Forest City Road Races 10k, 2012

If you're my facebook friend, you probably saw yesterday that the Forest City Road Race 10K did not go as I planned - as in, I did not get a new 10K PR, I did not go below 60 minutes.

This is the third time I've run the FCRR, my second time running the 10K. It's also the 4th time I've run a 10K, and I planned my training so that going sub-60 would be a reasonable goal. A big increase in weekly mileage and longer long runs made running a fast 6 miles a lot easier, and I did two tempo runs of 6 miles in 58:48 and 59:10 respectively. In addition to the good training cycle, I got my allergies under control earlier than usual this year, and the weather was not the 40-degrees-and-raining ice bath that it was last year.

Then, on Friday night, I came down with a cold, the kind where you get the chills and a lot of congestion. All day Saturday I rested, watching season 6 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (omg, this season...what a downer), drinking a lot of fluids, and trying to think positively. But Saturday night, I had trouble falling asleep and basically tossed and turned without getting much rest. The cold and the lack of sleep together worked pretty hard against me.

Optimistically, I wrote out a list of time goals for each KM, since they post signs by KM here instead of by miles. I kept it in my pocket during the race, and looked at it for the first half, when I was still on target to arrive around 59:30. I think that time goal was completely reasonable, had it not been for the cold.
By the 7K mark, things had started to fall apart. I walked for 4 minutes (!!!) and tried to tell myself that there wasn't much left, I could run 2 miles easily and still finish strong, even as the sub-60 goal drifted away. No dice. I would run for a few more minutes until my lungs and my legs both told me to stop. I just didn't have the energy. At this point, I'm glad I finished at all.

 As we were leaving the park, the 1K fun run was just wrapping up, and an 8 year old boy in a wheel chair was heading toward the finish line, with Ronald McDonald and Tony the Tiger running alongside him, cheering him on. At that point I decided to shut my whiny mouth.

My overwhelming feeling is that, for one reason or another, I don't think I've run a 10K up to my potential, or up to the level that I've trained for. So that's my new goal. I don't want to run the next one in 59:xx. I want it to be more like 56 or 57. That's a bigger drop, but I think I psych myself out and my caution keeps me from really running as fast as I'm able.
The other thing I keep thinking is that racing always involves risk, and that's what makes it exciting when I do PR. If everything about it went the way I planned all the time, racing would be pretty boring.

Having said all that, I'm not sure if I'll do this race again. For one reason or another, it's hard for me to feel like I've run it well, every time I've run it. The last 1.5 miles of the 10K are pretty hilly, not to mention the fact that races in Canada tend to be at least twice as expensive as races in the U.S. I guess I have almost a year to decide.
One great thing about finishing when I did was that Djillian caught up with me, so I got to see her finish. She's great at getting the crowd to cheer for her, and seeing her made me laugh just as the race was ending. Djillian kept saying that she would finish around 1:15:xx, but she was a solid 9 minutes faster than that. It was great to see her finish so strong.


The Island Will Come to You

A few weeks ago, our downstairs neighbors moved out, and we discovered that they left a nice, portable kitchen island. John and I considered taking it (I voted no), and we meant to ask our landlord if we could have it for $30 or so. Instead, we forgot. Until Friday, that is. That afternoon, our landlord emailed and asked if we wanted the island. FOR FREESIES! John immediately jumped up and ran downstairs to snatch it. We hauled it upstairs and I gave it a good clean with a vinegar and water solution. And voila! It's our island!

After some debate, we've decided to name it Buffet the Vampire Slayer, or Buffy for short. Other potential names included The Buffet, and Freebie.

You may now admire its features.

Note the cool, granite section on top, supported by extra drawers and and a cabinet beneath, now filled with beer.

We've discussed getting an island like this for a couple years, but I never felt like I could justify the expense. Turns out, all we had to do was wait 2 years and a perfectly good island found us instead. I feel there is a Zen lesson of some kind...inside its many spacious compartments.

2012 Easter Brunch in Photos

Before Kira's ordination, John and I hosted a brunch on the Saturday before Easter, or Holy Saturday to some of you. It was a fabulous afternoon of eating, talking with friends, and a walk around the neighborhood. As usual, I only took photos of the food.

Flowers from the 50% off bin.

Jillian's salad.

Jillian's fruit.

Matthew's roasted root vegetables, always a favorite.

Chocolate chip scones from Vegan Brunch, which John made without me (!).

Not shown: mojitos, spiked coffee, and an egg/potato/veggie casserole from here.

And finally, an impromptu strawberry shortcake, made with what could be found at the store on the way to the potluck. Of course I don't meant this as a criticism of Keith, who only had 1 days notice, and that day happened to be Good Friday, when every grocery store in Canada is closed. I suffered through.

Brunch: success.


April Running

Last weekend in Nashville, John and I joined Kira and her mom for the last half of their long run. Since they're training for the Flying Pig Marathon in Cincinnati, they needed to get 20 miles in. We met up with them after 10 miles and finished out the last 10 to make a new personal distance run for me, John, and Kira. The weather was 100% perfect in my book, and we ran on the Brentwood Trail in Nashville, which was shady and super green. Even though I was glad when it was over (and hungry!), I'm so glad we ran with them since it was a real confidence booster going into the end of my 10K training cycle and planning for my first half-marathon.

John had an even better experience than I did and ran around shirtless after we were finished. After he shouted, "I feel like a fucking warrior!!!" Kira kindly reminded him that there were children running around all over the place. It looks like he'll be joining me for the half in Fort Wayne, and I'm stoked that he'll be able to keep doing long runs with me.

In the short term, I have the Forest City Road Races 10K coming up in just over a week, and I'm trying to just focus on that for now. The past week involved a lot of eating out and celebratory meals (re: cake), so I've decided to go on a kind of food streak between now and then. My plan is to not eat dessert of any kind so that I eat a particularly clean diet until the race. It might not sound like much of a challenge, but I actually eat some kind of dessert pretty much every day - melted chocolate chips over berries, a piece of candy or 5, a handful of chocolate chips, etc. It adds up. I want to focus on eating well. After the race, of course, I'll go to town on one of the chocolate bunnies that my mom sent me back with. I'm really hoping to PR in this 10K, I've trained well for it, and a little change to my diet can increase my awareness that the race is coming and help me focus on good preparation. First running. Then chocolate bunnies.

On a related note, John and I started listening to a podcast called Garden Variety Triathlon. It's written and produced by a friendly southerner who makes triathlon sound like a completely achievable and fun idea. He doesn't seem to take himself too seriously, but I've still found the information and discussions on his podcast to be interesting and helpful. I've never done a triathlon, but I have an interest in them, and his comments about running and swimming are up my alley. It's also nice to get an idea of what issues you face when you're new to the sport and just want to compete against yourself, as the author of the podcast does. Two thumbs way up.

Kira's Ordination to the Sacred Order of Priests

My bff Kira was ordained last weekend and it was an incredibly moving experience in which to participate. Moving and personal. So instead of going into a lot of detail, I'll just share a few photos of the elements involved.

Ragdoll cats.

Shown here: Duke Ellington, the cat who thinks he's a dog. Or a supermodel.


This was from a local lady and it tasted like some kind of magical almond paste.


The order of events went like this: super long run on Friday. Ordination and 2 parties on Saturday, with champagne in between. The Episcopalians know how to party!

White chocolate crosses.

A few people debated whether or not eating a cross was weird, and we decided to go with it because the chocolate was so good. The Episcopalian church ladies know how to throw a good party (see above).

I got to read the Litany, during which I noticed that the Queen was conspicuously absent (Anglicans in Canada pray for her and other world leaders). I was honored that Kira included me in the ceremony! It was beautiful and she picked some killer hymns.

Kira got to wear very pretty vestments, which she modeled for me.

Since the discernment process and her seminary training lasted several years, it was exciting to be present for her actual ordination, the culmination of so much work. I'm also a little surprised at how well the timing worked out, since I asked her to marry me (...you know, to John) several years ago, and now she has the authority to do so. This weekend was so much fun, I wish we could go back in a few days and do the whole thing again.

Congrats again, Mama K!*

*Click the link above for a full explanation. Basically male priests are often called Father ____, so Kira can be addressed as Mother Kira. But the kids at the camp where she was a chaplain last summer abbreviated it to Mama K as a nickname, and luckily for the rest of us, it totally stuck.


7 Day Green Smoothie Challenge and Hemp Protein

Last week I participated in a 7 Day Smoothie Challenge, which I heard about from Jen at Peanut Butter Runner. I love a challenge that involves something I would normally do (so...a "challenge"), and so I joined in.

The only remotely difficult aspect of eating smoothies every day for a week was that the temperature dropped back down to normal, seasonal weather with highs in the 40s. Smoothies are my preferred breakfast when it's warm out, not when the morning temps are in the 20s. It was a bit like eating ice cream for breakfast in the winter. Lest you think I want to make a #whitegirlproblem out of this, let me say I enjoyed it and I felt healthier for having consumed veggie smoothies every day for a week.

My basic recipe didn't change, but I experimented with a couple of new protein powders, both made of hemp.

I solicited some suggestions for protein powders on facebook, and I was happy to see how many of my friends had one that they liked. For now, I've started using Manitoba Harvest Hemp Protein, suggested by my dear friend Jess (some know her as JHoles, my favorite hippie) for a couple of reasons. First, it's made in Canada, and I think that makes it a little cheaper than it would be otherwise. Also, I'm trying to cut down on the amount of dairy I eat for a variety of reasons, so whey protein just wasn't my first choice. They have Manitoba Harvest at my local grocery store, so it was easy to find and about $20 or less a pop. You can read about the different types of protein powders they make here.

I've tried two kinds. First, the Hemp Protein 50.

It's ideal for people who want a little more protein in their diets but who aren't ultramarathoners or anything extreme. Its green color blended perfectly in my green smoothies, and while I could taste that something else was in them, the powder's flavor doesn't come through much (this is ideal). It helps make the smoothies a little more filling so I can make it all the way to lunch without feeling super hungry.

I also tried the Chocolate Hemp Protein, which tastes a bit like hot chocolate mix on its own.

This one has fewer grams of protein per serving (both call for a serving of a 1/4 cup), and it has a little cane sugar for sweetness. It made my smoothie taste like a chocolate milk shake. And to be honest, I try as hard as possible to make my healthy breakfast smoothies or oatmeal taste like dessert, so this one is great for me. I also don't add any other sweetener to the smoothies, so it adds just a touch of sweetness.
Adding chocolate-flavored powder to a smoothie with spinach was kind of a mental hurdle, but I'm glad I did it. Totally tasty.
I also made a sort of faux-ice cream with it last night:

1 frozen banana
3/4 cup almond milk (3/4 cup-ish...)
2 tbs peanut butter
1 tbs chocolate chips
1/4 cup chocolate hemp protein powder

I blended it and the froze it for about 10 minutes while I waited for John to start watching X-Files with me, and it was perfect. I would eat this for every meal if I could.

Two other random things I wanted to include in this post:

John and I made these Ancho Lentil Tacos from the PPK, and LOVED them.

We just used regular chili powder, but the addition of the adobo sauce goes a long way. Lentils make a perfect meatless taco filling. It seems so obvious that I'm surprised I don't see more recipes like this on the food blogs. They were also super easy, so we'll definitely be making these again soon.

And finally, I'm nearing the end of Born to Run, but I wanted to give it another shout out because it's so awesome. McDougall's writing is fantastic and really entertaining. The other characters who show up to run this crazy race in the desert are hilarious and I literally don't want to put it down. If you love to run, you will love this book. If you know someone who loves to run, and you think they're kinda nuts, you will love this book. Actually I think anyone who enjoys reading about sports would probably like it.
Sadly, one of the runners in the book, who goes by Caballo Blanco, was found dead this week out on the trail in New Mexico. It's strange to me that he died while I'm reading the book. He and the other runners in it are inspiring.