Archive | November 2012

6.27 Miles

That’s how far I went this morning.  That means that I did 10K all at once for the third time in my life.

This was the only time I didn’t hate it.

I felt really, really good until about the four mile mark.  I started to get tired then, and it was a real mental push to keep going forward.   But weirdly, it was not my breathing or my heartrate that was my issue this time, as it normally is when I run.  It was the rest of my body.

My feet really started to hurt.  I started to feel little twinges here and there in my hips and back.  My legs started to feel heavier and tighter.  I suppose all of that is normal, and it used to happen before when I started increasing distance.  The more used to a distance I got, the later on I felt it.  I was feeling it at 50 minutes before.  Now it’s more around 70 minutes.

Here’s how the run broke down:

I walked for 5 minutes for a warmup. about .3 miles.

I ran for 76 minutes for a distance of 5.7 miles.  I was actually disappointed to see that my pacing was 13:21/mile.  This is significantly slower than my last distance run.  It also explains why I felt so good during this run; I wasn’t going too fast.  Still, it’s the distance that matters to me at this point; the speed will come later.

I walked for a minute, then ran for 2, walked another and then ran another 1.  This cooldown was a total of 4 minutes and .27 miles.

So altogether, including the walking, it was an 85 minute workout for a total of 6.27 miles.

My plan is to keep slowly increasing my distance by increments and do two of these longer runs a week with maybe a short 3-4 mile run on a third day.  My next run will be 6.0 full miles of running with a warmup and cool down.  Then 6.25.  Then 6.5.  I might repeat a few of these longer distances until this 10K distance feels good before trying to add more distance.

I guess from there, if things continue as they are, the next step would be half marathon training.  We’ll see.  I’ve never, ever thought that I wanted to do something beyond a 10K.  But now I’m kind of excited to think about how far I could make my body go.

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Wednesday Weigh In: Post Thanksgiving Edition

I said I had hoped for a loss the week of Thanksgiving.

And I did it.

Down exactly 1 lb.  Is it crazy that I hoped for more?  Probably.

My food choices were good this week, even with Thanksgiving.  I ate more than I usually do that day, but not a crazy amount.  The food, other than the mashed potatoes and stuffing, was mostly healthy.  Because it was just the four of us, we didn’t do a crazy amount of appetizers or a boatload of fancy, tempting desserts.  I made a conscious choice not to have dessert the rest of the week while the family snarfed the leftovers.  I made a huge batch of turkey soup on Friday, which kept me in low calorie lunches until Monday.   I probably drank a little more than I should have, having two glasses of wine nearly every day, with more on Thanksgiving.

Exercise was good this week too.  I ran the 5 mile race on Thanksgiving, went on a three and a half mile hike the next day, and rounded out with walks and runs all week with one rest day.  I’m feeling good about where I’m at in my training and hoping to hit the magic 6.2 mile mark sometime in the next seven days.

I’m getting close to where I stalled last year, both in numbers and season.  I gave myself a “pass” of sorts the week of Christmas, and then injured myself in a New Year’s Eve race that took me off of running for nearly a month.  I didn’t recover my mojo for quite a while, and I never got back on track with the weight loss.  I’m within a pound of the number where that happened.  I am hoping to break through that in the next two weeks and move on from that mental block.

Current Week:  -1
Total Weight Left To Lose:  16.6 lbs
Weeks Left to Goal Date:  18
Age:  42
BMI:  28.6

Thanksgiving Day Traditions with a Twist

There are certain foods that our table needs to have on it on Thanksgiving; foods that I grew up with.  Below are four of my favorites from our holiday this year.

Cranberry Sorbet

My mother always made this on Thanksgiving, probably because her mom did.  It is served as an appetizer.  She called it “sherbet” but it doesn’t have any milk in it at all, so it’s really a sorbet.  Her version involved Knox gelatin, a lot of sugar and a hand mixer.  When I made this last year, it ended up all over the kitchen (walls, counters, ceiling, etc).  I figured this year there had to be another way.

I ended up finding a recipe on Epicurious that had all of the same ingredients as my mother’s, minus the gelatin and plus an ice cream maker.  That would certainly make life a lot easier, I thought.  I also wanted to substitute all of the sugar with agave syrup in this recipe to make it healthier.  I read online that you use 2/3 agave to every 1 part sugar, so I had my calculator on the counter and multiplied every measurement in the recipe by .66.

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Both call for you to boil the cranberries until the skins break. The biggest difference was that Epicurious had sugar in the water that you boil the berries in, and then you puree it.  My mom’s just had you boil them and shove them through a strainer the old fashioned way.  Epicurious won out on this one; it was so much easier to sieve it after you puree it.

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The rest of the recipe was essentially the same, except that you throw it all into an ice cream machine instead of beating it into submission with a hand mixer every few hours.  The result?  Nearly identical to my mom’s except a little less sweet, which was fine by all of us.  Total win.

Stuffing

It just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without the stuffing.  I remember my mom getting up early on Thanksgiving morning and starting it early, because she stuffed the turkey with it, so it had to be done before the turkey could go into the oven.  Before my mom passed, she gave me a lesson on how to make the stuffing, even though I already knew because I watched her do it every year.

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My mom’s stuffing is very simple.  I used one large onion, four stalks of celery and cooked them until soft in butter.  The only way I could lighten this up this year was to use less butter; my mom would use a stick or more, adding more as the onions and celery soaked it up.  I cooked on a lower temp, so they didn’t take as much.

After the vegetables are soft, you add Pepperidge Farms Seasoned Breadcrumbs and enough chicken or turkey stock to make it the right consistency.  I suppose purists wouldn’t use the packaged crumbs, but that’s what my mom did and that’s what I do.  It really is delicious and very easy to make.  I made this a day ahead and just cooked it for about 40 minutes in a casserole dish in the oven.  It was fantastic.

Turkey Soup

Every Friday after Thanksgiving, my mother would boil the turkey carcass and make turkey soup.  I was always fascinated by the fact that you could take bones with very little meat on them and make a hearty stock.  After she made the stock, she would throw away the bones, add any sort of veggies and leftover turkey meat, and boom:  soup.

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I know now that the more you add to your stockpot, the more flavor your broth will have.  My mom didn’t add anything but onion to her stock pot, but I added celery, onion, sage, rosemary and fresh thyme.  You could add garlic and carrots too if you wanted, I just didn’t have a lot to spare.  I boiled this for about two hours.  After that, you put it through a strainer and discard all of the solids.

My mom used to pick through the boiled bones and salvage whatever meat she could and put it back in the soup.  I don’t do that; I take off as much as I can before I make the stock.  Once you’ve boiled that stuff for a few hours, it’s not got a lot left in it.  Don’t be tempted to salvage from the stockpot.  It isn’t worth it.

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After I had that yummy stock ready, I sauteed onions, celery, carrots, parsnips and a turnip in olive oil in the stock pot.  Once those were soft I added mushrooms and cooked for a bit more.  Once that was done, I threw in more fresh parsley, thyme and chopped rosemary, plus more leftover turkey and some cooked whole wheat rotini I had in the fridge.

The beauty of the soup is you can throw anything in that you have once you make the stock.  My soup is different every time I make it.  Sometimes I’ll add white beans, or canned tomatoes, or cooked rice.  The only essentials for me are really the onions and celery.  Everything else is experimentation.

Pumpkin Banana Pancakes

OK my mother never made these.  They are NOT part of our traditional Thanksgiving fare by a longshot.  But I had leftover pumpkin puree from my epic pumpkin pie failure (more on that later), so I wanted to use it up.  I searched around until I found an easy recipe, and finally found one on Nooschi.

I tweaked this a bit.  I used more pumpkin, less banana and Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Pie spice rather than all the different ones they tell you to use.  I also didn’t use fresh ginger; I didn’t want these to be too overpowering for my kids.  Finally, I mashed up the banana instead of using it in slices as the recipe suggests.  You probably could use honey or agave in these, but I used the brown sugar; it really isn’t that much considering.

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The result was a really moist, flavorful, thick pancake.  I am not a huge pancake fan; I find them to be relatively tasteless and that’s why people cover them with so much junk.  But I was eating these hot off the plate, with my hands, with nothing on them; they didn’t need anything.  They weren’t overpoweringly pumpkin-y, even though I used nearly double what the recipe asked for.

Crustless Pumpkin Pie

I was really excited about this recipe that I’d found on Skinnytaste.  She uses some weird German sounding name but essentially her recipe is a crustless pie, like a custard.  I made the recipe on Wednesday and it looked and smelled fantastic.  It baked beautifully.

But honestly?  It was not very good.  To be fair, it could have been because I used a combination of agave and honey to sweeten it (I ran out of agave so threw in what I thought would be the right amount of honey to compensate), and it just wasn’t sweet enough.  No one really cared for it, and even the whipped cream out of a can couldn’t save it.  Also, the recipe calls for hazelnuts in the custard, which Gina says gives it a nice crunch.  I found them to be distracting (a traditional pie doesn’t have them) and a little bitter.

My mom favored mincemeat pie, but seriously?  No freakin’ way, Mom.

Thanksgiving Day 5 Mile Race Recap

A friend of mine suggested the Thanksgiving Day 5 Mile Race in Southport, CT.  She said it was huge, like thousands of people.  I’ve only ever run in one “big” race, the New Haven Shamrock and Roll.  It had like 2000 people.  It was fun, festive, and they gave you beer at the end of the 5K.

I have been training for a 10K, but I know I’m not there yet.  My runs in the last two weeks have consistently topped the five mile mark, but I’ve only done one that has gone over 6.  I was ready to run something more than a 5K, but not quite ready for a 10K.

So when my girlfriend suggested the 5 mile race, I thought, hm.  That could work.  We talked about going together and carpooling, since it is such a big race.  Sure, that sounded great.

Now if I’d been thinking I’d have realized that this friend is a 7 time marathoner and perhaps a tiny bit of intimidation might creep in there.  But in that moment, I didn’t think of that.  I just thought it would be fun.  Good thing.

So since the race is so huge, we left our town under the cover of darkness in the hopes of getting a semi close parking spot.  I’d read tons of stuff online that made me think getting to the race site before 7am was not only necessary, it was imperative.

Yeah, the parking lot was empty when we got there at 6:30.  OK, lesson learned.  My crazy punctuality is sometimes a tad over the top.  But actually, it was nice, because Gabi and I spent the time in easy chatter about all of the common people we know, town news, our kids, etc.  It was an easy way to spend the next hour and a half.

We finally got down to the starting area and that’s when my intimidation started creeping in.  Because there were so many people there that I couldn’t even SEE the starting line from where I was.  And when I looked around me, there weren’t too many chubby girls like me who were just planning on getting through the race without walking and enjoying the lovely scenery of Long Island Sound.  No, these were serious runners who had water belts and wicking fabrics and all manner of Real Runner Cred.

Yeah, seriously? I don’t look like these guys.

I nervously started asking my friend how long her usual runs were, and how many marathons she’s run.  Answers?  4 to 5 miles usually and 7.  OY.  And here I was telling her that I was hoping to finish the race in under 65 minutes.  At that rate, this woman could be halfway home before I even crossed the finish line.  But my inner dialogue was all my own; Gabi was nothing but supportive, seemed excited for me to be a part of the race with her, and promised to wait for me at the end with a bottle of water (at my 10K, I came in third from last and all of the waters were gone by the time I made it to the refreshment table).

So finally, the race started.  I lost Gabi immediately in the herd.  And I mean a herd.  Thousands and thousands of people.  It was a sea of people.  Which actually was kind of nice, honestly.  I didn’t mind the big pack; running is usually such a solitary thing, the races are when I share the experience with others.  I usually fall back so quickly and then end up alone, but there were so many here that I never did.  I mean, I knew I was in the back, eventually, but I was never alone.  It was nice.

I felt pretty good throughout the first mile.  I knew my pacing was a little fast because I was getting pretty winded.  The first and second mile were a tad hilly, so by the second mile, I was starting to feel worried.  There was still so long to go.  But the scenery was gorgeous; beautiful water views, and then up into the hills nearby Long Island Sound where gorgeous homes on expansive lots dot the landscape.  The weather was sunny and not terribly cold, so I just kept moving with the herd.

Hundreds of people passed me.  Still, up until the water stop halfway through, I had a lot of people around me.  After I gulped down my cup, I willed myself to slow down a bit.  I’d never make it without walking if I didn’t modulate my pace.  By mile 3 I felt better.  There weren’t any hills after that, and we got back down near the water where the views were simply breathtaking.  I wish I’d taken the few seconds to take photos with my phone; it was so beautiful throughout the course.

By mile 4 I was tired but knew I was in the homestretch.  I could feel my second wind kick in and I rallied, forcing myself to keep a steady pace as we worked our way back to the finish line.  I wanted to finish strong like I’ve done the last few times; there’s nothing like going full out towards the finish line.  And I did.  I raced towards that line like nobody’s business.

The timer read 65:15.  Which at first pissed me off until I realized that I had been so far back from the starting line that there was no way that was my final time.  I knew that I had to have come in under 65, but I wasn’t sure how much.  But I knew I did.  Which was all I wanted.

Gabi met me, as promised, with a bottle of water.  “How do you feel?” she asked me.

I looked at her, broke into a smile and said with all honesty, “Fantastic.”  It was true.  It hadn’t been easy, but I didn’t feel awful and terrible like I had after my 10K.  I felt great.  I didn’t exactly want to run anymore, but I was exhilarated, not exhausted.

Me and my friend Gabi before the race.

And then last night, this email landed in my box:

“Congratulations Amy on finishing the 2012 Pequot Runners Thanksgiving Day 5 Mile Road Race! Your net time was 1:03:50 with a pace of 12:46.”

Yep, pretty fantastic.

Wednesday Weigh In

Down .6.

I was down a whole pound yesterday, and actually thought about putting that number up here this morning.  But since last week I was relieved when the number was significantly lower on Wednesday instead of Tuesday, I am going to be true to the concept of Wednesday Weigh Ins and put what the scale said today.  Disappointed though I am with it.

I thought this week would be a better week, closer to a 2 lb loss.  It was a good week for exercise, again, with me pulling through and coming up with my longest run without stopping ever.  On Friday I ran for 60 minutes without stopping at all on the trail, and then Monday I ran for 70:37 without stopping; 5.5 miles.  I ran those miles in the neighborhood, with hills, in preparation for tomorrow’s 5 mile race.  I did strength training two days, including yesterday (maybe I’m retaining water from that?).  It was a good week exercise wise.

Mostly it was a good week food wise too.  Good choices except for the wine intake, which again tends to be the wild card.  I had lunch with a girlfriend on Tuesday and we consumed more wine than we should, let’s just put it that way.  Overall, I am definitely on a downward trend there for sure, but it’s a work in progress.

Anyway, it is what it is.  .6 is still a loss, and I’m going to focus on that.  Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and we’re staying at home.  I’m cooking healthier desserts, making traditional sides that I will eat less of, and focus on the turkey being a wonderful lean protein.  And if I slip a bit?  I’ll have run five miles in the morning in my race, so I’ll have a little wiggle room.  It’ll be fine.

Onward….

Current Week:  -0.6
Total Weight Left To Lose:  17.6 lbs
Weeks Left to Goal Date:  19
Age:  42
BMI:  28.8

I Did It

I did it.  I ran today for 60 minutes without stopping.

I kind of cheated a little bit.  Well, not really.  I did this run on the super flat bike trail that is just a straight shot with very little elevation.  Last year when I did Couch to 5K this was where I started running.  It’s pretty, back in the woods, and since it is so flat, it was the perfect place to start running.  I realized later that I needed hills in my training, and now I mostly run in the neighborhood near my house because it has some slight hills.

That being said, I ran for the whole 60 minutes without stopping and no lie, it felt pretty good most of the way.  My breathing was spot on.  I never really had that “oh my gosh I can’t catch my breath” feeling or that “my heart is racing I’m going to die” feeling.  My pacing was a little slower than I’d like, 13:02 min/mi, but I was trying to make sure I could go the full 60 minutes, so I wanted to not tax myself too much.  I enjoyed this run much more than the last several I’ve done.  At the end,though,  my feet were the real problem; at the end of these long runs, they really start to ache.  I have very wide feet and I think they swell during the long runs.

I signed up for a 5 mile race on Thanksgiving morning.  I am, of course, doing Bridge to 10K, and while today’s run was the last run of the program, I’m so slow that I’m still between .7 to 1.0 miles off of the 6.2 miles that entails.  What I am doing in these latest runs is consistently 5 plus miles, so I know that’s a distance I can do.  Clearly I am going to have to keep at this doing 65 and 70 minute blocks until I can nail that 6.2 mile distance.

For now, though, I am psyched for this 5 mile race.  It’s supposed to be a big race (the site says the first 5000 people get shirts….I’ve never run in a race that big before), along the water, really pretty.  I finally feel like I am moving forward with my running, and it is a really good feeling.

Wednesday Weigh In

I’m up .2 lbs.

I’m honestly grateful it wasn’t more.  I am not the least bit surprised about it.

I could feel myself slip all over the place this week.  While I ran good runs, we had snow on Wed/Thu last week that impacted my exercising.  I ended up shoveling and counting that as exercise (which it is, I know) but the cold, snowy days were not active days.  I went out to eat twice over the weekend and while I ate smaller than usual portions, my choices were not stellar.

And the drinking kicked up a notch for sure this week.  I had at least two glasses of wine nearly every single day, which I know adds up to a lot of calories at the end of the week.

Yesterday, when I stepped on the scale, the number was higher than it was this morning.  I realized how far off track I was and pulled it together.  Yesterday was a good day exercise and food wise, and it showed on the scale this morning.  The number was less.

So this week?   Back on track.  I have a limited time frame to work with here if I want to reach my goal by April.  I can’t waste weeks like this, not with the holidays looming.

Current Week:  +.2
Total Weight Left To Lose:  18.2 lbs
Weeks Left to Goal Date:  20
Age:  42
BMI:  28.9