Monday, January 31, 2011

weekly wrap + puppy pics! which I learn, yet again, not to taunt the universe.  When will I learn?

Last week was a tough week.  I wished out loud on the blog that maybe this week would be easier.  "Sure!" said the universe.  "Here's your cold back!  Did you miss it?  It's so bad that you'll spend two days in bed!"  So that's what I did.  Yes, haters, I took a rest day.  And then, in an unpredictable move, I TOOK ANOTHER ONE.  THE VERY NEXT DAY.  I'm walking on the wild side.

In the good news column, I took the week completely off from anything that might piss off my pulled intercostal muscle, and it actually seems to be healing.  Ridiculous.  I did go back to yoga on Sunday, but I was really careful the entire class.  I skipped a bunch of spinal twists (how we got here in the first place) and some vinyasas in favor of child's pose.  The Lululemon posse tried to intimidate me into pushing it in some poses, and I said, "No, crazy-matching-all-clothes-including-special-yoga-socks (why?) people, I will lay here with my face in the mat and NO CALORIES WILL BE BURNED."  (UPDATE: my problem is not that anyone is dressed in head-to-toe lulu, as I am definitely often found in head-to-toe Nike or C9 of Target.  My problem is that it is a class of 40 people all wearing the SAME outfit, as if there was a pre-yoga-class field trip to lululemon that I wasn't included in because I don't shower enough.  The end.)  My back was pretty tight afterwards, but after a round of icing and cupcakes, seems to be doing all right.  My PT approved certain upper-body lifting and gave me a few exercises to start strengthening around the pull (I think? or maybe just random torture), so the arms/chest/back lifting you see is really just that.

Since this was a step-up week, my long run was 9 miles, and I rocked the face off of it.  Okay, my legs were heavy and my chest felt tight from my cold and I coughed and snotted all over my favorite Nike half-zip, but I got in the groove and knocked it out, and kept it in my target long run pace window.  My recovery run the next day felt pretty crappy as every joint I have feels all bejankled when I run two days in a row, but I think that's mostly the point of the recovery run.  I also ended up skipping both pool runs this week, one from being sick/snow closing everything and the other from still feeling a bit under the weather and not wanted to spread my germs all over W-L.  Y'all are welcome.  Also, it's probably better because I definitely would've wanted to test out my back by swimming, which is the opposite of leave-it-alone-so-it-will-heal.

I also have started adding more cycling in, because I've really missed having a chafed crotch.  No, really.  With only 7 weeks in between the National Half and the Kinetic Half, I need to be maintaining at least a decent swimming and cycling base through this training cycle.  Getting to the starting line of the National Half is my A goal, and with that in mind, I'll be structuring my weeks that my running workouts are getting priority in terms of recovery and what I do around them.  So (hopefully) from here on out, my Saturdays will include a reverse brick - to prioritize the long run but get in another solid day of cycling.  I'll do my run tempo on Thursdays and a short bike tempo on Fridays - which is how it is laid out in my IM training plan anyhow - and I'll hopefully be able to add Monday/Wednesday swimming back in pretty soon as easy active recovery following the weekend workouts and the track workout.  It's my life, people, I live it, I love it.  Don't try this at home.

Monday: 55 minutes lifting (L), 1:30/25M trainer ride
Tuesday: PT and then home to complain on the internet about how sick I am
Wednesday: Lay in bed and cough weakly when people call, read multiple blogs from start to finish
Thursday: 20 minutes lifting (a/c/b), 52 minutes/5.62 miles, including miserable attempt at 2x2 miles tempo
Friday: 60 minutes lifting (L), 1:20/19M trainer ride, including 30 minutes tempo
Saturday: 1:26/9M long run, 60 minutes/14.7M easy trainer ride
Sunday: 28 minutes/3M recovery run, 75 minutes yoga

Also, for those of you that have government jobs a lot of unstructured free time, I've added a page on the blog collecting all the editions of Random Friday Facts.  If you find duplicates, feel free to gleefully email me to let me know that I suck.

After all of that, we thought it would be the most fun thing ever to take both puppies to the dog park so they could play in 8 inches of melty slush and mud.  Molly finished her vaccines last week so she can go play with other dogs now.
Where are we going?
What is all this?
I'm going to go stomp in the biggest puddle I can find.
I was not doing anything bad.
Can we go swimming please?
I love mud!
Molly, there's mud on your nose.

How was your weekend?  Did you run?  Or play in the mud?

Friday, January 28, 2011

random friday facts + award

I got tagged by a few people with the Stylish Blogger award.  The point is to share 7 things about yourself, so I'll do that along with the return of random Friday facts!

1. I haven't had cable for most of my adult life.  I couldn't afford it in college, or when I started teaching, and I never really missed it.  I had it for about a year or so when we moved in here, but canceled it when the price went up.  And I don't miss it at all, especially now, the age of iTunes + Hulu + Netflix.

2. I am cheap, frugal, tight, whatever you want to call it.  It's why I don't have cable, why I like eating out less and less, why I am a serial return-er, why I haven't been on a real vacation in over 4 years.  Spending money stresses me out.

3. That said, I don't mind spending it on doing things to make my house better.  Lately I've been reading a lot of DIY home improvement blogs, which I think is a disaster waiting to happen, but I love doing home improvements.  I've also been thinking about doing some "before and after" blog posts on what I've done to my house, but then I remember that I'm here to talk about running, cycling, etc.

4. If I didn't love running so much and crave it for my mental health, I think I would hate it.  It makes my knees hurt, it makes me gag with snot, it's hard, I'm not good at running either fast or long, and the weather is almost never perfect for it.  Wait.  Maybe those are more reasons why I love it?

5. I almost never drink plain water.  I usually line the bottom of a glass with a tiny bit of POM or pink lemonade or whatever, and then fill the rest up with water.  

6. Getting a second dog was really really hard, and it's tough to talk about because everyone thinks puppies are so cute.  But that first month was difficult.  We didn't get a lot of sleep, she had a lot of accidents, and having to watch her every second was stressful.  Plus she had come from a place where there were a lot of dogs around, so she didn't listen to us at all and basically acted like she was raised by a pack of wolves.  It also put a pretty big strain on our relationship.  We actually talked a few times about returning her to the breeder because of how tough it was for us, but now things are finally starting to get easier and I'm glad.  Yesterday Molly spent most of the day on the big squishy chair with Graham, both of them sleeping, and then last night she slept for about half the night on the dog bed with Graham.  I feel like I am able to exhale for the first time since she came home.

7. I almost never use the mouse.  I use keystroke commands as much as possible, and even have a few giant lists of them bookmarked.

I think that most of you guys have done this already because I'm so late to the party, but if not, consider yourself officially tagged (I'm looking at you here, Rudi)!!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

three things thursday

1. We got dumped on pretty good last night here in the DC suburbs.  So per tradition, we cracked open a bottle and hunkered down with our carbohydrates to ride out the storm.
This morning things seem to be moving pretty slow, but moving.  Our street is fairly clear, although I can see from the front door that the side streets have not been plowed.  But since I work from home, it will be business as usual for me! And them...
I'm still hopeful that things will melt like crazy and it will warm up enough to get outside for a long ride this weekend.  A girl can dream, right?

2. I've taken off completely the past two days to try and get over my cold.  Yesterday seemed to be the worst day, and this morning I actually feel quite a bit better.  But I'm not sure I'll be able to dig out my car to get to the gym, so today will either be rest day number three or a trainer ride in the basement.  Look at that, I actually was able to take a week off from lifting!  And I'm actually not that worried about missing these days - I have 2 more months of half training in front of me, and I know that taking 2-3 days off isn't going to hurt my overall fitness.  But I am tired of being sick and itching to get back into my training plan.

3. My showering habits are not the greatest.  Working from home and 2+ workouts per day make it easy to let it slide for a few days, especially when I'm in and out of the pool so often.  Hush, it's the same as a shower.  But now I've been off for two days....and why do I need a shower?  If I'm not working out, I'm not getting dirty!  When did I become such a gross boy?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

wordless wednesday

In high school, and even through college and my early 20s, I didn't have a lot of close female friends.  Mostly stinky boys hung with me.

I had no idea what I was missing.

(credit: all photos but the first: the magnificent photography by katye ross)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

my love affair with the bicycle

Decisions, decisions, decisions....

Last year when I started cycling, I intentionally purchased an entry-level road bike, because I wasn't sure if I would like it and couldn't afford to spend a lot of money on something that might sit in my basement.  2000+ miles later, I'm in love with cycling, and starting to look at upgrading the bike.  But there's a lot to consider.  For the purposes of the dreamland I'm living in, let's just set the whole "poor graduate student" thing aside for now.  And the whole "I started doing my taxes this morning and had a heart attack" thing.  Fantasyland, enter here.

On the one hand, last year I did mostly tour-type pack riding.  I did a full century and some shorter group rides.  I also rode alone or with a friend to the tune of 125-175 miles a week, every week, all summer long.  I routinely attended the crazy hill workout.  I did one sprint triathlon.  I would have done at least two more centuries were it not for the massive inconvenience of having my IT band cut open.  So I know, from my own history, that a fancier road bike will fit the profile of the riding I've been doing.  

However, on the flip side, I've got two 70.3 races on the schedule for this year - and probably a number of smaller triathlons.  The decision I'm really trying to make is, are those races important enough to validate buying a triathlon bike?  I could always have aerobars put on my road bike for these races, or I could rent a triathlon bike for the week leading up to and including these races.  But I know that if I'm in these races and being passed left and right by others on triathlon bikes, I'll get mad at my bike first.  Not rational, by any stretch, as my training will be more to blame than the bike that I ride, but it's what I know will go on inside my head.  Will I continue doing 70.3s?  It's likely.

But, I'm not sure that I want a triathlon bike to be my main bike.  When I return to settle the score with the Reston Century, I know that I'm going to want a road bike for those ridiculous 48% climbs, not a triathlon bike.  When I'm attacking the hill workout on Tuesday nights, ditto.  When I'm doing tempo rides around Haines Point, ditto.  

I went last night to Bonzai Sports in Falls Church, and was enchanted by the shiny, pretty triathlon bikes.  But when I presented the above to the awesome guy who was talking to me about them, he summed it up pretty nicely: tri bikes are for racing.  Which means two things to me: I don't need one for when I'm not racing, and I do need one for when I do.

Obviously the solution here is to buy two bikes.  And if anyone from Specialized, Cervelo, Trek, Felt, or Quintana wants me to test something out for them or send me a "Buy 1 Get 1 Free!" coupon, I'm happy to be a guinea pig and tattoo your brand on my back.  Otherwise, I'm wide open to advice, from cyclists and triathletes both.  What do I really need?  How do I prioritize bicycle purchasing?  What questions do I really need to be asking?  Where can I find a money tree?

Monday, January 24, 2011

week 1 in review

Well, I did it.  I started half marathon training.  Can I take a nap now?

This week was tough - not physically, but tough on my head.  My back is still pretty out of whack, and I didn't realize how much I loved the peace and recovery of swimming until I couldn't do it anymore.  My pulled intercostal is miles better than the day I pulled it, but otherwise about the same.  I did try 2 gentle swimming sessions, and it doesn't bother me as long as I stay nice and slow, but as soon as I shove some water back with my right arm, it gets all kinds of fired up.  I'm on a fairly constant ice/heat rotation, and that seems to help with the pain but I don't feel like it is actually healing.  I guess I can take a few weeks off of swimming, but I was really counting on it for some solid, no-legs-involved cross-training this cycle.  Why is my body falling apart?
However, I did discover that cycling, for whatever reason, makes my piriformis fat and happy.  For now, I'll take that trade-off.  The trainer miles on Monday left me feeling pretty stretched out on Tuesday, and Wednesday's outside ride led to a solid first tempo effort on Thursday night.  I did manage to get in 2 very light upper-body lifting sessions, but I will probably leave those out this week because they really aren't doing me any good except for appeasing my OCD about lifting during the weekdays.  Maybe I'll take this week off lifting entirely.  Hrmm.  Maybe.

Running, after all is said and done, was pretty decent.  Two sleepless nights this week brought my cold rampaging back, which left me in a snotty, cranky, heavy-legged-HR-through-the-roof place for my long run on Saturday.  I did my first post-long-run Sunday recovery run on land instead of the pool, and while it also felt like garbage due to my cold, I was glad to get in the road miles.  But I'll fight through crappy runs like these because it will make next week feel easier and lighter.  I also managed to negative-split every single run I did this week (with the exception of tempo cool-down), which makes me happy in a weird obsessive-compulsive kind of way.

All in all, week 1 ran me down pretty hard.  Here's hoping week 2 lightens up.

Monday: 60 minutes lifting (L), 1:13/17.5M on trainer, including 30 minutes HR threshold test
Tuesday: 50 minutes lifting (a/c/b, then at PT), 41 minutes/4.3M run
Wednesday: 50 minutes lifting (L), 38 minutes/10.54M cycling, 18 minutes/1000 yard test swim, 40 minutes/4M pool run
Thursday: 30 minutes various things at PT, 51 minutes/5.65M run (tempo + w/u & c/d)
Friday: 40 minutes lifting (a/c/b)
Saturday: 1:02/6.3M long run
Sunday: 33 minutes/3.5M recovery run, 65 minutes/6.5M pool run, 20 minutes/1000 yard test swim

Week 1: 19.75 miles on land, 30.25 miles total.

Friday, January 21, 2011

I need sleep

I'm super cranky today.  I had a great tempo run last night, came home to an evening of Thai food and TV, and then was woken up an hour after going to sleep by a sick one of these:
The vet seems to think she probably just ate too much grass or too many sticks, but we took her over for an exam anyway because she's had the grumbly tummy quite a few times over the past 3 weeks.  One pretty gross exam later, we have some antibiotics to reset her intestines and have to cook her chicken for a few days.  And now we are both walking around like cranky sleep-deprived zombies.  It took me 3 times as long as it should have to write this post because I kept writing the wrong words.  Today I'm taking the "rest" option on my half marathon training plan.  Is it 7:00?  Can I go to bed yet? 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

three things thursday

1. Yesterday was gorgeous.  When I was driving home from the metro, my car thermometer read 51º.  It was sunny and almost warm.  So I decided to go outside for a ride - the first in at least 2 months.  WOW.  What a fantastic decision that was.  I only had time for a very short ride before the sunset chased me inside, but it felt so good to not be on a trainer in my basement.  I got to reunite with one of my best riding buddies, Mr. Jefferson:
And when I got home, I felt the way I always do after a great ride: light and breezy and happy.  Overflowing with joy.  I'm hoping this ride will tide me over for a while, because it's back in the mid-30s today.  

2. I'm also glad to recall this feeling about cycling, because I signed up for my first 70.3 yesterday: the Kinetic Half.  The timing isn't great - only 8 weeks out from the National Half - but I think it will set a good baseline for my summer, and help me figure out what I need to tackle for a fall 70.3.  I'm super excited (slightly scared) but ready to eat it up.
3. I was given the go-ahead for a test swim at PT on Tuesday.  I swam 1000 relatively easy yards last night, 800 of which felt fine.  My mid-back started to tighten up around then, so I slowed it down quite a bit to finish out 1000.  It still felt tight and a bit painful while I was pool running, so I shut the pool running down early and headed home.  A round of advil, ice and heat later, it's feeling better, but I guess it's just going to take a few more days to heal.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

wordless wednesday

Our photographer has been taunting us with sneak peeks at our photos.....
I think this sums up the entire night.  Not to mention our entire life.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

reasons to have dinner with endurance athletes

(Excuse the crappy cell phone pic, I had a bottle of wine in my purse, so no room for a camera.)

1. Showering?  Completely optional.  Although I did have a quick one last night because sweaty post-threshold test bike crotch plus hair that hadn't been washed in, erm, 3? days might have been toe-ing the "good first impression" line.
Who wants to eat sitting across from this?
Wait, we do!

2. You can empty and empty...and EMPTY the breadbasket.
3. The conversation basically goes: races, boys, trainers, injuries, coaches (I mis-typed "crotches" instead of "coaches" when I first wrote that, but pretty sure that was in there as well), boys, pizza, race weight, boys, pacing, speedwork, cheese, beer, long runs, bread, boys.
4. Impressing the waiter by ordering half the menu (large pizza, thanks! oh, make it 2!) and then probably horrifying him by eating it all.
5. You don't need make-up.  Or shiny shoes.  Or dry hair.  Or pants without giant holes in the crotch.  
6. When you demonstrate the noise you make at the end of a 10K, no one is terrified.
7. You can come home from dinner and eat a giant bowl of ice cream and crow about it via social networking.  Guilt?  Bah!

A lovely night with 2 lovely ladies!  

UPDATE: I open Google Reader 10 seconds after posting to discover a near-identical post from Emily.  Next time I'm definitely not showering.

Monday, January 17, 2011

week 0 in review

Okay, before I do the week review business, here's what's up.  (Also, Google readers, I added tabs and puppy pics on the actual blog, also, I think it snowed?)

My PT is amazing and kind and I will be bringing him some cheesey beer bread because he stayed late on Friday to work on me.  First, I laid on top of the hot thermal pad things for a while and got all nice and sweaty.  Then I did this weird arm bike thing for a few minutes, but the arms are attached to the pedals, it's basically like an elliptical bike.  He had me lay down on a foam roller to try and stretch things out and HOLY MCMOLY did it hurt.  After a few minutes he noticed that I was laying there with tears streaming down my face and was like, "What are you doing, if it hurts, get up!"  Oy.  Then I had to watch some big bad ultrarunner guy get the same piriformis and hip flexor treatment that I do and, let me just say this, men are occasionally really big babies.

Anyhow, the Egyptian Magician worked on my back for a while and determined that I pulled one of my intercostal muscles.  I've never heard of these muscles but apparently they are rather important, they help you breathe and twist and bend over.  I was a bit relieved because earlier in the morning when I googled where it hurt I discovered that I either had a pulled muscle or was having a heart attack.  The EM's been working on a problematic lat on the right side for a while - tight and weak, but not in a way that is preventative to living my life - and it was just one big giant mess of spasm.  Usually when he works on me, it hurts to the point where I am cursing and sweating but this was so far beyond the point of pain that all I could manage was to lay there and let tears leak out out of my face while he hurt me.   When he was done I sat up and felt like I had been through a war.  But things were much looser.  I'm still having a fair amount of pain, but I've been rotating through ice and heat and take Advil on a stopwatch.  Best part - he said that I could run, bike, etc, as long as I took it easy and it didn't hurt.  No yoga, no swimming, no upper body lifting until the pain is gone.

Thinking back (this is always a fun game), I think that 3 yoga classes PLUS 3 swim sessions in 5 days PLUS lifting arms/chest/back on the same day I went to one of those yoga classes may have helped me along towards this pulled muscle.  The EM says that pulled muscles can just happen, but sometimes happen more often to tired muscles.  So 50/50 shot on the universe or me just not paying close enough attention.  I didn't feel tired in my upper body at all on Friday morning, but I also didn't have a great experience at a yoga class on Thursday night - complaining to the poet when I got home about being physically pushed further into positions - specifically, spinal twists - beyond my comfort level, "and that's how people get hurt!"  Right.  

So Saturday morning I got up nice and late after a night of ice/heat/sleep/wake up from pain & repeat.  I decided to just run from home and not do the group long run because it was highly likely that I'd have to shut it down after either 10 seconds or 10 minutes.  I started off real easy and slow, focusing on what my body was telling me with every single step.  And after 5 minutes I felt great, so I headed towards the MV trail.  And after 20 minutes I felt great, so I increased the pace just the tiniest bit.  And when I hit the 5-mile mark I was still feeling great, so I cranked it up and threw in some roughly-race-pace miles, and I still felt great.  I finished up with a cool down mile to total 8 for the day, the longest I've run outside since surgery, the longest I've gone without walking on a run since surgery, and definitely the longest I've run since that dreadful 8-miler than shaped the rest of 2010.  I took it easy, I plugged in my tunes, and rode the trail in the sunshine.  This is why I run.  It's been 4 months almost exactly since surgery and I'm still working my way back, but this gave me a huge boost of confidence.  Not to mention flat-out joy.

When I finished, I iced and foam rolled and ate things to calm my post-run grumpy stomach.  Mr. Intercostal seemed no worse for the wear, and I'm continuing to ice and heat and ice and heat.  I go back to PT on Tuesday and I'm hoping at that point I'm feeling good enough to ask about some gentle swimming and gentle yoga.  We'll see.

Side note on the long run: for years I trained by myself.  I ran alone or sometimes with a friend, but it's only the past 6 months or so that I've been doing workouts in packs.  And I love running with friends, I love have people to chat with and push with or just hang on the back of, but I think I'm going to run alone every once in a while as well.  It felt peaceful to be out, just listening to my playlist (okay, listening to one song on repeat 13 times) and to not have to worry that I was slowing anyone down or being boring or grossing someone out because I wiped snot on my shoulder for the 23847th time.  A lot of my cycling training last summer was alone as well, no matter how many people I tried to drag out to ride with me, and I need both in my life.  This run blew out all the spiderwebs in my head and let me do exactly what I needed to do.

Monday: 60 minutes lifting (L), 40 minutes/2000 yard swim, 60 minutes yoga
Tuesday: 40 minutes lifting (A/C/B), 50 minutes/5.26M progressive run
Wednesday: 60 minutes lifting (L), 70 minutes/7M pool run
Thursday: 70 minutes lifting (A/C/B, then at PT), 10 minutes/2.4M recumbent bike at PT, 39 minutes/4.13M run, 75 minutes yoga (yeah, this doesn't look good)
Friday: 35 minutes lifting (core), woefully abbreviated by a pulled muscle
Saturday: 1:16/8.13M long run
Sunday: 1:10/7M pool run

Mileage for the week: 31.52, including 14 in the pool. Yup, I'll take it!  How was your weekend?

Friday, January 14, 2011

oh, the universe

So yesterday, I wondered aloud what I would do if I had no injuries to complain about.  This is why you shouldn't taunt the universe.

Today, Friday, was to be a rest day.  I was pretty tight in the legs when I woke up this morning after my PT beating yesterday, so I decided to go to the gym to stretch, do a little bit of core and my PT exercises, and then sit in the hot tub and stretch some more.  I was doing the bicycle sit-ups when all of a sudden, my upper back locked.  Between my shoulder blades.  I laid back down, then stood up and gently tried to stretch out a bit, and nothing.  It's a solid mass of tightness and pain.  When I breathe deeply, my lungs expanding is pressing into the place that hurts.  I tried some gentle stretching in all directions, and it just brought more pain.

So I made my way to my car, and drove home, and then sat in the driveway for 20 minutes letting the seat warmers roast my back.  When I stopped crying, I came inside, took 4 advil, and got into a hot shower, where I stood under the water until the hot ran out.  And now I'm back in bed, laying on top of the electric blanket because I can't find my heating pad, cursing the day I decided to get off my fat ass again.

I talked to my PT, and they are able to squeeze me in at the end of the day, but I don't know if this is a "stay off it for a couple of days" or "your spring racing season is totally fucked" kind of thing.  Fingers crossed for the first.  

Thursday, January 13, 2011

three things thursday

1.  I just can't seem to completely kick this cold.  It hasn't gotten worse in the past few days, but there is a lingering cough and general weariness that won't go away.  I've managed to stay on track with my training this week, but I've been sleeping 10-11 hours a night.  Fight, body, fight!

2. I almost don't want to mention it, but it seems as if my piriformis problems are going away.  There's still a tiny bit of tightness when I stretch it, but before, during, and after running I feel nothing.  Injuries that heal WHAT?!  I ran a very gentle 5M progressive (9:55, 9:35, 9:16, 9:01, 8:45) on Tuesday, and the only things I noticed were a bit of stiffness in my knees and a small amount of tightness in my healing IT band.  Although there was a tiny bit of tightness/pulling after pool running last night, but I'm going back to the PT today to work that out!  What will I complain whine bitch talk about if I'm not nursing an injury?  

3. I'm interested (but afraid to open Pandora's box) in conversations about race weight.  I've never thought about it in training in the past, but I'd like to hear if anyone has thoughts about it, or can point me in the direction of some reading material on it.  Mainly, how do you decide what it is and why?  I generally eat fairly clean and balanced, with an attempt towards extra protein, and I don't think there is anything really wrong with either my diet or my weight.  But I also have no problem indulging in the occasional beer or extra cookie(s), and I do wonder if there's a "perfect" weight - from the angle of racing, not from the angle of being happy with my body.  It's mostly just curiosity at this point, because anything that makes me give up my daily mug of ice cream will probably not become a reality.  

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

oh, have I been cooking!

Our New Year's Eve party left me with a seriously empty wallet and an overflowing fridge.  What to do with all the leftovers?  Cook things!

From our cute centerpieces, I had 5-6 bags of unused cranberries.  
So what's up first?  Orange cranberry bread, something I just discovered at Thanksgiving but absolutely love.

2 cups of flour
1 cup of sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp grated orange peel
1/4 cup melted butter
1 egg
3/4 cup orange juice
1/2 bag fresh cranberries

Preheat oven to 350º.  Combine ingredients in order listed and stir.  I used wheat flour, so it was more like 1 1/2 cups of orange juice.  Pour into bread pan.  Cook 55-60 minutes.

I made orange cranberry cookies.  The first batch was simply good, the second batch - amazing!  I ate them all before I could take a picture.

1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 egg
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 bag (2 cups?) fresh cranberries

Preheat oven to 350º.  Mix sugars and butter for 2 minutes on medium.  Add the egg and vanilla, beat some more.  Add the dry ingredients, beat some more.  Add the cranberries, beat only a little.  Spoon onto cookie sheets.  Cook for 12-15 minutes.

I made beer bread for the first time - leftovers?  Two extra large cases of Sam Adams that I'd actually prefer not to drink my way through.  The Winter Lager and Chocolate Bock are excellent, but I can get Boston Lager anytime.  So I combined two of my favorite things into cheesey beer bread.  This is AMAZING.
3 cups of sifted flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 (12 oz bottle) beer
1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 cup shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 375º.  Combine flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, and beer.  Since I used wheat flour, I used 1.5 bottles of beer (and drank the rest)(plus one more)(hic).  Stir.  Pour into bread pan.  Pour melted butter on top.  Sprinkle cheese on top.  Cook for 50-60 minutes (until cheese is browned and crackly).

I made one batch with shredded Dubliner (I can't get enough of this Dubliner cheese!  I'm an addict and I LOVE IT.) and one batch with shredded red cheddar (also Kerry Gold!).  

I also made throw-everything-into-the-pot chili, from ingredients to make something (?) the week of the party that I have since forgotten:
1 package ground turkey
1 onion
2 cans kidney beans
1 large can of crushed tomatos
1 small can whole tomatoes
1 can jalapenos
1 can green chiles
Garlic Powder
Cracked Red Pepper
Chili Powder
1 bottle of beer

Chop onion.  Brown ground turkey with chopped onion.  Put everything in a big pot.  Bring to a boil, and then simmer for 2-4 hours, stirring often.  Serve with cheese and saltines.

And my old stand-by, homemade pizza:
Caramelize onions (chop into thin strips, saute with butter & olive oil for about 45 minutes on low heat).
Make this crust.
Spread arugula, caramelized onions, and gorgonzola onto pizza crust.  Cook for 15 minutes.

Bruschetta, mexican casserole, and lasagna will also be gracing our table this week as I continue to clean out the pantry.  Next up?  What to cook with TONS of leftover white wine (don't worry, I won't drink the Riesling!) and extra frosting.  Any ideas?  

Monday, January 10, 2011

week 0

Soooooo....... my 12-week half marathon training plan is going to get adjusted down to 10.  I forgot when I planned it that we'd be on vacation halfway through the first week, and I didn't anticipate taking a week off from running to try and calm my cranky piriformis down - which, as of right now, seems to have worked.  I had a long talk with the Egyptian Magician at PT on Friday morning, and have readjusted my plan based on it.  I'm going to replace the post-long-run recovery run with a pool run for the next few weeks.  I'm going to alternate high and low mileage weeks instead of a 3-week build then step back, and I'm going take the first few weeks of speed work VERY lightly.  All the stretching/foam rolling/tennis balling seems to be calming my butt down, and I don't want to re-irritate it by cranking things up too quickly.  

Now, add that to the part where I seem to have picked up the poet's cold, and I'm making this coming week: 0.  I'm going to make a decision every day about training based on how I feel, and if I don't get in the miles that I want or if I decide on an easy 4-mile run instead of a speed workout, I'm not going to worry about it at all.  I did an an easy-paced 4 miles on Saturday that felt tough on my beer-and-bread heavy body, so I know that taking things easy is the way to go until I've burned off some of the carbs and cleared out the bright green gunk in my head.  

So here's the adjusted plan.  You can click on it to make it bigger.  That will make it easier to see that Friday says, "Cycle/Rest."  
I finally got back on the trainer this week after taking the month of December off completely.  I've only done short (one episode) workouts so far, but the knee isn't bothering me at all.  It's such a strange experience to have injuries that heal!  It's pretty likely I'll take a rest day on Fridays and leave out cycling completely most weeks, but I might tack it on an easier day during the lighter weeks.  I want to try and maintain at least a low level of cycling fitness during the spring months, if for no other reason than to try and avoid the extremely sore butt I'm currently sporting after being off for a month.  I also finally bought the "month unlimited" pass for the yoga studio I like, and went to my first of hopefully many classes yesterday morning.  Warm & stretchy muscles = happy muscles.

Monday: Rest (skiing!)
Tuesday: Rest (skiing!)
Wednesday: 55 minutes lifting (legs), 38 minutes/2000 yard swim
Thursday: 45 minutes/4.5M pool run, 40 minutes lifting (arms/chest/back)
Friday: 65 minutes lifting (L, then at PT), 13 minutes/1.3M walk/run (at PT), 53 minutes/13M cycling (trainer)
Saturday: 37 minutes/4M run, 45 minutes/10.7M cycling (trainer)
Sunday: 75 minutes yoga, 60 minutes/6M pool run, 32 minutes/1500 meter swim