire and boring. All of us who ate it thought it needed something major- the ideas were a jar of salsa, a can of tomatoes, a shaker of salt and fewer peppers.
This recipe made an absolutely enormous quantity which we never ended up eating- which says something.
I gave it a 5.5, Eric a 6.5 and Eric's nephew a 7 but I think he was either just being nice or possibly starving. 

Kale-Almond pesto
I picked the kale fresh from my Dad's garden and ran home with it, preparing to tap this out in 15 minutes flat. Why? Because pesto is stupid stupid easy (like your mom...)
Anywhoo. If your kale is filled with caterpillars and you need to remove them this takes absolutely for-frickin-ever. However, if you do not have that horrible problem this would be pretty easy. I assume that anyway, I really do not know since I spent about a million hours picking away at the worms. Jesussssssssssss.
After all the trouble I was pretty psyched- this stuff was great. I dumped it unceremoniously on some pasta and woofed it down. De bugging kale makes a girl hungry.
I gave it an 8 because it tasted exactly as kale pesto should. Eric gave it a 6 because he prefers basil pesto....

Chocolate Berry Crisp
We had my whole (immediate) family over for my Mom's B-day last week.
First, I made her the salmon with lentil tabbouleh (a huge hit!) And as a side note- my Mom is as picky as the come. she said in her non-lying voice that she thought that the salmon was "Good!!!" When she doesn't like something but wants to be nice she says it is "good.....???" Take it from me, you can make this for your fussy Mah and she will really like it in her non lying voice!

Anyway. We finished off the evening with this amazing berry crisp. I used berries from my Dad's famous garden- a mix of raspberries and blueberries which were quite tasty.
The topping was fabulous- not too sweet and nice and crunchy. We LOVED it! Make this shit. Eat it. Throw some ice cream on it, or don't. Eat it for breakfast, I did. Whole pan goneeeeeeee.
Kate and I gave it an 8.5, and Eric gave it a 7.5.

That's it for this week! Being that we just wrapped up July things on the running front aren't all that exciting but they will be picking up. Eventually..


Friday, July 24, 2015

Week 6 & 7: Cooking my way through the Runner's World Cookbook

Well heavens. I'm predictably behind in posting about my cooking expeditions.
The past couple of weeks experiments resulted in some great meals as well as a few snacks that took less than 1% brainpower to make which is always key.

Before I continue, thanks for the good feedback on this adventure! I am having fun with it which is clearly important but I'm enjoying the positive response.

ANY REQUESTS? What should I make next? Is it time to tackle all of the shrimp recipes...?

Frozen peanut butter balls. Or, chocolate salted balls if you live here.
These are not the most lovely things to look at but they certainly are tasty if you need a quick cold snack. Pre run, post run, for breakfast, they earned the seal of Bradlowski approval. I see no reason not to have them in the freezer at all times. (I might add a few mini chocolate chips, or shredded coconut to mix things up next time. The base recipe is just fine though- and basic, it took 5 minutes tops.)

Blueberry oatmeal smoothie
I gave this to Eric, normally a smoothie fanatic and he gagged a little. Enough said.
At least it looks pretty. 

Chickpea, cherry and ginger salad
This salad was absolutely fantastic. If you plan to eat it and then head out for some vigorous speed work don't- the chickpeas and dried fruit will kill you! (but that goes without saying.)
I was supposed to add half an onion and the thought of that filled me with horror (I hate onion) but I sucked it up and added about 1/4 onion. WAY too much for me- I'll just omit it next time. The garlic and ginger pack plenty of flavor without the icky onion factor. Minus the oniony horror this was so delicious, I could not stop shoving it into my face. NOM.
Eric liked this and gave it a 6.5 which is good for him
I loved it and gave it an 8.

Egg and bean burrito with avocado and yogurt lime sauce.
Mmmmmm. The lousy grainy photo does not do this justice!
Make this for breakfast, lunch or dinner. (we had it for dinner)
One note, when one decided to scramble eggs in with beans they rarely get "fluffy" so if that is important to you cook the eggs alone, easy fix.
Eric isn't much into eggs so when he gave this a 7 I knew it was pretty great! I too gave this a 7 because it was good and simple- and great for any time of day. I will be making this again as eggs (locally raised, completely free range, organic, coming from HENS WITH NAMES kinda eggs) are a daily thing for me.

Warm butternut squash and kale salad
It is not squash season but it certainly is kale season!
I picked the kale fresh from my Dad's garden and made this salad from those tasty greens about 2 minutes after I lovingly harvested them.
The only thing that I altered about this recipe was to saute the garlic in with the kale and olive oil instead of adding it to the dressing. (which was an accident- reading a recipe is such a challenge..) Oh! I also did not have any mustard and we all think that would have been good. Oops.
I managed to get a really watery flavorless squash- the general consensus was that sweet potato would be a nice substitute.
Otherwise, we all enjoyed this tasty salad. We got rowdy and tossed in a few dried cranberries which improved the end result drastically. (so do it.) (oops ANOTHER alteration!) A solid 7.5 from Eric, Kate my sister and me. Good stuff.

Sweet and Sour tofu stir-fry
And the final entry for the week/s. Sweet and sour tofu stir-fry! An already veggie friendly recipe always makes me happy so this was a no brainer.
I pressed the tofu per the logical norm... Otherwise I followed the recipe.
This was good too! We had a nice run of scrum-diddly-umptious dinners!
The predicted time to completion for this recipe was 45 minutes and that was accurate- it was not super speedy. However it was worth it and we all enjoyed it.
If  I made this again I would ABSOLUTELY make more sauce- maybe another half recipe.
Like most stir fry recipes you could easily dress this shit up with some baby corn, water chestnuts, other veggies- whatever. You can't screw it up!
It was pretty consistently rated- 7's from Eric and me, and a 6 from Kate. Kate wanted more sauce which was a very accurate desire.

Phew! There ya go, more food more bad pics, more clearly non food critic critiques!
More to come and again- make some requests because that would make me feel like a real live food blogger ;-)