Thursday, March 21, 2013

I now feel like a real runner!

Last Saturday was my first official 5K race. Sure, I've done countless walks and "fun runs" and have even logged a few miles in gym class on the days I showed up, but I have never considered myself a runner before this year.

I started running before the wedding as a way to get in shape, but also to relieve stress. Running after a stressful day's work, and around the town I love, feels amazing. Now that I finally have tunes to take with me and headphones intended to stay on during exercise, it's even better.

I just pop on the Black Keys, the Foo Fighters, my Irish mega-playlist, or whatever is my ass-kicking music of choice and lace up. I know I need to get back into yoga, though, so my muscles can get some TLC after working so hard and absorbing so much impact.

Part of my new year's resolution for 2013 was to run 2 5Ks, one of which I wanted to be a Color Run (I'll check that off the list on 8/30!). As for the other, I would just see what appealed to me. Well, after registering for the Color Run a few weeks ago, I decided, "Aw, hell, the Bordentown St. Paddy's 5K happens every year, and I've never nutted up and just done it," so I registered for that one, too. With just about 2 weeks to train. I was excited, but also petrified. I was still working on being happy with my pacing and time for running a continuous mile. So I set a realistic goal: I wanted to simply finish the race and not be last. As I began training, I firmed up that goal: I want to finish in 40-50 minutes, and I want to run more than I walk.

I also wanted to not look ridiculous. I felt that if I had "professional" gear, I'd take it more seriously and be more committed. So I bought new sneaks, some cool-weather running gear, and better headphones. Come race day, I felt good. I managed to beat my target time on a test-run of the race course earlier that week, and snuck in a one-mile run the day before the race to keep my muscles in gear. I stretched, I limbered, I psyched myself up, and I ran. I finished in 35 minutes, and sprinting to the finish line, seeing John there with the camera and a welcoming smile felt absolutely amazing. I certainly didn't place, medal, or set any records, but I did for me: I achieved a goal better than expected, and I set a personal best time for the mile, 1K, and 5K.

Part of my success has been holding myself accountable: I've networked with friends who are way better runners than I am for advice and support. I post my runs on Facebook via the Nike+ app on my phone. All of this is public domain, meaning if I don't deliver, people will know. This is why I've been so vocal about my goals: so people will help kick my ass to knock them out of the park.

Since then, I've bested my mile time again and my pace is continuing to improve. I'm running my second 5K in May, and hope to shave off some more time and be in even better condition by then. For now, I'm going to frame my first bib with a pic of my at the finish line and keep it on my desk at work. When I'm feeling discouraged, I can look at that and remember I can achieve the goals I set for myself, and I can always surprise myself with successes.

I've often felt the hardest part of a challenge is starting, and it's true. That's why the finish feels so good.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Run for your life, if you can, little girl...

In addition to lots of new tacklings in cooking and baking, I've taken on running as well. Over the last year, I've casually run a mile here and there. Then I got the JogTracker app on my Android phone. I was pleased as punch to see my iPhone 5 came with the Nike running app already built in! It's pretty awesome.

This weekend, I will run my first 5K, and I'm really jazzed. I ran the course on Monday to get a feel for pacing and whatnot, and I bested the low-end of the time I allotted myself by 3 minutes, meaning I was 13 minutes below the high end. Major score!

So anywho, stay tuned for a summary and some pics from that. It's forecast to rain, so I'm just hoping the rain holds off until the afternoon. I just want my first race experience to be a good one. I got new gear, but will likely have to grab some more...some weatherproof stuff. Ugh.

So now I have two outlets. I run after getting home, which is a brilliant way to shake off a stressful day and just unplug from life in general. That plus baking makes me a happy, sane woman. And of course my amazing husband and theraputically adorable cat.

Until next time,
peace out

Sunday, March 3, 2013

New Recipes: Bun go barr!*

Successes all around! Rice puds: check. Brown bread ice cream: check. Potato leek soup: check.

The pudding was probably the hardest of all three, believe it or not, but only because it took foreverrrr. It has to simmer on the stovetop for an hour, then cool to room temp, then finally stow away in the fridge. Other obstacles included not having a proper lid for the pot I was using and thus having a few bubble-overs, plus a few burns. But it was all worth it. What I got was a thick, creamy, sweet-smelling pudding. I don't like rice pudding, so I deferred to John's culinary opinion. I made the puds for my father-in-law's birthday celebration today (he's also a fan). The only thing I can think is that next time I'll deduct about 10 minutes from simmering time so the consistency will be a bit less dense. But otherwise, it was much appreciated and, of course, devoured. Behold:

The ice cream was surprisingly easy. Which is what scared me...the recipe looked simple. Too simple. But nope: it really was that easy! I had already baked a loaf of brown bread earlier in the week, so that was honestly about 90% of the work right there. The recipe I used was no stir/no machine needed, so once I whipped it all together, I just popped her in the freezer overnight and waiting the agonizing hours until I could test it out. And when I Was. Amazing. Seriously. Out of this world. I'm drooling thinking about it...totally having a nibble for dessert later.

By the time I was finished with all that baking yesterday, I was wiped out. So I made the soup tonight after returning home from the in-laws'. Again, very easy! And oh so yummy, creamy, and delightful. We had small cups of the soup with our salmon/rice/broccoli dinner. Om nom nom!

Until next time, my friends, live deliciously!

*bun go barr = bottom to top in Gaelic

Friday, March 1, 2013

I'll be cookin, so hope it's good-lookin'!

This weekend, in between various other to-dos, I'll be logging some serious time in the kitchen with the following:

Scones (I'm hosting a how-to seminar tonight with some girlfriends who want to know my secrets)

Potato leek soup (St. Pat's test-drive)

Cinnamon rice pudding (for my father-in-law's birthday)

Brown bread ice cream (St. Pat's test-drive)

Last post I mentioned perhaps attempting this myself, and I'm totally going for it. The recipe I found is very simple and straight-forward. I also just found a second recipe that matches the first, so I now have 2 sources that deem this successful. I already have leftover brown bread from a loaf I recently made (I'll let it stale overnight), so I'm kinda halfway there.

Stay tuned for a post-weekend wrapup, hopefully with photos of my success. Though you know if I fail, I'll come put that on blast as well.

Speaking of failing...well, maybe I should say of falling. I totally fell in front of my building on Wednesday on my way to meet a friend for lunch. I went down so hard I was seeing stars. My right knee is swollen and bruising up nicely, and my right wrist has been in an Ace bandage for the last 2 days. My back and left hip twinge on and off, and I keep finding secondary bruises. I'm okay, but am looking forward to not hurting all over anymore. Oh, and this is totally not stopping me from my cook-a-thon. It'll take more than a slightly injured wrist to stay away!

In addition to continuing my food journey, another 2013 resolution will soon be fulfilled: participate in at least 2 5Ks. What I'm most excited about is the Color Run in August (although ::grump:: at the most humid, muggy, hot month of the year...). Then, since I was feeling crazy after registering for that, I decided to participate in my town's St. Patrick's Day 5K. Yeh. That's in 2 weeks. I haven't run all damn season, and wasn't all that faithful in the fall either. My plan was to get back in the saddle this week since it's still a bit light when I get home, but since my knee is a purple baseball right now... I hope to be able to get in some run time come Monday and build up so I can do the 3 miles on the 16 without keeling over. Oh, you may have noticed the yeh, that weekend I'll be running a 5K, spending time with the BFF from RSC, cooking/baking my ass off, and hosting St. Paddy's. Yup.

I'm nuts. But really, would you have me any other way?