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 ;-) 


Thursday, July 23, 2015

Running thru the humidity!

Last week was most definitely a Maine summer heatwave. Temps AND humidity in the mid to high 80's made for some downright soggy and unpleasant days.
Despite the sopping conditions I had a pretty decent running week. (decent for July means a 30 mile week- I'm totally happy with that!)

I had a couple of great runs- some varied workouts, one horrible hot run where I wished to just die and a spontaneous 5k last weekend.

I had not run a 5k since May of 2014 so my expectations were reasonable. I feel like I'm in decent enough shape but my speedwork has been more "you're late, hurry" than "strict track 800's!" (which is how I roll.) I'm NOT in sub 20 shape- hahahahahah funny- I don't plan to be! However, I decided that I was in sub 22 shape so (still Garminless) I struck out intending to do that.

21:40. Totally fine. It was cool, with 65 degree temps, light drizzle and absolutely suffocating humidity. So actually not cool at all, stifling in fact. Hot as balls.
My legs felt zippy but the lungs couldn't handle the tough facts of life, humidity and my dedication to a noticeable lack of speed training.
I had fun and felt good even though it felt like work. (and good = SWEATY GROSS)
I ate donuts and celebrated a race which is done in very short order! 5k's are so short. Also, you can run one and then continue on with your day like nothing ever happened. Indeed, a very odd contrast to the marathon.

This snap was the only decent pic. Quality blog skillz.

This week has been a different story- my mileage is super low. I took a couple days to let a funny hip flexor work itself out (it did) and to work quite a bit and feel a little crummy for no good reason, and to stack hay and crap like that.
And it's ok. I'll run more next week, tomorrow, or whenever the time is right!

Or I'll just stack more hay.
(Food post tomorrow. I'm sorry about the delay, I've been too busy for the internet!)


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Week 4 & 5: Cooking way through the Runner's World Cookbook

We seem to have a combo post going on here from weeks 4 and 5, blame my busy schedule and tendency to give up and simply eat cheese, Boboli pizza and bourbon. (there is nothing wrong with that.)

I did manage to make a couple of things. I continue to be easily able to find vegetarian alternatives for Eric- I will make notes of what I change since I don't always photograph the veggie option.

As mentioned in week one I know that once I get to "meatloaf" or "shrimp" there will be very little that I can do (or am willing to do) to make those veggie friendly. Most likely those recipes will call for a two dinner kind of night. Eric is hoping for grilled cheese I expect.

Olive and Anchovy pizza (or: the cover photo on the book.)
Basically a boboli pizza! #winning!
You don't really need an actual recipe for this but it was one- so there's another one checked off the list.
Clearly I omitted the anchovy for Mr Bradlowski and while I have no gripe with the little fishes I made a game time choice to use two ACTUAL anchovies rather than two tins. Yeah, these were supposed to contain a half tin of leetle feeshes per pizza.
Two per pizza was plenty. Take my word for it..... A half tin would be a nightmare.

White bean artichoke wrap
Once again... You don't actually need a recipe for what is essentially white bean hummus but why not!
This recipe calls for the bean spread, artichokes and sundried tomatoes in a wrap. Neither of us are crazy about SD tomatoes so I skipped them and added olives and spinach.
This was absolutely fine. Limit to one garlic clove if you plan to leave the house (ever.)

Hearty red scalloped potatoes, grilled asparagus. And steak, obvs.
Ask me about the potatoes au gratin that I make- go ahead, ASK ME! I am the master of the cheese & potatoes. I have perfected the art and am quite proud.
NEEDLESS TO SAY..... I had ZERO hope for these little taters. I expected them to be undercooked, flavorless and disappointing.
I did skip the skim milk and use 2% because skim is disgusting. Otherwise I behaved and followed the recipe.
If you have potato skills I expect you too will have doubts...
You don't have to- they were AMAZING. Who would have guessed? Not me . Make them and eat them all, with a steak and maybe some grilled asparagus (also a recipe! another one that you don't need a recipe for! but quite good, as grilled asparagus should be.)
Salmon with lentil tabbouleh
This salmon with lentil tabbouleh was straight up incredible.
My sister and I voted it "best so far" and Eric gave it a 3 out of 10 which is fine since he doesn't eat salmon and dislikes tomatoes, cukes and lentils. Basically a 3 is a 10 (Eric got veggie sausage in place of the fish.)
I honestly have no complaints about this dish- it was delicious! (also gorgeous- you could certainly make this to impress people.)
One note- absolutely do not cook your lentils according to the recipe directions (if you are working with dried, unsoaked lentils that is.)
Lentils need about 35-45 minutes to cook and about a 2:1 water to lentil ratio. Simply, you just won't get good results if you follow their directions, so heed my words and don't. Cook your lentils like a normal person and you will be fine.

That's it for now! I hope to get with it and get back to my weekly posts ASAP!


Monday, July 6, 2015

Bridgton 4 on the 4th 2015 Edition

I decided to head out and take another crack at the Bridgton 4 on the 4th this past Saturday.

This is a race I have done several times since 2010 and I am quite familiar with the route. Basically it goes up a big stupid hill and then comes back down. Pretty common terrain for this area but common does not make it easy.

Elevation profile. Hills, like I already mentioned. 

I'm in decent shape right now.  Want to run hills? I'm in. Want to run hills at pace? Find another running buddy. Want to run for a couple hours? No prob. Want to bust out some sub 7 miles? Go away, you're drunk.
Knowing this I decided to shoot for sub 30 and basically not care. I've had a bit of terror about pushing the pace too hard after my super sick finish late last summer at a random 5 miler so finishing in a NOT vomiting way was high on the list. Big goals.

We arrived to find a pretty packed little town but I was clever enough to pick up my bib the evening before so getting to the start on time was a snap. While it wasn't too warm at all it was rather humid and I had trouble deciding what to wear. I was also a bit hungry and so when it came time for a pre race pic I looked slightly put out.

Grumpasaurus Rex
Anyway. I got over it and ran a solid little warm up. Things felt better than normal which is pretty standard for a race day and I felt like running that pesky sub 30 might actually be possible. The humidity was a little surprising but it was only about 64 degrees so basically arctic.

Typically this race is a complete chaos clusterfuck of death at the start. Kids toeing the line like little jackasses. Campers strolling hand in hand. Self seeding missteps. Stupidity.
They did something right this year because it was the most pleasant and smooth start that I have ever had there. I felt decent and locked into a manageable pace. I actually felt pretty happy and positive at this point.
But then there was this guy. He was THE MOST excited. This guy is incredible. Best start pic ever.
I ran along at my "not lazy but not dying" pace and made it up the monster hill none the worse. Due to the humidity it was a bit sweaty but not anything to get your knickers in a twist about.
There was this dude a short distance away from me and he was apologizing like crazy and thinking he must be talking to me I was like "ummmm, it's all good man you're fine....?" He looked at me like I was legit losing it (ME?? maybe YOU!?) Upon further listening I discovered that he was conversing with Jesus. "I'M SORRY Jesus!" He would mutter "I'm SO SORRY this is SO HARD!!!"
OK, this went on and on for quite some time and he definitely inspired me to run on away. Praise be.

The downhill section of the race is worth all that praying so maybe the repentant man had the right idea. You get sucked straight downhill for a ways and it is a nice break. I felt totally fine and at mile 3 I definitely felt that while I was doing well avoiding the puke train I was more fast running than racing. Fuck it. Fast running works just fine for me and I'm not in sub 7 shape. That would have caused DEATH. I did kick it up nicely for the last mile and motored along. I'm badass and amazing.

Heeeeeeere I come. Moseying along Depot Street. Stupid boys decided to outkick me. Whatever.
Seriously though. Nothing is more annoying than a bunch of little boys who basically draft off of me for a mile and then outkick me in the last 400. UGH. At least stop and the end and thank me for pulling you along (yeah I know that drafting in running basically isn't a thing but all of you know exactly what I am talking about.)

My form is on point. WHICH NEVER HAPPENS!!!!
I zipped thru the finish in 29:15 which is a 7:19 pace and my second fastest finish here ever, second only to the infamous 2012 season. I was rather pleased! I was154th out of 2,000 and 2nd in my AG (22nd overall woman. yes I looked. you would too.)

I managed to achieve both my goals- sub 30 and no projectile vomiting. I don't think that I have run a short race in a long time (unless I have forgotten, sometimes I try not to remember...) Short races are fun because they are done really quickly which is nice. There is that whole "needing to run fast to do well" thing but who pays attention to that?!

Anyway that's it for now. Life is crazy to the max but I do have another cooking post in the works. So until then, happy summer running!


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

June recap, and why 2012 was a fast year.

I can't believe that it is already July 1st- June was the fastest month ever. I wish that I could say that about miserable months like February but no, those months take forever. *typical*

June was good month of running. I did not set any distance or speed records but that was not the goal! If I remember correctly my goal mileage was 100- well up from last years rather piddly 40-something. I'm giving myself some righteous head pats for exceeding my goal by a small amount, I eeeked out 112.3 miles. That point three is critical and rather annoying as I prefer to have nice round numbers.

The big excitement of my month of running was taking on Strava's Everest Challenge. You had to complete 7,257 feet of climbing to "win" and this prompted me to do some pretty absurdly hilly runs. It was possibly the most fun I have had in a while (go figure, my definition of fun is a bit off.) Anyway, good motivation to step off the beaten path. (I exceeded the goal here by a smidge too and ran about 700 extra feet, straight uphill bitches.)

There was a lot of THIS.
What I did not focus on last month was any sort of tempo work, or speed at all. Most of the time I'm not even thinking about speed in the middle of the summer but I am planning to run the 4 on the 4th on Saturday. Oooofffff. I doubt that any records will fall (actually I know they won't- 2012 will hang on forever and always as my fastest year ever.)

Back in 2012 I certainly did not think that all of these years later I'd still be chasing the PR's I set then but that is the fact of the matter.
My marathon PR was made in the Fall of 2014 (and I have "new" 1 and 5 mile PR's from 2014) but otherwise, 2012 still holds on.
Why the hell? On my run yesterday I gave this some serious thought and figured it out.

-In 2012 I gave zero fucks. I ran like a lunatic and the thought of blowing up mid course did not bother me. *BRAAAAWWW GET OUTTA MY WAY!!!!*

-In 2012 I felt the need to "justify" the time I was putting in to my running. I did this by running balls to the walls all the time. every day. but mostly while racing.

-In 2012 I was dealing with some emotional bullshit and huge life changes. I was a little pissed off and I run phenomenally well when I am angry (I'd rather be slow and happy.)

-Due to said BS I was a couple pounds lighter than I am now. (only a couple, but I'm short. 1 damn pound is more dramatic on me than on a 6'5" dude!)

2012 when I was FAST!!! MAD!!!! Pink socked!!!!
That couple pounds makes the difference in me feeling like an awesome rockstar (like I do now) or feeling tired, and getting injured easily (like I did then.) Yeah, I was fast. But my current weight is my healthy weight and that's that! I did reflect during this time, and to this day, that the weight/speed conundrum could be a slippery slope. I'm very lucky to have a healthy view on food/body and being healthy is my number one priority. No fast race is, or ever will take top billing over having health and energy!

My feeling is that I might never get back to those faster times at the shorter distances. I'm not needing to justify my hobby to anyone anymore (like myself!) So perhaps running like there is a fire behind me is a thing of the past. Perhaps not. Never say never! (like, there might be an actual fire you know?)
I enjoy running SO much more in 2015 then I did back then- I am healthy, uninjured, I have a blast on my adventures and I still get pumped to race.
I'm pretty sure that eventually I can bring my marathon time back into the upper 3:20 range and that is my goal for the fall season, barring unforeseen shenanigans.
So for now, I'll use the shorter races as tempo workouts without having any pressure or disappointment.
After all, racing is always an adventure and adventures are my favorite!